Platform for Change launch- what next?

Platform for Change’s website is a bit shaky at the moment – oversubscribed already perhaps? – but Conall tells us the launch went well. The Bel Tel gives it a fair wind. Its progenitor Robin Wilson has laid out the stall in an op ed piece. Elsewhere some time ago, Robin explained the ambitious aim of replacing entrenched sectarian politics with a vision of a voluntary coalition that shouldn’t excite basic insecurities. Time will tell whether this is the platform round which people and politicians exasperated by the status quo can group. It’s a neat blend of the challenging and the reassuring. The broad concept is basically a further projection of the three-stranded model we have already. Now you can hurl terrible charges at the Platform, like it’s visionary and horrors! -soft left-sounding but actually it’s pretty step-by-step consensual in approach and style. This is huge relief as it heads off the terrible danger of plunging straight away into obscure ideological disputes.We all can put our oar in here. Rather than stake all on structural refrom, I would drive hard for policy agreements across the parties. I would prefer an offer of some options and not limit the Platform to single choices in every case. But the general tenor surely chimes with a widespread public mood. As I’ve signed up, I’m all eyes to know more about next moves- always a tricky stage just after a movement launch. A big early test will be the scale of political reaction. Will the l hush-hush DUP and SF programme for cohesion, sharing and integration measure up when it’s unveiled? Finally. I’m at a loss to understand what the usually sparkling Jason is on about, with his seen-it-all cynicism ( which he certainly hasn’t) and off- the -spectrum call for direct involvement by Dublin and London-based political parties. Please clarify Jason, in a way that stays in touch with real life.

  • Sammy Wilson’s calculator for the sums

    I can’t think of a better person to be at the vanguard of this movement than Conall, what with his democratic mandate to represent the people of s.Belfast, his years of community activism and the free speech policy he adheres to ”over on O’Conall Street.”

    Fantastic stuff.

  • Marcionite

    If we’re going to evolve in to a healthier state which is a state that is governed by a healthy government, the following will need to be done or enforced.

    Seperation of Church and State : France enforces this without cries about denying parental choice. If you want your child to appreciate the works of Manfred Mann, fine, do it in your own time, but dont be sending him/her to a seperate School for Manfred Mann. Ditto for whatever your favourite God is. All education should be integrated and run by the State. No faith schools. Period. France is a democratic state in the EU and they do it, why can’t we? Noone condemns France as being autocratic for doing so.

    Those involved in pre GFA party politics of the 4 main parties to step down and let a new generation of non toxic personalities, those without any paramilitary history real or imagined. Seeing Gerry Adams (La Mon Hotel) and Gerry Kelly (Old Bailey and shooting of Prison Guard) sticks in people’s throats and just provokes feelings of justifiable hatred for them but seeing a new Sean and Aoife O’Lillywhite take their places would a conciliatory step and detoxify. Ditto for the likes of Peter Robinson, people who have made childish remarks and invaded small towns in Monaghan and flirted with Third Force.

    All parties not only to renounce violence but to condemn past violence to. This should take place under the auspices of a special ceremonial event.

    All parties to formally announce that in X years from now, the concept of manditory coalition can be jettisoned and replaced with a voluntary coalition and an acceptance of each party that this may lead to periods of being in opposition.

    5/The creation of a new Ministry of Integration, headed perhaps by 2 ministers, one from each community, tasked with active and measurable and tangible delivery of meaningful acts of integration and quelling bigotry in areas where sectarianism is the most bitter.

  • Mark McGregor

    Blog fight! My money is on Walker to take out Walsh.

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Interesting post Marcionite.

    I’d agree 100% with point 1 but it has as much chance of flying as an overweight ostrich.

    Points 2 and 3 are merely window dressing — will a younger version of Gerry and a mealy mouthed apology really make you a happy bunny?

    Point 4 is fine as long as you’re happy to envisage a future coalition of SF/SDLP/Alliance.

    Point 5 may need further explanation — what exactly would be an ‘act of integration’?

  • brendan

    Platform for Change – a lot of nonsense which will soon fade away.

  • West Sider

    Sammy Wilson etc.

    very funny. I can see Conall being pushed over to west Belfast to take on the big baddie Adams.

    I’m enthused – EVENS he won’t lose his deposit.

    BTW – I’m on Man City to take 3 points at the Bridge.

  • Marcionite

    Gerry lvs Castro, I refer you to posting #21 of the thread about the murder of Kieran Doherty

    an act of integration would be something like forced integration of housing estates where extra policing can be employed to make sure bullyboys don’t scupper things. Also, an act of integration would be forced evening classes for all NI children to inculcate into them respect and tolerance and meeting kids from the other side

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Marc I did read your post on the other thread — as I said above, what you’re demanding is merely window dressing. A new face for SF and a tactical apology will make zero difference to the party’s policies or methods.

