DUP announces Autumn push

Yesterday Peter Robinson announced a new three pronged strategy for the DUP commencing in the autumn. It intends to establish a British Unionist Academy with the tasks to:
“promote the unionist culture and the advantages of the Union; encourage unionist learning in the community and provide a forum for unionist strategising and policy-making”
The Academy will have a particular focus on young people. It will also establish a British Cultural and Equality Unit to provide legal advice to organisations and people fighting the removal of British emblems. This DUP will also commence a pro-active approach to selling the advantages of devolution. The intention is to reconnect with the grassroots and tackle issues around voter turnout.

  • RG Cuan

    Talk about paranoia and a siegementality!

  • DUP meets BNP?

  • Steve

    Hitler Youth anybody?

    LOL

  • dewi

    Wonderful. No initiative on changing the nature of the summer “celebrations”. Nothing on outreach. Just the same old “ourselves alone”. Depressing.

  • McGrath

    Some kind of / any kind of reach out to the wider nationalist community might be more effective, but no, its circle the wagons instead.

  • Turgon

    It will surprise few regulars here that I agree with Jim Allister that this may very well have a great deal more to do with distracting people from the realities of the DUP having gone into power sharing with SF and that the rest is probably window dressing.

    If, however, this produces some help for people trying to stop the removal of the likes of Mr. Massey’s statue that is to be welcomed.

    On the “unionist academy”, if Robinson is going to try to discuss these issues with broader unionism I hope he will be asking those who disagree with the current dispensation what they want.

    Ironically if he wishes to maximise unionist turn out and reduce non voting, having a party to the “right” of the new DUP position would seem logical; not necessarily what Robinson would want.

    The question remains: is this the latest tactic in Robinson’s internecine battle with the UUP and now the TUV as well or is this the beginnings of a strategy for improving the position of unionists?

    To those denouncing this move from a more nationalist perspective I would ask why? I accept that you may not be dying about people trying to stop the removal of British culture but if a party is trying to reconnect with and listen to its grass roots and the wider unionist community why is that akin to the Hitler Youth? How does asking your support base to get involved and asking them what they want preclude also reaching out to the other community?

    As I said though I am inclined to suspect it is simply the latest cunning wheeze from Dundela avenue to bash the UUP and TUV.

  • ggn

    I fail to see what business the likes of this is to any nationalist.

    It cant be surprising that they seek to promote unionism.

    As to the symbols debacles, the DUP can combine every legal genius they have but surely even this is unlikely to overturn Equality legislation.

  • EWI

    It intends to establish a British Unionist Academy with the tasks to: “promote the unionist culture and the advantages of the Union; encourage unionist learning in the community”

    Great. Bible studies all around!

  • Turgon @ 09:42 PM:

    Thank you, Turgon-the-Wise: we know and respect where you are coming from.

    It’s just that … well, “unionist academy”, particularly from the Robinsons (if not from the DUP altogether), seems an oxymoron. It smacks of “fighting for freedom” or “military intelligence” or “faith unfaithful kept him true”.

    Will there be diplomas and a graduation ceremony?

  • fair_deal

    Dewi

    “No initiative on changing the nature of the summer “celebrations”. ”

    The Loyal Orders are already working on that plus various local council initiatives as well.

    “Nothing on outreach. Just the same old “ourselves alone”. ”

    Outreach in a NI context can easily turn into patronising people. As SF’s programme has shown going along smiling nicely and re-iterating the party line in person doesn’t achieve anything for anybody.

    I don’t reject the notion of the idea but if it isn’t going to be done well and sensitively then it is pointless window-dressing.

    Turgon

    “is this the latest tactic in Robinson’s internecine battle with the UUP and now the TUV as well or is this the beginnings of a strategy for improving the position of unionists?”

    An understandable question but surely an unanswerable one, it is possible for the same idea to be applied to achieve different goals. It is the intent and implementation that evidence that and even then it may take time to determine.

    “why is that akin to the Hitler Youth?”

    Don’t feed the trolls

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Wonderful. No initiative on changing the nature of the summer “celebrations”. Nothing on outreach. Just the same old “ourselves alone”. Depressing.

    Posted by dewi on Jun 25, 2008 @ 09:25 PM…………………………………………

    DOH! Sinn Fein means “Ourselves Alone”, the slogan has sweet f.a. to do with the DUP or any other Unionist party! Perhaps you should stick with Wales’ constitutional politics, Dewi, as I have suggested in the past, rather than continually criticizing and making derogatory remarks about the community I come from and the politicians who represent my community. Are you so enamoured with your own politicians in Wales that they are above reproach and far superior to my local DUP representatives?

    Regarding the issue at hand, it all sounds well and good and could be an interesting initiative by the DUP, but I’ll believe it when I see it. To quote an age-old proverb;
    “The proof of the pudding is in the eating”.

    All these soundbites about the DUP wanting to “reconnect with the grassroots” are all nice, PR-friendly rhetoric, but actions are louder than words. I want DUP councillors/MLAs/MPs to show more of an interest in the loyalist communities that put them into power, rather than the handful of appearances they make that are suspiciously concentrated around Election Time.

  • pith

    “British Unionist Academy”. What a brilliant idea. With Professor Robinson in charge we will have an educational establishment to rival Oxbridge, Harvard and the Cuddly Cubs nursery school in Stewartstown.

    No doubt the “Painting Kerbstones” module will be very popular with the knowledge-hungry young students of British Ulster like as will the field trips to Clontibret.

  • Driftwood

    Laughable.
    The Alliance vote is there for the taking if ANYONE in unionism wants a broad consensus. And I know many people who vote UUP/DUP whatever who actually believe Alliance policies. Many decent Roman Catholics would vote for such a party also, rather than not vote and let PSF/PIRA in to power. The DUP and SF are almost mirror images, OK the DUP didn’t murder and maim the catholic population the way SF did against protestants, but they are both of negative mindsets. This DUP stuff is of the same calibre of SF rednecks.
    Embarrassing

  • who is running the asylum

    Laugh or cry …. it is the sheer and utter lack of imagination of this initiative that astounds. Rather than proactive engagement it is thought-police all round.

    and laughably who’ll be footing the bill… yep us taxpayers..

