Turbulence in the wake of the Hatfield talks…

A senior Conservative has said his party will not be part of “any sectarian pact” in Northern Ireland. Talk of Unionist unity involving the DUP and Ulster Unionists has gathered momentum in the wake of the revelation that Northern Ireland Tory spokesman Owen Paterson held secret talks with the leadership of the DUP and the Ulster Unionist Party at Hatfield House, the home of Lord Salisbury aka Robert Cranborne.The hierarchy of the Northern Ireland Conservative party was kept in the dark as were most of the Assembly members of both the DUP and Ulster Unionist parties. Conservatives point out Mr Paterson was acting in his capacity as shadow Secretary of State and not as a senior Conservative.

Local Conservatives are not just fulminating against Mr Paterson but they can scarcely contain their anger at the Ulster Unionist Party’s leadership, deemed by them to have betrayed them, in signalling a willingness to go into a coalition with the DUP. Peter Robinson has said he favours Unionist unity. One Conservative insider said:

“The Ulster Unionist leadership has a choice to make between Ulster Unionism and British Unionism. The whole purpose of this ( the Conservative/ Ulster Unionist link ) was to take the Ulster Unionist Party out of the sectarian gutter but now it seems the leadership is quite happy with the status quo.”

As mentioned above a senior Conservative said:

“There is absolutely no question of the Conservative Party being involved in any sectarian pact.”

Conservatives in London are adamant that the decision of three nominees in Northern Ireland who have withdrawn their names as Tory candidates was not in response to the Hatfield House talks.
They contend this happened because of ongoing delays in firming up candidates for the election.

Conservatives in Northern Ireland believe Ulster Unionists will mutiny at any absorption or merger with the DUP not just because the DUP will want to “swallow up” the UUP but because of the deep seated historical animosity towards the DUP.

A spokesperson said: “The grass-roots of Unionism want a Conservative link and a better future. They want blood from the DUP not handshakes.”

It is generally received wisdom that the current Tory/UU/DUP link is about agreed candidates in the forthcoming Westminster election and not to the Assembly in the event of an election.

A Northern Ireland Conservative insider said:

“The Conservatives are planning presently for a Westminster election but very senior Conservatives in London have made it clear they are in Northern Ireland for the long term. That means participation in Assembly and council elections.”

  • OK: as you were, stand at ease … except:

    secret talks with the leadership of the DUP and the Ulster Unionist Party at Hatfield House, the home of Lord Salisbury

    Surely not in Dave’s all-squeaky-clean modern, egalitarian Conservative Party! And:

    Conservatives point out Mr Paterson was acting in his capacity as shadow Secretary of State and not as a senior Conservative.

    That latter one, for me, is the nub of the issue.

    If Paterson is putative Secretary of State in a hypothetical Cameron government, and if here he is patently up-to-his-neck in partisan (and, yes, sectarian) politicking, whither the “Process”? Is this the end of another Cameroonie “cast-iron” promise/pledge/aspiration?

    Why on earth is this not news the other side of the water? As far as I can see, the original story was excised from the edition of The Observer I had with my London coffee and marmalade.

  • Cletus The Slack Jawed Yokel

    Initially I came on here saying everyone was being stupid and getting so far ahead of themselves they were up their own behinds again, then as the speculation kept coming I had a moment of doubt. It amazed me how the Tories would be so thick as to even try such moves that were being suggested.

    If they were, the idea is dead now. If they werent, thanks for the clarification.

    It should have been out before now.

  • “A senior Conservative has said his party will not be part of “any sectarian pact” in Northern Ireland”

    …and many senior Conservative has also said they want nothing to do with Europe just as many others have said exactly the opposite.

    In the (rhetorical) scenario where the TUV win most Unionist seats, due to a collapse in the Unionist middle ground, and the Tories need these ugently for the little matter of forming a government, then senior senior conservatives will adjust even quicker to this scenario, than you can say “David Cameron is accepting reasonable bids from Northern Ireland, for his beloved grandmother”.

