Why mixed messaging cannot work for Doug Beattie or indeed the UUP

implement, do, implementation

‘In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things.’ – Miyamoto Musashi Following the General Election of 2010, the UUP produced an internal report addressing the electoral performance of the party which had campaigned with the Conservative party in what was known, rather clumsily, as the UCU-NF initiative. Probably not enough time was given to the process. Based on an earlier European election in which UUP …

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Unionism needs more than talk about mental health and social injustice, it needs to deliver solutions.

change, arrows, clouds

Holy Grail refers to an elusive goal continuously pursued. For many Unionists, ‘the Holy grail’ is Unionist unity – politically.  It harps back to the days of ‘United We Stand, Divided We Fall’; a framed picture of which adorned the walls of many buildings used by the Unionist party when it was, by far, the main political party of Unionism; that, and a picture of the reigning monarch. Hopes will have been raised at the sight of the leaders of four Unionist …

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When the new leader of the UUP talks of getting smaller, that’s the easy bit…

“We may have to get smaller before we get bigger” The words of the new UUP Leader, Doug Beattie MLA, echo those of a previous UUP leader Mike Nesbitt MLA, when speaking at a leadership hustings debate in Londonderry in 2012. His ultimately unsuccessful opponent was John McCallister at the time an MLA, a strong advocate for formal opposition at Stormont and closely associated with Basil McCrea, also an UUP MLA. Both left to form NI21. Both parties ended up …

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Is this an opportunity to re-align Unionist politics?

Religious allegiance in Northern Ireland however flawed or sincere in its’ expression has been a complex factor in shaping communal differences, loyalties, bigotry and conflict. In doing so it has served to successfully inoculate against the potential value of beneficial insight and teaching. Perhaps not as many as was once the case, there are those familiar with a parable found in the New Testament wherein ‘pouring new wine into old wineskins’ is not advised. Those qualified to comment more fully …

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Why I think Northern Ireland will still be part of the Union in another 100 years time…

Alex Easton is one of two DUP MLAs currently representing North Down. Here he lays out what he thinks the current strength of the case for retaining the union between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, and why Northern Ireland needs more optimistic engagement with the future. Being passionate about the Union and never having done a piece for Slugger O’Toole before, I am hoping that those who oppose the Union will not be too hard on me for my first …

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“Where do you think Unionism is going?”

Currently unable to meet socially for coffee, conversations now take place on zoom or on the phone. Once we have shared our frustrations about Manchester United, recalled our memories of school days, in his case under the guidance of the Christian brothers and in mine, the local grammar school for a mainly unionist intake, we inevitably gravitate to politics. The question put to me was more challenging than John realised and is one unionists need to ask of themselves: ‘Where …

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An opportunity for unionism to lead the celebration and expression of Northern Irish culture…

This is the second in a two-part series on how culture war is a mark of fake politics and not the least in our own backyard and is written from a pro-union perspective.  There is an opportunity for unionism to lead the celebration and expression of culture to a new level. To mirror others, who forfeit this to a discourse of power and mob force illiberal cultural fundamentalism, is to deny its common humanity and heritage and impose tribal identity. …

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A debate on our constitutional future is not just the Border. It’s about re-imagining the State…

In 2018 Unionist Commentator Alex Kane travelled to Dublin to speak at a conference on Irish Unity. His message to the nationalist audience? Discussing a United Ireland was not a topic on which Unionism would engage. Kane has a keen mind and I am sure the irony of his message was not lost. But he subsequently went on to say that trying to persuade him about the merits of a United Ireland was futile, while the premise of talks based …

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In future struggles, unionists need to be both right and attractive…

On the day Sammy Wilson rightly apologises for his use of highly inappropriate language about An Taoiseach, Newton Emerson makes a vital point to unionism in his Irish News column… …the way City Hall operates is the way Stormont would operate without the petition of concern. Whoever could make common cause with the unaligned bloc, now including the Greens and occasional socialists as well as Alliance, would win the day. There was a timely demonstration of this last September when …

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Unionists need to remember the Irish Language is cultural, not political…

In light of recent political events, it’s good every once in a while, to pause and take stock, assess where we are; where we’ve come from and the future direction, if any. This can be said of both Unionism and Nationalism, both sides of the Brexit argument and even those who spend their political lives perennially sitting on the fence. Colum Eastwood’s ‘cross-community anti-Brexit axis’ was a novel and clever attempt to forge new ground. In doing so, it left …

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Is London’s Anglo centric unionism fundamentally at odds with unionism in the devolved territories?

