On the previously un-apparent instability in Unionism…

It’s been my own view that the last four years have been about a subterranean crisis within nationalism, unionism is now about to have a much more out front breakdown of their own. Over on Comment is Free I’ve argued that whatever the cause, Irisgate has changed the underlying political game in Northern Ireland. Whether by default or design, Sinn Fein have scored an away goal against a top of the table side, and as a result, everything has changed. And, at least in post Belfast Agreement terms, changed utterly. The challenges of the future will depend on them getting a consolidation of interests and the development of a truly modern democratic leadership.

  • Kensei

    Policing and justice is not an issue that SF would go to the mat on – its voters aren’t that bothered even if its activists are.

    1. Did we hallunciate that poll or something, Mick?
    2. Did Mallie not flag up imminent collapse on this very site long before the Robinson’s woes?

    Second, youa re still flat wrong. The consaolidation of Nationalsim in a single power block is to its long term detriment, whatever the short term gains. Unionism following the same route would be poisonous not just to it, but the entire polity here.

  • RepublicanStones

    Interesting analysis in the Cif article Mick. I doubt you’ll ever have any politician here admit to your reasons, number 2 in particular.
    However I think you underestimate all strands of Unionisms fear of a nationalist first minister. I’d imagine a 3 way split would evaporate pretty quick (in some seats) if they got a whiff of that happening.

  • danielmoran

    ‘I’d imagine a three way split would evaporate pretty quick[in some seats] if they got a whiff of that happening’

    Republican stones
    So why in the european elections where Diane Dodds flagged up the threat of the nationalists topping the poll, did the unionist voters not give a damn. the answer lies I suggest in the conflict of interests between unionist voters and their political parties.
    The former aren’t bothered as long as they see the Union is safe, [and they’re confident of that these days] whereas the latter need the votes to remain relevant. The UUP and probably after the shenanigans going on now] the DUP also.

  • Framer

    Mick

    The crisis is in the DUP not unionism. It won power because it was intransigent while the UUP was hopelessly divided.

    Now it has lost a third of its voters for ever to Jim Allister’s TUV while a third will return to the UUP which is united and credible (and after Craigavon today seen again to be a winner).

    The remaining third who are placemen and staffers or devolution-mad Robinson loyalists constitute a rump without purpose – neither fundamentalist nor intransigent. But they are led by someone who has become a laughing stock.

    So time for unionism to reshape itself back to two parties – TUV and UUP/DUP.

  • Garza

    “However I think you underestimate all strands of Unionisms fear of a nationalist first minister.”

    I think you overstate it. I couldn’t give a damn if McGuinness is first minister, dare I say it – I even like the guy – sort of. Any sensible person knows that McGuinness has been First Minister for the last few years, seeing as FM and DFM are the same. Its all semantics.

    I am VERY confident that the union is secure as long as there is power sharing, a SF FM won’t make a United Ireland come any quicker.

    Unionism is going through a transition period at the minute and are coming to terms with the new political situation.
    In the next decade there is going to be a battle between secular unionists and religious unionists, not pro vs anti agreement, the lines are already being drawn up.

  • RepublicanStones

    danielmoran there is a bit of a difference between topping the poll in Euros and the first ministers position. Garza
    i could very well be overstating it, but as dm mentioned, Diane Dodds tried to use a similar eventuality to scaremonger, and that was only in the Euros.
    You make an interesting point with regard to a potential civil war for the soul of unionism.

  • OscarTheGrouch

    I’m not sure it really matters as long as we can keep all the nutters in the game. It’s not that the assembly can actually managed to discuss/change things on the normal political basis anyway – look at education.

    I support the GFA/assembly etc on the grounds that eventually with the fire removed the radical parties slowly revert to the middle ground. I hope that the SF of 2030 will be light years away from the pseudo-Marxists 60’s throwbacks of today and that the DUP will have shed most of its Christian Fundamentalism, or divested it to the real rump extremes. Mortality as a political tool may be slow, but it always works. (though I’m getting suspicious about the Rev)

  • Drumlins Rock

    Garza your behind the times, the one big result of this scandal, and possibly more to come, is an acceleration of the decline of religious unionism, and ultimately the tie between protestantism and unionism, something that is essential if the union survives. The UUP have been going down that road for quite a while now, and the split from the Orange was part of that. The DUP is now being forced down the same road at lightning speed, and the TUV is not as overtly religious as many would like. Maybe there is gonig to be pain in the meantime, but surely if a broad but divided unionist electorate of 60% is better than a strongly united one of 40%?

