Kane represents the civic wing of the UUP – he had been a member of the UUP between 1973 and 1987, but then joined the Tories. He left the Tory Party in 1996 after becoming convinced me that the "preservation, protection and promotion of the Union was not regarded as either a government or party priority".
He returned to the UUP, as a Trimblite. He emphasises that:
"… there is not a sectarian bone in my body. I am an atheist. I don't belong to the Orange or any other Loyalist Order. I don't even support the monarchy". [Comments on Slugger O'Toole website, June 4, 2004 11:37 AM]
As such he is exactly the sort of person the new-look UUP (re-branded as UCUNF) should be trying to attract – instead it has succeeded in repelling him! A job well done, by Empey and his band of dundering fools. It seems that unionism is splintering into three equally unpalatable factions – the Neanderthals of the TUV, the orange bigots of the DUP, and the equally orange, but less professional, UUP.
As for the civic unionists? Well, by default, they are going to have to vote for the Tories – but if UCUNF seems to be too UUP-tinged, then many of them may not even vote for UCUNF. In constituencies where the UCUNF 'agreed candidate' is an unreformed UUPer, the civic unionists may turn out in smaller numbers, or even vote for Alliance.
So, as unionism shrinks, it is also splintering. This is good news for nationalism, of course, and the greater the splits, the bitterer the rivalry, and the greater the disillusionment amongst unionist voters, the better. It will be interesting to see who else quits the UUP or UCUNF between now and the election.