A large dose of Direct Rule is just the tonic to get the Ulster peace process back on track! Sounds like very bitter medicine to swallow, but it suits Sinn Fein, the Democratic Unionists, and even the Dublin government to have Westminster pulling the strings – and footing the bills.
To anyone outside of Northern Ireland, almost a year of Stormont stalemate seems like a sketch straight from Monty Python. But if you look through the DUP’s Orange glasses or Sinn Fein’s Green glasses, then new visions appear.
The root cause of the current problem is that some really tough cost-cutting austerity has to be inflicted on Northern Ireland – and would a local power-sharing Executive dominated by the DUP and Sinn Fein want to implement it? Not a chance!
For Sinn Fein, they don’t want to appear as political hypocrites. With a Southern General Election looming within a year, Sinn Fein needs to be in a position in the Dail that either of the ‘Big Two’ in Leinster House – Fianna Fail or Fine Gael – will have to form a coalition government with the IRA’s political wing if there is to be a stable parliament.
Sinn Fein is selling itself as the champion party against austerity. So how can it claim to be that champion if Northern Sinn Fein is implementing some of the most damning austerity since the reign of Maggie Thatcher?
As for the DUP, although it is the lead party in Unionism, there is always the possibility that pro-Union voters look to other Unionist parties if these austerity cuts bite too deep. Like Sinn Fein, the DUP is adopting the view – let London do the cutting and when the time is right, we will agree to bring back devolution to save the people!
Anyway, the DUP is locked into a deal with the Tories at Westminster, where Sinn Fein doesn’t take its Commons seats.
The DUP and the Ulster Unionists are seen as traditionally centre Right parties, but there’s a lot of talk in Unionist tea rooms about adopting a Hard Left approach on bread and butter issues in anticipation of a Corbyn Government.
After all, the DUP – while it is to the Right on the constitution – has always been to the Left on everyday political issues. In the UUP, the pressure group Unionist Labour held sway for many years.
For decades, Christian fundamentalists within the DUP branded working class Unionist parties, such as the Progressive Unionists, as ‘the Shankill Soviet’, but there is a strange new brand of Hard Left activist beginning to emerge within the pro-Union community – the Christian Communist!
At first reading, this seems like a polar opposite – evangelical Christians flirting with Godless Marxism, surely not!
But Northern Ireland has a history of parties pinching rivals’ political clothes over the decades, so it is nothing new for Christian activists to be rewriting Hard Left socialism to suit their agendas in much the same way as Christians in the past have rewritten translations of the Authorised King James Bible.
Voters will not be concerned about the Union or Brexit if Tory Direct Rule unleashes longer hospital waiting lists, roads left unrepaired, school budgets slashed, and poverty rising rapidly.
Already terms, such as New Unionism and Revolutionary Unionism, are appearing in the pro-Union vocabulary. UUP Leader Robin Swann in his first party conference as boss introduced delegates to the vision of ‘Radical Moderates’.
Traditionally, the Hard Left has atheism, secularism and pluralism as integral parts of their ideology, whether people describe themselves as Communist, Marxist, Leninist or Trotskyite. But what is happening in Northern Ireland is that the Christian Churches want to become active in politics.
What is not being created is a type of revolutionary liberation theology pushed by elements of the Catholic Church in South America; nor can this new Christian Communism be compared to ideologies, such as Blue Trotskyism or National Bolshevism.
Just as Marx wrote God out of communism, this new brand of Radical Moderates is writing God back into the ideals of Hard Left socialism. A lot of what the Radical Moderates believe is based on Christ’s Sermon on the Mount from the Biblical New Testament, more often known as The Beatitudes.
Again, while they may sound like airy fairy politics, the pro-Union community wants to be ready for another Westminster General Election when the expected Tory civil war finally erupts, May is deposed and Corbyn is finally handed the keys to 10 Downing Street.
Ironically, if Corbyn fails to persuade Sinn Fein to take its Commons seats, he will also have to rely on Unionists to form a Government. It is clear the Radical Moderates are positioning themselves to work with a socialist PM.
And like the wave of a Harry Potter magic wand, once the Tories have implemented their cuts, the new brand of ‘Caring Communists’ or Radical Moderates will suddenly agree a deal and Stormont will be back in business quicker than you can sing the first verse of The Red Flag! Evangelical Christians are basically playing secularists and atheists at their own game!