Liddington calls for local support for Tories

The following piece was first published in the Newsletter a few days ago. It’s from the Tories’ Northern Ireland spokesman and is unremarkable other than for its obvious sign off pitch for Northern Ireland residents to get involved and join the British Conservative party. Over to the Campaign for Labour Representation in Northern Ireland group, who seem to be fighting an uphill struggle. The only Labour party organising in Northern Ireland at the moment seems to be Irish Labour.By David Liddington

Throughout the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, there is a real desire for new ideas and new leadership.

In 1997, people were willing Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to succeed. They said they could deliver social justice and economic efficiency. These aims were right. And clearly, some good has been achieved: Bank of England independence, additional investment in the NHS and schools. But after nine years, people are disappointed.

We haven’t seen social justice in our country: whether in Belfast or Bradford, far too many people and families are still trapped in multiple deprivation.

Neither have we seen much sign of economic efficiency. Our country trails the Irish Republic for growth and competitiveness.

Labour have failed families struggling to find affordable childcare and good schools. And they’ve failed elderly people who want dignity and security in retirement.

There’s a fundamental reason for Labour’s failure. They think that spin can take the place of long-term thinking, and they believe that problems can be solved by new laws, regulations and targets. That approach isn’t working. Too often, more government just clogs up the works instead of solving long-term problems.

The challenge for Conservatives throughout the United Kingdom is to provide a serious alternative to Labour, so we can offer our country the change it needs.

That means three things. First, the Party itself has to change. We must be a modern, compassionate Conservative Party. We must be a voice for change, optimism and hope. Above all we must be an inclusive Party and that includes encouraging people from all backgrounds to play a full and active part in rebuilding the Conservative Party. People who before may not have considered joining the party are now doing so, in Northern Ireland as elsewhere.

Second, we have to develop new ideas to tackle the challenges facing the United Kingdom

Third, we have to show that the changes we would make are for the long term – that they’re built to last.

My Party’s aim is to improve the quality of life for everyone, through:

· a dynamic economy, where thriving businesses create jobs, wealth and opportunity;

· a strong society, where our families, our communities and our nation create secure foundations on which people can build their lives; and

· a sustainable environment, where we enhance the beauty of our surroundings and protect the future of our planet.

Our prosperity depends on the United Kingdom competing successfully with the best in the world. Conservatives will put economic stability and fiscal responsibility first, even ahead of tax cuts. Over time, we want to share the proceeds of growth between public services and lower taxes – instead of letting government spend an ever-increasing share of our national income.

The quality of life matters, as well as the quantity of money. We will seek a long-term cross-party consensus on sustainable development and climate change. We want to see government support the choices that families make about how to balance their work and home lives, not impose choices on them.

Well-run public services are an essential part of our national well-being. We need to improve education, not by destroying the most successful element of Northern Ireland’s schools system, but by driving up standards in those schools that are failing.

In education, health and policing, we should cut out the targets and bureaucracy that stifle initiative and destroy professional morale.

Security and freedom must go hand in hand. In fighting crime and terrorism, we will be hard-nosed defenders of freedom and security. We will ensure strong defence for our nation and the effective enforcement of laws that balance liberty and safety.

We’re working hard to rebuild people’s trust in the Conservative Party, and ensure that we are a credible, competent alternative Government when the next election comes. We still have a mountain to climb, but there is a sense of excitement and optimism among Conservative MPs and party members now that I have not seen for many years.

Moreover, our vision is as relevant for Northern Ireland as for anywhere else. We have a bright future and I hope people will grasp the opportunity to shape that future with us.

  • That’s all we need in this country another shower of bastards telling us how wonderful they are going to make our lives.

    Perhaps they should remember that politics are political parties are so engrained in the brains of the minions here that they seldom lift their heads for someone else.

    Besides it’s the tories …….to paraphrase my father …..I’d rather stick pins in my testicles than vote for the tory party.

    The legacy of Maggie Thatcher still remains here.

    Name 5 good things the tories have done and I’ll stick those pins in.

  • eranu

    id like to see the UUP absorbed into the conservatives. id vote conservative in that case, and hopefully the UUP people would also. that would make a good start for getting rid of the tribal parties that we have at the min.
    i wonder how things would be if the conservatives won the next election and we had a few con MPs in NI and some con councils. would there be much point in involvement in the smaller parties like the DUP / SDLP when the party of government was already in your area?

    as it is, i havent bothered to vote in 15 years. the only thing to vote on in NI at the minute is according to what religon you are and then how biter you are..

  • Alex Kane

    ulickmagee:

    Are we to infer that you have five testicles?

    Best wishes,

    Alex.

  • aquifer

    These are very dangerous developments. A party with a credible position on economic incentives that is in tune with the gut feeling of local entrepreneurs from both main religious backgrounds. These political strike breakers could undermine the stability of our sectarian face-off, exposing unionists for the provincial oddities they are. And with real political funding in the offing, tories will be able to afford some outreach.

    The irish labour party addressing issues that concern all workers in this island resort for multinational capital. With the big proddie engineering employers gone, this would expose the hollow heart of the Union, remove the hope of a pro-union labour revival, and strip away the leftie pretentions of the SF cultural supremacists.

    We live in dangerous times.

    We need a flawed settlement fast, to get some political functionality while maintaining that frisson of sectarian division, if we are to keep the old party actors on stage.

  • Nathan

    Out of interest, can residents of the Irish Republic sign up for serious Toryism in the form of the Conservative party?

    Off the top of my head I can only think of two Irishmen who became members of the Tory party: Patrick Cosgrave – the Winston Churchill of Finglas and late hubby to Deadly Dudley. And then there was Stan Gebler Davies, the journo who tried to resusitate southern Unionism in the 1980s on the sectarian premise that southern Protestants living in West Cork were nostalgic West Brits living in a time warp. How wrong he was, given his sourfaced election result!

  • Garibaldy

    Nathan,

    Depends how you define Irish. People like Brian Mawhinney. And of course David O’Leary backed them in the 1992 election, earning himself a threat from the IPLO, but whether he joined or not I don’t know.

