Monday, 8 November 2010

Long Standing

"It is a long standing position of the Ulster Unionist Party that Northern Ireland needs a more normalised form of Government with a voluntary 'cross-community' coalition..."

Was it really? How long-standing? Only 4 years ago during the St Andrews negotiations the voices for such a change were restricted to the DUP and Alliance while the UUP argued against it?  The biggest opportunity for such a change since 1998 was missed with UUP complicity.  Perhaps it is a more recent discovery.

Also there is no barrier whatsoever to the Assembly having an opposition tomorrow.  The UUP can leave the Executive.  So why not act on what they advocate?  Perhaps this is what he means with this awkwardly phrased conclusion to his statement:

"in the short-term the principled following of democratic parliamentary principles by political parties may be what is required to improve governance in Northern Ireland."

However enough of poking a stick at the UUP.  On the bright side it does confirm that the Unionist parties have the exact same policy on the future development of government structures here.  Now perhaps we could turn ourselves to the task of persuading nationalists of its benefits and addressing their fears.  Also as devolution was over sold we have to be careful how we sell voluntary coaltion.  The Coalition government demonstrates how uncomfortable even a voluntary arrangement can be. 

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Also there is no barrier whatsoever to the Assembly having an opposition tomorrow. The UUP can leave the Executive. So why not act on what they advocate?


You're right, technically they could leave and act as an opposition.

But what does opposition mean?

In a voluntary system parties not in government become the opposition precisely because two or more parties agree to govern by coalition. Once a majority is formed any party not in the coalition becomes the opposition. They do not become the opposition because they want to.

This is the problem with the present system. For there to be an opposition there must be a party that desires opposition more than power.

Fat chance of that.