Over the last two decades the internet has become an important platform for a wide range of political causes, both good and bad, across the globe. However, and noticeably, independent websites representing the British unionist minority in Ireland have remained surprisingly rare. While the group-blog, Open Unionism, briefly attempted to fill the void before retreating to Twitter, most pro-union voices seem to have migrated to the same online venues as Neo-Nazis and Neo-Confederates in the United Kingdom or the United States. These include largely private web-based forums, chatrooms and message-boards, as well as some dangerously toxic blogs. Of course, unionism has traditionally relied on the printed word to distribute and debate its core message and this is still the case.
However, partisan newspapers like the Belfast Telegraph and the News Letter, with their aging roster of journalists and columnists, are facing their own existential threat. The perfect storm of digitisation and a dwindling readership may soon render the pro-UK community voiceless, at least in its own words and free of corporate interference or filtering. If that happens, then the historical chains of colonialism and supremacy will undoubtedly draw online unionism ever closer to the now triumphant alt- and far-right in the Anglosphere, where some semblance of a welcome exists for it. Which brings me to this report in the News Letter, noting the creation of the grandly titled Unionist Reveille:
A group of former politicians is today launching a new website with the aim of stimulating debate within unionism – but the people behind the project are not coming forward to say who they are.
The statement said that the site would promote “unfettered contributions from academics, historians, business and the professions plus politicians”.
It also said that it had been created to “address the void within unionism which feels disadvantaged by obnoxious controlled political correctness”.
The statement added that the issues that would be covered in the “opening salvo” of the site would be “cultural war, education underachievement, the border and direct rule”.
A quick read of the poorly designed blog reveals it to be more in the style – and politics – of a Jamie Bryson than a Sophie Long. Which is why it will probably go the same way as the somewhat more creditable Open Unionism, albeit with a detour into far-right rhetoric and bellicosity along the way.
[ASF: With thanks to Gary B. for the link]