Two tests for Tory-UUP relationship…

FRANK Millar wonders whether the upcoming devolution of justice powers to the Assembly will test the new cosiness between the UUP and Conservatives. If the UUP plays stubborn, to create problems for the DUP, how will the Tories react – continue with its bipartisan Westminster policy towards implementing the St Andrews deal agreed by Sinn Fein and the DUP, or side with Empey? And on the other side of the fence, if Cameron proceeds with his trumpeted plans to ban MPs from outside England blocking amendments on laws affecting only England in Westminster, how will the UUP react?

  • dundela1

    GOD HELP THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACT IF THEY GET JUSTICE POWERS WE WILL BE BACK TO THE DUCKING STOOL.

    THERE IS NOT THE SLIGHTEST SIGN THAT THE PSNI OR THE PPS CAN MANAGE WITHOUT OVER SIGHT FROM WESTMINSTER AND EVEN THEN IT’S HARD TO STOP THEM DROPPING THE BALL

  • Belfast Gonzo

    They probably know where caps lock is though.

    Grr.

  • dundela1

    yes sorry did not mean to shout I will be more careful

  • The UUP cant stop the P & J coming here unless there is a reversal in electoral fortunes between the Uninonist parties. You are looking at 2012 here.

    Nor should you assume that the St Andrews Agreement is totally fullproof or wont be amended. The Conservatives have been debating and denouncing the official obligation to review the promotion of the Irish Language and Ulster Scots.

    There are problems ahead and they will be bigger if the UUP regain ascendancy over the DUP. However, the UUP will be a different party by then. If the Tory-UUP link is still alive, I cant see it resulting in the whole relationship crashing down.

    In my view, the real tests for the UUP and Conservative relationship will come in the next 18 months. If the relationship is to work, the UUP have to campaign towards the Catholic community and move away from unio-centricism.

    The first big test will be in the Euro Elections. Can the UUP restrain itself from telling voters to give its second preference vote to a unionist party?

    We saw on the TV last October that Sir Reg had discussions with Jim Allister. That was before the link was agreed. The Alliance Party have used Sir Reg’s meeting with the TUV to argue that the Tories have succumbed to “tribal headcount” politics.

    As a conservative, I find the idea of the Conservatives being embroiled in sectarian politics utterly repugnant. However, if the UUP cant stop themselves from that conduct, the Alliance Party will, in my view have a point.

  • fair_deal

    “whether the upcoming devolution of justice powers to the Assembly will test the new cosiness between the UUP and Conservatives.”

    The Millar piece overlooked that Cameron publicly welcomed the deal at the UUP party conference.
    “The agreement that’s been reached on the process for the transfer of policing and justice powers is welcome.”
    http://www.uup.org/newsrooms/latest-news/conference/speech-by-david-cameron-mp-leader-of-the-conservative-party.php
    Or watch him say it on video
    http://www.uup.org/unionist-tv/david-cameron-addresses-the-uup-conference.php

  • Comrade Stalin

    I urge anyone who thinks the UUP are capable of sensible politics read Hansard from Monday and Tuesday of this week (16th/17th), especially the contributions by David McNarry (whom the DUP appear to be attempting to nickname “Slasher McNarry”) and Basil McCrea.

    McNarry excelled himself by objecting to Supply Estimates that would have been agreed by his party leader at the Executive; he then said that he would be opposing them; and subsequently went on to vote for them anyway. Basil was on full form as well, particularly when he referred to the Irish republic as “the south”. I refer to it that way all the time, but then again, I’m not a unionist.

  • Prejudiced Observer

    Yes – Cameron did welcome it because neither the UUP nor the Conservatives have any ideological objection to the devolution of policing and justice powers. Fair Deal is (ironically) correct – p+j should not test the new relationship. (And thanks for the links to the UUP site – it will push the site’s traffic up even further.)

    The issue is about timing and finance.

    Considering DUP-SF could not call an executive meeting through 154 days of a global economic crisis, do we really think now is the right time to devolve p+j powers to Stormont? And could the Stormont budget withstand the financial pressures rising from any civil disorder?

    In the absence of any meaningful collective responsibility, with 2 rogue ministers(Comrade Ruane and Sammy the Clown) performing destructive solo-runs, and with very significant pressures on the NI budget, is it the right time to devolve p+j – an issue that has bitterly divided our community over decades?

    As for the West Lothian question, I am going to duck it entirely, hoping that no-one notices.

  • frustrated democrat

    It must be understood that any Unionist Conservative link up will be 100% in favour of the union and as such in a PR election should suggest transferrring to any other party who supports that objective.

    This would not not underwrite all the policies of any other party or take part in any sectarian headcount or pact, it is using PR as it was meant to be used.

