Border poll recedes as polls show nationalist support for unity hinges on Brexit outcome

If two polls out today  are to be believed, pressure for  an early border poll will recede and unionists  fearing the worst, will heave sighs of relief For nationalists, while much hinges on the economic consequences of Brexit,  majority  opinion among them in favour of  unity hasn’t solidified, despite the UK government’s confused approach to Brexit and the border. The Newsletter gleefully reports Two separate polls have found no evidence that Brexit has yet caused a radical shift in public … Read more

The Conservatives have a mountain to climb to challenge Labour’s social media dominance

In the wake of this year’s snap general election, it has become apparent that age, not social class, has become the new fault line in British politics. Analysis published by YouGov highlights the woeful electoral performance by the Conservatives amongst younger voters. Amongst 18 and 19 year old voters at the 2017 general election, Labour were ahead of the Tories by a staggering 47 points (66% to 19%), and were 40 points ahead of the Conservatives with voters in their … Read more

“It will be interesting to see what the delivery mechanism for that money will be.”

In his analysis of where the £1.5 billion, over a number years, from the Conservative/DUP arrangement will be spent, the BBC’s John Campbell makes a couple of interesting points about some of the new money, and all of the old money. There is also £100m to be spent on deprived communities over five years. It will be interesting to see what the delivery mechanism for that money will be. Stormont’s Social Investment Fund, which was also designed to help those … Read more

“Anyone for more opium?”

The empty rhetoric of the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, in Downing Street last week… Speaking at Downing Street, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said that the party told Mrs May “very directly that she was in breach of the Good Friday Agreement” over the Conservative negotiations with the DUP. …is neatly summed up in Ed Moloney’s blog post title, “Sinn Fein Meet May, Complain And Then Go Away……Move On, No Story Here“. The party’s impotence, in relation to any arrangement … Read more

“We don’t believe that any deal between the DUP here and the English Tories will be good for the people here.”

So stated the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, as he paraded his “Magnificent Seven” MPs [and Carál Ní Chuilín – Ed] in front of the media at a press conference at Stormont yesterday.  But whilst most reports focused on that line, or a variation on it, only the Irish Times’ Gerry Moriarty appears to have still been listening when he went on to say… [Gerry Adams] said Sinn Féin would not reject any positive deal that might emerge from these … Read more

Will YouGov’s election model be vindicated when the results are in?

Opinion polling firm YouGov have raised eyebrows in the run up to Thursday’s poll with the results of their forecast model, which at the time of writing is forecasting that the Conservatives will only win 307 seats. This would deprive them of their parliamentary majority, and leaves open the possibility that Jeremy Corbyn could become Prime Minister if Labour could secure support from the smaller parties in the Commons. The YouGov model is out of line with other election forecasts, … Read more

Conservative manifesto very warm on the Union, cool and correct to the Republic, no mention of special status in ” a comprehensive free trade and customs agreement”

TORY LAUNCH: Here I concentrate on those matters of specific interest to Northern Ireland. Remember that while manifestos tend to be mainly broad brush, they convey a sense of direction. The rhetoric of this one is modern British Unionist, as would be expected with the Union under threat but it avoids Rule Britannia jingoism.

What does May running up the Union Jack mean for Northern Ireland as well as Scotland?

Theresa May has spoken out very directly  to reject Nicola Sturgeon’s demand to be allowed  to hold Indyref2   in emotional British patriotic language which marks it out starkly from the language of Scottish nationalism.   “Our Party believes heart and soul in our United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The union is more than just a constitutional artefact.  It is a union between all of our citizens, whoever we are and wherever we’re from. So our plan for … Read more

If May chooses to be tough in negotiating Brexit, she must be tougher on the causes of Brexit…

So two weeks, two very difference conferences. What Labour and Tory parties have in common is that they both have newly chosen leaders. Labour’s by-election from the mass ranks of the party (twice) and the Tory’s by ‘acclamation’ once (if that’s the term for it). If there is one significant difference between the two, it is that Labour spent its whole conference talking to and arguing amongst itself whilst the Tories were busy messaging the nation at large. Corbyn’s speech was … Read more

DUP and Tories playing footsie in Birmingham over a Parliamentary pact?

Interesting blog from Gary Gibbon who’s been in Birmingham, which speculates that there’s a deal in the offing between the Conservative party and the DUP to ensure that the party has an extra bit of insurance in Parliament for the times ahead. It’s not the first time a UK government has come calling, and it won’t be the last. Fragmentation in party representation puts an essentially pragmatist, pro-Union party like the DUP in a usefully powerful position until at least 2020 … Read more

If Brexit means Brexit, the UK Can’t Block an EU Army

“This is not going to happen. We are full members of the EU and we will go on resisting any attempt to set up a rival to NATO.” Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon’s response to proposals for an EU army discussed at the Bratislava summit ‘informal gathering’ of EU Heads of Government (minus Theresa May), reported in The Times yesterday cannot be, if Brexit means Brexit, anything other than a denial of reality. If government statements are honest, then the … Read more

If Article 50 is the starting gun, how does the UK get there?

