|Progressive Unionist Party
|Comments on this document
|Northern Ireland Assembly Election, 2003
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Well, here’s a first for the Archive, and perhaps something that will be seen as a little contentious. But if not explicitly socialist, at least not self-ascribed in the context of this document, the Progressive Unionist Party could, with some legitimacy, be regarded as the most leftwards force in contemporary Unionism and therefore worthy of inclusion in the Archive.
This document is the PUP Manifesto for the 2003 Northern Ireland Assembly elections. This was the second election to this body and saw the PUP lose one seat with only David Ervine being returned. It’s an interesting document that is quite short. An introduction from David Ervine that strongly reemphasises the unionist credentials of the party…
Division over Pro and Anti Agreement views has left our community with nothing but low morale. Today those divisions should be behind us. The position of the Progressive Unionist Party is as ever Pro Union. We have a clear vision for the future of Northern Ireland within the Union and a definitive strategy to drive that vision.
That said it also is explicit in recognising distinctions between the communities in terms of identity and identification…
To create a positive and progressive future in Northern Ireland I believe we need to focus on the two core issues of respect for our different national, political and cultural identities and the political legacy we will pass onto future generations. The issue of respect is especially pertinent to the Unionist population at present. They feel that the Unionist identity is not being given the respect that it deserves. I believe they are right. As a committed Unionist myself I have always been proud of my community. Our national, political and cultural character is the result of centuries of experience and thought and thus, as I respect the identities of others, so I expect it in return. In the Progressive Unionist Party we believe that our future will be brighter when all politicians recognise and respect our differences. And it is my conviction that diverse identities will become a positive feature of a truly multicultural Northern Ireland.
It’s a little disappointing that there is very little explicit expression of left wing thinking or the terms ‘left’ or ‘social democrat’, let alone socialist - although it is notable that the term ‘working class’ is used in the text (and their website is less coy ). In policy terms the closest it comes to this is the following:
The Progressive Unionist Party repudiates the values and ethos of the new right who seek to privatise the welfare state. We oppose the handing over of our future to PPP/PFI and unaccountable ‘Trusts’. We do not trust these bodies and thus we call for: • Properly funded services directly governed by elected local authorities. • Services that are geared to facilitate community needs and not limited to the needs of stigmatised individuals. • Local community social work teams and Family Centres as the main base for social welfare activity. • Social policies that are geared towards equipping families and individuals with the resources and information to enable them to take control of their lives. • An end to managerial social work and the overthrow of contract culture. • An increase in the benefits for lone parents.
The list of candidates is particularly notable for the linkages to the voluntary and community sectors.
Many thanks to the person who forwarded this to the Archive.