Little to fear from anti-agreement loyalists..?

AFTER last night’s 100-strong Moygashel meeting of anti-agreement unionists, DUP bete noir Jim Allister said it was clear that unease and opposition to the DUP and Sinn Fein in government was growing. “The task now is to channel this opposition – it is a work in progress,” he added, a hint that a new party – led by him? – will be the eventual outcome of these discussions. Among those there were loyalist campaigner Willie Frazer and ex-DUP councillors Robin StIrling, William Wilkinson, Walter Millar and Leslie Cubitt. Whatever the sense of betrayal by these hardliners, I doubt if too many of them can really offer much of a challenge to the DUP. My strong suspicion is that DUP accusations of vote-splitting that benefit nationalism, a lack of savvy or ability to achieve objectives and the inate difficulties faced by any new micro-party will see this bunch of backwoodsmen go the way of so many other unionist splits – another deposit on the scrapheap of history. I doubt if the DUP is worried. ADDS: The News Letter has a fuller account, apparently from inside the meeting, although it reckons there were only 80 in attendance. Only 80! Noel McAdam report that there are divisions over whether a “formal party should be established or, at least at this stage, a pressure group to act as a focal point” for opposition to power-sharing. UPDATE: Paisley has responded: “Their so-called political platform has already been rejected by the electorate and they have nothing to offer in terms of prosperity or stability for the province. Indeed, many are more interested in attacking and undermining Unionism than developing and strengthening the Union in the longer term.” Full statement below the fold.
Best comment was from Robin Stirling from Ballymena, who said he had been contacted by disgruntled DUP voters who had promised “to even vote Sinn Fein as a protest” against current DUP-Sinn Fein cooperation. Because obviously that would help their cause…

UPDATE: Paisley picked up on Stirling’s silly remark in his statement entitled ‘Advocating voting for SF is the height of treachery’:

The safeguard for the Union is a strong Democratic Unionist Party. This was achieved at the last election through the defeat of those who were prepared to go as far as to advocate unionists actually voting for Sinn Fein candidates as a protest.

That same folly arose again last night by those who pose as the only saviour of the Union. We heard again from one prominent attendee about those prepared to vote for Sinn Fein. Their so-called political platform has already been rejected by the electorate and they have nothing to offer in terms of prosperity or stability for the Province. Indeed many are more interested in attacking and undermining Unionism than developing and strengthening the Union in the longer term.

The Democratic Unionist Party has succeeded in strengthening the Union by facing down republicans and insisting upon our demands. That strengthening and defence of the Union must be maintained. Advocating voting for the shiners in any election is the height of treachery.

The Union will only be safe in the hands of a strong and united Democratic Unionist team who, as the largest political party in Northern Ireland, are in the driving seat.”

On the split amongst the splitters, McAdam adds: “Some argue that the group should be ready to stand if Prime Minister Gordon Brown calls a snap General Election, or decides to go to the country in spring. But others argue that a committee could act as a focal point to test the strength of opposition to the Executive headed by the DUP and Sinn Fein.”

  • Satan’s helper

    “I would like to see it again also to clear the issue up. My recollection is that it was not denied; there was a lot of bluster and anti-DUP barracking from JA in EP’s direction.

    But definitely no denial.”

    There was a clear denial.

  • I wonder…

    I think all of us have to consider if we want our children to inherit our conflict- and exercise it without violence or, in the views of the SAA opponents, Allister,McCartney and Vance, are allowed to perpetuate hatred beyond any reasonable electoral support.

    All Sluggerites need to assess whether their contributions are a contribution to reconcilation (no deaths) and an end to conflict – or a wish to continue to try and extinguish hope and perpetuate conflict, as urged by other sites.(more deaths)

    Let us mark the passing from the blogosphere of a sick bigot. Let us hope that no more appear
    Sincerely,
    ~JO

    contineu vioelent confltys which A Tabgeld WEb seeks to perpateuate.

  • turgon

    I wonder,

    Sorry not trying to be difficult but what on eath did that last post mean especially the bit about the passing of a sick bigot? Incidentally I am unclear about this bit as well “Among others I have reassessed my view of your perspective “.

    Really not trying to be difficult but you are loosing me.

  • I wonder…

    Turgon

    I thought you were articulating a reasonable Unionist perspective..also marking Andy McCann’s[passing..NRIP…)

  • Turgon

    Maybe if people are starting to think I am reasonable I need to get a brain scan. I believe brain tumours can cause personality change.

  • I wonder…

    Turgon
    Please feel free to oppose the current arrangement as long as it don’t mean dis-enfranchising people on the grounds they were born Catholic. Thats the bottom line of current opposition -and opposition to this state…oops..:)

  • Rubicon

    Turgon – much of your argument seems to identify a potential for a new party of the right to gain perhaps a small number of seats. You’ve identified most of the risks and at best a few seats would be the high-point of any success such a party would likely garner. There are a number of other consequences to your logic that would keep such a group irrelevant:

    Potential gains for a new party of the right will arise from DUP staying within the SAA and operating devolution. The DUP doing that (even badly) raises the prospect of them gaining more unionist votes in the centre than those available on the extreme right. Weaknesses in the UUP makes this more than likely.
    The Review of Public Administration and the Assembly Review may reduce the number of MLAs. Doing so would make the prospects of right wing representation in the Assembly less obtainable.
    The reduction in the number of councils will raise the bar for any party on an extreme holding any relevance – much less success. Hence, growing a new party at a local level first is to become more difficult in the future.

    Rather than worrying about extremes achieving some success in this new world of censuses, what seems more important is enabling opposition and challenge. The DUP and SF meet all the conditions of power-sharing and cross-community consent. The presence of the UUP and SDLP in the Executive leaves them as bit-players whose future prospects are damaged by SF/DUP association.

    In this context erosion of the middle ground at SDLP/UUP expense is far more likely than any prospect of a “no” party becoming relevant. This erosion means democracy in the Assembly is damaged since there is no challenge, no back-bench and no opposition. It this developing vacuum that needs filled and the SDLP & UUP need to give this serious thought before becoming increasingly irrelevant. Any right wing party won’t be exploiting this vacuum.

  • Turgon

    Rubicon,
    Very true: I have missed your always interesting posts recently. Your points about a possible reduction in numbers of MLAs and councillors are a very fair suggestion which I had not touched on and is a further problem for a new party.

    I have been thinking about the discussion on the other thread regarding the UUP and especially Unimpartial Observer’s comments. The possibility of a move to the left (I still do not like these right left comments but however) by the UUP to gain Alliance votes could make the DUP gain support from the UUP’s right and that might even bring the DUP itself to the left. That of course could be an advantage to a new hard line unionist party.

    Obviously if Bigger Picture’s analysis suceeds the DUP may remain static or even move to the right which would reduce the space available for a new party to occupy.

    Either way I agree that the prospects for a new anti agreement party to the right of the DUP are not immediately rosy. Again though I come back to how irrelevant the DUP were considered by many post GFA. Of course it is correct to assert that the DUP had a number of talented and charismatic leaders which any new party may have more difficulty with.

    Who knows? As I have said I suspect all of you (ie those who think a new party has little chance of making a big/any impact) are more likely to be correct than I am. I might be impertinent though and point out that you are all very keen to discuss it which is at least some progress from my point of view.

    Remember as I have said there is a consituency to the right of the DUP, a consituency of which I, as an opponent of the current arrangements, am a member. The question is how big it is and can it be mobilised into a party? It is almost certainly bigger than the McCartney / others vote at the last assembly elections. The fact that I may have little chance of sucess should not prevent me at least arguing the case.