    Perhaps the Robinson-stasi might spend effort trying to get the offspring of their constituents into third level education … that is usually a good start to developing a society. That way they might see the world in more rounded terms than this entrenching in “Our Wee Country (World)”.

    However, it is significant that what at heart lies beneath this is that DUP and shades are realising that their populus are moving to an ambivilent stance more concerned with day to day living than trooping out to support a statelet. Hence the need for a year zero re-education approach…. what next rounding up and sending people to the (paddy)fields of Castlereagh and Antrim for cultural alignment. (Bet you in Peter and Iris’s feavered moments (no don’t imagine that kind of moment!) that is their dream).

  • The Raven

    All this talk of unionist non-voters…

    Would the more numerically-inclined amongst you know what the unionist non-turn-out is, when it comes to the last couple of elections? Roughly…? Ballpark figure..?

    Would anyone hazard a guess at how many of them, if so inclined to turn out, would actually vote for the DUP?

    I ask, out of interest only.

  • Quagmire

    “promote the unionist culture and the advantages of the Union”

    I thought the Union was safe? Thats what the DUP keep telling us. If it is safe, why then the need to highlight the advantages of the Union,if indeed any exist, and to whom do they purport to sell this message? Republican/nationalist voters? As for the Unionist culture, it shouldn’t be too hard to sell or learn i.e. it involves speaking in a Ballymena accent (Ulster-Scots), flag waving, Xenophobia and burning tyres, I wonder what our new environment minister thinks of the latter?

    “encourage unionist learning…”

    Don’t make me laugh!

    “unionist strategising and policy-making”

    Again I thought the Union was safe? Strategising for what then? In terms of policy making its quite evident what their policies are i.e. say no to anything that anyone else proposes because its better to live in the past than to embrace change.

  • observer

    Oh dear, those pesky unionists wont lie down and do what theyre told, maybe Gerry will have to pull the assembly down if they dont behave. Well, guess thats better than killing prods, a step up for nationalists anyway.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Dempster spouts:

    “It will offer a forum where DUP “policies can be formulated” but it will also be an educational vehicle.”

    This isn’t a Unionist academy, it’s a DUP academy. It’s nothing more than Turgon suggests. No pan Unionist establishment, just the DUP policy and press units with a fancy new name.

  • PeaceandJustice

    Concerned Loyalist – “I’ll believe it when I see it”

    I agree. The DUP have been very disappointing from a Unionist point of view. Is this yet another stunt without any substance? As you say, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating”.

  • Steve

    turgon

    I accept that you may not be dying about people trying to stop the removal of British culture but if a party is trying to reconnect with and listen to its grass roots and the wider unionist community why is that akin to the Hitler Youth?

    cause its not about reconnecting or listening to its grass roots its about training the grass roots to follow the party line like good little robots.

    get em early train em right

  • observer

    cause its not about reconnecting or listening to its grass roots its about training the grass roots to follow the party line like good little robots.

    get em early train em right
    Posted by Steve on Jun 25, 2008 @ 10:47 PM

    Oh you mean like the nationalist community who have loved their little terrorists so much they voted for them.

  • fair_deal

    Raven

    From memory about 40-50K regular UUP voters have disappeared in the past two/three elections and about 10K for the smaller Unionist parties seem to have disappeared too. The NI election website will give you the data in terms of broad figures rather than my late-night recollections. It is largely an east Ulster phenomenon.

    (IMPORTANT NOTE: The figures would generally indicate that turnout dip has not had a detrimental impact on the DUP but there is a chance that its vote has been similarly effected but the transfers of voters from other parties has masked this)

    The most recent high tide mark for Unionism was the Westminster election in 2001. This is when competition between the two main Unionist parties was at its height. It also constituted a reversal of previous trends of decline. The high degree of competition meant both parties launched very strong campaigning and it resulted in better turnout.

    There seems to be anecdotal stuff that the failure to run propoer registration campiagns had something of an depressing impact in the 07 Assembly election.

    “Would anyone hazard a guess at how many of them, if so inclined to turn out, would actually vote for the DUP?”

    Anyone who tries to answer that is a fraud. All we know is that they used to vote who they used to vote for and where they were. Age? Social Class? Left or Right of Unionism? Nobody has the first clue and neither has anyone bothered to research it.

  • Steve

    Not at all Observer

    You havent been very observant if you believe that, they vote for them because they deliver for that community better than all the others combined. Its actually the unionists that have the best chance of driving down the shinner vote, by moving into the 20th century and trying to establish an egalitarean society they would destroy the protest vote. Can’t even imagine what would happen if the Unionists made it all the way to the 21st century

    How many nationalists hold their nose when they vote because they know a vote for the SDLP is a vote down the crapper

    I really wish the SDLP would become more militantly nationalist and challenge the shinners. problem is where do the garden centre catholics go, Alliance?

    If the SDLP ever really want to make in roads and get their vote back then they need to become militantly nationalist and lose the stoop down low party image. Durkan seems to be catching on as his rhetoric is starting to show some spine, except he needs to quit solely attacking the shinners and start in on the unionists.

    Atleast now the chances of a militant nationalist being visited by a government death squad are relatively slight.

  • Peat Blog

    When I first read the title I thought it said putsch. Phew!

  • Peat Blog

    Will the academy be in Cookstown? Sorry, that’s Police Academy.

  • Eireannach Saolta

    Observer Im questioning you again as you didnt respond to the following post earlier.

    Observer who do you vote for?

    Is it a DUP MLA. Sammy Wilson who opened a UVF arch for all those years ago
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/817946.stm. You havent seen the pictures of Peter Robinson have you not or how about his good old days in Ulster resistance. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulster_Resistance

    Is it the UUP. Weren’t Reg and Trimbe in that loyalist terrorist party the Vanguard Unionist Progressive Party all those years ago.

    Using your pronouncement the unionist electorate has consitently been voting for terrosists all these years

  • Dewi

    CL

    “DOH! Sinn Fein means “Ourselves Alone”

    hmmm perhaps, just perhaps I knew that already..

