Conservatives and Unionists abandoned on the road to nowhere

Let’s start with the good news for the Ulster Unionists. Membership is up. And up by quite a bit for a party that’s not exactly been making all the best kind of headlines. Some estimates put it at about 2k. Which (if they are paying their dues) is not bad at all.

The bad news is that the failed tie up with the Conservatives, continues to become ever more thin. Jeff Peel (who has consistently blamed the UUs for never having bought into the deal in the first place), was first with the news that the alliance was effectively at an end now the Conservatives are plotting their own competitive future in Northern Ireland.

But its worth taking note of Alex Kane’s column today where he suggests that Conservative Party vascillation means that local Associations will not be able to pick up on that competitive future in time for May’s Assembly elections:

If the Conservative Party, one of the most successful election machines in the world, had wanted to field candidates then it could—and very easily—have put an infrastructure in place. And if it was serious about success at the local council elections being held on the same day, then it would have put up Assembly candidates in some key constituencies and looked to benefit from a trickle down vote. The fact that it chose not to do so tells you everything you need to know about Central Office’s definition of ‘unequivocal support.’

So Irwin has been forced into the absurd position of saying that ‘we will therefore watch with interest the results of the Assembly elections in May and then decide on a detailed long term strategy… and put up credible candidates with the experience that can provide the leadership Northern Ireland requires.’

What is the point of planning to put up candidates in the future? What is the point of walking away from yet another battle? Irwin Armstrong is a thoroughly decent man, a man of utter integrity: but he and the NI Conservatives have signed up to a very bad deal, a deal that will kill off all hope of an electoral breakthrough. Let’s face it, twenty-one years is a very long time to still be talking about a long term strategy!

And in the Irish News Roy Garland believes the Tories had the UUP in mind:

The Conservative Party is not likely to abandon the Union but, as expected, have abandoned the UUP instead. Almost exactly a year ago I warned the Tories they were “out of the depth” and would “live to regret their dalliance” with Ulster Unionists. The Tories have now taken their revenge on a lacklustre UUP that is already on its last legs by kicking them in the teeth.

Hmmm… Whatever the intention, Mr Cameron must be regretting the day ever involved himself in Northern Ireland’s political quagmire.

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  • dennis the menace

    Regarding membership I have heard a rumour, and that is all it is, that the talk of “new members” to the UUP is actually old members who hadnt paid last year.
    Technically they arent renewing as their membership lapsed, so their new..again

    I actually sent an email to UUP hq to ask how many to their knowledge had not been in the party before and have not received a reply as yet

  • Frame

    The Gladstonian policy remains of keeping Northern Ireland at arms length from the political life of the UK.

    This is fixed FO dogma and the reason the war went on for 30 years since the IRA reasonably assumed they could win militarily having no political barriers to cross.

    Cameron may indeed rue the day he relinked to the UUP but his efforts were genuine. The problem always was that linking to a communal party meant the Tories were coming into the quagmire rather than us being offered a way out.

    Devolutionists on the left like Roy Garland were always going to undermine the admittedly flawed concept, as wel las the UUP just as he did from the right in the late 1960s.

  • dwatch

    ‘Let’s start with the good news for the Ulster Unionists. Membership is up”

    This news is spin coming from Mike Nesbitt and Mark Cosgrove. The 100 plus new members are ex UUP who left and joined the TUV. They have just rejoined. The UUP membership in 2010 was 2300. 2011 membership is still 400/500 down from last year.

  • Interesting observation from Alex Kane: “September 23, 2006: ‘I regard Cameron as flaky on just about everything and I don’t expect Northern Ireland, or the fate of his local colleagues, to be exceptions to the rule'”.

    All of our major local parties are coalitions of varying proportions of conservatives, liberals and socialists. Why did the UUP link up with the Conservative Party? Was it mainly just for the money?

    Perhaps Cameron’s (and Paterson’s) ‘flakiness’ can be put down to the lobbying of the CP’s core funders. More generally the London and Dublin political establishments will sacrifice the needs and rights of ordinary decent folks here in order to protect their major financial and other institutions.

