Conservatives seeking Catholics and women as candidates…

Yesterday I had an impromptu interview with Owen Paterson, the Tories’ current Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and Marion Little, the Tories ‘Battleground Director’ for the UK. Little has been with the party for thirty five years, through the fat years and the lean. She also had her finger prints all over the last few big Tory victories; including Boris Johnson’s convincing victory in the London Mayoral election last May. It was a fascinating conversation; my thoughts below the fold…They are keen to push a key message the Tories have been pushing right from the point they unveiled this new force: ie that Cameron is both serious and in for the long term about this venture. That’s not the way it’s been viewed in the local press, where it has often been viewed as a ‘sinister’ by many nationalist commentators.

One of their first priorities will be to bring modern techniques to the way the new party chooses its candidates. In the UUP this has been a notoriously anarchic bottom up process. One of the new innovations is to bring in a Parliamentary Assessment Board for the Northern Irish Westminster seats to impose minimum standards on those chosen to stand for the Commons.

Their priorities? Women and Catholics. The former will come as no surprise. UUP party leader Reg Empey has previously acknowledged that his party must improve on its abysmal record of getting its women members into politics. But the latter will be met with some scepticism.

Yet they seem serious about their intent. They are even prepared for the likelihood that running a Catholic candidate will lose them votes in core Unionist constituencies, for the sake of establishing the principle.

Paterson rails against what he sees as the false polarisation of politics in Northern Ireland:

“What strikes you immediately is the sheer violence of the language that’s used by Sinn Fein and the DUP over what are essentially trivial differences. You have Sinn Fein members depicting the likes of Gregory Campbell in a Nazi uniform; whilst Gregory cannot even bring himself to congratulate an Irish football team. And at the same time Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness are touring the world together extolling the virtues of a powersharing settlement”.

But he is also keen to emphasise that ‘this cannot be respray of the UUP project’. For him the key is building confidence amongst those groups who have been alienated from politics. Mostly obviously he picks up on the business community:

“These are often highly articulate, well read connected and active citizens. They’ve not got involved in politics because here in Northern Ireland it has been a dirty, grubby and violent business. But those days are over now.”

I asked Little, what makes her think that they can succeed in bringing such people back in play when most of the ‘indigenous’ parties have thus far failed?

“This is not about one election. We need candidates who will speak to all parts of society. We’ve seen success in England come over two election cycles from candidates who were prepared to get down and connect with people outside traditional Conservative voting communities”.

She notes that in the Conservative heyday of the 1980s they had become complacent in terms of putting in the work on the ground. New Labour similarly has moved away from on the ground campaigning with the result that in succeeding elections the turnout dropped.

The new – UK wide – Tory strategy is to identify battleground constituencies and then to fight strongly in every part of that constituency. Something similar to the technique employed by the Obama campaign that tipped traditionally Red states like Virginia and Indiana into their blue pot.

She flags two now prominent Tory MPs who ran a two election campaign: Grant Snapps, now a junior housing minister; and Stewart Jackson for Peterborough, both of whom ran a two election campaign to take their seats in 2005. In both cases they campaigned relentlessly on local issues from a pair defeats in 2001.

The emphasis on renewed GOTV techniques begins with European elections in June, in which they’ll be looking for Jim Nicholson to increase his share of the vote in order to flag up progress both internally and externally.

Given the very short list of constituencies that are likely to fall to the ‘new force’; they are asking a lot from prospective candidates. They’ll be asking people to invest in a tough path that could take them to seven years to win a Westminster seat.

The emphasis on getting high quality candidates has become the party’s favourite tactic to overcome its lack of capacity in the ground lost to them in the 80s. In pursuing that tactic their choice of Boris Johnson as mayoral candidate raised more than a few eyebrows inside the party as well as beyond.

When Slugger spoke to Ken Livingstone in the summer of 2007; he was dismissive of a man who seemed incapable of understanding policy and seemed to have missed several opportunities to attack him over the delays in the various works in upgrading the London Underground.

In the end the race was much tighter in those inner London boroughs which traditionally opted into London politics. Johnson’s success came from engaging precisely those outer borough’s who had always felt vaguely embarrassed about belonging to the British capital. Boris enthused them into turning out, often for the first time. He also drew young often vociferous support into his campaign.

It’s a game plan the party is expected to re-employ in Mayoral elections across those parts of England where the party has long since ceased to be a local force in the political machine. Yet high impact players like BoJo are easer to talk about than to materialise.

Nevertheless, don’t expect the new force to play to local expectations. A Catholic candidate in say South Antrim is as likely to turn traditional Unionists off as enthuse others. But then again, these guys don’t expect to disrupt the local political game without disrupting the expectations of the reactionary elements in their own base.

The first disruption has been to eschew electoral pacts with any other party. To bring in Catholic candidates is a bold plan; and possibly nothing more than a triumph of hope over expectation. But with the possibility that the DUP peaked in 2005, there are two and possibly three constituencies (South Antrim, Upper Bann with a very outside chance of South Belfast) looking vulnerable even to a first phase counter play.

Norn Iron, it goes without saying is neither as open or as pluralist as the London electorate. But then again, it doesn’t have to be for this ‘new force’ to begin to make an impact in these particular target seats. Their opponents might be advised not to make the same mistake that Ken made of Boris over the last couple of years.

  • Katinka

    What you are saying, Mick, is that the Conservatives are serious about Norniron.’Bout time, get us away from the garden centres…..(personally speaking of course, and a south Belfast voter).

  • Rory Carr

    If I may paraphrase from Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles : “We’ll take the Catholics and the women but we ain’t taking no Catholic women!”.

  • Mick Fealty

    Au contraire M Carr…

  • frustrated democrat

    Mick

    ‘Their opponents might be advised not to make the same mistake that Ken made of Boris over the last couple of years’.

    Wise words indeed ………and the UUP did run a Catholic woman candidate in the past without the world falling apart.

