State of the Union is Open Unionism’s monthly newsletter. In it we put the best articles from the previous month as well as a round-up of the most interesting union-related news and commentary from around the web. It is emailed to all pro-union MLA, MSPs and AMs as well as an ever-widening circle of MPs, Peers and journalists. If you want to be put on the mailing list, ask at openunionism[at]gmail.com.
Hello, and welcome to the first edition of State of the Union, the new monthly newsletter from Open Unionism. We hope to use it as an opportunity to bring to your attention the best in pro-union commentary and related news, both from our own website and around the web.
This is an exciting, challenging time for political unionism, and at Open Unionism we want to help bring together established unionist commentators from Scotland and Northern Ireland with their newly-interested partners in England and Wales. OU is always keen to hear from new contributors who would like to bring us their perspective, and we publish relevant views from the left, right or centre.
We plan to issue the newsletter at the end of every month to showcase that month’s developments and contributions. This first issue features the best of our output from September and October, then Paul offers a guide to the most interesting related material from the wider web.
Please, enjoy the issue.
Henry CH Hill, Editor
I, along with other Open Unionism writers, manage a Twitter feed and Facebook page. Through these means we hope to spread as much up-to-date information (via articles, links to sites and like-minded groups), cooperation and coordination to help the pro-Union cause.
Social media never sleeps and we do our very best to keep awake with it, operating a seven days a week real-time service for our colleagues and all other supporters of the Union.
Paul Watterson, Social Media Editor
The Best of Open Unionism, October 2012:
“Towards a Positive Definition of the Union” – Prof. Arthur Aughey, Professor of Politics at the University of Ulster, offers a template for building a positive definition of the Union that can survive the 21st Century.
“What impact will UKIP’s entry to NI politics have on other national parties?” – Deirdre Nelson, another of our regular writers, assesses UKIP’s latest shot across Cameron’s bows with the defection of David McNarry MLA.
“Why are the Northern Irish stakeholders in Scotland’s future?” – OU Social Media Editor Paul Watterson presents his case for the inclusion of NI unionists in the Scottish referendum debate, and shares the statement we received from UUP leader Mike Nesbitt.
“When Unionism Devolves…” – Author, commentator and former TUV Assembly candidate David Vance takes an unrepentantly devo-sceptic line as he assesses the impact of devolution on Northern Irish unionism.
“Our Stake in Scotland’s Future” – Responding to our call for responses, TUV leader Jim Allister explains why he believes Ulster unionists should engage with the Scottish question in the years ahead.
“Salmond’s Choice” – Appearing here and on the Huffington Post, OU Editor Henry Hill wonders whether Salmond fancies his chances in 2014 are good enough to bet his party on the outcome.
“Scottish Independence Would Delight Our Enemies and Dismay Our Friends” – Effie Deans claims that separation would damage our ability to police the world and keep our citizens safe.
The Best of Open Unionism, September 2012:
“Ulster’s Covenant at 100” – Paul Hagan, a member of the Labour Party in Northern Ireland, uses the centenary of the covenant to ask the question: what is Ulster Unionism for?
“Decoding the Past to Inform the Present” – Ciaran MacAirt, one of OU’s regular sparring partners on Twitter, poses difficult questions to our readership about the relationship between unionism, loyalist extremism and the British state.
“The Ulster Solemn League and Covenant” – Andrew Charles, one of our regular contributors and a PhD student at QUB examining Northern Irish and Cypriot peace processes, provides a potted history of the Covenant to those unfamiliar with it.
“‘Yes’ Rally Fails as Only 5,000 Show Up” – ‘K the Unionist’, a blogger from the campaign group British Unity, cross-posts on our site with their take on the Edinburgh ‘rally for independence’.
“The Unfulfilled Promises of Independence” – Effie Deans, another of our regulars, explores the lessons modern separatists might draw from the experience of the dissolution of the USSR.
“How Will the Scottish Referendum Be Debated?” – Calum Crichton, another British Unity activist and OU regular, explains how the way the debate is framed could tip the balance one way or the other.
