The DUP and referendophobia


Well, last night’s TV debate was a fractious wash-out, but it did sluice into the public debate one important point: the DUP don’t like referendums.

You’ll remember Arlene Foster’s response when there was talk of a border poll: “Be careful what you wish for” she warned those seeking one. In other words, if a referendum were held, those seeking abolition of partition would be soundly defeated. Fair enough – she’s entitled to believe that, and who knows, she may have been right. But being of that opinion, and being a politician, why did she not go with it and put it to the people? Maybe because she suspected that the DUP could get a nasty shock. Not too many people are saying that a referendum would have produced a majority for constitutional change, but maybe it might have started a debate. Look at Scotland: the SNP were defeated in the referendum and within a few months the number of party members had increased five-fold and Nicola Sturgeon is the most popular party leader in the UK.

Last night, Martin McGuinness proposed a referendum on gay marriage, similar to that taking place in the south. Naomi Long of the Alliance party said well yeah,  the SDLP’s Mark Durkan  said he’d go with it. Both the UUP’s Danny Kennedy and the DUP’s Nigel Dodds said no. Why was that? Why is it that only the unionist parties are opposed to letting the people decide this contentious issue? Well, maybe because they suspect their position will be rejected by the bulk of the population. Which in turn, rather than going the Nicola Sturgeon way, might show how the tenor of our times, the zeitgeist as they say, the public mood and direction is moving further and further away from the unionist position on things, especially the position of the DUP. When you’ve lost not one Minister for Health for going with his party’s line but two,  you might start to fret that a referendum could open the eyes of those who have yet to see. What’s that, Virginia? King Canute for next Minister of Health? Well indeed why not. I always suspected he was a DUP member.

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24 Responses to The DUP and referendophobia

  1. Pat Mac Murphy April 29, 2015 at 8:40 am #

    Their fear is palpable…. “They don’t like it up them” as cpl Jones would say.

  2. Joe Can April 29, 2015 at 10:47 am #

    And all because old Harry The VIII couldn’t get shot of his old woman.

  3. paddykool April 29, 2015 at 11:32 am #

    The debate….”a fractious wash-out”….just about describes it alright. I was shouting at the television within minutes, myself.Can there be anything more infuriating to watch than a “debate” like this with a chairman and a rigid agenda , divided up into bite-sized chunks by commercial interjections every few minutes.Let’s face it .It was bloody awful . Doddsy couldn’t wait to get into a bitchfest like the good old days when all was lost in a cacophony of shouting .The chairman would have needed a cattle-prod to shut the buggers up after that.The one thing I did take note of was that there was only one who when making his opening statement had to resort to notes. You notice these little details….
    I didn’t watch the second lot of lesser mortals later on .I’m working my way through the final season of “Breaking Bad”, so I had better things to do.
    Referendums are all about politicians like the DUP losing control .In Stormont they can control the agenda , but if they give that power directly to the population outside the restrictions of local government they’d lose the argument every time .

    • Jude Collins April 29, 2015 at 1:48 pm #

      Breaking Bad…Mmmmmmmmmmm

  4. Iolar April 29, 2015 at 11:36 am #

    Pacts or policies?

    Marina Hyde in The Guardian informs us that Theresa May spends all her waking hours casting around for electoral kryptonite to deal with the greatest constitutional crisis since the abdication, as personified by Ms Sturgeon’s dynamic leadership of the SNP. Evelyn Waugh once put it more succinctly,

    “The Simpson crisis has been a great delight to everyone. At Maidie’s nursing home they report a pronounced turn for the better in all adult patients. There can seldom have been an event that has caused so much general delight and so little pain.”

    In a near-deserted warehouse, it was reported that David Cameron sought to engage some captive workers with his eye and explain the benefits trap to them from behind a lectern.

    “Bear with me, because this is complicated,” he said.

    “No, Prime Minister, it is not complicated,” is the stern reply ringing out from Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales.

    It is a choice between Equality or Austerity. It is a choice between bailing out bankers who created the recession or a fair system of taxation accompanied by a range of high quality public services. It is a choice between maximising profits or paying a living wage. It is a choice between paying exorbitantly high rents to landlords or the provision of affordable, high quality public housing. It is a choice between expensive submarines in the Irish Sea or food banks.

    We are living through a recession that is creating more millionaires while economic migration remains a reality for many capable and well educated citizens. Unemployment, ill-health, poverty and educational disadvantage impact equally on Catholics, Protestants and Dissenters. The electorate in the north of Ireland has an opportunity to reject austerity and break the reactionary mould of orange versus green male dominated politics, the real reason the DUP /OUP fear referenda. Time will tell.

