UUP-Has Northern Ireland’s ‘grand old party’ finally past its sell by date?

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Last week I did an analysis of the decline in the SDLP’s electoral support since 1998. In the piece, I questioned whether the party had a future if it continued losing voters.

A lot of these same problems affect the Ulster Unionist Party. This party which founded the Northern Ireland state had led every single government that the province had until 2007. Indeed, it is hard to the think that Ian Paisley was the first leader of our provincial administration who did not come from the UUP.

However, those days of dominance are over, as the party find itself in an existential crisis. The figures largely speak for themselves. Since 1998, the UUP has lost 84, 964 votes, this is roughly on par with the loss of support that the SDLP has suffered over the same period. Just to put this in context, that is 6,500 voters abandoning the party every single year.

Unlike the SDLP with Sinn Fein, a bigger share of the drop in the UUP’s vote has gone to their main rival the DUP.

Since 1998, the DUP has picked up around 61 per cent (51,447 votes) of the voters who have left the UUP. The other 39 per cent (33,500 voters) have from what I can see just stopped voting.

The great myth in Northern Ireland politics seems to be that Alliance are picking up bucket loads of disenchanted UUP voters. However, over the 15 years, Alliance has had no growth in the number of people voting for them.

Where to now?

Revolving door leadership-The easiest way to spot a dying party is to see a continuous chain of leaders come and go. This has been going on with the UUP recently has they have had four leaders (Trimble, Empey, Elliott and Nesbitt) in just seven years.

Defections-I know Basil and John’s departure earlier this year is not seen as a major threat and I don’t think it is. But we should remember that it makes the party’s recovery all that much harder. Even if NI21 only take 5-7,000 votes from the UUP it still can damage the party in places like South Belfast, Lagan Valley and South Down, where they need to either hold or make gains.

Purpose-Tony Blair always knew the most important question for any leader or party in politics is ‘what is the point of you?’ The UUP has since its foundation built the party’s strength on its links with the Orange Order, the Ulster Farmers Union and the fact that it helped found the Northern Ireland state.

These three pillars have largely fallen away for the party as the DUP have successfully made inroads in winning over the Orange Order and UFU.

It would be all too easy to confine the decline of the UUP to just 2003 onwards. In reality, since it lost government in March 1972, the broad coalition that it had successfully held together through power and patronage began to fall apart. Now that the party is likely to be out of any serious governmental positions for the next few years, I predict the remaining segments of this coalition to fall away gradually.

Mike Nesbitt was elected in 2012 as the potential saviour of the party. However, I think in a few years’ time, he’s more likely to be the chief the mourner at the wake. After more than half a century of dominance, I cannot help but pose the question, what on earth has happened to our grand old party?

Footnote-The real decline in the UUP’s vote did not come until the 2007 assembly election. The party had a 7.7% swing against it and lost 9 seats.

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  • Presby

    Interesting article. One of the other considerations that must be taken into account is the bureaucratic dysfunctionality of the UUP. People used to joke about how difficult it was to actually join the party!

    It’s questionable if some of the UUP elite were either aware or even cared about this problem as many previous posts have noted over the years.

  • sherdy

    Was this story prompted by the posting on Irish funerals?

  • Mc Slaggart

    3rd most popular youtube video of Mike

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79KspV5Pntk

    Ozymandias
    I met a traveller from an antique land
    Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.

    Shelley

  • Mc Slaggart

    UUP next election broadcast

  • Barry the Blender

    Mc Slaggart

    Could it be any worse than their last one/

  • Charles_Gould

    David McCann

    In a sense it is not very topical to discuss this. The UUP isn’t really in the news. The SDLP is more topical right now.

  • David McCann

    Charles,

    Believe it or not-when people read the piece on the SDLP they wanted to see one on UUP.

    Plus I’ve done 3 pieces on the party in the last week.

    It may not be topical now but sure when something happens I can trot this out and show were problems lie.

  • Charles_Gould

    David

    Could you do one on the plight of the Alliance Party?

  • Barnshee

    The position will “evolve” into two blocks SF and DUP with the DUPERS looking over their shoulder at the TUV and SF chipping away at SDLP.

    There will remain a small rump on both sides who will
    stay out from the main blocks(until they fail to be elected)

    1 Out of pique because they did not get the or a “big job”
    2 Because they cannot stomach joining parties and people they despise

    Over time they will fade away

  • David McCann

    Charles,

    No problem.

