When I first set up this site, I got help from a number of fellow-Unionist bloggers, one of whom was a member of the Ulster Unionist Party. At the time, as several of my views tied in with several aspects of their policy (and possibly because of my pretty hard anti-DUP line), he broached the subject of perhaps joining the party. However, I felt now and still do so, that it would be dishonest to join as my core anti-devolutionist philosophy runs counter to their acceptance of the set-up at Stormont.
Long preamble to two pieces I've read this morning; first one from Alex Kane in The Newsletter on the continuing internal debate, changes and hopefully modernisation within the UUP:
The key to survival and recovery lies in being regarded as a modern, effective, reliable and relevant political party, capable of winning back former voters and winning over new ones. The Ulster Unionist Party faces huge challenges at the coming Euro, general, council and Assembly elections: but it is better placed to meet and conquer those challenges than it has been for a very considerable time.
I can almost guarantee that even with that modernization, I would still disagree with the UUP on a number of their policies, especially those concerning social issues. On the other hand, I think it is essential for our long-term place within the Union, that the Ulster nationalism, sectarianism and social illiberalism of the DUP are challenged vigorously by other strands within Unionism. To a large extent, how successful such a challenge is at the ballot box is not that important; we need to prove the arguments of the Union to the largely apathetic middle-ground, not cement the message with the 30-35% who vote Unionist come rain, hail or shine.Put bluntly, the worse scenario presently being painted by the alarmists, that of Sinn Fein becoming the largest polling party in Northern Ireland is less important than a majority of people voting for the Union at the next Border Referendum; it (SF becoming the biggest party), given their recent antics in Limavady and elsewhere, may even work to our advantage
I apologise if this all is coming across as a bit disjointed, but the other piece I was referring to does connect indirectly with what I;m thinking about here. It’s a question posed in a short post by Beano highlighting the Conservative Party in Northern Ireland’s decision to recruit a "Party Development Officer" to "oversee the development of the Party in Northern Ireland".
“So is this” (i.e. utilizing the internet to build up a political base)
“an indication of an organisation being put together artificially rather than organically, does it matter and are there lessons here for the more established (here) local parties?”
“An indication of an organization being put together artificially” or a time and cost-efficient way for a small number of activists to promote their political ideas to the widest possible audience?
My ultimate political aim is the continuance and development of the Union; whether that’s achieved by means of the Labour, Conservative, Liberal-Democrats, UUP or even Sinn Fein and the DUP, I really don’t care. The crunch question I’d like to ask (for anyone still reading!) is:
In the United Kingdom today can a small-time activist like me achieve more by working on the ground for my primary aim within a party (compromising many of my other political beliefs by doing so,) or by continuing with a no-holds barred blog which is read, at most, by 100 people a day?