Soapbox: In all of this Unionist voters have a choice to make.

In 2013 Arlene Foster told the BBC that the DUP was considering holding a border poll in order to consolidate Northern Ireland’s place in the UK. Yet that confidence has since evaporated with Mrs Foster this week pointing to Scotland and claiming that a border poll would be divisive and destabilising. Indeed she has spent much of this election campaign talking about the risk of such a vote were Sinn Féin to top the poll in the upcoming assembly elections.

In using the example of the Scottish referendum on independence Mrs Foster has shot herself in the foot. For despite her claims that the DUP is the only party that can defend the Union, Mrs Foster is directly responsible for bringing Northern Ireland to a place where a border poll is not only conceivable but where the exclusive, angry brand of Unionism she preaches has risked the very future of the Union she claims to be defending.

One only needs to look at the Better Together campaign in Scotland to understand just how far the DUP has damaged Unionism’s ability to build the winning coalition needed to win such a referendum.

Where the DUP discriminated against ethnic and religious minorities, Better Together embraced them. Where the DUP blocked LGBT rights, Better Together marched in Pride Parades. Where the DUP mocked the Irish language, Better Together produced leaflets in Gallic.

And nowhere was this divergence in approaches more clear than at Better Together’s HQ where staffers from a dizzying array of backgrounds worked together to save the Union.

In drawing our attention to this the DUP have revealed precisely why they are now so reluctant to call a poll. They have spent years and years discriminating against the very groups that saved the Union in 2014 and should a referendum be called it’s hard to see how exactly the DUP could appeal to these very groups to help secure Northern Ireland’s place in the UK.

The idea that economic arguments alone would do so went out the window with the European Referendum. Identity matters and the DUP’s circling of the waggons approach, which closes off Unionism to anyone who isn’t white, heterosexual and Protestant, has put Unionism in a very dangerous position indeed.

This reckless behaviour has not been helped by their total inability to govern Northern Ireland. Nothing will secure the Union more than a devolved settlement which actually delivers for everyone in Northern Ireland.

Instead, for the past ten years, the DUP has led an administration that has staggered from scandal to crisis with the one constant being demands for ever more money from London in order to keep the show on the road.

The RHI scandal marks the crescendo of this piece, combining the failed structures of Stormont with DUP incompetence in a whirlwind of political rhetoric at a time when we are without a budget and our NHS is close to collapse.

The DUP should be ashamed. Yet they now have the brass neck to tell voters that only the DUP can defend the Union.

And in what has been one of their angriest campaigns to date they have turned to fear tactics in an attempt to scare Unionist voters into voting for the very party that has brought us to this precipice.

Meanwhile they have mocked Mike Nesbitt for daring to suggest that he might give a transfer to the SDLP when we all know full well that an untrustworthy or incompetent Unionist MLA will do far more harm to the Union than any Nationalist ever could.

In all of this Unionist voters have a choice to make. We can either vote for a vision of Unionism that is both progressive and competent, that delivers for everyone in Northern Ireland, or we vote for a form of Unionism that appeals only to a dwindling core of hardliners and fails to deliver for anyone.

With that in mind, choose your preferences very carefully.

James McMordie is a PhD student at the University of St Andrews and previously worked on the Better Together campaign during the Scottish independence referendum. Amongst other things he blogs about foreign policy, education and LGBT issues.

You can follow him on twitter @JamesMcMordie

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I could not agree more. I am always sceptical when something which is in essence a very personal experience is politicised and used as a vote catcher. The problem is that people are all too easily manipulated by a sense that when they hear someone saying words they seem to recognise, they all too easily assume that they and the speaker are meaning one and the same thing. I have worked in advertising and am all too aware of how such things are managed, and accordingly always have serious doubts about what I hear from any politician.

    My own approach to Christianity would be influenced by Saint Francis of Assisi and Thomas à Kempis, from an Anglican experience. I too believe, like Francis, that ones entire life must be effected by ones belief.

  • blobbdobb

    Yes absolutely! (Written from London…) I posted this same comment on my facebook feed and out of the 13 likes it has had in the last half hour, 11 of them are people I know to be from a unionist background and 8 of them I know are no longer living in Northern Ireland. Not scientific … but there you go.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Ah now, monkeys evolved too … They both evolved from a common ancestor primate now extinct, not sure if it’s fair to modern monkies to call it a monkey too.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    My own experience is similar, i know entire households where the young generation upped sticks.

    Curiously most of my nationalist friends have either moved back or just down the road to Dublin.

  • grumpy oul man

    I dont think that is what he said.
    Perhaps he meant ruling us as a seperate country a englishman or women being elected here would not be a issue ( i think in the Republic they would need Irish citizenship and in the North a address) but ruling us from westminister would not be the pefered option either by unionists or nationlists.

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    No, it hasn’t been “proven” at all. What we have is so-called “professionals” letting politcal correctness, and not wanting to tell people the uncomfortable truth, overrule the logical reality.

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    In many cases, yes. Some people are vulnerable to being conditioned into behaving in abnormal ways.

