At this time of year there are normally a plethora of retrospectives musing on the happenings of the previous 12 months. The credit crunch and the election of Barack Obama are two global events which will probably dominate most news and politics based assessments of 2008. There was also the small matter of a brief war which flared in the Caucasus following Georgian Prime Minister Mikhail Saaskashvili’s military adventurism.
In British politics David Davis won admiration for the courage of his resignation prompted by the issue of 42 day detention. In contrast the DUP shamefully supported Brown’s government as the legislation scraped through the Commons, causing many commentators to suppose the party had extracted some manner of bribe in exchange for its votes. The Conservative party looked to be galloping toward an unassailable lead and a possible landslide in the next Parliament, but Labour began to claw back ground and recorded a useful win in the Glenrothes by-election.
In Northern Ireland 152 days elapsed with Sinn Féin refusing to carry out its executive duties. Eventually a shadowy deal between the two carve-up parties broke the impasse as the nature of government here became all too evident. Perhaps most significantly for unionist politics the Conservative and Ulster Unionist parties’ fitful negotiations were eventually resolved satisfactorily and a new political force has been created. The deal culminated with David Cameron receiving a tumultuous reception at the UUP conference where he addressed delegates with a text book espousal of inclusive, civic unionism.
I have already recorded my scepticism as regards an early general election. In all likelihood the new entity will have its first electoral run out as European polls are conducted in spring 2009. Jim Nicholson might not represent the most exciting candidate to launch the Conservative and Unionist force, but he has a sound chance of success and a strong performance would get the alliance off to a running start. I certainly hope a strident campaign will accompany Nicholson’s candidature and he returns to the European Parliament with the backing of Northern Ireland’s electorate.
On a personal level 2008 has seen ‘Three Thousand Versts’ almost tripling its monthly readership. Hopefully in concert with other pro-Union blogs this trend continues and we can do our bit articulating our case and promoting our ideas. I hope too that readers continue to find this page an entertaining and stimulating read. And obviously if Liverpool could end the league title drought that would be highly welcome!
I’d be interested to discover readers’ take on the previous year, hopes and aspirations for the coming year or any general thoughts, whatever arena they might pertain to. By all means leave them in the comments zone.