Is there really a crisis at Stormont? Or is that just a funny smell drifting in from somewhere?

Brian’s getting jumpy in London and I don’t blame him. Mark Hennessey’s line London report of the meeting between Brian Cowen and Gordon Brown makes me wonder just how thoroughly the mainstream media have done their homework on the one issue that’s apparently holding things up (or at least they have since approximately 2 weeks after last year’s 8th May ‘deadline’). “…the two, who held over two hours of talks in Number 10 Downing Street last night, repeatedly refused to set a deadline for an agreement and, instead, focused on progress made.” There is good reason for that refusal to set a deadline. Put simply: they can’t. In the words of the former Secretary of State, it would be a constitutional nonsense. Add to that (amidst much feverish speculation about an Assembly election) the fact that both SF and the DUP have said neither will call an election, one is forced to ask: Why then is a senior and highly respected (not least in these quarters) journalist writing in the expectation that this was even a possibility? Is it a classic case of the lobby losing touch with reality?

And in writing out the power that the DUP actually has in this situation we are being invited to read their position as being considerably weaker than it actually is…

Of course we can speculate until cows come home about how the DUP might fare in an early Assembly election. It’s a fair guess that even were one to be held in 2011 they would lose some seats to the TUV (and possibly even UCU – NF), particularly where they have three or four seats in the same constituency. Mr Allister is not going away anytime soon. In the meantime, in the wake of the European Elections, Sinn Fein is clearly playing up the DUP’s electoral discomfort for all it’s worth.

Yet possession is 9/10s of the law. The DUP still has what Sinn Fein wants, and arguably (if it is to satisfy promises given by the Ard Comhairle to its 2007 Ard Fheis) what it needs. But if the DUP gives it away too cheaply, it is not quite signing its own death warrant, but is certainly surrendering a large hostage to fortune for no return. And if it holds on too stubbornly (as Robinson pointed out in his own conference speech), it can also lose.

Yet, here’s a mystery. The last time I spoke to anyone in the NIO on the matter (at the BIPA in Swansea) they were confident of getting a deal signed off by February. And now, without the least evidence that there is any kind of a deal on offer, some senior journalists have convinced themselves that some things might happen which cannot actually happen: ie that any downward pressure from London and/or Dublin will have the least effect on the final outcome.

What is that all about?

Despite all the pressure, the DUP retains some useful cards. Labour is weak, and if the Tories’ lead continues to slip further their numbers at Westminster will continue to demand respect if not direct influence. And if Sinn Fein walks, and forces an Assembly election it’s almost a best worst case scenario for Robinson. They won’t get voters back from the TUV, but they may disincentivise them from voting in such large numbers as they did in June.

As for Sinn Fein, if they walk they could take an extra seat in the process. And, if the TUV/UUs do correspondingly well, they could just get their noses in front enough to take the First Minister’s job. That would be a coup indeed. But, not necessarily game over. Besides calculating the behaviour of voters in the ‘other community’ is always a risky business. Miss, and whilst may you have weakened your OFMdFM ‘partner’ (which is a positive by the lights of the ‘Mitchel doctrine’, you are also less likely to get what you want apres le deluge.

One thing I learned in an earlier life is that in story terms, what appears to be the end is never the end.

,

  • Chris Donnelly

    Mick
    It would appear to be approaching the point where everybody is out of step except the DUP and a couple of Slugger bloggers.

    Whether the DUP- and others- like it or not, there is a clear consensus emerging around the narrative holding the DUP culpable for any political breakdown due to their refusal to shift over policing and justice.

    No amount of threads will get around that fact. Indeed, the consensus also held during the Executive standoff from the summer of 2008, which was evident in the increasingly irritable interview performances of the DUP leader from that time.

    Sinn Fein’s best move would be that which removes the leverage being held by the DUP as the latter attempt to plunge us back to a Drumcree era with dangerous talk over the explosive issue of parading.

    If that means a return to the Executive standoff, or even calling the DUP’s bluff and pushing for an early election, so be it.

    The mood music for the DUP is not good. But that should not influence republican decision making as, whatever unionist party emerges on top/ ascendant in the aftermath of an election, they will be facing the same scenario.

  • kensei

    HMG could force compliance in ways that would certainly affect the final outcome. Invite the Irish Government to run a joint ministry until the Assembly gets it’s act together would be my favoured method. I’m sure there are other more or less subtle ways of doing it. The problem is as pointed out, lack of appetite. But the dangers of collapse with both Unionist and Nationalist hardliners on the up might convince them to action. Probably unlikely, but it’s certainly nowhere near as impossible as you make out.

    And again: you seem to see SF weakening the DUP as bad, very bad, but have this strange blindspot the other way. See Liam Clarke’s piece this morning.

    ps both parties have said a while back they won’t force an election? How cute you think that matters.

