A different form of Unionism that reaches places the DUP can never reach…

The Watchman, and occasional contributor of longer think pieces gives his assessment of the announcement during the week of the proposed new alignment between the Ulster Unionists, and David Cameron’s new liberal ToriesBy The Watchman

“What I want us to explore with the Ulster Unionists is not really some kind of ‘lets have some joint candidates or work together’ I want to be more ambitious than that.”

“I would like to see us establish a new political force in Northern Ireland that is both Conservative and Unionist, that can say to people, look, get beyond the old politics of constitution or orange or green.”

Those comments from David Cameron are remarkable, and unthinkable from almost any recent Tory leader. They are worth tracking down in full on Nuzhound. Previous Tory pronouncements about the Union were analogous to a husband assuring his wife of a lasting but loveless marriage. In seeking out the UUP, Cameron arrives with the political equivalent of chocolates, flowers and scented candles.

He seems confident enough that the next election is in the bag to turn his attention to the regional problems liable to affect a party with overwhelmingly English Parliamentary seats. The links with the UUP is one sign. There is also speculation of secret Tory-SNP talks that would give the Scottish Government greater autonomy in return for constitutional stability.

Even after Edward Heath stabbed the Ulster Unionists in the back, many within the party longed for a rapprochement with the Tories. Simon Heffer’s biography of the Great Enoch relates the anger felt in Powell’s South Down constituency party in the mid-1970s at their Member’s Labour sympathies. Two leading Tory backbenchers were even said to have turned up to constituency officers to agitate secretly against Powell.

As the years went on, many Ulster Unionists felt, rightly, that support for them was more likely to be found in the Conservative Party than anywhere else and that some form of renewed alliance would balance the pan-nationalist axis. They were often embarrassed by Paisleyism and craved the respectability that association with the Tories might give them.

The details of the new relationship between the Conservatives and the Ulster Unionists have still to be worked out. The UUP membership was certainly taken by surprise and may be unsettled by some of what their new suitor would like to see. The comments of Cameron quoted above go far beyond a simple renewal of pre-1974 links. It seems unlikely that the Ulster Unionist Council would vote to subsume itself into the Tory Party, the political equivalent of Stewarts becoming Tesco.

The small numbers of Tory activists already in Northern Ireland also seem hesitant. They see a deal as entailing the absorption of the UUP into the Tory Party as it presently stands. They may be disappointed. Perhaps the likeliest outcome of the talks is for a British version of the partnership on the German centre-right between the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union of Bavaria.

David Cameron’s wooing may be a lifeline for the UUP. Despite its morale-boosting council win in Dromore, the party has deep problems. It has not yet worked out a role for itself as the minor unionist party. In seeking new support, it cannot decide whether to go to the Garden Centre or to the Orange Hall.

Even a successful link-up with the Tories would not deliver votes to the UUP by the general election. It might shore up Lady Sylvia in North Down. If David Burnside fancies a return to Westminster, it could help him in South Antrim, where the ineffectual Willie McCrea will lose crucial votes to the TUV. Perhaps, and this is a long shot, the UUP could cut a deal with the DUP that might deliver it either South Belfast or Fermanagh South Tyrone.

But regardless of immediate paybacks, a coalition with the Tories would allow the UUP, under whatever title, to carve out a role for itself as a distinctively unionist party, in contrast to the latent Ulster nationalism of the DUP. Handled correctly, this could be the basis of a different form of unionism that reaches places that the DUP can never reach.

Curious times indeed.

, , ,

  • Michael Shilliday

    I happen to think you’re right on the Westminster seats, but it’s strange that you rule out this giving benefits before the next general election, and then suggest it could provide two gains! I think FST and SB are much more problematic than some people seem to think, but South Antrim is winnable on the terms you outline, perhaps even Upper Bann with the right candidate.

    I also agree that this is a marked change in Tory thinking about Northern Ireland. A I’ve already said, it’s a marked change from Cameron’s early leadership.

  • From monolithic Unionist Tory whip beholden provincial nonentities discarded as an embarrassing historical anachronism to the apple of David Cameron’s eye?

    As ulterior motives go I’m sniffing SNP.

    Interesting times indeed.

  • Turgon

    Watchman,
    As ever a most interesting article.

    I am afraid my suspicions in all this is that Cameron is saying what he thinks is popular at the moment and as you say preparing the ground for trying to shore up a UK with an English elected Tory government. I suspect, however, that this man (Cameron) would not merely sell but eat his granny for political power. I would be extremely mistrustful of what he says. Remember how safely unionist Thatcher was at times and then she signed the Anglo Irish Agreement.

    Cameron may gain from all this but I suspect a further gain is for Empey. This will become his “big idea” at the next Unionist Party conference and UUC meetings. Without something like this I do think his days would have been numbered. This will make him look like an important and significant political figure and keep the men in grey suits away for a little longer. If, however, (and it is still a significant if) but if this move were to gain some votes from the garden centre Prods and some unionist minded Roman Catholics I would see it as a very positive step. I will not be holding my breath though.

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    You realise this is a linkup with a Cameron conservative party right? Cameron has worked hard to try to detoxify the Conservative brand and present a more modern face. I have my doubts about the reality of some UUP figures being able to personify this effectively.

  • slug

    Watchman says

    “The comments of Cameron quoted above go far beyond a simple renewal of pre-1974 links. […] Perhaps the likeliest outcome of the talks is for a British version of the partnership on the German centre-right between the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union of Bavaria. ”

    What is the exact difference between the old UUP-Tory links and the CDU-CSU link? The author presumes a grasp of detail that I lack!

    I too am interested in the fact that Cameron has it seems been thinking a lot about the United Kingdom and has been in talks with the SNP to reach a deal on giving more fiscal powers to the Scottish Parliament. Those powers will be available to NI along the line and a proper budget for the Scottish and NI authorities may be more rational and sensible than the Barnet Formula and give us more fexibility – a more fiscally flexible devolved UK.

    There are dangers for the UUP if the Tories become very unpopular at national level. However, that is where the autonomy of the local party comes in. Labour have this big problem in Scootland where they are unpopular locally because of the national government. Scottish Labour has problems with autonomy. Exhibit A: Wendy Alexander and her disagreement with Gordon Brown. This is a problem that Cameron is well aware of (he raised it enough at PMQs!). I suspect he will want to resolve it by allowing local parties to determine local policies to a greater extent.

  • percy

    well this news puts an end to Robinson’s dreams of one Unionist Party.
    Methinks Lord Trimble is to be found somewhere lurking behind this cosy-up.
    UUP have always thought DUP to be somewhat uncouth.

    What are the odds of Jeffrey Donaldson switching back 😉

  • slug

    What the UUP really need to do is promote the next generation. There are people within the party like Kenny Donaldson, Peter Bowles (back now, wh?), and since they really really need more women, Paula Bradshaw, all of whom seem articulate and presentable. There is very little on the benches at Stormont to get excited about for the future.

