Yougov results

The UUP/Conservatives have released more detail from the YouGov poll they commissioned as part of their merger talks. It shows support for the Union at 55% and a United Ireland at 24% with the remaining expressing no opinion or supporting independence. Among SDLP and SF voters it found 28% and 16% support for the Union respectively. AFAIK for number junkies (like myself) the data is unpublished.

  • runciter

    Five years ago, nationalism was confident and in the ascendant. Now (it seems to me) it is confused and directionless. I’m not convinced, as you argue, that the same is true for Unionism.

    What is unionism’s strategic direction? It cannot hope to re-gain lost ground – there is no going back.

    While nationalism might be pausing for breath after achieving a power-sharing assembly, it has a clear direction – re-unification. Also, nationalism now has an additional strategic weapon – the ability to re-make the establishment in its own image.

    the useless assertion that unionism is terminal decline.

    It is not a useless assertion, but a crucial observation.

    Unionism’s reliance on external support has become its greatest weakness. It cannot remain untouched by the forces currently at work dissolving the UK.

  • PaddyReilly

    Salmond shows that you need to do (at least) three things: build a wider coalition of interests that moves you beyond your historic base; create an attractive narrative for your prefered option; and leverage your opponent’s structural weaknesses.

    Despite its proximity, Scotland is an utterly different entity from 6 county Ireland (Though more similar to 26 County Ireland).

    Whether Scotland should be united with England, totally independent or occupy some half way house is a decision for the Scots to take, in good time, in possession of the right economic data. (Amusingly, the current enthusiam for independence is largely inspired by 26 co Ireland’s prosperity).

    One can change one’s mind three times a day without any social consequences. One Scottish resident surprised me when I spoke to him by announcing that he had become an SNP supporter, though I had previously known him as a lifelong Liberal. His father was Labour, grandfather Conservative.

    In NI, however, the effect of having a war between the two factions has been to cement everyone into their respective identities. The SDLP may lose votes to SF, and the TUV take them from the DUP, but you cannot expect a Nationalist or Unionist to change sides. It’s like asking a Jew to reinvent himself as a German.

    Surveys may exist which prove that 18% of Jews like the taste of Cyclon B, but I doubt their veracity.

    So the best that either side can expect from their opposite number is sullen acceptance. You’re certainly not going to get anything like enthusiasm.

  • Mick Fealty

    Sammy,

    Did you ever get any takers on the devolution of policing before the end of the year? I’m studiously avoiding any discussion of that poll until we have the hidden details. My latest piece on Brassneck might be relevant to this: http://tinyurl.com/6yjjpw. Economists, for instance, are often good for all manner of things except the one they get asked most often to do: forecasting.

    In fact, the only accurate way to be able to ‘future’ on this topic would be to run a book of sufficient size and varity of punters on the chances of unification. In fact, the problem with ‘futuring’ from a nationalist point of view is that it promises today what it may not be able to deliver tomorrow: thus creating that air of complacency that Kensei has observed.

  • kensei

    Mick

    What you see as a ‘hard on’ for unionism simply comes from reading sympathetically across the political piste.

    To quote Hagakure And in large part we make our logic according to what we like. You have decided on a narrative, and you squeeze stuff to fit it. So the DUP’s performance over 42 days was the epitome of political power playing. Nationalism in Derry is a disgrace. And so on. You look for it, so you find it.

    Challenged with evidence and example, you retreat to “It’s a judgment”. I keep asking for evidence, what Unionism’s direction is, the big idea, examples of startling new thinking and progress. Genuinely interested. But zip. It’s just the throbbing in your pants.

    Despite being told there is a strategy for unification, there has been little concrete evidence to show one actually exists, other than the useless assertion that unionism is terminal decline.

    You are confusing strategy with execution. SF’s strategy at least has remained relatively stable: get in government North and South, work on developing links and shared policy, gradually erode the border. In 2003 it looked like the first stage could be achieved fairly quickly. Thinks do when you’re pushing upwards. They get harder when you hit a wall. How that strategy translates down, and executing when they do actually get in Government is SF’s weakness. It is at a lower level.

    The SDLP currently have nothing, unless they can get FF North.

    The DUP have done a good job in frustrating SF. They haven’t done anything to upset the status quo. Links with Edinburgh? Strengthening Salmond’s hand is surely excellent for the Union. They’ve managed to piss the Tories off and Brown is toast. “Ulster Scots” academy? Please.

    Things move in cycles. Unionism is undoubtedly more confident than it was 5 years ago. But at this point, as I said, it’s still only catching up.

  • Mick Fealty

    runciter,

    “…a crucial observation. Unionism’s reliance on external support has become its greatest weakness. It cannot remain untouched by the forces currently at work dissolving the UK.”

    Unionism’s reliance on external support is over a century old. The outward flux in the Kingdom is less than ten. It’s fair enough to say that an opportunity for nationalism could arise from that flux, but it’s no substitute for a coherent strategy for nationalism to focus on what might (and what might not) happen to unionism (see also my note Brassneck regarding the problems of future-focused analyses even from experts extrapolating from reliable data: it is often herd generated and moderated).

  • ‘but you cannot expect a Nationalist or Unionist to change sides. It’s like asking a Jew to reinvent himself as a German.

    Surveys may exist which prove that 18% of Jews like the taste of Cyclon B, but I doubt their veracity. ‘

    Have to say I think this comment is in very poor taste – no pun intended.

    The Poll was undertaken by YouGov – whose record is second to none. It was a sizeable and representative sample.

    It showed that many people in Northern Ireland are open to changing the nature of our politics in NI and this section showed that many people who vote for ‘nationalist’ parties are not hugely nationalist.

    That’s all. Why that should start a diatribe of remarks particularly from nationalists escapes me.
    Could it be that they fear that there are increasing numbers of people out there – esp younger folk who just might be prepared to leave old style nationalism and unionism behind.

    Methinks they do protest too much!

    Anyhow how come no thread on Labour plans to abolish NIO?

    Check out http://www.conservativesni.com

  • PaddyReilly

    Its of crucial importance, if and how those who don’t vote presently during “normal” elections turn out for the Border Poll. Do you know those figures?

    A lot of unusual voters turned out for the 1998 referendum, but judging from the results, they must have voted preponderantly for a settlement which included the possibility of a United Ireland following a referendum and the necessity of SF in government.

    Of course, I know you wish to perpetrate the ‘garden prods’ story, which is a notational variant of the “We’ve got a huge army hiding behind that mountain which is going to join us when we need them” strategic propagandum.

    Bonny Prince Charlie fell for that: I am not going to.

  • PaddyReilly

    There are increasing numbers of people out there – esp younger folk who just might be prepared to leave old style nationalism and unionism behind.

    There are indeed such people: in 1999 the Alliance vote was was 2.12%, in 2007 5.2%. The Green Party was not around in 1999, in 2007 it won a seat.

    But the point is that this makes absolutely no difference to the perennial Ireland v Union squabble, which can only be settled by those who do care about whether the border exists or not.

    Have to say I think this comment is in very poor taste

    Curiously there were some Nazi Jews and Concentration camp guards. They were people who chose survival over religious solidarity. But it was not an enviable choice. In one book I read, the Germans forced a woman to shoot her whole family before making her an honorary Aryan and Kapo. The point is that the faction which has power will always have inducements to bring the others over to their side. Lose that power, and they may be surprised how quickly their underlings turn on them.

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Mick,

    no, sadly no takers.

    Re. Economists – yes the old chestnut that they have predicted 10 out of the last 3 recessions as economics like psychology have more in common with the Ouija board than proper science – which suits me just fine and as they leave these fields open to my many extrapolations.

    Can you not get an acadmeic on the demography case? I’m sure we can do a whip round on Slugger.

  • Mick Fealty

    Sorry ken,

    I had missed your ‘evidence’. I take it that this is what you were referring to:

    “Is “Orangefest” meant to be a revolution? An “Ulster Scots” academy a bright new future? Does the entire wholesale movement of the Republican movement towards politics count for nothing?”

    (Now I find myself in the thick of an argument I don’t have time to properly engage in. My fault, no one else’s.)

    On your last: just because a new piece of blog software only fails 95% of the time rather than the previous version which failed 80% of the time, does not automatically make the new package a great piece of software.

    Orangefest and the Ulster Scots Academy? Well on the former, it is an attempt to move on. On the second, well again, I am not at all sure about the long term efficacy of the initiative. But again it’s indicative of movement. Not sure what you want me to say beyond that?

    So what am I going on? Simply, how it has been with the NI newsflows since the beginning of Slugger. The first 18 months were about Unionism in crisis. That came to an abrupt end with the moving of the DUP into pole position in the Assembly and the defection of three of their MLAs to the DUP shortly afterwards. Then silence for about a year until the breakdown of the Comprehensive agreement in December 2004.

    The Northern Bank Robbery, the McCartney killing, and the steady outing of informers has signalled a crisis period for nationalism. Some of that could be the result of external destabilisation. Some of it from internal misjudgement. Much of the ‘down’ after the up is arises from a profound mis-telling of the true relationship between nationalism and the northern British state.

    You are right that all of this may just be cyclical. But the tendency of nationalists to mark their success by the failures of unionism is not a good strategy for nationalism. It needs to set its own imaginative battlegrounds and see to win them on a simple wider benefits basis.

    Not that Unionism is there yet, though that appears to be a strong aspiration behind the proposed Tory UUP link up. The DUP can play zero sum as well and better than SF in the current Stormont stitch set-up. But nationalism hasn’t a pup’s chance of calling that bluff until it works on and begins to deliver its own pluralist engagement stratagem.

  • elvis Parker

    Paddy:
    “Curiously there were some Nazi Jews and Concentration camp guards. They were people who chose survival over religious solidarity. But it was not an enviable choice. In one book I read, the Germans forced a woman to shoot her whole family before making her an honorary Aryan and Kapo. The point is that the faction which has power will always have inducements to bring the others over to their side. Lose that power, and they may be surprised how quickly their underlings turn on them.”

    Your point is? This explains why so many Catholics express support for the Union to opinion pollsters? You would be happier with religious solidarity? It is the ‘power’ exercised by unionists that makes these ‘nationalists’ voice a private preference for the UK?

    Lets face it there is solid support for the Union – and it is cross community. As ‘normality’ ie no violence beds down the appetite for change will if anything lessen.
    Esp as nationalism has no guns to threaten people with

  • PaddyReilly

    Lets face it there is solid support for the Union – and it is cross community.

    There is solid support for the Union in the minority Unionist community and even some of the Centrists. As stated, you mistake resignation for enthusiasm. What can’t be cured must be endured, but when the cure comes out, why wait any longer?

  • “But the tendency of nationalists to mark their success by the failures of unionism is not a good strategy for nationalism.”

    I would say that this has been more so the case for Unionism rather than Nationalism – as of late anyway…

    It annoys me that the DUP have to spoon feed a section of voters with statements on how Nationalism has failed in area a and area b,c etc

    The DUP may be confident with their strategy but it is negated(or at least damaged) when you have to spell out the obvious… and keep spelling it out over and over and over again…

  • slug

    Kensei

    I didn’t mean to diss nationalism and I can see how my comments looked that way. Another example of the chance in unionism – a change that “A Long Peace” recommended – is that Unionism was once very entwined with religion and that is no longer the case. The future of NI depends on the quality of both nationalism and the quality of unionism. I agree things go in waves and stages. For me it seems as an outside to nationalism that nationalist politics is in an uncompetitive and complacent (regarding “future inevitabilities” etc) position at the moment but I would hope for a changed nationalism, one that embraces new realities; a new nationalism for a new North.

  • perry

    “But nationalism hasn’t a PUP’s chance of calling that bluff until it works on and begins to deliver its own pluralist engagement stratagem.”

    I heard someone say once that he was a believer in speaking “future truths” (ie stuff that isn’t true now but he hopes will be) as a way of driving/registering his personal committment.

    I’m putting a tenner on this accumulator. What odds should I ask for?

    Prediction No 1) The PD’s are going to merge with Fianna Fail claiming that their work is done, Haughey’s gone, FF are an avowed liberal party, and whatever else they need to tell themselves to get to sleep at night. In the process the PD’s are going to donate to FF their membership of the ELDR and their observer status at the liberal international.

    Prediction No 2) FF are going to merge with the SDLP, as a constitutional liberal/republican party. The new party won’t be in the PES.

    Prediction No 3) The Irish Labour Party is going to take up the democratic socialist/social democratic franchise in Northern Ireland by creating a non-aligned Labour Party in Northern Ireland from the NI Constituency Council. It’ll accept the Labour whip (and aim to have its MP’s in any Labour government) so long as the union holds but will work with the all-Island trade union movement. Dawn Purvis is going to join.

