Thursday, October 29, 2009

Liberal conservatism was last year

I hope I'm not in danger of turning this blog into Chekov-watch (perhaps I'm still suffering withdrawal symptoms due to the abrupt departure from the scene of Scottish Unionist), but once again I can't help noticing a bit of a problem with his post today. In it, he draws some damning conclusions on the nature of the DUP - namely that they are divorced from the 'mainstream' of British politics - based on the fact that only their representative Gregory Campbell spoke in favour of the death penalty in a debate in Westminster Hall. The snag for Chekov is that Campbell's views are in fact shared by a significant minority of parliamentarians at Westminster - and most of them are to be found on the Conservative benches. Which poses the question of why on earth a self-described 'liberal Unionist' would be quite so keen on his party's return lock, stock, and barrel to the Tory fold, when the other two GB-wide parties have a centre of gravity on this issue much closer to his own views? There may well be a case for fathoming a credible way to allow voters in Northern Ireland to vote on ideological rather than sectarian grounds if they so wish, but if and when that happens, my guess is that a 'liberal unionist' could only ever ultimately feel comfortable in a liberal unionist party. Such a beast exists - but it's not called the Conservative party. There's a reason for that.

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