Has DUP’s insistence on consolidation under its brand has cost Unionism 7% since 2003?

Last night DUP hacks were busy tracking what they were calling “the Mike Effect”. They were and are insistent on blaming the UUP for the decline of Unionism that stretches back to the point they took over from the UUP as leaders of Unionism.

Viewed in the near term frame of this election and a fine detailed view seat by seat it certainly cost the DUP its 30+ seat dominance. But at some point the DUP will have to look past its erstwhile beaten rival and look at its own contribution.

If the views on Slugger since last December, the huge crowd packed into our Slugger Punt event on the eve of the election and the increased turnout is anything to go by, this election was taken more seriously than most since Slugger began fourteen years ago.

The last momentous shift came thirteen years ago when the DUP drew level with the UUP in that notoriously cold election of 2003. That year both the UUP and DUP were both ahead of Sinn Fein in seats.

It was also the last one to be run under the freer pre St Andrews Agreement arrangements in which the electorate for First and deputy First Minister were voted upon by all designated MLAs, not just a private affair between the two largest parties.

Three defections later (Arlene Foster, Jeffrey Donaldson and Norah Beare) and instead of being three ahead of the UUP, the DUP were suddenly nine seats the better of their old rivals. Their old rivals never recovered.

Back then the DUP polled 25.7% of the overall vote, and the UUP 21.3%, with Sinn Fein intersecting the two with 23.5% and the SDLP on a relatively feeble 16.7%. Today the DUP’s consolidation of unionism leaves it one 28.1% and Sinn Fein 27.9%.

In setting up a system (post St Andrews) which helped it break its unionist rivals the DUP has pushed it’s own total its seems last year’s 29% is the DUP’s cap. Combined with Nesbitt’s 12.9% the combined total for Unionism is 41% compared with 48.4%

Now here’s the real shocker.

As I pointed out in my last Slugger the UUP came into this election in a hideous situation which meant it had seats it would already lose through no fault of its own because of the six to five crunch in the constituencies.

Just standing still would mean almost certainly mean losing four seats. And it lost two more because of the rising nationalist tide for which it had no actual culpability. That damage was almost entirely caused by the now dominant DUP.

Last night, even as their leader resigned, it turns out the party actually put on a modest rise in its vote. The vote transfer promise worked in some places to the advantage of the SDLP (in Lagan Valley), in others the UUP (South Antrim).

This lack of heterogenity in Unionism has left it with no internal alternative to the voice of the DUP, so that when the storm came the damage unionism sustained was greater than it probably should have been.

Nationalism on its very best day for years has also slipped (albeit marginally) over the same period from 40.5% to 39.8%. The real story, I would suggest, has been the growth of the middle ground (Alliance had its biggest percentage since 1979).

After three elections of effectively holding the unionist population to ransom with a ‘vote for us or you get the Shinner First Minster’, the electorate has called their bluff. Frankly, Clonoe or not, they don’t care to pay that price any more.

It may not be the end of that malign arrangement or even the beginning of the end, but it has lost most of its power on one side of the community. And it may, in time, lose its power on the other.

Even on its best day for years, whilst nationalism may not have fallen back by much, it has not prospered a jot since that cold November night in 2003. If either wants to move onwards, then next elections will have to be fought on very different grounds.

Each needs a retail offering of what it can do for Northern Ireland. That means no rule from Dublin or from London but from Stormont. And no more hiding behind the weaknesses of your partner.


  • Reader

    …the Mike Effect? “The DUP hacks” would be better learning the real lesson. In their years in power they enraged their enemies with bad faith and spite; they disappointed their supporters with incompetence and arrogance, and they alienated potential allies with their abuse of the Petition of Concern and the Office of Speaker.
    Not so smug now, eh?

  • Zorin001

    Considering this is an election which didn’t need to happen it’s Arlene who should (and no doubt is) be taking the lions share of the blame this morning.

    A bit more guile or contrition before Xmas would have nipped this in the bud, may have been short term pain but long term could have ridden out the RHI storm and consolidated.

    To quote Talleyrand “It was worse than a crime, it was a blunder”

  • Ian Rate

    Insightful post… Unfortunately most DUP supporters won’t read past the second sentence of the second paragraph suggesting introspection.

