Robinson reaching out to nationalists … just not through the Irish News

Peter Robinson has “declined every request for an interview from The Irish News over the past two years”

In an editorial titled “Robinson ways contradictory”, this morning’s Irish News [behind a paywall] accuses the DUP leader of speaking with forked tongue when he calls for votes from the Catholic and nationalist tradition to maintain the link with Britain.

The first minister said that the time had come for all our citizens to stop seeing everything through the prism of religion and maintained that the economic collapse in the Republic was unappetising for northern nationalist voters.

Mr Robinson said: “I think the more stable our structure, the more peaceful Northern Ireland is, the more it works as part of the UK, then the more people will think ‘Why on earth would we change?’”

While the paper notes “the first minister’s increasing attempts to present himself as a modern, inclusive and liberal unionist are fascinating”, it notes that “the source of the only recent and much-discussed threat to the stability of our institutions” was Robinson’s own threat to quit over “vague and distant changes to the royal emblems of the prison service were not to his satisfaction”.

Is appealing to non-traditional unionist voters in a London-based paper mere grandstanding? If the DUP are serious, why do they refuse to be interviewed by the Irish News?

It will also have been noted that he put forward on Saturday was effectively an appeal to Catholic voters in Northern Ireland through The Times of London but has declined every request for an interview from The Irish News over the past two years – a period when he has been able to repeatedly facilitate all the other main Belfast-based media outlets.

In addition, the only leading political party which felt unable to contribute last month to this newspaper’s major assessment of the state of devolution on the fifth anniversary of the St Andrews Agreement – the initiative which eventually brought Mr Robinson to power – was the DUP.

Mr Robinson’s refusal to engage with readers of The Irish News – drawn from a range of backgrounds but mostly within nationalism – may not come as a particular surprise but it is at odds with his regular assertion that he wants to reach out to all sections of our divided community as first minister.

The editorial finished:

Mr Robinson is in many ways an impressive and astute politician but – on the basis of his approach to date – it is difficult to believe that he is serious about achieving an entirely redefined relationship between nationalism and unionism.

Maybe something he’ll address in his DUP conference speech this coming weekend.

PS: I wonder if there will be Union Flags on every other chair again at conference this year to wave during the televised address?

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  • michael-mcivor

    There are more flags than people at a d.u.p conference-

  • Michael – factually untrue! Hall was bunged last year. One flag between two and a few on the stage.

  • sherdy

    Does Peter Punt think all Catholics/nationalists are soft in the head when he asks for our votes?
    If we had any ideas that this leopard might have been in the process of changing his spots, we had that infamous outburst when there was the suggestion that the prison service might be altered to be a neutral working environment.
    He still has his spots, and they are all orange and ‘true’ blue!

  • Decimus

    has declined every request for an interview from The Irish News over the past two years

    That would appear to coincide almost exactly with the scandal surrounding his wife. Was the Irish News especially vicious in its coverage?

  • Red Lion

    One wonders if Peter has had some advance notice of the census results!

    Is the penny finally, finally dropping within DUP towers that the 2 communities are to most intents and purposes, achieving parity in numbers, and therefore the cul de sac , head in sand, uninspiring , stupid reactive unionism of the past has to be well and truly reformed??

    More importantly-whats he going to do about it??How is he going to attract Catholic votes, how is he going to reform unionism?? Is he just going to talk about it or is he actually going to throw off old unionist regalia and posturing and make mainstream unionism in Northern Ireland just slightly to the side of the Alliance Party??

    Or he could step down and recommend Basil McCrea the natural successor for Unionist Lite, and heaven forbid, watch unionism form its first ever strategic vision for a reformed and liberal at-ease-with-itself Union.

    And Catholics dont even have to vote for a unionist party, just make a reformed union (watch what goes on in Scotland) so attractive in so many different ways so they would vote for it in the event of a referendum, whilst continuing to vote alliance sdlp in elections. If you have 25% of Catholics happy to vote ‘UK’ in a referendum the union remains very safe

  • Decimus

    Is it not more likely that he is scaremongering in order to ensure that the DUP remain the largest party in the Assembly?

  • ayeYerMa

    There is a difference between Catholic and Nationalist – clearly something that the Irish News does not understand.

  • ayeYerMa

    … or maybe I should also say that the difference between Catholics and Nationalists is something that Alan in Belfast doesn’t understand with his headline?