  • slug

    Thanks for sharing that Mick. I think they have focused on the right thing. They need people of talent from all backgrounds. If the CUs were able to improve the ratio of females to males and attract a few (to begin with) catholics to elected positions, they could tap into broader changes that are going on in NI society.

  • dec

    Wise words indeed ………and the UUP did run a Catholic woman candidate in the past without the world falling apart.

    Remind us all, how did she get on?

    What’s clear is that these two (Patterson and Little) have no idea what they’re talking about.

  • Mick Fealty

    Dec,

    Consider that bookmarked. 😉

  • Terracetoff

    All very well Mick but surely its a prerequisite for any unionist candidate – UUP or DUP – to be a member of the loyal orders. And they exclude? You’ve guessed it….Catholics and women. After all are there not at least 27 members of the Orange Order in the Assembly?

  • slug

    terrace toff-things are changing.

  • Terracetoff

    Slug

    You’re right. I had forgotten that the DUP allow some women to stand e.g. Iris. After all someone has to make the tea.

  • Mick Fealty

    Terrace,

    That would be an absolutely glaring contradiction, if it were actually true. There’s enough real issues that lie between Tory plans and the local existential reality without having to resort just to making things up!

  • Jimmy Sands

    I think the UUP deserve some credit for the UKs only all-female parliamentary party.

  • frustrated democrat

    Dec

    If you knew your politics that would be at your finger tips – as a hint she ran in the most chauvinistic of all areas and got about 20% of the UUP vote between 3 candidates, as an unknown against 2 well known candidates.

    So I wouldn’t worry about running a women Catholic in a prime seat if she was articulate and capable, in fact I would welcome it.

  • William

    Terracetoff….Sir John Gorman is a Roman Catholic and there have been others….you make an ass of yourself with these comments:

    All very well Mick but surely its a prerequisite for any unionist candidate – UUP or DUP – to be a member of the loyal orders. And they exclude? You’ve guessed it….Catholics and women. After all are there not at least 27 members of the Orange Order in the Assembly?

    You state that ‘it is a prerequisite…that ‘unionist’ candidates’ have to be a member of the loyal orders’ then go on to say ‘at least 27’ are members. Did you count the Unionist members [both parties] in Stormont…many more than 27. Then you say that excludes ‘catholics and women’….well Sir John Gorman was a Roman Catholic and there are a number of women Unionist MLAs…Iris Robinson and Arlene Foster spring to mind. On another point, if your assertion about having to be in the Loyal Orders being a prerequisite, then it wouldn’t exclude women, as there is the Women’s Loyal Order Institution. So before you post garbage make sure there is some of it accurate. Understand ???

  • Gregory Carlin

    “I think the UUP deserve some credit for the UKs only all-female parliamentary party.”

    That is very gracious of you Jimmy.

    It was accomplished, as these things tend to be, with a lot of pain, and an electoral tsunami,

    Yes indeed, they establish the state, and after bitter struggle, an all female female parliamentary party, it wasn’t easy, it took decades of careful planning.

    Gregory

  • Gregory

    “And they exclude? You’ve guessed it….Catholics and women. After all are there not at least 27 members of the Orange Order in the Assembly?”

    The OO use to be the govt. it was a one party state of politics.

    The UUP ( these days) are pro-Catholic.

    Gregory

  • New Yorker

    If the Tories were strongly anti-abortion, they might attract the conservative Catholic vote in NI.

  • picador

    Kathleen for West Belfast. She would mop up the ‘dissident’ republican vote too.

  • Driftwood

    Why are atheists/agnostics not included in the recruitment drive?
    Or is NI oblivious to such people?

  • slug

    “Why are atheists/agnostics not included in the recruitment drive?
    Or is NI oblivious to such people? ”

    They are already represented: Jeff Peel the NI Conservative Chairperson and Alex Kane the UUP director of communications have been discussing their atheist views in the Newsletter recently.

  • Gregory

    “If the Tories were strongly anti-abortion, they might attract the conservative Catholic vote in NI.”

    That would see a shift for sure and also, it is self-maintaining, it doesn’t need to be feed, watered, or encouraged.

    However pro-Catholicism, doesn’t have to be overly stated. I think Sir Reg is making a reasonable fist of it.

    Gregory

  • Gregory

    “Alex Kane the UUP director of communications have been discussing their atheist views in the Newsletter recently.”

    I found that wild, I kind of giggle, I think it is real brave, I think it takes a significant amount of character, to have a personal system.

    I can always whizz over to a Vatican web-site to find out what my views are etc.

    Alex has to do his own thinking.

    Gregory

  • finches

    “However pro-Catholicism, doesn’t have to be overly stated. I think Sir Reg is making a reasonable fist of it. ”

    Compared to David Trimble, certainly. Most Catholics will never forget that infamous shot of him marching in the Orange Order (…as if that in itself wasn’t bad enough) with Ian Paisley down the Garvaghy Road.

  • finches

    I don’t suppose the DUP will be recruiting Catholics. Ian Paisley believed Harold Smith wasn’t fit to be elected because “as a Jew, he rejects our Lord Jesus Christ, the New Testament, Protestant principles, the Glorious Reformation and the sanctity of the Lord’s day. The Protestant throne and the Protestant constitution are nothing to him”.

  • slug

    “I don’t suppose the DUP will be recruiting Catholics.”

    They recruited one who made a speech at their conference this year.

  • Terracetoff

    Sorry if you think my earlier comments are garbage but it is a fact – made much of by the Orange Order – that 27 MLAs signed a petition against Margaret Ritchie’s comments. What percentage is that of the total? And what other secretive organisation with less than 40,000 members has such influence in the local legislature? I accept that my initial assertion was a bit sweeping but I don’t think it is either made up or garbage.

    Sorry folks go and trawl the personal profiles of the unionist elected representatives and see how many have it on their profile that they are a member of the loyal orders. This is a real issue, albeit local, that the tories probably don’t understand. Unless there is a significant change in the profile of UUP electoral candidates this won’t change. And Reg Empey isn’t the man to lead such change.

