And then there were nine….

It’s not a party, and probably not yet a decent opposition, but today the Alliance, Green, and Independent MLAs all designated ‘United Community’ as opposed to ‘Nationalist’ or ‘Unionist’ or indeed plain old ‘Other’…

  • mickhall

    Good for them, whilst disagreeing politically on many issues I genuinely wish them well.

  • dublinsfsupporter

    As an Irish republican I would have deep opposition to the policies and ideologies of this grouping, far from socialist and basically right wing bourgeois in many many ways.

    That said, I recognise their right to put forward the ideas that they believe in.

  • I didn’t realise it was even possible. I wonder how this affects the “parallel majority” required for controversial decisions – would a majority of these 9 also now be necessary or is it only the big 2?

    Would it still be majorities of unionist and nationalist if the “United Community” became the 2nd largest designation?

    Very hypothetical I know, but curious…

  • Animus

    So, dublinsfsupporter, you disagree with the nationalist grouping as well? Or it’s just this one that is antisocialist? The Green party isn’t exactly well-known for its right wing stances, is it?

    The only “idea” I see being put forward is a rejection of the typical sectarian carve-up and an effort to look pragmatically at a way to avoid splitting down sectarian lines. The sooner we think about politics on issues, and not merely on sectarian lines, the better chance we have of good governance.

  • Geertz

    Animus – “The only “idea” I see being put forward is a rejection of the typical sectarian carve-up…The sooner we think about politics on issues, and not merely on sectarian lines, the better chance we have of good governance.”

    Surely if they are jumping into bed together simply as a rejection of sectarian carve-up and not because they have united poicy objectives they won’t be able to conduct issue based politics and better than any other group – what with not agreeing with each other and all.

  • Gonzo

    dublinsfsupporter

    The Green member is further to the left than Sinn Fein. Don’t forget Sinn Fein is a Private Finance Initiative supporter in Northern Ireland!

    beano

    Parallel consent is one of those sectarian carve-ups that ignores non-unionist, non-nationalist groupings.

    Brian Wilson is a former Alliance member (think his wife still is), and Deeny was part of the movement led by Alliance to support John Gilliland in Europe last time round, so the ‘coalition’ is one of people who are all known to each other and on good terms.

    They are the only opposition in the Assembly, representing a growing section of the community and the only non-sectarian bloc – yet their votes count for less in key votes.

    I think this is a bloody disgrace.

  • slug

    “They are the only opposition in the Assembly, representing a growing section of the community and the only non-sectarian bloc – yet their votes count for less in key votes.

    I think this is a bloody disgrace. ”

    Ditto.

  • Animus

    Geertz – grown up politics is about working together and compromise. All the parties supported a number of social and economic initiatives during the campaign, so let’s see how that pans out. Will it lead to partnership or a sectarian shouting match?

    The 9 people in the United campe can decide when it would suit them to work together and when it would not. European politics divides into broad alliances; these are based on a general understanding, not a slavish adherence to any particular policy stance. It works in Europe, I hope it works in the Assembly.

  • BonarLaw

    “”They are the only opposition in the Assembly, representing a growing section of the community and the only non-sectarian bloc – yet their votes count for less in key votes.

    I think this is a bloody disgrace. “

    As do I.

    And I thought so in 1998 when I was campaigning for a “No” vote. How odd then, that the shrillest “Yes” campaigners then came from the APNI- the very group moaning about it now.

    Didn’t they read the “Agreement” they advocated?

  • slug

    Bonar

    I remember asking an Alliance guy about that and he said that they could campaign to chnage it later.

  • That said, I recognise their right to put forward the ideas that they believe in.

    Thanks, dublinsfsupporter. That’s very kind of you.

    I’ll remember that comment the next time someone calls the Alliance Party ‘patronising’.

    How odd then, that the shrillest “Yes” campaigners then came from the APNI- the very group moaning about it now.

    Bonar Law Рleast worst option. And as years of DUP and Sinn F̩in side-deals show, Good Friday is hardly set in stone.

  • smcgiff

    ‘They are the only opposition in the Assembly’

    Very good point, and how obvious can it be that this is what the SDLP and the UUP should do. Can you imagine how it would look for the DUP to be in government alone with SF?

    Of course such isolation would make it even less likely SF and the DUP would get on, so maybe that’s why the UUP are staying in government… I doubt it, but I still can’t think of a single strategic reason why the UUP would go into government.

  • BonarLaw

    “I remember asking an Alliance guy about that and he said that they could campaign to chnage it later.”

    The turkey who was planning to start campaigning against Christmas on Boxing Day?

    Sammy Morse

    Strange, I don’t remember the “Vote ‘Yes’- it’s the least worst option” campaign from 1998.

  • Valenciano

    “I don’t remember the “Vote ‘Yes’- it’s the least worst option” campaign from 1998.”

    Neither can I recall the “Vote ‘No’ (until the DUP becomes the largest Unionist party)” campaign from that year either…

  • I doubt it, but I still can’t think of a single strategic reason why the UUP would go into government.

    UUP? Strategy?

    Strange, I don’t remember the “Vote ‘Yes’- it’s the least worst option” campaign from 1998.

    Valenciano has said it all for me.

  • BonarLaw

    Valenciano

    LOL!

    Although as Sammy has said what we have today is not exactly what we had in 1998. I trust that that process of change will quicken to a point where who can command greatest support on the greatest number of issues in the Assembly rather than who wins the head count is the test of political success here.

  • kensei

    “I trust that that process of change will quicken to a point where who can command greatest support on the greatest number of issues in the Assembly rather than who wins the head count is the test of political success here.”

    That isn’t going to happen. Why would SF, who hold a veto over the entire process, go for a majority system that would almost certainly exclude them from government? It isn’t even on the radar.

  • BonarLaw

    kensei

    about as likely as the DUP introducing an Irish Language Bill?

    Anyway who’s talking about a majority system? Consensus building and coalition are the way forward. If an executive required 2/3 support for its’ agreed programme of government any grouping able to muster 72 (out of 108) MLAs would govern.

    Take our current Assembly. The DUP have 36 and everyone else comes to… 72. Just imagine the horse trading over the jobs in the Anti DUP rainbow coalition. Importantly, in that horse trading every MLA would count equally.

  • Refreshed

    …The sooner we think about politics on issues, and not merely on sectarian lines, the better chance we have of good governance…”

    Every so often here on Slug, there is a real gem of a post. Concise and succint, this is one such post.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    It’s not a party, and probably not yet a decent opposition…

    Better to have the chance of being a decent opposition, than being in an indecent government!

  • Comrade Stalin

    dublinsfsupporter:

    As an Irish republican I would have deep opposition to the policies and ideologies of this grouping, far from socialist and basically right wing bourgeois in many many ways.

    Bourgeois ? Is that like “holiday home in Donegal” bourgeois, or like your Armani-suit wearing party leader ? I liked you better when you were blathering misinformed rubbish about Mary-Lou McDonald being the next leader of Sinn Fein. At least is it plainly obvious how juvenile your perspective really is.

    That said, I recognise their right to put forward the ideas that they believe in.

    You say this as if it is supposed to be a big deal. Maybe tolerating other people’s political ideas is some kind of big deal to you. What do you want, a feckin’ medal ? Get the hell out of here with this patriarchal crap, go and bang a bin lid or something.

    bonerlaw:

    And I thought so in 1998 when I was campaigning for a “No” vote. How odd then, that the shrillest “Yes” campaigners then came from the APNI- the very group moaning about it now.

    Didn’t they read the “Agreement” they advocated?

    There was no alternative to the Agreement and this remains the case, even now. My recollection at the time was that Alliance recorded that they were supporting the deal despite the difficulties, specifically the formalizing of the sectarian divide in the voting system in the assembly. The Agreement includes a review mechanism which allows people to try to fix what is wrong. That mechanism has been invoked several times (St Andrews being the latest iteration) and I expect it will be invoked again in the future. Personally I voted yes, and I’m still 100% happy it was the right thing to do.

    As a general point, constructive people work to reform the political system they find themselves in; they do not sit outside and try to wreck it. The people who voted “no” were largely at that time represented by politicians who did not attend the talks process and essentially refused the opportunity to shape British-Irish government policy for the next decade. Had those politicians been in the talks, the document we were all voting on, together with the history of the past ten years, might have been very different.

    Strange, I don’t remember the “Vote ‘Yes’- it’s the least worst option” campaign from 1998.

