The Shinners can further undermine the Union by sucking up to the rapidly emerging legion of Latte Libs in the Prod community.
Latte what, I hear you ask? Unionists are in electoral fear of the so-called Garden Centre Prods.These are stereotype Protestants who stay at home on polling day, creating the impression these Unionists would rather visit a garden centre than a voting booth.But in recent years, and especially since the signing of the notorious Stormont House Agreement, a new weapon has emerged for republicans to bash the Brits – the Latte Libs, short for Latte Liberals from the Protestant community.
The stereotype is that these Prods drink copious amounts of latte coffee while planning how to undermine any Unionist to the Right of the Alliance Party. While Garden Centre Prods remain at home, the Latte Libs are active in political life, especially in the Alliance and Green parties, and have many activists within the mainstream Presbyterian Church, the North’s largest Prod denomination. Such has been the quietly growing influence of the Latte Libs that even the once-hardline Unionist parties, the DUP and UUP, are locked in a bitter battle for the centre vote in the North.
The Shinners should abandon their policy of baiting the Orange Order and the Unionist parties and leave the job to the Latte Libs. Northern Sinn Fein should focus on finishing off the Stoops and ensuring an electorally serious dissident republican political movement does not emerge. The Latte Libs have as much dislike for the Prod Loyal Orders as the nationalist residents groups who oppose contentious parades.
Many of these Latte Libs are luke-warm on the Union. The more the Shinners can create the impression in London and Dublin that Latte Libs represent the majority voice in the Prod community, the more the Union can be undermined from within. If Stormont can survive until next year’s Assembly poll, republicans should give their preferences after Sinn Fein to Alliance, the Greens and whatever is left of Basil McCrea’s NI21. The more of these Latte Libs who get elected, the less Unionism’s majority over the Shinners becomes.
If Marty McGuinness can concentrate on smashing the SDLP, and let the Latte Libs kick the Unionist parties in the electoral balls, he’ll be First Minister by 12 July next year.
The DUP and UUP have generations of expertise in beating the Orange drum, but both parties are complete amateurs when it comes to courting the centre ground in Irish politics. Both think this means sucking up to Catholic Unionists. In reality, the centre ground is dominated by pluralist and liberal Protestants.
It’s a case of history repeating itself for Unionism, as a century ago Unionist leaders Carson and Craig were constantly haunted by the spectre of liberal Protestantism. And Shinners can deliver a double whammy on Unionism – they can also suck up to the Fundie Faction of Irish Christianity’s so-called ‘born again brigade’. Many of these fundamentalists, once they become ‘born again’ Christians, or ‘saved’, abandon the Prod Loyal Orders, loyalist band scene and even the Unionist parties.
They adopt the strict Biblical advice of ‘Come Ye Out From Amongst Them.’ This is the view that once a Christian becomes ‘born again’, they should leave the worldly organisations they were part of – including Orangeism and Unionism. The Sinn Fein tactic should be to publicly challenge all Christian Churches to turn their backs on the Loyal Orders. In the meantime, the Shinners’ double-edged sword must entail a charm offensive with Latte Libs and the Fundie Faction. Do this, and it’s a case of ‘United Ireland, here we come!’