    Prediction No 4) FF North are going to enter a coalition/pact with the United Community bloc with all parties publishing a new joint shared future themed manifesto and encouraging transfers within the bloc. As they’ll share European Liberal Democratic and Reform Party membership with Alliance they can campaign under a “Liberty, Democracy, Reform” agenda if they please – sounds a bit republican too. Fianna Fail will argue that an integrated society is a precondition for successful and consensual Irish Unity, Alliance will argue that an integrated society is a good in itself, regardless of its implications for the border (Although many in Alliance will/do agree with the Fianna Fail aspiration). The Greens will demand more windmills.

    Prediction No 5) Kensei’s going to join Fianna Fail North and campaign for Naomi Long in East Belfast.

    That’s what’s logical so it’s what’s gonna happen.

  • kensei

    I had missed your ‘evidence’

    I don’t have evidence. It’s your position. I’m wondering what the hell it is, other than your boner.

    On your last: just because a new piece of blog software only fails 95% of the time rather than the previous version which failed 80% of the time, does not automatically make the new package a great piece of software.

    If the new software fails more often than the old, then it is actually worse software. Slugger would probably run it instantly.

    And most early software is shit. You win by being better than everyone else, gaining traction , incumbency and enough money to get better. But software isn’t politics.

    Orangefest and the Ulster Scots Academy? Well on the former, it is an attempt to move on. On the second, well again, I am not at all sure about the long term efficacy of the initiative. But again it’s indicative of movement. Not sure what you want me to say beyond that?

    Is “Orangefest” an attempt to move on? It seems much more like a cosmetic change without real basis underneath. It’s like someone saw proper change, didn’t really understand it and tried to copy it anyway. The Ulster Scots academy again looks like someone has saw a think tank, and is trying to copy the idea without really understanding it. It’s like Brown’s moves on “Britishness”. It shows movement, but also a dearth of ideas and creativity.

    So what am I going on? Simply, how it has been with the NI newsflows since the beginning of Slugger. The first 18 months were about Unionism in crisis. That came to an abrupt end with the moving of the DUP into pole position in the Assembly and the defection of three of their MLAs to the DUP shortly afterwards. Then silence for about a year until the breakdown of the Comprehensive agreement in December 2004.

    Sounds to me more like the UUP in crisis rather than “Unionism”.

    The Northern Bank Robbery, the McCartney killing, and the steady outing of informers has signalled a crisis period for nationalism.

    Again, that is a crisis for SF and not “Nationalism”.

    Much of the ‘down’ after the up is arises from a profound mis-telling of the true relationship between nationalism and the northern British state.

    Oh, do go on.

    But the tendency of nationalists to mark their success by the failures of unionism is not a good strategy for nationalism. It needs to set its own imaginative battlegrounds and see to win them on a simple wider benefits basis.

    So, please tell me Mick, what is crowing about killing an ILA and stopping SF’s agenda then? Cos, y’know, it sounds an awful lot like Unionism marking its success by the failures of Nationalism. i don’t know, I’m a simple man and could be wrong.

    I’m not at all sure that is what has been happening either. SF’s crisis has not been due to Unionism’s big successes but its own failures – McCartney murder, Northern bank robbery, lack of devolution of justice, no ILA,a dn so on. You are going to quote Mitchel McLaughlin, but I haven’t heard anyone talk like taht for quite some time. Adams isn’t railing against the DUP at the moment because they are having great success, he’s railing because they are stopping SF deliver on promises they have made.

    Not that Unionism is there yet, though that appears to be a strong aspiration behind the proposed Tory UUP link up.

    I’d suggest that really has more to do with Scotland than us. And aside from being all the same people, the Tories are going to have to pick sides the next argument over symbols or eligibility or the rest hits the fan. It’s unavoidable. But you’re a Tory, so there is an amount of wish fulfillment here.

    And “Not there yet”? You’d almost think they were close.

    The DUP can play zero sum as well and better than SF in the current Stormont stitch set-up. But nationalism hasn’t a pup’s chance of calling that bluff until it works on and begins to deliver its own pluralist engagement stratagem.

    Oh course they can. You do not need a plan to call a bluff. You just need stones.

  • Dewi

    i) “How come someone does not apply a simple demographic formula to the figures – deaths/coming of voting age? Then do a seperate study of immigration/migration.”

    The first bit is realtively simple.

    Assuming same birth and death rates then 2021 about equal. However even before going any further there are flaws:

    1) People are living longer.
    2) Don’t know what’s happening to bithrate.

    The next bit is far more difficult. A pile of Eastern European in-migration (can only vote if citizens which takes 6 years residence- and isn’t compulsory but are still recorded in census)
    The other big variables are in-migration from Britain and from the south. Again no dynamic evidence until the census of the politics (or strictly religious background) of these people.

    There’s also out-migration (George provided some figures about a year ago about the propensity of Protestant students to leave and not return – whatever the influence on community leadership the actual numbers involved were not significant IIRC).

    ii)On a general point I can appreciate entirely that individuals will have different circumstances influencing their approach to re-unification – State employees, people with ISAs etc.

    iii) My old boring theory is that the propect of a Sinn Féin first minister will drive many “Unionists” to support re-unification. Admittedly, apart from Mr Bicker was it, there is little evidence of that happening so far….

  • Mick Fealty

    Ken, call me when you get round to reading what I’ve actually written…

  • Dewi

    That’s worth a read On unionist fears of demographic chage (it uses the wonderful word “concretise”)

  • kensei

    Mick

    Ken, call me when you get round to reading what I’ve actually written…

    I did. I responded as above. Call me when you have anything to back up your assertions.

    kthnxbye

  • Mick Fealty

    Ken,

    Your response is a ‘fisking’ exercise in which you take me to task for not mentioning things that I actually cover in a following paragraph.

  • kensei

    Mick

    Your response is a ‘fisking’ exercise in which you take me to task for not mentioning things that I actually cover in a following paragraph.

    No, it’s really not.

    Perhaps you actually think you have covered them. I apologise for not seeing it, but I can’t. Blaming me is an option, but maybe you need to attempt to communicate it better.

  • slug

    Ladies – handbags away.

  • Mick Fealty

    Indeed.

  • Greenflag

    A civilised ‘thread’ with just a touch of tetchiness for a change :).

