The Tories are here, the Tories are here…

I’ve some collected thoughts on the deal between the Ulster Unionists and the British Tory party over at Brassneck. As I note over there the task will neither be as arduous as some of the party’s local critics believe (and there’s already a fair amount of political hackery going on in the comment zone here on Slugger), nor as easy as the merger’s proponent are keen to suggest. As with Scotland and Wales, the Westminster front will be focused on tight and limited targets…

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  • kensei

    As I note over there the task will neither be as arduous as some of the party’s local critics believe (and there’s already a fair amount of political hackery going on in the comment zone here on Slugger), nor as easy as the merger’s proponent are keen to suggest.

    Well, what you’ve done at Brassneck is limit the scope to only Unionist gains. On that basis I would agree. but what the TorUUP are saying is that they are going to revolutionise politics here and convert a load of secret Unionist, Tory Catholics. On that basis I remain highly sceptical.

  • elvis parker

    The most incredible thing about this agreement is it’s extent. This is no electoral pact. Nicholson will become a full member of the Con Group in Brussels (and possibly a senior role?)
    Any MP will be full members of the Conservative Party at Westminster – opening up the door to influence and promotion for local MPs.
    Ultimately it could mean the end for the UUP but if it helps Northern Ireland integrate into British politics the UUP will have succeeded in its role anyhow

  • Ann

    TorUUP are saying is that they are going to revolutionise politics here and convert a load of secret Unionist, Tory Catholics.

    Why? Joe Hendron did a deal with unionists in west Belfast to unseat Sinn Fein, if that can happen there, it can happen anywhere. People aren’t focused now on the constitutional question, but on keeping the roof over their heads and the wolf from the door.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Sorry Elvis, no end in sight for the UUP. And I suspect you know it.

  • Ann

    I think it will Michael. When the two marry they’ll become one.

  • qubol

    “People aren’t focused now on the constitutional question”

    Ann you don’t really believe that, do you? we’ve had far worse things to go through before and none of the unseated the constitutional question from the heart of our politics. The credit crunch won’t either.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Not so in the German Model. Which is why you see all the NI tories scrabbling around this morning to spout their line.

  • ??

    at least the UUP can expect to gain a few hundred extra votes, probaly wont make up for the ones they`ll lose tho

  • Ann

    Things are different now qubol. There is no appetite out there for strong republicanism. SF dealt it its death blow. Going through adversity is one thing, trying to wake people up from apathy is another.

    Yeah, I think it could be done, quite easily. I think we need to recognise it.

  • kensei

    Ann

    Why? Joe Hendron did a deal with unionists in west Belfast to unseat Sinn Fein, if that can happen there, it can happen anywhere.

    When was that? What percentage did Gerry Adams get at the last election WB again?

    People aren’t focused now on the constitutional question, but on keeping the roof over their heads and the wolf from the door.

    Are you Scottish?

  • qubol

    Ann “There is no appetite out there for strong republicanism. SF dealt it its death blow. Going through adversity is one thing, trying to wake people up from apathy is another.”

    That’s such an arrogant attitude. The prominence given to the constitutional politics is nothing to do with apathy, its because it really matters to a lot of people in fact despite all of our problems ‘apathy’ is one of the last words I could think of to describe our politics.

  • Driftwood

    An attempt at dragging out the much vaunted ‘garden centre prod’ vote? Where does Dave stand on Grammar schools again?

  • Ann

    When was that?

    Served as Councillor on Belfast City Council, 1981-1993
    Member of New Ireland Forum, 1983
    Member of SDLP Talks Team at Brooke/Mayhew Talks, 1991
    MP for West Belfast, 1992-1997

    http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/members/biogs/jhendron.htm

    Are you Scottish?

    My ancestory is from the bogs of Kerry.

  • Ann

    What percentage did Gerry Adams get at the last election WB again

    Gerry got a little help from the expnsion. My bet would be he won’t stand next time around, I think he’ll retire.

    This constituency was slightly cut down from the old West Belfast. The old West Belfast constituency was incorporated into the expanded West Belfast after 1995, with some tidying of the boundaries with North BelfastSouth Antrim. The Member of Parliament elected in 1983 was Gerry Adams (Sinn Féin), defeating the incumbent independent Socialist; he was re-elected in 1987 but lost to Joe Hendron (SDLP) in 1992.

