Who is anti agreement now?

Mark Devenport has been pointing out the inconsistencies emerging between the DUP’s previous stated positions and their current pronouncements which, some might say, reveal their terror at the idea of the UUP and SDLP pulling out of government.

On the same theme, Derek Hussey has tonight sought to ask questions of the DUP’s position. His statement reads:

I read with interest Jeffery’s response to [Jim] Allister in Tuesday’s Newsletter. “Northern Ireland is a much better place today than it was a decade ago”. I couldn’t agree more but who is responsible for this! This is the issue that brought me into political representation within a Mainstream Political Party – Namely the UUP. In this regard, I invite our current ‘unionist’ representative in the Strabane area of West Tyrone, Cllr Alan Bresland MLA, to an open debate on this subject – at a venue of his choice, with an audience of his choice and with a Chairman of his choice – so long as it is open to the General Public.

  • Brendan, Belfast

    I see the DUP press machine is hard at work this week. on the same day an Iris Robinson article appeared in the Newsletter attacking Michael McGimpsey, the EXACT same article appeared in the A’Town News operated South Belfast News but hang on, this one is by Jimmy Spratt. how can that have happened?

    Probably be of some interest to David McNarry after the previous and sustained allegatoins of plagarism aimed at him from the husband of the chair of the Health Committee.

  • Interested Observer

    On the subject of articles in the press -there have been recent remarks (by Jim Allister) that some of the letters appearing in the Newsletter supporting the DUP position are penned by DUP workers and submitted on the behalf of agreeable individuals.

    Any thoughts as to if this is true?

    Do other parties do this?

    I must say I have taken a closer look at some of these letters and when you think about them they are strange. They generally start off commending some DUP politician and then go on to state some element of well used party line. There are two or three names but I suppose I better not repeat them.

    Sure if this goes on it is worth some journalist looking into.

  • Michael
    The Dupes have had 5 press releases the last two days attacking the UUP (and one, a slightly surreal effort from Sammy Wilson attacking Allister and the Prodiban), they really don’t want to be left stranded in *government* with SF on their ownio.

    Your party (and the SDLP) should do democracy a favour asap and pull out now.

  • graduate

    Interested Observer, do you really think that all the letters you read in papers are genuine? I haven’t noticed Mr Allister complaining when it’s some of his buddies doing the letter writing.
    If the UUP and SDLP pull out of government and collapse Assembly does anyone really think they’ll get a lot of public sympathy or win any votes? It would also align UUP with no-camp of Jim Allister. Mind you, the UUP has a history of collapsing the Executive and it’s never been their fault yet (so they say) it’s always been a response to someone else’s actions. Hardly natural leadership to react rather than act

  • Porlock

    Brendan—A lot of Iris Robinson’s stuff is penned and approved by DUP HQ.

    She–and her columnist predecessors Gavin Robinson, Christopher Stalford and St Clair McAllister—basically present the News Letter with a press release and pretend its a serious piece of independent thinking.Quite why the NL indulge them is anyone’s guess. I know that Alex Kane is a member of the UUP (maybe the DUP want some sort of parity)but at least he gives the reader something to think about and is a genuinely good writer.

    Interested Observer:

    The bulk of “political” letters on the NL letter pages are from party hacks. Same with the text messages. And it’s the same people on a rotating basis. Pathetic and petty, but it saves the NL the bother of paying writers to fill two pages every day!

    Porlock

  • Porlock

    graduate:

    Don’t worry. The UUP, SDLP and Alliance won’t collapse the Assembly by voting against the government. The DUP whinged about the first PfG way back in 2001 (I think) and could have brought it down had they voted against it. They didn’t.

    Robinson is making a pretend fuss about the issue—knowing full well that collapse isn’t coming. Then, in January, he can make a speech about how gutless the SDLP, UUP etc really are!

    It’s school politics writ large and practiced by a bunch of tossers.

    Porlock

  • pith

    Interested observer,

    It is a tried and tested practice which works better with some newspapers than with others. One Northern Ireland paper is exceptionally easy, one southern one practically impossible.

    There are different degrees of faking it from getting party stooges to sign letters to submitting them with false names and addresses. It is a pity the editors let them through when it is obvious where they came from.

  • The bee-buzzing-bonnet of Allister should bring me out in hives, but he may be on to something here.

