Reactions to DUP manifesto

The DUP launched its election manifesto this week, and thus far I haven’t seen any critical analysis of it. Mine goes thus:

1. “Let us continue the unionist revival” – Stormont is suspended, PIRA activity continues, Direct Rule Ministers impose education cuts and the water tax: what revival? Furthermore, this sits uneasily beside Paisley’s statement at the manifesto launch that the a DUP victory would be the ‘salvation of the union’ – he can’t have it both ways.

2. “Keeping Unionism Number 1” – hypocrisy from the Party that is splitting the unionist vote in Fermanagh and South Tyrone and South Belfast and threatening to hand these seats to Republicanism and Nationalism.

3. The mysterious silence about the Comprehensive Agreement – pages 7-12 of the Manifesto discuss the SF-DUP negotiations. Much is made of the DUP achievements but the phrase ‘Comprehensive Agreement’ is buried away on page 11. No web link is noted for the text of the Comprehensive Agreement. Paisley’s introduction to the Manifesto mysteriously also fails to make any reference to the document. Why the embarrassed silence?

4. Very weak policy profile

Crime (page 19): no support for ASBOs or ID cards (UUP Manifesto – strengthening ASBO legislation, ID cards to fight terrorism and organised crime).

Health (page 21): vague comments on reducing bureaucracy, but no proposals; no policies on primary care (fundamental to a more effective NHS); no clear public health agenda, beyond smoking ban and vague ‘encouragement’ for healthy living (UUP Manifesto – replacing four health boards, Primary Care Groups, modern IT infrastructure, public health agenda on obesity, MMR and smoking ban)

Local taxes (page 22): talks of opposition to water tax, then provides a plan to implement it; only refers to “delaying” imposition of capital values basis for rates (UUP Manifesto – sets out alternative agenda for rates reform, and alternative to the water tax)

Education (page 25): vague reference to, but no proposals for reducing bureaucracy in administration; reference to improving standards for all but no policies to achieve this (UUP Manifesto – emphasis on literacy and numeracy in primary education/fairer system of academic selection)

Older citizens (page 26): a “substantially increased state pension” but no ideas as to how much or how it would be funded

Environment: receives passing mention under ‘local government’, but nothing else (UUP Manifesto – create Environmental Protection Agency, Marine Act etc)

Economy: no reference to economic policy in the manifesto. Is this the Party to represent Northern Ireland in Westminster?

  • Dessertspoon

    I know that Michael may have a slight leaning towards another party but the post does raise some interesting points. I suppose the DUP top bods all sat around and thought well we don’t need policies we NEVER intend to try and govern. We don’t need to explain how to finance anything like pensions because it will never be our responsibility. Sad thing is people will still vote for this party because there are still too many people in Norn Iron who just can’t see past the their painted kerb stones.

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    I must admit my initial reaction when I saw this post was “Another blind DUP-bashing on the way” but to be fair I too was astonished at the vagueness of the DUP’s manifesto and the blatant bandwagon jumping therein.

    Obviously a pro-UUP (or anti-DUP?) post, but much more methodical and reasoned. I haven’t read the UUP manifesto yet but will do so as soon as I have time to compare.

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    Oh and by the way Mike, there was an analysis (of sorts) of the DUP manifesto at EverythingUlster.com last week.

  • hagrid

    Dessertspoon, if your comment appears to betray a feeling of exasperation, then I am sure you are not alone on this forum. Many of us have a difficulty in accepting that a party at conflict with itself on almost every issue of importance, bar one, actually appears to be growing in public support, particularly at the expense of other parties with a less extreme position on that one ‘big’ issue.

    We may live on a island, hundreds of miles from the main centres of western european civilisation, however we share the many economic, ecological and social problems of others and we are certainly not isolated or protected by any border, natural or political, from the effects of globalisation on the international economy, nor by pollution of the air and seas.

    Is it unfair to expect that the DUP take a clear position on these issues, or is their failure to do so more evidence to support the claim that they are blinded by their preoccupation with the constitutional debate and those of paramilitarism and terrorism: their ‘one (and only) big issue’?

  • Stalford

    Maybe Michael Shiliday would like to explain to us all why his party colleague Michael McGimpsey ran away from a radio debate with Jim Spratt? So proud and so confident are the UUP of their great manifesto and wonderful candidates that Trimble’s No.2 is afraid to go on the airwaves and defend them.

