Author Topic: A United Ireland - The Nationalist Paradox  (Read 2453 times)

Evil Genius

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Re: A United Ireland - The Nationalist Paradox
« Reply #15 on: April 07, 2021, 04:48:57 PM »
Sorry is you point that today Nats don't have the numbers? Then yes I agree with you 100% they don't. Hence only sensible parties are suggesting that the unity referendum should called way in the future when it is winnable.
Nats do have to convince not so much unionists but undecideds. Green and Alliance voters. At this moment in time we're only talking about getting that conversation off an running. It hasn't started in earnest. But it will. .
My point is not merely that Nationalists don't currently have the numbers (which they don't), but that even if they can maximise their own vote (debateable) they're still going to have to find extra, traditionally non-Nationalist votes from somewhere.

And all the demographic evidence suggests that the great majority of "middle" voters (Alliance, Greens etc) whilst not being "Unionist" with a large "U", are nonetheless at best lukewarm when it comes to a UI, or at worst opposed.

Which gives Nationalist politicians a choice: they can revert to "normal" politcs to woo moderate Unionists, but risk losing wavering Nationalists in a more normal NI.

Or they can maximise their own traditional vote (by banging the Nationalist drum), thereby alienating even moderate Unionists.

Scotland is key. If it goes then what is the point of the England trying to hold onto NI? English and Welsh people look at NI unionists and they see nothing in common. Their Britishness is so far removed from what NI Unionists' Britishness is.
How many times?

England and Wales (or Scotland) don't have a say in the matter, since they don't have a vote!

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-belfast-agreement
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weareros

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Re: A United Ireland - The Nationalist Paradox
« Reply #16 on: April 07, 2021, 04:49:37 PM »
The problem with going by polling is the SF vote in the North has been declining, and much of that is due to conservative Catholics concerned with the liberal agenda, particularly around abortion. But when they need to come out, as they did with ousting Dodds from North Belfast, they really came out. As a result I think a United Ireland vote will be a lot higher than simply adding SF + SDLP together. They will really come out. Canít say the same for Unionists. They needed to come out in North and South Belfast to retain their seats. They were well beaten in the end by Finucane and Hanna. Those are the trends I would look at.

bennydorano

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Re: A United Ireland - The Nationalist Paradox
« Reply #17 on: April 07, 2021, 04:58:40 PM »
Scotland leaving might not convince NI unionists the UK isn't worth it anymore but you are living in dreamland if you don't think it changes the dynamic. England is the fulcrum of the UK, Scotland is the secondary unit, Scotland has always been of intrinsic value as it always protected the English Northern flank in days of yore (& North Sea oil & gas in more recent times).
An independent Scotland might certainly have an effect on thinking in NI, but not in the same way for everyone.

In fact, I'd imagine that the sight of Wee Nicola begging the EU for membership, having to swallow the Euro, missing out on the Barnett Formula subsidy from Westminster, while desperately trying to sell the last of the North Sea's oil to a world which is abandoning fossil fuels etc, would certainly colour NI Unionist thinking, that's for sure!

NI unionism's major problem if Scotland leaves the UK is that England might decide the UK is no longer worth the bother and then the NI SOS's attitude changes overnight - it's not as tho a UK Government would throw Unionism to wolves or anything (lol).
How many times does it have to be said? It isn't within the gift of England to determine whether NI says in the UK or leaves, it is solely for the people of NI to decide.

Or didn't you get the memo?  :D

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-belfast-agreement


I don't think a UI happens without the secession of Scotland, said it many times that it's  a pipe dream. Scotland leaving is a game changer and under those circumstances I would expect people in NI to vote for a UI -  Actively assisted be the remnants of the UK/English Government.

trailer

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Re: A United Ireland - The Nationalist Paradox
« Reply #18 on: April 07, 2021, 04:59:13 PM »
Sorry is you point that today Nats don't have the numbers? Then yes I agree with you 100% they don't. Hence only sensible parties are suggesting that the unity referendum should called way in the future when it is winnable.
Nats do have to convince not so much unionists but undecideds. Green and Alliance voters. At this moment in time we're only talking about getting that conversation off an running. It hasn't started in earnest. But it will. .
My point is not merely that Nationalists don't currently have the numbers (which they don't), but that even if they can maximise their own vote (debateable) they're still going to have to find extra, traditionally non-Nationalist votes from somewhere.

And all the demographic evidence suggests that the great majority of "middle" voters (Alliance, Greens etc) whilst not being "Unionist" with a large "U", are nonetheless at best lukewarm when it comes to a UI, or at worst opposed.

