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 cant 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.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty