Molyneaux backs Burnside, who calls for UUP- DUP merger

Hot on the heels of endorsing a DUP candidate, former UUP leader Jim Molyneaux has now given his seal of approval to David Burnside, who thinks it’s time for one big unionist party.
“I firmly believe that there will be united unionism post-Paisley and post-Trimble. There will be a realignment and I would prefer a merger,” he said. Good or bad for the long-term survival of unionism?

  • fair_deal

    Didn’t Trimble say on Hearts and Minds that one of the reasons the UUP would perform better this time was because they were a unified party once again?

    His tremendous political analysis strikes again.

    I must admit I don’t like the idea of one party.

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    How long would such a party last until the dissent begins?
    Split from the Official Unionists we’ve had the DUP, UKUP (and NIUP), the Ulster United Unionist Council (?) and god knows how many others. Weren’t the Alliance originally an offshoot of the officials who supported reform?

    As for whether it’s good or bad I don’t know. I doubt a single party could provide a single voice for unionists, there will always be those who say it’s too extreme and/or those saying it’s too moderate.

    Unionist parties would be united in any governmental institutions, but would this be worth the loss in choice?

  • The Devil

    there will be one united unionist party

    *********** D.U.P ***************

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    Thank you for that constructive and well reasoned point. Your logic has convinced me.

  • queens_unionist

    just make way for the DUP!

    no i agree with beano, but only as a current analysis, i think the other smaller parties will pale into insignificance as is happening as we can see with the triumphal DUP, this election will be a watershed

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    I would be very worried by any potential merger. If the only unionist I could vote for was someone like Paisley or Sammy Wilson you can bet your ass I’d be seriously considering switching allegiance to the Alliance.

  • Travis

    Unionism is not a coherent or modern political ideology, it is reactionary and inward looking – that is why it is currently in pieces.

    And that is why I believe Paisley’s party’s rise is its last hurrah before the end.

    It has been characterised by many anomalies down through the years, but the most consistent crime has been disloyalty.

    Peronsal ambition, greed, pettiness and a lack of anything approaching a strategy beyond supplanting the other shards of unionism has ensured no strategy for long-term survival remains.

    Read how the unionists debate on here, or in the press and see how far they get without mentioning the IRA or Sinn Fein.

    Here they stand, they can do no other.

    If Burnside, who seems to be caught in a timewarp, is thinking about a unified unionism after the election then he is in for a long overdue date with harsh reality.

    The only way they can even think about a future is if they start creating Catholic unionists – but to do this they need to remove the sectarian frisson which appeals to many of the voters.

    In this sense, it contains within it the seeds of its own destruction.

    It can only splinter further until the rubble of the old monolith is sand, blown hither and thither by the fresh wind blowing through a new Ireland.

    And good riddance too…

  • fair_deal

    Travis

    Yawn

  • DCB

    Beano – to a large extent yes

    And I belief that Burnside himself was involved in one of unionisms more colourful offshoots – Vanguard

    There may be a moment of DUP hegemony but I seriously doubt that it will last before splitters split.

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    OK Travis nice try. I do think a monolithic single unionist party would have a lot more work to do to try and convert the substantial numbers of pro-union catholics into Unionists.

    I don’t think Unionism is, as Travis suggests, fundamentally flawed and I’m not quite sure what the consistent theme of SF/IRA in their rhetoric proves, other than the fact they need to spend more time developing their bread and butter policies.

    I agree that at the minute unionist politicians are reactionary and inward looking, particularly in the extreme wings, but this is not something that is fundamental to unionism. It’s something that seems to be inherent in our leaders, which is unfortunate and needs to be challenged.

  • Keith M

    One Unionist party is not the answer. May 6th will effectivly see the end of the Trimblite rump UUP (going very much in the same way the the UPNI did a generation earlier). Those left in the party should then wind it up. Those that see unionism as their major political motivation should join the DUP. Those that want to build a pro-union consensus should join up with APNI, and try a get a real centry party to grow. A party which bin the principle of consent but isn’t obsessed with “traditional unionist values”.

  • pakman

    the answer is to stop provincial naval gazing and play on the national stage. The Scottish Tories show how to be a unionist party and have a role in a party that has the potential to govern the kingdom as a whole. It is time for those “vile Ulster tories” of old to make a come back.

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    Interesting point pakman – would the Tories be able to paint themselves as the voice of moderate Unionism in Ulster?

    “Those that want to build a pro-union consensus should join up with APNI”

    If you remove the words ‘pro-union’ I’ll accept that statement. On the other hand, if you can find me some sort of recent documentation from the Alliance stating that they are pro-union, I will gladly apologise for all the outbursts I’ve made over the past week where I made clear that the alliance party are certainly not unionist and are no longer even ‘pro-union’ beyond the statement that they will go with the will of the majority, whatever that may be.

