Unionist backroom

Unionist commentator Steven King, who has had an interesting, if very indirect, public tennis match with Peter Robinson in the last few weeks (see here and here), raises some important points in last night’s Belfast Telegraph.

Addressing the dissidents in the UUP, he suggests that they as a party have to play a winable game, not one built on nostagia for times past:

“Yearnings for the good old days, distrust of “high-wire acts” and other ostrich-like instincts will not get round the political, social, cultural and demographic challenge of Irish nationalism. Peter Robinson’s recent surreptitious attempt to reposition the DUP is one sign of that.”

He gives it historical context:

“From the start of the Hume-Adams dialogue it has seemed highly unlikely that the SDLP would go it alone without Sinn Fein. Since the election result of 2001 when the SDLP was outpolled by Sinn Fein it has become a total impossibility. It would be more honest for Trimble’s critics to say they desire a return to direct rule.”

Importantly he tackles a major source of Unionist fear – the subsumation of protestants in a forced United Ireland:

“Republican ideology is decomposing daily. Witness above all Gerry Adams’ remarks in New York defending the need for unionists to assent and consent to any united Ireland when the whole IRA campaign was fought to deny precisely that right. Militant republicanism is taking its final breaths.”

And finally a call to arms:

“The nature of politics in Northern Ireland is changing. Unionists need to prioritise their own long-term interests. To fight old games by old rules is not the answer.”