I’m not sure there is much that anyone else (in any other political party I mean) can learn from Sinn Fein. Their sheer corporate autocracy is something even a party with the DUP’s history of demagogic leadership cannot match (and, as Chris Dillow notes, history really does matter) can match.
But Alex Kane has a point in one particular regard with respect to unionism’s abysmally poor pitching of its own project…
There is a pro-Union majority in Northern Ireland – a pretty substantial one by my reckoning – but you wouldn’t be able to tell that from the propaganda, poor-us press releases and picking of pointless battles by our unionist leaders and parties. Seriously guys, stop whingeing about Sinn Fein and start offering an attractive, credible alternative. Just for once – surprise us with original thinking and sensible strategies: and surprise Sinn Fein, too, while you’re at it!
That last is the crucial factor. Unionism’s problem is that it has become too easy once again to penetrate their decision making cycle. The drift the grumpy right keeps them handily disaffected from a mainstream liberal media all too ready to disregard almost any and all inconsistencies in Sinn Fein’s handling of almost any issue in which they have a vested interest.
As I noted in our post election profile of the DUP, they could do with trying something other than good old fashioned Roundhead belligerence for which they have become so reliably known:
…the opportunities to deploy any larger, longer term and, dare I say it, more generous strategies seem remote whilst there is no prospect of a genuine two party occupation of the power sharing institutions.
One way of short circuiting the impasse could be a campaign of ‘unreasonable graciousness’. Rather than submitting themselves to endless rounds of fruitless (or worse) negotiations, start putting some precious items (the Irish language, say) on the table capable of attracting popular support from all sides of the community(‘reverse the polarity’ as Jon Pertwee’s Dr Who might have said?)
Something to think about as we head into yet another stormy north Belfast summer..
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty