New England and 42 days

Apologies for the lack of blogging in the past while, I was experiencing the joys of New England on a family holiday. So I missed most of the Sinn Fein wobble and the 42 days vote. To make up for it here are belated thoughts about 42 days and the DUP over on the OurKingdom blog.

  • truth and justice

    A fair and accurate view from fair deal well done

  • Whether DUP support for 42 days was a bolt from the blue or not, and whether 42 days has popular support from the British public or not (the jury’s out on that by the way), the perception is that the DUPes sold their vote and did not conduct themselves in the fashion of a party which had the best interests of the UK in mind. The last minute meetings etc. exacerbate the appearance of a colloquial party whose moment in the limelight has come, attempting to extract advantage on a range of parochial issues rather than considering the merits of the debate and stepping up to the plate as full participants in the United Kingdom.

    This may not matter to the DUP and its supporters with their use of the word ‘unionist’ as community shorthand but it matters to actual unionists who cherish our place in the United Kingdom and wish to play a full and constructive part in it. The DUP and its supporters will continue to congratulate themselves on their tactical cleverness and what pragmatic, hard-nosed chaps they are. Actual unionists will reflect on Northern Irish unionism’s diminished reputation within the rest of the Kingdom, and a chance missed to present a constructive face on a national stage.

  • Dec

    For me, the defining image was Iris Robinson’s 9-fingered gesture to the next British cabinet. Whatever Iris’ strongpoints (Sharia Law, the interior layout of the Ulster Hospital casualty department), political nous is not one of them.

  • fair_deal

    Chekov

    “whether 42 days has popular support from the British public or not (the jury’s out on that by the way),”

    Repeated polls show a substantial majority in favour. What evidence is there that it is unpopular?

    “it matters to actual unionists who cherish our place in the United Kingdom and wish to play a full and constructive part in it. Actual unionists will reflect on Northern Irish unionism’s diminished reputation within the rest of the Kingdom,”

    To be determining matters of national significance is to play a full and constructive part. A dislike for the party involved or measure does not make it partial or unconstructive participation.

    How does voting for a popular measure diminsh Unionism’s reputation with the UK public?

    Unionism has played a similar role on a number of occassions in recent political history without any identifiable harm, so what is different this time?

    To be honest it just reads as a purile claim for ideological superiority using hubris and feign rage.

    “a range of parochial issues”

    Making devolution a success and developing the private sector are not parochial. The UK government has spent the last 10 years (arguably more) aiming to achieve the first and I doubt they’d complain much about progress on the second either.

    Dec

    “For me, the defining image was Iris Robinson’s 9-fingered gesture to the next British cabinet.”

    Heard about that, that was OTT.

  • The last minute meetings etc. exacerbate the appearance of a colloquial party whose moment in the limelight has come, attempting to extract advantage on a range of parochial issues rather than considering the merits of the debate and stepping up to the plate as full participants in the United Kingdom.

    Did any of the Dupers actually make a speech during the debate?

  • Damian O’Loan

    Fair Deal,

    I think you have made some fair points, but have over-simplified a few issues.

    I would agree with Chekov on the damage caused to the position of Unionism. Even if the measure was popular with a majority of Britain, and there is evidence to the contrary, as this IPSOS-Mori poll shows,

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/poll-finds-public-backs-davis-on-42day-detention-848491.html

    the tactics employed were not. This is not media misrepresentation, a look across the blogs says the same. The DUP could even have done a deal a week before, announced support and have avoided this issue. They chose not to, presumably to extract a little more from Brown, and they, and Unionism, are paying the price.

    “To be determining matters of national significance is to play a full and constructive part.”

    That is far from the British perception expressed so far.

    It may be wrong, but overwhelmingly Britain objects to what it sees as Ulstermen deciding on British issues, and ones that go the core of their national identity. Whatever the popularity of 42 days, there is agreement that this is extremely significant.

