Con Home on Empey’s ‘mistake’…

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.

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  • Sir Reg’s comment isn’t entirely out of kilter with trends in conservatism. Philip Blond, progressive conservatism and so on. Some of the traditional free market Tories aren’t so keen, but it’s perfectly possible to be conservative without being particularly right wing in an economic sense.

  • Incidentally any chance of some balance or is Slugger now editorially obliged to heap scorn on the Conservative / UUP link up? After all Sir Reg wrote, even by Isaby’s admission, a persuasive article. It was one piece of terminology he objected to.

  • The Tory Party, unless it is a national party, is nothing.

    So said Disraeli, the architect of One Nation Conservatism. What that means is that the Conservative Party must not only be the party of England, Northern Ireland (cue mass explosion of Defend Ulster Party light-bulbs), Scotland and Wales but also a party dealing with the socio-economic divisions within our nation. Cameron’s sussed it, Reg’s merely reiterating the truth.

  • Mick Fealty

    I realise we have been a bit like a bus; no unionist stories for years and then a whole slew show up at once… but give us a break… we’re not exactly making the news here…

  • Cameron’s whole campaign of social justice etc was aimed at the voters that Blair was able to cast his spell over in 1997 who, at the time, were not natural Labour supporters. It’s paying off.

    In regards to Reg’s comments, bad use of words, but he’s right in what he is saying.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Chekov

    This has been a very poor start to what is, to use the kindest of language, a very strange liaison.

    Wee Reggie is obviously having some difficulty selling Unionism Lite to his own supporters but I would have thought that not many would be put off because of right wing views as generally Unionism lies to the right on the political spectrum.

    There may well be trouble ahead for Posh Boy David Cameron(PBDC) when middle-England actually gets to understand what the Tories are aligned with. It is not exactly an unlikely scenario that members of the UU will be to the fore of controversial marches which may involve very very negative coverage on British media or they may be to fore in publically defending such marches and as there is nil sympathy for the behaviour of the Orange Order on the mainland the linkage to the Tories will not go down well with the vast majority of the supporters

  • ??

    After all Sir Reg wrote, even by Isaby’s admission, a persuasive article. ……..

    want to bet it didnt peruade Jeff Peel and many in the local tories

  • Bill.M

    And I would guess that there are many local and national Tories who have taken Jeff Peel off their Christmas card list due to his amateur attempts to derail the whole partnership.

    All-in-all, after a very challenging first week of this partnership, I am happy that both UUP and Conservatives are moving in the same direction, they just have to match their speed. Personally I think that the chosen direction will provide opportunities that unionists in Northern Ireland, regardless of religion or culture, have not been able to dream of since the 1960’s.

  • Sean Fear

    6. I can’t see that being a problem to most English Conservative supporters. Those of them who are interested in Northern Ireland are far more likely to be unionist rather than nationalist in sympathies.

    “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. ”

    That’s certainly a problem (although the Conservatives are gaining quite strongly in Wales). It’s clear that England and Scotland hav radically different political outlooks (Gordon Brown remains popular in Scotland, for one thing.)