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Lord Ashcroft poll finds slim majority for Irish re-unification in N. Ireland:

Narrow lead for Irish re-unification
In my poll, 45% said they would vote to stay in the UK, and 46% said they would choose to leave and join the Republic of Ireland - a lead of 51% to 49% for unification when we exclude don't knows and those who say they would not vote. This is in fact a statistical tie and well within the margin of error. Such a result might also reflect the uncertainty and anxiety surrounding Brexit, the Irish border and its potential effect on life in the province, which could recede when the outcome is settled. Be that as it may, the result underlines what could be at stake in the quest for a workable Brexit solution on the island of Ireland.

People divided predictably enough by tradition, though one in twenty self-declared unionists said they would opt for unification and a further 6% said they didn't know how they would vote. Women (13%) were much more likely than men (3%) to say they were not sure what they would do. The over-65 age group was the only one with a clear majority for staying in the union (55% to 34%); 45-64s divided evenly, and a majority of those aged up to 44 said they would vote for unification.

While only 8% of unionists said they thought such a "border poll" should take place within the next decade, one in three of them thought it was likely to happen within this timescale - as did nine in ten nationalists.

A similar Lord Ashcroft poll found a narrow majority for Scottish independence last month.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Sep 12th, 2019 at 02:48:03 PM EST
In the same poll, and presented with only two options, what kind of Brexit would you prefer if Brexit has to happen?


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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Sep 12th, 2019 at 02:53:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Sep 12th, 2019 at 02:56:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]

This poll is significant because it shows quite a large swing to Irish re-unification/remaining in the EU compared to most other polls in the past. This may reflect current anxiety over Brexit, or a more lasting swing, or both.

However it is important to note it represents sentiment towards an abstract concept of a "united Ireland". No one has spelled out in detail what this would look like, or how the transition would be managed. Any such change would require a referendum both in N.I. and I.E. and we don't do abstract generalised referenda. The precise nature of the financial settlement, governance structures, and civil rights would have to spelled out - right down to the flags, emblems and anthems to be used. Nobody wants another Brexit style referendum where nobody knows what they are voting for - or against.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Sep 12th, 2019 at 03:05:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
an abstract concept of a "united Ireland"

It also represents sentiment towards an abstract concept of the United Kingdom. Do these unionists hope to stay part of a revived UK that has a strong international presence, that has taken back control of its affairs, that deals one-on-one with the US and Russia and China and EU? Or do they hope to stay part of a reduced Little England, isolated from the EU, powerless against the great powers, economically blighted, and full of violent internal group-on-group retribution?

by asdf on Thu Sep 12th, 2019 at 03:32:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Precisely, and one of my long held theories has been that a United Ireland, when it comes about, will have been caused as much by a divergence between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as by a convergence between North and South. In particular, what happens to the €10 Billion p.a. UK Exchequer subsidy to the North, roughly equivalent to the UK's net contribution to the EU?

If, as I expect, the UK economy implodes after a no-deal Brexit, and in particular UK government revenues crater, will the value for money the GB receives from its "investment" in N. Ireland not be re-examined? My fear has always been that England (and it is England that calls the financial shots) will rather hastily dump N. Ireland on the Republic, and expect us to pick up the tab, both financially and in terms of the social unrest almost certain to ensue.

Irish re-unification is a process which needs to proceed slowly, carefully, and with due regard for the civil rights and social identities of all the communities in Ireland, north and south. There have to be tangible benefits, in terms of economic development, and people have to be given time to come to terms with the changes that will inevitably be required.

National building is no longer a case of one army beating another, or one ethnic group lording it over the other, but old habits and attitudes die hard. Scottish independence could help or hinder the process, but ultimately people will have to make it work, or all communities will be net losers. Sadly the DUP have demonstrated exactly zero expertise in helping their supporters prepare for changes they know to be coming, and leadership more generally within both communities is at a low ebb.

