Welcome to Northern Ireland Politics Simulator. A place where we have elections with no politics and a government building with no government.
The state was founded a century ago as a unionist empire that was meant to endure forever. Power sharing was never intended. Just eternal dominance. What now?
Well, the DUP and Jeffrey Donaldson are out of ideas. As Tim Cairns tweeted on Friday, “21.3 percent is a disaster for the DUP. If the party were a proper political party (which of course it isn’t), there would be a change in the senior backroom team Monday morning. That won’t happen.”
Timo needs to know. He was the senior political adviser to the DUP and worked in various capacities in the party from 2002 to 2019, including as special adviser to Peter Robinson when he was First Minister. The DUP is not attuned to politics.
Power sharing goes against their baser instincts and culture. Ulster has been able to hold its own and say no until now, but when reality breaks through these walls can it find a new word? The answer seems to be no. On the BBC on Saturday, Donaldson was interviewed by the great Mark Carruthers, who led the election coverage with humor, wit and steel for two full days.
Q. are you ready for democracy
A We accept the election result, but first we must remove the long shadow of protocol.
Q. are you taking a seat
A. I am fully committed to leading the DUP into these political institutions, Mark.
Q. That’s not entirely clear.
A. I will clarify my position early next week.
Translation: No, we will not serve under a Sinn Féin First Minister and Toodle Pip, I’m off back to Westminster.
On the night before the election, Northern Ireland Foreign Secretary Brandon Lewis torpedoed the notion that the Tories were about to introduce legislation that would allow them to repeal Protocol.
Donaldson said he would “hold him and Prime Minister Boris Johnson accountable” on Monday and that if they didn’t do what they previously promised there would be no Stormont. He used the expression “perpetual political instability”.
Donaldson knows that asking Johnson to keep his word is like asking a shoplifter to watch your wallet. As Kyle, twin brother of Ian Paisley Junior, tweeted on Friday, “NI needs a functioning government ASAP. London will do nothing for unionists on protocol other than keep breaking their word.”
The English nationalism on which Boris Johnson relies does not care about the North. And at a time when Johnson is severely weakened by the economic fallout from Brexit, Partygate and local elections, he has no interest in opening a new battleground with the EU that would inevitably lead to a very damaging trade war.
It’s more convenient for Donaldson to be on a trailer with flag protester Jamie Bryson and Alliance leader Jim Allister and speaking out about Sinn Féin and the IRA and the Taoiseach (pronounced tea shop) and those nasty Europeans than power to share with “themmuns”.
Allister was angry. On the other hand, Allister is always angry. Even when he won his place, he was angry. He told Carruthers he hopes the DUP “won’t be Sinn Féin’s bridesmaid and all her MLAs will be Sinn Féin’s little flower girls and page boys.”
DUP MP Sammy Wilson said scornfully to Carruthers: “The Alliance Party is in fact a supporter of Sinn Féin, although it tries to squeeze votes from the union community.”
Your scam worked. They took two DUP seats and had an excellent pick, doubling their MLA tally to 16 and establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with (and a force forever).
Sinn Féin’s Returning Officer, John Finucane MP, sat in the BBC studio with a half-smile on his face mona lisasaid very little, stressing that for all the DUP propaganda to get Northern Ireland up and running, it was Sinn Féin and the other progressive parties who want to get society up and running here.
53 percent of Sinn Féin candidates were women. Many of them know little or nothing about the riots. The party is supported by a well-educated section of the population and all social classes. Finucane called for the “dumb demonization” to end and the real work to begin.
In North Antrim, Alliance took two seats, with the DUP claiming the votes from them. After defeating DUP veteran Mervyn Storey, Dr. Patricia O’Lynn, “a constituency that has been ruled by fear throughout its history,” would now have progressive politics. Ian Paisley senior, the old sectarian colossus who used to rule here, has to turn in his grave.
I was glad Doug Beattie squeaked home. He is an honorable man who dared to break with the centuries-old sectarian mold. His plan to build the first liberal trade union party is bold, even if it’s just an acknowledgment of reality. It would always be a painful first choice for her.
I was also happy for Mike Nesbitt, another good guy. On Friday, he sadly predicted he would lose. He won on Saturday. Asked about the DUP’s call for greater union unity against protocol, Mike said blind union unity is self-defeating.
“How can we have unionist unity? The UUP are on a different path of positive, inclusive politics. Unlike the other two union parties, we see no benefit in Brexit.”
Mentally, culturally and socially, this election was a massive turning point for society. Politically, it’s just the first choice of 2022. In a few months, maybe a year, we’ll all put on our virtual reality headsets and do it all over again. Welcome to the eternal limbo of the north.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/last-days-of-the-unionist-reich-decline-and-fall-41626415.html Last Days of the Unionist Empire – Decline and Fall