Monday, April 26, 2010


It’s as good as time as any to update the crossroads metaphor. Who now stands at the crossroads?

The parties

Well not the UUP. They’re going round in circles having tied themselves to the Tories, the same Tories who, if elected, will slash and burn after the election. Odd given that NI plc is the biggest government job creation scheme in W. Europe. And in return, at best, a seat at the cabinet table for Sir Reg eMPey (in waiting). What’s more, they’ve being going round in circles since Sir Reg took over; is one leg shorter than the other?

Verdict: Ulster Unionists on the roundabout with the wheels coming off.

Well not the DUP. Peter ”Much ado about nothing” Robinson has made his mind up. “They’re all liars”. Meanwhile an election has been called and there’s another temporary hold up on the very long and extremely winding road to Damascus. But wait what’s that coming over the hill? Is it the TUV? Will Ian Paisley and Jim Shannon, held up at the barriers, get across the line first?

Verdict: DUP on the level crossing looking over their shoulders.

Well not SF. Crossroads have connotations of crises, of doubt and uncertainty, of decisions right or wrong to be made. Best be avoided then just like Westminster. SF are above all that. At the last count there is a SF policy on everything, no doubt there. To be fair however SF categorically refute that political leadership and doctrinal authority have been fused in an elite.

Verdict: SF on the fly over [ no the bridge, not the helicopter].

And what of the SDLP? As is customary in the recent past bringing up the rear. Margaret Ritchie made the right decisions in not pulling Fearghal McKinney and in not making pacts with SF or FF. Let’s hope for the future of SDLP, the future of democracy, and the future of N. Ireland the decisions were made on principle.

Verdict: SDLP successfully negotiating the crossroads

Many  will never vote for either the DUP or Sinn Fein, and in the past many have voted for both SDLP and UUP, and in the future can see themselves voting also for the Greens and the Alliance should the opportunity for a useful vote arise. I suspect that there are quite a few  who vote tactically.

In the day to day business of politics outside of the elections I would hope that the UUP and SDLP in time see some common centre ground where they can usefully build structures founded on mutual trust. SDLP must therefore be a party with whom the UUP can do business, and vice versa. That requires morality, personal integrity and party ethics.

Sir Reg eMPey (in waiting) has chosen to attach himself to the Conservative bandwagon thus temporarily taking a roundabout detour but in time his successor will return to the crossroads and will be faced with the crucial decision.

For all sorts of reasons the DUP and SF have reached their zenith and they are now in long term decline though the occasional event might indicate otherwise. The UUP and SDLP have to be ready when the DUP and SF implode.

What is your constituency called?

And can you sum it up in a few words? Visitors to the USA will be familiar with the American car registration plates which show both the registration number and the state of origin together with a pithy phrase which sums up the state e.g. Florida The Sunshine State, or Alabama The Heart of Dixie. Can you do the same for your constituency. Here are some examples.

                  Upper Bann                         Strangford
                 XYZ 1234                   XYZ 1234
   There’s a roundabout here for you!    Don’t worry she’s gone.

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