    I wanted to introduce once again the obvious solution i.e one not requiring a 40 year waiting game for either the Green or Orange Godots but I’m not in the mood for brickbats yet again 🙂

    So it’s the 20/40/60 year Perpetual Northern Ireland Steeplechase Handicap (so true ) Stakes once again , with Complaisant Nationalism sharing the lead with Unionist Decline followed in third place on the inside by Demographic Change with Forever Inertia making up ground on the wide outside . At the back of the field and bringing up the rear (or on their rears) the two well know and much backed worn out nags Loyalist Throwback and Militant Republic.

    Overall I think Paddy Reilly shaded a win in the voter interpretation but full marks to Mick and Kensei for bringing ‘ complaisant nationalism ‘to the fore .

    On deeper reflection it’s probably just as well that ‘nationalism ‘ is complaisant while ‘unionism ‘ is in decline . That way, if , and I repeat ‘if’, Demographic Change wins out in the final furlong over Forever Inertia then the ‘union ‘ will end with a sullen whimper and not another bloody mess.

    And that would be no bad thing IMO.

    Of course we could save everybody all the excitement of the never ending steeplechase by electing for the big R.?:) But that would just be too much discomfort for the ‘dreamers’ on both sides of the sectarian fence .

    I’ll not comment on the UUP finding their new Nirvana in the arms of a compassionate Conservative Party . I can spot a boa constrictor about it’s business anywhere.

  • Graham Hanson

    The fact that this was in the NewsLetter says it all. Populist, Unionist spin. A UI is inevitable with economics dicating the pace. Mergers in health, education, security etc will dissolve the ever fading border. Many concessions to Unionists later, and the next generation will just let it happen IMO.

  • consul

    It looks like the northern politicians will just sit tight til 2011 and see what way the wind is blowing, no major policy shifts before then. Depending on the numbers at that stage, perhaps medium term strategies will be easier to map out. Whichever way the demographics cookie crumbles when the it fully levels off, it would be a feather in the cap for the majority but no more. Economics will be key down the line.

  • Dave

    “Economics will be key down the line.”

    Well then, you had better get you work on writing your essay to the citizens of the Republic of Ireland on why they should raise an extra 10 billion Euros a year in taxes just to stay in the bidding with the UK Exchequer’s bid of £51 billion over the next decade in subvention. When that decade is up, your next injection of subvention should be around the £70 billion sterling or 90 billion Euros, so if the south bids 100 billion then we win your loyalty for ten years. Gee, that’s money well spent. On the other hand, how about ditching all that socialist crap that northern nationalist spew and try making yourselves self-sufficient rather than living as parasites on the hard work and enterprise of others? Not going to happen, is it? Nope, and that’s why your masters have created a dependency culture through subvention to keep you where the free money is.

  • consul

    Dave
    You belligerence is surpassed only by your breath-taking stupidity. I told you before you idiot, I’m from the Republic not Northern Ireland, not that that is any excuse for your pathetic insults. Where did you here me talking up socialism for that matter? By the way, how am I to know that you know anything about hard work and enterprise?

  • consul

    hear not here obviously

  • runciter

    The outward flux in the Kingdom is less than ten. It’s fair enough to say that an opportunity for nationalism could arise from that flux, but it’s no substitute for a coherent strategy for nationalism to focus on what might (and what might not) happen to unionism

    Observing that the UK is falling apart is obviously not a substitute for strategy – I think you are the only person suggesting that it might be. But neither is it a ‘useless assertion’ as you first claimed.

    The disintegration of the UK will be a much more significant factor in the future of NI than any amount of local politicking.

    Also, the point is not that ‘an opportunity for nationalism’ might arise, but rather that unionism is on its last legs.

  • Mick Fealty

    run,

    Allow me to try to retain some focus on Nationalist imperatives here. The problem that I have with the ‘unionism-on-it’s-last-legs’ scenario is that no one actually knows whether it is or is not an inevitable outcome.

    It may very well be. But any nationalist who believes it absolutely is, now, before the actual event, is being foolish in the extreme. Until such times as we have a definitive answer to that big question, local nationalists are stuck with mundane decisions about which set of local actions are likely to bring that desired outcome closer and which are inclined push it further away.

    That seems (to me at least) to be a matter of considerable avoidance right across the nationalist piste….

  • doctor

    Mick, you mentioned earlier that it would be strategically wise for unionism to look beyond its traditional base and make itself more enticing to catholics/nationalists. Fair enough, and obviously the same applies to republicans/nationalists.

    But do you really think any segment of unionism has made any effort at this compared to the nationalist parties? At least Sinn Fein has the much-maligned unionist engagement group, whose lack of success has as much to do with a complete unwillingness by unionists to even give it a hearing. The actions by Alex Maskey and Tom Hartley at the Remembrance Day ceremonies, as much as some people fault them for not using the proper wreath or some other nonsense, is at least an attempt to bridge the gap between their own beliefs and unionists. I believe the SDLP long ago pioneered the concept of “power sharing” withing councils long ago. No such luck yet in unionist-controlled councils.

    I’m not suggesting that the efforts of nationalists have been totally effective, or that they have really started to address real economic or political arguments at the unionist base. However, there has been ACTUAL movement in acknowledging unionists actually exist and their feelings have to be accounted for, unlike the occasional unionist press release vaguely stating how they want to garner more support from the traditional nationalist community.

    Instead, we have as the DUP’s finest achievement vehement opposition to the Irish language. Renaming the marching season Orangefest and introducing Diamond Dan is fairly pathetic, and as Kensei pointed out was more for internal PR than anything else. And I don’t see how rebranding the UUP as the Conservatives are suddenly going to cause those wearing “green goggles” to see the proper British light, as one of our resident Cameron cheerleaders optimistically put it earlier.

  • Mick Fealty

    Okay, as brief as I can.

    There are ways in which Nationalism began this stuff long before Unionism. Those unionists I have spoken to who have met with the engagement group have been impressed, although mostly with the group, some of them have come away wondering what the party ends up doing with the findings since the party does appear to them to have become any more emotionally intelligent as a result.

    West Belfast Talks back has been another thing that has impressed unionists right across the board. I recall a couple of DUP guy a few years ago saying regretfully that they didn’t think their people were ready to accept speakers from SF in their areas in the same way that Unionists have been able to speak (and get a civil hearing) in St Louisa’s for years now.

