Elections and Battles: tactics and strategy

One of the most celebrated military generals of antiquity was Hannibal. He annihilated several Roman armies, possibly most famously with the Double envelopment at Cannae which is still studied as an archetype for a successful battle. However, brilliant as Hannibal’s tactics were, his long term strategy was flawed. He fought in Italy for years and was eventually worn down by a foe (the Romans) who simply would not give up. At the end it was Carthage, not Rome which was destroyed.
The DUP frequently extol for us how well they have done in Stormont. They claim to have ended the era of pushover unionism and the endless litany of humiliating concessions meekly yet gracelessly delivered by the hapless lundy Trimble. The DUP can claim (with some justification) to have significantly improved on the Belfast Agreement in the St Andrew’s agreement. They can also claim with very considerable justification to have drawn Sinn Fein into a governmental structure and to have out manoeuvred them within it. Just like Hannibal at Cannae they drew Sinn Fein in and have surrounded them. The Irish language act has gone nowhere, for the mean time we have no policing and justice devolved. Academic selection has sort of survived though the epic mess which that has involved conjures up more the appalling stalemate of Verdun than any heroic victory. Overall though as a number of DUP commentators have said on this site and elsewhere the DUP are winning, the tactics are good.

Inevitably this being my and not Andrew Charles’s blog there is a ‘but.’

The but is the same but as with Hannibal: the tactics are good, the strategy is flawed and the litany of victories which various DUPers wheel out on each occasion we debate these issues merely serve to illustrate how far that strategy has failed.

Not so long ago DUP manifestos included pledges that we would not be ruled by a power sharing government containing unrepentant terrorists and once we were told that republicans would have to repent in sack cloth and ashes. The Armani suits favoured by Sinn Fein may frequently be charcoal grey but that does not seem quite the same thing. (I still prefer Paul Smith)

The DUP’s strategy changed (at least in public) after St. Andrew’s and whatever the tactical victories since; there are those of us who feel that the new strategy is completely flawed. Of course at St Andrew’s I would also argue that the DUP’s tactics failed them and we ended up with a situation whereby a Sinn Fein first and not merely deputy first minister is a realistic possibility. In the case of St Andrew’s the DUP was like the Wermacht in 1941. Having made the error of deciding to fight on two fronts they left the start of Barbarossa too late in the year. In a very real way the fate of Nazi Germany was sealed on Mid summer’s night 1941. Wrong strategy: Wrong tactics.

Some in the DUP have suggested that all this is in the past. The most talented DUP commentator on this site (Bigger Picture) recently suggested this. He may be correct. However, there are other people who have a different strategy. One problem is that evey unionist group which has negotiated a flawed agreement has come to claim that it has achieved the best possible option for the unionist population and that any improvement is impossible. I suspect that those who make such claims may cone to almost delude themselves into believing it: unfortunately delusions are not reality. These were exactly the claims made by Trimble after the Belfast agreement debacle and the DUP quite correctly rubbished them. Then the DUP demonstrated just how useless Trimble’s negotiating skills were by getting a rather better deal. However, there are those of us who feel that for all the DUP’s tactical gains, St Andrew’s was still a defeat for unionism. Kursk was less of an obvious defeat for the Germans than Stalingrad. However, some would argue it was actually at least as significant.

There are also unionists prepared to offer a different vision than the DUP’s The CU’s seem to be moving towards a new strategy for Northern Ireland though the exact tenants of their proposals and the effect if any on the current Stormont arrangements are as yet unclear.

The TUV position is, however, more straightforward and is to be honest little or no different from the DUP position of a scant few years ago: indeed the position the DUP held at the last set of elections. (It is also incidentally the same position as the UUP held until Trimble’s “leadership”). I will not bore you by rehearsing it in detail but the point is that it is a strategy held by all the major unionist parties until comparatively recently and by the DUP until St. Andrews. The DUP at the time variously told us that St Andrews was a great advance and simultaneously told us that it was the best they could do. Subsequently they have been more effusive about the supposed victory won at St Andrews and the supposedly victorious application of their tactics.

I do not doubt the DUP’s claim to have out manoeuvred SF within the executive. However, there remains this issue of the new strategy. That has never been put to unionist population of Northern Ireland. Whilst the DUP may not like it, there may be some who remain unconvinced by the Hannibal-esque leadership of Peter Robinson. As such whatever Lord Morrow may think Jim Allister needs to put the alternative strategy before the unionist electorate. This election is not of course merely a referendum on the St Andrews modification of the Belfast Agreement; however, that is one of its functions and to be honest if the DUP win well they will of course pronounce it as such. I remain concerned that Robinson’s vision is strategically flawed and that one day in the near future we will look back at the current DUP victories real and purported in the same way as Hannibal and Carthage’s: impressive but ultimately reversed, defeated and destroyed. One function of this election is to see whether unionists wish to stick with Hannibal’s party or look for their own Scipio Africanus to combine tactical and strategic abilities.

  • fair_deal

    Could this not be made to work with unionists as the romans and the republicans as the carthaginians?

  • Greenflag

    fair deal ,

    ‘Could this not be made to work with unionists as the romans and the republicans as the carthaginians?’

    Eh No – You got it the wrong way around .The Romans prided themselves on their Republic . The Carthaginians were more inclined to monarchical rule . The Roman rot set in when the Republic was overthrown in favour of the Empire builders . You may be familar with the usual historical sequence now being experienced by our present/former empire builders in the oil rich middle east .

  • oneill

    The but is the same but as with Hannibal: the tactics are good, the strategy is flawed and the litany of victories which various DUPers wheel out on each occasion we debate these issues merely serve to illustrate how far that strategy has failed.

    Presuming (and hoping) that their ultimate target is not just the preservation but the strengthening of the Union, the strategy to achieve the first part of that aim has been successful… so far But their strategy is effectively a defensive one, a “what we have we hold” mentality, which lacks the creativity and width needed to bring new vision to and so strengthen Unionism.

    Bit of a laboured metaphor, but Robinson and Co haven’t the got the ingenuity and open-thinking needed to pull the Unionist elephants, donkeys and foot-soldiers over the Alps!!!

  • Rory Carr

    Turgon,
    I have a little personal interest in the way this thread was introduced. Hannibal’s father was called Hamilcar and my great-uncle was named Hamill (‘Hammy’) Carr. He lost an eye at the first battle of Mons in 1914 where his brother, my grandfather was killed. It was his pride every year that he was visited by RUC DI ‘Tail-light’ Murphy who warned him not to lead the AOH parade through Downpatrick while carrying forbidden national emblems and flags. Every year he ignored the warnings and every year he went to Crumlin Road for 3 months as punishment, cheered off at the station by the local populace who later gathered to welcome his return home. Indomnitable as his namesake and his namesake’s son. Defeated in battle but never in spirit, though I doubt he woould care to see his better qualities associated with either the DUP or the TUV (or any unionist grouping for that matter).

