A rebel ‘Yes’ Unionism…

Eric Kaufman drawing from his book, ‘The Orange Order and ‘No’ Unionism since 1998′, draws a distinction between the substantial and highly effective anti Agreement activism within the UUP, and the apparent openness to change. He argues that there has always been thread of free thinking byond the mainstream Protestant tradition. He offers a number of historical instances: Lindsay Crawford (first Grand Master of the Independent Orange Institution) who talked about accepting Home Rule; Paisley’s RTE Irish interview in 1971; UDA’s 1977 Common Sense document; also there was the potentially far sighted paper from Robinson and Millar “An end to drift” in 1987. And of course Paisley’s deal with Sinn Fein Until recently it has been the minor voice in Unionism, Loyalism and Orangism.On the 15th of April the meeting of the Grand Lodge, the general reaction was mostly couched in terms of shock and surprise. There is little doubt, even though the British were working hard to get the Orange onside, that they were not going to back it. According to Eric, James Molyneaux and Martin Smyth were particularly vocal in their opposition to Trimble and his deal, the latter confessing that he was shellshocked by his party leader’s actions.

Of the official Orange delegation to the UUC only 10% support the Agreement, even though amongst wider Orange membership attitudes are considerably more positive. Attempts to tighten party discipline and efficiency are blocked, and Orange delegates encouraged not pay their £100 fee. Gradually people begin to move across to the DUP: Denis Watson; Nelson McCausland; and Peter Weir, creating ‘a bridge’ between the two parties and offering the possibility of building a bridge.

They epitomise an older, mainstream and conservative strand of Unionism. Both come from a Anglican, rather than a Presbyterian background. They remain conservative on the constitution but profoundly anti-militant. In contrast Paisley’s anti Big House Unionism has been more flexible/original on the Constitution whilst espousing militant politics.

  • Paisley’s “unionism” is flexible on the constitution, ergo he is not a unionist. He should not be recognised as such, any more than UDA Ulster Independence headers etc.

    For “free thinking” read “only interested in the Ulster Prod Volk”. At least Big House unionism was worthy of the term and was grounded in a real commitment to the rest of the UK.

  • lib2016

    The Anglo-Irish went over to Irish republicanism long ago…don’t confuse the grammarschool chancers who replaced them temporarily with the real thing. Even the business classes recognise that we’re all on the one road now.

    The Scots Irish have a future in Dublin. They have none at Westminster.

  • fair_deal

    “Both come from a Anglican, rather than a Presbyterian background.”

    Surely Martin Smyth was an ordained Presbyterian minister.

  • Mick Fealty

    Oh dear… too much haste, not enough speed… 🙁

  • BonarLaw

    lib2016

    it’s not a river in Africa you know 🙂

  • lib2016

    Even if the UK survives for another ten years the unionists of Northern Ireland will find that they are totally impotent. The Conservatives who were their only allies no longer wish to play or even to be identified with the Orange card. It may well be that the Tories will conclude that breaking the link with Scotland is their only way to power.

    A decade ago it was difficult to see the DUP and Sinn Fein working together. One would have thought that doing the business with Bertie or his successors would be much easier to envisage.

  • Cruimh

    “The Conservatives who were their only allies no longer wish to play or even to be identified with the Orange card.”

    Which is why David Trimble was accepted into the Conservative party ? Most odd lib.

  • PeaceandJustice

    lib2016 – dream on!

  • lib2016

    Cruimh,

    ‘…why David Trimble was accepted into the Conservative party?’

    …after being made to publicly renounce his unionist party membership first. Cameron could hardly resist giving membership to a Nobel Prize winner and life peer (or whatever his title is).

    One moreover who had been publicly begging to be chosen ever since he arrived at Westminster. Let’s see how much preferment Trimble gets before we jump to conclusions.

  • Cruimh

    “…after being made to publicly renounce his unionist party membership first.”

    That’s a SILLY point – he could hardly belong in both parties simultaneously LOL

    DOH!

  • lib2016

    P&J

    “You dream dreams and wonder why. I dream dreams and wonder ‘why not?'”

    If unionists really can’t accept rule by Sinn Fein which will soon be the largest party in the North then their only alternative is rule from Dublin.

    No matter how much you hope otherwise the Irish Sea is here to stay.

  • lib2016

    C.

    I KNOW it’s a silly point but remember my audience. 🙂

    The fact remains that the Conservative and Unionist Party have made very sure that they won’t be confused with the UUP. Ever wondered why?

  • Cruimh

    “The fact remains that the Conservative and Unionist Party have made very sure that they won’t be confused with the UUP. Ever wondered why? ”

    Might be something to do with all those “Irish” constituencies in places like Liverpool and London ?

  • Cruimh

    “UDA’s 1977 Common Sense document; ”

    Not that it makes a lot of difference, but it was 1987, a reaction to the Anglo Irish agreement.

    http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/issues/politics/docs/commonsense.htm

  • lib2016

    Cruimh,

    But the ‘Irish’ constituencies were far more clearly republican and Labour-supporting in the 60’s and 70’s.

    The point is that the war is over and Irish republicans of all sorts have a voice not only on the national but also the international stage where the interests of two off-shore islands often coincide.

    In fact, now that the British Government is in withdrawal mode, the old antagonism has vanished except at the football level – just like all the other ex-colonies.

    There was a huge Irish Party in the 1870’s when ‘Ulster’ unionism was invented. They openly used obstructionism as a political tactic to further the cause of Home Rule.

    Ever since Westminster has been run in such a way as to sideline small parties. The Unionists are about to find that Westminster has become a very cold house unless they begin making allies.

    Paisley is not being nice to the Scots for nothing and vice versa, and good luck to them all. They need each other but it will take more than that to shake the ‘big beasts’. They will need Dublin.

    The UUP couldn’t or wouldn’t deal and it is disappearing. The DUP don’t want to go the same way.

  • Cruimh

    “But the ‘Irish’ constituencies were far more clearly republican and Labour-supporting in the 60’s and 70’s.”

    it’s still a factor thugh – and in parties there is a considerable political inertia that takes time to adapt.

  • Token Dissent

    “In contrast Paisley’s anti Big House Unionism has been more flexible/original on the Constitution whilst espousing militant politics.”

    An extremely weak and indeed self-contradictory argument. There was NOTHING “original” in Paisley’s final submission to common sense. He played no part in the genuinely original thinking that formulated the terms of the constitutional settlement.

    The only consistencies between the rabid bigotry and anti-O’Neill policies of the 60s, the UK intergrationalism of the early 70s, the infamous RTE interview, the UWC strike, etc. etc. have been the pursuit of power, his epic egotism, hatred of the UUP and a lack of political courage.

    Like Ziznivy I would also question the man’s unionism.