Which gives Nationalist politicians a choice: they can revert to "normal" politcs to woo moderate Unionists, but risk losing wavering Nationalists in a more normal NI.

Or they can maximise their own traditional vote (by banging the Nationalist drum), thereby alienating even moderate Unionists.

Scotland is key. If it goes then what is the point of the England trying to hold onto NI? English and Welsh people look at NI unionists and they see nothing in common. Their Britishness is so far removed from what NI Unionists' Britishness is.
How many times?

England and Wales (or Scotland) don't have a say in the matter, since they don't have a vote!

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-belfast-agreement

If you're hanging the strength of the Union on Nats not mobilising then that's a thin thread on which to hope the precious union holds. The conversation is only starting but I would like to think that once people hear the argument for better prosperity, jobs, openness and far greater standard of living, then sufficient numbers will be convinced. Only a fool hopes that the when the numbers of Catholics > Protestants that equals a UI. Lots of sensible Nationalists totally understand that people need to be convinced despite the nonsense some post here.
I understand that England, Scotland and Wales have no vote, but if you think that what occurs in other countries doesn't effect the political and constitutional situation here then you haven't been paying attention.

The direction of travel is towards a UI. The conversation is starting. You even started a whole thread asking about how it can be won.

Evil Genius

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Re: A United Ireland - The Nationalist Paradox
« Reply #19 on: April 07, 2021, 05:02:49 PM »
Quote
It is still remembered that in 1921, the Unionist/Protestant population of the Free State was just over 10%, half a century later it was what demographers deem "statistically insignificant" i.e. under 2 1/2 per cent. (At the same time, the Nationalist/Catholic population in NI was going the other way).

I've just seen this. EG you are going to make up facts then you will not get very far.
The Protestant proportion of the 26 counties was last over 10% in 1901. Of course it fell after 1921 as a large garrison of troops, black and tans, colonial administrators and colonial types left, their colonial project having failed. The Protestant proportion of the population never fell below 3%, and of course this has now increased so that there are now as many Protestants now as in the 1920s.
As you point out, the proportion of Catholics in NI also increased, so this has to with factors like family size more than the nature of the state.
You can argue over tiny percentages all you like, but he fact remains that the Protestant population of the 26 declined markedly post-partition.
And even if it has now recovered to an overwhelming 4.2%(?), the overall point remains.

Anyhow, if you don't like living in the UK, why don't you clear off south of the border, too?

I mean, "If someone is Irish and has problems integrating elsewhere then going there seems a good plan" as some sage once said...  ::)

We have lived in our own country all along, it is incumbent on the occupier to leave not the occupied.
And there you have it, "the occupier".

Have the last 100 years not taught you anything?

Those Irish people in NI who consider themselves British aren't going anywhere, nor should they have to.

But hey, if banging the "Brits Out!" drum makes you happy, then fire away.

That way at least you won't be able to hear a million people telling you where to go.  ::)
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dec

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Re: A United Ireland - The Nationalist Paradox
« Reply #20 on: April 07, 2021, 05:04:31 PM »
And for the people to be entitled to a Referendum, then it will require the SoS for NI to be of the opinion that there may exist a majority for Unity amongst the electorate.

No.

From the GFA

1. The Secretary of State may by order direct the holding of a poll for the
purposes of section 1 on a date specified in the order.
2. Subject to paragraph 3, the Secretary of State shall exercise the power
under paragraph 1 if at any time it appears likely to him that a majority of
those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to
be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland.
3. The Secretary of State shall not make an order under paragraph 1
earlier than seven years after the holding of a previous poll under this
Schedule.

If the SoS wants to direct the holding of a poll he may do so. It does not require that it appears likely to him that such a vote would suceed.

Evil Genius

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Re: A United Ireland - The Nationalist Paradox
« Reply #21 on: April 07, 2021, 05:09:24 PM »
The problem with going by polling is the SF vote in the North has been declining, and much of that is due to conservative Catholics concerned with the liberal agenda, particularly around abortion. But when they need to come out, as they did with ousting Dodds from North Belfast, they really came out. As a result I think a United Ireland vote will be a lot higher than simply adding SF + SDLP together. They will really come out. Canít say the same for Unionists. They needed to come out in North and South Belfast to retain their seats. They were well beaten in the end by Finucane and Hanna. Those are the trends I would look at.
You can cherry pick individual constituencies in particular elections all you like, but even if going by that metric, the fact is that the overall "Nationalist" vote has plateaued for years now, and remains well below the 50%+1 required for a UI.

