- We already know that they have alienated their own hardcore – it went off to form the TUV,
- They clearly do not like Catholics,
- They were intent on 'smashing Sinn Féin',
- They largely ignore the SDLP!,
- They boast of their dislike of the Irish language and the GAA, and their opposition to both,
- They criticise the Alliance Party,
- They alienated believers in civil liberties and thus a large proportion of liberals,
- They alienate gays and liberals (again) and thus a large proportion of labour supporters in Britain,
- They are no friends of the Conservatives,
- They compete directly against the UUP for unionist votes,
- They make no real attempt to get on with the Dublin government – and constantly try to minimise north-south cooperation,
- They have set themselves against the European Project, and thus have no friends there either,
- And now they have added the US administration – in the guise of Hilary Clinton – to their list of insultees.
The DUP has successfully avoided forming any alliances or even serious modi operandi with any other political actors or external groups. It seems to relish its complete isolation and contrarianism – but this is a very negative and counterproductive way of representing its voters' best interests.
Why does a plurality of the unionist electorate give its support to a party that is so universally unpopular? Do unionists actually like the feeling of being unloved?
How much better it would be for unionism, for the north, and for Ireland as a whole if unionist voters came out of their self-imposed isolation and actually interacted positively with the rest of the world. If unionism actually sought common ground with like-minded people, groups and parties in Belfast, Dublin, London, Strasbourg and Brussels, and stopped treating everyone and everything as a threat, their future would be a little brighter. Modern politics and governance is increasingly based upon cooperation, consensus and internationalism – the failure of the DUP in all of these areas bodes ill for the place of unionism in the modern world.
It is extremely ironic that a political philosophy that calls itself 'unionism' is, in fact, more concerned to avoid union – with its fellow Northern Irish citizens, its fellow Irishmen, its fellow British citizens, and its fellow Europeans. Divisionism may be a better term, or separateness. But in view of the DUP's preference for its sub-divisional micro-identity, it would be appropriate to rename themselves Oorsels Alane.
Unionism in the old sense – Protestant majoritarian dominance in a marginal part of a detached country – is obsolete. The UK of today is not the Britain of the Empire. The Ireland of today is not the Free State of the past. The border is an irrelevance. Europe today is not a collection of rival great powers. The world today is not made up of 'The Empire' and 'the colonies'. Unionism is ill-equipped to face any of these changes, and the DUP – despite its recent rise in prominence – is no better equipped than the old UUP. Unionism, like nationalism, needs to wake up and embrace a different world to the one it idolises – oorsels alane is a very poor strategy.