John McCallister: Our politics has collapsed and retreated behind old barriers

Interesting outake from.John McCallister’s oped in yesterday’s News Letter:

“..he says of the SDLP’s professed vision of reaching out to unionists: “Centre-ground, moderate unionists can take no pleasure in the fact that this vision has not come to pass. “Rather than being a standard-bearer for civic, moderate nationalism, the SDLP has retreated behind the tribal barricades. “It is, of course, understandable. The temptation for both unionism and nationalism has been the same: forsake moderate, pluralist politics and go hunting for votes in deep orange or deep green territory. “As this has happened, the hope for a shared future has collapsed and our politics has retreated behind the old sectarian barriers.”

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  • Comrade Stalin

    John is of course dead right. It’s just to easy to fall back on the familiar, tribal conflict territory. The DUP at this point have dropped almost all pretense that they were ever about anything else.

  • What a difference a year makes.
    Grand National Day 2012 and John McCallister was addressing a SDLP Conference in Beechmount Avenue in West Belfast. I don’t recall him saying that …in fact he made an appeal to those SDLP folks living in South Down to give him a good preference at the next Assembly Election and made a comment about the preference he gave the Alliance Party in 2011.
    So what exactly has changed in twelve months? SDLP or John McCallister?
    Is he right?
    Or just looking a good preference from another direction?

  • Greenflag

    @ Comrade Stalin,

    ‘John is of course dead right.’

    His sentiments may well be but as to

    ” our politics have retreated behind the old sectarian barriers.”

    I did’nt realise that they had ever advanced far enough for a retreat to be feasible

    The question which John McCallister and the SDLP and the rest have to ask themselves is can they ever emerge from behind those barriers given the continuing political existence of the Northern Ireland state ? There would be no power sharing without the GFA and there would be no GFA without the persuasive efforts of the British ,Irish and American governments .

    Politics in NI is marooned in limboland and the only party which is serious about straddling the divide the Alliance Party is itself stuck in the same place .

  • aquifer

    John is spot on.

    Standing the speechless unionist candidate in Mid Ulster was not just an opportunity to vote for rigor mortis. By refusing to speak to the media, under NI electoral law as implemented by the statutory broadcast media, the dead in the water candidate prevented Alliance going on air to condemn the thuggery unleashed in East Belfast. This should now be understood as a conscious effort by Peter Robinson to prevent Alliance gaining the big MO in politics.

    Momentum.

    The old media are stuffed in this situation.

    By refusing to speculate as to motive, they feed us up on a diet of incident and argument without ever adding to understanding.

    Isn’t there something in the BBC charter about education?

    If this is being lost in the news edit, the Fascist method, of division, heightened social tension, and deliberate violence, has an open and well manured field.

  • DC

    John is of course dead right. It’s just to easy to fall back on the familiar, tribal conflict territory.

    Yea and thanks to Alliance for furthering a SF SDLP sectarian, bigoted motion when it got involved in reducing the union flag.

    You guys are all at it!

  • JH

    Maybe it’s not everyone else, DC. Maybe it’s you. 😉

    In a way you could kind of liken it to the cold war. Both ‘communities’ have the threat of mutually assured destruction should the GFA fall apart, both have to constantly escalate to maintain the status quo by voting in greater numbers for DUP/SF and neither have an incentive to ‘blink first’ and go for something different.

    hi ho.

  • DC

    @jh

    perception is everything.

    All aboard the good ship Alliance Party Belfast.

  • JH

    What will you do if their vote is up everywhere but East Belfast at the next election?

  • DC

    brace myself for a lot of loose cannons going off?

    if the alliance party were to replace the SDLP then that would be something to marvel at, it might also mean designated days at once nationalist-dominated councils.

    a dash of liberalism within nationalism remains highly unlikely, but an outbreak of it? what odds would you get?

  • “It’s just to easy to fall back on the familiar, tribal conflict territory.”