    Actually, that is pretty much what Alliance told their supporters at the time. There was no hesitation about voting yes, but it was plainly obvious that voting No simply wasn’t an option.

    kensei:

    That isn’t going to happen. Why would SF, who hold a veto over the entire process, go for a majority system that would almost certainly exclude them from government? It isn’t even on the radar.

    SF hold a veto over the process ? Where’s that written down ?

    Forgive me if I’m putting words in your mouth here, but extrapolatingon this, do you mean to say that if SF are total shit at running the government ministries, the electorate have no right to put them out ? What sort of democracy is that ?

  • BonarLaw

    Comrade Stalin

    was St Andrews a review within the 1998 terms?

    Bob and the DUP did indeed attend the Talks throughout 1996 and into 1997.

    The Alliance stuck at it to the bitter end, how exactly did they influence government policy in 1998?

  • Spinster

    “As an Irish republican I would have deep opposition to the policies and ideologies of this grouping, far from socialist and basically right wing bourgeois in many many ways.

    That said, I recognise their right to put forward the ideas that they believe in.”

    So you and your friends would only accept a SOCIALIST united ireland, and reject a capitalist but culturally comfortable one?

    So glad you recognise our right to put forward our own ideas.

    We don’t allow you to deny us that right.

    And you can post again if you wish.

  • Presumably, any review of the Assembly will have to be agreed by the Assembly under the current dispensation. So the question arises, how is Alliance going to convince the nationalist parties to support a changed dispensation?

  • Observer

    Comrade
    “Get the hell out of here with this patriarchal crap, go and bang a bin lid or something.”

    A considered and definitely non juvenile view;)

    “Forgive me if I’m putting words in your mouth here, but extrapolatingon this, do you mean to say that if SF are total shit at running the government ministries, the electorate have no right to put them out ? What sort of democracy is that ?”

    I think if they didn’t receive any votes they wouldn’t be running any ministries. Same as anywhere else, really.

  • kensei

    “about as likely as the DUP introducing an Irish Language Bill?”

    As I pointed out elsewhere, the result if they don’t can be paralysis, and they’ll be forced to deal. This isn’t comparable to a situation where if they do the deal, they are giving up government for the foreseeable future. In that case, screw it, paralysis it is and it wasn’t what was agreed in a referendum anyway. The DUP can keep talking it up, but it is not going to happen.

    “Anyway who’s talking about a majority system? Consensus building and coalition are the way forward. If an executive required 2/3 support for its’ agreed programme of government any grouping able to muster 72 (out of 108) MLAs would govern.

    Take our current Assembly. The DUP have 36 and everyone else comes to… 72. Just imagine the horse trading over the jobs in the Anti DUP rainbow coalition. Importantly, in that horse trading every MLA would count equally. ”

    No, what would happen is that the Unionist parties would do everything in their power to exclude SF. That would be their policy – exclude republicans. You know it, I know it and even if by some miracle the UUP did go into such a coalition, you’d find the DUP returning with more than 36 seats next time. They almost did it this time. There would also be the possible destruction of the SDLP for supporting such an arrangement, and we are back where we started anyway.

    You don’t get it. You fucked up majority rule so badly last time that now we demand that nothing goes on here without our say so. Zero trust.

  • Henry94

    The reduced value of the votes of non-aligned MLAs has to be addressed in all fairness.

    My solution is a simple one. Instead of a vote requiring a majority of nationalists and a majority of unionists change it to be a majority of non-nationalists and a majoritiy of non-unionists.

    Any objections?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Boner:

    was St Andrews a review within the 1998 terms?

    As far as I know.

    Bob and the DUP did indeed attend the Talks throughout 1996 and into 1997.

    Nothing of substance was discussed during those periods, again as far as I know.

    The Alliance stuck at it to the bitter end, how exactly did they influence government policy in 1998?

    Alliance did not have anything like the influence that the DUP could have had, chiefly because of their size. The contents of the GFA document were agreed by the participants of the talks. If the DUP/fUKUP had been present, a unionist consensus could have been used to make changes. Because of their absence, the unionist negotiating position was weak. Smarter figures in the DUP knew this and I’m convinced that had Robinson/Dodds been in control, the DUP would have attended the talks.

    Tom:

    Presumably, any review of the Assembly will have to be agreed by the Assembly under the current dispensation. So the question arises, how is Alliance going to convince the nationalist parties to support a changed dispensation?

