Towards a new politics, or just more groping around in the dark?

Looking ahead to the twin delights of the Stormont recess and the climax of the marching season, thoughts are turning to the prospects for ” a new politics. ”  Well c’mon, it’s a slogan they’ve heard somewhere recently – was it from Westminster?

David Gordon has kicked off a series of articles in the Belfast Telegraph, asking fundamental questions about the shape and direction of local politics. And not before time. For far  too long the paper has lived off its ” why don’t we catch ourselves on” tradition of the sixties and has left too much of what passes for new thinking and grass roots examination to the Irish News and even a reviving Newsletter.

Today in the Newsletter for example, touching the theme examined below by Mick, the prophetic Alex Kane doubts whether a united unionism would be greater than the sum of its separate parts, whichever luminary succeeds Sir Reg.

In the Tele, Queen’s politics professor Rick Wilford welcomes the SDLP’s rejection of nationalist unity and identifies low turnout as a particular problem for unionism, due to ” disillusion, not satisfaction.” He finds in  the recent election results some encouragement for the idea of a ” shared platform” beyond the negativity of keeping Martin McGuinness out of the First Minister’s chair.

Margaret Ritchie’s determination to resist electoral seduction by Sinn Fein, suggests that there may be the opportunity to forge a shared platform embracing the UUP, the SDLP and, perhaps, Alliance.

Devising a campaign on common, cross-community ground rather than, in the UUP’s and SDLP’s case, diving for cover into their respective communal trenches would herald a decisively new kind of politics — though not as game-changing as the preparedness of a unionist to serve alongside Martin McGuinness as deputy First Minister, should such |circumstances arise.

Good idea, although hardly an original one. And reaching some common ground with Scotland and Wales over the block grant might help. What we need now is an inkling of what that shared programme might be about. Like placing  conviction about cross community initiatives above  fearing the  dwindling core vote?   Bold enough to recommend transfers across the divide?

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  • Jon

    How is the SDLP teaming up with the UUP because they’re not of the same tribe any less sectarian than them teaming up with Sinn Féin because they are?

    Surely it should be on issues only. SDLP are a labour party, and have less in common with the UUP certainly than they have with Sinn Féin.

  • Drumlin Rock

    the theory is they are both “centre parties” centre left SDLP & centre right UUP, and in some areas it could work, but both are still too tied to the tribal base, and the electorate are even more so, and although the “middleground” might be growing its not big enough yet to ditch either party’s traditional base.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I see these threads on the “new plitics” and unionist under-representation as complimentary.
    Not exactly sure how unionist representation can be increased in say Fermanagh South Tyrone. The closeness of the contest in 2010 means that theres always going to be a 3:3 split.
    Likewise an increase in unionist turnout is unlikely to decrease nationalist representation in North Down…….it might take some Green and AP pieces off the Board.

    But curiously the SDLP rejecting unity calls is regarded as a good thing and unionism getting its act together in same way is a good thing too. (Shome mistake shurely).
    But is the new politics not already on our streets.
    The UVF kill Protestants in North Belfast.
    The Republican dissidents kill Catholic PSNI men and attempt to kill Catholics in South Armagh.
    And Gerry Adams gets a nice documentary all to himself on BBCNI with complimentary interviews with loyalist victims and Protestant clergymen and Slugger does not even have a thread denouncing it.
    Seems like its the “New Politics” already.

  • Neil

    Here we go again. Between actual pacts and theoritical pacts the UUP has more ex-partners than Liz Taylor. Give it a rest FFS. The UUP would be better packing their shit up and leaving the stage, given how wonderfully awful they’ve been at reading their potential electorate’s needs and acting accordingly.

    Anyone looking around for a political partner to pact up with when perusing the UUP as a potential partner will probably consider the following: progressively less successful in each election, not a good sign; tries every gimmicky pact going with no conviction and disastrous results each time, why would you anticipate anything different; and finally this is the party who when faced with economic meltdown decided to pair off with the party promising to slash the wages of a large chunk of their own electorate, and the party least liked by the vastest majority of working class folks.

    They read the situation worse than they did the previous election, which was worse than the one before etc. For the stoops having made slight progress recently why would they chain themselves to a drowning victim? Especially one which makes pacts with whatever happens to be stupid enough at the time as to get involved with a dying party.

    That’s part of the problem, what Unionism lacks, IMHO, is a leftie party. That won’t be remedied by chaining the Tory Unionist party to the labour stoops, they’ll still not have the most basic choice in politics: left or right. They’re stuck voting to the right whether they like it or not regardless of which entity or piece of furniture the UUP decide to pact up with next.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Yep…….another day……another unionist re-think.

  • White Horse

    Why don’t unionists rethink the marching season and there might be a basis to this thread.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Cos they cant march and think at the same time. 🙂