  • dennis the menace

    Mick, could you use your powers of persuasion to find out from the UUP if any of the “new members” have previous been part of the ulster unionists

  • Frame, this Gladstonian policy applies in Dublin as well as in London. It is particularly noticeable in the FCO in London and the DFA in Dublin; these bodies are PR merchants for their respective states in the wider world whereas the justice departments have to deal with the detritus when our mafiaism extends its tentacles into the rest of these islands.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Let’s face it, twenty-one years is a very long time to still be talking about a long term strategy!’

    Earth calling Mr Kane – 21 yrs is but a moment . Has he forgotten the ‘dreary steeples ‘ of Fermanagh? Has he forgotten that 25 years or more passed with ‘talks about talks ‘ before there were talks and for a similar period if not more one party in NI maintained that there would NEVER be any talks with SF . And then yer man Molyneux went off on the ‘full integration ‘ tangent and left the UUP to wither on the vine of increasing irrelevance to NI voters ? Has he forgotten that it took several false starts and a decade from the GFA being enacted (theory) to being implemented in practice (having an actual working Assembly). The UUP is in meltdown mode coming into the May election and will be russian fronted on the one side by unionist voters endeavouring to prevent SF getting the FM post and on the other by an increasing number of ‘intelligent ‘ moderate unionist voters opting to give their vote to Alliance .

    The Conservatives just like Labour won’t unilaterally ‘abandon’ the Union -they can’t even if they wanted to -but they can and will live with an SF FM which fact will stick in many unionist ‘craws ‘ .

    ‘Mr Cameron must be regretting the day ever involved himself in Northern Ireland’s political quagmire.’

    Indeed -he’d have been better to have stuck to his very own ‘quagmire’ as he waves the eh ‘big society’ over ever increasing unemployment numbers and the prospect of a double dip recession’

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    I wouldnt for a moment suggest that there are not many decent ordinary secular ‘Prods’ in the UUP but if we had to pick one word to sum why the Tory party had difficulties with its relationship with the UUP it is sectarianism – and this has been indicated/confirmed by the local Tories.

    For Cameron to lecture the plain people of people of Ulster on ‘tribalism’ and for him to then throw his lot in via UCUNF with the UUP a party which has a majority/many/most of its elected officers in the Orange Order – was not only hpypocritical but a recipe for embarassment and electoral wipe out – and that is what was delivered – and (of course) widely predicted here on Slugger.

    That the Tories should further wish to distance themselves from such a party as the UUP (who wish to be led in the 21st Century by another Orangeman) within the context of the disastrous UCUNF experience should therefore be no suprise.

  • Sammy, Paterson seems more comfortable with the paramilitary godfathers (loyalist and republican) than with the plain people of Ulster, irrespective of tribe.

    Paterson has given a nod to Martin McGuinness; President McAleese has given a nod to Jackie McDonald as well as to senior PRM folks, the ‘good’ paramilitaries are ‘revered’ by the London and Dublin establishments.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Nevin,

    re. “Sammy, Paterson seems more comfortable with the paramilitary godfathers (loyalist and republican) than with the plain people of Ulster, irrespective of tribe.”

    there is no valid comparison here – one is a mandatory requirement – as dictated by the GFA/STA – the other is a voluntary liaison.

  • Sammy, I think it’s a perfectly reasonable comparison. The change in the Agreement that the plain people voted on was made after the St Andrews Agreement was published. It looks like another one of those squalid little side-deals that Mark Durkan used to draw attention to.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Sammy, I object to you calling me sectarian because I belong to the Orange Order, for that is what you comments imply, in fact I believe the reverse is true, your remarks are sectarian for stating membership of a religious group bars you from leadership or senior position in a Political Party.

    As for the membership, as usual the truth is a bit of both stories, some lapsed members returning and some completely new members, have seen quite a few of both come through the office in recent months, locally the opposition to the A5 has helped win some over for example.

    As for the Tory link, whats the story? they are running in the council elections, as probably was always the case, and need a office, would be crazy going for MLA’s if they cant get councilors, lets see how they get on shall we?