    Anyway that’s my introductory ramble in response to your introductory ramble.

    Now to the meat:

    You seemingly cite with approval the frustration of legislation to promote the Irish language and the failure to devolve responsibility for policing and justice as “good things”.

    Such glee at the curtailment of progress hints clearly at the mindset of a total reactionary. Would you be happy to so categorize yourself?

    Where would you stand, for example, on an attempt to reintroduce the Penal Laws? Would that too be “a good thing” in your book?

    I really do wonder at times if it is possible that adherence to a religious belief wherby one is “saved” or not entirely precludes any practice of self-examination whatsoever believing that because such practice is common in catholicism prior to confession it might be “unhealthy”.

    It is not of course. It is an absolute requirement of balance and sanity in any individual’s life that they honestly and ruthlessly examine their own behaviour and thought processes in the light of difficulties presented in their own lives and most particularly when the source of such difficulty seems to emanate from others. It is then that we must ask ourselves, “..and what was my part in all this? What can I now do to repair wrongs and effect harmony?” It is an ego reducing ritual (or should be if done right) and helps restore balance to the soul.

    I suggest that you might take up Irish classes as a small first step on the road to personal freedom.

  • Greenflag

    ‘which lacks the creativity and width needed to bring new vision to and so strengthen Unionism. ‘

    Far easier to teach the ‘elephant ‘ how to sing an aria in Italian at the same as dancing a minuet to the music of Swan Lake 🙁

    “what we have we hold” mentality,’

    Sounds about right . After repartition it will of course be less but as a mentality it’s about the best that ‘unionism’ is capable of coming up with .

    Bringing ‘new vision’ is simply not possible- not for either Unionist party and certainly not for Allister and the bat shit crazy loons who still believe the lie that anything other than power sharing is a possible for NI in it’s present 6 county format

  • Greenflag

    Rory ,

    While it’s not universal there is a strong self justification tendency among those who are saved by grace alone. Lookee here God has picked me as saved 😉 It absolves them from ‘thought’ . As an atheist I actually have some respect who believe in a god and actually go out of their way to help their fellow man.

    But for those unctious farts who believe they are saved by ‘grace’ alone ?

    Pass the vomit bucket 😉

    Turgon is just confused . He’s still searching for the correct elixir-formula . There’s no point in telling him there is none .

  • Greenflag

    Rory ,

    Here’s a short snippet from Turgon’s God and how he deals with atheists and those of us who are unsaved 😉

  • fair_deal

    Greenflag

    I was thinking more of the course of events than belief systems.

  • Greenflag

    fair deal,

    Events will take their course as always . In this case I think Turgon is getting carried away with his historical analogies 😉 He needs to keep his oftimes interesting historical analogies for events that merit them .

    I’ve been trying to visualise the amassed TUV troops in Roman togas while the DUP poltroons are seen charging their elephants through West Belfast 😉 Allister neither as Allister nor as Scipio Africanus does not appear credible . As for the rest I’ll not comment suffice to say if Nicholson is a vote for change and De Brun is a vote for a UI then I’m related not just to the Medici Borgias but a direct descendant of William the Bastard as well 😉

    Don’t know what it is but I’ve never been less interested in the outcome of an election ? Perhaps

  • Driftwood

    It is then that we must ask ourselves, “..and what was my part in all this?

    Excessive self analysing in that mantra Rory. It led Primo Levi to concur that many thousands of concentration camp victims were at least partly responsible for their fate, not the Nazis.
    It is the get out clause for rapists and assault victims that they partly deserved what they got.

    Apart from that, as a Downpatrick lad myself, I was interested in that piece of local history. Did you ever know ‘Speedy’ Mullan?

  • Uladh

    Can someone please explain to me why unionists are so happy that they’ve prevented an Irish language Act being passed at Stormont? Or am I being naive in ignoring the fact that any means by which Catholics can be kept “in their place” is a victory, pure and simple, for some (dinosaur) unionists? Very petty indeed – and what a way to make Irish nationalists in the north feel welcome within the union! The house is getting colder..

  • Londonderry Nationalist

    Uladh it is because the lauguage is politicised. If it weren’t, they irish would be a non issue.

  • Turgon

    Rory and others,
    Personally I am not especially exercised about an Irish language but that is a personal position and the majority of unionists seem pretty anti the language. I did a blog on this some time ago.

    The reason I raise it is that stopping the act has been portrayed as a victory for unionists won by the DUP. I agree entirely that most DUP victories have been stopping things and therein is one of my criticisms of the DUP’s victories. As soon as unionists want to do active new things nationalists can thwart them. This in turn goes back to my other fundamental objection to the system (apart from my objection to being ruled by terrorists). That is that the current system with mandatory coalition and interlocking vetoes is a cecipe for inaction and non action in government. It is an utterly flawed mechanism of government. However, since within the current arrangement everyone’s agreement would be needed to change it I cannot see change happening.

    As such I believe we need to completely renegotiate the whole agreement and look at voluntary coalition etc. In fairness that is also the DUP’s position: however, I would contend that from within the current system that cannot practicably be achieved.

  • New Blue

    The language is only politicised because the drive amongst Irish Unionists since the partition is that ‘everything Irish is bad, and nothing to do with us’.

    I don’t subscribe to that, as an Irishman, the Irish language, Irish history and Irish Culture belong as much to me as they do to anyone else born on this Ireland.

    That, in my opinion, is one of the single biggest failings of Northern Ireland Unionists.

    I am proud of my Irish heritage, Why should I allow the fact that other Irishmen want to use my culture and my history to back their nationalist arguments, stop me from claiming access to what is rightfully mine?

    As long as Irish Unionists claim no stake in our history and our culture, we will allow those who promote a nationalist agenda to make us feel like visitors in our own country.

  • Rory Carr

    Greenflag,

    It’s not Turgon’s God that concerns me. He can get up to whatever He likes as far as I am concerned (and no doubt, being omnipotent, He will anyway). Besides which He doesn’t have a vote, has never been seen in Fermanagh (would probably say, “I wouldn’t be seen dead in Fermanagh – except for the fishin'”) and as far as I can tell Slugger has not so far invited Him on as a guest blogger, though it might be early days yet in that regard.

