Monday 24 November 2008

A silver lining

This blog has not yet commented on the reported semi-marriage of the UUP and the English Tories, as the details do not yet permit a clear view of what has been agreed.

However, the question of whether the link-up is a good or a bad thing for nationalism has been answered fairly clearly by the DUP, in a speech by DUP MLA for Strangford, Michelle McIlveen;
"David Cameron has indicated it is his intention to fight every single seat in Northern Ireland. Presumably the Tory Party members of the joint selection committee agree with what Mr. Cameron has said. Does Reg Empey? Will he support running candidates in every seat in Northern Ireland even if it means losing Fermanagh and South Tyrone and South Belfast to anti-Unionist parties?

Furthermore, he has opted to merge with a party whose leading members have made openly offensive remarks about key elements of the Unionist family. Who will forget Jeffrey Peel’s infamous description of the Orange Order as a “backward facing parish pump society”? Certainly not members of the loyal orders or their families when they go to vote. Will such thinking be a factor in picking UUP/Tory candidates? If so Orangemen and women need not apply."
I wonder which parallel universe McIlveen lives on? Fermanagh and South Tyrone and South Belfast have already been 'lost' to anti-unionist parties. While unionism has some chance of taking South Belfast back again, in Fermanagh and South Tyrone there is a clear and increasing nationalist majority and it would require a very united unionist candidate, and a clear split in nationalism, for it to ever again be re-taken by unionism.

Happily, it seems that Ms McIlveen's party is not going to bring about a united unionist front either in Fermanagh and South Tyrone or elsewhere. If her comments reflect DUP thinking, then unionism will be well split for some time to come, to its detriment. If the DUP is going to stir up Orangemen to not vote for the UUP/Tory creation, then areas like Fermanagh and South Tyrone are safe seats for nationalism, and indeed other seats may come into play, in Assembly elections at least.

Splits in unionism are music to nationalist ears, and the more bitter the better. This one has a lovely melody!

1 comment:

Faha said...

The UUP-Conservative merger will only hasten the demise of the UUP.
There are some within the party who are opposed to the merger. Many of these are members or voters who do not identify with the economic or social polices of the Conservative Party.I believe there will be more attriton of the UUP vote, probably to the Alliance Party with a few to the Green Party.I do not believe there will be any further siginificant loss to the DUP since most UUP voters who would defect to the DUP have already done so in the past 10 years.