Beattie; “So I want to ask you out on a date, a date with democracy”

Doug Beattie is a UUP Candidate for Upper Bann 

I want to ask you out on a date. There won’t be a fancy meal, no wine and no flowers – in fact on the face of it there will be nothing in the date for you but you will leave the date feeling good about yourself. This is a date with democracy and the Assembly election on 2nd March 2017.

Already I can sense that many people have stopped reading, they feel so disengaged with the whole process that the act of voting is as alien to them as flying first class on British Airways. However it is important to understand what is being asked of you, the electorate, the voter who decides the makeup of the Northern Ireland Assembly after the election because those who sit on the blue benches only do so because you put them there. A fact forgotten by many elected representatives once the count is completed.

The ability for you to vote has been hard won, by individuals like Emmeline Pankhurst who fought for women’s right to vote as equals to men. It may seem unbelievable now but up until 1928 only women over the age of 30 were allowed to vote while for men it was 21. Today everyone is viewed as equals with one person one vote and the courage taken to vote is not based out of fear but a courage to vote for the right reasons.

When women were finally allowed the vote in Afghanistan they turned out in their millions despite the fear of reprisals from the Taliban. Most were uneducated as education was not allowed for women in Afghanistan, some were beaten in the street as they made their way to the polling station, some abused as they made their way home. Outside polling stations women stood with inked fingers, the purple ink the sign they had voted, only for the Taliban carrying secateurs (pruning shears) to cut off the inked finger.

Of course we have had violence during elections here in Northern Ireland and at times both physical and passive intimidation but nothing on the scale that is suffered by many women throughout the world today. The biggest problem we have here is apathy, many people vote in their head but fail to leave their homes to make the short journey to a polling station to cast that very simple but very important vote. In doing so they leave elected politicians in charge of our country who don’t actually represent the whole country.

At the last election, the DUP received the most first preference votes, and as was their right, took up the position of the First Minister. Yet they fail to represent everyone living in Northern Ireland who desperately want change – and why should they. They are happy to play to their core vote knowing they will be the largest party and for them a low turnout will ensure they can do as they like. In not voting you are in effect voting for the policies of the DUP, if not the party itself, and the regressive direction it is taking Northern Ireland. A direction that means your children, even newborn babies today, will be paying for the failure of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) Scheme into adulthood and failing to vote means you cannot challenge that failing and you reward incompetency and arrogance.

In 2016 the country voted on two occasions, the Assembly election followed by the EU referendum – the former had a turnout of 54% while the latter had a turnout of approximately 63%. If in 2017 we had a turnout of 63% then we have a real chance of making a change in Northern Ireland politics. It will give the country the opportunity to tell all political parties, especially the two largest, the direction they would like Northern Ireland to travel in. Not just for the next five years but for the next twenty years.

So I want to ask you out on a date, a date with democracy. Put it in your diary, put a reminder on your fridge, tell your friends, your partner, your children – make the effort to leave your homes on the 2nd March and cast your vote. For you deserve better than what your politicians are delivering for you now, your children deserve a better future but if you don’t vote nothing is going to change.

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  • Lucian Fletcher

    Hear, hear. Though I would think most people on Slugger would read beyond the line you assume.

    Unless they read the biog bit in bold and come straight to the comments, of course!

    It will be desperate if either the same (or even larger) portion of the electorate plump for the previous Executive’s parties. I really don’t see where we would go from there.

  • Fear Éireannach

    People should absolutely come out and vote. But they should not vote for a party who voted against including respect for the Good Friday Agreement in the Brexit negotiations.

  • Msiegnaro

    Uninspiring stuff from Beattie. He claims the current crop of politicians have let us down of which he was a part of even in a opposition role.

    There is no mention of the corruption and incompetence that has plagued the UUP in the past. With regards to the incompetence this is still rife within the UUP.

    Whether Beattie likes it or not the people have voted DUP as the leader of Unionism, the UUP have not represented a viable alternative for years.