    There clearly is a reservoir of ultras, who have been isolated since the DUP went legit. They need a home.

    Then there is the observable tendency for Unionism to split, and always towards the political Right.

    Can Allister cobble these forces into some credible and working faction, what he described as “a work in progress”?

    While he’s a believable figure as a capodecina, he seems short on consiglieri to keep those rowdier elements in line. And one seriously doubts that he, a smooth man, is going to be given directions by hairier types from the sticks.

    Surely, too, an Allister faction, open and declared, actually helps the DUP to move to a centre-Right posture. The DUP needs a critically-supportive opposition, particularly in those areas where the UUP is going defunct — so long as it never amounts to anything more than a noisome nuisance, a few local councillors who will, when the chips are down, honour the omerta.

    My guess is that the DUP hierarchs will not be greatly troubled by Allister himself: he’s had his two outs, and they can strike on that anytime. Nor is Allister wedded to politics: as a QC he must be losing megabucks by cruising off to Strasbourg all the time. Incidentally, he must be one of the few who actually understand the CAP well enough to defend it.

    Anyway, wasn’t Allister supposed to be playing footsie with the UKIP shower?

  • pith

    Malcolm Redfellow,

    “…wasn’t Allister supposed to be playing footsie with the UKIP shower.”

    Playing footsie is one thing, getting into bed is another. Allister is unlikely to join up to a bunch of little Englanders who show every sign of disappearing come the next European elections.

  • Turgon

    Well I suppose there have always been suggestions that some of the posters here are paid party members so to have people writing to the papers on behalf of parties is hardly surprising.

    I am most interested by this comment of Jeffrey Donaldson “…cannot bring themselves to recognise that Northern Ireland is a much better place today than it was a decade ago when people were still dying on our streets in large numbers”

    This sounds like believing in the false dichotomy (sorry one of my themes) that if one opposes the current arrangements then violence will inevitably follow and as such we must at all costs keep the process going (including Jeffrey’s infamous corporate responsibility remark). Others have criticised my position on the false dicotomy and I will not go into it in detail here. However, in Jeffrey’s case he appears to have once been of a similar position before the lure of power (or in his case membership of the privy council) got the better of him.

    Turning to the DUP’s position on the SDLP / UUP leaving. I suspect the general consensus here is correct that they would not want them to. If they left it would be impossible for the DUP and SF to include the others in the blame for unpopular decisions. Also of course it would bring the love in into even sharper focus.

    I agree with those dubiouis about the UUP and SDLP leaving. In the SDLP’s case I am, unsure whether or not they would gain. Certainly Ritchie is head and shoulders the most popular minister at the moment. For the SDLP to leave could increase their appearence of irrelevance, or at least help SF in portraying them as irrelevant.

    The UUP are probably still too wedded to the idea of being the natural party of government to leave. Also they still seem to have leading members trying to pull them in too many different directions.

    Finally one of the major problems both the SDLP and UUP face is that people remember that they created most of the current deal in the expectation that they would hold most of the power. Their annoyance about the current dispensation, no matter how honourable and disinterestedly held is too easy to portray as sour grapes.

    It would be possible for the UUP to be an honourable opposition but this would be a difficult position for the UUP to hold, I suspect they are not united or disciplined enough and I am doubtful they have people with the talent to carry it off.

    The SDLP might find opposition easier but I suspect they have even less incentive to pull out of the executive.

    Malcolm Redfellow,
    I find your failure to be so angry about the prodiban interesting. Your analysis of the problems faced by the new party seems very fair. I am interested in your comment about the DUP incurring advantages from the presence of the new party. If the DUP were still in negotiations I would agree. Being able to point over your shoulder and say “You do not want to have to deal with that lot” is a reasonably useful political strategy. However, now with the DUP in government and having changed position to say the least any advantages are less clear cut. Yes it may help hold them to a more “right wing” agenda. However, it shows how far they have moved which may not be popular with their supporters let alone grass roots members. In addition the more they point at the prodiban and say “Look at them” the more publicity the prodiban get. Provided that the insane can be kept out of the party there is a grave danger in the DUP highlighting anything about them, as it may well increase their exposure and popularity. I suspect that the advantages for the DUP in having the new party are a bit like the advantages Trimble had in having the DUP about. Fine till they gobbled up most of his support. I would not be so presumptious as to say that is about to happen. It is, however, a danger the DUP are probably more alive to than the UUP ever were.

