The water is wide

“The Water is wide.” So start the lyrics to the eponymous song (I have a copy sung quite brilliantly by Mary Black). I would suggest that in political terms the waters between GB and Northern Ireland are also quite wide.

Alex Kane for one seems to be delighted by the prospect of the UUP and the Conservatives joining up, though he sees well the problems of the Tories baggage regarding Northern Ireland. The nature of any understanding between them be it affiliation, merger or something in between is of course as yet unclear. Kane’s delight should of course come as no surprise: the most intellectually convincing and elegant of civic unionists, a man of moderate right of centre views would naturally welcome the potential union / affiliation of his party with the Conservatives.
I confess, however, to being dubious about whether or not this is likely to save the UUP: I suspect it may do little other than temporarily save their leader; I would be very happy to be wrong, however. A number of people have speculated on what David Cameron may gain from this. These possibilities range from the completely short term cynical to the suggestion that this is someone trying to rebuild a unionist party in the sense of advocating the union of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

What Reg Empey gains from this is rather easier to see. Despite the excitement surrounding their victory in the Dromore by election, the UUP still seem to be in a state of drift. Sometimes they seem to be trying to woo potential Alliance supporters, on other occasions they seem to be trying to cross the DUP’s T to end up more hard line. In all this Empey has seemed to either try to hold the ring between the hardliners and the semi Alliance types or flip flop between the two positions seemingly at random. Maybe that is unfair but Empey has seemed to be effectively rudderless. He is not an especially charismatic leader and has maybe largely been saved from the men in grey suits by the lack of a convincing alternative.

By pulling the Conservative rabbit out of his hat Emepy, however, now seems to be clever and cunning and maybe even having real vision in trying to move unionism in general and the UUP in particular into a more central place within the UK (out of the orangery).

There remain many problems in any such plan, however.

All politics is local and it seems very unlikely that any bright shiny young English Tories will be drafted in to fight for Ulster seats (I will come back to English bright young things later). As such we are very likely to be left with the current UUP politicians albeit possibly with a new name. Without wishing to play the man the UUP have few convincing performers young or old. I well remember Martina Purdy’s withering assessment of the “Young Turks” who were sent in to retake the DUP seats in 2005. She described them as “lambs to the slaughter.” The older UUP representatives are also not exactly exciting, charismatic or politically successful either.

The next problem which Alex Kane correctly identifies is the Tories baggage for unionists. Despite the traditional mistrust with which many grassroots unionists have viewed the Labour Party it was the Conservatives and not Labour who prorogued Stormont, were instrumental in Sunningdale, created the Anglo Irish Agreement, commenced talks with the IRA. Labour on the other hand despite the party’s once declared support for a united Ireland by consent never showed much interest in changing the constitutional arrangements here prior to Mr. Blair’s “hand of history” etc. Unionists have very long political memories and in this case might be inclined to hold the sins of the fathers against their political sons.

As I alluded to earlier it is unlikely that there will be many bright young English (or Scottish / Welsh) Tories coming here to fight elections. I do not really see Fermanagh / South Tyrone nor even East Londonderry having a young ex-Etonian / Oxbridge UUP candidate. There has, however, in the past been a rather idealised welcoming of young English conservatives by the UUP leadership. It is almost seems that a good public school education and a bit of received pronunciation can bewitch some UUP types. The classic example of this of course was Steven King. He was undoubtedly talented, cultured and affable; he worked hard for the party. Yet his understanding of Northern Irish politics and the unionist grassroots was always a bit sketchy and despite his undoubted hard work for the party he was at least in part responsible for “Decent People vote unionist” which if the Labour Party’s 1983 manifesto was the longest suicide note in British political history, the UUP’s 2005 effort was a short snappy bullet in the head.

I raise the spectre of King because I wonder sometimes whether some in the UUP regard Cameron in a similar light, along with the added awe of PM in waiting (before anyone gets too carried away remember Neil Kinnock in 1992). Cameron may well be very talented and very well able to win English votes. Political success, however, frequently does not travel well and in political terms the North Channel is wide and its waters are deep. The lustre of a Cameron endorsement may have some weight in North Down and South Belfast but amongst the “Dreary Steeples” of Fermanagh and Tyrone, amongst the dour Presbyterians of East and North Antrim and the Orangemen of County Londonderry, I wonder just how bright the lamp of Cameron-ism will shine.