    “Are you so enamoured with your own politicians in Wales that they are above reproach and far superior to my local DUP representatives?”

    Not at all above reproach but, yes, far superior to your DUP representatives.

    FD
    ““No initiative on changing the nature of the summer “celebrations”. “

    The Loyal Orders are already working on that plus various local council initiatives as well.”

    As far as I can make it out the Loyal Orders are planning an increased celebration in traditional style this year. I’d be delighted to hear the detail of plans to reduce intensity.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Not at all above reproach but, yes, far superior to your DUP representatives.
    Posted by Dewi on Jun 25, 2008 @ 11:42 PM

    Go on, enlighten me. In what way are your Taffy politicians superior, or are you just spouting off holier-than-thou bullshit from your supposed moral high-ground?

  • interested

    Turgon,
    “Ironically if he wishes to maximise unionist turn out and reduce non voting, having a party to the “right” of the new DUP position would seem logical; not necessarily what Robinson would want.”

    Why? That logic implies that its actually necessary also to have a party to the ‘right’ of the TUV (or maybe that’s already happening with the problems there) ad infinitum.

    The argument you advance is simply attempting to give the TUV a reason for being. Mind you, I suppose its at least comforting that there is something you agree with Jim on – at least there’s someone in the TUV who doesn’t think he’s gone soft.

    In fairness though you have at least given it an opportunity to do something before judging it. I do believe that it will obviously have to take in different views within unionism if its going to actually advance the entire unionist community. However, I would imagine that would also require the different views within unionism to be represented in line with the actual support there is for them within the community… (and not just Dromore).

    Concerned Loyalist,
    I take your point about politicians needing to be on the ground and not just at election time. But what specifics do you suggest? I ask this as a genuine question – they all (or most anyway) have full-time offices in their constituencies so you can certainly avail of help should you need it.

    Is it simply for them to turn up and glad-hand the locals at a few events or something more? Whilst politicians no doubt may need to “be on the ground” is there also a need for us all to take a re-think on what the role of a politician is, particularly once you get to the level of MLA or MP? Its all well and good for the local Cllr to be out pointing at potholes in the street, but is the job of a legislator not at least partly to be bringing forward legislation which helps the community, working-class loyalist obviously included.?

  • Dewi

    “Go on, enlighten me. In what way are your Taffy politicians superior, or are you just spouting off holier-than-thou bullshit from your supposed moral high-ground?”

    No moral high ground or holier than thou stuff at all. Just DUP in government have paid no recognition at all to satisfying any element of the continuum of nationalist aspirations whatsoever – which in my immoral unholy view is politically foolish. If you sign up to a shared future then at least make an effort.

  • Dewi

    On a more general point on politicians in all our “peripheral” devolved instututions – My greatest concern is that the lack of real economic power / responsibility leads to a skill set gap amongst this generation of politicians.

    Euskadi pushing economic re-generation – I think we are all a bit behind.

  • Billy

    The main advantage of the Union is an easy sell – you get to sponge off the UK Exchequer to the tune of billions each year without having to do anything!

    Unfortunately for Unionists, the UK govt and electorate have finally got wise to subsidising the North and are eager to let the RoI govt take on an increasing amount of this burden – along with the considerable and increasing influence that they have in the running of the North.

    The real danger to the Union between GB + the North lies in the very small and decreasing support for it in GB.

    The DUP’s mission is to convince the GB govt and people that it’s in their best interests to keep wasting billions each year on a bunch of ingrates in the North who produce nothing but bad publicity for GB and constantly whinge for even more public money to support their basket case economy.

    Good luck with that!

  • The Raven

    Uh-oh…I smell another side-trip into “sack-the-public-sector” territory….

  • Rory

    The arts and literature syllabus of the new academy should spark some interest. And what, I wonder, will feature as core reading in philosophy – the thoughts of Michael Stone perhaps?

    Anyway I suppose it is necessary that unionists who have been tainted by Republican propaganda – such as those who dangerously expose their minds to Slugger – should be sent off to re-education camps to turn them back into well behaved little troglodytes.

  • A ‘Unionist Academy’? Surely a contradiction in terms! The more you learn, the less you would want to be a unionist – that is if they’re actually teaching what unionism, as practiced in NI, is, a fairly corrupt ‘political philosophy’ predicated on inequality, divisiveness, lack of respect for ‘otherness’.

    If Unionists really want to find out about NI culture, they should go to the Cultúrlann…. where they will find Ulster Gaelic being spoken…..and celebrated.

    I wonder, as part of his academy, is Professor Robinson going to have an outreach programme to teach nationalists the advantages of the Union?

  • kensei

    Hmmm. If it was a think tank I could understand: both sides could probably do with some intellectual foundation and research to flesh out policy (including the advantages of their constitutional position) and throw out some new ideas.

    But this doesn’t seem anything like that. Gut reaction: stupid. “British Unionist Academy”? Why not “British Unionist Academy NI UK”? Perhaps they could get permission for Liz to “Royal British Unionist Academy NI UK”. It just seems ridiculous.

  • Over Here

    “unionist culture ” why dont they site it in Stoneyford or after the recent monies have they already started !!

  • POL

    Who foots the bill for this? surely not the tax payer.Surely not the nationalist tax payer. Bit like turkeys clapping for christmas.

  • Rabelais

    To be fair there perhaps was once a good argument to be made for the union, the problem was that Ulster Unionists never made it very effectively, if at all. But maybe it’s important to make a distinction between Ulster Unionism and British unionism, which until contemporary times was something most people in England, Scotalnd and Wales seemed to adhere to. However, the DUP’s British Unionist Academy looks like it has come too late. I think it will only take another Tory government in London and the Scots will call time on Great Britain. If that happens, the DUP’s proposal will look more like a Little Britain Academy?

  • willowfield

    Nobody has the first clue and neither has anyone bothered to research it.

    Indeed.

    This should be the priority for unionist planners ahead of an “academy”.

  • pith

    Rory,

    Stone is doing the Drama courses. Philosophy will be based on Mrs Robinson’s writings in the Belfast Newsletter. Dr Poots will be heading up the Science Department. Time to get that essay in on the origins of the Giant’s Causeway. How much would 50p-shaped bricks have been at B&Q;in Noah’s time?