  • Neil

    There is no mention of the corruption and incompetence that has plagued the UUP in the past.

    Corruption? Surely that matters not to you, you’re going to vote DUP? Corruption is not a deal breaker in any sense it would seem.

    Anyhoo, you tend to throw out kind of meaningless phrases, “faceless bureaucrats” in regard to the European Parliament for example, so would you care to elaborate with specific examples of what it is you’re referring to with regards to corruption and incompetence? Thanks.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Mr Beattie

    Welcome.

    A nationalist commentator on here asked an interesting question regarding your party;

    Why do you not ‘celebrate’ more the party’s number of ex-service personnel?

    Your political rivals would expose themselves as fools if they attempted to label people such as yourself as ‘Lundies’ anytime your party made a brave decision (the laziest and most effective trick in the book, even in 2017).

    I understand that you may not wish to politicise the military (and no doubt from a nationalist point of view its way past that) but your rivals have no such scruples and would politicize anything if it gave them a lead.

    Furthermore, surely you owe it to veterans province wide to stop the abuse of memorials, cenotaphs and poppies by those who wish to capitalise on the memory of the fallen but not willing to put their own hides in danger?

    There are people out there looking for such a voice.

  • rg

    I’ve just swiped left Doug. You’re just as prone to silly stunts as Nesbitt.
    Why? Because I’m a unionist.

  • Ciarán

    Irish women attained the same voting rights as men in 1922. Glaring omission of the NICRA campaign too.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Could not have put it better myself AG. Thank you for drawing attention to this important point.

  • Msiegnaro

    There were land deals with Harry West, Allister Patterson also came in for fraud around 2000. Incompetence is really there for all to see.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Good Luck Doug ! Great Post ! We really do need politicians like you !

  • Charlie Farlie

    Questions for Doug…

    Firstly a comment – I think you are quite a fair man! I listened to you at the previous election and felt that you used your background in the military to try and understand the complexities of conflict here and the importance of not running a black and white brush when analysing our history.

    My question/s to you as an Irish Nationalist is this…
    a) You (UUP) are running on a middle of the road ticket for this election. What practical policies does your party have for being inclusive enough to start a United Ireland debate for if/when the time comes that the demographics change?
    B) What practical policies do your party propose for the implementation of the agreed upon Irish Language Act?

    If the UUP are truly running on a ticket that they are not ‘extreme’ in comparison to DUP and SF, then surely they have policies on the above areas and how to implement them if they truly want nationalists to consider voting for them!

    Lastly how do you reconcile the massive differences of ideology within your party when standing on a ‘middle of the road’ platform?

  • Msiegnaro

    Doug spends most days talking about his military service and speaking about veterans.

  • Stephen Warke

    Cringeworthy! Would be better putting needles in his eyes!

  • Lucian Fletcher

    Yet you say that you remained with the UUP until and beyond the last election? What has the DUP done SINCE 2016 that made you switch? I know a lot of DUP people who are staying put and will continue to vote for them, but I know very few they have picked up in recent weeks.

  • Neil

    Harry West? Never heard of him, leader until 1979? Funny. Any other corruption scandals between 1979 and last December bother you or is it just those attached to your political opposition?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Good.

  • Tochais Siorai

    ‘……….In 2016 the country voted on two occasions, the Assembly election followed by the EU referendum – the former had a turnout of 54% while the latter had a turnout of approximately 63%. If in 2017 we had a turnout of 63% then we have a real chance of making a change in Northern Ireland politics…….’

    Be careful what you wish for, Doug – a turnout like that would very probably result in a significant loss of Unionist seats in the assembly.

  • Neil

    I suppose it’s a considerable improvement on attending some poppy adorned mural in memory of a murdering spide who never wore a uniform in his life eh AG? 🙂

  • Msiegnaro

    I thought the UUP could offer more but internally they’re briefing against each other all the time and policy wise are a mess.

  • Msiegnaro

    It’s difficult to absorb the views on morality of someone who uses a cartoon paedophile are their profile picture.