    My concern is that he (small case ‘he’ = Turgon) seems totally oblivious to the fact that his cheerful acceptance of and delight in any retardation of progress in the Appalachians of Ireland might not have quiet, sensible, moderate Europeans look at him a wee bit strangely and shake their heads as they take to the other side of the street as he passes.

    If they felt comfortable and had the opportunity they might wish to ask him, “But, Mr Turgon, is this true? You are opposed to developing a deeper understanding and appreciation of the suppressed native language of the land in which you live? You would prefer not that your people have political control over policing and justice in their own community? But, this is crazy, no? Never mind, Mr Turgon, let us have some wine then we have a little song and dance. Yes? NO! No? You don’t like this either? But, Mr Turgon, it’s only human…”.

  • pól

    [i]Uladh it is because the lauguage is politicised. If it weren’t, they irish would be a non issue. [/i]

    Don’t be daft. It is those who know nothing of or about the language that have attempted to politicise it – Unionist politicians for example.

    And this coming from a man with “Londonderry” in his name – the most obscene and obvious politicisation in this shitheap of a country.

  • Uladh

    Spot on pl. Just because the scumbags in Sinn Féin want to drag our language through the mud as some sort of sectarian weapon that they can arm themselves with when attacking unionists doesn’t mean that the Irish language is something very special to many Irish Catholics, whether they can speak ‘cúpla focal’ or more. The DUP should stop protraying their intransigence directed at a potential Irish language act as some sort of victory – as the old saying goes: be nice to others on your way up, cos you could be seeing them on the way down again.

  • New Blue

    Any ‘victory’ that DUP claim on Irish Language legislation is a victory for ignorance and stupidity. This is a perfect example why I, as an Irish Unionist, want to help affect change, change that I believe will come from dropping the sectarian bigotry and addressing the issues that matter, socially and economically, to all of us.

  • Uladh

    Re: 17 **doesn’t mean that the Irish language isn’t something very special to many Irish Catholics

  • Dave

    “If they felt comfortable and had the opportunity they might wish to ask him, “But, Mr Turgon, is this true? You are opposed to developing a deeper understanding and appreciation of the suppressed native language of the land in which you live? You would prefer not that your people have political control over policing and justice in their own community? But, this is crazy, no?” – Rory Carr

    Yes, Rory, because as we all know, those “Europeans” who would look at Turgon “a wee bit strangely and shake their heads as they take to the other side of the street as he passes” would do so because they’d be, as you say, utterly aghast to discover that people did not believe that nations should determine their own internal affairs rather than permit foreign powers to determine them of their behalf. I don’t think you’d quite grasped the concept of the EU, somehow.

  • dupped up

    Is there an issue/proposal close to the hearts of unionists to which nationalists can claim that they blocked in a manner similar to the DUP’s attitude towards the Irish language?

    We’re tlking about a most pyrrhic of victories here for the DUP

  • New Blue,

    … I, as an Irish Unionist, want to help affect change

    By selecting only “issues that matter, socially and economically” as worthy of your attention you are, of course passively complicit in the DUP’s suppression of Irish. It is no great secret that one of the ways unonism seeks to neutralise Irish cultural, sporting and linguistic issues is by saying that they are less important than the more ‘pressing issues’, such as the economic crisis.

    And of course, these “issues that matter, socially and economically” can only be resolved in the context of the UK, according to unionism – so they attempt to promote a UK-oriented dynamic while ignoring things Irish.

    You, on the other hand, claim to represent a new approach, through the ungainly UCUNF. Well, show us how new and different you are. Show us how UCUNF can de-politicise Irish. Put some Irish on your websites and campaign materials. Start discussing a new ILA with other parties – explain to the public how you intend to promote Irish. Don’t hide behind these “issues that matter, socially and economically” like the DUP – come out with broad spectrum policies that cover all the aspects of governance.

    If you don’t, of course, we’ll quickly draw the obvious conclusions.

  • New Blue

    Horseman

    I am a rank-and-file member of the UUP, who voices my thoughts on these issues at every opportunity I get, thankfully I find much more support for these ideas amongst those who support the partnership than I do here.

    My point about focussing on issues is not at the detriment of my acknowledgement that I AM IRISH. I believe that Irish should be taught throughout the Island, that every Irish person have the right to learn the language (along with the other cultural aspects that Unionists have been told don’t belong to them).

    The only way to move forward is to make politics about political issues, to move away from the ‘traditional’ ‘ussuns and themmuns’ issues and focus on the problems we face as a society.

    If I ever find myself with a position to directly affect the change I have written about then I will give everything to make that change happen.

    In the meantime I am prepared to continue to raise the challenges where I can, hopefully those who agree will help to move this process forward.

  • New Blue,

    I am happy to hear that. On a personal level, have you done anything to put your money where your mouth is (so to speak)? As a small personal aside, I did not get the opportunity to learn Irish at school (thank you, Campbell College!), but have learnt it as an adult. A knowledge of Irish very quickly dispels most of the ignorance and prejudice that unionism shows towards it, and is well worth the effort. Changing UCUNF policy on the language would be easier and more meaningful if you have already changed your own personal approach to it.

  • Driftwood

    This Irish Language thing is a bit of a red herring. ANYONE can take a course in Irish if they want. Even if you’re a pupil at a state school, you can take GCSE or GCE AS A level in Irish at an FE college if you so choose. The BBC promotes it on Radio Ulster at the (British) taxpayers expense.
    Horseman, that’s a poor argument. Go in to a pub in Dublin abd start speaking Irish, most punters will think you’re Lithuanian.
    The idea that unionists suppress Irish language is absurd. It has never been banned in Northern Ireland. It’s only when Sinn Fein politicians try and speak some pidgeon Irish to promote some sort of cultural identity, it becomes as laughable to most people in NI as it does in Dublin.

  • Uladh

    [i]Horseman, that’s a poor argument. Go in to a pub in Dublin abd start speaking Irish, most punters will think you’re Lithuanian[/i]

    Bull. Shit. And more than just “a bit of a red herring”. Is that an empirical observation or is it more of the anecdotal variety? Either way, you’re completely and utterly wrong.

  • New Blue

    Horseman

    Thanks for the advice, I am indeed learning the language, a slow and challenging process, but I have a growing grasp on the basics, from a spoken rather than a written perspective. Parrot fashion seems to work for me.

    Anyone interested in starting from scratch, may I recommend BYKI.com – it offers a free basic language system that I have found helpful, in conjunction with books from Central library.