    Also speaking as a member of the nonpoliitical middle class, I always thought of politics as a bit of an unrespectable thing to be involved in, somehow. Also a bit too risky for too little reward. Maybe the Conservative brand will ancourage more people to take a different view of politics and get involved. That would be welcome. There are so few new faces. And the type of people in political life is still very uninspiring for many would be voters.

  • Turgon

    percy,
    I agree entirely. This seems to be Empey’s retort to the one unionist party idea of Robinson. A pretty effective retort I suspect and one which will keep him (Empey) as UUP leader for a while yet. Whether or not it will help the UUP regain top spot I doubt.

  • slug

    Turgon

    Don’t you think that the DUP is likely to become unpopular after about two parliaments or so simply because it is the in-government party and will start to be unable to avoid the blame for things? The UUP is realistically the obvious alternative for unionist voters.

  • 6countyprod

    The UUP are living in some sort of dreamland if they think that being in some sort of coalition with the Conservative party will revive their flagging party.

    The UUP will always get most of the ‘fur coat brigade’ section of the electorate, but the majority of blue and white collar workers, and loyal order members have now switched to the DUP (or the TUV), and joining with the Conservatives is highly unlikely to entice very many back to the UUP fold. In fact, it will reinforce the perception of the UUP being a party only for a certain type of people.

    The UUP needs new leadership, not sham alliances with people who have no real interest in NI. Apparently ‘Reg Empey has never topped the poll in any election to any level of Government’. For most Unionists he is synonymous with the negotiations which resulted is so many unnecessary concessions being made to Republicans.

    The UUP, like the SDLP, took their voters for granted, and as a result lost out to the hardworking and dedicated DUP and SF. They have a lot of hard work, on the ground, to do if they ever hope to become a strong political force again in NI.

  • Turgon

    slug,

    Maybe: that is an interesting way of looking at it. I just doubt that our system will show up such things with an executive of all the parties. I am unsure if the UUP (or SDLP for that matter) can remain distant enough from the decisions to benefit from voters tiring of the bigger parties. I also suspect that “standing up for the union” / the nationalist opposite will remain a significant concern and unless the UUP can cross the DUP’s T and become more hard line on the union the DUP will always be seen as the stronger party on the constitutional question.

    If there was a voluntary coalition I suspect your idea of voters tiring of the DUP and moving to the UUP would be a very viable possibility. Then again of course since I am all for voluntary coalitions I would say that.

  • 0b101010

    Any links with the Conservative party come at least three years too late: Reg Empey has marched the party straight into unelectable obscurity.

    Now it’s only a choice of how the UUP wants to die: do they want to be eaten by the Conservatives and keep their jobs, or crushed completely under foot by the more popular evangelical fundamentalists of British unionism.

    For most Unionists he is synonymous with the negotiations which resulted is so many unnecessary concessions being made to Republicans.

    Whereas Ian Paisley or Peter Robinson have stood firm and will never sit down in government with terrorists? The DUP are still pulling in the votes considering they’re in coalition government with the leaders of the IRA. If most Unionists hold a grudge against Empey simply for his party’s negotiations — negotiations we have all reaped the benefits of — then they are willfully blinding themselves to political reality.

    I at least agree with your final paragraph: the UUP have failed because they are arrogant and elitist and believed the unionist vote was theirs by right, not by effort.

  • Mick Fealty

    Percy,

    Finally, you may have actually hit pay dirt with at least one of your suggestions. It’s hard to over estimate the warm fuzzy feeling this has created in a surprisingly wide group of people.

    In short: DSD and Watchman took opposite sides over the Belfast Agreement in 98 and ever after. I suspect that runs a lot more widely than is immediately apparent.

    Something very curious indeed has happened.

  • The Raven

    “Any links with the Conservative party come at least three years too late: Reg Empey has marched the party straight into unelectable obscurity.”

    That’ll be like the way the Conservatives were deemed unelectable ever again by many commentators after their Major defeat….?

  • picador

    “I would like to see us establish a new political force in Northern Ireland that is both Conservative and Unionist, that can say to people, look, get beyond the old politics of constitution or orange or green.”

    Well, that would appear to rule a Westminster comeback for David Burnside.

  • DC

    It’s a cheap substitute for the true rewards gained from working and winning it out in a local democracy by gaining or perhaps changing local views in support of a particular party/policy/idea.

    Remember NI from its inception had a parliament, unfortunately it was a both dangerous and very inward looking one; but can leadership via a London proxy work here without that carving out and cultivating of minds locally by work on the ground. If it is to be Cameron, he is a poor replacement for Blair, not even a Blair MkII, perhaps MkIII.

    So I agree with DSD on this one, it appears Empey has applied his decision with Cameron in the media without leading on it with those in his party, a bad trademark of Trimble, suggesting he and Cameron have opted for a Made in China assembly of a somewhat unoriginal political product. Something quite cheap and superficial about it, yet it seems purchasable and perhaps worth taking off the shelf…

    If they can somehow get the concept to work and put conservative manners, with a small C on the UUP with probably a hint of a New Labour too, then v good.

    If it is proxy-led how do they intend to calibrate the work on the ground here in relation to solutions to largely sectarian regional problems and a more advanced national form of thought in London. Anyway whatever happened to ‘Ulster – A Nation’?

  • 0b101010

    That’ll be like the way the Conservatives were deemed unelectable ever again by many commentators after their Major defeat….?

    Major lasted another month as leader and 11 years later the Conservatives are still not in power. If the UUP want to sit it out for another eight years for their particular brand of politics-by-right to come back in fashion, good luck and all the best to them. The Union might even still be there at that point.

    The Conservative Party, however, have spent their time unifying and forging a new centrist platform that is more palatable to the electorate. They at least had the sense to realise running further to the right of Thatcherite Labour Party would put them on the wrong part of the bell curve.

    The Ulster Unionists have done nothing since their drubbing in 2005. They still don’t know when to stop sniping. They don’t know whether to run to the center, run to the right, run to militant loyalists, run for law and order, run to the Orange Order, run to the secular, run for coalition, run against the Agreement they made. They have no discernible direction or platform to run on. They are extinct.

  • LURIG

    David Cameron increasingly looks like the next British PM and the return of the Tories to power fills Sinn Fein with dread. The British Conservatives are traditionally a bigoted, racist, right wing, anti-Irish shower and the red danger signals are NOW flashing amongst Republican grass roots with longer memories. That’s why Adams & senior Shinners are desperate for the transfer of Policing Justice NOW before the Tories gain power again & BEFORE Gordon Brown becomes a total lame duck. On a recent visit to the North the Tory NI spokesman stated that the Tories would link transfer of Policing & Justice powers to IRA Army Council disbandment. We could see a long drawn out Decommissioning Process repeated and Unionism, particularly the DUP, would relish that. We are in dangerous waters again and hopefully it will be resolved but I won’t hold my breath. Remember what happened when the Tories prior to 1997 stalled the Peace Process because Major needed UUP votes.