  5. RJC April 29, 2015 at 11:39 am #

    ‘Both the UUP’s Danny Kennedy and the DUP’s Nigel Dodds said no.’

    Democracy, Unionist style.

  6. Perkin Warbeck April 29, 2015 at 12:09 pm #

    When it comes to Referendums down here in the Frees Southern Stateen, Esteemed Blogmeister, it is usually a case of buy into one, get another one free.

    At this moment in t., going forward, it is a case of the Same Difference Marriage one being the ref being bought into, while it is the lowering of the Presidential age being the other one which is getting got a free run.

    While Referendums is the norm personally Perkie’s inner pickie Latin quartermaster general would prefer Referenda, as in Enda’s neverending Referenda.

    Indeed, it was while lounge lizarding in the same Latin quarter as recently as the day before tomorrow that Perkie finally made up his mind (alleged) on how he would vote on the upcomers. What helped him to plump in favour of No ! to the Same Difference Marriage referendum was the menu for the Smoothies Fruit and Veg on offer in his caff of choice.. Specifically the green veggie section at the bottom.

    It took his inner costermonger quite a while to decide between, on the one hand, a Detox Drive (beetroot, carrot, apple, lemon, ginger) and a Cleanout Quench (spinach, kale, pineapple). As made be seen both sides have marshalled very cogent arguments on their own behalf: hence the length.

    In the end, though, Perkie plumped for the Cleanout Quench which would be, give or take, the equivalent of a No ! vote in the Referendum in Q. And not Just because of the common Q factor (though in fact it was a factor, if only a minor one) but rather because his inner, erm, spinach doctor advised him to do so, emphatically.

    In his mind’s popeye, Perkie could see his inner s.d. take his corncob pipe out of his mouth with one greasy hand while balling his other hand into a fist. The better to batter the table with his forearm a-bulge.

    -Think Lord Chesterfield !

    Was his only bellowed comment. Cryptic or what?

    So, Perkie obediently did as bid. And immediately though of Lord C’s comment for the ages: ‘The position is ridiculous, the pleasure but momentary and the expense damnable’.

    Of course: so that’s what the spinach doctor was on about. It was this quotation which nudged a dithering Perkie finally into the No ! camp.and away from the camp Yis ! side of the argument. Specifically the final third of that q.:and the expense damnable’.

    And as any reasonble voter with even half a popeye in his/her head can see and would agree. it cannot be emphasised enough, it hurts Perkie’s inner pedagogue much more than it hurts the LGTG cohort. He is, in fact, voting No ! with their interests in mind.

    ‘And the expense damnable’ reminds one of an ancient Anglo-Saxon saw which went along the following lines: ‘Mother Nature has bestowed upon —— (fill in cohort of choice) such a bounty upon them in certain areas, that the Law, in its wisdom, has withheld it from them in other areas’.

    In the context of the Same Difference Marriage Referendum it is obvious that the ‘damnable expense’ pars refers to the questionable q. of offspring. Tell Perkie’s inner and therefore not apparent parent all about it.

    Just as his spinach doctor had a foundling infant dropped at his doorstep (which he christened Sweet Pea) Perkie followed paternal suit and had not one, but two sweet peas , one of either, deposited in time at his doorstep from God Knows Where, or, at least, the inner suburbs of Newry.

    To wit, too hoo: (l to r) Petronella and Peregrine Warbeck. And have they proved expensive even unto to a damnable extent? Do not even think of going there, soldier.

    Thus, one hopes it is clear as to the reason why Perkie’s inner salt’s worth has now decided to throw in his lot with the Not on your Nellie side. To, to reiterate, save them from themselves. Despite having certain reservations (in the cheap seats) about the tone, toin and tenor of their campaign, betimes.

    To conclude: Lord Chesterfield, as it happens, provides a neat, joined-up link with the second referendum in the FSS, or the non-referendum as it is known.

    (Curmudgeons who are, alas, always with us, prefer to describe both refs as being of the divarsionary variety, there being at least two other topics of far more more pressing import – in their carping opinion, at least).

    What Perkie’s inner Caligula would prefer as a second referendum would be to change the constitution so as to allow a horse to stand for the Presidency. Regardless of what age said equine might be.

    It is the least we owe our four-legged friends. When one thinks of the horrors they must have endured at the sight of the hissy-fit for purpose Yis-mobile which the dungareed Dworking Class have hired to tour the trunk roads of the truncated country. Some campaigners at times have been seen to bare their bra-less chesticles at the yokels in many of the villages they passed through.

    One thinks of Lady Snoot of Bluestocking Towers, a contemporary of Lord Chesterfield: ‘I don’t care what they do, just as long as they don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses’.