  • RyanAdams

    Some people can’t see the wood for the trees.
    Robinson doesn’t require the catholic vote, But i’m sure he’ll take it if he can get it. He’s targeting whats left of the UUP soft vote and Alliance voters more inclined towards a unionist perspective. In presenting himself and his party as a more liberal unionist party, this may go some length towards getting not only more first preferences, but the DUP working their way up the preferences of the electorate who aren’t putting them 123. In fact, he just needs other parties supporters to stay at home, that way the quota drops and provided the DUP share stays constant, they gain seats.

  • Red Lion

    Ryan Adams
    I think what u say is a good analysis; I guess i’m less focused on party elections, and thinking more of how a longterm vision for a union might look.

    I would like to see a longterm strategy and dynamic towards a union that has the confidence to rise above the age old tribalism , to soften is to strengthen, and to positively contribute to a debate of how a UK wide union might modernise.

    Robinson might not out and out need Catholic votes now, but the union could probably do with them in due course. there have been a few voices of unionism ‘broadening its appeal’ but unionism continually fails to come up with a strategic vision, its much too easy and shorter term less risky for it hide behind the usual guff.

    I thought Basil McCrea as UUP leader might have been a spark but again unionism and NI cocks it up

  • ayeYerMa – “Catholic and nationalist” is the phrase Irish News used – I didn’t quote the entire contents of their editorial.

  • BluesJazz

    The main reason a lot of middle class Catholics (and of course Non-Catholics) are not overly keen on leaving the Union is the huge Westminster subsidy comfort blanket. Tens of thousands in secure well paid non-jobs with super pensions and no water or prescription charges etc.
    Free private (grammar) schools and a choice of passports.
    For the (non) ‘working’ class DLA is available for all who ask for it. And the subsidy means the global recession is limited to construction. We’re in clover here.

  • PaulT

    “economic collapse”

    er….

    I thought that Septembers trade surplus was circa 6.5 Billion Euro, making Ireland pretty much the best performing economy in the EU.

    I believe the UK is and has been running at minus £20billion per month for some years

  • galloglaigh

    BluesJazz

    The main reason a lot of middle class Catholics (and of course Non-Catholics) are not overly keen on leaving the Union is the huge Westminster subsidy comfort blanket

    Is that according to your opinion, or according to the evidence you read somewhere? If you read it – post it!

  • FuturePhysicist

    Well he’d get the votes of a bitter Stoop trying to keep a Shinner out and vice versa, and from both if it’s Jim Allister of the TUV.

  • RyanAdams

    “The main reason a lot of middle class Catholics (and of course Non-Catholics) are not overly keen on leaving the Union is the huge Westminster subsidy comfort blanket. Tens of thousands in secure well paid non-jobs with super pensions and no water or prescription charges etc.
    Free private (grammar) schools and a choice of passports.
    For the (non) ‘working’ class DLA is available for all who ask for it. And the subsidy means the global recession is limited to construction. We’re in clover here.”

    I believe this is something the NILT survey should look at, not just constitutional aspiration, but the reasons behind it. It would certainly go a long way towards dispelling the critics of the survey who refuse to acknowledge it on the grounds it contradicts what they believe to be the thoughts of the people of NI, or whatever they prefer.

  • FuturePhysicist

    “The main reason a lot of middle class Catholics (and of course Non-Catholics) are not overly keen on leaving the Union is the huge Westminster subsidy comfort blanket. Tens of thousands in secure well paid non-jobs with super pensions and no water or prescription charges etc.
    Free private (grammar) schools and a choice of passports.
    For the (non) ‘working’ class DLA is available for all who ask for it. And the subsidy means the global recession is limited to construction. We’re in clover here.”

    This “Union” will be dead within 5 years.

  • RyanAdams

    FuturePhysicist

    I doubt it, possibly more diluted with whats going on in Scotland, but I doubt we’ll find ourselves within a United Ireland in five years either.

  • FuturePhysicist

    I was referring to so called “non-jobs”, the free grammar schools, and the DLA the Barnett subsidy is apparently squandered on.
    They’ll be gone, Barnett’s days will be numbered, as was always the plan. Why else do you think the Tories want to hijack the UUP?

    The “Union” as we know it will end.

  • galloglaigh

    RyanAdams

    If you look at the NILT survey, it only included 434 Catholics. Is that representative of the Catholic population in N.Ireland? Me thinks not!