    As I understand it the Conservative party would prefer to see P&J;split with Justice remaining in London and Policing transferring here as a first stage with justice delayed for some time. Maybe the UUP would concur with this if it is in fact the Conservative policy.

  • The devolution of policing and justice debate is coming to the Convention on Modern Liberty in Belfast on Saturday 28 February.

    A panel discussion, featuring Stephen Farry, Alban Maginness, Alex Maskey, Basil McCrea and Peter Weir, is being hosted by CAJ as part of the wider Convention. Aideen Gilmore of CAJ will inject the international lessons into the local p&j;debate.

    In addition to the UK-wide debates, via live video link from London, on ‘The crisis of fundamental rights and freedoms’ and ‘Freedom and Democracy after the Market Meltdown’, plus speeches by Shami Chakrabarti and Philip Pullman, the Belfast event will also address:

    ‘Human rights and budget decisions’;
    ‘Torture and the war on terror in the Obama era’;
    ‘ID nation? Northern Ireland and the National Identity Register’;
    ‘NI Bill of Rights – people not politics’;
    ‘Truth, justice and dealing with the past’;
    ‘Asylum, immigration and people trafficking’;
    ‘Demonstrating Dissent & Parading Politics: the Boundaries of Freedom of Peaceful Assembly’.

    Advance registration advised, via the QUB School of Law: law-enquiries at qub.ac.uk / (028) 9097 3451.

  • fair_deal

    “‘Demonstrating Dissent & Parading Politics: the Boundaries of Freedom of Peaceful Assembly’.”

    Interesting choice of title.

  • fair_deal

    “on laws affecting only England in Westminster”

    How will English and UK wide issues be defined?
    http://www.spectator.co.uk/alexmassie/3365656/when-english-is-actually-british.thtml

  • “It must be understood that any Unionist Conservative link up will be 100% in favour of the union and as such in a PR election should suggest transferrring to any other party who supports that objective”

    Frustrated Democrat,

    At the risk of highlighting a fault line in thinking between the Conservatives and the UUP, I have to take issue with you on this. It is of exceptional importance to us and should not be underestimated or kept away from the press.

    With the greatest respect, you are completely wrong. the Euro Elections are not about the Union. Nor is any election in terms of what voters should be asked to vote about. If your view is mainstream thinking inside the UUP, then we may as well scrap the whole deal now.
    The UUP says it wants normal politics. If it does, then it can not go electioneering about the Union in any way shape or form. All electioneering should be about policies. If you say “put your second vote for the DUP because you agree with their agricultural policy”, that is fine but you cant say vote for them because they are a Unionist party.

    To take another example, I will probably vote Jim Allister as my second preference vote but NOT because he is a unionist. It is because he has demonstrated a high competence as a Euro MP.

    You should also note that David Cameron said publicly that if he did not get (a significant number of ) catholic votes, he will have failed.

    The UUP needs to grasp this point urgently.

  • frustrated democrat

    SM

    I am not in the UUP or even a supporter and you obviously do not speak for the Conservatives, DC does and has made it quite clear he is a fully committed supporter of the United Kingdom, are you? or is DC sectarian?

    To support the Union is not sectarian in any way, nor is to suggest supporting other unionist parties including the Alliance party which is mainly unionist in outlook,of the voters choice with 2nd and 3rd etc. choices. That is the raison d’etre of a PR election and is why you would support Allister.

    I think you confuse Catholic with Nationalist, the Conservatives are seeking Catholic Unionists, not Catholic Nationalists; unless they want to set aside their UI principles for a few years.

    There are many other policies that do matter but when transferring votes since the policies on Europe are all very similar regardless of what party is espousng them, then the core of DC’s stance is important here.

    It is therefore you who needs to grasp some political realities here, the Conservatives are committed supporters of the United Kingdom and must not be afraid to say that in any election including in Europe, just as Cameron did enthusiastically at the UUP conference. If there is a joint candidate he will have to reflect the views of those who will vote for him and they will nearly all be unionist in outlook.

    I believe in the UK as the best political unit available to the people here and do not support any of the other so called half way house unionist parties, but I will give them my vote in the order of my choice.

  • The UUP cant stop the P & J coming here unless there is a reversal in electoral fortunes between the Uninonist parties. You are looking at 2012 here.

    Devolution will have happened long before 2012. Another cunning plan succeeds!

    If Cameron is assessing the success or failure of the UUP link-up by their comined ability to attract Catholic votes then it is a failure already. The idea that there are thousands of pro-union Catholic voters itching to vote Conservative is delusional. I know that a few enthusiastic young Tories are dreaming that the leafy lanes of the Malone Road will produce gazillions of Catholic Tory votes and flip South Belfast blue, but I used to think one more heave would change the world as well.