If you read nothing else this week, try this fascinating insight from Richard Wynne Jones, director of the Wales Governance Centre at Cardiff University (where I’ll be speaking in few weeks), into what may turn out to be one of the key drivers in pushing the United Kingdom apart: English nationalism is a curious concoction, combining a rather unlikely sense of grievance about how England was treated within the devolved UK with a sense of entitlement and even superiority about the UK’s place in the …

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Five questions over the future of Unionism after Mike Nesbitt steps down

History is unlikely to be very kind to Mike Nesbitt’s tenure as Ulster Unionist leader. The 2017 Assembly election looked to many observers like the UUP’s long-awaited big chance. It was not to be. To be fair, the UUP was struggling long before Nesbitt took over at the top. It can also be said that he tried pretty much everything. He led them firstly as an Executive party and then into Opposition. When he first entered politics, it was at …

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Unionism needs to play the Loyal Order card again

An Orange Forum is needed to cement the Loyal Orders and the unionist parties together again. The Loyal Orders – the Orange, Black and Apprentice Boys – must begin formal negotiations, not just with nationalist residents groups, but also with the leaderships of the various unionist parties to discover precisely where they stand in relation to the Loyal Orders bloc vote.    The precise problem is that the Loyal Orders no longer enjoy the same support in the unionist parties …

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Why is Unionism more popular with Unionists than Nationalism is with Nationalists?

On the SluggerReport this morning I picked up on a theme raised by Malachi O’Doherty on the Guardian yesterday, and asked why does nationalism seem to be less popular amongst nationalism than Unionism is amongst unionists. In an attempt to take a long view towards the end, I offer three key points: NI arose out of protest: Unionism originates in the 1880s as a response to the transformation of the land league movement into a home rule movement. It’s the …

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Perhaps it is time for Unionists to do some public thinking about their own history…?

As the week draws to a close some interesting material has been drawn to the top of our collective consciousness. I suspect that slowly it will dawn on some of our own politicians (not just unionist ones) that saying no will barely suffice for the winding road ahead. Here’s Alex Kane with some important home truths for those on the Unionist side… … unionists do tend to focus on the ‘physical force’ tradition within republicanism while glossing over their own …

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Arlene Foster the vision thing and Angela Merkel

Following Arlene Foster’s successful first conference as DUP leader and before the frenzy of the run up to the elections in the spring it is maybe time to take stock of the third DUP leader and her achievements thus far. Firstly even to have become DUP leader is a significant achievement and one which speaks of her political talent no matter what one’s views of her politics. Foster was a gradually rising star in the UUP under Molyneaux and Trimble’s …

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Continued membership of the EU is the only way that Unionism can survive

Dr. David Shiels is College Research Associate in History at Wolfson College, Cambridge and author of a forthcoming biography of Enoch Powell. He argues that if Unionists insist on peeling away the post war constitutional frame by leaving the EU, you risk the unraveling of the British Union too. The Democratic Unionist Party has, at last, come out in favour of Brexit.  The party which proudly wears the badge of Euroscepticism in Northern Ireland has until now refused to take …

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Foster’s focus on belief in a better future will require a strong dose of ‘unreasonable generosity’…

FRESH START: An actual fresh start requires ‘unreasonable generosity’ to create the sort of cooperative action needed to get anything done in Northern Ireland. Without it the drift from the ballot box will continue apace. Ms Foster will be judged on actions. Her own. And that of her political opponents cum partners.

Mike Nesbitt, the UUP’s resurgence and sea battles

I began thinking about this blog a few weeks ago just when the UUP first left Stormont but never go round to finishing it. As time has gone on though its accuracy seems to be to be increasing especially in view of Nesbitt’s speech which Alan has covered below. Five years ago I did a blog about the UUP and the Battle of the Nile. In brief at the Battle of the Nile Admiral Nelson divided his forces and attacked …

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Something quite profound has shifted here, and more so within unionism than nationalism…

So where does this all leave Unionism? Well, plainly not everyone is in the same place Gregory Campbell was last night. The brutal truth of all of this is that the DUP did not want to leave office over this, or almost anything else. In the blame game it is always unionism’s fault, so staying in situ was always Peter Robinson’s plan of action. Then along came Mike Nesbitt, who, no doubt having seen the term “Head of IRA Intelligence” …

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