Ulster Unionists must offer unionists a viable long-term vision of inclusive and stable Unionism, which appeals beyond the historic roots of Unionism. I accept that opportunism from the right will always present a problem/challenge to this approach but such an approach broadens the global appeal of Unionism and at the same time creates a potential sustainable Unionism long-term.Well, yes, and interesting that "opportunism from the right" isn't specified as in "opportunism from the DUP". More interesting is the timing, this from Liam Clarke, yesterday:
The Ulster Unionists and Democratic Unionists have held secret negotiations about fielding a joint ticket of candidates in next year's elections to Stormont.One or two of the parties' senior figures have declared themselves "unaware" of the discussions, "A UUP spokesman said that there had been "no agreement with anyone" on the issue". Not the strongest of denials that talks are at least taking place; I'm sure they are.
Party strategists say they want to maximise unionist representation in the assembly to prevent Sinn Féin becoming the biggest party and Martin McGuinness being elected first minister. There are fears in UUP ranks, however, that a deal with Peter Robinson's party could lead to the party's absorption by the DUP.
The plan is that in a constituency where five unionists could be returned, the DUP would pick three candidates and the UUP two. A joint committee of the two parties would approve each candidate.
This is similar to the arrangement the UUP had with the Conservatives under their illfated Ulster Conservative and Unionist New Force pact in the recent Westminster elections.
When (rather than if) such an arrangement comes into place, two suppositions are being made as to its success in the achievement of its stated objective (whether chasing that objective is moral, democratic and likely to forward NI politics in the long-run is a not very difficult question to answer, but one for another day):
1. That enough UUP members and voters fall behind the plan to make it work.
2. That enough SDLP voters (and maybe even members and politicians) will not decide, in what will undoubtedly be sold by Sinn Fein, as a sectarian headcount, to switch over to their main rivals.
Neither of the suppositions will be guaranteed merely, by the DUP and the UUP Elite telling us they will be so.
They have no vision for a Unionist future. It is terribly sad that the spectre of "Martin McGuinness" as FM is going to be used against Unionists as a threat or scare tactic at the next Assembly election, when he is already a joint First Minister albeit Deputy, put there by the DUP.Quite and that "they" is not confined, by any stretch of the imagination, to the DUP strategists.