    As South Belfast is the sort of urban, middle-class, liberal, academic sort of seat that the Tories can’t even win in the South of England in places full of people with no cultural barrier to voting Tory, what makes them think they can do it here. (Cf. Bristol West, Bath, Exeter, Brighton Pavillion, Portsmouth South, Reading West, Oxford West and Abingdon, Cambeidge, Norwich North, etc., etc. ad nauseam.)

    The post-1970 Northern Ireland party system is remarkable for its persistence in the face of media hype about the next big thing arriving to change it. The Tories have tried and failed to launch here once before, and there are not really any Catholics itching to vote Tory who voted Alliance or SDLP before.

  • Frustrated democrat,

    Firstly please forgive my mistaken assumption that you were in the UUP.

    I am not one bit confused.

    You have misunderstood my previous comment. I never said that supporting the Uninon was sectarian (even though it is perceived to be by a significant proportion of the population – see below). Like DC, I am a committed to the Union but when it comes to normal politics, we tuck away our unionist identity and talk about the things which matter to ordinary people.

    Let me explain normal politics so that we are a little bit clearer. I can sum it up in a few words.

    Normal politics means that voting on the basis of policies is for elections and voting on the basis of constitutional preference is for referendums. There are no referenda on the horizon so lets just concentrate on policies. I dont give a stuff if the SDLP is a nationalist party. If I was a socialist and they made a commitment to represent the Labour Party in Parliament, I should have no problem voting for them even though I am a unionist.

    “the Conservatives are seeking Catholic Unionists”

    Wrong again. It is perfectly possible for a Catholic unionist to be socialist. It is also possible for a Nationalist catholic to be a conservative. In elections we are seeking the latter group of supporters.

    To achieve normal politics, we have to change the dimension along which voting paters run. Instead of North-South, we want it to be left – right (in other words voting on the basis of shared values, not constitutional preference.

    Yes, the Conservative Party is a unionist party but we will not be flying the union jack at elections and we are not going to be talking about unionism. We will be talking about the economy, tax, etc.

    The UUP have some left wing supporters. Once normal politics kicks in, those supporters will probably want to change their election voting preference – maybe vote SDLP if the latter does what I suggested.

    If we want normal politics, we have to be consistent in the way we portray ourselves. We want to represent conservative catholics (whether they are nationalist or not) and our chances of achieving that are less if we align ourselves with the DUP or TUV.

    As to David Cameron’s preferences amongst other parties? Not that important. We concentrate on our own game but if anything, he would be looking at left – right credentials, just like me. By co-incidence, Sinn Fein and the SDLP are to the left. Therefore, he would not want those parties to get the other seats but not because they are non-unionists.

    Let me say one other thing which will sound heretical to a lot of Unionists but this is how Conservatives feel at the moment. We would rather Sinn Fein MPs voted for Westminster than DUP. Reason? SF dont take their seats at Westminster and therefore wont mess us about – unlike the DUP who voted with Labour on the 42 day bill.

    David Cameron understands fully the task we have to become a cross-community party.

    One other really sad thing is this. The Unionist parties have no idea how unattractive they are to Catholic “Unionists” who make up more than a quarter of the Catholic population (hard to believe isn’t it?) This group would never call themselves “Unionist” because the term is perceived as a sectarian term. However, if there was a referendum on Northern Ireland’s future, this group would vote to stay in the UK. I could go on about this subject but give it two weeks and I will put something on my blog about it.

    You may not agree with me but do you understand the point I am making?

  • bob Wilson

    ‘Bristol West, Bath, Exeter, Brighton Pavillion, Portsmouth South, Reading West, Oxford West and Abingdon, Cambeidge, Norwich North’

    Sammy Morse my guess is the Tories will will the majority of those seats at the next General Election. Fancy a wager?

    BTW your assertions about how Catholics might vote in the future are simply that.

    Doubtless you would want them to keep voting nationalist – even though many arent of that outlook

  • Sammy Morse my guess is the Tories will will the majority of those seats at the next General Election. Fancy a wager?

    Any time. £25 to Slugger if the Tories fail to win five of those nine?

    Of that list:

    Portsmouth South is Tory target No. 69.
    OxWAb is 102.
    Reading West is 107.
    Bath is 128.
    Brighton Pavillion is 135 (and just plain weird).
    Norwich North is 163.
    Exeter is 176.

    Bristol West and Cambridge aren’t in the top 200 Tory targets.

    On a uniform swing, Cameron can have an overall majority of 18 and I still win my bet. But I doubt the swing will be uniform; I could see the Tories being stuffed quite badly in Oxford West, Bath and even Reading West, given Martin Salter’s personal standing, while winning such unlikely places as Hyndburn, Telford and the two Luton seats, say, for an overall majority.

