Sunday, 31 May 2009

Alderdice Alert

John Smeaton writes:

An amendment that would have the effect of legalizing assisted suicide has been tabled to the British government's Coroners and Justice Bill in the House of Lords. Despite the Government saying that they did not want such an amendment attached to the Bill, it has been tabled by Lord Alderdice. Although the amendment has little chance of success, it is very important that it is strongly opposed at the committee stage debate, which is scheduled for 9th and 10th June. Please read and act on this SPUC alert. Thank you.

I've always thought that the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland would be particularly easy to subject to a properly organised takeover by pro-Union Catholics and left-leaning Unionists, largely overlapping categories anyway. Get to it.


  1. Well of course pro Union Catholics (the pro O'Neill "New Ulster Movement") and liberal Unionists were the driving force behind the foundation of the Alliance Party.
    And of course its leaders have included Oliver Napier, John Cushnahan and Sean Neeson (all Catholics).
    The Party is of course NOT pro Union. Its constitution does not advocate one position over another.
    When it has appeared to favour one side, its popularity dips.
    Under "Norn Irons" Stormont rules, MLAs must sign a declaration that they are "unionist", "Nationalist" and "other".
    The Alliance Party designates itself as "other". Briefly two members declared themselves to be "unionist" in order to preserve the Assembly when the arithmetic "needed" more unionists.
    Probably not the Assemblys finest hour. One of those instances of "Creative Ambiguity" which it is deemed (I think wrongly) that the Assembly needs.
    You will note that the Alliance Party is not province wide in its popularity.....risible percentages in the west.
    The Alliance Party is of course the ONLY party which favours the extending of the British laws on Abortion to "Northern Ireland", a position which the DUP, UUP, SDLP and Sinn Féin do not accept....and not therefore attractive to Catholics (or indeed other practising Christians).

  2. It is a tiny little thing that could be taken over without any real difficulty at all.

  3. Well pro Union Catholics taking over the "tiny thing" that is the Alliance Party would make it an even tinier thing.

  4. What, even if accompanied by left-leaning Unionists...?

    Electoral reform for Westminster would call this formation/these formations into being. And not a moment too soon.

  5. This of course would be entryism of the sort favoured by the Trotsyites you often criticise.

    If the AP is as its constitution demands "neutral" on the issue of the Union, then clearly an influx of pro Union Catholics (name five?) or left leaning Unionists (name five?) with the avowed aim of changing the nature and ethos of the Party.

    Would it not be more honest to try and form a New Party comprised of pro Union Catholics and left leaning Unionists.
    They could hold their annual conference in a phone kiosk.

  6. You know perfectly well that somewhere between a quarter and a third of Catholics are pro-Union in principle, while much the same number is more or less indifferent. They vote SDLP for other reasons entirely, and it is now barely a Nationalist party at all.

    You also know perfectly well that the DUP is economically left-leaning to say the least, as are many in the UUP and its electorate. The one remaining UUP MP is for all practical purposes Labour. New Labour, but even so.

  7. I would suspect that I know more about "Norn Iron" than you do. In much the same way that I suspect you know more about St Helena and North East England than I do.

    The SDLP is a a republican and nationalist Party. It says so in its constitution.
    Its manifesto says so.
    Its voters vote for it on that basis.
    Your rather peculiar insistence that you know the SDLP better than they (and their voters) know themselves is an endearing eccentricity.

  8. It says a lot of things in parties' constitutions, and even manifestoes.

    People who really want United Ireland vote Sinn Fein, though these days only for the lack of anything else, since Sinn Fein certainly doesn't want one. What would become of Sinn Fein, in that event?

    People who like the idea of a United Ireland, and who are concerned with preserving their Irish culture, but who have no intention of ever joining a state where you are charged for visiting the doctor, since their priorities are instead those of most ethnically Irish Catholics throughout the United Kingdom, vote SDLP. That is what it is for.

  9. A very amateurish and bizarre analysis that a first year under graduate would not submit.

  10. Which part of it is wrong?

    Sinn Fein - still not taking their seats even now, although they do claim the expenses.

    The SDLP - ex-Leader has a peerage.

    The SDLP would like a United Ireland in theory. But only with British levels of welfare spending. And that is simply not on offer, nor ever will be.

    So, in the never-ending meantime, they concern themselves with the British levels of welfare spending. Which in Northern Ireland, please note, are a lot higher than anywhere else.

  11. Wrong.....totally totally wrong.

    Oh ex Leader of the SDLP is in the House of Lords. Or anyone else with SDLP connexions.

    You are perhaps thinking of "Lord" Fitt who had resigned from the SDLP in 1980 and was made a peer in 1983 after being defeated in West Belfast as an INDEPENDENT SOCIALIST.

    He died four years ago.
    At least three other SDLP politicians have been offered peerages....John Hume Seamus Mallon and Brid Rodgers. It is also my understanding that Joe Hendron was offered one. All declined. (You are possibly confusing the fact that Mallon and Rodgers both served in the Irish Senate......the upper House of Dáil Éireann). Or that an ex-member of SDLP is currently President of Ireland.

    No member of the SDLP serving at Westminster, Stormont or any Council even holds a MBE, OBE, knighthood

  12. Face it, John, none of the things that the SDLP wants on a practical level can happen unless Northern Ireland stays in the United Kingdom.

    Time was when that was only true economically (it is no coincidence that the last integrationist elected specifically as such was Robert McCartney). But it is now also true socially, from abortion to Catholic schools - the former is on the way in, and the latter on the way out, in the Republic. But not in Northern Ireland.

    Indeed, while education is devolved (alas, considering who is running it on that basis), abortion isn't. Once there is abortion in the Republic, there is even less chance of it in Northern Ireland, the better to bind the Catholics there to the Union.

    If Westminster could do the same on Catholic schools, then it would. And in principle, it still can. One to watch, I feel.

  13. I would have preferred an acknowledgement that I was absolutely right about the House of Lords and you were absolutely wrong.....rather than this smokescreen.
    As Ive said I dont really expect you to know much about "Norn Iron" and youre not disapponting me.

    Take comfort in the fact that I know next to nothing about St Helena.

  14. Again I ask which part of what I wrote was wrong.

    It is, I suppose, possible that people whose only political participation is voting SDLP (as most people's only political participation is voting) have not worked out that both the social democratic and, these days, the Catholic aspects of what they are voting for can only be delivered within the Union.

    It is quite likely that a section of the SDLP's activist base is deeply unhappy about this fact, and quite fanatically wishes that it were not so.

    But it is wholly inconceivable that the people at or near the top of the SDLP do not accept this as the simple fact of life, and then go about their political business accordingly. Their record at Westminster confirms this in full.

    Yes, Westminster. Where they take the Oath. What sort of Irish Republicanism is that supposed to be, constitution and manifesto or no constitution and manifesto?

    The question is now how much longer Sinn Fein will hold out before it adopts exactly the same approach. Not much longer at all, if the fact that its MPs are even claiming for houses in London is anything to go by.

  15. "Again I ask which part of what I wrote was wrong"

    The SDLP - ex-Leader has a peerage.

    No he doesnt. Youre referring to Fitt. Left SDLP in 1980. Appointed to HOL in 1983. Died 2005.
    The only EX or serving SDLP politician ever to take any form of "British" honour.
    The evidence suggests that those eligible turn them down. Even the trinket level.

    What you fail to get...risible concepts such as pro Serb Muslims and pro Union Catholics is that the people actually involved might actually know more about something than you do. You have this endearing quality of ignoring or subverting the known evidence.

    My SDLP friends keep telling me that it was "politics wot won it.....not violence".
    My Sinn Féin-IRA friends tell me it was "violence wot won it...not politics".

    The fact is that for all their protestations BOTH are actually correct. The place at which I now find myself (and much more importantly the place my children and grandchildren are at) could not have been achieved solely by politics or violence.

    The effect of living in a de facto jurisdiction means most people compromise. The SDLP certainly and properly take their "oath" but you seem to be under the impression that they do this as something other than the minimal requirement to serve their constituents and to get their points accross.
    Unlike Sinn Féin (think Northern Bank, fuel smuggling etc)...the sources of income available to SDLP are somewhat limited.
    Indeed in the late 1970s and 1980s most SDLP figures were being subsidised by the Rowntree Trust.

    Although the SDLP and SF memberships dont like to think it.....they are actually two very important sides of the same Nationalist/Republican coin. I happily vote for both because I believe them to be inter-dependent.

    It might come as a surprise to you to know that I have also accepted "the Queens shilling" for 30 plus years. As an alternative to a principled stand involving poverty, I thought it a harmless enough enterprise.
    Although it did not actually require an oath of allegiance, it did understandably involve an oath of secrecy. ...which I happily took and faithfully kept (and still keep) as a service to the ordinary folks (nationalist and unionist) with whom I dealt.
    I of course merely affirmed rather than involving God.
    But like I say we all made compromises.

  16. Pro-Serb Muslims are not risible to the amjority of the world's Muslim countries, nor to the imams of Belgrade.

    And pro-union Catholics have not been risible to every London and Dublin politician and commentator for donkey's years; they have long pondered how to give that large body of opinion a voice. But they simply take it for granted thata large body of opinion is what it is.

    I am about to do a full post about how the key point in Northern Irish politics these days seems to be completely invisible from the inside, even though to anyone looking at the place it is the first thing that we spot.

    Oh, and I don't know why either the SDLP or Sinn Fein thinks that it won. They signed up to an Agreement which requires that any constitutional change must be approved by the majority in both communities, and defines one of those communities specifically by its Unionism.

    So it can never, by definition, consent to such a change (anyone who does is by definition not in that community, since it is definied, not by Protesantism or any sort of culture, but simply by Unionism), which can therefore never happen.

    Again, this seems to be invisble to Gerry Adams and Jim Allister alike. But it is there in black and white. And Adams has signed up to it.