Parliament’s power brokers – where they stand ahead of May 2015

Ed Jacobs looks at where the SNP and DUP, the likely key players in a hung parliament, now sit politically.

Ed Jacobs looks at where the SNP and DUP, the likely key players in a hung parliament, sit politically

In just a matter of months, the country will go to the polls in one of the most unpredictable general elections for years.

Barring some miraculous turnaround by one of the main two parties, the one thing we can be almost certain of is that the country is set to vote for another hung parliament, with the balls firmly in the court not of the Lib Dems but of the smaller parties.

With that in mind, Left Foot Forward assess where the SNP and DUP, the likely key players now sit on what they would do in a hung parliament.


The DUP have made clear that they will not entertain the prospect of having members of their party sitting around the cabinet table as Ministers. Speaking to the party’s annual conference in November, party leader and Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson declared:

“We are not seeking to be part of any government coalition, but, with an open mind, we are willing to sustain, in office, a government that offers policies and programmes that are in the best interests of Northern Ireland in particular, and the United Kingdom as a whole.”

The question arises as to which party they would be prepared to sustain. Politically, it should be the Conservatives. In May it was reported that Cameron had hosted a drinks reception for DUP MPs in an attempt to woo the Party to the Conservative cause; and George Osborne’s pledge to devolve Corporation Tax powers to Stormont in the Autumn Statement was a not so subtle attempt to secure support from the DUP especially.

Despite this however, DUP support for a Conservative government cannot be taken for granted. Memories remain strong in Northern Ireland, and the Conservative’s failed decision to stand candidates, in partnership with the DUP’s opponents, the Ulster Unionists, north of the Irish border in the 2010 election could come back to haunt them.

For Labour therefore, all is not lost. It was unionist MPs from Northern Ireland who in part helped to prop up the government of James Callaghan. Ed Miliband, Ed Balls and Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Ivan Lewis would do well to do some wooing of their own before the country goes to the polls.


The SNP will perhaps exert more influence than any other party in the next Parliament outside of the main two.

If the polls are to be believed, the Scots Nats are on course for the kind of gains which could see them replace the Lib Dems as the third biggest party in the next Parliament.

We can dismiss any deal of any sorts between the Conservatives and the SNP, even if Ruth Davidson, leader of the Tories in Scotland, has refused to rule it out a coalition.

With a recent poll carried out by Panelbase for the SNP having found that 35 per cent of Scottish voters would prefer a Labour minority government with the SNP holding the balance of power the question is what form such support would take.

Alex Salmond has already hinted that the party might be prepared to end its long standing commitment note to vote on English only matters in the Commons, which would protect a Labour government that may have been unable to secure a majority of the seats in England, however politically difficult it might be.

But whether the SNP would be prepared to enter into a formal coalition with Labour remains a moot point. On the face of it Salmond would like nothing more than to have his hands on the levers of power across Whitehall. However, with the elections to Holyrood due just a year after the General Election the SNP will be wary about tying itself to a UK government that will, whatever the result, have a severe bout of austerity to preside over.

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot forward

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14 Responses to “Parliament’s power brokers – where they stand ahead of May 2015”

  1. Leon Wolfeson

    “We can dismiss any deal of any sorts between the Conservatives and the SNP”

    Mistake. Any party with the sort of central leader the SNP have always has the ability to make this sort of deal. As you noted, the SNP have already made it plain that they’re ready to start voting on things which don’t affect Scotland – the idea of a Tory coalition to set up a split by moving England/Wales/NI in one direction and Scotland in another…must be appealing, strategically.

    Moreover, your determination that we MUST have austerity for England/Wales/NI…means that things will keep going wrong. But hey, those wages must fall in your economics.

  2. swat

    Perhaps the handful of Sinn Fein MPs who habitually stay away, could do the decent thing for once, and turn up and earn their keep and neuralise those DUP bigots; its one way of getting their own back on the DUP for fddling while NI burns. ONe way to do that is to introduce an attendence allowance for all MPs, ie if you don’t clock in, you don’t get paid.
    The Commons would be a lot livlier with that lot, not seen since the days of Bernadette Devlin.

