"Mr Allister has already declared his interest in North Antrim. It is thought the TUV will also stand in Lagan Valley, Strangford, East Belfast, East Antrim, South Antrim and in Mid Ulster … "
These areas correspond almost exactly to the areas of Northern Ireland that are majority Protestant, curiously enough. Perhaps the TUV agrees with this blog that there is a remarkable coincidence between religion and political persuasion in Northern Ireland.
Mid Ulster is a curious choice. Sinn Féin has a safe majority here and the TUV would just splinter the unionist minority into three instead of two. Perhaps they are just testing the waters in anticipation of the Assembly elections a year or more down the line.
More curious, though, are some of the constituencies that the TUV is not planning to run in:
- East Derry
- Upper Bann
- North Belfast
- South Belfast
Likewise in Upper Bann. Is David Simpson acceptable to Mr Allister, even though he too, apparently, is a member of a party that is 'in government with terrorists'?
And North Belfast? Is the TUV's shyness here more related to the fact that any split in the DUP's vote might gift the seat to Gerry Kelly of Sinn Féin?
And even the SDLP is apparently unacceptable to Allister, because he does not plan to compete in South Belfast – perhaps in the hope or expectation that the UUP and the DUP will eventually cobble together a 'pact' under another name to oust Alasdair McDonnell.
The TUV's Heimat is similar in shape to the real unionist 'Ulster' – i.e. a small and shrinking part of east Ulster where they still command a majority. By withdrawing electorally from the rest, the TUV is implicitly accepting the shrinking boundaries of the unionist project. There was a time when extreme unionism felt itself strong enough to stand all over Northern Ireland, but it seems that those days are over, and the extreme unionist aspiration is increasingly being pursued only in a part of Northern Ireland.