    The Tories seem to think South Belfast is sort of like, let’s say Cheshire, when actually it’s an urban, diverse, academic/student seat with a large working-class vote. If the ‘normal British party politics’ you love had been in operation here, then I’d guess it would have been a Tory leaning marginal for most of the post-war period, piled up big Tory majorities in ’83 and ’87 as the centre-left vote split down the middle, swung heavily to Labour in ’92 falling to them then or perhaps seeing the Tories hold on before seeing Labour pile up an enormous majority in ’97, then probably going LibDem in the Iraq backlash in ’05.

    However, unlike most NI Tory activists, I live on planet Earth, so interesting as this counterfactual speculation is it isn’t actually all that relevant to the real world.

    BTW your assertions about how Catholics might vote in the future are simply that.

    Sure, whatever, keep thinking whatever fantasy you want to think. But at least their assertions based on living in the heartland of the Catholic haute bourgeoisie, rather than groupthink thrashed out between people who live in Lisburn and people who live in London.

    Doubtless you would want them to keep voting nationalist – even though many arent of that outlook

    No, I want them and everyone else in the world to vote Alliance. First we take East Derry, then we take Berlin and all that.

    Your and Seymour Major’s openness to the idea of nationalists voting Tory contrasting with the real Unionists’ lusting to transfer to Jim Allister shows just how shaky the shotgun marriage between the Tories and the UUP is. The problem is, too many of your people aren’t tribal Ulster Prods, and too many of their people aren’t Tories. Shotgun marriage, messy divorce a few years later, pity the poor baby.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Belfast Gonzo

    “upcoming” ? why has Frankie written the article now – have we got movement?

  • Driftwood

    Sammy Morse
    Why do you assume most people here are ‘Catholic’ or ‘Prod’? most people I know are atheist or agnostic. Albeit most of them don’t vote.

  • Billboy

    The party of opposition in Westminster has traditionally stood back from the issues in NI and let the party of government take the lead.

    Does this mean the UUP have to consult Cameron on every issue?

    If so surely this will make the UUP seem like puppets and further entrench their minority party status?

    The UUP are intent on fighting the DUP, but the Tories in Westminster, whether in government or opposition will rely on the DUP’s MP’s for support on issues, just as Labour continues to do whilst in government. Thats tradition.

    The reality is that even if the Tories are in government they do not have to listen to the UUP and I suspect that after a general election they will be irrelevant as they will have fulfilled their duty to Cameron – i.e. making him look pro-union despite his proposals to rule out MPs outside England right to participate in certain debates.

    Plus, surely Cameron will have alot of sway over what the UUP do given the amount of money being thrown their way?

    Wonder, do the UUP have to put their press releases through Conservative HQ?

  • Seymour Major

    Sammy,

    I am not going to argue with the last paragraph of your comment. You could be right. I will keep an open mind about what I have been told.

    What I dont accept is your assertion that a unionist party can not attract significant numbers of catholic votes. To to that you need two things (1) a firm base of party activists across NI (2) Campaigning in a different way to the way a mainstream unionist party has campaigned before. It needs plenty of workshops with activists to train them to communicate cross community. It can be done but it requires a lot of hard work.

    If it turns out that this deal gives us (1) but with no hope of (2) we just will not achieve our objectives. Last November, I really believed that the UUP wanted normal politics and were committed to making the inevitable sacrifices that would ensue.

    We will see what happens in the Euros. If UUP cant resist campaigning for a No 2 to be given to a Unionist, it will prove that the UUP are not ready for normal politics and in those circumstances, I will be amongst the first from our party to demand that the link is ended.

    I have said enough on this subject for tonight. Normal politics is a subject close to my heart and I will never give up trying to make it work in NI. I will be putting special pages on my blog about that subject very soon. Would welcome a visit and your frankest most sceptical comments

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Seymour Major,

    The nearest thing to a non-tribal party in Norn Iron is the Alliance – the Tories may end up taking votes off a party which has a proven track record of putting tribal/constitutional second therby boosting the very tribalism they claim to be against.

    And it is hyprocritical of the Tories to talk of tribal politics in Norn Iron when the mainland Tory party is riven by visceral divisions over Europe – people will react when their identity is under attack – and it is completly naieve to expect Unionists to ignore the Irishification of Ulster when mainland Tories cannot igonre the Europification of Britian.

  • Devil Eire

    Seymour Major

    “It is also possible for a Nationalist catholic to be a conservative.”

    But not a conservative unionist, surely.

    “Yes, the Conservative Party is a unionist party but we will not be flying the union jack at elections and we are not going to be talking about unionism. We will be talking about the economy, tax, etc.”

    So let me see if I’ve got this straight. The aim seems to be to set up a new Unionist party in NI which is capable of courting voters beyond the traditional Unionist volk. The means is by soft-pedaling the avowedly Unionist nature of the party and campaigning on real-world policies.

