Will you walk into my parlour?" said the Spider to the Fly,Tom Elliott in yesterday's Belfast Telegraph:
'Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I've a many curious things to shew when you are there."
Oh no, no," said the little Fly, "to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne'er come down again."
“Let us be clear, Peter Robinson wants to destroy the Ulster Unionist Party, that is what he has always been out to achieve.”"And....?" is becoming my standard response to such statements.
Larger political parties, of whatever stripe, generally want to *destroy* their smaller opponents at the ballot box and to complain about that fact is a bit like the fly complaining about the fact that the spider's out to get him. It's the natural order, in other words, and there is not a great deal of point moaning about it; how you plan to avoid ending up as the hors d'oeuvre on your aggressor's menu is of much more importance.
He (Tom, not the fly) continues:
“But if he thinks he can move further onto our ground, the centre ground, which we have defended and represented for years, we are up for the challenge of that battle — and a battle it will be.”Ah right, the fight back. Simply because the fly has been able to fly around the living-room for years (ok, hours) with impunity, it's highly unlikely the spider will respect "tradition" and leave him alone.
So, then on what grounds does Tom think he can win that battle?
Policy? Personality? Philosophy?
Better sorting out the first and last factor (not a great deal you can do about the middle one in the space of six months) there before offering down silly challenges; if there isn't a big enough difference in policy or philosophy between the two parties then the UUP is (and deserves to be) finished as an independent political force.
The spider hasn't gobbled up the fly- yet- but there isn't that much time left:
Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den,
Within his little parlour -- but she ne'er came out again!