SDLP: haemoraging members…

David Vance picks up a story from Daily Ireland on the SDLP’s loss of membership. The drop is in line with a trend in UK politics. The problem with assessing its real impact is that there is nothing really to compare it with, since all of the parties in NI keep this kind of information firmly under wraps. Naturally Republican bloggers are making hay. Whilst all political parties need to push its on-the-ground membership upwards – not all successful parties rely on the same kind of mass membership that Sinn Fein deploys so effectively in its election campaigns.

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  • IJP

    Kensei

    Current consitutional arrangements will not satisfy Nationalism in the future and cannot be final.

    But yet a United Ireland, which does not satisfy Unionists, would be ‘final’?

    Sorry, but someone’s going to end up dissatisfied – and ‘Nationalists’ must leave open the prospect that it may be them. That’s what ‘mutual respect’ is all about.

    You really have no conception of Nationalism at all. That is so wrong it hurts.

    Sorry, I’m not interested in conceptualizing Nationalism. I’m interested in practical realities.

    I put it to you that the current arrangement is as close to Joint Authority as you can practically get.

    It is up to you to prove otherwise. When abucs tried, he arrived as a solution that is in fact NI independence. Can you do any better?

    most Nationalists believe it’ll be a Nationalis majority taht will do it.

    I know. And they’re probably wrong. This should trouble them, but somehow it doesn’t. That’s where tribal politics gets you.

    It would if it followed party voting patterns.

    Yes, but a referendum I know wouldn’t necessarily follow current voting patterns. Everything from social science to anecdotes indicates at least 15% of those currently voting Nationalists would stick to the devil they know – and that says nothing for the huge proportion of ‘nominal Nationalists’ who don’t vote at all.

    Short term no, long term yes. It’s final.

    Aha, so when Nationalists get what they want, it’s ‘final’, but when Unionists have what they want, it’s not.

    What would happen if Unionists demanded an independent homeland? Would that view have to be ‘respected’? What would give Nationalists the right to oppose them ‘by diktat’?

    I imagine it will be more likely to do in the future

    Why??????

    You can’t name a single one since 1921!!

    What’s so different about ‘the future’?

    I’d say a fundamental change in direction is required.

    Because as a republican, everything else is secondary to the fact that have no control over my own destiny.

    Rubbish.

    You have a vote, you have the potential for a functioning Assembly with legislative powers over internal issues, cross-border bodies to deal with all-island issues, and by adopting the method I advocate you may even be able to win people around to the case for all-island independence.

    That’s as much control as anyone else has.

    so just stop give it up and be good Brits.

    It really would help if you replied to what I wrote rather than trying to pigeon-hole me tribally.

    I suggested that all the evidence showed that Nationalist party politics has not delivered a single recruit to the cause for an all-island state, and that an all-island state cannot come about unless some such recruits are delivered. I then went on to suggest a new approach that might actually work, instead of trying the same old thing over again to no avail.

    And you accuse me of saying you should give up???

    It’s called reality. If Nationalists don’t deal with it, we’ll all be the losers.

    By the way, my preference is for an all-British Isles state with Ireland united as a devolved part of it. Should I give up on that? YES! Because it’s not going to happen. It’s called dealing with reality – and that reality includes the fact each one of us has to deal with something less than our personal ideal outcome.

  • Stephen Copeland

    IJP,

    … my preference is for an all-British Isles state with Ireland united as a devolved part of it.

    Interesting. Why?

    Why do you want the south in your state? And how do those reasons differ from those of Irish nationalists vis-a-vis the north?

  • lib2016

    IJP,

    The reality is that the GFA as administered by the governments involved, which include the United States government, will lead to Irish reunification within a decade or two. The British need a dominant Unionist middleclass to administer their last colony.

    That middleclass is being replaced here as elsewhere by a much larger middleclass which includes a great many nationalists. Look at the judiciary, look at the Civil Service, look at what’s happening at last even to the security services.

    The publicity is about what happens on a few estates and interfaces. Look behind the publicity to what is actually happening in the surburbs and villages like Crumlin where the owner occupiers live.

    If unionism was about the half-crown rather than the crown, then the victory of nationalism will be about the Euro and the jobs that go with it. The Irish economy is part of the Eurozone and we will follow it.

  • kensei

    “But yet a United Ireland, which does not satisfy Unionists, would be ‘final’?”

    Yes. You can’t unmix paint.

    “Sorry, but someone’s going to end up dissatisfied – and ‘Nationalists’ must leave open the prospect that it may be them. That’s what ‘mutual respect’ is all about.”

    What you are missing, is that we are currently disatisfied.

    “Sorry, I’m not interested in conceptualizing Nationalism. I’m interested in practical realities.”

    And the practical reality si that we practically have JA. Stop, the laughter! It hurts!

    “It is up to you to prove otherwise. When abucs tried, he arrived as a solution that is in fact NI independence. Can you do any better?”

    Joint Authority? The South has no binding power up here at all. The suggestion is just so mental I’m not even going to the list the 5 million things wrong with it. Try looking at the flag above public buidlings.

    “I know. And they’re probably wrong. This should trouble them, but somehow it doesn’t. That’s where tribal politics gets you.”

    Because we don’t think we’re wrong, and therefore not worried? That doesn’t make sense.

    “Yes, but a referendum I know wouldn’t necessarily follow current voting patterns. Everything from social science to anecdotes indicates at least 15% of those currently voting Nationalists would stick to the devil they know – and that says nothing for the huge proportion of ‘nominal Nationalists’ who don’t vote at all.”

    I’d believe 15% when I see it. And there is this asumption that no protestants are Nationalists.

    “Aha, so when Nationalists get what they want, it’s ‘final’, but when Unionists have what they want, it’s not.”

    No, in a practical sense it is almost impossile to reverse.

    “What would happen if Unionists demanded an independent homeland? Would that view have to be ‘respected’? What would give Nationalists the right to oppose them ‘by diktat’?”

    I’d cross bridges when I come to them. I fail to see how the likely two counties that could pass such a resoluton in the event of 50%+1 could be viable.

    “Why??????”

    See the threads on Nationalism reaching out to Unionism. This is year 0. Give it ten years.

    “You can’t name a single one since 1921!!”

    I can’t name all the people that built the pyramids, either.

    “What’s so different about ‘the future’?

    I’d say a fundamental change in direction is required.”

    Question and answer in one go. Congratulaons.

    “Rubbish.

    You have a vote, you have the potential for a functioning Assembly with legislative powers over internal issues, cross-border bodies to deal with all-island issues, and by adopting the method I advocate you may even be able to win people around to the case for all-island independence.”

    Tinkering around the edges. The Union is run and will continue to be run for SE England. I want atx powers, I want defense powers, I want proper control over healthcarse, I wnat all the things I don’t have now.

    “That’s as much control as anyone else has.”

    Except, you know, independent states.

    “It really would help if you replied to what I wrote rather than trying to pigeon-hole me tribally.”

    It’s called reading between the lines.

    “I suggested that all the evidence showed that Nationalist party politics has not delivered a single recruit to the cause for an all-island state,”

    Without evidence to back it up. Not a single one is a dangerously close to a universal quantifier there.

    “and that an all-island state cannot come about unless some such recruits are delivered.”

    I said it is possible but Nationalism is moving to a mode where this will become it’s aim anyway. Pay attention.

    “I then went on to suggest a new approach that might actually work, instead of trying the same old thing over again to no avail.”

