Allister is not a blind man – he has, like most observers, noticed that the Hillsborough Agreement "commits to a work programme to action everything outstanding from St Andrews."
"Hence the commitments in St Andrews to the Irish language and the demands for expansion of the north/south bodies and a north/south parliamentary forum and civic forum, as well as a Single Equality Bill, will all now be progressed", he asserts.
And all of these things are presented as 'bad' things … just because.
But 'just because' what? What makes the promotion of the Irish language a 'bad thing' for Mr Allister? He doesn't explain his opposition to it – the reasons seem (to him) to be too obvious to need explaining.
To anybody else, though, Allister's visceral hatred of Irish can only seem to stem from a prejudice bordering on racism. Irish is just a language, a medium of communication. No-one is proposing to outlaw the speaking of English in Northern Ireland, and the incarceration of recidivist Anglophones in re-education camps. There will be no requirement to speak the Irish language to get jobs, education, or anything else. The costs of bilingual signage will be insignificant (and certainly a tiny fraction of the cost of other cultural activities). So what is Allister's problem?
Is it the word 'Irish' that bothers him? The fact that official recognition of that word implies in some way that there is an Irish dimension in Northern Ireland? But Mr Allister should pause for a moment – the very name of the state to which he owes so much allegiance is 'the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland'. So the recognition of that Irish dimension is already there! He lives in Ireland – his own state tells him so.
Could his attitude be related to Anglophone chauvinism? Could it be that he hates the mere thought of other languages that English even existing? Does he oppose Welsh and Scottish Gaelic so much? How about Ulster-Scots?
What does Allister think will happen if (when) the Irish language receives official recognition? Does he think that miraculously the scales will be lifted from unionist eyes and they will, upon the mere sight of a street name, realise that they are Irish after all? If so, he has very faith in his co-unionists. Can you not be a unionist if you speak Irish? What about the oft-trumpeted 'economic arguments'? Are they all just a smokescreen?
Unless Allister and his party can explain their opposition to the Irish language in rational terms, the watching world can come to only two conclusions. Either his hatred is entirely irrational – in which case he deserves to be treated like other racists and bigots, and marginalised. Or he does have a 'rational' reason, which is to ensure that, as far as possible, Northern Ireland remains a 'cold house' for anyone who does not aspire to re-make the region as a copy of England.
If this latter reason is true, then he is presumably hoping that those people who wish to see recognition of the Irish dimension will eventually become so demoralised that they will either turn into unionists (highly unlikely) or emigrate (also unlikely).
So, in effect, his opposition to the Irish language will have no impact on the electorate outcome in Northern Ireland, except to antagonise Irish language enthusiasts (some of whom may be from a unionist background), and ensure that they do not vote for his party, or any other unionist party. He is, essentially, just deliberately throwing away potential voters without achieving any counter-advantage at all. That is a very strange political attitude, and one that is largely counter-productive.
It is not for nothing that many nationalists see Allister and his TUV as unwitting allies. Not only do they split the unionist vote, but they help to portray unionism as irrationally racist and bigoted. What unionists see in Allister and his party is simply incomprehensible – he seems to appeal to those who would prefer Northern Ireland to remain in a state of constant political strife, or who would prefer a Northern Ireland in which one half of the population imposes its culture and its political beliefs on the other half. This runs contrary to modern norms of tolerance, diversity and freedom of expression – norms that are taken for granted in the Britain that Mr Allister so desperately wants to remain part of. That makes his position so difficult to understand – in order to remain British, he acts contrary to modern British values.
Politicians like Allister, and parties like the TUV, are difficult to counteract because their stated positions are so out of line with their actual behaviour. At the end of the day their opponents simply have to hope that the electorate will see this and will consign him to political oblivion. His recent political mini-successes do not support this hope, though. But perhaps more patience is needed.