The need for a Bigger Picture

There is a time in life when one must stand up and be counted. A time when people cry out for a saviour to come and rescue them from their peril. A time to take your place as a leader of men. Then there are other times. Times when people are really happy enough, not too bothered and well, content with their lot. I come to Slugger as the latter hoping to inspire something of the former.

I should explain. After Mick’s recent post on the lack of DUP commentators I thought it about time that I put my hand up and see what I can do but first, a little bit about me.

I should start with the most important fact for the Slugger faithful is that I am a unionist who supports the DUP. My support for the DUP is based on my belief that they have provided leadership and a clear direction from the other unionist parties and represent what, I believe, are core tenants of my unionist belief.

I am sure, just from this, that I will attract a fair bit of flack from other commentators but let me just expand on a few things. I am not a Free Presbyterian, I have a third level education and would quite happily describe myself as a middle class professional. I even enjoy the occassional tipple, Bruce Springsteen, the arts and cricket.

I hope to write extensively on Slugger in the near future on those few topics that I find interesting and also shed some light on politics from the position of a DUP voter,who doesn’t have the baggage of the troubles and the early years of the party and who wants to focus on and debate what the “Bigger Picture” unionism in the 21st Century should be all about.

Fair Deal is a hard act to follow and that is an act that, quite frankly, I am unable to replicate.  Perhaps over time however we can engage in the same debates and arguments that Fair Deal not only participated in but shaped and in some ways influenced the way politics is practised in Northern Ireland.

A lofty ideal, but sure we all have to begin somewhere?


  • Welcome to Slugger O’Toole, the ‘love grove alley’ of mainly Northern Ireland politics 😉

    FP contributors may not be too happy with ‘I am not a Free Presbyterian’. Are you able to give a clearer indication of where you hang your religious hat, if you wear one? Religious structure as well as belief are just two facets of who we are and the character of these structures and beliefs may well find expression in other spheres.

    Can you shed additional light on ‘professional’? There are ever so many professions!

  • Tell us more about your lodgers.

  • London_Irish

    Will you attend a GAA match of Gay Pride event in the near future?

  • tyrone_taggart

    ““Bigger Picture” unionism in the 21st Century”

    Do you support the EU?

    Should the Assembly be pushing for Devo max in Northern Ireland?

  • Not Devo max but Imax surely if you want to get the bigger picture.

  • Welcome on board.
    A cautionary note. Dont get sucked in to it. At best its harmless fun.

  • andnowwhat

    Welcome. I thought you first paragraph was asking for a volunteer to be bitten by a radioactive spider.

    Here’s something that bemuses me, the disparity among the party’s politicians. I’ll set aside the usual stuff and go for the economic/political stance and ask how one can have someone like Sammy Wilson who gave a ballsy rebuttal to the Tory budget and Nelson Mc Causland who makes a very poor, very vague defence of it?

  • “Here’s something that bemuses me”

    andnowwhat, traditionally Unionism and Nationalism have been ‘broad church’ isms and they still are; there would be few votes for a Conservative, Labour or LibDem party.

  • pauluk

    ‘I am not a Free Presbyterian’

    Nobody’s perfect! 😉

  • andnowwhat


    I’m talking about the DUP in regards to real politics. Not that it would ever happen but I’d love to see an election where all parties are not allowed to even mention the green/orange crap and stand on a real, solid manifesto, Not close enough to satisfy me but the party that gets the closest, IMHO, would be the SDLP, excluding the minor parties such as PBP.

    We have a government (Plus Mike Nesbitt) trying to push bull that we must expand our private sector. Due to our geography, our small population and our history, its a fallacy. So to is the idea that our public sector is out of kilter in relation to our population. One example would be the CSA or tax credits office here. The slight of hand is that both of those bodies do not administer our small population but do so for the much larger population of GB. I’ve never once heard that point made.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Welcome to Slugger, think I’m sorta your UUP counterpart, although as I’m getting more involved there it can limit the views I express on here! I guess thats part of the problem in recruiting commentators, getting someone interested enough but still detatched enough to give a free opinion, good luck there!