  • joeCanuck

    Mick,
    Crisis seems to have been the default mode since the Rev. Paisley resigned as FM.
    Robinson either does not have the same authority and the DUP seem to be really quite dysfunctional (witness Donaldson’s solo run a couple of weeks ago and Campbell’s weekend speech) or else he is afraid to use it.
    If there is a smell it may be coming from a Dervock steer or a Dungannon heifer.

  • “plunge us back to a Drumcree era”

    But, Chris, didn’t Gerry bum about how the PRM created the Drumcree era? War by other means and all that guff?

  • i wonder

    Good onya nevin always waiting with the snide remark well done we need you brill great job really helps thumbs up to all on both sides whose main contribution are the snide unhelpful guffy remarks a great big thanks from the ordinary stupid voters of the north incapapable of their own shit talk keep us divided.Once again to both lots a great big thank you.

  • andrew white

    Invite the Irish Government to run a joint ministry until the Assembly gets it’s act together would be my favoured method………

    there would be many in the community who would resist any undemocratic involvement by a foreign state.

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    Chris,

    You are right about where the consensus lies. My point is that it is being arrived at by means of an act of omission. Though, I admit, that when it comes to the crunching of political forces, that may turn out to be a rather academic point.

    As you rightly hint, another meltdown scenario (like the one when Slugger came) brings forward even more implausible gaps than those that are already obvious. It involves a ‘bleed dry’ stratagem that will likely put P&J (and devolution) even further on the long finger.

    In any case, whichever way this goes, we’re about to see if Peter Robinson has the political courage to see this one through.

  • Ramzi Nohra

    Nevin
    Presumably you dont think the Catholic community was extremely happy about Drumcree marches until the shinners turned up?

    I think Gerry’s quote meant that the shinners took leadership of community feeling and made it an issue, got media attention etc. At least, thats what i thought, would be open to evidence the other way.

  • Dave

    The Shinners might have noticed that having the British political and media establishment praise you for your “leadership” as it did when they hoodwinked their Ard Fheis into voting for their motion to support the police doesn’t actually amount to much if your supporters cotton-on that the establishment is actually praising the Shinners for lying to them by leading them to vote for the motion on the basis of a false claim about a deadline. What does that praise mean to those Ard Fheis voters when the leadership is actually being praised for making fools out of them and for betraying their misplaced trust?

    The poor Shinners now have to suck-up to their Ard Fheis voters and pretend that they are actually on their side rather than on the side of those who praise them. If they didn’t make fools out of their own Ard Fheis voters, then they wouldn’t have this desperate need to secure the transfer. The DUP, from a unionist perspective, are quite right to make them suffer by drawing devolution out for as long as possible. The more desperate the Shinners become, the more they will have to concede in order to secure agreement.

    And, of course, the more they have to concede in order to secure agreement, the more their non-Ard Fheis but general voters will lose.

    I guess the political moral of the story is don’t let yourself get exposed as working for the other side by telling whopping great lies to your core supporters in order to trick them into endorsing the forces of the British state.

  • Kathy C

    posted by Kathy C

    Some of the problem is due to gerry adams recent remarks about ensuring a place for orange order parades in a United Ireland. This has given fuel to the fire for the DUP to demand the end of the parades commission (and with the end game marching down garvahy road).
    If unionist orange order marches have a place in united Ireland per adams then Robinson is playing it smart (for his side) to push for the abolishment of the parades commission. Adams caused this current parades issue…and Robinson is capitalizing on it for his side of the aisle.

  • Mick Fealty

    Ken,

    I linked Liam’s piece in the post above. That is certainly one option for Robinson. And to do that he would need more courage than sticking it out against the current consensus not least since he’d be handing the TUV a big stick to beat him with.

    But there is a passage in the governments’ latest statement which hints that they, at least, understand there are still ‘obstacles’ (plural) to overcome. So, I am not so sure the apocalypse is imminent as SF (the NIO and the MSM) would have us believe.

    I may be wrong, but the impression I got at the time was that after the great P&J stand off was over was that a deal would be done when things quietened down and the heat was off. Instead the heat has continued to rise. Martin’s call for a Christmas deadline is of a piece with a continuous escalation of pressure from that quarter.

    If a ‘deal’ over the devolution of P&J is not got now and SF do call an election then either the ‘indigenous deal’ is dead, and we will face protracted negotiations (several people I’ve spoken to inside the DUP are currently considering what a list might contain that could possibly appease Jim Allister’s rebels), or…

    Well what exactly? Sinn Fein will have killed the deal Adams told us no one should interfere with. As I’ve pointed out before SAA was a rigid agreement which needed two flexible partners to work them. In the end, neither party can trust the other. The locus of the problem is more likely to resile to the rigid nature of the settlement.