Meanwhile, I prefer to look beyond such simplistic notions, since as I've argued - and no-else is addressing - Referenda are not the same as Elections - see eg the Brexit vote, where traditional working class Labour voters in the North of England ignored the Labour Remain message, and rowed in behind Johnson and Farage in their droves.

(It was all about Identity for them, too)
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yellowcard

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Re: A United Ireland - The Nationalist Paradox
« Reply #22 on: April 07, 2021, 05:12:59 PM »
You make some very valid points in that opening post although I'm not sure that it warranted a separate thread of it's own given that there is enough discussion around these matters in other threads. Broadly speaking the vote is split 40-40-20 where the 20% is other non designated non nationalist-unionist voters. Guessing exactly how the middle of the road voters will vote is anyones guess but will be decided on by a whole multitude of factors including all of the factors you mention and the possibility of some external black swan event like Brexit or Scottish Indy.

I would like to know how do you define 'stoking up the temperature'? Is talking about a border poll considered to be stoking up the temperature? Should nationalist constantly walk on eggshells for fear of upsetting unionists - I think any open minded soft unionists would be mildly surprised at just how they are treated in a new Ireland. If any lessons are to be learned from how nationalists were treated in the north post partition then this should not be an issue.

You also state that nationalism needs to contribute to good government in Stormont to prove their credentials to Unionism. Well looking at the events of the last week with the rioting and the undermining of law and order, I think this is slightly ironic. Loyalism and unionism are doing a good enough enough job at turning away any potential FDI suitors and it certainly won't be used as a marketing tool by the NI tourist board either.

Finally, you reference the potential of Gerry Adams and Gerry Kelly being in government in the south and how this would cause you to vote to stay within the union. However the increase in the SF vote in the south has got a minimal amount to do with their UI policy but is more of a result of social issues like housing and a strike back against the perception of a political system skewed in favour of big business and cronyism. It is being led by a generation mostly under the age of 40 who know or care little for the troubles and which they can barely remember. I can understand that there is an element of the older generation who will struggle to move on from that but by the time any border poll takes place I'd hazard a guess that Gerry Adams and Gerry Kelly will be left the stage.

Evil Genius

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Re: A United Ireland - The Nationalist Paradox
« Reply #23 on: April 07, 2021, 05:27:26 PM »
If you're hanging the strength of the Union on Nats not mobilising then that's a thin thread on which to hope the precious union holds. The conversation is only starting but I would like to think that once people hear the argument for better prosperity, jobs, openness and far greater standard of living, then sufficient numbers will be convinced. Only a fool hopes that the when the numbers of Catholics > Protestants that equals a UI. Lots of sensible Nationalists totally understand that people need to be convinced despite the nonsense some post here.
I understand that England, Scotland and Wales have no vote, but if you think that what occurs in other countries doesn't effect the political and constitutional situation here then you haven't been paying attention.
How many times?

I am relying on the Unionist vote holding up, not the Nationalist vote weakening.

But now you mention it, since the only way the Nationalist vote will hold up is if Nationalist politicians bang their drum loudly enough, then conversely that will only have the effect of strengthening the Unionist vote.

While if they "play nice" with the Unionists, then the overall temperature will drop and at least some Nationalists will be happy to keep the status quo.

It's that blasted Paradox again!  ;)

The direction of travel is towards a UI.
Nationalists have been telling us that for 100 years.

The conversation is starting.
If by "conversation" you mean Nationalists talking amongst themselves about how to get it done - and for 100 years at that - then I suppose you're right.

But such a "conversation" hasn't got you any closer to where you want to go. In fact, since the GFA, it has only got further away, since that has taken the decision out of the hands of Dublin, London, Brussels, Washington and all the rest, and left it squarely in the hands of a majority in NI.

And you no closer to achieving such a majority than you've been at any time in the last quarter century.

You even started a whole thread asking about how it can be won.
No, I started a thread arguing why it is losing.

(The clue was in the title, btw)
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Evil Genius

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Re: A United Ireland - The Nationalist Paradox
« Reply #24 on: April 07, 2021, 05:38:43 PM »
And for the people to be entitled to a Referendum, then it will require the SoS for NI to be of the opinion that there may exist a majority for Unity amongst the electorate.

No.

From the GFA

1. The Secretary of State may by order direct the holding of a poll for the
purposes of section 1 on a date specified in the order.
2. Subject to paragraph 3, the Secretary of State shall exercise the power
under paragraph 1 if at any time it appears likely to him that a majority of
those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to
be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland.
3. The Secretary of State shall not make an order under paragraph 1
earlier than seven years after the holding of a previous poll under this
Schedule.

