Sore Feet and the DUP

I can not claim this piece. It was sent to me by a friend whom I shall refer to as 'Sore Feet' ;).

Created to ‘strengthen Northern Ireland’s position within the UK’, the DUP have spent their whole existence convincing protestants in Northern Ireland that they alone can keep the union together.

This message has been the core of the DUP mantra at every election since the 1970’s – until this one.

This election has created a paradigm shift in politics in Northern Ireland. Suddenly, according to the DUP, being a strong and equal part of the United Kingdom is second to protecting the ‘special’ status that excludes Northern Ireland from ever becoming anything other than an unwieldy bolt-on.

When the leader of one of the two main political parties in the UK states clearly and repeatedly that he refuses to accept Northern Ireland as a ‘semi-detached state’- making the full inclusion of Northern Ireland a central pillar of his leadership, you would expect the party that has worn its ‘unionist’ credentials like a Chelsea pensioner wears his campaign medals to hail this as a historical moment for unionism in Northern Ireland.

Strangely, the DUP – the party that only exists to ensure Northern Irelands place in the UK – has done everything it can to undermine this support from the man who could be the next Prime Minister.  The DUP have changed their fundamental stance from demanding to be an equal within the UK to ‘Northern Ireland needs to be treated differently to England, Scotland and Wales’.

Could it possibly be that the DUP have now decided that they prefer being the big fish in the small pond so much that they are prepared to undermine their very reason for existence?  Their shallow cries of ‘unionist unity’ seem to miss the point that if they were prepared to step aside from their own ‘exclusionist’ agenda, Northern Ireland could find itself in the strongest position in history regarding membership of the UK.

The simple fact is that if the DUP could put down their sectarian sword and their exclusionist shield, Northern Ireland could make the next step in the process of ‘growing up’.  If the Conservative party are prepared to make a committed stand on Northern Irelands membership of the UK, Labour and the Liberal Democrats would be forced to follow (Labour are already rumoured to be considering running Council candidates in Northern Ireland next year).

The very thought of a Westminster election in 2014/15 which sees Labour, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives standing candidates in every constituency, without the childish infighting that defines ‘Northern Ireland Unionists’ is the biggest example of ‘unionist unity’ that anyone can imagine.

The only argument that seems to be coming from the DUP to explain why they are against the move to offer ‘real’ politics to the people is that if they are independent they can fight for what is best for Northern Ireland.  Even with a hung parliament, do they really believe that 9 DUP MP’s will have any power to ensure that we get more than England Scotland or Wales?

The DUP need to decide very quickly if they are really a party that wants Northern Ireland to be an equal member of the UK or have they become the Northern Ireland independence party

I think Sore Feet's fundamental point is that the DUP have a major question to ask themselves, are they in favour of playing a full role as a fundamental part of the UK, or are they going to take a similar position as the SNP and Plaid Cymru?  That position is about the break up of the UK as the SNP want full independence from the rest of the UK and Plaid Cymru is not far behind.

I suppose keeping independence in a hung Parliament is an argument that can be put forward with some credence.  However, while the practicalities are there, the principles of Unionism' have gone out the window as well as any ability to obtain what in the end both the DUP and the UUP want, that of economic stability, job creation and private sector growth.

A hung Parliament is not good for Northern Ireland, is not good for Scotland, is not good for Wales and is not good for England. the focus will be taken away from decisive leadership to mired and murky side-deals.  I thought people wanted a  new politics, cleaner, more transparent and decisive? A hung Parliament will drag us all back into the political scandals that have rocked Parliament the past couple of years.

Come what may, Friday will be a turning point in all our lives as it will have determined who the next government will be for the next four to five years.  

Maybe the DUP, Sinn Fein and the SDLP will remain unchanged.  Maybe things WILL change.  

But if you don't try to change then there is no point in complaining when things stay the same, or even get worse.  

I will be Voting for Change on 6 May.  Please join me and Sore Feet in making that change happen.

[If anyone wants to get an opinion piece up on my blog just hit the 'contact me' button on the top of the page]


Anonymous said...

Just one question...

Presumably you are still in your previous employment.

Does that mean you will be likely to go to any DUP representative in the future to lobby them?

Do you think your utterances will have helped their disposition towards you?

Stating the obvious said...

The fundamental point of the piece appears to be that "sore feet" gets a warm fuzzy feeling inside when the westminster government bends him over and does to NI what they wouldn't dare do to the rest of the UK, so in essence, his point is that we should just take it? What kind of point is that? Its symptomatic of the masochistic dysfunction of a UUP member

Ivor Whitten on 4:25 pm said...


If whatever work I do means lobbying anyone within the DUP I am still very likely to do just that.

Out of the glare of the media limelight DUP representatives are very professional, especially when an issue is of real relevance to the the DUP representatives. I know a lot of them, and my utterances are my personal views only. there is always a line between personal and professional. I usually find the DUP, as any of the other political representatives, always thick skinned enough to have a very professional approach.

The main body is from a friend - and they asked me if i would put it up. I am open to have any pieces sent my way. I won't pretend to be impartial but i will do my best if the piece is different to my own views.

Ivor Whitten on 4:36 pm said...

Stating the obvious,

What would they not dare do to Scotland or Wales? The UK government has done plenty to Scotland (oil revenue for one) and Wales. The Barnett formula for one is something the UK government has been unwilling to increase for some time now and has levied 'efficiency savings' over the past number of years.

I don't think his point is that we should 'take it' and the question posed by Sore Feet is are the DUP for Unionism or not? I think the DUP, whether the UCUNF experiment works or not, may find it tactically helpful but strategically unhelpful to take the present tack of hoping for a hung Parliament. they could of course prove Sore Feet and myself completely wrong and play a blinder. There are no certainties until the future becomes the present.

