Cameron Special Blogburst…

Okay, the daily version will be back later today. So for now kicking off with Chekov, who thinks that at the heart of this project is an integrationist urge:

This is unionism at its most constructive. It is not only about maintaining and nurturing the Union, it is about playing as full a part in its workings as possible. It is a vision which is inclusive, attractive across the community spectrum, but it is also unequivocal about its unionist credentials. If David Cameron becomes the next Prime Minister he will uphold the will of the people of Northern Ireland as regards the constitution, whatever that will might be, he will work closely and constructively with the neighbouring Irish Republic, but he has spelt out in no uncertain terms that his preference is to maintain the Union.

– Alan reports from the day itself with a post entitled, The New Force… or The Thing with No Name who finishes by noting that “there are some uncertain and unexplored downsides, not least in the difficulties for the Conservatives in linking with the UUP and “manage to appeal to a wider constituency in Northern Ireland, particularly while the other parties remain tribal?”…

– O’Neill takes some Nationalist commentators to task for leaping on Cameron’s “I will never be neutral” line without referencing the preceding part. He believes it’s part of a disturbance felt at the fact that the first proposed move to get beyond tribal politics has emerged from a Unionist rather than a Nationalist project…

– Tom may be one of those commentators but he usefully references that quote directly back to the Downing Street Declaration between John Major and Albert Reynolds. The pro Union tone of Cameron’s address is a long way from Downing Street circa 1993…

– Sunder Katwala reckons the whole thing reeks of a possibly flawed attempt to float above in the inveterate complexities of history

– Ignited picks up on an issue which whilst it has not been part of the public narrative yet will certainly be exercising the strategists of the DUP:

The devolved governments put a lot of blame on the financial restraints placed by Westminster, pointing to them as the barrier to greater regional success. It is an easy thing to do, and sadly we are all at it. This dynamic would change somewhat when for example if a Conservative and Unionist administration in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland was criticising a Conservative government at Westminster. This is something the modern Conservatives have yet to deal with, as they have not been in power since devolution post 1998.

– It’s worth including this piece written before the event from John Coulter (a right winger writing in the left wing Tribune) when he notes:

…the Tory link could ensure any government led by David Cameron would be able to invite UUP MPs to participate in running the Northern Ireland Office. However, given the so-called “Brown bounce” regarding the economy, a narrow Labour victory in 2010 could allow Brown to reward the DUP with a similar role. Whatever the electoral outcome in 2010, the road to normal national politics in the north of Ireland has been taken.

– And to finish on a sceptical note Damian was less than impressed:

This move risks dividing unionism, but that is a necessary step on the road to any Ulster Unionist recovery. It is of no interest to nationalism, indeed it makes the timing of the Maria Gatland affair seem suspicious. It offers no new ideas, only re-packaged direct-rule implemented in a style that has learned from the cabinet reforms of New Labour, Sarkozy and Berlusconi.

Adds belatedly: Neither is Conall:

…he [Cameron] talked about issues which were devolved as if they were not and did not address a single one of the key political issues in Northern Ireland such as education, policing and justice or sectarianism. I can’t imagine him escaping a similar meeting in the English midlands for example without talking about racism. This sounded like the bloke from England who came over to talk about GB, not someone who wants to lead NI also.

  • DC

    A move with plenty of instinct but little intellect. It has all the enthusiasm and thrill of buying new clothes, new car even, this is the psychological appeal of the Brand, but soon after the gloss fades away. But didn’t we all have a good day???

    Northern Ireland has not been integrated with Britain, it got its parliament and did its own thing to the detriment in the end of the Union. Northern Ireland and the GFA agreement is about building up new relations across Britain and Ireland. Stormont is too big for just unionism, the only way Stormont can fulfill its grandioseness is by living up to the new constitutional settlement of the Agreement and operating in a way that is the sum of its parts, Britain, Ireland and Northern Ireland.

    Social values in Northern Ireland must reflect society at large, and the Irishness cannot be ignored, nor the culture needing addressed. Stormont should be seen as a place that is fluid, that is open to change, being conservative is unlikely to bring about the flexibility required to transform the debate about values, identity, family, globalisation and Europe.

  • Mick

    Are Irish commentators views not valid in this debate?

    Conall

  • Mick Fealty

    Oh bugger. I meant to pick yours up… My blasted feed reader is on the blink at the moment… mea cupla…

  • Michael Shilliday

    Conall, care you answer my questions about your strange analysis on the thread about the Brassneck article?

  • @Conall – though wasn’t part of the problem the mugs (including me) sitting in the audience and not asking locally relevant questions!