    Without any evidence. What the tone of what you said was basically, it won’t work and give it up on a party political basis. The suggestion that it will magically come about form the grassroots without parties upporting it is nuts. But you are in the Alliance I suppose.

    “It’s called reality. If Nationalists don’t deal with it, we’ll all be the losers.”

    Jesus, I’m being accused of being out of touch with reality by an Alliance member. I think I’ve hit a new low.

    The reality is that people aren’t about to give up pressing for unification, it won’t magically appear by itself but Nationalism is going to change over the next number of years as it moves into postwar. Wishing away these facts for some happy inclusive politics is out of touch.

    “By the way, my preference is for an all-British Isles state with Ireland united as a devolved part of it. ….”

    Well, if you give up it will never become a reality, or anything close to it. And the difference, which you fail to note, is that Nationalism does see a a UI happening in reality.

  • declan

    “Nationalism does see a a UI happening in reality.”

    Maybe now but maybe not in 20 years if the era of Catholic demographic increase comes to an end, in 2021, short of the % needed to result in a UI.

    At that point there could be a change in attitude amongst nationalists; some may begin to think in terms of a fair repartition.

  • Crataegus

    What we need is a good Greek Orthodox and a substantial Muslim and Hindu community with a lot more Buddhists thrown in. That would really brass off all the miserable political types who count out the unborn soles like a cross between Satan and Fagan.

    To base your future on the anticipation of things yet to be and not in your control, rather than facing the reality of the here and now, is definitely a behavioural disorder. Its like a form of gambling disorder. (or perhaps it will be do your bit for the nation my lass!)

    Politics anonymous anyone?

  • declan

    It should be obvious by 2021 first whether either the catholic birth rate surge, or whether 15 years of nationalist outreach/persuasion, was enough to push nationalism over the threshold needed for a UI. By that time the era of catholic demographic increase will have ended, and there will have elapsed enough time to know whether unionists are going to change their mind. At that point it will be clear enough which side has won. Its a bit like the VHS Betamax standards war. Only one can win in the end and it takes some time to see which its going to be-it depends which gets the critical mass. Neither side admits defeat but realism can set in when the numbers become clearer.

    I predict that will be 2021.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Declan: “Maybe now but maybe not in 20 years if the era of Catholic demographic increase comes to an end, in 2021, short of the % needed to result in a UI.

    At that point there could be a change in attitude amongst nationalists; some may begin to think in terms of a fair repartition. ”

    Remind me… isn’t there a specific thread for repartition?

    Likewise, its all pie in the sky, unless you can answer real questions. Its not going to be as simple as an evening in with a laptop, a map and a few magic markers.

  • kensei

    “To base your future on the anticipation of things yet to be and not in your control, rather than facing the reality of the here and now, is definitely a behavioural disorder. Its like a form of gambling disorder. (or perhaps it will be do your bit for the nation my lass!)”

    People measure demographic trends all the time and make decisions based on them. That why we have a pensions policy. Actually wait, we *would* have a pensions policy if the government was competent.

    Generally Nationalists would reckon that a UI will happen eventually. However, that might be a long time. We have a vested interest in convincing people. Just not in the way that IJP suggests.

  • Bilbo

    “Other than the constitutional question and the usual ‘sectarianization’ of most debates (from academic selection to votes at 16), in what way do they differ, really?”

    Well, we could start with the simple fact that the two biggest political parties either can’t or won’t work with eachother, that the second biggest party has a slightly suspect aspect to it to say the least, people do not vote according to ideaology, they vote according to tribe etc etc

    BTW, a unified Ireland as part of the UK would be an aspiration of mine too, what the hell are you doing in Alliance you twit?!?!

  • blandy

    Be careful what you wish for…..

    … I see our nationalist and republican friends anxiously waiting for the 50+1 moment(ie. when the huns have been out-bred!). Have they stopped to consider how their new “united” republic will fare when 20% of the population either actively hate the new regime or are at best apathetic. A few possibilities –

    – The next euro-constitution (these inevitably mean closer political union) – these referenda are generally close in the South & tend to err on the sceptical so what happens when a million prods, used to being part of a wider union, vote yes & tip the vote (perhaps motivated by no better reason than the fact that Gerry and the boys were campiagning for a No)

    – Gerry’s prized republic part of the WEU or perhaps NATO – part of a Nuclear armed European Superstate.

    – A strong NI independence movement will doubtless emerge, inspired by gerrys Basque friends, building their idendity in a europe of regions a.k.a catalonia,bavaria, corsica etc. Dublin will end up having to bribe the north to stay in (aka Scotland in the UK). THe more powers in Brussels for international relations and defence the more feasible an independent NI becomes.

    – The unionist/independence parties become powerful kingmakers in the Dail, imagine Peter Robinson as say….
    ….foreign minister surrendering more powers to Brussels & removing Irish as an official language
    ….Arts & Culture minister taking funding from Irish language education and spending it on Lambeg Drum tuition
    …..Defence Minister sending the Defence Forces on dangerous deployments secure in the knowledge that his constituents would still be joining the British Army
    ……Home secretary renaming an garda soichona as the Police service of southern ireland (purely to deal with their low recruitment levels of Prods)
    – No more soldiers song – Irelands Call is the new national anthem
    – St Patricks cross is the new flag
    – The sash played alongside Athenry as the warm up to rugby matches

    Those keenest on a UI should stop and ask themselves – do they like it the way it is? should they stick with the republic they know and love, whose passport they hold or do they wish to fall victim to the law of unintended consequences?

  • Conor Gillespie

    Bilbo,
    “BTW, a unified Ireland as part of the UK would be an aspiration of mine too, what the hell are you doing in Alliance you twit?!?! ”

    you’re right, with views that undemocratic, the pair of you should be joining the BNP. (a united ireland via welcoming ‘Eire’ back into the fold is their actual position on ‘the NI question!’

  • Oilbhear Chromaill

    Supporters of Sinn Fein can say that unionism is “wrong”, yet the IRA murder campaign was legitimate and just. Now thats what I call building an Ireland of equals.

    There are two sides to that coin. Michael calls the IRA campaign one of murder while republicans describe it as a war of self defence, given that unionists kicked off the violence with their over-reaction to the civil rights marches of 1968.

    Does anyone notice that nobody’s talking about a Unionist political project to convince nationalists to commit themselves to the UK, that their Irishness will be guaranteed in a British context?

    No. I didn’t think so. Unionism is a dead political philosophy. It’s not going anywhere except around in ever decreasing circles. There will never be orange feet on the Garvaghy Road without the consent of nationalist residents – and that won’t happen in the current context where unionists are claiming a spurious moral superiority. Any casual look at the Irish News today – and it pulled off a genuine scoop with the publication of the ‘collusion files’ will point up how ludicrous that position is.

    Last week’s decision by the UUP to publish a welcome page on its website in nine languages excluding Irish and the Ulster Scots dialect underlines the poverty of unionism’s position. It can’t even appeal to moderate nationalists. It can’t acknowledge the Irish identity.

    The British establishment is no better given that the recent White Paper on the BBC’s future barely acknowledged the existence of Irish, a language which they are committed to the promotion of through positive action in the Good Friday Agreement.

    The less that unionists and the British acknowledge the reality of the Irish identity, the less likely that they (we) will be drawn towards the UK. The reverse is more likely.

    And that doesn’t bode well for those who think that power devolved to Stormont will settle this long standing issue.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    MS: “Supporters of Sinn Fein can say that unionism is “wrong”, yet the IRA murder campaign was legitimate and just. Now thats what I call building an Ireland of equals. ”

    Nothing like a good, sweeping generalization to tar the whole of a movement, eh? Let us try this one on for size…

    The grand irony is that the one thing Unionism has always sought to *prevent* is an Ireland of equals.

