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A voice of unionism. Some of it. March 14, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

What a thought-provoking speech from Robin Swann of the UUP at the weekend. But three aspects in particular stood out for me. Speaking of the DUP he said:

Let’s look at what they have delivered to far:

·        Stormont hasn’t met in over two years

·        The RHI scandal nearly bankrupted the country and now stands to bankrupt legitimate users.

·        Unionism is in a minority at Stormont

·        Unionism is in a minority in Belfast City Hall

·        Their fingerprints all over the disastrous Historical Investigations Unit

·        Arlene Foster has radicalised nationalist opinion in a way the republican movement could only dream of.

Consider first the political points – Stormont and Belfast City Hall. Swann is locking right into a specific unionist discourse there – but he is of course right. Here’s a question. Given likely demographic trends is there any means of reversing those two situations in the future for unionism?

Secondly, the last line. He’s right there too.

Thirdly, check out the efforts he makes on Brexit. Somewhat contradictory some might say.

The two years following the referendum have hardly been edifying, but there is still time left for people to act within the best interests of the entirety of the United Kingdom.
The Ulster Unionist Party has been clear that the Prime Minister should not attempt to run down the clock to make this a choice between no deal or a bad deal.
Leaving the European Union without a deal would be detrimental, particularly for Northern Ireland.   Those who are still championing this as a successful outcome should reflect on the immediate consequences for our people, and the long term damage it could cause to our union.
There will be many twists and turns before the 29th March.  But our focus must remain on making sure there are legal changes made to the Withdrawal Agreement text that acknowledge unionist concerns over the backstop.
This Party took a stance that, on balance, the UK was better to remain within the European Union, but has fully accepted the democratic outcome of the UK—wide referendum.  I know many of you who were strong advocates for remain during the referendum now feel totally misrepresented by the commentary around support for the backstop.
You did not vote to leave the United Kingdom and you have been vocal in your opposition to the backstop which drives a coach and horses through the Belfast Agreement. 

Hmmm… two steps forward, one step back.


1. An Sionnach Fionn - March 14, 2019

Er, except that the DUP didn’t deliver unionist minorities at Stormont or Belfast City Hall. Changing demographics did that. Perhaps earlier than excepted, by the DUP’s actions getting the nationalist vote out, but it was inevitable sooner or later.

Swann has tried to get the UUP to out-Dupe the DUP since taking the party’s leadership, sort of like FF trying to out-Blueshirt FG and with similar results. He’s another placeholder.

Liked by 2 people

WorldbyStorm - March 14, 2019

yeah, that’s an excellent point ASF. I was misreading it and thought he meant that unionism had been unable to stem the tide or attract any who might have gone Alliance etc to it. But as you say, it wasn’t the DUP (or the UUP) rather it as the demographics.


1729torus - March 14, 2019

Robin Swann isn’t trying to turn the UUP into DUP-lite, but into a bog-standard non-racist non-bigoted mid-right Eurosceptic party like Law and Justice in Poland.

The important point about these European parties is that none of them are anti-Irish or anti-Catholic.

Robin is actually quietly continuing the process of modernisation that Mike Nesbitt initiated, even as he sticks a bit more to the right. He has space to make internal changes without being denounced as a Lundy since he comes from the far right of Unionism.

So while the UUP would be quite close to the DUP in terms of ideological positioning, it won’t have any of the DUP’s baggage.

Note how Robin Swann denounced criminality in that speech and explicitly called on the UVF and UDA to immediately desist from paramilitarism.

The UUP will be a party that Catholics could be comfortable voting for in principle by the time Robin Swann is finished. I would be interested to see what Polish people in NI think of the party.

The party could probably even easily compete in ROI elections in future if it wanted to.

The UUP will be well positioned to usurp the DUP when the bigger party trips up. The question is whether the UUP survive long enough to take advantage.


An Sionnach Fionn - March 14, 2019

Yet he has tacked hard against Irish language rights, has been vocal in his condemnation of the Irish government for not placing unionist considerations first, has opposed the backstop or any variation thereof while simultaneously opposing a no-deal Brexit, but has moved his party towards a pro-Brexit position. None of which are particularly comfortable for cultural nationalists.


1729torus - March 14, 2019

I’m not sure you’re actually contradicting anything I wrote ASF. I said myself the UUP are tackung close to the DUP.

Robin Swann is to the right of Mike Nesbitt on policy, but he’s slowly purging the UUP of its anti-Catholic attitudes and any traces of DUP-style craziness.

These changes are hard to detect, but make a big difference in the long run.

UUP politicians go south more under Robin Swann than Mike Nesbitt.

The UUP have called for an Article 50 extension, and the establishment of a “Common Goods Area” – i.e. that ROI join the UK Single Market/Customs Union

The end result of the direction Robin Swann is taking the UUP in is that it turns into an all-Ireland Unionist party to the right of FG.

While SF’s move south was partially ideological, it was also about giving SF influence in Dubln and making sure that the party was as big and competitive as possible.

The UUP has the same incentives to move south – gain influence in Dublin and make itself more competitive.

I’d say the UUP could get 3% if it ran for election in ROI.


Paul Culloty - March 14, 2019

Consider Law and Justice have interfered with the Polish judiciary, curbed abortion rights and denied any Polish culpability in the Holocaust, they’re hardly an example for any party to emulate!


benmadigan - March 14, 2019

He’s another member of the OO, another source of all our woes


2. 1729torus - March 14, 2019

SF made considerable efforts to transform itself from being a regional party confined to one half of NI’s population.

Part of the process was getting involved with GUE/NGL at a European level.

It’s interesting to see the UUP following in SF’s footsteps by cultivating close links with ACRE, it seems to being paying off as well.

Liked by 1 person

3. makedoanmend - March 15, 2019

The bigger question is: are individual unionists changing more quickly than their political parties? (Corollary: are people in the six counties changing more quickly than all political parties?)

As ancedata, I overheard an Antrim man in Scotland last year (and tbh, I wouldn’t be surprised yeese heard him in Ireland, he was that loud) being asked a few questions in a ganjy shop:

1. Was he over on holiday? Sort of. He was over for an orange march.
2. Was he happy with the peace? Yes, he said. People now travelled all over Ireland. He visited places in the South and the people were so nice. He liked the freedom to travel so easily.
3. And then he added, without being asked, that he was really happy “their” army troops were no longer on his streets. No offense, he said, but it made for a better atmosphere.

After picking my jaw up off the floor, I pondered the implications. One person’s opinion is hardly a trend, but in my youth his type of statements just didn’t often emanate from people with his background. It left me wondering if the DUP’s stance on Brexit is driven by the desire to arrest the type of opinion expressed by this fella. Is Brexit, in so many ways, a simple desire by a small fraction of the British politic to implement TINA in the political sphere like they have with neo-liberal capitalism in the economic sphere?

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