    I agree very much in ‘putting your money where you mouth is’, but I also believe that real change does not happen quickly.

  • Uladh

    [i]It’s only when Sinn Fein politicians try and speak some pidgeon Irish to promote some sort of cultural identity, it becomes as laughable to most people in NI as it does in Dublin.[/i]

    Congratulations. You’ve actually made a good point there. The way PSF attempt to manipulate the language and use it as a way of scoring cheap political points is reprehensible. But that doesn’t detract from the cultural attachment which most Irish nationalists, north and south, genuinely have for the language. Please do not let Provisional Sinn Féin’s butchering of the native language blind you from the fact that it really does mean a lot to millions of people and is viewed as a cultural issue and nothing to do with politics. Freeze us out of the house again if you want, but it will come back to haunt you.

  • Driftwood

    Uladh
    We’re getting way off topic here, but the (British)government does at least try…
    http://www.ultach.org/

    On topic, i don’t think the Irish Language will emerge as an issue in this election or Westminster next year. This euro election is a precursor to the important elections for parliament next year. We’ll see then how the Conservative and Unionist link up works out.
    By then Jim Allister may only be a distant memory, and the DUP may have played their best hand.

  • oneill

    Horseman,

    “Changing UCUNF policy on the language would be easier and more meaningful if you have already changed your own personal approach to it.”

    Do they have a policy on the Irish language?

    It’s worth checking out the Welsh Conservatives’ approach and policy to the Welsh language…they see no contradiction in its promotion/protection and still being proud to be British.

    I’d suggest that’s were we should be heading for here as well.

    Our problem is that Irish used as a cultural baseball bat by ethno-nationalists on both sides here and that needs to be addressed by those who are interested in the promotion (and enjoyment) of the language for its own sake.

  • New Blue

    ‘Today the Irish language is associated with Catholicism and Irish nationalism. Yet at one point in Irish history anyone who could read and write in Irish was believed to be a Protestant. There were also two cultural movements – Irish Patriotism and the Celtic Twilight – within which both Protestant nationalists and unionists explored the Irish language together.’

    Interesting

  • oneill,

    Do they [UCUNF] have a policy on the Irish language?

    By default, at any rate.

    New Blue,

    … at one point in Irish history anyone who could read and write in Irish was believed to be a Protestant

    That’s not very accurate at all. It smacks of pseudo-racism – that the ‘natives’ (many of whom spoke Irish as their mother tongue) were all illiterate. Clearly nonsense, if you’ve even looked superficially at the wealth of Irish-language literature produced by non-Protestants at all times in the last few hundred years.

    Nonetheless, the revival of Irish was a popular cause amongst (southern!) Protestants a hundred years ago.

  • New Blue

    O’Neill

    That is exactly what Unionism (as opposed to DUP unionism) is about.

    I can be Irish and Unionist, and happy to be both. From a Nationalist perspective, Scottish, Welsh and English citizens can hold their nationalist views from within a United Kingdom that does not force people to disassociate themselves from their history, culture and heritage.

    This is the opportunity I feel that the partnership offers, yes we all have our historical baggage, but I believe that there are more people in Northern Ireland who are happier to put the bigotry aside and embrace a future of opportunity than there are those who want to fight to keep the Orange and the Green.

    As I keep saying it will take time, trust and a commitment by like-minded people from ALL backgrounds to move it forward.

    If we don’t, what is the alternative?

  • New Blue

    Horseman

    http://www.ultach.dsl.pipex.com/resources/A history of Protestant Irish speakers.doc

    I was quoting this directly from this article, which I found interesting.

  • oneill

    Horseman
    “By default, at any rate”

    Care to elaborate?

    New Blue,

    “I can be Irish and Unionist, and happy to be both.”

    Me too and if it was good enough for Carson to describe himself as an Irish Unionist, then it’s more than good enough for me! My Irishness is not diminished by my Unionism and my Unionism isn’t diminished by my Irishness.

  • dewi

    New Blue – link don’t work

  • New Blue

    Dewi

    The link seems to have been cut in posting.

    Try copying th ewhole line (ending in .doc) and pasting it into your browser address bar.

    Hopefully that will sort it. The article is quite interesting.

    O’Neill – I’m with you on that one.

  • oneill,

    [Tusa] Do they [UCUNF] have a policy on the Irish language?

    [Mise] By default, at any rate.

    [Tusa] Care to elaborate?

    UCUNF, a strange beast in many ways, has no single portal, so it is necessary to try to cobble together UUP and Tory policies without knowing which one will actually be ‘official’ UCUNF policy.

    The UUP has no known policy on Irish. No policy documents or statements. But its members have often come out with strongly negative statements about the language (McNarry, October 2007 is a good example) without being contradicted by party HQ.

    The Tories have never (to my knowledge) said anything about Irish.

    Hence, by default, the combined UCUNF position must still be that of McNarry and his ilk.

    I can see the rustling in the undergrowth, both here (New Blue) and on Seymour Major’s blog, but as yet nothing has made it as far as a party (or UCUNF) position. If and when it does I will look at it with interest, but in the meantime I am forced to conclude that the UCUNF default position is anti-Irish Language, anti-ILA -disappointingly similar to the blatantly bigoted unionist position.

  • oneill

    Horseman,

    “But its members have often come out with strongly negative statements about the language (McNarry, October 2007 is a good example) without being contradicted by party HQ.”

    And others have come out with positive statements without being contradicted by HQ,

    Michael McGimpsey said:

    “For too long in Northern Ireland, active support for a lesser used language, whether it be Ulster-Scots, Irish, sign language or one of the many others which have arrived recently on our shores, has often tended to label an individual as belonging to one particular tradition. Similarly, there are some who believe that support for one language devalues another.

    “This should not be the case. We are extremely fortunate to be able to boast such a diversity of language and I believe that it is an inheritance which everyone should share, treasure and preserve for the benefit of future generations. It is a rich legacy of which we are only the guardians. Our children and our children’s children must be given every opportunity to inherit and enjoy all of them.

    I think that’s pretty positive attitude, don’t you?

  • Big Maggie

    Driftwood: “Sinn Fein politicians try and speak some pidgeon Irish”

    New Blue: “Parrot fashion seems to work for me. ”

    Am I alone in thinking that Irish is for the birds? 🙂

  • oneill,

    I think that’s pretty positive attitude, don’t you?