    This strategy is utterly disingenuous, but I seem to remember that it did work for the Greeks.

  • ??

    “Yes, the Conservative Party is a unionist party but we will not be flying the union jack at elections and we are not going to be talking about unionism. We will be talking about the economy, tax, etc….

    isnt this the alliance party????

  • What I dont accept is your assertion that a unionist party can not attract significant numbers of catholic votes.

    Fine, don’t believe me, but remember people have been trying to do this for more than a century and it has never worked to any meaningful extent. It’s entirely your perogative to work towards that in a democracy but I don’t see it happening. Activism can do so much but effectively it helps market your product to people at least marginally sympathetic; people who are fundamentally unsympathetic are going to remain so. For example, no one can dispute Sinn Féin’s relentless, well-organised and effective activism but it took until some years after the first IRA ceasefire before it had any electoral value for them in middle-class areas.

    25% of Catholics might answer a question in the Life and Times Survey saying they don’t want to end the Union just now but that’s different from saying they feel fully part of the British state or entirely part of British society. The British Conservative Party is by and large a moderately nationalistic party with (at the risk of laying the political science terms on too thick) a strong commitment to the British demos, a demos which has no real pull to more than a handful of Northern Ireland Catholics. And as they’ve had about four centuries to form their opinions it’s not the sort of viewpoint that is subject to more than generational change. And the direction of change in the rest of the UK is, at the sort of glacial pace these changes proceed with, away from Britishness and towards a sense of Scottish, Welsh or English nationhood, you’re really expecting a lot for the indigenous community traditionally most alienated from Britishness to buck the trend.

    You can talk tax and public service reform all you want, but take an issue like Europe, of fundamental importance to most Conservative Party activists of my acquaintance, and your typical bourgeois person on the Upper Antrim Road or in Culmore has a fundamentally different sense of nationhood, sovereignty and European-ness to their counterpart in Basingstoke or Heswall.

    Especially when the bulk of the UUP-Tory electoral alliance is the UUP, and the UUP in drag is still the UUP.

    In another borderland I know well, Turkish Kurdistan, most Kurds happily support the Turkish national football team, cheer on Turkish olympic competitors – even many staunch Kurdish nationalists – while a clear if not overwhelming majority of Kurds vote for mainstream Turkish parties. The contrast with here couldn’t me more dramatic.

    The nearest thing to a non-tribal party in Norn Iron is the Alliance – the Tories may end up taking votes off a party which has a proven track record of putting tribal/constitutional second therby boosting the very tribalism they claim to be against.

    Sammy Mc – we’ve been keeping an eye and taking the temperature and we’re not worried. If anything, it’s more likely to drive centre-left UUP moderates our way.

    Why do you assume most people here are ‘Catholic’ or ‘Prod’? most people I know are atheist or agnostic. Albeit most of them don’t vote.

    And most of them aren’t Tories, either! It was David Cameron who said attracting Catholics in NI to the Tory party was a measure of success, not me.

    isnt this the alliance party????

    No.

  • ??

    isnt this the alliance party????

    No.
    Posted by Sammy Morse on Feb 18, 2009 @ 10:26 PM

    whats the differnce

  • Comrade Stalin

    What I dont accept is your assertion that a unionist party can not attract significant numbers of catholic votes. To to that you need two things (1) a firm base of party activists across NI

    To assist with this fantastic plan you’ve aligned with the UUP, who have probably the most ineffective and badly managed election team of any of the established political parties in NI. “Simply British”, allegedly circulating misleading Alliance-style leaflets, etc. Looks like you’re off to a good start.

    (2) Campaigning in a different way to the way a mainstream unionist party has campaigned before.

    Tell me about this new trick you’re going to use that hasn’t been tried yet.

  • frustrated democrat

    S Major

    I understand very well the point you are making, but an attempt to portray the CU’s as something they are not will not win any votes. That policy is treating voters as fools, which they are not.

    If there is a slim chance that a Nationlist Conservative Catholic wants to vote for the CU’s they will fully understand that they are voting for a party that believes in the UK and that their vote will be cast solely on the their Conservative principles.

    A Conservative Unionist Catholic will not have that problem they will be voting on their Conservative principles and will be in favour of the UK as well.

    We also cannot afford to alienate core voters who are firmly in favour of the UK, by somehow prentending the issue does not exist

    We have to be aware that there are parties within the UK that are trying to pull it to pieces these include the SNP, the SDLP, and SF. I make no apologies for opposing that process as I believe it is not in the best interests of all the people in the United Kingdom and will put that case forward when and wherever I can. If voters want to give other preferences for unionist parties we should encourage that without being specific.