  • Mick Fealty

    There’s been a lot of misreading of the unionist electorate, firstly by nationalists, and latterly by the DUP.

    The point is, that after eleven years of processing, what are we getting for our money? And I don’t just mean the 1/4 mill that’s gone to the Robinsons.

    Was talking to an old UU friend this afternoon who says tracing it back he remembers a meeting on education in North Down in which Peter Weir tried to push the line that the DUP had saved selective education. And someone stood up and asked him why did he think they were here then? To thunderous applause.

    And actually, I kind of agree with you ken, but what I’ve outlined is not a grand super Prod realignment, but the idea that the time political elites can make technocratic decisions removed from the people who elect them is over.

    On the other side of the equation, does anyone know what the nationalist electorate actually want? Is anybody asking?

  • “Diane Dodds tried to use a similar eventuality to scaremonger, and that was only in the Euros”

    RS

    And where did it get her? That was a very promising sign from the election of possibly a growing maturity on the part of the electorate who voted pro-Union. The re-alignment within Unionist politics is happening but in a very unpredictable way. I’d like to think that civic/secular/pan UK, call it what you will, Unionism can consolidate into a credible political force, but on all honesty the jury is still out on that.

    What is sure though is that while its main voice, the DUP may well be on the ropes at the minute, cultural Unionism most definitely still exists and remains as a potent, existing element in NI politics.

  • joeCanuck

    Mick,

    You argue over at CIF that unionism needs to reunite. I don’t think the pre-1972 monolith can ever be reconstructed.
    I agree with Framer, above, it’s a realignment that is needed.
    UUP/moderate Dupers and TUV/hardline DUPers.

  • Garza

    “Garza your behind the times, the one big result of this scandal, and possibly more to come, is an acceleration of the decline of religious unionism, and ultimately the tie between protestantism and unionism, something that is essential if the union survives.”

    Before I wrote what I did above I didn’t know anything about the possible scandals coming up. Now that I have been “informed”, I might have to agree with you.

    And I am glad.

  • Greenflag

    SF need to go for the jugular and bring about an election . If the boot was on the other foot the DUP would already have ordered their political posters .

    What’s the risk ? If SF win the FM position they can be in the driving seat to bring forward devolution of P& J and the ILA . If they don’t they can still flush out the relative strength of the three unionist parties UUP/DUP/TUV for future political strategy . Cultural unionism is not the issue at stake it’s political unionism .

    It’s an interesting scenario. Will or can Arlene Foster deliver what Peter Robinson could’nt ? Would she cause a break up of the current DUP ‘united front’ if she tried ?
    Could we yet see Arlene Foster back in the UUP leading a ‘revitalised ‘ if geriatric UUP ?

    The calling of an election by SF withdrawal would also probably force out any remaining scandalous skeletons’ in unionist cupboards . The Adam’s revelations will damage slightly but not materially to SF’s position in Belfast West.

    Yes go for it SF would be my call .

    And give them what they (SF) want now would be my
    call to those DUPers who are now still aboard the gravy train and who will miss it when the next train may leave the station without them !

    ‘Wearing a fig leaf and a big smile ‘ An apt description for the ‘naked emperor party ‘ 😉

  • Kensei

    Mick

    On the other side of the equation, does anyone know what the nationalist electorate actually want? Is anybody asking?

    rrr eee esss peee cee teee

    I’d hazard the apparent willingness of such a large block of Catholics to countenance collapse is less about the issue of P&J, and more about a reaction to the apparent intransigence of the DUP. If CUMBLA get in it won’t be on Kethlick votes,a nd the first step on actually, at some point, maybe possibly attracting any of those votes is not being the bug eyed monster.

    The fundamental problem is that the constitutional question is still unsettled, like it or not. Perhaps a constitutional referendum might clear the air; Nationalism would lose of course, and it might both be sobering and scope the problem. Then again, maybe not. If it was anyway close or if the border counties all had unity majorities it might well cause chaos.

  • Ulick

    What’s the risk?

    The unionists would veto P&J in any new Assembly, so it’s best to bank any gains while they can. There’s no need to rush headlong into an election now as any gains will still be there to be had at a later date.

  • Greenflag

    Ulick ,

    A bird in the hand is better than two birds in a bush .

    Strike while the iron is hot .