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    El Mat (page 3, no 4),

    “…surely the point of political debate between parties is to debunk the claims of your competition and put forward your alternative, which inevitably involves ‘slagging’ in some form”.

    Well useful ‘slagging’ yes. But, in the most general of terms, it can be counterproductive when you are in the business of building up rather than pulling down. And it can be entirely counterproductive when it creates ‘resistence’ to the key messages you want to get across to your target audience.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    blandy: “Those keenest on a UI should stop and ask themselves – do they like it the way it is? should they stick with the republic they know and love, whose passport they hold or do they wish to fall victim to the law of unintended consequences? ”

    Here’s a loaded question… is it 100% certain that the ROI would even *want* Ulster? I know this borders on heresy, but wouldn’t that be a awkward moment — hit 50% + 1 and not have the warmest of welcomes, assuming there was a welcome at all…

    IIRC, De Valera had it offered to him at least once during WW2 and he, wisely, perhaps, turned it down.

  • blandy

    Dread

    My point exactly – will the southern body politic, not to mention comfortable citizenry, really welcome the thought of Nordies playing hell with the place.

    The current situation – each to his own constitutional state and sharing a common irish identity (to whatever degree!!) has a lot to commend it.

  • Crataegus

    Kensel

    We all grow old that is certain, but opinion and attitudes do change with time. Who knows with any certainty future views, future tastes and future aspirations? Who knows the state of the world 20 or even ten years ahead? However in the here and now there are many things that should be addressed by our collective best ability.

    Blandy

    Point well made, unity but what form should that take and what are the possible consequences. Hacked of Unionists perpetually holding the balance of power is one possibility. Even if Unionists do embrace the new entity there will be some fundamental changes in the ethos of Ireland and what constitutes being Irish. The Diaspora will broaden and the influences bearing will shift fundamentally. As for Irish by definition of equality of opportunity you cannot exclude 1 million from sectors of employment because they have no knowledge of the language and probably little interest in it.

    One thing for sure it will be a different Ireland.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    blandy: “My point exactly – will the southern body politic, not to mention comfortable citizenry, really welcome the thought of Nordies playing hell with the place.”

    I’m not sure, even without the pro-Union groups running amok, that the ROI would just jump up at the chance to paint the island a single color in next year’s atlas. I guess that makes me less sanguine than you on the subject.

  • IJP

    SC

    Interesting. Why?

    I’d say precisely the same reason Nationalists are Nationalist and Unionists are Unionists.

    Instinct based on cultural upbringing.

    I was brought up ‘British’ and ‘Irish’ with no hint that these two identities were mutually exclusive or competing.

    Why do you want the south in your state?

    Like I say, instinct. Geographically, it looks like it should be. Culturally, it seems it should be. Historically, it generally has been. And it so happens I quite like the Republic!

    And how do those reasons differ from those of Irish nationalists vis-a-vis the north?

    They don’t, really.

    (I would say that there is one fundamental difference, that this entirely hypothetical all-BI state would not be based upon any idea of a ‘British nation’, but rather of various ‘nations’ whose interests for all kinds of reasons have become intertwined.)

    My very point is that I don’t spend my entire political life demanding my right to seeking such a constitutional outcome when it is quite obvious most people in NI (and indeed Ireland) don’t want it. And if I were really serious about seeking it, I’d recognize the long-termism of the project and do it via campaigning rather than party politics (which I would and do reserve for real issues to do with the here-and-now).

    Lib2016

    The reality is that the GFA as administered by the governments involved, which include the United States government, will lead to Irish reunification within a decade or two. The British need a dominant Unionist middleclass to administer their last colony.

    I’m sure this myth is very comforting to you, but sadly it’s total nonsense.

    If you want an all-island state, you’re going to have to create one by practical action, not wishful thinking.

    declan

    At that point there could be a change in attitude amongst nationalists; some may begin to think in terms of a fair repartition.

    Does this not totally misunderstand ‘Nationalism’?

    Nationalism is about an all-island state, not turfing off as much territory as possible into the existing Irish Republic, surely?

    Bilbo

    Well, we could start with the simple fact that the two biggest political parties either can’t or won’t work with eachother

    Is that not part of the ‘tribal game’ that is actually in both their interests electorally? They are both fundamentally populist, much more alike than they’d care to admit!

    BTW, a unified Ireland as part of the UK would be an aspiration of mine too, what the hell are you doing in Alliance you twit?!?!

    First, because, as I’ve clarified above, my (and it turns out your) preferred constitutional outcome does not solve the basic problem of a divided society any better than anyone else’s preferred constitutional outcome.

    Second, because, as I’ve clarified above, I don’t believe national/constitutional aspirations should be pursued through party-politics – that simply leads to tribal stand-off.

    Third, because, as I’ve clarified above, I fully accept that I’ll not get my personal ideal constitutional outcome because it differs too much from others’ ideal outcome – compromise is not an option, it’s a necessity for all of us.

    These constitutional outcomes are based on instinct and upbringing, not reason. If they were based on reason, we’d see defections from Unionism to Nationalism or vice-versa all the time (as is the case in Scotland).

    I think genuine democracy – complete with universal respect for rule of law, a functioning economy, and the ability of people here to change the direction of government – is a far greater prize than any specific constitutional outcome. That’s why I’m in Alliance, you twit! 🙂

  • Mick Fealty

    Before I go. I am sure it is going to dawn on local politicians sooner or later that constituency business is going to be a bigger vote winner than constitutional business.

    As for the likelihood of converts to the other’s cause? Well, even though it’s largely academic in the short to medium term, the Life and Times survey consistently indicates that Catholics have the higher pain threshold for being stuck with what they apparently don’t want.

    Night all.

  • IJP

    Kensei

    No doubt about your commitment, to be fair!

    Where we fundamentally disagree, I think, is this: you always talk in terms of ‘Nationalism’ this and ‘Nationalism’ that.

    How do you know ‘Nationalism’ ‘thinks’ all these things?

    Who decides what ‘Nationalism’ thinks?

    I’m fully aware ‘Nationalists’ are currently dissatisfied. But what you seem to be missing is that your ideal scenario leaves ‘Unionists’ dissatisfied.

    Unless of course you defeat ‘Unionism’ by power of argument. But your problems are inherently obvious just from the very way you make the point. You talk of ‘Nationalism’ wanting this, or being that. But in so doing, you have already excluded non-Nationalists from your discourse.

    And then, of course, you ‘read between the lines’. By this, you actually mean ‘insert prejudice’. Your argument would be a lot stronger if, instead of saying (basically) ‘You’re really Unionist so you would say that wouldn’t you’ you said ‘To be fair, I hadn’t thought of it that way’. That would show you were serious about ‘reaching out’ to people who do not share your world view. But just responding in prejudicial ways as if you’re writing to a Unionist, rather than a possible early convert to the cause of an all-island state, immediately raises the shutters.

    For example, you didn’t read at all what I wrote about Joint Authority. I said Joint Authority was impossible (therefore, obviously, that it is not currently in place). I said that what we have is as near as you could get without veering into NI independence.

    Let’s look at some of the language even.

    Except, you know, independent states

    The UK is an independent state.

    postwar

    What ‘war’ was that?

    What the tone of what you said was basically, it won’t work and give it up on a party political basis.

    That’s right.

