Friday, March 21, 2008

Northern Irish Conservatives should (temporarily) "forget" about the Union

A couple of very curious posts from Tory bloggers on both sides of the Irish Sea during the last week or so.

First up, "Ignited" pointed me in the direction of an astonishing attack on the Orange Order by the Editor of the N.I. Conservatives site, in which he appears to be advocating a ban on OO members entering the party. My personal opinion is that the actions of the Orange Order have ultimately damaged the Union over the last 30-40 years, but, whilst it remains a legal organisation, I don't think that is a strong enough reason to ban its members from joining whatever political party they may wish to join.

I'm not a member of the Conservatives, but as the only party which is represented in all four parts of the Kingdom, I hope the future brings them much more success than they presently enjoy in Northern Ireland. But I really think they should be detaching themselves more from the sectarian minutiae of Ulster politics and rather than attempting to fight the Ulster Nationalists and the UUP on the grounds of who's capable at doing a better job at protecting the British link, they should be looking to hoover up those voters who presently may have no strong views one way or the other on the Union but who, nevertheless, want a secular, conservative option to vote for.

A strange thing for a UK Unionist blogger to say you might think, telling a Unionist party to "hold back" on their Unionism...but the Conservative Party in the rest of the UK is also a party which believes in the Union- except there it is only a small (if it exists at all) part of the overall reason why people vote for the party. Their policies on education, taxation, law and order are, by and large, what delivers the Conservatives their support in Britain; but if someone in Tunbridge Wells, Swansea or Dumfries votes for the Conservatives they are also voting for the party which (still) is the party of all the United Kingdom, a party which (still) wants the British people to remain united under the Union Jack.

The Conservatives in Northern Ireland should be looking to build their own similarly inclusive niche here and if they achieve that, then the strengthening of that east-west link will naturally follow.

3 comments:

Ignited said...

What I found interesting on the NI Conservative blog was the mantle of religion being separate from politics - but then going ahead and not dealing with politics but on the OO.

Although I would disagree with you on the role of the OO during the troubles I also welcome the tories organising here and wish them well. I hope that the time comes when we vote in a Westminster election we are voting for the next government of the UK.

My question to the NI Tories is do they tar all Orangemen with the same brush? Are they going to ask Cllr. Peter Bowles to stand down or deslect him (their only elected rep in NI); Lord Trimble was (and I believe still is) a long serving member; and looking at the website many normal members of their party are also members of the OO.

beano said...

I noticed this on Wednesday (I think) and planned to mention it at EU, but for time constraints. I thought the comments were OTT too, but if you read the comments it becomes clear that the blogger is not expressing the party line but his own views, and there are dissenting comments from other NI Tories.

O'Neill said...

Although I would disagree with you on the role of the OO during the troubles I also welcome the tories organising here and wish them well.

Don't get me wrong Ignited, I believe, for example, that the local OOs helped out immensely those isolated and beleaguered Protestant communities along the border and elsewhere during the period of the IRA's sectarian onslaught. But...I really don't think their existance, nor indeed many of their actions as an organisation as a whole has strengthened the Union for a number of reasons.

I hope that the time comes when we vote in a Westminster election we are voting for the next government of the UK.

Amen to that!!

My question to the NI Tories is do they tar all Orangemen with the same brush? Are they going to ask Cllr. Peter Bowles to stand down or deslect him (their only elected rep in NI); Lord Trimble was (and I believe still is) a long serving member; and looking at the website many normal members of their party are also members of the OO.

I think Beano's comment has answered that point, it's not party policy but simply the views of the editor of the blog