On the tactical advantage of being ‘fundamentally skin deep’…

So a joint Christmas Card is too theologically/politically* risky, but Martin McGuinness’s vicarious visit to Rome as representative of the joint Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister for the elevation of Sean Brady to Cardinal was okay. The answer to Ian Paisley’s complex fundamentalism is, argues Roy Garland (who has known him since the sixties) that he is ‘fundamentally skin deep’.

* Delete as desiredThe applies, he argues, to the whole political project, which was famously described by one of its first chairs Desmond Boal as “right wing in the sense of being strong on the constitutional issue, to the left on social issues.” :

The claim that the DUP represents the Protestant working class now rings hollow but shedding traditional stances has ameliorated the harsher edge of Paisleyite rhetoric.

Red Sammy can now dub Dawn Purvis “Red Dawn” while the Big Man reportedly calls her Communist and Iris Robinson refers to the UUP minister of health’s “natural left-leaning tendencies” because he demands more money from Peter for the health service.

Ecumenism – once the great Satan in Paisleyite eyes – is seldom mentioned again, illustrating how far the DUP has deserted its own leftist and fundamentalist pretentions.

Paisleyism was always an opponent of traditional unionism and Jim Allister faces a major uphill task trying to uncover precisely what DUP unionism represents, let alone attempting to resuscitate what are essentially mythical unionist traditions.

  • interested

    Roy Garland has “known” Ian Paisley since the 60’s.

    Presumably in the same way that anyone with a television has “known” Ian Paisley, or anyone with the remotest connection to unionist politics will have “known” him. He’s watched him on the telly and no doubt met him a number of times (anyone even at the lowest levels of NI policics could meet their ‘heroes’ in about a week), but how exactly does he know Paisley?

    Surely not another commentator just plucking some theories off the top of his head, but passing them off as some informed comment based on something more than their musings from a distance… Perish the thought.

  • pith


    I might be wrong but I think Garland´s view of Paisley is strongly informed by his genuiine knowledge of Martin McGuinness’s partner in government. Were Garland and Paisley not political associates once upon a time?

  • Garibaldy

    I think Pith is right. Garland was involved in the far right of unionism from the 1960s, including Vanguard. I’m not sure Paisley has been skin deep for his whole career, but I reckon he has been since his party’s involvement in talks from the late 1980s. The whole not talking to the Provos and opposition to the GFA turned out to be more about seizing the leadership of unionism than anything else. And the delay in restoring the Assembly was tactical until he could be sure of overwhelming support for doing so. No principles involved.

  • Turgon

    I agree with some though not all of Garland’s analysis.

    It seems pretty clear now that much of the anti SF rhetoric over the more recent years was designed to gain power and smash not SF but the UUP. Whether or not he originally was interested in anything other than personal political power is difficult to establish.

    To be fair to Paisley although he is no longer interested in pronouncing about SF; he does still seem to hold to pretty traditional fundamentalist religious views. His speech at the Independent Orange Order demonstration this 12th was (according to the media) opposed to the pope and contained much traditional rhetoric. Paisley does not publicise these views when appearing publicly with his First Minister hat on but I doubt he has changed them that much. Of course his not publicising them is itself a significant change.

    I would slightly disagree with Mick Fealty though on Jim Allister. Of course I am extremely biased but I would suggest that Allister should not be trying to recreate DUP unionism. As can be seen on this web site a number of potential new TUV members are actually exiles from the UUP.

    TUV should be trying to recapture the DUP and old UUP position of not having unrepentant terrorists in government and opposing the nature of the current political arrangements. It should not be a personality cult.

    Allister is not and never will be a new Paisley; that is both a weakness and a strength. Provided he can be charismatic enough to be a serious political leader, his not being seen as a firebrand may well make it more difficult to tar him with the flat earth bigot brush and hence, make his and the new movement’s views less easy to dismiss.

  • jim

    why aren’t you saying anything about sinn fein’s lurch to the right at the weekend? is there something about the topic you find toxic, like sf’s abandonment of its last left-wing pretensions as it morphs into an anti-immigrant, pro-business clone of ff,fg and others?

  • joeCanuck

    Not speaking for Mick but when a party is unelectable (in the south)then they have to lurch somewhere. And when you’re way out in left field, there’s only one direction to go.
    Hardly earth shattering news.

  • Greenflag

    ‘And when you’re way out in left field, there’s only one direction to go. ‘

    Unless you’re a political lemming interested in confronting the earth shatttering impact of defying the laws of ‘intelligent falling’

    ‘Hardly earth shattering news.’

    And if you don’t like our principles then we’ll find others 🙂

    Politics always was and always will be a shitty business . Nevertheless it’s as necesary to the functioning of the body politic as the excretory system is for the body physical.

    It’s the human condition.