    In the meantime I’d be looking more in the direction of ‘voluntary coalition’ than ‘joint authority’ if you are looking for a plausible Plan C. That would be a mature move for SF (and if they can drive the SDLP vote down even further they’d be a no brainer for guaranteed office), but I would hardly put in the ‘victory’ column.

  • Reader

    Ramzi Nohra: At least, thats what i thought, would be open to evidence the other way.
    Alternatively, it was the Shinner strategy to solidify the Catholic vote in favour of a United Ireland at a time when the demographics were plan A. I.e. – between the ceasefire and the publication of the 2001 Census results.
    After that, it all became a bit of an inconvenience, which is why Breandán Mac Cionnaith is now going it alone, and SF makes periodic embarrassing attempts at Unionist Engagement.

  • Brian Walker

    Mick, There’s a lot of this I just don’t follow. . I thought I put paid to voluntary coalition rather well as the last thing that’s likely to happen. For that reason, there’s no need or dwell on it. But more fundamentally, what really is the problem of ” confidence”? Does anybody really know? I know about the TUV and internal problems. Beyond that, I dare to parade my ignorance. We can all guess learnedly at length, but actually… Can confidence ever be won? What does SF have to do to help create it? I understand the DUP stalling just because SF are so insistently demanding, not wanting to fall into the Trimble trap, Nigel maybe about to play the part of the early Jeffrey to Peter’s David, restiveness in the heartland. But there has to be more to it than that. What in God’s name is it? Just thought I’d ask – and I am asking genuinely not rhetorically.

  • On the “explosive issue of parading” is it not better that this is defused in advance of the transfer of P&J rather than remain as a ticking device?

  • Mick Fealty

    Brian,

    You probably did put it to bed. But whilst we were talking about Plan B I thought I would take the time to point out that we’re now at Plan C which encompasses talking (or not talking) about all those nice things Peter mentioned at the Ulster Hall. That’s one reason why I don’t think SF will walk, though the DUP still might (better to embrace your fate than have it thrust upon you?).

    “Confidence”, I suspect, is as impalpable now as it was when the DUP first used it back in 2004. But at this stage I would read it as code for, “you know the price, ante up, back off and we’ll give you a date in our own good time”. It’s certainly a hand that can be overplayed (thus Peter’s slap back to Gregory over his 6 years remarks yesterday). But what have SF got to hit the DUP with, beyond the existential trap as outlined above?

    As for the Trimble trap, SF are are already in it. Driving the DUP out means you are stuck with less chance of ever getting P&J (the small beer that it actually is).

    And remember the last thing Martin did as Education Minister was to decide the 11plus was to be zeroed. That was perceived as a strong move which hung in the air for a long time afterwards.

    Catriona’s hames would be left like an unmade bed until such times as the party can cut a deal with another Unionist party. I would not like to be trusting my political opponents with that kind of decision. It’s Russian roulette with very poor odds of getting a decent result.

    A culture of Oppositionalism is what dogs all of this. Neither party yet has had a chance to excel at government. And at this rate neither of them ever will.

  • a does of realism

    “Invite the Irish Government to run a joint ministry until the Assembly gets it’s act together would be my favoured method………”

    Do you really want to see a loyalist revolt on the streets, manifest north AND south? Because that is exactly what such a move would prompt. The UVF have always made it clear that any sort of attempt at joint authority, involving as it would a complete abandonment of the constitutional guarantees contained in the GFA, would be game over.

    The Irish government wouldn’t do it in a million years, even if the Brits wanted (which they clearly don’t).
    It’s hard to think of a time in Irish history when there has been less stomach in the Republic to have a show-down with loyalism – which the course of action you prefer you inevitably precipitate..

  • joeCanuck

    thus Peter’s slap back to Gregory over his 6 years remarks yesterday

    Mick,
    I haven’t seen any report about that on any website. Care to enlighten me/us?

  • Mick Fealty

    Joe:

    Gregory yesterday:

    “We have got to work at the conditions that make up the community confidence and whether we get them in six weeks, six months or six years, that is the time policing and justice will be transferred.”

    Robo today:

    “Making the decision to devolve policing and justice functions will not be measured in years; it will be solely measured in whether outstanding issues are resolved and this can only be done in a climate free from threat.”

    Now they are not mutually exclusive, surely. But…

  • Brian Walker

    Mick,
    Phew! Like every former lobby person now out of daily touch, I’m glad there isn’t a secret everyone except me knows but doesn’t like to say. I like “existential.”

  • joeCanuck

    Thanks, Mick.

  • kensei

    Mick

    I linked Liam’s piece in the post above. That is certainly one option for Robinson. And to do that he would need more courage than sticking it out against the current consensus not least since he’d be handing the TUV a big stick to beat him with.

