It’s called the ‘Conservative and Unionist Party’ for a reason

by Tom on September 4, 2003

A brief follow-up to Henry’s post covering the link between the nuttier strains of Ulster Unionism and the UK Conservative Party.

On reading Henry’s piece, I happened to remember that last year, the Conservative member for Basingstoke, one Andrew Hunter, decided to resign from the party and join the Democratic Unionists with a view to standing for the Stormont assembly in that interest.

There are two facts to which I’d draw attention:

  1. Hunter was a member of the Commons’ Northern Ireland Select Committee from 1994 until 2001.

  2. Ian Paisley, the leader of the DUP, is a fruitcake. Dr Paisley, whose doctorate, US readers will perhaps not be shocked to learn, was awarded by Bob Jones University, believes that the Pope is the Anti-Christ; has devoted his entire political life to fighting against the cause of equal rights for Northern Ireland’s Catholic population; and is a staunch (the very staunchest?) opponent of the Good Friday Agreement.
Clearly, Hunter’s choice to jump ship doesn’t really reflect a deep strain of Paisleyite madness in the modern Tory party. He’s pretty much on his own in that particular decision.

But still: did the voters of Basingstoke know that was what they were getting?

{ 8 comments }

1

Jeremy Osner 09.04.03 at 9:21 pm

Seems weird to hold that the Pope is the Anti-Christ (well ok, that’s obvious, but still) — from his site it seems like he is not talking about the current Pope but about the office — it seems to me like Anti-Christ has to be an individual human, like Christ is/was.

2

Tom Runnacles 09.04.03 at 9:46 pm

Blimey.

Dr Paisley informs us here:

‘Antichrist’ is a Greek word. ‘Vicar’ is an English word. The words are synonymous. They have exactly the same meaning. ‘Antichrist’ translated into the English is ‘Vice Christ’ or ‘Vicar of Christ.’ ‘Vicar of Christ, rendered into the Greek is ‘Antichristos’ = ‘Antichrist.’ The ordinary use of the word in the Greek is decisive on this point. So every time the Pope claims to be, ‘The Vicar of Christ,’ he is pleading at the bar of the world’s opinion that he indeed is THE ANTICHRIST.

The news appears to be that all C of E vicars are, well, devilish?

I’m must admit that I’m worried by this suggestion, since I’ve a couple of uncles who are vicars. I’d not realised they were Satan’s little helpers until now – I’ll be more careful about accepting cucumber sandwiches from them from now on. One never knows, after all.

Paisley does keep getting re-elected, by the way: there’s an audience out there for this bizarre shtick of his.

3

Henry 09.04.03 at 10:02 pm

Paisley’s success in getting reelected isn’t only down to his extreme views; he’s notoriously good at keeping his constituents (including the Catholic ones)happy through looking after their specific needs and interests. Even if he thinks that they’re going to burn in hell, he makes sure that the council fixes their roof when it starts to leak. One of my friends (since deceased) was the RTE correspondent for Northern affairs when the Troubles started. He said that Paisley was the most humanly likable of the major political figures in the North at the time – on a one to one level, he’s apparently charming and affable. Hard to believe, I know.

4

james 09.04.03 at 10:25 pm

I think “fruitcake” is probably a fair description of Paisley, at least in the context of 2003. He did everything he could to resist equality for Northern Irish Catholics as campaigned for by the Civil Rights movement.

And not only is there “an audience” for him, but he consistently tops the poll in the NI wide Euro elections. But then Gerry Adams – who, while not a religiously sectarian person, is surely guilty of far greater crimes – would probably be elected in any constituuency in the south.

And yes Paisley is supposed to be quite charming on a personal level. And whatsmore he is supposed to be scrupulously evenhanded with catholic constituents, among whom he is said to be reasonably popular, and from whom he is also said to recieve some support in the privacy of the ballot box.

5

Robert 09.05.03 at 3:36 am

And of what “far greater crimes,” pray tell, is Adams guilty?

6

Jimmy Doyle 09.05.03 at 3:37 am

Further to Henry’s post, it’s notable that Paisley was good friends with ’60s Ulster Catholic civil rights firebrand Bernadette Devlin. What a bizarre bloke.

7

Nick 09.05.03 at 3:53 pm

On the ‘Paisley as a nice bloke’ tales, Jon Ronson (in his book Them) seems to get on with him quite well…but Ronson does seem to have the ability to get on with just about anyone.

8

james 09.05.03 at 5:38 pm

Robert,

What greater crimes? Ever heard of the IRA?

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