On Economic Unionism

It’s hardly my place to criticise Justin Cartwright, he can be as economically unionist as he fancies, and I’m nothing to do with the SDLP.
A lot of the discussion has been around how Malone Road Catholics (nationalists, ahem) may also be closet Economic Unionists, what with their legal (aid funded), public sector and teaching jobs. It’s a Belfast politics given. I say we don’t know the truth of that assertion, but we can agree that a comfortable BT9 lifestyle might lend itself to not wishing to rock the boat, and that’s totally legititmate. So I’m not particularly going to criticise the economics of it, nor self interest (because who isn’t self interested?).

I can accept that the idea of the potential economy of a united Ireland will be a difficult sell, that the benefits have to be guessed, or extrapolated, and that there must be a difficult transition,and presumably many jobs lost before they are regained.

I can accept too that, for those on the left, the structure and nature of the Irish economy (developed by Lemass and arguably turbo charged by the PD influence) with privatisations, extremely low corporation tax and a large fianncial sector might be even less attractive than the UK’s London based economy. Arguing for it might just stick in the craw for a socialist, social democrat, or a modern upholder of the 1916 Proclamation.

I won’t try and criticise Cartwright for seemingly missing his party’s number one political objective either, these things happen.

None of that, not at all.
What I want to know is, if the SDLP are (at least partially) economic unionists, if we’re to Tippex out the green from their banner leaving the red, what purpose does the party serve? What differentiates it from the British Labout party. Why expend the energy preventing that body from organising in Belfast? Is it worth having a party to deliver these people a sense of importance that coems with having their own seperate party, instead of being a tiny cog in a bigger British Labour wheel? Or is it so they can not lose the whip when they vote for grammar schools and on the social issues (abortion, gay marriage)?

Because, economic unionists voting that way in Britain aren’t always called social Democrats, oh no. They’re called Tories


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