    One thing for sure on reflection, the link did not bring many votes to the UUP, and probably cost many more, so a much looser tie wont do much harm on the doorsteps.

  • There is a pattern developing here: the whole Tory/Unionist axis is up for renegotiation.

    I’d suggest the NI perspective is different only in that UCUNF was so ill-conceived and unstable as to be guaranteed to self-destruct.

    Consider what I would see as a close analogy: the Scottish situation.

    There, last May, the Tories identified eleven parliamentary constituencies as “targets”. £400,000 additional funding was allocated to deliver the goods.

    The outcome was:

    ¶ to hold the one seat (Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, i.e. the Scottish Middle March of the Cheviots and North Pennines);

    ¶ to garner 16.7% of the vote (up all of 0.2% on 2005, and lower than 1997);

    ¶ it gave [Lord] Michael Forsyth, who was the Tory Scottish Secretary for John Major, chance to opine:

    “It’s no good deciding, ‘oh we’ll have a great campaign for three weeks for a general election’.

    “You’ve got to do this day-in-day-out and the Conservatives have got to be seen to be involved in the day-to-day issues in Scotland, and I’m sorry to say I think for a long time the Conservatives have been a bit marginal…

    “There is no-one in charge, we need to have someone who is in charge of the Conservative party in Scotland. Preferably elected by the membership.

    “The membership and the constituencies have been allowed to atrophy.

    “The branches have disappeared, there’s no real link between the voluntary side of the party and the MSPs and I think probably and I’m as guilty of that and everybody knows that I’ve been very sceptical about devolution.

    “But I think probably we have to accept the reality of the Scottish Parliament and perhaps use that more effectively as a platform to put across our ideas.”

    All of which with the consequence:
    ¶ membership declined from 40,000 in 1992 to a quarter of that today.

    A government of public-schoolboy millionaires, with their roots firmly set in the Home Counties, raining austerity and private affluence/public squalor on all outside the magic circle, is going to have serious problems. NI is well rid of such types.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    DR,

    I’m sure many people belonging to the Orange Order are not sectarian including yourself (an altogether agreeable fellow).

    This my definition of sectarian as applied to an organsiation.

    An organisation can be said to be sectarian if it is a party to* activities which encourages disrespect for another religion

    *Organises events and fails to comprehensively deal with and dissasociate itself from the attendant sectarian behaviour surrounding those events e.g. effigy burning, anti-Catholic rhetoric, traditional/provocative marches where they are not wanted ie the very community they are disrespecting.

  • Comrade Stalin

    now the Conservatives are plotting their own competitive future in Northern Ireland.

    No matter how many times they get beaten they can’t seem to resist coming back for more.

  • dennis the menace

    No matter how many times they get beaten they can’t seem to resist coming back for more…..

    who?? the UUP, the Tories or the TUV

    or all of the above???

  • “coming back for more.”

    Nothing to lose but their deposit, CS. No doubt the same spirit imbues AP candidates in Foyle – 0.6%

  • Drumlins Rock

    “effigy burning, anti-Catholic rhetoric, traditional/provocative marches”

    Sammy, if you want to condemn individuals for the above do so, but it is certainly not the OO myself or I would say Tom Elliott would recognise. There have been mainland Tory Orangemen too btw. and probably still are a few holding office of some sort.

    I would however say the Orange influence is much much less than it was, and may even be a minority view even in the west, which is good in the same way say there was a strong CoI or Presbyterian influence being more balanced out now. (unlike another party which despite changes still has a disproportionate influence from members of a very small denomination).

    Being an Orangeman in itself should neither be a help or a hindrance in belonging to and holding office in the UUP, Conservatives, DUP or dare I even say Alliance!

  • Drumlins Rock @ 8:21 pm:

    Being an Orangeman in itself should neither be a help or a hindrance in belonging to and holding office in the UUP, Conservatives, DUP or dare I even say Alliance!

    Can we now have an exegesis reconciling that with the following two statements?

