NI Conservatives in listening mode?

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  • Newtory

    Looks like they are finally on the move!

    In a few years when Labour and FG and FF have organised the local parties will fade into oblivion as their insular sectarian politics are exposed for what they are.

    Roll on the day and I hope North Down votes Tory to put the first foundations in place and shame on Labour for resisting for so long.

  • Crataegus

    A Conservative elected in N Down would be an improvement.

  • Pete

    The Tories didn’t do much for Northern Ireland when they recently failed (by misplacing their political balls) to carry Trimble’s amendment, in the House of Lords, concerning local water charges legislation.

    I appreciate the fact that carrying the motion may have created a black hole in terms of finding the money for financing such infrastructure, however, on a matter of principle they should have backed Trimble’s motion in the Lords in an attempt to help the people of N Ireland when they had vital influence.

    Try a little harder next time Tory-boys, as it would appear that you seem to have little impact on Northern Ireland at a national level.

  • Observer

    No mention of Peter Bowles running, has he decided not to go forward for election?

  • Newtory

    Pete

    Study what happened in the Lords carefully and then make comments.

    The Tories did what was right and got good concessions for those who would have difficulties paying. It was that or face the original bill as it stood.

    These concessions are no matter what happens in the election or whether we have an assembly or not, not as the DUP and Labour are now trying to spin it.

  • Wilde Rover

    I have never been able to fathom why unionists don’t vote Tory.

    At the very least it could mean the unionist community might forgo the indignity of being ordered about by some English person by having a local MP in the Cabinet, and ultimately top job in Norn Iron.

    I suppose it could be the fear factor, the possibility of being sold out by the English and all that.

    Best to stick to local parties, it seems.

    And yet it has led to the situation, politically at least, whereby the NI part of the UK is like an unused extension on a house where the residents of the main house would probably not notice if it were knocked down.

    We are all, it seems, partitionists now.

  • Bob wilson

    Pete
    ‘the motion may have created a black hole in terms of finding the money for financing such infrastructure’
    Yes Pete it would have and as you would have noticed from yesterday’s news it would have hugely delayed NI’s efforts to stop water pollution – for which we are shortly to be fined thousands of pounds per day.
    I dont think I am betraying any secrets to say we were sorely tempted to score easy political points – but it the end we behaved responsibly.

    You (and Lord Trimble) protest too much however. In criticising us you implicitly recognise that ONLY the local members of a UK wide party can have influence in Westminster!

  • Steeky

    “I have never been able to fathom why unionists don’t vote Tory”

    Maybe because not all unionist are conservative in their ideology! Also I’d sooner poke my eyes out than vote for the party that brought us the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

    And thats before we even look at how right wing the party is – yeah yeah, Camerson talks reasonable sounding talk but we have yet to see if this translates to anything concrete.

  • Butterknife

    Nothern Ireland is to tribal for either the Connservatives or Labour to get a foothold here. Even if they, as they are both ‘British’ the chances are it would split the unionist vote even further and thus increase the likelyhood of nationalist partys at every level of government.

  • slug

    I believe that the Conservatives are announcing more candidates soon, so maybe Peter Bowles.

    Will North Antrim get a Tory candidate?

  • I have never been able to fathom why unionists don’t vote Tory.

    For the same reason that the Ulster Unionist Party stopped taking the Tory whip in Westminster in the early ’70s; a party with UK-wide interests will not always defend the sectional interests of Ulster Prods. Most Prods are Prods first and British second.

  • Crataegus

    One has to question the purpose of the UUP? If you want to vote Unionist there is the DUP in all its glory. If you want to show your moderate side there is the Alliance and if you strongly identify with the UK well there is the Conservatives and hopefully shortly there will also be Labour. It is the UUP that is superfluous.

    AT the other end of the equation. SF are an all Ireland party and if you are a Nationalist that must be appealing. If you are moderate the Greens are all Ireland. So where exactly does the SDLP fit in?

  • George

    Crataegus,
    all-ireland isn’t the same as united Ireland.

    The Greens are all-Ireland with two separate sister parties but aren’t a united Ireland party to the best of my knowledge.

    The SDLP are in their words a “100%” United Ireland party. The moderate nationalist vote is there for them.

  • BonarLaw

    George

    as far as I know there is no NI Green Party, but rather a “Northern” (sic) committee of the Irish party.