    You appear to be missing the point. Clarke:

    In September I wrote “the DUP won most of the spats in the executive, but, in the process, all sense of partnership was destroyed”.

    This is a demoralisation strategy. The 0% Nationalist approval of Robinson wasn’t some fluke. It was the strategy he carried out to appease his hardliners. It is the mirror image of McLaughlin’s like that you love, love, looooooooooove to repeat at every opportunity.

    Why is it a good idea for the DUP but a bad one for SF? Other than you’re hot for Unionism.

    But there is a passage in the governments’ latest statement which hints that they, at least, understand there are still ‘obstacles’ (plural) to overcome. So, I am not so sure the apocalypse is imminent as SF (the NIO and the MSM) would have us believe.

    NIO speak. The “obstacles” are whatever the DUP want them to be.

    I may be wrong, but the impression I got at the time was that after the great P&J stand off was over was that a deal would be done when things quietened down and the heat was off. Instead the heat has continued to rise. Martin’s call for a Christmas deadline is of a piece with a continuous escalation of pressure from that quarter.

    As pointed out by Clarke, he had the perfect moment. He had strung the process out and got a series of concessions from HMG and public statements from the Prime Minster, the Leader of the Opposition and the Chief Constable. He could have set the date the year from now and made it contingent on SF behaving themselves and SF would have to swallow it.

    He either didn’t have the balls, or the DUP think they can wring out more concessions. But that strategy eventually backfires, and for all fd’s talk of parading and voluntary coalition et al where in the manifesto, you cannot buy tenners with fivers.

    If a ‘deal’ over the devolution of P&J is not got now and SF do call an election then either the ‘indigenous deal’ is dead, and we will face protracted negotiations (several people I’ve spoken to inside the DUP are currently considering what a list might contain that could possibly appease Jim Allister’s rebels), or…

    Which takes the assumption that Nationalism or even SF wants Stormont at any cost. And Nationalism has its own hardliners to appease or neuter. The most likely outcome of stalemate remains greener direct rule. I don’t know how green that will be, but I suspect both Nationalism and SF could stick it out, particularly if more powers go to the councils.

    Moreover, I strongly suspect if the SF leadership aren’t watching for the detail, MLAs and the membership will be. SF simply can’t afford another fuck up like that.

    In the meantime I’d be looking more in the direction of ‘voluntary coalition’ than ‘joint authority’ if you are looking for a plausible Plan C. That would be a mature move for SF (and if they can drive the SDLP vote down even further they’d be a no brainer for guaranteed office), but I would hardly put in the ‘victory’ column.

    No, Mick it’s a momumentally fucking stupid concession that SF would get crushed for.

    1. No Unionist party will go to government with SF. There is no prospect of that changing anytime soon. CUMBLA? The UUs hate SF and the Tories are more concerned with the wider game. Imagine the ammo handed Salmond in Scotland if the Tories were voluntarily in government with SF.

    This is not Fianna Fail taking the oath with a realistic possibility of forming the government within 5 years. It’s talking a generation on the the sidelines.

    That by the by, leaves limited options for coalition which is not a healthy situation either. And you are sticking disproportionate power in tiny parties, which is totally undemocratic.

    2. It is another Unionist demand simply given in to and makes SF look incredibly, fantastically weak.

    3. Unionism has an inbuilt structural advantage by virtue of having a small but extremely significant lead in the number of MLAs. It means 65% is a much easier figure to reach for them, be it to form a government or on a single vote. You simply do not concede to your opponents an advantage for that without something significant to show for it. And that isn’t an ILA or transient pieces of legislation, it is something deeper crap example stronger N/S bodies. And Unionism won’t swallow it. Never have, never will.

    So no, I don’t buy this counter intuitive, bold move stuff. It is idiotic. That MLA gap, and the inbuilt disadvantage will narrow. But it’ll take a fair bit of time but the pointthe gap closes is the point you start talking about changes.

  • andrew white

    But it’ll take a fair bit of time but the pointthe gap closes is the point you start talking about changes.
    Posted by kensei on Dec 01, 2009 @ 11:25 PM

    at which point unionists will say No thanks, for the same reasons

  • slug

    This is a really boring issue – as a quarrel its a quarrel for the sake of it.

  • slug

    If the two governing parties are incapable of governing they should resign. Neither the DUP nor SF look smart, they both lose toegher if they show they are incapable of governing together.

  • kensei

    Andrew

    at which point unionists will say No thanks, for the same reasons

    Possibly, but if it is 50/50 or Unionism retains a slight advantage they could be tempted.

  • Mick Fealty

    slug,

    Watching paint dry would be funner.

    Ken,

    I am assuming very little. (although I would say the ‘Plan C’ stuff is like ‘Plan B’, my guess is that it ain’t gonna happen).