    [1] We’re working to build a society free of segregation, sectarianism and prejudice where everyone – Catholic or Protestant, black or white, local or immigrant, rich or poor, young or old – can live their life the way they want, free from fear. [First item of APNI statement of beliefs]

    [2] We are a Protestant fraternity with members throughout the world … Today defending Protestantism is not so literal as it was in 1795, but it requires us to take a stand for truth in an age of secularism and in order to defend our culture and traditions. [Front page of Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland website]

    Anyone looking for a statement on the place of religion in modern UK politics might start with the polemic Damian Thompson did for the Spectator, previous to the May 2010 General Election, if only violently to disagree with it.

    And, predictably, Thompson’s punchline drags in the nostrum of that fascinating ambiguity, Maude Royden, on “the Conservative Party at prayer.”

  • Reader

    Malcolm Redfellow: Can we now have an exegesis reconciling that with the following two statements?
    The statements are essentially orthogonal to one another. How about making the issue more concrete for DR by describing a realistic scenario where the two statements neccessarily come into conflict?

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    DR,

    I am suggesting the OO is a sectarian organisation based on what is a reasonable defintion – you have not addressed that – but suggest (as I have already indicated) that there are individuals within it who are not sectarian (some of whom may or many not be on the mainland).

    Assuming the above definition holds, the Ulster Unionist party must reasonably be assumed to be a deeply sectarian party given that all/most/many of its elected members, including its leader, belong to the OO.

    … and this assuption has been backed up by local Tories who were expected to share a political bed with the OO.

  • Reader @t 8:32 am:

    One statement is inclusive and refers to society; the other exclusive and describes itself a “fraternity”. One attempts to be all-things-to-all-persons; the other is explicitly denominational (note: I did not say “sectarian”: that is in the eye of the beholder). One is progressive and forward-looking (“to build a society”); the other is emphatically retrospective (“traditions”). One is herbivorously harmless in the clichés of the sociological Sixties; the other uses barely-disguised confrontational terms (“defend”/”defending”; “take a stand for”).

    Yet, these two are “essentially orthogonal”: Designating a right angle; (also) having a right angle; right-angled [OED]. Yes, that’s one way of representing two different lines ending in a dead-end. Silly me for not doing so.

  • Neil

    The sectarian word needs redefining, especially in Northern Ireland. It still means ‘of, relating to or charecteristic of a given sect’, but then there’s no inherent negativity in that. But given the OO is a Protestant organisation for Protestant people it would qualify for that description, though so would every single Church/Chapel in the land.

  • Old Mortality

    The Conservatives have now grasped how comprehensively all creeds and classes (except for migrant workers and they can’t vote) in NI are mired in dependency culture. They now realise that, until this malaise is cured, their electoral prospects are very poor indeed.
    Garland, Kane et al. are just expelling hot air on the subject.

  • Malcolm, we’re multifaceted; we all bring baggage to the table. Take the Labour Party. It gets much of its funding from the Trades Unions and their express aim is to support their members. Some Trades Unionists will have been prepared to bring the economy to its knees in pursuit of political dogma. Not much is ever black and white.

    I can think of Alex. In his time he was a farmer, a Presbyterian Church Elder, an OO Worshipful District Master and an AP local government candidate – a downright upright decent man, a pillar of the community. I can think of Gerry whom I helped get a hip replacement in double quick time (7 weeks in the mid 1990s), a quiet Catholic family man, a farmer – another downright upright decent man, a pillar of the community. We need more men and women like these.

  • Mick,

    Jeffrey Peel’s headline had a question mark on the end of it. His follow-up post “Why the Conservatives are whimps”

    http://jeffpeel.net/2011/02/04/why-conservatives-are-wimps/

    centre on a view that the UUP has not actually been abandonned at all. The realilty is that CCHQ are hedging their bets. They recognise that the UUP could fold up but they wont allow NI Tories to contest elections “Just in case”.

    I think your headline gets it right though. By half backing the UUP and half backing the NI tories, both of them are undermined.

  • Nevin @ 11:37 am:

    At least with Nevin one has a three-dimensional approach (“multifaceted”) rather than a simplistic black-and-white two-dimensional right-angle.

    I suggest a growing political party needs two main elements: a “unique selling point” [USP] and a dynamised support. Money and workers will naturally adhere to perceived success.