  • aquifer

    10 comments nobody gives a fiddlers really so politically they are toast.

    Nesbitt in the non-suit rabbitting beside his getaway car was particularly excruciating.

    Managing to make Reg Empty look presidential is quite a trick.

    ‘plight of the Alliance Party’!?

    All they have to do is get three guys in suits who support the police and they have the UUP duffed.

  • BluesJazz

    I haven’t voted since 2007. Nor will I bother to ever again. Like just about everyone I know. What’s the point?

    The only things that affect our lives are dealt with at Westminster. They give us a massive subsidised block grant.
    Which is then chopped according to tribal dimensions.

    Everything else is cheesecake.
    There are a lot of (highly paid) civil servants to be paid, who have absolutely no function ,so it goes.

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    BluesJazz[12.32] And there’s the rub [as Will Shakespeare put it], We might as well go back to direct rule. We’re living through a theatrical stunt with Stormont. The game’s up.
    This place is as good as defunct and doesn’t know it.

  • Gopher

    One election result away from oblivion. There is now no daylight between themselves and DUP even the dinosaur differential seems blurred. Not positioning themselves in opposition confirmed their irrevelence in the minds of the electorate. Same problem with SDLP you can’t build a liberal society if your in bed with fundies you are fundies yourself. The UUP and SDLP are the political equivalent of Vichy.

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    @David,

    Great post!
    I think though, that even with all the similarities in their problems, the SDLP has a much better prognosis. While usually the UUP and DUP had very distinct identities before 2005–except immediately after the signing of the AAI in 1985, these differences have disappeared as the DUP has stolen the clothes of UUP. As soon as Robinson took over from Paisley the differences between the two parties largely disappeared. Today, although SF has stolen some of the policies of the SDLP it has not stolen its identity. The SDLP still retains its identity as a Christian Democratic party embodying the values of the Catholic Church and can claim to have pioneered the peace process through such past episodes as the Sunningdale process, the New Ireland Forum, the AAI, and the Hume-Adams dialogue of 1988 and 1992. Nationalists largely regard the peace process as a success that advanced their interests so both nationalist parties can truthfully take some credit for it to their separate advantages. Unionists regard the peace process as largely a failure that has hurt the unionist cause. Therefore the UUP is reluctant to take credit for its role in 1997-98.

  • FDM

    There are several quantitative results there David from which you make qualitative conclusions. I would like to see those stats referenced to see if they are sound.

    “Unlike the SDLP with Sinn Fein, a bigger share of the drop in the UUP’s vote has gone to their main rival the DUP.”

    I don’t think you can actually prove that point about the SDLP and Sinn Fein and the transfer of voters between the houses. You are starting at point A in time and comparing it to position B. You draw your own path between them heavily implying [more like stating] that this is the only one; when in fact there are obviously an infinite number of paths between the two points. I think if you are going to make that statement you will need to provide more evidence to support what is really a point of view. Or at least say clearly that this is an unsupported point of view.

    “The other 39 per cent (33,500 voters) have from what I can see just stopped voting.”

    Perhaps because they are dead? There is an awful lot of grey hair at UUP conferences. More every year. Their support is out towards the right-hand end of the bell distribution of the ages of the population. Natural causes may be one of the main reasons for the disappearance of those voters. Recall that the protestant population have a more aged profile and subsequently a higher death rate.

    “The great myth in Northern Ireland politics seems to be that Alliance are picking up bucket loads of disenchanted UUP voters. However, over the 15 years, Alliance has had no growth in the number of people voting for them.”

    Leading on from the previous point shouldn’t the Alliances core vote have fallen through the same natural processes of attrition? If it has not then they have actually picked up votes from somewhere. Where being an interesting question. Why is perhaps even more bemusing?

    “Defections-I know Basil and John … can damage the party in places like South Belfast, Lagan Valley and South Down, where they need to either hold or make gains.”

    NI21 and Alliance [if it wasn't dead from the neck up] could actually seriously damage the UUP. I think 5 of the UUP MLAs got through on the last count at the previous outing? They could have a disaster next Stormont election and lose maybe 50% of their seats with even just a little bit of bad luck. No wonder Ron Burgundy is so tetchy these days. He might very well be the countinuity announcer of doom for the UUP.

