David Cameron, a latter-day Lord Randolph Churchill?

David Cameron’s article in the Belfast Telegraph underscores the Conservative and Unionist intention to stand in all 18 Westminster constituencies ( I can’t stand that damned, near-obscene acronym). Despite Ed Curran’s injunction not to lose any sleep over TUV, the hasty end of double jobbing and other little problems, this must throw unionist political calculations into the melting pot. Reg may be basing his confidence on the shifting sands of the Eurovote but it’s hard not to believe that Cameron’s tactical pitch is simply to leave no avenue of political advantage unexplored in case forming the next government comes down to a couple of seats. And that’s a tall order, in North Down and South Belfast for different reasons. Yet in his article Cameron raises his sights beyond mere tactical advantage. He proclaims that the Conservatives are the party of the Union once again. This is a new departure, after generations of treating Ulster Unionists as the embarrassing mad relatives they hardly knew.

Conservatives are now the only party with representation in every region of the United Kingdom. That is the first time in over a generation that any national political party can make that claim.

Cameron is taking a calculated risk by failing to make the usual obeisance to British Irish partnership and powersharing. Nationalism and the Republic rate not a mention, and he boldly refers to the “ constitutional issue as “settled.” So this is no watery cross community pitch. It reads like the beginning of a long battle for unionism, leaving the wider community interests to be dealt with later.

The constitutional issue was settled in 1998 when referendums in the North and South gave |the current arrangements |resounding endorsement…Northern Ireland now has the opportunity to re-enter the mainstream of national politics. That is what the Conservatives and Unionists offer.

If the offer is rejected at the polls, what then? Well, Cameron can say he will have done his best. Would he then leave Reg high and dry to face down the cry of unionist splitter alone, or hunker down for the long haul to create a new, looser form of UK unionism? He probably doesn’t know himself. But as we’ve seen, many Ulster Unionists are wary of the Tory toff who plays the Ulster card.
Cameron displays a similar pragmatism towards Scotland where his hope of winning seats is hardly much greater. He has promised to “respect” the devolution settlement even in the hands of the SNP government and has come out in cautious support for the Calman report’s recommendations for more tax and spending powers for Holyrood. Commentator Iain McWhirter doubts if Calman will actually be implemented, but it too, may have its tactical uses.

More likely Calman will be the starting point for negotiations between Alex Salmond and an incoming Conservative government under David Cameron. Eager to address the West Lothian question and under pressure from English Tories to curb spending in Scotland, Cameron might well consider full tax autonomy for Holyrood in exchange for the abolition of Barnett and a reduction in the number of Scottish MPs. And he can use the arguments supplied by a Labour-inspired committee. So, as well as making an honest person of the Scottish parliament, Calman could be the spark that leads to a constitutional transformation in Westminster.

  • Zoon Politikon

    Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right 🙂

  • Guest

    Once again the cons have found a man that is willing to throw grenades into Irish politics for his own ends.Not strong on history,the young man.

  • Daphné Tremblz

    [i]The constitutional issue was settled in 1998 when referendums in the North and South gave |the current arrangements |resounding endorsement[/i]

    No, the issue isn’t settled Dave – the constitutional issue is now in our hands and will become a real issue once again within the next decade if and when the Republic’s economy rebounds, the alleged rampant Catholic birth rate bears fruition and the Paki v everyone else race war ignites throughout England. Bogdanor, the now omnipotent rent-a-quote and Lord Snooty’s former politics tutor, really should explain the intricacies of the GFA to the Boy Wonder.

    A perfect political storm is slowly fermenting:

    unashamed neoliberal old Etonians will soon be running the British executive while ‘Lord’ Trimble will very likely become the next ‘NI’ Secretary; Sinn Féin are (somehow) annihilating the Stoops; ‘dissident’ republicans are recruiting steadily as a result of the exploitation of the rising anger and alienation to be found within nationalist working-class areas; and finally, and most importantly, Stormont is in real danger of collapse if the TUV’s vote is replicated at next year’s general election and at the following year’s assembly elections

    Sit back and enjoy the ride.

  • Guest

    Dapnhé
    Une creme.
    Big question is did FF shadow box cameron?