  • Dave

    It’s a bit like the kid who gets sent to a posh boarding school by his parents. They rarely come to see him, and the other kids notice this neglect, and being cruel little bastards (as all kids are), they taunt him about how unloved and unwanted he is. Then suddenly his parents appear and tell him that they missed him terribly, love him very much, and that he is to come home and live with them as one big happy family. He is to have his own pony, quad bike, and a 50″ plasma TV in his room, etc. Naturally, the lonely kid is delighted with this latest turn of events and can’t contain himself from sharing this boost to his faltering self-esteem with all and sundry, or as Yeats put it, “I have gone about the house, gone up and down as a man does who has published a new book or a young girl dressed out in her new gown.”

  • DUP Voter

    That’s rubbish. We have a monopoly on the union

  • steve

    Its just that attitude that will win you elections DUPE

  • willis

    Of course it may also allow the modernisers in the UUP to adopt a model Tory like constitution giving the OO no power.

  • Elvis Parker

    ‘joining with the Conservatives is highly unlikely to entice very many back to the UUP fold. In fact, it will reinforce the perception of the UUP being a party only for a certain type of people’

    MMhh 47% of the public in GB according to some opinion polls.

    6countyprod is a good tag – it obviously describes the limits of your mind

  • Peat Blog

    “We are in dangerous waters again and hopefully it will be resolved but I won’t hold my breath. Remember what happened when the Tories prior to 1997 stalled the Peace Process because Major needed UUP votes.”

    Do you mean to say that certain people will return to type?

  • Comrade Stalin

    LURIG reckons the IRA will go back to war if policing powers are not devolved. That’s got to be up there with the greatest ironies in history.

  • Rabelais

    I’m scratching my head over this. It looks increasingly like Cameron has the next election in the bag. Why then would he start making overtures to the UUP, who let’s face it are not a success-story?

    Why would he want to embroil the Tories in the quagmire of Northern Irish politics just at the moment when a triumphant return to power looks immanent?

    Is this an attempt to set out the Tories credentials on the Union? Wouldn’t he be better off then giving Scotland his undivided attention because in terms of the UK isn’t that the part that really matters?

    I’m interested also that Cameron is in discussions with the SNP. The SNP would be fools at this stage to be seen as being too cosy with the Tories for two reasons. 1. They’ve only just shaken off their ‘tartan Tory’ tag: crucial in securing the support of constituencies like Glasgow East. And 2. The SNP are so close to achieving their objectives that cutting any deal with a Conservative government that feel short of independence would be such a massive lose of nerve on their part. I just can’t see that happening.

    So, what is going on?

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    “It has not yet worked out a role for itself as the minor unionist party.”

    I may be out on a limb here but wouldn’t they want to become the major unionist party? So that they can, you know, win power again?

    Perhaps they could develop policies and test them on the electorate to see if they can get a chance to prove their policies would improve the lot of the people living in NI.

    Isn’t that how it’s meant to work? This is a conundrum alright. I’m sure there’s a long quote from JS Mill, Gramsci or Ralph Milliband that will put me right tough, eh?

  • George

    “I would like to see us establish a new political force in Northern Ireland that is both Conservative and Unionist, that can say to people, look, get beyond the old politics of constitution or orange or green.”

    So the Conservatives link back up with the UUP, the establishment party of unionism for the first 50 years of Northern Ireland’s existence.

    I just don’t see how this link-up gets past the “old politics” so while it may ruffle a few feathers in the unionist camp it won’t change anything when it comes to the greater battle between nationalists and unionists.

    Perhaps the likeliest outcome of the talks is for a British version of the partnership on the German centre-right between the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union of Bavaria.

    There is no comparison. The CSU have 46 members in the Bundestag and make up over 20% of the CDU/CSU faction of 223. They have had countless ministers in the federal government, the UUP have had zero in their previous 50-year-long link with the Tories.

    Whatever the outcome of the talks, it won’t be an arrangement of equals like the CDU/CSU one.

  • PeaceandJustice

    6countyprod – “The UUP, like the SDLP, took their voters for granted, and as a result lost out to the hardworking and dedicated DUP ..”

    If only the DUP were hard working it would be a start. Plenty of spin and no substance. Hopefully, the Conservative & Unionist Party will give them some competition as well as attracting a wider Pro-Union vote regardless of religion.

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    “LURIG reckons the IRA will go back to war if policing powers are not devolved. That’s got to be up there with the greatest ironies in history.”

    No, it’s got to be the, to my mind, inane ramblings of someone off the interweb. History’s ironies will reveal themselves in the fullness of time, so let’s not get too excited because a poster on here talks shite. It happens far too often.

  • Elvis Parker

    Lurig:
    ‘LURIG reckons the IRA will go back to war if policing powers are not devolved. That’s got to be up there with the greatest ironies in history.’
    Comadre Stalin – LOL Got it in one!

    Lurig – ain’t life a bitch when you cant threat people and govts?

    Vote Tory and slap it into Sinn Fein!

  • steve

    Actually I think Lurig has a point. The last time took a lot more incitement to make the natives restless, this time the natives are already restless and ready to jump the reserve.

    The days of croppie lay down have well and truly passed

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    If you can give any evidence let alone proof for this idiotic claim I’d be interested in seeing it.

    Here, I’ll start a sentence: “The IRA is about to back to war and I offer the following demonstrable facts as evidence….”

    No rush, I’m off to start targeting and recruiting for the rest of the afternoon.

  • DC

    “The IRA is about to back to war and I offer the following demonstrable facts as evidence….””

    …due to the UUP’s new ‘Cillit Bang’ – ;reaches places that the DUP can never reach.’

    ‘Cillit Bang®

    Before you give up, try Cillit Bang! Its revolutionary, powerful cleaning formula amazingly removes even the toughest stains and dirt right before your eyes …’

  • Conquistador

    ““The UUP, like the SDLP, took their voters for granted, and as a result lost out to the hardworking and dedicated DUP”

    I’m befuddled here. Are you seriously suggesting the SDLP lost votes to the DUP because the latter were ‘hardworking’.

    Or maybe you mean the Stoops lost out to the Shinners because the shinners, like their friends the DUP, are great champions of te people?

    Either way you’re wrong though, the DUP did well because it said no to SF in government. It now loves having SF in their beds, and I’m not sure exactly what it stands for, other than working very very hard of course.

  • Peat Blog

    “Actually I think Lurig has a point. The last time took a lot more incitement to make the natives restless, this time the natives are already restless and ready to jump the reserve.”

    What, has the cappuccino machine broken down? That’s enough to make any revolutionary mad.

  • steve

    and as a clarification I don’t expect to see the PIRA to take the field again.

    Whether its a current organisation or one yet formed I wouldn’t even guess but if there is an attempt to return to the 70’s or 80’s political dispensation then all bets are off

    I wonder if all the post troubles analysis will keep them from making the mistakes of PIRA

  • 6countyprod

    Conquistador,
    I think the Page 1-10 post might help you sort out your confusion. Misquotes usually do create false impressions…

    The UUP, like the SDLP, took their voters for granted, and as a result lost out to the hardworking and dedicated DUP and SF. They (UUP)have a lot of hard work, on the ground, to do if they ever hope to become a strong political force again in NI.