    Did anyone else snort with derision to see the stuff about social justice?

  • Keith M

    I think eranu’s point about the UUP giving up and joining the Conservatives has strong merit. At least as part of the party they will have some input into the Conservative’s policies and they are going nowhere on their own right now. It would also give the UUP to ditch their unholy alliance with the loyalists.

    Mind you I’m not sure that one vote in the HoC is that attractive to Cameron+Co.

  • Nathan

    Brian Mawhinney is a member of the diverse and vibrant British community in Ireland. His Irish credentials are next to nil.

    As for David O’Leary, he acknowledges his Irishness so that makes him Irish.

    In a UI however, I don’t think this distinction between Irishness and Britishness will matter and I’d imagine a Tory Party will be formed to for those British, Irish and dual British-Irish citizens who wish to carry on the tradition of Edmund Burke.

  • willis

    Maybe the Tories would like to adopt the Republic’s labour laws and Social Contract?

    BTW

    What is the Tory position on Integrated Education? Do they want to allow it to expand to meet demand?

  • Keith M

    “In a UI however, I don’t think this distinction between Irishness and Britishness will matter and I’d imagine a Tory Party will be formed to for those British, Irish and dual British-Irish citizens who wish to carry on the tradition of Edmund Burke.”

    Exactly, when the republic joins up with the U.K. once again, I forsee many people here joining the established British parties (Irish Labour with Labour etc). There may well still be an Irish nationalist party, like PC or the SNP.

  • Red Ted

    …The only Labour party organising in Northern Ireland at the moment seems to be Irish Labour…

    What about the SDLP? After all, aren’t they the Social Democratic and LABOUR Party?

  • Firstly ALEX KANE some of us are blessed is my answer and the ladies love it.

    If the middle class Protestants jumped ship to the DUP at the last election can the Conservative party representative a more suitable and attractive option. I don’t think so simply on the grounds that middle class protestants who are Unionist don’t or can’t think beyond these fine shores. THey are as engrained in the body politic as anyway else.

  • apologies for my last message as my spell checker is fupped

  • If the Tories have to take back in the UUP, does that mean they get the UVF too? “Buy Sylvia, get Davy Dictionary free”, eh? A sexy prospect for the takeaway Polenta bars of Notting Hill.

  • slug

    “If the middle class Protestants jumped ship to the DUP at the last election can the Conservative party representative a more suitable and attractive option. I don’t think so ”

    You raise an interesting point. One of the most mobile electorates over the last 15 years have been this group of voters. They indeed voted in large numbers for the Conservatives in NI back in the 1992 general election (check out the Strangford constituency, for example in that election), then swung to the UUP in the 1997 election, to the UKUP in the 1998 Assembly Election, then swung to the DUP in the 2005 election. So there are mobile votes to play for.

  • willis

    slug

    I think they took a long time and held their noses to vote DUP. I don’t think they will change now.

  • Nathan

    Keith M,

    Its a pleasure to know that the southern Unionist tradition is alive and kicking in some quarters but seriously, a re-integrated Isles would be akin to spitting on the graves of those physical force patriots who fought for genuine legislative autonomy.

    Its still not too late though given the astronomical distance to a UI to advocate some sort of connection with Britain, albeit ceremonial.

    Coming from an area in Dublin which has a strong physical force republican tradition, I believe that support for a ceremonial link will come from the unlikeliest of places. There are plenty of real republicans out there (bar those good-for-nothing minions of Sinn Fein who value their inflated self-importance alot) who would support radical initiatives such as this, if the result was a peaceful country with both the British and Irish communities living the life of the Irish nation in a harmonious manner.

    For example, Aodogan O’Rahilly, who was once a member of the IRA and whose father was killed in the Easter Rising. Today he is a supporter of Dual Monarchy in the tradition of Arthur Griffith and Alex McCabe, ex-Sinn Fein TD.

    Of course, the dual monarchy idea is not something which would commend itself to the people of the Irish Republic today and I am repulsed by the idea. But it just goes to show that those from the physical force tradition have alot to offer to the UI debate.

  • slug

    “a re-integrated Isles would be akin to spitting on the graves of those physical force patriots who fought for genuine legislative autonomy”

    All the more reason then?

  • Bob Wilson

    UUP absorbed by the Conservatives.
    The Conservative Party is open to all. A past history in another party – UUP, Alliance or whatever will not be held against you. Lady Sylvia Hermon and David Ervine are openly lefties so unlikely to join (apart from Dave other more obvious disqualification – links with the UVF). The Conservative Party strongly supports the rule of law some anyone who supporters Reg’s looney link with the PUP probably shouldn’t join the Tories. A merger is therefore out of the question – defections are welcome.

    Integrated Education
    Not the answer to everything. But the large growth in Integrated Education occurred under the Tories in a regime instigated by Dr Mawhinney.

    Irish Republic
    British citizens in the Republic would be free to join Conservatives Abroad I imagine.

    The Conservative vision in Northern Ireland is not one that gets tied up in national identity – rather it concentrates on real -issue based politics – as Lidington’s article stressed.

    Garibaldy – a trust you also snort when you see the local parochial parties suggest they are real political parties with an ability to actually govern.

    Alex – only humour no comment?

  • Nathan

    Slug,

    If you haven’t anything productive to say then don’t say it at all

    Thank you.

  • willis

    Well if Irish growth continues and if Scotland gets its act together, if the drought in the SE of England continues, continued inward migration from E Europe, maybe in 50 years the English hegemony over these islands might be very shaky.

    Well you can dream.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Patrick Cosgrave – the Winston Churchill of Finglas and late hubby to Deadly Dudley. ‘

    UCD Graduate and also ‘convert’ to Anglicanism . Also the ‘brains’ behind Margaret Thatcher’s successful rise to the Tory leadership. Became ‘more’ British than the British themselves . An interesting ‘psychological’ phenomenon’

    Toryism in the Irish Republic is not the preserve of one party . There are strong conservative elements in both FF and FG and of course in the PD’s . I’d guess that the ‘natural’ conservative vote in the Republic is about 40% with the ‘natural’ left/labour/SF vote about 20% . The remaining 40% are mostly social democrats with a ‘secular ‘ bent .