Well, helpfully for the Tories, Labour is having a meltdown over their own lame duck leader and so (barring an uncanny and uncharacteristic lucky turn in fortunes) may be discounted as providing any serious drag on defining how the Article 50 process for leaving the EU might process. There’s a deal of scepticism as to whether Brexit will ever happen. That’s partly to do with the way it was sold (with everyone offering their own maximal vision of what could … Read more

It’s about democracy stupid. No, more like a terrible mistake

As the polls lengthen in favour of  Brexit, Vote Leave’s morale is on the up. The Brexit phenomenon is not reactionary, a delayed  reaction to the loss of Empire or narrow English nationalism but it marks a revival of British self confidence. This I rate as a discovery to be taken with a pinch of salt. But so says Steve Hilton the one-off, wonderfully paradoxical  engaging Tory radical who as Cameron’s guru used to pad about Downing St in tee … Read more

Tory Uncivil War based on Europe but continued on everything else?

The dust has begun to settle on the budget and Ian Duncan Smith’s dramatic resignation: not enough that said to know what is going to happen in the medium term. The episode was, however, much worse than the Omnishambles of the 2012 budget. It revealed a series of fault lines within the Conservative Party that do not simply relate to Europe but the coverings over which are cracking under the weight of that juggernaut. The Conservative Party like any political … Read more

Amazing occurrences: Sun rises in East and Boris backs Brexit

In the most surprising news since the revelation that the sun came up in the east this morning, Boris Johnson has announced that he will support Brexit. The fact that Teresa May has stayed with Cameron means that none of the serious leadership contenders would have supported Brexit had Johnson stayed with Remain. This move will no doubt make him the grass roots darling for the meantime.

All the right votes in all the right places – how the Tory electoral strategy triumphed

The General Election of 2015 has been the worst for opinion pollsters since their calamitous evening in 1992. Whilst almost all pollsters and commentators had expected a hung parliament, with weeks of constitutional crisis, deadlock, and possible three party coalitions, in the event the Conservative Party won an absolute majority. As was widely predicted, Labour were all but wiped from the electoral map in Scotland. But this eventuality had already been baked in to the forecasts; the real shock was … Read more

Jim Wells: Has he damaged the DUP? UPDATED

Any hopes that the DUP had that last night’s ill-judged comments by Health Minister Jim Wells would be quickly forgotten appear to be fast receding. If anything the ‘apology’ by Mr. Wells betrays ignorance on the part of the Health Minister more than anything else. Sadly the PSNI have now confirmed that they are now investigating comments made by Mr. Wells’  –  perhaps the new laws suggested by the Ulster Fry would be more appropriate. UPDATE: Tonight (Sunday April 26th, 2015) … Read more

Mr Cameron, The Tories & ‘compassionate’ conservatism: compelled to justify neoliberal politics at #ge2015?

As the 2015 British general election campaign gathers momentum, the prospect of a hung parliament looms large. Concerning Scotland, the 2014 Scottish Referendum may have produced a result that was to the satisfaction of supporters of the ‘no’ campaign, but the Scottish National Party’s subsequent rise as an extremely decisive contender in national-level politics could be described as the seminal consequence of #Indyref. Irrespective of the ultimate election result, the SNP, led by the articulate Nicola Sturgeon, is definitely set … Read more

LGBT issues: Northern Ireland party views – UPDATED

(Updated to include responses from the Ulster Unionist Party and People Before Profit) Research conducted by Ruth McCarthy highlights some stark differences between the parties contesting this years Westminster elections in Northern Ireland on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues. A series of questions were asked: 1a Does your party visibly support LGBTQ equality issues in your party manifesto, on your website and in election campaigning materials? If YES, please give examples. If NO, please state why. 1b Please give … Read more

A loss of Respect for Amjad Bashir?

UPDATED The defection of MEP Amjad Bashir from UKIP to the Conservative Party took an amazing new twist this afternoon when George Galloway’s Respect Party claimed on their website that Bashir was selected as the Respect candidate in Bradford Moor for the May 2012 council elections but was deselected “after local residents raised serious concerns about his fitness to stand.” He subsequently left Respect, joined UKIP and was placed second on the UKIP list of candidates for the Yorkshire and … Read more