Even within the Pale a tie up with the Conservatives may not be unalloyed joy: an Alliance member acquaintance of mine suggested that this would be an opportunity for Alliance to attract leftish unionists who might be a bit peeved that the UUP was joining forces with the Tories.

I do wish this endeavour success, as the Watchman is likely to be correct that this tie up can reach unionists who would never vote DUP. However, as our own Darth Rumsfeld has observed there is no guarantee that all those garden centre Prods are actually that liberal. I must admit that I think this whole episode is most likely to simply save Empey in the short term and have relatively little effect on the gradual gentle long term decline of the UUP.

To end where I began, with the song: maybe just maybe the Conservatives can build a boat which can carry two and then they can sail with the UUP.

  • slug

    Turgon

    1. Was Kane’s piece really only 8 paragraphs? Or was it cut short by mistake on the online version? Seemed not much to it this week, leaving me disappointed!

    2. N. Dodds is an Oxbridge person, as is N. McCausland. As was E. Beirnie, etc. While King actually dropped out of PPE at Oxford after a term and went to QUB instead. If anything Unionism needs good 1st class minds from top universities. There is no reason why going to Oxford makes you a toff or out of touch. It just means you are bright to have got the grades and interview and you got a great tutorial based education, which sets many up well for a high level political career.

  • Turgon

    Slug,

    In no way am I complaining about Oxbridge. Indeed I agree with your point. What I meant is that some in the UUP seemed bewitched by an English Oxbridge type (King) and may be similarly bewitched by Cameron. You pointing to the NI Oxbridge graduates chimes with my point: they are just as clever but sometimes I do think some here are bowled over by Received Pronunciation and a good public school.

  • Turgon

    slug,

    On your other point I also agree. It was much longer when I first read it online, it seems to have been shortened.

  • slug

    I suspect there are plenty of young talented people willing to join the UUP and get involved. There are some already. I’d like yo see more youth but also more WOMEN!

    What I liked about the Stephen King and David Trimble era was that unionism was more intellectual at that time. Trimble’s speeches were actually interesting to read because they contained i>arguments, unlike almost all other leaders. While Stephen Kings columns also contained argument.

    King is also a rather colourful character being gay and his openness about that in the world of conservative ulster politics I also admired.

    I find a political party or movement more interesting if it has intellectuals, and that is something I enjoyed about the unionism of the Trimble, King, Bew era. Its not enough to have intellectuals, of course, but it does make things more interesting.

  • slug

    Turgon

    I suppose people with RP accents seem exotic in NI. Unfortunately in the past it was also a mark of superiority and education. Ulster accents when I was growing up seemed never to be heard on the BBC (even BBC NI had extremely mild ones). Today even Radio 3 and 4 have people with very natural Ulster accents. Its a good development.

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    A little pessimistic Turgon. Alex makes the point that Labour was written off at one time as were the Tories but they bounce back. It’s probably a little complacent to assume the DUP will always remain dominant. It’s very difficult to know the extent to which this move will be of benefit to the UUP or not. My instant reaction was one of welcome but after reading Watchman’s piece I am less certain. The gap between the Cameron conservative party and those people Watchman or Frustrated Democrat see as natural Tory unionists is pretty large. It may be a real stretch to create an organization inclusive enough to encompass such divergent viewpoints.

    I have always believed that a sizeable strain of broadly liberal mainstream British opinion exists within Northern Ireland. There may well be room for Cameron to find an audience and to attract some voters to the new conservative/UUP banner. I take the view that mainstream media has a powerful influence on social and cultural norms and NI consumes a great deal of mainstream British media so it’s inevitable that it had an influence. I am just unwilling to accept that NI has to be a social and cultural outlier in British political life.

  • slug

    Duncan

    There are plenty old-style Tories about. The Conservatives always were a broad church. If anything Thatcher narrowed them. The fact they can accommodate you and Watchman suggests they can build a constituency big enough to govern. Just as Nu Labour did.

  • Turgon

    Duncan,

    A fair criticism and indeed I am probably being too pessimistic. I guess I wanted to be a counter balance to the generalised unionist rejoicing at this news. Cameron may well be a powerful ally. Equally, however, my father in law (though he was only a private) probably thought the same thing when HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse steamed into Singapore.