    The Tory Party is perceived by most Irish people to be essentially the party of ‘little England. It’s historical connection with those forces in Ireland who opposed Irish independence will ensure that the ‘anti Irish ‘ British Conservatives chances of ever being a major political force in NI – are less than their chances of ever winning a majority of seats in Scotland or indeed Wales.

    Anyway why would Unionists trust the Tories? After all was it not the Tories who got rid of their beloved Stormont ? It’s a poor lookout for Unionists when even a bunch of jingoistic imperialists from a bygone age became so embarrased by Unionist misrule and stark incompetence that they had to close down the Stormont sectarian excuse for a parliament 🙁

  • overhere

    I have to tell you guys/gels the tories have changed their logo it is now an oak tree and is green and blue, have not seen it yet but according to PM (radio 4) in a survey most people thought it was either for the Green party or English Heritage. So looks like the tories need to get some work to do before tackling something as complex as NI

  • willis

    Overhere

    Not sure they have made their minds up yet!

    http://politics.guardian.co.uk/conservatives/comment/0,,1840259,00.html

  • Garibaldy

    Bob,

    You can rest assured that I also snort at the local parties. But, to see a Conservative attempt to deliver a lecture on the failure to deliver social justice is quite frankly laughable, despite Cameron’s attempt to change the image. Can you point out measures the Conservatives proposed that Labour refused on the grounds that they would contribute too much to social justice?

    I note also the stuff about well-run public services. This from the party that ran public services down, that’s when it wasn’t selling them off at billions less than their real value to make a killing for their friends in the stockmarket.

    And as for talking about building a strong society in our nation, judging by the policies at the last election, that depends to a large extent on whether you’re white, sorry I mean not an immigrant or not.

    The Tories could make a contribution locally in pushing an integrationist and secular agenda, as you pointed out with the integrated education sector. Alas, I suspect that courting the UUP is not going to encourage that.

  • Butterknife

    Very interesting debate although i note that there is no question of the DUP being absorbed into the Conservatives in Northern Ireland. Why is this? Are there good or bad reasons for this?

  • Nathan

    UCD Graduate and also ‘convert’ to Anglicanism . Also the ‘brains’ behind Margaret Thatcher’s successful rise to the Tory leadership. Became ‘more’ British than the British themselves . An interesting ‘psychological’ phenomenon’

    He certainly wasn’t the first castle Catholic and he won’t be the last either.

    His west Brit outlook must have derived from his mother, who sweeped and polished the floors of Dublin Castle for a living.

  • Greenflag

    ‘The Conservative vision in Northern Ireland is not one that gets tied up in national identity – rather it concentrates on real -issue based politics ‘

    It doesn’t have to get tied up . It’s already stitched in.

    Full marks for trying though . Until such time as NI becomes a ‘normal’ democracy you can forget real -issue based politics in NI. The harsh reality is that NI can most likely only become a normal democracy under two political scenarios – repartition or a UI. Under repartition NI could either continue with devolution or be fully ‘integrated’ at Westminster assuming the English /Scots/Welsh have no objection.

    In a post repartitioned NI the Conservatives could probably provide a realistic alternative and more ‘rational’ choice for local unionists than the DUP theocrats.

  • Bob Wilson

    ‘measures the Conservatives proposed that Labour refused on the grounds that they would contribute too much to social justice?’ I think you will find Labour are in government

    Public services ‘run down’
    I assume you are referring to privatisation process – so successful it was copied worldwide including the Republic. Unfortunately only partially in NI.

    The Conservatives are not anti immigration all we suggested was that the system for managing/recording it was broken – which Labour have now admitted.

    Sorry my post was not clear enough we do want to pursue a secular agenda – not tied up with identity.

    We are not courting the UUP – we just want their voters, and Alliance’s voters, the increasing number of non voters, SDLP voters, etc.

  • eranu

    “repartition or a UI”

    theres that ‘R’ word again! and the ‘U’ word is right behind it… argh!!! 🙂

  • Greenflag

    ‘His west Brit outlook must have derived from his mother, who sweeped and polished the floors of Dublin Castle for a living. ‘

    A harsh and inaccurate comment . I believe it came from his ‘study ‘ of history and his ’emigration’ to England at a time when 60,000 people a year were fleeing the poverty stricken backward ‘republic’. Growing up in Finglas in the 1940’s and 1950’s would have been the major influence IMO. Cosgrave was ‘bright’ and he got a first in History at UCD . Obviously ambitious he headed for England and did better than most of his not so well educated countrymen . Perhaps looking back at the Republic for Cosgrave was a bit like those NI emigrants (Unionist and Nationalist) who look back at Northern Ireland and ‘shake’ their heads and ask WTF ?

    Cosgrave ‘integrated’ himself into his new ‘country’ in a way that probably most Irish emigrants could not . Converting from Catholicism to Anglicanism may not seem a large religious step for all practical purposes in this day and age but in the 1950’s /1960’s ? Not to mention the ‘political’ connotations .

    Cosgrave’s ‘conservatism’ was genuine . Anybody with half a brain in the Britain of the late 1970’s could see that the country was falling apart . A radical change was needed and only Thatcher had the gumption not the other word 🙂 to pull it off. The fact that she went too far in some areas is neither here nor there.

    Sad that Cosgrave ended his days before the Celtic Tiger took off . He apparently suffered from the George Best syndrome .

    ‘He certainly wasn’t the first castle Catholic and he won’t be the last either.’

    This too is true .

  • Elvis Parker

    Greenflag
    ‘The harsh reality is that NI can most likely only become a normal democracy under two political scenarios – repartition or a UI.’
    Actually the harsh reality for you is that two thirds of the population of NI are content with NI in the UK.

  • John East Belfast

    I would consider myself a natural Tory and would undoubtedly be directing my political efforts in that direction if I lived in GB.