  • emanonon

    Too much emphasis is placed on Cameron as a solo player in this strategy, I suspect that he is used as a figure head for plans that have been formulated in NI between like minded Conservatives and UUP members. That is not to say that Cameron is not fully supportive but I suspect his support is not about how many seats he can get here but is about a deeply held belief in the UK, born in part from his many visits here when working for Carlton many years ago.

    It is also probable that the role played by the Shadow Secretary of State Owen Paterson is the key to the fact that it has progressed as the link with Cameron. It is reported that he has spent more time in NI than any previous SSS and has got a feel for here, however imperfect, that none of his predecessors have.

    Will it work? Only time will tell and it will depend on the policies they have for NI and how they can articulate them. If they polish up some old Orange UUP hacks as candidates then the deal is doomed to failure as it cannot reach out to the new constituency that they want to reach out to, the stay at home middle classes on both sides. They have proved that they can hold the core UUP vote but this will not be enough to take over the centre of NI politics. Can they attract articulate middle class candidates that have not been tarnished by the past? The task that the UUP face is having the courage to retire some of their older more hardline candidates who are not attractive to the new constituency and to look outside their current MLA’s. Their leadership have to be bold and take risks. The task faced by the Conservatives is attracting new members that would not join the UUP for whatever reason, do they really exist and if they do would they want to be MP’s, now with few perks?

    The question that we will find the answer to very soon is:- are there enough talented people at the top of the two parties in NI or do the talented people stay well away from politics. They do however in any event seem to be somewhat anonomous, how many people know who they actually are or what they do?

    I don’t see the DUP, SDLP or Alliance quaking in their shoes at this stage, but who knows once candidates are selected and campaigning starts? It is a long shot by both parties but it might just work and if it does politics in NI will never be the same again.

  • Daphné Tremblz

    Guest,

    1) What does “une creme” mean? Je ne peux pas parle francais. Donc, parlez en anglais, s’il vous plait.

    2) “Big question is did FF shadow box cameron?” – ye wah?

  • guest

    1)
    It means your a cream.Bijou.etc.etc.Vous parlez trés bien francias.and i wont bother with the fadas.
    2) The FF sdlp reunion has now taken on a new dimension.strand 3 has gone mad.

  • Guest

    ye way?
    Lovely phrase.
    I believe profoundly in the future of Ireland.
    Bertie to Westminister.Fucking ejjjjit

  • Driftwood

    Let’s hope it means Northern Ireland is run from Westminster in the same manner as Witney or Whitley Bay. Abolish the Trumpton assembly. There might be short term repurcussions that MI5 and the army can deal with, so what?
    A minor advisory role for Enda Kenny will alleviate decent nationalist aspirations. The moronic extremists can be dealt with ‘out of media focus’.
    Problems resolved. We can get on with life in this part of the UK like everyone else. We shouldn’t let the bigots stop us. Same with the BNP on the mainland. Just forget about them.

  • Driftwood

    BTW Great article written by the next PM here. I’m pretty open minded on UK politics in general, but, like all independent thinkers, you have to say that David Cameron is well ahead of the pack on NI issues as well as the economy. And I think many nationalist/republican people will acknowledge his leadership here. An end to sectarian politics at last.

  • Drift my wood

    I suspect Driftwood’s contribution was a deliberate wind-up, calculated to provoke a vitriolic response. Nevertheless, I have a few comments to make.

    [i]There might be short term repurcussions that MI5 and the army can deal with, so what?[/i]

    You’re living in fantasy land.

    [i]A minor advisory role for Enda Kenny will alleviate decent nationalist aspirations.[/i]

    You’re living in fantasy land.

    [i]And I think many nationalist/republican people will acknowledge his leadership here. [/i]

    You’re living in fantasy land.

    When was the last time you actually talked to an Irish nationalist about these matters? Enda Kenny will never be Taoiseach.

    [i]Same with the BNP on the mainland. Just forget about them. [/i]

    Yes, just forget about all the underlying social problems that provoked almost one million people to vote for a pack of anti-Semitic, inarticulate thugs. You’re living in fantasy land.

  • Driftwood

    I despise the anti-semitism of the BNP (though they do have some good policies on Muslim fanaticism) but pro union people should have nothing to fear from the Tories, and pro nationialist people should have nothing to fear from Fine Gael. I fail to see the problem here, for moderate people, some folks just see the negatives.
    I have spoken to Irish nationalists. like me they wonder why ‘The Wire’ is relegated to late night BBC2, otherwise, no bother here in Southh Down.