    The new centre grouping in the Assembly needs to convince the “moderate” unionists and nationalists, they aren’t going to be able to shift the two large parties (who would have the most to lose). This may prove reasonably straightforward given that parties smaller than the two largest are getting screwed in terms of executive seats.

    Observer:

    I think if they didn’t receive any votes they wouldn’t be running any ministries. Same as anywhere else, really.

    No, what happens everywhere else is either that you have to have an overall majority, or you have to find some friends in order to make an overall majority. Sinn Fein and their supporters seem to believe that they have a right to run the country even when they are rejected by ~74% of those who voted.

    I remember in West Belfast in 1992 when Gerry Adams lost his seat. Republicans said at the time, and indeed still do say, that this event set the peace process back by years. In other words, if you don’t vote for us you can’t have peace. I interpreted kensei’s remark in the same respect. The underlying point is that republicans appear to have a somewhat tenuous grip on basic concepts of democracy. The obvious concern is that they will only favour democratic means whenever it benefits them.

    kensei:

    You don’t get it. You fucked up majority rule so badly last time that now we demand that nothing goes on here without our say so. Zero trust.

    The other side of the coin is that SF is only supporting democracy in it’s present form because it guarantees them power and shields them from accountability.

    A voluntary government could theoretically be formed which would comprise the parties supported by >70% of the electorate. In that situation, the dynamics would change; voting Sinn Fein would no longer achieve anything, and the party might well see itself dwindling. No wonder SF oppose this concept. Of course, the other possible side of the coin is that all the other parties could get together and exclude the DUP. That would be equally democratic, and of course Sinn Fein have certainly never protested about things working out that way.

    This is all just theoretical. I don’t think there will ever be voluntary coalition, not for the forseeable. What we may well have to have though is a better/fairer way of selecting the ministers.

    Henry94:

    My solution is a simple one. Instead of a vote requiring a majority of nationalists and a majority of unionists change it to be a majority of non-nationalists and a majoritiy of non-unionists.

    Very funny 🙂

    In all seriousness, the way to fix it is to have a weighted majority. 65-70% say.

  • slug

    Henry: thats unstable, as nobody would have an incentive to designate at all. Both UUP and DUP are against designation so that they would designate as other.

    All: I think that the stalemate that designation engenders (if any) will provide the impetus for change.

    The govt has already accepted that designation has undesirable consequences, did you read the reports into proposed voting systems for the new councils? Designation is not being proposed, instead supermajorities are. Of course the new assembly will have to agree on a system.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Henry: thats unstable, as nobody would have an incentive to designate at all. Both UUP and DUP are against designation so that they would designate as other.

    slug,

    I think Henry94 was having a joke, or at least I hope he was. Alliance for example are both non-nationalists and non-unionists at the same time. The other possibility is to also add provision for a majority of “other” (maybe this is what Henry meant?) – but then the centre bloc would have a veto over the whole assembly and would be much too powerful. The centre parties are not asking for an overall veto, just asking for a say, which at present they do not have.

  • kensei

    “The other side of the coin is that SF is only supporting democracy in it’s present form because it guarantees them power and shields them from accountability.”

    No, the electorate will punish any party that does a bad job. SF could be moved from 3 executive seats to 1 executive seat a la the SDLP, or in an extreme case none.

    They support the current system because it is a check on unrestrained Unionist power.

    “A voluntary government could theoretically be formed which would comprise the parties supported by >70% of the electorate. In that situation, the dynamics would change; voting Sinn Fein would no longer achieve anything, and the party might well see itself dwindling.”

    You are asking for a situation with a permanent majority. There can be no alternative coalition, because any coalition that includes SF will not be supported by Unionism. So, essentially, we would have moved form a one party state to a one coalition state. I don’t view that as an improvement.

    Far more likely is that Nationalism wouldn’t take too well to such a situation, and would heavily punish the SDLP for joining in. In which case the requisite 66% might not be possible.

    “No wonder SF oppose this concept. Of course, the other possible side of the coin is that all the other parties could get together and exclude the DUP. That would be equally democratic, and of course Sinn Fein have certainly never protested about things working out that way.”

    That isn’t even on anyone’s radar. When Unionists talk about voluntary coalition or “proper democracy”, it is a dog whistle for excluding Republicans.