  • nagantino

    I think many SDLP voters will regret their vote yesterday. So close. To find the DUP
    paying the price for insufferable arrogance and years of ingrained sectarianism this Saturday morning would have been so sweet.

  • Jeremy Cooke

    Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power – Abraham Lincoln

  • chrisjones2

    I agree. We all need to forge a new polity and new terms of engagement but the deep divisions within the DUP and the core mysoginy, hatred of the LGBT community and religous factionalism within the DUP all militate against this. I see it as simply incapable of making the move.

    The meteor has landed but the dinosaur hasnt realised it needs to evolve to survive. Does it even have the intellectual capability to understand what has happend? Poots on BBC at around 0030 was typical – its all the fault of the UUP and the BBC which set out to destroy the poor old DUP. Oh err missus. Meanwhile Arlene is in hiding and refuses to speak to the BBC at all now.

    I fear that the DUP response to all this will be simple. Survival mode suggests they collapse Stormont, but in a way where they can blame the UUP and the Shinners.

    I hope this doesnt happen and the first crack showing there may be a brighter future will be if they ditch Arlene or, unable to face the consequences of her own disasterous peoiod as FM, she jumps

    Perhaps someone from the Men in Grey Suits may be on the phone to the NIO at 9am on Monday pondering if, were she were to go, might the House of Lords beckon?

  • mickfealty

    You want nationalism to make the same mistake.

  • David Crookes

    Yes. And one question must now be asked about the Unseen Grown-Up People in the DUP.

    Do they exist?

  • Deeman

    A strong sdlp strong sf and strong alliance are required to push for a new Ireland in the European Union.

    A SF whitewash will set the project back.

  • Msiegnaro

    Brand Arlene is damaged beyond repair, regardless of what she does going forward RHI will haunt her. Therefore it’s time for a change of leadership within the DUP.

    Clearly another issue within Unionism is the lack of able female activists, too many are seen as being there to provide the tea and a step change is needed.

    I think we are totally out of step with a modern society, I have long advocated equal rights for the LGBT chunk of society which must be at least 50% Unionist yet we’ve cut them adrift. This cannot be done as an opportunistic vote seeking exercise but it has to be done in the spirit of embracing marginalised parts of society. In many areas Unionism has been marginalised and forgotten with parts of history being rewritten in an unfavourable manner – this needs addressed. I’m am an advocate for absolute freedom of thought an expression therefore this marginalisation of these groups goes against my principles. I also feel we have to be fully respectful of those who disagreed with this view and ensure their principles are protected without being labeled dinosaurs or bigots

    We need a better vision of NI too, it has to work fiscally and we have to have a long term narrative that ensures Nationalists feel comfortable here with all our benefits and neuter the argument of a UI.

    We need to look at how our culture is expressed, are dangerous bonfires that threaten both Protestants and Catholics the right way forward? The Orange Institution of which I am a member of need to engage in a much more positive way in society, we can’t parade all the time. Are we addressing the education imbalance in NI, are we making the Twelfth inclusive (outside Belfast yes we are), are we challenging the dark elements within our community? The OI needs to grow in terms of it’s vision and numbers on the books.

    As Unionists are we addressing the needs of working class Loyalists? Are we dealing effectively with internal corruption and can we embrace the Irish language in the same way Linda Ervine and many Orangemen and women already have?

    We need to make NI work again, unfortunately some of our representatives elected recently are no match for our Nationalist counterparts in terms of talent, this needs addressed.

    Finally should the UUP and DUP merge in a stronger better organised party, more liberal on sexual equality – I think this needs to be discussed. It’s also time the TUV and PUP folded as there is no appetite for them and I say this as a TUV supporter.

    Much to think about.

  • Skibo

    Can someone explain how the DUP can increase their actual vote by 22846 and the UUP increase theirs by 16012 and actually blame Mike Nesbitt for the result.
    What happened was the Nationalist vote increased, SF by 57460 and SDLP by 12656.
    Has Arlene disturbed a sleeping increased Nationalist demographic?
    I don’t think Nationalism realised how close the vote could be. Hopefully 2016 is the last time we will talk about an apathetic Nationalist diaspora.
    Times they are changing and the reduction in the constituencies will accelerate that process.
    Watch the DUP at Westminster doing all they can to stall the change in the constituencies.