    Yes. Which position (McGimpsey or McNarry) is actually reflected in the votes and actions of the party, though? If you’re honest you’ll admit that it is McNarry.

    http://www.uup.org/newsrooms/latest-news/education/waste-of-money-in-provision-of-irish-language-schools.php

  • New Blue

    Horseman

    That is the million dollar question isn’t it?

    If we mean what we say then a change will become visable, firstly in the standing of the party on issues like this, and then hopefully in the demographics of those who vote (and stand for election) for the party.

    But this will not happen overnight, it may not be where I would like to see it by the Westminster elections, but by the time we get to the Assembly / Local Council Elections in 2011 I would like to think that the first clear indicators of change will be visable.

    But we all have to remember that it took us hundreds of years to get here, creating a mistrust and discomfort on both sides that will not be washed away with just words and promises.

    That’s why I quite like the slogan ‘Vote for Change’ because that is what this is all really about, isn’t it?

  • … the slogan ‘Vote for Change’

    When I see it in Irish on a UCUNF poster then I’ll know its true. Till then, no.

  • oneill

    Which position (McGimpsey or McNarry) is actually reflected in the votes and actions of the party, though

    McGimpsey wasn’t expelled for his views, so I’m guessing there’s a diversity of opinion within the party on the subject and diversity of opinion, despite what the DUP or SF imply, is healthy.

  • oneill,

    Can you steer me towards an actual party policy statement on Irish? If not, why not? Is the policy not really one of unofficial opposition and official neglect (leading, no doubt the intention) to death by neglect?

    What has the UUP done to comply with its obligations on Irish under the GFA?

  • New Blue

    Horseman

    It’s (the party) accepting new members who want to speak Irish, don’t want to be members of the Orange Order, and believe that the engagement of the language and culture should be a key issue in party planning. It doesn’t ostracise these members and actually provides opportunities to opely discuss these things.

    It may not be enough, but it is a step in the right direction, surely?

  • Londonderry Nationalist

    Irish is a beautiful language and should be able and be made to stand on its own two feet. Linguistics studies show that resources poured into ‘saving’ or ‘promoting’ languages matter not one iota. Conversely resources used to persecute it achieve similar results.

    Sadly it’s become a sectarian bargaining chip, Sinn Fein propogating it so as simply to wind up protestants; unionists simply oppose it because they feel they ought to. It’s a horrible cycle.
    It’s orange v green.

  • New Blue,

    It may not be enough, but it is a step in the right direction, surely?

    It certainly is not enough. I’m going to resist being sarcastic, but really: “accepting new members who want to speak Irish” ?? That’s UCUNF policy on Irish?

    Forget it. So far I see no difference to the bad old UUP.

  • slug

    True Blue

    I too am Irish and British.

  • New Blue

    Horseman

    This partnership is in its infancy, but the support and desire to make the sorts of changes I have posted above (and on other threads) are real, as I keep saying, don’t expect the change to happen overnight, you are right to be sceptical until you see change, but at least try and support those who are voicing the call for change from within the party.

    I couldn’t even guess how far I would get having these discussions if I were a member of the DUP or TUV, that is the big difference, and one of the reasons I made the decision to move out of the political wilderness and get involved.

  • slug

    New Blue

    Was it the UCUNF initiative that got you to join the UUP?

  • New Blue

    Slug

    Ultimately yes.

    I believe that our political structure is, at best ,farcical and, as a Unionist (supporter of the UK) I believe that offering the electorate in Northern Ireland an opportunity to participate in Capital P politics, The announcement of the partnership interested me.

    I Have had the good fortune to attend a number of events, with both well established UUP members as well as new members who have a very similar outlook to the Union as myself.

    I am very new to the blogging stuff so am not totally aware of the posters own political standings, as you say you are both Irish and British, are you aligned to one political party?

  • slug

    True Blue

    While I am a supporter of the UK, and am both British and Irish, I do not belong to any political party. I think our political system is due an overhaul, and I think the UCUNF idea makes sense, because the UUP and Conservatives have similar broad values and their voters are similar.

    I think that Northern Ireland is a changing place. The UCUNF to be successful must attract new types of people into politics. This would primarily mean attracting people who are culturally open minded and interested in developing a more tolerant society in NI.

    That they have attracted you is therefore a good sign – you appear to exhibit all these qualities.

  • Observer

    When Jim Alister was presented to the electorate as the DUP European candidate we were told about his powers of oratory and all the political qualities that he would bring to Brussels, especially for the rural community and the fishing industry. Then he had his little spat with the party and he is now no longer part of the DUP. If he was still in good standing with the DUP he would still be their candidate this time around and we would be getting told about his superb attendance record and how many questions he asked about Norn Ireland etc etc. How do the DUP round this square? He is experienced and who knows how the electorate will view him this time. I don’t like his politics but at least he is consistent. I might give him what I will call a mischief vote in June just to express my disappointment with the performance of the whole pack of them at Stormont.

  • slug

    “I might give him what I will call a mischief vote in June just to express my disappointment with the performance of the whole pack of them at Stormont”

    Interesting. I detect a lot of dissatisfaction with Stormont, and this may help Allister, because he has no connection there.

  • Big Maggie

    “When Jim Alister was presented to the electorate as the DUP European candidate we were told about his powers of oratory”

    Powers of oratory?! Are you sure we’re talking about the same Jim Alister? Admittedly the oratorial bar is low in Northern Ireland. Anyone who can manage more than a grunt is a silver-tongued wonder.

  • Observer

    Big Maggie

    You caught me out! I probably should have qualified my statement about oratory with the word intellect. You would hardly argue with that statement. After all that was how the DUP sold him to us before the last European election. That said I can hardly wait to see him sitting beside Mrs Dodds in a TV studio debating the election. I am reliabily informed that the famous press pack at DUP HQ are working late into the night to find an excusable way to achieve this. Still she might get a sympathy vote after he makes mince meat of her.

  • observer

    Whoops! Avoid NOT achieve! Sorry.

  • I wont comment directly on the Irish Language Act debate, if nobody minds, save that I have followed everthing said here with great interest.

    If I could revert to Turgon’s analogy, I think it is a little bit sad that the CUs are being portrayed as the last Roman General against Hannibal in a battle for the hearts and minds of Unionism.

    We need to suppress the “u” word from the forefront of our political language, otherwise we will allow oursevles to be sucked into the sectarian whirlpool. Our partnership with the UUP is about Conservativism. Let’s start using that word a bit more. Lets get away from this nonsense about the so-called fight to be the unionist top dogs.