    I agree that the UUP are basically trying to out-DUP the DUP these days. I see no light between them. Hence I see no reason or need for the two parties. One will be eaten by the other. MikeTV will more than likely be given some Westminister seat somewhere as a quid pro quo for leading the UUP donkey to the knackers yard. There he can continue his ramblings in irrelevant obscurity.

    2016 is going to be one hell of an election. I can’t wait to see Mike and Peters faces. That is if Peter has the stomach to come out for the final round.

  • Morpheus

    “Nationalists largely regard the peace process as a success…”

    That’s because they went from 0% of the pie to 50% of the pie

    “Unionists regard the peace process as largely a failure…”

    That’s because they went from 100% of the pie to 50% of the pie.

    It will all balance out in the end.

  • Mick Fealty

    FDM,

    I think that’s right re Alliance. Stasis ns a falling market is progress/growth. UU have been inflicted with the hopeful thinking as the SDLP, but their fall was later and deeper than their nationalist counterparts.

    I’d offer two explanations. The unionist political market is more competitive than the nationalist one. No less than five parties are eating into the UUPs corpus: DUP, TUV, Greens, NI21 and UKIP. The SDLP has had no such challenge.

    Whoever cited bureaucracy is closer to the beast than most. Too much time was spent in trying to deal with rules that made the UUC more powerful than the party leader. That anarchy made the party very democratic and too unbiddable to lead. That meant they paid a much higher price for their delay in political renewal.

  • David McCann

    FDM,

    Here’s the interesting thing the Alliance party has gained just 1.2% in just 15 years. Also the party has literally nothing west of the bann.

    Mick,

    The democratic nature of the party is something that was done to appease those different factions within the broad coalition that sustained the party.

    The UUP seems to me to still be in shock over the 2005 result. They lost everything and still have not come to terms with it.

  • Barry the Blender

    Every election is a disaster for the UUP, but you get the sense they look back on previous ones hoping to be in such a situation.

    I don’t think there’s any single reason for such recent decline, rather a cumulative number of small incorrect decisions.

    Regarding the next Assembly election, I suspect 8-9 seats are vulnerable. Then it really is packing up time.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Here are some percentage figures from the 1998, 2003, 2007, 2011 elections:

    DUP: 18.1, 25.6, 30.1, 30.0 [+11.9]
    SF: 17.6, 23.5, 26.2, 26.9 [+9.3]
    UUP: 21.3, 22.7, 14.9, 13.2 [-8.1]
    SDLP: 22.0, 17.0, 15.2, 14.2 [-7.8]
    APNI: 6.5, 3.7, 5.2, 7.7 [+1.2]

    DUP+SF: 35.7, 49.1, 56.2, 56.9 [+21.2]
    UUP+SDLP: 43.3, 39.7, 30.1, 27.4 [-15.9]

  • Red Lion

    In my view the only place left for the UUP to go is into a full-on amalgamation with the DUP, and give this party a new name altogether.

    The reason is that there is now very little difference, if any, in the core values and messages of the 2 parties. Therefore the raison d’etre for having 2 different parties has ceased to exist.

    The public see little diferance in a DUP politician and a UUP politician, except that the DUP are seen as the ‘stronger’ party with more household names and therefore get the vote.

    Not that I’m advocating ‘unionist unity’ as such, as NI21 are then well placed to represent the liberal end of the pro-union lot. The point being there is actually tangible differences between NI21 and a DUP/UUP amalgamation party in terms of core values and future NI21 policy will bear this out.

    A DUP-UUP full scale merger reduces duplication in the political arena in NI, and gives a more honest political landscape.

  • Comrade Stalin

    David,

    This article seems like a bit of a cliché to me. You are referring to matters which have largely been in train for the best part of a decade, when the UUP began losing seats to the DUP.

    The problems in the UUP and SDLP are similar IMO; there’s a lot of people sticking heads in the sand and pretending that there isn’t actually a problem; or that someone will wave a magic wand and set them back on the path to recovery.

    However the UUP’s decline has been steeper and deeper. The party went almost overnight from having a substantial presence in Westminster to having none. The last of those seats, in North Down, was lost when the MP left the party after being snubbed by its leadership. The SDLP has lost only one Westminster seat out of the four it once held. In all three of those seats they have successfully resisted the campaigning strength of the SF electoral machine which is a remarkable achievement in its own right.

    Here’s the interesting thing the Alliance party has gained just 1.2% in just 15 years. Also the party has literally nothing west of the bann.

