Union Flag Row: Sophisticated argument from liberal unionism/lets get alongerists for croppies to lie down?

If you are like myself, you are probably starting to tire of this ongoing astro-turf uprising in Belfast and across the North where unionism is throwing a fit over a vote taken by Belfast City Council (BCC) for the union flag to be flown on designated days as is the case over Parliament buildings at Stormont or at Lisburn City Council (LCC) which is predominately controlled by unionists and only a few miles down the road from Belfast.

To say that I and many other commentators have discussed the above at length would be an understatement to say the least! I’ve covered it here, herehere and even here a little! The brief recap is that after the vote was taken and the motion above was passed working class unionism has orchestrated demonstrations and often violence in Belfast, Carrickfergus, Armagh, Bangor and elsewhere with death threats being issued against members of the Alliance Party (APNI) including the burning of their constituency office in Carrickfergus.

While Nationalist politicians have come out calling for this violence to be brought to a halt, we have had what can only be described as pretty pathetic responses from political unionism in line with the calls for ‘civil disobedience‘ that we saw from Nelson McCausland during the trouble we saw in Belfast over the summer.

As FJH has noted over on his own site, APNI is not really a party that rolls its sleeves up and does politics, Northern style. They are often allowed to fly under the radar and, in my opinion, come out with soundbites which are largely left unchecked or probed by the Mainstream Media (MSM) or other parties as APNI is not large enough to really effect change outside of the Greater Belfast Metropolitan area. For instance, they have no representation in the Assembly from West of the Bann.

Ian Parsley (IJP) has a rather interesting post on his own site where he details what he believes David Ford should have said at the Assembly and ties this in with ongoing discussions surrounding the Programme for a Shared Future/CSI between all of the parties. At present APNI has left the talks as it is not happy with the direction of the talks. In our discussion I noted that the problem I and many others have with APNI is that they do not provide detailed proposals for what they want, instead they release statements which people largely agree with (mom and apple pie stuff) as they seem not to want to insult or annoy liberal unionists and nationalists. He largely agreed with this contention and will provide some details in the near future, however, as you can imagine he is very busy at the moment and I wish him and his colleagues a speedy return to normality.

However, if we contrast IJP’s post where he has noted that we should try and sort out ALL of this trouble surrounding cultural expressions so that we no longer have violence on our streets and the scenes of lawlessness in the streets, we have a very different message coming from Ed Curran of the Belfast Telegraph and Gerry Lynch over on Slugger O’Toole (SOT), former member of APNI.

Let’s start with Ed over at the Bele Tele. All of the violence seen on the streets in the North is at the hands of unionist violence yet the title of his piece is ‘Sinn Fein’s prodding on flags only heightens fear‘. You would almost think that SF ed curranhad orchestrated this violence rather than being one of 3 parties that voted for the motion. In fact SF noted it was open to compromise from the outset while the seemingly more liberal SDLP wanted the flag taken down in it’s entirety (which is in line with my own beliefs btw), but lets not have facts on the ground get in the way of the narrative, right?

The raw politics of Belfast City Hall destroy that illusion. Sinn Fein appears to unionists to be hell-bent on dismantling British culture and, at times, oblivious to the attitude of the wider unionist community.

Yet, as Jude Collins has quite rightly pointed out, City Hall is teeming with British paraphernalia, it is a very warm house to all things pro-union. We are merely talking about bringing the flying of the union flag into line with what LCC has agreed to do (a unionist controlled council) and is the case with Stormont also. The flag still flies, only on designated days.

Northern Ireland will not go forward in the way that it should unless Sinn Fein tempers its ways. It may be under pressure from dissident republicans to demonstrate a tough line with unionists but it must not forget that it is in partnership in a country where a majority of people still see themselves as British. Northern Ireland’s wider image is tarnished yet again. It will be damaged further if unionists cannot demonstrate cooler heads.’

This is very true. The fact that SF and the SDLP did temper its ways by voting for a compromise shows unionist anger up for being as baseless as we all know. But of course, Ed is a unionist and doesn’t like what he sees.

Sinn Fein councillors in Belfast may congratulate themselves on scoring a knock-down in the perpetual boxing match with unionism. In raising the flags issue in the way that they did – especially on the eve of Christmas – they have hurt the feelings of even the most moderate unionists. That approach will take this community nowhere fast.

