Conservatives represent the old politics

The Ulster Conservatives and Unionists has formally launched its manifesto for the general election.

The Ulster Conservatives and Unionists (UCU), formed as a result of the electoral alliance between the Ulster Unionist Party and the Conservative Party, has formally launched its manifesto for the general election.

Launching the document, shadow foreign secretary William Hague said:

“Without doubt we have the strongest and most able team of any political party in Northern Ireland at this election.”

His statement, however, overlooked the many serious doubts that have been raised over how wise a move it was for David Cameron to become so politically embroiled in Northern Ireland. As one Conservative blogger has written:

“I believe that the deal was a huge mistake on the part of the Conservative leadership and one which they will eventually regret.”

Hague added:

“It’s because of our shared belief in the Union, and our passion for the United Kingdom, that we are here together today.”

His comments come despite Sunday’s poll for Sky News, prior to the Scottish leaders’ debate, clearly indicating the Conservatives pose a bigger threat to the cohesion of the Union than any of the other parties. Within the manifesto itself, two pledges make particularly interesting reading.

Firstly, on page 57, the new political entity created by the UUP and Conservatives states:

“We intend to build a new political system that serves people rather than politicians.”

In Fermanagh and South Tyrone, both the Democratic Unionist Party and the Ulster Conservatives and Unionists agreed to jointly support an independent unionist, Rodney Connor, which both parties agreed would increase the chances of a unionist winning the seat. Given David Cameron’s commitment to a changed political system, based on empowering citizens, how can he justify denying the people of Fermanagh and South Tyrone a genuine choice between all the main parties? If Northern Ireland is to move forward, such sectarian stitch ups will have to cease.

Furthermore, Mr Connor has pledged to take the Conservative whip if elected, raising questions about just how independent he really is. At the very least it gives the impression the Conservatives used the situation as a way of cynically pushing out their DUP rivals before a vote had even been cast.

As Alliance Party candidate for the constituency, Vasundhara Kamble, said:

“The fact that both parties have struck a deal for Fermanagh and South Tyrone shows that shows tribalism still appears to be the main priority for both UCUNF and the DUP.”

What is more, as Left Foot Forward has previously reported, the same sort of back room deal was attempted in Belfast South. How does that tally with David Cameron’s calls for a new, transparent politics?

Likewise, following the UUP’s criticisms of the decision by Sinn Fein education minister, Caitríona Ruane, to abolish the 11-plus test, the UCU has stated (page 50):

“Conservatives and Unionists will continue to support academic selection in Northern Ireland.”

Commenting on academic selection previously, however, the National Association of Headteachers in Northern Ireland has said:

“In our opinion it is educationally unsound, inaccurate, unfair and socially biased. The process is futile, wasteful and immoral and results in extensive emotional and motivational damage to many children. If, as a society, we claim to care about our children, we must no longer perpetuate this annual form of child abuse.

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10 Responses to “Conservatives represent the old politics”

  1. Guido Fawkes

    Socialism is so twentieth century…

  2. Seymour Major

    With all due respect, you have quoted me out of context. My criticism was not against David Cameron for becoming involved in Northern Ireland politics, which you have implied. I have criticised the conservatives for their endorsement of the deal in Fermanagh & South Tyrone and I remain critical of that.

    As for the Labour Party, it is a unionist party. Treating Northern Ireland like an “add on” part of the Union as if it isn’t wanted is wrong. There are many in Northern Ireland who would like to vote labour that do not get that opportunity.

    The Good Friday agreement is now more than 10 years old. Parties are settling down to real politics, so why shouldn’t Labour properly represent itself in Northern Ireland?

  3. Mr. Sensible

    “Socialism is so twentieth century…”

    No it’s not.

    I just cannot believe that someone who wants to be prime minister would take such a stance on Northern Ireland.

    I am in favour of the Union, but I am also in favour of devolution. And I cannot believe that the government would be so 1-sided on it.

  4. Robert

    Yes – it is indeed very strange that Lady Sylvia Hermon, the UUP’s only MP, took flight when her party lined up with the Tories to form UCUNF.

    I sincerely hope she is successful in her re-election bid as an independent.

  5. Ed Jacobs

    And if I recall, the UUP’s former Deputy Leader, John Taylor has described it as a “mongrel relationship”

  6. Liz McShane

    Ed – “a mongrel relationship’ , I would also guess that the mongrel has rabies and has gone mad.

  7. Liz McShane

    Robert – re Sylvia Hermon taking flight – not strange at all. She has never been happy with the UUP’s links to the Tories and has always been much more at ease with Labour /New Labour – just look at her voting record. I also wish her luck as she is one of the few ‘liberal’ (small l) voices in the place and is liked by many in the community…. She has had a tough time in her party not just being the lone (female) voice in Westminster but also for her progressive approach & contact with politicians from SDLP & SF.

  8. Kurt

    Conservatives represent the old politics | Left Foot Forward

  9. Liz McShane

    Actually the clue is in their name – Conserve…..!

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