“Bubbling beneath the surface..”

Along with the Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams’ statement this afternoon, UTV’s Ken Reid reported [below the fold] that, along with Northern Ireland’s deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Gerry Adams will be heading to Downing St tomorrow to meet Prime Minster Gordon Brown.. who might have other things on his mind. It’s not quite what Jonathan Powell had hoped for.. although he did mention a particular addiction. Earlier today on Stormont Live the BBC NI Political Editor, Mark Devenport, was describing the “political game of chicken” [below the fold] that seemed to be developing [What? Again? – Ed], but the UUP’s Danny Kennedy and, particularly, Sinn Fein’s Willie Clarke had some interesting views of the potential crisis. The DUP’s Lord Morrow was also in the studio later and gave his reaction [also below the fold]. Willie Clarke said he thought people on the ground would be “amazed” if an election was brought about.
Mark Devenport set the scene earlier today.

And the DUP’s Lord Morrow gives his reaction to the “bizarre” potential crisis.

And, by this evening, Ken Reid’s UTV Live report.

Absent from the discussion is that Ard Fheis motion..

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  • percy

    peteb
    did you notice danny kennedy say
    “This might excite some on-line bloggers”
    Was he thinking of you perhaps?
    Again I ask, can you provide any statement from any SF person that there is anything in this whatsoever?

  • Comrade Stalin

    The sight of the Sinn Fein leader appealing for assistance from London to overrule the locally elected parliament is quite laughable.

    It’s not going to be a good time for either the DUP or SF to have an election, and that’s why I think Devenport is probably right in that this will all turn out to be a bit of a storm in a teacup.

    I am no fan of the SDLP but their performance in the Assembly has been one of quiet, methodical confidence combined with a kind of constructive opposition, showing how, as parliamentarians, they run rings around the chuckies. An attempt by Sinn Fein to derail the political structures over their unpopular and unsupported efforts surrounding post-primary selection and the Irish language here will lead to all-party talks, which will in turn conclude with the removal of the d’Hondt system and it’s replacement by a voluntary system of government, and as such their slow but sure destruction as a political force. Sinn Fein’s electorate won’t buy their collapsing of the executive over these minor details.

  • slug

    CS

    Mightn’t the election be an opportunity for Sinn Féin to drop the Education Department, thereby getting rid of Caitriona Ruane in a non-obvious way?

  • slug

    CS certainly if the Exec is collapsed, then it will be a good reason to start pressing for Voluntary Coalition say with a 60% rule. That is the obvious next step for the institutions, though I thought that it would be best done after at least 1 full term of government.

  • joeCanuck

    Pete,

    I thought your “campaign” over P&J;had run out of steam. Obviously not.

  • truth and justice

    people on the ground are deeply unhappy that Sinn fein are trying to rock the boat after a year of stability calling an election because you dont get your own way is silly the Unionist electrate will only see that the DUP stood up to Sinn fein and will remain the largest unionist party it is all very childish and silly.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Slug,

    Catroina Ruane isn’t the problem, although she makes a convenient magnet for abuse. The problem is that Sinn Fein don’t have a coherent policy on much of anything which is rooted in reality, and the policies that they do have, they’re prepared to completely throw away in order to maintain stability in government (well, until today apparently).

    60% is too tight. I’d make it closer to 70%, and it would be elected by STV.

    It would be electorally completely insane for them to force the issue now, especially at this particular senstive stage in Robinson’s life which is hardly likely to make him conducive to stand for any more shit than he otherwise might. Still, sometimes politicians do stupid, suicidal things, like getting rid of the 10p tax band. I’ll tell you this, I’m relishing the possibility of Sinn Fein going into an election and asking for a mandate from the electorate to endorse their collapsing of the executive, not over water charges or rates or stuff that people actually give a shit about, but over an Irish language act that nobody gives a fiddler’s fuck over. I’d say there’s a 20% chance they’ll be crazy enough to do it.

  • Pete Baker

    percy

    You are free to believe that no-one from SF has briefed anyone at all.

    Joe

    There is no ‘campaign’ – beyond that of trying to uncover what’s actually going on.

    slug

    Not exactly non-obvious if they didn’t choose Education again as their first choice. Assuming we get to that point..

    Comrade

    “The sight of the Sinn Fein leader appealing for assistance from London to overrule the locally elected parliament is quite laughable.”

    Well, he did forsake a place at the Executive table.. Who else can he appeal to other than old friends? Martin might just be along for the ride..

    Except, Gordon is clearly no Tony..

  • fenian bastard

    WTF r us fenians getting out of Stormont?

    1.Poots crowing he killed the Irish Language Act.

    2.P&J;ran from London

    3. Er…..

    4. That’s It.

    Pull the plug, FFS.

  • Comrade Stalin

    WTF r us fenians getting out of Stormont?

    What do you want out of it ?

  • Steve

    CS

    I think you are severely misjudging the nationalist electorate, Is the reason that the SDLP are running second to SF because the people were tired of the wishy washy non-leadership of the SDLP. They appreciate the strong face of SF even if they don’t always agree with their policies?

    I have no doubt that the DUPers will remain the largest unionist party, I just have misgivings about them remaining the largest party in nIreland

  • observer

    I have no doubt that the DUPers will remain the largest unionist party, I just have misgivings about them remaining the largest party in nIreland
    Posted by Steve on Jun 02, 2008 @ 11:37 PM

    in which case the DUP will not nominate as deputy and its back to the polls, with the TUV gettin blame d for makin marty first minister

  • Mick Fealty

    I cannot pretend to know what’s behind the rumours. What strikes me as odd is the different messages allegedly coming from different parts of the party. And I’m not sure what Gordon can offer them tomorrow. Indeed it is more in his medium term interest to treat kindly with the Dupers since their MPs have a vote at Westminster next week: SF’s don’t.

    That comes over in the demeanour of the DUP reps: there is very little signs of panic there (and we have seen them panic in the recent past). SF on the other hand have a particularly awkward circle to square. They have been telling their own supporters they could deliver something (on policing and justice).

    Now, just days after Martin told David Ford that the resolution of that matter was subject to discussion between the parties (you can pick up the video footage in one of Pete’s YouTube links from last week), there are rumours they are going to upset the whole apple cart.

    As for getting attention. If that is what they actually believe (and I hope it is not, for their sake) they may be developing the kind of hunger for media attention that served the UUP so badly in the past. Some kinds of attention is just not good.

    SF needs to strike for the higher ground. IMHO, they have got themselves stuck with legacy issues they lost control of at St Andrews. In a manner perhaps that’s similar to the way Trimble lost control of some vital issues for him at Weston Park (although that was a side deal done with the British; in this matter SF appear to have been forced to give it away in a mediated ménage-a-trois’).

    But it is the internal spin they insisted on putting on the issue of policing and justice that’s causing them problems. Not with anyone else, but with their activists.

    Trying to externalise that internal crisis is a risky strategy, mostly because so much of the record is exposed to public view. Having a terminally indecisive opposition (the SDLP) is their own viable banker against any electoral loss. But they’d also be figuring on a punishing outcome for the DUP, which is a dangerous speculation in a constituency you barely know nor understand.