    The Union may not be the main issue, the main issues must be the economy, health and education but it ranks high on the list, as without the Union the CU’s will cease to exist.

  • ZoonPol

    Everyone says to try and gain votes that voters should not be treated as fools: well excuse me but hasn’t the DUP been doing that for years so that they can gain power?
    How will UK Labour change the voting mix when they start to stand here?

  • frustrated democrat

    Zoonpool

    Maybe the CU’s aren’t looking for DUP voters after all!

    I welcome the decision of Labour to start putting up candidates here from 2011 onwards. It shows we are moving towards real politics and a Right, Centre, Left realignment will start with the more sectarian parties getting isolated on the edges.

    Now all we need is Alliance to change its name to the LD’s and we are in business!

  • ZoonPol

    I agree with you frustrated democrat. It’s a very welcomed step although if tribal politics remain then the UK unionist vote will be diluted by yet another UK Unionist (sic) Party: mind you years ago its sister party in NI was the SDLP!?
    The DUP will have to get friends fast or else it risks becoming a NI Protestant Nationalist Party.

  • frustrated democrat

    Zoon

    When I read their utterances, I thought it was already.

  • Now all we need is Alliance to change its name to the LD’s and we are in business!

    Just like we were in the 1950s and 1960s when the Conservative and Unionist Party, Northern Ireland Labour Party and Ulster Liberal Party (part of the British Liberal Party) fought elections. What a great success that was!

    The whole integrationist argument rests on the premise that the Troubles revivified in 1969 because the NILP didn’t send delegates to the Labour Party conference, which if you’ll pardon my bluntness is a really, really, stupid premise.

  • The DUP will have to get friends fast or else it risks becoming a NI Protestant Nationalist Party.

    That’s right, the DUP are dooooooomed, utterly dooooomed. They’re only the largest party in the state and their main rivals are only a joke!

    Seriously, you folks need to stop believing your own hype.

  • frustrated democrat

    Sammy

    Believe what you want to, things are changing in NI and those who don’t move forward will be as the dinosaurs – extinct.

  • Tell me about this new trick you’re going to use that hasn’t been tried yet.

    Stalin, sounds like a Cunningplan to me!

    Believe what you want to, things are changing in NI and those who don’t move forward will be as the dinosaurs – extinct.

    Bowled me over by the sheer intellectual power of your argument there.

  • PaddyReilly

    It is of course possible to get Catholics, even those of recent Nationalist persuasion, to vote Conservative. You just give them a well paid job and house in Surrey. They’re hardly going to form their own Fianna Fáil cumann there, are they?

    Within NI it is a lot more difficult. In the good old days before the European Parliament and the Assembly a large swathe of the Province had the same effect as Surrey. Since there was no possibility of a Nationalist candidate getting anywhere, you either voted for a Unionist one or not at all. The Assembly, by giving 6 seats to each constituency, made Nationalist success possible.

    It’s rather like the US where 90 year old black women voted for the first time for O’Bama recently. The Assembly, and the EU elections, have made Nationalist voting possible in places where it never was before. Who would have imagined, more than a decade ago, that in South Antrim could return 2 Nationalists out of 6, and only 3 Unionists out of 6! That Catholics living in Newtonabbey would go out and vote, successfully, for Sinn Féin!

    With Constituency changes, Nationalism may even rear its ugly head in East Antrim next time round. The only safe places for Unionism are East Belfast and North Down. It is this last which will save David Cameron from having to commit hare-kiri. Catholics will vote for Sylvia in the Westminster elections here, though not, I imagine, in any other type of election.

  • ZoonPol

    Sammy look at the events around you.

    Yesterday you said NO NO NO to IRA/Sinn Fein, then it became Sinn Fein/IRA, then Sinn Fein; today you are working together; tomorrow ……

    Its the DUP that like to think of themselves masters of spin but look at what has happened extreme Republican groups are still causing fear and for want of the Photo that the DUP never got I am sure they recruited more than just IRA members! But the press plays the Peace game and Paisley is past prime so we are expected to suck it instead. In the old days it was said that the official unionists would never enter government with Sinn Fein while they had guns under the table – the UUP got dragged over the coals for that – are the DUP any worse than that Party or are they refusing to walk out of Stormont on a point of principle or too keen to keep their salaries and expenses?

  • PaddyReilly

    It must be admitted that the DUP, has to date, been extremely successful, but as Plutarch demonstrates time and again in his Lives, when you have reached the top the only way is down.

    Problems that might arise are as follows:-

    1) The DUP may well, in the forthcoming election, haemorrhage votes to the TUV. These could then be turned into transfers to the UUP, which would then be the largest Unionist party. But only in the EU elections, admittedly.