    The reason there is a Unionist Party of any description is because unionists saw a threat to the Union and needed a focused and mobilised political machine to defend it – this would not have happened using the GB mainland parties alone – who would have acted in their own selfish and strategic interest to dump us.

    However the existance of a Unionist Party is only evidence that we are failing or have not yet succeeded – Only when we have the confidence to ditch ‘Unionism’ as the main focus can we play our full part as British citisens in main stream political life.

    I believe that time is coming and there will be a tipping point that if we dont recognise then the ongoing existance of ‘unionism’ will actually do more harm than good.

    The problem is getting the timing right on the tipping point.

  • willis

    GreenFlag

    “The fact that she went too far in some areas is neither here nor there”

    I think you will find that her madness, bile and ignorance are a major reason why there are no Tories in large parts of the UK.

  • lib2016

    “..two thirds of the population of NI are content with NI in the UK.”

    The unionist majority at the last count was 69,000 and falling. They have left things too late and are now faced with the problem that any major split will allow a united nationalist electorate to make Sinn Fein the largest NI party, thereby giving them the position of First Minister.

    In November they face reality and the decision on whether to begin powersharing or not. Either decision means a split, of course.

    One decision gives us First Minister McGuinness, while the other decision gives us President McGuinness of the Association of NI Local Authorities.

    Tough call! Being members of the Conservative Party will be a huge consolation, I’m sure.

  • eranu

    “i note that there is no question of the DUP being absorbed into the Conservatives in Northern Ireland.”

    butterknife,

    as far as i know the UUP is regarded as generally conservative anyway. thats why id hope they’d just join the Cons. it would give proper politics a good start here if all the UUP MP(s)/councillors/voters became Con.

    also, i bet alot of the catholic middle class are fed up with the SDLP/SF tribal nonsense. possibley they may be interested in a large secular party with proper policies. a party they can get involved with and that can actually govern their area.

    the DUP is more ‘religously focused’ i think. we all know the problems here. lets face it, what alot of them say and do would be a complete embarrasment on the national scene where image is important.

    the UUP would be the only viable choice i think.

  • Dear All

    David Lidington and David Cameron are recognising the truth that if a Party aspires to govern the UK then it should at least have the decency to seek support in all parts of the UK. Everyone on this site will be familiar with the enormous task faced in rebuilding in Wales, Scotland etc and NI is not being left off the map. There is an extremely long and difficult way to go but at least we are tackling it. I think those of us who have kept the flag flying here can at least take some credit for moving the leadership away from any ideas about keeping out.

    I fully understand that there are people who will never ever vote Tory for any number of reasons. After all,there are a few parties I would never ever vote for as you would expect. But to attack the Party for trying to organise and build up strength, hoping we will keep out, trying to deny people the chance to vote for any of the Parties which govern us is shortsighted.

    Of course, the comments re UUP are to be expected. Can I just make one thing clear on this? Despite any historical links, the UUP is not a smaller version of the Tory Party. Yes, there are some in the UUP who, if they lived in GB, would be in the Tory Party. Others however would prefer to be in the DUP and others would prefer to be in Labour. Sylvia for example makes it quite clear she is no Tory – “If anyone in the media cares to look at my voting record in the House of Commons, they will see that it would be a month of green moons before I joined the Tory Party” – so the UUP linking up en masse is a non-starter. They don’t want it and we don’t want it.

    (Mind you, if I can digress for a mo, I never ceased to be amazed on how much discussion on latest developments in the Tory Party dominates the Young Unionists site even though they keep attacking us. Why is that? Answer 1 is that we are probably not right wing enough for them Answer 2 is they’re as fed up as anyone else with the same old same old here)

    This issue may have raised its head from time to time when Trimble was Leader as he was sympathetic to the idea and we had Leaders who were prepared to listen to him. Even then however it did not happen. As one of my previous Leaders said to me at the time, “I don’t know what the UUP are but they are not Tory” Besides, to be completely pragmatic about it, what exactly can the UUP offer to David Cameron? Very little plus the equivocation on the UVF issue doesn’t exactly help.

    Personally, I think long term things will change. We will end up with those Parties operating on an all-Ireland basis and those on an all-UK basis with the DUP in its six county mode (how ironic).

    Regards to all.

  • Keith M

    Lib2601 “The unionist majority at the last count was 69,000 and falling. They have left things too late and are now faced with the problem that any major split will allow a united nationalist electorate to make Sinn Fein the largest NI party, thereby giving them the position of First Minister.”

    Hell, two massive errors in one short paragraph.
    Firstly those that are in favour of NI remaining in the UK cannot be measured simply by those that vote “Unionist”. All opinion polls seem to put those in favour of the union at 2-1 versus any other option.

    Secondly as long as there’s designation, it doesn’t matter how many MLAs SF/IRA gain, because they (even with the help of the SDLP)will not be able to overtake the total unionist share.

    This is (at least) the second time that I’ve given you the facts here, I’d appreciate (if only for your own credability) you actually exited cloud-cuckooland.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Been no sign of the subject on the YU site for some time now Julian! I also doubt that the NI Conservatives would have much of a choice in the hypothetical situation where the UUP did become the NI Branch of the Conservatives – we wouldn’t be joining you, you’d be joining us, and that’s why I suspect the idea terrifies you so.

  • lib2016

    Keith M

    I don’t know how to break this gently to you – statistically speaking there are NO Catholics who vote for unionist parties – we are not talking about a referendum!

    Julian,

    Excellent post! I like the diplomatic way in which you indicate that the unionist parties are a disparate assortment of eccentrics rather than a political party in the British sense.

    The SDLP has been much the same since it’s creation and that is why the rise of Sinn Fein is so important since it is the first united 32-county Party.

  • Michael

    I must catch up with the YU site then!!

    I don’t think the idea terrifies me, I just don’t think it is a runner. Leaving aside the Tory view completely and how it would work in practice, people here seem to assume that all in the UUP would be happy with such an arrangement. That is not the case as Sylvia makes quite clear.

