In response to last week’s articles on moving Northern Ireland politics forward, Senior UUP MLA David McNarry has written a letter to the Belfast Telegraph. Here are the central parts of what he has written:
“To begin with, let me demolish the core concept of many of those who would like to see a new party system related more to social class and economic status than to a sectarian head count.”
He has not read UK politics properly at all. The only party with politicians which still talk about politics in terms of social class is the Labour Party but you hear less of that sort of politics nowadays. He then says
“First, unionism is not sectarian. The concept of unionism is essentially political and it is based not on sectarianism but on a belief, partially based on sound economics and partially based on national sentiment, that union between Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom is in the best interests of all the people of Northern Ireland.”
UK Unionism is not sectarian but Ulster Unionism certainly is. I dont need to argue that one. Unionism has nothing to do with ‘sound economics’. He has made that one up.
“Second, any party related to social class would inevitably end up as a monolith of a different kind in any case since Experian reckons that 42% of the population of Northern Ireland is middle class.”
So this is how he sees normal politics – all class. Where is the demolition job? Er, this must be it
“So, as for realigning politics along economic wealth or class lines, forget it.”
“You would end up with a middle class monolith opposing a working class monolith.”
“There would be even less hope of compromise between two such monoliths because the policies they would inevitably pursue would be diametrically opposed and there would be little or no common ground”
Putting aside his rant about class again, he seems to have forgotten that parties contesting for votes on bread and butter issues dont have to agree anything at all. Power sharing is not necessary when there is normal politics. However, he might also be surprised to learn that at Westminster, there many more statutes that are not politically contested than there are at Stormont.
As for his idea that greater unionist co-operation would boost unionist turnout, why did the opposite happen in Fermanagh and South Tyrone?
Mr. McNarry’s backward-looking rejection of normal politics serves as a reminder to Conservatives of a prime reason why the UCUNF pact failed.