    Hugh Orde’s position won’t have affected the DUP in the least. They, and the public, realise there is a vacancy at the Met at stake.

    “Was there a deal?… there probably wasn’t. The situation is more no deal today but the expectation of a deal tomorrow.”

    I think most people would call that a deal. A bit like being paid at the end of the month involves a contract.

    Tactically, your move to try to create a bidding war on the DUP votes is short-sighted and counter-productive. Partly because of the reasons outlined above relating to the tactics employed.

    Mainly, though, because knife-ege votes are a rarity. Gordon Brown could not feasibly lose more than two without calling an election. On the second, it would be madness to side with him, as the Tories would well know. So the DUP have one chance, and more games means more damage to Unionism. That is why the idea of the DUP as a major player in Westminster is absurd.

  • fair_deal

    Damian

    “I think you have made some fair points”

    Thank you.

    “there is evidence to the contrary, as this IPSOS-Mori poll shows”

    On the polling you are mixing up two topics the public response to david davis and support for the actual proposal, they are different. The public general ill-will towards politicians and disillusionment with their lack of belief/spinelessness means a politician making a stand is seen as laudable by a chunk of the public usually regardless of the issue.

    The last poll taken on the topic showed public support:
    Link

    Also despite the positive headline the poll shows more consider his decision wrong than right (48% to 39%).

    ” The DUP could even have done a deal a week before, announced support and have avoided this issue. They chose not to, presumably to extract a little more from Brown, and they, and Unionism, are paying the price.”

    That statement is based on an assumption that Brown would have made a deal in that time-frame. The arm-twisting of Labour backbenchers was ongoing. It was Labour and Brown who were much more in control of the deal-making timetable than the DUP.

    “the British perception expressed so far.”

    It tends be those opposed to the measure who have been expressing themselves.

    “but overwhelmingly Britain objects to what it sees as Ulstermen deciding on British issues,”

    As I said this was a UK measure not a west lothian situation. It applies in ulster as well as great britain. Again it is generally those opposed to the measure who are objecting to the manner of the vote.

    Ulster votes have proved crucial at least three times in the past 30 years. It is not a new phenomenon and none of the previous occasions have led to significant problems, why is this situation different that those previous occasions?

    “your move to try to create a bidding war on the DUP votes is short-sighted and counter-productive.”

    I doubt if the Tories pay any attention to my positings, it was written with a UK-wide audience in mind hence that particular point to try and stimulate a debate. Although if Brown out maenourvred them they may wish to consider why.

    As you say the opportunities for small parties in Westminster are a “rarity”. Although with the mood of Labour MPs it may become more common – we have had two such votes in six months – 10p tax and now 42 days.

    To expect a party to let all such rarities pass is simply not practical politics (although each opportunity needs to be assessed on its own merits – voting for the 10p tax measueres would have been a mistake).

    I accept such dealing is far from politics at its most idealistic but the party who maintains ideological and procedural purity tends to be one who doesn’t get much done.

    Also a stable and more prosperous Northern Ireland are of greater long-term significance to the continuation of the Union than the frsutrations and anger of those opposed to 42 days. These aims have also been the aims of the present and previous administrations – Labour and Conservative.

  • Damian O’Loan

    Fair Deal,

    “Also despite the positive headline the poll shows more consider his decision wrong than right (48% to 39%).”

    That is deliberate misrepresentation. 35% would vote for him and 23% would vote against. That is the accurate figure. Your figures are on resignation as the manner of protest.

    And I have not confused those two issues, as the article clearly states and I presume you read.

    “Mr Davis regarded the figures on whether he was right or wrong as very reassuring because the question specifically mentioned 42 days’ detention, for which there is overwhelming public support, according to previous polls.”

    So opinion is divided on whether the public support 42 days.

    “It tends be those opposed to the measure who have been expressing themselves.”

    That is speculative and a weak argument to cover the fact that an overwhelming majority of the views have opposed the DUP’s tactics. Have you evidence to the contrary?