    There’ll hardly be a better time for SF than NOW to have an Assembly election .

    Time that DUP were made to swallow/choke on their ‘intransigence ‘ And even if it means the TUV pick up the ‘intransigent ‘ vote -no matter .That’s a confrontation that can’t long be avoided anyway .

  • RepublicanStones

    And where did it get her?

    o’neill as I said, there is a difference between a Euro seat and the first ministers position. Particularly considering turnout for Euros is always lower (is it not?)

    But you could be right about growing maturity, the success of the TUV may be the litmus test.

  • o’neill as I said, there is a difference between a Euro seat and the first ministers position. Particularly considering turnout for Euros is always lower (is it not?)

    When turnout’s low that’s when you get the diehards wanting to make their voice heard. And for whatever reason her call to “Smash SF” didn’t resonate as it would have done previously. Not sure about that litmus test though; as I said in my last post, the DUPes may be reeling, Cultural Unionism still is an important strand in pro-Union politics, so the TUV in the short-term will mop up a lot of disaffected DUPes.

  • RG Cuan

    If it was anyway close or if the border counties all had unity majorities it might well cause chaos.

    I’m with KENSEI on this one. Of course all border counties would have majorities favouring re-unification.

    In any case, it’s time for debate on the issue and to give the population the opportunity to hear and discuss the pros and cons.

  • joeCanuck

    Of course all border counties would have majorities favouring re-unification.

    Stating a fact not in evidence.
    I have never seen any “evidence” that all people who vote Nationalist or Republican would necessarily vote for reunification.

  • joeCanuck

    Besides which it would be a N.I. wide referendum and I can’t see the results being published County wise or constituency wide.
    Sorry Greenflag, they will not allow anything that might justify repartition.

  • Greenflag

    joe canuck,

    ‘Besides which it would be a N.I. wide referendum’

    Is that stated specifically in the GFA ? Surely the votes would be cast in the local Assembly or Westminster Constituencies so what possible reason could they give for not releasing the results by electoral district . Surely the NI vote counters can add up the separate totals ?

    ‘they will not allow anything that might justify repartition.’

    Who is they ? HMG ? Irish Government ? D’Hondt ? If the electorate can’t trust the parties on P&J devolution whats the point in maintaining the pretence of ‘power sharing’ ?

    I mean it’s not as if this ‘waste of time and money has’nt been dragging on for the past 15 years more like 40 . Enough as they say is eventually enough and that goes for ‘they’ as well !

    Move along time long overdue with the ‘failed state ‘

  • joeCanuck

    Who is they ?

    Greenflag,
    HMG. They don’t want any more headaches I would think.
    It’s up to the SOS, I believe, whether or not to initiate a reunification referendum.

  • little_joe

    Of interest to me was the BBC vox-pop on the Shankill Road during the week. One ordinary voter was asked what she thought of the Robinson situation and her reply was that she counldn’t care less anymore. This is the prevailing attitude amoung large sections of Unionist and Nationalist communities and maybe something mainstream political parties, bloated with their own delusions of self-importance, have been burying their heads from.

    Even so, given a referendum tomorrow we would see vast amount of votes cast on the basis of political principles rather than practical economics. A donkey with a flag tied to its tail will still out vote a candidate demanding reason.

    Mick is right to say that we require a truly modern democratic leadership; maybe an opposition to the sham democrasy we have at present would be a good start.

  • Comrade Stalin

    It’s reasonably obvious what is going on here.

    Various DUP backbenchers are getting worried that if Martin McGuinness walks out and an election occurs, they’ll lose their seats, along with their salaries, cushy offices and expenses, and of course their power.

    As such it is fairly predictable that a deal is quite likely, I imagine either by the weekend or very early next week.

    That’s why, Ulick, Sinn Fein are actually in a stronger position now than they have been for several years. They’ve got the DUP backed into a corner. All because of Iris Robinson. If they walk, they’ll throw away what is essentially a golden opportunity to get the DUP to deal. The other option is joint authority (or a flavour thereof). While that appears to be superficially beneficial to nationalism in the same way as tighter UK integration might to some unionists, what will Sinn Fein or the SDLP really get out of it ? In SF’s case, a hostile Dublin government keen to put them out of business; no power, no authority, and probably no income, lacking the donations of MLAs and the likely British extension of provisions on reporting of party donations to Northern Ireland. The phrase “powersharing is the only game in town” has never been more true at any time during the past 30 years in terms of the large parties here.