  • Drift my wood

    [i]pro union people should have nothing to fear from the Tories[/i]

    In other news, clouds sometimes form in the skies.

    [i]pro nationialist people should have nothing to fear from Fine Gael[/i]

    Another wind-up, Drifty, I imagine you couldn’t keep a straight face while you typed that.

    [i]like me they wonder why ‘The Wire’ is relegated to late night BBC2,[/i]

    Indeed, an absolute disgrace. A fantastic show, right up there with The Sopranos and Seinfeld, although possibly better given its consistent standards.

    I trust that you’ll be joining your nationalist neighbours in supporting Down in the Ulster final on Sunday and getting behind the demoralised footballers throughout the qualifiers. See, I can joke on Slugger too.

  • emanonon

    Because I am in favour of the UK link doesn’t mean I won’t be supporting Antrim this evening in Clones after I have supported the Lions in Pretoria and Murray at Wimbledon.

  • John

    Good on you emanonon. I live right on the Derry/Antrim border and whilst my loyalties lie firmly with Derry I’d love to see Antrim make it to the final tonight.

    I’d have no problem supporting Murray in the tennis either if he wasn’t so dour and miserable looking.

  • Reading Brian Walker’s nice little, neat little, tight little essay (and some of the more accessible comments above), I find myself wondering how to pick the bones out of that little lot.

    Before I get too involved and prolix, two issues leap out.

    1. Cameron has never impressed as a great political thinker. I find it hard to see where he, here or elsewhere, raises his sights beyond mere tactical advantage. Pretty well the totality of his out-pouring has been anodyne or opportunist. On issue after issue he has been as mobile as any of Joe Green’s operatic ladies.

    His academic background is to have sat at the feet of Vernon Bogdanor. If we refer to Bogdanor, then, we discover profound scepticism about “asymmetrical devolution”, about Tory constitutional attitudes as presently “defined” (using the term loosely), and much more which is relevant to NI and the Union. That may be a profitable line of discussion.

    2. Like Walker, I shiver at that damned, near-obscene acronym.

    Yet, why is it necessary?

    Repeatedly UUP-types, here and elsewhere, indicate that their choice is a full-bore integration into the UK system. That’s, allowably, a valid and clear point of view.

    Why, then, is the acronym necessary — rather than the logical unqualified “Conservative” or, on the Scottish parallel, “Northern Ireland Conservatives”, or, if we must, the time-honoured “Conservative and Unionist”? Is it because those kites won’t fly? Or, is it (as Walker implies) because of later deniability?

  • gloria ab intus

    Brian, I understand the reason for your North Down comment but I don’t get the reference to South Belfast. Can you elaborate please. Thanks in advance.

  • emanonon

    I suppose two out of 3 is OK, but the Lions loss was unjustified. Well done to Antrim they deserved it!

  • Guest

    driftwood,
    No promblem with fine Gael.
    you’d be surprised how Republican they actually are.They’re actually more dngerous to unionists than sinn fein.Simply, because they will agree with so much of the superficial unionism and take apart what really matters.
    password “england”.
    By the way,un peu trop bu hier soir mais vous avez surement
    deja compris ca

  • emanonon

    MR

    The reason for the stupid acronym was the desire of some in the UUP to retain the word Ulster in the title. It was supposed to be Conservatives and Unionists and hopefully that is what will be used in the next election.

  • Brian Walker

    gloria, In South Belfast a single unionist can win the seat. The DUP want talks, the UUP seem to have ruled that out, so the SDLP may retain the seat. Good thing to – I’m a fan of Alistair. I’m not up to date but a Conservative Unionist in North Down might split the gold coast traditional middle class unionists and let in the DUP. It’s unpredictable at this stage I know and the Westminster vote can swing wildly. Personally, I think they should make a big effort to talk Sylvia around, not by trying to bribe or threaten her (both futile), but by apologising profusely for their sexist and ill mannered failure to consult her; then pointing out the risk (in their terms) of a DUP victory and asking her what is very different about the Conservatives? From a pan- unionist point of view, the Cameron/Patterson strategy seems a good bet, although a restatement of the GFA settlement is urgently needed. I put the omission down to ignorance and infatuation with their repositioning of the Conservatives as the party of the whole Union (and not just of England, d’ye see?)

