Martin McGuinness Resigns

It is clear from his appearance on TV today that Martin McGuinness is not a well man. And the first human reaction has to be one of sympathy.

How this sympathy manifests in any upcoming election is hard to judge. The related point is that Sinn Féin keyboard warriors have been pushing the line that Sinn Féin has a strategy and actually knows what it is doing…yet will go into any election pushing the exact opposite.

The nationalist electorate will be asked to support Sinn Féin on the basis that Sinn Féin’s list of humiliations that it has suffered at the hands of the DUP is actually humiliation for the entire nationalist community…and the only way for nationalists is to deal with the humiliation is to ….er re-elect the people who facilitated the humiliation in the first place.

Sinn Féin are a political party who wanted Arlene Foster to stand aside for an inquiry. They did not demand her resignation and a full public inquiry. They failed…even with a proposal designed to get DUP and SF off the hook.

In the crazy world of Norn Iron politics, it might just work.

And while the entire crisis is down to DUP arrogance (and SF failure to address it), going into an election as the Party that humiliated Sinn Féin will not damage DUP too much.

The most likely outcome of any election is that DUP and SF will remain the biggest parties, taking some damage. There will be a campaign to boycott the election and turn out will be low. The boycott will more likely damage the good guys (in this context SDLP and UUP) than the bad guys (DUP and Sinn Féin).

Whether the NIO and its invisible and anonymous Secretary of State sanctions an election is one thing. How James Brokenshire reacts to (say) a turn-out of 45% is another thing.

Direct Rule…..or do we just go to an appointed Commission to run Norn Iron. The ultimate Quango….the Quisling Quango.

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23 Responses to Martin McGuinness Resigns

  1. Vince says:

    Whilst an election is very unlikely to solve the problem a boycott would be extremely foolish and counter-productive. It would not matter if the turnout was 30% – those elected would still be responsible for running Health, Education etc.
    My election prediction (hopefully incorrect) is DUP 27; SF 24; UUP 16; SDLP 9; Alliance 8; PBP 3; Green 2; TUV 1. The only consolation will be that none of them will be able to use a POC. If people want something different and better then they need to get out and vote for it.

  2. Billy Pilgrim says:

    Thanks both for the clarification. Interesting stuff – while keeping the figure at 30 initially seems like no change, but it’s actually a very significant material change to the working of the Assembly. It’s interesting that this has passed without much comment.

    • Presumably everyone will come back to the Assembly with fewer seats….it still looks better for DUP than anyone else.

      • Vince says:

        Distasteful as it may be, I think that the SDLP & UUP do need to go into this election with an agreed draft programme for government. Setting out what can be agreed has to be established as quickly as possible with the many areas of difficulty acknowledged together with a commitment to address these in a mature and respectful way. Deep breath, hold nose, Alliance should probably also be involved. It is clear that DUP & SF cannot govern together & after this election SF are equally clear that they will not govern with the DUP again. An offer of a credible, workable alternative government has to be made. If the electorate choose more of the same, well they are welcome to it – at least we tried & they had a choice.

      • I dont see how that works.
        For a start Alliance would claim Justice and another Ministry …out of proportion with their votes.
        And how could UUP be trusted…they have had no problem with sectarian voting pacts.
        And two months isnt enough for an “agreed programme”.
        Arguably Greens could be brought into a post election coalition. I just cant see any way that UUP/SDLP/ Alliance/Green/PBP (who are an Opposition party anyway) adds up to 45.
        I think SDLP is already thinking beyond an election and Brokenshire is thinking of a second election….and I am still thinking of a Quisling Quango coalition appointed by NIO?

    • Howard says:

      Well some of us discussed it at the time but I think its a bit “wonkish”. My view (at the time) was that it makes the PoC significantly less likely to be used for *party-political* reasons because it makes it less likely that a party can reach the necessary threshold. It also gives added incentive for strategic voting against the DUP – to stop them reaching the magic 30 – in constituencies where they are marginal.

      • I dont think that anyone is going to give a #1 to SDLP and #2 to UUP (I certainly wouldnt!).
        DUP and SF can use their mutual hatred to ensure they get the leadership of unionists and nationalists.
        The SDLP and UUP cant compete with that.

  3. hoboroad says:

    Is British/Irish joint Authority the only option for the North. The collapse of Stormont after the Martin McGuinness resignation has left a political vacuum which needs filling. The SDLP leader has discussed the issue with the Irish Government. A return to direct rule from London is not a option for Nationalists who tried to make Stormont work despite every roadblock placed in their way.

    • I was thinking about this earlier.
      SDLP have pretty much gone for the Joint Authority option and this was always Plan B for nationalists and republicans.
      I will compose a Blog later on.

  4. zig70 says:

    The prospect of Stormont going the way of flags is mouthwatering. The threat of closing it completely should make the DUP blink.

  5. Billy Pilgrim says:

    Re. the Quisling Quango – Seamus Close was on Nolan earlier calling for Direct Rule, followed immediately by Naomi Long also hinting in that direction. How naturally it comes to them, to assume that more power to the NIO is the answer.

  6. Vince says:

    Fitz, something credible has to be put together. The SDLP just cannot go into an election stating that they want to go into opposition again – as with any party, they will have to put together a manifesto. They also can’t pretend that somehow they are going to govern alone. It seems sensible that they take soundings from other Opposition parties on what they likely can agree on (perhaps they have already done this) and what they can promise to the electorate should they reach that magic number of 45. It is not about electoral pacts, joint candidates. It may be around health & social care, education, infrastructure projects, cross border bodies, public inquiry into RHI, perhaps even an Irish Language Act. There are obvious problems with agreeing lines on Brexit with the UUP and PBP to name but two parties. But the list of agreed policies does not have to be exhaustive – just enough to convey a sense of shared and useful purpose delivering meaningful policies.
    The two most potent messages in politics are “time for a change” and “don’t let party x in to ruin things”. SDLP can certainly utilise the former – SF/DUP can’t seriously deploy either. The electorate has to be presented with a sense of what the “change” would look like and it can’t just be different faces.

    • I dont think that SDLP is even considering being in government. I think they have moved past that.
      To some extent, they have finally had the courage to say that they got it wrong in 1998.
      To be fair, I think John Hume had it right.
      But the leadership after Hume was not up to it. Theres too much time spent at SDLP conventions paying tribute uncritically to that post 1998 leadership.

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