If the SoS wants to direct the holding of a poll he may do so. It does not require that it appears likely to him that such a vote would suceed.
Read it again.

Esp the bit: "... if at any time it appears likely to him that a majority of those voting etc etc etc"

There is nothing in either electoral results or opinion polls to suggest that such a majority appears "likely", so he is under no obligation to hold any poll.

And even if he tried to force one through against the available evidence, that would only cause more Unionists to want to prove him wrong.

And remember, holding a Poll is only half the battle - you need also to win it!

Which actually takes me to a point which I had considered putting forward, but didn't.

Namely, for all SF's weekly demands for a Referendum, I suspect that deep down, that is the last thing they want, since they can count votes and review opinion polls as well as any.

Indeed there is a part of me which would quite like to call their bluff!  :D
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weareros

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Re: A United Ireland - The Nationalist Paradox
« Reply #25 on: April 07, 2021, 05:42:21 PM »
The problem with going by polling is the SF vote in the North has been declining, and much of that is due to conservative Catholics concerned with the liberal agenda, particularly around abortion. But when they need to come out, as they did with ousting Dodds from North Belfast, they really came out. As a result I think a United Ireland vote will be a lot higher than simply adding SF + SDLP together. They will really come out. Canít say the same for Unionists. They needed to come out in North and South Belfast to retain their seats. They were well beaten in the end by Finucane and Hanna. Those are the trends I would look at.
You can cherry pick individual constituencies in particular elections all you like, but even if going by that metric, the fact is that the overall "Nationalist" vote has plateaued for years now, and remains well below the 50%+1 required for a UI.

Meanwhile, I prefer to look beyond such simplistic notions, since as I've argued - and no-else is addressing - Referenda are not the same as Elections - see eg the Brexit vote, where traditional working class Labour voters in the North of England ignored the Labour Remain message, and rowed in behind Johnson and Farage in their droves.

(It was all about Identity for them, too)

I picked those because there was a genuine battle between Unionism and Nationalism, and you could visibly see the demographic change in action. Unionists and Nationalists do not need to come out in droves in safe seats. But they will in a border poll. So thereís a very big unknown, but I also think a potential hidden nationalist surge. Thereís a percentage of nationalists who are conservative and donít necessarily have a party. The Unionists have conservative parties, and for those who want to go liberal, thereís the Alliance. Nationalists have liberal but no conservative option when it comes to party politics. So I donít think you can determine the nationalist vote on party support.

yellowcard

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Re: A United Ireland - The Nationalist Paradox
« Reply #26 on: April 07, 2021, 05:55:02 PM »
Election results can be slightly misguiding when it comes to predicting the outcome of a border poll.  Turnout would be at record levels for a border poll when normally 40% of the population don't engage with run of the mill elections. I do believe that there are a lot more apathetic nationalist voters than there are unionist voters and that is before you begin to factor in any foreign nationals. Personally I voted in the last Brexit referendum but I tend not to engage with other elections since the results are entirely predictable beforehand.

At the minute it would be foolhardy to predict the outcome since we don't even know what form this new state will even take. However by the time it is called, the British SOS will have already formed the opinion that it will stand at least a realistic chance of success so the resultant outcome will likely be a marginal one anyway. 

grounded

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Re: A United Ireland - The Nationalist Paradox
« Reply #27 on: April 07, 2021, 06:12:12 PM »
Reading through some of the other threads on here (SF gone away, Voting in Border Poll, SDLP, Leo V etc), I am reminded of the witty aphorism usually attributed to Brendan Behan, that whenever Nationalists meet, the first item on the Agenda is always "The Split"  :D

But for all the amusement to be derived from seeing 40 Shades of Green cutting stripes out of each other, what is more pertinent is that not one of you seem to get the point, which is this.

Frankly, it doesn't matter one jot how many times eg SF demand a Border Poll; or some Southern politician announces a 'road map' to Unification; or how detached Westminster is from NI; or how much pressure comes from Washington or Brussels (or anywhere else, for that matter).

For since the GFA, the Constitutional future of NI is solely in the hands of the people of NI and no-one else. Further, it is only a majority who will ever decide, whether to stay within the UK, or join a UI. All else is bluster and flannel.

And for the people to be entitled to a Referendum, then it will require the SoS for NI to be of the opinion that there may exist a majority for Unity amongst the electorate.