    Of course there are in any community innumerable all-round good eggs (an expression, I was assured, put into currency by Compton Mackenzie, except I think I found an earlier one in Kipling — both eggs of considerable quality). I would certainly concur that government needs them more than any self-serving, upwardly-mobile demagogue, of which we have an ample sufficiency.

    I’m not wholly convinced of an analogy between NI political factions and the Trade Union-Labour link. That link is, in any case, not merely financial: the collaborative and co-operative characteristic is also vital (a point that Blair, de haut en bas, singularly and sadly ignored). Labour, when it is embedded in the community, is not “exclusive” in the way that NI parties tend. That’s historical: the Labour Party is still marked by a twin heritage, industrial working-class Labour and the social-democrat intellectual — Bevin and Cripps; Brown and Prescott; Miliband and Alan Johnson.

    By contrast the UUP was, like the Tory and Liberal Parties (and, indeed, like the original Irish Parliamentary Party), mass-membership recruited to maintain established political élites. At least the DUP can claim to be (originally) a “bottom-up” construct. Perhaps that is no more than a mark of “when” more than “what”: younger parties did not have to adapt to the expansion of the franchise in the way the older ones needed.

    Which brings me back to how I read Mick Fealty’s headline post. What, for heaven’s sake, is the new media-friendly UUP (with or without the NI Tory rump) USP? Then, if a political party (especially so in NI) does not have the legs on the streets, it is a losing — if not already lost — cause. That is the UUP problem this season: the party is too reliant on custom and loyalty: a soufflé needs a bit of stirring dynamic action, not just good eggs.

  • Malcolm, Labour has its factions much as Unionism and Nationalism do. And if you look a little deeper you’ll find collaborative and co-operative aspects in the latter two as well. In NI, Labour-minded folks get caught on the horns of the constitutional question and some of the more extreme elements helped set folks at each other’s throats back in the 1960s.

    I use the multi-faceted term deliberately because quite a few of our decent politicians have certain blind spots that inhibit compromise solutions.

    The early Unionist party was certainly mass membership and its USP was Ulster’s and later NI’s continuing UK membership, not the maintenance of a political élite; indeed many of its members would have been active in Tenant Rights and promoters of the Ulster Custom. Some of its leaders were of the élite but their leverage was rapidly in decline.

    The UUP is more scrambled eggs than soufflé 🙂

    Soufflé comes from an old French word meaning ‘blow up’ or ‘puff up’. Gerry Adams used to describe how as a young lad he and his mates ‘blew up’ frogs; later on they blew up other things. Tony Blair and some Alliance Party folks possibly fall into the second category 🙂

  • JAH

    Alex Kane wrote

    “If the Conservative Party, one of the most successful election machines in the world, had wanted to field candidates then it could—and very easily—have put an infrastructure in place.”

    Really? Despite the millions Ashcroft poured into the Labour marginals, they still didn’t win. In fact they’ve lost every election since 1992. The Tory Party members are mostly old duffers, anti EU believers and the dying breed of One Nation Tories who can hardly even raise sufficient numbers to leaflet in a campaign. The days of the Young Conservatives being popular (for picking up girls!) are long gone.

    And just why would a collection of Old Etonians have any appeal? Was that not one of the reasons the deal with the UUP so lamentably failed? Nobody with any real sense wanted the nobs running the place again.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nevin:

    Nothing to lose but their deposit, CS. No doubt the same spirit imbues AP candidates in Foyle – 0.6%

    The difference being that you only have to go for a short drive down the road to be in a place where Alliance win seats. You have to get on a boat or a plane to find a place where the Tories win. That sort of pisses you off, I can tell.

  • cynic49

    The recent increase in membership of the UUP doesn’t really equate to more foot soldiers. It represents friends, family and cronies signed up to qualify to vote at selection meetings to ensure that a few more bloody noses are handed out. Don’t expect to see many of them actually knocking doors in May. I heard of one constituency where a Kingmaker who fancies himself as an MLA actually paid some membership dues out of his own pocket and set up the drinks after the selection meeting proved a resounding success for him. Isn’t democracy just great?