  • Henry Joy

    Curious. The only serious party left without a link to another country’s party will be the DUP. So could it become effectively an Ulster Nationalist party with a centre left slant (except for women and gays)? It can’t really go further right as that room is now taken up by a party that blames the poor and fat for being poor and fat. On the other hand wouldn’t it be a gift to the DUP to be faced with lots of young English candidates for the UUP! Imagine trying that in Scotland. Or Tyrone. I don’t think so.

    Or will there at last be some sort of realignment in politics?

  • Essentialist

    It should be borne in mind that the Cameron Conservatives are far from the finished product. The coating of slick gloss applied by Cameron to a potential arrangement with the UUP is premature and cynical. Alex Kane may think the direct benefit to Ulster Unionism is worth the price but I suggest that if Cameron really wants to pursue the United Kingdom Conservatives line he does it alone and leave the UU MP and voters to make the stark choice to join for themselves.
    Remember that Cameron is against academic selection. In one fell swoop the UU resistance to Caitriona Ruane’s policy is wiped out if the two parties align. I notice that Kane sems to have missed this point.

  • Another problem for a Tory Unionist party is the fact that many of the existing Ulster Tories are deeply hostile to Orangeism (as can be seen from their blog). I understand that perspective but it’s easy to see how the hostility could cause a lot of problems when fishing for votes outside the North Downs. Orangemen, their family and friends have a lot of votes between them.

  • Rabelais

    Duncan,
    You write:
    ‘I take the view that mainstream media has a powerful influence on social and cultural norms and NI consumes a great deal of mainstream British media so it’s inevitable that it had an influence. I am just unwilling to accept that NI has to be a social and cultural outlier in British political life.’

    Would that this were true, particularly among Ulster unionists. Consider the overwhelming international, national and regional media endorsement of the Good Friday Agreement and then look at its at best luke warm response among unionists, and how quickly even that support ebbed away.

    The interesting thing about unionism is just how resistent it can be to the dominan asumptions of the media at anytime. Also consider the figure of Ian Paisley over the years in the media. His brand of street oration, his size and generally billigerent presentation would, you would have thought, alienated audiences. And it probably did in England and elsewhere but Paisley’s media image played well at home where he was consider to be ‘sticking it to’ the media-types.

    There is a very large consitituency within unionism and loyalism that is hostile to and suspicious of the media percisely because of the sort of liberal mainstream opinion they identify with it and because that believe that the media consistently misrepresents them.

    In fact I would go so far as to suggest that there is a sizeable section of unionism that wears its distance from mainstream opinion as badge of a badge of principled honour and defiance. Remember Peter Robinson’s response to Trimble’s Noble Peace Prize: ‘better to be scorned by the world’ than accept an awards for ‘selling Ulster out’

    At the core of the politics of Ulster Protestantism is the notion that the more they are opposed the more vociferous they become in their faith.

    Ulster protestants will be polite to the faces of the liberal Cameroons but they’ll blow raspberries behind their backs.

  • Henry94

    Duncan

    Alex makes the point that Labour was written off at one time as were the Tories but they bounce back.

    They both did it in the same way by moving to the centre. In Britan you win by running from the centre and then implement your agenda until you get found out.

    That’s not how it works in the north. There you stake out an extreme position to knock out your rival and win votes. Then you get dragged to the centre by a combination of government pressure and a desire for power.

    That’s why Jim Alistair is far more of a threat to the DUP than David Cameron is.
    The unhappy DUP voters are not in the centre. Or the garden centre.

  • the ship’s cat

    At the risk of sounding boring, will everyone please do their homework and note that the NI Conservatives support selection in education. Have I said that plainly enough?

  • slug

    I think that the peace process dynamic was very bad for the Conservatives in NI.

    Before/up to 1992 they did quite well but after that NI moved into a major period of negotiation when it was clear that a lot was at stake and the Unionists needed their own parties to stand up for the NI unionists interests.

    Most of the principles to be established in the peace process have now been sorted out. It may be that NI has now settled. It may therefore be that Conservative and Unionist can work again because we NI unionists don’t need their local parties to stand alone.

    I suspect the truth is somewhere in between, that Sinn Féin will continue with a strategy of tension and that the London government will at times have to take a broader view than most NI unionists will like. That is why the UUP can’t throw away their ability to divorce again from the Conservatives should things not work out.

    However, on balance, I am very positive about the new Conservative and Unionist political party that is being discussed and I think it will be a good move for the quality of Northern Ireland politics.