    Apologies to Lady Hermon and Arlene Foster for leaving them out of my earlier list. They are more capable than most of their male colleagues.

  • frustrated democrat

    Terracetoff

    There are I believe about 400 paid up Conservative members in NI, so I am sure they understand all the nuances very well.

    For the CU’s membership or not of the OO will, I suspect, be irrelevant in the selection of candidates and in the party’s policies and there may be a very broad slate covering most aspects of NI in terms of religion (or none), gender and age not seen before.

  • Terracetoff

    Sorry Mick don’t accept that I’ve made it up. Whilst it may not be a prerequisite (I accept some poetic licence used there) how do you explain the fact that a significant number of unionist elected representatives are members of the loyal orders – go and look at their personal websites or profiles. The First Minister and Sammy Wilson are significant absentees from that list. My point is that the Tories may think they can change this situation but how are they going achieve that?

    William – one Catholic and two women (one of whom I had mentioned)? Is that the best you can muster? I had forgotten Arlene and indeed Sylvia Hermon, both of whom are outstanding elected reps and definitely not tea makers. 27 out of 108 is around a quarter so that’s quite a sizeable proportion by any stretch of the imagination. And from a grouping that numbers less than 40000 (thats the size of the loyal orders). And William I am broadly unionist and I would like to see the tories succeed in thier objectives. I just fear they cannot deliver their objectives with their chosen partners.

  • Fianna

    Fianna Fáil will mop up the conservative Catholic vote in NI not the Tories – its all a matter of time and timing really. The future axis of power in Ni is FF-UUP

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    There used to be something on Owen Patterson’s website about moving away from the politics of the Orange and the Green – somebody obviously told him that in the case of ‘green’ at least this had more to do with Nationality than religion.

    The double-speak from the Tories is that they will represent both sides fairly – but they will do that by being on one side only. lol

    Tribal politics in Norn Iron is primarliy about Nationality and not religion ( particlualrly on the Nationalist side) and for the Tories to step in one side and say they are not involved in tribal politics is totally disingenuous.

    The nearest thing to a non-tribal party is the Alliance – who at least try to relegate the tribal issue to secondary importance. If Posh Boy David Cameron (PBDC) wanted someone to jump into bed with – it should have been Wee Davey(was it the beard that put him off?) rather than Wee Reggie.

    They have not even the honsety to admit that their intravention in Norn Iron is likely to malke the political situation MORE difficult for Unionism by potentially* evening up the vote and giving advantage to SF.

    If ever the caricature of the posh bumbling Englishman who does not understand Ireland was ever justified then no more so than at present with PBDC.

    *unfortunately form the Nationalsit side of the fence they are unlikely to actually make any impact.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    >>They are even prepared for the likelihood that running a Catholic candidate will lose them votes in core Unionist constituencies<< Perhaps the budget could stretch to re-education/education classes instead of waiting 40 plus years for the present mob of bigots to die off.

  • Reader

    finches: Most Catholics will never forget that infamous shot of him marching in the Orange Order (…as if that in itself wasn’t bad enough) with Ian Paisley down the Garvaghy Road.
    That was just a figment of your imagination. Neither of them went down the Garvaghy Road.

  • frustrated democrat

    Sammy

    You just don’t listen do you?

    The CU’s will NOT be neutral on nationality and WILL oppose nationalists’ views on the border. The CU’s (and Conservatives in GB) will be an organisation that 100% supoorts the union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is that clear enough.

    The CU’s will deal in politics and voters not ‘tribes’ or religions, you either agree with their position and vote for it or you don’t and vote for another party.

    So you can oppose them on their policies but not their right to have them.

  • Reader

    Prionsa Eoghan: Perhaps the budget could stretch to re-education/education classes instead of waiting 40 plus years for the present mob of bigots to die off.
    So, how well did Billy Leonard do compared with his running mate? Or was that just very poor vote management by SF?

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    http://www.sinnfein.ie/elections/candidate/502

    Whataboutery may sometimes work reader if there is a valid comparison.

  • ??

    The CU’s will NOT be neutral on nationality and WILL oppose nationalists’ views on the border. The CU’s (and Conservatives in GB) will be an organisation that 100% supoorts the union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is that clear enough.

    Thats not true, the conservative position is the same as it always has been. There can be no change to NI status until a majority wish it to change. The conservatives will not oppose a UI, this is the policy under thatcher, major, hague, duncan-smith, howard and now cameron

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    frustrated democrat

    “The CU’s will deal in politics and voters not ‘tribes’ or religions, you either agree with their position and vote for it or you don’t and vote for another party. ”

    1) The tories suggested Tribal politics in Norn Iron was tribal.

    2) Tribal politics in Norn Iron is based on Nationality.

    The only (mainly) non tribal party is the Alliance Party and the Tories are therefore entering into tribal politics in Norn Iron by supporting the Ulster Unionists. This is the fundamental contradiction/double speak/lie at the heart of their policy.

  • Reader

    Prionsa Eoghan: Whataboutery may sometimes work reader if there is a valid comparison.
    What is the problem? Did you not see his Assembly election results? Sinn Fein must have mentioned the results on another page, surely?
    But, just in case they didn’t: http://tinyurl.com/9856mm
    But, no doubt, it was just a failure of SF’s otherwise impeccable vote management – a mix-up with the leaflets at the printer’s, perhaps.
    (tinyurl is used because slugger doesn’t like the work ti*s in the full URL)

  • Reader

    IWSMNWDI: This is the fundamental contradiction/double speak/lie at the heart of their policy.
    Only if “tribal” is a synonym for “national” and has no other connotations. But I’m sure it does have other connotations here!
    Anyway, the door is open for any party that accepts the principle of consent to get on with social and economic matters instead.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Reader,

    “Anyway, the door is open for any party that accepts the principle of consent to get on with social and economic matters instead. 2

    The architecture of the GFA keeps the National ( tribal) issue in the forefront – not simply because of the designation issue but because it allows for greater North/South integration and because Nationalists can now battle legitimately to minimise the importance of the border.