    Anything of course isn possible in politics but I just think this is likely to remain hypothetical.

    Regards

  • Exile

    As a casual observer and visitor I’d just like to say how nice to see some rational and interesting debate on the local political scene.
    If nothing else the Cons deserve some credit for trying to move things on.
    If u do move in the direction of national political parties you won’t be without friends on the mainland.

    jac

  • kensei

    “Firstly those that are in favour of NI remaining in the UK cannot be measured simply by those that vote “Unionist”. All opinion polls seem to put those in favour of the union at 2-1 versus any other option.”

    Yes. Let’s ignore those highly insignificant actual elections, and instead focus on those problem free surveys.

    Let’s suppose this hypothetical scenario is true. How long do you think that would hold out with a Nationalist majority in the Assembly doing everything in it’s power to convince the public to join a UI? Power creates it’s own logic.

  • Bob Wilson

    JEB
    Could it be the tipping point has arrived?

  • willis

    lib2016

    The SDLP has been much the same since it’s creation and that is why the rise of Sinn Fein is so important since it is the first united 32-county Party.

    Yep! Disparate coalitions are fragile plants which need lots of sunshine.

    How can you be a Nationalist party which only exists in one quarter of your nation?

  • Willis

    Similarly, how can a party claim to be a supporter of the union and yet only operate in six counties of their country?

  • Keith M

    Lib2601 : “I don’t know how to break this gently to you – statistically speaking there are NO Catholics who vote for unionist parties – we are not talking about a referendum!”

    Where have I said otherwise? HOWEVER there are Catholics that prefer that NI remain in the UK rather than join the Republic. Those that vote Unionist are only a subset of those that are pro-union, this has been evidenced by every simple opinion poll on the subject.

    Kensei “Yes. Let’s ignore those highly insignificant actual elections, and instead focus on those problem free surveys.”

    I’m not ignoring them at all, I’m simply saying that until there is another referendum on the subject we will not know the actual percentage of those that favour N.I. remaining in the U>K. versus any other option.

    “Let’s suppose this hypothetical scenario is true. How long do you think that would hold out with a Nationalist majority in the Assembly doing everything in it’s power to convince the public to join a UI? Power creates it’s own logic.

    I can never see there being a Nationalist majority in the Assembly. If anything the Nationalist vote share is in decline based on the most recent elections. Therefore this falls into the beyond-hypothetical scenario on which I cannot venture an opinion.

    The one thing I will say is that Unionists have been in the majority in N.I., since the IFS left the U.K. There were in power for decades and I’m not sure that they convinced a single nationalist to give up the idea of a “united Ireland”. Therefore to say that “power creates it’s own logic.” doesn’t necesarily hold any truth for N.I.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Actually the harsh reality for you is that two thirds of the population of NI are content with NI in the UK. ‘

    Perhaps in 1920 . Not in 2006.

  • Greenflag

    Eranu,

    ‘also, I bet alot of the catholic middle class are fed up with the SDLP/SF tribal nonsense. possibley they may be interested in a large secular party with proper policies, a party they can get involved with and that can actually govern their area. ‘

    Step forward FF .

  • Elvis Parker

    Greenflag
    Still two thirds in 2006 – see Life and Times survey. Besides even electorally nationalism has peaked
    Ask yourself this if a UI was that close why have SF/IRA settled for GFA?

  • Greenflag

    ‘I think you will find that her madness, bile and ignorance are a major reason why there are no Tories in large parts of the UK.’

    And also why the UK economy appears to be in better shape than France or Germany’s or Italy’s . Blair has not really ‘undone’ any of Thatcher’s economic reforms .

  • lib2016

    ‘Why…..settle for the GFA?’

    Transitional arrangements are needed. No-one in either the SDLP or Sinn Fein calls for immediate British withdrawal these days.

    The North is a subsidised wreck incapable of governing itself or, it would seem, even moving towards becoming a functioning democracy. It will take time for the salvage operation to succeed.

    For a United Ireland to happen republicans will have to convince a reasonable proportion of post-unionist voters that they have nothing to fear and much to gain from working with their neighbours.

    It won’t happen because of any hardsell but through the experience of powersharing at local authority level or at Stormont. Lot’s of good work in that direction going on already but you wouldn’t think so on this site.

  • wjd

    RE: Irish Tories. Don’t forget Brendan Bracken, one of Churchill’s key aides during WWII.

  • Elvis Parker

    lib2098 – a UI:
    ‘It won’t happen because of any hardsell but through the experience of powersharing at local authority level or at Stormont.’
    Isnt this just as likely to lead to the continuation of the Union?
    Given nationalisms failure to shift any of the unionist population in the past 80 odd years why do you think this minority can change the views of the majority in the next 80?
    As the pointless violence subsides people on both sides may lessen their extreme views but any historical anlaysis will show that that will favour the status quo?

  • eranu

    “JEB
    Could it be the tipping point has arrived?”

    bob,
    pretty much i think. afterall, the remaining arguments are about policing and criminality. the constitutional talk was all settled in that agreement at the end of the 1990s.
    maybe its time for the Democratic Party DP and the Ulster Party UP to step forward? i wonder what they would talk about if they couldnt say ‘unionism’ all the time ?????

  • Bob Wilson

    As Julian says it is surely a good thing to offer people the opportunity to involve themselves in more outward looking politics.
    Any UUP, DUP, SDLP, SF or Alliance supporters care to disagree and paint a vision of how their parties can break down the tribalism of NI politics?
    (obviously many of you believe this tribalism to be a good thing but there must be others….)

  • lib2016

    Elvis,

    No-one really expects committed unionists or nationalists to change their opinions. That’s simply not going to happen.

    What has happened is that Sinn Fein emerged during the 80’s and gradually built a modern party which realised the need for new policies, firstly to find new ways to achieve power and now to decide how that power will be exercised North and South.

    Meanwhile unionism may have modernised their party structures and coalesced around the DUP but they show no signs of developing new policies. They have three months before Plan B goes ahead without them and physical resistance as used previously by unionism is not going to work this time.