  • Eamonn, can you establish whether or not this tri-partite gathering was a Peter Robinson initiative?

  • abc123

    Eamonn Mallie with his Nationalist/Republican hat trying to stir it again.

  • Framer

    If “a Conservative insider” thought they would be taking the UUP “out of the sectarian gutter” with UCUNF then it is just as well the three candidates have departed before they became irrevocably tainted.

  • mayday

    The attachment of the term’sectarian’ to the talks hosted by Owen Patterson is mischievous and somewhat inflamatory. Where does this nonsense come from? How can a meeting between pro union parties be classifed as sectarian any more than meetings between nationalist politicans such as the Hume and Adams talks pre 1998; are sectarian(maybe they were by the current definition). The political reality in Northern Ireland is that there has been sytematic and institutional sectarian division based on the Northern Ireland church orientated education system which lead Catholics and Protestants to vote nationalist and unionist respectively. History has shown that at various times and for various reasons SDLP and Sinn Fein politicians have had talks and electoral packs to maximize nationalist political objectives. The election of Bernadette Devlin and Bobby Sands are but two examples. Were these sectarian arangements. Experienced commentators should be more professional and stop seeking to lower political anaylis into republican speak. The talks between unionist parties and the conservatives were clearly designed to stablise the institutions in Northern Ireland for the beenfit of all people irrespective of religion.

  • danielmoran

    EM, The strategy or tactics of the UUP in trying to hook up with the duppers is baffling, especialy since the DUP are in for a roasting from the voters and here is Empey giving them a leg up to avoid the worst, but even if they could get an arrangement going in time, i don’t think UUP voters would be happy with being told they were bigots and the best way to stop nats from getting the FM post was this carve up.

  • Cynic2

    If you fillet this down, what’s in it?

    1 Owen Patterson held talks between the UUP and DUP to try to promote support for a centerist position on devolution of P&J and prevent the collapse of the institutions.

    2 Some people in the Conservative Party, UPP and DUP dont like this, for widely divergent reasons. Some of this is based on the quite reasonable concern about the DUPs history and image. Some (as Eamonn makes graphically clear) is based upon a deep personal animosity to people in other parties to the extent that any mention of them seems to make them foam at the mouth. I have to say that in this respect NI does seem as British as Finchley Conservative Party or as Irish as Fianna Fial in Dublin North.

    3 Throughout all this the Conservatives have said quite clearly that the aim and the whole focus of the talks was shoring up the institutions not arranging a merger. So this was about trying to make sure that the Assembly continues and the deal on P&J gets done. That seems to have enraged a number of people, not least the SDLP. Do we presume that they want the assembly to collapse?

    4 The UUP and DUP Party leaders have later made it clear that they would be open to further talks about some wider co-operation. Again the Conservatives have made it clear that their alliance with the UUP is the only one in town and that if they are to be party to ANY arrangements in the future it will only be on the basis of a break with the past and clear guarantees on a non-sectarian approach

    5 If, as Eamonn says, there is such huge dissent and opposition to any further discussions within the UUP then they are hardly likely to take place are they?

    So in the end, what does Eamonn tell us? People in the UUP and Conservative feel strongly about these issues and have different views! Wow. I never realised that before.

    But the bigger story that everyone is missing is staring us all in the face. If Unionism as a whole does not get its act together on this and work collectively (whether formally or not) to help the DUP do a deal with our Nationalist neighbours on P&J, then perhaps the entire edifice will collapse and not get up again. If that happens the electorate, who have invested so much hope in this, are unlikely to be forgiving

    All the prima donnas posturing on this would do well to reflect on this option. At least I admire the Tories for trying to do something to further the process when our Government is invisible and others who should know better are content to just sit and snipe from the sidelines like armchair generals fighting battles of 40 years ago.

  • Daniel, you seem to have overlooked the possibility that this was a Peter Robinson initiative.