    It is not just a matter of social economic policy but whther these policies should be orange or green. Trying to pretend the National issue has been resolved is a complete nonsense especially as demogrpahics point towards equality in numbers of the 2 communities(tribes).

  • frustrated democrat

    ??

    The Conservatives policy is that the union is best for all in NI and that is what they will attempt to persuade people to vote for in any referendum, they will NOT be neutral. However if a majority vote for a UI they will accept it as a democratic mandate.

    That is the change.

  • ??

    The Conservatives policy is that the union is best for all in NI and that is what they will attempt to persuade people to vote for in any referendum,
    ……………

    are you saying the Tory party, which has been here since the 1990s, would not have argued and advocated NI staying within the union in the past?

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Reader

    Spit it oot man. I have not got the foggiest how you can match up what you are trying to say with the wee tit bits you are providing. Clarity for the slow witted por favour?

  • slug

    ?? – no but that was what you appeared to be saying of the Conservative party in the future.

  • Reader

    Prionsa Eoghan: Clarity for the slow witted por favour?
    High profile Prod SF candidate got only half of the vote of his Catholic running mate in spite of SF’s famous ability at vote management, and the fact that, with 1.4 quotas, and expecting more, the local party had everything to play for and nothing to lose.
    Either vote management wasn’t attempted (why not?), or it failed (why?)
    In contrast, with 1.53 quotas, and 3 candidates(!), the UUP got 2 MLAs in East Antrim.

  • slug

    Politics is ‘tribal’ in most places in one way or other. What is happening in NI is that the religious tribalism is not so important in itself, people are more religiously tolerant nowadays compared to the NI of the past. There is also a growing cultural and sporting tolerance – people interested in trying out sampling and generally enjoying the rich tapestry.

    The CUs must surely want to be what is called “Civic Unionist”, inclusive towards people of all cultural and religious groups who happen to share the same political positions. That is something the UUP were moving towards and the CU link up makes sense to me when thought about in this context.

  • frustrated democrat,

    … If you knew your politics that would be at your finger tips – as a hint she ran in the most chauvinistic of all areas and got about 20% of the UUP vote between 3 candidates, as an unknown against 2 well known candidates.

    As far as I know she has not stood again, and the election you’re referring to was 10 years ago. It hardly speaks of large reserves of eligible Catholic women unonists, does it? Have they had any since 1998?

    slug,

    “I don’t suppose the DUP will be recruiting Catholics.”

    They recruited one who made a speech at their conference this year.

    Was that the Polish guy? lol – is he still in NI, or has he gone back home already?

  • slug

    horseman-no idea!

  • frustrated democrat

    ??

    The previously acknowledged Conservative policy was one of support for the union but with ‘no selfish or strategic interest’, the new one is for all out support of the union with a ‘selfish interest’, a subtle change.

    Horseman

    That was for the UUP, the new CU’s have, I suspect, no shortage of suitable candidates from all backgrounds, genders and ages nor funding for that matter. Things really have changed in NI but some have yet to understand that and still see things as they used to be.

  • slug

    Something the CUs will benefit from is the money and expertise. The Conservative party have all the benefits of a major national party and that could well transform the local campaigning.

  • Paddy Matthews

    frustrated democrat:

    If you knew your politics that would be at your finger tips – as a hint she ran in the most chauvinistic of all areas and got about 20% of the UUP vote between 3 candidates, as an unknown against 2 well known candidates.

    Was this before or after the UUP settled out of court after she took them to the Fair Employment Commission for discrimination?

  • Paddy Matthews

    frustrated democrat:

    That was for the UUP, the new CU’s have, I suspect, no shortage of suitable candidates from all backgrounds, genders and ages nor funding for that matter. Things really have changed in NI but some have yet to understand that and still see things as they used to be.

    I see. So just because the UUP have hooked up with what is in Northern Ireland terms a micro-party (one district councillor, who was elected as a UUP candidate – less than the Greens and level with UKIP – and derisory votes in every election they’ve stood in for the last ten years), all is changed, changed utterly – a terrible beauty is born.

    Colour the rest of us skeptical on this one.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Reader

    Is that the only time that anyone has failed to be elected with that quota? If so ye might be onto something. I honestly don’t know, but chuck all the hints and alluding. Jist state yir case man.

  • frustrated democrat

    … the new CU’s have, I suspect, no shortage of suitable candidates from all backgrounds, genders and ages …

    How can someone as unrealistically optimistic as you be ‘frustrated’? If you have cracked political alchemy (1 + 1 = lots … !) and can see ‘no shortage’ of Catholics and women in the non-merger of the sectarian and partriarchal UUP with the micro-group called the ‘Conservatives in NI’, then you must see the world through very rose-tinted glasses!

  • ??

    frustrated, “The previously acknowledged Conservative policy was one of support for the union but with ‘no selfish or strategic interest’,”

    that isnt conservative policy , rather the policy of the british government relating to the circumstances for a United Ireland.

    This is the full quote from the Downing street declartaion:

    “The Prime Minister, on behalf of the British Government, reaffirms that they will uphold the democratic wish of the greater number of the people of Northern Ireland on the issue of whether they prefer to support the Union or a sovereign united Ireland. On this basis, he reiterates, on the behalf of the British Government, that they have no selfish strategic or economic interest in Northern Ireland”

    I challenge you to find a member of the Tory party who says they have moved from this position.

  • NI Conservative Voter

    On the strategic and selfish interest point, the last poster has obviously been hiding his head in the sand. Just a few weeks before Christmas the Leader of the Opposition came to Belfast to announce – at the UUP Annual Conference – a new force focused on establishing mainstream Conservative politics in Northern Ireland. He made clear that he had a strategic and selfish interest in Northern Ireland. He has now appointed a core central office team to Northern Ireland who will seek to maximise the Conservative and Unionist vote in Northern Ireland.