  • willowfield

    “News Letter” is two words, not one.

  • pacman

    “If that happens, the DUP’s proposal will look more like a Little Britain Academy?”

    Surely not? What happens if “the only gay in the village” turns up?

  • ggn

    Still dont get why people are animated bout this.

    The DUP set up an internal committee to promote unionism (do they need to promote unionism whithin the DUP?). That’s all.

    They call it an ‘academy’, clearly ignorant of the fact that popular cultural has case a decline in the meaning of the world. Big deal.

    It is not as if they even claim that it is something to do with teaching Catholics the benefits of unionism.

    Maybe I am missing something here?

  • darth rumsfeld

    hopefully they won’t site the academy in Tyrone where all the thick people come from…

  • malteser

    It’s Hogwarts! Even the DUP need a little magic sometimes. I think I see Professor Snape coming..

  • Bigger Picture

    malteser

    I’d love it to be Hogwarts!! That would be fantastic I finished reading the last book last summer, missing it like crazy.

    Potter-Robinson
    Dumbeldore-Paisley
    Ron-Dodds
    Hermione-Michelle McIlveen
    Snape- Paisley Jnr
    Draco Malfoy- Poots
    Hagrid-Alan Bresland
    McGonagle-Iris

    A fine cast!!!

  • Bigger Picture

    Darth

    Does Omagh not have an academy?!

  • RG Cuan

    Sinn Féin means “Ourselves Alone”

    It actually doesn’t, it means “We, ourselves”.

    And SF were founded over 100 years ago when maybe the name of the party meant something. They probably could change it to better suit today’s broader look on society.

  • Seimi

    ‘The DUP set up an internal committee to promote unionism (do they need to promote unionism whithin the DUP?). That’s all.’

    Perhaps the DUP are afraid that unionism doesn’t mean the same to unionists, especially young unionists, as it does to them?

    Perhaps these young unionists are (oh no!) just like other young people in the north? Whose main aspirations are – to finish school, get a job, meet a soulmate (or at least a mate!), live a good life, live in a peaceful, law-abiding society?

    Perhaps the DUP feel that these people should be re-educated? To ‘know’ that it is their ‘right’ to march wherever they please; to ridicule another (and older) culture and language in this area; to call anyone’s sexual lifstyle, which does not sit comfortably within the confines of an ancient book, an ‘abomination; to laugh at anyone who doesn’t believe the actual age of the planet, based on this same book…etc etc…

    If this ‘academy’ is being set up to instil in these people, and especially the young people, an understanding of, and a pride in, their Irishness/Britishness and their place in society in the north of Ireland, then it should be welcomed and encouraged. If, however, it is set up to continue the DUP’s current line of thinking, then it should be ignored, while the rest of society here gets on with life.

  • Where does this leave the £12m Ulster Scots Academy, established as an ‘equality measure’ for the Irish Language Broadcast Fund? Or are they going to be one and the same thing, this British Unionist Academy and the Ulster Scots Academy?

    And how long will the likes of the DUP go on with this lying hypocrisy, that somehow they were the oppressed people in the north?

    It must have been so oppressing on them to have bear the brunt of the opprobium of those who believe that they are actually the oppressors!

  • perry patetic

    “It must have been so oppressing on them to have bear the brunt of the opprobium of those who believe that they are actually the oppressors!”

    Maybe they’re just preparing for your eventual and inevitable triumph Con by putting in some of the infrastructure that republican movement has used to maintain the selfhood of its people all these years.

    Given your confidence perhaps you should be more magnanimous.

    I note you haven’t asked for the removal of your Rat Smallwoods scoop yet from the Paisley movie thread. Do you still stand by it?

  • ZoonPol

    As someone said before it smells like being a Machiavellian ploy in instilling into the unionist community an ideologue that is compatible with DUP thinking and no other – dare I agree with the earlier post that strands of its thinking parallels with that of the Hitler Youth circa 1920s. It may be argued that a person can not automatically be proud of a country that he or she had no choice in being born into but surely this is not the way forward.

  • This should be known as the Ulster Nationalist Academy. It’s just the flip side of SF’s view of culture and identity, as I’ve outlined on 3000 Versts.

  • Rory

    This poem – The Fairies by Ballyshannon man William Allingham might be included on the syllabus. It has the requisite air of paranoia and the reference to “the old King” in the second stanza might well refer to Hewhosenamemustnotnowbespoken. I give you the first two stanzas below. For further details of all of Allingham’s work try here:

    http://www.mirrorservice.org/sites/ftp.ibiblio.org/pub/docs/books/gutenberg/1/6/8/3/16839/16839-h/16839-h.htm#THE_FAIRIES

    The Fairies by William Allingham

    Up the airy mountain,
    Down the rushy glen,
    We daren’t go a-hunting
    For fear of little men;
    Wee folk, good folk,
    Trooping all together;
    Green jacket, red cap,
    And white owl’s feather!
    Down along the rocky shore
    Some make their home,
    They live on crispy pancakes
    Of yellow tide-foam;
    Some in the reeds
    Of the black mountain lake,
    With frogs for their watch-dogs,
    All night awake.

    High on the hill-top
    The old King sits;
    He is now so old and gray
    He’s nigh lost his wits.
    With a bridge of white mist
    Columbkill he crosses,
    On his stately journeys
    From Slieveleague to Rosses;
    Or going up with music
    On cold starry nights,
    To sup with the Queen
    Of the gay Northern Lights.

  • “The arts and literature syllabus of the new academy should spark some interest. And what, I wonder, will feature as core reading in philosophy – the thoughts of Michael Stone perhaps?

    Anyway I suppose it is necessary that unionists who have been tainted by Republican propaganda – such as those who dangerously expose their minds to Slugger – should be sent off to re-education camps to turn them back into well behaved little troglodytes.”

    Another of Rory’s collection of transferable ‘unionists are unthinking, repressed, cultureless bigots, whereas nationalists are creative, cultured and tolerant’ posts. How comforting it must be to live in his world of easy cliché.

