Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Is Northern Ireland's future success on a North-South basics or East-West basics

In the past few elections the SDLP has been taking a hammering in the Northern Elections with Sinn Fein engineering themselves into the position where they say they are the true Irish party. So the SDLP have been trying to claim back this territory for themselves last year they had their White paper on Irish Unity. Now they have a document about North South Co-operation.

The DUP have an alternative East-West proposal. As DUP MEP Jim Allister said.

“Bearing this reality in mind, the most obvious and natural area of co-operation is co-operation undertaken on an east-west basis, rather than the unnatural and politically-motivated north-southery”

Personally I think both of these proposals are more politically motivated then serious proposals to enhance the North. But what of the question which is better for the North. A North-South link or a East-West link.

The DUP’s first point is about tourism. Yet none of it really says why tourist links are needed to be created with Scotland to implement there proposals. Other then selling to a Scottish market. Their proposals are quiet good with such ideas as promoting leisure ports i.e. pleasure boating but they don’t say why Scottish co-operation is needed on this issue. They don’t talk about people sailing between ports in Antrim and West Scotland. So why co-operation is needed for this I don’t know. The idea of attracting Ulster-Scot American ancestor hunters is a good one. But are they going to be moving between Scotland and the North. On the other hand as Ireland is a single island. It is possible to sell it as a complete package for one simple reason. You can get a train to Belfast from Dublin but not from Belfast to Edinburgh. To go to Scotland you have to fly or go by sea. If you promote to people an Ulster-Scotland tour you have to tell them ,of the need to cross the sea and organise ferry or flight passage etc. However on an all Island bases they can travel where they want by just turning up at the bus/train/car rental depot and get where they want to go. Tourist want hassle free touring. A North South tour is less hassle then a east-west.

Next the DUP take about road infrastructure co-operation. Now no where in the plan do they talk about building a bridge between the North and Scotland So I don’t really get the need to co-operate on road building. Their calls for more Ferries and plans is a good idea. Now on the Ireland side. It is quiet obvious why road co-operation needs to take place. Because the roads join. I mean what use would the M1 be if it joined a small by-road south of the border or the other way around. So it makes sense for North-South road co-operation.

Then the proposals stop. I think this document was put together quiet quickly really as it does very little about economic development. But I will continue on with the comparison. If we compare the two economies Ireland and Scotland. We see two different stories. Now I will not bore you with the details that you already know about the Celtic Tiger. But the Scottish economy is in an entirely different animal with the state accounting for 55% of the economy while the country has about 2% growth(growth in Northern Ireland is 3% and in ROI is 5.5%). Like the North the state props up the economy is this something that the North should look towards integrating closer with. Something it wants to model itself on. From the Scotsman

Alan Mitchell of CBI Scotland said: "To have that much of the economy generated by wealth spending rather than wealth creating can't be good for the Scottish economy long term.”

The same goes for the Northern economy if they want to survive long term they have to wean themselves off the British exchequer. Maybe this is the DUP’s plan to make the country totally dependent on London’s pockets and the union will always be secure. But if they want the country to advance economically they need to adapt a new model. One highly successful model is on their doorstep in the South. While they could try every lefties wet dream the “Swedish Model” if cross border co-operation on economic factors started they would have a wealth of experience to tap in to. So economically North-South as opposed to east-west makes sense to me anyway.

Now some of the policies the SDLP came up with can be taken or leaven and they would work on an North-South, east-west basis even some like The development of an all-Ireland approach to suicide prevention should possibly be implemented on a British-Irish level However I can see where some policies would bother unionists. Such as the ability of cross-border workers being able to pay tax in either jurisdiction. Now I am not sure how many cross-border workers there are. But the prospect of money being brought out of the Northern Ireland exchequer to go to Ireland is a valid concern as it would effect the North’s ability to pay for services. Also the prospect of the all-Ireland police intelligence agency probably worries them as much as the thought of the PSNI running intelligence in the south is to us.

On the whole North-South co-operation on issues such as tourism, transport, waste disposable and economy makes sense. Much more sense then the East-West co-operation. But we have to thread carefully on this issue. Unionist sensibilities are as valid as Nationalist sensibilities they have to be shown that this is the prudent and wise thing to do. Not forced into it to appease Nationalists. The south is desperate for workers the North has them and as Northern Secretary Peter Hain said the North and the South must work together to prosper”. Perhaps Scotland too should realise the direction they are heading in and reform along the lines of the Irish model. Then maybe the East-West co-operation the DUP envisage would produce a positive outcome for Northern Ireland.

7 comments:

Parnell said...