    Also, 60% of those surveyed, lived outside N.I. There’s something we didn’t know

  • BluesJazz

    FuturePhysicist
    if the subsidy goes, which I seriously doubt, then NI is looking at third world status.
    I accept it will be cut back, even beyond the 4 year stasis. And we’re in for a decade of high unemployment and lowered living standards, but we were living the life of Reilly.
    It was bad in 1981 as well.. well that’s what we’re going back to for a long while. We survived then and we’ll survive the oncoming bad times. So will the Republic. But the young and bright will leave, as they did in the early 80’s. Bad Moon Rising.

  • Dixie Elliott

    Now what in hell is voting doing for any of us? The Brits are still running the place and the electorate are only electing the rent collectors.

    As a founder and sole member of the Very Unpopular Front I say vote for me and I’ll do the same as the whole lot of them put together for half their wages….Nothing.

    FFS anyone can get on the phone to Downing Street and say, “Your cut is in the post.”

  • RyanAdams

    galloglaigh,

    We had this whole debate back in June, I advise you have a trawl for it.

    434 in NI is the equivalent of polling 18,000 people in a UK wide survey. Catholics make up a smaller proportion of those surveyed in the NILT, however if you look at the demographics of the adult population of NI you will probably find its not that much of an under representation of Catholics surveyed in comparison with Protestants.

    On your second point, please provide a link.

  • galloglaigh

    BluesJazz

    The main reason a lot of middle class Catholics (and of course Non-Catholics) are not overly keen on leaving the Union is the huge Westminster subsidy comfort blanket

    Is that according to your opinion, or according to the evidence you read somewhere? If you read it – post it!

  • BluesJazz

    true dixie.
    Next Wednesday, November 30. There will be a public sector strike here in NI. There will be in England as well.

    BUT The cuts to public sector pensions and pay in NI were introduced by the SF/DUP Executive. They had the power to stop their introduction here but CHOSE to bring them in here.
    These are not Tory cuts, they are SF/DUP/Alliance cuts.
    Cuts they are walking away from. Fingers in ears.

    SF/DUP followed their paymasters, and Alliance, desperate to hold onto parochial ministry, followed through.

    Stockholm syndrome, I believe it’s called.

  • galloglaigh

    RyanAdams

    The figure I put forward in my second post, is in the survey in black and white. Have a look yourself!

    In the 2001 census, there were 678,488 Catholics. Obviously that figure has increased since then. But as we don’t have the current figures, we will stay with the 2001 survey. If you think that a sample of 434 people (0.063%) within that group is representative of the population group, then let me give you some advice: Never get into the sociology field, as you will fail miserably. 0.063% of a population is an under-representation, and can be viewed as unreliable. That’s the reality of the NILT survey, no matter what your whole debate back in June says.

  • galloglaigh

    *second point

  • galloglaigh

    BluesJazz

    The main reason a lot of middle class Catholics (and of course Non-Catholics) are not overly keen on leaving the Union is the huge Westminster subsidy comfort blanket

    Is that according to your opinion, or according to the evidence you read somewhere? If you read it – post it!

  • RyanAdams

    Do you have any idea the cost, time, effort and man power that would be required to survey every Catholic in the country? You neglect to mention that while the protestants are slightly over represented you give no basis for what would constitute a “reliable” sample. As far as I’m concerned your still shooting the messenger because you don’t like the message.

    I feel you are allowing election results here to interfere with your thinking on this matter, and thus subliminally determining an expected outcome. Election results and constitutional politics are two very different issues and you cannot assume every SDLP/SF vote will convert directly into a vote for a united Ireland. Also please don’t forget 48% of the population don’t vote, and none of us can say for sure how they would if a referendum was announced tomorrow.

    As far as Sociology is concerned, I’ve been there, done that and got the hell out after A Level, with a decent grade too.

  • FuturePhysicist

    FuturePhysicist
    if the subsidy goes, which I seriously doubt, then NI is looking at third world status.
    I accept it will be cut back, even beyond the 4 year stasis. And we’re in for a decade of high unemployment and lowered living standards, but we were living the life of Reilly.
    It was bad in 1981 as well.. well that’s what we’re going back to for a long while. We survived then and we’ll survive the oncoming bad times. So will the Republic. But the young and bright will leave, as they did in the early 80′s. Bad Moon Rising

    Some of the best and brightest have already headed south, nope not politicians but workers in those multinational science companies.

  • galloglaigh

    Ryan

    I don’t recall mentioning elections?

    It’s a good job you got out after A Level. That’s introductory sociology. Nursery sociology if you like!

    Polls with a sample size that is too small should be treated with caution. 0.063% of a population is an under-representation, and can be viewed as unreliable. A reliable sample would be above 1%, and certainly not well below it. 5% would offer a more reliable answer.