  • Greenflag

    Rabelais ‘

    ‘Wouldn’t he be better off then giving Scotland his undivided attention because in terms of the UK isn’t that the part that really matters?’

    Scotland is ‘lost’ for the Tories . They have 1 seat out of 59 or 55? . In Northern Ireland there are potentially 10 seats between UUP and DUP. The Tories have the DUP in the bag anyway so Mr Cameron to make assurance doubly sure in any ‘tight ‘ election just needs to rope in Trimble/Empey and Co . If he gets a large majority and doesn’t actually need their support what matter ?

    It’s a win win for the Tories . For the Unionists it’s just business as usual – The size of any conservative majority will be directly correlated with either an upswing in temporary influence or the more usual back of the bus treatment .

    That’s whats going on .Imo

    As for SF -Tory Rule or no there’ll be no going back to the 70’s or 80’s . The vast majority of people across this island have made that point abundantly clear! For SF it would be political death.

  • frustrated democrat

    I think the DUP supporters here are guilty of wishful thinking.

    1. The UUP/Conservative dialogue has been ongoing for almost a year, not something thought about because they are ahead in the polls.

    2. The new party will be a Northern Ireland Party just as the Scottish Conservatives are Scottish. However they will have to be full members of the Conservative Party and sign up to the main manifesto. They will of course have separate manifestos for Stormont/Councuil elections that will deal solely with Northern Ireland issues not the main issues that are decides at Westminster.

    3. The candidates will be Northern Ireland People ex Northern Ireland Conservatives and UUP and members of any other parties that wish to join. The leadership and comittees will all however be ultimately responsible to the main party.

    4. It will attact votes from across the spectrum including current SDLP, DUP and TUV voters, it may lose a few socialist members on the way but the is a small price to pay for the big prize.

    5. Since it will be an all UK party the Union will be safer than ever before. Once it is in control at Stormont it will have a voice inside Downing Street for at least the next 10 years.

    It is obvious who would be the Party of the Union and who would be the NI nationalists.

    Good for the Union, NEVER stronger, the Conservatives are the party of the Union.

    Good for everyone in Northern Ireland who believes in real postive politics take will make a difference to everyone’s lives.

    Bad for the DUP and SF, their little dalliance is already falling apart and will be totally smashed.

    Bad for all negative backward looking politicians who cannnot lift their noses out of the sectarian trough.

    The Conservative Unionist Party is the future for NI, where is New Labour?

  • declan

    Steve

    Good posts. You say:

    “The last time [1969] took a lot more incitement to make the natives restless, this time the natives are already restless and ready to jump the reserve”

    This brings us to the “2021 scenario”. The 2021 scenario is a secnarion in which the era of nationalist demographic increase is seen to come to an end short of the critical mass needed for a UI, and could lead to some thinking about war.

    But it could also lead to far more nationalists in the six counties coming to think again about the idea of a fair repartition.

    That is where the ideas and arguments of Greenflag are coming in. And they are catching on. Recently a respected nationalist columnist (Gerry Murray) came out in support of repartition in the Derry Journal.

  • Rabelais

    Greenflag,
    I can see what your saying. But it does seem then that Cameron is preparing for perhaps a narrower election victory than many predict.

    If this is Cameron’s game then the UUP may be prepared to put up with what are the rather expedient attentions of the Tories just to be close to power or at least have its ear on matters concerning NI.

    In some ways the whole thing illustrates to me the desperation and intellectual confusion at the heart of the UUP and unionism generally. To hitch itself to a party, which as Scotland breaks away will find itself increasingly the representive of English nationalism, strikes me as something which will eventually grate with grassroots unionists.

    Scotland will go. The union is breaking up. The Tories in power will precipetate Scottish independence. How do the UUP think linking up with the Tories will do the cause of the union any good in the medium to long term?

    As usual I think unionists are ignoring the elephant in their living room that is Scottish independence. Instead they content themselves with trying to rearrange the furniture – unionist re-alignment, unionist unity, alliances with English parties…

  • picador

    OMG! Death by repartition troll!

    Really this is getting to be too much.

    Any thread about the political situation now descends into this nonsense. It’s always the same person. And now we have declan back as well, which is funny cos I mentioned him just last night.

    It’s a case of picking the most simplistic (bloodiest solution) and moulding the facts to go with it – damn tedious.

    Admin….

  • Peat Blog

    “As usual I think unionists are ignoring the elephant in their living room that is Scottish independence. Instead they content themselves with trying to rearrange the furniture – unionist re-alignment, unionist unity, alliances with English parties…”

    I would tend to agree Rabelais, and I grew up within the “unionist tradition” (which is becoming increasingly anachronistic given what could potentially happen in Scotland but even due to what is happening at the wider European level).

    I suspect that Scottish independence is some way off, however, but it is still probably too early to make a judgement as many of the current Labour difficulties can be attributed to factors other than a (as yet untested) Scottish desire to be shot of the Union. The next general election will be interesting all across the UK.

    There was an interesting Simon Jenkins piece in the Sunday Times today where English Nationalism was referred to.

  • Rabelais

    I think Peat the exit of Scotland might be sooner than many imagine. I just don’t think that the Scots have the stomach for being governed by the Westminster Tories for two maybe three terms.

    Frustrated democrat, you say of UUP/Tory links:
    ‘Good for the Union, NEVER stronger, the Conservatives are the party of the Union.’

    You can’t be serious. How can a party that with, what is it, 1 seat in Scotland be THE party of the Union. Only myopic Ulster unionism could think that the union is safe in the hands of the Tories.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    billie-Joe

    “[i]Here, I’ll start a sentence: “The IRA is about to back to war and I offer the following demonstrable facts as evidence….”

    No rush, I’m off to start targeting and recruiting for the rest of the afternoon.”[/i]

    …makes a change from robbing banks, selling explosive tactics to Farc and brutally murdering young Republicans in border farms.

    …all in a days work for the IRA

  • frustrated democrat

    Rabelais

    Scotland will be a part of the Union for a long time to come even the SNP accepts that.

    The Conservative party believes in the Union, it was Labour that opened a parliament in Scotland.

    Interestingly many of the traits of the SNP in action ( apart from the independence part which is an aspiration that is well and truly on the back burner) are Conservative in nature not Labour e.g Europe. So you know where the previous Conservative vote went.

    So for those who believe in the union, vote for a Party that believes in it and can actively strive to preserve it by showing it works for the people!

  • LURIG

    Could someone please show me where I said the IRA would go back to war if Policing & Justice powers were NOT transferred? Some posters are twisting my words for their own ends. I was merely stating what happened the last time the Tories embraced Unionist votes to stay in power and in turn stalled the Peace Process. I DID say that the Tories were a naturally bigoted, racist, anti-Irish ring wing shower that got a kick of sticking the boot into Irish Republicans. Hence they will be no friends of Sinn Fein when they regain power. I also DID say, and nowhere did I state that I agreed with it, that if a new vacuum comes back where Policing & Justice have still not been devolved AND the Tories link it to IRA Army Council didbandment there will be those who take advantage of this for their own ends. That is what usually happens in Irish history.