Saint: You said that as if it were true, "In the last few elections rhe SDLP have been taking a hammering" not so! To set the record straight it was the delayed Assembly elections of 2003, where both the then main parties the SDLP and UU were locked out by the governments, presumably to iterfere with and affect a desired result where the SDLP lost heavily. Down from 24 MLAs to 18MLAs.

Some of these things were beyond the scope of the SDLP but others were not and they intended to do something about them. The Westminister-Local Government saw the first results from the new Organision and Election Chairperson. Just for the record the pace of reform goes on unabaited 3MPs 18MLAs and over 100 Local Government Cllrs is no mean base to begin with. Don't be to hasty to write off the SDLP.

parnell@elblogador.com

Parnell said...

Saint: Forgot to mention this is my first visit to The Dossing Times. Excellant Blog keep up the good work.

parnell@elblogador.com

Simon said...

Of their 3 seats in westminster. They only took south belfast due to a split in the unionist vote. They nearly lost foyle and only keept south down as the guy was good for the area and attrached some unionist voters to denign Sinn Fein the seat. Next time around they will lose the seat when he retires.

the SDLP have been on a downward slope for a while now. While it is a shame I do think Sinn Fein are in the asscendency in the north for the time being. Until the assembly gets back running.

But anyway thats is beside the point. the issue is north-south vs east-west. What do you think.

Thanks for the kind words

El Matador said...

Saint-

"They only took south belfast due to a split in the unionist vote."

Just like Sinn Féin only took Fermanagh and South Tyrone because of a spilt unionist vote. Plus, Alasdair has considerable cross-community support, so it is likely that his vote will go up in the next election as people see beyond the blinkers of 'voting for their own side' and vote instead for the best candidate for South Belfast. and don't expect either the DUP or UUP to withdraw from the next General Election in South Belfast. You may also wish to note the SDLP's council results in South Belfast, which have been excellent in recent polls.

"They nearly lost foyle and only keept south down as the guy was good for the area and attrached some unionist voters to denign Sinn Fein the seat. Next time around they will lose the seat when he retires."

Firstly, they didn't nearly lose Foyle. They trounced Sinn Féin. The provos were so sure they had won, they booked a function room for their celebrations, but when the results were revealed, it turned out the SDLP had outpolled them substantially. Plus the SDLP remains the largest grouping on Derry City Council, so I'd say it pretty safe up there. On top of this, Mitchel McLaughlin will be nearly 70 by the time the next General Election happens, so Durkan basically has a claer run.

As regards South Down, surely the 'guy being good for the area' is exactly the reason why people should vote for him! Eddie McGrady has been MP for twenty years, and yes he does get some unionist votes- in my view that's a good thing, as it shows the SDLP is working for all the community. Also, a unionist vote by definiton becomes a nationalist vote when is cast for the SDLP. In top of this, Sinn Féin in South Down is in turmoil- they have a non-resident as their MLA and Westminster candidate, much to the anger of many local activists, and it's not likely they'll be making any further inroads in that constituency. The deficit between the SDLP's vote and the SF vote was insurmountable and cannot in any way, shape or form be attributed to unionists 'lending' their vote to SF. Their was never any real chance of SF winning in that constituency, despite the noises coming from SF in South Down claiming so, which was being run by one Denis Donaldson.

"the SDLP have been on a downward slope for a while now. While it is a shame I do think Sinn Fein are in the asscendency in the north for the time being. Until the assembly gets back running."

As Parnell stated, the SDLP had a few bad elections. But every party has its blips. They lost a quarter of their seats in 2001's Assembly elections, but bad mistakes were made and the climate was so that this was pretty much unavoidable. But barring a disaster, there is no chance this will happen again. SF has plateau'd, and the SDLP is gaining ground on a daily basis. Rather than being in the ascendancy, Sinn Féin simply have more seats at the minute, but when the next elections come round, I can guarantee SDLP gains.

El Matador said...

BTW,

"unionists 'lending' their vote to SF" should read "unionists 'lending' their vote to the SDLP".

Simon said...

I think Sinn Fein vote is the vote a protest vote and until the assembly opens again they will keep it. I'll take your word on it though.

but
this
Also, a unionist vote by definiton becomes a nationalist vote when is cast for the SDLP.
is why this
so it is likely that his vote will go up in the next election as people see beyond the blinkers of 'voting for their own side' and vote instead for the best candidate for South Belfast.
Will never happen. Sadly enough.

Parnell said...

Saint: South Belfast was no cultivated luxury, it was the direct result of fastidious intensive professional electioneering. Foyle was as predicted a political landmark a defining moment. The media had misjudged, they were played, but we knew the way the land lay. South Down was and is as safe as a row of houses - despite the current press infatution.

On your second point all the rights and priviliges avaidable North/South could be and should be avaidable East/West within the commonility of the EU.