EU Referendum: Norn Iron

Norn Iron voted REMAIN but as always it is complicated.
DUP advised a LEAVE vote but the sensible people never really made much effort. DUP seemed happy in the knowledge that they could parade their British nationalism and they would be rescued from their folly by a REMAIN vote in Britain.
DUP are big losers.
Sinn Féin have four decades of anti-EU rhetoric behind them. But went into this Referendum urging a REMAIN vote…but not overly enthusiastic about it.

SDLP, long established as the most pro-EU Party can claim to have led the REMAIN campaign but the local victory will be rendered pointless by the English defeat.
Again…I emphasise that despite being a member of SDLP, I voted LEAVE. I took the view that the REMAIN side was going to win in Norn Iron and pointless to vote for it. I took the view that the “British” vote was more even and that I wanted to see my vote in the overall LEAVE total.
An each way bet in a two-horse race.
And for once I actually got full value for my vote.
Why?
Simply put I am a nationalist. And Britains difficulty is Irelands opportunity. I think I called it just right. I actually surprise myself being this right.
“Events dear boy …Events” (as Harold McMillan allegedly responded to a question on what he feared most).
It is surely self-evident that any major trauma in the British constitution can have an effect on Norn Iron and if there is an opportunity to inflict some damage on the institution of the “United Kingdom”, then I will take it.
This weekend, it must surely be obvious that (at least 48%) of British people feel they lost a war. I am just glad I could help.

Does that make me a bad person?
Hardly.
I am a nationalist. I am not a post-nationalist.
Am I a “progressive nationalist”?….as the new SDLP rhetoric would have it.
I certainly hope so. Surely anything that advances nationalism is “progressive”?
The SDLP are …quite properly…committed to making Norn Iron work. But in my view making Norn Iron work is a different thing from making the “United Kingdom” work. It is the raison d’etre of a nationalist party to make sure the “UK” does not work.

“Progressive Nationalism” should not be a band-aid to cover differing emphasis of nationalists and left wingers within the Party. Nor should it be seen as a coalition between rural based nationalists and self-styled progressives in the Belfast metro-textual bubble sitting around waiting for something to happen.
For Something HAS happened…as significant as the Peace Process and the Good Friday Agreement.
How will nationalism react?
A border poll?
A Call on Arlene Foster, a LEAVE campaignerto try and veto the “UK” vote.
Or join with Duncan Morrow who tweets about signing a petition to have another REferendum? (I avoid mentioning the strange relationship between Duncan’s Alliance Party and Democracy).

A few words on the votes cast locally. Typically the nationalist parts of Norn Iron voted to REMAIN. SDLP will be particuarly pleased at 80% REMAIN vote in Derry and SF will be worried about49% turnout in West Belfast.
South Belfast …a strong SDLP, Alliance, Green, SF and Queens University base…voted REMAIN. NOrth Belfast(a 3:3 unionist-nationalist constiuency) voted narrowly for REMAIN and East Belfast where there is a high middle class, Green and Alliance vote) voted narrowly for leave.
The vote in East Derry (a 4:2 unionist constituency) was for REMAIN…the university at Coleraine and moderate unionism were clearly factors. As always, North Down is atypical.
But I dont see it as a great sign on the demographic front.
I have little time for people styling themselves as “economic unionists”. So I cant be overly impressed by “economic nationalists”. Yes of course there is now an economic case for a united Ireland (in European Union) but I dont take any great satisfaction that Belfasts main post office has run out of Irish passport application forms. Nor do I feel it is necessarily a good sign that Holywood Post Office handed out over 600 application forms…unless of course two were for Rory McIlroy and Mick Fealty.
No…my national identity is precious to me and I respect people in Norn Iron who feel the same way about their (different) identity. If they move closer to my identity, I want it to be for good reasons. Too many people are suffering this weekend.

What next? Well at the end of last year at the launch of Colum Eastwoods leadership campaign, Claire Hanna told us that she and Colum had attended conferences of SNP,then in the political doldrums, just a decade ago.
And as Alex Attwood says in every speech Nichola Sturgeon and SNP are the best politicans in these islands.
And our “sister party” (British Labour) has lost Scotland.
And will likely lose north of England.
Yes by all means SDLP are membersof PES (the European socialists which includes Irish Labour Party…but lets see how much practical help they are.

Time for SDLP and SF to put up or shut up. This is an Opportunity.

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5 Responses to EU Referendum: Norn Iron

  1. zig70 says:

    Brexit fatigue, I’ve changed my mind slightly, England will leave the EU and stay out of the common market. Goods will be marginally more expensive. Anti immigration is such a part of this. I watched incredulous as a Pakistani immigrant said on BBC news that he voted leave to keep anymore immigrants out. The legacy of England’s imperialism is an odd one. It’s that sense of aspiration that the Irish need to break in NI.

  2. zig70 says:

    I’ve been hoping that Colum would start the pan nationalist ball rolling. I read this http://www.irishnews.com/news/2016/06/27/news/colum-eastwood-only-progressive-nationalism-is-capable-of-building-the-broad-consensus-to-shape-a-new-ireland-580193/
    thought it lacked ambition of seizing the moment. He came out against a border poll, he should have been in favour of a border poll understanding that it would take more than a year to start rolling, probably 3 to see it. Good to see him going down to Dublin, I hope he gets FF and Irish labour on side and leaves room for SF and even FG. Most of all he needs to give his vision of how it will pan out address the issues head on of administration in a 32 county state. For me that isn’t some federal expensive rubbish, need FF to say that in power they would phase in all Ireland institutions,no immediate redundancies, phase out paying to see the doctor even though it is something I agree with to an extent, The FDI that NI could get, with the UK out of the EU should more than compensate for any hiccup. American goodwill is bound to help and the disapora need to be leveraged in the same way they were for the same sex marriage vote. I don’t think there will be an opportunity like this for a while, God I hope it isn’t squandered.

    • As I have stated very deliberately in all these EU Referendum blogs, Alex Attwood gets a SNP reference into every speech.
      “Progressive Nationalism” and making Norn Iron work is a reasonable premise but the implication is that unity is a very long term project.
      While I understand that logic, it necessarily means that it wont happen within 20 years (effectively it wont happen in my lifetime).
      Thats a disappointment as in 1998, I would have thought that I would live to see a united Ireland.
      So I tend to see SDLPs version of Progressive Nationalism as a carefully crafted formula…a compromise….lets go for being “progressive” (pro Labour) and maybe the nationalist pieces will fall into place, simply by building a better society.
      In itself that half victory might be enough for the self-styled progressives in SDLP.
      This Referendum result is a potential game-changer that should make SDLP more pro-active.
      It seems theres a choice…the nationalists as you observe might see this as an opportunity….that Dublin means an avenue to staying in EU…..while the progressives might be more interested in over-turning the result.

  3. Political Tourist says:

    When SDLP members can’t go out and vote for the one the party’s main planks then the party should call it quits.

    • Essentially SDLP have two main philosophies…nationalism and the self-styled “progressive” thing.
      I dont think its a matter of choosing one over the other. I think its a matter that this “event” has changed the narrative and SDLP should see an opportunity…they wont be forgiven if they dont grab it.

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