Friday, 22 August 2008

Poots the 'superprod'

We have established repeatedly that Edwin Poots is a congenital idiot, but his latest press release raises the bar of imbecility, even by his standards. Responding to a suggestion by Basil McCrea that there should be a debate as to whether Northern Ireland’s football team should have its own anthem, Poots gibbered the following,

““For an Ulster Unionist Assembly Member to be openly advocating the scrapping of “God Save The Queen” is a shocking state of affairs. Is there any Unionism at all left in the UUP? It looks like they have they slowly transformed into a blue-tinged centrist grouping without Unionist principles or convictions. Basil McCrea has exposed just how anaemic his party’s brand of Unionism truly is.””


Does Poots have any notion what unionism actually consists of? Is he so stupid that he believes an intrinsic element of unionism is retaining the UK’s anthem for a sports team which is representing, not the United Kingdom, but Northern Ireland specifically? And how dare he call into question the unionism of a party which is attempting to open Northern Ireland up to mainstream UK politics, at a time when his own party become ever more estranged from the rest of the Kingdom?

For the record, Basil McCrea is right to infer that a debate is necessary about Northern Ireland’s future anthem. Scottish fans’ reaction to God Save the Queen is an irrelevance to the issue at hand, but both Scotland and Wales have their own anthems for sports in which they compete separately from the rest of the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland should be no different.

The only thing Poots’ comments expose, is how limited his own conception of unionism is. Poots’ unionism, and the unionism of many of his colleagues, has nothing to do with promoting British values and institutions. His only concern is a populist appeal to ‘Ulster protestant’ sentiment. That is why he seems completely unable to understand why a unionist party would wish to form an alliance with a mainstream British party (as alluded to by his ‘blue-tinged centrist grouping’ remark). Poots is solidly within the DUP’s ‘Ourselves Alone’ camp, and that is why he leading the DUP’s assault on the UUP / Conservative talks.

Of course, petty party political point scoring and irony aside, the most insidious aspect of Poots’ statement is the cynical fashion in which he is attempting to politicise the Northern Ireland team to his own advantage. With ‘Football for All’ and other fan-based initiatives, the IFA and its supporters have been attempting to foster a friendly and inclusive atmosphere at games, with much success. The anthem is an emotive debate amongst supporters, but many see it as an anachronism which needs to go and will form the final part of the jigsaw as regards these efforts. Progress has been hard won and the last thing that is needed is Poots’ intervention, appealing to lowest common denominator sensibilities and attempting to hi-jack the Northern Ireland football team as a manifestation of cultural unionism.

This noxious character had to be removed from the sport and leisure brief after making a balls-up of the job. His one-eyed attempts to locate an international stadium in his constituency still dog football in this country. Now he is on the sidelines he should keep his nose (and/or ears) out of our team’s affairs and let the supporters decide whether they want their own anthem.

23 comments:

Conquistador said...

I wonder why the DUP left it to Poots (a undisputeable idiot) to attack the Tory/UUP talks. Just how serious are they taking it?

Anonymous said...

"And how dare he call into question the unionism of a party which is attempting to open Northern Ireland up to mainstream UK politics, at a time when his own party become ever more estranged from the rest of the Kingdom?"

And of course the "how dare they criticise us" attitude is why many people in Northern Ireland despise the UUP.

Smacks a little of the attitude which has dogged Ulster Unionists for decades - the belief that they have a divine right to be voted for.

Seems you've got a touch of that yourself.

Also - just how many of the UUP Assembly Group, UUP Councillors and UUP members agree with Poots??? That's something to ponder.

All very well for the backroom staff of Cunningham House (soon decamping of course) to take the highminded approach. Wont wash with the electorate of course.

Anonymous said...

"Now he is on the sidelines he should keep his nose (and/or ears) out of our team’s affairs"

Hmmmm... personal abuse.


Nice...

Anonymous said...

So can we say with certainty then that the official Cunningham House policy is that GSTQ should be dropped in favour of Danny Boy or some other god awful tun like "Ireland's Call"?

Interesting. That'll go down well with the Unionist electorate.

Kopfan said...

You obviously weren't at the NI match the last time this anthem nonsense was mooted.

The ringing chorus of "you can stick your Danny boy up your ar*e warmed my heart".

Still, after you've pissed off all the Orangemen and people who like GSTQ from the UUP then you'll be left with the purists like Basil and yourself.... and precious few others.