  • Richard James

    Driftwood,

    My understanding is Cameron believes in retaining existing Grammar schools. And I’m sure his plans to vastly expand independent academies would also appeal to them.

  • DC

    If I thought the Tories were the response and answer to Northern Ireland’s problems I would vote for them.

    They aren’t, Tory politics isn’t and that’s the way it is.

    It’s the same way applying plain old Labour values to NI just doesn’t work in full either.

  • Ann

    That’s such an arrogant attitude.

    I could say ditto, but lets look at what is being said. I didn’t say the constitutional question didn’t matter to a lot of people, I merely said there is no appetite out there for strong republicanism and that other things have taken over. Now if you’d like to prove my opinion is wrong in any way and that that is not the case go ahead.

    Ireland north and south is changing, it’s becoming multicultural, and the largest nationalist party SF has embraced the establishment, so much so that its hard to tell the difference between them and the SDLP. Show me an appetite among the public north or south for a UI above anything else and I’ll change my opinion.

    Use your powers of persuasion, I’m open to changing my mind.

  • qubol

    actually Ann you couldn’t say ditto. If you could then election results would be different. What you’re saying about strong republicanism amounts to very little but election results do show there is a very strong appetite for Republicanism and Nationalist politics (also for Unionist politics). If, as you say the constitutional question was losing importance then why wouldn’t the UUP just drop the Unionist tag completely and become conservatives in name too? The reason is simple, all parties are defined by the constitutional question and they will continue to be. Alliance for example, who try to avoid the constitutional question are still (quiet rightly) defined by most people as Unionist. If they can’t the Catholic/Nationalist/Republican vote then what hope the Tories?

  • Sorry, Mícheál, I found your “collected thoughts” somewhat superficial and unworthy of you. Granted, you were playing to the Telegraph readership, and therefore speaking in tongues.

    So, for starters, the odd headline problem:

    Economic policy (on which you touched): how will Tory policy of “shrink the State” play in the NI market where half the jobs depend on the State sector? That, surely, is a particular concern, since the New Economic Policy of the Tories is a sell-out to the monetarists. At the scary end of that spectrum, we have Fraser Nelson looking for £40 billion of savings (via cuts, budget freezes, whatever).

    Doncha just lurve that all-embracing “whatever”?

    Europe: still the great tectonic divide, capable of throwing up a volcanic eruption. As of now, the Tory policy is to foster the MER as a grouping alternative to the EPP: after the next Euro-elections that will require 25+ MEPs from seven (care to count ’em?) countries. So the erstwhile UUP MEP may have some very odd bedfellows, possibly including Fianna Fáil (which implies a certain chill wind from Lisbon).

    Devolution: as one commentator put it — Exit the West Lothian Question; Enter the Ulster Question. On the one hand, we have a (not wholly-daft) Tory trial balloon that English MPs alone vote on purely English matters. On the other, that NI MPs are fully integrated into the Tory cohort: the only truly national party that represents ‘every corner of the United Kingdom’. Is somebody talking out of both sides of the same mouth?

    Nor should we forget that the second point on the UUP policy statement is:

    Ulster Unionists believe that standing up for Northern Ireland means securing devolved government for this part of the United Kingdom – and that devolution will secure Northern Ireland’s place within a modern United Kingdom.

    Note that this does not touch on “lesser” issues: hospital closures (save £40B without an impact on health?), education (remember the schemozzle over grammar schools before the boy Dave recanted? And, by the way, Tory voters only like selection which benefits their own sprogs), transport, regional aid, agribusiness (NI is more intimate agriculture: another point of Euro-friction) …

    Again that predictive “submit the word you see below: trouble”.

  • John K Lund

    Michael speak to Daddy.he wiil put you right.Remember Mark Twain.

  • John K Lund

    Mick Fealty
    Your analytical powers are prescient.The UUP diehards need to learn that any gentleman nibbles the lady’s ear initially as the courtship develops.We all full well know where Ulster says no lead the UUP. 30 years in the Wilderness. Their leaders should not try to lead the Young Unionists back there. They deserve a better future.We are not Bavarians and our hisory speaks for itself. We are not in fear of our own character like the Germanic Peoples. The Westminster method is well tried and tested and not littered with failure like Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy,Austria et al, who have had more new constitutions in my own life time than hot dinners. Stay British and follow the British way.However to stay fully within the Union, just like The National Lottery,you must buy a ticket and follow the rules.