    CS, there’s little point in fishing where there are few fish. It’s interesting to compare the sentiments expressed by John with the final comments of Patsy McGlone in this recent News Letter webchat:

    “I trust John McCallister as I do Basil McCrea – as I do people in other parties that you can work with but, in short, your answer is I don’t think either Basil or John will be taking votes from me, I would know that for a fact”

  • JH

    @DC

    Well I was thinking more of a rise in support within moderate, middle-class Unionism, where the alternatives are becoming somewhat unpalatable. Anecdotally I’ve seen this particularly with younger (under 35) people.

    I mean, without being crass, a few hundred lost votes spread over a few hardline constituencies aren’t going to make or break Alliance.

  • DC

    Some thinking, moderate, middle class unionists might be concerned voting for a party that leaves vulnerable sections of its own community behind and sees no reciprocation by nationalists other than laughter at the fall out – as witnessed on facebook pages such as L.A.D.

    Extreme loyalists look at the outcome of the flag and see it as proof of 15 years continuous republican appeasement, pure and simple.

    I would say a section of unionism might look at the dynamics behind the decision than just the outcome and be a bit concerned about alliance’s cross-community credentials and whether it is robust enough to spot a sectarian motion when it sees one and to repel, than amend.

    although the liberal ground is free from challenge at the moment and what might save alliance is younger voters more into popular culture than political culture, this group might think fair play and come out on the day en mass, along with some new age liberal nationalists.

  • JH

    @DC

    “Some thinking, moderate, middle class unionists might be concerned voting for a party that leaves vulnerable sections of its own community behind”

    See this is the flaw I think. In my opinion large swathes of said moderate Unionists no longer see themselves as sharing a sense of community with the brand of Loyalism on display at flag protests. And it’s not like those that still do are exactly a growing market either.

    They want what most people want. Peace, prosperity, aspiration. Things their neighbours in other places have and that rows over flags, emblems and tradition might just get in the way of.

  • DC

    Most do, but again arguably most don’t want it driven along solely by nationalist ideology and a compliant alliance party.

    I think there is a big responsibility on those elected to do things which don’t cause violence and you expect shit stirring by SF and DUP, but the Alliance should know better than to get involved in this kind of stuff it had its own hand in furthering things.

    And as john mccallister makes out the SDLP too.

  • 6crealist

    Can you not shut the f*ck up about the fleg for one day?

    Lovely words from John. He’ll be unemployed in May 2015, but lovely all the same.

  • son of sam

    Ironically in yesterday’s Irish News,Denis Bradley was urging the S D L P to abandon their support for the Allister S PA D bill.This was apparently for the greater good.It seems everyone expects that party always to make the noble sacrifice a la John Hume.However noble gestures do not always bring electoral success .Self interest (eg Sinn Fein)seems to bring more rewards,at least in the short term!

  • JH

    @DC

    “I think there is a big responsibility on those elected to do things which don’t cause violence”

    Yikes. I can see where you’re coming from but I wouldn’t expect the moderates we’re talking about to take that same line.

    I suspect most would prefer their politicians make decisions based on policy rather than fear of violence. Also that decisions don’t cause violence, violent people cause violence.

  • DC

    Can you not shut the f*ck up about the fleg for one day?

    Pity it was all kicked off at the start of the council term, should’ve waited to the end.

    now we are sitting on our hands here waiting for the day that we get to give a few people like you and your cheerleaders a good democratic slap for being silly.

  • Comrade Stalin

    DC,

    I see, so nationalist ideology requires flying the flag on designated days. That makes a whole ton of sense.

    You are far beyond the point of credibility on this and many other issues. Your drunken spamming on this topic, as well as general nonsense, are damaging to the discussion here.

  • DC

    Yikes. I can see where you’re coming from but I wouldn’t expect the moderates we’re talking about to take that same line.

    I know and this is the point where I diverge from them.

    comrade – just like alliance – i don’t expect you to take your head from out of your own ass.

  • 6crealist

    “…waiting for the day that we get to give a few people like you and your cheerleaders a good democratic slap for being silly.”

    Dream on.

  • aquifer

    “I think there is a big responsibility on those elected to do things which don’t cause violence”

    Tell that to Peter Robinson and the UUP guy.