    Going by your first paragraph I think FJH need not worry your taking it too seriously, although at times I think he doth protest too much in that regard!

    As for your statment regarding not being Free P, it is interesting you felt the necessity to state it, do you still feel uncomfortable supporting a party where membership of a minor fundamentalist sect is a major advantage in gaing office, at local level at least?

  • I think that Drumlins Rock has often demonstrated the two qualities most required here. He has the pulse of his local (unionist) community and the ability to analyse but as he has perhaps hinted, actual membership of a Party invites a kinda defensive attitude akin to spinning.
    Also intrigued by the reference to Free Presbyterianism which I took as a kinda reference to unionist secularism and modernity….or even pragmatism over fundamentalism.
    In itself religion is not important but things I will be looking out for is references to “loyal orders” etc. Again in the case of Drumlins Rock there is a close identity with his community but the intriguing thing is identity with a class (and Belfast metropolitansm?) rather than geographic setting.

  • “all parties are not allowed to even mention the green/orange crap”

    So you’d be opposed to the SDLP slogan on its website, andnowwhat: “A Better Way to a Better Ireland”? It doesn’t come much more ‘green/orange’ than that.

  • Alex Kane

    Hi ‘bigger picture’:

    The place hasn’t been the same since Lee departed, so welcome aboard. I look forward to reading you.

    Take nothing personally and bear no grudges.

    Regards and best wishes


  • Alias

    “Take nothing personally and bear no grudges.”

    That’s a good policy for most circumstances…

  • pauluk

    ‘minor fundamentalist sect’

    What a pathetically small-minded, derogatory and inaccurate comment, Drumlins Rock!

  • tyrone_taggart

    Nevin (profile)

    “So you’d be opposed to the SDLP slogan on its website, andnowwhat: “A Better Way to a Better Ireland”? It doesn’t come much more ‘green/orange’ than that.”

    What could they have said that you would not have agreed was Green/oragne. A better way to a Better ?????

  • tyrone_taggart

    Drumlins Rock

    “As for your statment regarding not being Free P, it is interesting you felt the necessity to state it, do you still feel uncomfortable supporting a party where membership of a minor fundamentalist sect is a major advantage in gaing office, at local level at least?”

    Is the UUP not infected by the Orange order?

  • t_t, the SDLP is a nationalist party – so the slogan fits.

  • Mick Fealty

    Tyrone, keep that incivility up and ye can sling yer hook,

  • Lee Reynolds

    Congrats BP on getting on board with slugger.

    My advice would be this:

    You’ll learn a lot from the experience if you let it.

    You’ll probably find your first couple of dozen threads will be rough. This is normal ‘blooding’ of new contributors with the site users testing ur abilities. It generally isn’t personal.

    Don’t feel the need to write long screeds with every post. (In fact if you just blog matter of factly about a topical news story users seems to appreciate it but by highlighting particular stories you still drive the narrative). I did write some monster posts in my day but they were the exception not the rule.

    It can be time consuming but engaging in the comments is often worthwhile plus it allows you to develop an argument or message to its full. You’ll get to see every angle criticism will come from.

    And of course don’t feed the trolls.

    With a bit of luck maybe the BT will get over its DUP comment phobia and you end up with a paying gig (even if a very poorly paid one). Enjoy.

  • ER60

    Does bigger picture unionism exclude those who have baggage from the recent and ongoing terrorist activity within our country? Eg the victims of the terrorists and their families.
    Religious backgound and educational achievements are mentioned by you. Can you explain why you felt the need to do this?
    21st century unionism to me will be the same as 20th century unionism ie. I wish my country of birth to remain as part of the united kingdom. Do you see this changing in any way as the basic foundation of unionism?
    For the record, I do not feel the need to note my religious persuasion. I am a professional, with no class distinction, I enjoy a drink, Springsteen is ok to a point, art doesn’t particularly interest me and I think cricket is boring.

  • Bigger Picture

    Thanks for all the welcome posts guys I’m looking forward to debating with you all soon.

    As for the follow up queries on my unionism etc we’ll have plenty of time to get into all that over the coming weeks and months as I get into the swing of posting.

