Couple of rum developments worth remarking on regarding the smaller two of our four main parties. Firstly, the Official Unionists and their mooted re-establishment of their historic link with the Tories. This has been touted about regularly down the years, but it could actually happen. Lord Trimble is on the case, and Sir Reggie is said to have shown some interest.
But the project has run into some opposition in the shape of Chris McGimpsey, who has arrestingly warned that such a move would leave the working class without a voice. Gimpo, you see, is a leftwinger, at least in his own mind. He may in fact be the only leftwinger in the Unionist Party. And as such, he’s long been waging a one-man campaign to re-establish the Labour Unionism of the 1920s. I’m not sure that 1920s Labour Unionism can be revived, or even should be, but you have to salute the guy’s indefatigability.
Passing over to the SDLP, isn’t it remarkable how they seem to have rediscovered Humean post-nationalism? This has even involved bigging up the European Union as a bulwark of social Catholicism, which may have been the case fifty years ago but isn’t so apparent today.
More to the point is Mark Durkan’s big idea for the abolition of compulsory power-sharing. You can sort of see what Mark is getting at, in that even the Provos are starting to chafe at the DUP veto, and it must be tempting for the SDLP to cut their losses and go into opposition. It doesn’t seem to have done Alliance much harm.
But still, for a nationalist politician to be advocating majority rule, even tempered by a Bill of Rights, is a bit odd. After all, under the old Stormont everyone was equal before the law. You also had a Bill of Rights, namely Magna Carta. Of course, you also had the Special Powers Act…
What may concentrate Mark’s mind more is that back in the 1980s majority rule plus Bill of Rights was the policy of the Workers Party. And it really proved a vote-winner for them, didn’t it?