3 SEPTEMBER 1988, Page 21


Ulster party

Sir: Your leading article (27 August) argues that the Government should re- medy its 'studied lack of policy' in Ulster by a policy of commitment to the British- ness of the province. This begs a number of questions.

First, despite appearances, there are no grounds for supposing that the Govern- ment has no overall political strategy for Northern Ireland. What is the Conserva- tive Party's refusal to fight for seats in the province but a calculated policy? The question is why the Government is so determined to keep the region excluded from the normal politics of the state, and destabilised, in the face of reliable opinion poll evidence that the people are ready for inclusion. The most probable answer is that its careful combination of political detachment and lofty statesmanship masks continuing commitment to Lloyd George's long-term strategy of gradually easing Uls- ter out of the UK and into an all-Ireland state.

Second, your own strangely unspecific call for the Government to commit itself to the Britishness of Ulster' will be easily ignored as long as you continue to gloss over the main way in which Northern Ireland differs politically from the rest of the country, and the practical steps that should be taken to change this. What is needed is a declaration from the Conserva- tive leadership not merely that they will allow constituency associations to be formed in the province, but that they will campaign actively to win seats — just as they are currently doing in Scotland.

Andrew Bryson

Secretary, Institute for Representative Government for Northern Ireland (London), 16 Northampton Park, London N1