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A record of continuing partial failure… August 10, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Is what comes to mind reading this from Alex Kane in the IT when he writes:

For most of my lifetime I’ve been listening to unionist leaders telling me why successive outcomes can’t or won’t happen: no British government would ever get rid of the Stormont parliament; there would never be mandatory powersharing between unionists and nationalists; there would never be a formal “Irish dimension” in Northern Ireland politics; the British/Irish governments would never agree to a “joint sovereignty” deal over the heads of a unionist majority; unionists would never share power with Sinn Féin; the DUP would never share power with Sinn Féin; there would be a unionist majority in Belfast City Council for decades to come; unionists wouldn’t lose their overall majority in the Assembly. Feel free to add to that list.
Peter Robinson – one of the canniest political and electoral strategists in British politics – would have had that list in mind when he made his “I don’t expect my own house to burn down . . . but I still insure it” comment last Friday.

If one were to be glib about it it might just be possible to argue that a unionist in 2018 is quite different in some distinctly substantive ways to a unionist say in 1968. That this is true of Nationalism and Republicanism – which it is, in no ways undermines that point.

The fundamental problem is that in so doing it has reified one aspect of political activity to become the key element at the expense of all else. Perhaps that was inevitable, unionism is an unlikely torch bearer of class politics, for very obvious structural reasons (connections to certain institutions etc). But it is remarkable how indifferent, even antagonistic, it has seemed even to mainstream British social democracy.

And Kane argues that every date on the above list indicates that unionism is ‘never prepared’. And I think there’s something very accurate about that. It is – and has been – remarkably reactive, only responding to events as they unfold. In one way this has worked perhaps better than expected, it has blocked and delayed processes that might otherwise have delivered it to points unknown (and uncongenial). In another it has prevented it from shaping the future in a manner more congenial to it.


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