Michael Shilliday said...

"So can we say with certainty then that the official Cunningham House policy is that GSTQ should be dropped in favour of Danny Boy or some other god awful tun like "Ireland's Call"?"

No, you can't. You can say that a UUP MLA reckons the question should be asked though. Unless questions are some form of devil worship in your world, I don't see the problem.

Chekov said...

Anon - Poots hasn't made any sensible criticisms of UUP policy as far as I can discern. He's been clutching at straws and then releasing the most nonsensical press releases, which his more talented colleagues would be embarassed to put their names to.

Kopfan - I was at a match when leaflets were distributed and there was some singing. I can't remember who it was against. Of course it's an irrelevant point in any case.

1) Just because a very vocal group make a great noise about something does not mean they are a majority.

2) Whether Northern Ireland supporters wish to keep GSTQ or not, the point is that by presenting support for the anthem as an intrinsic aspect of unionism Poots hi-jacks a sporting issue for his own narrow purposes. If there is to be a debate amongst Northern Ireland supporters, the IFA etc, it is certainly not helpful, in terms of all the efforts that have been made, if people like Poots are insinuating that supporters who don't want the anthem aren't unionists.

Chekov said...

Btw perhaps one of the commenting DUPes would like to outline why seeking to integrate NI's politics with the rest of the UK, or wishing to bring a football team's practices into line with other regions of the UK, is anti-unionist?

Anonymous said...

I think wasting anytime on Poots is something that we should do at our peril.

He speaks dangerous nonsense and is often joined by other 'flat earthers' in the DUP. At best he is a '6000 years' Ulster Nationalist with hidden unionist tinges.

If the DUP are depending on people like this to save their skins at the next elections (ex EU) they will need more than God on their side.

fair_deal said...

If Poots is so unrepresentative how come other UUP reps are reported as fecked off?
http://www.newsletter.co.uk/3425/Call-to-drop-anthem-rejected.4420971.jp

"And how dare he call into question the unionism of a party which is attempting to open Northern Ireland up to mainstream UK politics, at a time when his own party become ever more estranged from the rest of the Kingdom?"

Questioning someone else's Unionism over a policy difference is indeed a low form of discourse. Something Poots and you could both be mindful of.

McCrea's statement flies in the face of this commitment to the national. It is promoting a regional variance. The national push is for more Britishness not less. What has been the reponse when a DUP person articulates a NI centric position? Ulster nationalist has been quickly thrown yet somehow Basil's comments aren't.

McCrea has one skill, getting a headline (and why some foolishly think he'd make a good leader).

However, the headline does not mean a good response, in this occasion its came back to bite him and rather than admit a feck up people foolishly try to defend him despite the contradictory positions they have to adopt to do so.

The UUP's inability to understand the importance and relevance of identity issues was central to their loss of support post Belfast Agreement.

Chekov said...

UUP reps aren't questioning McCrea's unionism despite the fact that some might disagree with his position in the debate. The difference is important.

"Questioning someone else's Unionism over a policy difference is indeed a low form of discourse. Something Poots and you could both be mindful of."

Except that when I question the DUP's unionism I do so because of an entire outlook which does not focus on the importance of Union. I do not pick up on cultural issues where they're not standing up for the Ulster prod volk!

"McCrea's statement flies in the face of this commitment to the national. It is promoting a regional variance. The national push is for more Britishness not less. What has been the reponse when a DUP person articulates a NI centric position? Ulster nationalist has been quickly thrown yet somehow Basil's comments aren't."

His statement does not fly in the face of the national. The UK does not have a national football team. If the UK were to have a national football team, I've no doubt McCrea would support GSTQ as its anthem. Actually his position would shift NI into line with the other countries of the UK which have a football team. To offer a NI-centric position on the NI football team is quite consistent with a unionist position.

fair_deal said...

"UUP reps aren't questioning McCrea's unionism"

Never said they did but Poots was not going out on some unpopular limb.

"Except that when I question the DUP's unionism I do so..."

Entertaining and selfish rationalisation of how it is completely permissible for you to go the low road but not for anyone else. Unionist discourse spends far too much time in the gutter already, we should be trying to raise it not excuse it for those we like and condemn it in those we don't.

"His statement does not fly in the face of the national. The UK does not have a national football team. If the UK were to have a national football team"

It does fly in the face of the national trend for more Britishness not less. (BTW your thread on that god awful Panorama programme was bang on).