  • slug

    I think Cynic2 your points are well made, but at the same time I wish UCUNF would not delay choosing their candidates, there seems no good reason to do so.

  • Jaggers

    “Conservatives point out Mr Paterson was acting in his capacity as shadow Secretary of State and not as a senior Conservative.” What a wonderful load of cr*p – akin to Labour saying Alistair Darling was acting as chancellor when he cocked up the economy so don’t visit your opprobrium upon the Labour party.
    I think Shaun Woodward and the Labour party will try to rescue the P&J negotiations for the good of the process but if that fails, Owen Partisan has handed them a beautiful election campaign flower.

  • mayday

    Cynic 2 you have summarised the situation very well. I think Eammon is trying to start a story that isn’t there. From reports it seems that the 3 conservative nominees huffed and puffed over the delay in the final nomination process with the UU. I hope on mature reflection they will reconsider their decision. Whilst I don’t know alot about Nelson the other two would make excellent candidates for a new Tory/UU/DUP axis. Afterall there hasn’t been a deluge of talent emerging from civic society to seek nominations.

  • Cynic2 @ 04:49 PM:

    That all fell apart two dozen word in: “centerist” [sic: there’s an option to switch your spellcheck to east of NYC, you know].

    Equally, two totally opposing narratives are emerging here:

    One is that Paterson was doing the decent thing, elbowing aside Secretary of State Woodward, and oiling the squealing wheels of Unionist P&J “policy”. That presupposes [pace, for example, Nevin @ 04:51 PM and earlier] that Robinson wants movement thereon. For reasons nobody has yet explained, this altruism needed to be kept from public scrutiny.

    The other is that the Hatfield House Cabal was in part or in whole a stitch-up of NI constituencies to benefit the London Tory machine. For very obvious reasons this had to kept away from the public, and indeed most of the UUP and DUP.

    You pay your money, and you take your pick.

    By the way (having decried mispelling above) I suddenly realise why I have been getting Paterson’s name wrong. It’s the sectarian thing at the back of my mind. Of course there’s nothing sectarian about the Tories cuddling with the DUP: perish the thought. Never, oh, no!

    It’s just that it was the US ambassador to Guatemala, Richard Cunningham Patterson Jr., adapted the Duck Test to comment on the leftist Arbenz régime:

    Suppose you see a bird walking around in a farm yard. This bird has no label that says ‘duck’. But the bird certainly looks like a duck. Also, he goes to the pond and you notice that he swims like a duck. Then he opens his beak and quacks like a duck. Well, by this time you have probably reached the conclusion that the bird is a duck, whether he’s wearing a label or not.

    Absit omen!

    The consequence of that, of course, was the CIA coup (acting on behalf of the United Fruit Company) which resulted in the extended Guatemalan civil wars.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Cynic 2 you have summarised the situation very well. I think Eammon is trying to start a story that isn’t there. From reports it seems that the 3 conservative nominees huffed and puffed over the delay in the final nomination process with the UU.

    No, that’s the official Conservative line. It’s patently untrue, given comments published here by Deirdre Nelson.

    Until I see an official statement from all three candidates who have withdrawn, I see no reason to believe this line.

  • someone

    Sources other than ijp confirm story that three left over delays in final selection

  • Comrade,

    “given comments published here by Deirdre Nelson!”

    Is there an actual quote?

  • mayday

    Comrade Stalin

    It seems strange that three individuals who wish to present themselves as worthy of the public trust by seeking nominations as candisates for a national party would not come forth and correct what you regard as an incorrect official Conservative line; if it is inaccurate. Yes we need to hear clarification. We clearly live in the world of spin.

  • Scaramoosh

    “The political reality in Northern Ireland is that there has been sytematic and institutional sectarian division based on the Northern Ireland church orientated education system which lead Catholics and Protestants to vote nationalist and unionist respectively.”

    A somewhat jaundiced viewpoint. Sectarian division was built into the foundations of the state of N.Ireland.