    I’m not sure the DUP is vehemently opposed to the Irish language. An ILA, yes. But those are not the same things. As for the Orangefest, well if it took the IRA 8 years to decommission (and it’s a relatively centrally controlled body) it will take a disparate organisation like the OO more than one season to effect the changes it wants. Ask me those questions in five years time, and I may end up sharing your judgement (or maybe not). But there is a clearly stated intention behind it: to move from being a source of sectarian division towards finding cross community acceptance. Zero sum to plus sum.

    The DUP in particular has a enormous challenge on its hands, which the shadow puppet show of the first twelve months in power will have done something to shift (although it’s interesting just how much personal resentment resurfaced amongst even moderate nationalists when Paisley stepped down). You don’t get to dump the ‘oppositionalist’ the day after you flip and become interested in actually providing leadership. Nevertheless, as Robinson’s maiden speech as FM indicates, they are clearly set on providing leadership for all.

    As head of ‘southern nationalist engagement’, Jeffrey Donaldson is streets ahead of Martina Anderson (sorry Martina). Why? Because his party’s communicationstrategy is to get the opposition listeners to like you, and then have them listen to what you actually have to say. Sending what should be an attractive player on the pitch to lecture the opposition leads to alienation not engagement. Which is precisely where you were when you started.

    Ditto Catriona: lecturing the education committee on what anti Irish bigots they are simply switches off a huge swathe of unionist voters that might otherwise have listened attentively to her proposals (when she eventually produces them).

    The ‘false consciousness’ trope is one of the most widespread and, frankly, most embarrassing aspects of the political game in Northern Ireland. They all do it, not least Sinn Fein. If it is a strategic aim of the Tories and the UUP, they’d better off not talking in those terms in public at least (or in private if they are serious). Telling a moderate, British friendly nationalist that he may now be safely cured, but that his family, friends and neighbours are still suffering from the same political psychosis he once did, is, quite frankly, nuts.

    In the end, I suspect, the party which gets beyond that dull trope first and uses its most emotionally intelligent players to engage voters on ‘de udder side’ effectively will likely win the long term constitutional struggle.

  • slug

    Mick

    “I recall a couple of DUP guy a few years ago saying regretfully that they didn’t think their people were ready to accept speakers from SF in their areas ”

    There have however been numerous Sinn Féin people invited into state Grammar Schools by the Politics and Economics societies. The following is, I understand, a former IRA terrorist/freedom fighter (take your pick) turned Roads Minister, for example: Ballymena Academy invites Conor Murphy

  • frustrated democrat

    The difference the Conservatives have is that they have always been a non sectarian party and anyone from whatever background is always very welcome.

    They may be perceived as as English at the moment the whole point is that is the Northern Ireland Conservative and Unionist party would be orgainsed and run by local people albeit under the overall umbrella of The Conservatives, just as the Scottish and Welsh operate at a local and National level.

    Make no mistake the Conservatives want to appeal to all conservatives in Northern Ireland as along as they believe in conservative principles including the Union, nothing else matters.

  • perry

    “Make no mistake the Conservatives want to appeal to all conservatives in Northern Ireland as along as they believe in conservative principles including the Union, nothing else matters.”

    Did the UUP have a no catholics policy? They just didn’t have any policies particularly attractive to catholics. How will the shiny new conservatives be different? Will they support the Irish language as they do the Welsh and Gallic? I can’t see Reg being a champion. Will they demand the removal of loyalist bunting from civic/public property? The stuff at the top of the Holywood Road is right outside the UUP office. Any complaints? Will Reg be buying a holiday home in Donegal?

  • Mick Fealty

    Indeed perry. Good luck with that accumulator btw. I’d give short-ish odds until number three. But you deserve to win a fortune if Number 4 comes up (we’ll take the Green windmills as read).

  • kensei

    I’m not sure the DUP is vehemently opposed to the Irish language. An ILA, yes. But those are not the same things.

    This is a straw man. I have no doubt the DUP would be quite context if Irish language was out of sight and out of mind. What do we mean by “vehemently opposed” in this context? We mean that the DUP will do everything in its power to avoid official recognition, official funding and public display. They have not got a good record for you to argue otherwise.

    As for the Orangefest, well if it took the IRA 8 years to decommission (and it’s a relatively centrally controlled body) it will take a disparate organisation like the OO more than one season to effect the changes it wants.
    Ask me those questions in five years time, and I may end up sharing your judgement (or maybe not). But there is a clearly stated intention behind it: to move from being a source of sectarian division towards finding cross community acceptance. Zero sum to plus sum.

    First up, I believe we’re on Orangefest 2 now. Second, where is the underlying acceptance that internal change must happen? Republicans had agreed to decommission on principle. They had signed to the principle of consent. The rest was timing and holding out for more concessions. Where have the OO accepted they need anything other than external change? A few floats and White Power Bill for a mascot does not substantive change make. I keep asking, I keep getting no answer.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    >>I keep asking, I keep getting no answer.<

  • doctor

    “As head of ‘southern nationalist engagement’, Jeffrey Donaldson is streets ahead of Martina Anderson (sorry Martina). Why? Because his party’s communicationstrategy is to get the opposition listeners to like you, and then have them listen to what you actually have to say. Sending what should be an attractive player on the pitch to lecture the opposition leads to alienation not engagement. Which is precisely where you were when you started.”

    “Southern nationalist engagement” reads more as “Irish government engagement”, which is quite a bit different from trying to engage with actual nationalists in the north (potential voters). The Sinn Fein equivalent would be the leadership engaging with politicians in Britain; I wouldn’t say they are playing catch up with Donaldson and the DUP in that department. In general, Donaldson himself probably carries himself well in his post-Trimble days, but I honestly have a tough time swallowing the bit about the DUP’s communication strategy being to make themselves likeable to the opposition.

    “Nevertheless, as Robinson’s maiden speech as FM indicates, they are clearly set on providing leadership for all.”

    Cute speech by Robinson, but is it really any different from your generic political speech by every politician from the dawn of man about being a “uniter, not a divider”, and representing all of their constituents equally. It hardly signals a coherent strategy or genuine intention given the frequency this sort of well-meaning drivel gets repeated the world over. And what does leadership mean in this context? Deciding what gets passed and and what gets vetoed?