  • Fear Éireannach

    The point is that those who don’t fully embrace the unionism of their forefathers and who go to live elsewhere then have little or no effect on the rump unionists population, who because even more “staunch” because of your departure. Nationalists who have moved to Dublin still consider themselves part of the group and still influence debate.

  • grumpy oul man

    Many people see nothing to fear in a party being,
    1/ pro Choice,
    2/ Same Sex marriage,
    3/either Irish language schools or a threat to the catholic school system.
    Now a few things you seem unaware of,
    1/ SF is not the only partie to support choice and most people here also support women having control over there own bodies.
    2/ SF is not the only party that supports same sex marriage. Most parties do as does most of the population.
    3/ The Irish Language Schools and indeed the Irish language itself does not belong to SF. To suggest that they do is at best wildly innaccurate and at worst a deliberate falsehood.

  • grumpy oul man

    And could i point out we are Apes not Monkeys, no tail.

  • grumpy oul man

    Well if i was a shinner it would be my perferred option.

  • David

    The civilised world abandoned that archaic mind-set decades ago. Do you also object to ‘abnormal’ sex in a heterosexual relationship? Do you secretly long for the good old days when homosexuals were locked up, contraceptives were banned and heterosexual bedroom activities were policed by the church and the state?

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    That is an exception and not the norm. It still is a fundamental union of male and female based on a natural and healthy pair-bonding instinct found and doesn’t alter the purpose of marriage being to insure a healthy male and female influence for optimal upbringing by two biological parents — if children were to arise through false diagnosis/good fortune then the environment would still be there for any potential children. (That said, in many traditions the marriage is considered invalid if infertility is found, which is fair enough).

    “Same sex marriage” (sic) is a drastic alteration to the definition and encourages the raising of children in an unnatural environment without their genetic/biological parents. I have seen numerous cases whereby same sex couples are now pursuing designer babies with sperm donors now that they have “marriage”. I also regard sperm-donorship in general as wrong and damaging to relationships and causes mental harm to any offspring.

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    There’s also an Old Testament included with the new. Christians are supposed to take account scenarios mentioned in both.

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    Except it does affect others as they become political attitudes too, affecting the way people think and vote or lead. These kind of naive submissive walk-over attitudes put the security of societies and nations at threat.

    Just look at the endless political interventions by the likes of Robin Eames or the utterly naive current Archbishop of Canterbury.

  • JoeCro

    Homosexuality is a normal human variant.

  • Granni Trixie

    pretty insulting to DUP supporters? surely like anybody they have their own red lines: competence, honesty, trust ….?.

  • eamoncorbett

    Your last sentence said everything that needs to be said about your post.

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    This is what media, PC fashion, and political activists trying to promote a behaviour as an identity have indoctrinated you to believe. Describing those who partake in this behaviour as a “human variant” is talking as if they are some sort of other species without reproductive organs. They are not, and nor is it “normal” behaviour by any factual statistical measure.

  • aquifer

    Sinn Fein must call loudly for a border poll and pray quietly that they do not get it. It is thus no bargaining chip.

  • JoeCro

    You are merely displaying your own bigotry. Homosexuality is part of the normal spectrum of human sexual behaviour. Why do you feel so threatened by other peoples private sexua behaviour?

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    I’d say it’s more to do with them being the weak-minded types without the backbone to stand firm against the ruthless campaign of Fenian aggression, intimidation and unwanted alien Hibernification. They’re the types who’ll sneer at those who confront the reality here while they ran away. Their associates in England are most likely decadent spoilt liberals, out of touch with the realities of the world, blissfully doing nothing while their country transforms into an overcrowded 3rd world cesspit and likely upcoming warzone far worse that what we have seen in NI. Allahu Akbar!

  • David

    Good. So you would therefore agree that what consenting adults do in their bedrooms is the business of neither you, the state nor the religious. That’s progress.

    But just in case I’m being too optimistic there, I’ll echo Joecro’s question; ”why do you feel so threatened by other people’s private sexual behaviour?” It’s a fair bet they’re not in the least bit interested in yours. Isn’t such an interest rather, how do I put this, ‘abnormal?’

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    For some one who prattles on about reality you seem quite out of touch.

    The majority of the ones I know that went away came from strong unionist traditions and as a rule of thumb were involved in bands or marching to some degree.

    What they all have in common is a high level of intelligence and just want to be able to live normal lives, something that the siege mentality culture does not permit.

    Only a fool would write them all off as weak minded but that is of course the easiest course to take as any alternative might uncover something quite ill in the foundation of northern Irish unionist culture that drives people away in such droves.

    If you aren’t prepared to listen or acknowledge that then you do your moniker justice.

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    “Sexual” behaviour is not only private — it affects the whole of society, and the knock-on result of endless promotion of current excessively sexualised, hedonistic and promiscuous culture is increased broken homes with family breakdown. It is not the individual acts by adults that is the biggest problem, rather the consequences for any children born into such a broken society.

    That said many of these adult “activists” do seem act a lot more like whining children than adults.

  • David

    Your solution to this ”promiscuous culture” is what exactly? And who are these ”whining activists” you refer to?

  • David

    Looks like they succeeded too.