Robinson’s policy aims at robust defence via charm offensive…

cropped DUP logoThis is a good distillation of the lessons for Unionism from the NILT survey, and political reality as near as we can discern, from Alex Kane:

I think the surest thing we can assume in all of this is that there is a Catholic demographic which is content enough to remain within the United Kingdom. That doesn’t mean they are unionist and it doesn’t even mean that they are, in any active or intellectual sense, pro-Union. It just means that they don’t want all the hassle and potential risk which would accompany a newly united Ireland.

The task of unionism, therefore, is to ensure that it behaves in such a way that it doesn’t antagonise or unsettle that Catholic demographic. In other words, neither the DUP nor the UUP needs to attract the votes of that demographic (although that would be a happy bonus and should be aimed at): they just need to make sure that they do nothing which pushes them into the SDLP or Sinn Fein camp.

It puts me in mind of the defensive driving techniques they teach on advance driving courses, which “aim to reduce risk by anticipating dangerous situations, despite adverse conditions or the mistakes of others”.

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  • The Raven

    “The task of unionism, therefore, is to ensure that it behaves in such a way that it doesn’t antagonise or unsettle that Catholic demographic.”

    Worth noting its other task: getting the 150,000 of us ‘uns already on the unionist side of the fence to turn out at all.

    😉 #54%

  • pippakin

    “The task of unionism, therefore, is to ensure that it behaves in such a way that it doesn’t antagonise or unsettle that Catholic demographic. In other words, neither the DUP nor the UUP needs to attract the votes of that demographic (although that would be a happy bonus and should be aimed at): they just need to make sure that they do nothing which pushes them into the SDLP or Sinn Fein camp.”

    Exactly! and meanwhile SF will be happily pissing off, one could almost say all over, the very voters they need to attract.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Kane’s logic still implies a mindset prevalent within unionism which sees ‘themmuns’ as a collective body which needs to be plotted against- in this case, simply to persuade ‘them’ not to vote.

    Not likely to augur well as a strategy.

    Either unionism is up for broadening its appeal, with all that will entail for swallowing hard on the need to compromise in ways as yet unforseen for the unionist body politic and grassroots, or it simply carries on as before.

  • Well, at least he is making an attempt though I doubt it will go very far. People still remember the former party boss from his street rabble rousing.
    On the other hand, since the UUP has become rather churlish since their fall from dominance, Robinson needs to just keep chipping away at them.

  • USA

    Alex Kane claims the DUP just need to make sure they don’t annoy Catholics…. “they just need to make sure that they do nothing which pushes them into the SDLP or Sinn Fein camp”. My first thought is that Ian McCrea should probably check his e-mail more often.

    But perhaps Alex Kane is confusing two different things. The NILT survey (I still remain to be convinced of it’s value) recorded that 46% of Catholics expressed a view to remain within the UK but with a devolved assembly. This in itself should not be very surprising as it is exactly what that same Catholic electorate voted for in the GFA. And those same Catholic voters are already voting SF and SDLP in large numbers.

    It is not the constitutional question that stops Catholics from voting DUP, as their position on the this matter has remained consistent since the GFA. It’s the version of Britishness that the DUP and others present. It is not even appealing to moderate Catholics, and they therefore will not vote DUP. The UUP had a chance to attract some Catholic votes but blew it in spectacular fashion with the election of the Fermanagh Farmer.

    The best hope the DUP have is to present a pluralist, inclusive, liberal version of Britishness. One that celebrates diversity and accommodates Scottish, Welsh and Irish identity along with English. The xenophobic DUP version of “No Oirish here” is repugnant not only to Irish Catholics but also the the people of Britain.

    I don’t think Robinson can / will make the move.

  • Chris Donnelly. If unionism as a political body politic were up for broadening their appeal, they would present themselves as ‘less ‘in your face’ to nationalists than they do. Some of them, McCreas and Campbells can’t help themselves. they need the comfort blanket of surliness as now. They’d be lost without it.