  • USA

    The OO is sectarian in it’s membership, sectarian in it’s philosophy and sectarian in it’s actions. Anyone who joins such an organisation is also sectarian. To be a member of the OO as it currently operates is indefensible.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    In fairness, the Alliance Party do offer themselves to the Electorate. Whether the electorate in some parts (0.5% in Foyle) rejects them or heartily endorses them (37% in East Belfast) is entirely irrelevant.
    Indeed the same can be said for all our political parties and I credit them all with having some degree of affection for this place which the Tories claearly dont and all of them have public spirited members which of course the Tories dont…..except in the few months before an election when somebody dreams up the notion of them organising here.
    Alas organising a political party is a bit like getting a puppy……..its not just for Christmas.

    For reasons that are rather obvious, I am not qualified to be a member of the Orange Order. Im not their biggest fan but certainly many of the members I know are without a sectarian bone in their body. Sectional..of course. Sectarian…..not necessarily.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Let’s be clear and at least somewhat consistent in the use of this word; in the NI context the christian churches are the sects to which the word sectarianism refers. That’s one of a good number of reasons why we shouldn’t be listening to a word they say on the matter, leastways when they describe it as a problem for which they take none of the responsibility (why would they, sure aren’t each of them at least very slightly morally superior to all of the rest of them, right ?) and to which they wish to apply solutions which don’t dilute their own influence and position within society.

  • Yes, let’s be clear: the correct term is “denominational”.

    “Sectarian” is the term used by the Presbyterians to denounce the Independents during the Commonwealth period. Then, and now, it has pejorative implications.

    “Sectarian” became an offensive synonym for “denominational” late in the eighteenth century, thanks in large part to Edmund Burke: They ‥. have been taught to look on religious opinions as the only cause of enthusiastick zeal, and sectarian propagation.

    Whatever sectarian/denominational outrage is done in the name of one or other brand of christianity, it should not allow us to damn the whole of the churches indiscriminately, anymore than Zionism equates to Judaism or Islam conflates with Islamism. But that’s just another time Nunoftheabove intervenes in a thread merely to get his rocks off and troll.

  • Drumlins Rock

    “Isn’t democracy just great?”

    Cynic, can do the Churchill quote, but I’m sure you know it, thats how it works, we need checks and balances in place to weed out these abuses, in the UUP one of these is members have to be signed up at least 6 months before being able to vote at selections, so I presume the above quoted member was organised enough to do so, lets hope he is putting as much effort into the campaign!

  • Why would I be pissed off about party election performances, CS? I’m not a party apologist.

    It’s ironical that AP is in decline in Derry and Foyle which are often portrayed as areas of progressiveness: powersharing and inclusion. The decision by many electors to vote for parapoliticians and the AP decline paint the opposite.

  • Reader

    Malcolm Redfellow: One statement is inclusive and refers to society; the other exclusive and describes itself a “fraternity”.
    Are you suggesting that communal inclusiveness excludes individual exclusivity? Surely not!
    I did ask for a scenario where the two statements could not both be followed by the same person. No sign of that yet.
    You’re obviously a well read person, but you may need your numerate offspring to explain to you that orthogonality can be defined within as many dimensions as required, and isn’t restricted to right angles on a plane. But I have to admit to being impressed that a veteran lefty admits there may be more than one political dimension, even though you might have trouble making use of the extra space.
    Here in Northern Ireland for instance, the Political Compass is at least 4 dimensional, and the Alliance statement defines a blob that covers a lot of that 4D hypersphere.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Malcolm

    I have no intention of trolling and I wish I could say the same about your apparent determination to stalk my contributions, creepily enough. Slightly better at starting arguments than you are at seeing them through though, one notes. You appear to think that you have all the answers already and take the opinions of and facts provided by others as personal attacks and, mildly amusingly, in a pathetic, puerile kind of way, regard alterative positions to your own as interference. Think we all know the type. Popular boy in the school yard you must have been, to be sure….