    Depends on which two polls you compare.

    The Alliance hit rock bottom in the 2003 assembly elections with 3.7% of the vote. The drop had set in some years before then but managed, miraculously, to hold onto 6 seats in the assembly. Had those seats not been retained I have no doubt that the party would have wound itself up.

    In 2011 the party had increased this to 7.7% and added two more seats. To put an optimistic spin on it that is better than doubling the vote in less than ten years.

    Alliance’s position today is that of a key partner rather than a central player but I’m expecting that the party should be able to add at least another one or two seats in the next election, perhaps in South Belfast and North Down. There are opportunities elsewhere, including North Belfast with the right local candidate and a good campaign.

    The west of the Bann thing is a problem. I’ve no idea what the solution is. But it’s unlikely that Alliance (or others, such as the Greens) will make any effort to target seats here when there are pickings to be had to the east.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    ” UU have been inflicted with the hopeful thinking as the SDLP”

    I wouldn’t rule out the impact of the appeasement strategies of London and Dublin and these were aimed at protecting major UK and Ireland institutions, irrespective of the damage done to local communities here.

  • Red Lion

    In addition, in my view, the UUP missed its last chances for relevance when they failed to elect Basil McC or John McC as leader.

    This would have taken it down a liberal route, this making itself different from the DUP, and offering a genuine choice in values/policy to that from the DUP.

    As it was, the UUP failed to show intellect, morals, or bravery and has consigned itself to a slow to medium paced death.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nevin, yes we know. Athboy.

    RL,

    Indeed. The UUP also had a clear choice over the flags protests. Mike Nesbitt actually called for the protests to stop within a day or two – with this he was showing at least some leadership. But he quickly fell into Robinson’s trap when the “Unionist Forum” (remember that?) was announced which returned the initiative back to Robinson.

  • http://www.wordpress.ianjamesparsley.com IJP

    The analysis is fundamentally wrong re UUP not losing votes to Alliance.

    Yes, Alliance has the same number of votes as it 1998, but a) that is a fundamentally higher vote share and b) that was not Alliance at its lowest (that came in 2003 when its vote halved versus 1998).

    Since 2003, it is blatantly obvious that there has been a UUP-Alliance shift not least because the UUP has declined fastest in areas where Alliance is competitive.

    For all that, the UUP remains strongest in Border/Anglican areas so will comfortably regain South Down and probably also Lagan Valley.

  • Charles_Gould

    In that late Trimble era, I sense that a lot of people worried about what would happen to the peace process if the DUP became largest unionist party, so switched from Alliance to UUP.

  • FDM

    IJP 15 September 2013 at 1:29 pm

    “For all that, the UUP remains strongest in Border/Anglican areas so will comfortably regain South Down and probably also Lagan Valley.”

    Perhaps I am being stupid but could someone explain how the UUP are going to take South Down and Lagan Valley?

  • David McCann

    IJP,

    Apologies I should have clarified what I meant on the UUP-Alliance shift.

    In the Belfast area the Alliance party has made in-roads into UUP but what this has meant and will mean in the future gains will come in handfuls rather than bucketfuls. For example the last big loss to UUP in Belfast came from the DUP unseating Fred Cobain in N.Belfast.

    Plus if Alliance ever wanted to ever take out the UUP-they would need to do it west of the Bann and they’ve no presence there at all.

  • mjh

    FDM

    IJP means retake from NI21.

    In South Down I would agree. McCallister will lose it back to the UUP.

    In Lagan Valley McCrea has almost half a quota of personal vote and I would expect him to hold on. But expect UUP to take a seat from DUP – not because they will make any inroads into the DUP vote but because even if they lost half a quota to NI21 they still have almost a whole quota left. Last time UUP transfers helped the fourth DUP in, and they would not be available in this case.

    If McCrea loses then UUP regain the seat anyway.

  • FDM

    mjh

    I see what he is on about now. ty

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “Nevin, yes we know.”

    Speak for yourself, CS :)

    “The west of the Bann thing is a problem. I’ve no idea what the solution is.” .. CS

    Anywhere beyond a 20 mile radius of Belfast is a problem for APNI. The party has no presence on Ballymoney and Moyle councils and only one councillor in Ballymena. The party last held a seat on Ballymoney council in 1981 and fielded a candidate in 1993.

