Co-operation present and future

Chekov and Ignited both give their views today on Stephen King’s revelation that David Cameron rejected approaches by the DUP for a deal similar to the one Sir Reg Empey got.

Interesting that in their published accounts last week (PDF), the Alliance Party paid an affiliation fee of £65 last year for their tie to the Liberal Democrats. Funny they didn’t mention that more when the UUP made it’s announcement. Are they not proud of their link to mainland politics? If not why keep it?

  • rabelais

    Ignited writes: “One thing is quite clear: David Cameron thus far has not set a foot wrong. The move away from English nationalism is welcome and may well be specifically aimed at Alex Salmond.”

    Links with the UUP may well represent a move away from English nationlism but if it is specifically aimed at the SNP then how exactly do the UUP feel about being used effectively as a pawn in a larger game?

    The Tories are nothing if not a pragmatic party. If Scottish independence looks inevitable they might find it expedient to exploit the growing reserves of English nationalism once again.

    The UUP are taking a massive gamble here. Until unionism generally starts to contemplate the very real possiblity that a Conservative victory at the general election might be just enough to convince the Scots to go their own way it is stumbling about in the dark.

    If the Scots do decide to leave then the DUP’s ‘Ulster nationalism’ and political independence might resonant better with the Northern Ireland’s unionist electorate.

    I’d be interest to know what unionists think about the following:

    1. how strong a possibility do you think Scottish independence is?
    2. do you think a Tory government might accelorate it?
    3. if it happens what then for Ulster unionism?

  • Valenciano

    “Interesting that in their published accounts last week (PDF), the Alliance Party paid an affiliation fee of £65 last year for their tie to the Liberal Democrats. Funny they didn’t mention that more when the UUP made it’s announcement. Are they not proud of their link to mainland politics? If not why keep it?”

    Probably because everyone already knows about it and thus it’s “old news.”

  • bob Wilson

    The fundamental divide here is whether you believe that ‘unionisms’ best interests are served by maximising the number of MPs elected for six county parties who sit (admittedly not many of them go) waiting for an opportunity to ‘sell’ their vote a the highest bidder (This is obviously N Dodds and N McCauslands belief)
    Whether you believe that Northern Ireland is best served by developing UK politics in NI or as Cameron put it on Radio Ulster:
    “Need to get to a situation where you can’t have a UK PM brushing off NI as you’ll have NI MPs as part of the party in government. People looking to go into politics in NI should have no limit to their aspirations. People should have a legitimate expectation they could be part of government. These new politicians can then remind government of the need for a fair deal for all the UK”.

    Which route will benefit NI in the long run – maintaining ‘unionist ie Protestant unity’ or developing real politics

  • BoBo

    King is entirely wrong on this one. The UUP-Tory talks started last October and it was only foot-dragging by the UUP which prevented the story breaking much earlier than it did.

    The 42 Days and Iris outbursts had no impact, because there were no DUP-Tory talks.

    Does anyone actually think that the NI wing of the Conservative Party would have bought into a link-up with the DUP in the first place? Does anyoneactually think that Trimble would have bought into it?

    But good for Dr King. When you don’t have the hard facts (because you have been kept out of the loop) don’t let it stop you from writing an “informed” piece anyway!


  • fair_deal


    “Which route will benefit NI in the long run ”

    As we have two Unionist parties who seem to be adopting the different approaches Unionism gets to try both rather than make a choice.

  • “The UUP-Tory talks started last October and it was only foot-dragging by the UUP which prevented the story breaking much earlier than it did.

    The 42 Days and Iris outbursts had no impact, because there were no DUP-Tory talks.”

    Your contention is a non-sequitur. Yes the UUP were in talks with the Tories in October. That doesn’t mean that Robinson made no approaches.

    To put it frankly, the Conservative NI view on either merger offers only irritation value for Conservative Central Office, despite the positive gloss they’re putting on things.

  • I should have said offered. The local Tory view was largely an irrelevance.