    Do please try to make a point of ignoring me until such times as you can learn some manners or, failing that, pretty much ever. Old fashioned of me, I know, but there you go. You fail the would-this–tone=be-acceptable-in-the-boozer test with flying colours for the second time. We’ve discussed this inability to be civil business before, after all…

    That ought to be clear enough I think. Even for you.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Why would I be pissed off about party election performances, CS? I’m not a party apologist.

    For sure.

    It’s ironical that AP is in decline in Derry and Foyle which are often portrayed as areas of progressiveness: powersharing and inclusion. The decision by many electors to vote for parapoliticians and the AP decline paint the opposite.

    What’s a “parapolitician” ?

  • CS, the advantage of not being a party apologist is that I can comment more freely. I mostly vote across the UUP-SDLP spectrum but that doesn’t stop me being critical of or praising particular candidates or their actions.

    I’ve defined a parapolitician as a politician of a party that is managed by the leadership of a paramilitary organisation.

  • Reader,

    Re: your exchange with Malcolm. You are right that being of adherence to the words of one group does not prevent adherence of the words of the other. To further emphasise that point, the Orange Order requires kindness and toleration to be shown to Roman Catholics.

    In spite of that, Malcolm was right to highlight the last paragraph of DR’s comment as being wrong. I repeat DR’s words here

    “Being an Orangeman in itself should neither be a help or a hindrance in belonging to and holding office in the UUP, Conservatives, DUP or dare I even say Alliance!”

    It is not the written principles of the Orange Order that are wrong. It is its history and what its leaders still do in practice, which is the problem.

    Until a generation ago, dominance and oppression by Protestants over Catholics was a feature of communal life in Northern Ireland and Orangemen were at the centre of their administration. Today, Orange Order leaders continue to project an unacceptable face of Protestantism through their lack of moral leadership.

    I don’t know how the Alliance Party would deal with a member of the Orange Order. The Conservative Party would never bar an Orangeman from becoming a member. However, those factors would make it impractical for a progressive Conservative Party to select an Orangeman either as an official or a political candidate.

  • Drumlins Rock

    “The Conservative Party would never bar an Orangeman from becoming a member. However, those factors would make it impractical for a progressive Conservative Party to select an Orangeman either as an official or a political candidate.”

    Are you advocating a two tier membership of the Conservative party Seymour? That is a rather shocking undemocratic and almost fascist position to hold, for a political party to tell me I am welcome to join but because of my religious views I cannot hold office or put my name forward for selection is grossly offensive to put it mildly.

  • USA

    DR,
    By being a member of the OO a prospective Conservative party member comes with a lot of ugly looking baggage. We know how the rest of the world viewed the conflict and the OO role in it (see Seymour Major above). When even British coservatives are no longer comfortable with the OO perhaps it’s time to look within yourself. Another reason for the UUP / Con public divorce.

    I have to say I am sure there are some well meaning people in the OO but either they cannot or will not do enough to help sanitize the whole group.

    And yes religions are sectarian by definition

  • “that is a rather shocking undemocratic and almost fascist position to hold”

    DR,

    I am not advocating a making a rule, simply pointing out the approach that Conservatives would take to a would-be Orange Order candidate.

    There would not be a written rule preventing anybody from the Orange Order from holding such a position. However, a potential candidate would have to demonstrate their cross-community credentials. The starting point that such a person would be an electoral liability in the Catholic community. Therefore it is almost certain that a member of an Orange Order would never be selected.

    That is not fascist. It is practical and acceptable form of discrimination.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nevin:

    I’ve defined a parapolitician as a politician of a party that is managed by the leadership of a paramilitary organisation.

    What, like the Ulster Unionist Party (Vanguard) ?

    Seymour :

    I don’t know how the Alliance Party would deal with a member of the Orange Order.

    It wouldn’t be an issue, especially as the person joining would surely know, or otherwise find out, that Alliance believes that the parades issue should be solved by dialogue with residents.

    The Conservative Party would never bar an Orangeman from becoming a member. However, those factors would make it impractical for a progressive Conservative Party to select an Orangeman either as an official or a political candidate.