Hurt the feelings of unionists? Boo hoo! It must be remembered that political unionism whipped up resentment when it could have quite easily noted SF and the SDLP’s original intentions and that a compromise had now been made where Nationalist parties had agreed to the flying of the union flag in Belfast. Yet, as always, political unionism seems to pull a massive defeat from the jaws of victory and compromise.

Further, when would have been a good time to have this vote? Blaming the timing is a mere smoke screen and de facto condones the violence that has been whipped up. The fact that the flags issue in its current guise has actually been raised by political unionism is of course overlooked, he wouldn’t want to actually face up to the responsibility for this violence that his political representatives are liable for which is nothing new from unionism.

Over on SOT, Gerry is quite angry with what he has seen over the past days and gerry lynchis not too happy with the Agreement we have in the North:

This was not what I was promised from the new Northern Ireland. In that at least, both the middle-aged woman with her placard and I agree. I don’t think anyone expected it to be perfect. But we all expected a lot better than this. The problem is that we were all sold different interpretations of what the new dispensation meant. We are all learning that reality is not quite as advertised. On the political fringes, the disappointment is acute.

The piece makes for fascinating reading. I fully understand his anger, however, I have to step back a little and well, laugh. Why? It is so unbelievably naive for one. Aside from the fact that he uses it as a weapon to attack the DUP and SF for selling ‘lies’ to their respective followers. I don’t buy this for one moment, nor do I buy his other assertions such as:

i) ‘Sinn Féin pretended to its supporters that there was a simple and rapid route to reunification because a Catholic majority was inevitable and coming quickly’. 

This is quite funny and as a Nat from a staunchly Republican background this is news to me and probably many others.

ii) ‘The Alliance Party will soon hold the balance of power across Northern Ireland as it already does in Belfast.

Really? They have nothing West of the Bann, does Gerry know something we don’t?

Where is his criticism of the largest parties during the negotiations; the SDLP and UUP? What about the loudest cheerleaders of all, APNI? You’ve guessed it,timble hume bono there is none whatsoever because that would be rather inconvenient and when blaming someone in the North commentators feel the need to counter-balance it and show how the others are just as bad.

Gerry is suffering from buyers remorse, however, this begs the question, what did Gerry et al really think they were sold? Did they not read the fine print? Have they not paid attention over the past decade or so at what was happening in the North or is he more disappointed that his ‘good guys’ aren’t really the winners?

So, what does Gerry prescribe to sort out this synthetic anger in Belfast?

Here’s a modest proposal – we all accept that the status quo is not going to change on the difficult issues of public national identity for 10 years, until we get this ‘Decade of Centenaries’ over us. Clyde Valley and the Easter Rising have too many resonances for the young and hot-headed just at the moment. So, until this is over us, why don’t we park the balance of power, while we unpark the difficult cultural conversations. No less parades, no more parades. Where they get through, they get through and where they’re rerouted, they’re rerouted. No less Irish language, no more Irish language. Controversial renamings of council facilities end.

Hmmmm. Let’s bury our heads in the sand and hope to god that the next generation can deal with it because Gerry believes that we should leave these more violencematters alone and:

[l]et the younger and less tribalised to come to a decision on these matters in the fullness of time.

Are you sure that they will be less tribalised Gerry or are you speculating and hoping against hope that by kicking the can down the line that this will be the case? As was noted previously, BCC and other major buildings in the North are pretty warm places for unionism.

We are supposed to have parity of esteem with regard to cultural expressions in the North between the two main, historic ethno-communities yet Gerry says we should just forget about that for fear of antagonising one another. At the moment, the placing of an Irish Christmas Greeting in one of the windows of City Hall is gravely offensive to some unionists, why I have really no idea but I have noted their policies or opinions on the use of Irish and how unionism has made it into a massively political issue.

So, what’s the reason that I have used the ‘croppie lie down’ insult in my title then? Well, at the moment we have a state that does not have parity of esteem between the two main communities in relation to cultural expression. We have one community whose culture in the main seems comprised of reminding their neighbours who there are fewer of that they are going to hell due to following the ‘anti-christ’ or that they have won an earlier political settlement and this flows into wanting to quash any expressions of the Irish identity by a sizeable minority as simply abhorrent.

Meanwhile, Nats whether politicians, voters or activists are being asked by Gerry and Ed to be wary of what they want, that we should not ask for any more violenceIrish Language rights or contest parades that we find disgusting attempts to by thugs to essentially take over areas in which we live and ‘remind us’ of our place in the state. I’m sorry but that’s not going to happen and nor should it.