  • bob Wilson

    MMmmm Chekov as the Conservative members of the Working Group are entirely from Northern Ireland one wonders how the Group will progress – unless of course you’re completely wrong in your last assertion?

    Also ‘it was only foot-dragging by the UUP which prevented the story breaking much earlier than it did’ perhaps it was a desire to keep confidential talks well ..confidential which prevented the story breaking earlier? Just a thought

  • DC

    I wouldn’t rule out a reduction in NI MPs at Westminster 18 to 12 if devolution strengthens local efficiency and decision-making. Obviously NI isn’t going great (understatement); however in Wales and Scotland their own performance could prompt a reduction. This is something the Tories might consider as implementable.

  • elvis Parker

    Interesting point DC Northern Ireland representation is similar per head of population to England. Scotland and Wales have deliberately been kept over represented for the last 2 elections to favour Labour. Blair could have rectified this sooner but was too busy banning fox hunting.

    ‘if devolution strengthens local efficiency and decision-making’ one could argue that the system is designed to have the opposite effect

  • slug


    “1. how strong a possibility do you think Scottish independence is? ”

    Greater devolution of fiscal powers – 100% certain. Full independence (own foreign policy etc) not likely but possible.

    “2. do you think a Tory government might accelorate it? ”

    Don’t think so, they are unlikely to do anything in Scotland that is very unpopular. First they don’t have power over devolved matters. Second, regarding the main powers that are not devolved (economic and foreign policy) I don’t expect Conservatives to do anything unpopular to Scots specifically. I don’t expect Cameron to be any more war-inclined than Blair, for example. Third, Cameron won’t want to be the PM that braks up the UK so incentives are there not to annoy Scots.

    “3. if it happens what then for Ulster unionism? ”

    Let me take this in two stages. First, if there is fiscal devolution and second if there is full independence to Scotland.

    If there is fiscal devolution to Scotland this will be of great interest to devolutionist unionists. If it is shown that Scotland benefits economically from this then unionists will argue for NI to get the same powers. This may allow NI to better compete for investment, for example.

    If there is full independence to Scotland then Unionists will seek to widen out the North-South bodies to also include Scotland — it will be important to cooperate on practical matters like transport and higher education for exactly the same reason we agreed to cooperate with the South. Northern Ireland will find itself in the potentially exciting entrepot position of being located between two capital cities – Dublin and Edinburgh – and this may present economic and cultural opportunities for Belfast. NI policy makers may also benefit from lookng at the experience of Dublin and Edinburgh and can watch to see what benefits are attained in Scotland from greater independence; ultimately this might provide some encouragement to ask for more powers going to Belfast, although I doubt if it will seek complete independence from the UK. Ultimately, however, were NI to develop economically and societally, there is no deep reason why a high measure of independence is not possible, as there are many independent EU states that are smaller than NI. However for the same reasons that I think full Scottish independence unlikely I think full NI independence ulikely. Finally its worth remembering tha tScotland and NI are quite different places with different political forces at play and the fact that Scotland is independent need not operate to puch NI out of the Union; in fact it may result in a new future for NI as a more pivotal and strategic part of the UK. Thus, in summary, independence for Scotland would present a case for new cross border structures that allow cooperation between Belfast and Edinburgh and would result in Belfast occupying a strategic entrepot position between the centres of Dublin and Edinburgh. NI could in this context benefit hugely from enjoying greater autonomy while remaining within the UK.

  • Rooster Cogburn

    It’s hard to know who’s sillier: Shillers claiming King revealed something (Empey’s frantic opposition to Trimble’s proposed link-up with IDS’s Tories) which has been discussed umpteen times on Slugger from more or less the week the offer was made, or, poor Bob Wilson still trying it on that he has anything to do with the decisions taken between Cameron’s office and Empey.

  • bob Wilson

    Keep chugging away Rooster awful awkward when you cannot make the facts fit your crackpot theories!
    Cockadoodle do

  • Rooster Cogburn

    Here’s my maddest theory yet: Bob, after years gurning about the UUP (not least, here on Slugger), about how they’re an awful, sectarian, provincial bunch of nobodies, one day woke up, realised that they were the bees’ knees, rang up Woodentop, said, ‘Put me through to the Boy Wonder’, brr, brr, “Heller, Leader of the Opposition’s Orffice” “Huhlow, it’s Bawb Wilsuun here” “Sorry caller, could you repeat that” “It’s Bawb, Bawb Wilsuun” “I think you want our ethnic outreach department, mister Ba-yob whu-San” “Noooo, it’s Bawb Wilsuun, regional viceprefect for the Ulstaar Air-reayh” “Where? I mean, what?” Eventually Bob gets through to Dave, puts him right, and tells him, quick sharp, to negotiate a deal with the hitherto Bob-loathed UUP. Result.

    Or, Dave and Reg cooked up a deal, told Bob after the fact that they had done so. He asked them, ‘how high?’ They puzzled on the fact that they hadn’t even told him to ‘jump!’ yet. Reality. I mean, result.

  • Bob Wilson

    Rooster – that’s quite amusing but wide of the mark I’m afraid. Back to the henhouse with you!

  • Rooster Cogburn

    Well Bob, if for understandable reasons of internal party security you won’t tell us a.) when you decided that the Tory party should merge with the hitherto Bob-hated UUP & b.) naturally, you’re of course far too modest to tell us exactly how your silvery tongue argued Dave round to this point after you had reached said aforementioned decision of yours, I do wonder if you could tell us why? Since the decision was yours, since you’re the cove driving this forward, since you told Dave and Reg what’s what, rather than them telling you, do tell. Do tell us why, after all your chirruping here on Slugger no less, about what sewers the UUP were, you changed your mind and decided that, after all, jumping into bed with Reg was just what you wanted to do? An anxious praavince wants to know. And don’t worry about Reg or Dave ever reading your answer, and there being any blushes as a result. Owen can’t use a computer, so CCHQ will never find out, and the UUP’s broadband was cut off last month. Actually, who am I kidding? Obviously it was the UUP’s dial-up connection that was cut off in July.

  • bob Wilson

    Rooster this isnt about ME this is about the future of the Province.
    I only offered info to correct some misunderstandings that’s all.
    I see your mask is slipping. I suspect your not a Rooster at all but a broody old hen.
    Way back on sit on yer eggs!

  • Rooster Cogburn

    But Bob, it *is* about you, and for that matter, about all the other local Tories, who for years and years have denounced the UUP for its sundry crimes, and who have exalted themselves precisely on the basis that they weren’t part of such a ‘sectarian’ [sic] outfit. That’s been precisely the argument you’ve made for yourselves as would-be politicians (would-be in the sense that you’ve not actually been able to, uh, get elected, unlike the wretched UUP). So why now has all that changed? Why have you turned right round and realised that actually not merely are the UUP good eggs, they’re such good yolk, er, folk that you want to merge with them? Obviously you’re not going to try and claim that its because they’ve changed. I mean, when would you try to maintain that? The glorious moment when Reg offered the Assembly whip to that squalid creep Ervine? Was that when they changed? So no, they’re much as they always were, whereas you’ve moved from one loudly voiced position to its complete negation. The whole stuff about your armour propre is neither here nor there – of course you didn’t make, take or even secretly advocate this decision. It was taken over your head, you were informed of, and now, with just a touch too much enthusiasm, you’re behaving rather like one of those Provette posters on Sluggers who a.) mainatins the blindingly obvious U-turn in party policy *hasn’t* happened; b.) what has happened was always party policy and the previous position never existed; then finally, c.) whine about something so amazingly off-topic it could suggest the existence of 37 extra dimensions of reality.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Shilliday, you really are scraping the barrel. Please keep blogging, the shrill cry of a party facing imminent extinction needs to be clearly heard.