    If I had the ear of anyone crucial inside the party, I would counsel agin the actuality or the speculation. Mr Brown’s October march half way up the electoral hill should serve as a warning against tactical use of the press to ramp up speculation through unattributable briefings.

    Although were I going to start as a PR consultant for the party, I would state first and foremost that I would not want to be starting from here… I’d clearly not be suited for the job

  • Henry94

    The DUP and Sinn Fein should be able to sort this out between them. If they don’t it it’s because someone sees an advantage in having an election. As I can see no advantage for either I think it’s just handbags as they say in football.

  • As I can see no advantage for either I think it’s just handbags as they say in football.

    That’s pretty much how I see it. The issues involved aren’t worth either side pushing them to the wire, and neither the DUP nor SF really want an election right now, so there will be half assed compromise, as always.

  • What do you want out of it ?

    In the case of fenian bastard, I’d guess:

    1. The tricolour to be flown on every home in the occupied six counties whether the orange bastards like it or not.
    2. And end to both evil partitionist governments and their replacement with a true Irish 32 county socialist republic.
    3. Martina Anderson to be made chief of secret police.
    4. Ian Paisley to change his name to Seán Ó Peislaí.

    That should just about do it.

  • USA

    IMHO, for Sinn Fein this is primarily about the devolution of Policing and Justice powers, secondly and Irish language act and other issues such as the Maze coming in as bargaining chips. I feel the comments from CS, Slug and P+J show a lack understanding and completely underestimate Sinn Fein.
    Firstly, I don’t think it will go to an election but if it did the Shinners would run having secured their flank from an electoral threat from dissidents, there is no real credible force for disgruntled Shinners to support. This cannot be said for the DUP. I feel the TUV and UUP could squeeze the DUP in a snap election, potentially leaving Sinn Fein as the largest single party and potentially the First Minister seat. That would be percieved by their supporters as a grand prize.
    Peter Robinson sounded worried to me in the YouTube clip and i’m not joking, listen again, the TUV were on his mind and he sounded that he would much rather deal with Sinn Fein than fight an election. This gives Sinn Fein leverege, i’m sure they will all meet behind closed doors in London (Peter will be there too) to hash this out and it looks to me that Sinn Fein will gain some more concessions and move on. To their credit the Shinners never seem to gloat over their victories, they keep their eye on the prize and play the long game. This won’t go the whole way but I think that’s because the DUP have more to lose and therefore will compromise. Even if Peter went into an election and Sinn Fein become the biggest single party he couldn’t refuse to nominate a deputy first minister as it would just be a case of how the unionists won’t share power with Catholics etc. It will play very badly in Britain, the ROI, the US and around the world. It would be another nail in the coffin of unionism with Sinn Fein looking like the victims again because as soon as they are about to get the top job the unionist refuse to play untill the goalposts get moved again.
    Of course, I may be completly wrong…but I suspect that the Sinn Fein leadership have anticipated splitting unionism and becoming the biggest party for some time, Peter knows it and is making noises toward Reg Empty. Sinn Fein would not be going over to London if they had not thought through their positioin.
    I think they will get more concessions, specifically Policing and Justice, if they get an Irish language act, too then its 2-0 to Sinn Fein, then they will just bide their time till the next election. But if they refuse to nominate on Thursday then a deal was not struck and they will be looking for the first minister position – Gerry steps out from the shadows perhaps? Would’nt that be a feather in the Shinners caps.
    All of the above comprises entirely of pure speculation, conjecture, lack of sleep and an over active imagination, but stranger things have happened.

  • 0b101010

    “The sight of the Sinn Fein leader appealing for assistance from London to overrule the locally elected parliament is quite laughable.”

    Too true.

  • Cahal

    Damn…it’ll be some craic when Gerry or Martin become first Minister. Drip drip drip….

  • Dave

    “But it is the internal spin they insisted on putting on the issue of policing and justice that’s causing them problems. Not with anyone else, but with their activists.” – Mick Fealty

    I think you are close to the core dynamic there. I see Sinn Fein’s machination here as being just another example of their cynical manipulation of their misguided supporters.

    Sinn Fein did not meet the terms of the mandate that it received from its Ard Fheis as a precondition to entering the Executive. Instead of acknowledging the failure, they falsely claimed that the conditions were met. In short, they misrepresented the reality to their supporters, treating them like a herd of stupid sheep (which they are, incidentally).

    The problem Sinn Fein now has is that those supporters don’t like being exposed as said herd of stupid sheep, and can be heard bleating and baa-ing at the bad shepherd. Since Sinn Fein doesn’t have the authority of its Ard Fheis (its supreme authority) to be in the Executive, this latest piece of cynical propaganda is about creating the false impression that Sinn Fein is just as unhappy that situation as its duped Ard Fheis is – instead of acknowledging that they deliberately misled their supporters, they are trying to pretend that they acted in good faith and that they were misled by the DUP (who are portrayed in this narrative as acting in bad faith).

    In short, it’s about placating the unhappy and stupid sheep by saying, “Don’t worry. We’re not British stooges, and we are following you to where want to be, not leading you to where we want to be. We didn’t want to be here; and if we don’t get what we were promised, we’ll leave.” The sheep are supposed to be reassured, and to reassure the shepherd that there really isn’t any need fall out over the unfortunate chain of events.

  • Cahal

    Dave, you seem to know a lot about sheep.

  • Dave

    Incidentally, it’s quite amusing that that Sinn Fein’s “internal spin” only succeeded in “putting manners” on its own Ard Fheis.

  • Henry94

    Cahel

    Damn…it’ll be some craic when Gerry or Martin become first Minister

    I think unionists will bring down the institutions rather than let that happen. It will be a real and necessary political crisis.

  • againstthehead

    The only compromise that I can see coming, is for the Army council to dissolve and P&J;coming in at the end of the summer.

    SF are looking like complete asses. One minute they’re chuckling, next they’re chucking the toys out of the pram. I’d be very disapointed if the DUP fall for this bluff on any level.

  • elvis parker

    If Sinn Fein think that an election called in this fashion would enable TUV to undermine DUP I think they are mistaken.
    In an election caused by SF the DUP could rally their support probably squeezing the UUP even more.
    There is no evidence that the SDLP vote will be squeezed much more and while there is no coherent dissident electoral threat I think there is a chance that disillusioned SF voters might not bother – isnt that why SF are posturing like this – to rally their disillusioned supporters.

    On a more technical note – if SF signal they will not nominate is there anything to stop Paisley deciding not to hand in his official resignation?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Steve,

    I think you are severely misjudging the nationalist electorate, Is the reason that the SDLP are running second to SF because the people were tired of the wishy washy non-leadership of the SDLP. They appreciate the strong face of SF even if they don’t always agree with their policies?

    Those points of view were justifiable during the run up to the talks. However, since going into government, SF have assumed the wishy-washy mantle of a bunch of colonial lickspittles, and you can bet that this bullshit over selection has upset the nationalist middle class whom SF has recently worked so hard to win over. They allowed themselves to be walked over concerning water charges, despite their total opposition to same a short time ago, and there is no evidence that they contributed anything to the programme for government. Sinn Fein may have a strong face, but that’s fuck all use if they’re going to walk up to Stormont and take a back seat while the DUP run things.