    I agree with your point about Ruane, but I see little evidence that the DUP or unionism in general is merely opposed to the mechanisms of
    an ILA rather than Irish in general. And frankly the biggest change in “Orangefest” I see in the next five years is the additions of Diamond Dan’s family, Dawn and Dave.

  • Mick Fealty

    Ken,

    Re your first, you are futuring by extrapolating from the past. Here’s what we said to Unionists back in 2003 on the subject dealing with an opponent’s past:

    “…the suspicion that an ex-terrorist has not truly repented is a dangerous distraction. The strategist must face a hard truth: an opponent is not what he was, or what he thinks, but what he does.”

    IMHO it holds just as well for nationalism today. It is a dangerous distraction. Outcomes matter much more than intentions. And we simply don’t have an outcome on the Irish language yet. Which leads me to your second ‘point’.

    How exactly can we gauge whether there is or is not ‘underlying acceptance’? And should we even be interested, so long as they get the various bad behaviours associated with Orange marches to come to an appreciable stop?

    Otherwise I’m reminded of that corny old joke:

    How many social workers does it take to change a lightbulb? Just one. But the lightbulb must really, really want to change.

  • Greenflag

    frustrated democrat ,

    ‘The difference the Conservatives have is that they have always been a non sectarian party and anyone from whatever background is always very welcome’

    As long as they support the Union and agree that the British Monarch cannot be a Catholic .

    I can already see tens of thousands of Northern Ireland’s Catholics lining up to join just as soon as they listen to Anne Widdecombe 🙂 Somebody might also need to advise the Tories that Northern Irish Catholics unlike English RC’s may have problems singing God Save the Queen . God Shave the Queen would be more to their liking .

  • Mick Fealty

    doc,

    Just for clarity: it’s his performances on RTE I’m thinking about. He’s their media point man there. It’s a clever stratagem in that he communicates ease within the southern cultural space (yeah, I know the Daniel jokes are thin, but they do work for the party’s ‘nice’ strategy) as much as anything in the content. Even Junior had people eating out of his hand on Q&A;before senior started his Chuckle Bros career.

    Re the speech, I think that the prove will be in the eating. It was a good and cultured speech, but are the capable of conducting good and cultured politics? I’d say they have to make their actions live up to their words for two reasons: to rehabilitate confidence amongst the liberal middle classes that the Union reflects their values; because when political parties stop making critical sense, sooner or later they lose momentum.

    I want to respond to your sceptical point about them wanting to be liked by the opposition. I have some thoughts on that, but I don’t have the time just now. Will try to come back on that later.

  • kensei

    IMHO it holds just as well for nationalism today. It is a dangerous distraction. Outcomes matter much more than intentions. And we simply don’t have an outcome on the Irish language yet. Which leads me to your second ‘point’.

    I’m, not basing anything on the past, though that is hardly an unfair basis. I am basing it on the DUP’s current position, and current strategy. We have a current outcome, a current reality. As and until that reality changes, you have not a single leg to stand on in this argument.

    How exactly can we gauge whether there is or is not ‘underlying acceptance’? And should we even be interested, so long as they get the various bad behaviours associated with Orange marches to come to an appreciable stop?

    Let me put it in terms you’ll understand: Where is the Clause 4 moment? Labour endured 18 years out of power until it demonstrated a change. the Tories will be on 12 by the time they returned to government. PR played it’s part, but there had to be a sense that ideas had changed and acceptance of new reality was there. I’m not making a particularly unique demand here, Mick.

    Does it matter if violence stops? Yes, partly because absence of war should not be enough, and partly because unless unacceptable ideology is stamped on, it retains the power to reemerge and do damage at a later date.

  • frustrated democrat

    Greenflag

    Not surprisingly not all Catholics, Irish or others, have your view of the UK monarchy.

    Whatever that has to do with the Conservatives is beyond me.

    There are monarchists and non monarchists in the Conservatives and all are weclome it is not a prerequesite that anyone is a monarchist or Sings God Save the Queen.

  • frustrated democrat

    Perry

    The Conservatives support all cultural activities inclusing the use of the Irish Language for those who wish to do so.

    They do not support the indiscrimate use of bunting or flags but have no problem with them as an integral part of a cultural event.

    Reg can buy a house wherever he wants, it seems they are not too expensive in Donegal at the moment due to the recession there. But would he be safe there considering the neighbours he might have.

  • Mick Fealty

    Ken,

    You’re now contradicting your own last post in which you noted, “they have not got a good record for you to argue otherwise.” That’s not “not basing anything on the past”.

    They do need to do something on the Irish language. However the DUP claims it has offered to open up discussions on a compromise but that SF keep insisting on bundling it with other more intractable issues (like P & J). So, it ain’t over until it’s over.

    I take your point about Clause 4, although some would argue that was Paisley sitting down with Adams. But you want more? Fine. I hope you get whatever it is you are looking for from them.

    Now what was it we were arguing about?

  • kensei

    Mick

    You’re now contradicting your own last post in which you noted, “they have not got a good record for you to argue otherwise.” That’s not “not basing anything on the past”.

    They don’t. I suppose what I was trying to get across was that I’m not “futuring” — I’m basing it on current realities.

    They do need to do something on the Irish language. However the DUP claims it has offered to open up discussions on a compromise but that SF keep insisting on bundling it with other more intractable issues (like P & J). So, it ain’t over until it’s over.

    We’ll see. Why are they crowing about killing it and the funding in the meantime?

    I take your point about Clause 4, although some would argue that was Paisley sitting down with Adams. But you want more? Fine. I hope you get whatever it is you are looking for from them.

    Now what was it we were arguing about?

    Well, it wasn’t the DUP here, so Paisley sitting down with Adams doesn’t come into it. Though hy still refused to shake hands, so we still have all kind of ridiculous stuff for the optics. I’m looking for a Clause 4 from the OO. An announcement they are dropping the anti-Catholic rhetoric from their oath would do the trick, i think.

  • doctor

    I don’t know if Ken contradicted himself, more like basing his evaluation on the past AND current situation.

    At any rate, I thought this particular three-way discussed the comparative actions of nationalism/unionism in reaching out to “others”. More particularly Mick, my initial post was based on your earlier post about parties needing to reach out beyond their support base. Specifically, the other community within the north/6 counties/Northern Ireland, etc. Jeffrey Donaldson joking around on RTE does not address this issue. The Irish Republic/British dimension is surely important, but ultimately the ones to convince are actual northerners. Perhaps I’m “futuring” on your response, but I don’t see any evidence of this from any shade of unionism. 🙂

    Likewise, any impetus for change within the orange order seems geared towards their own base and potential tourists. That is not the same thing as making orange parades welcoming to catholics or nationalists. The objections to these parades and the culture are not merely based on the general drunkenness and disorder that accompany many public events of any description. Its good that the Orange Order will at least try to address this, but actually reaching out to the other side is not, in my opinion, even on the radar.