    The suggestion that it will magically come about form the grassroots without parties supporting it is nuts.

    Well, firstly 85 years of history without a single recruit from Unionism to Nationalism of any note at all indicates that suggesting it’ll ‘magically’ come about with parties supporting it is ‘nuts’.

    Did political parties elected to regional assemblies bring down the Soviet Union? Introduce Polish ‘solidarity’? Reunify Germany?

    Ah no… that was popular movements based on inclusive campaigns among the grassroots. All ‘nuts’ I’m sure…

    Anyway, we have agreement. If you’ve failed to win over any Unionists to ‘Nationalism’ (through the route that’s already failed for 85 years) by 2016, you’ll agree to try the tried and tested route I’ve outlined above?

    When the day comes, you’ll find me in a garden centre near Donaghadee… 🙂

  • Bilbo

    “Second, because, as I’ve clarified above, I don’t believe national/constitutional aspirations should be pursued through party-politics – that simply leads to tribal stand-off.”

    but they have to be dealt with, how do you propose they are dealt with if not through party politics?

    (sorry for the cross questioning, I have just never got my head around the real ethos of the Alliance Party)

  • IJP

    Mick‘s just said what I was trying to say in two paragraphs…

    These Man City fans would make you sick…

    (Good letter in _Management Today_ too, Mick.)

  • Dread Cthulhu

    IJP: “Does this not totally misunderstand ‘Nationalism’?

    Nationalism is about an all-island state, not turfing off as much territory as possible into the existing Irish Republic, surely? ”

    I was going to warn you… this fella’s a “jack in the box” springing up in the oddest places, with about one paragraph to his name.

  • IJP

    Bildo

    but they have to be dealt with, how do you propose they are dealt with if not through party politics?

    Through popular movements – with fundraising/thinktank capacities, etc.

    In the same way they were in ex-Communist countries, basically, or indeed frankly in South Africa, South America and elsewhere.

    With 67% working for the public sector in NI today, ex-Communist countries are probably quite a good model…

    (sorry for the cross questioning, I have just never got my head around the real ethos of the Alliance Party)

    Who knows, that may make two of us! It’s certainly an interesting question that Slugger will delve into in the coming weeks!

    All I can say is that, as Mick says, constituency matters are more important to real people than constitutional matters and Alliance was/is the only party of any influence which recognized/s that basic fact. So I always felt that Alliance had influence beyond its numbers, and that I got better representation from Alliance politicians. Now I am one, that latter’s probably changed… 🙂

    Oíche mhaith.

  • kensei

    “How do you know ‘Nationalism’ ‘thinks’ all these things?

    Who decides what ‘Nationalism’ thinks?”

    Nationalists. Of which I am one. We are obviously talking in generalities, and therefore losing detail and texture. But it is no different to talking in generalities about the Labour movement, or Conservatives etc.

    “I’m fully aware ‘Nationalists’ are currently dissatisfied. But what you seem to be missing is that your ideal scenario leaves ‘Unionists’ dissatisfied.”

    I’m not missing it. In my ideal scenario a lot of that disatifaction would be mitigated by negotations. What you are missing is the fact that you cannot enforce disatisfaction while you are in power, and expect to be treated differently when things change.

    “Unless of course you defeat ‘Unionism’ by power of argument. But your problems are inherently obvious just from the very way you make the point. You talk of ‘Nationalism’ wanting this, or being that. But in so doing, you have already excluded non-Nationalists from your discourse.”

    I want a Nationalist Ireland. It is important. However, it is not the *only* Ireland I want. It shold be one part of a bigger whole.

    When debates are framed like this, I’m forced into discussing “Nationalism” as defined against “Unionism”. But I’m also trying to pick and learn things, so when the debate moves into different terms, I better understand unionist objections and concerns.

    “And then, of course, you ‘read between the lines’. By this, you actually mean ‘insert prejudice’. Your argument would be a lot stronger if, instead of saying (basically) ‘You’re really Unionist so you would say that wouldn’t you’ you said ‘To be fair, I hadn’t thought of it that way’. That would show you were serious about ‘reaching out’ to people who do not share your world view. But just responding in prejudicial ways as if you’re writing to a Unionist, rather than a possible early convert to the cause of an all-island state, immediately raises the shutters.”

    No, I am infering perfectly validly from your argument. It hasn’t converted one single person (no evidence, btw). It won’t work. It can’t work. You need to try something differnet not involving party politics. It’s a standard unionist train of thought. I understand it, I’ve considered it, but I respectfully disagree. Just don’t pretend it’s something new and startling, it winds me up no end.

    “For example, you didn’t read at all what I wrote about Joint Authority. I said Joint Authority was impossible (therefore, obviously, that it is not currently in place). I said that what we have is as near as you could get without veering into NI independence.”

    I did read it. I just couldn’t believe it. You are not listening to me. As a Nationalist who is more attuned to this, we are no where near JA. Not even slightly close.

    “The UK is an independent state.”

    NI is not, however. I can have bugger all effect on any policy that matters, because my vote is diluted so much. I can’t even vote for normal parties! Not so in a United Ireland.

    The Assembly? Tax? No. Large scale economic policy? No. Going to war? No. Justice and policing? Not at the moment. My destiny is in the hands of foreigners. It is unbearable.

    “What ‘war’ was that?”

    Uh, the one that has been going on for 30 years. the one that Unionists wanted Nationalists to say was over?

    “That’s right.”

    Correct, it was what you said. It is also wrong.

    “Well, firstly 85 years of history without a single recruit from Unionism to Nationalism of any note at all indicates that suggesting it’ll ‘magically’ come about with parties supporting it is ‘nuts’.”

    Give me evidence for not a single recruit. Not many, but not a single one is unprovable. It’s hard when people ae getting killed though, no.

    The tack will be different in the next 10-20 years. Come back to me if it still isn’t working, because we haven’t started yet.

    “Did political parties elected to regional assemblies bring down the Soviet Union? Introduce Polish ‘solidarity’? Reunify Germany?”
    Ah no… that was popular movements based on inclusive campaigns among the grassroots. All ‘nuts’ I’m sure…”

    That is a mental comaprison. The context is completely different. And let’s be clear, if they were allowe dpolitical parties on those issues, they’d have had them.

    “Anyway, we have agreement. If you’ve failed to win over any Unionists to ‘Nationalism’ (through the route that’s already failed for 85 years) by 2016, you’ll agree to try the tried and tested route I’ve outlined above?”

    Let’s say 2021. But at that stage demographics might make it irrelavant. I have nothing against grass roots movements. I don’t see why it cannot work in tandem.

  • kensei

    “Before I go. I am sure it is going to dawn on local politicians sooner or later that constituency business is going to be a bigger vote winner than constitutional business.”

    There is 0 electoral evidence to support this. Just saying it doesn’t make it true. And local politicans have severely limited power, even if the Assembly gets up andd running.

    “As for the likelihood of converts to the other’s cause? Well, even though it’s largely academic in the short to medium term, the Life and Times survey consistently indicates that Catholics have the higher pain threshold for being stuck with what they apparently don’t want.”

    That’s because they have limited power to change it, and things though not liked are an improvement on what has gone before. Unionism has never had to have high tolerance, because they have the numbers. If 50%+1 becomes likely, the psychology changes.

    And surely the point of conversion, would be to have them like it …?

  • Crataegus

    Unionism has never had to have high tolerance

    We have all been through the mill during the campaign of terror and murder!