    “As I said this was a UK measure not a west lothian situation. It applies in ulster as well as great britain.”

    Clearly, and many responses have been beyond arrogance. But the British perception is what counts as regards protecting the Union, particularly as this was most definitely Realpolitik.

    “I accept such dealing is far from politics at its most idealistic but the party who maintains ideological and procedural purity tends to be one who doesn’t get much done.”

    I’m not suggesting ideological purity, hence my point on agreeing a deal a week before. Which would have decreased speculation on a deal, swayed Labour opinion in Brown’s favour and made the eventual payment seem like authentic and impressive DUP negotiation skills at play.

    “why is this situation different that those previous occasions?”

    We are in a new dispensation. There is a a very real negative feeling about ‘subsidising’ NI, which has been accentuated by the idea that the peace process has led to a prosperous North, and this will presumably continue to increase with prosperity. Hence the Tories’ Barnett formula policy. This issue is the one that touches most closely on the sense of national identity, and clearly for many that is something the DUP have no say in. Scottish independence is now very possible, so the United Kingdom is already at risk. There is a growing movement of English nationalism, exacerbated by opposition to the EU. There are just some of the reasons that now is different, and this tactic is therefore more injurious to Unionism.

  • fair_deal

    Damian

    “That is deliberate misrepresentation.”

    The figures I quote are accurate and from the very same poll that you introduced to the conversation. That is not a misrepresentation even if it takes the shine of the results of the other question.

    “So opinion is divided on whether the public support 42 days.”

    The article acknowledges all previous polls should significant public support.

    This poll did not ask about whether those surveyed did or did not support 42 days. It got a passing mention in a question about another topic so it is insufficient to substantiate your claim.

    “That is speculative and a weak argument to cover the fact that an overwhelming majority of the views have opposed the DUP’s tactics.”

    LOL. Plenty. The Conservatives opposed it and criticised the DUP. The Lib Dems opposed it and criticised the DUP. Bloggers like Iain Dale Lib Dem voice opposed 42 days and complained about the DUP. Civil liberties groups are opposed and I doubt the DUP is on their Xmas card list. Notice a pattern yet?

    Can you name anyone or organisation that was supportive of 42 days who has criticsed the DUP for voting for it?

    “hence my point on agreeing a deal a week before.”

    Nice theory but an impractical one as i pointed out.

    “a very real negative feeling about ‘subsidising’ NI”

    This is not a new complaint plus IIRC if you apply it across the UK only the South-West and London would stay so for most of those in England it is a rather dangerous argument.

    The SNP has been here before and it isn’t exactly rushing to hold a referendum.

    Euro-scepticism is nothing new either.

    The English nationalism is a new development as this is not a west lothian issue and I am not aware of any reason to believe that english opinion is anymore for or against this measure than Uk opinion so it wont feed it particularly.

    “clearly for many that is something the DUP have no say in”

    The realpolitik is the DUP do have a say along with every other MP. The DUP is not responsible for the ignorance of the UK political structures of this ‘many’. There have been MPs from here for over two centuries they should have noticed by now.

  • “Repeated polls show a substantial majority in favour. What evidence is there that it is unpopular?”

    Those polls were prior to the vote. Damian has pointed out that, with the debate much more publicised, there is contradictory evidence. David Davis has already garnered some success in tethering the specific 42 day debate to a wider argument about civil liberties which are foundational to United Kingdom.

    “to be determining matters of national significance is to play a full and constructive part. A dislike for the party involved or measure does not make it partial or unconstructive participation.”

    To vote at the last minute, having been seen to horse trade right up to that time, without clearly outlining party thinking on the matter and without actually making any contribution to the debate, is not to play a full and constructive part.

    “How does voting for a popular measure diminish Unionism’s reputation with the UK public?”

    Being perceived to vote without reference to the issues whilst attempting to extract regional advantage from a late declaration of support diminishes Northern Irish unionism’s reputation within the rest of the UK. Whether the DUP did this or not, the manner in which they conducted their negotiations, and their lack of constructive contribution to the debate, feeds the perception that they did.

