It’s Zero Sum Stupid!

Bad week for nationalism. Hence the gloating on Slugger O’Toole and the admiration there for Jim Allister of the TUV. He socked it to Sinn Fein this week or to paraphrase Slugger …it was a victory for common sense and victims. Er…quite.

But no doubt Sinn Fein will take the SpAd thing as a defeat. And in their terms an injustice.

In truth Sinn Fein were careless and not very politically aware not to think that unionists would get artificially agitated that a Special Advisor (salary £70,000) Mary McArdle appointed to assist a Sinn Fein Minister, had been in prison for murder.

It is of course unusual that a person could get a job as a civil servant, having spent twelve years in prison. With some degree of justification Sinn Fein point out that many of their MLAs have been in jail for paramiltary-related crimes. But the obvious riposte to this is that they have been ELECTED.

Personally Im not at all worked up about Mary McArdle. I hold that Sinn Fein had a right to appoint her….AND a duty to defend that decision at an election. Jim Allisters motion to ban people with a serious criminal record (as he would put it) from being Special Advisors was always going to be contentious.

To block it, Sinn Fein needed the support of at least one SDLP member. After some very public wavering, they decided not to support Sinn Fein. Of course they were not swayed by Jim Allister of TUV, the persuasive voice was Ann Travers, Catholic and sister of the woman murdered by comrades of Mary McArdle.

The consequence is that Sinn Fein dont have to defend an insensitive decision. SDLP have to defend seeming to side with Jim Allister. The months between now and the summer of 2016, when the next Assembly Election are littered with elephant traps and ultimately this SpAd trap will be forgotten. But clearly this was not a good performance by SDLP.

The simple fact is that the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 was presented as stepping stones to a united Ireland AND a series of obstacles to a united Ireland. Clearly SF saw it as a “right” to appoint Ms McArdle and this has now been thrown out.

But less publicised…certainly on Slugger….has been the decision of the High Court to rule out the “Prayers in the Park” wheeze by the Orange Order in Portadown, scheduled for next week. Denied the “right” for decades to march down the Garvaghy Road and exercise their traditional “right” to piss off Catholics in Portadown…they hit upon the wheeze of WALKING to the public park in the area and singinging hymns and saying prayers. How very….ya know…Christian of them? Who could possibly object?

Well the residents were not impressed and the High Court agree. Nice try…but back to the drawing board for the Orangemen.

Zero Sum.

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34 Responses to It’s Zero Sum Stupid!

  1. Ciarán says:

    is it just me or does it feel that all those lining up against SPADs are now turning their attention to the Maze?

  2. bangordub says:

    “A battle a day”?

    • Not quite…but there will be good days and bad days.
      We are locked into the fact that a good day for nationalism is a bad day for unionism.
      And that there are certain trends…the years after 1998 (RUC abolished, prisoners etc were good for nationalists) the unionists managed to stop the trend.
      Unionists have their hands on the throats of nationalists.
      nationalists have their hands on throats of unionists.
      Nobody will ever win….EXCEPT in the circumstance where one tribe relaxes its grip.

      • bangordub says:

        Or one tribe wins? The difference of course, is that nationalism has patience

      • But thats how its been for 800 years. Generally speaking we get to live thru 10% of Irelands history.
        When we check out, we will be at an optimistic or pessimistic phase.
        A unionist checking out in 1999 would have thought the game was up.
        nationalists would have thought the same in 1980.

  3. Slugger, I couldn’t really care how this pans out there, the issue at hand isn’t (for me anyway) whether Nats win or lose on SPADs, it’s the fact that the SDLP have shown such utter stupidity on the whole matter. When you are ambushed by one man and a victim it begs the question, are you deserving of my vote? I don’t see why these guys should be voted in any more, not even a preference from moi as I think this gives them the idea that I actually support them and their actions in some way, that I believe they could be a force for good and that is not something I want them to think. This for me was a straw that broke the camel’s back moment, one where the SDLP showed itself incapable of being an adult and saying that they are for victims but this only helps one set of victims and it creates a hierarchy. I think people would have said,fair enough but instead they listened to some old man who has no skin in the game, it actually beggars belief IMHO.

  4. James says:

    As much as I admire Seamus Mallon, his turn of phrase saying blocking the bill would be “two fingers up to unionism” were completely baffling. Am I alone in thinking that two fingers up to unionism isn’t a bad thing for a nationalist party struggling to attract votes?

    • No youre not alone.
      The SDLPs problem is generational.
      Theres a problem attracting new votes.
      But I dont think people are necessarily stopping voting SDLP and changing to SF.
      When people tell me SDLP have lost say 50,000 voters “where are they?” ….My answer is DEAD.
      by the way as a regular visitor here, you might like to go along to Hobos Blog and vote for your favourite LetsGetAlongerist.

    • You’re right James, it actually beggars belief that someone up on the Ormeau Road did not figure out that 2 elderly figures, former leaders of the SDLP are in essence briefing about current party policy without any kind of oversight from the people currently running the party. Let’s tie it in with one of FJH’s previous threads on Fergie leaving Man U; basically this is akin to Busby leaving Man U and still having an input on how the team plays when there is a new manager in place (too many chiefs, not enough Indians as the saying goes), whose actually running the SDLP? Is it Big Al or is his grip on the party so loose that people with no skin in the game who haven’t really had a say on politics in the North and in the SDLP for 15 years are able to come along and cause such havoc.

      I know FJH you write about how Mick et al over on SOT like to write about the demise of the SDLP and the rise of APNI, but you should add me to that list in relation to the first matter, the party is a shambles and while Big Al has been trying to sort out the organisation behind the scenes the proof is in the pudding and lo and behold, this episode has shown that it is a mess still.