    I forwarded on my unasked questions (including one about education) to the email address they supplied on the day – awaiting a response …

  • autocue

    An important point which has not recieved serious consideration here or elsewhere, is the role of Trimble in all of this. Whenever Cameron speaks about future Tory cabinets, the one person that always gets mentioned is Trimble. It looks like Trimble has delivered the UUP as some sort of a dowry to the Tories and Reg Empey has acqueisced to it.

    Also can anyone confirm that Reg refused to have his picture taken with Trimble?

  • William

    No truth whatsoever in that Autocue….just something dreamt up by some near do well…..stick to the major issue and forget about the semantics !!

  • autocue

    Sorry, since when did you get to define what issues I choose to raise here? This is a perfectly legitimate line of inquiry. Trimble is the only UUP (in the loosest sense) person that Cameron ever mentions. He is the common factor between the UUP and the Tories. It is hard to escape the conclusion that he has had a major part to play in driving this project forward and will be one of the major beneficiaries of it. Dowry? Certainly looks like it.

    “near (sic) do well”

    A ne’er do well photographer who was at the event?

  • “Are Irish commentators views not valid in this debate?”

    I see a host of Irish commentators linked.

  • autocue

    Any comments on Adamson’s entry into the debate?

    I suppose he’s just a silly old duffer who doesn’t see the messianic qualities of Dave….

  • edward

    Mick

    i don’t get why you think this is outreach to the catholic community?

    All he has done is invited more people to become unionists and if they were predisposed to this already wouldnt they already be voting that way?

    I know the commonly accepted narrative is that all catholics are nationalists and all protestants are unionists but this is obviously not the case. So if you are a unionist catholic wouldn’t you already be voting unionist?

    Or is Cameron hoping to get votes off Alliance? Surely the DUP bigots would have little or no support among the catholics?

  • @edward Alliance should be worried.

    But isn’t Cameron trying to remove the local obstacle of people associating UUP with the Orange Order and with Protestantism – his whole spiel about getting past local “tribal” politics – that would put many moderates off voting outside the normal rules. (And it happens the other around with SDLP too.) Offering the label of Conservative – a more ambiguous tag.

    Isn’t he also putting pressure on Scotland and Alex Salmond’s independence ideals. By becoming the Conservative Party of England, Wales /and/ NI, he adds weight to arguments of benefit of the wider union, and gives potential Scottish voters the value differentiation they may be looking for before casting their ballot in Cameron’s favour …

  • edward

    Allan

    But seriously if he was trying to outreach to the catholics community then about the last thing he should have invoked was the british army, as few enough catholics have had positive interactions with this group of thugs?

  • But isn’t that the problem with reaching out to two tribes. He had to tickle two sets of tummies, and hope that neither would be too offended with the rhetoric intended for the other.

    Part of me wonders if The New Force actually relegates the UUP to always remain playing second fiddle behind the DUP as it would be too awkward for them to hold additional ministries (or even OFMDFM) and be unequally yoked to Downing Street.

    Though if Labour formally did something similar with the SDLP – [insert history of SDLP Labour relationship here] – it might redress the dynamic.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Anyone know why Lady Sylvia didn’t turn up to vote yesterday?

  • DC

    “Anyone know why Lady Sylvia didn’t turn up to vote yesterday?”

    She’s New Labour, and with any luck they will Go Fourth!

  • Michael

    Sorry for delay in gettig back to you on your points from yesterday.

    My view is that it is not possible to have a political party that defines itsel first and foremost in nationalistic terms and be post-sectarian. The UUP – if you read this weekend’s speeches – are first and foremost a unionist party and Cameron came to validate this rather then talk about a form of post-sectarian right of centre politics. In that sense it was a setp back for the Torys rather then a step forward for the UUP.

  • Jimmy Sands

    DC,

    So would it be fair to say that the parliamentary UUP is not yet entirely on board? Or is she?

  • DC

    Conall, would there be any conceivable chance of movement in the SDLP towards social democracy that takes into account Protestant identity supporting British and Irishness. Do you think the SDLP could be led in a way that broadens out its appeal by becoming more realist in terms of reflecting the actual social life in NI, given that the SDLP has hit the buffers by restraining itself in the rat trap of a sort of plasticky Irish nationalism.

    Jimmy, Sylvia is conspicuous by her absence. It would be interesting if she came out in support of New Labour – even switching now. That would be fantastic. Let’s live in hope for it would be a belt across the face of Sir Vanguard Reg. I mean they did bring Mandelson back, so ya just never know.

  • autocue

    “She’s New Labour, and with any luck they will Go Fourth (sic)!”

    As in go forth and multiply i.e. f-*$ off?

    You can’t possibly be calling on Sylvia Hermon to get out of the UUP (you should allow for my assumption that you are a UUP member/supporter, if not I apologise)?