    If they were worried about cost, they might have asked one Catholic and One Protestant!

  • Reader

    galloglaigh: Polls with a sample size that is too small should be treated with caution. 0.063% of a population is an under-representation, and can be viewed as unreliable. A reliable sample would be above 1%, and certainly not well below it. 5% would offer a more reliable answer.
    Repeating this nonsense didn’t make it true, the fraction of the population is irrelevant, it’s the absolute sample size that gives the error bars. This is statistics, not sociology. It’s root(Npq)/Np
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_poll#Sample_and_polling_methods
    If you want to complain about the results, blame the questions, or bias in the sampling methods, or the atmosphere in which the survey was conducted.

  • Reader
  • galloglaigh

    Reader

    The survey is biased and unrepresentative. 0.063% is unreliable. No matter what wikipedia tells you. The sample size is lower than that again!

  • Reader

    galloglaigh: The survey is biased and unrepresentative. 0.063% is unreliable. No matter what wikipedia tells you. The sample size is lower than that again!
    There is nothing wrong with the sample size if the sampling method is OK. Your dodgy sociological intuition cannot stand up against the science of statistics. After all, you are only a sample size of 1, and it’s not as though the correct sample size is a matter of opinion anyway.

  • Dec

    Here’s the NILT survey in a nutshell: if you believe hardly anybody wants a United Ireland then you also believe the SDLP receives twice as many votes as SF. I believe the merest hint of a pattern is emerging there…

  • turnpike

    Don’t blame him for not going through the Irish News – it’s a joke – the only paper that can ignore world cups (football and rugby) and splash on some parish pump GAA game in ballygobackwards. A parody of Oirishness and plastic paddyism…

  • Neil

    As Dec points out, we can easily verify the accuracy of the poll. I too would have thought that around 0.5% of population as a sample pool would be considered small but I have no sociology A level so I’ll leave that to the pros. What we can compare:

    Question – Who do you vote for

    Answer –

    NILT Actual election result
    DUP 18% 38%
    UUP 16% 16%
    SF 11% 29%
    SDLP 17% 14%

    Even allowing for a whopping 50% margin of error for all those non voters, the numbers are still way out. And Nationalists are lying to themselves about NILT surveys, which typically show no support whatsoever for SF.

    How you can explain the massive disparity between reality and this pointless waste of a survey, given the year of the survey and that of the election are 2011?

    As someone said above, people are seeing what they wish to see. I suggest that those people are mostly Unionist who seem to still believe in this mythical NILT Nationalist/unicorn poulation who reject SF at every corner. Except the ballot box.

    For years Nationalists have talked of outbreeding their Unionist neighbours. That was rubbished at the time by Unionists. Now that the combined effect of many, many young large Nationalist families and an increasingly aged Unionist community is starting to tip the numbers we have a new Unionist line of defence: they’re all Unionists really you know. LMFAO.

  • Johnny Boy

    I would like to think that Nationlist’s plan for a UI amount to more than rampant procreation until such a time as it can be imposed on 49% who are utterly opposed.

  • Nordie Northsider

    At times like this I miss Horseman and ‘Ulster’s Doomed’.

  • galloglaigh

    Neil

    Thanks for that. The voting patterns identified don’t stand up to the reality at polling day. I remember reading that when the survey came out. Like I said above, a factor which has not been looked at, is that 60% of those surveyed lived elsewhere in the UK. Look at the survey, it’s there in black and white.

    Reader

    Again the survey, which has a sample of 0.063% (for Catholic participation relative to the Catholic population of 10 years ago) cannot be accurate, and should be treated with caution. That’s the reality. If you want the opinion of (more than) 678,488 people, you don’t ask 434 of them. It’s that simple my old codger!

  • RyanAdams

    The sampling is fine, I believe the fault lies with the research method. If I were a Sinn Fein voter, I certainly wouldn’t tell anyone asking me that in my own home.

  • Neil

    If I were a Sinn Fein voter, I certainly wouldn’t tell anyone asking me that in my own home.

    Or a DUP voter evidently. Or SDLP. Pretty much the only people who are honest are (decent people) UUPers then. Either that or given the fact that three of the four main parties stats are wildly inaccurate, the whole survey is flawed in some way.

    Occam’s razor right there. Either there’s some kind of unusual psychological affliction affecting the 81% of voters who vote for the four main parties causing them to lie about their voting intentions or the survey’s flawed. Reckon the survey’s flawed.

