Saturday, 15 May 2010

Unionists must be cautious of the Liberal Democrats

After my post-coalition euphoria, it struck me there was an area (just the one, of course...) of Liberal Democrat policy I hadn't given nearly enough thought to. It wasn't until I listened back to the BBC 5-Live coverage and Paddy Ashdown dismissed the DUP as 'Irish politics, not British politics' that it struck me: what exactly is the Liberal Democrat position on the Union, and Northern Ireland in particular?

I saw Nick Clegg speak last year, and put this question to him afterwards. The answer he gave was the Lib Dems aimed for a federal UK with very strong dissolved institutions, "but absolutely within the Union". This is of course an awful lot softer on the Union than I and other Conservatives might like, but it suggests a fundamental commitment to the UK that ought to be reassuring.

But - and it may be a significant but - there is no conclusive evidence that this sentiment extends to Northern Ireland. Lord Ashdown certainly struck a 'reunificaton by consent' sort of tone. I shall endeavour to find out more, any LibDems care to enlighten me?

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