  • Harry J

    why did IJP not withdraw as well? is this because he works for the tories? or with lady sylvia virtually out of the running for nomination he feels he has it in the bag?

  • Mayday claims above that Sinn Fein and the SDLP have been involved in previous electoral packs (sic)and cites the cases of Bernadette Devlin McAliskey and Bobby Sands. For the record, McAliskey’s only success came when she stood in Mid-Ulster in 1969. The SDLP had not then been formed, and SF was still boycotting. When she defended the seat in February, 1974, she finished third behind John Dunlop (UUUC) and Ivan Cooper (SDLP). Sands ran on a H Block ticket, rather than for SF,in F/ST in 1981, when the independent candidate endorsed by the SDLP, Noel Maguire, withdrew after nominations had closed. When Sands died, the SDLP did not contest the subsequent by-election.

  • mayday

    Oldhack

    You are absoultely correct – I was giving examples where nationalist politics converged for nationalist objectives within a hypothesis that electoral pacts are not always labelled as sectarian. Another hypothesis could be that only electoral arrangements between parties to support the union are viewed as sectarian by political commentators. It seems that within Northern Ireland every activity is guaged against some form of historical measurement. Could it not be that a point has been reached where unionist have now embraced the vision that religion does not define a persons politics. A new realignment may indeed enable those of a unionist tendency within the traditional SDLP and Alliance folds to come forward and openly engage in pro union political arguements.

  • Here is a useful little site (http://tinyurl.com/ylc8h5y) for any other Conservative/DUP/UUP self-appointed *senior sources* (or indeed, Brian Walker) that feel the urge to prematurely speculate on a story that’s going to come out anyway in all its glory and gory detail sooner rather than later.

    The real concern is whether or not people believe the spin. Sometimes the spin on a message is more important than the message itself.

    Why not wait until, oh…, at least tomorrow and the facts are known before getting all hot and bothered?

  • Cynic2

    So where is the quote from Deirdre Nelson. I know Brian Walker referred to a comment allegedly on her facebook site that she had been shafted by Sir Reg so I checked and it didn’t seem to be there. Has anyone actually got a link is is this another product of fevered imaginations?

  • Cynic2

    “Sectarian division was built into the foundations of the state of N.Ireland.”

    ….but not the Republic where the Protestants were just driven out with the connivance of the State?

  • Drumlins Rock

    So oldhack, so the SDLP withdrew and basically back the IRA candidate on two occasions in F&ST;? something that poisioned any chance of common ground here for decades.
    However things have changed since then, even the DUP is not the Protestant Unionist Party it once was, it has lost many of its most outspoken biggots and the latest scandals will play a major part in reducing the “religious” slant of the party, yes they have a long way to go but are far from the old party all catholics hated and feared, have heard stories of catholics seeking to join it even.
    I think a realignment within Unionism leading to a larger centre ground party (ie. unionist centre ground) was bound to happen, just not this soon, and my guess it wont for quite a while yet. I would remain very sceptical if there is anything for this General Election, and my guess is it was probably only discussed very briefly at the talks, probably of more concern was the P&J talks and the fallout if they failed, which is the major issue facing us, not the Westminister Elections. Neither party want a SF FM as although it is purely symbolic the electorate would not be ready for it, but probably just as important ministerial seats are also at risk and a “united party” at the assembly would win more seats at that table.

  • oldhack @ 06:01 PM:

    Since we are endeavouring to be strictly accurate, it was Bernadette Devlin who won the Mid Ulster 17 April 1969 by-election. Her slogan, significantly, was “I will take my seat and fight for your rights”. Read into that what you like, but the electors did (53% of the two-way split on a record 91% turnout).

    As for mayday @ 06:14 PM, there may be a unionist tendency within the traditional SDLP and Alliance folds. That’s a monocular viewpoint. There is, equally, a nationalist streak among them and others who feel they have to choose (as with Patrick O’Brian’s running joke in the Aubrey-Maturin sequence) “the lesser of two weevils”.