  • Comrade Stalin

    FDM,

    That was my first reaction, but I suspect he meant the assembly seats currently occupied by Basil McCrea and John McCallister. Not the Westminster seats which are unlikely to change hands for the foreseeable future.

    I’d have thought Basil would hold Lagan Valley fairly easily, but McCallister is likely to have a fight on his hands. Sadly.

    David,

    Not sure about this obsession you have west of the Bann. I can’t speak for Alliance on their strategy but retaining the balance of power and keeping two Executive seats seems like a good short term objective. Adding a few more seats in the places where there is a real chance of doing so, such as in North Down and South Belfast, therefore makes more sense than trying at this stage to encroach into new territory.

    Alliance could win seats west of the Bann if it found someone locally, a sort of a Kieran Deeney figure, who would be willing to run for the party. It won’t be done by parachuting in someone from the Belfast or its suburbs (although that worked for Sammy Wilson).

  • David McCann

    Comrade,

    I’m saying if they want to knockout the UUP then they need to do it there.

    Plus it gives the party that added status that they are more than just a Belfast centred party.

    Going with that logic-SFshouldn’t have bothered with places like South Antrim, North Antrim-yet they went in and have achieved strong results.

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    “Perhaps because they are dead? There is an awful lot of grey hair at UUP conferences. More every year. Their support is out towards the right-hand end of the bell distribution of the ages of the population. Natural causes may be one of the main reasons for the disappearance of those voters. Recall that the protestant population have a more aged profile and subsequently a higher death rate.”

    @FDM,

    I agree with you (I never thought that I would have cause to write those four words). I think it is a phenomenon common to former ruling parties that they have a loyal greying electorate that they don’t replace and that dies out over time. This happened with the South Africa Party/United Party/New Republic Party in South Africa. The party was the dominant party from 1910-24 and again from 1934-48 but because of overloading in urban areas where they had their base they never regained power after 1948 (where they actually polled more votes but won fewer seats than the National Party). Each election after 1948 there were fewer Afrikaner UP voters going to the polls until by the early 1960s the party was really just an English-speaking party with seats only in urban English-speaking areas like Natal, Johannesburg and Cape Town.

    It also occurred with the Labor Party in Israel, which was the dominant party (under an earlier guise) from 1935 to 1977 and competitive until 2001. The Labor Party after 2000 experienced a melt down for similar reasons to the UUP after 2001–dissatisfaction with the peace process. The Likud successfully blamed the outbreak of the al-Aksa Intafada on the Labor Party for having trusted Arafat in the Oslo process, which is similar to the decommissioning issue in NI.

    It is also a factor in the U.S. in the competition between the two main parties. The Republican Party, which was the dominant presidential party during the second half of the Cold War, has been greying and losing support to the Democrats among whites. But because there is no native question as an electoral issue in America, the Republicans will probably just adjust their stance on illegal immigration and will then attract the more conservative part of the electorate on social and economic issues and make a comeback. The UUP has no such future.

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    “Not sure about this obsession you have west of the Bann. I can’t speak for Alliance on their strategy but retaining the balance of power and keeping two Executive seats seems like a good short term objective.”

    @Comrade,

    I agree with you (as is often the case). The West has been lost since the Hunger Strikes of 1981-82 and when I was in NI talking with top Alliance people in 1998 and 2001 I never detected any effort to go after it. The party has been a Greater Belfast party since then with representation in the middle-class areas from N Down to S Antrim. I was told by Seamus Close in 2001 that after the Assembly went through an entire sitting there would be a huge psychological change among the electorate and tribalism would be dead. Now hopefully the party will begin to abandon such unrealistic utopian thinking and settle for the electorate they have rather than the one they wish for. I think that Stephen Fairy and maybe one or two other people in the party are pretty good at doing electoral analysis and can pick out areas where the party has a good chance of gaining.

  • Barnshee

    “That’s because they went from 100% of the pie to 50% of the pie.”

    Do elucidate

  • Charles_Gould

    I think that certain politicians in the assembly have had more than 50% of the pie..

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    @Morpheus,

    “That’s because they went from 100% of the pie to 50% of the pie.”

    That’s part of the equation–but only part. The other part is that in exchange for this loss of power they were promised by their political leaders that they would get security through peace. Instead they got a lowering of the level of incidents to what existed during the last years of the Border War or before internment. Plus, most of the loyalists are pessimistic by nature and the Shinners feed this pessimism.