    If this is truly all that the TUV require to sit in an assembly with SF, there really would be no feasible reason for their existence. Fact is that TUV supporters and voters simply don’t want SF in govt under ANY circumstances — can you not just admit that?

    Your integration suggestions above are laudable but have been tried before on many occasions. As with many divided societies, the two NI communities choose (in most cases) to live seperately within their tribal groups. Forcing them together for evening classes, bus trips whatever is much too little too late.
    Many kids are raised with hatred for ‘the other side’ from birth. Youngsters as young as six are encouraged to stone the police and shout abuse at their protestant/catholic neighbours. They are versed in opposite versions of history and culture, not because their faith schools insist on it, but because their parents agree with it. Ulster society has been divided and antagonistic long before partition and certainly won’t change because of a few minor initiatives, however well meaning.

    Power sharing at present is deeply flawed but it’s clear that both the DUP and SF are determined to make it work. ‘Platform for Change’ regardless of it’s future success, does at least indicate and attempt to represent the groundswell of NI opinion which is sick and tired of endless wrangling over minor issues — parading, minority languages, shrines etc. To the vast majority these are side issues pushed to the forefront for the purpose of political point scoring.
    What people care about is health, education, housing and employment — if the assembly can be seen to work and deliver on these, and work together in doing so, there is real hope for the future. We owe it to the next generation to put the past where it belongs — in the past.

  • Framer

    “What people care about is health, education, housing and employment.”

    Yes they care about them, but they know that the Assembly (education aside) can only add or subtract perhaps 5% of its funding from this or that project.

    And it has no control over the total level of funding it gets from the English working class except to threaten instability and demand more.

    Like the extra £35 million p.a. toward the legal aid budget that London handed over at Hillsborough.

    Was that for the poor or the middle class lawyers?

    None of this is the stuff for creating ‘non-sectarian’ politics.

    Anyway what’s wrong with provincial ethnic politics – the Welsh and the Scots do it even with a Labour Party?

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    ‘Anyway what’s wrong with provincial ethnic politics – the Welsh and the Scots do it even with a Labour Party?’

    The Welsh and Scots don’t have a bottomless well of politically expedient diametrically opposed hatred to draw from.

    What the average NI voter sees is one party pushing pathetically for their own little ‘cultural’ agendas, whilst the other attempts to block them. Parading, minority languages & shrines affect a miniscule section of the population yet to look at the shenanigans in Stormont you’d think nothing else mattered.

    Rather than pissing millions up the wall every year on these non-issues, why can’t these funds be redirected to areas that affect everyone? And by redirected I mean by Stormont rather than by Westminster. I’m no financial expert, but I somehow doubt that if Peter & Martin had asked for most of the £35 million legal aid budget or the £25 million for Irish & Ulster-Scots to be redirected to cancer care that Gordon would be protesting.

    Out of interest Framer, how would you go about creating ‘non-sectarian’ politics?

  • Marcionite

    Gerry, you might be right but haven’t we heard for decades how ‘most ordinary people’ are sick if sectarian politics only for same people to vote for the same old same old

    The withdrawal of the middle class and dare I say the aristocracy from NI politics had turned our political landscape into one where only those from working class or rural backgrounds take part which leads to the innate narrow mindedness and neuroses and chips on shoulder that both social sectors carry with them.

    The only MP I can point to with pride here in NI is Lady Hermon. She embodies decency, non sectarianism, articulation, breeding, dignity and class. All the others are varying degrees of boors.

    I hope the better people of NI become more active in politics as the current battle of the kerb painting and chip eating classes is the real problem of our politics here

    cue accusations of snobbery etc we are not all equal, lots of poor people while I feel sorry for them, should not have a say in the welfare and fate of a dog never mind a country.

    The old suffrage system of household owners only was there for a reason ie only those with a stake in society are best qualified to run it. The law wad not anti RC as so called civil rights people quipped, I don’t recall any law under the old Stormont which banned RCs from owning property. In fact, many many RCs were homeowners and rich farmers

    I am not being a troll, I genuinely stand by all the above. Working Class people largely have little manners or regard for the law. Yes, cliche tongued lefties will no doubt cite bankers and MPs for swindling etc but let me assure you that bankers and MPs don’t throw bottles of smirnoff ice through granny’s window nor make people quiver with fear at night

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Marc no offence but you sound like my grandad. Doubtless you’d like to see capital and corporal punishment returned, gays imprisoned and immigrants shipped home as well.

    I’m not denying that there may have been some merit in the ‘old’ system, just as apartheid SA had the occasional advantage over today, but your rose-tinted glasses obscure the fact that in the ‘good old days’ NI and indeed the rest of the UK was run primarily for the ‘top’ 10% of the population. The political class were largely drawn from the upper strata yes, but from the first hand accounts I’ve heard, they merely showed up to shake a few greasy hands at election time and did virtually nothing for the average citizen, be they protestant or catholic.