  • RyanAdams

    “For years Nationalists have talked of outbreeding their Unionist neighbours. That was rubbished at the time by Unionists. Now that the combined effect of many, many young large Nationalist families…”

    Incorrect. Political Opinion is not in your DNA. Pretty sure, that there is not absolute correlation between who parents vote for who offspring do when their old enough to vote. If they even vote that is.

  • RyanAdams

    Heres reality:

    22.5% of the population voted for nationalists in the May Assembly election.

    The rest voted unionist, other, and of course the real winner of the election was apathy.

  • Lionel Hutz

    The major thing that has to happen before polls on the United Ireland can have any meaning is an attempt to articulate what it would look like. A federal ireland? single government in Dublin? what protections would be in place for the protestant and british minorities. etc etc.

  • RyanAdams

    Correct Lionel, and until nationalist parties make an effort to sell “the new republic”, they will not get the support they need from the protestant community to make it happen. Dropping the whole ‘socialist’ tag that seems to go with this new republic would be a start.

  • Neil

    22.5% of the population voted for nationalists in the May Assembly election.

    The rest voted unionist, other, and of course the real winner of the election was apathy.

    Well, working from a 50% turnout for simplicity, you’ll agree that the NILT projections of 14% voter share is somewhat less than the 22.5% mentioned? So NILT is out by nearly 10% vote share on a vote of 22.5%? Pretty inaccurate.

    As for ‘the rest voted Unionist’ for clarity ‘the rest’ of the people left over from the 22.5% equates to about 27% of the vote share. Just for clarity in case anyone starts thinking that there are 3 times more people voting Unionist than Nationalist. That’s even more off the wall than NILT’s madcap contributions…

  • Reader

    galloglaigh: Again the survey, which has a sample of 0.063% (for Catholic participation relative to the Catholic population of 10 years ago) cannot be accurate, and should be treated with caution. That’s the reality.
    My earlier posts gave you several hints as to what might be the problem with the survey. I could add a couple more possibilities. But the problem doesn’t arise from the sample size.

    Neil: Either that or given the fact that three of the four main parties stats are wildly inaccurate, the whole survey is flawed in some way.
    In addition to my earlier suggestions, and your own, I would add:
    The survey got a 60% acceptance rate from the people approached to take part. The election got a 50% turnout. These are two completely different voluntary slices through the potential electorate. In addition, several sluggerites – mostly from the rebel community – have said they would lie in a survey, and I expect there would still be embarrassment at admitting to voting for DUP or SF. And in an election people might vote tactically, or tribally.
    If we could only penetrate this fog, the survey might tell us something definitive. But if we ever do, I really don’t think it would represent good news for the nationalist project. I think the status quo has an unbeatable edge under the current circumstances.

  • Reader

    Oops, I failed to close the italics after quoting the sentence from Neil – sorry.

  • Neil

    If we could only penetrate this fog, the survey might tell us something definitive. But if we ever do, I really don’t think it would represent good news for the nationalist project. I think the status quo has an unbeatable edge under the current circumstances.

    It’s a fluid picture. The European project, English nationalism and the Scottish situation are more likely to have an impact on the short term unification prospects than any other factors, and we’re impotent on all fronts. We can just sit back an watch to see how the next few years pans out.

  • galloglaigh

    RyanAdams

    The sampling is fine, I believe the fault lies with the research method. If I were a Sinn Fein voter, I certainly wouldn’t tell anyone asking me that in my own home

    That is your own opinion. But can you produce some evidence that suggests that Sinn Fein voters wouldn’t tell anyone who they vote for?

    The NILT survey has so many contradictions that don’t reflect reality. Deal with it and move on if you cannot substantiate your opinion!

  • RyanAdams

    galloglaigh

    I generally do take the result with a pinch of salt, but if there is any other survey that shows constitutional opinion could you please link it in my direction, because other than that we have no barometer of opinion on the issue.

    Its also interesting to note the only criticism of the survey comes from Nationalists and Republicans, yet not one academic has slated the survey.

  • RyanAdams

    Neil

    “As for ‘the rest voted Unionist’ for clarity ‘the rest’ of the people left over from the 22.5% equates to about 27% of the vote share. Just for clarity in case anyone starts thinking that there are 3 times more people voting Unionist than Nationalist. That’s even more off the wall than NILT’s madcap contributions…”

    That was in response to your comment earlier in response to your ‘out breeding’ outburst.

    And for the purpose of comparison, the nationalist vote share in 1998, including all those that didn’t vote works out as 26.7%. Thats 4.2% less active voting nationalists than there were in 1998, Thats some good outbreeding ;)!

