On Monday morning the Conservatives and Unionists European manifesto was launched. Based on the national Conservative party manifesto, it outlined a vision of the United Kingdom’s place within a cooperative, outward looking European Union, based on common values and a common market. I observed that in standing on a coherent, relevant platform, based on careful consideration of Britain’s relationship with European institutions, Jim Nicholson was putting faith in the Northern Ireland electorate’s political maturity. The document offered a glimpse of what politics here could become.
Today the DUP has released its manifesto (PDF). Predictably it relies upon the Northern Ireland electorate’s political credulity.
There’s an awful lot of revisionist post 1998 history. There’s the usual carping about ‘unionism topping the poll’. There are four pages about the devolution of policing and justice! And just when you'd given up hope, the first mention of European politics comes on page 16. Indeed the DUP devotes one double page spread to issues pertinent to this election.
In the nugatory European section of its ..... European manifesto.... it pledges to oppose the Lisbon Treaty and support a UK wide referendum, oppose the loss of national vetoes and oppose common policies on immigration, defence and foreign policy. All of which are matters that the British government, rather than 1 independent, unattached MEP amongst 736, must resist. Indeed it is the Conservative government that will put in place legislation for a referendum, should it remain unratified by the time it comes to power.
To add to the manifesto’s rather surreal quality, Dodds promises to return control of social policy to Westminster, reduce global poverty and build improved relationships with China and India. So the Northern Irish public is expected to believe that Diane’s isolated, yapping skirl will realise a revitalisation of national sovereignty and charm India and China. Although, naturally, it would be a U-Turn were she actually to join any EU group which visits India and China, should she be elected, given the abuse her party heaped upon Jim Nicholson for participating in European trade delegations to the US and Australia.
I doubt too whether Diane Dodds (Double D?) will realise her professed ambition to feed and provision the world. Does she propose to divert the Robinson’s £30,000 plus food bill to more worthy recipients?
So, to summarise, here we have, seeking your vote for the European Parliament, a party which has clearly devoted almost no effort to developing its European programme. We additionally have a DUP candidate who treats the electorate as if it is stupid. And, aptly enough, we have a manifesto which prioritises gloss over substance.
This document's purpose is to persuade you to cast a vote for a European candidate who aspires to sit in the European Parliament and yet it musters up only two pages which even nominally address what she might do if she gets there - and none of that bears any relation to reality!