  • jporter

    Perhaps the idea of DUP strategic mastery, often trotted out by political enthusiasts, can be finally put to bed as the laughable delusion it always was.

  • jporter

    Arlene might have been able to avoid responsibility for RHI, but there’s no way she’s getting out of this one.
    She brought out the SF vote single handedly – SF themselves were merely facilitators.
    The official ‘lets blame Mike’ line will die a death pretty soon under the media glare.

  • jporter

    It sounds like, beyond the constitutional status of Northern Ireland, the TUV and DUP represent none of your views, and never will.
    I consider my ‘culture’ to be from within myself, family and my community of friends and associates – it is not handed down to me by accident of birth, from a state, religion or political party and so does not depend on votes, or borders.
    Does your concern about a line on a map (the issue of which was settled 20 years ago) really trump all other issues in your life?

  • Skibo

    You must have been watching Catriona Ruane last night with the comments of the LGBT and women issue. The DUP have problems with moving too far down that line as they will lose the fundamentalist vote.

    All the OO need to do is actually accept they share this land and they need to open public dialogue with residents and indeed the SF party to avoid antagonising Nationalism further. Problem is that will antagonise their hard rump, particularly in Belfast.
    Can the OO make the marching season open to all without driving that section of their movement away into another independent Loyal order movement?
    The Irish language is the simplest way that Unionism could make a gesture to Nationalism and there are those within Unionism that have tried. The ardent Unionist diaspora are not into making gestures. They are going to have to learn.
    We need to make NI work, yes of course we do. NI has to be prepared for reunification. NI will work if it turns from the UK for direction and looks towards Dublin. Cross border cooperation needs to start to increase and be more functional
    Nationalist talent within Stormont is young invigorated and progressive. They are looking to the future. Unionism are still looking to the past and wanting penance for the troubles. They need to start to look past that and embrace cooperation within NI and within Ireland.
    Finally should the DUP and the UUP merge? Well as a republican who is looking for reunification, yes they should. There are those within Unionism who can not and will not vote for the DUP, no mater how much they change. That electorate will turn to Alliance and try and mould them into a “neutral” party who will actually act as Unionist on constitutional matters. I am not sure they will be able to do that but time will tell.
    Times they are a changing and Unionism have had a deaf ear to the extent of the change. The problem for them is change is something that carries it’s own momentum and that will increase.
    Had Nationalism come out last time we would have been here sooner. They did not believe this was possible but for a number of extra votes in East Antrim and Upper Bann, SF would have been the largest party.
    Next time out, we will be down to 85 seats and a further squeeze of the Unionist block.

    Much indeed to think about indeed!

  • Skibo

    JP that rise in the Nationalist vote was always going to happen. Nationalist people were annoyed at how SF gave the impression of rolling over to DUP at every turn.
    I believe the vote that SF lost was actually to the more republican end and not the “content with hoe things are” end.
    I cannot see Nationalism going back.
    What you say last night was seen in Belfast two votes previously. Unionism came out in the last Belfast vote and tried to wrestle back control. It didn’t happen.
    We are in a new era and Nationalism and particularly Republicanism will not be prepared to return to being walked over and insulted.
    What will happen now is a re-balancing of rights of all with Unionism no longer controlling the direction of NI.
    Question is will Unionism learn that appeasement is not a sign of weakness but actually a sign of strength.

  • Skibo

    BUt Reader DUP actually increased their vote from a previous high. Question is, if they go back to the well again, is there any more water?

  • Skibo

    Chris, should Arlene step down, the new leader will determine the direction of the Unionist response to the Nationalist meteor.
    I for one believe Simon Hamilton could be that one to prepare Unionism for that phase of evolution. Not sure how the creationists within the DUP will react to DUP having to evolve.
    Should the likes of Poots or someone from that ilk grab the reigns, Stormont will not stand and Nationalism will look towards joint authority as the next step in reunification.
    Time for Westminster and Dublin to get involved in this process.
    Don’t leave too quickly Chris. We need voices like yours to see if Unionism are changing and want to make NI work as a place of equality, respect and integrity. That will be like giving a dying patient oxygen and a few more days of merely surviving.