  • Stalford

    The UUP manifesto ran to 14 pages, the DUP’s is some 30+ pages in length – so much for “weak policy profile”.

  • idunnomeself

    Chris,

    you will admit thought that there are lots of pages with a picture and one line on it?

    Page length doesn’t equal content!?

  • Stalford

    idunno

    I think if you conducted a word count – ours would still be longer – it’s also a more comprehensive manifesto.

    (No doubt Mr. Shilliday will be counting every word to prove me wrong!!!)

  • Davros

    No wonder Unionism is in such a mess if they are reduced to “mine is bigger than yours” 😉

  • Stalford

    Davros

    Hey, hey! My point was, I don’t think Mr. Shilliday is in any position to lecture the DUP about being policy lite when his own party has even less to say about the big issues than we do!

    People in glass houses and all that…

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    The number of words does not necessarily reflect the amount said.

    Quality, not quantity.

    * would like to point out I haven’t read the UUP manifesto yet, so for all I know it could also be lacking in both – I just think the above is a good standard rule of thumb.

  • Stalford

    beano

    Read the two mainfestos – not that it’ll make a blind pick of difference to you!

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    Stalford, as I’ve pointed out I read the DUP one. I have yet to get the time to read the UUP one.

    “not that it’ll make a blind pick of difference to you!” ball? Anyway I’m prepared to listen to what the parties say, I just don’t expect anything from them. You seem to think I have some blind affinity to the UUP but it’s simply that I see them as the only realistic alternative to Paisley’s Protestant Unionist Party (an image which the DUP manifesto has not shaken from my mind), I’m not particularly enamoured with the campaign of either party this year.

  • Stalford

    beano

    Get a grip! The notion that the DUP is a “proptestant unionist party” is a fiction. Yes Dr. Paisley has his own religous views, and yes he isn’t afraid to share them with others (even if they don’t really want to hear them), but it is entirely ridiculous to buy into an analysis of the DUP that is at least ten years out of date.

    Furthermore, what’s so wrong someone, like Dr. Paisley, having Christian core beliefs? From what I see and hear certain party’s/indivduals could do with an injection of some! BTW, I never accussed you of a blind affinity to anyone, you condemned yourself out of your own mouth.

  • George

    I do find it incredible that the DUP in it’s election manifesto is proud that its policies have given “the Irish people a sense of affront, dare I say it humiliation, that the agreement they approved has been renegotiated behind closed doors” (quoting Mark Durkan).

    Unionists should ask themselves why humiliating the Irish people is something to be proud of. Hardly the foundation to build an agreed future for us all on this island.

    The DUP should also ask themselves why most of the quotes are from nationalists or the nationalist media. Does unionism not have anything to say for itself anymore? Does it now only judge itself by the strength of nationalism? Where are the aspirations? Where’s the vision?

    I also don’t understand why one minute Ian Paisley insults the Irish leader Bertie Ahern by telling him to keep his “dirty hands” out of NI and at the same time sends his boys down to meet southern businessmen so their own dirty hands can fumble in the greasy nationalist till.

    One minute the DUP says “Ulster is not for Sale” and the next minute they are sending a delegation down south to meet southern business interests.

    It was obvious to all that it was the northerners selling and the southerners buying at that meeting.

    Is the DUP looking for Northern Ireland to become even more economically dependent on the Irish Republic than it already is? That’ll shore up the union in the long term alright.

    Maybe those southern dinner party nationalists I occassionally meet who glibly say “Northern Ireland? We’ll just buy it off the British in 25 years” are talking sense after all.

    I see there is still no mention from the DUP or UUP of where the Irish fit in the union. I think I saw an Irish unionist riding a unicorn yesterday.

  • Traditional Unionist

    My point was, I don’t think Mr. Shilliday is in any position to lecture the DUP about being policy lite when his own party has even less to say about the big issues than we do!

    I think the initial post kinda disproves your point! His analysis seems to show that you have very little to say on policy issues. You havent even attempted to address that issue, just thrown insults around!

  • Keith M

    Michael, we’re still waiting for your apology on your mis-rading of the manifesto on Thursday. I provided the figures to justify the DUP claim, but you havew not provided the apology you promised.