  • 0b101010

    The Union isn’t “strong” in any party’s hands because, no matter which English party is in power, the Scots want out. The Union is actually weaker in Tory hands because of Scotland’s dislike of them.

    Whether this forcibly solves the Northern Irish problem, who knows; perhaps becoming England’s new favourite pet will make local matters worse.

  • Greenflag

    rabelais .

    ‘it does seem then that Cameron is preparing for perhaps a narrower election victory than many predict.’

    Wise man . It could be 2 years to the next election and we all know that a week is a long time in politics. We’ve seen Brown go from near mass popular adulation to near mass popualr rejection in a few months . Remember how confident the British Labour party were with Neil Kinnock ?

    ‘In some ways the whole thing illustrates to me the desperation and intellectual confusion at the heart of the UUP and unionism generally.’

    I would not use the word ‘intellectual’ in describing the ‘heart’ of unionism . It does look ‘pathetic ‘ from an outside i.e non unionist perspective particularly given previous Tory ‘treatment’ of the unionist ‘poodle’ in view of the first suspension of Stormont,and Thatcher’s Anglo Irish Agreement.

    ‘To hitch itself to a party, which as Scotland breaks away will find itself increasingly the representive of English nationalism, strikes me as something which will eventually grate with grassroots unionists.’

    Cameron is attempting to ‘deflect ‘ the English nationalist charge by focusing on NI and lets face it NI delivers more pro Tory MP’s than either Wales or Scotland . It’s just intelligent politcs for the Tories . For the UUP it’s beggars can’t be choosers time once again . And let’s face there is always the possibility of a hung Parliament in which they get to be ‘influential’.

    ‘Scotland will go.’

    Maybe.

    ‘ The union is breaking up.’

    On the other hand it may be undergoing radical reform to which the outcome remains yet unclear. I would not hatchet counts until they chicken 🙂 ‘

    The Tories in power will precipetate Scottish independence.’

    Now that is a strong possibility I’d agree . However nice Mr Tony boy Cameron is no Thatcher and his Scottish name might help dilute anti Union sentiment to some extent .

    ‘As usual I think unionists are ignoring the elephant in their living room that is Scottish independence.’

    Par for the Unionist course – they did the same with Irish Independence and it worked ? well did’nt it ?

    ‘Instead they content themselves with trying to rearrange the furniture – unionist re-alignment, unionist unity, alliances with English parties…’

    Of course . They are easily placated . Keep busy moving the deck chairs on SS Titanic and don;t forget to keep sending those 6 billion a year to keep the union afloat thos side of the North Channel.

  • Rabelais

    Frustrated Democrat,

    ‘Scotland will be a part of the Union for a long time to come even the SNP accepts that.’

    Really? After Glasgow East the SNP are probably feeling pretty ebullient at the moment. They have just significantly eaten into their main opponents territory and if the Tories do get elected to Westminister and the SNP don’t capitalise on that it will go down as one of the greatest political missed opertunities.

    Nothing is forgone but if you were a unionist of the Ulster variety don’t you think that the possibility of Scotish independence would have set of alarm bells ringing?

    ‘The Conservative party believes in the Union, it was Labour that opened a parliament in Scotland.’

    Labour south of the border has a serious vested interest in maintaining the union. Its historic strength in Scotland is a massive help to the party’s elevation to power. The devolution that took place under New Labour was designed to preserve the union in some form. On the other hand, Tory policy has certainly since Thatcher antagonised Scotland. There is no point huffing and puffing about your unionist credentials if you policies excarbate divisions. In any case, I think the Tories will act pragmatically and see that their best chance is to act as the voice of little Englander nationalism. In this respect I think it will probably be the combined political ambitions of the SNP and the Conservatives that will deal the death blow to the union.

    ‘Interestingly many of the traits of the SNP in action ( apart from the independence part which is an aspiration that is well and truly on the back burner) are Conservative in nature not Labour e.g Europe. So you know where the previous Conservative vote went.’

    Maybe once upon a time the SNP could have been described as the ‘tartan Tories’ but they are wily enough to know Scotland has a broadly centre-left electorate and its version of Scottish nationhood will have to be built on social democratic terms.

    ‘So for those who believe in the union, vote for a Party that believes in it and can actively strive to preserve it by showing it works for the people!’

    What are you talking about ‘works for the people’. What ‘people’ do the Tories ‘work for’? Clearly Scotland (and to a lesser extent Wales) have made it very clear that they don’t feel it works for them. I’m afraid electioneering, populist rhetoric just won’t save you!

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    UMH. How to break this gently. Um, could you stop posting?

    I don’t mind that you are Unionist/Loyalist/British. I do get offended by your dim-wittedness. No offence.

  • frustrated democrat

    Rabelais

    The world has moved on from the 80’s and 90’s you are looking at old politics, the poll tax is long gone and Tories still get voted for in Scotland with about 13% of the vote and that will rise in the next election.

    The last by election was not about Scottish independence it was about the failure of the Labour Government, even Alex Salmond admits that. He also admits that the majority of the Scottish people do not want an independent Scotland, only about 1/3 of the people voted for SNP in the last election and some of those do not want an independent Scotland.

    So no, the fear of an idependent Scotland is not on my horizon and will not be for a long time to come just as a United Ireland is even further away.

    A vote for Conservative Unionism when it comes will be a vote for a stronger Union.

  • 6countyprod

    Frustrated Democrat: DUP supporters here are guilty of wishful thinking

    FD, you shouldn’t fell so frustrated just because your party has fallen to 2nd or 3rd, or is it 4th place. Things might get a little better!

    As someone who usually votes DUP, but occasionally gives the UUP a No.1, I reckon the DUP are not guilty of wishful thinking. But your multiple-point wish list above reveals that UUP supporters probably are.

  • frustrated democrat

    6cp

    Judging by your n de p. the problem is you are an NI nationalist not a unionist … NI nationalism I believe has no future… however NI unionism does…. the UK will be here to stay for a very long time and Conservative Unionism will set that clearly and unshakeably in concrete.

    So make up your mind as to what you are.

  • frustrated democrat

    6cp

    I am not in that particular party to which you refer.

  • Peter Brown

    I think that this was always a deal which potentially benefitted the UUP more than the Tories – the Tories cement the union and get 1 MP’s vote (it’s not lilely to higher than this even after the next election certainly no more than 3 – only UUP HQ will still be treumpeting 10 MPs!), the UUP gets a lifeline to a drowning person whose already been under twice.

    The problem is that the Conservative Party’s 21st century machine will extract every last drop of good from this deal while the UUP shows little or no sign or having drageed t=itself kicking and screaming into the 20th century never mind the 21st (new rules are 20th century and on paper and yet to be effectively implemented) and consequently as so often before the UUP will probably let go of the rope to shoot itself in the foot at some point in the relatively near future (formal link up with UDP as well as PUP which will see the Tories running for cover strikes me as being something the UUP would probably embrace!!)