You also overlook the teams played GSTQ in the past. They broke with the consensus partially because of an increased separatist/anti-British sentiment in Scotland and Wales that led to the adoption of a different anthem. Politics was a driver in the decision.

Also the 4th home nation and largest continues to use GSTQ. Why are we to copy Scotland and Wales?

Chekov said...

“Never said they did but Poots was not going out on some unpopular limb.”

He is not going out on an unpopular limb by advocating GSTQ as the best anthem. He is going out on an unpopular limb by harnessing support for that anthem to more ‘authentic’ unionism and attempting, as a politician who is already deeply unpopular with Northern Ireland football fans to claim to speak for them.

“Unionist discourse spends far too much time in the gutter already, we should be trying to raise it not excuse it for those we like and condemn it in those we don't.”

Taking a rigorous approach to defining what unionism actually comprises is not dragging discourse into the gutter. To suggest that there are those who use unionism as ethnic shorthand and are actually ambivalent about the Union and that we need to examine whether these people are in any real sense unionists at all, is a perfectly legitimate contention.

"His statement does not fly in the face of the national. The UK does not have a national football team. If the UK were to have a national football team"

“It does fly in the face of the national trend for more Britishness not less. (BTW your thread on that god awful Panorama programme was bang on).”

What national trend for more Britishness, not less? I repeat once more, the Northern Ireland team does not represent the whole of Britain, it represents Northern Ireland. It is a wonderful legacy of gifting football to the world that the United Kingdom can field 4 separate teams, each with its own proud history, in the international game. We should celebrate the rivalries and distinctiveness between those national teams. That intra kingdom sporting rivalry strengthens what we share, it doesn’t weaken it.

“You also overlook the teams played GSTQ in the past. They broke with the consensus partially because of an increased separatist/anti-British sentiment in Scotland and Wales that led to the adoption of a different anthem. Politics was a driver in the decision.”

The consensus broke prior to any serious separatist sentiment. Remember that ‘Scotland the Brave’ was Scotland’s anthem for many years prior to 1997 and the adoption of FoS.

“Also the 4th home nation and largest continues to use GSTQ. Why are we to copy Scotland and Wales?”

We’re not to copy anyone. We’re to reflect the fact that Northern Ireland has a distinct international football team.

fair_deal said...

"Taking a rigorous approach to defining what unionism actually comprises is not dragging discourse into the gutter. To suggest that there are those who use unionism as ethnic shorthand and are actually ambivalent about the Union and that we need to examine whether these people are in any real sense unionists at all, is a perfectly legitimate contention."

Claiming intellectual rigour to try to justify something barely above petty name-calling is hardly much improvement on the intellectual laziness leading to something barely above petty name-calling. Same rice, different chopsticks.

"What national trend for more Britishness, not less?"

I would have thought you'd be well aware of the proposals contained within a key document such as 'The Governance of Britain'. Trevor Philips and the arguments for greater cohesion around britishness and the associated failure of multi-culturalism?

Other government initiatves are cack-handed but still the issue is out there and more not less is the direction.

"I repeat once more, the Northern Ireland team does not represent the whole of Britain, it represents Northern Ireland."

And NI is part of which state? Does it have a dual role of representing NI and the UK when playing abroad?

"It is a wonderful legacy of gifting football to the world that the United Kingdom can field 4 separate teams, each with its own proud history, in the international game. We should celebrate the rivalries and distinctiveness between those national teams. That intra kingdom sporting rivalry strengthens what we share, it doesn’t weaken it."

An eloquent defence of a broadly NI centric position with a hope that it brings together rather than divides (of which there is no guarantee).

How's about this for a dangerous concept? Unionists of different shades can disagree on what degree of integration and distinction there should be within the British state. Yet these differences are not the basis for exclusion from being a Unionist.

In this case Poots wants the integrationist position and you prefer the distinctiveness. Neither of you has ceased to be a Unionist and nothing is contributed to the debate by anyone claiming otherwise.

"The consensus broke prior to any serious separatist sentiment."

Sorry but separatist sentiment has risen and fallen at various times. It is not a single event. Plus popular separatist sentiment and voting for a nationalist party are not necessarily the same thing.

Chekov said...

