Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Electoral deals will not safeguard the Union

Sammy Wilson has found time, between lauding the emission of carbon and raging about the stupidity of vehicle testing, to gibber about need for ‘unionist unity’. The irony of DUP politicians calling for unionism to unite will never wear thin, but the party has fastened unto the notion since Peter Robinson’s succeeded the arch splitter, Ian Paisley, as leader. Its ardour for ‘unity’ has increased since Ulster Unionists entered talks with the Conservative party, aimed at forging a pan-UK unionist movement.

Of course, what the DUP is intent upon (at least since it assumed the mantle of Northern Ireland’s biggest party), is not unionist unity at all, it is Northern Irish unionist unity. Its call is merely for a closing of community ranks. The UUP has its eyes set on a much more profound unionist alliance stretching across every region of the United Kingdom. The best means to defend the Union, in its entirety, is not restricting the choices available to unionist voters at the ballot box. Becoming involved in national politics, forging relationships with unionists across England, Scotland and Wales, that is an altogether grander vision.

It is nonsense to claim, as Sammy Wilson does, that contesting each of Northern Ireland’s constituencies would undermine unionism. Corralling voters into voting for a candidate with whom they are not comfortable, in order to maintain a seat for a putative community, is not a means by which to underpin the Union. If the electorate in Northern Ireland is to have the choice of participating in normal British politics by voting for a Conservative and Unionist candidate, that choice should not be denied voters in Fermanagh South Tyrone or South Belfast.

The best way to underpin the Union is not to maintain a myopic focus on the constitution. It is to get on with making Northern Ireland a successful, integral part of the United Kingdom and the UUP/Tory plan offers the best prospect of achieving this. The DUP will continue to attempt to undermine a deal by worrying at the concept of ‘unionist unity’ as they understand it. It does not help when senile old coots (still) within the UUP, or indeed the party leadership, start using similar language.

10 comments:

O'Neill said...

We know that to achieve that, cooperation across the unionist family will be necessary and essential. That is what the unionist community is crying out for.

There is no such thing as the Unionist "family" or the Unionist "community".

There are, however, people who presently vote for Unionist parties and people who may, given the correct circumstances may vote for pro-Union parties in the future. The question which Sammy, the DUP, the TUV and elements of the UUP refuse to deal with is how we can realise that potential new "non-family", "non-community" vote.

Anonymous said...

Whilst fully in support of the UUP/Tory link up, and I hope merger, in the spirit of PR I also want to ensure that support for the Union is fully maximised in all elections where it is practised such as the EU and Assembly. I would therefore have no hesistation in asking UUP/Tory No. 1 voters to vote for other Unioist candidates in their 2, 3 or 4 choices. In 1st past the post elections such as Westminister I would not have any pacts, all 18 seats must be contested.

Anonymous said...

I had understood Rev R Coulter was fully supportive of the UUP/Tory merger.

Whilst agreeing he is a tad old he is a formidable orator and is still at almost 80 an outstanding intellect amongst our local politicians.

I was also surprised to find, given his service to NI politics, that he has never been honoured.

Chekov said...

I was also surprised to find, given his service to NI politics, that he has never been honoured.

Hmmm. Quite. I believe he is quite surprised too. :-X

fair_deal said...

It's not just old coots who like the idea of an agreed candidates 3 of the UUP branches in south Belfast think likewise.

Chekov said...

At branch level that kind of talk has always gone down well. It's up to leaders to lead.

fair_deal said...

It's the people in branches who are expected to do the work for the candidates

Chekov said...

To be repaid by personal conceit and threats on occasion.

fair_deal said...

"To be repaid by personal conceit and threats on occasion."

One of the trials of grassroots membership

Abdul-Rahim said...

Interesting point about isolating NI Unionism from the greater spectre of pan-UK unionism. The nationalists have no qualms in supporting each other, but unionists seem to want to go it alone in their respective constituent parts of the country!