  • Rabelais

    FD,

    ‘The world has moved on from the 80’s and 90’s you are looking at old politics, the poll tax is long gone and Tories still get voted for in Scotland with about 13% of the vote and that will rise in the next election.’

    Your right the world has moved on put is 13% something to boast about. Well, I suppose that’s about the same as the UUP over here… Still what sort of gains did the Tories make in Glasgow East? Fuck all.

    ‘The last by election was not about Scottish independence it was about the failure of the Labour Government, even Alex Salmond admits that. He also admits that the majority of the Scottish people do not want an independent Scotland, only about 1/3 of the people voted for SNP in the last election and some of those do not want an independent Scotland.’

    This is a more interesting point. I agree I don’t think the Scots are born-again nationalists. But fundamental political differences exist between Scotland and England: namely that England is a largely conservative country and Scotland is more inclined towards social democracy. A vote for Scottish independence in this context is less inspired by nationalism than different social and economic priorities and preferences either side of the Tweed. I actually believe that the Scots would vote for independence the rather heavy heart but the differences with a Tory governemy in power down south may be simply insurmountable

    ‘So no, the fear of an idependent Scotland is not on my horizon and will not be for a long time to come just as a United Ireland is even further away.’

    If I were a Ulster unionist this statement would read like a lot of Anglofied complacent shit and percisely the reason why the Conservatives will never be trusted by what they percieve as their natural constituency in Ulster. The DUP and unionism general rely on talking up the threat of a united Ireland.

    ‘A vote for Conservative Unionism when it comes will be a vote for a stronger Union.’

    Keep the rhetoric for your election leaflets they impress no one on a discussion board. And in any case it is exactly Conservative unionism which will drive the Scots out in the end.

  • Thanks to all who have contributed. Michael Shilliday was right to point out a non sequiter in the penultimate paragraph. In my limited defence, by that stage I was too busy putting things to bed to notice – a bit like Trimble on Good Friday. “Would” ought to have read “may not”.

  • “You realise this is a linkup with a Cameron conservative party right? Cameron has worked hard to try to detoxify the Conservative brand and present a more modern face. I have my doubts about the reality of some UUP figures being able to personify this effectively.

    Posted by Duncan Shipley Dalton on Jul 26, 2008 @ 10:15 PM”

    I think the idea of “detoxifying the Tory brand” is a whole lot of nonsense. The notion is based on the empty twitterings of Michael Portillo that the Tories lost votes because they weren’t in tune with leftist social structures – an amusing notion for those who live in the real world that Portillo etc. have rarely visited.

    Cameron is 20 points ahead because everyone’s feeling poorer.

    And any Ulster candidate of this new entity that fought an election as a groovy Cameroon would fight an election in Islington or Brighton would be on a hiding to nothing. I doubt that metropolitan social liberalism would play well in most of Ulster. I also bet the DUP would love nothing more than to fight such a candidate.

  • bob Wilson

    ‘Cameron is 20 points ahead because everyone’s feeling poorer.

    And any Ulster candidate of this new entity that fought an election as a groovy Cameroon would fight an election in Islington or Brighton would be on a hiding to nothing.’

    Watchman’s in danger of tying himself in knots here.

    The next GE will be ‘the economy stupid’ and the Conservative & Unionists will be able to appeal to the instincts not just to vote Labour out but to put Cameron in. People will in focused on economic management, stamp duty, taxes in general.
    In addition we may be able to tweak a few policies for NI – more in due course.

    All our candidates will probably be local folk – none of the Ulster Tories are groovy.

    The alternatives – alliance – enough said and the DUP the leading partner is a failing govt and with no relevance at Westminster. What will their election slogan be?

  • Conquistador

    Up until last week the NI Tory party were full of nothing but bile for the UUP, is this gone?

    Oh and 6cp you’re deluding yourself if you think the DUP are less corrupt than the UUP, let alone selfless great champions of the union.

  • 6countyprod

    Conq,
    Talking to me? What do you mean?

  • Rooster Cogburn

    Bob, your neck is dangerously unwound. For years people on this site have told you personally: the leadership in London don’t give a toss for ‘local’ Tories, and, should ever circumstances allow, would cheerfully rebadge the party in the province *as* the UUP (the party you’ve kept denouncing as unTory, regional schists). And look what’s happened – you’ve been ignored and Reg (of all, unTory people) has been indulged.

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    Watchman,

    So not as British as Islington or Brighton then?

    It’s overly simplistic to think that merely the economy has made the difference Cameron has rebranded the conservatives successfully and it is in line with Portillo’s detoxification ideas. Portillo was entirely right and it’s a great tragedy that he was not leader instead of that disaster IDS. The economy makes a big difference and is most certainly hurting Brown and Labour but if the Tories were still the nasty party I don’t believe they would be doing anywhere near so well. Social attitudes have shifted and it was necessary for the Conservatives to come to terms with them and to begin to better reflect the reality of the society they are embedded in. Under Cameron they have begun to do that and it’s paying dividends.

    True enough though Ulster is most likely somewhat of an outlier and is a more small ‘c’ conservative society. Although metropolitan social liberalism probably wouldn’t play well in FST it may find a more receptive audience in South Belfast or South Antrim. Besides which a gradual shift towards the wider social and cultural norms of British society is likely to be inevitable anyway so why not embrace them early and get ahead of the curve. It’s strange to think that such unlikely bedfellows as you and I might actually both be supporters of a new NI Conservative/UUP grouping although coming from very different sides of the conservative party it would seem but I suppose there has to be room for Cameroons and the Monday club to keep the intellectual diversity that makes up the party.

    The DUP might love to fight such a candidate but they would be wrong. A battle with a Cameroon candidate would move the debate onto the very ground on which the DUP is at its most vulnerable. The last thing the DUP wants is to have to spend an election highlighting their antediluvian social attitudes and reminding everyone why they are always going to be the pariahs of any UK parliament. Personally I think a socially liberal and progressive candidate would do well in some constituencies and I hope that the new grouping is brave enough to experiment a bit.

    A little tangential but I have to ask. Watchman do you condemn the comments made by Iris Robinson about gays or do you agree with her?

  • cullig

    Cameron should be careful who he’s getting into bed with.

    In two years time Mr Adams will scuttle Stormont as he comes into power.

    There will be talk of a dangerous power vacuum.

    Dave will have to strike a deal, and pay the price.

  • Rooster Cogburn

    No Duncan, differently British, much as each place you cite is differently British one to another. Grasping that’s a pretty simple tenet of unionism. I really don’t mean to be personal, but if you still don’t get that ‘Britishness’ isn’t defined simply by how close, or not, something is to a mythical English template, well, perhaps we can all begin to agree that your political failure as a ‘Unionist’ involved slightly more than attitudes to the Agreement?

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    Sarcasm doesn’t translate to blogs so well does it? Of course I am well aware of the differences I was simply pointing out the irony of this difference as compared to the often quoted phrase by Mrs. Thatcher that NI was as British as Finchley. Does that explain it for the slow of understanding?