    If we are going to look at the Romans for an analogy which might be relevant to our politics, a good one might be the Emperor Constantine the Great. There are many strands to his greatness as a political leader but one that I admire particularly his his summoning of the Council of Nicea which led to the Nicene creed, though slightly adapted is basically the same today in the Western and Eastern Catholic Churches and the Anglican Church and other Christian Churches.

    Constantine did not just help to settle disputes within the Church. He embraced the old religions. One of the reasons why you see halos in holy pictures is because Constantine wanted some gesture to worshipers of the Sun God. Constantine was an emperor who embraced the cultures of his time.

    You can never regard historical analogies exactly, of course. He did not treat Jews as well as Christians but this man was a true great in his time.

    I would like to think that some day, within Northern Ireland, leadership of that quality will lead the people of Northern Ireland out of sectarianism.

  • Greenflag

    Rory Carr ,

    ‘It’s not Turgon’s God that concerns me.’

    At a personal level I agree . On a societal level well we all know or should know the pernicious effects of religious extremism not just historically in NI but in other parts of the world .

    ”My concern is that he (small case ‘he’ = Turgon) —- moderate Europeans look at him a wee bit strangely and shake their heads as they take to the other side of the street as he passes.

    I would’nt be concerned . Mr Turgon given his certainty in his saved status will not bat an eyelid as to whether or no ‘moderate ‘ europeans or moderate anybody else express mystification at the all to numerous contradictions inherent in the mindset of the ‘turgons’ of NI or indeed anywhere else. Their ‘universe ‘ is the elf fulfilling closed loop of biblical certainty .

    I would instead be more concerned about the ‘newspeak’ quality of the thought processes that pass for ‘political ‘ thought emanating from the same sources . Take this ‘paragraph ‘ from Turgon’s epistle to the Romans .

    ‘As such I believe we need to completely renegotiate the whole agreement and look at voluntary coalition etc. ‘

    On the face of it a not unreasonable aspiration ?.

    ‘In fairness that is also the DUP’s position: ‘

    Note the recognition and desire for ‘fairness ‘

    “however, I would contend that from within the current system that cannot practicably be achieved. ‘

    And note here the recognition of political reality .

    Of course in the ‘real’ world as opposed to the black and white one that T seems to inhabit there is not a bats chance in hell of getting your political opponents to agree to voluntary power sharing if you refer to their leaders as ‘terrorists’ and stick a poke in the eye of every nationalist and republican .

    Turgon’s ‘voluntary ‘ power sharing can only ever be brought to political ‘reality’ in a predominantly unionist part of a repartitioned Northern Ireland .

    There I’ve said the big bad R word again 🙁

  • Greenflag

    New Blue ‘

    ‘As long as Irish Unionists claim no stake in our history and our culture, we will allow those who promote a nationalist agenda to make us feel like visitors in our own country.’

    Nobody can make you feel like a ‘visitor’ without your consent ;)?. I suggested many moons ago that the best position for Unionists to adopt re the Irish language was neither to oppose it nor to embrace it but to allow those nationalists and republicans who profess an attachment to it to do so in a similar manner to the way ‘minority’ language issues are addressed in Wales and Scotland . No doubt if the ‘language ‘ had not become a political issue it would have been a matter of a few months or years before those who are truly interested in preserving or expanding the usage of the language would quickly tire of the political hacks who use it as a hurley stick to beat political opponents 🙁

    Irish language issues should be non political . Unfortunately due to SF’s politicisation of it it became incumbent on Unionists to oppose it .

    Driftwood has pointed out some of the seeming absurdities around language matters in ROI . The influx of hundreds of thousands of immigrants into this country over the past decade or so seems to have reminded some of us that if you want to learn another language it’s best to hear it spoken. It’s early days yet to see whether the fact that more Polish and Mandarin etc is heard on the streets of Dublin and elsewhere throughout the Republic will have a real and lasting impact on Irish language policy .

  • Rory Carr

    I think Seymour Major is on the right track in insisting that we we might want to employ another character as being representative of Conservative traits. I am not quite sure that the Emperor Constatine quite cuts the mustard though. I would have thought that Hannibal was indeed most appropriate.

    Not Hannibal the Carthiginian though but rather that popular figure of modern literature and film, Hannibal Lecter. His profile fits all that we know of Conservative history and its tendencies – a bent towards sociopathy; total contempt for the masses who provide the labour power from which all wealth is created; snobbish in the extreme; callously certain of the importance of its own selfish needs above the welfare of the many; phoney strangulated speaking voice; ridiculous hair cut – need I go on?

  • Greenflag

    New Blue ,

    ‘I believe that our political structure is, at best ,farcical’

    Full marks for the obvious . This is not the place to rehash the reasons why that situation has arisen or to blame it on any particular political party -green or orange .

    Suffice to state that the NI State as presently formatted is the only farce that can work within NI for now . Offering the electorate an opportunity to participate in Capital P politics across the water seems on the face of it a ‘liberating ‘ experiment . I suspect that most of the voters in NI will revert as always to their separate ‘sectarian ‘ cages in the polling booths . It’s ahem more ‘comfortable ‘ .

  • New Blue

    Green Flag

    You seem to be in agreement with me on the two points you raise and while I agree that I have indeed stated the obvious, let’s face it- people don’t seem to accept the obvious easily.

    In relation to your comments around language and culture, I agree wholehartedly, the individual Irishman / Woman should have the freedom to choose just how involved they want to be with their own language and culture, without feeling that by embracing same they are ‘traitors to the orange’.

    Unfortunately I also agree with you that, under current conditions, the ‘bi-polar’ voting system will continue to appeal to many, my point is that if enough change is shown, actual change and not empty platitudes, then people will move to where their head dictates instead of their fears.

    Seymor Major is right in part with his point that we should move away from the ‘u’ word as it conjours thoughts of local extremeism and bigotry. Unfortunately I believe that people who want ‘Unionism’ to mean what the Conservatives stand for will have to ‘retake’ this word, and show those who see it as a ‘stick to poke them with’ that it means much more than the Orange Order and ‘don’t let Sinn Fein top the polls’.

  • ??

    the individual Irishman / Woman should have the freedom to choose just how involved they want to be with their own language and culture, without feeling that by embracing same they are ‘traitors to the orange’.
    ……….

    new Blue why did your deputy leader oppose the playing of the Irish National anthem in Newry, very bigoted dont you thing? Do you agree wioth or condemn this?

  • Big Maggie

    ??

    Those are of course rhetorical questions, aren’t they? (As is this one :^)

  • Seder

    Calling Gaelic Irish politicises it from the get go, particularly in Northern Ireland where, as a language of the ancestors of Protestants, it’s pedigree is probably more often Scottish.

