As UUP sinks, 2015 could be “Year of the Three Tribes”

It is a fairly obvious point. Ask any two Ulster Unionists what the difference is between them and the DUP, and you will get two different answers; neither of which matters because, by the time “Unity” (or “agreed”) candidates have been agreed everywhere by 2015, the two parties will effectively have merged.

The Ulster Unionists’ argument seems to be, essentially, that they have moved to the right of the DUP; that essentially the DUP has “given” too much. There are two obvious problems with that – firstly, no one believes it; secondly, it is ludicrous. The fact that Jim Allister and Willie Frazer are to the right of the DUP should tell you that it’s not a very sensible place to be.

However, the Ulster Unionists cannot mean it anyway. As they hurtle towards “agreed” candidates in all of Belfast, the West and the Border, the simple fact is the parties will have ceased competing with each other by 2015. If they are not competing with each other, the assumption has to be that any differences between them are irrelevant.

Basil McCrea no doubt thinks this is his chance, but he is catastrophically mistaken there. He himself could only muster 30% of the UUP vote, and would get less than that in the DUP obviously. Therefore the “Basil” candidate in any constituency would be slaughtered by any “agreed Unionist” candidate (as Basil himself always has been – I know what that feels like myself!), not least because they would be seen as some sort of nutty dissidents. If he really wants a Shared Future, he should be delivering “Progressive unity” or “agreed Progressive” candidates with the Alliance Party at first-past-the-post elections; which again raises the same point as above concerning what (and how relevant) the real differences between the groupings are.

With Sinn Fein likely to withdraw from South Belfast again, and SDLP voters likely to endorse any Sinn Fein (or even Alliance) candidate against any “agreed Unionist”, 2015 may well be the “Year of the Three Tribes”, as Unionist, Republican and Progressive groupings come together. Time will tell.

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4 thoughts on “As UUP sinks, 2015 could be “Year of the Three Tribes”

  1. That has to be one of the most arrogant posts ever,to suggest that you cannot be republican or unionist and progressive.By the way it is possible to progress in the wrong direction,which just goes to show how conceited this concept is,It is akin to saying we are progressive,even when we are wrong,but we dont care,the tag progressive ought to be enough to get us noticed- tell that to the PUP.The reality is that trying to put people into pigeon holes is wrong,Incidentally Alliance reps I know would describe themselves as unionists with a small u,so are these progressive or unionist or both ,well it shows 1 thing -the arrogance of the “progressives”.

    • Think your response is rather more telling, Danny.

      Where does the post suggest you *can’t* be both Progressive and Unionist or Progressive and Nationalist? On the contrary, it suggests clearly that Basil is Progressive and Unionist.

      The point is that Progressives have no chance against the Traditionalists (of whichever side) in a first-past-the-post election if they do not link up with each other across the divide.

  2. mjh says:

    A Progressive pact to carve up Westminster seats between Alliance and the new liberal unionist party is a really bad idea. For both parties.

    The point of the new party is to be different from both the UUP and Alliance. How can it be different from Alliance if it seeks to get into bed with it on its first Westminster outing?

    From the Alliance point of view what damage could it do to be seen getting into bed with an avowedly unionist party? It could spend the entire election campaign on the back foot fending off questions about whether it was really a unionist party or not. While its own message went unreported or unheard.

    Plus how many votes could it lose permanently from telling some of its own voters to vote for another party, probably on the same day as it was seeking their vote in Assembly elections?

    Not to mention being a hostage to fortune from association with any comment made by the other party, or its candidates?

    And what would it have to gain? If anything liberal unionist candidates standing against agreed unionist candidates in East and South Belfast would very probably take two, three or four votes from the unionist for every one they took from Alliance.

    And all that for a common front in 2015 with a party which, if it can only command 30% of the current UUP vote, will probably not exist in 2016.

    Alliance should tell Basil and John that they would be warmly welcomed if they chose to join Alliance, and that the party would enthusiastically use their talents, but that if their choice is to have their own party then they will have to make their own way. For the good of both parties.

    • harryaswell says:

      Yes, you are correct I am sure. Basil and John have made a huge error in judgement in trying to start their own party. All they will be seen to be doing is split the already badly split Unionist vote! That is what Alliance has originally done! Huge damage to the Union as a consequence. The NI Conservatives are the same. Of course, the original treachery was the formation of the DUP, taking many votes from the Official Unionist party. Unionism just has to get over itself and co-operate amongst themselves where necessary. No doubt, much more time and effort has to be made to persuade the silent majority to actually to get out and vote. Republicans are so very much better in getting their vote out! We should learn from them!

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