Which means he/she has to look first to how that electorate might vote. Basically speaking, there are two pointers.

The first is to look at voting patterns in recent elections. And as eminent psephologist Prof. Brendan O'Leary pointed out at a SF Fund Raising event in NYC no less(!) a while back, ever since the turn of the century, the "Nationalist" vote in NI, as measured by SF, SDLP and various minor parties, has plateaued at around 42-43%. Moreover, O'Leary opined that he couldn't see that changing in the foreseeable future.

Now it is fair to say that the "Unionist" vote (DUP, UUP, TUV etc) is not any higher. But if Nationalism is to get over the line, it has to muster the bulk of the "Others" (Alliance, Greens, Independents etc) to their cause. Yet if you look at their votes, they are overwhelmingly drawn from Unionist-leaning areas (East Belfast, North Down etc). Therefore in the event of a Referendum, one might expect those of them who did bother to vote, to be Unionist.

Of course, that whole  vote-counting exercise is arguably a misleading one, for a number of reasons. First, people vote in elections (esp local) for individual candidates for a variety of reasons - the candidate may have a personal following; there may be a local issue which skews the vote; custom and habit; or tactical considerations ("keep Themmuns out"). Consequently a vote for a given party may not exactly reflect an individual's preference in a border poll.

And that's only those who actually bother to vote! Many, of course, never go near the voting booth, either because they're disaffected by the political process; or feel they have better things to do; or because they realise that in a heavy Unionist or Nationalist area, their individual vote won't make the slightest bit of difference.

However, as eg Brexit or the last Scottish Referendum showed, in a binary poll like we're talking about, individual votes do make a difference, meaning that many "non-voters" may be tempted to turn out this time.

So if we should be very suspicious of past elections as a guide to which way a Border Poll might go, where do we look? The answer has to be Opinion Polls. Now I know that how the question is asked can often determine the answer which is received etc, and that not all such opinion polls are entirely consistent. Nonetheless, the clear consensus basically since the GFA is that a clear majority (i.e. well over 50% +1) would vote to remain.

Why should this be? Basically because Referenda are at least as much about Identity as they are about the usual political and socio-economic factors which determine elections. And the whole point is Brexit notwithstanding, many in the Nationalist community are broadly satisfied that their Irish identity is now tolerably well recognised and protected, meaning that they are more likely to be concerned about Pensions, NHS, government jobs, DLA etc in such a vote, meaning that many will abstain, or even vote to remain - who needs the disruption, uncertainty, even chaos which might ensue from a UI vote?

Whereas Unionists look at this very differently. Namely, the only way they can preserve their own Identity is by voting to remain in the UK. For at its simplest, if there is no Union, there can be no Unionists, and if they're no longer in the UK, they can no longer be British.

And no amount of assurances of a post-UI state being a "warm house for Unionists" will persuade them to take a chance on it, why should they? It is still remembered that in 1921, the Unionist/Protestant population of the Free State was just over 10%, half a century later it was what demographers deem "statistically insignificant" i.e. under 2 1/2 per cent. (At the same time, the Nationalist/Catholic population in NI was going the other way).

Therefore even if Nationalism can maximise its own traditional vote (highly unlikely imo), it still has no hope of achieving a 50%+ majority, so long as the broader Unionist vote holds up and turns out (highly likely imo).

Which is where the paradox comes in. For every time Nationalism (esp SF) stokes up the temperature* on this issue in order to maximise their own vote, it only causes the Unionist vote to stiffen round the flag.

Which ultimately means that if Nationalism is to woo the persuadeable Unionist voters whom they need, it won't be by castigating them or telling them where they're wrong, mere honeyed words won't be enough. They will also need to demonstrate good faith behind their words, by contributing to good government at Stormont etc, at least while NI is in the UK.

Yet if they do contribute sincerely  and consistently to making NI work to demonstrate their bona fides, that will only make Nationalist waverers less likely to vote for change, while Unionists will conclude that with NI now working better, why should they vote against it?

Above all, the more successful SF is in the Republic, the more determined Unionists will be to vote to remain in the UK, since there is no way on earth that they (including me!) will ever trust our future to a UI political system which could ultimately be dominated by Shinners like the Gerrys Adams and Kelly, none whatever.





* - You know, Barry McElduff and Kingsmills, the Bobby Storey funeral, or Martina Anderson's latest "Brits Out!" outburst etc.

Crikey, is that you Christopher? Its certainly almost the same arguments Mc Gimpey used back at that talk in the late 90's.

Your argument is well thought out but flawed in the same way Chris's was back 20 odd years ago.   

You can't predict the future. Surely if you have learnt anything from the last 10 years or so is that ANYTHING can happen.

To state the middle ground or for that matter Unionists cannot sway towards a UI is simply untrue. You cannot predict what factors might sway people. e.g. a massive economic downturn in Ni due to Brexit or Scottish independence to name 2 possible scenarios.

That northern Nationalists cannot maximise their votes in probably thee most important vote they will ever take part in is also wrong.

The debate for a United Ireland hasn't even started! 

Rather than enter the debate you've chosen to do what Chris and Unionists have done for a generations. Rubbish and ridicule the idea and bury your head in the sand.

What have Unionists done to encourage Nationalists/Republicans to stay within the Union?

You've took the line that they don't need to bother. Nationalists are quite happy with the status quo... they have too much to lose in a UI scenario... I think that is all up for debate and we haven't even begun that yet.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2021, 06:13:50 PM by grounded »

Evil Genius

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Re: A United Ireland - The Nationalist Paradox
« Reply #28 on: April 07, 2021, 06:17:00 PM »
You make some very valid points in that opening post although I'm not sure that it warranted a separate thread of it's own given that there is enough discussion around these matters in other threads.
I started a new thread precisely because all the other threads were ignoring the point I want to make (the Paradox)

Broadly speaking the vote is split 40-40-20 where the 20% is other non designated non nationalist-unionist voters. Guessing exactly how the middle of the road voters will vote is anyones guess but will be decided on by a whole multitude of factors including all of the factors you mention and the possibility of some external black swan event like Brexit or Scottish Indy.
I've stated why I think a majority of those middle-of-the-road voters will stick with the Union. Which along with the solid 40% Unionist vote, will be insufficient to cause the SoS to order a Referendum, never mind see the Nationalists win it.

Of course if you have evidence to the contrary, then fire away. But by "evidence" I mean things like election results and opinion polls, not some vague "Sure it's inevitable/direction of travel/one last push" musings which may suit your case, but don't reflect the facts.

I would like to know how do you define 'stoking up the temperature'? Is talking about a border poll considered to be stoking up the temperature? Should nationalist constantly walk on eggshells for fear of upsetting unionists - I think any open minded soft unionists would be mildly surprised at just how they are treated in a new Ireland. If any lessons are to be learned from how nationalists were treated in the north post partition then this should not be an issue.
Of course you may talk about it. But you also need something to say. And even should you find the right words, you cannot afford to have those words discredited and shown to be insincere by stunts like the Bobby Storey funeral, which only serve to stoke up the atmosphere.

And all that's before you get to listen to what Unionists have to say. At which point, you should be prepared to hear things that won't please you (we're back to Storey again).

You also state that nationalism needs to contribute to good government in Stormont to prove their credentials to Unionism. Well looking at the events of the last week with the rioting and the undermining of law and order, I think this is slightly ironic. Loyalism and unionism are doing a good enough enough job at turning away any potential FDI suitors and it certainly won't be used as a marketing tool by the NI tourist board either.
I'm not claiming that these "Loyalist" scumbags are any better than "Themmuns" - they're not.

Nor do I think that Unionist politicians are handling events any better than their Nationalist counterparts - they haven't.

But that's not the point. For whether it be UDA hoods rioting in Sandy Row, or Arlene blethering away in Stormont, neither is causing the general Unionist population to say: "Sod it, maybe we would be better off in a United Ireland after all", any more than SF shenanigans cause Nationalist voters to cross over the other way.

But on the basis that it will take a section of the Unionist population to change allegiance for a UI to come about, then Nationalism, esp of the Shinner variety, needs to understand just how feared and even reviled Nationalism is, in its most extreme forms at least.

And a good start would be for SF to just accept that NI exists for the moment and for the sake of all the people, address normal socio-economic politics like a normal political party, rather than forever reverting to type with the old "Brits Out!" mantra.

Hell, even the ability to say "Northern Ireland" once in a while would be nice.

(And before anyone else comes back with a demand for reciprocal respect from Unionists etc, which itself is entirely reasonable, just remember that while all these Orange and Green, Us and Them, Whataboutery politics are going on, NI remains within the Union, as it has done for 100 years.)