    But these two have got themselves (who else was at the negotiation table at SA and after?) jammed into a very narrow corridor. There is a prosperous (if initially limited) life for them inside the institutions. There is only anonymity outside.

    I do accept Liam’s points. And that line of action is open to Robinson. But SF have consistently lied about the P&J issue (aided by the equivocation of a ‘responsible’ MSM).

    That’s a default under the ‘tit for tat’ rule and if the DUP is following that stratagem then they should punishe the default rather than ignore it. Not over punish it. Just sufficient so that they can get to the next stage. But they/we can only get to the next stage if/when SF reciprocate.

    Absolutely it is demoralising. And not just for SF. As slug hints it is pretty demoralising for anyone who thought the political process was safe in these guys’ hands. But that does not mean the DUP are following a ‘Mitchel doctrine’ stratagem.

    But lying to your support about the nature of the deal you got and then not only trying to pin it on your opponents but attempting pressurize them when you have a severe shortage of external political capital to do it is not good politics.

    What we are seeing is a save Gerry operation. Understandable, but premised on the flawed idea that nationalist interest will always trumps unionist interest in these ‘time outs’.

    But it didn’t happen at SA, and I’m pretty sure there is a diminishing line here. Constantly bringing the institutions pointlessly to the brink like this is more likely to diminish nationalist interest rather than enhance it.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I’m not sure what Robinson has to gain from delaying further, obviously other than being seen to bow to pressure from SF. SF will have next to no direct influence over the justice ministry and that will become blindingly obvious in the period between now and whatever the next election is. It really is not an concession to republicanism.

  • kensei

    Mick

    But SF have consistently lied about the P&J issue (aided by the equivocation of a ‘responsible’ MSM).

    “Lie” is a rather strong term. What was the purpose of the draft timetable? Why go through the charade? Just optics? Following the malice versus cock up rule, it is far more likely SF thought they got more than they did.

    That has left them on the hook. But understandable why from their perspective they felt there had been a breach of good faith, if not the exact letter.

    Absolutely it is demoralising. And not just for SF. As slug hints it is pretty demoralising for anyone who thought the political process was safe in these guys’ hands. But that does not mean the DUP are following a ‘Mitchel doctrine’ stratagem.

    Of course it does, Mick. The DUP have blocked every single thing that SF wanted. And they have crowed about doing it. But you are totally blind to it, apparently.

    That’s a default under the ‘tit for tat’ rule and if the DUP is following that stratagem then they should punishe the default rather than ignore it. Not over punish it. Just sufficient so that they can get to the next stage. But they/we can only get to the next stage if/when SF reciprocate.

    I think the DUP have already listed the ways they have “punished” SF, Mick.

    What we are seeing is a save Gerry operation. Understandable, but premised on the flawed idea that nationalist interest will always trumps unionist interest in these ‘time outs’.

    Are there open challenges to Gerry within his party? Is he in any electoral danger either in Westminster or the Assembly? Does it look like SF’s vote needs shored up? Quite why you think SF, nevermind Gerry Adams needs “saved” is beyond me.

    Perhaps HMG would prefer the powers devolved and processing more or less put to bed. Perhaps they are worried about the threat of dissidents if SF are weakened. Perhaps they too dislike dancing to the DUPs tune. In any case, “save Gerry” doesn’t stack up.

    What we are seeing is a save Gerry operation. Understandable, but premised on the flawed idea that nationalist interest will always trumps unionist interest in these ‘time outs’.

    I don’t think it’s necessarily true. But a confident party believes in its own negotiating strength. And its only actually worth keeping the institutions if they are capable of producing some of the things you want. If they are not, then it is far better to kill it quickly than have a slow draining fo strength from it. You are trapped in the “Stormont at all costs” mindset.

    An alternative strategy is to focus on getting a greener tinged Direct Rule and focusing everything into getting in government South. The effect on Unionism of that combination would be interesting. It’d even be interesting if FF moved North. There are other paths available to SF if they decide Stormont isn’t working.

    But it didn’t happen at SA, and I’m pretty sure there is a diminishing line here. Constantly bringing the institutions pointlessly to the brink like this is more likely to diminish nationalist interest rather than enhance it.

    Might be wrong but the talk from the media is different this time. You might dismiss it, but it is a useful barometer of temperature. A forced election would not be unsurprising.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Is there any basic strategy amongst, presumably non-murdering Republicans, other than just plain-out fantasy? SF in office in the South, a mysterious willingness by London to make NI ‘greener’ under direct rule – seriously, have Republicans just given up on reality? But I repeat what I’ve said elsewhere, if the current settlement is such a bad one for SF, and if it’s upended they stand such a good chance of seeing things improved from their point of view, why on earth are they sticking with the current, supposedly vastly uncongenial process? Their natural sense of goodwill? I like laughing at Republicans as much as the next man, but really, this is just getting pititful. But one more time: pluuuuuleazzze – pull Stormont down! I double-treble-quadruple dares ya!