  • galloglaigh

    The accuracy of the NILT survey of 2010 is questionable:

    20% of nationalists aren’t nationalist

    29% of people that support SF/SDLP don’t think of themselves as nationalist

    42% of SF/SDLP supporters don’t support Irish unity

    55% more people support the SDLP than SF

    41% of Catholics support the SDLP. Only 27% support SF.

    This bullshit survey is yet again being treated as a serious barometer of political attitudes in the north?

  • RyanAdams

    Yeah it is, and as i’ve already told you, only nationalists and republicans are complaining.

  • galloglaigh

    That’s because only nationalists and republicans have analysed the survey, and showed its many contradictions. Loyalist and unionists only seen the answer to one question and took the entire survey as gospel. Look for yourself. A lot of the answers don’t reflect the reality on the ground, and the entire survey can only be taken as a reflection of the reality in Cloud Cuckoo Land – not N.Ireland.

  • galloglaigh

    RyanAdams

    Typed by your own fingers:

    There can be no doubt about it; 1200 is just too small a sample to be anywhere near representative of NI

    So why have you changed your mind?

  • RyanAdams

    I wrote that out of haste before I took a further look into the finer details of the survey, and into how it was conducted.

  • galloglaigh

    before I took a further look into the finer details of the survey

    And you still failed to see all its contradictions. Strange that you still trust it after a ‘further look into the finer details’. When I did the same I nearly pissed myself laughing…

  • RyanAdams

    I said I take it with a pinch of salt, I don’t trust it completly, but I feel I am repeating myself here, its the only survey that looks at the constitutional issue. Why don’t you commission your own if you’re so distrusting?

  • galloglaigh

    So Ryan, you do now accept that it is not accurate, and that it doesn’t reflect reality?

    Maybe I

  • Red Lion

    At the time i did think the NILT survey was under-representing nationalism, and took it with a lot of caution, and i still largely think that.

    Now on internet forums i also take anecdotal evidence with a massive pinch of salt and have often slagged off the more tenous strained stuff . That said, here i go: i am employed in a mixed workforce, 6 protestants, 7 catholics, i know them well.

    Out of the 7 Caths, if there was a referendum tomorrow, i believe the breakdown would be–

    Stay in Uk – 3 definates
    United Ireland – 1 definate
    i cant tell – 3

    Now i know 7 people aint exactly a sample population, and i might have misread people (i honestly dont believ i have with the definates), and the nature of my job tends to make it more cross-community.

    Its only my opinion, but i do believe a significant minority of catholics would vote to stay in a union. As NI becomes ‘half and half’ such a group take on ever more importance. The question is, what is unionism doing to make this grouping ever more comfortable, and expanded in numbers?? Surely it is time to take mainstream NI unionism on a journey towards progressive modern liberalism??

  • galloglaigh

    Red Lion

    What is unionism doing?

    It is still marching to the Orange drum. No nationalist, in my opinion, will ever join the unionist ideology, as long as the political leadership is afraid of telling the Orange brethren to change, and adapt to the 21st century. The next few years will be interesting.Unionism has a chance to change, but will they. If they had people like John McCallister at their helm, I believe that that could be achieved.

  • RyanAdams

    “If they had people like John McCallister at their helm, I believe that that could be achieved.”

    They almost did, if it wasn’t for the organisation named above intervening in a leadership contest.

  • galloglaigh

    Ryan

    The UUP would be in a better position if they were led by McCrea and McCallister. Two very forward and macro thinking people. They are what is needed to bring unionism into the 21st century. I would nearly put my wages on them out polling the DUP if that were the case. But that’s only my opinion.

  • RyanAdams

    I would agree, although in my opinion such an event would lead to total re-alignment of both unionist parties. For example, I doubt people like David McNarry and the ‘orange’ element would be content under such leadership. Likewise, there is also the possibility of a raft of defections between DUP and UUP and McNarry and a few others who I feel would be closer in mindset to the TUV above all else.
    I believe there are assembly seats in Belfast among other places for unionists like McCrea and McCallister.

  • galloglaigh

    Derry would also be a place where they’d attract votes. The UUP’s no show recently shows a need for change there. If the UUP are serious about upping their vote, they need a progressive leadership. It’s a pity they can’t see that. Or perhaps they do, and they know it would split the entire spectrum of unionism open, and leave Sinn Fein to rule the roost. It’s hard to know?