  • pakman

    beano

    what exactly is moderate unionism? Isn’t being moderately unionist akin to being moderately pregnant?

  • Jacko

    Singular monoliths are to be feared – always.

    As for the photo shoot, it must have been a barrel of laughs.
    Glum and Glummer posing together and the cameramen afraid to say:”Smile please.”

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    pakman, I understand where you’re coming from, but to me, and I believe most people, moderate unionists are simply those who will hear others points of view, who listen to the nationalist community and are prepared to work with them to make Northern Ireland work. The extremists in unionism by comparison being the sectarian bigots determined to continue operating Northern Ireland as a totally divided state, ghettoised into “theirs” and “ours”.

    Being a moderate unionist does not mean being ‘moderately unionist’, just that you don’t treat the issue as a battle fought out of obligation but as a rational choice.

  • Tiny

    For the DUP to prosper as the main unionist party they would have to change out of all recognition, at present they are aligning themselves with the Orange Order and holding Gospel Concerts to raise money all the while NI society becomes ever more secular, the immediate future looks bright for the DUP, in the longer term I think they will have a problem delivering what secular unionism wants. Face facts, the majority of unionists take a drink, yet how many buy a pint at the DUP conference, this may be simplistic but illustrates the difficulty the DUP will have in the long term attracting the ‘garden centre unionist’ and without their support unionism may well find itself in a political minority despite being in a majority overall.
    As for Burnside’s apparent call for unity, firstly we have been there before with the UUUC, it was a failure, secondly if we do get devolution will a single party appeal to all of unionism, I have my doubts and in the long term I honestly believe the brand of unionism represented by the UUP offers a better chance of appealing to a broad unionist concenus given as I have already our society is becoming ever more secular.

  • Gonzo

    Why is Molyneaux’s imprimatur seen as desirable by unionist candidates. The guy managed to do precisely zero to move the political situation forward when in charge.

  • Alex S

    There is clearly a plan by Smyth & Molyneaux and possibly Burnside to push for a post election merger with the DUP, the problem is that if Martin, Jim and David believe they can stride onto the stage following a bad election performance and carry their party with them they are fools, remember the Ulster Unionist Council is a different ‘animal’ from when Molyneaux could pull wee Jeffrey’s strings. Doubtless following a bad result Trimble will be history but their will be little mood for following the advice of Martin and Molyneaux. If McGimpesy wins South Belfast he will likely be leader, if not the knives will be out for Martin and wee Jim, either way a merger will be a non starter.

  • pakman

    beano

    what’s the more extreeme position – releasing properly convicted and unrepentant murderers from prison or suggesting that due legal process and natural justice demand that their sentence be served?

  • aquifer

    A ritual cull of a scraggy old mutineer would unite the UUP at least.

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    OK extreme may be the wrong word, we can replace it with fundamental if you like 🙂

    We all took a chance on the GFA, it turns out it didn’t work but it was worth a shot and hasn’t been a total failure – Northern Ireland is unarguably a better place now than it was 10 years ago.

  • fair_deal

    Gonzo

    “Why is Molyneaux’s imprimatur seen as desirable by unionist candidates”

    Personally I can’t see why he’d be an attraction either but for some reason a section of the unionist electorate have a soft spot for him.

  • Butterknife

    Travis

    Even if you had of ended after your first paragraph i cound not agree with you more. Unionism is negative ideology.

  • Butterknife

    Feel free to correct me if I am wrong but: Alliance was first to spring from the loins of the Official Unionist Party in 1970 – their view was that Northern Ireland remains part of the Union basing their analysis on non-sectarian factors.

    Contrast this O’Neill aborted vision with the DUP child and we may conclude that there can never be a merger between the UUP and the DUP for there will forever be elements that will disagree with the theocratic makeup of the DUP.

    But what if the DUP is backtracking from its 1970s Paisley vision. Is the ‘old’ Paisley dead? It is obvious that the DUP are becoming more pragmatic, if not in what it says then in what it does; at least behind closed doors anyway.

    The best analogy i can think of is how New Labour dumped its socialist credentials in an attempt to gain power and how Blair succumbed to the second nation approach of Conservatism in his quest for office.

    Contrast this O’Neill aborted vision with the DUP child and we may conclude that there can never be a merger between the UUP and the DUP for there will forever be elements that will disagree with the theocratic makeup of the DUP.

    But what if the DUP is backtracking from its 1970s Paisley vision. Is the ‘old’ Paisley dead? It is obvious that the DUP are becoming more pragmatic, if not in what it says then in what it does; at least behind closed doors anyway.