  • jporter

    It took Arlene and her attitude to bring the vote back out, though. Something for the DUP and SF to think about.
    I think an equally balanced DUP/SF government is a great thing for Northern Ireland (a non-sectarian government would have been better, but was never going to go beyond a fantasy). Both their votes look to have peaked, so there’s hope the balance continues.

  • Skibo

    I am not a SF member but I vote SF. I have heard from some within my diaspora saying we need the SDLP to go away. I don’t believe in that. SDLP have a part to play but it will be a bit part.

  • Skibo

    I don’t agree with a DUP/SF government. The whole issue of the GFA was the sharing of power. Not sure the UUP have the seats to get power but I believe all should get round the table and make it work. As I sad before Alliance will be the glue that is needed to hold this together.

  • jporter

    For me, NI working as a place of equality, respect and integrity makes a UI less likely (if one takes Brexit out of the equation).
    I state this as an observation more than anything else – a NI that works is something I want, but not particularly for that reason, as I’m neither a British nor Irish nationalist.

  • Msiegnaro

    Having been involved with the UUP internally I know they’re a party I could not support, limited support for LGBT, briefing against each other and lacking respect for females.

    The DUP appeals to me to the extent they appeared more professional, more competent (RHI and NAMA has rocked that), more hardline in defense of the Union and hardline in protecting the tapestry of the culture that I am from.

    Socially and morally I have issues and it’s unfair SF have taken the moral high ground on these issues.

  • Skibo

    NI has to work to a certain extent. Nationalism needs NI to prepare for reunification, Unionism however does not. They believe that the Westminster government will pick up the tab no matter what. They promote the fact that NI does not pay for itself and the South could not support us.
    That was actually the issue of the RHI. Had the Treasury said “you dropped the ball but we will pick up the tab but you have to close the RHI scheme” we would not be in the mess we were in before Christmas.
    Westminster will demand the NI starts to pay it’s way and if that means reducing the public sector, so be it. They have pushed privatisation in GB and it will coming here too.
    Times they are changing.

  • Reader

    Skibo, their first preference vote increased because the DUP banged the same old drum to get their vote out – everyone knew there was going to be a high turnout. But their vote *share* decreased because the DUP provoked lapsed voters and new voters to come out *against* them.
    And I suspect that they lost out on transfers too.
    Skibo: …if they go back to the well again, is there any more water?
    The DUP needs to demonstrate a bit of humility. But they don’t even have sufficient power now to do that!

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    There is no “moral high ground” in destroying the backbone of the family. Placing the Provos and that in the same sentence is truly sickening.

  • scepticacademic

    The DUP should reflect on why it is so transfer unfriendly. It is this, not Mike Nesbitt, that cost them seats in many places yesterday. And unionism as a whole should reflect on why many of its traditional moderate voters have defected to the centre ground or simply stayed at home. What is their vision for this place, other than stop the Shinners? When will it embrace the reality of power sharing and a wee country of multiple minorities?

  • burnboilerburn

    Not at all. SF itself has never argued on the basis of topping the poll or taking the prestigious FM position. They simply asked the electorate to give them a big enough mandate to challenge DUP intransegiene and beligerance. They got it.Even SF are shocked.
    As for the SDLP, they did well. Look at Eastwood, Hannah, McCrossan and Mallon etc. Such talent. SF and the SDLP provide a crucial counter-balance within nationalism with PBP flicking at both their ears. Its the perfect trinity to maintain nationalist interest in politics.

  • burnboilerburn

    Its amazing really? That one dogmatic decision on her part, probably taken in an instant as a reflex against SF, has crushed Unionism. How a split second can change the course of history.

  • jporter

    If your family can be destroyed by the beliefs or definitions of others, that’s pretty damning.
    If you think the families of others can be destroyed in the same way, that shows how little regard you have for them.
    Why so insecure?