  • BonarLaw

    Dewi

    “Not at all above reproach but, yes, far superior to your DUP representatives”

    What a shame that you missed your First Ministers’ turn at Paisleys’ fair well bash. If you had I rather suspect you would not have posted the above.

    BTW why does Rhodri sound so much less Whitchurch outside Wales?

  • An important issue is being entirely overlooked here:

    Will unionists have to take a transfer test to get into this Academy?

  • malteser

    Bigger picture

    Potter-Robinson
    Dumbeldore-Paisley
    Ron-Dodds
    Hermione-Michelle McIlveen
    Snape- Paisley Jnr
    Draco Malfoy- Poots
    Hagrid-Alan Bresland
    McGonagle-Iris

    A fine cast indeed, BP. I like it! One tiny snag…JK Rowling recently revealed that Dumbledore was gay…

  • Greenflag

    As if three summer months of beating drums and waving flags and Purple and Black Preceptories and Orange marches and still the ‘faithful’ need to be ‘reminded ‘ how ‘British ‘ they are?

    Are we talking here perhaps of a mass outbreak of short attention span deficit syndrome among Unionists ? or is this just further evidence of the fact that when unionism digs deep into it’s bag of ‘creative ideas’ for maintaining the Union they can’t find anything else ?

    SF will be delighted . What better way to shore up support from any potential flagging support for their cause than a NEWER than NEW NEW BRITISH UNIONIST REVIVAL .

    In the land of no opposition party the citizens will now be fed not by good governance but by ritual , games and circus . The Political Year will spark off with an extended EASTER AWARENESS SEASON – February through MAY featuring an increasingly GREENER than ever St Patrick . Nationalists and Republicans will act as ‘winners’ whereas Unionists will be restricted to bad mouthed off stage asides . The unseen as unclean .From June to August will be the Orange Marching Season followed by the newly extended British Unionist Awareness Months of September through October . Following which November will be the Month of the DEAD where locals will remember the dead of world wars and each community will accuse the other of not being killed in sufficient numbers for the ’cause’ of small nations to govern themselves even though well never mind better not go there .

    Christmas will bring a short few weeks of relief from all of the ‘national awareness re awakening months ‘ and the population will once again return to belief in Santa Claus who will as always come down the chimney with his 6 billion in subvention money so that the circus can continue for another year :(.

    And then it’s time again for ‘Springtime for SF in Ireland ‘ Irland uber alles once again 🙂

    Maybe someone should make a cartoon of the Northern Ireland Political Year.

    Village idiots of the world beware -there’s an entire country /province /region that covet’s the world championship in village idiocy 🙁

  • George

    “British Unionist Academy” sounds like something the UUP would have come up with a couple of years ago. Those “simply British” days are here again. How I missed them.

    Doesn’t matter what your plan actually does or is meant to do, just make sure you get “British” and if possible “Unionist” in the title.

    This, to me, is an indication of the bankruptcy of thought within the DUP.

  • Actually there’s nothing in the actual News Letter article to suggest the think-tank will be called the British Unionist Academy, it simply calls it a ‘Unionist Academy’. There is also to be a British Cultural and Equality Unit within this academy. Perhaps Fair Deal has additional information that it will be known as the British Unionist Academy, but otherwise we must assume that Unionist Academy is the correct title.

  • Rory

    Will they emulate Eton and Harrow in matters of dress code I wonder?

    What dress code would readers deem most appropriate for students of this august new academy? Bowlers and collarettes de rigeur possibly? Any other suggestions?

    And,(just to reinforce Chekov’s sense of grievance): Will a standard of literacy be imposed upon aspirant students?

  • pacman

    “Will they emulate Eton and Harrow in matters of dress code I wonder?”

    I wonder what Iris will make of “fagging” and if there’s a passage in the Bible to decry the practice?

  • Greenflag

    Rory,

    ‘Will a standard of literacy be imposed upon aspirant students? ‘

    Each applicant will have to have been a member of his local library for at least a year and will have to provide a notarised document from his local librarian stating that said applicant has read all the major works of English literature.

    Applicants who come from homes with only one book i.e the Bible even if they have read it from back to front will not qualify for a place as this would be proof positive of distinctly unbritish behaviour .

    Catholic /Nationalist /Republican applicants will only be accpted for Unionist indoctrination if they agree to wave the Union Jack enthusiastically on the Falls Road between July 1st and July 12th .

    Fish and chip eaters are of course always welcome !

  • fair_deal

    All

    Error corrected in academy name, apologies.

  • fionn

    willow,

    thank you for proving paul’s remark (number 10) over on …

    Stoneyford campaign against catholics continues

    …right on the money paul.

    now, turgon, any comment? peace and justice, anything to say on that thread?

    any unionist care to comment?

    *not holding breath*

  • Peat Blog

    What will the entrance plan be for this new academy? I think the 11+ might be too hard.

    Will Norman Tebit be the honorary chancellor?

  • RG Cuan

    Will a standard of literacy be imposed upon aspirant students?

    Yes, none of that Ulster Scots gibberish please, we only speak the good and loyal Queen’s English at the Unionist Academy.

  • perry patetic

    Hi Chekov,

    Went to your website but I was a bit taken aback by “modern secular unionism”. Not that I think there’s much wrong in theory – I just wonder who’s pushing it in practice and whether failure to constitutionally accomodate Irish nationlism (and I mean joint sovereignty) is sufficiently pluralist to make the grade.

    Today on the Albertbridge Rd there are union jack banners advertising UUP MLA’s alongside the traditional July bunting and posters for “Crown and Bible” lectures from the Orange and Purple something or other. It doesn’t look to me like the UUP is making any great efforts to realise a secular pluralist vision.

  • Rory

    Having had a laugh (as one must at the very idea) it is perhaps time to get serious on this latest proposal. If this proposed academy is intended to “advance unionism” then we are obliged to ask what “advancing unionism” really might mean and what import such advancement of unionism might have on other “non-unionist” citizens within the area.