    Cameron and the entire shadow front bench team recognises that Northern Ireland is Conservative territory. UUP voters, let’s face it, are Conservatives – well most of them. But so are a large percentage of SDLP and Alliance voters. It therefore makes sense to engage with people who may have voted for these Parties in the past but who might want to vote for a modern, pluralist, British Party now. Because the alternative is the sterile, infantile debate that is illustrated by so many in this and other trails on this site.

    Why do people feel the need to retrench, always, to the same old tribal posturing? Becaue on so many issues many, many of our people have so much in common. There is a vibrant small business community here that has always been blind to religion. The alternative is reduced market opportunity. The same rule should apply to politics.

    I attended the Dominic Grieve dinner last week organised by the local Conservatives. And I was inspired. So many well known business people in the audience. The questions were articulate an relevant. And Dominic Grieve was inspirational.

    People are moving on. Mick, I believe, understands that. The Conservative project here is new and genuinely exciting. It allows people of all religions and none to take part in something new and fresh and interesting. Therefore, inevitably, that means that sensible, articulate men and women will want to get involved – and young people, and old. Protestant and Catholic. Atheist and Agnostic.

    I’m pretty sure that Paterson is over-egging the Catholic women angle for good reason – to make a point. The days of the sash-wearing Ulster Unionists are over. The Conservatives are here and they will, with their professionalism and forward-thinking approach to things captivate a voting audience that wants something new.

    In the same way that Tesco ‘merged’ with Stewarts and Crazy Prices the Conservatives have reached an agreement with the UUP. Things are being done differently in Unionist circles these days. It’s called Conservative – and politics will never be the same again.

  • NICV,

    I notice too that Bairds Chemist chain has been taken over by Boots (or I am just making that up?). This kind of convergence is going on in the commercial world. As odd as it may seem just now, there’s nothing to it can’t work in politics.

    I notice the limited reaction on Conservative Home is sceptical too. I think that’s a fair enough reaction, since the party will need to make good on its promise.

    One line of argument that I didn’t put in was the idea that as the recession bites, people will think twice and three times about who’s in charge and what they are doing.

    As for candidates, I don’t get the impression there are loads of them waiting in the wings. This is effectly the first of what I would expect to be a series of calls for people to come forward.

    But they are right to target the business community, with whom there is a large degree of consonance, but which has been noticeable mostly by its absence from the political melee; mostly, I suspect because of its backwards looking persepective (business by its nature has to keep an eye on a constantly moving horizon) and the reductive reasoning that has so dominated NI politics.

    I’ve not been behind the door in criticising the serial dreaminess that has mired UU in false expectations in the past. Whatever else this might be, these people are no political adolescents.

    Sammy, etc..

    Ordinarily, I would largely agree with you on FF and the Catholic vote. But they’d need to start bringing their boots to the game rather than just watching from the stand.

    I can think of a few Catholic friends who would certainly vote Tory, but it’s less easy to think of people who would be prepared to go for it at the polls.

    The pitch may be perfectly timed; but it’ll work much better if they can actually get someone sufficiently high profile (and devoid of animus) to provide the actual evidence that they are serious about changing themselves as a party.

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    NI Conservative Voter

    “Why do people feel the need to retrench, always, to the same old tribal posturing? Becaue on so many issues many, many of our people have so much in common. ”

    Precisely – let us together ditch the tired old Britsh tribal politics of divide and conquer – let us spurn it – let us turn our backs on those who gave us internment and shot our people when we protested for civil right for all religions – let us join together North and South as set out in the GFA which give the Irish people the right to self determination and forge a new beginning – a new Ireland.

  • ??

    NICV
    “The Prime Minister, on behalf of the British Government, reaffirms that they will uphold the democratic wish of the greater number of the people of Northern Ireland on the issue of whether they prefer to support the Union or a sovereign united Ireland. On this basis, he reiterates, on the behalf of the British Government, that they have no selfish strategic or economic interest in Northern Ireland”

    are you saying that a tory government will have strategic selfish or economic interests that will get in the way of it running out of here should 50%+1 vote for a UI? where will its commitment to Unionists be then?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Most educated mainlanders recognise Ireland as one country and would be happy for Ireland to be united. They also agree that partition was imposed by force against the will of the Irish people and this recognition is reflected in the GFA.

    The current posturing by the Tories will not significantly impact on this except to actually damage Unionism electorally and hopefully lose them votes on the mainland. It would be fitting if there was campaign on the mainland to highlight that the Tories, with their shocking history in Irish affairs, are still trying to divide and conquer and encourage the politics of division in Ireland.

  • ZoonPol

    I think the history of Northern Ireland Politics can be summed up in by this
    Forward that i read once by a professor:

    Its true that the working class Catholics were discriminated by a
    Parliament that they considered to be alien; its equally true that the
    working class Protestants were likewise discriminated, by a Parliament that they
    considered to be their own.

    The Orange Order and the dogma of the, then, Free State‘s founding
    fathers was among the root causes of the above statement. It is then not
    surprising that the UUP among others are simply not Conservative. The church may
    be narrowing but a strong ethos of liberalism exists and within the poorer parts
    of Belfast etc the UUP have members who would identify with the old
    Labour Party more. Hence any Conservative Party member that suggests that we should ignore the past is in danger of repeating it.

  • Mack

    I’m not sure what the point of targeting simply Catholics to stand as candidates is. I know of no-one anywhere, these days, who votes on religious grounds. If Catholic is short-hand for unequivocal member of the Irish nation – then why not just say that?

    I’d like to know what policies they have, that they feel may be attractive to those who see themselves as members of that nation, that might entice them to support the Union. After 209 years, it is at least, about time they tried.

  • fair_deal

    At least the Tories are being more realistic than some in the UUP.

    “The emphasis on renewed GOTV techniques begins with European elections in June, in which they’ll be looking for Jim Nicholson to increase his share of the vote in order to flag up progress both internally and externally.”

    This will be most dependent on who the centre picks, Gililand did some damage to Nicholson.