    Doubt it would happen under Cameron. Didn’t he disband or cut away the Monday Club ?

  • Comrade,

    I sort of get the shivers when anybody mentions the name of the Monday club. For those who are not familiar with the group, this is an internal right wing pressure group within the Conservative Party. Enoch Powell was among its members.

    It was actually David Davis, under William Hague’s leadership that banished the Monday club.

    I have not said it in public before but I may as well say it now, on this thread, that the Monday club is a thorn in the side of the Conservative Party and my very strong suspicion is that its influence has been felt in relation to retaining residual links with the UUP. Of course, I cant prove it. It is also clear that some of them (including the Wintertons who have thankfully now gone from Parliament) support the DUP.

  • CS, how does that work? The UUP is managed by the sort of people you’d find in the Alliance Party – and the SDLP, for that matter ie too many limp lettuces.

    I’m a bit disappointed that any AP folks fell for the ‘concerned residents’ blarney. Did they not check out Breandán Mac Cionnaith’s pedigree?

  • Comrade Stalin

    CS, how does that work?

    Weren’t Vanguard, Third Force, Ulster Resistance paramilitary ?

    I’m a bit disappointed that any AP folks fell for the ‘concerned residents’ blarney.

    Tell me your alternative solution to the parades dispute.

    Did they not check out Breandán Mac Cionnaith’s pedigree?

    I’m well aware of it. And ?

  • They were indeed, CS, though not in the same league as the folks some AP folks seem keen to identify with eg the aforesaid Breandán Mac Cionnaith, not forgetting the Gerry and Martin ‘laugh-in’ in the ‘war by other means’ campaign aka ‘the parades dispute’.

    So which of the various ‘ Army Councils’ manage Alliance, UUP, DUP and SDLP?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Seymour,

    Eloquently put. I don’t actually think the Monday Club were behind the UCUNF idea. I think David Cameron was badly advised and thought it was a way to promote his concept of a closer union. If you want to blame any one person it was probably David Trimble who saw channelling money into the UUP dead horse as a way to strike back at the DUP.

  • Comrade Stalin

    They were indeed, CS, though not in the same league

    Ah, so now we’re into leagues. How do we decide who is in which league ? Are we going to trade bodycounts ? Or are we going to argue that there is a difference between the man who fires the shot, and the man who stands beside him ?

    as the folks some AP folks seem keen to identify with eg the aforesaid Breandán Mac Cionnaith

    Who ?

    Or do you mean that the idea of talking to residents who might have an opinion on marches means that I’m identifying with a convicted terrorist. Is that it ?

    , not forgetting the Gerry and Martin ‘laugh-in’ in the ‘war by other means’ campaign aka ‘the parades dispute’.

    So you’re the guy who talks about “parapoliticians” yet seemingly you put the parades dispute in quote marks, as if it is a figment of someone’s imagination that the idea of people marching down a road – on some occasions waving paramilitary regalia – might be offensive.

    The idea that SF invented the parades dispute is classic Unionist self delusion. TBH, most of the leadership of the OO have begun to realize this.

    So which of the various ‘ Army Councils’ manage Alliance,

    That would be me and the other guys who hang around the back lighting farts in our spare time.

    UUP,

    Vanguard of course. Sir Reg and David both. Both now Lords, how fitting.

    DUP

    See above. If someone wears a beret and march people around the place wearing balaclavas or waving gun licenses around, are you seriously going to defend them as not a “parapolitician” ? sigh.

    and SDLP?

    They’re not flawless, but at least they don’t run around the place threatening police officers or organizing fascist-style marches and inspection ceremonies.

  • Comrade Slalin,

    As regards who conceived UCUNF, I think you are right. David Trimble is the prime suspect. I dont blame Trimble for having the idea but the proposed project should have been propertly researched before it happened. What I want to know is what research was carried out and what risks (if any) were highlighted to David Cameron.

    That may be past history but it could still important as the Conservative leadership is still receiving bad advice from somebody within the party.

  • CS, it seems you’re the man/woman who stands beside the paramilitaries in the ‘war by other means’ campaign. I’m all for inclusion but I do draw a line.