    Since the world and his wife are long of the understanding that Ulster unionism (like US southern Jim Crow dixiecracy or South African apartheid) could only survive on the continued promise of the supression of “the other” upon which its own support depended then, given the acceptance of unionism at the GFA of an end to all that and the consolidation of that acceptance
    at St Andrew’s we must ask what possibly can “unionist advance” mean?

    This is an important question – more important for traditional – especially traditional working class supporters – of unionism to whom unionist advantage meant only that they were persuaded that they held (and would continue to hold) an advantage over Catholics. Despite the DUP’s protestations at the ending of such hegemony (perceived or otherwise), with the GFA its leaders readily signed up to it at St Andrew’s and are all too aware that there can never be such advantage again except that obtained through corruption and manipulation at local and personal ministerial level (which is the pork barrel at which all provincial politicos everywhere are allowed to snuffle – it keeps them quiescent while the big hogs in the capital get to really feed).

    This ploy is of course simply “a Big Lie” aimed at quieting their political base, much as Tories roll out hanging and flogging at conference perennially.

    The delegates at Tory conferences at least know that the platform bollocks is a lie but lap it up for emotional value and hope that their enthusiasm on-camera will seduce the bloodthirsty unwashed and allow the possibilty of government that ensures lower taxes for all but the unwashed. I do not suppose that it is fair that we ask that the great protestant unwashed of NI be any more astute than those of Romford – but, God, I really hope that they prove to so be.

  • annie gram

    Interesting that YON SUITED MANIAC Peter Robinson anounces the UNIONIST ACADEMY.

  • abucs

    As a British Unionist party i think it makes a lot of sense, especially if they can manage to make it a-political and allow the UUP to feel it is just as much their academy as the DUP’s – that would be best for unionism.

    At the moment there doesn’t seem to be many political vehicles for pan Unionism.

    Of course how it develops, and how it sees itself, and how it relates to nationalism will determine if it’s a success.

    I wish it well.

  • ZoonPol

    Last night on Question Time (BBC1) a member of the audience asked of a government MP whose husband is also in the government if they both claim their full allowances for the second property they must, one can only presume share at Westminster. This got me thinking:
    Does an MP not have to live within their constituency so the idea of ‘married’ MPs undermines the fabric of that institution, as they must live apart by definition and as public representatives for differing constituencies it adds to franks debates at meal times….
    Another matter, which is more specific to our Assembly, is that of Mr and Mrs Robinson MPs. Do they have the same moral arrangement at Westminster – only claim half of their allowance? Surely, there must be a by-election as the First Minister cannot be in two places at once? I was just on his Web and noticed that he is ‘selling’ books on behalf and by his wife. Is this lawful?

  • I just wonder who’s pushing it in practice and whether failure to constitutionally accomodate Irish nationlism (and I mean joint sovereignty) is sufficiently pluralist to make the grade.

    I think you seem to have a basic misunderstanding about the meaning of the term ‘unionist’. The term ‘unionist’ implies a belief in upholding the Union. No unionist, whether secular or otherwise, advocates joint sovereignty.

  • perry patetic

    “No unionist, whether secular or otherwise, advocates joint sovereignty.”

    Thanks Chekov. Nice clear blue water between your position and mine then. Looks like unionists like yourself will have to continue to use the marching season as an advertising opportunity then. You’re certainly not trying to appeal to genuinely secular and pluralist prods, let alone nationalists.

    Anyway, the union’s a constitutional device, evolving all the time. The UK parliament already restricts its own sovereignty with through european legislation and conventions on human rights. Permitting the Irish President or their delegate a counter signatory on NI legislation (doing no more than ensuring it’s enacted in line with an NI constitution) wouldn’t be the end of the union – anymore than accepting both the union jack and the tricolour as joint symbols of the Northern Irish state. It might even be the securing of it.

  • ggn

    As a matter of interest.

    Would there be many unionists who would like to develope unionism to the point that they could actually make NI an attractive place for nationalists?

    At the moment, the DUP revel in the fact that nationalists are uncomfortable in NI and celebrate the fact that they are out protesting for cultural rights etc, rights which would be automatic in Britan and frankly would be seen as British values by non-Ulster British people.

    It seems to me that by maximising the discomfort of Nationalist in Northern Ireland, by attacking their education system, sports, language, music etc. that unionists are simply ensuring that nationalists, even very moderate ones will continue to vote for parties advocating a united Ireland.

    The marriage of religon and unionism is also a mystery really. I mean, one could be a British war hero but if one was a Catholic, it would hardly be expected that ones x would appear beside the DUP.

    I often feel that the DUP are working towards repartition and a homogenous protestant mini-State. Maybe that perception is off the wall?

  • Looks like unionists like yourself will have to continue to use the marching season as an advertising opportunity then. You’re certainly not trying to appeal to genuinely secular and pluralist prods, let alone nationalists.

    I can’t comment on the specific advertisements to which you refer as I haven’t seen them. I’ll keep a look out. The unionism which I believe in tolerates a plurality of identities and cultures within the United Kingdom. It cherishes the diversity of that Kingdom and draws its unionism from a belief that the UK best protects the freedoms which promote that diversity. It certainly does not repudiate symbols of that Kingdom. It certainly does not compromise the official status of that Kingdom’s symbols by conferring the same status on symbols of another state. It also values a divergent range of cultures which exist within the UK, which includes the Ulster protestant marching tradition, as well as traditions that would be considered Catholic or Irish.

  • rabelais

    “Would there be many unionists who would like to develope unionism to the point that they could actually make NI an attractive place for nationalists?”

    Now there’s an interesting idea. Pitty someone hadn’t thought of that at the time of the Government of Ireland Act, or even earlier.

    Imagine if nationalist/catholic alienation in the Northern state and, in some sections, virilent hostility to it had enountered generousity and understanding from the unionist majority….

    Too late now, but it’ll be something for the DUP Academy to think about – what if? “What if we’d actually embraced a modern, secular and multicultural vision of Britain?”

    And while the DUP are at that the Sinner’s can reflect upon how 30 odd years of violence did bugger all to overcome political divisions in Ireland. One day might we live in a single constitutional entity but will we be anymore ‘unitied’ in any meaningful sense given the bitterness and polarisation than is frequently displayed on these pages?