I appreciate that Gerry and his friends are having to face orchestrated violence at the moment, something no one should have to face nowadays, however, his piece smacks of someone who is unwilling to actually face down these problems and just hopes that they will go away. We know that in real life problems need to be tackled, not ignored, and this is also the case in a country coming from a civil war situation too. It shows a lack of back bone on his part too that he would suggest anything like this and, without wishing to get personal, is probably one of the reasons why he didn’t get elected when he stood for election.

I suspect Robbo knows that these problems will not go away, that the demographics are turning against his brand of unionism and if he wants to keep up the pretense for a little longer he will need to strike a grand bargain with Nats sooner rather than later, otherwise it may be a death for cultural ‘British’ symbolism in the North by a thousand cuts.


28 responses to “Union Flag Row: Sophisticated argument from liberal unionism/lets get alongerists for croppies to lie down?

  1. The dust has not settled and while the Alliance Party are still under threat, I feel it is difficult for me to say what I really think. But their occasional member Ian Parsley and former staffer Gerry Lynch have chosen to speak out and their comments are over the top. My view remains that they got it completely wrong over the flegs issue. It might well have been a great compromise and even one in line with general party policy……but just how many of those six councillors would have taken that decision knowing the stress it would put not just themselves under…….but also colleagues in other towns.
    Two things….yes they have been under the radar and made an art form out of being a non-political political party. There is an old English joke from the 1970s “Im not interested in politics….I vote Liberal”.
    That seems to be the same with the Alliance party. “Im not interested in politics…I vote Alliance”.
    And rather like the Lib Dems in Britain made the most political decision they made in eighty odd years…going into coalition with the Tories….so too ten days ago, six Alliance councillors made the most political decision they ever made.
    And both Nick Clegg and David Ford are feeling the heat…obviously different kinds of pressure.
    Because rather like Lib Dems clean up seats on the basis that they attract Labour voters in unwinnable seats (and Tory voters in Labour seats)….thats also Alliances way of operating. No Nationalist quotas in east Belfast, North Down, Strangford, Lagan Valley and thats where the nationalist votes end up thru transfers .
    They are always perceived as unionist-lite (a combination of liberal unionist and Catholic voters). They are ……harmless….like fluffy kittens. Thats the image they project.
    Yet with two councillors in Belfast they could be facilators….and even pick up a disproportionate pickings. David Cook (AP) was Mayor of Belfast twenty years before Alban Magennis (the first nationalist).
    But give them real “power” in council …six seats and thats completely different.
    DUP was always likely to blow them out of the water when the time was right….especially in East Belfast.
    I am not for one minute suggesting that they should change a vote because of the consequences to them personally. But Im pretty convinced they never factored in the same consequences.
    The panic in the media and in some websites is obvious. The tactic seemed to be to build up the middle ground by chipping away and undermining SDLP and UUP…to leave three power blocks.
    And while UUP and SDLP were both in decline there was some degree of hope…..but SDLP has rallied….and UUP is a basket case…….and the signs were taht they were picking up too many liberal unionists and not enough nationalists.
    This unbalances them. The likely implosion of UUP……some going DUP some staying as a rump and some going to Alliance or Conservatives will further unbalance Alliance and I can certainly see pressure in five years to re-label themselves as unionist.

    • Well, I did send a link to Gerry for a right of reply and he believes I’m sitting on a very high horse as opposed to providing an answer for his piece, alas, c’est la vie I suppose.

      I think you are essentially right about some APNI affiliated commentators going slightly over the top and talking as if the North now is like it was say during all the trouble surrounding Drumcree in the mid to late 90s, this simply isn’t the case and most people know it.

      The past few days have been quite interesting viewing, however, that said who are the winners and losers in this instance? Nats? Not a bad few days, have showed they are a growing demographic and that their ethno group are younger. Unionists, bad fortnight made worse by Robbo’s ‘Kafflik Outreach’, it has made him seem completely ridiculous, more so that usual.

      As for APNI, I still don’t know how this will play out for them and it is way too early, but at times I think they may get hit for what they have done. Further, they are being scrutinised now more than they are probably used to, they have been forced to make a shout, one way or the other and they are unfortunately paying a very heavy price.

      On the SDLP, I do see them doing a bit better, seeming a lot more coherent and most importantly, confident! I hope you guys start picking up the garden centre Nats, who knows?