  • Comrade Stalin,

    I just heard David Ford leadership speech and perhaps it is time for the Alliance to switch from the meaninginless 2-babies in Stormont metaphors and actually tell us what they think of the current state of affairs. Does the Alliance party support the abolition of the parades commission before a deal is made? If not, then they should tell the DUP that and the DUP and SF would not need to spend their time arguing over an issue that Alliance will not countnenace in any case.

    A little bit of straight talking rather than tired old cliches would probably be in the best interests of everyone.

  • a senior Conservative

    When referring to the Northern Ireland tories, the above phrase must be an oxymoron.

    This wouldn’t be Jeffrey Peel would it?

  • tacapall

    Could it not be that a point has been reached where unionist have now embraced the vision that religion does not define a persons politics.
    Posted by mayday on Jan 24, 2010 @ 06:14 PM

    Does all that thinking go out the window once july comes round, maybe Unionists are a lost tribe of the Spartans or something, we’ll let you vote for us and work for us to promote “Our” ways of life, but none of your kind will ever be king or queen nor will you ever be allowed to marry one, we’ll call your religious leader the Anti christ, devils disciples and if you speak the native Irish tounge well dont speak it as its a leprechaun language. yeah thats a great deal cant wait to join.

  • aquifer

    Looks like the Union is running on Empey

  • Damian O’Loan

    Cynic2,

    You can find this, at least, on Deirdre Nelson’s page:

    “… don’t think the Tories do want it. Certainly those I’ve spoken to have been bouncing! Think there was an error of judgement and if they do decide to go down this road, I’ll be first out of the door and out of politics”

    or, in conversation with the charming David Vance:

    “[integrity & consistency] went the way of the dodo along time ago + anyone wanting to return them is edged out by those using politics for their business dealings…”

    And that’s the public messages.

    I think the question about instigation is best, if not fully, answered by the venue, courtesy of Lord Salisbury. Though it’s not the most important question.

    Now, if the Tory line is not true, they have a lot to lose. I suspect removing Paterson would be fruitless given the hosting of the meeting.

  • 0b101010

    It’s plain to see the Conservatives, UUP and DUP are dancing around semantics here, when you combine the “senior Conservative” comment:

    “There is absolutely no question of the Conservative Party being involved in any sectarian pact.”

    …with Reg Empey’s statement:

    “Obviously we have no arrangements with the Conservatives as regards the Assembly, so we have to deal in the Assembly with what is there.”

    …and the DUPs earlier statement that:

    “We have said that moving forward there must be community confidence and that includes the confidence of the UUP, who we have agreed to have further discussions with in the coming days.”

    For any English politicos reading: how clean would the Conservatives expect to be seen if they had an Westminster electoral pact with the UKIP and, in turn, the UKIP had a local electoral pact with the BNP?

  • Sammy Morse

    Could it not be that a point has been reached where unionist have now embraced the vision that religion does not define a persons politics.

    Since the establishment of Northern Ireland as a state 89 years ago, the Ulster Unionist Party has fielded, to my knowledge, a grand total for two Catholic candidates for election – Patricia Campbell and John Gorman, both in those rather heady days of the late 1990s. If the UCUNF project has lost both its Catholic standard bearers, that dismal record will stand.

    IJP’s claims require one to believe that both Catholic Tory candidates and the one with a history in the DUP all threw in the towel due to frustration with the selection process in the week the UUP-DUP talks leaked, and no-one else did. That isn’t credible, even if we hadn’t known about Deirdre Nelson’s Facebook comments.

    The Mallie/Walker story is that Owen Patterson, perhaps motivated by a desire to keep devolution from collapsing if SF become the largest party after the next Assembly election, is going over the head of local Tories to merge UCUNF and the DUP (into DUPFUC?) which would have the added benefit of helping the Tories out in the likely event of tight parliamentary arithmetic.