    In also needs to be remembered that the UUP were taught in Conservative party techniques after the agreement “Campaign to Win” to no noticeable effect.

    “They are even prepared for the likelihood that running a Catholic candidate will lose them votes in core Unionist constituencies, for the sake of establishing the principle.”

    The Conservatives need to be somewhat more careful in making stereotypical and inaccurate comments. The principle was established in 1916 with Sir Denis Henry.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denis_Henry

    The UUP should have pointed out that it has had two candidates from a Catholic background in recent electoral history. One of whom got elected, John Gorman and one who did not, Patricia Campbell. In neither case was their any identifiable impact upon the Unionist vote. (Although UUP reticence about Campbell is probably to do with the pay-off they ended up giving her.)

  • frustrated democrat

    I think if the CU’s were to run 18 all male middle aged, protestants who are members of the OO then everyone would rightly say what has changed from the UUP(I know Sylvia Hermon is not a man).

    I am certain this will not be the case and that a mixture covering all sections of NI (background, gender and age)will be put in place, there may be sceptics posting here all I can say is wait and see, as I imagine they will be selected in the near future.

    PR

    I am frustrated by the lack of normal politics in NI and the enforced coalition that we have here. I want us the get to left, centre, right politics that exist in GB with majority rule or voluntary coalition depending on how the electorate votes , not based on designation but on political beliefs.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    frustrated democrat

    “not based on designation”

    Not in favour of designation ? then why have the Tories defined/designated themselves as Unionist – more double speak.

    The Tories are reinforcing the (tribal) divisions in Ireland. According to the GFA the constitutional future is for the people of Ireland ALONE to decide – by interfering from the outside they are undermining the spirit of the GFA.

  • runciter

    I want us the get to left, centre, right politics that exist in GB with majority rule or voluntary coalition depending on how the electorate votes , not based on designation but on political beliefs.

    Wishing away Irish nationalism is not going to work.

  • Bob Wilson

    It was Sammy McNally what talked rubbish:
    ‘Most educated mainlanders recognise Ireland as one country and would be happy for Ireland to be united.’ LOL

    One could equally say most educated and uneducated voted in favour of the GFA on both sides of the border recognising that partition was a fact of live.

    Where are the Tories interfering from outside?

    The only Tories ‘interfering’ are the ones who live her and who want the people of Northern Ireland – regardless of their background – to have an input and influence in the government that governs them – the Govt of the UK.

    Even the Shinnners know their will be no UI so why shouldnt people her move on?

    As for designation we have always opposed it but have to deal with the system as we find it.

    You accuse us of fostering divison – yet it is nationalism alone that REQUIRES the continuation of division

  • frustrated democrat

    Sammy

    I represent me, not the CU’s or the UUP or the Conservatives, I think enforced coalition is utterly useless as it enshrines division.

    I am not forgetting about anyone as the GFA is in place and it forces people to do things that they would not otherways do.

    Let us say, for discussion only – not a forecast, that the CU’s had 32 seats DUP 24 SF 28 SDLP 16 Alliance 7 then if the CU’s SDLP and Alliance designated as other, that would mean that 48% of the vote (DUP+SF)or even a part of that would control the whole assembly.

    I would like to see the 52% then change the designation system,in conjuction with the Goverments, to a voluntary coalition with safeguards for the then both minorities. It may be a long way off, if ever, but it is as much a valid aspiration as a UI.

    ‘by interfering from the outside they are undermining the spirit of the GFA’

    Of course there are, I understand, already 400+ Conservative paid up members here, mostly born and bred in NI and increasing daily, are they interferring from outside?

    Look at things the way they are not what you would like to portray them as.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Bobby,

    “One could equally say most educated and uneducated voted in favour of the GFA on both sides of the border recognising that partition was a fact of live. ”

    Partition has been revised via the GFA – the Irish people alone have the right to self determination – it is the Irish people, not the British, who have the right to decide the constitutional future of Norn Iron. British politicians should at least be neutral and ideally help Unionists make the transition to a UI. The Tories in the shape of Posh Boy Dave Cameron and Co are therefore “interfering from outside”

    “As for designation we have always opposed it but have to deal with the system as we find it.”

    If the Tories oppose designation then they should not describe themselves as ‘Unionist’

    “You accuse us of fostering divison – yet it is nationalism alone that REQUIRES the continuation of division”

    Ireland is divided by the British and the GFA signalled their withdrawal from the decision of Norn Iron’s constitutional future – they need to follow that through with non interference in political parties.

    The Tories are encouraging the worst sort of tribal politics by trying to turn the people of Ireland against each other (into Unionist and Nationalist camps)- rather than encouraging them to unite in United Ireland.

  • frustrated democrat

    Sammy

    ‘Ireland is divided by the British and the GFA signalled their withdrawal from the decision of Norn Iron’s constitutional future – they need to follow that through with non interference in political parties’.

    Why because you think so?

    Sorry that was not the case it left it up to the people of NI and RoI, if British NI people want to vote CU it is still a democratic country and their right to do so – and it is still British in case you missed that.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    “frustrated democrat”

    re. Ireland is divided by the British and the GFA signalled their withdrawal from the decision of Norn Iron’s constitutional future – they need to follow that through with non interference in political parties

    “Why because you think so? ”

    No – because the Tories have signed up to the GFA – they have agreed that Norn Iron’s constitutional future should be a matter for the Irish people and they now appear to be rowing back from that by trying to reinforce political links with the mainland in some sort of British political project.

    The tribal politics of division on the island of Ireland are now being enocuraged by the Tories – that is clealy outside the spirit of the GFA.

    If the Tories said they were not interested in the politics of Green or Oranger but only in economics then fair enough – but they are taking sides and have the fecking nerve to talk about tribal politics in Ireland when they were both the root cause of that tribalism and are actually continuing to foster it.

  • Mick Fealty

    Short note:

    About four or five years ago, a republican commenter Henry 94 noted that sometimes there were subjects that were better just discussed by nationalists and others just discussed by unionists.