    “Unionism has played a similar role on a number of occassions in recent political history without any identifiable harm, so what is different this time?”

    This debate is one which touches upon the very nature of British liberty and the DUP have shown themselves to have very little interest in the particulars of that fundamental debate.

    “To be honest it just reads as a purile claim for ideological superiority using hubris and feign rage.”

    Nonsense. Just because the DUP lack principles doesn’t mean that others should not maintain that they are important.

    “Making devolution a success and developing the private sector are not parochial. The UK government has spent the last 10 years (arguably more) aiming to achieve the first and I doubt they’d complain much about progress on the second either.”

    Continually attempting to extract hand-outs from the British government, using influence in important national debate as leverage, certainly is parochial and it serves only to undermine the Union.

  • fair_deal

    Chekov

    “Those polls were prior to the vote. Damian has pointed out that, with the debate much more publicised, there is contradictory evidence.”

    There is no contradictory evidence as the poll didn’t ask people for their views on 42 days, it asked about David Davis.

    His stand is perfectly admirable so public sympathy for his actions unsurprising. I personally was impressed and my sympathy grew when sections of his own party rounded on him.

    Also it is worth noting that David Davis is not restricting his campaign to 42 days but adding in a range of issues – ID cards DNA etc – were the civil liberties case is much more clear-cut and on ID cards were opinion is much more divided or opposed.

    Neither has 42 days been some proposal that has lacked coverage or headlines through its various stages.

    “To vote at the last minute”

    They voted at the same time as every other MP.

    “having been seen to horse trade right up to that time”

    It’s called politics, not always nice to watch but it’s how things sometimes get done. The old joke about making sausages and laws. If some can’t cope with it then they shouldn’t be in politics.

    “without clearly outlining party thinking on the matter and without actually making any contribution to the debate”

    Nigel Dodds issued a press statement a number of weeks ago outlining the approach the DUP intended to take.

    Also the government shifted its position so a definitive position couldn’t be taken on what was a shifting issue.

    Sammy Wilson contributed to the debate.

    “Being perceived to vote without reference to the issues ”

    Perceptions can be wrong.

    “This debate is one which touches upon the very nature of British liberty”

    So Maastricht Treaty had nothing to do with our state or liberties? The handing over of significant powers to Europe was a bauble? VAT on fuel hardly enamoured Unionism to the Uk public and lo and behold here we are still in the Union.

    “Just because the DUP lack principles doesn’t mean that others should not maintain that they are important.”

    Those voting for 42 days can have principles too there is no monopoly on principles.

    Also managing to get something additional for something you most likely have done anyway is not generally classed as failure.

    “certainly is parochial and it serves only to undermine the Union”

    How is the Union undermined by devolution working?
    How is the Union undermined by a stronger private sector and less dependency on the subvention?

    The Union is as safe today as it was a fortnight ago and if the DUP succeeds in its aims of devolution and reducing dependency on subvention succeed it should be even safer.

    Ultimately, in the age of 24 hour media you have either fallen for a media frenzy in the immediate aftermath of events as being somehow defining when it isn’t or simply jumped on the bandwagon as its bashing the DUP.

    The UK public will simply change the government (as it seems pretty intent on doing anyway) and 42 days will probably be repealed (although I wouldn’t be surprised if the Tories back-slide on 42 days somewhat but keep the promise on ID cards).

    It is longer-term and more straetgic issues that will shape the future of the Union not the 42 days vote.

  • FD

    ”There is no contradictory evidence as the poll didn’t ask people for their views on 42 days, it asked about David Davis.”

    The evidence is open to interpretation, as Damian patiently explained to you.

    “Also it is worth noting that David Davis is not restricting his campaign to 42 days but adding in a range of issues – ID cards DNA etc – were the civil liberties case is much more clear-cut and on ID cards were opinion is much more divided or opposed.”

