With all the recent furore about the Assembly I think it’s about time that unionists (particularly the DUP) should take a moment to reflect on a few facts.
David Cameron did not bow to threats from Peter Robinson and the DUP. No doubt this is a shock to Peter, the DUP and unionism in general but here’s the rub. David Cameron offered the Scottish people a referendum on whether or not they wanted to remain part of the UK. Scotland generates billions of pounds for the British exchequer, billions. Northern Ireland on the other hand creates bills, problems and costs billions to maintain. One of the first things that David Cameron crowed about on the day of the Scottish referendum result was English votes for English laws. Whilst the DUP et al might have secured a postponement back in July the dynamic has now shifted.
There is nothing to stop Cameron laying the ground for an English referendum on the future of Northern Ireland – the Scottish referendum was a shot across the bow, if you like.
It’s an easy sell. He only has to pitch that the money spent on NI could keep English fathers, mothers, sons and daughters in gainful waged employment for life. That he could use it to build affordable social housing, that he could invest it in infrastructure throughout England, that cutting loose NI would do away with a sizeable security threat, that the antics of it’s citizenry each July would no longer be a source of international embarrassment and shame etc.
It’s a “no brainer”.
The DUP and Sinn Fein are playing fast and loose with the Assembly but it is the DUP who have more to lose than Sinn Fein in the event that direct rule is adopted. Do they really think that the rather convenient imposition / legislation for welfare reform will be the only thing that will be imposed that they and Sinn Fein can cry “Well, it wasn’t us who imposed it”?
In the event that the Assembly is driven to suspension as a result of the DUP antics they will be paving the way for equal rights as far as gay marriage goes and the right of gay people to donate blood – to name but two pieces of UK legislation they have stymied and denied the electorate on the basis of their fundamentalist christian beliefs. Whilst any such legislation is to be welcomed it will leave the DUP as a marginalised spent force in a cap in hand handout charity basket case backwater that the English would happily offload if encouraged to do so.
They might want to think about that.