  • Red Lion

    Galloglaigh

    Dont get me started on whats wrong with unionism, i could spout for days

    Unfortunately its the big house unionists of yesterday who still provide the all the soundbytes and hide behind the ragalia. And so far they have been able to outweigh the men and women of fresh ideas such as Basil McCrea, John McAllister, Harry ‘10,000’ votes Hamiton, Paula Bradshaw, Dawn Purvis. The talent is there, fresh ideas are there, a sizeable unionist populace who would get behind such a ‘liberal unionist’ movement is there i believe, It just hasnt got itself together into a movement or political party. it just lacks leadership. its just a coming together or a spark of such like minds that is needed. It just hasnt thought it might be possible to outshout the DUP. But such a movement doesnt have or wuldnt want to outshout the DUP, it just needs to outthink them.

    Such a unionism i believe would provide the best chance of conquering apathy. Its apathy and disillusionment with big house old hat unionism which makes people not vote, especially in working class areas.

    I believe a liberal unionism for NI is such a gap in the voter market it is untrue. Im a unionist and i dont actually feel like i have a party to vote for. I agree with a lot of what Alliance do but i believe actually saying the union is good for NI in different ways is important, although without the need to do it repeatedly or wrap myself in a union jack in so doing. I was so disappointed at UUP going for Elliot as leader who trots out the same old guff as the DUP – they may as well unite theres no difference really. Perhaps thats whats needed – for DUP/ UUP to (re)unite then the liberal end of the UUP could break off and form a new party, reclaim some Alliance Party members. If the UUP had taken Basil Mcrea as leaderthen those aforementioned McCallister, Hamilton etc could have truly worked towrds a liberal unionist alternative in spirit and in deed. A unionist walking on gay pride!!

    Its the only place left for unionism to go. Theyve treid everything else, doesnt work.

    Very few catholics may vote for current unionist parties, but a significant minority of people from a catholic community background may vote ‘UK’ in the event of any referendum. This very significant group is only likely to expand if unionism softens over the next 20 years. ‘soft’ or ‘liberal unionism’ exists right now, it just needs a grounded strategy and leadership to rise above the shouting traditionalists who will preside over unionisms decline unless they are saved from themselves. I believe its possible

  • RyanAdams

    Redlion

    I believe its something Peter Robinson is trying to move his party towards, but his prison service moment may have stunted any confidence in him. His problem is while he has packed many of the hardliners and traditionalists such as McCrea, Campbell and Simpson off to Westminister its impossible to keep them shut up.

    I believe Martin McGuinness also has a simliar problem with Beard.

  • Redlion,

    It just hasnt thought it might be possible to outshout the DUP. But such a movement doesnt have or wuldnt want to outshout the DUP, it just needs to outthink them…

    Whatever else you can say about the DUP, they do have a core of pretty clued-in strategists- the recovery of the party from the Paisley Jr and Mrs Robinson scandals, Peter’s rehabilitation after his own expenses problems etc etc proves that. They can’t be “outshouted”, “outhought” and *liberal* unionism at the minute simply doesn’t have the required electoral and organisational basis.

    I wish the situation was different but the main underlying reason (imo) why the UCUNF project failed was that there wasn’t enough of a critical mass to stand up to things like the selection “joint” Unionist “community candidate” in FST and win the day not only within the wider “Unionist” electorate but even within the UUP.

    What it (liberal unionism) can do though is to start filtering and promoting single issues, which if they are “sold” strongly enough, can be latched onto and promoted by those strategists I mentioned.

    One example is the ending of segregated education- that theme has an appeal which is cross-community and, if promoted correctly, moves Unionism out of the communal bunkers.

    Promoting the Union and promoting NI’s particular brand of Unionism are two different things. Liberal Unionism should, for the time being, concentrate on the first until it has the personnel and ideas to work on the second.

  • Neil

    One example is the ending of segregated education

    I personally think that will be a hard sell for an awful lot of people. Essentially what that means is doing away with Catholic schools. No one who mentions integrated education is suggesting closing state (currently for the most part Protestant dominated) schools.

    And of course you couldn’t force that particular issue, due to Article 2, Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights:

    No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religions and philosophical convictions.

    And finally, if the Robinsons can’t agree what ohpe is there for the wider community?

    http://www.nuzhound.com/articles/irish_news/arts2007/feb7_I_Robinson_attacks_integrated_education.php

  • Reader

    Neil: And of course you couldn’t force that particular issue, due to Article 2, Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights
    How do the Germans manage with a mixed population?