    Now on the points you raised;
    1 : “Let us continue the unionist revival”. I think you’ll find that the overall unionist vote share has gone up at several elections (especially assembly elections). I know being a member of the uUP that the concept on increasing vote share is a foreign concept to you, but try and look at the big picture.

    2 : “…hypocrisy from the Party that is splitting the unionist vote in Fermanagh and South Tyrone and South Belfast. ” The DUP EXPRESSLY offered a vote deal on these two constituencies, but the UUP weren’t prepared to accept it. As always Trimble’s foolishnes will cost them a seat because the UUP will now win neither seat.

    3 : “The mysterious silence about the Comprehensive Agreement”. No silence, but until SF/IRA agree with the rest of the parties AND the two governments, this agreement stays on ice. For once there is an agrement that forces then to decide between the ballot box and the armelite, something which Trimble and the UUP were never able to get.

    4 : Crime (page 19): no support for ASBOs or ID cards (UUP Manifesto – strengthening ASBO legislation, ID cards to fight terrorism and organised crime). Personally I’m against compulsory ID cards, and maybe the DUP does not share the UUP’s obvious authoritation streak.

    As for most of the others issues you raise, they are at best mute until an assembly is up and running.

  • yerman

    At least we havent had a repeat of the baseless rubbish here on de-rating of Orange Halls as well as Michael, and the YUs, opposition towards the appointment of a Victims Commissioner.

  • Roger

    Lets get the facts right.

    At the heart of the Mannefesto is the more important issue for all NI citizens and that is democratic and accountable government free from paramilaterism.

    The DUP wont go into government with armed terrorists and that is more important than anything else.

  • Dessertspoon

    Hagrid – Yes I feel Exasperation. I also fee irritation, frustration, enragement, annoyance, vexation, disappointment, dissatisfaction and powerlessness but at least I’m not indifferent and want to see a resolution. Shame there weren’t more like me 😉

    To all of those people above who are comparing the sizes of their manifestos – It’s not what you’ve got it’s what you do with it. What are the DUP going to do? Answers on a postcard to: The People of Northern Ireland.

  • Warm Storage

    Stalford

    “Hey, hey! My point was, I don’t think Mr. Shilliday is in any position to lecture the DUP about being policy lite when his own party has even less to say about the big issues than we do!”

    Even less? How reassuring for the electorate. Hoist by one’s own petard.

  • Stalford

    Warm Storage

    D’oh! LESS – LESS – LESS – NOT EVEN LESS

    :-0

  • queens_unionist

    Less lesser least surely stalford

  • Traditional Unionist

    your grammar aint the best for a columnist. someone write them for you?

  • spirit-level

    Did anyone notice how ALL the members of the DUP at their election launch wore Blue Red and White.
    Fanatics, no other colours allowed.
    Laughable!

  • Tiny

    Staford you wrote “Get a grip! The notion that the DUP is a “proptestant unionist party” is a fiction.”

    Without wishing to drag up the ‘Pope’ incident can you tell me of another political party in the UK that would hold a gospel concert to raise party funds?

  • Hansolo

    On the question of religion and politics there are some interesting comparisons to be made here with the Middle East. Sinn Fein and the DUP both use similar language to Hizballah in Lebanon.

    However, Hizballah do not involve themselves in the sort of criminality and punishment beatings that Sinn Fein use to further their political ends.

    And unlike the DUP, Hizballah do not attempt to wipe out their secular Shi’a rivals,Amal. Furthermore, unlike the DUP, they also successfully seek votes from outside their own sectarian constituency, and have good diplomatic relations with the British Government.

    Mind you, unlike Hizballah, the DUP don’t have their own propaganda TV station or private army.

    Inshallah, or for those of you who speak Ulster Scots, God Willing.

  • Hansolo

    unless you tune in on Sunday morning that is

  • slug9987

    The average cost of answering a written parlimentary question is £129.

    The DUP tell us Iris Robinson asked 899.

    899x£129=£115,971

    £115,971 – the cost of Iris Robinsons questions.

    Does anyone know if her questions were worth it?

    What did she find out for all this cost to the taxpayer?

  • Traditional Unionist

    Where did you find that out??

  • Tiny

    Edwin Poots faced similiar criticism as an MLA, apparently he was fond of submitting written questions at considerable expense when it was pointed out that a quick phone call would not only have got him the answer quicker but a hell of a lot cheaper, I suspect Mrs Robinson is at the same game, smoke & mirrors!