“unionist unity in the sense of one grand political party is, in my opinion, a non-runner”

A BBC report picks up on an article in the News Letter by Lord Bannside, aka former DUP leader Ian Paisley Snr.  Here’s the section which deals with the question of “unionist unity”.

Questions 3 and 4: Is unionist unity essential for the achievement of your vision? And, if so, what does that mean?

Unionist unity in its broadest sense within Great Britain is essential for the health of the nation. A unified sense of loyalty to the throne and to the constitution ought to be top of the agenda with each of the devolved institutions.

Within Northern Ireland, unionist unity in the sense of one grand political party is, in my opinion, a non-runner.

The unionist community here has more choice available to them today than they ever had and they need to look at what each unionist party is offering and make their choice.

Limiting that choice is not in the interests of the province but merely in the interests of those who want power. [added emphasis]

We need to be careful to protect what we have achieved by opening that choice for the unionist community and not let others who have failed to secure a mandate for what brand of unionism they are offering undermine it.
Cooperation for the greater good of the province is of course important. The challenge for unionist politicians now is to engage with the electorate on the day-to-day issues that concern them and see that they are offering and delivering the necessary goods.

Thank God we are entering a period of political life where that is the challenge instead of the terrorists agenda dominating.

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  • ste

    The “British Union”.

    A mechanism for the bums in the Scotch, Welsh and N Irish EU Regions to get their hands on English subsidy.

  • Drumlin Rock

    That cant be Paisley speaking?
    Very sensible and pragmatic statements, I hope it will be judged on its merits and not just a dig against his successor.

  • joeCanuck

    He’s still the meddler, hehe. Bet that puts the cat among the DUP stalwarts.
    When is Robinson going? And how is his good bad wife doing?

  • A N Other

    Let’s not mention the fact that he said that he would accept a Sinn Fein First Minsiter; after all, embracing the democratic process, might just scare off the natives.

  • Greenflag

    Ian Paisley is right . Back in the good/bad old days when there was just one UUP -Northern Ireland became a byline for bigotry, sectarianism and gerrymandered politics . It eventually erupted and people now have ‘alternativess’ on both sides of the sectarian divide and none .

    The same is true for nationalism . When it came to ‘overthrowing’ old style one party Unionism -nationalists and republicans still maintained their political party differences . A united Unionist party at this stage would be an admission of fear for the future in the light of the demographic advance of ‘nationalism /republicanism’ and thus likely to provoke a ‘united’ nemesis . Pointless . In any future border referendum ‘unionists ‘ will not be asked which unionist party they support when they go to the polls . Neither will nationalists or republicans .

    Oddly enough its as a divided entity i.e DUP/UUP/AP that ‘unionism ‘ has the best chance of attracting traditionally non unionist voters if not at general elections then in any referenda .

    Not for the first nor hopefully for the last time has the Doc proved himself to be more than just an astute politician.

    Wise words from the Bannside .

  • Cynic

    Note ‘ It didnt happen on my watch’

    Another knife in Robbos back.

  • Greenflag

    ‘He said that he would accept a Sinn Fein First Minister;’

    He’s being consistent . Early on in his political life (30 years ago ?) he was asked what he would do if the people of NI voted for a United Ireland . His response was iirc that if that’s what the people voted for then he would have to accept it and do his best to represent the interests of his constituents in such a future .

    No flies on the bould Doc even if there are more than enough files on him 😉

  • Greenflag

    I suspect Robbo will see a reduction in the gap between the DUP and SF but the demographics will not favour an SF plurality until at least the next Assembly election after 2011assuming of course that will still be an Assembly at that time .

  • alan56

    So the big man is no fan of one unionist political entity. This inevitably means that at election after election UUP and DUP will be competing for the same votes. In reality this means that the gloves will be off when it comes to elections. You cannot raise your potential supporters spirits with a half hearted pitch to them at election time. Elections are an all or nothing game. Talk of unionist unity is a complete distraction which is only entertained because it is percieved to be a popular aspiration.