  • emanonon

    BW

    From what I have read SH was consulted through the procedure, she just wants to be a socialist and that doesn’t sit with taking the Conservative whip. It seems she also has problems with the UUP leader and leadership never mind the Conservatives.

    The CU’s have stated they are not in the deal business they will run 18 candidates here and 627 elsewhere. A deal with the DUP would destroy their position as a party for all pro UK voters.

    The GFA position is absolutely clear the CU’s fully support it. They would according to their statements, with the agreement of all parties, like sometime in the future like to see a voluntary coalition leading to an opposition and feel it may be to early to transfer P&J since the DUP and SF are not working with what they have.

    The deal is not a short term one it may take 10 years (3 Westminster elections) to fully succeed but the signs are that with a clear message on national politics tempered by local requirements that progress can be made in the next Westminster election.

    Cameron and Paterson have invested huge capital, as has Empey, in this project and I don’t think they are going to let it fail.

  • gloria ab intus

    Mmmmmmmm….thanks Brian.I’m not sure things are quite so cut and dried in South Belfast but,of course,time will tell.

  • Brian Walker @ 12:08 AM:

    ignorance and infatuation with their repositioning of the Conservatives as the party of the whole Union (and not just of England, d’ye see?)

    Nice punch-line. It is, of course the essence of the issue.

    My previous post tried to refer to Vernon Bogdanor, the guru of the hour. Here’s his take:

    528 of the 645 MPs in the Commons represent English constituencies. On any issue that unites them, English votes will predominate. The English have no need to beat the drum or blow the bugle. If they do, they will strain the devolution settlement, which rests fundamentally, as the Union has always done, on a sense of restraint by the dominant nation in the UK.

    His main grief in the article from which that comes was Malcolm Rifkind, flying solo, pledging that the West Lothian question would be answered by an English Grand Committee, in which only English MPs would sit, to deal with purely English matters. This Bogdanor sees as unconstitutional because:

    1. Unless one has differential taxation, any issue is a UK issue.
    2. It politicizes the Speaker (ahem!) by giving him/her enormous power to decide which is a Grand Committee matter.
    3. Such a device can only apply if there is Tory Government (with its built-in English majority), else, depending on which forum the debate is held, the Government becomes its own Opposition.

    He did not bother to speculate there on the peculiarities of the NI dimension. Yet, his expectations amount, in the large and over 334 pages, to:

    1. A new Constitution is emerging: it is essentially written and codified (though not as a single document).
    2. The legalistic primacy of the monarch will be supplanted by popular involvement: this will necessarily involve the innovation of proportional representation (and other devices, such as referenda) across the whole electoral system.
    3. We already have aspects of a “quasi-federal” state. This needs to be properly codified, to define the “penumbras” of power.

    Somewhere in there is the answer to emanonon on @ 09:59 AM:

    Cameron and Paterson have invested huge capital, as has Empey, in this project and I don’t think they are going to let it fail.

    The missing X-ingredient there is the public will. emanonon conceives a time-frame of

    10 years (3 Westminster elections) to fully succeed

    520 weeks is a very long time in politics.

    As so often, Cameron (while beating the drum or blowing the bugle) has been less than transparent in stating his position on the GFA (another example of what President Obama discerned in that “What a lightweight!” obsevation?). In one respect he has been patently self-serving. He took Peter Brooke’s honourable affirmation that the British government had “no selfish strategic interest” in remaining in Northern Ireland. He rephrased and reversed it to say that “in my own selfish and strategic interests … It’s time for Northern Ireland to be brought back into the mainstream of British politics.”

    Now, what did Bogdanor say about:

    a sense of restraint by the dominant nation in the UK?

  • emanonon

    MR

    Cameron has been very clear about the GFA and his support for it, if you don’t listen it is not his fault.

    ‘The missing X-ingredient there is the public will.’

    Do the mean the public will let it fail, or there is no public will to make it happen?

    Do you have a source for that Obama quote?

  • manonon @ 04:42 PM:

    No he hasn’t. As Conall McDevitt cogently put it:

    The Good Friday Agreement puts the North’s destiny in the hands of the people of Northern Ireland, Unionist and Nationalist and commits the British and Irish governments to a position of neutrality on the future of this region. How does Mr Cameron square this with his assertion that he will ‘not be neutral’ on Northern Ireland if elected PM?

