This is the problem with Unionist parties.
Mike Nesbitt said this in his Union 2021 article:
As a broadcast journalist, interviewing Ian Paisley and the other unionist leaders of the 1980s, I felt they were missing a trick. Had I been Paisley or Jim Molyneaux, I would have driven down to the Office of An Taoiseach, and offered Charlie Haughey a United Ireland there and then, on the simple condition the Republic match NI’s budgets for Health, Schools, Roads, and the rest. Would Haughey not have insisted on offering an armed Garda escort back to the border with a lifetime ban on a return visit? The Republican could not afford us then, any more than they can today.
It’s a simple, straightforward point – republicans can’t put their money where their mouths are. A united Ireland, whilst a legitimate political aspiration, is not a real world objective. It cannot happen. A perfectly reasonable thing for a unionist to say you’d think.
Well, no. The DUP issued the following statement in the name of Sydney Anderson:
Upper Bann DUP MLA Sydney Anderson has described as ‘truly shocking’ comments from potential UUP Deputy Leader Mike Nesbitt that he would have offered a united Ireland subject to the proper financial arrangements being made for it. In his Union 2021 article of 24th September, Mike Nesbitt, who is being touted as a potential UUP Deputy Leader, stated:
“I would have driven down to the Office of An Taoiseach and offered Charlie Haughey a united Ireland there and then, on the simple condition the Republic match Northern Ireland’s budgets for health, schools, roads and the rest.”
Sydney Anderson said:
“This is a truly shocking statement coming from such a prominent UUP strategist. Mike Nesbitt has said he would have offered our Province over to Charlie Haughey. Mike Nesbitt would have been making his offer to a man who was removed from government in the Irish Republic after being implicated in the arming of the Provisional IRA.
For such a prominent UUP member to claim in explicit terms that he would have offered Northern Ireland up to the Republic of Ireland if the finances had been right is a truly shocking disclosure.
Mr. Nesbitt’s disgraceful remarks belie a commitment to the Union that seems to extend nowhere beyond money.
We need to hear just where Tom Elliott stands on this. Will he be appointing a deputy who whilst flashy on TV admits he would have signed our country over to the Irish state? It is becoming painfully apparent that Mr. Nesbitt’s newly-discovered commitment to Unionism is tenuous.”
Despite some stiff competition, this is one of the dumbest, most irrelevant, unnecessary and pathetic press statement I’ve ever seen from any unionist party. Why aren’t press officers being asked to do something better than peddle this garbage? Why are the most senior people in unionism (MLAs) happy to put their names to this tosh?
The blame culture has to stop. Anyone who reads statements like Sydney Anderson’s (ie. the media) will conclude that unionism’s political elite has a) nothing better to do and b) nothing relevant to say. Who benefits from a statement like that?
In his blog Mike calls for a meeting with Sydney. The clever thing for Sydney to do is accept the invitation and find something constructive to do.
The options are clear – do a smart thing or do a stupid thing? What will he do?