  • Kathy C

    very telling indeed. Ian stated,
    ” A unified sense of loyalty to the throne and to the constitution” loyalty to the consitition aka a law that forbids a royal from marrying a Catholic and the law that forbids a Catholic from ascending the throne. AKA a law that makes Catholics lesser subjects to her majesty the queen…..
    once a Catholic bigot….it seems Ian is still a Catholic bigot

  • DC

    What vision?

  • Kathy C

    the vision that keeps Catholics in their 2nd class status and of course…Ian and HIS brand of unionism on top

  • Greenflag

    He’s just upset he can’t become become Pope . They won’t let him because he’s not a Catholic apparently and he’s legitimately married and has not been arrested or charged with predatory crimes against children !

  • Drumlin Rock

    calm down Kathy, for as long as the monarch is head of the CoE they must be an Anglican and therefore a Protestant, as must their Heirs, ensuring they married protestants was sensible additional insurance considering British history. Therefore you should really be calling for the disestablishment of the CoE, unless you are an Antidisestablishmentarianist that is? (yeah! finally got that word fitted in a a post!)
    PS you should ask the Earl Marshall, Duke of Norfolk, and most senior non-royal arisocrat if as a Catholic he feels 2nd class.

  • Quincey

    Actually a rarity because its total and complete common sense.

    Any form of united unionist party is virtually impossible due to history and tremondous animosity, plus given the nature of political ego’s here on all sides it would probably result in a range of new parties ala TUV, NIUP, UKUP etc…

    But the one thing one single Unionist party would most contribute towards is a single united Nationalist party. And given electoral strength and general relevance within political nationalism, that would almost certainly mean the SDLP would be wiped out electorally. And that is something unionists should not want to hasten.

    Local electoral pacts were appropriate is as close to United unionism as we will get.

  • joeCanuck

    Although no longer a Catholic, I never did feel 2nd class. That’s putting yourself down.

  • Noticed that too.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Judging by the media reaction so far, your hopes will be dashed

  • Drumlin Rock

    Alan, STV means elections here arent all or nothing senarios, and even splitting votes within your own party is not always a bad thing if managed right, therefore the benefits of one Unionist party are doubtful to say the least, however some common sense should be used in areas where the Unionist votes are lowest.

  • Progressive Unionist

    Paisley: “Limiting that choice is not in the interests of the province but merely in the interests of those who want power. We need to be careful to protect what we have achieved by opening that choice for the unionist community…”

    Well said – Unionism will be at it’s best for attracting votes when it’s seen for what it really is in real life – a widely diverse coalition of British liberals, socialists, conservatives and tradtionalists.

    (That’s why the Tories failed in the election – they only appealed to a small segment of Unionism.)

    I hope that any new UUP leader worth her or his salt will try to bring in the liberal and socialist non-Tory elements in order to build a genuine non-Tory alternative to the DUP.

  • Alanbrooke

    Kathy C

    I have met many Catholic Bigots in my time, I didn’t realise Paisley was one of them.

  • pinni

    I like you more and more, Greenflag!

  • pinni

    Oh the irony of it all: Catholics/Nationalists/Republicans praising Paisley. It’s too much to handle!

  • alan56

    DR,
    I agree but I think electors use their own intelligence in PR and therefore not sure about formal alliances. Wonder if Conservatives in NI will be asking their supporters to vote UUP?

  • John East Belfast

    Either Paisley had some near death/white light experience he isnt telling us about or he has lost the plot but his hypocracy and contradictions of past cast in stone positions is becoming a joke.

    What I would really like to hear him say is how wrong those past positions were and how he has moved rather than pretending he believed them all along.

    Greenflag- “accept the will of the people” – as far as SF are concerned is consistent with any of his previous positions ? – come of it

  • sliabhdubh

    When he apologises to the Reavey family for the dangerous and hurtful,allegations he made.Then I will say he has changed.