    Whatever rabbit Peter the Punt is going to produce he’d better do it quick.

    As for your comment that the status quo will prevail – the Conservatives thought that in 1989, until they looked at the age of their supporters.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    As a former UUp voter I will be voting for a Tory at the next election if one is available.

    They are the only non sectarian party in NI, with the possible exception of the Alliance party.

    Maggie was the last decent politician and statesman (woman) in the UK who had a vision and stuck to it for 8 years, the last 3 were however less distinguised.

    I can name a lot more than 5 good things she did in those 8 years, she

    turned a basket case into a viable economy

    destroyed the communists and agitators within the unions by making the unions democratic

    was a major part of the end of the cold war as she ‘assisted’ Regan

    took charge of the EEC negotiations and got what she wanted

    made house ownership possible for thousands

  • Garibaldy

    Frustrated,

    As John Major said at his first European negotiation, ‘I’m not Margaret Thatcher. i don’t scream, I don’t shout, and I don’t sign’

    Don’t believe the hype

  • Frustrated Democrat

    How did Maastrict happen then? The worst deal I have ever seen it made the EC into the EU and who signed…….

  • kensei

    “I can never see there being a Nationalist majority in the Assembly. If anything the Nationalist vote share is in decline based on the most recent elections. Therefore this falls into the beyond-hypothetical scenario on which I cannot venture an opinion.”

    I will lay you a hundred pound bet, right here, right now, that the Nationalist vote share will increase at the next Westminister elections. Care to take it?

    “The one thing I will say is that Unionists have been in the majority in N.I., since the IFS left the U.K. There were in power for decades and I’m not sure that they convinced a single nationalist to give up the idea of a “united Ireland”. Therefore to say that “power creates it’s own logic.” doesn’t necesarily hold any truth for N.I. ”

    In one breath, there are Catholics that support the Union, in the other, they haven’t convinced anyone.

  • kensei

    “Ask yourself this if a UI was that close why have SF/IRA settled for GFA?”

    Transitional and needed to create the conditions for a UI. Next!

  • Reader

    kensei: Transitional
    ‘Transitional’, hence the marching controversy (to solidify the tribal voting blocks). Until – oops – the results of the 2001 census was published.
    Now what? “Reaching out” to unionists by ignoring the unionist identity! SF just can’t get outside their own heads, it seems.

  • willis

    Greenflag

    So, a win-win situation. Economic reform and a Social Democrat party able to make the best of it.

    Actually John Sargent’s book suggests she regards him as her natural successor.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Don’t believe the hype ‘

    Never mind what they say watch what they do !

    When all’s said and done more is said than done .
    And for NI multiply the said by 100 🙁

  • Greenflag

    ‘Actually John Sargent’s book suggests she regards him as her natural successor. ‘

    The right (extremists) are wrong and eventually leave a disaster behind them . This is also true of the extreme left .

    Too much Government seems to be even more unproductive than too little . Those who shout power to the people usually mean power only to those who shout power to the people . They then very quickly abuse their new found power . (Mugabe , Stalin, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein etc etc )

    Communism is the exploitation of man by man and raw Capitalism is vice versa .

    Thus the political future and power both in Britain, Ireland and elsewhere in modern democracies trends towards the ‘sensible’ middle . This will suffice until a time arrives when the sensible middle has compromised too much and consensus seeked too often /and or ignored or failed to take the necessary action required to correct a failing economy or deteriorating political society or a looming energy or currency crisis . At that point a radical shift in economic or political policy becomes necessary. The Irish Republic was in such a situation in 1987 and in the mid 1950’s .Britain was in a similar bind in the mid to late 1970’s. Britain had Thatcher -Ireland got Lemass & Whitaker in the 50’s and McSharry & Reynolds in the late 80’s .

    It could be said that Northern Ireland has been in a crisis ‘situation’ since the mid 1960’s . However the NI politicians have never had the power or the will /capability or political nous to do what needed to be done . The inherent constitutional divide within NI made any radical new departure in economic or political policy virtually impossible. Brian Faulkner was about the only one IIRC who could have pulled it off had it not been of course for the screaming cleric on his right .

    This brings us back to the need for a State that is supposedly founded on ‘democratic’ principles to have sufficient constitutional legitimacy to tackle a ‘crisis’ situation with the support of 90% plus of the population . Unfortunately in NI the ‘crisis’ immediatley split the population down the middle and that’s where it has remained and festered for the past almost 40 years.

    I doubt that the Conservative Party can undo what has been created over 37 years of sectarian conflict nor the 40 years of one party rule prior to that.

  • lib2016

    Who is this aimed at? Is it possible that this is a naive attempt to emphasise that the modern Conservative Party no longer wishes to play the Orange Card?

    We’ve moved on a long way in the last century and now there are plenty of Irish rightwing populist parties for nationalists, at least one of which (Fianna Fail) is dipping its toes in the water here.

    The ‘blood and thunder’ unionists are in the ascendancy so that’s another possible constituency ruled out.

    Could the Conservatives possibly believe that there is a future support base to be cobbled together from the remnants of the Alliance and the UUP, both parties which have looked kindly on the PUP in the past? They must be really desperate.

  • Rory

    Over time, we want to share the proceeds of growth between public services and lower taxes says the Tory spokesman (“Well he would, wouldn’t he?” said Mandy Rice-Davis).

    What he does not say is that the second part (lower taxes) will absolutely be implemented, the first part (public service growth) will not, however much he “wants to” “over time”. Mainly this will be because of… er, reduced income from…er, lower taxation.

  • Rory

    Ulick Magee, I can name one good thing the Tory Party did – they shafted Thatcher and drove her to total madness (where she was headed anyway admittedly). But you’re safe enough, my memory fails for any more. Pull up your kecks and throw away those needles.

  • slug

    One of the achievements of the Conservatives was the exemption from the Eurozone that it fought for the UK. This meant that the UK could continue to set interest rates for the UK’s needs.

  • Philip McNeill

    Interesting topic. I can see that both sides have merits and both share flaws.