  • Bigger Picture

    “if the Labour Party’s 1983 manifesto was the longest suicide note in British political history, the UUP’s 2005 effort was a short snappy bullet in the head.”

    Great line Turgon!

  • Mike

    Turgon

    You may or may nor be interested in my perspective (as a Northern Irish Oxford graduate, for what it’s worth…).

    I supported the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement which happened a year before I got the vote, and backed the UUP at the ballot box once I did turn 18. I’m a committed unionist and hoped to see a new civic unionism emerge (in earlier points of political interest in my teenage years [I’ll admit these were somewhat secondary to girls and suchlike…] I’d seen some hope in what might have been a Conservative breakthrough, and Bob McCartney’s early rhetoric). I voted for the UUP consistently while in NI. Meanwhile in England I voted at various times Conservative, Labour and Green!

    Come the defeat of the UUP by the DUP I continued to vote UUP – not through any geat enthusiasm but because there was little alternative. Had there been an election directly after the Whiterick riots in 2005 (see Empey’s comments about the police) or during the tie-up with the PUP in 2006, I would have voted Conservative or possibly Alliance rather than UUP.

    I was glad the DUP did the deal at/after St Andrews but disliked the idea of voting for them in the 2007 Assembly elections and went UUP, again without great enthusiasm (think I voted Conservative no.2). Events since then including the poor show from the UUP’s Executive team, plus geniune enthusiasm for the new Conservative momentum, had convinved me that come the next election, I would vote Conservative (rather than UUP). It would likely be something of a ‘wasted vote’, but still.

    This UUP-Conservative tie-in has interested me a lot as I’d be very keen to see a UK national party, the party of goverment hopefully, winning seats in the Assembly and in Parliament, with Ministers in the Executive and national government, promoting a positive pro-Union vision of the entire UK. Strangely though I don’t have entirly unmixed feelings – having finally decided to switch to the Conservatives I’m mildly disappointed there may not be a “purely” Conservative candidate to vote for!

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    “Despite the excitement surrounding their victory in the Dromore by election, the UUP still seem to be in a state of drift.”

    Look, this party got blitzed in the last few elections. They need to, and presumably are attempting to, rebuild. There’s only so much excitement a council by-election can provide for any party anywhere. They suffer from a lack of talent, experience and have a poor leader. It’s not rocket science.

    Covering every possible eventuality is not analysis, believe me. Why don’t you, if you really must, try being devil’s advocate. On one of the possible scenarios you like to flag up.

    Finally, this place is even more literal than Sky Sports News. I’m suprised your post didn’t contain a pic of the north Channel to accompany this:

    “Political success, however, frequently does not travel well and in political terms the North Channel is wide and its waters are deep.”

    I do hope you resist the temptation to become a poet any time soon. No offence, like. As you were…

  • Turgon

    Mike,
    Thank you for that perspective, I enjoyed reading it.

    Billie-Joe Remarkable,
    I am sorry you do not like my posts. I have stopped trying to please everyone but I do try to take constructive criticism seriously.

  • Blackmouth

    I think Quentin Davis called this right. David Cameron doesn’t give a fig about Northern Ireland – this is about trying to put to the one side the English-only image of the Tories.

    Going nowhere in Scotland and at a snail’s pace in Wales, they are using Empey to try and convey this pan-UK image. Shame for Empey that its Trimble who will be rewarded for the carve-up of the Ulster Unionist Party and not him.

  • Mike

    Turgon

    Cheers. By the way this line of your made me smile…

    “The lustre of a Cameron endorsement may have some weight in North Down and South Belfast but…”

    …brought up in North Down and living in South Belfast I may not be terribly representative!

  • Blackmouth

    I dislike the way people continually misrepresent South Belfast, and in particular Unionism in South Belfast.

    People fail to appreciate that in South Belfast, the Unionist population is disproportionately working-class – Belvoir, Taughmonagh, Benmore, Finaghy, The Village, Donegall Road, Sandy Row, Donegall Pass, The Woodstock, Ravenhill.

    I can’t see a Tory link-up playing terribly well in those areas.

  • Turgon – “I confess, however, to being dubious about whether or not this is likely to save the UUP: I suspect it may do little other than temporarily save their leader;”

    would have to agree in part with this.

    I think earlier commentary on this attempts to romanticise the link up via the rose tinted spectacles – whereas bi-focals would be more useful…

    with regards to saving their leader – is Empey the face of the UUP for future election campaigns? I think they have a problem in that they lack a punchy charismatic figure and linking with punchy/charismatic Cameron surely will only expose Empey as bantam weight/boring??????