  3. JohnMcDonaldish

    Take off your Westminster prism spectacles and you will realise how silly your comment sounds. The very reason the SNP is currently riding high is because Labour joined the Conservatives in the Better Together coalition. There will be, can never be, a SNP deal with the Tories. The SNP will use its voting power in the next UK Parliament to, primarily, ensure the possibility of a further referendum.

    As for EVEL, just how often do any votes not impact Scotland? The English NHS? Just think of the Barnet implications…

  4. Leon Wolfeson

    Thank you for making my argument for me.

    You have just argued that having morals is anethma to the SNP, and that you WILL want to deal with them. The SNP will vote to help Scotland, against the rest of Britain, and to undermine democracy.

    I’m for a proper federal structure, myself, but you and other anti-Unionists – like the Tories, in practice – oppose that. No surprise you’re for making Britain dance to your tune, and for more funding for Scotland. To continue even after you’ve got your beloved border, no doubt.

  5. Leon Wolfeson

    Sinn Fein have shown they have the courage of their beliefs.

    And you want MP’s to be far more remote from their constituencies, right.

  6. swat

    SF need to accept the de facto situation and take that oath to the Queen, keeping their fingers crossed behind their backs, until some time in the future when the two Irelands will be re-united. Its just petulance on their part at the moment.
    And, MPs should spend more time in their constituencies; so if we had a real Federal structure, Scottish MPs would rearly be expected to cross the Border anyway; it would be EVEL of sorts.

  7. JohnMcDonaldish

    Your twisted logic mirrors that used by Labour in Scotland. That dishonesty has been rumbled by previously solid supporters and is one reason that your hegemony is finished.

    But keep up with the “vote SNP get the Tories” line. It’s working a treat, honestly…

  8. littleoddsandpieces

    All the pundits predict a hung parliament because all predict the lowest voter turnout in UK history, with a closer to call election than even 1945.

    Labour and the Tories are predicted to have about equal number of seats in England and Wales and neck and neck in the polls for May general election.

    The people who come out to vote the most are the over 60s and Labour could steal a march on the Tories, by repealing the Coalition’s Pension Bills 2010-2014 and so the flat rate pension that is not more state pension but NIL STATE PENSION FOR LIFE and for three quarters of rest LESS NOT MORE of already lowest state pension of all rich nations bar poor Mexico.

    This has nil cost repercussions.

    The ring fenced and full National Insurance Fund is wrongly being called in surplus since 2013, when this is the non-paid-out state pension since 2013, so beginning the denial of

    7 years payout for a couple.

    The state pension is not a benefit and not a burden on the young.

    No age is a burden on another. That is just political propaganda which is always economical with the truth.

    We all pay tax, however poor.

    The poor pay a 90 per cent tax rate from the 75 per cent of all tax that comes from stealth indirect taxes and have had more inflation in energy bills and in food prices than any other income level.

    This includes the half of over 60s that are within the working poor,

    the majority over 60s who are unemployed because are disabled / chronic sick and the 50 per cent unemployment rate of over 60s –

    all equally liable to Bedroom Tax and benefit sanctions and going to foodbanks

    as all ages.

  9. Ian Brannan

    “The SNP will vote to help Scotland”

    Dear god, a Scottish Party who actually decides to stand up for Scotland, her people and her interests how utterly ghastly, eh?

  10. Leon Wolfeson

    So they need to refuse the very platform they’re elected on, and lie? Remind me how well that worked out on the far lesser issue of University Fees for the LibDems.

    And you don’t seem to understand federalism.

  11. Guest

    Treat? Is that what you call your clear support for the Tories, as you scream hate with them at the British, as you call not being morals-free and for your own benefit “twisted”.

    Keep up the Jihad!

  12. Guest

    I’m against all narrow-minded nationalists.
    There’s no difference between you a a Little Englander, to me.

    Keep hating the British.

  13. JohnMcDonaldish

    Keep taking the pills…

  14. Guest

    And there is it, the accusation that because I don’t share your nationalistic, nasty and narrow-minded anti-British views that there’s mental illness afoot.

    It’s good right wing strategy on your part, of course. And highlights why the SNP and the Tories are a perfect fit.

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