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    No, we are not out of touch with what a strong society actually needs at all. It is liberal fashion fads promoted by liberal media that have caused those around us to lose their sanity. The collection of oddballs popularised in the past decade as “LGBT” (a virtually unheard of phrase 10 years ago) are NOT oppressed and have no “rights” taken away from them that the rest of us have. There is NO oppression in having civil partnerships instead of redefining the optimum institution to protect children. The entire issue of “same sex marriage” (sic) is nothing more than a virtue signalling exercise by David/Samantha Cameron which would have been universally laughed at 5 years ago if any party actually put its manifesto beforehand. The idea that because something has become a fashion fad in less than 5 years that we must therefore instantly and universally redefine a millennia old institution is pathetic and indicates a fickle unthinking population.

    The truth is that it’s nothing else than yet another stick to beat over the head those with strong, noble, thinking, conservative values. The real reason you will see for demand that Unionism becomes more liberal here and elsewhere is not that it is better for society, but purely because the more liberal Unionism becomes, the more appeasement the Fenian agenda receives. Appeasement which has solidly been in one direction since the start of the appeasement process and before, but the as the one-way appeasement process of Hibernification continues (“Irish” identity continually promoted, but where has Northern Irish/Ulster or British identity received any additional promotion in the past 50 years?). The demand for the destruction of our homeland is so great by these people that they simply cannot be appeased fast enough.

    The harsh truth on our neighbours has become all apparent: they are not reasonable nor pleasant nor moral people — they have been brought up since birth on a diet of comfortable lies and distortions of truth — lies spread by so-called historians from their background and zealous propagandists now using the Internet. This could be improved with better communication (a media that actually has DUP-sympathetic commentators would help, but that has been a problem for decades which isn’t simply going to be solved — this is a universal problem across the West in the liberal media), but even this will not overcome the in-grained bias from birth. The message itself could also be communicated better — staunch and pertinent logical-based defence of Conservative/Unionist positions rather than simply saying “no” or quoting from the bible etc., but again that won’t make any difference either. No, this doesn’t get to the crux either. The crux is that Unionists could have given every Catholic citizen a million pounds and a free mansion every year for the past century and excuses would still be found to beat us over the head with. (and that’s not far off the truth in practical terms given the welfare and housing system which they benefited from in a greater % than their Protestant neighbours). This being because of one and only thing which Paisley warned of many years ago and confirmed by reading many a post here: we live amongst people of evil; amongst people who have no qualms in voting Provo at the slightest excuse; Mick Fealty, the BBC and every other media outlet may continually try to legitimise this evil, but that does not make it any less so. They smelt an opportunity for blood in this election, and the liberals and media gave them the petty excuses they needed to allow themselves to indulge and devour.

  • Zorin001

    All through history you see examples of how seemingly inconsequential issues spiral out of control to become world changing events. This is comperable on a local scale.

    The result has surprised me though, I though the Nationalist vote would pick up somewhat, I didn’t see it being so completely re-energised as this.

  • mickfealty

    In my case, it was a claim for tactical, rather strategic genius.

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    It is not my personal family, but the destruction of cultural values keeping families together in wider society. At a time when family breakdown is at an all-time high and children are being raised without a mother and father more than ever, the purpose of marriage is culturally redefined so that children’s wellbeing is now a secondary consideration.

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    Keep getting “detected as spam”. Here is my reply:

  • jporter

    Social liberalism actually assumes and has faith in the strength of traditional institutions, it does not argue against them.
    The main attack has always been from a shallow and amoral consumerism and pursuit of profit, incredibly something the right appears to have little problem with.

  • Zorin001

    I was saying to a friend the same last night Mick, the DUP played their usual tactical game but they failed to realise the strategic picture had changed.

    I think they had had their own way over Sinn Fein for so long, plus the bad Nat/Rep vote last year meant hubris had set in.

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    I don’t buy into “left” and “right”, and never use those terms, for the reasons you have stated. Shallow and amoral consumerism should not be encouraged — it is indeed a factor but not the main vector of attack.

    Don’t agree nor see any evidence of your first point being the case, as what is often referred to as social liberalism of the “left” today seems hell-bent on destroying the institutions which made Western Civilisation in the first place.