    I would object to such a scenario anyway. For voluntary coalition, we would need 1. trust 2. the possibility of alternative coalitions. We have neither so the whole system won’t work.

    Similarly and more likely, in the scenario above the UUP would be killed off even quicker than it is now.

    “This is all just theoretical. I don’t think there will ever be voluntary coalition, not for the forseeable. What we may well have to have though is a better/fairer way of selecting the ministers.”

    Ministers aren’t the problem. If the Alliance get the seats, they get the ministers. The problems outlined here are with the cross community designation – meaning that the centre group becomes an irrelevance and can’t get the top jobs.

  • kensei

    “I think Henry94 was having a joke, or at least I hope he was. Alliance for example are both non-nationalists and non-unionists at the same time.”

    That I think, was his whole point. It gives the centre a say, but not too much.

  • Instead of a vote requiring a majority of nationalists and a majority of unionists change it to be a majority of non-nationalists and a majoritiy of non-unionists.

    Henry, attracted as I am by this idea it effectively gives us two votes. I like it but it’s not terribly democratic!!!

  • PS – why not make 60% overall majority, plus 40% of both Nats and Unionists the sole success criteria for votes? It’s already in the Agreement as a success criteria for any vote except that of confirming the FM/DFM unit. That way the centre gets a voice, and neither the DUP or SF can be excluded as long as they maintain something like their current level of support?

  • kensei

    “Henry, attracted as I am by this idea it effectively gives us two votes. I like it but it’s not terribly democratic!!!”

    It doesn’t. You cannot be for and against something at the same time. What it could do is push something over the line where support in one community (or both) is close. It essentially weakens the vetoes a little bit, whereas your scheme retains them.

    Then again, I’m not terribly keen with Alliance holding the balance in such situations a la Belfast council so maybe your idea is better.

  • ken,

    for some reason this Bertholdt Brecht poem seems very apposite during these discussions:

    After the uprising of the 17th June
    The Secretary of the Writers Union
    Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
    Stating that the people
    Had forfeited the confidence of the government
    And could win it back only
    By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
    In that case for the government
    To dissolve the people
    And elect another

    😉

  • Crataegus

    Didn’t like the Political structures with its institutionalised sectarianism 9 years ago and don’t like them any more now. All are not of equal standing and the electorate really can’t get rid of an administration all they can do is shuffle one or two of the deck chairs. Hogs heaven for some political types.

    We are stuck with the asinine structures simple because there is no trust and it suits some.

  • Comrade Stalin

    It doesn’t. You cannot be for and against something at the same time.

    kensei, read it again. Henry94 suggested adding the consent of a majority of non-nationalists, and also a majority of non-unionists. Alliance are both non-nationalists and non-unionists at the same time, and would therefore have two votes. It won’t work.

    They support the current system because it is a check on unrestrained Unionist power.

    There can be no return to a simple majority system. My point is that there are better ways of doing it.

    You are asking for a situation with a permanent majority. There can be no alternative coalition, because any coalition that includes SF will not be supported by Unionism.

    This is different from the situation today how ? Paisley said yesterday (in a moment of outrageous hypocrisy) that if he had been first minister while Gildernew made her anti-police remarks, he would have had to resign. With this silly D’Hondt thing going on, one party can refuse to play ball and the whole thing stops. I would rather set up a coalition of the willing and get things moving.

    So, essentially, we would have moved form a one party state to a one coalition state. I don’t view that as an improvement.

    You contradicted your own argument when you pointed out that the electorate ultimately have the power to change the makeup of the government. As has frequently been the case in the RoI, coalitions rise and fall.

    I would object to such a scenario anyway. For voluntary coalition, we would need 1. trust 2. the possibility of alternative coalitions. We have neither so the whole system won’t work.

    I would argue that those two prerequisites are required for D’Hondt to work as well. How can you have a workable government coalition without trust ?

    Then again, I’m not terribly keen with Alliance holding the balance in such situations a la Belfast council so maybe your idea is better.

    Without Alliance holding the balance there would never have been a nationalist Lord Mayor. I guess you’re just sore because you haven’t been able to take over the city council and hang a tricolour over it.

  • Henry94

    CS

    Henry94 suggested adding the consent of a majority of non-nationalists, and also a majority of non-unionists

    No no. I’m talking about replacing not adding.

    For a measure to pass it would require a majority of those who are not unionist and a majority of those who are not nationalist.