    It would take come convincing to persuade Perkie that this Yis-mobile did not play a part in the sudden retirement of A. J. McCoy. Whatever about that of Tony McCoy.

    ‘Capall d’ Aras an Uachtarain ! A horse for the Viceregal Lodge !

    All in favour, say ‘Neigh !’.

    The second ref of course being to one which proposes to lower the age of a putative Prez down to, erm, 21. Lord C, of course, in his time as a Viceroy shared an address

  7. Freddy Mallins April 29, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

    Exciting times, Jude. The Union under serious, serious threat and not from the Irish. Burgeoning enlightenment putting the DUP and fellow travellers in an unforgiving spotlight. They are running out of places to hide and the modern world is closing in on them. They must find it odd that their antideluvian views on social issues are now being challenged on an almost daily basis. Anti Catholicism, racism and hatred of The LGBT community. A world view that is abhorrent to the rest of society but that up until recently they could espouse with impunity is now being rightly ridiculed and contested. Remember it was only a few years ago that some DUP redneck blamed gay people for hurricane Katrina in America, where hundreds of people lost their lives. So, it’s up to all right minded people to expose these back woodsmen.

    • AP April 29, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

      Ironic isn’t it that they were so eager for the Scots to stay in the union now they fear the power that they may wield. I Suppose you saw the tweet warning of the rise of the goldfish people? It’s a beautiful madness this fear the establishment, the unionists have. So what can we in the North do? Remain apathetic or turnout to vote in numbers to change things like the Scots. I know what I’d do.

  8. Belfastdan April 29, 2015 at 1:12 pm #


    Maybe a referendum is the best way to handle this particular “hot potato”.

    But it is worth noting that SF are the only party wholeheartedly in favour of gay marriage.

    Whilst the SDLP and Alliance support it in principle many of their members including elected representatives hold the opposing viewpoint.

    And what if the outcome is against gay marriage will the pro side accept the result as the peoples verdict!
    It is indeed an interesting one.

    • paddykool April 29, 2015 at 2:30 pm #

      Well …now is the time to smell the coffee Belfastdan.Equality means just that. No ifs and no buts.In that respect , it is immutable .It’s a perfect storm in terms of logic so it’s best to understand exactly what anyone might mean when they say that some citizens are more equal or less equal than others.

      There is simply a line in the sand dividing those of us who think that everyone should have the same human and civil rights as the next person. That’s what women fought for in terms of voting powers.It’s what blacks in America fought for in the 1960’s .It’s what I was marching for during times of the civil rights marches back then. Equality has no sides to it.Either every tax-payer is equal under the law or he or she is not.I don’t have much time for anyone who has a “maybe” oor m”maybe not” attitude to this one and I’ve noted those who voted or abstained from this one..Try telling your homo-sexual child, friend, cousin, nephew, niece, aunt or uncle that they are somehow less equal than anyone else because of the way they were born or who they love and that their marriage will not be recognised as lawful although some ne’er do well with a criminal record or poor social habits or whatever flaws they might have , can quite legally marry and beat up their spouses…..

      I wrote recently about the chimpanzees and their fight for the right of freedom from capture by humans….
      Some might think that a trivial thing but their human supporters have brought their case to the courts in New York. I’d say that if chimps have something of a case , then human homosexuals have a very strong one too. Like i say , you either “get” equality or you don’t understand what “morality” actually means at all.

      • Jude Collins April 29, 2015 at 2:33 pm #

        I think if you make a case for chimps and their right for freedom from capture, you might have to make the same case for a lot of animals. Horses, anyone?

        • paddykool April 29, 2015 at 4:54 pm #

          Well, Jude, I’m only writing what is actually happening in America .The case {and possibly the chimps!}… return to court later in May. I see the same holes in it that you do…. re. horses, cats, cats dogs and maybe even the whole of domesticated Animal Farm, but it is an interesting reminder that chimpanzees are our evolutionary free and wild cousins and you might argue that as wild creatures , they should not be locked up in cages in zoos or laboratories but left to their own wee wild world for as long as we humans don’t destroy every inch of it.

          • Jude Collins April 29, 2015 at 5:28 pm #

            I’m with you, PK – but I’d be sceptical about a hierarchy of animals: this animal is like me, so it should be treated better; this animal is NOT like me (and of course ugly) so I’ll forget about it. A bit like bull-fighting and fishing…

          • Perkin Warbeck April 30, 2015 at 6:48 pm #

            GRMA, a chairde,

            I hear what you’re both saying and one is McSorely tempted to move north of the Black Pig’s Dyke.

            To Discover Norneveland, its inspriational location, its stunning landscapes and, gan dabht, its friendliest of welcomes.