  • briso

    Bilbo:
    (sorry for the cross questioning, I have just never got my head around the real ethos of the Alliance Party)

    IJP:
    Who knows, that may make two of us! It’s certainly an interesting question that Slugger will delve into in the coming weeks!

    It’s not so dificult IJP. Try this.

    Pages 3-6 (or 8-11 of 34 according to acrobat reader).

    I would sum it up as follows:
    1. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and should remain so.
    2. The Good Friday agreement modified in certain important ways is the basis for governance of NI.
    3. Devolution to a functioning assembly is imperative.
    4. The rules should be changed to allow Sinn Fein to be excluded.
    5. The rules should be changed to allow the unionist majority in the assembly to overrule any action taken by a nationalist minister.

    That’s it.

    Have I got it? 😉

    I hope this helps….

  • Stephen Copeland

    IJP,

    In your May 02, 2006 @ 10:48 PM post you replied aas follows to my questions (for which I thank you);

    [SC] Why do you want the south in your state?

    [IJP] Like I say, instinct. Geographically, it looks like it should be. Culturally, it seems it should be. Historically, it generally has been. And it so happens I quite like the Republic!

    [SC] And how do those reasons differ from those of Irish nationalists vis-a-vis the north?

    [IJP] They don’t, really.

    (I would say that there is one fundamental difference, that this entirely hypothetical all-BI state would not be based upon any idea of a ‘British nation’, but rather of various ‘nations’ whose interests for all kinds of reasons have become intertwined.)

    What I find interesting in your responses, is that you come extremely close to the nationalist point of view, which in other places you reject pretty much out of hand.

    The nationalist point of view (Stephen Copeland version) is that Ireland, united, would form part of a european family of nations (rather than a narrow ‘Islands’ family). Your idea that Ireland and Britain should form a single state because “geographically, it looks like it should be” tends to overlook the Irish sea, and contradicts several discussions that we (and others) have had on this site concerning the ‘naturalness’ of borders. The idea that the two islands should form a state because “culturally, it seems it should be is very weak. Culture is no respecter of borders, and there is absolutely no inconsistency in sharing, for example, American or French culture while being in a different state. Your final reason, that “historically, it [Ireland] generally has been [in a union with Britain] is historically inaccurate, and slightly mischievous. A forced union based upon conquest is hardly a valid reason for the restoration of that union.

    I am curious, given your supposed Europeanism, and your acceptance of the ‘naturalness’ of the unity of Ireland, that you continue to insist that it can only happen within a narrow union rather than a broad one.

  • IJP

    SC

    Well, like I say, it’s all instinct.

    The nationalist point of view (Stephen Copeland version) is that Ireland, united, would form part of a european family of nations (rather than a narrow ‘Islands’ family).

    I’ve never had much of a problem with that. But most northern ‘Nationalists’ have. For all their talk, their actions indicate a parochial, narrow approach to everything.

    Your idea that Ireland and Britain should form a single state because “geographically, it looks like it should be” tends to overlook the Irish sea, and contradicts several discussions that we (and others) have had on this site concerning the ‘naturalness’ of borders.

    It overlooks the Irish Sea because so do I – literally, as I type!

    Just glancing at a map on the wall it seems obvious to me that Ireland is a single unit – but also that the British Isles are a single unit.

    That’s all irrational of course, just instinct!

    Historically and culturally you’ve slightly misunderstood me.

    Historically, I was responding to ‘why do you want the South in your state’? The answer was that, as someone resident in NI, it usually has been. I didn’t mention anything about the British State. (Although in fact, for as long as Ireland had identifiably been a state prior to 1921, it has been in union with Great Britain in some way for some reason.)

    Culturally, basically my point is that Ireland is culturally not as different from England as, let’s say, France is. We all speak English, watch Coronation Street, eat roast dinners and so on. Anywhere in the British Isles I’m pretty much ‘at home’, as soon as I arrive in Calais it’s pretty obvious I’m not. Even historically, we are products of the Scottish (British-Irish) Enlightenment rather than the Continental, common law rather than civil law, and so on.

    Yes I also regard myself as European, as I speak a few languages, visit the majority of EU states annually, have lived in four EU member states, and so on. But most people in the British Isles are not European (at least not instinctively), and that is why Europe is a looser union still that the UK is (or a British Isles state probably would be).

    But like I say, it’s all hypothesis. You could, frankly, make precisely the same case for Germany and Austria forming a single state – but that’s not going to happen either.

  • IJP

    briso

    The question was about the ‘ethos’, distinct from the ‘policy’.

    It’s a pity you chose to make up most of our policies rather than actually read the document. Still, why opt for progress when stagnation’s an option?

    1. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and should remain so.

    Making things up – show me where it says or implies ‘should remain so’…

    2. The Good Friday agreement modified in certain important ways is the basis for governance of NI.

    The ‘certain important ways’ would get the institutions up.

    3. Devolution to a functioning assembly is imperative.

    Correct.

    4. The rules should be changed to allow Sinn Fein to be excluded.

    You do keep making things up!

    The rules as already existing allow any party not committed to non-violence to be excluded. You’d have to ask SF why it has such a problem adhering to basic democratic principles such as that.

    5. The rules should be changed to allow the unionist majority in the assembly to overrule any action taken by a nationalist minister.

    Making things up again.

    Overruling the decision would require a cross-community vote – and ministers could not be ‘nationalist’ or ‘unionist’ because designations would’ve been abolished.

    Again, you’d have to ask so-called ‘Republicans’ why, if they seek a society based on the will of the people, they’re so intent on carving it up into tribes. Perhaps because that way everyone avoids having to take responsibility for real decisions affecting actual people…?

  • Stephen Copeland

    IJP,

    I’ve never had much of a problem with that. But most northern ‘Nationalists’ have.

    It is an important fact, but nevertheless one that is too often overlooked, that ‘northern’ nationalists are only a minority of the set of Irish nationalists; some 700,000 out of a total of 4,700,000, or around 15%. In the future (I hope) UI, ‘northern’ nationalists will not set the pace. As has been pointed out elsewhere, the best way for unionists to ensure that Sinn Féin never have any power is to agree a UI!

    It overlooks the Irish Sea because so do I

    Very drole.

    it seems obvious to me that Ireland is a single unit – but also that the British Isles are a single unit.

    While I can, of course, see that Ireland is a single unit, I simply cannot see that the ‘British’ Isles are. I see two large islands, with a number of smaller ones. One island lies close to France, and given the centres of gravity of that island and the mainland, it seems to be more logical to see them as partners. London to Paris and Brussels is now just a train ride, and the modal English people lives in the south-east, and thus closer to the mainland. The part of Britain nearest to Ireland is, frankly, marginal – Kintyre, the Lleyn peninsula, Anglesea. I think northern unionists are looking over at Britain, but Britain actually has its back to them!

    We all speak English, watch Coronation Street, eat roast dinners and so on.

    Cringe. I do not watch Coronation Street, though I accept that many do. I do, however, watch the Simpsons and Friends – should I feel American? Of course not – I simply enjoy the choice that modern communucations allows us. As for ‘roast dinners’, firstly as a vegetarian I do not, and secondly my favorite cuisine is Italian – not aan uncommon phenomenon as you would observe if you look at the restaurants in Dubloi or Belfast.

    But most people in the British Isles are not European

    As indeed most people in Ireland are not British. If your idea could fly, then so could mine – possibly better because ‘Europe’ doesn’t have the negative implication for us that Britain does.