Anonymous said...

This is a point I have been discussing for the last months, the DUP seem to be all over the place with their message. What do they define as being unionist? Is it an equal part in the union or is it a 'special' relationship with England Scotland and Wales where the other three continue to bail us out and get nothing but grumpy ulstermen (and women) saying no at every opportunity.

The DUP have lost their way, as your commentator points out, if any potential prime minister in the last 90 years had said what Cameron has said the DUP would be hailing him as a leader of great vision and ability.

Unfortunately todays DUP seem too wrapped up in being the big boys in the playground and have forgotten why they came into existence in the first place.

They are now the Northern Ireland Nationalists and have very little desire to strengthen Ulsters place in the UK.

Anonymous said...

Ivor. If I was a DUP rep I know what view I'd take an it wouldn't be so benign.

You really think you can divorse yourself from those views?should be fun lobbying a DUP MP who you were actively trying to unseat.

Good luck with that one. Sometimes you just have to pick your horse. Seems you picked the wrong one.

Anonymous said...

But in reality the DUP position, as articulated here, is really the position of every Unionist party. We want to be in the union, but treated as a special case within the union.

In the late 70s, the Official Unionists, had a chance to become an integrationist party through Enoch Powell, but they decided to remain as a party of devolution. Through the 1980s both unionist parties wanted to be in the union but treated differently from the other constituent parts of the union. No other part of the UK had devolved administration in the 1980s yet both parties wanted devolved institutions.

Right now the fundamental difference between the DUP and the UUP is not that they want Ulster treated as a special case within the union, it’s that they see two different ways of achieving that. The UUP see a formal association with the Tories as the way to deliver a pro-Ulster agenda and the DUP see complete independence on a vote by vote basis, with a leaning to the Tories, as the way to achieve it. Don't kid yourself that the UUP feel any differently, from the DUP, as to what your article above states. Both unionist parties (and the TUV) want to be in the union, but get as much as they can for Northern Ireland out of it.

Stating the obvious said...


To be clear, what is being argued in your/sore feet's piece appears to be that devolutionists are not really "Unionists".

Surely this is just the old integrationist .vs. devolutionist debate that the UUP loves having with themselves over and over again, because its ultimately meaningless, as you can be either and still be just as much of a Unionist.

The DUP is a devolutionist party, trying to get the best deal for Northern Ireland, your position appears to be that Northern Ireland should not get any more than anyone else, that is non-sense especially considering that we are trying to overcome decades of underinvestment from that very same government.

I have nothing against you personally, I just think you ought to make sure your premise is logically sound before trying to defend it

Ivor Whitten on 8:29 am said...

Anonymous (the one i replied to before :) )

It is a fair enough point. But in politics as well I would at least like to think politicians are as professional as many other people are (accept not everybody will be).

Having worked with many politicians before, including a number of DUP MPs, MLAs and Councillors. All have been absolutely professional and helpful.

It also depends on whether or not I stay in a lobbying role to. I am now concentrating more on being a daddy daycare! :) and other business interests as well.

Ivor Whitten on 9:12 am said...

Anonymous (just before Stating the obvious),

That is a very valid point. Integration vs devolution seems to be an issue that we still grapple with, though I think much more on a philosophical level now.

Devolution is a reality - and you are right every Unionist party will be doing what it can to promote the Union whilst getting the best deal for Northern Ireland. The old adage remains true - all politics is local!

I think you have hit a mark where the debate has moved a bit towards how best devolution can be used for the people of Northern Ireland. It is a debate, I think, that will rise more to prominence throughout the UK as the whole UK is still coming to terms with devolution and what it means for the Union.

There is a contention that rather than the devolved countries diverging from UK policies (i.e. England) it is England that is diverging from the devolved countries. A prime example is the policy on prescription charges. (Free or getting that way in Scotland, Wales and NI only)

I suppose it will be a debate that will continue on as long as the integration/devolution debate. And of course which party can best achieve that be it DUP, UUP or TUV.

Ivor Whitten on 9:56 am said...

Stating the obvious,

Fair enough points, and I appreciate the level of debate as well.

I think the main point is who the different parties look towards to get the best for NI within the Union. Scotland is the most active in looking to break the Union (yes OK, in reality it could just be a moot point with independence being improbable) Wales is slightly different with people there not even really enthusiastic about the devolution they got.

It is a difference is how the DUP or the UUP think the best way of helping Northern Ireland within the Union. In the end we can only see where it all leads us.

At least Dr Who gives us all some solace that the UK is still there in a few hundred years hence :)

Stating the obvious said...

And the best way of helping NI in the union cannot possibly be to pledge your votes to a party in advance. The uup have no better an idea of what the Tories have planned for NI than the rest of us, it's tactically and logically unsound to pledge your votes before you know what you're voting for

Ivor Whitten on 2:40 pm said...

Stating the Obvious,

I see where you are coming from and I would have ask then should every single candidate be an independent? So as not to pledge their voting power to whoever gets in?

Yes it has an advantage in the scenario you are thinking about. I take that point. The UUP (and Rodney Connor) have agreed to take the Conservative whip. For the UUP it is a alliance and one that can be sensitive to NI's needs (UUP voted against the devolution of P&J due to lack of movement within the Executive on a range of 'ordinary' issues). Most of the time the DUP have voted with the Conservatives anyway. Though according to the Telegraph the DUP are lining up to support Labour .

No matter how many MPs sent to Westminster from NI and how they align themselves,the big players will still be Conservatives, labour and Lib Dems. Depending on a hung parliament could be a risky a strategy. It may work out, but a hung parliament would be bad for the economic recovery of the UK as a whole.


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