  2. A very good analysis. In relation to the AP a couple of thoughts.

    The recent Assembly election places the Alliance at 07.70%.
    I wonder how much of that Alliance vote can be detected in the 2011 Census?

    00.66% = British and Irish only
    06.17% = British and Northern Irish only
    01.02% = British, Irish and Northern Irish only

    = 07.85%

    Of course there can be no direct one-for-one equivalency in these percentages but it is perhaps indicative of where the AP vote lies.

    Is the recent increase to 11% in the BelTel poll reflective of a reaching out to the below numbers?

    20.94% = Northern Irish only
    05.00% = Other

    Or to this one?

    39.89% = British only

    • Thanks SOS.

      I am always wary of comments from the MSM or SOT or in fact most based in South Belfast or thereabouts; it is a true bubble that is not like most of the North tbh and is probably the last place you will be able to find any clues for what will happen elsewhere in the North.

      I know a few people who vote for them or are sympathetic to their cause and in all honesty, FJH got it right when he noted the 70s joke about the Liberals; these are people uninterested with politics when it comes to the nitty gritty or the machinations.

      I would love to see a breakdown of their vote and even if someone could get some reasons behind it but I suspect that may be very costly and prohibitive. Whilst I see the figures and reasoning behind their use again, it may be for nowt and merely show that we can find numbers in the census which seemingly correspond with our own biases and be empirically useless or incorrect.

      Are Strategem or the Innocent Chocolate Money guys doing or have done a study on this? Would be good to see some numbers

      • I agree absolutely. The figures I’ve thrown out over the last few days in relation to the census returns are little more than extremely rough indicators of where vote patterns and identities may (possibly) lie but no more than that. They can’t be taken seriously. There are no one-to-one equivalents. But it should point Nationalists/Republicans in the right direction of taking the census results and trying to place them in an electoral context. What we need is a drill-down into the numbers when the second set of figures are released next year. But that, as you say, would be a costly exercise. Yet one that could pay real dividends for electoral strategists in SF or the SDLP. Its certainly the sort of thing they are doing in the US, on both the Republican and Democrat sides.

        For fun I will compare first preference votes for parties in the 2011 Assembly elections to the 2011 census in the next few days. No doubt some patterns might emerge but yet again they cannot be taken too seriously.

      • SOS,

        I can see some use in this exercise, yes, BUT, I wonder how much use is it and how close to the truth you may be? Not wishing to get into a massive tangent but I don’t know if you have ever read the very popular book by Nassim Taleb called ‘The Black Swan’? In it he discusses the problems with the economy, finance etc. and the trouble with something called ‘Confirmation Bias’ where in essence someone like you or I (or in fact anyone and usually everyone) have a known bias and the results ‘prove’ our theory when in reality the results do not prove our theory but we merely happen to be right but for the wrong reasons.

        There would be a massive scope for someone to do detailed research on this matter up North, yet I wonder if anyone has the money and whether they could ever be trusted (NILT anyone?).

    • Thanks Hobo. I wonder where he will be off to then? McAllister next?

      Would be interesting to see if these guys could join forces with Sylvia Hermon and a few others of the same ilk and maybe create something where this demo or interest group could provide a voice for liberals or civil unionists who are more big u than small u unionists.

      • @footballcliches,

        I’ve heard of Nassim Taleb and a little bit about his general theories though I haven’t read The Black Swan. As I understand it he is quiet critical of statisticians and statistical science in general? On the other hand we have the likes of Nate Silver in the NYT who has proved even his fiercest critics wrong with his careful use of polling figures.

        So yes, lies, damned lies and statistics 😉

        But as I said my playing around with the census figures are just some interesting postulations and shouldn’t be taken too seriously. It needs expert work and more data than we have to start making any sort of educated deductions or extrapolations.

        The redoubtable Bangordub might be the man for that job 😀

        In relation to the UUP, how much longer can it go on? Nesbitt is a disaster as a leader, especially his TV turns (ironically enough). He always looks so damned uncomfortable, squirming and grimacing, and the body language is frequently hostile or dismissive.

        And what will happen to the AP if ex-UUPs and others starting drifting in? From small “u” to slightly bigger “u”?

        It’s assumed by many that the AP will be electoral winners out of the flag troubles but I wonder…?

      • SOS,

        He (Taleb) is somewhat complicated in that he rails against relying solely on statisticians and their work too much and how they really don’t know much about unknown unknowns, ie Black Swan events. His book is an interesting read.

