Wednesday, 6 February 2013
Bluff, the border and Nigel
Just heard a very informative interview on Raidió Uladh/Radio Ulster. Or two, I suppose, since Karen Patterson was interviewing Nigel Dodds and Mitchel McLaughlin along side each other. The subject, of course, was this poll the BBC has conducted, which shows, according to the BBC website, 65% of people here would vote to stay in the UK if a border poll was held tomorrow. Pretty convincing total indeed.
But that wasn't the informative bit. That came when we heard Mitchel McLaughlin calling firmly for a real referendum poll, since BBC or Belfast Telegraph or other polls don't actually count when it comes to realpolitik. That's the point where the first interesting thing happened: Karen turned to Nigel and asked him why he didn't "call Sinn Féin's bluff" and have a poll. That's a phrase the media have conceived and which they use with regularity - "Sinn Féin's bluff" on a border poll. In other words, the Shinners don't really want a poll. Give that a bit of thought and you might see a bit of wishful thinking. A border poll would force parties to lay out, with facts and figures as well as calls to adult political responsibility, maitre chez nous and who knows what other arguments for and against. In short, the Shinners would have the border issue on the agenda, which at present it's not. So Karen and all you other hacks, don't call something a bluff except you've incontrovertible evidence to justify so doing. Otherwise people might think you were being a bit lop-sided.
The second informative bit came when Mitchel McLaughlin said that, were the border poll to be held, he and his party would abide by that decision, whatever it might be. Karen then asked Nigel if he would respect the outcome and Nigel said...Do you know, I do believe Nigel ducked the question? Instead we got a smokescreen about Catholics voting for the DUP and a very content six counties and an end to pie in the sky. Now why would Nigel want to duck a question like that? Aren't they a democratic party? It's the D in their name, after all. Well, it might go back to the unionist response to the democratic decision on flag-flying over Belfast City Hall, it might even go back to the signing of the Ulster Covenant. History shows that unionists have a track-record of strong advocacy for democratic politics until the decision goes against them. At that point, you tend to get violence or threats of violence if things aren't arranged according to their wishes. There's a word for that approach to politics. It's called fascism.