    I think the DUP are expecting a drubbing in the Westminster elections, but are hoping to retain their strength to be able to throw the kitchen sink at the next Assembly election. By the time that comes around, devolved policing and justice powers will seem quite normal and tolerable, in the same way that power sharing between unionists and nationalists is right now.

  • Drumlins Rock

    very insightful stalin 🙂

  • IanR

    From Mick’s article:

    [i]”something will turn up” is a very under-rated strategy. Things often do turn up.[/i]

    And something major is in fact scheduled to ‘turn up’ within the next six weeks.

    Once General de Chastelain’s mandate runs out in February (hurry up, SE Antrim UDA), he will be publishing a full inventory of all the arms that were decommissioned under his watch, including PIRA’s arsenal.

    Not only could this development be spun by the DUP as providing a massive boost to community confidence in the devolution of P&J, it could also provide them with an electoral fillip (“Look what we achieved”), more than enough to counteract the recent ‘PR’ disaster*, thus emboldening them to strike the deal and set a date.

    After all, the fact of IRA decommissioning has to date been a bit ethereal but after publication of the inventory next month it will seem much more tangible in the minds of unionist voters.

    * Has no-one else noticed the fun that can be had now with Peter Robinson’s initials?

  • Chris Donnelly

    Mick

    An interesting piece, though I don’t know how much we differ in having technocratic elites (Labour in Britain seemed a pretty tightly controlled ship when Blair first came to power.)

    The idea of the parties as ‘grand coalitions’ does appeal to me, though, as it assumes a tolerance for a diversity of opinions on some matters that is natural- and indeed essential for political parties who are conscious of the need to constantly question and revisit their policies and approaches, never mind allowing for opinions to differ on some areas of policy.

    On misreading unionism, I think it’s probably safe to say that the only thing on Slugger worse than nationalists attempting to interpret the unionist electorate is unionists attempting to interpret the nationalist electorate (has made for delicious schadenfraude come the immediate post-election period in the past, though.)

    What of the desires of nationalists?

    Well, that is a good question, and as ever it is hard to work out for the very same reason that even the predominant voice within unionism does not seem to have been very good at reading its own electorate (at least if the polling and vox popping indicating support or indifference- but certainly not resistance- to the completion of devolution at this time within unionism is anything to go by.)

    I’d say that nationalists remain quite content with the general direction of politics, if not overly impressed with the happenings at Stormont- and that’s prior to the events of recent weeks.

    For all the flaws in Sinn Fein’s performance at Stormont and elsewhere- and I’ve highlighted many of them on Slugger- the performance of McGuinness in particular has had a steadying influence that does not seem to have been mirrored within unionism.

    Longer term, there remain obvious questions and challenges for nationalism. Sinn Fein is clearly in need of a significant internal self-examination process (or to paraphrase a term used in an application form that has me tied to a computer for the past fortnight, a 360 diagnostic- ugghh!)

    The SDLP appears to want to begin heading off in a new direction, but for all the talk I remain unconvinced that it actually has thought about what the party wants, never mind how it will convince the electorate of its message. Our own Conall apart, there’s no buzz factor in the party, and Ritchie and McDonnell will not exactly leave Sinn Fein quaking in its boots.

    That conversation will need to be had, but it does appear somewhat premature if only because the disconnect between unionist political leaders and their electorate is clearly more significant than that between the broad nationalist community and its leaders

  • Erasmus

    Excellent analysis, CS.

  • danielmoran

    Comrade Stalin, as i have posted ‘in another place’ [to use a wetminster cliche],
    You’ve omitted the likelihood of the election that would follow SF walking out, resulting in a SF v UUP partnership for the new term, and for P&J, It would be easier to deal with the UUP. In the event of a deal being struck, the shinners would have let the Parades commision fall on the altar of P&J and the DUP would be left holding a figleaf, because the SF veto would operate if the Ashdown formula replaced the PC. The OO would n’t thank the DUP for replacing the PC with another body which would be just as restrictive on their marching so it’s checmate to SF.

  • little_joe

    Is it not true to say that Sinn Fein have a vested interest in not walking away. To do so would suggest to the republican movement that their fears that unionists could not be worked with were true. This only lends justifaction to the activities of dissident groups which SF are having to contend with in various pockets across the country.

    Since they have so much party and personal credability invested in the political process it does beg the question as to why they do not wish to force an election in which the odds of them securing the office of first minister are pretty high.

