“Fair Deal” makes a contribution to the Conservatives in NI debate which is, as ever, well argued. However, the final paragraph misses the specific point. If only it were as simple as a lack of desire!
The now Prime Minister and now Secretary of State were always entirely genuine in their desire to move Northern Ireland to mainstream politics, and remain so. It is worth noting that had even one ‘UCUNF’ candidate been successfully elected, the situation would look utterly different, with a local voice in place defending and promoting government policy and making representations from Northern Ireland within the leading governing party.
The question I posed in my previous blog was not whether they were genuine (they undoubtedly were or they wouldn’t have taken the political risks they took), but whether they had recognised fundamentally what it takes to achieve this. Thus, their actions post-election are not indicative of a lack of genuine desire, but rather an inability to grasp what is necessary.
This is not a simple question of whether CCHQ is suddenly going to wake up to the error of its ways re cooperation with the UUP (cooperation was actually quite a good idea, and in principle still could be had the Conservatives been active post-election), nor is it whether the Conservative Party is genuine (it is clearly genuine about Scotland, which I deliberately cross-referenced for comparison). In short, it is not about the intentions of the Conservative Party, but rather the abilities.
The fundamental question people in NI (and probably Scotland) should be asking the Conservative Party hierarchy is whether it is prepared to grasp that Scotland and Northern Ireland are not just peripheral parts of England, but actually distinct jurisdictions with distinct needs and cultures which have opted for Union with it. That is, after all, the whole point of devolution. The apparent failure of the Conservative Party to recognise that devolution is a game changer which is not just about legal technicalities, but also about the on-the-ground practicalities, may come back to haunt it.
Such a failure, if confirmed, cannot be good news for Unionists of any description.