  • tony

    “Allister is unlikely to join up to a bunch of little Englanders who show every sign of disappearing come the next European elections”

    Yeah- and he’s just so likely to be about himself after that election

  • Chuckle Vision

    “There are different degrees of faking it from getting party stooges to sign letters to submitting them with false names and addresses.”

    I’m told you don’t even have to get them signed. A DUPer let it slip to a friend of mine that they set up e-mail accounts for a dozen or so party stooges from around the country and simply e-mail them to the papers. I’m sure other parties do likewise.

    When you look at the letters page on a regular basis, certain patterns emerge. I was surprised one day to see two letters from the same hand and same style (bullet points) attributed to two different people.

  • Texas

    What about Quinn? To hell with the press campaign for the DUP, UUP, SDLP, etc. What a bunch of hogwash. Boys dying every year while fat pompous politicans have you wound up like a drum

  • bob wilson

    Porlock
    ‘Robinson is making a pretend fuss about the issue—knowing full well that collapse isn’t coming. Then, in January, he can make a speech about how gutless the SDLP, UUP etc really are! ‘

    Tend to agree but arent UUP and SDLP setting themselves up then?

  • willowfield

    “I told you so”.

    I have said all along that the DUP’s anti-Agreement stance was bogus – a purely cynical ploy to overtake the UUP. And it worked very well.

    I remember numerous arguments with DUP supporters before 2003 when I told them that the DUP accepted the Agreement, their opposition to it was fraudulent and cynical, and that they would pursue the Agreement once they had dispensed with the UUP. They didn’t believe me, but I was right and they were wrong.

    “Smash Sinn Féin”? No, the DUP was project was “Smash the UUP”.

    If it wasn’t clear to all before 2003, surely it was clear after 2003 when the DUP attempted to revive the Agreement – remember the photograph issue? A photograph away from reviving the Agreement.

    Yet incredulously people still deluded themselves into thinking that the DUP was anti-Agreement.

    Then we had the St Andrews Agreement to revive the GFA with a few tweaks and the DUP still went to the polls posing as though it were anti-Agreement.

    Did the electorate believe the DUP was anti-Agreement? I would say many did (and still do) believe that what we have now is not the GFA with a few tweaks – they believe this because they want to believe it and they do not want to admit to themselves that they were wrong to oppose such an agreement, that what the UUP did was necessary, and that the DUP was wrong to exclude itself from negotiations in the past.

    I would also say many recognised that the DUP was going back on its word but pragmatically accepted (belatedly) that there was no alternative.

    Finally I would say many supported the basics of the Agreement but just felt the DUP were better equipped to implement it than the UUP.

  • Porlock

    bob wilson:

    I suspect that McGimpsey and Ritchie are hoping to get another few quid before the budget is finalised in January. It’s a game of hardball now, although not a particularly dangerous version of the game.

    Porlock

  • pith

    Tony,

    Fair point but I think Allister may see himself as having a serious chance of electoral survival in some form while even UKIP themselves know that they have no such chance.

  • red branch

    Willowfield

    I think your analysis is spot on except in one way. Many people were coned by the DUP when the the Paisley said they were anti agreement.

    People actually believed them.

    The problem for these people is that in admitting they were conned, they are making themselves out to be a fool. No one lilkes to be made to lok a fool and even less like to admit they were a fool.

    So, the vast majority of DUP voters will continue supporting them, the difference now being the DUP voters (like many DUP politicians)are conning themselves suggesting that what they did was right, for the right reasons and that the current position is completely consistant with all manifestos and previous statements.Clearly this is not true.

    The DUP voters or the majority of their elected members never believed Ian Paisley would lead them into Government with the IRA! – that was never on the cards.

  • Jo

    “Provided that the insane can be kept out of the party there is a grave danger in the DUP highlighting anything about them, as it may well increase their exposure and popularity. ”

    ..anyone in mind? 🙂

  • Butterknife

    It’s not like me to agree with you Willowfield but I tend to agree with your last paragraph above about the DUP being best able to implement the 1998 Agreement. They tended to have the support of the majority of the militant protestants be it through their politicking. They simply had the best rhetoric: be it half truths or otherwise. They may be frauds but they are frauds who have power and that are what a political party is born for: to be in power.