    That would replace the majority of each rule.

    It would give value to the middle-ground vote.

  • Reader

    Henry94: That would replace the majority of each rule.
    In which case, please explain to the UUP and DUP the downside to them designating as ‘Other’, for all votes. Then explain why SF and SDLP should not follow suit. Then explain the difference between the outcome, and majority rule.

  • Dk

    If the DUP designated as nationalists then, with the help of the SDLP, they could out-vote Sinn Fein in the nationalist block and rely on the UUP to be the sole unionist designates. So Sinn Fein could be marginalised in the existing set-up as easily as with a simple 65% votes needed system.

  • The new centre grouping in the Assembly needs to convince the “moderate” unionists and nationalists, they aren’t going to be able to shift the two large parties (who would have the most to lose).

    Would a decision to change the designation system not have to be made under the designation system? In which case both the DUP and Sinn Fein would have a veto,which Sinn Fein presumably would use.

    Also isn’t it unlikely that the SDLP would agree to a change that in practice would create a coalition excluding Sinn Fein. They refused to do it when Tony Blair asked them to because they knew it would leave them exposed with the nationalist electorate.

  • Henry94

    Reader

    People can designate any way they want in any event. Under your scenario one MLA could get a veto by designation if everyone else was other.

    Other than the Alliance Party on one occasion people have been serious about their designations.

  • Henry94

    Tom

    Also isn’t it unlikely that the SDLP would agree to a change that in practice would create a coalition excluding Sinn Fein.

    It wouldn’t unless the SDLP went along with that It would be on an issue by issue basis. Sinn Fein would still have their ministers as would everyone else. But votes would become more interesting and change more possible.

  • Henry94

    SF would still have a 28-26 majority of non-unionists. The DUP would have a 36-28 majority of non-nats.

  • kensei

    “kensei, read it again. Henry94 suggested adding the consent of a majority of non-nationalists, and also a majority of non-unionists. Alliance are both non-nationalists and non-unionists at the same time, and would therefore have two votes. It won’t work.”

    No, they have one vote – they cannot vote for it on one side and against it on another. It merely is factored when considering both sides and would only really matter when things are close on either side. Assuming of course, no one plays games with the designation system. What it boils to, is non-designated can tip the balance.

    “There can be no return to a simple majority system. My point is that there are better ways of doing it.”

    I have yet to hear one that doesn’t mean “exclusion of SF”

    “This is different from the situation today how ?”

    Today is different because no one is excluded. In your scenario you are excluding people.

    “I would rather set up a coalition of the willing and get things moving.”

    The reason the way things are is that we need everyone’s support. It would be easier yes, if you could just exclude people, but that hasn’t really served us well in the past.

    “You contradicted your own argument when you pointed out that the electorate ultimately have the power to change the makeup of the government. As has frequently been the case in the RoI, coalitions rise and fall.”

    No, I didn’t. In my example the electorate punished SF at the expense of the SDLP. In yours it would require people to switch from Unionist to Nationalist to make the numbers work. Unlikely.

    “I would argue that those two prerequisites are required for D’Hondt to work as well. How can you have a workable government coalition without trust ?”

    Coercion and threat of something worse if you don’t work together. Have you not being paying attention?

    “Without Alliance holding the balance there would never have been a nationalist Lord Mayor. I guess you’re just sore because you haven’t been able to take over the city council and hang a tricolour over it.”

    With a proper middle ground party there would have been more than one SF mayor – clearly, by some distance the preferred choice of Belfast Nationalism.

    Though since their campaigned on Ford or McLaughlin in my constituency, perhaps they should just designate Unionist and be done with the charade.

    The other solution of course, is to do away with the “Other” designation and force people to tell the public where they would stand in the event of a referendum in the lifetime of the Assembly being voted for. That would be more honest, no?

  • That would be more honest, no?

    Dishonest, undemocratic and dangerous.

  • kensei

    “Dishonest, undemocratic and dangerous.”

    I’m not sure why. It is a valid question – if a referendum came in the next Parliament, would you support it or not.

    Might even give you even more votes off the UUP.

  • I’m not sure why. It is a valid question

    It’s a valid question but it shouldn’t be a question that all Assembly members have to answer upon taking up their seats. That acts as a bulwark to tribal parties and hinders the formation of cross-community political groupings. Maybe that’s why you like it?