    If we follow the old dictum that in the absence of other evidence, the simplest explanation is almost certainly the correct one, the Mallie/Walker explanation is a lot more likely than simultaneous fenian frustration and Deirdre Nelson’s Facebook account being hacked by aliens from the planet Zarg.

  • Sammy Morse

    Actually, UCUNF don’t need to do anything; the DUP simply withdraw candidates in FST and South Belfast “in the wider interests of Unionism”. UCUNF can pretend it had nothing to do with it – or at least it could until news of the talks leaked out – then keep their non-sectarian self-delusion intact and the electorate will be left to guess what price the DUP have extracted from Patterson and just how capable of being an honest broker he is.

  • Alias

    Cameron has two uses for Northern Ireland politics, and neither one is derived from genuine interest in Northern Ireland politics.

    The first use is to establish his party as an all-UK party, thereby broadening its focus from England to the UK. This is to counter the claim that it is a party of Little Englanders. The second use is to simply to secure extra seats in parliament.

    Non-sectarian comes into play as a USP from the marketing department rather than a principle from the policy department. Since it is not a principle, it is subject to deletion.

    An obvious circumstance where that marketing ploy would be deleted is if the Tories failed to secure a comfortable majority in the next general election and needed a pact with the DUP to make up the numbers.

    The problem with such expediencies for local Tories is that they will have mistaken a ploy for a principle and will likely have preached a lot of highfalutin nonsense on the basis of that mistake, leaving them looking like simpletons and dupes when/if its actual status is revealed.

    Incidentally, it is asinine for the Tories to define nationalism as sectarianism while proclaiming that they support one-nation British nationalism and British sovereignty of the state. The only way that the Tories could properly regard their marketing ploy as a principle would to be by designating themselves as internationalists, proclaiming a belief in global government.

  • Alias @ 09:00 PM:

    I know it’s improper to agree with anyone here (that might, just might, be sock-puppetry). Yet that one sounds and feels like a sensitive, thoughtful contribution.

    So let’s go back to first principles:

    * Is a specific six-counties “solution” what is required here?
    * Does anyone believe that “little Englander” Tories can deliver it?
    * Has any Tory kept a promise for the length of — say — a decade?

    Now I really must go back and do proper respect to this excellent bottle of burgundy.

  • Drumlins Rock, I cannot offer any specific insight into SDLP thinking either in 1981 or today. However, it is generally accepted that Noel Maguire was a credible candidate to suceed his late brother, Frank, in the F/ST by-election, but was intimidated into pulling out at the 11th hour. He withdrew after nominations had officially closed, so putting forward someone else was not an option. Politics here was polarised before and not after Owen Carron ran in the second by-election, but I fully agree that the position has changed beyond recognition since then.

  • union mack

    this mess is a direct result of Reg Empey’s fumbling, cack handed and indecisive ‘leadership’. make a decision and stick with it, this would have been solved a long time ago had he done that. as for the DUP, i’d hang them out to dry, I have no interest in unionist unity when it means i would have to vote for a bigoted DUP candidate. stick with the Tory link and try change things, rather than revert to the easy option.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I just heard David Ford leadership speech and perhaps it is time for the Alliance to switch from the meaninginless 2-babies in Stormont metaphors and actually tell us what they think of the current state of affairs. Does the Alliance party support the abolition of the parades commission before a deal is made? If not, then they should tell the DUP that and the DUP and SF would not need to spend their time arguing over an issue that Alliance will not countnenace in any case.

    MU, I honestly don’t know, but I can give you my personal opinion, which is that the setup with the Parades Commission is working quite well and I can see no specific reason to change it. I’d be very happy to debate, and possibly reconsider, that opinion. Fundamentally, though, I don’t see the issue going away without an acceptance that (a) residents will have to allow parades to take place on some level and (b) marching bodies need to hold talks with residents, even if they don’t like them.

  • Alias

    Well, Malcolm, I doubt that anyone would accuse an eloquent writer of your thoughtful ilk of being a sockpuppet of this typographically-challenged ranter.

