Gordon Brown’s efforts to ‘defend the Union’ continue to define Britain in his own image, Gordon Britannia, much like the Blair rebranding of Cool Britannia. He will ultimately fail if his government continues to act in such a way as to undermine the very values he purports to defend.
The Prime Minister dismisses anti-unionists as ‘those who argue for Scottish Separatism’ or ‘English Votes for English laws’. He assumes that we must all agree what a threat these people must pose to the Union. But neither of these groups appear to have plans to bomb the City of London.
In the end it came down to “7, 11 or 15?” Not a choice between rugby ’7′s, association football or the full union code, rather “how many councils?” At least the new Minister at the Department of the Environment Northern Ireland (DENI) has been spared a Review of Public Administration (RPA) every bit as tedious and uninspiring as its precursors.
When the most recent RPA was first mooted it was sold as the chance of a lifetime to correct the horrendous mess that constitutes the ‘public sector’ in Northern Ireland. With 11 government departments, over 100 quangos, how ever many Commissioners for this and that, and 26 local councils we would have a right to feel a tad over-administered – though poorly governed for all that.
Many balk at the suggestion of a merger of the DUP and UUP into a single party. For most the single biggest issue was the ever present and ever divisive Ian Paisley. With Ian Paisley being the subject of a very internal coup, showing his weakness and irrelevance to the future, the two parties must now look seriously at the prospect of coming together. There are a number of reasons for this.
First, from the DUP perspective. Paisley was pushed. This can be said with some certainty because the reason behind the timing was so fundamentally flawed. How does the replacement of the ‘hard man’ of Ulster politics likely to save the DUP from Tradtiional Unionist Voice (TUV) led by ex-DUP Jim Allister MEP.