  • Disgruntled of Northern Ireland (aka Dessertspoon)

    Speaking as an ordinary person, a long time Slugger reader but only a some time commenter can I just just say to any DUP or Sinn Fein reps who may be scanning these blogs – GET ON WITH IT!! I am sick and tired of your bullsh1t. The last thing anyone needs in this little place is another bloody election. We are not Italy don’t be fooled by the recent good weather.
    We need some major issues addressed on the ground – water rates, fuel poverty, housing, the economy (or lack of it). How can you expect anyone to invest in a place that has no stable government…I’m sure all those Americans who came over for the investment conference are pleased they didn’t have any money right now because chucking it into the Atlantic would have been better than giving it to us!!

  • Mick Fealty

    Henry,

    I recall years ago you giving the sage advice that there were some matters best sorted out amongst nationalists, and others best sorted out amongst Unionists. Now you say this is best sorted out between SF and the DUP. Is that some sort of progress?

    As for any future political crisis, I’d say we’ll just have to meet that when it comes. Trying to define when and how it will come, if it ever does, is essentially ‘futuring’ (for definition see: http://tinyurl.com/3joqk8). It’s probably timely to remind people (before we have another dash for the unknowable stars) of Miyamoto Musashi’s advice that “in strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things.”

    There is a tendency to follow the first piece of advice ad nauseum, but forget about the second.

  • kensei

    Mick

    But it is the internal spin they insisted on putting on the issue of policing and justice that’s causing them problems. Not with anyone else, but with their activists.

    I don’t think it’s the spin, Mick. It’s the lack of devolution of Policing and Justice. If they had spun it differently, and there was still no P and J devolved, they’d still be having problems. A different spin might have made the next move easier, but if they had, say, went with Trimble’s “We’re jumping first” type spin, they still would be in the poo.

    It is also useful to remember that accepting P and J caused them problems and a few lost personnel as is. Without a concession to point to that could have been much worse, and I think they were definitely concerned about it. I know for a fact that a lot of ex volunteers and their families were consulted on it, in way that wasn’t done with other major decision. They essentially saved the pain up, got through the election and tried to muddle through. P and J is largely accepted, and in the long term it may have been the right call.

    As for getting attention. If that is what they actually believe (and I hope it is not, for their sake) they may be developing the kind of hunger for media attention that served the UUP so badly in the past. Some kinds of attention is just not good.

    I don’t think this is quite it. There is an excellent article on the New Yorker about the wane of the Republican Party in America (here: http://tiny.cc/61OTe), and it has a quote on some fallacies in that movement that I think could be applied with modification to both Labour and SF:

    …it was built on two illusions: that the conservative era would stretch on indefinitely, and that politics matters more than governing.

  • Delta Omega

    Elvis Parker

    Don’t underestimate the potential impact of the TUV. The DUPers did in Dromore and look what happened. A 10% swing from DUP to the TUV, or a 15% voter apathy, would be enough to upset the balance of power, and from my discussions with grass roots unionists, that is not unlikely.

    I think that SF have all to gain from not nominating Marty, forcing the election and seeing what happens. It is hoghly likely that they could manage their vote significantly better than the unionists (who are divided beyond all hope), to the point where they could become the largest party, and get the FM post. If the DUP then didn’t play ball and nominate a DFM, the blame is totally on them. If the result of the election maintains the status quo, what have SF lost?

  • Bigger Picture

    Delta Omega

    Unfortunatley for you times have moved on from Dromore, Jim Allister’s silence shows that he is not particularly keen on an electiion either at this time, with the context that SF cannot deliver their all-Ireland agenda with the DUP stopping them. That would be a very very hard sell for the TUV, different from Dromore where I honestly believe the DUP needed a shake, and all Jim had to do was show people a picture of the chuckle bros.

    Disgruntled….

    I agree with you. We have worked for stability for so long and it is ludicrous that we should go through a another election just because one party cannot deliver on their conference promises. At the end of the day the nationalist parties argued for mandatory coalition for so long and now can’t work it.

  • elvis parker

    Delta Omega
    ‘If the result of the election maintains the status quo, what have SF lost?’
    All credibility?
    I mean picture the scene where Marty (?) meekly accepts the dFM post without P & J.
    Robbo would put the knife in from the front and the knifes from would be plunged into Marty and Gerry’s backs from their own side.

    DUP would love an election to squash TUV. The Dromore type swing simply would not happen in an election called by SF to do down the DUP.

  • Mick Fealty

    Good stuff ken, that is an excellent find. This could be right: “P and J is largely accepted, and in the long term it may have been the right call.” As I said above, it is the terminal indecision of the SDLP that’s giving them the space to make unforced errors and get away with it without penalty.

    But if you look at that link I posted in another thread to the original Slugger archives for June 2002, when Maskey was elected Lord Mayor, and the amount of ground breaking work he did in the first month of his mayorality, this first year in Stormont seems jaded by comparison.

    Maybe that’s a sign of maturing politics. But at some point the party needs to disconnect from spin (and the dodgy bits of its past, and find what Fair Deal refers to as a new party narrative. And it would be well advised to find it earlier rather than later.

  • Bout time

    As a floating nationalist voter I hope the Shinners stick to their line on this and pull the plug. The shameless behaviour of the DUP since the restoration of the Assembly has been breathtaking to witness.

  • Briso

    At the end of the day the nationalist parties argued for mandatory coalition for so long and now can’t work it.

    Posted by Bigger Picture on Jun 03, 2008 @ 10:03 AM

    Not so BP. We had a workable mandatory coalition where ministers had autonomy to MAKE DECISIONS. The unionists couldn’t quite believe it when they saw Marty kill the 11+ and Babs give the maternity unit to the taig hospital (just like that!!!! doing things!! without our permission!!!) so they pulled it down. St Andrews was about stopping such an appalling vista appearing again, even given the obvious outcome of complete deadlock, because as we are so often reminded on Slugger, the unionists will cope better with the status quo than nationalists. Of course, we’ll see if that turns out to be the case, but there is no doubt that was and remains unionist thinking. So, what is the way out? Why, unionists have already thought of that. Voluntary coaliation! Exclude Sinn Fein, and off we go!

    Durkan warned half-heartedly about this at the time, but he was on the outside anyway and I wonder whether he saw SF walking into a trap and was minded to follow Napolean’s advice. Outcome, victory to the DUP, UUP and, by proxy, Alliance.

    (By the way, I posed a question way back then to IJP to which I got no answer. Would a three way voluntary coalition between UUP, DUP and Alliance be legal under the arrangements they would propose to govern voluntary coalitions?)

  • kensei

    But if you look at that link I posted in another thread to the original Slugger archives for June 2002, when Maskey was elected Lord Mayor, and the amount of ground breaking work he did in the first month of his mayorality, this first year in Stormont seems jaded by comparison.

    I think you need also to look at the brief bout in the first Assembly. SF seemed more much focused. They had stuff they wanted done, and were more able to do it. This time they seem more caught in political calculation, especially at the time of the negotiation how things will play in the South. They probably could have killed water charges if they’d been really determined, for example but just accepted the accepted wisdom. It certainly could have been an issue to unsettle the DUP and produce leverage, anyway.

    Maybe that’s a sign of maturing politics. But at some point the party needs to disconnect from spin (and the dodgy bits of its past, and find what Fair Deal refers to as a new party narrative. And it would be well advised to find it earlier rather than later.