  • declan

    IJP

    We are in something like the VHS Betamax standards war. Each side is looking for critical mass and one can win. At present its not 100% clear so both sides say they have great belief in themselves. But come 2021 it will be evident whether the Catholic increase has stopped at a high enough level, what the effect of immigration is, and whether nationalism can gain any converts from unionism (in what is the most favourable imaginable setting for such converts to happen). At that stage or some time around then things will become clearer. Although this seems a negative or fatalistic view the hopeful point is that this battle of attrition is something that will resolve itself eventually. I predict 2021.

  • DK

    Declan,

    So do you see SDLP or Sinn Fein winning?

  • Stephen Copeland

    declan,

    I agree with you on the date. My own estimate falls in the same region – 2021-2025. A bit late for the centenary of 1916, but we’ll have lots of other centenaries to enjoy; 2018 (the 1918 election), 2019 (the First Dáil), 2021 (the Treaty), 2022 (partition), and so on. Any one is as good as any other.

    However, by the mid-twenties, the shape of things should be clear to all, and the results of the 2021 census will be available. No doubt there will be numerous eleections to add democratic legitimacy to whatever outcome is emerging, though I have my doubts as to whether there will still be an Assembly by then!

  • briso

    IJP:
    It’s a pity you chose to make up most of our policies rather than actually read the document.

    I did read the section I referred to. I bet I’m the only one outside the party who did!

    IJP:
    Still, why opt for progress when stagnation’s an option?

    ???

    >1. Northern Ireland is part of the United
    >Kingdom and should remain so.

    >>Making things up – show me where it says or
    >>implies ‘should remain so’…

    Fair enough. I’ll rephrase it.

    Northern Ireland is part of the United
    Kingdom. Our suggested solution for the governance of Northern Ireland maintains this status.

    >>2. The Good Friday agreement modified in
    >>certain important ways is the basis for
    >>governance of NI.

    >The ‘certain important ways’ would get the
    >institutions up.

    I doubt it, but if they did it would be without either SDLP or SF. You unionists would have the place to yourselves which I doubt is your intention.

    >>3. Devolution to a functioning assembly is
    >>imperative.

    >Correct.

    >>4. The rules should be changed to allow Sinn
    >>Fein to be excluded.

    >You do keep making things up!

    >The rules as already existing allow any party
    >not committed to non-violence to be excluded.
    >You’d have to ask SF why it has such a problem
    >adhering to basic democratic principles such as
    >that.

    You have confirmed my assertion. You want to change the rules to allow the train of democracy to leave the station without SF, who you (the AP I mean, not IJP personally) assert have brought this on themselves. In any case, even if you do judge them to have met the standards you have set, this still wouldn’t guarantee them their ministerial posts, as it would now.

    Quote from (lengthy) document:
    An Executive should be formed through a voluntary power-sharing coalition. It is possible for parties to negotiate a balanced executive, with an agreed programme for government, based on collective responsibility. This would be required to achieve a cross-community weighted-majority vote in the Assembly in order to come into effect. No party would have an automatic right to be in the Executive.

    Alliance did not table this proposal with the intention of excluding Sinn Féin from office. However, in the context of the continued failure of Republicans to signal an end to all paramilitary and criminal activity, it does allow the restoration of local democracy.

    In contrast, Alliance believes that the train must leave the station, without Sinn Féin if necessary. Once they accept the same standards of democracy and justice as everyone else, they can come on board further down the track.

    >>5. The rules should be changed to allow the
    >>unionist majority in the assembly to overrule
    >>any action taken by a nationalist minister.

    >Making things up again.

    >Overruling the decision would require a cross-
    >community vote – and ministers could not
    >be ‘nationalist’ or ‘unionist’ because
    >designations would’ve been abolished.

    Cripes, a minister would not be unionist because the designation is abolished!!! Catch yourself on.

    On the substance, perhaps I misunderstood. What is a cross-community vote without identifying communities? How precisely would you overturn a ministers decision in the assembly?

    >Again, you’d have to ask so-called ‘Republicans’
    >why, if they seek a society based on the will of >the people, they’re so intent on carving it up
    >into tribes.

    I do ask them questions, but I use my own words thanks. I don’t want to talk about them in this thread though as I’m interested in the Alliance Party’s position.

    >Perhaps because that way everyone avoids having
    >to take responsibility for real decisions
    >affecting actual people…?

    I’ve no idea what you’re on about with this non-sequitur.

  • briso

    By the way, this is the relevant section from the DUP manifesto, a much briefer and punchier document. It looks exactly like the Alliance party’s. I wonder who copied who.

    DUP manifesto:
    Inclusive, mandatory coalition government which includes Sinn Fein under d’Hondt or any other
    system is out of the question.

    It is clear from recent events that republicans have proven themselves to be incapable of making
    the move to exclusively democratic means. It is time to move on. Send a clear message to the
    Government that it must proceed without Sinn Fein.
    We believe a voluntary coalition supported by democratic parties across the community offers
    the best way forward.Democratic parties must not be held back because of the continuing
    criminal and terrorist activies of those associated with terrorism.

  • Stephen Copeland

    briso,

    “Democratic parties must not be held back because of the continuing criminal and terrorist activies of those associated with terrorism.”

    In view of the revelations over on the What Thatcher knew about UDR thread, I wonder if the DUP are feeling a bit embarraassed about their electoral promises? They should be.

  • IJP

    SC

    We basically agree, so don’t spoil it by niggling over the generality!

    In short, the idea that Ireland is not part of a ‘British Isles unit’ historically, socially, geographically and culturally (at least in some ways) is as laughable as the idea that Northern Ireland isn’t part of an ‘Irish unit’ (at least in some ways).

    But yet, in the same way such similarities won’t lead to Flanders merging with the Netherlands any time soon, they won’t lead to an all-British Isles state either.

    They could conceivably, on the basis of your entirely relevant and important point that basically Southern ‘nationalism’ is moving to be quite different from Northern nationalism, lead to an all-island state one day which opts into certain pan-British-Isles things (already basically the case) – a state in which you and I would be entirely comfortable, but unrecognizable to the romantic ‘Nationalists’ many of whom inhabit these forums…

  • lib2016

    Both Scotland and Ireland are growing apart from a Britain dominated by England. They increasingly see their identity in terms of their own nationality or their membership of the European community.

    The idea of ‘Britishness’ is over in most of the world since it was basically a part of the imperial British identity. James Bond, whether played by a Scotsman or an Irishman, was seen as an English agent.

    Even in Northern Ireland romantic ideas of living on the Empire’s frontier won’t wash. The ‘Gap of the North’ won’t have to stand in for the Kyber Pass much longer. The Raj is dying. 😉

  • Crataegus

    On the question of borders, hateful things really, a lot is made of this island and not that and so on.

    I have yet to see a country defined solely by geography and to base an argument of identity on geography is futile. A country is more the collective identity of a group of people. Consider Finland, Poland, or Belgium.

    The problem here is there is no overarching, collective and cohesive identity.

  • lib2016

    There is such an identity and our forefathers virtually all knew and acknowledged that they were Irish, except for the Anglo-Irish who are now on the World Wildlife endangered list.

    What’s changed has been the comparatively recent abortive attempts to find another identity, Scots-Irish, West Brit, Norn Irish, or whatever you’re having yourself right down to the ‘British Protestant’ self identification of our fellow countrymen in Luv Ulster.

    Only in the Six Counties does a lack of identity constitute an identity and that same lack of identity means that it won’t survive re-unification by more than a few years.

  • briso

    I’m sorry you didn’t reply to my questions and assertions IJP.