German re-unification has also proved to be problematic, even after a generation and without the ethnic and historical divisions of the north. We do not want neo-fascist groups raising their ugly heads despoiling the political landscape of Ireland North or south. This is going to be a long, slow, and painful process, and the Brexit debacle has shown us many of the ways not to go.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Sep 12th, 2019 at 04:21:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think anyone in Tory Westminster cares what the Unionists want.

They're not interested in what British voters want, so why should they bother their wise patrician heads with distracting footnotes like The Irish Question?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Sep 12th, 2019 at 06:52:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the short term some are worried about getting a deal through, and the DUP votes may still have a bearing on that. In the longer term they may also worry about their €10 Billion p.a. subvention to the N. Ireland economy, especial if UK economy and tax revenues crater. Some, believe it or not, still have an emotional attachment to the idea of the UK, although few will have actually spent much time in N.I.  

But the hard reality is that the vast majority only think of N.I. when it causes them problems, as during the Troubles, or doing the backstop negotiations now. Polls of Tory Party members have shown they care about Brexit much more than about the Union, or even the future of the Conservative Party, and the only thing they care about more than Brexit is the prospect of Corbyn coming to power. Go figure...

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Sep 12th, 2019 at 07:18:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Something I find interesting is that I have to go into Ashcroft's tables to find out how many were neither unionist nor nationalist (178 out of 1542, or slightly above 10%), and there is no breakdown of their opinions. It can't be for statistical reasons, as the age group 18-25 has a smaller sample and their opinions are presented (they like Remain, unification and Corbyn).

I guess the Neithers are simply politically invisible. I wonder how they vote and if they do vote. Maybe some pollster could ask them.

by fjallstrom on Fri Sep 13th, 2019 at 11:41:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a tendency for pollsters and pundits to see N.I. politics simply through a Nationalist/Unionist prism. In reality there is a huge variation in views in both these camps and many are reluctant to identify with either. The Alliance, Green, Women's coalition and various left wing groups tend not to frame their politics in this way, and collectively gain c. 10-20% of the vote and there are many people disaffected from politics altogether who don't bother to vote because they feel in a minority and have little chance of having their views reflected in Parliament or the Assembly.

Naomi Long (Alliance) got a record 18.5% of the vote in the last European election because she was seen as actually having a chance to win a seat. Even then, turnout was only 45% and turnout in assembly elections is often 55-65% despite the fact that politics in NI is so fanatical, bitter, polarised and intense - or perhaps partly because of it.

It is of course hard to predict who would become politically active/engaged/energised if NI politics were to be framed in other ways - e.g. traditional right left - or if the status quo became a United Ireland rather than UK. But past violence and current passions make many people reluctant to engage at all.

Allied to that the really big decisions - Brexit, composition of UK government - are often outside the control of N. I in any case, so people are left to argue about flags and emblems...

I think the Ashcroft poll could represent something of a sea change if confirmed by other polls, but I am reluctant to read too much into it - it is one poll, conducted in a particular context, and not a real vote effecting the constitutional future of N.I.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Sep 13th, 2019 at 12:07:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's absolutely no in-depth coverage of NI in the British media.

Stories are always Sinn Fein vs DUP, and that's all we ever get.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Sep 13th, 2019 at 03:06:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
tbh there's not a lot of in-depth reporting anywhere in the media. They're really all about pitting extremes against each other for colour and ratings. nuance doesn't sell.

You see it in coverage of islam. they never get on a representative of the reasonable majority, they'll always find some hotheaded loudmouth who'll start an in-studio argument, which producers think is golden. All heat and smoke, but no light.

It's why the media got the 2017 election hopelessly wrong, cos they simply told each other that Corbyn was a no-hoper and missed the nuance that people wanted a different economic approach that iss fairer. And judging by what I'm seeing now, the next election is gonna surprise them as well

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Sep 13th, 2019 at 06:42:33 PM EST
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