    To depoliticise Irish and make it more acceptable to unionists it should shift, at least in Northern Ireland, to be recognised as a British and Irish language. A language of a shared Celtic inheritance and not a particular land claim of nationhood.

    There should be a policy in Northern Ireland to call Irish Gaelic, and to promote it as a pan archipelego inheritance.

  • New Blue

    ??

    If an international event were taking place in Northern Ireland then I accept fully the playing of national anthems and flying of flags of those nations (a la Olympics etc.).

    If a team from another country is visiting Northern Ireland then I can see the playing of their national anthem as a way of recognising their own nationality as visitors.

    I personally would have accepted the playing of both the Irish National anthem and the British National Anthem at the event in Newry, to recognise the visitors from the ROI and those taking part from Northern Ireland.

    The playing of just the Irish National anthem could be misconstrued as a political act, with the aim of insulting one side of the community.

    So I guess I am saying that saying no to the playing of just the one anthem is not (in my opinion) any more biggoted than Dublin saing no to me playing the British National Anthem when my Chess team put on a show there.

    But as I tell you ?? I am just an ordinary member of my party, and not in a position to shape party policy.

    The good thing is that I can voice my own opinion, whether they agree or disagree with my party leaders, without fear of being kicked out of my party.

  • ??

    The playing of just the Irish National anthem could be misconstrued as a political act, with the aim of insulting one side of the community……….

    its a sporting event , do you agree with your deputy leader or not?

    So I guess I am saying that saying no to the playing of just the one anthem is not (in my opinion) any more biggoted than Dublin saing no to me playing the British National Anthem when my Chess team put on a show there.

    so bigotry is ok so long as dublin does it.

  • New Blue

    ??

    If you cannot read my response and understand what I have said then I cannot help you any further.

    Maybe your amazingly large blinkers are getting in the way.

  • ??

    The Tories have caught on to the fact that Jim Nic will be outpolled by the SDLP into fourth place.

    In panic they have even created a website dedicated to attacking republicans…sorry i mean fellow Unionists.

    Bye Bye Jim

  • ??

    nNew blue , let me get this right. You disagree with the bigoted comments of your deputy leader is that right?

    Will you call on him to retract them?

  • politico

    ?? does the DUP HQ team pay its staff to work on a Sunday or do you get time off in lieu

  • New Blue

    ??

    Firstly, will you give me netting odds on your ‘election prediction’? I’ll stick a few Euro’s on Jim N making the cut, if you are happy to put your money where your mouth is.

    As for the fact that you still can’t understand my post above – well what can I say?

    Read it again and give it another go will you?

  • New Blue

    Obviously, that was betting odds…..

  • ??

    I have read it so are and its a bit waffley so do you agree or disagree with you deputy leader. If you disagree will you call on him to retract his comments.

  • ??

    Oh stephen, touched a nerve have i? take it you seen the latest polls then…aww well hate to see jim go but it is time for change after all.

  • Bigger Picture

    Turgon,

    I will be brief as i think you have written a very good, clear and concise piece.

    First off, thank you for your description of me as a talented commentator. I am but a humble blogger and just call things as i try and see them.

    My main concern is not with the detail of your analysis but about it’s message. Are we now to look on fellow unionists as enemies rather than he enemy that is Republicanism?

    I must admit that i am pleased that you, compared to many in the TUV, see that the DUP have had many many successes post the ST Andrews agreement.

    My argument to you is this, if it were not for Jim Allister leaving the DUP, because they would not wait until October as he wanted, would Unionism be in an even stronger position?

    My saying that our victories will ultimatley become failures are we not destined to continue to divide and splinter and ultimatley give republicanism their desired goal? and to that end would it not be better to stand together united and make an even stronger stand than the one we are creating at stormont?

    Unionists may not like that SF is an elected party in NI but however hard we try we cannot get away from the fact that is the circumstances we are faced with. The question then is how do we deal with this and i simply do not believe that in-fighting and splitting the unionist vote is the most achievable way to defeat our common enemy and therefore i feel your argument while on the one hand correctly identifies unionism’s successes in recent years, it is also one that you seem quite happy to destroy and let SF off the hook with.

    Best wishes

  • politico

    ?? “aww well hate to see jim go but it is time for change after all.”

    so the DUP is hoping that two nationalists are elected then

  • ??

    #

    ?? “aww well hate to see jim go but it is time for change after all.”

    so the DUP is hoping that two nationalists are elected then
    Posted by politico on May 10, 2009 @ 06:20 PM

    Not at all stephen, but we all must abide by the will of the electorate. I would love for jim to come home on the DUPs coat tails and who knows what will happen, but you know the current forecasts arent good.

  • politico

    and just where do the current forecasts place Diane?

  • ??

    Lets just say the are not the party to be worrying

  • Rory Carr

    Apologies, Driftwood, for not responding earlier to your post #10 on page #1.

    I was not speaking of “excessive self-analysing” any more than I would advise gluttony in place of a healthy balanced diet. Nor can I understand your conclusion that honest self-examination “is the get out clause for rapists and assault victims”. Why on earth would assault victims need a “get-out clause”, whatever that might mean in their case?

    I am afraid that “Speedy” Mullan does not ring a bell, though Pat Boone’s version of Speedy Gonzales was a popular record in my day. Are they related by any chance?

  • Greenflag

    seder ,

    ‘it’s pedigree is probably more often Scottish.’

    Irish Gaelic and Scottish Gaelic are the same language . Scottish Gaelic originated from Ulster circa 300-400 AD and the language on both sides of the North Channel remained basically the same up to the time of Robert the Bruce . Thereafter the English (Anglo Norman ) interest from the South East (England ) succeeded in isolating Ireland from Scotland or at least reduced the possibility of both countries forming an effective alliance with the French against the Anglo Norman interest.

    Irish Gaelic and Scots Gaelic started to diverge a little from the 15th century but any decent Irish speaker or reader can still understand about 90% plus of Scots Gaelic but hardly more than few words of Welsh and this is due to the much earlier separation of Irish and Welsh.

  • oneill

    “Lets just say the are not the party to be worrying”

    Okaaaay, you’re obviously a confident man on this one then, so you’ll be happy to have a small wager- what odds will you give me on:

    1. Dodds not to “smash Sinn Fein”
    2. Nicholson to win a seat?

    We can both email and send the money to Mick via paypal- he can hold our bets on deposit, loser pays proceeds to Slugger.

    C’mon you know it makes sense, less than 4 weeks before the poll, the DUPes have it all sewn up already haven’t they?

