A couple of very curious posts from Tory bloggers on both sides of the Irish Sea during the last week or so.
First up, "Ignited" pointed me in the direction of an astonishing attack on the Orange Order by the Editor of the N.I. Conservatives site, in which he appears to be advocating a ban on OO members entering the party. My personal opinion is that the actions of the Orange Order have ultimately damaged the Union over the last 30-40 years, but, whilst it remains a legal organisation, I don't think that is a strong enough reason to ban its members from joining whatever political party they may wish to join.
I'm not a member of the Conservatives, but as the only party which is represented in all four parts of the Kingdom, I hope the future brings them much more success than they presently enjoy in Northern Ireland. But I really think they should be detaching themselves more from the sectarian minutiae of Ulster politics and rather than attempting to fight the Ulster Nationalists and the UUP on the grounds of who's capable at doing a better job at protecting the British link, they should be looking to hoover up those voters who presently may have no strong views one way or the other on the Union but who, nevertheless, want a secular, conservative option to vote for.
A strange thing for a UK Unionist blogger to say you might think, telling a Unionist party to "hold back" on their Unionism...but the Conservative Party in the rest of the UK is also a party which believes in the Union- except there it is only a small (if it exists at all) part of the overall reason why people vote for the party. Their policies on education, taxation, law and order are, by and large, what delivers the Conservatives their support in Britain; but if someone in Tunbridge Wells, Swansea or Dumfries votes for the Conservatives they are also voting for the party which (still) is the party of all the United Kingdom, a party which (still) wants the British people to remain united under the Union Jack.
The Conservatives in Northern Ireland should be looking to build their own similarly inclusive niche here and if they achieve that, then the strengthening of that east-west link will naturally follow.