Bob McCartney is an anomaly in NI politics. Having been elected with four other UKUP MLAs, he was left on his own after a row early on in the Assembly’s lifespan. He has created and broken alliances with an astounding variety of polticial figures, including the veteran Southern poltician Conor Cruise O’Brien and Ian Paisley.
Norman Porter in his seminal work Rethinking Unionism, chooses McCartney as the quintessence of what he calls Liberal Unionism. Porter describes his fundamental position on the constitutional question: ‘…the British State is based on a principle of liberty which facilitates a pluralist society whereas the Irish Republic is based on a principle of authority which is inimicable to pluralism.”
His critique of the Assembly’s effectiveness in last night’s Belfast Telegraph is worth a read. Though it is very short on factual evidence, he does articulate something that is part of the mix of discontent within the wider unionist community.