  • Wasted Ballot

    One unionist party would need a total revamp of how the party is formed and run. I’m a big fan of US politics and think it would work for unionists – the title ‘Unionist’ but those wanting to stand for election would need to go through a public selection.

    There would no trust for the ‘party’ to choose as hardliners and moderates would go all out to destroy each other,

  • asitis

    A single ‘Unionist’ party will no longer work. People want the ability to elect representatives based on policy and ability.

    Current Unionism offers neither

  • HeadTheBall

    Hi Kathy,

    Do you remember the last Catholic monarch the Brits had, and how much trouble he caused?

  • Shamie Og O’Britsout

    pinni 27 July 2010 at 9:28 pm
    Oh the irony of it all: Catholics/Nationalists/Republicans praising Paisley. It’s too much to handle!

    Not really. He was never on an IRA hitlist as they realised he was a far greater assest to the republican cause alive.

    Perhaps they never realised just how right they really were

  • Neil McNickle

    Its a dark day when I find myself agreeing with Lord Bannside!
    While certainly the Unionist parties should cooperate in the Assembley on areas were the share a common goal, the only people pushing for a merger of the 2 main Unionist parties are the Orange Institutions who are concerned more with their loss of control and less with whats best for the Unionist people.
    The simple fact is the the UUP is despite the link up with the Conservatives actually quite forward thinking and fairly Liberal while the DUP are slightly to the right of the Taliban.
    Other than a desire to preserve the Union there is actually very little shared ground between the 2 parties.
    I for one want nothing to do with a party that has any of the senior DUP figures anywhere near it. These men with their Soviet command and control system and whos only goal is self advancement under the cult of personality.

  • Greenflag

    asitis ,

    ‘People want the ability to elect representatives based on policy and ability.’

    Are you sure ? Almost half the electorate don’t even bother to vote and 95% of those who do vote vote the way their parents did . I hate to say this but ‘policy and ability’ are way down the list of requirements . To be seen wearing a sash or to have past freedom fighting credentials are top of the list .

    ‘Current Unionism offers neither’

    And truth to tell neither does current ‘nationalism ‘ nor ‘republicanism ‘ ;(

  • Greenflag

    John East Belfast ,

    ‘ his hypocracy and contradictions of past cast in stone positions is becoming a joke.’

    Name me any politician in NI over the past several decades who has not erred on the side of hypocrisy nor contradicted previous statements and I’ll start to believe that the universe is a mere 6,000 years old .

    Even in a normal democracy (outside of the late Horseman’s description of Sweden’s elected representatives) politicians tend to be somewhat elastic with the truth if they are to survive the slings and arrows of the ‘democratic’ process.

    In Northern Ireland given it’s non normal and somewhat tenous connection with ‘democracy’ then such elasticity in politicians particularly in successful politicians is probably a necessary antidote or treatment fro thee somewhat rigid and inflexible positions of large sections of the NI electorate .

    ‘What I would really like to hear him say is how wrong those past positions were and how he has moved rather than pretending he believed them all along.’

    Wrong ? In what sense ? At the time they were just what the people sorry mob wanted to hear . Had he told them the truth he would’nt be were he is -ditto for his political opponents . If he has moved his position and I’m sure he has – it’s because of the changing and changed circumstances of the times and of the NI political equation .

    ‘ “accept the will of the people” – as far as SF are concerned is consistent with any of his previous positions ? – come off it’

    Paisley has always claimed he’s a democrat . That can mean anything of course . North Korea claims and the former East Germany claimed to be democracies .

    Whatever his ‘religious ‘ beliefs Paisley can’t yet be ignored when he speaks NI politics i.e ex cathedra ( in the sense of outside his church /religion) .

    Of how many ex Unionist leaders in NI could that be said ?

  • Greenflag

    ‘Do you remember the last Catholic monarch the Brits had, and how much trouble he caused?’

