Does anyone know what’s going on?

I’m not normally stuck for words but the current/ongoing/constant/never ending political impasse that is the Assembly has got me.

There never was going to be a deal. The Secretary of State doesn’t appear inclined to impose any sort of deadline. The PM isn’t likely to jet over here on either Ryanair or the next available RAF flight to sort it out.

What’s going on? Does anyone know? Does anyone care?

In the real world our healthcare system remains at breaking point. Schools are facing cuts, which will impact on pretty much everyone – this is the future workforce we’re talking about. Climate change and environmental damage is still happening. Women can’t be trusted and everyday sexism continues. Public sector workers – many of the true heroes of our society – don’t merit a decent pay rise. And if you want marriage equality….well…. Feel free to add your own frustrations to this list.

The constant ‘they said’, ‘we want’, finger pointing, ‘it’s not our fault’ is not being listened to. Instead, people who ‘they’ represent (pick whatever side you like) are getting on with life, doing the best they can with what they have.

The thing is, that while yes, the two main parties have their mandate from their electorate, they must also seek to represent the entire population. DUP received 225,413 first preference votes, with Sinn Féin garnering 224,245. That leaves 353,657 first preference votes for other parties and around 441,650 who didn’t vote.

That is over 795,300 people who deserve something better than the current stalemate.

So which party is going to truly represent everyone and make the first move back into the Executive?

And if all else fails, there will always be another election. Imagine what progress there could be if nearly 800k votes were cast for parties that will get on with the job.

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  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    I’m not sure about that. My feeling/hunch is that the cycnical and apathetic are not sufficiently aligned to the tribal/national identity binary unlike those who turn out to vote are. An interesting feature of working class unionism had been a level of voting inertia up until the last Westminster election. In order to bring about the surge in support for the DUP a sense of momentum had to be achieved among those who couldn’t be bothered. My guess is that that sense of movement was generated by inducing a sense of ‘unionism in peril’ due to the surge in nationalist votes and that created a sense of urgency. There was also a ‘winning back trust’ in operation too
    Among those that don’t vote there has to be an absence of urgency, an absence of feeling threatened and an absence of desire to score victories over themmuns.
    The non voting public I think, are in some ways more indicative of NI’s progress out of sectarianism than those who have the motives to cast their ballot.

  • Granni Trixie

    I think it goes back to ‘Ireland equals a Romeward trend’ mentality. Which in turn goes back to anti catholic sentiment based on insecurity of ones own identity leading to fear ‘the other’ will make inroads into that identity. It is disappointing to find we appear to be going back to this for I think over time there has been progress in mutual understanding.

  • Granni Trixie

    Your key point about why the unionist vote spiked is on the button. But whilst it is a good thing to engage with wc Unionists electorate (who in many cases are Loyalists)you have to factor in HOw the DUP got them on board. Already it looks like the DUP are in hock to some loyalist groups and are not free to show leadership when it calls out for leadership e.g. the response of ELP when illegal flags were flown in a shared area or in respect to unsafe bonfires.

    If Stormont ever gets up and running again, Under guise of SIP fund there are sure to be more pay offs. Let’s watch.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    While not disagreeing with you, I think that use/misuse of terms like “plantation masters” are symptomatic of the mess we’re in but not the cause as you seem to be asserting.
    The DUP, the OO and extreme Loyalists talk like “plantation masters” and have done since partition. Look at the language and slogans they have been deploying since the 3rd Irish Home Rule Bill and before. The song “Croppies Lie Down” dates from C1798. You can’t deny that Ulster Unionism has used the language of domination over what it perceives to be the enemy within. But it’s not just talk but actions as well. Recent erection of flags in ‘shared space’ neighbourhoods is indicative of domination, imposition even violation from our self appointed ‘masters’.
    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/residents-attend-protest-rally-against-uvf-flags-in-south-belfast-35859839.html
    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/communities-in-fear-as-uvf-invites-catholics-and-ethnic-minorities-to-fly-its-flag-34787617.html
    Oh and the odd crass insensitivity too: http://www.irishnews.com/news/2017/07/03/news/removed-wesley-somerville-banner-replaced-1073319/

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    There seem to be ‘indirect links’. What in camera promises have been made and are still to be kept? …. indeed. Quite how this plays out and how ‘destabilising’ the grassroots ‘give em an inch and they’ll take a mile’ boldness that will manifest will be an interesting one to watch.
    The PUPing of the DUP might result in them having bitten off more than their big gobs can chow. The inevitable betrayals yet to be felt and expressed by the very people they’ve wooed for now could show who really has teeth and how forcefully the teeth sink.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    It’s a pity you don’t show the same pride in the Queen’s English.