    I stand to be corrected.

  • Nevin

    George, it seems that the local Greens are part of GIN, the Green Islands Network. Perhaps pink is the new green …

  • Nevin

    Bonar, I think it can be fairly described as a soft nationalist party; it promotes strand 2 of the 1998 Agreement and has little to say about strand 3.

  • BonarLaw

    Nevin

    thanks for that.

    So unionist minded “Greens” could be better of with “Dave”.?

  • George

    Bonar,
    I stand to be corrected too. Where are all these Greens when you need them.

    Nevin,
    There doesn’t seem to be a link to any Northern Ireland Green Party on that European Greens website.
    There are Irish, UK and Scottish Greens Parties though.

  • John East Belfast

    Crataegus

    The answer to 11.38 am post is very simple.

    It is all about who unionists most trust to protect the union among all the parties you have quoted ?

    It was the same question 100 years ago and it hasnt changed.

  • Julian Robertson

    JEB

    “It was the same question 100 years ago and it hasnt changed.”

    Sort of confirms how well the question has been answered then?

  • Pete

    After reading all of the above I am still not convinced in any form that the Tories listen to local people and feed it back centrally in a bid to lever influence. Maybe there is a problem with organisation?

    Whats the point in voting Tory when contentious issues arise, such as water and rates, only to be have them dealt with by acquiescence.

    I’m sorry I’m not protesting and I don’t have much time for a politically arrogant Trimble either; however, more could have been done but wasn’t.

    In terms of the Rates and concessions, if you call a £500,000 valuation cap on rates a victory then I suspect that’s your call and in some deluded way the maths will benefit the wealthy.

    The Assembly started these reviews and those such parties should have been made to work it out from afresh while remaining accountable to their electorate in doing so.

    Perhaps local Tories may get their say post March 07 but judging by the example of their party peers, I doubt it.

    Reforming Northern Ireland’s rates and water/sewerage infrastructure by falling behind Labour doesn’t seem like much opposition to me but more importantly it now frees local MLAs from having to provide hard thought over finding a better way, which could have been a litmus test as to their political capabilities.

    It is intimated that local MLAs, upon return, will be able to tinker with some aspects of the charging structures; but, the political culture is to blame and I suspect all these ills will be blamed on badly imposed British Government (including the Tories) legislation.

  • The locally elected Tories (ie the Unionist MPs after the 1970 general election) didn’t ‘stop taking the Tory whip’ – Ted Heath stripped them of it. Unionists in Ulster trusted the Tory Party enough between 1922 and 1972 to continuously send a vast plurality of Tory MPs to Parliament. You have to rewrite history to pretend that Unionist and Tory didn’t mean one and the same thing in the first half century after partition. That the Party then broke up, with the NI end being semi-detached until the final links were broken after the AIA was and remains a great tragedy. If by tragic you mean something that harms the wider interests of Unionism.

    One of my biggest problems with Paisley, other than his perfectly obvious sectarianism, is that to advance the ends of his faction (as it was before trimble transformed it into the majority in Unionism) he was always willing to either ignore, or, incapable of seeing Unionism’s wider interests. The Big Man will not go into the history books as a selfless politician who put country before party.

  • Crataegus

    George

    On another thread, and after considerable persistence, someone (I assume from the Green Party) confirmed they are a Region of Comhaontas Glas and that they have been unable to make progress on substantial British links.

    From Wikipedia In 2005 at their Annual Convention and again in a postal ballot in March 2006, its members voted to become a Region of the Irish Green Party Also Sargent back in December referring to them The Northern Ireland Greens are now a regional council of the Irish Green Party He also calls the leaders of the Green Party of NI ‘ Regional’ leaders. I think it is fair to assume they are a Region of Comhaontas Glas.

    To their credit I think (stand to be corrected) they have tried to set up some balanced structure in Britain and Ireland, but are stuck with structures which are decidedly of this Island. This could be due to lack of interest in Britain or lack of interest from the local membership for eastern link, or both.

    I think they mean well but sadly some of their press releases show a total lack of understanding of Unionism and could be deeply offensive. I put it down to naivety and give them a fool’s pardon, but statements like this Protestant Unionism still has its uses however. It is a perfect caricature of unreasonable b i g o t r y. (no author) could be deeply offensive. Did any of the candidates actually write this? Who did write this for whoever did is doing them little service. Their need to raise their game.

