By Geoff McGimpsey
There’s no doubting the story of the week both on the blogs and in the mainstream media – Tuesday’s Policing and Justice vote. Let’s look at it in three stages: leading up to the vote; the days itself; the aftermath.
Leading up to the vote…
On Ian Parsley’s Blog, the Tory candidate for North Down reckoned everyone was ‘intent on worrying primarily about the needs of Shaun Woodward and Hillary Clinton’. But Ian thought we should all be grateful to the UUP for focusing on Executive dysfunctionality and ‘the need for better devolution’. Er, quite. ‘Grateful’ isn’t quite the way I’d characterise the media coverage at the moment. Time to whip out those PR skills Ian!
At Bobballs, I wondered whether all the last-minute brinkmanship had fully considered the independent, bloody-minded Ulster mindset. The Clinton phone calls; the Dubya phone calls; that Woodward interview; the timely NIO poll; the letter by the US Congressmen… and so on. Result? Lo and behold, the UUP’s flexible ‘not at the minute’ weekend position hardened into a ‘definitively not’ Tuesday position. Way to build a consensus.
Following a similar line, Henry McDonald at The Guardian Politics Blog summed Empey up with that great Ulster-Scots wurd ‘thranness’ (stubbornness). Fair faa ye Henry, Big Yin!
On the day itself…
Mark Devenport’s Blog reports that just prior to the P&J debate, ‘Sinn Fein politicians went “on the run”, taking part in a running event to promote the Irish language’. It’s not clear what language Martin McGuinness used when he tried to go ‘on the run’ only for Willie Fraser to ambush him with a writ in the Great Hall.
On where the popular opinion is on policing and justice, Tory Story NI says that the ‘DUP have “read the tealeaves” correctly and the UUP have not’. The forthcoming election may confirm some of the truth in that.
On twitter, East Belfast SF rep @NiallSF tweeted: P&J Motion just passed – more power away from England and into the hands of politicians in Éire
But wait! DUP MLA @SimonHamilton provides the counter tweet: ‘P&J vote passes. Glad that Assembly has voted to continue to make progress in NI. Disappointed in UUP’s unprincipled opposition.’
So with intra-Unionist division over P&J now concluded, it must be time for… intra-Unionist division over Unionist unity! @duponline urges: ‘show your support through the DUP online campaign!’
There are now only three things guaranteed in this life. Death, taxes… and another 39 days of open warfare as Unionists discuss unity. I’ll follow the blame game with some interest.