    It is the responsibility of democratic politicians to stand up against the systematic practice of violence in politics.

    Alliance are on the front line, others are squatting in their Orange tinted bunkers.

    Time for some evictions.

  • Rory Carr

    I am sorry, DC, but I do have to echo the sentiments of 6crealist. This fleg business is becoming tiresome. Do give it a rest. It’s gone and it ain’t coming back until and unless you can swallow parity-of- esteem.

    In the meantime why not stick a wee union fleg in your bowler hat and stand outside City Hall for an hour or two every day (on top of a step-ladder if you so please) ? That might ease you pain a little. No ?

  • GavBelfast

    Not surprisingly, I agree with John McCallister’s overall thrust.

    On the issue of flags and emblems, do nationalist contributors who seek “parity of esteem” by way of according equal status to, say, the Union Jack and the Irish Tricolour on public buildings (or no flag for that matter), see this sort of equal status / “parity of esteem” continuing in the event of a transfer of sovereignty of Northern Ireland from a United Kingdom to a United Ireland?

  • Comrade Stalin

    I asked back a long time ago why designated days wasn’t a problem in Lisburn and Craigavon when the unionists in those places voted it in. His reply was that the policy was only bad because nationalists supported it.

    In other words, a good policy (namely designated days, which unionists either supported or quietly accepted up until last December) can become a bad one if it turns out that Sinn Féin can be persuaded to support it. I hear this from the certain elements within unionism all the time; in relation to powersharing these same elements will tell you that it must be leading to a united Ireland otherwise SF would not be supporting it. It is classic unionism – spin every victory as a defeat in order to keep the support base afraid and in a state of permanent besiegedness.

  • JH

    To be fair to John, he showed up at an event debating a United Ireland at QUBSU a couple of years ago organised by Ógra Shinn Féin. I don’t think many other Unionists would have given it the time of day.

  • 6crealist

    “…do nationalist contributors who seek “parity of esteem” by way of according equal status to, say, the Union Jack and the Irish Tricolour on public buildings (or no flag for that matter), see this sort of equal status / “parity of esteem” continuing in the event of a transfer of sovereignty of Northern Ireland from a United Kingdom to a United Ireland?”

    If there’s ever to be a reunited Ireland then the six counties will continue to have a high degree of devolved power. So in what would formerly have been Northern Ireland, yes, absolutely there would have to be that level of equal status afforded to the two different flags and symbols.

    We could begin now by renaming a few streets in Belfast that would at least give some recognition to its Irish nationalist past. Victoria Sq., Great Victoria St., Royal Ave., Shaftesbury Sq., Donegall Rd., Chichester St., etc. etc. – it’s all grossly one-sided.

  • keano10

    Jackanory stuff from McCrea who clearly must be chasing soft-Nationalist votes. The last time that the SDLP took a stand on anything remotely considered overtly Nationalist, Robin Hood was running around Sherwwood Forest…

  • I haven’t been in the province in over a decade, but by following events in the media online daily at Nuzhound I think I have a pretty good grasp of the situation and I would say that John is wrong and Greenflag is right in that the barriers never really came down. Take for instance in voting patterns, I would bet that over 90 percent of voters stick within their own community. The PR-STV almost seems customed designed to deal with a situation like NI, people are given multiple preferences. Yet how many politicians in the center-ground moderate parties asked their followers to cross the divide and vote for the other party with their lower-preferences? Did the UUP do this? Did the SDLP do this? No, instead Trimble and Mallon quarreled, Mallon could not even bring himself to ever pronounce the real name of the entity that he was serving in. I would say that the reality is that folks like DC are representative of typical voters on both sides of the divide. Just look at his nationalist equivalents that regularly respond on this site (socaire, FDM, et al).

    If you want to see where people ventured out from behind the barriers look at the constituencies where Alliance is viable in–Greater Belfast: South Antrim, East Antrim, East Belfast, South Belfast, Strangford, North Down. Outside of these districts the party isn’t even viable and in those districts the party is usually competing for the fifth or sixth seat.