  • jporter

    You are missing the evidence, then. When did you last hear a social liberal argue, for example, that marriage is unnecessary or undesirable? They argue for an expansion of the term, not abolition of it.
    Further to the example, an argument for gay marriage is an argument for marriage. Whether such a marriage is concerned with the wellbeing of children depends on the couple’s choice to have children, which applies just as much to a heterosexual couple.

  • Msiegnaro

    I completely respect your view, however what about the 10% of the population who are gay but interested in the Union?

  • Granni Trixie

    So, reward bad behaviour? And note that PR hasn’t yet had his turn at being a Lord. Isnt there an actual committee which vets prospective members for HOL and if so how could it justify her membership?

  • Granni Trixie

    At one time I would have agreed that the nice Mr Hamilton was th person to head the DUP but he has been as inept as anyone at addressing problems brought to the fore by RHI.

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    That is a distorted figure. It is 2-3% . What exact substantial thing have Unionists done to oppress the vital sustenance of the population who partake in “gay” behaviour? How exactly are “gays” oppressed or substantially disadvantaged by having recent access to civil partnerships?

    The answer is that they are not oppressed at all, and there is nothing Unionists have actually done to them other than the lies that they are somehow hated due to smears by political opponents. Those opponents endlessly obsessing over “gays” couldn’t actually give a toss about them, and they are being obsessively used as nothing other than a virtue signalling tool in order to gain votes from the non-“gay” majority via a dirty game of positive spin through coverage amongst a similarly virtue-signalling liberal mainstream media following the latest fashion fad. Unionists should concentrate on being honest and truthful, prioritise standing up for what is right in terms of protecting the genuinely most vulnerable (children, not “gay” adults), and not partake in this sham farce. Unionists should also not try to cynically engage with displays of vulgarity on the streets for votes, rather show discrete tolerance — many will see that as much more sincere in the long-run . The other parties only come across as insincere to me. The idea that “gayness” is also a form of prime identity that must be played in a game of identity politics is also only something that the “activist” types pursue — something I’ve heard many others say they find off-putting.

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    Social liberals are constantly undermining marriage indirectly through endless promotion of sexual freedom, vulgarity and promiscuity, which often results in unplanned pregnancies and single parenthood.

    They may see it as an “expansion”, but it really is a redefinition where the focus is away from an arrangement focused on the environment needed for children towards just selfish interaction between a mere 2 people. It also encourages highly immoral actions such as “designer babies” by those who never should naturally have children in the first place, with the knock-on effects on health of the child concerned.

  • jporter

    The ‘promotion’ you see is again just part of consumerism, the influence of which you seem to be missing or underestimating. Indeed one of marketing’s tricks is to make itself seem like ‘real’ opinion.
    Social liberals do not ‘promote’ anything other than freedom between consenting adults, freedom from being policed by the opinions of others.
    Expansion/redefinition around marriage, such as been happening to various extents throughout history?
    I see no evidence whatsoever that gay marriage is selfish interaction any more than heterosexual marriage has become. If you want a reason why marriage has, in general, become more selfish, then I point you to my previous reply.
    So marriage encourages having children – not sure what a conservative might have against the concept?
    I understand the evidence regarding raising children points to the benefit of present male and female influences, but says little about who those influences are and how they come about.

  • grumpy oul man

    Had a look at that link and its really just a mix of grand conspricy theory and paranoia.
    Central to it is the belief that people’s support for choice and gay marriage is not based on a desire to see a better world but a desire to attack the conserative right.
    Both are of course wrong.
    The conspricy theory involves such a wide range of people (everybody but the Christian right) that it seems unstoppable and begs the question of why bother when you have the numbers on your side.
    People support choice and gay rights because they are things worthy of support , beating the extreme right over the head sounds like a lot of fun but its not why we support others rights.

  • Granni Trixie

    Have you had a head transplant?

