ATW reader Paul brought this interview with Basil McCrea and John McCallister to my attention and I wanted to provide my own analysis of this wannabe political party. I will start off by saying that there is much to like about Basil and John. I have known Basil McCrea for a LONG time and he is a likeable character. I don’t know John but he speaks with an honesty and I am sure he is sincere.
Heres is what Basil says when asked to define himself;
I’ll take it on. I’m Northern Irish. I am Irish. I am British. I am myself. I want to build a democracy where people can vote without fear. I want people to vote for something and not against something. I want people to have hope, vision, belief in themselves and number one, I want to build a future for our children.
OK, that is a reasonable view. I just happen to totally disagree with it insofar as once cannot be all things to all men from a nationality point of view. I am British, end of. The electorate here does not see itself as Irish and British. With the best liberal will in the world – and Basil and John are dripping wet liberals – i fear that there is a political chasm they will fall into with this confused view of things.
Basil goes on…
The second thing we see ourselves as being different: we are unashamedly pro-United Kingdom. We are saying to people, as we see it hear and now, Northern Ireland’s future is best served within a devolved administration within the United Kingdom … There’s only one real strategic issue for Northern Ireland which is how you maintain stability. If we go back to the tribalism and the sectarian trench warfare, you destroy everything …
I think Basil will find the UUP, the DUP and the TUV also think that. This is not a point of difference for unionist voters.
When you drill into it, what JASIL are saying is that they want to be the Alliance Party with a slightly move red white and blue hue. But only slightly. I’m not sure who this will appeal to politically. Alliance have cornered the mildly unionist voters. TUV have cornered the tougher minded. The DUP and UUP fight over the great unwashed middle ground. So where will JASIL appeal?
In my view, this experiment will flounder and fail. They will not get elected, I think, and a lot of disenfranchised Ulster Unionist voters will have their revenge come the next Assembly election in 2016. There is a lot of talk from them and they appeal to the liberal media who think that somehow, someway, unionism will be Irish and British. It won’t.
I wish John and Basil every success in their post political careers, of course.