    I have never suggested Britishness refers to some kind of mythical English template and I don’t believe that for one minute. The diversity of the Britishness of the union is its very strength. However I don’t believe either that some kind of little Ulster nationalism or anti English racism dressed up in unionist clothes is a reflection of real unionist opinion. My ‘failure’ as you describe it was as a consequence of my choice to retire. I made mistakes and my age and inexperience led to my acting in ways that were detrimental to me and I would describe as somewhat petulant. Life is an ongoing journey and I would hope that I am able to learn from my mistakes. I needed to step out and get my head showered and I have had 5 years in the United States to do that. It has I believe been good for me. I will admit that events forced the choice upon me in large measure but sometimes the best things for you are not necessarily the things we would first chose. Time will tell I guess.

  • Greenflag

    Duncan Shipley Dalton

    ”I made mistakes and my age and inexperience led to my acting in ways that were detrimental to me and I would describe as somewhat petulant.’

    The man who never made a mistake never made anything .

    ‘ Life is an ongoing journey and I would hope that I am able to learn from my mistakes. I needed to step out and get my head showered and I have had 5 years in the United States to do that. It has I believe been good for me. ‘

    And a good read for what is happening Stateside and over here soon enough is Kevin Phillips – ‘Bad Money ‘ or how ‘bad capitalism has driven out good capitalism ‘ It’s ironic to think that while the USA appears to be moving left -the UK is moving the other way . These political times seem to be out of synch which is probably a reflection of western world uncertainty re the upcoming changes in power balances in our newly globalised world . With control over world oil resources /supplies now 80% in the hands of ‘nationalist’ – mercantilist governments from Russia to Brazil to Venezulea etc and the Anglo American former seven sisters being booted to outfield it would be a brave man who would predict where the West will be in another decade .

    Oh and good luck in any future political career:).

  • Steve

    Greenflag

    It’s ironic to think that while the USA appears to be moving left -the UK is moving the other way .

    yeah GF but the left in the US is still to the right of the right in the UK

  • Bob Wilson

    Rooster (and others)
    There are alot of people out there who, understandably perhaps because of the media coverage, have gaining the impression that ‘London’ or ‘CCHQ’ has stitiched up a deal with some ‘Trimble cabal’
    For information: the Conservative side of the Working Party is made up of Ulster Tories – 100%.
    It reports to the Owen Paterson and the NI Area Executive.
    We are hoping to engage some advice from CCHQ sortly but this is professional rather than political.

  • Rooster Cogburn

    Bob: the decision was taken over your heads; you haven’t been involved in the discussions Empey has had with Cameron in London; your ‘working party’ is nothing more than Woodentop’s indulgent way of making you feel you’re being listened to. You’re not. You never were. You didn’t initiate this process; you’re evidently less well informed than even I am about what’s happening; you won’t determine its outcome. Yet again, the poor, brave, sincere sods who make up the ‘local’ Ni Tories have been stitched up by london, and are about to find themselves rolled up into precisely the regionnal party they’ve, most of them, spent the last 10 years denouncing. Welcome back.

  • Bob Wilson

    My apols to those of you out there. My post earlier was intended simply as a bit of information but Rooster has gone off the deep end.
    I dont intend to respond to each of his sweeping unfounded points.
    Maybe he can come up with some facts. When was the most recent meeting with Reg and Cameron in London. Who were the other 7 people around the table in the Leader’s office?

    Again my apols to the rest of you but I think it unwise of me to feed the troll anymore!

  • Rooster Cogburn

    I love that ‘most recent meeting’ casually dropped in there by the bould Bob. You might almost think he had been to some before. You know, the ones he didn’t know were even taking place. The ones where Reg and Dave took the decisions. Without, my oh my, consulting Bob or any of his local colleagues in any form whatsoever.

    Seriously Bob, after all your years on Slugger of anti-UUP yammering, if you now want to maintain that a.) being folded into the UUP was always your heart’s desire & b.) you (or any other ‘local’ Tory come to that) were in any shape or fashion instrumental in this decision being taken (as opposed to latterly, laggardly being merely told that it had been taken), okay, there you are. You and I both know it ain’t true.

  • bob Wilson

    Still a bit short on facts Rooster

  • Sorry for the delay in replying, Duncan. By the way, I’m not really a Monday Clubber as my opinions on race wouldn’t fit in well there.

    Whatever else has put the Tories so far ahead, it sure isn’t because of not being “nasty” any longer. The Tories were marooned for years not because they supported things like Section 28 (public support for which was about twice the poll rating scored by the Tories during this period) but because Brown’s mis-handling of the economy took years to reach its present awful fruition. That’s what has put Windmill Dave so far ahead and which may in time make him PM, not those huskie trips and the other stunts.

    At the risk of pointing out the flipping obvious, most people in the UK outside the political class hold pretty “right wing” views on lots of subjects. They want criminals hammered by the state, they hate the feeble political correctness that harms their businesses, they hate social security scroungers. In fact if you wanted to appeal to those people, you would discover a point of consensus around an Islington table and resolve on doing the precise opposite. Oh, and given so many of the problems facing Britain, in terms of crime, education and social security, social conservatism is the answer, not the reheated Blairism that the Heir to Blair will be offering if he gets elected. But that’s the problem with the Tories:, as you point out, they are always coming to terms with what they believe to be irreversibly liberal social changes, which is why a Tory government will come unstuck when it fdinds it can’t deal with the problems.

    I have already said here I think Iris Robinson’s comments were totally crass and stupid, even though I share much of her basic theology. I believe homosexuality to be immoral but I believe opposition to it needs to be conducted with civility and care, and that comparisons to paedophilia etc. are dumb. I also believe that there is secular tide in public life that is intent on pushing Christian-related beliefs to the sidelines.

    You have more confidence in the secularism of unionist voters than me. Although secularism is growing in Northern Ireland (and any growth can be reversed), it is growing slower than elsewhere and in particular it is growing slower on the Protestant side. Of course, the DUP would welcome a unionist candidate with “progressive social attitudes” and a skilled Christian like Wee Jeffrey would be certain to mobilise a lot of support. Have you forgotten how Bush got the Christian vote out in battleground states in 2004?

  • Rooster Cogburn

    So that’s a yes then, is it, Bob? Yes, I, Bob, found out that this decision had been taken only after it had been taken (and, yes, the idea that I had contributed anything to the taking of the decision I knew nothing about is, obviously, i>absurd)? And, yes, it is of course the opposite course to the one I’ve been shouting about on Slugger for the past, God only knows how many years? Yes, I used to believe that the UUP were a bunch of no-hoper, going-nowhere, self-defeating, inconsequential, crypto-Ulster nationalist losers, now I know better, and, yes, the UUP are in fact where my leader in London is unceremoniously dumping me. Give it up Bob, black isn’t white and you’re not ‘deciding’ anything – you’re, rather tamely, doing what you’re told, however contrary that it to what you used to believe. As I’ve said already, welcome back to the UUP.