        APNI, I originally thought they might do very well out of this latest trouble, but after listening to FJH and pondering the matter some more I honestly do not know, it could go either way for them.

        Mike is absolutely atrocious as a leader; tetchy, dismissive, reactionary and awful in front of the camera, he is completely unconstructive and I don’t fancy the UUP to be around in any seriuos way, shape or form in 10 years time. TBH, Tom Elliot seems infinitely better and more personable than Mike, which amazes me

  3. fc,

    Good analysis, the only thing I would add is the ambiguity in built into the GFA-Peace Process and what it means for Ulster is perhaps beggining to fall away with the very straight bat being played by the new Secretary of State as she brushed off suggestions that Ulster’s Britishness was being diminished and saying it was up to the local politicians to decide.

    I think it is a little disingenuous to suggest that SF did not deliberately try to give the impression that a UI could be seen on the horizon (e.g. with Gerry’s in my lifetime remarks) but after what are (for me at least) very disappointing census results, in relation ot the question of National identity, it has been a bad week not only for Unionism (who perhaps have not ealised that the cultural-symbols-malarkey is probably only going to get worse for them) but also for Nationalism.

    • Hi Sammy, I haven’t heard from you in a while, I hope you are well.

      Allow me to tackle a few points in some kind of order.

      From where I am sitting, De Villiers appears to be somewhat anonymous. Now, that may be due to the MSM and her wanting to keep a low profile, but in all honesty she seems fairly low key and not that big a mover say compared to any of her predecessors. Whilst she may be saying that the decision does not diminish the ‘Britishness’ of people, I honestly do not feel that any one really gives a damn what she thinks. If I am not mistaken, David Ford has noted that DC has not answered or replied to his calls re the trouble and DC’s pro-consul then appears to lack authority due to DC’s apparent disinterest in all things Norn Iron. Now, I may be incorrect and you guys can tell me so or keep me in line, but it does contrast massively with DC launching that merger a few years ago.

      Regarding SF and the timescale, I note I never said that it couldn’t be seen on the horizon, however, I do believe there is some nuance lacking in your judgement. I do see some kind of vote and change to our constitutional position in the next 15 years (economics permitting of course, yours and my little bug bear :)) and in all fairness, any time I have spoken to republicans or shinners it was never of the deluded variety; after all, Nats play the longest of all games, right?

      As for the census results, I have said it before but I think you are perhaps being way too negative on this matter. I personally do not see someone who self describes as ‘Northern Irish’ as being a unionist necessarily and I always place the vast majority of weight on electoral results, it really is the only poll I judge tbh. I do not pretend that a UI will not be a massive challenge and you are asking people to jump into the unknown, however, the quality of life down in the South has been better (even during this massive depression) for professionals compared to whatever is on the go up North for a considerable period of time and a recession has not hanged that in the main. I am sorry, but you cannot convince me otherwise as I have lived in both places and was offered considerably more in the South, as have a lot of my friends.

      I see the NHS or something along those lines as being a massive hurdle (aside from debt, pensions, welfare to name but a few ) and this has been articulated to me very often by people who would love a UI but will not vote for it at the moment.

  4. fc,

    Good thanks – I have been taking my eye of the Ulster poltical football of late…

    re. “I honestly do not feel that any one really gives a damn what she thinks. If I am not mistaken”

    If the security situation deterioriates (with flags etc) then the attitude of the SOS will become increasingly central. There is a danger, and particualrly with a Tory governement, that they can interpet GFA ambiguity in a way the suits Unionists more than Nats.

    In relation to the census results – over on Bangbordub’s I suggested 2 things would happen. Firslty the % saying they were Irish would be disappointgly low – its much worse than I thought and secondly Nats would be in denial about what the low % stating they were Irish indicates – I think that has also come to pass – the fact that electoral results are more important is a separate issue, this was a bad week for Nats.

    • Sammy,

      TBF, while she can come out and be all ‘tory’ about the whole thing (ie. throwing her weight around and acting like a bull in a china shop if she so wishes) I really do not see it happening especially if she does not have cross community support for her actions. As FJH has discussed, we do have ‘political policing’ of sorts, to police the GFA and it has to be done in the ‘spirit’ of the Agreement otherwise the middle will fall.

