Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Newton Emerson…And SDLP

Oscar Wilde had a way with words. So did Mark Twain. So …in his own way….does Newton Emerson.

Oscar Wilde said something about us lying in the gutter but some of us are looking up at the stars. Newton Emerson said nothing quite as inspirational.

I see Newt’s Wikipedia entry states that he describes himself as a “liberal unionist”. I see that someone is trying to update his wikipedia entry (21st October 2012)…hmmm.

“Liberal unionist” is a category of people who have achieved little in fifty odd years. Ultimately they are all have to make a choice. Liberalism or Unionism. And usually the issue is Civil Rights. Newt wont be the first self-described liberal unionist to have a crisis of conscience.

Which road will he choose? Well the bullish response to his brush with the headlines suggests he will bluff it out as a victim. An unlikely victim of “political correctness gone maaaaaaaaaaaad”. And that suggests that he might choose Unionism over Liberalism. To retain any credibility as a “liberal”, Newt would have to don some sackcloth and ashes and mumble a few “mea culpsa” (if he soesnt find the term objectionable).

A third course of action might be to learn to play the flute and apply to a Portadown band.

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde..it is better to be talked about than to not be talked about. So in an odd way the SDLP can take some satisfaction that Newton Emerson has been talking about them. And Peter Robinson too for that matter. The story of the past few weeks is that the SDLP is actually being talked about….it has made itself relevant. Whether its Parades, Nelson McCausland, Welfare Reform…..the SDLP is now much more part of the narrative.

Which brings me to Mark Twain……..who said that reports of his death were greatly exaggerated.

Reports of SDLPs terminal decline seem a bit exaggerated too.

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10 Responses to Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Newton Emerson…And SDLP

  1. sammymcnally says:

    In the absence of any Prods about the place I feel as someone with the name Sammy and a Red hand thingame about his (tinternet) personage, that I should say a few words in defence of Newt and Liberal Unionists.

    As I mentioned below, Unionists, even liberal* ones have difficulty with former ‘terrorists’ inside what was their tent and expecting to be treated as ‘normal’ politicans. Most Nationlaists are ok with the former insurgents ‘running the country’ because they see at least some legitimacy in the ‘armed struggle’ and indeed have rewarded its leaders with political office. What Newt’s remarks remind us of is that although most Unionists now accept the GFA and all that followed they did so whilst holding their nose about the release of Prisoners and their elevation to statesmen and the occasional outburst of those feelings does not mean, in my opinion they are not therefore liberal Unionists.

    *I’m defining a Liberal Unionist as someone who has no truck with sectarianism and is supportive of political agreement with Nationalism.

    • Sammy we all use the term “liberal unionist” too loosely.
      There ARE liberal Unionists.
      There are unionist Liberals.
      And there are Liberal Unionists.
      And they all want to do a deal with nationalists (such as SDLP). But really only on their own terms.

      • ‘And they all want to do a deal with nationalists (such as SDLP). But really only on their own terms.’

        Ah, but is that not the case with everyone FJH?

        My own truck with ‘liberal unionism’ is that they aren’t really that liberal and if you scratch the surface even a little you see their true colours, shining through. I see there true colours and that’s why I love them…

        I’ll get my coat then…

      • I think thats certainly true of a LOT but not ALL liberal unionists.
        There are liberal unionists who are “conservative” and see Catholics/nationalists as the nice people who they meet at the golf club.
        There are others who see Catholics/nationalists as the nice people who have a child at the same integrated school.
        But there are some who cannot go beyond that.
        Is that the same for ALL unionists? No I think that would be unfair.
        After all the DUP would seemingly rather deal with Sinn Féin.

  2. sammymcnally says:

    Fitz, fc,

    Above I defined in very simple terms a Liberal Unionst as a

    “someone who has no truck with sectarianism and is supportive of political agreement with Nationalism.”

    That means they genuinely consider Nats as equal partners etc etc.

    My point is – that such a definition is not incompatible with not liking what they would see as ‘terrorists in government’ , that is a valid moral viewpoint. We cant just dismiss such views as not being Liberal just becuase we dont agree with them. We may as well say that those who opposed the IRA in the South and (still) view them as terrorists are not Liberal.

    Newt just refelected what most Unionists including Liberal Unionists actually think about cosying up to ‘terrorists’. They may of course stand accused of being hypocritical – but that is a different issue.

    …and yes I do like to speak on behalf of all the Ulster Prods.

    • Now now Sammy,

      I never said they weren’t liberal, just not THAT liberal, ie. sooner or later there mask slips with regard to certain matters and they are found out to be not that liberal after all. And there hypocrisy is not really a different issue but one wholly connected to this one.

      Glad to hear where I can now direct all my questions on certain matters 🙂

  3. sammymcnally says:

    fc,

    Yes for all those difficult questions about Prods, try the Sammy, what-is-it-with-those-difficult-Prods hotline and remember ALL calls are very, very expensive and ALL money goes to FJH’s choice of lets-get-allongerist causes.

    On a marginally more serious note

    re. “mask slips with regard to certain matters and they are found out to be not that liberal after all”

    Are you in acceptance of my point that being anti-cosying-up-toTerrorists(i.e. SF) like our friends in Fine Gael does not in itself mean that Unionists are not Liberal? (Any whatabutery and I’ll skin ye).

    • Sammy,

      Glad that’s been cleared up.

      ‘Are you in acceptance of my point that being anti-cosying-up-toTerrorists(i.e. SF) like our friends in Fine Gael does not in itself mean that Unionists are not Liberal? (Any whatabutery and I’ll skin ye).’

      FG would be liberal or a friend of mine? That’s news to me and perhaps their electorate too.

      I just don’t believe there is such thing as a ‘liberal’ unionist unless some of the common traits of liberalism simply don’t apply to unionism, such as the basic traits of democracy which I happened to debate with someone else on another blog, and in that instance a mask most definitely slipped.

      I don’t believe SF are terrorists, but one side of a coin, with paramilitaries on the flip side, one man’s terrorist, another man’s [INSERT WHATEVER YOU WANT].

  4. sammymcnally says:

    fc,

    re. “I don’t believe SF are terrorists, but one side of a coin, with paramilitaries on the flip side, one man’s terrorist, another man’s [INSERT WHATEVER YOU WANT].”

    I’m well aware of that arguement, I’m not speaking about what you or me believe but what categorises a Unionist as a Liberal.

    re. “I just don’t believe there is such thing as a ‘liberal’ unionist”

    Well we will have to agree to disagree about that, there are two sides to every arguement and I see Unionist views as valid – the fact that I just dont happen to agree with Unionists doesnt stop me considering them as Liberal – dependent of course on their behaviour and attitude – and based on the definition offered above.

    • Sammy,

      ‘Well we will have to agree to disagree about that.’ – agreed.

      ‘there are two sides to every arguement and I see Unionist views as valid – the fact that I just dont happen to agree with Unionists doesnt stop me considering them as Liberal – dependent of course on their behaviour and attitude – and based on the definition offered above.’

      There opinion is a valid one (wanting to remain a part of the UK) I disagree with but valid nonetheless, however, it’s the implementation that I disagree with which is why I believe that when we scratch the surface and show how untenable their proposition is it is obvious they are not as liberal as they (liberal unionists) make out as they need to take on a position completely at odds with being a liberal, this is my contention.

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