  • Msiegnaro

    Do you not follow him Am?

  • Fear Éireannach

    In 2016 the country voted on two occasions, the Assembly election
    followed by the EU referendum – the former had a turnout of 54% while
    the latter had a turnout of approximately 63%”

    Will the same respect be shown for the 63% turnout in the Assembly elections as was shown the 63% of the NI population who voted in the EU referendum? If so, why bother voting, if the English are going to ignore the principles of consent and just suit themselves in any case.

  • Backbencher

    I am sure you know, but just in case you aren’t on top of the detail, the EU referendum was a UK wide vote not an NI vote.

  • Fear Éireannach

    It was a racket to overthrow the GFA.

  • Msiegnaro

    Yea that makes a lot of sense.

  • Ciaran O’Neill

    Quagmire is a legend. Its Herbert whos the paedo

  • grumpy oul man

    Boy you really dont like to be asked to back up your tants do you.

  • Fear Éireannach

    Glad you agree.

  • Msiegnaro

    I backed them up and boy do you live up to your name.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    No.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Yes. (Houl on here, the smiley face is freaking me out, what do you mean? Did he do that? )

  • Neil

    No Doug did not do that, sorry, that could have been worded better…

  • rg

    Another UUP nightmare performance by Smyth on Nolan tonight. Well done Nelson. Composed and logical in comparison with the squabbling eejits around him. At least we know where he stands.

  • tmitch57

    Yes, everything in the world revolves around the wee six.

  • grumpy oul man

    Well no you dont, with Nama, Red Sky and RHI all out there and recent. You accussed the UUP of corruption over something Harry West done (without telling anybidy what it was) that is not backing up your claims in a spectacular fashion.

  • Gopher

    I’m not sure anyone watching Nolan would change their mind and vote. A thoroughly mediocre politicain managed to hold his own simply by maintaining his position against the “stars” of the other parties. I can only put that down to that the other parties hold no position that they wont dance around.

  • Msiegnaro
  • SeaanUiNeill

    LC: “I really don’t see where we would go from there.”

    Yojimbo, in the form of some kind of outside rule, I’d imagine:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yojimbo_(film)

  • MainlandUlsterman

    The prevous form of local government franchise persisted in NI for about 20 years longer than in the rest of the UK. The NI anomaly on that was between 1948, when the rest of the UK changed it, and 1969 when NI changed it. So “one person one vote” is only a couple of decades more recent in NI than for the rest of the UK.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You’re aware the UK is a nation of 65 million or so? Not all of whom live in NI. Just checking …

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I think you’ll find their view was to reflect what the courts have ruled, that Brexit is not in breach of the GFA. It simply did not need to be mentioned in the legislation triggering Article 50, which was a very simple mechanical process to start the process of leaving the EU, as promised, in accordance with the referendum result. It doesn’t mean those agreeing to trigger Article don’t also intend to fully respect the GFA and any number of other things – the Article 50 legislation just wasn’t the time and place for it.

  • Skibo

    I wish the UK would get on and issue Article 50 as this is dragging on far too long. Companies who want to move to Dublin Drogheda and Dundalk need time to find premises.

  • grumpy oul man

    How long ago was this. Was it before red sky. NAMA, RHI. Irisgate or peters wee strip of land! But you think something that happened 30 years ago as more relevent.
    It seems there are more than one type of dead cat politics

  • Skibo

    Those bloody civil rights people upsetting the Unionist culture of controlling who votes and what their vote is worth! Remember gerrymandering!

  • Msiegnaro

    It’s not dead cat politics, based on his reputation his daughter was recently co-opted onto a council seat.

  • grumpy oul man

    How does the co opting the daughter of a gun runner who supied weapons to loyalist death squads compare to co opting Wests daughter.
    And got anything newer that cat is getting really smelly.

  • Msiegnaro

    How long ago was he a gun runner?

  • John Devane
  • grumpy oul man

    How long ago was west sa bad boy!

  • Msiegnaro

    So we’re in the same timescale, one rests one’s case.

