“DUP have not put the work in on Human Rights”

If you do nothing else on or through Slugger today, check out this YouTube clip from yesterday’s Inside Stormont. Newton Emerson argues that the DUP is trying to tribalise the debate around a future Human Rights bill, because it has not devoted the necessary time and resources to developing a right of centre critique for the Bill of Rights Forum. Adds: See also left wing wish list.He argues that what is required is engagement of a right of centre critique with a leftist bill. He argues there is much to challenge, not least in the contradictions thrown up between the assertions of group and individual rights. He also contrasts the spare nature of the European Convention (drawn up by a Scottish Tory) with the extension of rights discourse into social policy areas. Indeed the DUP, he claims, is simply buying into the group rights agenda by dismissing the Forum as having an anti Unionist agenda. The truth is they simply haven’t been prepared put in the work to develop it’s own counter arguments to those currently being advanced by ‘quote’ the Human Rights Industry ‘unquote’.


  • me

    Good commentary from Emerson. However, I wonder do the DUP know the political ‘right’ from the ‘left’. I doubt many in NI do unfortunately. This will be the thing that will break down the sectarian barriers, bread and butter issues, and rights issues. It’s time to crawl out of our sectarian trenches and embrace normal politics, and the DUP are ill prepared on many fronts, including the political threat from FF and Irish Labour.

  • fair_deal

    Perfectly fair point. Getting by on a ‘press statement’ mentality to politics is no longer sufficient. It also does little to attract people to politics.

    This is something the policy units should have done some spade work on but do not seem to.

    The DUP or UUP don’t have to look far for the argument. IIRC a good chunk of the argument can be lifted from Anthony Alcock’s book “A History of the Protection of Regional Cultural Minorities in Europe” would provide a good start.

  • Animus

    Hear hear Mick – people are bending over backwards to try to bring the DUP up to speed and they constantly try to derail the system. If they don’t want rights to be seen as a lefty/nationalist issue, they need to do their homework. There are plenty of people who don’t have strong lefty credentials who still understand the need to have rights enshrined in law. How long they claim that it’s a cold house for them? The door is open, they just need to come in.

  • IJP

    Actually I have to say I lost the point about half way through, if not earlier.

    There were also a few factual errors – there is not, for example, a Unionist political majority on the Forum (I don’t wish to raise that as a point, merely point to a basic error which leads me to suspect everything else said).

    But to some extent it is a left-right issue or, as I would prefer to see it, an issue which falls along the Socialist-Liberal-Conservative spectrum.

    The actual motion to the Assembly was appalling – yet, in its way, useful, as it did show the strength of opinion (legitimate or otherwise, responsible or otherwise).

    All in all, that leads to another question: is this really the right time to be going through this process at all?

  • Quaysider

    The two Alliance members make it a unionist political majority, unless the Alliance has changed its status as (an albeit undesignated) unionist party.

  • middle-class ****

    Is it just me, or does no-one else think Emerson tribalised the issue himself in his recent article when he referred to the current strands as looking like a left-wing wish list. If you want the DUP to baulk at something, call it left-wing. It’s the polite way of saying fenian wish list. It’s the clearest of dog-whistles to a unionist audience. While I don’t suggest for one minute that that’s what Emerson intended, he shouldn’t bandy expressions like “left-wing wish list”around in this place and then come over all coy at the DUP tribalising the debate.

    I was also struck by my own intellectual acquiescence in the disticntion he made between sectarian tribalism (morally bad) and political categorisation (something nayce people can do). Who exactly are these left-wing unionists he mentions? Right wing nationalists there are aplenty; but is there really a leftist fringe within the DUP or a neo-Marxist cabal at Cunningham House? For Christ’s sake, there isn’t even a left wing tendency within the Alliance Party.

    Does Emerson actually mean that there are “liberal” unionists? Or maybe he means that there are left-wing protestants?

    In any event, I wonder, and am probably inviting calumny down upon myself in so doing, if it’s really so heretical to say that this this debate must to some extent be tribalised when, as is signally the case, we are composed primarily of two tribes – one orange and true blue; one green and pinky-purple.

  • Quaysider

    It’s just you.
    I reckon a majority of unionists would describe themselves as left wing, or at least “natural labour”, if asked and given space to honestly answer the question. Check out the local Conservative Party vote. Then check out Fianna Fail and tell me Irish nationalism is a leftist movement.

  • middle-class ****


    “I reckon a majority of unionists would describe themselves as left wing.”

    I’m sorry, but that’s facile, lazy nonesense. Name three genuinely and self-described left-wing unionist representatives outside (and I’m being incredibly generous regarding the word “genuinely” here) the fringe, obsolescent PUP.

    With a comment like that, I am left wondering if you have ever actually met any unionists.

    “Then check out Fianna Fail and tell me Irish nationalism is a leftist movement..”

    Oh, dear Jesus, that’s the best laugh I’ve had in years. FF as Irish nationalists….

    We’re discussing northern nationalists, not that bunch of faux-republican self-regarders. In any event, I made clear that I thought that there were plenty of right-wing nationalists.

    “Check out the local Conservative Party vote.”

    Red herring. I could equally say the same thing. Only in a place where conservative voters had other natural homes would the Tory vote be so low.

  • Pounder

    IIRC the PUP have always described themselves as left wing, though it’s possible that the late David Ervine could have been talking about football.

  • Cadiz

    “We’re discussing northern nationalists, not that bunch of faux-republican self-regarders. In any event, I made clear that I thought that there were plenty of right-wing nationalists.”

    Devotional Catholicism will tend to lean to the right rather than to the left,

    however they will need something to vote for and it is not really there at the moment.

    The UUP has possibly issued more Vatican friendly press releases than SF/SDLP combined.