  5. hoboroad says:

    The BBC could have a hit on its hands. Grumpy Old Politicians featuring all your old favorites from the 1980’s.Old Lemonsucker and Mr 40 foot barge pole alongside Big Ian for the Unionists. Seamus Mallon and Brid Rodgers for the Nationalists. They could moan and groan for hours about how young politicians today just don’t get it. Or maybe a second chamber up at Stormont kind of like the House Of Lords but with no powers to block or delay anything.

  6. hoboroad says:

    Mick Fealty 7 votes
    Duncan Morrow 5 votes
    Quentin Oliver 3 votes
    Ian Parsley 3 votes
    Dawn Purvis 2 votes
    None of the Above 2 votes
    Robin Wilson 1 vote
    Andy Pollok 1 vote

    No votes for any of the rest

  7. hoboroad says:

    Opinion poll crashed luckily I did a screen save about 2 minutes before it happened. It has happened before on previous polls? The votes you see now must be new votes.

  8. hoboroad says:

    If I was into conspiracy theories I could blame the Bilderberg Conference meeting in Watford next weekend or the G8 meeting in Fermanagh in a couple of weeks.

  9. hoboroad says:

    Allan and Gladys have got a vote each well done to the pair of them. Rick Wilford and Norman Hamilton have yet to break their duck.

    • Did I choose wisely with Dr Hamilton?
      Deirdre Heenan nearly got selected but shes a Manchester United fan and therefore I cant include a person like myself.
      Nuala McKeever and/or Tim MCgarry nearly made the cut.

  10. Pingback: A Fake Economy In A Fake State | An Sionnach Fionn

  11. hoboroad says:

    Nuala may be the one to look out for on Thursday night. Ticks a fair few boxes female and Catholic in the media/showbiz. I considered adding a few wild cards to the poll myself Lady Hermon would have been a good one. But I wanted to give Ian Parsley a fair chance of winning. Maybe I should have gone for Shirlow instead of Wilford.

    • I deliberately steered away from politicians on my list because I wanted to concentrate on the people who are too posh for politics.
      There are people on the list who would have great difficulty in explaining the rules on Household Boiler Replacement or would have difficulty appearing for a constituent at a Disability Living Llowance tribunal.
      Yet the same people seem right at the heart of everything that happens.
      Nuala is on my McUnionist list also and being a Thursday, I see a lot of coverage on The View etc. ….live from the launch even.
      I DID include Ian Parsley
      Is he a politician?
      not in my book. 😉

  12. hoboroad says:

    Lord Laird caught out in a Sunday Times sting operation according to Sky News. Along with two Labour peers.

  13. hoboroad says:

    Labour couldn’t afford the whores according to one working class Tory Alf Garnett. Lord Bew he’s been around hasn’t he? Peoples Democracy the Workers Party then advisor to Trimble Ulster Unionist Peer. Could be a runner still working at Queens is he?

    • Cant look it up at the minute but I think he is a Crossbencher.
      He is retired from QUB.
      Bew….yes PD, WP and advisor to Trimble.
      But what interests me about Bew is that he is a member of the Henry Jackson Society.
      so is Trimble.
      And so is “Col” Tim Collins.
      The HJS are in some ways a party within a party…or more accurately several parties and it would not be like them not to have someone there.

      In some ways, we could go thru the Norn Iron phone book and pick out likely names. But ultimately getting people to go public will be a bigger task.
      someone like …at random ….Stephen Nolan could not join without damaging his long term career. But conceivably a man at the end of the main part of his career….Noel Thompson???

      The most likely launch is that it will a lot of photogenic students. and I suspect that they will have a political defection from most parties, …low profile.
      At most one headline grabber.
      but again that just shows the inability of the chattering classesto get involved.

  14. hoboroad says:

    Oh look a Tory Sex Scandal how shocking! Cameron is shocked both parties to the affair are middle aged yeah that really narrows it down.

    • In the John Major years during various scandals, it was standard for Tory MPs to announce they were resigning “spend more time with their families.
      Some of those scandals were financial ( Hamilton) and others were sex ( Yeo)
      It became a cliche and there was a joke (Guardian maybe) that a Tory MP was resigning
      ” to spend more time with his family….his own family”

  15. hoboroad says:

    I was thinking Noel Thompson myself he is quite good of course but not all journalists make good politicians. The last thing Unionism needs is two Mike Nesbitts. William Crawley a lot of people seem to like him a nice guy maybe to nice for politics.

  16. Political Tourist says:

    Some of us are still getting over the John Major/Edwina Currie story.
    What an old fox Major turned out to be.

    As for the SDLP, is this true voice of the Catholic hierarchy we’re hearing.

    • No….
      The hierarchy is essentially anti politics and even anti democratic.
      The SDLP obviously has a lot of church going Catholics in their ranks.
      So has Sinn Fein.
      Its a cliche to think that good Catholics vote SDLP and bad Catholics vote SF.
      I think there are very few in either party which doesnt see Politics and Religion as seperate.
      In a global sense, the Catholic Church has had a problem with the “republican philosophy”.
      The Northern Priests are mostly republican- nationalist…
      But the hierarchy seems hand picked for an anti-politics stance.

  17. factual says:

    I doubt if Basil will sign up any big names. That’s my prediction.

    This isn’t necessarily a problem for the new party: they need new people not established people to reinforce their message about fresh politics. What they will want is diverse people, who previously didn’t like any of the parties, and people who come from different ethnic groups, sexual orientations, and genders.

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