    If a referendum comes in the next parliament it will be defeated, probably fairly heavily for all the reasons we all know, so the only reason for doing it is to have a giant sectarian headcount. And that’s the only reason for forcing members to designate in one of the two main blocs – in order to have a definitive sectarian headcount. You might as well get a tape out and start measuring the distance between MLA’s eyes. If such legislation were brought in, we’d challenge it under the ECHR sooner than you could blink.

    This all goes back to the fundamental political disconnect between Republicans and Alliance: Republicans, despite the evidence of 400 years of Irish history, see the border as a problem; Alliance sees it a symptom of problems that predate the border by a couple of hundred years. Problems which are crystalised in a divided and segregated community and which aren’t even close to being resolved yet. And juding by the first sentence in last month’s “Nuacht an Tuaiscirt”, segregation suits Republicans just fine.

  • Sorry, that should have said – Republicans see the border as the problem rather than a problem.

  • slug

    Henry94 suggests a rule whereby we require a majority of non-unionists and a majority of non-nationalists.

    Reader (and myself further up) points out: “In which case, please explain to the UUP and DUP the downside to them designating as ‘Other’, for all votes. Then explain why SF and SDLP should not follow suit. Then explain the difference between the outcome, and majority rule.”

    Henry replies: “Under your scenario one MLA could get a veto by designation if everyone else was other.”

    A moments thought shows Henry’s reply is wrong. If everyone else was other, under Henry’s requirement (a majority of non-unionists and a majority of non-nationalists) the one person who is ‘designated’ could not veto. He would in fact lose leverage by not being counted in one of the two votes.

  • kensei

    It’s a valid question but it shouldn’t be a question that all Assembly members have to answer upon taking up their seats. That acts as a bulwark to tribal parties and hinders the formation of cross-community political groupings. Maybe that’s why you like it?”

    Nah, just because it makes it so easy to draw a rant out of Alliance types. :LOL:

    “If a referendum comes in the next parliament it will be defeated, probably fairly heavily for all the reasons we all know, so the only reason for doing it is to have a giant sectarian headcount.”

    Actually Unionist support dropped under 50%. Maybe if the Alliance campaigned on it, all those non aligned types might vote for a UI.

    “And that’s the only reason for forcing members to designate in one of the two main blocs – in order to have a definitive sectarian headcount. You might as well get a tape out and start measuring the distance between MLA’s eyes. If such legislation were brought in, we’d challenge it under the ECHR sooner than you could blink.”

    The reason for it is quite clear. You might not like it, but people here are more or less split into two tribal blocks. Neither side trusts the other. So an Assembly where one side could impose on the other would result in the loss of support and collapse. The “liberal” block would get wiped out for being Uncle Tom’s and you know it. We are divided, and shutting your eyes and wishing hard is not going to do anything about it. So we need some way to ensure that everyone is represented, at least for now. I have yet to here a suggestion that does not equate to shutting Republicans out.

    Alliance is quite happy to play that particular game too, btw.

    “This all goes back to the fundamental political disconnect between Republicans and Alliance: Republicans, despite the evidence of 400 years of Irish history, see the border as a problem; Alliance sees it a symptom of problems that predate the border by a couple of hundred years. Problems which are crystalised in a divided and segregated community and which aren’t even close to being resolved yet. And juding by the first sentence in last month’s “Nuacht an Tuaiscirt”, segregation suits Republicans just fine.”

    The border is not the only problem but it is the most serious problem. It is both symptom and cause of problems. The only way that those problems can really be resolved is when the border is gone. The disconnect comes because Alliance does not consider that removing the border (or Joint Authority, or whatever other scheme you want to come up with that isn’t the status quo) could be part of the solution, and just focuses on the status quo or even have people within it’s ranks that might advocate that position. It is also why is has a complete disconnect with the Nationalist community and does so appallingly there.

    You cannot ignore the major preoccupation of almost the entire political active society. You can’t ignore the fucking Wholly Mammoth in the room and pretend you can just go onto other things. You have to deal with it, otherwise you marginalize yourself and get nothing done. Exactly like the Alliance.

  • Henry94

    slug

    A moments thought shows Henry’s reply is wrong.

    Which was a moment more than I gave it. You are correct of course.

    Ah well I tried.

    Feck em.