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Normal politics in N. Ireland?

by Frank Schnittger Tue Jan 25th, 2022 at 05:57:51 PM EST

On Saturday a newspaper poll indicated that Ulster Unionist Party leader Doug Beattie was the most popular party leader in Northern Ireland. That evening he tweeted a joke about Edwin Poots and his wife which can at best be described as in poor taste. This drew attention to a series of derogatory tweets he had made over the past 10 years referring to women, Muslims, members of the Travelling community and people with mental health issues. He has offered to resign and if he does so, it will result in the fourth leader the UUP have had in just over 2 years, beating the record of the DUP in this regard.

With the UUP currently neck and neck in the polls with the Alliance party, and just 3% below the DUP (within the margin of error), even a small shift in the UUP's support to Alliance could result in the Alliance Party overtaking the DUP and becoming entitled to the First or Deputy first Minister role if it designated itself as unionist. Not only could this save N. Ireland's devolved institutions from collapse, but it could end the current stand-off over the Protocol.

Could normal politics be on the verge of breaking out in N. Ireland?

Who knew that British army humour doesn't travel well to Northern Ireland? However all is ok, as Beattie has just received the unanimous support of his members of the legislative assembly.

Define "normal politics".  I'm running out of examples here in the US.
by rifek on Wed Jan 26th, 2022 at 02:25:31 AM EST
In the context of N. Ireland it could mean the devolved government institutions not being at constant risk of collapse, of political discourse being primarily about the production and distribution of public "goods" such as affordable housing, healthcare, childcare, employment and educational opportunities, etc.; and of every issue and person not being reduced to a sectarian identification; all against a backdrop of implicit or explicit threats of violence.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 26th, 2022 at 12:28:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The bar for "normal politics" is set much lower here than in the North, but the US still can't clear it.
by rifek on Thu Jan 27th, 2022 at 02:56:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here is a very good feminist response to the issues raised by Doug Beattie's tweet history.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 26th, 2022 at 12:56:09 PM EST
I suspect that if Beattie is the most popular leader, it's not because people want to vote for him, but because he makes them laugh. Having to pretend he's politically correct/woke is unlikely to gain him much approval, or votes.

Given that there are now four "protestant" parties with double-digit voter support, will that penalise them electorally? I suppose not, with single transferrable voting...

But a Sinn Fein / Alliance government sounds promising.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Jan 26th, 2022 at 12:57:21 PM EST
He has a problem because his political shtick was to present himself as the modern, moderate, liberal face of unionism and his tweets rather contradict that.

However blogging at Slugger O'Toole kind of reminds me of attitudes in my school days over 50 years ago. There is an informed view there that his refusal to bow to "woke" pressure won't do him or the UUP much, if any harm, and may even attract a different type of voter.

If anything the fierce competition between four unionist parties is maximising their vote and could also maximise their seats if there is efficient transferring between them.

One poster - in response to my thesis - even suggested that if the unionists refuse to nominate a deputy First minister, Sinn Fein should designate itself as Unionist, thereby claiming the first Minister role and leaving the Deputy First minister role open for the SDLP as the leading "nationalists" party.

Having both First and deputy first Minister's from the nationalist side would undermine the intent of the GFA and probably lead to its complete rejection by the unionist community, but there is a certain dark humour about it. "If you won't help govern NI, we'll do it ourselves" would be a reasonable nationalist retort.

This business of parties having to designate as unionist or nationalist to operate the Executive positions needs to be changed in any case, because it fails to take account of a growing non-aligned centre which has been excluded from the top two jobs. However renegotiating the GFA is probably the last thing either government wants - it would be more difficult than renegotiating the Protocol!

Of Course Sinn Fein would see that as just a logical next step to a united Ireland and justification of their aspiration and claim to represent all Irish people regardless of their faith and political orientation.

Unionists would just go mad. They might prefer to be in a united Ireland if there was a guarantee it wouldn't be governed by Sinn  Fein.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 26th, 2022 at 01:18:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
from the bad tweeting epidemic. Good strategy to get all the apologies out at once in one news cycle, although I suspect there could be more, as yet uncovered.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 26th, 2022 at 06:22:59 PM EST

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