    That’s both unrealistic in and in some ways undesireable. But I note how after a bit of skirmishing between Chris and Turgon, that the SF thread has settled to an interesting ‘internal’ debate amongst nationalists.

    That’s good for the standard of debate there, because it allows those who know something and have a positive interest to get on with a useful discussion on a topic that’s important to them.

    It’s a shame that some nationalist commenters can’t avoid filibustering and disrupting a thread which, if you go to the trouble of straining out the polemic is a similarly useful discussion.

    If you have nothing specific to add to a given debate, you might consider contributing your intelligent silence, and let others who do have something to say get on with it.

  • frustrated democrat

    Sammy

    The Conservatives are not interested in orange and green. They are interested in Conservative policies and having them in place through out all of the UK. They don’t actually see the border as an issue as nothing will change in the near future, however they do want NI to stay in the UK and as such are unionists (small u).

    I repeat there are already Conservatives in N Ireland, and have been for many years before the GFA, are they not entitled to a view in your type of politics?

    Sorry if this doesn’t fit in with your views, but that is how it is, things have changed since 1997 what you thought were almost certainties are now remote possibilites.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    frustrated democrat

    There was no small ‘u’ in Cameron’s UU speech – which incidentally I thought was excellent though highly disagreeable.

    I have a problem with the Tories talking of ending tribal politics in Norn Iron for a number of reasons. Firstly, historically at the start of and end of the last century they were major contributors to that tribalism – something I would suggest most historians would agree on and it is outrageous hypocritical arrogance for Posh Boy David Cameron to come into Ireland and lecture us on this given his own partys track record.

    Without wishing to seem rude, its not unlike someone entering your home urinating all over your furniture and then accusing you of having a house that stinks.

    The GFA is a delicately poised piece of political archticeture which alLows for an expanding (and contracting) remit for the ROI and to suggest that the Tories will land in the middle of this scenario and declare themselves committed unionists and that this is not feeding into the orange/green debate/battle for the future of Norn Iron is complete double speak and dishonest nonsense.

    Why did the Tories not link up with the mostly un-tribal Alliance party if they wanterd to steer clear of orangery and greenery?

  • slug

    Sammy-Alliance are already taken (they are linked to the Liberal Democrats). The Lib Dems and Alliance are a good match politically. The Tories are less suited for Alliance than they are for the UUP, indeed the UUP and Tories have been linked for most of last century.

  • slug

    Alliance are the sister party of Lib Dems: Lib Dems — Northern Ireland Web Page

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    slug,

    If there were no non-tribal parties available they should not have had a merger at all – but of course they want to do the tribal thing and talk down to the natives at the same time.

  • frustrated democrat

    Sammy

    Politics is all about getting votes tomorrow not worrying about history and blaming other people.

    If you persuade enough people to vote for a UI you will get one, if not you won’t. Nothing to do with the Conservatives only how successful you are in forming future voters opinions and how they cast their votes.

    So stop complaining and start campaigning, you have to compete for votes with whoever stands, unfortunately you can’t pick your opposition in politics.

    The Conservatives are here and they are staying.

  • slug

    Sammy – why would the Conservatives want to ‘talk down’ to NI natives?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Ulster ugly bugs ball – with wee davey taken – and with the final dance of the evening – enter a tall posh stranger intoxicated with his own self-importance who grabs the over-willing wee reggie…What a fecking pair.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    slug,

    “Sammy – why would the Conservatives want to ‘talk down’ to NI natives? ”

    You may as well ask why would bears shit in the woods.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    frustrated democrat

    “The Conservatives are here and they are staying.”

    Many people said the Workers party would disappear – but they are still with us – similar kind of thing – so fair point.

  • Reader

    IWSMNWDI: The GFA is a delicately poised piece of political archticeture which alLows for an expanding (and contracting) remit for the ROI and to suggest that the Tories will land in the middle of this scenario and declare themselves committed unionists and that this is not feeding into the orange/green debate/battle for the future of Norn Iron is complete double speak and dishonest nonsense.
    Building a unionist front that is neither Orange nor sectarian would surely be seen as a vast improvement by most people here. Plainly, there are people who *prefer* unionism to be narrow and unappealing. Are you one of them?
    And what were your thoughts on the possible arrival of FF as was discussed a few months ago? The same? After all, you did mention the “expanding (and contracting) remit” yourself. It’s only reasonable to allow political routes in both directions. Northern Ireland voters should have as much right to vote for an all-UK party that supports the union as they have to vote for an all-Ireland party that wants a United Ireland.
    As for the restrictions on the Conservatives – no problem. The right of a party to campaign for its long term objectives is not necessarily identical to its obligations in Government – ask SF, who are busy running a partitionist Assembly! Fortunately, the Principle of Consent makes the obligations very clear to both parties. Do you honestly think the Conservatives will try to revoke the PoC?

  • frustrated democrat

    Sammy

    Latest GB poll FYI. Seems the Conservatives are advancing on all fronts in th UK.

    The figures, with changes from Populus’s December poll, are CON 43%(+4), LAB 33%(-2), LDEM 15%(-2). The poll was conducted between the 9th and 11th January.

    The majority of voters will decide on the border no matter who is in power in London, Belfast or Dublin.

  • ??

    “The Conservatives are here and they are staying.”

    theyve been here for over a decade and made no headway what so ever. the best they can muster for the Euro election is Jim Nicholson. Jim who? Exactly. Expect the Tories to trail a poor third, helped in, once again, by DUP transfers

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    I have a major problem with the hypocrisy and arrogance of the Tories lecturing Irish people on tribalism when they have been a siginificant contributor to it. The Tory project and PoshBoyDC utternaces are a rowing back form from the Tory no strategic interest line of yesteryear. The Fianna Fail party (and other ROI parties) are now an integral part of the political architecture of the GFA – the Tories and other British parties are not – except in the capacity of Viceroy.

    re. Secular Unionism. The idea that good Irishmen, of the Unionist tradition, need the mainlanders to organise them into having a secular outlook is ridiculous. The UU could simply ban all its members from joining the OO and other anti-catholic organisations – if that is what this project was all about.

