Wednesday 17 June 2009

Jim Allister, friend of nationalism

As predicted by many, Jim Allister is not going to slink off and retire from politics just because he lost his European Parliament seat. On the contrary, he intends to turn his attention to politics much closer to home. Already the DUP's nemesis, Allister risks becoming their worst nightmare.

Today he is quoted in the News Letter as hoping to "topple power-sharing by using a boycott plan that would likely see a nationalist majority in a Sinn Fein-led Executive. This would be intolerable to most unionists, and might scupper the prospect of republican-led rule of the Province"

Thanks to the effects of proportional representation, the TUV could get enough seats to ensure that a boycott by them of the Assembly could mean unionists are in the minority in the Executive. If this meant that Martin McGuinness would become First Minister and unionists would be minority in the Executive, Allister hopes that the Executive would "implode" because it would be 'unrepresentative of unionism'.

Such is Allister's hatred of nationalists that he would rather contemplate the destruction of Northern Ireland's political institutions than countenance an entirely imaginary 'dominance' by them. There is, in practical and administrative terms, no difference between Martin McGuiness as deputy First Minister and Martin McGuinness as First Minister. The two posts are equal in weight and power.

Allister's plan rests on several assumptions:

Firstly he assumes that the other unionists share his visceral hatred of nationalism. While some of them are certainly no fans of nationalism, the fact that they are currently operating the power-sharing institutions shows that they are not as extreme as he is. His plan would require the UUP also to walk away from the Executive just because there is a nationalist First Minister. Does he really think that they are as bigoted as he is?

Secondly, he assumes that the 'implosion' of the Executive would be, on balance, a good thing for unionism. But what would replace it? In all likelihood it would be replaced by Direct Rule with enhanced Dublin input – in practice, joint sovereignty. This is what happened the last time, and there is no reason to believe that it would not happen again. How, in Allister's tortured mind, could he see rule by part-time outsiders doing a stint in the NIO as a stepping stone in their careers to be preferable to locally answerable politicians taking responsibility for local affairs? And how, if the Dublin input is large and visible, could he square that with his wish to stop nationalists from exercising power?

The DUP entered the power-sharing arrangements because they were shown the alternative – the secret Plan B. Before this, they were almost as implacably opposed to power-sharing as Allister is now, but one threat of Plan B brought them to the table, and the chuckling began. Plan B has not gone away, of course, and despite its obvious lack of attraction for the DUP, Allister is threatening to reawaken it. Does he really know what he is doing?

Plan B is clearly much more 'green' than power-sharing, so is Allister playing with fire? If he has his way, and the Executive 'implodes' with unknown consequences, one of which may well be Plan B, Allister may turn out to have been a greater friend of nationalism than of unionism.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do you know if the higher levels of birth rates for Catholics has affected Jim Allister's strategy? Has he taken this into account?

Pedro said...

The penny has dropped that maybe some unionists would actually prefer joint authority involving Enda the blueshirt to a local administration involving Marty.

hoboroad said...

Is Plan B a written document or was it a verbal warning from Tony Blair?We only have Ian Paisleys word that this plan exists and nobody takes that seriously anymore!If it does exist do you think maybe Tony Blair produced Maps which showed Repartition and told Big Ian he and the Irish Government had already come to an agreement!

Horseman said...

hoboroad,

Plan B may well be a complete myth, spread around to allow Paisley to save face when he went into the Executive with SF. But then the question arises: why did he go into the Executive? It ran counter to his previous pronouncements (not to mention his nature).

This blog speculated (in 2007) that Paisley had seen the (demographic) writing on the wall and reckoned that an honourable compromise with nationalism was better than keeping the pot boiling and losing in a generation or less. But I wonder if that would have been sufficient to bring about such a change of heart.

I strongly doubt if there ever was a written Plan B - that'd risk a leak, and I don't think Blair was that stupid. Maybe a strong verbal warning, backed up by the silent presence in the room of the head of the British Army, the US ambassador, and such people?

hoboroad said...

I do not think it was like 1921 with Lloyd George blackmailing Michael Collins with peace or a terrible war.It just goes to show the British Government can deal with the most difficult of it's subjects!

hoboroad said...

Ok Horseman I give you the credit for the Defeat of Ian Richard Kyle Paisley.So it is a defered defeat but a defeat none the less!Did you read Brian Feeneys article in the Irish News the Punt is really stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea!Could not happen to a nicer person could it!

hoboroad said...

If anybodys interested you can look up your MP's expenses over on the Guardian website they have the documents so you can look through them.

hoboroad said...

Horseman

Have you ever read a book called Endgame by David Mc kettrick? written around 1993 it had some interesting information on Demographic change in Northern Ireland.

Horseman said...

hoboroad,

No, I haven't read it. Is it worth it? I expect he uses 1991 Census information, which would be fairly out of date by now.

hoboroad said...

Did anybody see Hearts and Minds this evening?According to David McNarry policing and justice is a done deal.I thought John o'dowd landed a few good blows on UCUNF and the DUP.

kieron said...

Horseman,

if there likley to be no firm agreement between the 2 governments on Plan B in the event of a Unionist default this makes Allister's strategy much more feasible - if the Tories are as good as their word and are a 'Uninoist' party perhaps they wont use the threat of the mythical Plan B. This will allow Uninoists to say 'NO' and have no penalty for doing so and this might interest the UU as a strategy as well. The interpetation of the the GFA in relation to the level of co-operation may vary between the 2 governments. If the Tories as the likley government forced though unpalatable measures that would be the end of their relationship with the UU and if they dont it is likley that dissidents will become much more dangerous as the SF strategy via the GFA will have been severely undermined.

The TUV not only have a policy that might work but unless the Tories make their positon clear it may be the a very good strategy for Unionism. Hopefully the British election is nearly a year away and the Labour party has time to implement in GFA in full - or it's replacement.

Anonymous said...

Have the Conservative governments of the recent past not cooperated with the Irish Government to help us arrive at where we are at now?

I can remember it being said that the Conservatives are more likely to push Unionism in directions where it did not want to go.

The policy of uniting Conservative and Unionist has been around for over a century and who is to say that it will be any more successful this time.

MPG .....

hoboroad said...

The proof of the pudding is in the eating as far as David Cameron is concerned!He will be becoming Prime Minister even though he has no Cabinet experience and that goes for most of his front bench team!I think the Civil Service will think Christmas has come early.And change may mean early entry into the Euro once the Lisbon Treaty is passed his Chancellor is a member of the Bilderberg Group who are 100 percent behind the Euro Project!

hoboroad said...

Look Cameron is going to have his hands full believe me Northern Ireland is going to be the least of his problems.He will have to deal with major social strife in English Cities the Scottish Nationalists flexing there political muscles and the current unrest in the Middle East.And I have not even mentioned North Korea yet! He currently has the luxury of opposition ever here the saying be careful what you wish for you might just get it!

Watcher said...

Pedro said:

"The penny has dropped that maybe some unionists would actually prefer joint authority involving Enda the blueshirt to a local administration involving Marty."

I doubt it - it was Marty who bowed the knee after all in order to administrate UK rule. Bobby must be spinning in his grave.