    On the unionist side the actraction of the TUV may well prove to be a mirage where the media lend Big Jim Allister more time than the electorate. At the same time the uslter unionist are hardly at a pheonix rising from the ashes position having nobbled themselves with a link to the conservative party; unionists are still sore about the anglo-irish agreement and the conservative sell-out of the past.

    Meanwhile the DUP in a panic of damage limitation seek to use the smoke and mirrors game surrounding the office of first minister to distract from potentially more damaging revelations that may put the party into melt down. The old watergate investigator advice of ‘follow the money’ could leave the DUP in a bleak place.

    All this game play leaves the electorate without much of choice as in the end it seems to be the parties carving up the future political landscape between themselves by agreement. While the integrity of the assembly and its representatives are at the lowest ebb ever in modern times there does seem to be a cobbling together of agreement that allows the political establishment to stay on this particular gravy train a little longer.

  • Greenflag

    Comrade Stalin,

    ‘If they walk, they’ll throw away what is essentially a golden opportunity to get the DUP to deal. ‘

    But will the DUP deal or can they ? Excellent analysis btw . SF have also to be aware that the cry of ‘wolf’ has an expiry date beyond which the cry is debased . Walking the talk would raise future credibility for SF assuming of course there is a future for the institution .

  • Comrade Stalin

    daniel,

    Comrade Stalin, as i have posted ‘in another place’ [to use a wetminster cliche],
    You’ve omitted the likelihood of the election that would follow SF walking out

    No, my whole point is based around precisely that. Perhaps you missed what I said :

    Various DUP backbenchers are getting worried that if Martin McGuinness walks out and an election occurs, they’ll lose their seats, along with their salaries, cushy offices and expenses, and of course their power.

    With the threat of walking out, Martin McGuinness now holds the power to deprive several DUP MLAs – possibly 10-12 of them – of their seats. That is power that Martin did not have prior to the Robinson crisis, and like I said, those MLAs are not in a hurry to lose their seats. SF would, on the other hand, not likely lose any seats in the election, meaning they would have the First Minister seat, another scenario Unionists will be confronted with if they fail to deal.

    resulting in a SF v UUP partnership for the new term,

    That’s fanciful. Of the seats lost by the DUP, I would expect that some will go to the TUV and some to the UUP. There is also the fact that a lot of unionists could stay at home due to the pathetic range of choices presented to them.

    and for P&J, It would be easier to deal with the UUP.

    I don’t think that’s clear at all. I can’t quite nail down exactly where the UUP stand on this matter.

    In the event of a deal being struck, the shinners would have let the Parades commision fall on the altar of P&J and the DUP would be left holding a figleaf, because the SF veto would operate if the Ashdown formula replaced the PC.

    This is all based on the somewhat shaky idea that SF will sacrifice anything to do a P+J deal with the UUP. That seems far fetched to me. If a deal does not happen in the coming days, an election is inevitable but it’s hard to see past it.

    The OO would n’t thank the DUP for replacing the PC with another body which would be just as restrictive on their marching so it’s checmate to SF.

    I’m not sure what the Ashdown formula actually is, but I think for the DUP the issue of the Parades Commission is symbolism, in the same way that the justice minister is for SF.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Greenflag, thank you. I think the DUP will probably deal, because they are essentially faced with a fait accompli, but we will see. I’ve said on Slugger many times that unionists do not respond well to threats, but I might have to moderate that to say that unionists do not respond well to threats unless there is a real chance of their privileges being cut off 🙂

  • Greenflag

    Comrade Stalin ,

    Nobody on this island responds well to threats 😉 I suspect DUP minds are concentrated right now on other ‘revelations’ and not btw from the Book of Revelations , about one of their members personal sexual proclivities . Another major scandal at this juncture and the DUP may not get to deal at all , and SF will not even get to choose to walk or not . A DUP party political mass hari kari cannot be discounted . Whether that would be good or bad for the future of devolution is hard to ascertain at this stage .

    It would be a salutary lesson for the would be NI parties of God for the current party of God to self impale on it’s own arrogant self righteousness . Pride cometh etc .

  • Drumlins Rock

    so Greenflag do you think the DUP has to do the deal tomorrow as come sunday morning the DUP will be in such a mess it cant do a deal? not the best circumstances to be negotiating under, but I guess most of the stuff had been sorted out months ago just the last few “confidence measures” dosnt mean what the have hatched up will be right, look at the balls up they made over FM nominations at St Andrews.
    Will P&J be the only topic on the agenda tomorrow?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Greenflag, the only thing that I can see that would really put a deal on the rocks would be some kind of illegal activity. Other allegations, eg sexual etc, will probably only weaken them a little further, at most.