  • DC

    No I am not a UUP supporter and referenced the Go Fourth slogan which is being used by New Labour supporters for a fourth term, which would make David Cameron’s lures a bit stupid if Labour gets back in.

    It is extremely unlikely given the situation however we shouldn’t rule anything out.

    I gather she could still switch to New Labour if the party could give the green light, as she was keen on Blair and New Labour has been, overall, a good friend of Ireland.

  • Look, he came; he had his photo-op; he went.

    That’s it, folks. You’re on your own again.

    Get over it.

    By the way: whence came the bankable, definite promise of a Cabinet seat? Chapter and verse, please.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Conall, Thanks for that. It’s utter nonsense, and says that nearly every political party in the democratic world is sectarian, but thanks anyway.

    Now can you tell us all where the Belfast Agreement requires the British Government to be neutral? Just so we can be clear, that answer does not require the preface “I think”, “my view is” or “in my opinion”. Just a quote.

  • dub

    the bit about “rigorous impartiality” would cover it, Michael. And that phrase is a lot stronger than neutral. Cant see how indulging every wet dream of right wing unionists comes within that requirement.

    Conall,

    Do you not see Damian, O’Neill and Chekov as Irish? Or do you have to be a foreign reared Dub stoop to qualify?

  • frustrated democrat

    DUB

    the full paragraph makes it clear, Cameron is not moving from this, he fully suupports the GFA. He is not removing any equality, rights or aspirations etc., just as the Irish government by supporting a UI are not removing any equality, rights or aspirations etc., either.

    Can you explain if you can see a difference in the two positions?

    (v) affirm that whatever choice is freely exercised by a majority of the
    people of Northern Ireland, the power of the sovereign government with
    jurisdiction there shall be exercised with rigorous impartiality on behalf of
    all the people in the diversity of their identities and traditions and shall be
    founded on the principles of full respect for, and equality of, civil,
    political, social and cultural rights, of freedom from discrimination for all
    citizens, and of parity of esteem and of just and equal treatment for the
    identity, ethos, and aspirations of both communities;

  • Michael Shilliday

    Nice try Dub.

    [The British and Irish Governments] affirm that whatever choice is freely exercised by a majority of the
    people of Northern Ireland, the power of the sovereign government with
    jurisdiction there shall be exercised with rigorous impartiality on behalf of
    all the people in the diversity of their identities and traditions

    Here the British Government is committed to enact whatever Northern Ireland wants impartially. You could go so far as to say this requires the Government to be pro union for as long as Northern Ireland remains so.

  • Michael

    Section 1 part V :

    “…affirm that whatever choice is freely exercised by a majority of the
    people of Northern Ireland, the power of the sovereign government with
    jurisdiction there shall be exercised with rigorous impartiality on behalf of
    all the people in the diversity of their identities and traditions and shall be
    founded on the principles of full respect for, and equality of, civil,
    political, social and cultural rights, of freedom from discrimination for all
    citizens, and of parity of esteem and of just and equal treatment for the
    identity, ethos, and aspirations of both communities;

  • In response to those who have asked whether I am selective in my use of the term Irish. In my mind evertone born on this island has the right to describe themselveas as Irish if they wish to. My criticism of the Blog Busrt was that it contained no analysis from a purely Irish, rather then British – Irish perspective.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Conall, thanks for making my point for me again. See comment one of this page.

  • bob wilson

    “the power of the sovereign government with
    jurisdiction there shall be exercised with rigorous impartiality on behalf of
    all the people in the diversity of their identities and traditions and shall be
    founded on the principles of full respect for, and equality of, civil,
    political, social and cultural rights, of freedom from discrimination for all
    citizens, and of parity of esteem and of just and equal treatment for the
    identity, ethos, and aspirations of both communities”

    Connall – essentially that says the Govt will not ‘side’ with one side of the community over the other. Precisely what Cameron said.

    It does not commit a UK Govt to forever being an ‘honest broker’.

  • markcheevers29@hotmail.com

    The article is interesting but it does not mention the steady growing factor of english nationalism. As the left i.e labour have ignored at the very least this cameron could have set himself set up as been pro-england as the cost of the union is being paid by England. If the cost of the union keeps going higher will the conservatives pay for the whinging celts as a low tax party it is a betrayal of a core value. Why should we expect the English taxpayers to pay up without question. The problem the unionists parties forget is England is fed up of being regarded as a bottomless pit of funds to combat nationalists who want to be of no financial burden to england yet if english people proclaims their nationality e.g. St George day as a public holiday we are regarded as rascists. It seems there could be paralells with belgium, czechoslovakia and italy the more affluent parts will secede from the state anything is possible.