  • perry

    “The Conservatives support all cultural activities inclusing the use of the Irish Language for those who wish to do so.”

    Sullen begrudging acceptance is not quite the same thing as support. This is why Reg can’t lead the NI Tories. Roll out Major McFarland I say.

    Mick,

    Thanks four your good wishes but I’m having second thoughts. I’m thinking that reasonable prediction No 3 (Greens style Labour party organised in NI) might just kill off flight-of-fancy prediction No 4 (ff/alliance liberal tie-up).

    A grown-up, cross-community, social democratic party, friendly with Fine Gael, with the GB Labour party, supported by the unions and social-sector professions bodies (teachers, nurses etc), able to campaign in all parts of NI and all parts of town, might just be just too delightful for most Alliance voters to resist.

    Especially if it keeps attacking double the double-jobbing and the massive number of our MLA’s.

    Finally,

    PR Suggestion for the Orange Order. Do every year what the calandar made you do this year. Move all 12th July parades to the Saturday closest to the 12th, giving eveyone a family week-end with a bank holiday on the Monday.

  • perry

    “might just be just too delightful for most Alliance voters to resist”

    and a great many Alliance members too.

  • frustrated democrat

    Perry

    “The Conservatives support all cultural activities inclusing the use of the Irish Language for those who wish to do so.”

    What is sullen or begrudging in that statement – Support means Support. If you are asking how much money are they are going to invest at a point in the future, it is still a little time away before they will be in a position to take any decisions.

  • Mick Fealty

    Okay doctor, one wee ‘deoch an doras’ before bed.

    The point about Donaldson may be more important perhaps than it may seem at first. Not least because no one was doing that job before. Changing the profile of unionism in the south is critical, not least because of SF’s serial threat to ditch their own indigenous deal in Northern Ireland for a version of ‘Joint Authority’. If nothing else it makes it harder for them to paint the DUP as still being unreconstructed intransigents of the past. And, as I have argued before, it gets them a hearing where previously there was only a willingness to pin the blame on ‘stubborn northern Prods’.

    It’s also indicates that the party finally understands the need to build a civilised engagement with opponents and political opposites, as the obverse of war. According to Michael Longley that mimicks the language of poetry rather the stately arts of negotiation: “peace is the absence of war: the opposite of war is custom, customs, and civilization. Civilization is custom and manners and ceremony”

    To that extent the DUP’s ‘outreach’ to the Republic should (if only in the long term) make it easier to communicate without the customary ‘cultural interferences’ of mutual ignorance with their nationalist neighbours in Northern Ireland. But IMHO, the aim is less about converting Catholics to unionism that to (in the first place) disincentivising nationalists from always voting against them. In the last year I’ve heard nationalists express a sneaking regard for the DUP, in quite the way that Unionists did five years ago of Sinn Fein.

    And this is where Robbo’s speech comes in. At the time Pete picked out a point in each man’s speech (ie, the FM and the DFM) and pointed out how although they used similar forms of words their meanings diverged significantly:

    “I hope that the sons and daughters of the Planter and Gael have found a way to share the land of their birth and live together in peace.”

    “I share that hope and as joint First Ministers, the new First Minister and I, as the leaders of the Planter and the Gael, are charged with the responsibility to lead the way on behalf of the Executive.” [added emphasis by Pete]

    Those two interpretations give away a lot about where the two projects are at the moment. One is planted (forgive the pun) in post conflict ‘shared future’ territory whilst the other suggests a ‘separate but equal’ paradigm. It remains to be seen which is the more potent offering in the long run.

  • runciter

    In the end, I suspect, the party which gets beyond that dull trope first and uses its most emotionally intelligent players to engage voters on ‘de udder side’ effectively will likely win the long term constitutional struggle.

    As has already been pointed out, the constitutional future of NI will not be decided by internal actors but by external forces.

    All this talk of emotional intelligence is just fluff.

    But IMHO, the aim is less about converting Catholics to unionism that to (in the first place) disincentivising nationalists from always voting against them.

    Nationalists who vote will always vote against unionism. Despite all the elaborate language, unionism vs nationalism is by definition a zero-sum game.

  • Mick Fealty

    There appears to be a gap between the external and the internal then. Because that’s not how Bertie saw it:

    “If it is done by any means of coercion, or divisiveness, or threats, it will never happen. We’ll stay at a very peaceful Ireland and I think time will be the healer providing people, in a dedicated way, work for the better good of everyone on the island. If it doesn’t prove possible, then it stays the way it is under the Good Friday Agreement, and people will just have to be tolerant of that if it’s not possible to bring it any further.”

  • runciter

    that’s not how Bertie saw it

    Personally, I never take Bertie Ahern’s words too seriously.

  • kensei

    Mick

    Those two interpretations give away a lot about where the two projects are at the moment. One is planted (forgive the pun) in post conflict ‘shared future’ territory whilst the other suggests a ‘separate but equal’ paradigm. It remains to be seen which is the more potent offering in the long run.

    Well, you could read it that way, but it would be stretching. A bit like Pete did.

    But in fact, in any case it says less than you think. The DUP have always wanted a “Shared Future”. They’d like a “Shared Future” in education, by getting rid of all the Catholic schools. They’d like a “Shared Future” in football, by stripping Nationalists of the right to play for the Republic. They’d like a “Shared Future” in government, but moving to voluntary coalition and stripping Nationalism of its veto. And so on – they would like a “Shared Future” in a lot of things. Really what they want is a shared Northern Irish identity. Robinson’s speech was suggesting by dint of support of the institutions, that we were already there.

    Nationalism really wants a shared “Irish” identity. In fact, it spent a long time pretending that the Unionist one didn’t exist. When they acknowledge it does exist and should be respected, they are then berated for engaging in apartheid. Can we fucking win? Apparently we can’t.

  • Mick Fealty

    Run,

    You don’t have to to see the implications though. It’s easily tested. Look at SF’s performance in the Referendum debate. Clearing out the old, and bringing younger, more emotionally intelligent young voices works.