  • Blue Rinse Brigade

    Mr J Lund

    While I agree entirely with your analysis and your earlier comments, did you have to, I mean did you really have to, give me the slightly frightful mental picture of Sir Reg nibbling on The Leader’s ear??!! What next?? David McNarry and George Osborne playing ‘tonsil hockey’?! Uggghhhh!!!!

  • kensei

    Ann

    Gerry got a little help from the expnsion. My bet would be he won’t stand next time around, I think he’ll retire.

    Yeah, that fully explains a 69% share of the vote, and 50% ahead of the DUP.

    Here in the reality based community the chance sof an alliance of Unionists and the SDLP overturning SF in WB is close to 0. By all means have your political goals, but at least be aware of the scale fo the task.

  • kensei

    Yeah, that fully explains a 69% share of the vote, and 50% ahead of the DUP.

    *SDLP
    Brain fried today.

  • michael

    Some commentators have been presenting this deal as something that will only come into play in marginal constituencies like South Belfast and Fermanagh/South Tyrone. How does bringing another party into the picture in these area increase unionist chances of getting the seats back?
    The only hope they have is a pact between the DUP and UUP – not bringing someone else in on the act.
    DOes anyonoe really think that Cameron and Conservative party moghuls sat in London admiring the progress of the UUP and thought they were a party they had to be involved with? Or maybe Lady Herman has particularly impressed MPs at Westminister. I doubt it though.

  • The last west Belfast Westminster election was most noticeable for the 10,000 Hendron voters who stayed at home. Kensei is right that the seat for West Belfast is Adams’ as long as he wants it.

  • graduate

    Having read Newsletter article I wouldn’t be too keen to sign up to this deal. looks rather like a one night stand on the part of the Tories. You know the kind of hting- if you sleep with me tonight and I think you’re any good I’ll maybe give you a call later. BTW won’t Lady Slyvia hit the roof? I’d have thought they dobn’t want to lose their only MP just yet. Certainly, locally some of the UUP will be going nuts. Some of our ones u here aren’t what you could call conservative in their outlook. My prediction, especially if DUP put up a surprise for Europe is the death of the UUP, Cameroonies won’t want to be linked with an electoral liability. Sad really. UUP are going find themselves screwed and their clothes nicked by the big boys

  • Can we pause for breath here?

    I’ve just been reading the “memorandum of understanding for future elections in Northern Ireland”, via Politicshome.

    I’m not close enough to the scene today to determine how it’s being spun in Belfast, but, in that document, it certainly doesn’t look like the Tables brought down from Sinai that Lund’s effusion was trailing last evening. In effect, it offers Nicholson in the European Parliament and any UUP MP elected to Westminster access to the Tory Whip. In return, the Tory centre offers warm words, a modicum of aid (presumably a few poster sites, and electoral material) and an agreement not to put up candidates. Oh, and a ban on multiple mandates.

    Apart from photo-ops for Cameron and Duncan Smith, that’s it.

    Or did I miss something?

  • Ann

    The last west Belfast Westminster election was most noticeable for the 10,000 Hendron voters who stayed at home. Kensei is right that the seat for West Belfast is Adams’ as long as he wants it.

    I never said it wasn’t. The point I’m making is that a deal can be struck, and if a deal can be struck back in the day in WB, then it can be struck elsewhere. I’m not examining votes.

    Ken since you didn’t even know such a deal exsisted, I’d say your brain was switched off.

  • Ann

    all parties are defined by the constitutional question and they will continue to be.

    No I don’t think that is the case, I believe things will change and that this UUP Tory merger signals change not only for unionism. With the FF angle also being floated, we’re still voting along segregated lines, but those days could be numbered.

    Here in the reality based community the chance sof an alliance of Unionists and the SDLP overturning SF in WB is close to 0

    Perhaps only for as long as Adams remains.

  • Ann

    Stay British and follow the British way

    Thats like a soundbite for the BNP.

    The only hope they have is a pact between the DUP and UUP – not bringing someone else in on the act.