  • SK

    “I am sorry, DC, but I do have to echo the sentiments of 6crealist. This fleg business is becoming tiresome. Do give it a rest. It’s gone and it ain’t coming back until and unless you can swallow parity-of- esteem.”

    _________

    Hear hear. How many tedious variants of the “it’s their fault for making us riot” excuse has DC churned out at this stage?

    Meanwhile John McCallister is 100% correct. He’s put his political necks on the line in the pursuit of a bit of political level-headedness, but it will come to nothing if a little bit of reciprocation isn’t forthcoming from the Stoops.

  • DC

    @sk

    motions to completely remove union flags create an impossible environment in which to compromise and as a result only serve to harden attitudes across the divide.

    of course alliance don’t mind compromising but then they aren’t unionist; alliance is supposedly above unionism and nationalism yet it seems to have concerned itself in ethno national politics, subsequently falling apart as it was never built to withstand coming into contact with this kind of stuff.

    the outcome: a suboptimal national identity output on behalf of a community that it purports not to specifically represent.

  • GavBelfast

    Thanks, 6crealist.

    Anyone else?

  • DC

    basically SF, SDLP and Alliance have redefined what an acceptable unionist identity in Belfast should be, ironically none of them being unionist.

    Q: Shared Future furthered?

    A: No.

    Q: Irish tradition furthered?

    A: No.

    Q: Unionists pissed off?

    A: Yes!

    Job done by SF SDLP, and from Alliance ‘that’ll teach you for sending out those leaflets!”.

  • “There was a very difficult situation that one of our councillors was placed in that night” .. Patsy McGlone on the Dungannon Council vote [see above link], the time when Newton Emerson tore a strip off the SDLP.

    The other two SDLP councillors were absent from the meeting. Perhaps outsiders don’t fully appreciate how difficult it is to speak ‘out of turn’ in many places; the threat from extremists, whether real or imagined, is still there; ‘moderate pluralistic’ politics is little more than a comfort blanket for the chattering classes under the current dispensation.

  • Zig70

    What is wrong with the SDLP representing the Irish in NI, he says it like it’s a bad thing. There is a need there and a vote. If John thinks he can bring about a society that doesn’t need cultural protectionism then let’s see his manifesto. I’ll bet there will be a big splash of red, white and blue, and that’s fine but then get back over the fence. Who do the culturally agnostic vote for? There would need to be more of a choice than alliance for it to get any traction, let’s face it, most of us aren’t liberal.

  • BluesJazz

    Maybe John was just back from watching ‘Good Vibrations’.

  • sherdy

    How can a politician like John, not being in any party, criticise the beliefs or actions of any party?
    Maybe if he and Basil had been able to form an alternative party then he would have been in a position to lecture others.
    So, at the moment, who does he speak for – John McCallister – but no one else. A lone voice in the wilderness.

  • ThomasMourne

    Until the electorate decide to leave behind the sectarian politics of flags, emblems and all of the other bigotry which make Northern Ireland almost ungovernable in a shared democratic way, then we are lumbered with our out-dated parties and the neanderthal ‘leaders’ that most of them have.

    The prospect of a shared future will remain a dream so long as we keep voting for these failed representatives.

  • Greenflag

    @ GavBelfast – 6 April 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Thanks, 6crealist.

    Anyone else?

    6 crealist is being realistic -even if the situation envisaged is not a political likelihood anytime soon .

  • Comrade Stalin

    DC,

    Complete rubbish. The redefinition is that of the unionists. They were happy with designated days in two other councils, and voted for that policy themselves; then they redefined their policy to say that designated days was an attack on their culture.

    How anyone can think that a shared future is one where the union flag flies over public buildings 365 days a year is beyond me, but then again, consider the source.

  • Comrade Stalin

    What is wrong with the SDLP representing the Irish in NI, he says it like it’s a bad thing.

    It certainly is a bad thing. Voting for people purely out of a need to state your tribal identity is bad politics and is self-evidently delivering bad government.