  • Granni Trixie

    I think post GFA/ceasefires there were understandings that a period of of time was required to wean communities and people off the old ways e.g. Paramilitary policing. All along the DUP portrays itself as a law and order party distnguishing itself from PUP rivals for votes. This is where it may currently come unstuck as far as it’s core vote is concerned. It was able to manage previously by ambiguities but as info drips,drips into the public domain there is now more clarity on who they do business with. TBF to SF, I think they give consistent leadership to wean local communities off informal justice system towards regular policing, give or take a few blips.

  • Paddy Reilly

    In North Belfast in the 2010 General Election turnout was 56.8% and the DUP got 14,812 votes. And won.

    In GE 2017 turnout went up to 67.9% and the DUP got 21,240 votes, and won.

    From this I conclude that the issue of non-voters is entirely spurious. When dragged to the polls, they vote in exactly the same way as voters.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    And the emergence of those 2 opposing directions are an interesting development. Each side has adopted each others’ tactics and attitudes over the course of my lifetime. It is certainly intriguing that the DUP is moving from its morally ‘just’ position to something closer to that of SF’s of a decade or more ago at the same time that SF is progressively distancing itself from even the recent fuel laundering allegations along with its more repellent past. What long term political capital or damage that this tightrope walk strategy generates will be one to watch.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Who drags them? I though that was SF’s traditional area of expertise.

  • Paddy Reilly

    That is not recorded, but there does seem to be a Unionist mechanism for nobbling voters with the message “This is a very important vote and we’d really like it if you turned up”. Whether it is operated by DUP officials, or through the medium of churches, or just is a sort of panic movement that spreads through the population, I do not know.

    If there is an actual dragging, it might be operated on a familial basis, with fathers driving their offspring to the polling station.

  • Toye native

    It’s a pity you weren’t standing beside me

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Symptoms are often also causes too, no? What started as a reaction to one wrong, when over-done, becomes a new wrong and provokes reaction to that. It all feeds the sectarian grinding machine.

    I’d suggest that attacking people’s ethnic origins, or associating them with wrongs from centuries ago they may not even have heard of, is a particularly pointless and negative practice, whoever’s doing it.

    Of course some unionists have said beastly things about nationalists, it’s not one way traffic against unionists – I think most if not all unionists would accept that. But the standard nationalist analysis asserts, however, that it is pretty much one-way traffic against nationalists. This seems to be a core belief for SF and a good many of its supporters.

    I’m not hearing a lot of acceptance from them that their attitudes to Protestants and the language used about us is unacceptable and that there is a deep, deep culture within Irish nationalism of denigration of the island’s British population. It’s so deeply ingrained that it is often not even recognised as sectarian, it is regarded as “fair comment” or “a description of reality”.

    Sectarian bile comes in many forms – the faux-liberal clothing adopted in so much anti-British discourse about N Ireland does not cover the rather base ethnic hatreds driving it. It’s not that some criticisms are not warranted, it’s the tendency to select particular negative examples while ignoring the much more widespread positives (the classic of ethnic stereotyping – take the worst behaviours seen from members of an ethnic group and use those to define the whole).

    But we probably agree that Protestants electing DUP people and nationalists electing SF people does nothing to build mutual understanding and trust. Both parties have histories of tribal hostility to the other and are unsuited to leadership in N Ireland. Let’s hope we can move beyond them both at some stage. But if we do, it will have to be both together.

  • Granni Trixie

    I just hope academic analysis along the lines you suggest are being produced which will impact on narratives about PS etc.

  • NotNowJohnny

    Yes. But we don’t yet have reform of the POC so no SSM on current numbers of supporting MLAs. And how do we get reform of the POC without a deal with the DUP?

  • Mark Petticrew

    I would warm towards that conclusion myself, though I’m reluctant to accept it completely as gospel just yet. Another Assembly election on a turnout upwards of say 71-72%, with the DUP and Sinn Féin staking again another 55-60% share of the vote between them, would leave me as convinced as I’ve ever been on that front.

  • NotNowJohnny

    I don’t think my views are very different to yours. The problem with this place is that there aren’t enough of us.

  • Granni Trixie

    It did function under majority rule but in a discriminatory way which would not be tolerated in modern times.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    How about being constructive? That doesn’t get us anywhere. What compromises do you think we should be looking at to get a deal?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Are you feeling alright?

  • Mark Petticrew

    No doubt there are those who’re disillusioned with the DUP-Sinn Féin monopoly, and see a politics not to their taste, thus shy away from the ballot box on election day.

    However, my beef with the blog point was that it was implying non-voters per se were not on board with either Sinn Féin or the DUP’s agenda; lumping all 441,650 of them together alongside Alliance voters, SDLP voters etc, saying:

    .. over 795,300 people who deserve something better than the current stalemate.

    Could it be that a similar, or at least, a considerable share of the non-voting public are just as equally in favour of the agendas fuelling this stalemate, as those who actually voted for said agendas in March and June?