    I think we may have problems disconnecting any of our political parties from spin :). I suspect a new narrative might require new leadership.

  • Turgon

    This is all absolutely fascinating.

    I think the only thing we can be certain of is that any election would be very unpredictable.

    It might cause the DUP to lose its status as the largest party and I suspect SF calculate that fear of that might make the DUP give concessions. However, there is no guarentee that this would happen and there is no guarentee that the DUP’s fear of this is sufficient to make them provide concessions. A possible outcome from this election would be a slightly smaller DUP (but still the largest party) with a smaller UUP and some TUV seats. I do not really see this as a victory for SF.

    Equally, however, if SF keep this one on the boil and then do not force an election they are in a danger of losing face and looking like Brown did last year when he did not call an election at the time of the party confrence.

    A good option for SF I suspect is that Brown will force through some things they want like the ILA or the Maze. Again there is no certainty at all about that.

    Clearly the best option for SF would be the DUP lose seats and SF are the largest single party. That is of course possible but it is a fairly high rish strategy.

  • interested

    I think Mick has hit on an interesting point. Its the Shinners who are running around like the unionists used to. They’re the ones with the concerned body language and ultimately they’re the ones who may pull the whole thing down.

    They were outplayed at St Andrews and this seems to be the result. They didn’t realise what the outcomes of the changes there would be and they clearly don’t like them.

    Oddly for the DUP the whole issue of the TUV could be playing to their advantage. They may have underestimated them in Dromore, but there were also local issues, and issues of that time which are not as prevalent now (chuckle brothers et al). Ironically if the DUP underestimated the TUV back in February I think everyone is overestimating them now. Building up the TUV to unrealistic levels which they could never fulfill only makes their result look even worse if/when an election comes.

    SF seem to be banking on the DUP not wanting an election because of some supposed fear of the TUV. The TUV may have been able to roster the troops for a few weeks campaign in one DEA of one District Council area across Northern Ireland. They mightn’t fare just as well in a Province-wide election. Chairman Jim can’t be everywhere you know and it would start to expose the Gillespie’s and other assorted nutters amongst the ranks.

    From the DUP’s p.o.v it’s hardly the worst ground to be fighting agains the TUV on either in that its all happened because they out-negotiated the Shinners and the unhappy rebels didn’t like it, pulled the whole thing down and caused an election. Now vote for the DUP again and you can guarantee another Assembly term full of pain for the Shinners.

    SF have not played this one rationally – they are attempting to deal with problems they’re clearly having in their hardcore support/membership and not thinking about how this will play amongst the wider nationalst electorate in NI, or more particularly amongst the RoI electorate.

  • ian

    Dave:

    “Sinn Fein did not meet the terms of the mandate that it received from its Ard Fheis as a precondition to entering the Executive… Sinn Fein doesn’t have the authority of its Ard Fheis (its supreme authority) to be in the Executive”

    A fixed date for devolution of P & J wasn’t a precondition for entering the Executive (they were in the Executive years before the special Ard Fheis in January 2007). It was a precondition to sign up to support the PSNI.

  • Bigger Picture

    Briso

    Since none of the legislation details volunatry coalition the only way for it to happen would be for ammendments to introduce it in the legislation. (or maybe it does?!) By definition voluntary coalition means parties holding talks and agreeing to work together to form a majority and becoming the government. There is no stipulation on what persuasion they have to be.

    However I suppose there is no reason why there cannot be a stipulation that says a unionist party and nationalist party must be involved. I am not a lawyer so I do not know if that would be legally feasible but it is a suggestion and one that I would be happy with, I have no problems working with the SDLP.

    “We had a workable mandatory coalition where ministers had autonomy to MAKE DECISIONS”

    I am sorry but no form of government should work under that model, especially in a mandatory coalition, where a political party can run a party to whatever marxist agenda they may have and hold the people of NI to ransom over it. A truly shocking way for a country to be run and you are the first person on here to even suggest that we should go back to that ludicrous system of working.

  • Mick Fealty

    Briso,

    Voluntary coalition is history. It can only come back into play when: 1, SF says it does; or 2, when their vote drops below current SDLP levels. In other words, I would not hold your breath.

  • interested

    Turgon
    “A good option for SF I suspect is that Brown will force through some things they want like the ILA or the Maze. Again there is no certainty at all about that.”

    Indeed there’s no certainty about that – indeed its highly unlikely. Brown moving in to legislate on devolved matters has been well discussed here previously (probably discussed to death) and I suspect there is no way on this earth he is going to ruffle the feathers of any Scots MPs by interfering in a settled constitutional precident.

    Indeed, Brown might well look at this and see (rightly) that it appears the Shinners are playing the petulent child in this whole scenario by crying because they can’t get things their own way and decide that he will back the DUP in any post-crisis situation.

    I do agree with you though that if SF are banking on the DUP losing enough seats in any election to make SF the largest party its a very, very high risk strategy for them. Like I said in the last post though – they’re not rational at the minute. I wonder just how deep the Adams/McGuinness rift actually is and whether this is anything to do with that being played out in public. I think Martin is just too comfortable with Ministerial office, similarly with people like Conor Murphy. The Adams/Ruane wing on the other hand do appear to be much more comfortable with crisis and instability and see that as somehow achieving something for them.

  • Bigger Picture

    Turgon

    An answer to the points I have raised please. What would be the TUV’s message in this campaign if called?? Vote for the TUV we’ll walk out of stormont so the shinners can run to the govt and make their concessions easier? Or as interested pointed out vote for the DUP and make SF’s life hard again.

    You say the DUP losing seats is possible but why? Are the TUV going to take seats or by standing will they simply hand seats to nationalists in areas like Upper Bann and West Tyrone?

  • Bigger Picture

    Just in from Alisdair McDonnell

    “They built their trap themselves and they walked into it. Sinn Féin will cut a deal very soon, but let there be absolutely no doubt, it will be Peter Robinson’s deal. It will keep Sinn Féin in power, perhaps with some personnel changes, but it will not be a good deal for nationalists.”

    Vote DUP 1,2,3

  • Bigger Picture

    From Martina Purdy on the BBC

    “The fact is the DUP is a little too powerful for Sinn Fein’s tastes right now.

    Might Sinn Fein see some advantage in the Traditional Unionist Voice splitting unionism?”

    Another reason to vote DUP

  • Ian

    One factor worth considering is that SF were upfront with their electorate in advance of the last Assembly election, which took place after their special Ard Fheis mandated them to support the police (notwithstanding the caveat re: P&J;by May 2008).

    The DUP were not entirely honest with their rank-and-file prior to the election, so the iconic Paisley-Adams press conference the following month came as a huge surprise to many of their voters.

    So the party that has, in the eyes of its voters, performed the biggest U-turn since the last Assembly election, is the DUP. To what extent the chickens will come home to roost for their failure to be totally up-front with their electorate, is the great unknown, about which Robinson etc must feel a certain degree of nervousness.

    As an outside observer I think that Sinn Fein could live with, say, a two-year delay in devolution of P & J, provided that a fixed, finite deadline was agreed now by the DUP leadership. (SF play the long game and bear in mind that they waited almost two years after the IRA completed decommissioning before the DUP-SF deal was struck.)