    Theres no one else coming in on the act is there? No actual extra candidates?

  • qubol

    “No I don’t think that is the case, I believe things will change”
    Unfortunately for you Ann, there is no evidence to back this up. Whats so different about this and Alliance?

  • kensei

    Ann

    I never said it wasn’t. The point I’m making is that a deal can be struck, and if a deal can be struck back in the day in WB, then it can be struck elsewhere. I’m not examining votes.

    Ken since you didn’t even know such a deal exsisted, I’d say your brain was switched off.

    Was there a formal “deal”. I knew Unionists had voted for Hendron, but I was 10 in 1992.

    Did that deal last and continue to produce its preferred outcome? No. It was swept aside by greater forces. As we are moving the goal posts, my point is that all such deals are inherently tactical and subject to the same fate.

    Anyway, could the SDLP and Tories cut a deal? Sure. Is there any ideological basis for them to do so? No. Is there any indication that there is a latent appetite for voting Tory within Nationalism, moreover a Tory party that is a rebranded Unionist? Well, if you have evidence beyond optimism, delighted to see it.

  • Alliance aren’t in any imminent danger of forming the next Westminster government.

  • Ann

    but I was 10 in 1992.

    I thought you’d been around slugger long enough to know.

    Anyway, formal or not Hendron appealed to unionists and over threw SF.

    It was swept aside by greater forces.

    It wasn’t swept aside by greater forces, which I assume you mean to be the SF machine. Yes they had a great electoral machine, but It was also a number of other factors, significantly the weakness of the SDLP team, the burning of their offices and other factors. But again, I repeat, that is not hte point, the point is a deal can be struck, and be done, and it could happen again.

    Is there any ideological basis for them to do so

    Was there an ideological basis for the SDLP and unionists to do so? No. Or SDLP (labour) and FF, perhaps not. But it can be done.

    my point is that all such deals are inherently tactical and subject to the same fate.

    It wasn’t the deal that was at fault, but failure by politicians once they got into office.

  • Ann

    Whats so different about this and Alliance?

    Theres a huge difference. The SDLP was once the biggest nationalist party, Alliance never scaled dizzy heights and became a major party. One is only able to compare both parties now as equal due to the abysmal electoral results of the SDLP. Same with the UUP. But this could bring the electoral fortunes of the UUP up.

    I’m not being optimistic, I do believe that NI will soon move from sectarian politics, because people here want to influence national policy.

  • kensei

    Ann

    I thought you’d been around slugger long enough to know.

    Anyway, formal or not Hendron appealed to unionists and over threw SF.

    Right, so no formal deal. I knew that Unionists had voted tactically in1992. I also knew it was a short lived success and West Belfast is currently more Republican than ever so perhaps I deemed it not relevant.

    It wasn’t swept aside by greater forces, which I assume you mean to be the SF machine.

    Do not presume. Second, the SDLP were riding high in the late 90’s. The peace process changed the game that advantaged SF. It wasn’t simply the machine.

    It wasn’t the deal that was at fault, but failure by politicians once they got into office.

    No. Not here. The SDLP could have been brilliant and it still would have been hard pushed to take the seat. Moreover, it is a tactical alliance: there is no change in the underlying philosophy of the Unionists that voted SDLP. It may, if sustained over a long period, begun to break barriers, but it is only a first step in the types of changes you are looking for.

  • Ann

    Is there any indication that there is a latent appetite for voting Tory within Nationalism

    It all depends on the stall they put out. So far so good for the UUP with the offices they are holding, Reg’s leadership has certainly brought them back from the brink of total collapse, they’re re-energised with this deal, and things for them are looking a lot more positive than they were after they got rid of Trimble.

    If they put stuff out there to attract nationalists then it’s game on for them.

    It was after all SF who signed up for this. The GFA has given birth to such scenarios, SF if they want to survive will have to offer more than stepping stones to a UI.

  • Ann

    West Belfast is currently more Republican than ever

    Depends on what you are basing that on. The last election was a different animal altogether. People everywhere voted tatically, because there was a pissing competition between SF and the DUP. Theres also the personality factor of Adams himself, that won’t always be the case.

    Tell me how you know its more republican than ever and lets talk about it. Do you mean it supports SF more than ever? More dissidents than ever? What do you mean.