  • interested

    Michael,
    So UUP loser Derek Hussey wants a public debate…. and what do you think the chances of that are?

    Look at every election campaign. There is always a call from somewhere for a public debate between two representatives.

    The call is always made by the side who are losing and is always rejected by the side with the upper hand.

    Dear Derek (and the other UUP losers) are so desperately clinging to the hope of maintaining a profile that he’s gone back to that old one….

  • URQUHART

    The problem with the idea that the SDLP and UUP should pull out of Government is that it would be the end of both of them. People here just want the thing to work. I’ve got news for all my regular friends here on Slugger – the average Joe doesn’t give a shit about the pfg, the draft budget or anything else that we’re busying ourselves with. He just wants Stormont to work and for the people in it to get on with the job they’re being well paid for.

    Here’s a question – if SDLP and UUP pull out and bring down the Executive, what happens then?

    The election that would follow would be good craic. SF / DUP presenting themselves as the parties trying to make politics work, while the SDLP / UUP go out with a message about requiring better cabinet collegiality and better budget allocations?

    The dilemma of whether or not to sit in Government with SF / DUP would be solved for them very quickly as both would be left without the choice.

    Both SF and the DUP need a sense of crisis to survive in the long term. If the SDLP and UUP provide that for them, they’re worse than I thought.

  • lamh dearg

    “the average Joe doesn’t give a shit about the pfg, the draft budget or anything else that we’re busying ourselves with.”

    but when the pfg, the csr (with its “efficiency savings” aka cutbacks) result in service withdrawal, facility closures, job losses (in their thousands), and increased charges Joe might find he does give a shit and he might want to punish those political poodles who made it all happen

  • Porlock

    URQUHART:

    There is no “sense of crisis” other than the one which Peter Robinson has manufactured for PR purposes.

    The Executive is not going to collapse, because the UUP and SDLP are not going to reject the budget.

    There is no role of formal Opposition for any party to occupy at the moment and the DUP/SF majority on the Review Committee and in the Assembly Chamber itself will probably prevent the creation of machinery for Opposition until post-2011.

    The whole business will just rumble on, lumbering us with half-arsed so-called decisions or semi-permanent consultations. But, as you hint, if the electorate thinks it’s all working they’ll probably be happy enough for the minute. The fact that it is a shit PfG from an administration top-heavy in mediocrity, is neither here nor there!

    Porlock

  • cut the bull

    With all the talk of a lack of opposition and a possbility of an opposition being formed within the Assembly, what would the FM and DFM be thinking at this juncture. I wonder may be something along these lines.

    Mark and Reggie

    Well sometimes we go out by ourselves and look at Belfast across the water
    And we think of all the things, what you’re doing and in our heads we make a picture

    ‘Cos since we’ve come to Stormont, well our executives been a mess
    And we’ve missed Reggie’s ginger hair and the way Durkan tries hard to impress
    Won’t you come on over, stop making a fool out of our mandatory coalition Assembly
    Why won’t you come on over Mark and Reggie?

    You’s may have to go to jail, put your house’s on up for sale, you’ll need to get a good lawyer?
    I hope you didn’t hatch a plan, I hope you find the right man who’ll fix it for you
    Are you shopping anywhere, changed the colour of your hair, are you busy?
    And there’s draft agreements you have to sign, the one’s you were dodging all the time are you still dizzy?

    Yeah
    ‘Cos since we’ve come to Stormont, well our executives been a mess
    And we’ve missed Reggie’s ginger hair and the way Durkan tries so hard to impress
    Won’t you come on over, stop making a fool out of our mandatory coalition Assembly
    Why won’t you come on over Mark and Reggie?

    Why won’t you come on over Mark and Reggie, Mark and Reggie, Mark and Reggie?

    Well sometimes we go out by ourselves and look at Belfast across the water
    And we think of all the things, what you’re doing and in our heads we make a picture

    ‘Cos since we’ve come to Stormont, well our executives been a mess
    but the electorate been sucked in, cos with no opposition its looks like a success
    Won’t you come on over, stop making a fool out of our mandatory coalition Assembly
    Why won’t you come on over Mark and Reggie?

    Why won’t you come on over Mark and Reggie, Mark and Reggie, Mark and Reggie?

    Yeah Mark and Reggie

  • URQUHART

    Spot on Porlock

  • joeCanuck

    Why are you both picking on me, URQUHART and lamh dearg?