Jonathan Isaby is generally a fan of the UUP/Tory link up, but he’ not a fan of the mild triangulation Reg Empey engaged in in the Newsletter this morning… But he’s not best pleased about Reg’s assertion that the Conservative party is no longer right wing, particularly with regard to it’s social policies:
Sir Reg is correct to suggest that those policies will indeed offer hope and help to working class voters in Belfast and elsewhere in Northern Ireland. But I would venture that his choice of terminology – designed, I imagine, to placate Labour sympathisers in the UUP – is clumsy, incorrect and unhelpful in equal measures.
It’s a reasonable point in the context of big English politics. But it is also provides a measure of just how excruciatingly difficult it is going to be for Tories beyond the borders of England to gain any tangible purchase even in a post Thatcherite era, where big events like the Miner’s strike had the longer term effect of eroding confidence of small c conservative sentiment in English Conservativism. North and West of the English border the brand and the philosphical outlook are still toxic.It’s worth watching this fascinating Newsnight Scotland piece. right to the bit where Colin Blane notes substantial protest against comprehensive pit closures in the wake of government victory amongst what had been their Scottish heartland. Just two years later, the party’s Scottish seat total plumetted from 21 to 10…
If Cameron and the English Tories want to build a union-wide party (a laudable aim for any unionist party) they will need to allow for some separate articulation of the project. But it also indicates (along with the incontinence of the last week or so) that this proposed union with the Ulster Unionists has a hell of a long way to go before it comes round to an equitable partnership.
In the meantime they have an election to win. One that neither side should underestimate the importance of winning.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty