Alliance will not stand down

As first stated by our own Philip Weir here yesterday, it looks like the Alliance Party have called a halt to standing down in favour of other ‘moderate’ parties.

Noel MacAdam’s piece which quotes party leader David Ford suggesting that he might have been backed for a peerage, where his candidates to back down in favour of the UUP in several key constituencies.

MacAdam mentions East and South Antrim, and North Down – three crucial battleground constituencies in the next Westminster elections. Though it’s not entirely clear that these are the particular places concerned.

One Alliance source told Slugger that there was no longer a case for treating the UUP as a party of the moderate middle ground, and that it was widely considered (within his own party) that it had moved directly out to the extremes, even as the DUP was moving closer to a role as the voice of the moderate mainstream.

  • Davros

    Of course he can, but is it, as implied by alex’s post his/her prime function?

  • davidbrew

    Seen it all now – Lawyer trying to excuse what he is by blaming Tourette’s syndrome 😉

    Carson pretended to faint in court when his case was going badly.

    Alex s-perhaps Jeffrey was having to make up for the deficiencies of some of his UUP Councillors. Why is it the MP’s job to bring investment, and what’s the difference between that laudable aim to improve the lot of constituents and doing so by helping them with smaller concerns.

    Lord Davros-don’t tell me Trimble’s got you on the payroll too-BTW Lord of where?

  • Davros

    Carson pretended to faint in court when his case was going badly.

    That’s magnificent ! What a Man!

    Lord Davros-don’t tell me Trimble’s got you on the payroll too

    If not actually actionable, that’s deeply hurtful!;)

    BTW Lord of where?

    Skaro and soon to be Earth.

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    Davros, I didn’t say anything about sharing power with loyalists. My point was that there is no reason to believe that unionists are completely wedded to democratic and peaceful means, which they are required to be in order to sit in the power sharing executive. How do we know they won’t pull another UWC if they take it upon themselves to decide it won’t work ?

    If there’s another loyalist killing spree, how can we be assured that unionists will use their influence to make it stop ? There have been several serious crimes with UDA involvement in the last few days, where the police have fingered the UDA quite directly. Why aren’t unionist politicians speaking out about this, congratulating the success of the police or calling upon their community to reject any loyalist paramilitaries looking for a hiding place (for example) ? These are the simple things I expect from people who describe themselves as the party who support the police, or the party of law and order.

    Don’t you think these issues are at least as serious as the question of the IRA guns and what’s being done with them ? Would the IRA’s guns become less important if we weren’t sharing power with SF ?

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    “But Paisley 2004 is seen as an old man who has stuck to his principles “

    Huh ?

    Although I’m happy that Ian Paisley is interested in doing a deal, it’s false to say that he always wanted to do one. Until fairly recently, Paisley said that there would be no powersharing with republicans *ever*. He was also pretty unequivocal over what he thought Dublin’s role in the whole business would be. And what have we now ? The man’s about to go into government with SF, and is never out of Leinster House these days.

    Ian Paisley has never run for election on a specific, constructive mandate. He has always sought election on the basis of wrecking or destroying. I’m glad to see that he’s given up his old ways of late.

    Regarding his recent success, it could be argued that it may have a lot to do with him stepping out of some of the active running of things. At the moment he seems to be content to be the puppet for the Robinson/Dodds agenda.

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    Davros, I think you must be an impostor. Everyone knows that Skaro was destroyed by the Hand of Omega.

  • Davros

    Davros, I think you must be an impostor. Everyone knows that Skaro was destroyed by the Hand of Omega.

    Is that the fate that awaits ?

  • Davros

    How do we know they won’t pull another UWC if they take it upon themselves to decide it won’t work ?

    Remember what happened back then ? The pro-sunningdale Unionists got slaughtered at the polls and yet Sunningdale continued. That Couldn’t happen in this Assembly . So, that’s not a worry.

    If there’s another loyalist killing spree, how can we be assured that unionists will use their influence to make it stop ?

    What Influence ? There are no UDA brigadiers in the ranks of either the UUP or the DUP. We know that there are senior IRA members in the ranks of Sinn Féin.

    There have been several serious crimes with UDA involvement in the last few days, where the police have fingered the UDA quite directly. Why aren’t unionist politicians speaking out about this, congratulating the success of the police or calling upon their community to reject any loyalist paramilitaries looking for a hiding place (for example) ? These are the simple things I expect from people who describe themselves as the party who support the police, or the party of law and order.

