There are good examples of good practice in political communications, and there are bad examples. Yesterday’s performance by the UUP was the absolutely perfect representation of the bad examples.
In fact, the UUP contrived to oppose banning sectarian chants at football matches, and then its Health Minister managed to find a more pressing engagement than discussion of the Autism Bill.
Now, it is just about possible that Ulster Unionists privately had some reservations about the exact wording of the relevant bills. However, the public at large sees only: “sectarian party doesn’t care about autistic children“.
On top of the already existing “party will only act with Tory money” impression now rigidly impressed in the public imagination, and the “game changer” is now all going back in the wrong direction.
The UUP has to realise, and quickly, that communication with the electorate (in various forms) is everything. Voters going about their daily lives don’t have time to go into the technicalities of legislation; but they do have time to absorb the message of a sectarian, uncaring party which puts money before principle – and it’s not as if any other party has had to craft that message! That that impression is unfair is neither here nor there on 5 May.