    You probably hanker for the days when the great unwashed toiled in the factories & shipyards, kept to their own areas and were easily ignored.
    But like it or not, the former working classes are now the middle classes with sizeable incomes and home ownership. Their political alliegances may favour DUP & SF, but it must be remembered that the ‘middle class’ UUP and SDLP were just as obsessed with the soverignty issue. Up until very recently, under direct rule, none of the local parties had much if any say on policy making or budgets and it’s perhaps understandable that they’re having problems adjusting.

    However, hankering back to the past TUV or dissident republican style isn’t going to achieve anything. It’s the assembly or joint authority and I’m pinning at least my short term hopes on the former. Our MLAs need to get the message that most people don’t give a stuff about parades and minority languages — they want good governance and value for money from their representatives.

  • Marcionite

    I’m not anti gay in the slightest Gerry. An odd assumption on your part but to deal with your other points , you have resorted to condemning my points by throwing cliches at them.

    As for saying that the old working class are the now middle class, well it’s a bit more than a mortgage and a bank balance to make one middle class. Dressing a pig as a camel doesnt change it’s species

    As for the old UU aristcrats who didn’t do anything for working classes, well with whom are you comparing and contrasting them with, this latter day shower and their begging bowl politics?

    face some facts and please put your copy of the Guardian down and think this dispassionately: whose neighbourhoods are festooned with sectarian murals, flags and hero worship of murderers? Malone Road or Falls/Shankill/Brownlow/Bogside etc?

    The troubles sprang from bigoted working class people and not educated middle class people. Call me what you will but am I wrong?

    Too much worshipping of the working class in this country. Only in the UK could shows like Rab C and The Royle Family elicit sympathy for the workshy aggressive insular beerswilling welfare scrounging dystopian characters therein depicted.

    The right wing middle class should be in charge, putting the rabble in charge is akin to putting children in charge of a household, cue Lord of the Flies

    as for sounding like your Grandad, well ever think that his life experience has taught him a few things? I’d rather sound like him than his Guardian infused grandson.

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Thanks Marc but the only time I’ve ever read the Guardian was in a doctor’s waiting area. Glad to hear you’re not anti-gay unlike my (late) grandfather.

    ‘The troubles sprang from bigoted working class people and not educated middle class people.’

    Hmmm well the troubles had myriad starting points, not least working class loyalism (you’re correct there), a resurgent and opportunistic working class IRA (again correct) and the Civil Rights Movement, which appears to have had more of a middle class sheen to it.

    Regardless of who paints kerbstones or indeed throws them, we are living in 2010 not the 1950s.

    You do make some good points but we have to deal with realities — the working class genie is long out of the bottle and he ain’t going back in so we have to learn to work with him, not banish him to some ghetto somewhere.

    We either accept the unholy alliance of SF and DUP or we accept London/Dublin running the show. Which do you prefer?

  • Marcionite

    Gerry, you aren’t as unreasonable as I thought so let’s take a step back.

    So my choice is SF/DUP or joint authority. Firstly, how would joint rule actually work? Who decides NI foreign policy, tax rates, health etc? Does each jurisdiction take turns in making laws in each arena or do they rule NI like a UK Labour/Tory coalition with FForFG?

    it’s a red herring, a bogey man. Joint sovereignty is an oxymoron like the square root of minus 1 ; it only exists in academe.

    What’s wrong with Ulsterisation ie UK parties organising here. Stating that a simple majority can change NIs constitutional status is in itself destabilising and in itself makes fir disfunction even if the intention is well meant. Imagine telling your child that you will only love him/her if exams are passed? You create neurosis and dislocation.

    If the Uk pronounced NI to be in the UK forever no matter what then nationalists would have to come to terms with the new reality. By telling nationalists you can have an UI only gives impetus to the gunmen. By telling loyalists that you could lose being in the UK made them turn to gunmen. It pitched fanatic romanticism and hope against fear and trepidation.

    Sometimes things are just too precious to be predicated on a 51% vote

  • LabourNIman

    How many more threads are we going to have on this launch? Please, lets move on..

  • Jason Walsh


    Only just seen this now.

    Short answer: cart, horse etc.

    Civil society can’t be expected to pick up the slack when it barely exists in any meaningful sense.

    I don’t like the ‘right-thinking-people’ tone the PfC give off. People voted for the DUP and Sinn Féin so that’s what we have to deal with.

    I’m rather baffled by the response to my post. Why would anyone expect a person who’s never been soft on the liberal-left to suddenly endorse it?

    Also, I’ve said before the GFA was defective by design (and the SAA made it worse) so why would anyone expect me to want to find solutions within a framework that I think is fundamentally incapable of working?

    Finally, leave off on the personal remarks, would you? The last thing I am is cynical and I didn’t make any argument from personal experience in the first place. What does it matter what I have or haven’t seen?