  • kensei

    LTU

    SF in office in the South,

    SF have four TDs; they could half that number and still be in government if the figures fell right. It certainly isn’t impossible especiallya s the IRA recedes from view. If anything, less Northern baggage might help them on that score.

    a mysterious willingness by London to make NI ‘greener’ under direct rule – seriously, have Republicans just given up on reality?

    It was the DUP that stated that was the threat.

    But I repeat what I’ve said elsewhere, if the current settlement is such a bad one for SF, and if it’s upended they stand such a good chance of seeing things improved from their point of view, why on earth are they sticking with the current, supposedly vastly uncongenial process? Their natural sense of goodwill? I like laughing at Republicans as much as the next man, but really, this is just getting pititful.

    A working Stormont probably trumps other options, all things considered. SO hence trying to make it work

    But one more time: pluuuuuleazzze – pull Stormont down! I double-treble-quadruple dares ya!

    Be careful what you wish for. Let’s assume theer is no further Irish Governemnt involvement. I’m not sure neglect by the NIO is good for anyone. Perhaps they’ll push more power to councils. Lots of Unionists West of the Bann, LTU.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Yeah, lots of them. And with nothing to fear from democratic local government, especially any kept on the laughably short leash ours is. Or do your fantasies now extend to district councils being able to vote themselves out of the Union? But to go through the list one more tedious time:

    1.) you’ve convinced yourself that SF will be touched, even by FF, even with the longest of bargepoles, because, somehow, this Northern-led, northern-centric party will, somehow, shed itself of its Northern baggage (oh, and that one way they might do this is by upending the painstaking parking of the ‘northern question’ every Dublin government alike has worked might and main to achieve these last forty years) – one does have to wonder, is there anything you can’t convince yourself of?

    2.) the DUP didn’t cite any such threat. In a senile aside on FatBloke FM Paisley, as he floundered, and tried to cling onto the leadership, despite Junior’s antics, half-implied something that there vaguely might have been, possibly something like a threat. No one else in the DUP has ever said this, indeed, quite the reverse: they’ve all denied that there was such a threat. You choose to believe that paisley was intimitating the truth, which everyone else, including HMG, is not merely fibbing about, but successfully covering up (oh, and the DUP leadership, in your world, being aware of such an historic threat have, somehow, discounted it today). Other folk, meanwhile, might well just conclude that it was paisley telling yet another of the lies his career is littered with, as part of his pathetic, feeble effort to rebut Allister’s entirely justified charge of Lundyism. Oh well, Ken, best to believe whatever makes you happiest, eh?

    3.) so it isn’t actually in SF’s interests to walk out of the current settlement (your arguments above, as to the innate strength of their position if they did notwithstanding)? Yet you still think they might? Wonderful, wonderful political nous on offer there. Maybe you’ll one day begin to see why the Punt isn’t quaking when tacticians like this are up against him?

    However it is that closing sneer that’s so revealing about ‘Republicans’ like Kensei: ‘perhaps [London will] push more power to councils. Lots of Unionists West of the Bann, LTU’. Because, of course, it’ll be bad news for Unionists to find themselves subject to Nationalist councils, or at least, when you’re an ethno-chauvinist like dear old Ken here, that’s what you devoutly hope for. And yet again, we see as clearly as ever, this was never about ‘equality’ or ‘civil rights’ or ‘indigenuous deals’, or any other of the disengenuous spoof Adams spouts, and kensei echoes. It’s been about one thing and one thing alone: sticking the boot into the other side as hard as you can.

  • Dev

    ‘But lying to your support about the nature of the deal you got and then not only trying to pin it on your opponents but attempting pressurize them when you have a severe shortage of external political capital to do it is not good politics’

    We have a situation where SF spun the details of the deal in order to make it acceptible for their supporters & everyone (UK, US, Irish govt, MSM, et al) apart from unionists thinks their version of events, broadly speaking, is correct – that seems like pretty good politics to me.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    But none of the people you’ve cited *do* accept SF’s peculiar take on reality, which is that Unionists *have* to anything, as per SF’s demands: after all, if they accepted them, they, in the shape of HMG, could just oblige them, or, alternatively, sanction Unionists for not doing so. You can keep telling yourself that everyone is on your side if that cheers you up, but like the other bits of make-believe, it’s not actually going to advance your real-world political ends one jot. But as I keep droning: it’s truly fascinating to see how laughably disengenuous SF’s BS about an ‘indigenuous deal’ was. they’re not getting their way, and what’s the only thing they can think to do? Run to London and blub to Mummy.