    If Adams were to suggest such a timescale to Robinson (possibly tied in with a deal on IRA AC), then Robbo would have to decide whether he would prefer to go into an unpredictable September election with no commitment on a date for P & J, or the scheduled May 2011 poll one year after P & J has been devolved (by which time SF will have had three more years of proving their law-and-order supporting credentials).

  • Ian

    One factor worth considering is that SF were upfront with their electorate in advance of the last Assembly election, which took place after their special Ard Fheis mandated them to support the police (notwithstanding the caveat re: P&J;by May 2008).

    The DUP were not entirely honest with their rank-and-file prior to the election, so the iconic Paisley-Adams press conference the following month came as a huge surprise to many of their voters.

    So the party that has, in the eyes of its voters, performed the biggest U-turn since the last Assembly election, is the DUP. To what extent the chickens will come home to roost for their failure to be totally up-front with their electorate, is the great unknown, about which Robinson etc must feel a certain degree of nervousness.

    As an outside observer I think that Sinn Fein could live with, say, a two-year delay in devolution of P & J, provided that a fixed, finite deadline was agreed now by the DUP leadership. (SF play the long game and bear in mind that they waited almost two years after the IRA completed decommissioning before the DUP-SF deal was struck.)

    If Adams were to suggest such a timescale to Robinson (possibly tied in with a deal on IRA AC), then Robbo would have to decide whether he would prefer to go into an unpredictable September election with no commitment on a date for P & J, or the scheduled May 2011 poll one year after P & J has been devolved (by which time SF will have had three more years of proving their law-and-order supporting credentials).

  • Ian

    Oops, done it again with the repeat post. Sorry.

    Interesting contribution from Dawn Purvis here (although maybe she has a vested interest in there not being an election this year):

    “The DUP is insisting that it will not be hostage to fortune by giving a date and is insisting there is not sufficient confidence in the unionist community.

    “The PUP leader, Dawn Purvis, however, has countered that the crisis of confidence is within the DUP, not the unionist community.”

  • percy

    Taking Musashi’s advice isn’t it clear to see that both the DUP and SF played a little “fast and loose” with their electorates.

    Cries of betrayal vis-vis P&J;echoes cries of betrayal from within hardcore unionism.

    For the benefit of all SF must continue to walk the tight-rope, as supporting the police won’t be so painful by this time next year, and neither will power-sharing with republicans be so painful for the TUV.

    No collapse, play on 😉

  • Ian

    BP:

    “You say the DUP losing seats is possible but why? Are the TUV going to take seats or by standing will they simply hand seats to nationalists in areas like Upper Bann and West Tyrone?”

    The latter. I recall someone pointing out the other day that the SDLP only needed a handful of votes in Strangford to take a formerly unionist seat. That effect may come into play across the ‘pravince’.

    You could argue that Bob McCartney’s multiple personas failed to have that effect last time round, but when that election took place many of the DUP electorate were still in denial about the big ‘sell-out’ to follow swiftly afterwards.

  • Steve

    Lets ask the appropriate question to one of the nutters

    Turgon
    If Sinn Fein force this election and look capable of taking the first ministers office, would you vote DUP to ensure a unionist victory?

    BP

    let the electioneering go, if I know one thing about this site its that people have very entrenched political opinions and aren’t likely to be swayed by your obvious pandering of the DUP. Just how long have you been a member?

  • percy

    Ian, I think we’re coming from the same place.
    It is true, as peteb painfully reminds SF that P&J;is for the Assembly to mandate.

  • interested

    Ian,
    Any DUP u-turn (real or percieved) has been well played out and the effects of it have been well debated in the media – nearly to the point that its old hat now. Also, quite a lot of the concern within unionism which I detected was quite personally attached to Ian Paisley. It was more about how he could go into Government rather than the DUP as a party.

    With SF (as usual) there’s been little or no discussion about what effect their actions have had and I believe that the problems they’ve been facing have been significantly underestimated. Many of the stagemanaged meetings they’ve had haven’t went nearly as smoothly as the usual Shinner ‘consultations’ and that says nothing about the other unpublicised and un-stage managed meetings they’ve had around the country.

    Surely within unionism it isn’t actually a timetable issue – its about the details of any devolution of P&J;. I’d be happy for it to be devolved in the morning, providing it was in the right circumstances.

    SF mightn’t be too keen on an election in the morning (or near future) if the analysis continues that they’ve just been s**t all over by the DUP since St Andrews. That combined with an unusual set of circumstances where they are the people pulling down devolution instead of calling for it to be restored will be a strange set of conditions for many of the supporters (old and new) to get their heads around.

  • ian

    “Any DUP u-turn (real or percieved) has been well played out and the effects of it have been well debated in the media – nearly to the point that its old hat now.”

    A major development like going into a power-sharing arrangement with ‘SF-IRA’ is not ‘old-hat’ until such time as an election has validated it (or otherwise) after the fact.

    “Surely within unionism it isn’t actually a timetable issue – its about the details of any devolution of P&J;.”

    I’d agree with you there; I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. The real issue not yet agreed is the ministerial model to be implemented. PeteB’s constant focus on the date misses this crucial point.

    SF want the Justice ministry to be filled via the d’Hont mechanism. DUP oppose this as it will mean they will feel compelled to take it as their first choice, thus handing the Finance & Personnel ministry to SF (who will also take the junior ministry in Justice if they get their way).

  • Gerry

    SF were all set for an election before Christmas before Brown took cold feet. The DUP have been too scared to even hold a party conference in good knows how many years. If anyone here thinks the Shinners are bluffing you are seriously mistaken. The nationalist electorate want SF to stand up to the DUP and the issue on the door will be their intransigence over P&J;. An election now will be a good opportunity for SF to consolidate ahead of the FF takeover of the SDLP.

  • Bigger Picture

    Steve

    I am not electioneering, I would be very suprised if anything changed their opinions based on what I say. However what I am trying to do is show how the comments made by SF, SDLP and Martina Purdy will play fine for the DUP when they go to the polls and face other unionists. If truth be told I think this is the best possible platform for them to fight an election from, as the TUV are unable to answer why anyone should vote for them whenever SF are having a miserable time at Stormont. The same with the UUP where the DUP will simply state that we are forcing SF into corners that you could not have done in your wildest dreams.

    Believe it or not I am not actually a member. It is something I keep meaning to do but giving the fact that I am very shy I am afraid I may not fit in. Maybe observer or interested could give me some advice on that front?

  • You cannot be serious

    Jeffrey Donaldson appointed Director of Elections for the DUP! That’ll swing it now. DUP in electoral meltdown, loosing 12 seats with their candidates topping the poll in 6 others with triple quotas. LMAO…

  • Delta Omega

    Steve

    As one of the nutters, I’ll gladly answer the question you posed to Turgon: Would I vote for the DUP if SF look capable of taking the FM office? Simple answer – No.

    Peter Robinson once told me that if the situation ever came around that SF could become the largest party then “the electorate would get what they deserved”. Robbo might just end up being the one who gets what he deserved. Having been a member of the DUP until 8th May 2007, I would not vote for them again, having been disenfranchised the last time. Fooled me once – shame on you; fooled me twice – not on your life!