    Unionism/loyalism and national/republicanism don’t do self-reflection very well and we’re all the poorer for it. If the DUP’s Academy was a genuine attempt to re-think northern politics that might be very welcome. As it is a I suspect it will be another attempt to resurrect the politically undead.

  • perry patetic

    I sometimes get a bit frustrated with the Alliance party’s sniffyness on constitutional tinkering and symbols. Generally the approach seems to be, fix society with integrated education and good manners and then worry about high falutin’ constitutional stuff. There also seems to be a snooty liberal contempt for identity reinforcing bunting of all varieties – unionist or nationalist.

    I think this comes across as a bit self-indulgent and it leaves Alliance open to accusations that it’s really just a party of blow-ins with funny accents who either don’t get Northern Ireland or who do but have contempt for its traditions. If you wanted to be really nasty you could say that this is epitomised by the hand wringing social worker than leads it.

    This is of course unfair, but it’s an accusation that’s levied both from the loyalist side and by bizarrely antagonistic nutjobs like Brian Feeney.

    So. Should Alliance deal with these issues or just keep dodging/ignoring them? What if Alliance tried a more radical route and perhaps one consistent with the integrated schooling approach, and advocated, or at least expressed comfort with, joint sovereignty?

    What if they also decided that the way forward on symbols was mutual esteem rather than neutrality (or just a vacuum) and started flying the Union Jack, Tricolour and European Flag outside University Street?

    What if they made more of Irish liberalism and had more Irish TD’s up to the party conference – maybe even taking FF’s interest in the European Liberal Group on trust as well as the usual contacts with the PD’s?

    Would they pick up more votes/transfers than they’d lose or the reverse?

    We need more stories like Glentoran’s release of Shane McCabe to go and play for Fermanagh in the Ulster final. Can’t get a better example of two traditions/northern irish regions constructively intertwined without dilution than that.

  • rabelais

    perry,
    I don’t see what the Alliance Party hope to achieve in the middle of the road, other than get consistently run over. As you point out, its pretty negative position on all things constitutional and cultural (bunting etc) really doesn’t amount to much. In a sense their position seems to me like trying to ignore the elephant in your living room by rearranging the furniture. In short, they’re pretty irrelevant.

    On the other hand, are the DUP really engaging with constitutional ‘realities’? It might not go down well with the party faithful but at some point unionism generally is going to have to start takling seriously about what happens if the Scots leave the UK. They also need to start talking about what the precious questions of national sovereignty and the constitution mean in a period when the EU and globalisation are changing the role of the state. Another celebration of Empire is an utterly inadequate response to this.

    Here’s a thought. Why do you think the troubles ended? Was it:
    a) because everybody wised up and came to their collective senses?
    or
    b) entering the 21st century, Ulster unionism and Irish nationalism were politically and intellectual exhausted and increasing redundant in there contemporary forms. Better to park old animosities for a while and work at reconstituting them in terms fitting the new world order. Cue endless arguments and disputes about language and culture.

  • perry patetic

    Rab,

    A bit of both myself but perhaps more on option “b”.

    From another perspective the IRA seemed to have increasingly bad luck and poor PR from the Enniskillen bomb, the Lisburn fun runners, the Deal musicians, the Teebane brickies, Warrington children, the Shankill Rd – everything just seemed to go shite for the IRA from 1987 onwards.

    I remember being at a rally in Hyde Park after the Warrington bomb. Gerry had advised republicans to go along and hand out some educational material to show that the British were also guilty of killing children whether through mistake or excess. The reaction from the London Irish community was neither restrained nor muted. Gerry’s messengers clearly looked uncomfortable and you had a sense of people asked to defend the indefensible. There’s got to be a limit to the reassurance that you’re on the right track available from backslapping in the Felons’ and An Phoblacht’s editorials. I think Gerry met John Hume through Fr Alex Reid just after that and then he had the Shankill Rd bomb to reinforce that drift towards constitutionalism.

    You also had Margaret Thatcher’s resignation in 1990 so the face of the British Government had changed. I’m not sure what importance Republicans attached to dealing with a labour, rather than a Tory government but there was that prospect too.

    Here’s another question. The SDLP are flirting with FF merger. Should they be looking instead at Alliance? We’re a small jurisdication. We already have a new-left nationalist party and a reactionary conservative unionist party. The natural gap and maybe the only alternative with real econcomy of scale might be integrationist liberal pluralism? “Stronger Together”, as the dual-nation, aboriginal culture repecting Canadian Liberals say.

  • rabelais

    Perry,
    My own preference is for a socialist revolution but the sun set on that idea some time before I was born. Still, intergrationist liberal pluralism will do just as well for me to complain and rage against as the present political options. Ahh, enternal opposition is splended.

    To be frank though, the problem with all communalist politics is that they’re all over the political spectrum. I take it you are referring to SF as a new-left party and the DUP as conservative, reactionary, yet neither party are consistent or homogeneous. And the ‘garden centre’ middle class that might vote for an SDLP/Alliance alliance (if you will) have periodically gone electorally AWOL. In any case, how liberal are North Down and South Belfast?

    No, I suspect we can expect more of the ‘dreery steeples’ whatever the economic and global weather. Let’s be honest, the Agreement was only partly about bringing about some sort of political accord between unionism and nationalism. Otherwise it was about making NI fit for business and bugger the proles on the Falls and Shankill who are probably still waiting for the peace dividend.

  • RG Cuan

    Interesting posts fellas.

    I think that there is definite potential in the current barren, central ground supposedly manned by Alliance, some in the SDLP and maybe some in the UUP.

    Nobody will buy a neutral, soulless middle-ground message but i’m sure many would identify with a more encompassing approach which better reflects the realities of modern NI.

    Union Jack, Tricolour and EU stars – why not?

  • rabelais

    Could I propose something a little more rouge?

    No?

    I’ll get me coat.

  • Maybe what the middle ground should ACTUALLY be doing is upholding the principle of consent and insisting that the electorate will determine any constitutional change and any subsequent change in the status of symbols.