    2) At the last EU Election, with all the votes and transfers counted except for the SF surplus, Unionists had 2 quotas plus 9,738 votes to spare. Due to the sad demise of elderly prods in the meantime, there will be less than 2 Unionist quotas around this time. Running 3 candidates when you have less than 2 quotas is not the cleverest of tactics.

    3) In the Assembly with its 6 seats per constituency, any constituency with more than two DUP seats will be standing in line to lose one to the TUV.

    4) From majority of the majority to minority of the minority in three easy stages. Bring it on.

  • Due to the sad demise of elderly prods in the meantime, there will be less than 2 Unionist quotas around this time.

    I’ll ignore the implicit sectarianism and instead stay with you here for the sake of personal financial gain…who’s going to win the National this year Paddy?

  • PaddyReilly

    who’s going to win the National this year

    No idea oneill. The event is largely random and unpredictable. NI elections however, since the introduction of anti-discrimination law, have shown one predictable feature in the results, which is that the Unionist vote goes steadily down.

    The rate by which it goes down appears to me to be 0.5% per annum.

    If NI elections were not predictable along this vector, then we would expect a massive victory for SF one year, for the DUP the next, etc etc.

    Similarly I can predict with almost identical confidence that the Labour vote will go down in the next election, and the Conservative go up. I don’t know where I get this gift from, it must come from God. Though I should point out that in a competition for predicting the results of the last EU election, Nicholas Whyte came second, so some people may insinuate that it’s a matter of studying the data (he has a very thorough web site on the topic).

  • ZoonPol, I’m not a member or supporter or voter of the DUP or any unionist party. I’m just pointing out that they’re currently the dominant party in Northern Ireland and I see little prospect of the UUP donkey challenging that, even with a silbern Tory saddle placed upon it. The UUP in drag is still the DUP.

    The rate by which it goes down appears to me to be 0.5% per annum.

    Ach, Paddy, you and your rules again! I remember your ‘golden rule’ that no Assembly constituency ever elected both Alliance and SF members. How’s that one working out for you?

    But anyway, I liked your line about the only way to get nationalists to vote Tory, so I am not fighting with you today.

  • Paddy Reilly No. 12 gives an excellent analogy as to how CUs can pick up Catholic votes. He portrays a group of people who were not actually represented property, so they just voted for the choices they had until somebody who properly represented them came along.

    What Paddy Reilly assumes (wrongly) is that all those Catholics he is talking about are totally loyal to the Nationalist cause. The the fact is, most of them are disenfranchised because they are only represented by loony-left wing nationalist parties.

  • The rate by which it goes down appears to me to be 0.5% per annum.

    Ah, right.
    OK, then, with that distinct of lack of randomness and unpredictability it should be a cinch for you to predict when there’ll be enough Catholi…er..”nationalists” to deliver us into a “United” Ireland.
    When that’s going to be Paddy?

  • ZoonPol

    Sammy the fact that i said you instead if they is just a matter of trying to make it read better not an indication of me trying to guess who you vote for, for quite frankly i don’t care. I respect your opinion if made rationaly.

  • frustrated democrat

    PR

    I assume that you genius re GB is based on the opinion polls unless you really do have a crystal ball. What do you dimiss the opinion poll re voting intentions in NI in yourr predictions.

    SM

    If ‘change’ is good enough for Obama it is good enough for me. A black president is change in the US and a mainland party working in NI will also be a change. The main thing I hear from the voters I talk to across all parties is a wish for real politics not zero sum sectarianism.

  • PaddyReilly

    What Paddy Reilly assumes (wrongly) is that all those Catholics he is talking about are totally loyal to the Nationalist cause.

    I assumed no such thing.

    There are loads of Catholic Unionists. I have found a list:-

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Catholic_Unionists

    As you can see there are seven of them. Unfortunately four of them would have to be disqualified, as they are dead, though this is not always a bar to Unionists voting in Ulster.

    Of the other three, I have tried to formulate some rule, at the risk of offending Sammy Morse still further. Judging from Edward Haughey, I would say that it is worth while trying to recruit to the Conservative cause all Catholics with a personal fortune of more than £300 million.

    The other two seemed to indicate that having held a certain rank in the RUC is a deciding factor.

  • PaddyReilly

    Answer to Frustrated Democrat

    Someone formulated a rule that sitting Governments always lose popularity at a fairly predictable rate. (The only thing that can stop this is a war, as far as I can tell). The Labour Party got 418 seats in 1997, 412 in 2001 and 355 in 2005. This downward trend will continue at the next election. Opinion Polls differ widely by how much, so I pay no attention to them. The 2001-2005 trend warns us that it could be more than 50 seats.