  • paulG

    Calculations of the UUP regaining Basils seat or failing to, should also consider that there is a Catholic quota and growing, in LV and a good SDLP campaign attracting enough Catholic Alliance voters and SF transfers could take a seat, leaving a 3 way scrap for the last Unionist seat.

  • Lionel Hutz

    I think the Sdlp would need one election to put them in position and then a possible push for the seat at the following cycle. I would say PaulG’s scenario is much precisely to happen in south down. A split uunionist vote could bring a third Sdlp seat there.

  • paulG

    Lionel,

    You’re probably correct on both S Down and Lagan Valley.
    SDLP should still make a concerted effort in LV and hope to get lucky. Even if they fail, they’d be seen as the challenger next time ahead of SF.

  • http://www.wordpress.ianjamesparsley.com IJP

    The SDLP is in total disarray in LV.

    The simple fact, back to the theme of the piece, is that the UUP remains strong and growing in the border area. At Council level, it is actually larger than the DUP in four border constituencies.

    So I think we will see the UUP become essentially an agrarian non-Protestant-fundamentalist Unionist party. But in urban and Ulster-Scots areas, I see no way back.

  • paulG

    The SDLP are in total disarray practically everywhere, but God love them, they have to start somewhere.

    Can the UUP’s rural limbs survive without it’s urban body and just a teeny media head on the DUP’s chain?

    Nesbitt to sell them out and Green light a merger?

  • Greenflag

    @ TMitch 57,

    ‘This happened with the South Africa Party/United Party/New Republic Party in South Africa. The party was the dominant party from 1910-24 and again from 1934-48 but because of overloading in urban areas where they had their base they never regained power after 1948 ‘

    They also lost out because of the much higher birth rate among Afrikaans speakers in South Africa before Boer War times . The ‘Engelsmen ‘(English speakers ) tended to emigrate more than Afrikaners and in particular post 1948 .

    As well as local factors militating against it’s future in NI the UUP also has to contend with the fact that ‘Conservatism ‘ in the sense of being the ‘ideology ‘ of the GOP in the USA or the UUP in NI or the Conservatives in Britain, or even FG/FF/Lab in the Republic is on the wane . It has no solutions to the widening inequality gaps in income within these societies -It has nothing to offer the electorate in terms of new ideas ,policies or departures . It is stale , bankrupt and out of touch with the younger generation in all these countries .

    They have been ‘bought out ‘ by the financial sector and corporate interests even more so than was ever the case in the past .

    Conservatism has NO answers to any of the huge social and economic issues facing western societies .All the grey heads can do is stick their heads in the sand . And when one looks to the left or centre left of the spectrum there is also a dearth of practical solutions and policies that would reverse the continuing emisseration of the working and middle classes in the west .

    In 20 years time if current trends continue the western world will be a tale of three worlds . The top 1% will hold 75% of all the wealth and assets , the next 15 to 20% will hold 20% of all wealth and assets , and the bottom 80% will live in economic serfdom sharing between them the remaining 5% .Such a society will no longer be a democracy but will be ruled by a wealthy powerful oligarchy who will only be able to maintain power by arming /bribing enough members of the vast underclass to ‘control ‘ the rest. .

    Big Brother with more than a dash of Huxley’s ‘Brave New World ‘ is what the Neo Conservatives have on offer -not that they’d ever admit it.

  • Morpheus

    tmitch57: “That’s part of the equation–but only part. The other part is that in exchange for this loss of power they were promised by their political leaders that they would get security through peace.”

    So equality was OK but only on the condition that those onto which this equality was to be gifted couldn’t influence the constitutional future of Northern Ireland?

  • Lionel Hutz

    IJP,

    The Sdlp, with the boundary changes have only recently found themselves as the largest nationalist party again in lagan valley. They did reasonably well at the last cycle, substantially increasing their vote. It’s a long game but they have something to work with.

  • http://www.wordpress.ianjamesparsley.com IJP

    Not if they’re in total disarray!

    Anyway, back on topic…

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    “So equality was OK but only on the condition that those onto which this equality was to be gifted couldn’t influence the constitutional future of Northern Ireland?”

    @Morpheus,

    Security from being blown up or shot or for business owners from being shaken down for protection money in the name of the union. The constitutional future of NI being conditional on the wish of the majority was very clearly in the agreement.