  • Mick Fealty

    Dev,

    I don’t like sticking my neck out on what’s going to happen when it comes to politics, there is nothing more capricious than ‘political parties’… but the killer is in the last bit in the section you have quoted…

    Blair still had the intelligence (emotional and that other ‘securocrat’ type we don’t like to talk about any more) and the clout to cajole SF and the DUP into ‘closing’ the indigenous deal before he left… Brown is playing the game as skillfully as anyone could in the circumstances, but he’s not the same position of strength to enforce a new deal as Blair was in ’06…

    From SF’s pov Blair certainly shafted them on P&J (I simply don’t buy Ken’s amnesiac argument that they didn’t know – look at the motions from the Ard Fheis at the time, the membership bloody well did know, and you can say what you like about Gerry’s kitchen cabinet it contains some of the sharpest political minds in NI)…

    They could get off that hook (without concessions) if the DUP prove as vulnerable to external political attack as we all seem to think they are….

    But since the public narrative is deliberately dropping inconvenient (but key) details on this, I remain wary of any analysis which is based on that narrative and that alone…

  • kensei

    LTU

    Yeah, lots of them. And with nothing to fear from democratic local government, especially any kept on the laughably short leash ours is. Or do your fantasies now extend to district councils being able to vote themselves out of the Union?

    I am not wishing for one thing or t’other. This naturally is a hypotehtical discussion on some fo the stuff that could happen and what avenues people could pursue inthe event of no Stormont. It doesn’t mean any of them will happen, or I personally particularly want them to.

    In the event of Stromont going, more power could be devolved to the councils. Given they lack the kind sof mechanisms Stormont does it could allow them to do things that Unionists would not like. And vice versa, of course. They won’t be able to “vote themselves out”, but could certainly contribute to a polarisation that isn’t of particular benefit to those interested in NIO as entity.

    Or you know, they may not change anything there. The future is unpredictable and the consequences of collapse are unknown regardless of who you are. There are many different scenarios.

    1.) you’ve convinced yourself that SF will be touched, even by FF, even with the longest of bargepoles, because, somehow, this Northern-led, northern-centric party will, somehow, shed itself of its Northern baggage (oh, and that one way they might do this is by upending the painstaking parking of the ‘northern question’ every Dublin government alike has worked might and main to achieve these last forty years) – one does have to wonder, is there anything you can’t convince yourself of?

    There have been various parties in power in the Republic over the years with linen almost as dirty as SF. If the numbers fall meaning that SF TDs are in play, there is the potential for them to be in government. Theer are a number of things they can do to make this more likely: winning more seats for a start, leadership changes, policy changes, even time distancing them from the PIRA. Am I saying ti will happen? Nope. I am simply saying its another line they can pursue.

    Yelling “Crazy” with no argument does not change this.

    Tedious ranting. Oh well, Ken, best to believe whatever makes you happiest, eh?

    Or you know, not. Robinson Conference speech 2008:

    They knew back in March 2007, with absolute certainty, that the only alternative to this form of devolution was Direct Rule. A Direct Rule that they themselves declared twenty years ago to be Dublin Rule. A Direct Rule which over those twenty years turned ever greener and which the government was threatening, under Plan B, would become “a partnership” between London and Dublin.

    Doddsie:

    And in moving forward last year, we were determined to keep the pressure on Sinn Fein. We were not prepared to hand over the initiative to Republicans, or to hand back the control of our destiny or our hard-fought gains to a green-tainted direct rule regime, hostile to Unionism and its people, with Sinn Fein given a key role.

    What? What’s that sound? Oh wait, it’s you being shot down in flames.

    And for the record, again, I didn’t say it would happy. Simply an alternative set of goals they could pursue.

    3.) so it isn’t actually in SF’s interests to walk out of the current settlement (your arguments above, as to the innate strength of their position if they did notwithstanding)? Yet you still think they might? Wonderful, wonderful political nous on offer there. Maybe you’ll one day begin to see why the Punt isn’t quaking when tacticians like this are up against him?

    You are confusing me with soemone who makes tactical or strategic decisions for anyone. I think they might do it, because they have suggested they might do it, and media reports suggest things are a bit more serious this time. I can see reasons for and against. I don’t have a settled view.

    Yadda yadda yadda *yawn* It’s been about one thing and one thing alone: sticking the boot into the other side as hard as you can.

    Several neat fallacies there. I didn’t state it will definitively happen; I didn’t state that I thought Nationalist councils would abuse their power; nor did I state that I believed that was a good idea or a goal I supported. You assumed, beacuse you are an ass. For the record, I think Unionists West of the Bann would fare much better than Nationalists in the East, since Nationalists have a much, much better record at sharing power where they are in control. But even friendly Nationalist control remains Nationalist control, and without compromising rights et al they could do things that Unionists are not keen on. That si simply a consequence fo differnet political outlooks.