    The best analogy i can think of is how New Labour dumped its socialist credentials in an attempt to gain power and how Blair succumbed to the second nation approach of Conservatism in his quest for office.

  • Davros

    Butterknife, it’s worth remembering that wikipedia is not 100% reliable as a source.

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    From same article: “particularly since the mid-1990s Alliance’s political philiosophy has veered away from non-sectarian Unionism towards a more liberal, anti-ethnic position.”

    I can’t find the article now, but I posted something here on slugger last week that articulated alliance’s view on the constitution issue from their own website. Basically they said that it should remain in the UK as long as that’s what the majority of the people want. Now SF and the SDLP have agreed to that does that make them unionist too?

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    I should point out that they didn’t veer away from the “non-sectarian” bit, it was clearly the Unionism bit that changed.

    Also, on the point that Unionism as an ideology is negative, that is no more true than saying that republicanism (in the NI dictionary sense) is negative. All either are based on is a choice of nation state which NI should be part of. The fact that Unionist politicians have been largely incapable of expressing that in anything but negative terms is an unfortunate fact, but does not define the ideology itself.

  • Davros

    I would sauy that Unionism is primarily defensive rather than negative.

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    Isn’t that simply because they already have, on a high level, what they want? And does that mean nationalism is ‘offensive’? 😉

    If we were in a United Ireland would it not then be true that nationalism would be on the defensive? If this is true then surely the ideology is not therefore defensive by definition, only the expression of it in the current circumstances.

  • La Dolorosa

    Why doesn’t Burnside do the honourable thing and join the DUP?? I am sure Trimble would be glad to see the back of him for all the trouble he has caused.

    Is it because living in London, thinking he’s a sophisticated metropolitan type with aristo aspirations he feels that the DUP label wouldn’t go down well at dinner parties etc….

  • PatMcLarnon

    Anyone unionist receiving the support and political wisdom of Molyneaux had better fear the worst. After all it was canny Jim who launched the republican political project near on 25 years ago.
    In the middle of the 1981 hunger strike and following the death of Fermanagh & Sth Tyrone MP Frank Maguire it was a politcal masterstroke of Jim to move the writ for the by election thus presenting Bobby Sands and republican strategists with an offer they couldn’t refuse. Thanks to Jim, Bobby Sands got elected.
    Now one would think that such a great tactician like Jim would obviously learn from his mistakes. Fresh from presenting Bobby Sands with a worldwide propaganda coup. Not a bit of it. Following the death of Bobby Sands and still in the middle of the hunger strike what happens next. Yes you guessed it, Jim moves the writ again for another by election and the inevitable election of Owen Carron.
    No two ways about it Jim really is a box of tricks.

  • Alex S

    I listened to wee Jim on Talkback the other day, he was in Durnsides office and clearly stated that he was only endorsing Burnside, he made the point that the photo being flaunted by Donaldson is some months old

  • Roger

    There really isnt enough unionists for there to be two main parties it minimises the representation of unionism.

    I dont understand why the DUP dont have a few councillor candidates in the border areas of the ROI to represent the protestant minority its at least worth looking into.

  • Chris Gaskin

    “I dont understand why the DUP dont have a few councillor candidates in the border areas of the ROI to represent the protestant minority its at least worth looking into.”

    They have just elected one in the Fews DEA in Newry and Mourne, Glenn Oliver. It brings there total on Newry and Mourne Council up to two.

  • Roger

    I mean in areas such as Donegal etc.

  • Chris Gaskin

    I would love to see the DUP contest elections across the island but I would very much doubt they will do that.

  • Me

    Well said Travis – exquisitely put. Nothing like a bit of articulate analysis to cut through the baby-barrister spouted dross that seems to haunt this site.

  • IJP

    Beano

    If a Unionist merger swings people like you into the Alliance fold, here’s to the merger – you’ll be more than welcome!

    Wikipedia isn’t too far off, but it’s worth noting that Alliance is just what it says it is – an Alliance!

    In much the same way as the Liberal Democrats are formed from Liberals and Social Democrats (although most members joined post-merger), Alliance was formed from offshoots of the Liberal Party, the NI Labour Party, the Peace Movement, and ‘Official Unionists’ disenchanted with hardline Unionism.

    I’d question how much of that is really relevant now, mind!