    I doubt if Kathy is 370 years old /young . She may equally not remember the Cromwellian massacres in Ireland nor the some 640,000 Irish people (including some 12,000 ‘planters’) estimated to have been killed, murdered , starved etc etc during the Second British Conquest ( 1550 through 1700) an average of 4,300 per year over the period . If one adds in the famine dead i.e another million, then the average for 300 years is about 5,500 every year .

    I seriously doubt if the last Catholic KIng of Britain or indeed any and all Kings or Protectors together caused as much slaughter on the island of Britain during the same 300 year period ?

    I could be wrong of course but has any British historian done the numbers ?

  • Greenflag

    Not quite true . It has been rumoured that in the early 1970’s there was an assassination attempt on the Doc in which the would be assassins fired a shot at him but only succeeded in wounding his driver . Political historians are still disputing the facts of the matter . One school maintains that a certain Shamie Og O’Britsout aim was thrown off balance by persons unnamed in the crowd grabbing for his pistol shouting ‘give it to me -let me do it ‘ Revisionist historians familiar with the incident are of a different opinion being mainly influenced by the Doc’s remarkable longevity and political success since the incident . They (the revisionist historians) have come round to the view that the driver was wounded after the bullet ricocheted off the Doc’s head 😉

  • John East Belfast

    Greenflag

    When considering the guilt of any politician of the offence of Flip Flopping one has to consider two factors. One being the passage of time and the other being the passion and absolutism with which they held the previous view and indeed the intensity with which they attacked previous opponents for holding an opposite one.

    Of course people change their minds – indeed it is healthy that they should do so.
    However in unionist politics such mind changing usually takes 20 plus years and indeed some have the ability to never do so.

    What Paisley has done in recent years has been unique and he has done so without any explanation and with a straight face.

    Only the politically naive would not see this glaring anomoly and I am surprised that you of all people are being taken in like this

  • Greenflag

    John East Belfast ,

    ‘Of course people change their minds – indeed it is healthy that they should do so.’

    Agreed and necessary – else we would all still be be living in caves and worshiping the moon goddess 😉


    ‘However in unionist politics such mind changing usually takes 20 plus years ‘

    The understatement of the century 😉

    ‘and indeed some have the ability to never do so.’

    This too is an accepted truism .

    ‘What Paisley has done in recent years has been unique and he has done so without any explanation and with a straight face.’

    For NI you are doubtless correct but from a Dublin perspective this ‘unique’ movement on Paisley’s part would be seen as taken straight from the FF pragmatic school in former times given voice by Sean Lemass who maintained stoutly that FF made up it’s policies not out of any great never changing principles but as a pragmatic response to present conditions and current problems

    ‘Only the politically naive would not see this glaring anomoly and I am surprised that you of all people are being taken in like this’

    It’s only a glaring anomaly because the ‘move’ was made within NI and executed more or less successfully . It could be said that most ‘unionist ‘ political leaders have fallen off the horse at the critical decision juncture whereas Paisley has successfully cleared the hurdles .

    No I’m not taken in . Paisley in essence is the consummate NI politician . He knows what is possible in NI and that what is possible in 2010 or 2020 would not have been possible in 1970 or 1980 or 1965.

    Politics is after all the art of the possible they say .

    To paraphrase the great Winston Churchill who once said about the USSR

    “I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma’

    Paisley on the other hand is an enigma wrapped in a mystery, inside another enigma which lies inside another enigma like a never ending Russian babushka doll miniature series . By the time any of his opponents ever lifted the last babushka to reveal all Paisley had already commenced another series somewhere else 😉

  • Greenflag

    Understandable sentiments . The light at the end of the tunnel of ‘dark days’ is that if the Soviet Command and control system could not work or survive in the USSR why do you think it will have any longevity in the Ulster Soviet Socialist Republic 😉

    It’s always darkest before the dawn eh 😉