    Davis has successfully linked 42 days to a whole gamut of civil liberties issues. That connection has been made and is not likely to be easily severed.

    “They voted at the same time as every other MP.”

    Ok. They did not declare their intention as to which way they might vote until the last minute. They did not even get involved in the debate or provide a reasoned analysis of the issues prior to voting.

    “It’s called politics, not always nice to watch but it’s how things sometimes get done. The old joke about making sausages and laws. If some can’t cope with it then they shouldn’t be in politics.”

    Politics is also presentation. The DUP didn’t have the wit to make it appear like they were actually interested in the issues. They were too busy conspicuously flaunting their new found influence. See Mrs Robinson’s gesture for an example.

    “Nigel Dodds issued a press statement a number of weeks ago outlining the approach the DUP intended to take.”

    Nigel Dodds made a statement to the effect that the DUP would vote in the best interests of the United Kingdom. The party’s actions subsequently gave the lie to this contention. The party did not properly participate in the debate.

    “Also the government shifted its position so a definitive position couldn’t be taken on what was a shifting issue.”

    They could at least have at least explained credibly their understanding of the issues.

    “Perceptions can be wrong.”

    But they also sometimes are more critical than facts, as the DUP well know and have exploited ad nauseum. Of course perceptions in this case are actually correct, although even if they weren’t the conspicuous manner in which the DUP went about whoring themselves, shows that critically the presentation was missing.

    “So Maastricht Treaty had nothing to do with our state or liberties? The handing over of significant powers to Europe was a bauble? VAT on fuel hardly enamoured Unionism to the Uk public and lo and behold here we are still in the Union.”

    Remaining in the Union, whilst simultaneously increasing ill-will is not a positive result. Actual unionists wish to strengthen the Union and participate in it.

    “How is the Union undermined by devolution working?
    How is the Union undermined by a stronger private sector and less dependency on the subvention?”

    Except that none of those things will actually result from the DUP’s antics. What may well result is more conspicuous bail-outs.

    “Ultimately, in the age of 24 hour media you have either fallen for a media frenzy in the immediate aftermath of events as being somehow defining when it isn’t or simply jumped on the bandwagon as its bashing the DUP.”

    I have done neither of those things. I have watched the DUP act completely in character and with total disregard for principle and I have not been one whit surprised. The DUPes are not a proper unionist party and they are not capable of transmitting a positive message about unionism.

  • Steve

    What nobody seems to be saying is that the popularity of 42 day detention is that people think it will be used exclusively against little brown people. Once the government has the power it is they who define what little brown people are.

    The DUP think it might be used against rogue elements of the CIRA OR RIRA but having granted the government and the police the power with out limits they have effectively reintroduced internment

  • Damian O’Loan

    FD,

    This London Lite poll, when I voted, was 60% against 42 days detention:

    http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/poll/poll-27998-details/ques-27509-id/Lite+poll:+42-day+detention/poll.do?answer=42986

    This Daily Mail poll shows that “significantly, eight out of 10 young voters say Mr Davis is right on this issue.” This is not because integrity is popular, because in contrast “nearly seven out of 10 say Mr Davis has acted in a principled way.”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/textbased/news/article-1026487/Poll-reveals-huge-public-support-David-Daviss-decision-force-election-Government-terror-laws.html

    We’ll have to disagree on the Independent poll. Certainly it made no mention of the wider civil issues debate, and deliberately excluded it from the question that asked only about 42 days. I would suggest you are reluctant to accept an inconvenient truth. There is disagreement on whether there is majority public support.

    You quoted Chekov as saying:

    “certainly is parochial and it serves only to undermine the Union”

    and replied:

    “How is the Union undermined by devolution working?
    How is the Union undermined by a stronger private sector and less dependency on the subvention?”

    when the assertion was, in fact:

    “To vote at the last minute, having been seen to horse trade right up to that time, without clearly outlining party thinking on the matter and without actually making any contribution to the debate, is not to play a full and constructive part. ”

    Again, you are deliberately misrepresenting things.