    The core political problem in Northern Ireland is how to get two principle nations to share one state such that neither nation is qualitatively or quantitatively disenfranchised. Now, on the surface, you could say that is the same problem as rest of the United Kingdom, with the difference being that there are four principle nations in the equation instead of two.

    Britishness is the common nationalism that allows those four nations to share one state. Obviously, not all of those nations accept that common nationalism, but those that do not are a manageable minority in three of the nations. In the fourth nation (the Northern Irish), the percentage of the population that rejects the common nationalism, having no affinity with it, is approximately equal to the percentage that accepts it.

    This means, rather obviously, that a solution that is based on promoting the virtues of the rejected common nationalism will be still rejected by circa half of the population that has no affinity with it. The type of benign neo-colonialism proffered by the nice Tory toffs might be more effective among the other three nations where British nationalism is not seen by the majority as being incompatible with the indigenous nationalism. In Northern Ireland, rather than ameliorating the strife between the two principle nations, this solution is likely to exacerbate it.

    So, how do you get two nations to share one state without a common nationalism to unite them? There are circa 8,000 nations in the world but only circa 200 states, so it is possible for nations to share a state if they are united by a common nationalism. It’s easier in the absence of a common nationalism if those nations have little or no developed concept of self-determination but this is not the applicable situation here. In fact, the situation could not be more different.

    That sounds like an argument for repartition as the only workable solution, and it is. But since that solution is not on the agenda, the problem must be how to manage the minority such that they do not feel unduly disenfranchised. In effect, how to get a non-sovereign nation to express loyalty to a state that is controlled by a foreign nation. Well, do you let the colonial power which has the relevant experience manage the state directly in accordance with British national interests (excluding Irish national interests) or do you let the two nations manage it as a civic enterprise, minimising the nationalism of the state? It has to be the latter, making the Tories ‘intervention’ and their British nationalist agenda a hindrance rather than a help.

    The Tories think they are being rather clever by portraying this conflict between two nations as being a conflict between to religious groups. If I was an Ulster unionist, I’d be rather offended by references from Tories to my interest in safeguarding my sense of national identity as positioning me “in the gutter of sectarian politics” as though this was evidence of bigotry towards Catholics. The UUP, however, realise that not all Catholics are nationalists, and that a nation is essentially defined by which state it is loyal to. In that way if Catholics can be persuaded to accept the legitimacy of British sovereignty de facto as well as de jure then they become British and not Irish. Their game plan in the headcount that will maintain the constitutional status of Northern Ireland is not to outbreed the Catholics (a losing game) but to convert them into unionists by facilitating their successful integration into the British state. This is best accomplished by downplaying the sovereign role of the British state rather than by emphasising it, so both the Tories and the UUP are badly miscalculating here.

    The ‘indigenous’ deal is about integrating the former nationalists into the British state by stealth rather than by shove. To this end, they were led to renounce their claim to national self-determination and to live within an Irish nation-state, thereby freeing them to become willing British citizens by such integration process. British sovereignty over the state was also downplayed (neutralising its symbols, devolving some powers, etc) to make it less apparent that the nation was renouncing its right to control of a state, agreeing that the nation-state should be the exclusive entitlement of the British nation (but not expressed via the Northern Irish nation) and have no relevance for the Irish nation.

    If Cameron starts waving a Union Jack in the middle of that indigenous deal then the Security Services need to have a word in his ear…

  • danielmoran

    If reports of private polls internally to the DUP, and other polls taken in the wake of the irisgate scandal, are consistent and representative, The DUP support has collapsed. Therefore, it’s hard to see the logic of the UUP going into a deal with them, just at the point where the UUP could get back their westminster seats lost, when The DUP took over the leadership of unionists about seven years ago.

  • danielmoran

    Nevin… msg 10. I wasn’t aware that i had left the impression i had overlooked the robinson input. I must have, i suppose, but I’m well aware of Robbo’s cunning tactics.