  • Briso

    Posted by Mick Fealty on Jun 03, 2008 @ 12:00 PM
    Briso,

    Voluntary coalition is history. It can only come back into play when: 1, SF says it does; or 2, when their vote drops below current SDLP levels. In other words, I would not hold your breath.

    VC is not history, and believe me, it’s not me holding my breath on the matter. I can’t imagine such a scenario ever flying, but if the current system can’t work, and thanks to the factors I mentioned in my previous post I don’t believe it can, it is doomed. I predict VC will re-emerge in short order as a live proposal and we’ll see what happens.

    Posted by Bigger Picture on Jun 03, 2008 @ 11:57 AM
    “We had a workable mandatory coalition where ministers had autonomy to MAKE DECISIONS”

    I am sorry but no form of government should work under that model, especially in a mandatory coalition, where a political party can run a party to whatever marxist agenda they may have and hold the people of NI to ransom over it. A truly shocking way for a country to be run and you are the first person on here to even suggest that we should go back to that ludicrous system of working.

    I know BP. SF implementing policies. Horrifying. Better an FF led United Ireland than that. Ask Turgon.


    Posted by Bigger Picture on Jun 03, 2008 @ 12:07 PM

    Just in from Alisdair McDonnell

    “They built their trap themselves and they walked into it. Sinn Féin will cut a deal very soon, but let there be absolutely no doubt, it will be Peter Robinson’s deal. It will keep Sinn Féin in power, perhaps with some personnel changes, but it will not be a good deal for nationalists.”

    Vote DUP 1,2,3

    This is what disappoints me about the SDLP. I thought at the time Durcan saw this coming, but he whispered it. Let them walk into the trap indeed. Hard for the SDLP to maintain they were acting in the interests of their electorate rather than their party….

  • Mark McGregor

    Please God let there be an election. I’d like to just watch one for a change without having to be involved and I’ve already thought of a great way to spoil my ballot.

    That said I think SF would be mad to collapse it. Having an election as a result of a declaration of their inability to get delivery on a raft of issues would be very risky and they’d just face the exact same inability to deliver the other side.

    It’s a bluff but whoever pitched it seems to have made very big news of SF’s absolute failure to deliver anything in the Assembly – not the smartest of strategies to me.

  • Bigger Picture

    “I know BP. SF implementing policies. Horrifying. Better an FF led United Ireland than that. Ask Turgon”

    I will indeed but he isn’t replying to me at the moment so I may be a while in coming back to you with his response. The point about the above post is that a coalition government is BASED on mutual opinion and cabinet responsibility. You didn’t get that under a previous form of the gfa assembly and you don’t get it now in the new STAA assembly. Therefore better to have a voluntary coalition as it will be more stable as parties can agree as to the policies they want and implement them. This is better than the old system. Under the old system Ruane could simply abolish acdemic selection tommorrow even though the majority of people do not want it. However now she cannot do that and the issue must be ok’d by her executive colleagues. What part of a coalition executive therefore do you have a problem with? The part that simply doesn’t bow to evry SF demand?

  • Ian

    “TUV are unable to answer why anyone should vote for them whenever SF are having a miserable time at Stormont.”

    That sounds like Trimble’s “we’re going in to confront Sinn Fein” argument, which ultimately failed.

    There’s a solid rump of the unionist electorate who still believe that SF shouldn’t be in Stormont full stop – whether they’re having a miserable time or not. That rump used to vote for DUP until March 2008, and will now presumably either abstain or vote TUV. The size of the rump has not yet been tested in a NI-wide election.

  • … whoever pitched it seems to have made very big news of SF’s absolute failure to deliver anything in the Assembly – not the smartest of strategies to me.

    Insofar as it harks back to the ‘bad old days’ of unionist hegemony, and the unionist veto, it probably strikes a chord with many nationalist voters. The longer the DUP refuses to agree any nationalist-friendly policies to be enacted, the more like the bad old days it seems. And since Sinn Féin has well and truly won the propaganda battle about pre-1972 Stormont, it may not be such a bad strategy at all if they collapse ‘son-of-Stormont’.

  • observer

    longer the DUP refuses to agree any nationalist-friendly policies to be enacted, the more like the bad old days it seems. —

    So Unoinists should roll over and do what SF says, Not a chance. The UUP may have done that the DUP wont, and now that you havent got your guns to threaten us with youre whistling in the wind

  • Greenflag

    BP

    ‘I have no problems working with the SDLP.’

    That’s not what the UUP or DUP or NIUP (apart from Brian Faulkner were saying in 1974 . In return for their failure to work with the SDLP then ,they now in recompense get to work with SF.

    If they can’t work with SF now then who who will they work with in 2016 ? FF ? FG or do they expect a potential new Conservative British Government to do a ‘heath’ on the Assembly and integrate NI into the UK a la Stevenage or Finchley ?

    There won’t be any voluntary coalition not for a generation if ever. SF will want police & justice devolved and are probably now pushing for a definite date . The DUP can hold out only so long on this issue . An election would do less harm to SF than to the DUP . Might not do any harm for Mr Robinson to seek a new mandate say before Christmas ? He could of course run the risk of becoming the shortest reigning FM in Northern Ireland’s political history losing to Paisley’s year in office by 6 months ? Could he survive politically with McGuinness as FM ?

    The glass is falling hour by hour etc etc etc .

  • Steve

    BP
    However what I am trying to do is show how the comments made by SF, SDLP and Martina Purdy will play fine for the DUP when they go to the polls and face other unionists

    I agree with you it will play fine to the DUPers but they don’t need to play to the DUPers they need to play to the TUVers and as Delta Omega states above nothing from the DUP will play to the TUVers.

    As for taking votes off the UUP, only guessing here but as the UUP have morphed into the moderate unionist party its not likely their votes will jump to the hard line parties unless they jump all the way over to the TUV. People that change allegance tend to swing all the way over and not stop in the middle

    By the way Delta Omega when I called you nutters it was just a carry over from an earlier posters description

  • Driftwood

    Direct rule for a while wouldn’t be so bad. Especially if we got that lovely Caroline Flint as secretary of state until Lord Trimble takes over.

  • Bigger Picture

    “There’s a solid rump of the unionist electorate who still believe that SF shouldn’t be in Stormont full stop – whether they’re having a miserable time or not.”

    Jim Allister bases his attacks on the DUP as delivering to SF’s all Ireland agenda by working with them at Stormont. Sinn Fein have very helpfully shown that to be rubbish and in fact they are not achieving their aims. I am more than happy to enter into a debate with any unionist who would rather see direct rule instead with Gerry and Martin running to HMG for concessions rather than sit in Stormont where the Shinners have spelt out that the DUP has them by the balls. I am more than happy to go into an election on that basis.

  • Bigger Picture

    Steve

    And I have pointed out that the TUV will get votes because some people will just never be satisfied like Delta and Omega no matter how illogical their position becomes. The fact that I have directly pressed him on this issue twice already today and he has not replied shows that he does not have a coherent answer to give that could possibly justify not continuing to press SF in the assembly.

  • Don’t think so

    “Direct rule for a while wouldn’t be so bad. Especially if we got that lovely Caroline Flint as secretary of state until Lord Trimble takes over.”

    I believe Brown’s preferred option is ‘Plan B’. Might save him a few shekels as well.

