LIBERTY, DEMOCRACY AND THE UNION

Reflecting upon the course of my professional and political life, it is clear that three major themes have consistently taken center stage: liberty, democracy and the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. These priorities have inspired my pursuits in the private sector and in public service, as a barrister, politician, member of the British Parliament and leader of the UK Unionist Party. The principles of liberty, democracy and the Union have animated my defence of civil society in Ulster, my concern for the welfare of all of the citizens of Northern Ireland and my commitment to the security of the United Kingdom. They have also informed my interpretation of how relations between the United Kingdom and Ireland, and between the British and Irish people, can best be placed on a firmer footing, the kind of strong foundation that will promote real peace and lasting stability throughout the British Isles.

Liberty, democracy and the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland are, by their very nature, complex political concepts. They encompass sophisticated constitutional issues, nuanced political principles and subtle legal arguments. The ideas of liberty and democracy, for instance, find expression in various forms not just across the globe, but even throughout Great Britain and Ireland. Within the United Kingdom itself, the notion of the Union means different things to different people. a trend that has accelerated in the past few years as a new framework of devolution is assembled across Britain. All three themes are vulnerable to suppression by populist ideas of what amounts to social peace. Understanding them thus demands serious study, systematic inquiry and reflection upon their value. So, in addition to defending these ideals in my public life, I have attempted to analyse them over the past fifteen years in a sustained series of political writings. The pieces that I have produced have taken various prose forms. They include chapters in books, political pamphlets, an academic review of the inherent tension between liberty and state authority, major speeches, party documents, submissions to government bodies and numerous articles published in newspapers and magazines throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland, such as the Belfast News Letter, Belfast Telegraph, Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph, The Times and the Irish Times.

A selection of these writings is gathered together in this volume. What unifies this representative cross-section of my work is its examination of the central place of liberty, democracy and the Union in the political life of the United Kingdom – and also in Ireland and the United States. While exploring these wider themes, this collection addresses more specific topics as well. First and foremost, it sets out a national and, I hope, persuasive case for Unionism. It delivers a democratic defence of the Union. It unapologetically asserts that only the maintenance of the Union can best serve the interests of democracy in Northern Ireland. Securing this aim requires Unionists to embrace a pluralist, liberal, non-sectarian Unionism. Major strides have been taken in this direction in recent years. Unionists in Ulster can thus fairly justify the significant contribution that they have made throughout the twentieth century to the growth and development of the great tradition of Anglo-American democracy.

There is still more distance to travel, however. An exploration of the nature of pluralist Unionism is thus one of the main features of this book. It is also a central tenet of my political philosophy. This volume consequently, clearly sets out my point of view and sketches the contours of my political thought. It establishes the imperative of liberal Unionism, while considering other issues vital to our national life, such as civil liberties, church-state relations, trade, commerce, the legal system, the European Union, the peace process in Northern Ireland, terrorism policing and media manipulation. As a whole, the ideas, policies and precepts expressed in this collection offer a democratically principled model for ensuring the success of Unionism, and the long term survival of the Union, within the matrix of contemporary British politics, Anglo-Irish affairs and North-South relations.

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