    The choice for them remains stark – do a deal, and gain a year and a half to rebuild their reputation; or fail to do a deal, and be left with six weeks to do it in prior to the assembly election that will follow.

    SF may, of course, calculate that trying to shore up the DUP will be strategically beneficial, so they may throw a few bones anyway, on parading, or possibly on some sort of a deal involving Ruane and/or academic selection.

  • danielmoran

    Comrade Stalin. MSG 8. Sorry, CS. I see your point now. So, for you this is the opportunity for sf to, favour using the THREAT of the weapon, rather than the wepon itself for the remaining year that would be left. There’s certainly maximum leverage there for Marty. The DUP can no longer fool their voters that they have the upper hand. I blame Ruane for the mess of the education business, rather than seeing it as a chance to wrongfoot the duppers. Anyway, the future at Stormont is brighter for Nats now thanks ironically to Iris and her delusions of grandeur.

  • danielmoran

    Greenflag MSG 10. I predicted some weeks before Christmas, while still on the BBC Talkback message board, [writing as ‘ardmaj, they banned me for that finally] that the Stormont circus could come a cropper by Xmas, I got the timing wrong, obviously but it could be close. I said back in the autumn that I hoped that Old Paisley would live to see his party lose their voter base and go back to their old status as unionist also rans. I wasn’t expecting it to be because of this Robinson caper. The DUP could well be in for a period of being deserted to it’s right [which Paisley thought they were immune from], and to the left as old UUP voters go back home. A Perfect Storm to look forward to.

  • Comrade Stalin

    daniel, well, it’s not about me thinking it’s a good thing or a bad thing that SF are in that position, but just accepting the fact that they have that power right now, and they appear to be using it to maximum effect, which is what anyone else would do in the same situation.

    I don’t think the DUP were fooling their voters. Up until this recent scandal, they did have the upper hand. SF’s failure to pull out of powersharing despite their repeated threats shows the reality, which is that SF without powersharing are nothing.

    Ruane is incompetent as education minister, but the SF leadership could rotate her out of their in a flash. They don’t want to; they’re using her to send a message to the DUP. It’s a shame that the future of the education of our children is being used as a bargaining tool.

  • Comrade Stalin

    And I think you’re under a delusion if you believe the UUP are any softer on the DUP in today’s political arena. Sir Reg’s letter to the Irish Times which basically said “no taigs in the justice ministry” shows how far they have regressed.

  • danielmoran

    CS Msg 16 I didn’t know that about Empty. I was used to thinking of him as a liberal minded UUP man, like Nesbitt and McGimpsey, but of course that’s really only on social issues, and doesn’t carry over to the constitutional. I only found out since I came back here [from London in ’97] that RE was in the Vanguard lot with Trimble and Craig in 174 when the strike was on. I didn’t follow politics here closely then.[I was 19 in ’74 and working as an apprentice painter]

  • Alias

    “Various DUP backbenchers are getting worried that if Martin McGuinness walks out and an election occurs, they’ll lose their seats, along with their salaries, cushy offices and expenses, and of course their power.” – Comrade Stalin

    The problem with this interpretation is that the Shinners have been threatening to collapse the Assembly for a considerable period of time as a means of moving the DUPers forward on devolution of P&J with no discernable demonstration from the DUPers that they regarded the treat with anything other than contempt. Indeed, we have had numerous colourful press releases from the DUPers deriding such threats as “mouth pieces” and such lowly ilk.

    Suddenly, however, we are led by media pundits to suppose that the threat has gone from being risibly impotent to highly potent because – we are also to suppose – the DUP’s voters are in such a tizzy of moral indignation about Iris Robinson that they would simply refuse to vote for DUP candidates if an election was called. As explanations go, the credibility of that one is perhaps best expressed by the phrase ‘and purple polka dot piglets might fly out of a pink elephant’s ass.’

    It is far more likely to remain the case that the DUP voters would simply refuse to vote for DUP candidates if they conceded to Shinner demands for devolution when those voters explicitly voted for those candidates on the promise that such devolution would only occur in an unhurried timeframe, and that the TUV will fully capitalise on any capitulation by the DUP to Shinner demands as the DUP rightfully fear they will.