    The truth is, of course, we just don’t know, but in light of both Sinn Féin and the DUP’s predominance over northern politics having not just been reinforced, but has been enhanced at the other side of – so far – two turnout-rising elections in 2017, I find myself pouring cold water over the perception of the non-voter as one that does not fit the profile of a Shinner or the DUP-type.

    I suppose a real acid test of this debate would be another election on a greater turnout, say 75% or so; one that ate that bit further into the non-voting electorate, so as to see if a similar majority of newcomers to the polls vote for the two big parties, just as the newcomers in March and June did.

  • Steve Smith

    Running out of time but OK for now http://100leaders.org/siddhartha-gautama

  • Granni Trixie

    How do we get reform of POC dealt with if SF won’t Play ball with the DUP?

  • Redstar

    What did I post that isn’t true? With you a closet Duper I expect it’s too near the knuckle, but as I say perfectly true

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Is that a threat of physical violence? Did you demonstrate the same aggression towards your school teachers when you were a wee boy? I’d prefer to think you’ve outgrown that juvenile tendency by now or … have you not?
    Reading any of your comments I’d imagine that your school teachers gave up on your future a long, long time ago.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Why would the 441,650 of non voters (the number is a variable) be aligned with Alliance voters? There are people who just can’t be bothered to vote no matter where you go on the planet’s surface. Zeno3’s point was quite simple: there are those that aren’t motivated enough by so called Irish Nationalism or Ulster Unionism to be arsed about feeding the binary stalemate or whatever and that does not make them natural Alliance voters who forgot it was polling day. There are those who don’t believe that voting makes any difference. There are those that are cynical about poltics in general and that’s totally understandable in this hole. There are those that believe that Goldman Sachs & Merrill Lynch determine everything anyway so what’s the point? There are those sufficiently motivated into boycotting the whole universal suffrage mirage and those who are simply sufficiently unmotivated to peel their backsides off the sofa.and the above is not exhaustive.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Of course it will be both together – whatever the both is referring to. There are no ethnic differences here anyway: 80% of us are descendants of Scots and Irish, myself included. My grandfather was from Dunbarton. My great great grandmother was Alsatian Jewish and my sister, mother and I show physical traits only evident in those with Eskimo ancestry but hey how do we self identify is the question and how far do we take that into a prison of our own making is the next.

  • NotNowJohnny

    I’m afraid you are losing me here. We won’t get reform of the POC unless there is a deal with with the DUP. And if we don’t get reform of the POC, there’ll be no SSM. Which was my point all along. I’m not sure where you are going with this.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    He’s probably the sanest person on here but hey a bit of mordant humour and all that https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe%27s_law
    Sorry to blow your cover Steve.

  • Zeno3

    Lets cut to the chase. Elected Nationalist politicians continue to eulogise sectarian murder gangs long after the “conflict” has finished. This has an effect that prolongs the problem. The reason for it is simple enough. They need they hardcore votes.
    If you want progress , that needs to stop. If you don’t want progress keep doing it.

  • Zeno3

    The current demands, which I have no real objections to don’t really matter. If the DUP rolled over and conceded everything. What’s next? Everything that is conceded just leads to another demand and costs votes. So if you were the DUP what would you do?

  • William Kinmont

    There is the nub of the problem our current system rewards intransigence with votes. The real problem is not actually the party’s its the system

  • William Kinmont

    There are probably lots just no interest for them getting involved in our tribal system as is

  • Redstar

    Ah no challenge to what I posted I see-just the usual whataboutery

  • Granni Trixie

    Its obvious to all now that Sf do not want back to the Assembly.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    If that was an attempted parody, it is some explanation, but I think Poe’s law definitely applies, Ben 😉

  • MainlandUlsterman

    That’s an ad hominem comment and a lie, please withdraw it.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Ben, when I say “ethnic” I don’t mean a ‘bloodline’ use of the term, I’m referring to ethnicity in its broader sense. For example the wikipedia definition: “An ethnic group or ethnicity is a category of people who identify with each other based on similarities such as common ancestral, language, social, cultural or national experiences.”
    There are very significant ethnic differences in that sense.

    I’m not suggesting our origins are far removed from each other or that they are not indeed quitely widely intermixed. But we have two main ethnic groups in N Ireland – peoples who identify with each other within the group, in our cases based on common social, cultural and national experiences. There is also some sense I think of having different ancestries too, though we don’t have racial or linguistic differences of any real note. Seeing our interactions through that lens I feel is essential to understanding what’s really going on.

    On that topic, Tim Wilson wrote a fantastic comparative history of N Ireland and Upper Silesia (German/Polish split) in the early 20s, realy worth a read. One of his conclusions was that the very clarity of the ethnic markers in N Ireland compared to Upper Silesia – people generally knowing what group is what – may well have contained the violence of that period, compared to the much worse violence in the more fluid Upper Silesia case.

