Arlene Foster launches Together UK Foundation…

Ireland’s Future has been getting all the attention lately, and many people have been asking where is the organisation advocating for staying in the Union? Arlene Foster thinks she has the answer with her recently launched Together UK Foundation.

According to her website, Arlene now goes by the snappy title of The Right Honourable Dame Arlene Foster Former First Minister of Northern Ireland, or TRHDAFFFMONI for short. That’s going to be a challenge for the baristas at Starbucks.

Arlene has become a Dame just in time for Christmas, but she has left the Stormont Pantomime behind to move to the bigger stage of the House of Lords.

The foundation actually launched in September but only Henry McDonald of the Newsletter seemed to be there and I don’t remember seeing any press coverage of it at the time. It took me quite a while to even find their website as when you google Together UK you get the website of Together, a leading mental health charity.

Still with a bit of a rummage around Twitter, I found their account at https://twitter.com/TogetherUKFound

Their website is at: https://www.togetherukfoundation.com

The first thing to note is they are not focused solely on Northern Ireland but on the UK as a whole. They are fighting on multiple fronts: not just Irish, Scottish and Welsh Nationalists but also that pesky Cornish Independence movement.

Their website states:

We are a not for profit, non-party political organisation, with the purpose to proactively inform and engage debate on the benefits for all constituent parts of the United Kingdom to remain together.

At Together UK Foundation we believe in the African proverb…

“If you want to go fast, go alone

if you want to go far, go together“

Ahhh that’s nice.

The problem with trying to cover all the UK is it all becomes a bit wishy-washy and unfocused. I am not sure how interested people in Scotland are about court cases in Dublin, or how interested people in Northern Ireland are about plans for a digital currency for Scotland – both topics recently retweeted by Together UK Foundation.

I know they are only new but it all seems a bit bland. I have never heard of any of the people behind it. They have not managed to get the household names that Ireland’s Future was able to get on board. The board is entirely female, which gets them some plus points.

The key success of Ireland’s Future is not having politicians involved. They realised early on that Sinn Fein politicians going on about a United Ireland just winds Unionists up. No matter what the message was, they just could not get past the messenger. Far better to have people from civic society leading the debate. People are more open to listening if the speaker is that nice man Jimmy Nesbitt from the tele or Frances Black from the ‘A Woman’s Heart ‘album that the entire country bought in 1992.

To be blunt, Nationalists generally loathe Arlene Foster and over the years, the feeling from her seems to be mutual. I honestly can’t think of a worse person you could pick to lead a campaign to convince Nationalists to stay in the UK. Nothing against her personally, I am sure she is a lovely lady. But like a lot of politicians, the other side has a pavlovian response every time they see or hear her. The situation would be the same if a Sinn Fein politician was heading up Ireland’s Future.

After RHI and the other scandals, I am not even sure how popular Arlene is with Unionists. According to YouGov, she is popular with 14% of people.

You could argue that the sensible thing for Arlene to do would be to get comfy on the red benches of the House of Lords and leave the task of convincing Nationalists to stick around to more neutral public figures.

Stepping back a bit, it is really hard to sell the status quo. Ireland’s Future can promise us that in a United Ireland we will be embraced like the prodigal son returning home. We will be richer, healthier, and I assume, have a more vigorous and rewarding sex life in a United Ireland. In contrast, Together UK can only promise more of the same, and to be honest, the same is a bit sh*t at the moment and getting worse.

You could sum up the debate as Ireland’s Future vs No Future, and not even in the funky nihilist Sex Pistols way.

Frankly, if this is the best defence of the Union that Unionists can muster, the omens are not good for a border poll.

While I am personally not impressed so far, I am open to hearing the case for staying in the UK. If anyone from the UK Together Foundation wants to write a post for Slugger we will be more than happy to run it. We want to publish views from both sides of the debate. You can send any posts to me or any of the team.

Are we better together, or is it time that we started seeing other people?

Donate to keep Slugger lit!

For over 20 years, Slugger has been an independent place for debate and new ideas. We have published over 40,000 posts and over one and a half million comments on the site. Each month we have over 70,000 readers. All this we have accomplished with only volunteers we have never had any paid staff.

Slugger does not receive any funding, and we respect our readers, so we will never run intrusive ads or sponsored posts. Instead, we are reader-supported. Help us keep Slugger independent by becoming a friend of Slugger.

While we run a tight ship and no one gets paid to write, we need money to help us cover our costs.

If you like what we do, we are asking you to consider giving a monthly donation of any amount, or you can give a one-off donation. Any amount is appreciated.