  • Gopher

    John is correct in what he is saying, there needs to be a move to a stable constitutional position around the middle ground. He has outlined his position clearly. Incidently he got more transfers in the last election from greens than from the SDLP so im not sure he is seeking converts but rather pitching to 21st century non voters.

  • DC

    David Ford said he is agnostic on the union.

    If Alliance is agnostic on the union what does it matter about flying flags designated days in order to reflect n ireland’s constitutional position, if alliance is supposed not to care?

    Why didn’t Alliance abstain based on this agnosticism and then we could have sat back and seen just how extremely damaging the original motion really was as it was brought into effect at the hands of SF and SDLP, carrying 24 to 21?

    At least admit it was a toxic motion, esp now in hindsight? If you believe it to have been a bit toxic, do you now think it should’ve been junked instead?

    There’s no shame in pausing for thought and calling a Time Out.

  • DC,

    I think you are correct and you should call a time out on yourself. Your obsession is tedious for the rest of us.

  • DC

    i’m not the one causing millions of pounds worth of damage as a result of a flag policy switch joe.

    sorry if my enquiries and probing piss off nationalists and alliance who don’t want to fess up to problem creating than problem solving but hey ho.

    also, where i come from and from what i have been reading people think alliance have been a bit too clever by half bordering on disingenuous and deserve a good kick in the ass.

    this is not my own view but i hope i have at least explained why some might feel the way that they do.

  • Zig70

    cs, representing the Irish tribe does not necessarily equal bad decisions. largely it is irrelevant to the decisions necessary to run the 6counties. My view point is that trying to replace diversity with grey muck is less representative of the human condition. The problem is where the sdlp make bad decisions blinkered by their tribal predudice so if you want to comment on those, then I’ll listen to your argument. John is sitting on one side of the fence critising others without really saying he’s jumped on the fence himself. Robbo seems to have perfected the ambiguous statements that people with good intentions pin their hopes on and this is just another meaningless interview in a similar vein.

  • ‘interesting outake’

    Nope, it’s fairly run of the mill stuff I’ve read a hundred times before and until he decides to tell us the nuts and bolts of what he’s actually for, ye know, the stuff behind sound bites like the above, I won’t be taking him particularly serious in anyway, but the rest of you can of course coo away.

  • Comrade Stalin

    DC,

    i’m not the one causing millions of pounds worth of damage as a result of a flag policy switch joe.

    The troubles cost many millions of pounds of damage. Is this the fault of the unionists for not implementing policies to persuade the IRA to stop bombing and killing people ? What nonsense. Stop trolling and spamming all the discussions with your off topic rubbish.

    zig:

    cs, representing the Irish tribe does not necessarily equal bad decisions

    Not quite what I meant. People voting along tribal lines delivers bad government, this is self evident. If you want to argue that what we have is good government, go right ahead.

    My view point is that trying to replace diversity with grey muck is less representative of the human condition.

    But nobody is saying that diversity should be replaced. Sorry but this is a classic strawman introduced by the tribalists; that those who are advocating non-tribal politics want to see everyone drop their culture and identity and conform to some sort of nondescript neutral form. This is obviously nonsense; what we need to stop doing is defining ourselves politically in terms of our culture and identity. Voting for someone just because he shares your national identity and cultural perceptions is stupid.

    The problem is where the sdlp make bad decisions blinkered by their tribal predudice so if you want to comment on those, then I’ll listen to your argument.

    I can think of a few, for example the decision to oppose a role for the National Crime Agency here; and various blinkered interventions on behalf of dissident republican prisoners .

  • JH

    @Comrade Stalin
    “various blinkered interventions on behalf of dissident republican prisoners”

    You say ‘dissident republican prisoners’ CS. They’d say ‘victims of human rights abuses’. Which would at least be consistent with SDLP policy of yore.