    It was the Orange Order that created the Ulster Unionist Council and it was this Council that morphed into the UUP as we see it today. The UUP consists of many shades of unionist and there are many that without the link of the OO now are questioning what the hell they are doing. After all why should a working class unionist agree with one who is from the leafy suburbs of Malone etc? The UUP yacht has not lost the wind from its sails, but its has lost the sails that once captured it.

    This country is partisan, there is no two ways about this. Nothing has changed except that there is a new class of wealth merchants. The NICon. need ‘names’ if they are to make progress in NI.From the UUP they are getting them but we shall see how their PR develops.

  • lib2016

    “…set interest rates for the U.K.’s needs”

    …that’s only true if you think that’s what’s good for the City is good for NI.

  • slug

    Lib

    “…that’s only true if you think that’s what’s good for the City is good for NI.”

    In fact it is the case that by law the Bank of England is an independent authority with a statutory obligation to keep the UK inflation rate to 2.5%

    Of course, the City is indeed a great boost to the UK’s economy, but it is UK inflation that is targeted by the Bank of England.

  • Garibaldy

    Slug,

    Only after Brown made it so. Thatcherism represented the victory of finance capital over every other interest in the country, including industry. The reason industry was broken being of course the power of the trade unions.

  • slug

    Garibaldy

    I agree, BoE independence was and remains Browns (and the present government’s) great achievement.

    For this reason I suspect that Brown will not lightly discard his legacy (i.e. he will not take us into the EZ).

  • Garibaldy

    Slug,

    I agree the Euro argument is over in the UK, for the foreseeable anyway. Had it been possible, Blair would have done it, as one of his bids for a legacy.

  • Thrasymachus

    “Mind you, if I can digress for a mo, I never ceased to be amazed on how much discussion on latest developments in the Tory Party dominates the Young Unionists site even though they keep attacking us. Why is that?”

    Unionist website criticises non-Unionists, big surprise there!

  • FergusD

    A little side-note on this issue of mainstream UK parties organising in NI.

    BICO (British and Irish Communist Organisation, not Party as described in a post by Rory on another thread) argued for years for integration of NI into the UK, partly to promote the adoption of mainstream left-right politics and get away from sectarian politics (they also supported the “Two Nations” idea, not really “stages” theory Rory). Apparently they called for the Tories to organise in NI. Odd for a communist group! However, they also argued that UK Labour should organise in NI. Ironically, now that the Tories may be serious about organising in NI former leading lights in BICO have abandoned that strategy, due to the repeated failure of UK parties to take any interest (particularly Labour), and also because unionists showed little or no interest (why didn’t they go for full integration into the UK political system?). Instead, as you may know, Mark Langhammer has joined the Irish Labour Party and is trying to organise that in NI.

    I can’t understand why northern nationalists don’t take this approach. Some SDLP voters/members would go Irish Labour, and some FF I suppose. Would such developments encourage “governmental” politics, like former BICO adherents claim?

    UK Tories, Irish Labour, possibly FF all competing for votes in NI would be strange indeed!

  • Ziznivy

    It’s an inopportune moment for Northern Irish Tories to be selling themselves as an alternative to unionism given the mixed signals emanating from the Cameron regime regarding Scottish MPs and the Lothian question. I’d want more concretely unionist rhetoric and a proper UK outlook before I’d consider voting for them. Realistically the Tory route into Northern Ireland should simply be to persuade the UUP to reassume the party whip. This would be advantageous to both parties, the UUP offering voters a real say in a party with a plausible chance of government and the Conservatives gaining a foothold in Northern Ireland (hopefully). Even as a reasonably liberal unionist I could easily live with this arrangement due to the advantages it would hold for unionism.

  • kensei

    “‘Transitional’, hence the marching controversy (to solidify the tribal voting blocks). Until – oops – the results of the 2001 census was published.”

    In no way was the 2001 census some kind of silver bullet.

    And maybe, just maybe, Sectarian Organisations forcing their way into places pisses a whole lot of peple off.

    “Now what? “Reaching out” to unionists by ignoring the unionist identity! SF just can’t get outside their own heads, it seems.”

    No reaching out to Unionists while still staying Republicans. And of course they want to convince you to stop being Unionists, seeing as that’s their job.

  • Elvis Parker

    Ziznivy
    Re UUP retaking the Tory Whip – isnt it slightly problematic that the UUP’s only MP is most definiftely not a Tory – see quote above?
    Why doesnt the UUP just give up – why do they insist on splitting the vote. Those who support the Union should not support separtists – regardless of whether they are Irish, Welsh, Scottish or Ulster Nationalists like the UUP.
    Splitters!

  • Ziznivy

    The only Ulster Nationalists in unionism are the Democratic Unionist Party. The UUP has consistently outlined its vision in terms of the United Kingdom. The union is the guiding light of UUP policy whilst the protection of the Ulster Volk is the DUP’s priority.

    It seems irrelevant to me that Sylvia Hermon sits more comfortably in the New Labour camp. She is a member of the Ulster Unionist Party and her duty as a unionist is to strengthen the union, above and beyond any other loyalties she may feel to mainland parties. In my view this would be best served by taking the Tory whip.

    I’m sure that if such a venture proved effective she would soon be joined by more natural Tory sympathisers such as David Burnside.

  • Ruth Dudley Edwards

    Just a couple of minor points about Nathan’s post about my late ex-husband, Patrick Cosgrave.
    His mother cleaned the church in Dublin Castle for many years – a job which gave her great satisfaction as she was a very devout Catholic. She was anything but a West Brit: Patrick Pearse was on her mantelpiece along with the Pope.
    Ruth Dudley Edwards

  • elvis parker

    Ziznivy
    I’m afraid you delude yourself. By seeking to be a ‘catch all’ party the Ulster Unionist party has ended up being just as much an Ulster nationalist party as the DUP. They may be Less sectarian and may Desire broader support for the Union but by maintaining sectarian tribal political structures and doing all it can to prevent the development of the Conservatives, etc in NI they are undermining the Union every bit as much as the DUP.
    Your suggestion that Hermon – a Labour luvie should take the Conservative whip is laughable.
    Also how do you think David Burnside will get back to Westminster?

