Can the ‘New Force’ deliver?

Much debate has been going on a couple of threads (particularly here and here) about the Conservative and Unionist New Force.

Debate has erupted about the difference between the Alliance Party and Conservatives and Unionists. The question arose about the ‘new’ UUP, can they deliver ‘non-tribal’ politics, can they change the political landscape of NI and can they offer the people of NI a real new alternative?

I suppose what I am getting at, will they succeed at changing the NI mindset?

We should remember of course that the UUP, being the party of Carson and Craig established Northern Ireland, entrenching the Ulster identity and fought off parties like NI Labour, independent Unionists and the DUP. The party even removed PR in the late 1920s due to threats from independents to defend their political position.

I spent time in the UUP and it did maintain all be it a different yet similar interpretation of NI and of Ulster to the DUP. The Orange Order were also still highly thought of in the party at that time. Has that changed?

Are the Conservatives and Unionists the old Alliance Party of the 1970s?

  • PaddyReilly

    Another argument occurs to me. You correctly point out that UCUNF’s claims to be non-sectarian are spurious and laughable, and that Alliance is closer to the mark.

    But if Alliance ordered its supporters to transfer to the SDLP, it wouldn’t be non-sectarian, it would be a Nationalist leaning party, and thus lose its niche.

    This whole non-sectarian spiel is of course based on a misidentification of the so-called sects. The Kulturkampf is between Unionist and Nationalist, not Catholic and Protestant.

  • Not your average Bismark

    The Kulturkampf is between Unionist and Nationalist, not Catholic and Protestant.

    Not sure about that. I am sure plenty of Alliance voting Catholics have their children playing GAA, for instance.

  • PaddyReilly,

    … if Alliance ordered its supporters to transfer to the SDLP, it wouldn’t be non-sectarian, it would be a Nationalist leaning party, and thus lose its niche.

    In the context of the EP ‘nationalist’ is as redundant as ‘unionist’, and Alliance should be mature enough to see that. We are electing MEPs – this is not a border poll. Alliance, as a dead cert for elimination, should at least give a hint as to who they really want to see as an MEP (cos it ain’t going to be Parsley).

    To be honest, if they really have no preference between Nicholson and Maginness then they are not a liberal pro-European party at all.

  • Horseman,

    I went through a decade in the early years of the peace process of seeing Alliance getting the shaft, including by the SDLP, after sticking its neck out to save others without seeking any quid pro quo. Not only was the Party shafted, the electorate did not appreciate what they saw as weakness and our ability to deliver our own goals was compromised because we had used up our political capital helping others on a point of principle.

    Those days are over. Mature politics means mature political parties cutting deals to deliver common objectives, but if you’re not prepared to treat with us as equals, and aren’t prepared to respect our mandate, don’t come knocking on our door.

    PS – the SDLP hasn’t asked for a transfer pact between the two pro-European parties either – why not address your queries to them?

  • jaffa

    Maybe if/when the SDLP merge with Fianna Fail and become a second NI liberal democratic party Alliance should talk about euro-vote transfer deals as they’d at least be in the same European parliamentary party.

    Anyone else remember this is a EUROPEAN ELECTION (and not a border referendum).

  • PaddyReilly

    Anyone else remember this is a EUROPEAN ELECTION (and not a border referendum).

    Fat chance. In NI even the X Factor can end up as an argument on the border.

    If you think this is a European Election, perhaps you’d like to list the 12 most salient points of European governance that you think it should be fought on? On second thoughts, don’t bother, no-one is listening.

    But given that the UCUNF fans are busy telling us how irremediably mired in religious obscurantism SF and the SDLP are, and how wonderfully close to David Cameron and the seats of power they themselves are, and nothing at all about Fishing Quotas or the Common Agricultural Policy, you might get some hint of how the popular mindset is working.

  • … the SDLP hasn’t asked for a transfer pact between the two pro-European parties either – why not address your queries to them?

    Cos they aren’t here, Sammy, but you are.

    Anyway, who’s talking about a pact? I’m talking about mature responsible politics, not childish ‘I’ll show you mine if you show me yours’ politics. If you cannot bring yourself to advise your voters to vote for the other pro-European party, then you are playing a childish political game. To your own detriment, of course, but also to the detriment of NI in Europe. Silly.

    jaffa,

    Anyone else remember this is a EUROPEAN ELECTION (and not a border referendum).

    Yes, I just said it in my post on May 07, 2009 @ 03:39 PM, i.e. two hours before your plea. But, as PaddyReilly says: “fat chance” – if even the goody-two-shoes of Alliance won’t take it seriously as an EP election, then who will?