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A forum to discuss new ideas and perspectives on Unionism…

Responding to DUP’s consultation document…

The DUP are running a consultation on their performance in government since 2007 (PDF is uploaded to box.net widget too). I’m thinking of sending in a submission.

The consultation has been on the frontpage for a while (yes, the odd question is a bit dated) but I’m assuming it’s still live. Even if it’s not, any submission supplied can be treated as ongoing stakeholder feedback.

I’d be keen for help from everyone here. I realise people are busy enough; so short pointers / bullet points / random thoughts are appreciated. The questions are below – please send me an email (everything will be treated in strictest confidence) or leave something in the comments section.

I’ll pick up on it and put a short doc together based around the consensus view. A draft will be published for feedback before it gets sent in to DUP headquarters.

I think it’s good and positive that a political party wants people to feed into their policy development. That sort of initiative merits a considered response.

Passing in a contribution would also represent tangible output from this blog and of a type I’d like to do more of. So if anyone spots consultations / policy docs which they feel we should contribute to then do let us know…

CONSULTATION QUESTIONS

  • Do you agree that the Stormont institutions can be improved to provide better government?

     

  • Do you agree that the best way to do this is from the inside rather than permitting devolution to fall and returning to Direct Rule indefinitely?

     

  • Do you believe decision making at Stormont could be more effective and efficient?

     

  • The ability to block decisions was important initially to provide confidence to both main traditions. Do you believe such powers are too restrictive to permit effective government in the years ahead?

     

  • Do you believe that the number of Stormont Government Departments should be reduced?

     

  • Do you believe the number of Assembly Members should be reduced?

     

  • Do you believe that the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister should be reformed?

     

  • Do you consider it appropriate that individual political parties should be allowed to block the Executive from operating?

     

  • Would you prefer to see a voluntary coalition model of Government appointed?

     

  • Do you agree that the present requirement for community designation of Assembly Members should be scrapped?

     

  • Do you believe weighted majority voting to ensure widespread support across the community would be a better system for the Assembly?

     

  • Similarly, do you believe weighted majority voting to ensure widespread support across the community would be a better system for the Executive?

     

  • Do you agree that the d’Hondt method for determining Executive Ministers should be replaced?

     

  • Would you like to see the facility for a number of parties capable of commanding broad support across the community to be able to agree the composition of the Executive amongst themselves after an election?

     

  • What is your assessment of the value of the North South bodies?

     

  • Would you support the number of non-elected Commissions being rationalised, through amalgamating the Equality Commission and Human Rights Commission for example?

     

  • Are there any further comments you would like to make?

 

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Filed under: communications, consultations, devolution, DUP,

6 Responses

  1. slug says:

    #

    Do you agree that the Stormont institutions can be improved to provide better government?

    YES. They are bloated. The chair of a committee should not be the same party as its minister. The committees should have slightly fewer members from the party of the minister. There should be fewer MLAs and Departments .

    There should be a more oppositional structure with an opposition group, perhaps made up of more than one party, leading the questions against each minister. Question times are highly nonconfrontational at present.

    #

    Do you agree that the best way to do this is from the inside rather than permitting devolution to fall and returning to Direct Rule indefinitely?

    YES-if possible.

    #

    Do you believe decision making at Stormont could be more effective and efficient?

    YES-see above answer.

    #

    The ability to block decisions was important initially to provide confidence to both main traditions. Do you believe such powers are too restrictive to permit effective government in the years ahead?

    YES in the long run. Are you referring to designation system? I believe a weighted majority system would have beneficial effects.

    #

    Do you believe that the number of Stormont Government Departments should be reduced?

    YES

    #

    Do you believe the number of Assembly Members should be reduced?

    YES

    #

    Do you believe that the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister should be reformed?

    YES

    #

    Do you consider it appropriate that individual political parties should be allowed to block the Executive from operating?

    NO.

    #

    Would you prefer to see a voluntary coalition model of Government appointed?

    YES
    #

    Do you agree that the present requirement for community designation of Assembly Members should be scrapped?

    YES

    #

    Do you believe weighted majority voting to ensure widespread support across the community would be a better system for the Assembly?

    YES

    #

    Similarly, do you believe weighted majority voting to ensure widespread support across the community would be a better system for the Executive?

    YES

    #

    Do you agree that the d’Hondt method for determining Executive Ministers should be replaced?

    Not sure about this. A voluntary coalition would be in principle better but could be unstable at this stage.

    #

    Would you like to see the facility for a number of parties capable of commanding broad support across the community to be able to agree the composition of the Executive amongst themselves after an election?

    Sounds okay.

    #

    What is your assessment of the value of the North South bodies?

    In policing they would be very important.

    #

    Would you support the number of non-elected Commissions being rationalised, through amalgamating the Equality Commission and Human Rights Commission for example?

    Yes of course.

  2. Progressive Unionist says:

    I like the redesign of the website, but I find it rather disconcerting that we can’t see who the author of a post is – is this from Fair Deal, Bobballs, who?

    Nevertheless…


    CONSULTATION QUESTIONS

    Do you agree that the Stormont institutions can be improved to provide better government?

    YES DEFINITELY – All-Party Govt was needed 12 years ago but we don’t need it indefinitely – it’s like training wheels on the bicycle. We do need to keep power-sharing though. (i.e. majority nationalist & unionist support for govt)

    Do you agree that the best way to do this is from the inside rather than permitting devolution to fall and returning to Direct Rule indefinitely?

    YES – whatever you do, don’t bring down the Executive again. That’s what killed Trimble from 98-07 – all this off-again-on-again stuff made the institutions lose all credibility

    Do you believe decision making at Stormont could be more effective and efficient?

    YES

    The ability to block decisions was important initially to provide confidence to both main traditions. Do you believe such powers are too restrictive to permit effective government in the years ahead?

    NO – Not Necessarily – the Executive needs majority support from Nationalist and Unionist MLAs to survive. It doesn’t necessarily need all parties in government (i.e. the minority U and Nat parties should go to Opposition – and formal support (policy funding etc as in Westminster) should be given to this HM Loyal NI Opposition)

    Do you believe that the number of Stormont Government Departments should be reduced?

    YES

    Do you believe the number of Assembly Members should be reduced?

    YES – 72 more than enough. So much dull-ass deadwood once you get beyond the main parties’ top 10. (and in the case of SDLP and UUP their top 5 or 3)

    Do you believe that the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister should be reformed?

    YES – make it an Office of Joint First Ministers and put an end to the idiocy of tribal competition about the title of ‘First Minister’ when the two offices are essentially equal.

    Do you consider it appropriate that individual political parties should be allowed to block the Executive from operating?

    YES – so long as that party represents a majority of either tradition’s MLAs. But NO if that party does not. In the current Exec it’s right that either DUP or SF should have a veto, but not that UUP or SDLP should have one. (and I say that as a supporter of neither DUP or SF)

    Would you prefer to see a voluntary coalition model of Government appointed?

    NO – DEFINITELY NOT. This could kill nationalist community support for Northern Ireland’s devolved institutions within the Union. The majority party from each community should form the Exec.

    Do you agree that the present requirement for community designation of Assembly Members should be scrapped?

    NO – DEFINITELY NOT – this requirement is there to protect the Nationalist community and mustn’t be scrapped unless the majority of nationalists want it to be

    Do you believe weighted majority voting to ensure widespread support across the community would be a better system for the Assembly?

    NO – concurrent majority consent from each community is fairer to both communities. The Unionist community is larger than the Nationalists and a weighted majority system would be unfair on Nationalists.

    Similarly, do you believe weighted majority voting to ensure widespread support across the community would be a better system for the Executive?

    NO – concurrent majority consent from each community is fairer to both communities. The Unionist community is larger than the Nationalists and a weighted majority system would be unfair on Nationalists.

    Do you agree that the d’Hondt method for determining Executive Ministers should be replaced?

    No – it should be retained, but restricted to the majority party from each community.

    Would you like to see the facility for a number of parties capable of commanding broad support across the community to be able to agree the composition of the Executive amongst themselves after an election?

    YES DEFINITELY – provided those parties commanded concurrent majority support from both communities.

    What is your assessment of the value of the North South bodies?

    They are no threat to the Union. Unionism should engage constructively in Northern Ireland’s interest. If there are areas where Northern Ireland’s interest would be served by furthering N/S cooperation Unionism should explore them. That said, Unionism must absolutely retain it’s veto on the North South bodies and ensure their decisions remain subject to the Assembly. – ie. be positive, “Trust – but verify” !

    Would you support the number of non-elected Commissions being rationalised, through amalgamating the Equality Commission and Human Rights Commission for example?

    NOT NECESSARILY – some of these Commissions are a result of the Agreements (GFA and St Andrews) and are necessary to retain nationalist confidence. If rationalisation can be achieved with nationalist support then fine.

    Are there any further comments you would like to make?

    Unionism’s got nothing to fear from the current constitutional structure, N/S bodies included. While protecting our veto (i.e. over N/S cooperation) – Let’s be pro-active and positive and engage positively with all concerned. Unionism’s about bringing together the whole of the British Isles – that should be the core of our approach to the three-stranded institutions.

  3. Progressive Unionist says:

    PS – Well done DUP for running this kind of public consultation. Innovative thinking and a breath of fresh air.

  4. bobballs says:

    T’was bobballs. Good point PU – I’ll byline everything.

  5. thedissenter says:

    These questions have little to do with opinion of the DUP performance in Government. There is little within which most would not agree in the questions: they are almost rhetorical to unionists. The 2007 is over-whelmingly self-justification and self-congratulatory. If things were so clear and success so obvious then why is there such unease within the wider unionist electoral base and a distain for the elected ‘political class’ that is far deeper here in Northern Ireland than can be detected in England or Scotland. Many thought Owen Patterson was talking about schools when using the word ‘segregration’, yet his speech does not connect the two (education is not mentioned in this context). Segregation starts with designation and the in-built sectarian demands of the current political structures. It is not that government is not working, that good government is almost impossible, or the lack of little ministerial accountability (and no-one had better suggest that the Executive is a collective!) but rather a sense that the Unionist Parties have been less than competent in negotiation and failed unionism, consistently – maybe it could be argued the deals were good in which case their implementation/delivery/follow-through was miserably poor. Peter Robinson was correct over the summer when he said that the differences between the two main unionist parties were now largely synthetic. The unionist parties look disorganised, lacking direction, and failing to make a significant mark in delivering good government – or even delivering a meaningful contribution within the miserable excuse for government that we now have.

  6. Progressive Unionist says:

    “Segregation starts with designation and the in-built sectarian demands of the current political structures.”

    No it doesn’t. The current political structures were created as a reflection of the de facto segregation of Northern Ireland society.

    Or, more bluntly, the current political structures – cross-community power-sharing – is the only way the nationalist community can feel confident in having a fair and proportional say in the governance of Northern Ireland.

    For so long as there’s a divided society, there will need to be power-sharing. When/if a shared society is built, then, and only then – and only with the consent of nationalists – can things like ‘voluntary coalition’ or ‘weighted majority’ be looked at (right now, and entirely justifiedly, nationalists see these phrases as code for a more-or-less return to majority rule)

    Shared society first -> Shared politics.

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