    Answer to oneill

    It would probably be best to wait for 3 months till the Election so one can plot the exact point we have reached on Unionism’s downward path. I will say that I expect it to be the most unfavourable result for Unionism since the province was invented. Uniting Ireland however, depends on other factors such as Unionist willingness to abide by inconvenient democratic mandates, which has never previously been forthcoming.

  • PaddyReilly

    Ach, your rules

    In 2007 I made the following comments to Sammy Morse:-

    But why argue? There’ll be an election in five weeks. Then we’ll be able to see

    Is the Unionist percentage of the vote going up?
    Is it going down?
    Is it miraculously suspended in mid air, going nowhere?

    Also we’ll be able to calculate the swing. But given that there’s been an election almost every year, and the swing is 5% per decade, but you don’t want to believe this, we won’t be any further ahead. However, if this calculation is correct, then the election results should show a decline in the Unionist percentage of the vote of nearly 1% from 2005.

    Sammy, in his otherwise excellent online analysis, went into minute detail of every constituency, but still predicted a decline in the number of Nationalist seats! Of course, that’s not what happened. When the results came out, the swing was as I said it would be, in fact it was even greater. The total Unionist vote was 48-49%.

    The trouble arises when you allow what you want to happen to affect your predictions of what will happen. Of course I am just as much prone to this rule as anybody else, my excuse is that what I want is for the Unionist vote to go down by 10% per annum, and what I have observed is that it goes down bu 0.5% per annum, and it is this latter statistic that I am giving you.

  • frustrated democrat

    PR

    Will the unionist % increase or decrease from 48.6% in the upcoming EU election?

  • PaddyReilly

    Will the unionist % increase or decrease from 48.6% in the upcoming EU election?

    Obviously, by my already formulated rule, I would expect the Unionist first preference vote to go down by 2.5% to 46.1%. But I should stress that you may be confusing the 1st prefs with the effective vote, which is what you are left with after all the transfers. The effective Unionist vote in 2004 was 48.6% + 4%. In 2009 I would predict 46.1 + 3.9%.

    But having said this, I would expect a slight wobble, in asmuch as in 2004 the Conservatives were part of the Coalition that voted for Gillisland, and in 2009 they are apparently at one with the UUP. But I say slight because as far as I am aware the Conservatives accounted for 0.1% of the vote. So maybe it should be 46.2 + 3.8%.

  • I will say that I expect it to be the most unfavourable result for Unionism since the province was invented.

    Rest assured that prediction has been diarised for future referral Paddy. And your reluctance, to predict when that “inconvenient democratic mandate” will be there for a “United” Ireland has been noted- are you, like Gerry, now looking at the question in 40 year time-scales rather than getting too precious about 2016 when, (according to your tea-leaves anyway) there should be a whopping Catholic nationalist majority in the electorate?

  • PaddyReilly

    Not at all, dear oneill. If I’m expecting the 2009 election to produce a 46.1 + 3.9% result for Unionism, then I’m expecting the 2014 one to come out at 43.6 +3.8%.

    A previous commentator mocked my predictions and showed that the results were, that year, 1% out, but he was extrapolating from EU to Assembly results, which you should not do, as there are so many more factors at play. In any case, 1% is not enough to bother me: that’s about 333 votes per constituency.

    If the next elections produce the 60% pro Unionist (and Conservative) results that Fair Deal is hoping for, I will know that I’m off my head. Otherwise, you will forgive me for thinking that it is my gainsayers who are confusing their anal and their ulnar regions.

    There are slight differences between the Catholic electorate and the Nationalist one, but I don’t think they’re that significant. I suspect that just about everyone who puts themselves down as Protestant on the census is Unionist, but not quite everybody who is counted as Community Protestant due to parentage. This practise does not take marriage partner into account, which can be a determining factor.

    I should explain that I always start with the electoral returns first, and then try to see if they can be explained by calibrating them with the religious question in the census. Thus we may hazard a guess that the decline in the Unionist vote is caused by the fact that Protestants vastly outnumber Catholics among the over 80s, and will do so for the next 40 years. But this is just a guess: perhaps it is due to the activities of Sinn Féin’s Unionist Outreach Officer.

    The decline however is well evidenced: had I been able to bet that the Unionist proportion of the vote would fall in all elections since 1975 I would now be looking at millions, but I suspect Paddy Power is too cute to allow me to bet on those terms.

  • You should never bet on the Inevitability of History Paddy, for you know well enough that are the only two inevitabilties in life, even here in NI. And one thing, for a whole host of reasons, nationalists shouldn’t be relying on is their perception of how the demographics will work out.

    I might be wrong, but I thought the 60% FD mentioned is when he reckons the game is finally, well and truly over for the “United” Irelanders, not what Unionism is expecting to score at the EU election- any kind of increase in the Unionist vote in real terms or an increase in the margin between Unionism and nationalism will be good enough…for now.