“What’s the unionist version of Ireland’s Future?”

Also, on last night’s The View, Sarah Creighton asked:

“Nationalists and republicans are so far ahead of unionism when it comes to organising. What’s the unionist version of Ireland’s Future?”

Arlene Foster launched her Together UK Foundation in 2022, but they don’t seem to have attracted much interest. She met the President of Ghana, and I am sure that was nice.

As I commented at the time:

The problem with trying to cover all the UK is it all becomes a bit wishy-washy and unfocused. I am not sure how interested people in Scotland are about court cases in Dublin, or how interested people in Northern Ireland are about plans for a digital currency for Scotland – both topics recently retweeted by Together UK Foundation.

I know they are only new but it all seems a bit bland. I have never heard of any of the people behind it. They have not managed to get the household names that Ireland’s Future was able to get on board. The board is entirely female, which gets them some plus points.

The key success of Ireland’s Future is not having politicians involved. They realised early on that Sinn Fein politicians going on about a United Ireland just winds Unionists up. No matter what the message was, they just could not get past the messenger. Far better to have people from civic society leading the debate. People are more open to listening if the speaker is that nice man Jimmy Nesbitt from the tele or Frances Black from the ‘A Woman’s Heart ‘album that the entire country bought in 1992.

To be blunt, Nationalists generally loathe Arlene Foster and over the years, the feeling from her seems to be mutual. I honestly can’t think of a worse person you could pick to lead a campaign to convince Nationalists to stay in the UK. Nothing against her personally, I am sure she is a lovely lady. But like a lot of politicians, the other side has a pavlovian response every time they see or hear her. The situation would be the same if a Sinn Fein politician was heading up Ireland’s Future.

After RHI and the other scandals, I am not even sure how popular Arlene is with Unionists. According to YouGov, she is popular with 14% of people.

You could argue that the sensible thing for Arlene to do would be to get comfy on the red benches of the House of Lords and leave the task of convincing Nationalists to stick around to more neutral public figures.

Stepping back a bit, it is really hard to sell the status quo. Ireland’s Future can promise us that in a United Ireland we will be embraced like the prodigal son returning home. We will be richer, healthier, and I assume, have a more vigorous and rewarding sex life in a United Ireland. In contrast, Together UK can only promise more of the same, and to be honest, the same is a bit sh*t at the moment and getting worse.

You could sum up the debate as Ireland’s Future vs No Future, and not even in the funky nihilist Sex Pistols way.

Frankly, if this is the best defence of the Union that Unionists can muster, the omens are not good for a border poll.

Meanwhile, Ireland’s Future’s next event is at the SSE Arena on Saturday, June 15th, 2024. Get your tickets here…

Arlene Foster launches Together UK Foundation…


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