  • I was going to say I’m disenchanted by the recurrent-cliché of “dreary steeples”. Then I paused to look up the original reference.

    Churchill was speaking in the Commons on the second reading of the Irish Free State Bill [HC Debates: vol. 150; col. 1270]. He said that, since 1914:

    … every institution, almost, in the world was strained. Great empires have been overturned. The whole map of Europe has been changed.

    Well, we’ve come to accept, if not know and love the European Union, and its place in the world since the collapse of the post-WW2 super-power duopoly. It’s safe to disregard neutrality and “ourselves alone”. Equally, the extreme introversion which has been the main spirit of Ulster Unionism since (to pluck a date out of the air) early June 1974 no longer works in the current climate — if only because devolution needs a more mature attitude from all involved.

    In passing, watching from the Eastern Standard Time zone, I didn’t quite grasp why a by-election in Scotland went off Westminster’s Richter scale: it seemed quite a grown-up eventuality at that perspective. However, that’s not relevant here, so back to Churchill in 1922:

    The modes of thought of men, the whole outlook on affairs, the grouping of parties, all have encountered violent and tremendous changes in the deluge of the world, but as the deluge subsides and the waters fall short we see the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone emerging once again. The integrity of their quarrel is one of the few institutions that has been unaltered in the cataclysm which has swept the world.

    It all reminds me that the Liberal Churchill (as he was between 1904 and 1923) could be quite a progressive creature.

    What he was acknowledging, surely, was that curious feature of all-Ireland politics: the reluctance of the “Balubas” (remember them?) to come into the second quarter of the twentieth century. Fianna Fáil had endless problems therewith; and I recall hearing one FF TD from the west invite an opponent to step outside the Chamber and settle the dispute “like men”. Similarly, the various splits in the Unionists have come from geography as much as ideology. I suspect that SF is not without similar fissile pressures.

    The bottom line is that the Cameroonies are calculating on the accession of a few — a precious few — urban, and urbane Unionists in the next Parliament. That leaves the DUP as the resort for the disaffected and rural Unionist vote. It also leaves the likes of Robinson and Donaldson with a problem: can they continue to attract support north-east of the Bann, when the odd UUP MP has full, free and well-publicised access to the corridors of power (and any accompanying pork)? And, no, the Cameroonies have more sense than to try and export A-list candidates. Meanwhile, it all subtly re-introduces class-based politics back into NI (and, if the Cameroonies make it, watch out for that revival across the UK).

    As for The Water is Wide, I’d be none-too-keen to claim it as a Northern Irish song (as Turgon-the-Wise implicitly does).

    Allan Ramsay in Edinburgh first published it in Tea-time Miscellany of 1724, where it appears as O waly, waly!. It only acquired the title given here in the 19th century. It’s a variant of Child Ballad 204 (which it may have spawned). It was collected (I believe) by Cecil Sharp and Maud Karpeles in Appallachia during 1916-18; and so came back into the folk tradition.

    Perhaps as an ironic sub-text to any Tory-UUP alliance, Child 204 has a precise historical basis: the unhappy marriage of Barbara Erskine, daughter of the 20th earl of Mar, to Jamie Douglas, the second Marquess.

    Was its 1948 adaptation by Ben Britten the source of the song’s later revival? I remember it from an early Joan Baez album (start of the 1960s), which seems to be the Ur-track for all subsequent attempts (NB: Baez is breaking the habit of a lifetime, and endorsing a candidate this year: Obama).

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    Turgon, Fair play.

    Much of what you say is valid enough but you do seem concerned to be covering your back by allowing for far too many eventualities. I’m clearly on record as being against repetition. There’s always going to be a certain amount of that but I juts think if all posters added a little humour or bite or simply looked to be a bit more provocative.

    You, at least, give some thought and effort to your posts so that’s an improvement on many around here.

    As for being literal, if you ever watch Sky Sports News you’ll get my drift. Right now I’m sure they’re telling viewers how Robbie is KEEN to go to Liverpool and rivals had better watch out or they might KOP it next season. etc etc. I find a bit of that around here. You’re not the only one. The Rolling Stones You Can’t Always Get What You Want (Fine song ad on my iPod being used to allude to the political impasse stands as a case in point.
    Relevant, possibly. Inspired? I’d argue not but it’s al about opinions and I’m only giving mine.