    If you are basing it on election results for SF into stormont, is that not evidence that the constituency is turning toward bracing constitutional politics and that issues of bread and butter are becoming more and more important?

  • Ann

    but it is only a first step in the types of changes you are looking for.

    But you admit it is a step in that direction? I was never looking for these sort of changes, I never wanted anything other than a United Ireland. These changes have come about due to the GFA, which SF signed up to. SF settled the constitutional question when it signed up for the agreement. I believe the only way to get a UI is by agreement. Meanwhile as we’re part of the UK (ask your local SF MP) we may as well get on with normal politics.

    Republicanism has been mortally wounded.

  • kensei

    Ann

    Depends on what you are basing that on. The last election was a different animal altogether. People everywhere voted tatically, because there was a pissing competition between SF and the DUP.

    Pissing contests are new!!??

    If you are basing it on election results for SF into stormont, is that not evidence that the constituency is turning toward bracing constitutional politics and that issues of bread and butter are becoming more and more important?

    No, it is evidence that they are voting SF more than ever, and SF are republican. SO in the electoral sense it is more republican than ever.

    But you admit it is a step in that direction?

    No, I admit it is probably a prerequisite.

    I believe the only way to get a UI is by agreement.

    Important word highligted.

    Republicanism has been mortally wounded.

    Fortunately, like a vampire it keeps stumbling back and biting your ankles.

  • Ann

    and SF are republican.

    Thats debateable ken.

    I believe the only way to get a UI is by agreement.

    Important word highligted.

    Who do you speak on behalf of Ken, and more importantly are you saying that a UI should be brought about by force?

    Is that it? 🙂

  • kensei

    Thats debateable ken.

    No, it isn’t. Debate purity as you wish,

    Who do you speak on behalf of Ken, and more importantly are you saying that a UI should be brought about by force?

    Is that it? 🙂

    I speak only for myself. No, I do not believe in physical force, but democratic? Yes.

  • Ann

    Thats debateable ken.

    No, it isn’t. Debate purity as you wish,

    I don’t need to ken you already recognise its debateable.

    I speak only for myself. No, I do not believe in physical force, but democratic? Yes.

    Then we are agreed.

  • kensei

    Ann

    I don’t need to ken you already recognise its debateable.

    Sorry. Perhaps you didn’t catch my disdain for arguments of that type.

  • Ann

    Sorry. Perhaps you didn’t catch my disdain for arguments of that type.

    Ken disdain for an argument is neither here nor there, you recognise that the argument exsists. I listened to a good one to night btw on radio free eireann, it’s in the archives if you’d care to listen to it..:)

  • Comrade Stalin

    Ann, I do think you’re clutching at straws here. Talking about Gerry Adams losing his Westminster seat under any circumstances is very much off the wall at the moment.

    My personal opinion is that Sinn Fein have peaked – the watershed was the RoI general election – and they are likely to go into a slow decline; note the Squinter articles which the Andytown News were required to quickly apologize for. They aren’t going to get the policing and justice ministry which means that in the event that the local minister is able to bring improvements to policing and a reduction in anti-social behaviour, SF will have a hard time taking the credit.

    I do remember the 1992 general election, and Hendron’s victory which came about due to the unionist constituents being canvassed to vote Hendron to keep Adams out. Sinn Fein immediately went to court to try to get the result overturned; they were extremely angry at the time. I remember a republican later saying that the loss of the seat had set back the peace process, which provided a very insightful perspective on their view of the purpose of electoral politics. At least they didn’t burn Hendron out, like they had done with some other SDLP West Belfast politicians.

    (thought for the day. When’s the last time you heard of a mainstream unionist politician, ie not a member of a Faulknerite rump, being burned out by loyalists ? Answers on a postcard ..)

  • Ann

    CS in essence I’m in agreement with you in what you say. I too feel Sinn Fein has reached a plateau and that they will decline.

    I merely pointed to that incident to make a point, in that no seat is absolutely safe for any politician and no link up should be ruled out.

    (I have always thought CS you should be one of the bloggers here, you put your points accross very well, succinctly and are very well versed in politics. I don’t always agree with your analysis, but your comments are an asset to this blog, but you are lost in the comment zone. I hope you don’t mind me saying so.)