  • Reader

    Neil: And of course you couldn’t force that particular issue, due to Article 2, Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights:
    And does that mean that the Free Presbyterian schools should receive public funding? (at the moment, they don’t)

  • Neil

    And does that mean that the Free Presbyterian schools should receive public funding? (at the moment, they don’t)

    Yes. We all pay our taxes so we all have some entitlement as to where and how the money is spent.

    Though of course thanks to the many tens if not hundreds of millions the state saves on the generously provided grounds Catholic schools provide, the taxpayer, Catholic, Protestant and Other are cleaning up!

  • Neil

    sorry should have read:

    generously provided grounds Catholic schools are provided with by the Church, the taxpayer…

  • No one who mentions integrated education is suggesting closing state (currently for the most part Protestant dominated) schools.

    Neil,

    That may well be how Robinson was indirectly trying to sell it to the ultras on his own side but it’s still a wide sweep of a statement. On the ground, integration would mean closing schools certainly but there’s no guarantee which ones would be closed and anyway the ethos of the remaining/combined school would need to be also “integrated” not just the physical building.

    However,I was only giving it as an example. I believe in integrated education, possibly for the different reasons than Robinson but his motive is not important, the end result is. And that’s the point i was making about liberal unionists concentrating on the single issues rather than trying to sell itself to a presently disinterested electorate as one package

  • Having thoroughly dissected the NI Life and Times survey (again), has anyone any comment on Peter Robinson’s avoidance of interviews with the Irish News over the last two years when practically every other major party leader has engaged with the paper and its readership.

  • galloglaigh

    Alan

    Maybe he’s afraid that the Irish News will do a no-holds-barred interview which he would not be comfortable with. His chequered past would be nice reading on a Monday morning!

  • Robinson can’t be taken at all seriously in his attempts at ‘outreach’ since the Pavlovian reaction always reasserts itself when the need arises. The Prison Service emblems case is telling. He made a grand speech at the time of the Policing and Justice agreement, full of rhetoric about reaching beyond our closetted ranks to the other side, but within days all that was set at naught when the segregated education debate began, he retreated once again behind the barricades. At least with old Ian, we knew were we stood for 40 years before befopre his er……damascene conversion.

  • Neil

    Having thoroughly dissected the NI Life and Times survey (again), has anyone any comment on Peter Robinson’s avoidance of interviews with the Irish News over the last two years

    It’s not particularly surprising to be honest. Rightly or wrongly, to me Peter comes across as a man who knows roughly what he has to say for his or his party’s political ambitions, but he only comes across as sincere when he’s on a hardline Loyalist types bitch (like for instance I’ll stand down and force an election if the recomendations of this review are enacted). I certainly don’t buy into everything he says, I think the outreach stuff plays well and means literally nothing.

    Most people of a certain age would remember Big Ian’s approach to Southern journalists ‘I can’t understand ye are ye foreign, are ye speaking English?’ and I don’t expect Peter to be much different. I suppose both sides here were fairly hostile for a long time, it would be foolish to think that the personalities changed because the fighting stopped. Peter’s the same person he always was.

  • Neil

    The prison service thing is a telling one. It would seem our reps have problems learning from past problems. Peter’s made a massive deal of something which he needn’t have, and should he now end up on the losing side of that debate it’s going to (unnecessarily) look like a defeat for him. Foolish.

    Personally I feel little sympathy or decency towards screws or the prison service, but the name, emblem etc. wasn’t even on my radar. But you can bet the farm, now Peter’s jumped up and down about it plenty of hitherto uninterested Republicans will now be thinking ‘change the Prison Service? Why not.’

  • andnowwhat

    100% Neil. Shinners, commentators and all were bemused, confused and amused in equal measure at Ford’s comments.

    It was telling that Jim Allister was so easily able to false start Robinson in to such an over the top reaction. What’s all this talk about Robinson being such a smart player? Maybe he is in the gave of DUP Vs the self destructing UUP but he is clumsy in all other ways be it trying to appeal to the catholic community or in dealing with the self proclaimed one-man-band.

    I’m intrigued by Alan’s point about issues with the Irish News. I’d love to know the real reason.

  • Red Lion

    Oneill / Ryan Adams

    I think promoting single issues as a possible way to kick start liberal unionism might be a starting point (a ‘spark’), but any such activity needs to unite around an identifiable movement pretty soon afterwards. All politicians pick holes in each others arguments, and any notion of liberal unionism can be lost in several isolated arguments about different issues. I believe we need an easily identifiable liberal unionist movement/party around which a consistent theme of liberalism, generosity, secularism, across many issues , and which stands out as a starkly different animal from the DUP.