    Still, as a smart alec tosser myself, it’ll not be too long before you get the chance to pull me up on something. As you were…

  • Turgon

    billie-Joe Remarkable,

    Fair enough, thanks for that.

    Regards

  • Essentialist

    The Ship’s Cat makes a claim for the NI COnservatives on support for academic selection. Since the N.I.Conservative party are not the grouping the Ulster Unionists and Reg Empey wants to join then it seems peverse to claim devolved policy. I attempted to complete the homework on this point but have been unable to uncover a NI Conservative policy. This seems to be indicative of the plethora of problems consequent to buying Reg and Dave’s Big Idea.The Conservative Party oppose academic selection. In England the onservatives are fans of the failing academy schools. What other policy surprises are in store for unionists? Another go at the Anglo-Irish Agreement?

  • fair_deal

    “Yet you can’t allow the mistakes and disappointments of the past to deter you from reassessing a relationship and maybe even rebuilding it.”

    I trust Alex will take the same approach to areas of co-operation between the UUP and DUP in line with such sentiments.

    Turgon

    “Kane’s delight should of course come as no surprise: the most intellectually convincing and elegant of civic unionists, a man of moderate right of centre views would naturally welcome the potential union / affiliation of his party with the Conservatives.”

    It comes of even less surprise when you remember he used to be a member of the Conservatives.

  • Ides of march

    Alex Kane in March this year on the local Conservatives and David Cameron.

    “Their local supporters continue to say that a bright new world awaits us under David Cameron, but I can’t help feeling that the propaganda is directed to themselves rather than the wider electorate in Northern Ireland.”

    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/Register.aspx?ReturnURL=http://www.newsletter.co.uk/opinion/Union-of-benefit-to-veryone.3907606.jp

  • Essentialist @ 01:11 PM:

    The Conservative Party oppose academic selection.

    Well, I must have missed that as a definitive statement.

    The Policy Green Paper No. 1: Raising the bar, closing the gap manages 52 pages without once using the terms “selection”, “grammar school” or “eleven plus” (perhaps I missed that, too).

    The document is strong on “comprehensive”, as in the weasel words “comprehensively excellent”; but the recipe for such an ideal institution looks suspiciously like a traditional grammar:

    Strict school uniform policies, with blazer, shirt and tie and with a zero-tolerance of incorrect or untidy dress.
    Extensive extra-curricular activities …
    A system of prefects and a head boy and head girl.
    The opportunity to highlight and publicly reward achievement …

    And, presumably the right to split infinitives.

    There is an explicit commitment, too, that setting by ability is the only solution.

    True enough, Cameron — or, rather, David Willetts, who was promptly put into detention for trying too hard — did rashly (in May 2007, and before that “Green Paper no. 1”) propose that

    there would be no return to grammar schools on the grounds that they do little to benefit children from poorer backgrounds.

    Tory Buckinghamshire (Novembewr 15, 2007) announced it intended a new grammar in Aylesbury. Furthermore:

    The Tories have promised that the existing grammars are safe, thus avoiding any potential confrontation with and loss of votes from angry parents of grammar school pupils.

  • joeCanuck

    I’m clearly on record as being against repetition

    Still, Billie Joe, you’re not totally beyond that yourself 🙂

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    Yeah but I’ve more or less made my point and if people stop posting new threads etc etc. My more recent posts have been about the issues in hand.

    I appreciated, even as I wrote, that I had made the point more than once. It’s just so frustrating. Anyway, I’m far from perfect myself, i know and I am as open to accepting criticism as I am to dishing it out. Just feel it should all be a bit snappier etc but each site has its own collective attitude etc. Er, I’ll stop now as I’m even boring myself to death.

  • joeCanuck

    My more recent posts have been about the issues in hand.

    Indeed they have and some good points too.

  • Crow

    Sooner or later there will be a crisis that involves a Conservative government reaching a deal with either Sinn Fein or the Irish Governement. This deal, on whatever, will be done without the consulation of their Northern Ireland allies in the UUP, which will cause them embarassment and make them look somewhere between ineffective and impotent. Imagine the UUP’s prediciment if it was a Conservative government explaining how there will be passport checks for NI travellers. The DUP would have a field day and the UUP would pay the price at the ballot box.

  • Crow

    Meant to say, “explaining how there will be passport checks for NI travellers to Britain”.