  • Skibo

    Granni he was one of my disappointments in the RHI scandal. He had the department for at least six months and did nothing to close it or seek ways of reducing the overspend. Then as an election was called, he introduces emergency legislation that had to be rushed through without due consideration and claim the benefit of solving the problem. The RHI grouping has already crossed the first hurdle at contesting the legality of his legislation and will probably either seek reopening the scheme of compensation for lost investment.

  • Skibo

    I agree with all your statements but in the end Arlene’s message held her overall vote and attracted extra new voters. The lack of the transfers was the issue that had most effect to their overall seat tally and I am not sure that lack of transfers will repeat on a latter date.
    DUP has been called out for what they are a war mongering party. Unfortunately this time the enemy did not rise to the bait and I believe Michelle behaved admirably, particularly when she said she was not interested in negative politics.

  • eireanne3

    No the long lie-down in a darkened room that I advised him to have on a previous post obviously had some effect. Maybe he should do it more often!!!

  • woodkerne

    Distinct tang of begrudgery in this post-election dish. For a dispassionate and even-handed account, see Harry McGee’s ‘5 winners & 5 losers’ analysis in yesterday’s Irish Times . Also, ‘The Detail’ affords what seems to me a more salient and acute critique of the DUP’s King Canute-like misunderstanding of the tides of history

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Funny, though 2016 might not be the date for a UI there is potential for it being the year of when the wheels were set in motion.
    That’s the DUP’s fault, no one else’s. (Well, maybe the Orange Order too, I doubt if they were quiet behind the scenes…)

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Wow. I am almost speechless.
    Great post.
    (I disagree about the TUV, we need a vehicle for Jim Allister)

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Tactically brilliant, strategically thick is what I said, I may have to reappraise the first half of the evaluation now…

  • Msiegnaro

    Agree about Jim, he has a role to play but the TUV don’t. I think you sometimes misunderstand my points and I yours to be fair.

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    You still haven’t listed a single concrete point on how there is any substantive oppression or disadvantage in civil partnerships, because there isn’t.

    A redefinition introduced to a millennia old institution on a whim within the past 2 years with nothing in manifesto, due to David Cameron’s wife’s demand for virtue signalling, is not a “key British value”.

    Gay means happy and the word is defining a whole person by a behaviour that may be induced by environment — as well as hearing many personal testimonies from people who believe they’d been conditioned, there is also overwhelming statistical evidence such as recent drastic increases in people reporting as “bisexual” due to it being made fashionable, as well as the changed behaviour in prison populations. Certain people CAN be conditioned into this behaviour and that Iris Robinson quote is sending a positive message on how some can return to health. Just because you have also been conditioned by a media and popular culture over the past few decades to believe this is only innate does not make it false.

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    So please explain the massive jump in 3 years of those claiming “bisexual” behaviour, or the fact that in prison environments such behaviour increases massively. Environment plays a definite role in conditioning for many, and the current trend for making it fashionable is only encouraging more into abnormal behaviour.

  • WindsorRocker

    The issue of a lack of heterogeneity in Unionism is down to the inability of the UUP to put clear water ideologically between it and the DUP.
    The period 1998 to 2003 saw people vote UUP to save Dave and the “process” as they viewed it as under mortal threat from the DUP. Once that 2003 flip happened in the leadership of unionism, those niche of UUP voters realised that 1. Dave wasn’t coming back, 2. that the DUP weren’t the existential threat they thought they were.
    So whilst people wax lyrical about unionist unity, the creation of a larger bloc just would paper over the cracks. Unionism needs a broad offering and the UUP aren’t sufficiently different from the DUP to offer it. When one looks at the 45.7 FPV % for unionist candidates who define their politics around unionism culturally (just like SF and SDLP define themselves as culturally nationalist), one can only wonder what would have happened if the likes of McAllister had beaten Nesbitt or if NI21 hadn’t been run by someone who looked and sounded like a narcissist
    I make this argument as someone who would never likely vote for a liberal unionist party but I’m mature enough to know there needs to be an offering like that. UUP have failed to do that.

  • Paddy Reilly

    Has DUP’s insistence on consolidation under its brand has cost Unionism 7% since 2003?