  • After at least a year of speculation about Basil McCrea, John McCallister leaving UUP to join Conservatives, Alliance or form a new party , they eventually jumped ship several weeks ago…to form a new party.As yet there has been no new party.
    The arrival of more politicians into the centre ground ishould be good news for people who like that sort of thing. But the arrival of a new political party is not necessarily good news for the market leader …the Alliance Party. The Women’s Coalition damaged them in 1998.
    The McUnionists need a party structure.
    The Alliance don’t need a rival party.
    So a marriage between Liberal Unionists/Conservatives and Liberal Unionist/LetsGetAlongerist/Agnostics is certainly possible but needs to be arranged by the Matchmakers.
    To me…McCallisters seeming conversion from the man who spoke at SDLP Youth Conference a year ago to the man writing about SDLP in News Letter is part of the process.
    There seems to be some wooing going on…whether full negotiation, informal chats, signals or maybe someone brought in as a Matchmaker…..but it could all end in a formal betrothal where people are declared visionary and courageous…OR it could all end in tears “more fish in the sea, you’re better off without him/her” kinda thing.

    Ultimately they NEED each other.

  • DC

    Comrade

    I think the Alliance Party is a civic party, now evolved out of unionism and no longer unionist.

    Both SF and SDLP are now pretty much robust conservative nationalist parties.

    The Alliance Party, for the sake of crude argument, is an identity-less civic party (not culturally or ethnically unionist nor nationalist) and this is fine and admirable; but – comes a cropper when touching issues like flags especially in an ethnically divided city such as Belfast. Alliance thinks its civic approach should be without any ethnic blow-back and those that do are a bit mad in doing so, especially the protesters.

    But let’s combine the voting bloc on the divisive flag issue to identify if an ethnic component had been used:

    the civic and nationalism – outcome: civic nationalism.

    So, it looks to me as if SF, SDLP and Alliance together have redefined what an acceptable unionist identity should be despite out of that trio none being a unionist party.

    Although for Alliance its intentions were good because it took the non-sectarian civic approach, however! – failed to realise that it only got its amendment over the line using nationalism, which has a big ethnic component and motive to it.

    Over on FJH’s blog i put it that both men – McCallister and McCrea – joining alliance might have the benefit of adding some ethnic ballast into a party that has gone a bit too civic in an ethnically divided city such as belfast.

    Maybe if john and basil had been involved with alliance around the time of the flag decision they might have perceived that fall out and violence was likely to happen based on their unionist background, and could have whispered in alliance’s ear to pause the decision for next term in the absence of a DUP/UUP leaflet and passing of time to let things die down and cool off, cultivating the ground for a compromise next term definitely. A dash of the communal acting as a stabilising influence on alliance.

    What is the difference between LetsGetaLongerism (alliance party politics) and Liberal Unionism?

    There must be something there as why haven’t John McCallister and Basil McCrea signed up to Alliance?

  • DC,

    Alliance’s approach is to look at good governance rather than at ethnic identity. It is not an identity party. In most Western countries there exists a combination of these two types of parties, but usually ideological or interest-based parties predominant. NI along with Israel is one of the few countries where identity politics predominates.

    Because zero-sum politics still predominates between the two main blocs, although I think that behind the scenes SF and DUP still manage to arrange things to mutually benefit both parties, Alliance’s main role is to referee between the two blocs. The people who find this so objectionable are those who have not yet figured out that neither community can just have its own way and that compromise must be attempted, or those who profit by manipulating those people.

    The compromise fashioned by Alliance that you and your kind find so objectionable is actually the prevailing norm in Britain. You might want to ponder the irony of that–a party that claims to be British getting upset over the introduction of what is actually the British norm rather than the culture of ethnic triumphalism that predominates in NI.

    The real differences between the McCrea/MacAllister party and Alliance are twofold. First, Alliance doesn’t identify as being unionist but is de facto pro-union. Second, Alliance for the first time in its existence is not in an oppositional mode because of the law and order ministry, and the new party wants an opposition.

  • DC

    @tmitch57

    designated days – good policy but bad politics?

    By that i mean politics is about judgement and about knowing when to take a decision and the political environment in which you can take it and in terms of N Ireland politics, take it safely.