  • Well said Elvis.

  • Ziznivy

    Elvis – whilst the UUP is competing against a seperate Conservative Party it is preposterous to expect it not to do everything it can to prevent their development as rivals to the UUP. This was the case when Trimble underwent the Conservative Party NI’s challenge in Upper Bann and it has been the case in North Down where the Conservatives had their only modicum of success. In an ideal world there would be no need for unionism, but whilst there is a nationalist challenge to be met it is inevitable that a seperate political culture will exist in Northern Ireland.

    That has not prevented UUP politicians from engaging with the rest of the UK political establishment to a far greater extent than any other party. It does not detract from the fact that UUP supporters play a role far more easily identified as typically British by mainland voters than those of the DUP.

    The challenge for the UUP is to harmonise their unique perspective in Northern Ireland with the political mainstream in Britain to as great an extent as possible, without losing sight of the main priority of defending and strengthening the union. In my opinion that priority is more pressing than Lady Hermon’s pro-Blair sensibilities, which in any case should be by all rights be taking a battering by now.

    David Burnside will regain a Westminster seat for the simple reason that Willie McRea is an appalling MP who will be unable to defend his seat without the full blast of the Trimble backlash to propel him home.

  • Bob Wilson

    ‘In an ideal world there would be no need for unionism, but whilst there is a nationalist challenge to be met it is inevitable that a seperate political culture will exist in Northern Ireland.’
    And with one small step he fell right into the nationalist trap!

  • Thrasymachus

    “And with one small step he fell right into the nationalist trap!”

    Yes and he could avoid it by voting for a party that er… gave us de facto joint sovereignty? Refuses to designate itself Unionist?

  • Butterknife

    The A and B party seeks the votes of 100 voters (50% are nationalists and the other is unionist).

    Assuming an equal slit between the parties:
    A/2 + B/2

    Now if the conservatives come in it will be:
    A/2 + B/4 + C/4 where B and C have at least 25% in
    votes than A!

    As the majority will dictate what passport your or I will hold in future its important to consider if its wise that Labour and Tory organise in NI.

  • Bob Wilson

    Thrasymachus
    I wondered how long it was before we got the ‘you cant trust them/they’ve let us done in the past’ argument.
    (Btw we haven’t got joint sovereignty de facto or otherwise)
    Can the strategists of unionism tell us which they feel would be the best way to avoid being let down/betrayed by the Conservatives (or Labour or Liberals)who always make up the Govt. Is it:
    a.Remain completely isolated in a warped sectarian political culture which ensures that next to no-one in politics or the media has any understanding let alone sympathy for anyone in NI.
    b.Integrate yourself into the political culture of the UK and try to build friends and understanding in the parties that matters and in the media.

    One could argue that the failures of British Governments in the past have in fact been facilitated by unionisms willingness to isolate itself from the politics of the UK.

    Not designating as ‘Unionist’ was an attempt to voice our disgust at a voting system in the Assembly that entrenches sectarianism.

    Butterknife – when a nationalist writes urging us to keep to sectarian voting system I know two things:
    1.We are right to pursue non sectarian politics
    2.Nationalism is a sad and blinkered philosophy

  • lib2016

    The Conservative party is not nationalist? You’ll not be wrapping yourselves up in the Union Jacks at the next party conference then.

  • Bob Wilson

    I dont think you’ll find much of that – not as long as Cameron is leader!
    In NI the Conservative Party’s focus is centre right politics involving bread and butter issues.
    We have enough flag wavers

  • Thrasymachus

    “I wondered how long it was before we got the ‘you cant trust them/they’ve let us done in the past’ argument.
    (Btw we haven’t got joint sovereignty de facto or otherwise)”

    Of course I can’t trust the Conservatives based on their past record. With the AIA your party said it was incapable of running NI by itself and so had to cede sovereignty to a foreign country in order to do so.

    You have no right to expect my vote, or that of the hundreds of thousands of other Unionists who rejected you, until you can demonstrate that you have changed and are competant enough to run this country without foreign interference.

    “Not designating as ‘Unionist’ was an attempt to voice our disgust at a voting system in the Assembly that entrenches sectarianism.”

    So you regard Unionism as sectarian and so would be designated to call yourself one, and then you wonder why you can’t get any of our votes…

  • Bob Wilson

    Thanks Thrasymachus

  • Garibaldy

    I note David Cameron is playing party politics with the response to terrorism. What a moron. It looks increasingly like the party faithful were conned by one speech into electing a lightweight, who has been floundering to make much of an impact or outline a clear vision without changing it soon after.

  • Ziznivy

    “And with one small step he fell right into the nationalist trap!”

    Not at all. I believe many unionists respond with instinctive positivity to integrationst arguments. But it must be remembered that we’re not living in 1982 here. We live in a post-devolution UK and we live in a time when it’s possible to look back at the instances the Tory party discarded their unionist heritage. Unionist parties cannot be expected to roll over and let an equivocally unionist Conservative Party have free reign.

  • IJP

    If the local Tories spent more time out in the community trying to get votes in practice and less time on Slugger discussing theory…

  • elvis paker

    So in answer to Bob’s question Ziz and Thra you dont trust the Tories but dont have an alternative strategy for unionists?

  • Ziznivy

    I’ve already commented that I would like to see the UUP have exploratory talks about the possibility of taking the Conservative whip at some point, certainly after the next general election. This would increase the influence of unionism within the UK mainstream whilst maintaining a degree of independence and not losing the sanction of withdrawing support.

  • elvis paker

    When your only MP and your leader to mention but to are ‘anti’ Tory this is a complete non stater.
    Setting that aside how much influence do you think that people who openly admit they arent Tories are going to have in the Tory Party!!
    Why would the Tories even want your one vote when they can be nice to the DUP and get 9?
    Back in the drawing board in CunningPlan House!