    The old UUP gave us a Prodestant [sic] Stormont for a Protestant people. Sounds like Cameron wants a return to a Unionist Prime Minister for the Unionist people.

    A case in point, as another post by McDevitt wonders, might be the nebulous Tory “Bill of Rights”. Would that, in this great “UC” (I can hear why “UUC” had to be avoided) meeting-of-minds, apply to NI?

    That well-known lefty (no, strike that one: this is now) neo-con , Paul Bew, hardly resonates with applause:

    One of the reasons why the Stormont assembly has degenerated into a sectarian stand-off in which executive meetings are postponed month on month is the calculation by Sinn Féin that the Unionist parties need the assembly, so bad is their relationship with London. If that assessment is shown to be flawed, then there is a possibility that the institutions of the Good Friday agreement would work more smoothly and we could have an end to the current strategy of tension which once again threatens the stability of the province…

    The big question is this: the Ulster electorate is now given the choice it has long said it wanted – to contribute to the wider issues of nuclear politics. But has it reached a condition of war-weary sectarianism and privatised depoliticisation which makes it unlikely to respond in significant numbers?

    Note how much of that, quite properly, is in the vaguest conditional.

    Which also answers your second point. Were you enthused by that — what was it? — 7⅓% of the electorate earlier this month? Did you sense therein Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free in a massive upsurge of popular support?

    The Obama quote first surfaced in a column by James Macintyre.

  • tkbytesback

    The UU/Conservative strategy will have an impact in NI. The impact of change or momentum always works. There will be a Cameron bounce. The extent of that bounce is not known. furthermore it is impossible for a Government – South or East to be neutral. The Good Friday Agreement does not expect them to be. It expects them to honour the principle of consent subjecting them to the will of the people of NI – that does not mean a position of neutrality. The Republic has not given up on the aspiration of unity – only a means of achieving it. The British Government has not given up the responsibilty of supporting NI – they have, however secured the option of opting out – if requested. Neither option will occur under the premierships of Brown, Cameron or the next three to four British premiers.

  • Elvis Parker

    Brian Walker
    ‘for their sexist and ill mannered failure to consult her’
    This is simply not true. As soon as formal talks commenced she was fully involved.
    She stated she would be bound by the decision of the party and then changed her mind!

    I can understand how Conall and other nationalists feel that the Agreement ‘commits the British and Irish governments to a position of neutrality on the future of this region’ but it is not the case.

    Moreover for a UK Govt to agree to such nonsense would be throughly bad – in would condemn us to perpetual sectarianism.
    It seesm some nationalists want us locked ina sectarian prison until we agree to a UI!
    Cameron offers the normalisation of politics – open to all regardless of background. Yes this is within the Union but guess what? That’s want the majority want.

  • Cameron offers the normalisation of politics – open to all regardless of background.

    In no more meaningful a way than the SDLP, UUP and Sinn Féin already did.

    I’m still waiting to hear UCUNF’s position on the Irish language? Are many UCUNFers going to be at Clones (supporting either side) on July 19? Is UCUNF going to do anything about people like the UUP councillor in a predominantly unionist council who objected to a Catholic mayor because “you’d have a priest as mayor’s chaplain”.

    It’s still a single-identity, single-community party.

  • Elvis Parker @ 10:58 PM:

    I cannot contradict you on Lady Hermon’s position. I assume you were there in person, that you can so categorically reject the Lady’s version. Curious that all these non-sexists can’t use the person’s name: I recall being dressed down with, “Who’s she? The cat’s mother?”

    Then you are so emphatic that:

    I can understand how Conall and other nationalists feel that the Agreement ‘commits the British and Irish governments to a position of neutrality on the future of this region’ but it is not the case.

    Well, this non-nationalist has problems with your assertion.

    I keep running into words and phrases in the GFA which say things like:

    * our opposition to any use or threat of force by others for any political purpose, whether in regard to this agreement or otherwise;
    * whatever choice is freely exercised by a majority of the people of Northern Ireland
    ;
    * rigorous impartiality
    [Must we now play hermeneutic word-games about the difference between “impartiality” and “neutrality”?];
    * The Government of Ireland Act 1920 is repealed

    And I’m only on page 5 of 35.

    Then you have that delicious thought about:

    condemn us to perpetual sectarianism… It seesm [sic] some nationalists want us locked ina [sic] sectarian prison

    Hmmm … historically, of what does that remind me?