“Claiming intellectual rigour to try to justify something barely above petty name-calling is hardly much improvement on the intellectual laziness leading to something barely above petty name-calling. Same rice, different chopsticks.”

So in other words it’s not important to distinguish between a political belief in the Union and ‘unionism’ as an ethno-religious label. It is name calling to insist that these two things are not the same.

“I would have thought you'd be well aware of the proposals contained within a key document such as 'The Governance of Britain'. Trevor Philips and the arguments for greater cohesion around britishness and the associated failure of multi-culturalism?”

Documents and government policy which are proving completely wrong headed and counter-productive. There is no consensus that making Britain more mono-cultural will create greater cohesion around Britishness. Certainly retaining GSTQ as the anthem for the Northern Ireland football team will not affect Britishness one iota.

“And NI is part of which state? Does it have a dual role of representing NI and the UK when playing abroad?”

It is the football team for Northern Ireland. It only represents that part of the UK when playing abroad.

“How's about this for a dangerous concept? Unionists of different shades can disagree on what degree of integration and distinction there should be within the British state. Yet these differences are not the basis for exclusion from being a Unionist. In this case Poots wants the integrationist position and you prefer the distinctiveness. Neither of you has ceased to be a Unionist and nothing is contributed to the debate by anyone claiming otherwise.”

I take your point to an extent FD but Poots is not championing integration per se, if he were he would be pushing for a UK team. He is merely wishing to associate himself with an ostentatious display of Britishness (which may or may not be appropriate as the case may be) in order to score party political points. There is a not so subtle distinction between an integrationist position, in terms of strengthening the Union or participating in national politics and an integrationist position, in terms of propagating symbols convivial to Ulster protestants. It is not unreasonable to aver that unionism hinges on whether a party is focussed on the Union or not.

“Sorry but separatist sentiment has risen and fallen at various times. It is not a single event. Plus popular separatist sentiment and voting for a nationalist party are not necessarily the same thing.”

I’m well aware that separatist sentiment has risen and fallen at various times. The fact is that there were a host of good reasons why Scotland and Wales took distinctive anthems for themselves and political nationalism was not principle in that decision.

fair_deal said...

"So in other words it’s not important to distinguish between a political belief in the Union and ‘unionism’ as an ethno-religious label. It is name calling to insist that these two things are not the same."

It is the assumption that there is a singular definition of Unionism, that only a one group or individual is empowered to define it and that they can exclude all those they disagree with from Unionism on that basis, that is the issue I am trying to raise.

By all means criticse another definition and representation and why your alternative is better but stay out of the gutter.

"Documents and government policy which are proving completely wrong headed and counter-productive."

And? They may very well be but the point was that this is the direction. A direction you previously denied "What national trend for more Britishness, not less?" rather than disagreeing with it.

"Certainly retaining GSTQ as the anthem for the Northern Ireland football team will not affect Britishness one iota"

It will be one less expression of it. Does expressing it less help assist in its perpetuation in the medium to long-term?

It was as A N Wilson commented in the panorama programme the politicians only noticed the usefulness of britishness until after they had systematically diminished it. Hence Labour's dirty rush to do something even if often poorly conceived. Should we continue with the pattern A N Wilson described?

"It only represents that part of the UK when playing abroad."

That is almost half of the games then and when playing a team from abroad at windsor do they have a dual role?

"I take your point to an extent FD but Poots is not championing integration per se"

The position he advocates is. The postion you advocate is not in this case. If I was of a mind what was to prevent me from claiming a little ulster nationalist in there somewhere fighting to get out was why you prefered distinctivenss? ;)

I sense you are close to conceding the point but just don't want to give the final bit. I will content myself with this partial shift in this case and perhaps persuade you the full way in another debate.

"The fact is that there were a host of good reasons why Scotland and Wales took distinctive anthems for themselves and political nationalism was not principle in that decision."

What were these other good reasons?

I also said "separatist sentiment" not "political nationalism".

For example separatist sentiment in identity terms developed strongly in the 1980's Scotland but real growth for nationalism rather a consensus for devolution.

Chekov said...

“I sense you are close to conceding the point but just don't want to give the final bit. I will content myself with this partial shift in this case and perhaps persuade you the full way in another debate.”

I’m not conceding the point FD. I was going to break your post down bit by bit again, but actually many of the points I was going to address can be more succinctly summated in two separate but interrelated points.

