Colin Kidd writes:
There is an unexpected side to loyalism, which Peter Shirlow’s book demonstrates. Whereas middle-class Unionist Ulster was for decades happy enough to say no, time and again, to changes in the government of the province, working-class loyalists – despite their own reputation for intransigence – could not afford to indulge in the same endless rejection. Shirlow distinguishes between the ‘idiocy’ of rejectionist loyalism and an avant-garde of ‘progressive’ or ‘transitional’ loyalism willing to engage with the demands of the Catholic community and to think imaginatively about conflict resolution. Working-class loyalists experimented – long before their snooty Unionist cousins – with a ‘non-sectarian mode of Unionist politics’, which recognised the shared sufferings of working-class Protestants and Catholics alike.