  • slug

    Sammy-the GFA has reaffirmed that (unless the people of NI vote to leave the UK) Westminster is the sovereign parliament for NI on very major things like monetary and fiscal policy, overall tax and spend levels, countercyclical policy, banking and competition regluation, war, social policy, foreign affairs, the devolved arrangements, broadcasting, and other issues issues in criminal justice, identity cards etc.

    The arrangement allows NI people to participate politically on these major issues that affect us all with a vote for a party that operates at Westminster level and can form the next government. The Conservative/UUP link up at Westminster and EU level offers that-it is quite a natural thing and nation-wide parties exist in all other European democracies. You will be able to take pleasure from voting against them-it all adds to the fun of politics and potentially makes voting bigger and more interesting than being based just on the NI issues.

  • slug

    I hope, in the spirit of one of Britain’s great intellectuals, namely John Stewart Mill and his Considerations on Representative Government, that the UUP/Conservative link up will be good for voters, as well as good for politics, by encouraging debate and argument around the larger ethical and economic issues that are determined at Westminster. These issues are more interesting and more important in many ways. We always did discuss Westminster politics, now there is more reason to, in deciding whether to support the Conservative party agenda.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    slug,

    dont be so reasonable you fecking GastroProd.

  • frustrated democrat

    ??

    Third probably, but narrowing the gap with the DUP considerably, maybe from 80,000 plus to 40,000, would be a good start to this long term project.

  • Elvis parker

    ‘Partition has been revised via the GFA – the Irish people alone have the right to self determination – it is the Irish people, not the British, who have the right to decide the constitutional future of Norn Iron. British politicians should at least be neutral and ideally help Unionists make the transition to a UI. The Tories in the shape of Posh Boy Dave Cameron and Co are therefore “interfering from outside” ‘

    Oh dear this is pure sectarianism (or racism?) masquarading as nationalism.
    The GFA recognised that there is no such thing as ‘Irish self determination’ it abandoned the idea that it was the prerogative of the ‘people of island’ – it accepted partition and said the future psotion of NI was up to the people of NI – British and Irish.

    ‘British politicans should be neutral’ WHY? because nationalism wants it? You may have convinced youself there was an unspoken agreement with Blair but a British politcal leader has every right to offer leadership to the people of NI – the majority of whom are British and two thirds of whom want to remain in the UK.

    To accuse Cameron (ignoring your inverted snobbery) of ‘interfering’ flies in the face of the fundamentals of the Agreement and is bordering on racism.

    Reality is that the direction of travel for politics in NI is a devolved ‘settlement’ under a UK Parliament. People here have every right to seek full political representation in the UK Parliament.

    This development has made nationalists face up to politcal reality – they dont like it and hence the likes of Sammy throwing out his toys from his pram

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    “Elvis parker”

    re. “The GFA recognised that there is no such thing as ‘Irish self determination’ it abandoned the idea that it was the prerogative of the ‘people of island’”

    Really? Might have been better if you had a little read before you posted. Have a look below.

    GFA

    “that it is for the people of Ireland alone, by agreement between the two parts respectively and without external impediment, to exercise their right of self-determination on the basis of consent, freely and concurrently given, North and South, to bring abut a united Ireland”.

    “external impediment” – the Tories?

  • Word Interpretation Police

    Sammy,

    The term “external impediment” from the passage you have quoted in the GFA is a reference to the fact that a United Ireland should not be forced on people [by external impediment].

    Those two words have nothing to do with what happens at Assembly, Westminster, Euro or any other elections.

  • runciter

    The term “external impediment” from the passage you have quoted in the GFA is a reference to the fact that a United Ireland should not be forced on people [by external impediment].

    Which, amazingly, is almost exactly the opposite of what the words actually say.

  • frustrated democrat

    Sammy Runciter

    The Conservatives are not external they are in one part of Ireland and have been since long before the GFA, see their web site – The Conservatives in Northern Ireland – so what is your point?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    frustrated democrat

    “The Conservatives in Northern Ireland”

    So it ok then to stop the funny guys from the mainland interfering?

    Is the joint party contesting the Assembly elections?

  • Elvis parker

    Sammy clearly believes in the ‘McNamara doctrine’ ie people in NI must be restricted to voting for Northern Ireland only (or All Ireland!) parties. On no account must people be allowed to become active in, or be encouraged to vote for, the parties that govern them via the Westminster Parliament as in the infamous words of Kevin McNamara – Irish Catholics in NI might ‘get used to’ voting for and particpating in normal politcs and abandon the holy struggle for national independence!
    Guess what Sammy the genie is out of the bottle and no amount of racist whinging by you is going to put it back!

  • frustrated democrat

    Sammy

    NI elections are not in the current agreement, they, I assume, will depend on the success of the 1st 2 elections, if they proceed as hoped then it would be reasonable to think they would move on to the Assembly.

    The Conservatives are ‘Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno’ so NI people have an input in GB and Vice Versa.

    In any event to call people from GB ‘funny’ is at about the same level as calling Pakistanis ‘Pakis’ not a great political debate.

  • Reader

    Sammy: So it ok then to stop the funny guys from the mainland interfering?
    I would say ‘helping out’, rather than being an ‘impediment’. An impediment would be something like vote stealing, or commandeering voting stations, or even preventing a referendum from being held – something like that.
    So I think we would be better off looking out for “internal impediments”

  • Elvis parker

    ‘“that it is for the people of Ireland alone, by agreement between the two parts respectively and without external impediment, to exercise their right of self-determination on the basis of consent, freely and concurrently given, North and South, to bring abut a united Ireland”. ‘

    In other words if the two thirds that want to stay in the UK remains as two thirds – which most people expect it will – there will be no UI.
    Following on from that the people of NI have every right to be treated as equal citizens in the UK and to particpate in the main political parties of the UK.

    So to sum it up – you lose Sammy