    Since Ken is now newly convinced I’m a Tory, Michael Gove is worth quoting from a Spectator article back in April 2003, when things were looking impossible for his party:

    “Voters do not need the Tories to tell them what to think of Labour. What they want to hear is a clear, coherent and consistent idea of what Conservatives stand for.”

    Getting into a dark narrowing place is not the same as losing the long term argument. But to get out of it, you need to first need to recognise where you are.

  • kensei

    Mick

    Since Ken is now newly convinced I’m a Tory

    Not newly convinced. I occasionally read Brassneck, when I can stomach it. I know that the other commentators on there make you look like Michael Foot, but still, it’s all very Cameroonian. I was most disappointed to discover it.

    “Voters do not need the Tories to tell them what to think of Labour. What they want to hear is a clear, coherent and consistent idea of what Conservatives stand for

    Really? Because Republicans in the US have got very good at telling people what to think about Democratic candidates.

  • doctor

    “But IMHO, the aim is less about converting Catholics to unionism that to (in the first place) disincentivising nationalists from always voting against them.”

    Uh…what does that actually mean? And to use your analogy of unionist views of Sinn Fein five years ago, what practical effect did that have? A sneaking regard for someone’s ability to be a canny bastard isn’t the same as liking them, or “not voting against them”.

    “Those two interpretations give away a lot about where the two projects are at the moment. One is planted (forgive the pun) in post conflict ‘shared future’ territory whilst the other suggests a ‘separate but equal’ paradigm. It remains to be seen which is the more potent offering in the long run.”

    Some very tortured interpretations at that. The strategic visions of unionism and nationalism can now be divined through a single line each in two flowery speeches? Hell, there are probably enough instances on the Sinn Fein site where the words “shared future” appear? Given the low threshold for quality evidence here, does that count as proof that republicans also believe in a shared future? And like Kensei says, what does “shared future” even mean? In the past (I know, we’re not allowed to go there now) it has usually been code for “drop everything you believe in and be more like us.”

  • runciter

    Look at SF’s performance in the Referendum debate. Clearing out the old, and bringing younger, more emotionally intelligent young voices works.

    Diplomacy (a better term than EI) is a useful skill for any politician.

    But it does not follow that diplomacy or ‘outreach’ will decide the constitutional question.

    Fancy words often obscure plain facts.

  • Mick Fealty

    Run,

    It helps deactivate ‘de udder side’. If you secretly (in the confines of ggn’s closet so to speak) think that the other lot are better than your own, there is a greater likelihood, not that you will switch sides, but that you’ll stop turning up for the ‘electoral matches’.

    The intepretation is two sentences long. It can’t be that tortured, surely? If you think it’s fundamentally mistaken, tell us why?

    The problem, from a nationalist perspective, is that the tribe is not only coming up short on numbers but, after forty years of protracted and bloody war against their Protestant neighbours, there is little acquiescence amongst those beyond the home tribe for a transfer of sovereignty.

    Electorally, there is no crisis. Except for the fact that Sinn Fein’s separatist strategy is close to ‘maxing out’ on voter take, just as Unionist confidence begins to show tentative signs of lifting.

    If the limit of Sinn Fein’s ambition (as suggested by McGuinness’s speech) is to simply to be the bigger fish in the smaller of two Northern Irish ponds, then adopting a Millwall-like “Everybody hates us and we don’t care attitude”, may be sufficient to get its short term troubles over policing and justice and assorted other ‘house-keeping’ matters pertaining to the past.

    Yet it will not take nationalism over the win line on the one issue that apparently matters most. For that they will need willing Protestant votes from willing Protestant people.

    There is no shortage of intention on this. In last year’s interview of Martina in An Phoblacht, she sourced the progressive end of unionism as the ones most likely to peel away from the Union first. However, the one big set piece that should have won that section over was the education debate on which the DUP were exposed over the poor record of kids in the lower level of the education system.

    Instead it went down the faction fight route, and jamming itself further back in to the old public narratives of victimhood and oppression, instead of opening up new ones. As I say, that’s ultimately a choice for the nationalist leadership (distributed as it is between SF and the SDLP). But if you engage in faction fighting, my view is that you’ll ultimately sacrifice the dream of a politically united island. Then again, maybe that will turn out to be the better thing?

  • Mick Fealty

    Sorry, that last was aimed at the doctor…

  • Mick Fealty

    Ken,

    You really ought to get out more. You’ll be throwing the kitchen sink next! 😉

  • kensei

    You really ought to get out more. You’ll be throwing the kitchen sink next! 😉

    Believe me, I need away from this desk at the moment. You are still a Tory. I mean that as a term of abuse.

  • Mick Fealty

    Haven’t you read the comment policy? 🙂 More seriously though: to play the man means you have to take your eye off the ball!

  • doctor

    “The intepretation is two sentences long. It can’t be that tortured, surely? If you think it’s fundamentally mistaken, tell us why?”

    What I find tortured is trying to squeeze any real meaning out of a couple of speech excerpts, fluffy political speeches notorious for lots of vacuous nonsense and niceties that have little relevance to what actually happens or even what the speaker truly believes. So now the DUP is genuinely interested in representing everyone equally (did Iris get that memo?) while Sinn Fein just wants to be big fish to the SDLP’s little fish? Entire political strategies and viewpoints can be teased out from those few words?

  • kensei

    Haven’t you read the comment policy? 🙂 More seriously though: to play the man means you have to take your eye off the ball!

    But taking your eye off a Tory means they drink the blood of children. The ball can wait until their head is lopped off. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about driving a stake through the heart because there isn’t one there.

  • Mick Fealty

    I would not claim to have discerned the whole party strategy from a single clause in a single speech. But given I was asked to produce some evidence of where I thought the two senior parties are in their thinking at precisely the same moment, it was as good a snap shot as any I could think of.

    In my own defence also I used the words ‘if’ and ‘suggests’ but then offered practical evidence for the way the party’s behaviour was in line with my interpretation of that speech.

  • doctor

    Alright, we’ll just have to agree to disagree on the issue of “evidence”. The snaphot looks more like a fuzzy polaroid to me..:)

  • Mick Fealty

    Thanks guys. I’ve pulled most of this into a post for the Guardian CIF site. Should be out later today or tomorrow. It’s been really useful for me to bounce some of the ideas off you. I’ll blog it again on Slugger when it becomes available over there.