    Good questions. Because Unionist politicians are busy with the negotiations ? Have they been speaking out and the media aren’t carrying their comments* ? Because they are twats who don’t understand how it looks if they don’t play the media as well as the SDLP and Sinn Féin ? Lastly – because they are twats full-stop ?
    I suspect all 4.

    * e.g. was this carried by any of the papers ?

    “Speaking at the Working Forum in Belfast, organized by NIPPA, Jim Allister QC MEP made the following remarks,”

    “Thank you for your time, and I would like to leave you with one final thought: here in Ulster we are still enduring political uncertainty. Our children and families are continuing to suffer at the hands of paramilitaries. It is the responsibility of those who continue to use the apparatus of terror to brutalize our children and families to put away their guns and bombs in an open and trust-building way. The families and children of today and tomorrow demand nothing less.”
    Mrs Dodds on UDA

    and curse you for putting me in a position where I have to defend Unionists and even worse visit the DUP website 😉 I have Lawyer Daleks investigating my options!

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    Davros, I remember what happened during Drumcree in 1996, where the country was sliding at breakneck speed into anarchy and unionist politicians simply stood out of the way and allowed it to happen. They allowed the paramilitaries to block the roads, they allowed the paramilitary-inspired demonstrations to close the motorway, the port to Larne and the airport road without lifting a finger or saying a word. Paisley showed up and said “don’t come running to me if you get burnt out of your houses” to the police officers – you know those gallant defenders of Ulster who the unionists are eternally greatful to. shortly afterwards there were reports that the crowd had a tank full of flammible liquid and were going to spray it on the soldiers and set them on fire. At that point the Secretary of State reversed his decision that things recovered.

    What basically happened here is a group of people threatened to use force, and got away with it while unionist politicians acquiesced. In my view, keeping quiet about people using violence is basically the same as supporting it. But people like Martin Smyth went even further, indicating that people had a right to engage in whatever form of protest was necessary in order to secure their rights. When Willie McCrea takes a podium with Billy Wright and people come onto this very forum to defend it, as other contributors have in the past, it shows the paramilitaries that they have willing voices in the political ranks who’ll shout for them. There is very little difference between this and having a paramilitary wing all of your own. Now could someone tell me why I should support sharing power with the DUP when it refuses to discipline someone who jumps on a platform with a known multiple-murderer ?

    There are loads of imaginative ways unionist politicians could use their influence on paramilitaries. A good start of course would be not to take platforms with them. Of course the UDA do not take orders from unionists, I know that well. But that doesn’t mean there are no ways to get things done. For example they could stand alongside the police and council workers while illegal UDA/UVF/etc flags are taken down, and take the initiative in having those flags removed. That would show that such emblems are not supported by the community (and would be a great stick to beat the republicans with). They could do likewise when murals are painted over and paint is removed from the kerbstones. There are other simple things too. For example when the Assets Recovery Agency makes a successful seizure, how about a few unionist politicians saying “excellent work keep it up” for example ? I’ve heard very little comment from unionists on the recent UDA seizures. Now if you want to get REALLY imaginative, you could say that unionist politicians who know the identities of paramilitaries in their neighbourhoods (which they do) should go to the police and ask for them to be prosecuted on membership charges where they will stand as witnesses. How about that idea ?

    For every DUP comment you can wheel out, I can wheel out three examples of the DUP being equivocal. Do you want to start with Ruth (“I didn’t know the PUP were linked to paramilitaries”) Patterson ? The Dodds quote you produced is quite useful, as it shows how whenever the government mentions the UDA the DUP quickly try to change the focus to everyone else, even though anyone with any sense agrees that the UDA are far more active and dangerous than the IRA are. See how in a debate about the UDA he started talking about concessions to SF. Why can’t a unionist politician simply condemn this organization or that without qualifying it ? Is he afraid the community will turn on him ?

  • Davros

    Drumcree in 1996

    I thought we were discussing the post-GFA Assembly ?
    As I pointed out, the Unionists in Sunningdale had no mandate. The unionists inside the process now DO have a mandate , and the assembly has been set up so that as and when mandates change that change will be reflected in the composition of the assembly.

  • Davros

    Roger, are comments being made and not widely reported? Are Unionist politicians asked to comment by the media in the same way as Sinn Féin are ?

    I don’t think they are as the media know that there’s a far bigger gap between Unionist parties and loyalist paramilitaries than there is between Sinn Féin and the IRA.

  • Young Fogey

    An interesting debate people – thanks. I’ve missed things over the weekend because I’ve been playing radio ham dits and dahs.

