On 28 November 2007 this blog commented on Allister's new party, and after a period of two years (and with Westminster elections coming up) it is interesting to revisit the article and to see how the TUV has lived up to its promise. The answer seems to be that it has performed entirely as this blog anticipated.
In 2007 this blog wrote that Allister's strategy appeared to be aimed at "winning enough seats at the next Assembly election (due in 2011) to collapse the whole show". And, as predicted, this turns out to be exactly what he intends.
In 2007 this blog also asked:
"… what can he achieve?
First and foremost, he can split the unionist vote. There may be some constituencies where a split unionist vote will give seats to nationalist candidates, or allow a precarious nationalist to keep his (or her's, in Fermanagh-South Tyrone!). At local level the effect would be strongest, and his impact would decrease the higher up the political food-chain one climbs. Despite his current position as an MEP, it is precisely the European election that he has least chance of disrupting. He will lose his seat, which will go to a 'safe' DUP candidate. Whether Nicholson loses his Euroseat is a question of demographics and turn-out on the day – Allister's 'movement' will not take many of Nicholson's votes."
10 out of 10 for this blog, it seems! Allister has turned out to be a classic unionist vote-splitter, and Fermanagh-South Tyrone is precisely the constituency (along with South Belfast) that unionists are most agitated about. Allister lost his Euro-seat, which did go to the DUP candidate (though on the day, not such a 'safe' one).
This blog also wished Allister luck: "this blog, of course, being strongly anti-unionist, wishes Mr Allister the best of luck. The more unionist votes he attracts, the easier it will be for nationalist candidates at all levels." And that sentiment remains as strong today as it was two years ago. Allister, and the TUV, continue to split unionism and cause unionists to attack each other, rather than nationalism. Allister, along with elements in the DUP of course, continues to portray an image of unionism that is virtually medieval – thereby damaging the image of unionism both within Ireland and abroad. By occupying a political position quite far to the right, Allister ensures that he is anathema to liberal opinion-formers – and they are, in our modern social-democratic Europe, the majority. But by positioning himself on the right, he has challenged the DUP from its vulnerable flank, forcing it to move rightwards and thus also closer to the wilderness. All in all, the TUV has been a boon to nationalism. For nationalists, the role that Allister and his party will play in the Westminster elections is of great interest. His intervention can only damage the unionist cause.