            Truth is, the Free Southern Stateen has never been the same since it was decided to morph the Waltons Weekly Wireless Show into a television series, called plainly, The Waltons.

            The decline is all too apparent from the introduction to the former by the mellifluous Leo Maguire – ‘the weekly reminder of the grace and beauty that lie in our heritage of Irish song – the songs our fathers loved’.- to the yawn-inducing sign off of the latter ‘good night, John-boy’.

            Deterioration is a euphemism in this context. Truly has it been all downhill by the Glenside ever since.

            Nonetheless, Perkie’s inner mighty masochist must perforce remain put with his fellow pluckers of young nettles till the current Referendum has been, erm, put to bed,so to speak. His f.pluckers being redundant members of the Banba Brass and Reed Band.

            Charlie McGee has a lot to answer for. Him and his gay guitar.

        • Perkin Warbeck April 30, 2015 at 6:29 am #

          Back in the 70s there was a Darwinian attempt in the US of A to teach a chimp the rudiments of sign language. The chimp in q. with a normal I.Q. went on to learn hundreds of same. And his name?

          As a nod in the direction of noted linguist, Noam Chomsky the guinea-pig primate was called, of course, Nim Chimpsky. Fact,. As no doubt Paddykool, champion chimpologist, can attest.

          Further back in the 50’s in the same country our four-legged friends in the Fetlock Liberation Movement had a brief spell in the sun. When the most popular TV show was ….Mr. Ed.

          The first lines of the theme song still resonates:

          -A horse is a horse, of course, of course
          And no one can talk to a horse of course
          That is, of course, unless of course the horse is the famous Mr. Ed.

          This song was the work of a pair of unsung heroes of the song-writing world, Jay Livingston and Ray Evans. A pair of nobodies who also composed forgettable songs like Mona Lisa, Silver Bells, Buttons and Bows, Que sera, sera, and Tammy.

          But enough about these nobodies whom one has never heard the Somebodies known as DJs refer to. Ever.

          One mentions this piece of equine trivia, Esteemed Blogmeister, in the context of the UK general election which one understands is underway at the moment, going forward.

          Should Mr Ed Milliband fail to make it to Number 10, the P’M.s Den, there is another option. With the moves which are afoot and afetlock to grant a constitutional right to horses to run for the Presidency in the Free Southern Stateen.

          People yakety yak a streak
          And waste your time of day
          But Mister Ed will never speak
          Unless he has something to say.

          The Labour Lieder, oops, Leader would, of course, have to change his name before declaring. No probs.

          This could easily be done by, erm, steed poll to ….Mr. Ed Bellyband.

          • paddykool April 30, 2015 at 10:07 am #

            Jeeezis…. Mighty Perk…still throttling away on all cylinders!!! I wonder how many of our younger readers picked up on all those wonderful references…?

          • Jude Collins April 30, 2015 at 10:30 am #

            Whaddyamean, ‘our younger readers’, PK? I missed 70% of them myself…I know they’re in there but I don’t know what they are. How privileged we are to have a man of such stunning originality and fluency on this blogsite – I really mean that. Hail Might Perk! (assumes adoration position).

          • paddykool April 30, 2015 at 11:27 am #

            I am still awaiting with bated breath mention of “Car 54 Where Are You?” and “Bootsie and Snudge” , Jude and how the Mighty Perk will weave those lost but iconic televisual gems into the weft our column!!!

      • Pointis April 29, 2015 at 6:53 pm #

        I would agree with Belfast Dan. I am in favour of allowing gay people to get married but I am not so sure the electorate sees it the same way! The polls carried out would suggest it is popular, and it is among younger people who don’t readily vote. People are not so keen to allow pollsters to see their own prejudices so may hide their true opinions.

        If it is about equality then it should not be decided by a referendum where a majority is allowed to decide the rights of a minority. If they are equal under the law they should be treated equally. I have no doubt London courts will eventually enforce equality if an All Ireland Dublin court doesn’t do it first!

    • RJC April 29, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

      Indeed. As some wag on Twitter posted –

      “What do you mean Alliance and 1/3 of the SDLP abstained? I thought they were the good guys?”

  9. Sherdy April 29, 2015 at 4:15 pm #

    British Tories are aghast at the thought that SNP, led by the redoubtable Nicola Sturgeon, may win as many as 50 seats in Westminster. They claim this could spell the beginning of the end for the United Kingdom.
    But there are about 450 seats at Westminster.
    Maybe my maths and politics are not the best, but how can 50 MPs possibly outvote the other 400?
    Scaremongering is alive and well in the UK!

  10. Mick May 2, 2015 at 10:07 am #

    Great piece Jude, as always!