    What I don’t think people have grasped is just how seismically the Earth has moved over the past year or so. I’m not convinced the UUP does have the crititcal mass to survive the next 5 years. Donaldson leaving caused a haemorrage of activisits, which isn’t going to be replaced easily. Since then, the UUs have indulged in a mixture of circular firing squads at Cunningham House, combined with some fairly noxious attempts to out-DUP the DUP. This last demonstrated by the vomit-inducing attempt to make political capital of the plight of innocent Catholic and Chinese people in Sandy Row, which reminded me more of 1934 Nuremberg than 2004 Belfast.

    But worst of all, the UUP just look like a pack of amateurs. The DUP are real politicians. The DUP have ditched their Evangelical bull to the extent of expelling Councillors who make homophobic comments (contrast with the UUP pandering to bigoted racists). I think Robinson and Dodds know just how close they are to destroying the Ulster Unionist Party as a serious force for ever; I’m not sure how many others do.

    Which brings me to Alliance and the centre ground. Its not secret that Alliance has been in diffs since the beginning of the peace process. As others have pointed out at least Alliance has been making some sort of credible contribution to getting self-government off the ground again over the past year, unlike the SDLP and UUP who both seem moping and begrudging. How widely Alliance’s contribution is recognised I don’t know. But Alliance has always been a niche rather than a mass market brand, and it only takes 5% of the population to recognise its contribution for Alliance to be on the way up again.

    As I said earlier, unless the IRA are really stupid, which I don’t think they are, we’re in line for a few decades of DUP/SF dominance, with SF being a serious political player in the South to boot. I can’t see either the SDLP or the UUP being much of a factor in the future – only in North Down, South Down and South Belfast does either party have a hope of winning a Westminster seat next year, and none of those are certain. And that’s likely to be their swansong. Someone will rise up to challenge a two party carve up. Where might it come from – that’s hard to say. Both the DUP and SF are too well tuned in to the working class outlook to be challenged seriously from the Left. Both offer the right mix of populism and socialism, although SF neeeds to be careful not to let the wanky self-hating Dublin 4 Marxists like Mary Lou take over.

    I’d guess therefore any future opposition will be right of centre, although pluralist and internationalist, happy to recognise that people can be any mix of Irish and British and for that not to be an issue, probably pale green although not in a way that’s threatening to anyone’s British identity, and openly looking South for a model to emulate, along with other small, successful countries within Europe (Denmark, Luxembourg, Estonia, Slovenia) and without (Hong Kong, Oman, Barbados, Botswana).

    Just as an aside, I have to take issue with some of the things Moderate Unionist said along with his many sensible and thought provoking comments:

    There is a difference of culture between the various tribes in Ireland. You could argue that one is more into song, art and enjoying themselves, whilst the other might be dour, industrious and self reliant.

    Would you really say that after a night in a pub up the Shankill? Plenty of song and pleasure, but perhaps a lot less self-reliance these days.

    The UUP on the other hand appears to be a decentralised party […] is probably closer to the Ulster Scot community they attempt to represent

    I really dislike a lot of the Ulster-Scottery about at the moment. Not that there’s anything wrong with the muckle leid, but there’s a lot of historical denial involved in it as well. Almost as many Protestant settlers came from England than Scotland, and in the whole Southern belt of Ulster from Lurgan to Fermanagh, and down into Monaghan, there was barely a Scots settler. Are Catholics and Protestants really that different? How does the new, go getting, but unfortunately also grasping, South fit into the Irish stereotype?

    There’s certainly nothing wrong with being Nationalist or Unionist, and maybe that’s an area where Alliance has been too puritanical to date, but I’m not the only person who resents being put into a pigeonhole. At the end of the day as a Catholic convert to the Church of Ireland, an Anglophile resident of London who ultimately isn’t British, a sometime and possible future resident of Istanbul and a proud Irishman, I find the pigeonhole doesn’t really fit, although I still enjoy seeing Celtic kick the crap out of Rangers. And that’s nothing to apologise for.

    But my Nationalist identity is about the 98th most important thing in my life. It doesn’t mean I hate Unionists or Britishness, and I think it’s bizarre that our whole political system is built around that. Somehow, I can’t see the Ulster Unionist Party (even if it was in a fit state for any serious business) building the kind of country I want to live in.

  • Davros

    I still enjoy seeing Celtic kick the crap out of Rangers.

    Last couple of meetings must have been a disappointment then 😉

  • Young Fogey

    Not really, have to give the Huns a chance sometimes…