    No. This is a grammatically ill-formed sentence putting forward a logically ill-formed conclusion. The reason Unionism’s vote is down is that there are too many Taigs, Papes, Mackerel-snappers or whatever you care to call them. The demographic watershed was December 2016. A majority Catholic or even 50% Catholic electorate isn’t going to give the DUP or even the UUP a majority.

    We assume that 9% or so of Catholics vote for Alliance, so they’re guaranteed some say, but Unionism is demographically doomed. It isn’t Arlene’s fault, or Nesbitt’s fault. There is nothing that can be done to correct this loss. Even if the DUP were to convert themselves into an Alliance clone, they’re still on the way out.

    That’s what’s so refreshing about Northern Irish politics, it’s all so inevitable. Demography is closer to being a science, politics merely a dark art. I made these predictions years ago, and people thought I was some sort of religious maniac, but they happened, at exactly the moment I said they would.

    It is strange that an election in March 2017 should give such a different outcome to one in May 2016. I can only suppose that someone had tipped off the Fenian population that here at last was an election they could win, leading to the much greater turnout. I don’t suppose it will go down again now.

  • Nevin

    “It is strange that an election in 2016 should give such a different outcome to one in March 2016.”

    I agree with much of what you say, Paddy, but the turbulence generated by the incendiary nature of that BBC Spotlight RHI broadcast, the uncertainty around Brexit consequences and some good/bad old-fashioned mopery were quite likely to have an effect.

    The Alliance party now has a key role should an Executive be re-established so it will be interesting to see how it plays its hand.

    Then there’s the RHI inquiry and the associated difficulty of establishing cause and effect when the governance system is so unfit for purpose. It’s likely that the regional and local administrations will carry on muddling on and the whistle-blowers will continue to be ignored or treated with contempt or be lied to. Isn’t it a wonderful little world?

  • John Collins

    Great Post. Basically everybody, Nationalist and Unionist of all shades, need to ask themselves similiar questions. Old certainties are always disintegrating

  • John Collins

    I have heard many experts say the number is nearer to 10%. Attitudes change. My father was born in 1921 and he was also one of an estimated 10% minority. He wrote with his left hand. In school he was consistently beaten until, totally against his will, he ended writing in a scrawl with his ill equipped right hand.
    If teachers took that attitude to a left handed pupil today they would be sacked in fivr minutes.

  • John Collins

    Would the fact that people will not have the crap kicked out of them when they admit their bisexuality have anything to do with the fact that more people admitting to being bi-sexual now

  • John Collins

    You are not allowing for how thin skinned Irish, or should I say occupants of this island, people can be. Some years ago when Harold Wilson described NI people as ‘spongers’ many of those people went about sporting huge and silly sponges in response. Now we have ‘crocadiles’ taking centre stage, when the Returning Officer was delivering the results of counts in at least two centres.
    In GB or the USA little digs like these would not even be responded to. Look at the treatment Hilary Clinton got during the US Presidential campaign and what was sported on tee shits of her opponents. Remember that back in the seventies during another campaign, anti Vietnam protestors held huge signs exhorting Richard Nixon to ‘pull out in time- like you father should have’ or the widely exhibited reminder that if you voted in Teddy Kennedy you would have ‘a blond in every pond’.
    In Westminister the exchanges can be chaotic and down right bad mannered but nobody makes a big deal
    Yet a mildly innoctuous remark can bring other wise disinterested voters out in tens of thousands in NI.

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    There are already laws against that. Destroying marriage when the balanced arrangement for civil partnerships already exists isn’t going to change anything to the type that would do something like that. In fact the amount of whining and bitching that has been done recently on the issue probably is creating a greater sense of resentment.

  • Skibo

    AG by 2019 either the Brexit negotiations will be complete or the UK will be leaving without any arrangements.
    I do not see NI going peacefully into the night. While I do not think it will resort to violence, the political upheval along with another election, possibly a Westminster one on acceptance of Theresa May’s proposals or a Stormont one following a further collapse. The resulting election will again bring out those who do not want to leave.
    Reunification will be the only sane game in town.
    I hope the Southern parties, following the next election in the South later this year should knuckle down and come up with a plan for reunification. They cannot sit idly by and let SF do all the heavy lifting. It is a positive move and will attract votes in the South.