THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: ‘Party unity is important, for without it the confidence of the electorate will be lost’

From the News Letter, June 29, 1956

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 6:00 am
Eight year-old Joule Dallas from Co Tyrone looking at Stormont Building onboard the Belfast City Sightseeing Open Top Bus Tours in 2009. Picture: Diane Magill/News Letter archives
Eight year-old Joule Dallas from Co Tyrone looking at Stormont Building onboard the Belfast City Sightseeing Open Top Bus Tours in 2009. Picture: Diane Magill/News Letter archives

“Often enough, in the past, when the Ulster Parliament adjourned for the summer recess, some of its members complained that it had done very little work and that it really did not deserve a holiday,” commented the News Letter on this day in 1956.

The editorial piece continued: “No complaints have been made on this occasion. Yesterday the House of Commons adjourned until October 9, after one of the brightest and breeziest sessions in its history.

“Members have earned their break and when they return some of the tangles and disputes that have marked the past few months may have been adjusted.

“Parliament has shown itself to be a lively body, and though at times this may have been embarrassing for the government, when it found that a lot of the liveliness was concentrated on its own back benches, in general way a lively Parliament is good a Parliament.

“Back bench liveliness on the Unionist side is, of course, encouraged because the opposition is weak; to a certain extent it takes the place of an effective opposition. A little of this does no harm and may even do good, but if it is carried too far party and personal ties will be strained and weakened and much harm may come of it.

“Members of the Unionist Parliamentary Party should, therefore, search their political consciences during the recess and ask themselves if things are not going rather too far in that direction.

Mr Warnock’s speech on the Rents Bill yesterday went beyond what a party member might be expected to do in the way of protest against some course of action which in his view was undesirable.

“He gave the government no credit for having mitigated the effects of the original bill, largely because of his advocacy; indeed, he made point of attacking the government for the intentions which he said lay behind the original bill.

“At the moment, Mr Warnock is adopting the role which Mr Aneurin Bevan has sometimes adopted in his relations with the Socialist Parliamentary Party at Westminster.

“The concrete argument in his long speech was in favour of ‘public ownership and renovation’ and in this, apparently, he is in line with British Socialist policy.

“The disagreements that have arisen in the party should not be allowed to fester between now and October.”

The editorial concluded: “Party unity is important, for without it the confidence of the electorate will be lost, and in Northern Ireland that is something that we cannot afford.”