    I would sum up the Alliance party position on the constitutional question as follows:
    1. Northern Ireland is part of the United
    Kingdom. Our suggested solution for the governance of Northern Ireland maintains this status.
    2. The Good Friday agreement modified in certain important ways is the basis for governance of NI.
    3. Devolution to a functioning assembly is imperative.

    The first three are not contentious I think.

    4. The rules should be changed to allow Sinn Fein to be excluded.

    I absolutely stand by this unless you can point out where I’ve got it wrong. This is the position of the UUP and DUP too. I understand a voluntary coalition to mean that the parties will form together to create a majority government. Given your abolition of the designations to be replaced by the rather nebulous term ‘cross community’, would a DUP, UUP Alliance coalition be acceptable? I’ll be honest, I’m beginning to see a greater significance in your insistence on another thread that Alliance was cross-community and therefore could represent nationalists. Perhaps I’m being paranoid. I didn’t realise the DUP, UUP and Alliance positions were so aligned. Probably coincidence.

    5. The rules should be changed to allow the unionist majority in the assembly to overrule any action taken by a nationalist minister.

    I leave this one very much in question. What is a cross-community vote without identifying communities? How precisely would a minister’s decision be overturned in the assembly?

  • briso

    SC:
    In view of the revelations over on the What Thatcher knew about UDR thread, I wonder if the DUP are feeling a bit embarraassed about their electoral promises? They should be.

    Like my late grandmother, I don’t think the DUP has the embarrassment gene.

  • slug

    “Given your abolition of the designations to be replaced by the rather nebulous term ‘cross community’, would a DUP, UUP Alliance coalition be acceptable?”

    I’ll just step in here, if I may IJP, and give my own answer not an Alliance answer, but what this term means is also the idea of “sufficient consensus”. That usually is done by say a 65% majority of votes. So on current votes (without doing the maths) it could mean any of the following:

    DUP, SDLP, SF
    DUP, UUP, SF
    UUP, SDLP, SF, Alliance
    DUP, UUP, SDLP
    SF, SDLP, UUP, Alliance

    and so on.

  • briso

    Slug:
    That usually is done by say a 65% majority of votes.

    I’d love to know what the real number/mechanism is, for the DUP, UUP and Alliance, given they all came to the voluntary coalition idea.

    If you’re right, the only possible coalition among the list you gave is DUP, UUP, SDLP as the DUP will never go into a ‘voluntary’ coalition with SF. This would be the end of the SDLP and they know it, so I think the whole thing would be a non starter. Unless of course the number/mechanism allowed DUP,UUP,Alliance.

  • slug

    Briso

    Voluntary colalition means that the SDLP would not have to go into government if it didn’t want to. The mechanism wouldn’t allow Alliance, DUP, and UUP, that is the point of setting it at 65% or 67%, the figures most commonly mentioned. It would be set so that SF, SDLP, Alliance and UUP for example could form a coalition if the SDLP chose not to go it alone. The good thing about voluntary coalition is that the parties would have to agree to govern together so that it would give a bit of collectivism and coherence to the government. It also means there would be opposition parties.

    This mechanism is the one being proposed in the government’s documents for the new supercouncils, the % may depend on the council. For instance in Belfast it might be 55% while in Antrim it might be 70% and so on, enough to mean that a cross community vote is needed.

    One of the disadvantages of designation, which is why the government documents reject it for the supercouncils, is that it creates the impression that the representative is only representing people of his/her own designation which is obviously wrong as a public representative should be thinking of the interests of all their constituents; it also discriminates against parties that do not designate. That’s why the designation system has a limited shelf life; there to get things started but unlikely to stay for the longer term.

    PS don’t mix up D’Hondt and designation, the former works witout needing the latter so voluntary coalition is not an implication of dropping designation.

  • kensei

    “Voluntary colalition means that the SDLP would not have to go into government if it didn’t want to. The mechanism wouldn’t allow Alliance, DUP, and UUP, that is the point of setting it at 65% or 67%, the figures most commonly mentioned. It would be set so that SF, SDLP, Alliance and UUP for example could form a coalition if the SDLP chose not to go it alone.”

    Which would mean the electoral destruction of UUP. Right now would be like the 60’s in comparison. That’s if, of course, they could get their own right wing into it. There is no way to square this circle. The DUP and SF HAVE to work together.

    “The good thing about voluntary coalition is that the parties would have to agree to govern together so that it would give a bit of collectivism and coherence to the government. It also means there would be opposition parties.”

    The only possibilities are: SF excluded or DUP excluded. This place would be shut doiwn either way faster than you can say “Oh shit!”.

    “This mechanism is the one being proposed in the government’s documents for the new supercouncils, the % may depend on the council. For instance in Belfast it might be 55% while in Antrim it might be 70% and so on, enough to mean that a cross community vote is needed.”

    I have to say, while I’m all for ensuring rights, the idea of variable rules does not appeal to be at all. Consistency is needed.

  • Crataegus

    Lib2016

    Only in the Six Counties does a lack of identity constitute an identity and that same lack of identity means that it won’t survive re-unification by more than a few years

    Statements like this amaze me, is it breathtaking arrogance or does it simply show how little contact some have outside Nationalist and Republican circles? A common problem for all of us in a deeply divided community is a proper understanding of the connections and aspirations of the other communities. Surely if Ireland is to be united better to have rich diversity of traditions happy under the one roof?

  • skinbop

    Crataegus – who are we kidding when talking about united ireland – rich diversity of traditions etc.
    we can’t even handle two flavours of christianity, cant wait till the immigrants take over.

  • briso

    Slug:
    For instance in Belfast it might be 55% while in Antrim it might be 70% and so on, enough to mean that a cross community vote is needed.

    But how do you decide that a cross community vote has been achieved unless you designate communities? How do you decide on the percentage in this situation? More to the point, how do the three parties pushing this dog’s dinner propose we should decide? As Kensei said, excluding either DUP or SF for a grand centre coalition means extinction for either SDLP or UUP. They’re not stupid. The only possible stable majority coalition is UUP,DUP and Alliance with the nationalists (who are no longer nationalists as that designation has been abolished) in permanent minority. Would the three parties policies allow this?

    BTW Slug, I’m assuming your answer was given in the same way as mine, as an interested outsider not in the know! If you’re actually on the inside with one of the parties, my apologies.

  • abucs

    Wasn’t there 50 years of politics without designations ?

    That didn’t seem to produce normal politics.

    Paradoxically, community designations may actually help to produce normal politics more quickly, with the fear of domination being taken out of the equation.

  • Henry94

    Voluntary coalition is a dead idea. Asking the SDLP to commit suicide so that unionism can postpone the dreadful day is a waste of time.

    Another approach might be to share power on a geographical basis. For example the biggest party in each constituency could nominate a minister.

    That might give an initial advantage to parties who are big now but it would also give the electorate more power in punishing parties by directly reducing their ministerial numbers.

  • slug

    Briso remember that d’Hondt does not require designation.

    As for voluntary coalition, it is actually the way approx 100% of democratic governments are run, so it is not a dead idea long term, unless one has the narrowest of NI blinkers on. I don’t expect that the present party strength set up to continue forever, and voluntary coalition provides incentives for small parties to take risks, watch the PDs for example in ROI and the Lib Dems in Scotland. Finally voluntary coalition and weighted voting (and NO designation) is the preferred model for the councils in the government’s own research.