  • Sam Maguire

    Chris, not to be pedantic but technically were does the fews touch the border 😉

    And while talking about The Fews, congrats to Pat McGinn on his election to mayor of Newry and Mourne. A gentleman, brillant councillor for the Camlough area and no doubt will be a superb mayor for all the people of the area from Culloville to Kilkeel

  • Chris Gaskin

    “Chris, not to be pedantic but technically were does the fews touch the border ;-)”

    That’s fine sam, you are wrong but I forgive you 😉

    Roger said

    “candidates in the border areas”

    Not on the Border, do keep up old chap

    I agree about Pat, an absolute gentleman and an outstanding councillor

  • Sam Maguire

    That’s me told Chris – Sin e 🙂

    Tell me, how will the mayorities work out in N&M over the course of the 4 years? 2 SF 2 SDLP or do the Unionists get a rattle as well at the expense of the stoops?

  • G2

    “Anyone unionist receiving the support and political wisdom of Molyneaux had better fear the worst.”

    They sure can, it looks like the UUP night of the long knives is coming: All the lundie UUP members who openly supported the DUP in the last election are in for the chop.

    “Lord Molyneaux, who led the party for 16 years before David Trimble took over in 1995, still holds the honorary position of Ulster Unionist Party patron.

    Both he and former South Belfast MP Martin Smyth could face disciplinary action after openly supporting the rival candidates in South Belfast and Lagan Valley.

    http://www.sundaylife.co.uk/news/story.jsp?story=642485

  • bertie

    Are they bothered?

  • George

    Roger,
    “I dont understand why the DUP dont have a few councillor candidates in the border areas of the ROI to represent the protestant minority its at least worth looking into.”

    Well the DUP leader Ian Paisley will have to show a bit more respect and shake Bertie Ahern’s hand in public if he wants the party to start running in the south. Also, I can’t think of anyone who would vote for them, especially southern Protestants in border areas.

    That includes Donegal, one of those counties jettisoned all those years ago for the good of unionism.

    Do unionists really believe that there is still any kind of unionist constituency in the Republic?

    I really do have to laugh at the idea of Donegal Protestants voting unionist. Even though unionism decided they weren’t worthy of being in the union 80 years ago, they’re all going to vote for it now even if it means segregation, economic stagnation, political stalemate and rampant sectarianism.

    How thick do you think Donegal Protestants are?

  • Roger

    George

    On speaking to some Dongegal protestants they say they feel a little disenfranchised when it comes to voting in the ROI.

    The DUP were not around 80 years ago so they were not responsible for Donegal being ditched.

    I do however agree that unionists in the RIO wer treated quite poorly by their Northern counterparts.

  • Chris Gaskin

    Sam

    I haven’t been home for the last few weeks so I don’t know how the Mayor rotation will go. I would imagine they will take it in turns as they have always done.

    It will be interesting to see if the DUP get a shot. They have increased their seats from 1 to 2. The UUP now Have 3 instead of 4.

    I would imagine Danny Kennedy will get a shot at Mayor during the term.

    Our last Mayor was UU before Pat

  • bertie

    Re whether Alliance is or isn’t unionist:-

    When it was launched (I’m showing my age here), I remeber that it was positioning itself a “pro union” (really unionism for those who don’t like unionists). I remeber Oliver Napier as a good unionist. Although I have been supporting DUP people like Arlene in the last election, I don’t identify with the protestant unionism of some parts of that party. I am more a unionist who happens to be a protestant and for the most part do not like to have to think of anything political in religious terms. However, there is one area of religous prejudice that have to admit to and that is I tend to warm much more to RC Alliance supporters, than the Prod ones. I don’t think that it is a case of being patronising (i.e. It’s as near to real unionism that these poor unfortunates can manage), but rather that the original prod members seemed to me to be delighted with themselves and their libralism (Oh look at me and my RC friends) and kept going on about religion much more than the RCs did.

    I also suspect that the most unionist members of the party are RCs.

    I remember an anti agreement friend telling me about being appraoched by an RC active in the Allaince party who wanted to express her reservations about the agreement, particularly in relation to prisoner releases and having SF/IRA in government. Although she had come down on the side of the agreement she had major issues with her party about celebrating the agreement and the insensitivity and lack of respect shown to victims. OK it’s only one incident but hey it feeds my prejudices :0). I can’t remember whether or not she was a unionist or not but even if it comes to voting I am more interested in what people’s stances are on consent, terrorism and justice than their preference on the border.

    When did the Alliance become neutral on the border as it appears to be now?

    Also are there people within the SDLP who were anti agreement because of terrorist releases and terrorists in government? I have never heard of them. If not in the SDLP, surely there are nationalists in NI, who have these reservations. If there are who do they vote for? Who would Conor Cruise O’Brian’s wife vote for? She fits this category. If I had all my beleifs intact but happened to be a nationalist instead of a unionist, I would probably have voted DUP (or start another party).