The Tories get it all wrong on Northern Ireland

Alliance party leader David Ford called the Tory/UUP pact a “sham marriage”; today’s manifesto commitments on Northern Ireland represent sham policy.

In its manifesto, launched today, the Conservative Party proudly declared (page 83):

“The Conservative Party is passionate about the Union and we will never do anything to put it at risk. And, because of the new political force we have created with the Ulster Unionists, we are proud that at the next election we will be the only party fielding candidates in every part of the UK.

However, the former vice chair of Conservatives in Northern Ireland, Jeff Peel, has resigned from the Conservative Party over its decision not to field its own candidate in Fermanagh and South Tyrone. When even one seat is not being contested, that by definition means that the Conservatives are not “fielding candidates in every part of the UK”.

Similarly, a blog of a Conservative activist in Northern Ireland says:

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

The outgoing Conservative Chairman of the Northern Ireland Select Committee, Sir Patrick Cormack dubbed the alliance “odd and … inconsistent”, and former UUP deputy leader, Lord Kilclooney, described it as a “mongrel relationship”.

The Conservative Party manifesto then says (pages 83/84):

“In Northern Ireland, we strongly support the political institutions established over the past decade and we are committed to making devolution work. We will continue to promote peace, stability and economic prosperity and work to bring Northern Ireland back into the mainstream of UK politics.”

If this is the case, why do the Conservatives maintain their alliance with the only party to have actively opposed the devolution of policing and justice, despite it having been warmly welcome by the by both the DUP and Sinn Fein? In aligning his party so squarely against majority opinion in Northern Ireland, David Cameron’s credibility had diminished. A failure to win any seats in Northern Ireland will undermine what little authority he has left.

When the next crisis comes along, other parties will ask, what authority does Cameron have when the people of Northern Ireland have so resoundingly rejected him? In March, the cross-community Alliance party leader and now justice minister, David Ford, called the Tory/UUP pact a “sham marriage”; today’s manifesto commitments on Northern Ireland from the Conservatives represent sham policy.

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12 Responses to “The Tories get it all wrong on Northern Ireland”

  1. Shamik Das

    One of many Tory manifesto mistruths: RT @leftfootfwd: The Tories get it all wrong on Northern Ireland: http://bit.ly/9ExH3O

  2. Paul Evans

    Good summary of why the Tories have got it all wrong on Northern Ireland http://bit.ly/axDp4X

  3. Newsaccess

    The Tories get it all wrong on Northern Ireland http://bit.ly/c02M57

  4. After the UK

    Left Foot Forward – The Tories get it all wrong on Northern Ireland http://bit.ly/cE1bCs

  5. Tom Griffin

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Tories get it all wrong on Northern Ireland: http://bit.ly/9ExH3O

  6. Andy Sutherland

    The Tories get it all wrong on Northern Ireland: http://bit.ly/9ExH3O /via @leftfootfwd

  7. Joseph Cormack

    The alliance between the Conservatives and UUP is a highly irresponsible and short-sighted move by David Cameron. He clearly believes that this union will help him in the event of a hung parliament. However he has effectively aligned himself to one half of the Northern Ireland divide, this could prove a big mistake if David Cameron was Prime minister and the peace process collapsed or took a turn for the worse. It would be very hard to see the Nationalist community having any faith in David Cameron or the Conservative party as they have compromised themselves and could in no way be seen as unbiased or impartial.

  8. LuckyDeals.biz

    The Tories get it all wrong on Northern Ireland | Left Foot Forward http://bit.ly/aVEl2S

  9. Liz McShane

    When did the Tories ever get it right?

  10. Teresa

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Tories get it all wrong on Northern Ireland: http://bit.ly/9ExH3O

  11. Liz McShane

    I found this on BBC NI’s website (they got it off Slugger O’Toole):

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/sluggerotoole/13422116/in/pool-ukelection05

  12. Conservatives represent the old politics | Left Foot Forward

    […] 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 […]

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