    With regards the SDLP would not the natural step be to form cross border alliances? That must be the natural extension of their Nationalist aspirations?

    John of East
    I have difficulty with a philosophical position that states we are protecting the Union by being separate.

    I would like to see the local Tories do well.

    Karl

    I agree.

    The Big Man will not go into the history books as a selfless politician who put country before party.

    Or the party before self?

  • Bob wilson

    Pete
    You obvously have an axe to grind however..
    Labour has a majority in the Commons and is now the largest party in the Lords.

    On rates: We secured more help for less well off pensioners and the cap. Admittedly the cap is too high. If we succeeded in voting the Bill down Labour would simply have re-introduced the bill WITHOUT those concessions – and whipped it through both Houses (The Lords being pretty powerless to do anything other than delay it on one occasion)
    BTW these concessions are NOT dependent on devolution – that is just Labour spin.

    Likewise on Water:
    It will now been better regulated – and from this April not April 2010. Again if we had voted the bill down it would have been immediately reintroduced without concessions. Again these are real concessions not devolution dependent.

    As I pointed out earlier voting water charges down would have left a huge hole in the budget and made worse the amount of taxpayers money we will pay to Europe in fines.

    Finally do you have any faith that the local parties would have repidly agreed a better solution – remember Durkan and Trimble agreed to the introduction of charges.

    Remember the only way to get Labour out is to get the Conservatives in. Do you prefer the politics of isolation?

  • darth rumsfeld

    Menawhile, Henry Reilly is the latest UUP councillor to leave the sinking ship, but has instead joined UKIP, a party that was once linked to Bob McCartney. Shows how far the NI tories have to go before being seen as the natural home for chickenhearted UUPers.

  • Hmmmn, UKIP are currently trying to rename themselves, ‘Independence’, which locally comes 2nd only to ‘Green’ as an unfortunate name.

  • George

    Crataegus,
    thanks for that on the Greens. It certainly sheds some light on it for me.

    As for the SDLP forming alliances, can’t see it happening. At present, there is nothing to be gained by southern parties forming alliances with the SDLP.

    This could change very quickly. This year’s Dáil election and if Sinn Féin are totally in the policing tent could lead to a new dynamic.

    If the Tories and Labour enter the fray then I can see greater pressure for Fianna Fáil to get involved.

    If constitutional unionism in the form of British “establishment” parties looks to break down old religious divisions then constitutional republicanism in the form of the Irish “establishment” parties should certainly follow suit.

  • BonarLaw

    Crataegus

    thanks again.

    To over play the environment pun Hell will freeze over before the “Northern” committee of the Irish Green Party gets one of my preferences.

    Thankfully due to global warming …

  • Julian Robertson

    Darth

    Remember, not all UUPers are natural Conservatives! Lady Sylvia?

    Remmember also, there are some in the SDLP who, as they themselves say, would under “normal circumstances” be inclined to be Tory.

  • ‘THE’ Observer

    I could not vote Tory No. 1, in NI.

    I’d naturally be a ‘Tory’ and if I lived on the Mainland I probably would be inclined to go that way; however I really dislike and distrust Cameron. I know the other David was a little ‘sour’, but I’d have prefered him. Cameron was selected in desparation.

    I believe in an Ulster party to fight our corner in Westminster.

    However I’d certainly give the Tories a preference. How many candidates are you running (Julian) and where?

  • Nevin

    Karl, what became the Ulster Unionist Council in 1905 was essentially a merger of Conservatives and Liberal Unionists. As I understand it, Ulster Unionist MPs ceased to take the Conservative whip.

  • Bob wilson

    UUP must be delighted to have lost Henry Reilly – who can forget his Talkback appearance!
    Tories delighted he has joined UKIP

  • BonarLaw

    Let’s not forget that Unionism was mainstream national politics in the first quarter of the last centuary. What is now the Conservative Party was the Unionist Party in Lloyd Georges’ coalitions and Edward Carson was a towering presence on the national political stage.

    One of the many negative aspects of devolution here was the marginalisation of Ulster politicians many of whom had successful cabinet careers at Westminster.