    The point as above, was simply that the outcome of it is unpredictable and not necessarily to your taste. But you know, carry on the ranting and tedious manplaying.

  • fin

    Mick, as a journalist, how do you think either government will save face if Stormont falls apart.

    SF will blame the non-transfer of P&J, pointing to the bit where both governments stated they believed the confidence would exist in early 2008 for it to happen

    As a Journo would you ask the the PM what he meant by confidence and how he measures it and how he got it so wrong, cos I would.

    Will Brown take the bullet for Robbo, cos I wouldn’t.

    Would I be tempted to impose direct rule and squeeze the wee 6 until they begged for Stormont again, damn right, and I’d knock a few billion of the handouts the ungrateful buggers begged for every year, in fact I’d batter them so hard that they’d think twice before trying to face down HMG again.

    Is Brown afraid of Robbo, No. Should Robbo be afraid of Brown, Yes.

  • kensei

    Mick

    (I simply don’t buy Ken’s amnesiac argument that they didn’t know – look at the motions from the Ard Fheis at the time, the membership bloody well did know, and you can say what you like about Gerry’s kitchen cabinet it contains some of the sharpest political minds in NI)…

    I didn’t say they didn’t know. I said they felt they got more than they had – the governments would stand behind them and effectively force the time table, or go over the DUP’s heads.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Oh what utter balls Kensei, you’re conflating Paisley’s absurd, implied claim that nonsensical ‘joint authority’ was held over him, and that’s why he broke all the promises he did, with, standard, post ’72 boilerplate any unionist politician could and would have offered at any time in any place, on just about any subject. Purely out of interest, do you take all political rhetoric literally, or just the stuff that reaffirms your prejudices? But again, if you want to cling to the belief that SF could and would get a ‘greener’ deal by themselves upending the current one, it’s almost inexplicable that they don’t. Unless, of course, they are led by British agents, or, your theory is just hugging-yourself-in-the-dark make-believe.

    While I’m glad that you’ve had the wit to row back from that sneered threat about the dreadful fate awaiting unionists unlucky enough to find themselves living under nationalist councils, it’s a teensy-tiny bit too late. Though it’s funny how easily the mentality of the threat comes to some people in Northern irish politics, isn’t it? Or as you would put it, nationalists are better than Unionists.

    As for then waffling backwards from your comfort blanket about the inevitable triumphs awaiting the shriven Shinners in the Free State, then absurdly claiming that I hadn’t offered any arguments, if intellectual lameness like that gets you anywhere, let me know. But given that you whine about ‘manplaying’ in, er, exactly the same post where you, in an instance of near Ciceronian rhetoric, call someone you disagree with, an ‘ass’, I’m not holding my breath for when Aamazon will deliver, “Kensei’s Top 100 Debating techniques”. Certainly I don’t think I’ll see it delivered this side of Christmas, and possibly not even this side of the transfer of P&J either.

    But of all the characteristic, fantastical tropes Republicans engage in on Slugger, you’ve opted for the dullest of all: ‘I’m not sayin’ nuffin’: I’m just explaining’. What sometimes worries me more than anything else about the pathology of Republicans, and their apparent widespread determination simply to reject reality, is that you might believe this: that you might actually think, rather than staking out a variety of partisan interpretations, albeit with ever more feeble intensity, you today have simply laid out ‘what’s happening’. Incredible.

  • Kensei

    LTU

    I didn’t mention joint authority anywhere.

    I didn’t issue any threats.

    I didn’t state anyone would have inevitable victories. In fact that was quite the oppsite of the point.

    Since you seem quite capable of talking to yourself, I se eno reason to get in the way.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Seriously, that’s it? You weren’t advancing, as in advocating a Republican line? You didn’t baldly say, as per that ethno-chauvinism I identfiied earlier ‘nationalists are better than unionists’? Okay, whatever. Up is down, black is white – you’ve won me over. One more body closer to an Ireland of equals, etc, etc.

  • Kensei

    LTU

    You are confused. I am not pushing anything; I have nothing to sell. I’m not “explaining”. I have my own political beliefs but I’m just having a discussion. If I turn out to be massively wrong, then what? Maybe I learn something. If I’m right, maybe I get a wee bit of satisfaction. I don’t really care for “winning”. I just argue for the fun of it.

    And nope, I didn’t say that nationalists are better than unionists. Simply the former have a better record on power sharing in councils.

  • Mick Fealty

    Fin, you are presuming that Blair’s inheritance really matters that much to Brown just now… That’s a hell of an assumption (as I think you know)… But tell us how you think that last bit works?