      Regarding the census results, my problem with your analysis is this: you have not defined what being ‘Northern Irish’ means, nor have you proven that this is in fact a bad thing for Nats. I noted over on Jude Collins’ site (http://judecollinsjournalist.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/are-you-northern-irish.html) that in many ways after working in Dublin last year I would consider myself Northern Irish or a Notherner as Dubs like to call it. I am Irish, make no mistake; I want a UI too, however, I am different to Southerners and I am cool with that. Too much has happened and I and many others have a very different background from someone in Dalkey, Shannon or Carrick-on-Shannon, different politics, experiences etc.

      So, in essence, figure out who the Northern Irish are, what they want and who they ascribe to and then you may be slightly downbeat on the results or otherwise, however, I do feel you need to deliberately put some kind of nuance in your appraisal, for health reasons as well as political reasons of course :).

    • Also, great to hear from you Sammy, I have found that I have had to answer a loot of questions here in Aus regarding general Northern questions and topics which I do try to balance as much as possible in all honesty. It always amazes me how our little place still holds so much interest to so many people!

  5. fc,

    re. “So, in essence, figure out who the Northern Irish are, what they want and who they ascribe to and then you may be slightly downbeat on the results or otherwise, however, I do feel you need to deliberately put some kind of nuance in your appraisal, for health reasons as well as political reasons”

    Given the political scenario in Ulster the FACT that we have less than a third who wished to state their Nationality as Irish is very disappointing – are you honestly telling me that you are not disappointed by that stat?

    No fibbing or answering other questions – or else…

    We can speculate and guess about what Northern Irish means and there are a number of positive spins none of them I’m afraid really convincing and that leaves us the with headline figures on Nationality mitigated by the improving Catholic Background (allowing for the need to strip out the immigration numbers.)

    In relation to both health and politics I would strongly recommend swallowing your medicine when it is required – even if it is at times a little unpleasant…

    • Now now Sammy, no need to be so forward, I do always answer questions poised and with a straight bat :).

      Am I disappointed? Again yes and no. My answer above should give it away. Being ‘Northern Irish’ does not mean that you are also not Irish now, does it? Answer me straight on that one a chara.

      Again, if you are predisposed to the fact that ‘Northern Irish’ is short hand for unionist then yes, I would say you should be disappointed, however, as I clearly highlighted above that is not simply the case now is it? And election results, the very life blood of a democracy are the most telling in this score. It may give comfort or discomfort to many the results of a census but our destiny is decided by way of votes, plain and simple.

      The immigration numbers and the weight so many people put on them together with what way they vote, or even if they would vote, come a border poll always interests me. TBF, how many immigrants are there in the North? I would argue nowhere near as many as people may think (though who knows what people think, perception being more important on certain issues) Have they bothered to fill in a census form? Would they vote? Do they care?

      I know you are not for swaying on your opinion re the census, of course, to a certain extent, neither am I, however, for one of the first times in a while I have tried to simply look past the fairly simple labels (British and Irish) and try and figure out what the newish labels mean. Again, if all Nats = Irish and EVERYTHING else = Unionist then you are in the right, however, I simply don’t go along with it and would point to electoral results as part of my defence together with my experience.

    • Now now Sammy, an answer was forth coming which is the same one I have been using for a while, you need to define what being Northern Irish means and how it is not Irish in order to be disappointed. I, personally, equate it with being a ‘Northerner’ as most Dubs would call me; I am Irish but I am from the North and that’s fine with me.

    • Sammy,

      Apologies the delay with the reply, was holidaying in Southern Australia. Out of curiosity, were you approached by OU to come up with the post or did you suggest it?

    • Thanks Sammy, and a Happy New Year to you too.

      There isn’t too many unionists giving any kind of effective analysis on the matter, and I note there aren’t any comments so far (aside from my own) which is not a go at you btw but merely noting that unionists in general haven’t given up a decent analysis of the figures which I find very strange tbf.

      Now, they may say:

      i) they’re not concerned about numbers but they couldn’t say that with a straight face tbf; or
      ii) They’ve had a good census but again, it’s hard to believe that unless we follow your analysis and as I have noted, IMHO I find it to be incomplete as the main plank of it (the Northern Irish) has not been tackled.

      Needless to say, if you want to post anything over on here (not just on politics) just drop me a line.

  6. fc,

    I have replied in detail over on Open Unionism (comment awaiting moderation).

    Thank you for the offer of posting here – it would of course continue in the ‘contrary’ tradition.

  7. Is this a UVF flag that Jamie Bryson, spokesperson for the UPF and winner of 107 votes, is carrying? pic.twitter.com/C1EssoeP

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