    You say “perceptions can be wrong.” Of course, but they dictate, in great part, party policies. It is reasonable to assume that the Tory policy department is looking into just how deep that resentment was to see if, for example, disfavouring NI in terms of the Barnett formula or elsewhere could be a vote-winner. That is how the DUP tactics may well have damaged NI economically.

    It will be very difficult now for Labour to hold its side of the deal and make gifts to NI without exacerbating the resentment in Britain, and England in particular. That means that the Union will be called into question, and the Tory motivation to disfavour NI will grow. The damage is not yet done altogether.

    They could have done the same, or similar, deals with the Tories to receive delayed payment on their election, voted against, and secured the Union for what will very possibly be two terms of Tory rule. Or announced their intentions a week before. They chose the wrong strategy, and Unionism and NI will pay the price.

  • fair_deal

    Chekov

    “The evidence is open to interpretation,”

    More like wishful thinking. When there is a poll asking the direct question and a majority state opposition you will have something and I will accept opinion has shifted.

    “Remaining in the Union, whilst simultaneously increasing ill-will is not a positive result.”

    “Ill-will” in the past imaginary or actual has had no lasting impact before and I don’t accept this case is any different.

    “Actual unionists wish to strengthen the Union and participate in it”

    Back to the unless you do what I agree with you aren’t a Unionist implications I see. Going to Westminster and voting in an issue of national importance is participation and pretty crucial participation.

    Being automatic lobby fodder for the tories in the past didn’t produce any waves of good-will or strengthening of the Union before.

    “They did not even get involved in the debate ”

    Sammy Wilson did get involved in the debate.

    Damian

    The first is a self-selecting poll so your cluthcing at straws on that one. The second is of Davis’s own constitunecy (“as the first opinion poll carried out in the constituency proves”) not of UK wide opinion.

    As with Chekov when there is a poll with the direct question showing a majority opposed I will fully accept opinion has shifted.

    ” you are deliberately misrepresenting things. ”

    Chekov made two assertions (on parochialism and the DUP’s behaviour in parliament) and I responded to both. Also the quotes I lifted directly and are accurate. On parochialism I argued:
    “Making devolution a success and developing the private sector are not parochial. The UK government has spent the last 10 years (arguably more) aiming to achieve the first and I doubt they’d complain much about progress on the second either.”
    Chekov simply repeated the charge of parochialism and did not address the aims i argue are served by this. I then repeated the points he had ignored/overlooked explicitly and then he replied to these specific points. So it was different point that was being debated.

    As for the quote you claim I was misrepresenting. I specifically addressed it in detail. See below:
    “To vote at the last minute”
    They voted at the same time as every other MP.
    “having been seen to horse trade right up to that time”
    It’s called politics, not always nice to watch but it’s how things sometimes get done. The old joke about making sausages and laws. If some can’t cope with it then they shouldn’t be in politics.
    “without clearly outlining party thinking on the matter and without actually making any contribution to the debate”
    Nigel Dodds issued a press statement a number of weeks ago outlining the approach the DUP intended to take.
    Also the government shifted its position so a definitive position couldn’t be taken on what was a shifting issue.
    Sammy Wilson contributed to the debate.”

    How correct quotes and direct responses becomes misrepresentation I cannot fathom, perhaps you misread.

    “That means that the Union will be called into question”

    While the debate about 42 days etc has continued to rage I have not seen any comparable debate about the Union emerge.

    “They could have done the same, or similar, deals with the Tories to receive delayed payment on their election”

    The Tories aren’t in a position to deliver with Brown likely to do a Major and cling on to the last possible moment. The rumoured issue bases will happened by the time the Tories get in government. Also trusting the Tories has proven to be a unrewarding approach in the past for Unionism (but that is politics too) hence why I said the DUP seem to have opted for a bird in the hand.