9 2 mins 15 yrs

RMcsmlshdw.jpgI commend this article from my former political associate, Robert McCartney, in last evening’s Belfast Telegraph…

Jeffrey Donaldson, who as an Ulster Unionist opposed David Trimble’s policies, is now adapting one of Trimble’s reasons for power-sharing with Sinn Fein, by trotting out the old bogeyman that if Unionists don’t do the deal something worse like joint authority is lurking in the woodshed.

Faced with the prospect of dissent within their own grass roots and the loss of the votes of anti-Agreement Ulster Unionists who switched to the DUP in the last two elections, the DUP ‘pragmatists’ had already devised a big stick with which to herd a fearful Unionist electorate into the polling booths on the party’s behalf.

They recognised that as the DUP and the Ulster Unionists were now both willing to enter an enforced coalition with Sinn Fein their policies were indistinguishable.

As a result, anti-Agreement Unionists would have no place to go to on election day and might stay at home or spoil their ballot papers. A scheme of electoral emotional blackmail had therefore to be devised to drive them to the polling stations and give Ian Paisley their vote.

But the electorate would do well to simply remember the pledge which that party gave in its general election manifesto last year: ‘Inclusive mandatory coalition government which includes Sinn Fein under D’Hondt or any other system is out of the question.’

Read the rest. Bob and I agreed more often than not on many local constitutional issues, and I am very pleased with his take on this. 

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9 thoughts on “EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL….

  1. >>As a result, anti-Agreement Unionists would have no place to go to on election day and might stay at home or spoil their ballot papers.<<

    Doesn’t say much for his confidence in the popularity of himself or his policies before the Unionist electorate.

    Unionist leaders, no matter how hardline we once thought they were, inevitably end up trying to cut a deal with Nationalism once they’re in a position to do so.
    I wonder why. It can’t all be simple lust for power.

  2. David, in my opinion all this assembly stuff is a red herring. The really important long-term development is the formation of the seven ‘super-councils’, effectively a re-partitioning of the province.
    We’re potentially faced with three Unionist and three Nationalist/Republican councils in addition to Belfast. You can be damn sure that the three non-Unionist councils will be doing their level best to push an all-Ireland agenda — more links with border counties, more pushing of the Irish language issue, more efforts to remove any elements of British-ness, all within their own little feifdoms.

    The assembly by contrast is unlikely to be any more than an expensive symbolic talking shop fiddling around with the budget allocated to it.

    Mccartney as always talks a lot of sense but all he will succeed in doing is splitting the Unionist vote. The only winners will be Sinn Fein, who, for all their many faults, do a sterling job in maintaining party unity.

  3. The St Andrews Agreement seems to have been deliberately designed to tribalise the vote as far as possible. It is even worse than the original GFA in this regard. The "biggest party gets the First Ministry" provision seems deliberately designed to squeeze the votes of the smaller parties in unionism and nationalism.

    Unfortunately I now live abroad and I cannot therefore get much of a sense of the feeling on the ground in Northern Ireland. A few questions therefore:

    1. Is there any prospect of a broad based opposition to St Andrews? Its main public opponents seem to be largely fringe figures.

    2. Are the "pro-agreement unionist" types still as keen on the GFA now that the pretense that it is something other than a sectarian carve up is gone? Is there any scope for uniting former pro and anti agreement groups in a common front seeking a common set of reforms to the GFA (eg abolition of d’Hondt and cross-community voting, perhaps with substitution of weighted majorities and separation of powers)?

  4. >>Is there any prospect of a broad based opposition to St Andrews<<

    >>Is there any scope for uniting former pro and anti agreement groups in a common front<<

    How about a different approach. The last thing Unionism needs again, ( in my very humble opinion ) is to have the "rejectionist" label once again stamped on it.

    Why not go on the offensive!. Put their own workable proposals on the table. Go on the charm offensive with the SDLP, UK and Irish governments. Drive the deal from what they want out of it.

  5. Kloot the British and Irish governments don’t care about any "positive proposals" that anyone from unionism might have. They have already decided on a creeping joint authority followed by disengagement. I am not keen on rejectionism, but unfortunately I believe that it is the only option for unionism because without a complete change of direction we will remain a disenfranchised people living in a colonial reservation.

    The only way to change the direction is to reject their plans and try to stop them from implementing them. How many times does the British government have to shaft us before "liberal unionism" realises that they do not have our interests at heart?

  6. Fair enough david. But if the British government are set on railroading a ‘peace solution’ on unionists, it will take a pretty spectacular show of strength ( the peaceful kind ) for this to change.

    Personally, id not be happy with any sort of creep towards joint authority. It spells disaster. Its not good to negotiate over the the heads of people. Unionism needs to feel that it is controlling its own destiny.

    However, one of the failings of the Union is that you hand control over your affairs to the government representing the Union, expecting that that government would have the interests of those in the Union at heart when it does its deal, and at the moment it does feel like the British government is negotiating above the heads of the people of NI. What can one say.

    Scotland seems to be distracting the major UK political parties at the moment. The implications of a Scottish PM seem more to front.

    I suppose the question is, are these deals getting worse or better after each effective rejection ?

    And is it worth taking the risk of rejecting this and facing a possible worse one down the line.

    I wonder sometimes if Unionism/Unionists keeps to themselves a little too much. What I mean is, that, they dont really put themselves across in as much a positive light as they could. Despite enduring 30/80 years of a threat to their existence, Unionism still gets portrayed in a bad light. The ones that say no, the ones that force marches down roads… and all the usual cliches.

    I duno. I suppose whats first needed is a strong leader. And there doesnt seem to be anyone willing to step up to that plate at the moment.

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