1) Unionism’s essence is a commitment to the Unions between the various parts of the UK and by extension to the whole of that kingdom, it does not necessarily exclude, but certainly does not hinge on, such extraneous things as anthems at football matches or always being nice about the Orange Order. If unionism (or lack of it) is up for argument, the framework of that argument must be the former rather than the latter. If Poots has an argument which suggests that the UUP are not fully committed to the Union, he may challenge its unionism on that basis and not on the basis that Basil McCrea believes there is a debate to be had about anthems at Windsor Park or on the basis that a member of the local Conservatives does not like the Orange Order.

2) The purpose of the Northern Ireland football team and its supporters is not to strengthen the Union or to represent unionism. Many of its supporters are unionists and there is an argument to be made that a United Kingdom anthem is appropriate to represent that team. The alternative view can equally be argued by equally committed unionists. The IFA can neither strengthen nor can it diminish the Union by its choice of anthem and even if it could, it would not be its job to reach a decision on either of these things.

fair_deal said...

"I’m not conceding the point FD"

I was interpreting what you said "I take your point to an extent FD" as a partial acceptance.

Paragraph 1 is essentially the AN Wilson's criticism of politicians - happy to see Britishness disappear not fully realising the value it has in helping to maintain the Union. Traits of porterite thinking in it all (although I know from another thread of you partial problems with his work)

Paragraph 2 There is no clear division between sport and politics. The mere existence of a NI team can be presented as a political statement.

An identity is as much an idea as a reality. It needs to be expressed/communicated. It is not maintained/communicated/perpetuated by less and less expression of it.

"The alternative view can equally be argued by equally committed unionists."

I have never disputed this and do. It was your (and Poots) inability to accept this general point across a range of contexts that I have consistently criticised.

Chekov said...

Whilst sport and politics cannot be completely separated, clearly Northern Ireland's football team should not be considered a vehicle for propagating unionism. There might be those who see in the existence of the team a political statement, but that does not mean the IFA have to pander to their agenda. Britishness WILL NOT be effected one iota by changing Northern Ireland's anthem, whatever AN Wilson's criticism of politicians might say. Football is a medium in which the UK's diversity has been expressed since the foundations of the game. At no point has this undermined the Union and nor will a logical recognition of this diversity undermine the Union. No more than the bloke who mans the keyboard at Wylies pub in Cullybackey will undermine the Union if he stops banging out GSTQ at closing time every night.

fair_deal said...

"Football is a medium in which the UK's diversity has been expressed since the foundations of the game."

It is also a common uniting medium that was complemented in the past by the playing of GSTQ at matches. Now two teams dont and two teams do. of the teasm who dont their fans have taken to booing GSTQ, a fine example of how separatist sentiment fed into the removal of GSTQ.

"Britishness WILL NOT be effected one iota by changing Northern Ireland's anthem"

Repitition, how about addressing the point of how does less produce the same or more of what there was before?

There is something of a comparable debate on conservative home. I would concur with Jeremy Hunt's views (and I trust he can past your test of being a Unionist).

http://conservativehome.blogs.com/centreright/2008/08/britishness-and.html

It links back to a previous article. You can decide whether this concurs with your position.

http://conservativehome.blogs.com/centreright/2008/08/on-britishness.html

Chekov said...

I've already read the two pieces you've linked. Certainly I do not concur with the notion that there is no such thing at British culture. Hunt is quite right to say that shared history has given is shared values and a shared identity. Where that shared identity enjoys expression, it should be protected. Britain is also a diverse place, and that too requires protection. In football that diversity is enshrined by the provision of four separate national teams. It is appropriate to reflect that status quo with four separate anthems. A happy side-effect of this will be to make our team more accessible to ALL the people of Northern Ireland.

Chekov said...

*us not is

fair_deal said...

"Where that shared identity enjoys expression, it should be protected."

Errr Like the singing of GSTQ at significant sporting events...

"Britain is also a diverse place, and that too requires protection." In football that diversity is enshrined by the provision of four separate national teams."

We concur (please recall the first sentence the next time another Unionist here takes a NI centric position that you disagree with)

"It is appropriate to reflect that status quo with four separate anthems."

This is were we diverge, the diversity is fully recognised in the teams existence and its symbols why can the common not be recognised with the anthem?

"A happy side-effect of this will be to make our team more accessible to ALL the people of Northern Ireland."

Nice notion but yet to see any evidence found to sustain it.