    So after four months of doing to death the flag issue i am now bringing my investigation into the circumstances around the flag and the fall out to a close.

    i think it is safe to conclude the following:

    1) The outcome was a 95% victory for nationalism.
    2) There was a failure in centrist politics, maybe jugdement linked to timing or whether ethnically unaligned civic centrism such as Alliance is the right sort of centrism for NI.
    3) Shared Future is shared by Alliance only – unless there is a unionist identity reduction component – whereupon pan-nationalist support is automatic.
    4) Alliance Party can act in a destabilising way esp within ethnically divided cities, particularly when concerning itself in ethno-national politics.
    5) On a positive note, in majority unionist and indeed nationalist areas it may still be safe to vote Alliance 🙂

    Apologies for dragging this one out for so long but i think i have now taken as much as what i can from the topic of the flag, centrist politics, unionism and nationalism.

    i hope everyone enjoys the rest of their day.

  • Progressive Unionist

    That was a very good article by John and will hopefully encourage moderate minds in the SDLP to be more confident in speaking up.

    His best point was that moderate unionism and moderate nationalist should work together as partners. The problem with that from the SDLP standpoint has been that many within their supposed ‘partner’ in the UUP weren’t really moderates at all.

    Now that there’s a genuinely moderate and progressive-minded pro-Union party about to be formed hopefully that will change, so that all the centre-ground parties can work together to ensure a shared future can no longer be ignored!

  • ArdoyneUnionist

    Is moderate Unionism already not working with the SDLP, in that Margaret Ritchie would not be elected MP for South Down if it were not for Unionist votes???

  • Morpheus

    If you were a moderate unionist which party are you putting your ‘x’ beside come the next election? UUP? Or wait and see how Basil goes?

    Has Alliance been run out of Belfast?

  • Greenflag

    ‘The outcome was a 95% victory for nationalism.’

    It was’nt .It was a defeat for a certain brand of unionism namely the in your face 365 days a year brand but in what is called the zero sum game in NI -at least on this occasion it was not a victory for nationalism .

    It was a victory for common sense and Alliance are the party that even if they are ‘agnostic ‘ on the Union brought Northern Ireland’s main city into conformity with the rest of the UK .

    ‘designated days – good policy but bad politics?’

    There are time and I don’t mean just in reference to the flag controversy when the political environment is not conducive to change thats long overdue . It could be surmised that it was resistance to such change that led ‘unionism ‘ on it’s long path of self destruction . At pivotal moments in history some political parties or politicians become leaders instead of followers -and confront the herd of the status quo to bring about a new ‘environment .

    While it would be crass to compare the flag controversy with any of the great civil and human rights movements of the past couple of centuries from the Chartists to the Anti Slavery abolitionists to the struggle for womens votes to the anti apartheid movement – there is as we see from history never a perfect moment to initiate necessary change. There is always resistance from the powers that be -entrenched interests etc etc .

    While Alliance may not benefit electorally in the short term they will be seen longer term as the party that made the right decision at the time .

    And NI can do with a lot more ‘agnostics ‘ not just in faith but even more so in it’s politics .

  • FDM

    @tmitch57

    “I would say that the reality is that folks like DC are representative of typical voters on both sides of the divide. Just look at his nationalist equivalents that regularly respond on this site (socaire, FDM, et al). ”

    Save the man playing for the Blue Oyster club.

    Outside of that answer the questions that people make about the subject matter.

    Those are the rules of the site. You shouldn’t need the reminder.

    In answer to the OP I can’t agree that the SDLP have made any lurch to the deep green. There is scant evidence to support that position.

    “Unionists”, whatever they are today, just seem to have a problem with nationalists being well nationalist.

    CS makes a good point above “In other words, a good policy … can become a bad one if it turns out that Sinn Féin can be persuaded to support it.”

    The PUL community just want the status quo maintained ad infinitum. “May no new thing arise” is their mantra. Blinker yourself form reality and skip from negation to negation in the dictionary, “Never”, “No”, “Not an inch”, “Not the generation to betray Ulster” and nadda, nadda, nadda…

    How we can even envisage moving forward with people leadsership like the Caleban in charge who are so far removed from the modern world and reality?