Finally, you reference the potential of Gerry Adams and Gerry Kelly being in government in the south and how this would cause you to vote to stay within the union. However the increase in the SF vote in the south has got a minimal amount to do with their UI policy but is more of a result of social issues like housing and a strike back against the perception of a political system skewed in favour of big business and cronyism. It is being led by a generation mostly under the age of 40 who know or care little for the troubles and which they can barely remember. I can understand that there is an element of the older generation who will struggle to move on from that but by the time any border poll takes place I'd hazard a guess that Gerry Adams and Gerry Kelly will be left the stage.
It doesn't matter to Unionists why people in ROI vote for SF, it only matters that they do. So that if they ever get into a position of real power and influence in the Dail, then that's when Unionism reaches for the 40 foot pole.

Now I'm sorry if that offends ordinary SF voters on here and elsewhere, but whether right or wrong, you have to appreciate that even ordinary Unionists are at least as repelled by SF as eg ordinary Nationalists are by the DUP.

And the only people who can begin to change that are SF/Nationalists generally.

Otherwise the status quo in NI remains.

"If you come in here again, you'd better bring guns"
"We don't need guns"
"Yes you fuckin' do"

Eamonnca1

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Re: A United Ireland - The Nationalist Paradox
« Reply #29 on: April 07, 2021, 06:20:25 PM »
Reading through some of the other threads on here (SF gone away, Voting in Border Poll, SDLP, Leo V etc), I am reminded of the witty aphorism usually attributed to Brendan Behan, that whenever Nationalists meet, the first item on the Agenda is always "The Split"  :D

But for all the amusement to be derived from seeing 40 Shades of Green cutting stripes out of each other, what is more pertinent is that not one of you seem to get the point, which is this.

Frankly, it doesn't matter one jot how many times eg SF demand a Border Poll; or some Southern politician announces a 'road map' to Unification; or how detached Westminster is from NI; or how much pressure comes from Washington or Brussels (or anywhere else, for that matter).

For since the GFA, the Constitutional future of NI is solely in the hands of the people of NI and no-one else. Further, it is only a majority who will ever decide, whether to stay within the UK, or join a UI. All else is bluster and flannel.

And for the people to be entitled to a Referendum, then it will require the SoS for NI to be of the opinion that there may exist a majority for Unity amongst the electorate.

Which means he/she has to look first to how that electorate might vote. Basically speaking, there are two pointers.

The first is to look at voting patterns in recent elections. And as eminent psephologist Prof. Brendan O'Leary pointed out at a SF Fund Raising event in NYC no less(!) a while back, ever since the turn of the century, the "Nationalist" vote in NI, as measured by SF, SDLP and various minor parties, has plateaued at around 42-43%. Moreover, O'Leary opined that he couldn't see that changing in the foreseeable future.

Now it is fair to say that the "Unionist" vote (DUP, UUP, TUV etc) is not any higher. But if Nationalism is to get over the line, it has to muster the bulk of the "Others" (Alliance, Greens, Independents etc) to their cause. Yet if you look at their votes, they are overwhelmingly drawn from Unionist-leaning areas (East Belfast, North Down etc). Therefore in the event of a Referendum, one might expect those of them who did bother to vote, to be Unionist.

Of course, that whole  vote-counting exercise is arguably a misleading one, for a number of reasons. First, people vote in elections (esp local) for individual candidates for a variety of reasons - the candidate may have a personal following; there may be a local issue which skews the vote; custom and habit; or tactical considerations ("keep Themmuns out"). Consequently a vote for a given party may not exactly reflect an individual's preference in a border poll.

And that's only those who actually bother to vote! Many, of course, never go near the voting booth, either because they're disaffected by the political process; or feel they have better things to do; or because they realise that in a heavy Unionist or Nationalist area, their individual vote won't make the slightest bit of difference.

However, as eg Brexit or the last Scottish Referendum showed, in a binary poll like we're talking about, individual votes do make a difference, meaning that many "non-voters" may be tempted to turn out this time.

So if we should be very suspicious of past elections as a guide to which way a Border Poll might go, where do we look? The answer has to be Opinion Polls. Now I know that how the question is asked can often determine the answer which is received etc, and that not all such opinion polls are entirely consistent. Nonetheless, the clear consensus basically since the GFA is that a clear majority (i.e. well over 50% +1) would vote to remain.

Why should this be? Basically because Referenda are at least as much about Identity as they are about the usual political and socio-economic factors which determine elections. And the whole point is Brexit notwithstanding, many in the Nationalist community are broadly satisfied that their Irish identity is now tolerably well recognised and protected, meaning that they are more likely to be concerned about Pensions, NHS, government jobs, DLA etc in such a vote, meaning that many will abstain, or even vote to remain - who needs the disruption, uncertainty, even chaos which might ensue from a UI vote?