  • Crataegus

    Bonarlaw

    One of the many negative aspects of devolution here was the marginalisation of Ulster politicians many of whom had successful cabinet careers at Westminster.

    Good point and with it a loss of experience.

  • Dec

    Remmember also, there are some in the SDLP who, as they themselves say, would under “normal circumstances” be inclined to be Tory.

    Inclined to be Fine Gael, I’d say. Or don’t you get the whole ‘Nationalist’ thing.

  • BonarLaw

    Dec

    Don’t you get the whole “United Kingdom” thing?

  • Julian Robertson

    Observer

    “I believe in an Ulster party to fight our corner
    in Westminster. ”

    Fair enough.

    Every constituency or region needs people to fight their corner, just like us.

    I want Ulster people to fight our corner, it’s just that I prefer these Ulster people to be in the national parties. Furthermore, I think we have a lot to contribute on areas outside our own corner.

    There are a couple of i’s to be dotted – we’ll confirm our number asap but it is more than we have run before – I think that is good news.

  • Dec

    Don’t you get the whole “United Kingdom” thing?

    Tragically, I do. I don’t get the automatic (and false) assumption that the more socially conservative members of a “100% United Ireland’ party would find a natural home in a British unionist party. Which was kind of my original point and one you clearly missed.

  • Julian Robertson

    Dec

    Yes, I do of course do get the whole nationalist thing, difficult not to really.

    I’m jusy relating the bones of a conversation with said person, that’s all. On the constitutional issue, of course we differ but the point being made was that on other issues we might be closer. If we both lived in England or in Dublin now, we could well be in the same party. That’s not difficult to get the head round surely???

    I think it just points out how messed up our politics has become here.

  • Julian Robertson

    Dec

    Believe me, no assumptions, automatic or otherwise, being made. Done that in the past and paid the price!

  • George

    Bonar,
    “One of the many negative aspects of devolution here was the marginalisation of Ulster politicians many of whom had successful cabinet careers at Westminster.”

    I would say that this was more one of the negative aspects of most of Ireland getting out of the United Kingdom rather than the creation of Stormont.

    Northern Irish politicians became marginalised in Ireland and in the UK.

  • Dec

    Julian

    Thanks for the response. I would venture that messed up politics was inevitable in(and a permanent feature of) such a messed up state.

  • páid

    The problem for Ulster Unionism (and I know Irish Nationalism has many, related problems) is that the Unionist party has to try and be all things to all Unionists. Left and right, green and not-so-green.
    This is because Unionism is essentially nationalism, albeit British Nationalism.
    In the South, given rough agreement on independence and the constitition, politics has split left, right, green and catch-all.

    In Scotland, one can see the beginnings of this process, with ex-Tories eyeing up a PD party in the event of independence.

    NI remains the battleground of competing nationalities as there is no agreement on it’s constitution position.

    There won’t be either until social change allows it, as political parties follow social demand, rather than lead it.

  • slug

    Crat

    On the greens’ website they boast

    “When Northern Ireland Climate Scientist Jerry Doherty heard that the Green Party is likely to take at least one seat in the forthcoming Assembly Election, he flew back from the Antarctic via Argentina and London to North Down and got stuck in to the Greens’ Assembly election campaign.”

    It seemed a strange claim given all the emphasis on CO2 emissions.

  • Crataegus

    Slug

    They are full of contradictions, but despite this I would still like to see them win a seat as it would give a bit of variety and increase the range of views. Apart from that Brian Wilson is probably a fine fellow and one less dreary boring Unionist won’t be missed.

    Northern Ireland Green Party seem a bit amateurish probably because they are working on a shoe string so you have to make allowances.

    As I said elsewhere I would be delighted if Alliance, Greens and Conservatives all won a seat in N Down, but I know that that is improbable.

    Let us just hope it is a good election for Labour, some of the Independents, Alliance, Greens, Conservatives etc. As for the DUP and SF I hope they have the result they truly deserve.

  • Confused

    Taking of websites my favourite is Hermon’s it has a big piece about her delight about being selected to fight the 2005 General Election….

  • Elvis Parker

    Must say I think the Tory site is good – but DUP still the best.
    Will it make any impact in the constituencies though?

  • Paul

    Conservative site is good and if they can bolster half the support they had in 1992 in N.Down then they will win a seat. They have my vote