THE fixation on how unionism feels about the state of unionism in the union continues.
In the latest installment we are asked to emotionally invest in a letter written by a loyalist blogger threatening mass protest at any resumption of the local Assembly, the response by the DUP leader which is to say “I wont be bullied”, and the calling of an unscheduled DUP meeting. Our collective breath is held in anticipation. Or not. Of course, we could indulge all of this. Or choose not to.
Unionism loves the smell of a mass protest in the morning. Resurrecting the corpse of Carson and his rallies is always a winner for those who like to pretend that when we speak of the UVF glorious deeds we speak of a “respectable” past, rather than the murder on which this State was founded. For others doing a séance with the zombies of 1974’s “Ulster Strike” is a bit harder core, knowing that it ties the protest imagination to Balaclava Men at checkpoints threatening immediate murder when threatened with modest democratic change. Other fanatics love the idea of projecting leaders of Unionism shouting “Never Never Never Never” at Belfast’s City Hall in 1985 to the imaginations of a united unionism. Ah yes, a mass protest of Unionist Kanuts always appeals. The gander is always risen.
But of course the cold light of day does beg the question to whom will any such protest truly appeal? Since 1985 Unionism has lost every single battle which has required a clarion call. The Ulster Says No spectacle may stir Loyal Ulster’s stirrables but the Anglo Irish Agreement went ahead and Dublin’s role grows and grows unstoppably. Belfast is a nationalist city now and is stopping for no one.
I’ve spoken to people who say Jeffrey Donaldson is being led by the nose; and others who say he isn’t. But there is a very clear perception that the DUP is under considerable pressure from elements outside the party. And he is the only person who can alter/end that perception. https://t.co/0jt2tWiVZ1— Alex.Kane (@AlexKane221b) October 2, 2023
Jeffrey Donaldson facing down the Bin Lid Blogger is interesting, and long overdue, if in fact that is what he is doing. He may in reality be only addressing some of the humiliating accusations being levelled at his leadership, that he is being led by the nose by loyalist mouthpieces, and trying to look like he is not the weak ass that many believe him to be. Time will tell, but it is very late in the constitutional day to suddenly realise that he is losing his position, voice and his precious union at breakneck speed.
And we could all delve into the personalities of the DUP and try to figure out their internal wranglings as if they mean anything at all other than noise. And my goodness many encourage us to.
But noise is all it is. The vast majority of the rest of us do not see our concerns, tensions or interests examined in nearly as much detail as these contrivances. And the DUP and loyalism is rarely held to account for ignoring and dismissing the majority’s interests nearly as much as they should be.
The real debate is whether Stormont is worth saving. Yes, it can mitigate some harms in the here and now, but can it do more? The resolution of the huge issues facing us, housing, health, policing, the environment and much more, are tied to the long-term future of this island, and its constitutional status, and membership of the EU. That is the majority interest, and necessary conversation. Not the latest conniptions of dying political unionism.