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United unionist coalition is key to new politics

With a week of platform articles calling for a new form of politics in Northern Ireland, it would seem the message from your newspaper is — let us have some form of new politics on the unionist side and leave the Sinn Fein monolith on the nationalist side alone.

This would seem to be a partial and biased approach and flawed from the outset.

To begin with, let me demolish the core concept of many of those who would like to see a new party system related more to social class and economic status than to a sectarian head count.

First, unionism is not sectarian. The concept of unionism is essentially political and it is based not on sectarianism but on a belief, partially based on sound economics and partially based |on national sentiment, that union between Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom is in the best interests of all the people of Northern Ireland.

Second, any party related to social class would inevitably end up as a monolith of a different kind in any case since Experian reckons that 42% of the |population of Northern Ireland is middle class.

So, as for realigning politics along economic wealth or class lines, forget it.

You would end up with a middle class monolith opposing a working class monolith.

There would be even less hope of compromise between two such monoliths because the policies they would inevitably |pursue would be diametrically opposed and there would be |little or no common ground.

From canvassing the public on the doorstep, it is clear that the vast majority of the unionist-minded electorate want greater unionist co-operation.

If that happened, it would boost voter turnout.

The non-voting unionist population is turned off by the bickering between the two main unionist parties and many are driven to conclude — “a plague on both your houses”.

If they saw a united unionist coalition with a commonsense common agenda tackling the pressing economic, jobs and social issues in a focussed, practical and realistic way they would support such a united unionist coalition.


Belfast Telegraph