    I see the SDLP/SF/APNI etc… trying to reach accommodations for tomorrow and DUPers and their DUPes want to doggedly remain stuck somewhere around the mid 18th century.

  • DC

    @greenflag

    just to tie up some loose ends here.

    Let me list two advantages of delay post-leaflet:

    1) Waiting till next election by blocking the motion on good relations grounds would have meant that the electorate were given a heads up about what alliance intended to do, which way it stood, so come next election they would be fully mandated to do what they wanted to do as there would be no cover for alliance to bluff around on this one.

    And this is important here because people are not sure just what alliance is and i think it’s about time alliance came clean and said to east belfast and carrick people that it’s a civic party ethnically unaligned not as once described as a party for both unionists and nationalists but actually not for unionist and nationalist types. alliance is ethnically unaligned and most certainly shouldn’t bluff any more it is liberal unionist to its electorate.

    2) Advantage two, based on the rationale that it wants to bluff on it is liberal unionist, given alliance has courted the liberal unionist vote, i imagine blocking the motion until such times as both SDLP and SF proposed designated days themselves, at which point alliance would abstain, would have been more appealing to liberal unionists, who, if the flag must come down, would like to see nationalists work for it. this way it could be viewed as alliance civilising nationalism rather than the civic being nationalised – civic nationalism. Civic nationalism, a bit too green for liberal unionists i reckon.

    There’s no harm in delay and fudge i.e alliance not committing to the union flag in Belfast till a shared future is agreed at stormont, i mean this was the stuff that kept the peace process rolling, why should we praise hasty foolishness that had unless the PSNI not foiled dissident terror plots could have had some really serious consequences. And for what – all over a flag Alliance doesn’t care that much about or campaign on?

    And relations are ruined because it’s no coincidence that dissidents are attempting spectaculars as they suspect in particular that loyalist patience and nerves have been tested, look at just how many dissident terror attempts have come about post flag fallout.

    Alliance/SF/DUP sailed very close to the wind here – wise owls say those that don’t remember history are condemned to repeat it, sure we know fine well making and taking decisions out of anger and spite can lead to dead people esp concerning ethno-national / identity politics. I suspect that the original SF SDLP motion was spiteful, this led to DUP UUP anger, which leafleted Alliance who then got angry and proceeded with the decision largely in spite.

    Those are my suspicions around how the ‘timing and judgement’ got -for want of a better word – so shot.

    IF my suspicions are true, I’d gladly see all brought down a peg or two. (But people expect more of would-be centrist parties, esp ‘cross-community’ parties, to do all to keep the peace not help break it.)

  • Well that promise don’t last very long, did it, DC.

    So after four months of doing to death the flag issue i am now bringing my investigation into the circumstances around the flag and the fall out to a close.

  • DC

    No it is the end, i have had it. that was just a little tidying up there.

    what is written above is roughly, give or take the odd misplaced word, my settled view.

  • DC

    “I would say that the reality is that folks like DC are representative of typical voters on both sides of the divide. Just look at his nationalist equivalents that regularly respond on this site (socaire, FDM, et al). ”

    I know cheek of it, I consider myself a centrist 🙂

  • “And this is important here because people are not sure just what alliance is and i think it’s about time alliance came clean and said to east belfast and carrick people that it’s a civic party ethnically unaligned not as once described as a party for both unionists and nationalists but actually not for unionist and nationalist types. alliance is ethnically unaligned and most certainly shouldn’t bluff any more it is liberal unionist to its electorate.”

    @DC,
    Alliance has been saying this since it was born more than 40 years ago. In 1998 I was doing research in Belfast and I suggested to the party that they redefine themselves as “a different king of unionist party” i.e. the kind that appoints Catholics as its leaders–three in the past. But I was told that the membership would overwhelmingly reject this because they saw themselves as “other.” Anyone who doesn’t know this simply hasn’t been paying attention. You know, the guy of people who think that politics is about waving flegs.

  • @DC
    Sorry, that should read the “kind of people.”