  • rabelais

    Does anyone care what the middle ground does? Large numbers of them don’t bother to vote and to be honest, Chekov, aren’t you tilting a windmills a bit here. The thing about the middle ground in NI is that it is entirely consensual. Unless, of course, by consent you mean old fashioned majoritarianism. In which case, why didn’t you say so?

  • perry

    Don’t think of it as caving in to bourgeois liberalism Rab. Think of it as chivvying NI along the materialist dialectic. You’ve got to shake off the old anachronisms y’know. We’ll get to your socialist utopia in good time.

    And if you don’t like “liberal” you can alway try “integrationist”. It has a more rebellious 60’s south kind of vibe.

    Thanks for the endorsement RG. I wonder can we persuade the Con Club to fly a tricolour as part of the July festivities. The Newtownards Road is becoming much more tolerant of the republican standard. We even arrange our recycling bins in jaunty fenian manner.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jameswhorriskey/2564690888/

  • perry

    “Maybe what the middle ground should ACTUALLY be doing is upholding the principle of consent and insisting that the electorate will determine any constitutional change and any subsequent change in the status of symbols.”

    So the job of the United Community parties is to defend the constitutional preferences of the Unionist Parties?

    What if we applied an alternative vote methodology to constitutional preference and found the the only 51% winner (probably nearer 100% on second choice I’d wager) was joint sovereignty. Would you become a champion of that consensus?

  • rabelais

    If joint sovereignty is a step on the road to socialism it gets my vote. On the other hand, this intergrationist idea sounds like it might get me there quicker. But if I go for one and not the other will they say I’m a left-wing opportunist (or worse, an entrist) DOH! I just can’t decide.

    Oh, whatever it you do I’m agin it!

  • Peat Blog

    What about national socialism? I’ll get my jack-boots…

    On a more serious note. Has the DUP ever thought of standing for election in GB? It strikes me that if the BNP and Greens can defeat labour in a by-election then maybe they should also have a go as a Britisher than the British party.

    What about standing against David Davis?

  • Greenflag

    ggn,

    ‘It seems to me that by maximising the discomfort of Nationalist in Northern Ireland, by attacking their education system, sports, language, music etc. that unionists are simply ensuring that nationalists, even very moderate ones will continue to vote for parties advocating a united Ireland. ‘

    Absolutely . This is called self centered non reflective reflex unionism in it’s most highly evolved format . The logic is inescapable -If it always worked in the past it will always work in the future . A no brainer which is probably why this ‘strategem ‘ appeals most to the ‘faithful’ for the Union.

    ‘The marriage of religon and unionism is also a mystery really. ‘

    No it isn’t a mystery not in Northern Ireland anyway . The sides were ‘parted’ politically circ 1800 and the major breach in political destinies came about when British Prime Ministrer Gladstone’s Home Rule Bill passed in the House of Commons but was defeated in the House of Lords.

    ‘I often feel that the DUP are working towards repartition and a homogenous protestant mini-State. Maybe that perception is off the wall?’

    Probably all DUP members /politicians and the vast majority of UUP, Alliance and other Unionists know instinctively that while there is some hope that Northern Nationalists and Republicans can be persuaded to work within the present dispensation they realistically have formed a definite viewpoint that the ‘nationalist body politic ‘ is not going to give up on it’s hope for a UI at some point down the line . Ergo ‘repartition’ has to present itself as a line behind which there would be no possibility of being ‘outvoted’ into a UI.

    With the District Council carve up the basis for a ‘repartitionist ‘ solution has been laid down .

    Under what circumstances would the ‘repartition’ genie be allowed to escape from the ‘bottle’ ?
    Ask the TUV . That’s what they’re working to create make no mistake about it .

    From an Irish nationalist perspectiveboth North and South it would not be the end of the ‘world ‘ If a 26 county Irish Republic can do as well as it has so too can a 30 county Republic . The choice will be made by Unionists -and how or whther they stomach selling out their fellow unionists in Fermanagh, Tyrone , Derry and Armagh and South Down just as they did 88 years ago with Cavan , Monaghhan and Donegal ?

    My guess would be that establishment unionists would have perhaps a few moments of uncertainty before they would consign their fellow western and southern Unionists to the tender mercies of the Republic . The end would ‘justify ‘ the means .

    But in the meantime and for a while yet it will be the Assembly ‘frog and scorpion show as both the DUP and SF try to negotiate their way across a fast flowing river hanging on to each other for survival . There are signs that the scorpion will sooner or later do what scorpions are wont to do . The frog appears as if he would almost welcome it .

  • doctor

    “The unionism which I believe in tolerates a plurality of identities and cultures within the United Kingdom. It cherishes the diversity of that Kingdom and draws its unionism from a belief that the UK best protects the freedoms which promote that diversity. It certainly does not repudiate symbols of that Kingdom. It certainly does not compromise the official status of that Kingdom’s symbols by conferring the same status on symbols of another state. It also values a divergent range of cultures which exist within the UK, which includes the Ulster protestant marching tradition, as well as traditions that would be considered Catholic or Irish.”

    Chekov, what does this mean in real terms? As it stands, it doesn’t look much more than lipservice to diversity while opposing any initiatives that actually promote those different cultures. Like an Irish Language Act, for example. Which is still a bit more advanced by the majority of unionist reprentatives, who don’t even go as far as the lipservice.

  • Greenflag

    doctor ,

    ‘Chekov, what does this mean in real terms?’

    Good question Doc -It means whatever you want it to mean but the bottom line is ‘up yours croppy’ and let that be an end to it . The fact that it won’t be the end of it is neither here nor there .

    Look for the red white and blue flag with the fish and chips background !

  • perry

    “Look for the red white and blue flag with the fish and chips background!”

    Huh?

    Did you mean this?

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/nickybe/422386620/

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘“News Letter” is two words, not one.’

    Can anyone tell me if ‘arsehole’ is one or two?

    As regards this colonial academy, obviously unionism is in a great state !

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘“News Letter” is two words, not one.’

    Can anyone tell me if ‘arsehole’ is one or two?

    As regards this colonial academy, obviously unionism is in a great state !

  • just asking

    whats this about pictures of gareth robinson appearing in some sunday papers? anyone know more of it?