  • slug

    Hi Everyone

    Lib2016 wrote:

    “Only in the Six Counties does a lack of identity constitute an identity and that same lack of identity means that it won’t survive re-unification by more than a few years”

    This is a really good example of the tendency amongst nationalists to underestimate the integrity of the unionist tradition, a tendency I have pointed to on many occsasions and a tendency that actually fuels the identity that it attempts to diminish. Let me just say its a complete delusion. I am convinced that quite the oppposite would happen. Far from diminishing, the NI British identity would get far far stronger were a UI to become more likely or an eventuality.

  • Henry94

    slug

    Far from diminishing, the NI British identity would get far far stronger were a UI to become more likely or an eventuality.

    it would get stronger and better if it wasn’t in revolt against the democratic will of the majority of the island.

    When the British/Irish take their rightful place along side the rest of the Irish it will be better for all of us including them.

    They are as much part of the nation as the Irish in Britain are part of that nation. And for them political separatism is not a requirement for cultural identity.

  • kensei

    “As for voluntary coalition, it is actually the way approx 100% of democratic governments are run, so it is not a dead idea long term, unless one has the narrowest of NI blinkers on.”

    Since we are discussing NI governance, you might think that proposing a model for Belgium might not be a productive idea.

    “Let me just say its a complete delusion. I am convinced that quite the oppposite would happen. Far from diminishing, the NI British identity would get far far stronger were a UI to become more likely or an eventuality.”

    Excellent. A UI has nothing to do with idenitity, and Nationalism has no intentions of trying to take it away. It’s about governance and the best future for everyone. Unionism would be far more able to express itself in a UI than in the current arrangements.

  • slug

    So Henry and Kensei disagree with Lib2016.

  • Henry94

    slug

    I have no problem whatsoever with the British identity and I neither predict nor hope that it will fade away.

  • slug

    Henry

    There were some other things you said I disagree with, but my objective in this discussion was to see what peoples’ thoughts were on Lib2016’s suggestion. So I will accept your 11:05am and I terminate here.

  • kensei

    “So Henry and Kensei disagree with Lib2016.”

    Shock! Horror! Republicans can disagree! Though I’m not entirely sure it constitutes a “Northern Irish” identity though.

  • Henry94

    As a matter of fact I believe the political seperation of Ireland and Britain would lead to a golden era of friendship between our two nations.

  • slug

    I am neither shocked nor horrified that you disagree with it, the opposite in fact.

  • slug

    “As a matter of fact I believe”

    Do you normally consider your beliefs to be matters of fact?

  • Henry94

    It’s a fact that I believe it.

  • slug

    Do you ever believe things without it being a fact that you believe them?

  • Crataegus

    Every now and again I descend into the pit and look at threads like this. They reassure me that the stupidity of the place is still alive and flourishing. Aggression reigns supreme and will do in the future.

    An Ireland of equals? An Ireland for all? Or perhaps just more of the same dreary politics of domination; where hate and arrogance reigns supreme. Divided we stand and if there are more of us than you, well you just better get to like it mate.

    Well I suppose we have had an armed struggle where indiscriminate murder were the tools of politics, and to me it would seem clear from attitudes expresses that some would happily return there. Have we not learnt anything, I fear for many the answer is obviously NO.

    I would be one of those swing voters; you know the ones who are likely to make the ultimate decision. Bet that sickens the 45 percent-ers. The ultimate decision made by the nationally apathetic.

    A pox on all your houses I say. I am certainly not going to vote for any structure that I think unfair, that I think suppresses or dominates, so I think some of you lads would do well to consider ways to reduce the divide and better understand your political opponents. Political stability is the important prize and I’m not about to go to a lot of inconvenience simply to please some of you. It is you that have to persuade me and you are not doing a very good job of it thus far.

    To another subject and thread I think, leave this one for another 6 month and take a peep and see if there are any signs of a thaw. Yawn.

  • Henry94

    Do you?

    So I will accept your 11:05am and I terminate here.

  • kensei

    “An Ireland of equals? An Ireland for all? Or perhaps just more of the same dreary politics of domination; where hate and arrogance reigns supreme. Divided we stand and if there are more of us than you, well you just better get to like it mate.”

    That whole post is a somewhat big jump from what is posted here.

  • IJP

    Only in the Six Counties does a lack of identity constitute an identity and that same lack of identity means that it won’t survive re-unification by more than a few years

    Here again we see that ‘mutual respect’ is but a myth.

    Kensei

    Again, you’re being totally illogical!

    A ‘United Ireland’ apparently is irreversible, yet somehow it strengthens ‘Unionism’, which seeks to maintain the union with Great Britain?

    If by ‘Unionism’, on the other hand, you mean ‘representation of Protestants’, then ‘Nationalism’ surely means ‘representation of Catholics’. So how precisely does ‘Nationalism’ ‘reach out’ to ‘Unionism’?

    It’s all nonsense!

    If you can persuade me that a ‘United Ireland’ means the abolition of the 19th-century concepts of ‘Nationalism’ and ‘Unionism’ and makes it easier for us to govern this region on behalf of our common interests and the common good, then go right ahead.

    But as soon as you bring ‘Nationalism’ and ‘Unionism’ into it, you are merely promoting the tribal division that is the cause of our conflict and stagnation in the first place.

  • kensei

    “A ‘United Ireland’ apparently is irreversible, yet somehow it strengthens ‘Unionism’, which seeks to maintain the union with Great Britain?”

    No, what I mean is the Unionist (or British) Identity could be better expressed. Unionism as a political outcome would effectively be dead.

    “If by ‘Unionism’, on the other hand, you mean ‘representation of Protestants’, then ‘Nationalism’ surely means ‘representation of Catholics’. So how precisely does ‘Nationalism’ ‘reach out’ to ‘Unionism’?”

    I don’t mean it in the sense you mean it, I think. The representation of Unionists would be strengthened, and the PR nature of the Republics election could potentially give them a balance of power. But there’s the rub: in order to exercise the power given, or even to make themselves effective in opposition, they would have to work with Nationalist parties. Not necessarily Northern nationalist parties, but the nature of the system forces those barriers down.

    They could, in theory, try to stay separate as much as possible, but would not provide effective representation of their communtiy. And there are parties in the South that could leverage that to electoral advantage, I think.

    “If you can persuade me that a ‘United Ireland’ means the abolition of the 19th-century concepts of ‘Nationalism’ and ‘Unionism’ and makes it easier for us to govern this region on behalf of our common interests and the common good, then go right ahead.”

    I see no reason why “Nationalism” should be abolished. Moderate Nationalism is a good thing, helping disparate groups within a Nation find something in common and work together for common cause, helping your criteria of better governance. It is only when you start going to the extremes that it becomes a corrosive force. And that is true of almost anything.

    A United Ireland, does of course help in goverance, because it effectively seals the end of Unionism as a realistic political aspiration. It would be hard for 4 counties to get enough support to secede, nevermind six. With that settled, a new situation emerges when it is in everyone’s best interests to work together. It is a fundamentally more stable arrangement.

    This of course, is aside from the fact that it gives us more control over our own destiny.

    “But as soon as you bring ‘Nationalism’ and ‘Unionism’ into it, you are merely promoting the tribal division that is the cause of our conflict and stagnation in the first place. ”

    No, I’m accepting the reality on the ground. You might like to try it sometime. My personal belief is that Northern Protestants / Unionists / whatever would be slowly more absorbed into the state across a few generations simply due to the political centre of power being in Dublin, while still maintaining their own unique character.

    At any rate, they have their own unique character and concerns, just as Nationalists have theirs. Good politics recognises this rather than ignores it.