“The Young Conway Volunteers, St Patrick’s… and the Union” – Our Social Media Editor, Paul Watterson, challenges the idea that there exists a cohesive and homogenous ‘unionist community’ in Northern Ireland today.
“The Union, As Seen from Afar” – In a gloriously frank and much-debated piece, American student, ‘Britophile’ and devout Catholic ‘Pearl of Tyburn’ offers her transatlantic perspective on the constitutional issue, and prompts heated discussion in the comments.
“Never Let the Evidence Contradict a Good Narrative” – Our editor, HCH Hill, examines how one commentator tries to duck the uncomfortable repercussions of the Daily Mail poll showing strong support for the union amongst the 16-18 age group.
The Best of the Web, October 2012:
By Paul Watterson
A good month for the Union, in the real world and online.
In the light of evidence of widening passive support for the Union and in the wake of the Covenant celebrations, Alex Kane made this plea:
“So what unionism needs to do in the run-up to April 2021 (the centenary of Northern Ireland’s creation) is promote the Union and the United Kingdom rather than what could be described as a narrower, exclusive, self-interested local unionism. As both Peter Robinson and the UUP’s John McCallister have said over the weekend, ‘unionist unity’ (and let’s interpret that as some sort of UUP/DUP merger) is not the way ahead.
“But that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be a genuine, serious effort to build support for the Union: within groups who wouldn’t describe themselves as ‘unionist’ (but who aren’t for Irish unity), as well as within the wider pool of non-voters who are maybe looking for a different manifestation of unionism.”
In Scotland, the SNP have had a stinker of a 31 days. As David Torrance pointed out, post the Cameron-Salmond Referendum agreement:
“From the UK Government’s perspective it has achieved what its strategists always called the “main prize”, in other words a single referendum question. The Scottish Government now claims it never wanted a second question in the first place which is – at best – disingenuous. Westminster pursued this relentlessly, and has undoubtedly won.”
Following the Orange Order’s “demand” (probably “polite request” is a more accurate description), Alasdair McKillop in the Scottish Review asked NI Unionists to start making a case as to why they should have a stake in the Scottish debate:
“Essentially they (the pro-Union in N.Ireland) have to do more to justify their input, to make it relevant and harder to ignore: the right to be taken seriously has to be earned, not taken for granted.”
Here on Open Unionism we did our best to oblige: both Jim Allister and Mike Nesbitt on our blog argued that all parts of the United Kingdom are organically and intrinsically linked.
Ed Miliband kind of made the same point at the Labour Conference:
Labour could “rebuild Britain as one nation – a land in which “patriotism, loyalty, dedication to the common cause courses through the veins of all, and nobody feels left out”…
…except socialists in one part of that nation apparently:
“Mr Miliband told the conference on Wednesday that he was “very wary” of contesting elections in the Province, something which several hundred local Labour members have campaigned for years to achieve.”
Ruth Dudley Edwards, on the other hand, stated that:
“The real test of One Nation ideology is…” Guess where?
Meanwhile in Wales, Carwyn Jones seems to have gone somewhat rogue on One Nation and his party leader:
“So, rather than simply allow events in Scotland to unfold, and to react passively to whatever happens when it happens, I believe that political and civil society across the UK should be talking now about what kind of UK we want to see. Whatever happens in 2014, the constitutional status quo is unsustainable.”
As the month drew to a close, that “whatever” took on a much more positive glow from a pro/Union point of view, according to:
“Will the referendum come too soon for Salmond, the SNP Pretender?”
…and Conservative Home:
“Alex Salmond accused of telling “barefaced lies” on Europe as SNP looks likely to lose its majority.”
The latest opinion polls?
55% said “No” to the question “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?”, with 29% saying “Yes” and 14% undecided.
And finally…has Gerry Adams had a chronic attack of the realities?
“It’s worth reminding ourselves that this isn’t 1798. This isn’t 1916. This isn’t 1981.”
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