  • aquifer

    Bigger Picture

    Which did more for the Union? Ian Paisley or Easyjet?

  • pauluk

    easyJet picked the right colour, anyway!

  • lamhdearg2

    Bruce Springsteen! you are a sick man.

  • tyrone_taggart

    Mick Fealty

    “keep that incivility”
    I don’t mind you saying “incivility” but could you point out what I wrote that you objected?

    I asked Big picture Unionism the two biggest issues for Unionism.


    Then I asked “nevin”

    “A Better Way to a Better Ireland”? It doesn’t come much more ‘green/orange’ than that.”

    I was and am wondering what one could write that would not be perceived as Orange or Green. Northern Ireland?

    I asked the Question:

    “Is the UUP not infected by the Orange order?”

    You may not like the word infected but it does have the meaning to which I wished to get across. “incivility” does not come in to it. The UUP are no longer the biggest Unionist party. Once when they was it was an advantage to have strong links with the Orange order.

    Now the “Mike Nesbitt” fight to grow his party will be hampered by the link. The Fermanagh and south Tyrone “lilywhite” agreed candidate lost in part due perceived deals in an Orange hall. The actions on the Party was exemplary over the death of a police officer recently in Tyrone. To that I have only the greatest of praise for the Ulster Unionist party. Still an unrepresentative part of the OO objected and the public perception of the UUP was damaged.

    Most political comentators have all my life talked about the Ulster Unionist party as some how moderate? I may be wrong but could you point to me another example of a party in Europe having such strong links with an organisation such as the Orange order and being called moderate?

    It should be noted about the Orange order:
    “Orange Order is a Notifiable Organisation for the PSNI” I know the Orange order strongly object to this but it was still put in place.

    The perception of the orange order is what most people find in Wikipedia not in Orange halls.

    “Catholics, and those whose close relatives are Catholic, are banned from becoming members”

  • The DUP leadership style seems to be one of jumping aboard when the train has left the station. Will its critics be accused of hobophobia?

    We had the Fair Deal manifesto in 2003 [pdf file]. Can we expect the Bigger Picture manifesto in 2015? 😉

  • tyrone_taggart


    I am still wondering what one would write that would not be perceived as either Orange or Green? North of Ireland was tried but I think did not work?

  • lamhdearg2

    tt, would Ulster not do, after yesterday (and when Down reached the final), most folk where/would be happy with Ulster.
    sorry to go of thread.
    there that got it out of me

  • babyface finlayson

    “Tell us more about your lodgers.”
    Good one.
    Bigger Picture
    Good luck with it.
    I see no need for you to answer interrogation about yourself. We don’t expect it from Pete Baker or indeed Chris Donnelly.

  • t_t, the late Ray Davey probably got closest to inclusivity when he used the term ‘Open Village’. I’ve often dropped state/nation labels and instead used generic terms like traditional, regional, national and international in the cultural realm. Curiously enough, ‘Northern Ireland’ – the disputed label for the contested space – is more precise than ‘Britain’, ‘Ireland’ and ‘Ulster’. The flax/lint symbol for Stormont seems to be acceptable; perhaps the folks on the hill could come up with a new name and put the agreed symbol on a flag for this troubled terrain..

  • tyrone_taggart


    Thank you for the reply.

    ‘Open Village’
    I have never come across the term ‘Open Village’ and in truth it does not have any meaning for me.

    “generic terms”

    Terms such as “regional, national and international” are problematic. Take “nation” people will have a different spin on what the term means is it “northern Ireland”, “Ireland”, UK or some thing else. If a party uses it then the next question someone is going to put to a candidate what nation are they on about.

    “flax/lint symbol for Stormont seems to be acceptable”

    I would agree with you. For once blandness is good.

    Do you think the “red hand” on its own should be used more?

  • lamhdearg2

    would Ulster not do, after yesterday (and when Down reached the final), most folk where/would be happy with Ulster.
    sorry to go of thread.
    there that got (a bit more) out of me.

  • Perhaps Big Picture and Chris Donnelly could get together to produce a blog on the theme, “A Shared Future”.