    Unionists, contrary to the media pundits, do not have the short memories that would allow the DUPers to make the calculation that they can betray those voters now and that those voters will have forgotten all about it by the time an election comes around in an unforced cycle. THat, after all, is the reason why the TUV exists and is growing its support.

    It is the party leader who has decided to focus on devolution as one of his three priorities during his ‘stepping aside’ period (the other two being the welfare of his wife and saving his reputation from a convenient but incorrect claim by a state broadcaster that he his conduct breached the Ministerial Code). It is highly unlikely to be the case that the first of those priorities is unconnected to the last of them but rather that a successful resolution of one is dependent upon a successful resolution of the other.

  • Greenflag

    We’ll have to wait till Monday to see whether or not there is a deal . UUP leader Empey’s ‘no taigs’ in the P& J Ministry is pathetic and disappointing . There goes all those reach out to Catholic voters down the tubes .

    Empey is playing the ‘orange’card or should that be the card more orange than the DUP .

    It can only get weirder . Those whom the Gods would destroy etc etc 🙁

  • Comrade Stalin

    Alias:

    It is far more likely to remain the case that the DUP voters would simply refuse to vote for DUP candidates if they conceded to Shinner demands for devolution when those voters explicitly voted for those candidates on the promise that such devolution would only occur in an unhurried timeframe, and that the TUV will fully capitalise on any capitulation by the DUP to Shinner demands as the DUP rightfully fear they will.

    You are ignoring the fundamental point, which is that doing a deal now allows the DUP to buy time. Here are the two possible outcomes:

    – no deal, and an election in six weeks.

    – deal, and an assembly election (all other things assumed normal) in just over a year.

    In their position, which of those two options would you gamble on ?

    You’ll note that Sinn Fein obviously think that the chances of achieving a deal is reasonably good. Otherwise, they’d have already walked and triggered the election.

    Unionists, contrary to the media pundits, do not have the short memories that would allow the DUPers to make the calculation that they can betray those voters now and that those voters will have forgotten all about it by the time an election comes around in an unforced cycle.

    History says you’re wrong. Ian Paisley made a decades-long career out of saying “no government with Sinn Fein”. Indeed, prior to 2005/6 his line was “no government with Sinn Fein, ever”. In 2006 that same Ian Paisley stood up in the assembly and laid out the conditions under which government with Sinn Fein could occur. In 2007 the DUP received a ringing endorsement of their strategy, which had powersharing with SF at its heart.

    When the dust settles after the deal is done and it continues to be clear that SF have no intention of making any waves, I don’t think this will hurt the DUP.

  • ” Sir Reg’s letter to the Irish Times which basically said “no taigs in the justice ministry” shows how far they have regressed.”

    Comrade Stalin,

    I’ve scoured the Irish Times with no success, so got a link to that letter where Reg “basically” used a sectarian epithet?

    Given your own hatred/fear of the Conservatives and Unionists, unlike Greenflag and Daniel Moran, I’m not inclined to take your word for it.

  • Comrade Stalin

    oneill,

    The letter was a follow up to a letter from an Alliance staffer who described himself as a republican. Sir Reg wrote that the justice ministry shouldn’t be allocated to anyone who isn’t sufficiently committed to the Union. I’ve googled it but can’t find it right now. there was a thread on Slugger when it came out, last summer-ish.

    I regard the idea that nationalists should be systematically excluded from positions of power as sectarian.

  • Comrade Stalin
  • CS

    Your own man seems to have engaged in a bit of wide-brush communal stereotyping about life in Carrick originally but I suppose mentioning that is going down the road of whataboutery…

    Anyway, interpreting this:

    And this does matter, because (and contrary to what Mr Douglas says in the opening paragraph of his letter) David Ford has given a very clear indication that the Alliance Party is prepared to take the justice ministry.

    “Many unionists – those who are not agnostic on the issue – would be very concerned that our first Justice Minister could therefore be someone who is not pro-Union

    …as “no taigs in the justice ministry” seems creative in the extreme.

    People anywhere in the democratic world would have concerns about having people dedicated to the destruction of their state in charge of administering the justice and policing of that state; Empey is merely stating the obvious.

    I regard the idea that nationalists should be systematically excluded from positions of power as sectarian.

    Even in the “offending@ quote above he’s not saying that nationalists should be “systemically excluded” from the P and J ministry never mind other “positions of power”.