  • elvis parker

    Yes Malcolm and the bit in which it says the UK Govt will at no time seek to involve the citizens of NI in the politics and govt of the UK…?
    Nope not there.

    Furthermore the Irish Govt – having lobbied against the involvement of UK parties in NI throughout the 90s – now accept the development of politics in this fashion

  • Is it wilful, or is it mere ignorance that so many (of both persuasions) still don’t get it?

    Without detailed reference to the textbooks on constitutional law (and I’m up for that, if elvis parker @ 11:18 AM feels it necessary: I offer him first shot) the position of NI is uniquely conditional in the UK. That’s what the British-Irish Agreement explicitly stated. Then, in the Agreement, Constitutional Issues I(ii) we have this:

    … it is for the people of the island of Ireland alone, by agreement between the two parts respectively and without external impediment, to exercise their right of self-determination on the basis of consent, freely and concurrently given, North and South, to bring about a united Ireland, if that is their wish, accepting that this right must be achieved and exercised with and subject to the agreement and consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland.

    If that’s too difficult, try a tick-the-box test:

    Are other parts of the UK subject to a bilateral agreement with another sovereign jurisdiction?
    Does the principle of dual (or alternate) citizenship apply in other parts of the UK?
    Does “devolution” involve a commitment of possible withdrawal of sovereignty from other parts of the UK ?
    Do such radically-different electoral and governmental practices apply elsewhere in the UK?
    Is the constitutional position in the UK, of any other part of the UK, subject to international agreements and guarantees, and binding in international law?

    Repeat (in case the argument is too taxing): NI is a uniquely “conditional” adherent to the Union. That was, legally, the position in 1920. It was the assumption of Sunningdale.

    Clearly, alas, we still have a problem of “Sunningdale for slow learners.”

  • emanonon

    The Conservatives are organised in NI they have a growing membership here, over 400 I believe, and had 80,000 plus people vote for them in concert with the UUP and 130,000 votes plus as a first or second preference. That is 1/3 of the voters who were prepared to put their name beside a Conservative and Unionist Candidate

    Are all these voters not allowed to express themselves because of ‘impartiality’.

    Impartiality = treating or affecting all equally

    Neutrality = refusal to take part in a disagreement between others.

    So one is about getting involved the other is not about getting involved. I think both UK and RoI governments have been fully involved for the last 12 years.

    Unfortunately the GFA did not see what would happen and that there would be a party that is totaly impartial as to race, religion, sexual orientation or gender who would get votes in NI.

    The Conservatives are definitely impartial on those ‘non political’ issues but they are not neutral on the UK v UI debate nor should they be, just as the RoI has no requirement to be neutral.

    So your argument has no basis, it is in fact anti democratic as it wants to disenfranchise voters.

  • emanonon @ 01:09 PM:

    Nice try; but no cigar.

    I appeal to the referee (that all-powerful Oxford English Dictionary):

    Impartial: Not partial; not favouring one party or side more than another; unprejudiced, unbiased, fair, just, equitable. (Of persons, their conduct, etc.)
    neutral: Esp. of persons: not taking sides in a controversy, dispute, disagreement, etc.; not inclining toward any party, view, etc.; impartial, unbiased.

    I fully understand your Unionist position, historically and derived from the likes of Randolph Churchill (vide supra), which might be defined as the Lewis Carroll defence:

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.”

    Nobody has yet challenged my definition of the massed public support for the UUC bandwagon’s last outing: just under seven and a third per cent of the electorate.

  • emanonon

    Your argument might work if the Conservatives were not in NI as a party and did not have support. They are here and they do have support that they represent. You cannot therefore mix impartiality in terms of religion race etc. with neutrality in terms of the sovereignty.

    The Conservative policy is that they are not neutral on sovereignty as a GB and NI political party nor should they be and they have put that to the electorate and c.30% of those who bothered to vote agreed enough to give them 1st or 2nd choice it would be even higher if the DUP 2nd preferences were known probably closer to 40%.

    You can dance on the head of a pin as long as you like and translate the GFA as you want to, the Conservatives will always treat everyone here fairly regardless of their background but they will also favour the UK as the political entity that is in the best interests of NI as that is what their voters here voted for.

    As regards the c.7%, the largest unionist party got little more and the largest nationalist party got c.11% so your point is?