    My other half’s family are from the former Yugoslavia and I think the Croat/Serb ethnic difference is another quite a similar case. Indeed ethnic diversity is the stuff of humanity. We’re just perhaps not used to thinking of ourselves in N Ireland in that way. But it’s no less valid for that.

    I find it quite funny that white people in general and white anglophone people in particular are so adamant that ethnicity does not apply to them. It’s like my English mate who claims he “doesn’t have an accent” 🙂

  • Toye native

    Your the one being juvenile about grammar,
    School teachers were great , traveled the world made lots of money.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I spent a lovely day 26 years ago at Sarnath, where he first (allegedly) preached his insights after his enlightenment. I’m a fan, but I do think dissociation from the material world, while it brings calm, is ultimately numbing.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Juvenile = correct?

  • Redstar

    I am going to say no as any reasonable person reading the vast majority of your posts would come to the same conclusion

    We all have our crosses to bear

  • Barneyt

    As a genuine question how are sf showing signs of not accommodating unionist culture in a would be reunited Ireland? That of course would be a mistake and differ little from unionisms approach to NI

  • Nevin

    But ‘whataboutery’ is the antidote to hypocrisy.

  • Barneyt

    Which means it did not work? Working badly is not the same as working

  • Granni Trixie

    Oops mistake ..

  • MainlandUlsterman

    if you can’t follow Slugger discussion rules or basic courtesy of not making malicious stuff up about people, bye

  • William Kinmont

    Both sides equally guilty without getting embroiled in whataboutery my impression has been that MMG understood the importance of this accommodation. Gerry A approach seems to only recognise one culture. Not that I think that the “unionist” culture we will be exposed to over the next few days is particularly endearing or representative of all . The shop front of unionist culture is pretty dreadful and that little is being done by Unionist politicians to direct this to a better place is negligent.

  • john millar

    “Then why do they shun everything they regard as Irish then”
    Self interest/protection- avoiding/ trying to avoid at least one section of the community who have propensity to attack ones coreligionists.

  • john millar

    “I think it goes back to ‘Ireland equals a Romeward trend’ mentality. Which in turn goes back to anti catholic sentiment based on insecurity of ones own identity leading to fear ‘the other’ will make inroads into that identity.”

    HMM –more based on family history and experience me thinks
    The “Romanward trend in the ROI from -particularly -1920 on and its echo in N Ireland has left it mark.
    (Roman Catholics excommunicated for marrying Prods Protestants disowned by their parents for marrying Roman Catholics- shameful)

  • Deplorable Ulsterman

    How awful for the state to “discriminate” against those trying to destroy it. There is a term for that in most countries: “national security”.

  • Deplorable Ulsterman

    Yes, good idea. The appeasement process was rotten and unworkable from the beginning. It is wrong about everything – the he only sustainable method for stability and genuine peace is thorough demoralisation of those trying to destroy Ulster (as would happen in any other country that cared about effective national security).

  • Deplorable Ulsterman

    A language spoken by less than 3% of the population should never be equal to one understood by 99+%

  • Deplorable Ulsterman

    A coalition of libtards will be an absolute disaster and cause Ulster to destabilise and the levels of civilisational decline to accelerate beyond their current absurd proportions.

  • notimetoshine

    Look, slugger is (thankfully) a haven of polite, if heated political discourse at times. If you can’t put forward rational arguments or be sensible in your use of language, I don’t know what you are doing on here.

  • Granni Trixie

    Looks like you assume that Catholics and Nationalists wanted to destroy NI an assumption which you use to justify sectarian discrimination. Which ofcourse is history you have just made up.

  • Deplorable Ulsterman

    The stated goal of nationalists is to eradicate NI – you just seem to be rambling because you know what I have said is true but your cognitive dissonance prevents you from acknowledging that your propaganda is bullshît.

  • Deplorable Ulsterman

    Yes, another so-called “liberal”, policing language and telling others what they can and cannot say. If you spent less time policing language and trying to avoid thought crimes then you might actually be in touch with the truth and have rational opinions.

  • Granni Trixie

    Nationalists (with whom I do not identify,btw) aspire to a UI. This is not the same as connotations of “eradicate”. And if you have read any academic literature about Ni you will see that Ni was ruled by a single party, a system ending in failure.

    (Now where is Mick when you need him for woman playing?)

  • Deplorable Ulsterman

    Eradicating my homeland and making me a tiny minority is indeed the goal of Irish Nationalism, and I and others of my kind have every justified right to oppose it by any means necessary. A single party ruled because they were democratically elected as the most popular party.

  • Granni Trixie

    My final word to you is to urge you to read historical accounts to counteract your apparent ignorance about gerrymandering, restricted franchise etc.