  • Skibo

    John, you miss one thing that is different in the UK membership and the Ireland membership. Ireland has a constitution and any treaties have to be passed via referendum. In the UK Westminster and the Royal Prerogative decide on UK treaties. The UK harks back to the time that the Crown decided everything.
    On the issue of a confederation of states, if you look at the USA, the President and the two houses make overarching laws for the country but the states do have a certain amount of independence and that is why you will find laws varying between states.
    The EU is still evolving and I expect it will grow further too.
    You see the system moving forward at different speeds but the UK always seemed to have the handbrake on. perhaps it will progress faster without the delaying tactics of the UK.
    In the end all I can say is we can look at the progress of the countries after they achieved membership of the EU and other that Greece, I believe all countries have increased their economy and GDP. Can’t all be bad.

  • John Devane

    Skibo your new found confidence in the institutions of the EU and your GDP stats are not telling the whole story.

    The EEC was good for Ireland and for the basket cases in southern eurozone. It was the one size fits all political decision to introduce a single currency plus the undemocratic nature of EU political union that wrecked it. The Schengen Agreement open borders is another self inflicted wound.

    Your case for Ireland’s safeguards against being consumed by a united states of Europe is hopefully never going to be tested. The EU will have to reform now it’s 2nd largest contributor is leaving the union.

  • Skibo

    John, why do you think I am new to having confidence in the EU? Interesting that rather than trust facts and figures, you want to suggest there is an undercurrent where a few voices are looking for Irexit. It is not illogical. there is no serious movement in Ireland for them to leave the EU.
    Why should Ireland leave the EU to protect a market that is half the size of that with the UK. Again illogical!
    The EU was good for Ireland and is still good for Ireland. Why would she leave to be tied to the coat trails of the UK where she would have no democratic leverage what so ever. Again illogical.
    The safeguards for the protection of Ireland’s sovereignty is in place and has been tested and no doubt will be tested in the future. Ireland is no stranger to a powerful country trying to dictate it’s future.
    You are correct that the budgets within the EU will have to be reviewed following the UK leave and Ireland will not be found wanting. The theory of having open access to a 500m market is worth a price paying.

  • John Devane

    I know Ireland is in no rush to leave the EU now. I was over twice last year before and after the referendum. The reality has not sunk in yet. Before the referendum most just did not think the Leave EU campaign would win. It really depends on the outcomes of the Brexit negotiations with the EU. Hopefully the border remains an open one and life goes on as before.
    The next stage is how will the Eurozone resolve its systemic crisis. If it’s full fiscal union then more political union inevitably follows. How will Ireland deal with it? Say enough is enough no more or meekly become an EU province?

  • Skibo

    John, I am just so amazed at how you can be so confident at how the UK will perform after Brexit yet be so dismissive about how well the EU could also do.
    I think the issue of Brexit will shake up the EU along with the elections that will happen this year.
    I believe the EU will keep going from strength to strength and possibly they will progress the ideals of closer cooperation between the countries, whether that will include rationalising corporation tax and income tax, I don’t think so.
    I have two solutions to allow a soft/ no border in Ireland.
    1) Joint-authority with both jurisdictions having an input into NI. Ni could end up inside the EU but will legislative links with the UK.
    2) Reunification.
    The third option would be a hard border with customs posts. The dissident Republicans would then have easy targets and we could re-enter a spiral of violence on an ever downward trajectory.

  • John Devane

    Amazed. Why? The UK will be ok outside the EU. Many independent nations do more than survive outside the EU. It has really succeeded in draining the confidence out of nation states smothered by its omnipresence. There is life outside it. Remember the EU has been around since the Single European Act 1992. It has since then driven a coach and horses through the national democracies of its member states even overthrowing referenda decisions it does not like.