  • Greenflag

    observer,

    ‘So Unionists should roll over and do what SF says, Not a chance.’

    Wonderful -reminds me of the good old days of Mr Craig and his Vanguard stormtroopers . Not an inch they said to the SDLP and it’s well spoken nice ‘uncle tom’ catholics like Austin Currie ,John Hume etc etc .

    ‘The UUP may have done that’

    The problem was that the UUP did nothing for so long re irish nationalist demands that by the time they came around to doing it -it was too late .

    ‘ the DUP wont,’

    Then they’ll go the same way as the UUP did .

    ‘ and now that you havent got your guns to threaten us with you’re whistling in the wind’

    They don’t need guns . They have a veto and a whistle and they can blow the house down if and when they choose to . Call it parity of vetos if you want.

    The DUP will have to concede to some (not all) of the SF demands and vice versa . If neither party is up to this then the Assembly will collapse and DR will be back and ‘repartition’ may begin to look like a better proposition for good government for Irish nationalists in Northern Ireland than a never ending series of stop start NI Assembly fiascos !

  • observer,

    So Unoinists should roll over and do what SF says, Not a chance. The UUP may have done that the DUP wont, and now that you havent got your guns to threaten us with youre whistling in the wind

    That sounds suspiciously like a return to majority rule. It didn’t work very well last time (and unionists actually were a majority then … ).

    If you are representative of the DUP, your comments imply the deliberate blocking of all nationalist proposals just because you can! That is pretty bad politics, and isn’t going to win unionism any friends in London or Dublin. One day you might need those friends, so a more thoughtful party might decide that compromise is not necessarily always a bad thing.

    A frustrated nationalist electorate will have no reason to buy into the GFA as a ‘settlement’, and if its aspirations continue to be blocked it may look for the one certain de-blocker – a border poll. Not this year, not in 2016, but not long thereafter there will be a nationalist voting majority. You only have half a generation to change its mind, and you haven’t started very well!

  • observer

    The DUP will have to concede to some (not all) of the SF demands and vice versa

    – No they dont. You mistake power sharing for normal government, its not

  • observer

    A frustrated nationalist electorate will have no reason to buy into the GFA as a ‘settlement’, and if its aspirations continue to be blocked it may look for the one certain de-blocker – a border poll. Not this year, not in 2016, but not long thereafter there will be a nationalist voting majority. You only have half a generation to change its mind, and you haven’t started very well!

    Posted by Horseman on Jun 03, 2008 @ 02:12 PM

    – back to outbreeding Prods, beats killing them i suppose

  • observer

    The DUP will have to concede to some (not all) of the SF demands and vice versa.

    – No they dont.

    In fact I think they will. If not now, then certainly after the next election. Do you really think Sinn Féin is going to agree any Programme for Government or budget in the future that does not include clear nationalist aspirations?

  • Delta Omega

    Bigger Picture: “The fact that I have directly pressed him on this issue twice already today and he has not replied shows that he does not have a coherent answer to give that could possibly justify not continuing to press SF in the assembly.”

    Keep taking the tablets as you seem to be approaching the delusional. Contrary to your claim you have not pressed me twice on anything today. The only question that you asked was if I was on another planet recently, and crap like that doesn’t justify a response.

    Ask what you will directly and if I can give you an answer, I will.

  • observer,

    – back to outbreeding Prods, beats killing them i suppose

    As a democrat, I assume you have no objection to being out-bred?

    If you show that there is another way to achieve nationalist objectives, then people may not need to dump the whole separate Northern Ireland thing. So far, though, you are not showing any alternative.

  • observer

    If you show that there is another way to achieve nationalist objectives, then people may not need to dump the whole separate Northern Ireland thing. So far, though, you are not showing any alternative.

    Posted by Horseman on Jun 03, 2008 @ 02:22 PM

    Why should we help nationalists achieve their objectives? We`re unionists. Its like asking Gordon Brown to adopt Tory plans. It aint gonna happen.

  • observer,

    Why should we help nationalists achieve their objectives?

    Several reasons:

    (1) Power-sharing. Remember that?
    (2) Mutual vetoes. Just wait till the DUP really really really want something.
    (3) Basic fairness. Oh, yeah, you’re unionists, I forgot ….

  • Bigger Picture

    Well if you happened to look at the post above you would see my question and the point I am making, I will repeat it again, as I may be delusional but you clearly need your eyes checked.

    “Jim Allister bases his attacks on the DUP as delivering to SF’s all Ireland agenda by working with them at Stormont. Sinn Fein have very helpfully shown that to be rubbish and in fact they are not achieving their aims. I am more than happy to enter into a debate with any unionist who would rather see direct rule instead with Gerry and Martin running to HMG for concessions rather than sit in Stormont where the Shinners have spelt out that the DUP has them by the balls. I am more than happy to go into an election on that basis.”

    So therefore what is the TUV’s message going to be in any election? We have the moral high ground never mind that it will actually allow SF off the hook?

  • Mick Fealty

    What we have here is a bad dose of ‘recalcitrant indecisiveness’: http://tinyurl.com/6acze8. It is, as Henry hinted earlier, in the interests of these two parties to get things sorted out. That includes the P&J;thing. I’ve no doubt that the DUP will concede that issue in time and (probably) in return for something else (de-mob of the Army Council is the one most frequently cited by their politicians). They have already bagged that PR victory when a ‘deadline’ became just a ‘missed schedule’ last month.

    The point about mandatory coalition is that it is, by its very nature, a conservative beast. The additional checks and balances from St Andrews are not foolproof – just look at the free ride home that Margaret Ritchie took on CTI – but it is proving difficult for parties to effect ‘change’ that does not have buy in across the piste. In short, the power to conserve is much greater than that to make change. That is unless there is political consensus.

  • interested

    Mick
    What exactly was the “free ride home” Ritchie took on the CTI?

    When was the scheme stopped?

  • Turgon

    Bigger Picture and others,

    My apologies for my enforced absence. I had to do a lot of work this morning. I know this is utterly unacceptable and promise to try hard to avoid it in future.

    In answer to Steve. Of course I would vote TUV. There would not be much point being in a political party if one does not vote for them. I kept on voting UUP long after I should have stopped because I had some loyalty to my then party.

    In terms of what is happening here I am still unsure how serious SF is about all this. I suspect if they pull back from a crisis now they may have a little egg on face unless Brown gives them something. If it continues, however, the risks to them of pulling back are greater. They could even box themselves into a position of having to collapse the executive.

    I wonder if they might refuse to nominate and then after one week nominate and present it as a warning shot across the DUP’s bows?

    SF’s ability to threaten the DUP is of course all tied up with the TUV. BP is of course correct to say that the DUP are seeming to hold firm at the moment and could go into an election pronouncing themselves as having annoyed SF a great deal.

    Tactically that would play well for the DUP. However, I keep coming back to the DUP in general and indeed Robinson’s personal failure to think strategically.

    If I were doing a TUV manifesto I would go back to the chuckle brothers and point that up. I would also point out that we are in a completely chaotic impasse over education. I would point up the fact that we are stuck in mandatory coalition with SF, that the army council is still there and this could all be a smoke screen so that SF make a supposed concession by continuing with power sharing and as such can defuse pressure over the army council etc.

    I would highlight the fact that the mutual veto is still a significant problem, that the ludicrous compromise of the victims commissioners was forced on us.

    I have no doubt that Robinson is playing his tactics quite well, indeed as well as can be expected. However two things: will he have to make some compromises or will HMG give SF something. Secondly strategically we are still in the problems I have highlighted.

    remember the Battle of Jutland (92 years ago at the weekend): the Germans had something of a tactical victory, they sank 3 British Battlecruisers to the British one (and two massively damaged). However, it was a strategic defeat: the Germans knew they had done as well as they could have done and still the Grand Fleet ruled the North Sea. For one period of about 15 minutes the whole Grand Fleet was firing accurately on the German front: their T well crossed. Scheer knew he could not win and turned and fled.

    Robinson has done quite well but SF are still in the mandatory coalition, have the veto as well as the DUP, still have the army council (although as I have said before that may be a bargaining chip).

    Well as Robinson has done we are no closer to a complete renegotiation of the agreement.

    By the way would anyone like a blog on Jutland, I think it an interesting and often forgotten part of the First World War?

  • …. the power to conserve is much greater than that to make change

    And therein lies the seeds of Northern Ireland’s failed future.

    While the rest of the world speeds up decision-making, flattens hierarchies, and reacts as quickly as possible to changing circumstances, Northern Ireland will be locked into its deadly total conservatism.

    If Belfast was as attractive as Venice or Bruges then such stagnation might have a small benefit for our great-grandchildren. But it isn’t, so stagnation will lead to economic decline, backwardness and long-term unhappiness.

    Thanks DUP!

  • Delta Omega

    OK Bigger Picture – let me clarify my position for you.

    Firstly I am not a member of TUV so I have no idea what their message is going to be going into any election.

    However, if a party presents a manifesto to me that indicates a democratic form of government rather than the mandatory coalition that we currently have, then I’ll at least feign some interest. If that manifesto goes on to state that the democratic form of government will not include criminals and murderers while they retain their weaponry, army council structures, bank robberies, drug running, general criminality etc, then I’ll read on. Other key issues for me are maintaining the union, providing a good education for my kids, respect for law and order, recliaming a lost level of morality of the nation and protection of family values. Show me this, and prove to me that you can do it, and that party will get my vote.

    Your final remark of having the moral high ground should stick in the throat of any DUP member. I sat in the public meeting where Peter the punt promised that the DUP would never enter government with SF until they had recived support for the police, total verifiable decommissioning, dibandment of the army council, protection of academic selection, removal of the water tax, a financial package for NI etc. It was on that basis that they got my vote the last time around. The only pledge that was delivered on was SF support for the police, before the lure of position, power and money overtook the DUP morals. That is why I view myself as being disenfranchised. That is why I’ll never vote for that bunch of liars again. If you think that gives you moral high ground, then the heights of your morals are significantly below a snakes belly.

  • observer

    Delta, youre asking for much more than Jim Allister. He is on record as stating that the removal of the army coucnil is his litmus test for SF in government. That is coming very soon.

  • Bigger Picture

    The moral high ground remark refered to the TUV not the DUP. I have never said that it was a moral decision to be there in the first place, only that it was necessary to take the fight to SF, which thankfully they are doing vis a vis their statement. It may be not what you or even the DUP think but that was my basis for voting for them anyway.

    Will reply in full later, other things to get on with!

  • Delta Omega

    Observer

    That may be the case and that is why I haven’t joined the TUV yet.

  • Ian

    BP:

    “I am more than happy to enter into a debate with any unionist who would rather see direct rule instead with Gerry and Martin running to HMG for concessions rather than sit in Stormont where the Shinners have spelt out that the DUP has them by the balls. I am more than happy to go into an election on that basis.”

    Okay so why not apply the same principle to the P & J ministry? What’s to stop the Secretary of State implementing criminal justice policies suggested by SF?

  • Greenflag

    observer,

    – No they dont. You mistake power sharing for normal government, its not

    If you have ever read any of my posts you would know that I have never held the view that mandatory power sharing is normal government . It is’nt and it can’t be . The salient point being you can’t have ‘normal government in an abnormal state . This is precisely why there has to be mandatory power sharing . This is the lesson that has been learned from the 50 years of Unionist one party misrule 1920-1972 through Sunningdale and from all the failed attempts at power sharing since then .

    The only question is how long can the present ‘stitch up’ last and will the band aid last one -two or five or ten years . The question is not if DUP or indeed any unionist party will have to concede to some of SF demands but when and how and on what issues . If you believe any other political route is open than you’re not paying attention.

  • Greenflag

    delta omega ,

    ‘ ‘I sat in the public meeting where Peter the punt promised that the DUP would never enter government with SF until they had recived support for the police, total verifiable decommissioning, dibandment of the army council, protection of academic selection, removal of the water tax, a financial package for NI etc. ”

    But at least he did’nt throw in the kitchen sink as well ? 🙂 Politics remember while being a dirty business is a necessary business and is also the art of the possible . If you can’t understand that best not to get involved in the game .

    ‘ The only pledge that was delivered on was SF support for the police, before the lure of position, power and money overtook the DUP morals.’

    Jaysuz wept how can one be so naive ? Morals and politicians go together like ice cream and cow shite .

    ‘That is why I view myself as being disenfranchised.’

    Well let that be a lesson to ye !

    ‘That is why I’ll never vote for that bunch of liars again.’

    Not to worry there’ll be another bunch of liars to choose from soon enough . Unionism has an excellent track record of producing ‘liar’ politicians for every generation and constitutional situation . They had to – to stay in power in the past – and now they need to -in order to share power in the future. It doesn’t much matter whether it’s the DUP or UUP or TUV or some other brand . They will all have to share power if the want any themselves . The name of the game is D’Hondt.

    observer .

    ‘Jim Allister is on record as stating that the removal of the army council is his litmus test for SF in government.’

    First chink in the armour then . When I carry out a litmus test I like to see the litmus before and after . How will Allister know one way or another whether the army council is ‘removed’ or not ? Not much of a test then from Allister is it ?

  • Henry94

    Mick

    I recall years ago you giving the sage advice that there were some matters best sorted out amongst nationalists, and others best sorted out amongst Unionists. Now you say this is best sorted out between SF and the DUP. Is that some sort of progress?

    I suppose we’ll see if it is. They have to be able to do deals but for the DUP in particular the less cordial it looks the better their voters seem to like it. After the frigidity of the Trimble Mallon relationship I thought the Chuckle Brothers were great.

    But in both cases what you saw reflected the actual dynamic. I think it will be difficult for anyone to get away for too long with pretending it’s not going well if it is. And I think it’s going to go well. Robinson and Adams/McGuinness are too smart to throw away the political advantages they have.

    Policing & Justice is an easy one. The question is about political timing not about what is going to happen. I would understand if Robinson had indicated he needed to win an election first. And I could also understand if Sinn Fein were saying, “that can be arranged”. But neither really want one now.

    Sinn Fein need it to sink in with nationalists that Fianna Fail aren’t really coming. Why let the SDLP fight an election pretending they are?

    And for the DUP why let TUV point to instability in the institutions. Much better to fight them after a full term when they would be arguing against successful institutions.