Whereas Unionists look at this very differently. Namely, the only way they can preserve their own Identity is by voting to remain in the UK. For at its simplest, if there is no Union, there can be no Unionists, and if they're no longer in the UK, they can no longer be British.

And no amount of assurances of a post-UI state being a "warm house for Unionists" will persuade them to take a chance on it, why should they? It is still remembered that in 1921, the Unionist/Protestant population of the Free State was just over 10%, half a century later it was what demographers deem "statistically insignificant" i.e. under 2 1/2 per cent. (At the same time, the Nationalist/Catholic population in NI was going the other way).

Therefore even if Nationalism can maximise its own traditional vote (highly unlikely imo), it still has no hope of achieving a 50%+ majority, so long as the broader Unionist vote holds up and turns out (highly likely imo).

Which is where the paradox comes in. For every time Nationalism (esp SF) stokes up the temperature* on this issue in order to maximise their own vote, it only causes the Unionist vote to stiffen round the flag.

Which ultimately means that if Nationalism is to woo the persuadeable Unionist voters whom they need, it won't be by castigating them or telling them where they're wrong, mere honeyed words won't be enough. They will also need to demonstrate good faith behind their words, by contributing to good government at Stormont etc, at least while NI is in the UK.

Yet if they do contribute sincerely  and consistently to making NI work to demonstrate their bona fides, that will only make Nationalist waverers less likely to vote for change, while Unionists will conclude that with NI now working better, why should they vote against it?

Above all, the more successful SF is in the Republic, the more determined Unionists will be to vote to remain in the UK, since there is no way on earth that they (including me!) will ever trust our future to a UI political system which could ultimately be dominated by Shinners like the Gerrys Adams and Kelly, none whatever.





* - You know, Barry McElduff and Kingsmills, the Bobby Storey funeral, or Martina Anderson's latest "Brits Out!" outburst etc.

Interesting post. A number of points:

1 - There are nuances within nationalism, just as there are nuances within unionism. How many protestant religious denominations are there? How many loyalist paramilitary groupings are there? How many unionist parties are there? How many fraternal marching organizations are there? In all cases, it's a lot more than one!

2 - Supposed nationalist ambivalence about the constitutional position is not something unionism should take for granted. Yes, there are many nationalists who are kinda content with with the constitutional arrangement, but the almost daily rantings of Jim Allister on Nolan, continued hostility to even any mild expression of the island's indigenous culture, and the annual marching season, are pretty effective at keeping nationalists reminded that at the end of the day, the state was not set up with them in mind and that reunification of the island remains the ultimate goal. If unionism wants nationalism to become more comfortable with the union, the great service they get from the NHS is all well and good, but they might want to think about dialing the bigotry down a few notches.

3 - I've heard this "bloodless genocide" claim about southern protestants before, but anyone who has actually looked into the "plight" of southern protestants has found them doing pretty well. They're over-represented in higher paying professions, for one thing. The proportion of protestants living in the free state has decreased, but I very much doubt that it's because of anything sinister. As the census shows, the proportion of protestants living in the north has also been in a steady decline, but a lot of that is down to historically higher fertility rates among nationalists (leveling off now that they're becoming more affluent) and an increase in the number of 'others' living in the place. Also, of the people from NI who go to places like England for university, nationalists are more likely to come back than unionists.

4 - SF topping the poll in DŠil elections? I wouldn't worry too much about that. The days are gone when free-state parties of any stripe would win an outright majority. SF are still too toxic for most potential coalition partners. Yes it's hypocritical of FF/FG to support power-sharing in the north while refusing to consider SF to be fit for government in the south, but there it is. If anything, a million northern prods would be the perfect counter-balance to any potential domination of SF over politics in a reunified Ireland. A million northern prods would also have a lot more influence in an all-Ireland parliament than they have at Westminster, that's for sure.

5 - You are correct that it's in the best interests of nationalists to make NI work through better governance, but I think the SDLP are better equipped to deliver on that than SF. Thankfully they have a say in the matter thanks to the power-sharing arrangement, so we'll see how that plays out.

6 - I agree that banging on about a border poll is a bit premature. A border poll strikes me as being far down the list of things that need to happen between now and reunification. Per point 5, the economy of the north needs to be restructured so that it gets off what I call the "begging bowl economics" business model and becomes more self sufficient. And yes, that might undermine nationalist sense of urgency for a united Ireland were it to happen, but that would be countered by the constant stream of unionist bigotry in point 2 above.