Shinners could sweep board: Unionists face poll massacre
(John Coulter, Irish Daily Star)
A Nationalist Coalition of Shinners, Stoops and Alliance could snatch up to a dozen of the North’s 18 MPs in next May’s Commons showdown.
Republicans would do well to remember the impact of the Unionist Coalition of 1974 a few months before loyalist street muscle brought down the power-sharing Sunningdale Executive.
Three Unionists parties – the UUP, DUP and Vanguard came together to form the United Ulster Unionist Council, commonly known as the ‘Treble-UC’, or Unionist Coalition.
It allocated the single unionist party best placed to win, resulting in 11 of the North’s 12 constituencies returning Unionist MPs, leaving Gerry Fitt as the sole nationalist in West Belfast.
Not since the 1918 General Election immediately after World War One has nationalism the chance to take the majority of Irish seats in a Westminster poll.
Unionist infighting and Protestant voter apathy has gifted nationalism a potential May massacre at the polls, but it will require more than a mere pact in selected seats to guarantee this Commons whitewash.
Republicans would do well to remember the opinion polls in Scotland which show the Scottish National Party poised to snatch most seats north of the English border.
This could leave the SNP holding the balance of power in Westminster, especially if the staunchly anti-European Union Ukip gives Prime Minister Dave Cameron a real bloody nose in traditional Tory heartlands.
The sums are simple for republicans – there are 18 Northern seats, so 18 nationalist candidates should run under the banner of the Nationalist Coalition.
This Coalition must include the Alliance Party. Alliance is now a soft republican party.
If nationalists hold fast to the ‘one seat, one runner’ Coalition, Unionists will crawl back to Westminster with only six seats – five held by the DUP, and Sylvia Hermon holding her North Down bolthole.
Unionism will be wiped out in Belfast, with leading DUP MP Nigel Dodds losing his North Belfast bastion to the Shinners.
Okay, so Stoops boss Big Al McDonnell has dumped a bucket-load of cold water on an electoral pact with the Shinners.
But given the impending leadership coup within the SDLP, Big Al may not be party chief much longer, especially if he wants to retain his South Belfast Commons seat.
It’s been a rough few months for the Shinners as they have tried to cope with the fallout from the sex abuse allegations.
If Sinn Féin is smart, it will use talk of a Nationalist Coalition to reclaim the moral high ground among middle class nationalists.
The hard reality is that Sinn Féin is wasting its time talking about an electoral pact with the Stoops while Big Al’s faction runs the SDLP.
The only pact Sinn Féin should enter is with the SNP and Welsh Nationalist MPs. The stark choice for Sinn Féin is simple; fight next May as a single party and hold its five seats, or form a Nationalist Coalition with the Stoops and Alliance and return to London with 12 MPs.
Unionists used coalitions to rule the North for over eight decades. If republicans are serious about a united Ireland, then the Nationalist Coalition is the only way forward. Anything else is just meaningless lip service.
November 25, 2014________________
This article appeared in the November 24, 2014 edition of the Irish Daily Star.