There must be some DUP members and supporters who are puzzled by Jeffrey Donaldson’s strategy. He is a 21st Century Grand Old Duke of York who marched his people to the top of the hill only to leave them there with nowhere to go.
While lazy upstairs, Micheál Martin and Rishi Sunak meet up in Blackpool, where the carnival tunes sound like let’s find a way forward mood music.
Elsewhere, the North Secretary plans to cut MLAs’ salaries while Stormont falters, and the DUP is reduced to capers like Ian Paisley Jr.’s cunning “supermajority” scheme.
This Westminster bill is as empty and insubstantial as a stick of Blackpool cotton candy and destined to melt away at the same rate.
The Grand Old Duke of York referred to in the nursery rhyme is probably Frederick, second son of George III and commander-in-chief of the British Army during most of the Napoleonic Wars. He lacked talent as a general, which may have led to the derogatory verse.
Mr. Donaldson is also leading a campaign that cannot end successfully. The stakes are too high to let them triumph. He made a strategic mistake in putting his leadership on amending or repealing the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The UK government, which is fighting the fire on multiple fronts, appears poised to strike a deal with the EU.
Once this agreement is reached, the DUP will be subjected to a test. She must decide whether to return to devolved government or abstain.
Both perspectives harbor risks. Abstain and it will no longer have a say in how Northern Ireland is governed. Other possibilities are put forward – some of them uncomfortable for the trade union movement. But tweaking the protocol will not satisfy the DUP’s hardliners, who are calling for repeal, not reform.
They can never be satisfied as long as the protocol exists because it creates differentiation between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Consequently, the DUP faces a dilemma. She has made it difficult for her supporters to accept EU law being applied to the North. Even if European controls are invisible, they will act as a red line for hardliners yearning for a full restoration of the Union act.
The party is likely to be divided about it – but how bitter? We won’t know until the protocol agreement is in place. Moderate party members will want to return to Stormont, while extremists will resist. Who wins? And what is the next step of the party? Come what may, it doesn’t end here.
If the DUP takes their seats with protocol in place, they risk shifting votes to the TUV, which will yell “sell out!” – or “Lundy!” in local parlance.
This could result in the DUP, like the UUP before it, losing members and votes. Ironically, Mr. Donaldson, once touted as a future UUP leader, knows all about defection, having defected from the UUP in 2004 along with Arlene Foster and a third MLA named Norah Beare. They soon joined the DUP.
Mr Donaldson is both a hardliner and a pragmatist and it will be fascinating to see who has the upper hand once a protocol deal is in place.
An election in Northern Ireland has been postponed until next year by long-fingered Foreign Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris. “I don’t think I was overruled by the PM,” he said shortly after being overruled by the PM. The hope is that this respite will avoid an election. But the DUP will require an election when the party is confident it can build support.
In the meantime, in reality, we are already in the area before the border survey. The DUP’s intransigence towards Stormont only makes this more likely.
The executive branch is where nationalism should be represented, but the DUP will not allow it to work. Direct rule – a solution in the past – is no longer viable due to the changed political landscape. There are currently three blocs: 40 percent nationalism, 40 percent unionism and 20 percent non-aligned. Only four out of ten voters in the north voted for union-oriented parties.
In such circumstances, direct rule is anti-democratic because it denies nationalism a voice in government.
A British minister appointed by Westminster can theoretically advocate unionism but not nationalism. In fact, he or she is not actually a union member either. Ministers in direct power do not care about the state of the roads in the north or the lack of books in libraries.
They don’t care about hospital waiting lists in a place that’s hard to find on a map. People in the North have not yet set a date for when a £400 subsidy on energy bills will be paid and the lack of a working Stormont is to blame.
Not everyone feels pain in the same way. Former DUP leader Edwin Poots says he would rather eat weed or cut his salary to 1p a week than return to Stormont with the protocol intact. He may have other sources of income, but most people are right to fear the looming recession.
There must be some in the ranks of the DUP who will look at the leadership’s current strategy – or lack thereof – and see their future and the futures of their children dwindling. It incapacitates Northern Ireland while the party must show nationalism that devolved government can benefit all. Instead, as the blockade progresses, more and more cultural unionists are being convinced of unity. The DUP can certainly deliver what its supporters most resist.
Right now the North is in limbo. Obviously the political trade union movement is afraid and makes mistakes. Another example is Mr Paisley’s attempt to legislate in the UK Parliament via a bill requiring any referendum on constitutional amendments to meet a higher criterion than the democratic norm of 50 per cent plus one.
Their intention is a unionist veto – some voices are raised above others. It’s also a divisive move meant to increase tensions in the north, although Scots can’t be too happy either because it raises the bar for Scottish independence.
So much for the voluntary nature of the union. His party needs to know his gasp is doomed, but it is recognition of the polling phase ahead of the border.
We are at the airport waiting for the plane’s departure to be called.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/jeffrey-donaldsons-hardline-protocol-strategy-is-destined-to-fail-and-leave-the-dup-divided-42135594.html Jeffrey Donaldson’s no-compromise protocol strategy is doomed to fail, leaving the DUP divided