    Your plan for Irish unity is all well and good but I doubt it will occur on the back of Brexit. The veiled threat of dissident violence is similar to the veiled threat of loyalist violence in the event of a united Ireland. The EU is the only impediment to a soft open border. No one else

  • Skibo

    Well it just isn’t up to the EU. If the EU offers the UK an open border with open trade but linked to open movement of labour as requested by Stormont then it would be up to the UK if they wanted a hard or soft border. In the end it will not matter what you or I think. Negotiations will happen at a far higher level that either of us can even think about.
    I note you did not comment on the issue of joint authority, an option to keep NI both in the EU and in the UK.
    I was not threatening dissident violence but merely pointing out if there are numerous rigid targets that will be difficult to fortify while still not looking threatening. they will become possible targets. They seem to have upped their level of activity at the moment. Whether that is a case of the security services not having enough intelligence or them taking opportunity of the election to hit the headlines, who can be sure.
    There is life outside the EU but if it is so wonderful, why are countries queuing up, jumping through hoops to get in?
    It is an open market of 500m. That is very attractive and is will past the 300m in the USA.
    Why restrict your trade to your closest market for around 1% of your government spending?

  • John Devane

    Skibo I realise you were not personally threatening dissident violence. I was simply reiterating the point that the fear of violence is often used as an excuse to obfuscate political progress or discount radical political options. Joint authority or any other in out EU arrangements are not included within the GFA. If there is to be any movement on these options they’d have to be agreed first.
    The UK and Ireland want an open border in Ireland. The fact Ireland remains outside the Schengen Agreement might make some acceptable post Brexit deal with the EU possible to ensure the border remains open. The devil will be in the detail.
    Which countries are jumping to get in and are they going to be net contributors?
    A trade deal between the EU and UK will hopefully be hammered out without the rancour stirred up in the media as it’s in both parties interests to do so

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Lack of OMOV in the council franchise was made out to be a unique NI failing – but it had pertained across the UK only a generation before. More accurately it was a low level failure in NI to modernise the franchise, because it suited the ruling party. Pretty crap, but South Africa or Alabama it wasn’t.

    If you looked at the goings-on at council level across the British Isles at that time, I doubt you would find the NI council situation so much worse than many other regions for local patronage and lack of transparency and low level corruption. Dramas like ‘Our Friends in the North’ spring to mind.

  • grumpy oul man

    Only a couple of decades.oh well thats ok then.
    And another little difference isthat in NI we had a tribal majority using the system to oppress a tribal minority.
    Oh and unlike the rest of the UK to maintain the system people were discrimated against in jobs housing and infrastructure and when people tried to change things ramdom members of the minority were murdered, houses were burnt down and bombs planted. Then of course the civil rights marchers where attacked.
    So not really like the rest of the UK but you know this however to suit your rewrite of history you chose to ignore it.

  • grumpy oul man

    No i am merely showing you how stupid you pulling up something that hapoened nearly 40 years ago and your willingness to turn a blind eye to similar facts when they dont suit you.

  • Msiegnaro

    Well the threat from the axis of evil is too great, only Foster’s team can hold back the tide.

  • Skibo

    That’s odd, I don’t remember anywhere in the GB dividing up the vote system like this:http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00nm4gy

  • grumpy oul man

    The Axis of evil. LOL.
    Only foster can hold back the tide. ROFLMAO
    Will she be able to hold the line and give the plucky. Hobbit time to reach mount doom and destroy the one ring!
    Perhaps the Elves will send help!

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Why odd?

  • Skibo

    Thank you GOM. I honestly thought it would have been self explanatory. Obviously, MU thinks there is no issue with the way the seats were allocated. That is part of our problem today, Unionism do not see any issue with the way they ran here for seventy years.

  • grumpy oul man

    “South Africa or Alabama it wasnt”
    Unless of courae you were a catholic looking a job or a house, or to have a vote!
    You don’t seem to think that organised and systemic secterian discrimination matters.
    Or the willingness to use violence to maintain that discrimmation mattered.
    England brought in OMOV peacefully. It didnt need civil rights marchs and the state didnt oppose OMOV with the mob.
    This make the whole thing very different from England.