  • oneill

    Bet offer above for the bold (?) “??”

  • Greenflag

    Rory Carr ,

    ‘His(Hannibal Lecter ) profile fits all that we know of Conservative history and its tendencies – a bent towards sociopathy; total contempt for the masses who provide the labour power from which all wealth is created; snobbish in the extreme; callously certain of the importance of its own selfish needs above the welfare of the many; phoney strangulated speaking voice; ridiculous hair cut – need I go on? ‘

    I’d say you have covered the lot 🙂 However there are Conservatives and Conservatives . We Irish are considered a ‘conservative ‘ people yet most of us recoil form the British Conservatives as if the latter were plagued with the bacillus that was prevalent at the time of the Black Death ?

    Whyso ? Those who recall the Thatcher years and are looking for a similar Thatcher like super right hero to emerge forget that part of the then Conservative party -the Heseltines , Priors etc who tried to stave off Maggie’s lurch to the extreme right . Deep down these ‘wets’ had perhaps an inkling that it would all end in ‘tears’ as it did . Prior to Thatcher there had been a continuing swing from right to left and vice versa since the end of WW2 and a rough ‘consensus ‘ had built up which Thatcher set about destroying . This was partly the result of the new right political emanating from the University of Chicago school of economics but also the felling then in Britain and particularly the South East that only a radical new departure would work .

    Call me old fashioned but ‘radical new departures ‘ does not seem to me to be the language of ‘conservatism ‘ ?

    Once Thatcher was ousted there was a brief period when the ‘wets ‘ tried to regain some leverage on power via the ‘party of family values a la John Major ‘ but this was swept away by Tony Blair’s victory as Labour regained the centre and hounded the militants into relative obscurity . Thus Labour carried on eventually forcing Thatcher’s successors to move back to the centre which appears to be Cameron’s appeal .

    to be continued

  • Greenflag

    So now we are facing into what appears to be a return to ‘conservatism’ in the UK . But it won’t be the conservatism of thatcher and given the financial constraints both in the UK and with the world economy Britain is looking at a mirror image of the present government surrounded by a pale blue aura rather than a light pink one ?

    Meanwhile in the real economic world ‘refugees ‘ from the School of Conservative Economics i.e Friedman’s Chicago continue to desert the ‘free market ‘ ship in droves .

    One of the latest is a Prof Poser ( what a name eh pity no u) This gentleman a 40 year veteran of the new right has written a book on the ‘Failure of Capitalism ‘ I have yet to read it but it has been reviewed . Apparently it suddenly dawned on Poser as it did on many others back in August last year that not only was there something rotten in the State of Denmark /Capitalism but that the stench was overpowering .

    He has apparently discovered that lions eat zebras and will continue to do so until there are no zebras left if allowed . Lectures to lions on the inadvisability of exterminating a rich source of protein along with urging moderation are of no avail and lions will continue to be lions regardless .

    Mr Poser considers the Wall St tyros and financial services buccaneers and hedge fund merchants to be in the final analysis no different from the aforementioned big cat family in their appetites . He (Poser ) now suggests that if zebras are to survive and lions too then fences must be erected between the species.

    Apparently the idea of allowing the lions to regulate themselves in retrospect seems more than a trifle surreal ?

    And yet that is what ‘conservatism ‘ has been about for the past 25 years both in the UK (to a lesser extent ) and more importantly in the USA from whence such ‘self regulation’ has delivered to the planet not only more economic freedom than ever before but also a world recession and the almost complete breakdown of the banking system ?

    It would be at least bearable for those on the ‘left ‘ if at some point in the gaderene rush to perdition responsible voices from Labour (UK ) (FF /FG Ireland ) Democrats (USA ) had been vociferous in a demand to stop the ‘train ‘ ?

    Alas such is human nature that up to the first week of September 2008 a couple of months before the USA Presidential Election the GOP candidate assured the voters that the economy was basically ‘sound ‘ and that ‘economics ‘ was not his forte ? Mr McCain in retrospect appears to have had as much a grasp on the ‘realities ‘ as most of the establishment economists and policy experts in both major USA parties .

    What does this mean for the UK/NI in the upcoming election and choices ?

    tbc

  • Greenflag

    New Blue ,

    ‘Unfortunately I believe that people who want ‘Unionism’ to mean what the Conservatives stand for will have to ‘retake’ this word, and show those who see it as a ‘stick to poke them with’ that it means much more than the Orange Order and ‘don’t let Sinn Fein top the polls’.’

    Branding is an important part of getting a marketing campaign to work . Mr Goebbels he of the Third Reich Goebbels was an acclaimed genius in the art. It would take a Goebbels like genius to rebrand ‘Unionism ” imo . To appeal to those voters beyond the pale of unionism the word itself would have to go and that would be anathema and probable political hari kari or any ‘unionist ‘ party .

    The problem with the ‘Unionist ‘ brand is that it’s no longer exclusive as say it once was back in first 6 decades of the 20th century . As a non Unionist and a non Conservative (although I harbour some conservative values ) I have seen the continuing devaluation of the ‘unionist currency from DUP all the way down through the various now extinct species to the recently emergent TUV . To the outsider this ‘diversification’ seems less a sign of strength in ideology but more of a fragmentation before oblivion .

    I suspect that there are many unionists who are not ‘conservatives ‘ at least not in the Thatcher sense . Maggie did not like the UUP and she had even less time for the DUP -iirc . She considered the former to be provincial and the latter to be ‘strange ‘. Even Enoch Powell had his moments when he must have wondered whether or not he actually representing ‘his ‘ country in Parliament .

    Can Cameron win one seat in NI via the UUP alliance ? Perhaps . More? – unlikely next time out . The upcoming european elections will give a hint of future possibilities for this Conservative UUP pact .

    People in England , Scotland and Wales may vote Tory in greater numbers simply to give Labour an eye poke . Can’t see that happening in NI where there is no Labour Party to eyepoke .

    My preferred result for NI would be to see Alliance top the poll followed by the SDLP and UUP Conservatives with SF and DUP trailing behind and with the TUV at the bottom with 1,000 votes .

    Paddy Power is considering giving me odds of 100,000 to 1 . Not sure if its worth a tenner ?

  • Mack

    New Blue and ???, discussed extensively here http://sluggerotoole.com/index.php/weblog/comments/a-point-of-priniciple-or-jumping-up-and-down-in-muddy-puddles/

    I can’t imagine that there would be any political reaction to your Chess team playing the British national anthem in Dublin, New Blue..