  • Greenflag

    Steve

    ‘but the left in the US is still to the right of the right in the UK ‘

    Not any more . Reason being the current economic meltdown in the USA is far worse than what the UK or Ireland are presently undergoing or will undergo . When you get the likes of Warren Buffet , Bill Gates and former White Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill sitting down to discuss the economy with Obama then you know that things are actually worse than what the ‘media’ are stating .

    What’s happening in the USA is nothing less than a full scale revelation of where the ‘free market’ and a deregulated financial services can lead a country if the ‘reins’ are removed . The triumph of capitalism of the early post communist era has now morphed into the triumph of bad capitalism over good capitalism . How this one turns out will determine basically how long it will take for the USA and it’s dollar to be deposed from it’s No 1 ranking in the global economy . If the new administration can’t reverse the decline then you had better start taking Mandarin or Hindi lessons for the coming Asian century .

    Back in 1988 ( yes that was when Northern Ireland was beginning it’s talks about talks or was it talks about talks about the possibility of talks ? ) anyway Asia at that time meant Japan and the worry was that the Japanese were going to become the world’s number one economy . They’re still number 2 although the average Japanese citizen has a net worth three times his American equivalent . Anyway since 1988 China , India , South Korea, Russia and further afield even Brazil have all emerged with strong economies and billions of dollars in nationally owned oil corporations . So it’s only a question of time . America’s last gasp at retaining world global economic hegemony was to gain control of the Iraqi oil fields via ‘privatisation ‘ and also Iran’s if they could get away with it . Now the latter possibilty is becoming remote . All of the above has happened in a 20 year period .Most of the global power balance change -to America’s disadvantage has occurred during the current Bush Presidency. This President has been and will be recognised by history as the instigator of the USA’s relative economic decline . The signs were there before Bush took office but the last four years since the poorly planned and even more ineptly executed Iraqi invasion will no doubt result in Bush winning the Darwin Award .

    As for Northern Ireland – Well right now it looks very much like both main parties seem set on returning to 1988 . Despite the ascent of Asia or a fast changing world the dreary steeples of Fermanagh etc etc etc .

  • bob Wilson

    Yawn, your boring me now Rooster.
    I told you I wasnt going to respond point by point suffice to say youre wrong.
    Time will tell will it not.
    Feel free to email me direct – I notice you are not using a real email address

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    Watchman,

    Glad to hear you distance yourself from the Monday clubs views on race. I would say that I have a lot of hope of the secularism of unionist voters. Northern Ireland has a more Christian community than the mainland but regular churchgoing is still a minority occupation in NI and I continue to hope that the churches decline will continue apace. I am not so sure about a secular tide with any intent but the inevitable decline of religion in our society is of course moving Christian related beliefs to the sidelines and I view that as a positive development. NI will in due course follow the path of the mainland it may take longer but I have every hope that it will get there eventually. Whilst the American Christian right might at times seem powerful they are a declining force also and very much a minority. On a personal note a more unpleasant judgmental bunch of hypocrites would be hard to find and the one good thing that came from my divorce was to sever the connection with my ex wife’s deeply unpleasant southern Baptist parents.

    I would think that wee Jeffery (a man small in both stature and intellect) already does moblise the Christian vote so I don’t see how he would improve his vote. My view is that a progressive candidate could reach voters who do not normally participate and might tap into a wider vein of support but one never knows until it’s tried. I can’t really comment on Lagan Valley because I don’t know it well enough but I am utterly convinced that a moderate progressive unionist/conservative candidate could give McCrea a run in South Antrim. The clock is not going to turn back and the dominance of religion in public life will never come again. The shift in UK social attitudes is permanent and will continue to influence NI opinion slowly but inevitably.

  • Rooster Cogburn

    Yawn away Bob. Until of course Cameron tells you not to. Then you’ll be saying you’ve never once in your life yawned. Let’s face it, in terms of eating his words, you’re the only bod about this place who even rivals Shillers’ red face.

    As for emailing you – to what end? What are you going to claim to me in private that you won’t simply say here in front of everyone else? That you knew that the decision Reg and Dave took had been taken before you were in fact told? That you in some way contributed to the taking of a decision that you knew nothing about? That the decision taken in any way tallies with the line you’ve pumped out on Slugger for years and years? Seriously Bob, I’m actually sympathetic to the fix you find yourself in: being shafted by an uncaring CCHQ ain’t much fun, but your valiant effort to convince us that you haven’t been isn’t fooling anyone, least of all you.

  • I think that any unionist who stood up at a selection meeting in, say, South Antrim and said that he welcomed the declines of chrch-going and Christianity being pushed to the sideines of public wouldn’t have a hope in hell of being selected. Anyone who stood for office on that platform, I suspect, would either infuriate the pious and baffle everyone else. Still, Duncan, if you think you could beat Boxcar Willie on that basis, good luck to you. Just don’t expect your deposit back.

    Also, don’t forget that tides can be turned.

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    [i]I think that any unionist who stood up at a selection meeting in, say, South Antrim and said that he welcomed the declines of chrch-going and Christianity being pushed to the sideines of public wouldn’t have a hope in hell of being selected.[/i]

    Probably true. I don’t think it’s something I would make a centerpiece of any campaign either. On the other hand most people are not going to vote based on how religious or not someone is either. Pushed to the side is maybe too harsh I simply take the view that public life and government should be entirely secular. That’s in line with the 1st Amendment and I think is a sensible way to organize a government. Obviously the UK is not there as the Church of England remains the establishment church and the Queen remains head of the church and the state.

    The tide isn’t going to turn and the 50’s aren’t coming back get used to it.

  • Steve

    Greenflag

    I believe you are wrong. this century is Canada’s and we owe it all to the Chinese!

    cana is rich in the one thing the world needs….resources. Our only real rival might be Russia if they can develope the infrastructure.

    We owe it to the chinese because they took the economic funnel and turned it into a pyramid. Where onece the least valuable was raw material supply and the most valuable manufacturing China has flipped it to where raw materials provide more stimulus than manufacturing

    As for the US, Clinton left the country in excelent shape but on the cusp of a slow down. Bush cut the brakes and added fuel. His economic plan was a disastwer when Reagan Tried it and it was an even bigger disaster under the toppiary king.

    Ah well its easy for me to be smug after all I live in the only G8 nation that still has a budget surplus. Thanks Paul Martin too bad Chretien put the knife in

  • Elvis Parker

    Shane Greer hit the nail on the head on Daily Telegraph’s Brassneck – this is about the politics of the union not the politics of unionism

  • Peat Blog

    “We owe it to the chinese because they took the economic funnel and turned it into a pyramid.”

    Steve,

    Yes, they might also have turned it into a pyramid scheme so I wouldn’t get too cocky just yet.

  • Steve

    No Peat

    Pyramid schemes are built from the top down pyramids are built from the bottom up.

    besides it doesnt matter who does the manufacturing they still need our minerals, petroleum and foods

    Only thing that could really throw the thing into the drink is a real pandemic that eliminates huge portions of the population. In which case I will be too busy trying to survive to worry about the price of oil