Trimble's tactic…

AFTER the UUP spent the past year trying to portray itself as more hard line than the DUP, today David Trimble described his party as ‘moderate’ and ‘centrist’. Perhaps Mr Trimble realised that his chances of holding his seat may depend upon attracting the voters his party usually has little time for. But what if those people think Trimble has had his chance – and blew it?

Trimble told Breakfast with Frost:

“I think it would be much better now to let the parties and the extremes have a bit of time in opposition where they can sort themselves out.

“I think you could have a cross-community administration based on the Ulster Unionists and the SDLP. I think that trying to have a cross-community administration that brings in every party isn`t going to work in the present circumstances.

“What we want to see in this election is whether people are prepared to vote for that or are they going to, as it were, endorse the extremes and reinforce stalemate.”

The problem is, while Trimble now appears to be supporting the idea of a voluntary coalition, that the Ulster Unionists and the SDLP have invested so much in trying to out-unionist the DUP and out-green Sinn Fein respectively, that anyone from ‘the other side’ will no longer perceive them as ‘moderate’.

At the same time as the DUP and Sinn Fein have moved in from the extremes, so the UUP and SDLP have moved towards them. So when such appeals go out, the effect is minimized by the lack of ‘moderate’ (an awful word) credibility.

The UUP/SDLP argument seems to be: “Vote for us – we can make a deal after the election, but the DUP and SF can’t.”

I’m not convinced. Trimble is seen by harder line unionists as the man who fell into a republican trap, which Paisley escaped from late last year. More liberal unionists and others who have might bailed him out in the past see him as a busted flush.

There may be some tactical voting in Upper Bann, but whether it will be enough to save Trimble’s seat is a good question. It certainly won’t be enough to stop the DUP, I suspect.

  • yerman

    The problem with the UUP is that they dont have a single message – no-one ever knows what they are voting for.

    One minute they are telling us that the DUP are mad taliban-like extremists, and in the very next breath they are saying that there is little or no difference between the two parties.

    As for the ‘vote for us, the DUP cant make a deal’ line – it just doesnt cut the mustard. It might just work if the Belfast Agreement had been some shining example of a wonderful deal – but it wasnt, particularly for the unionist community.

    One minute the UUP are going out and out to take Alliance votes, and the next they are back trying to fish in the pool for unionists – the trouble with that is that they end up attracting neither.

  • Karl Rove

    It’s the samll things that do the bigs things in the end, and this, oddly enough, is that final little nail in the Turtle’s coffin.

    Everyone but everyone knows the only reason he has adopted this disengenuous, contradictory tactic is because – everything else having failed, he recokns this tosh is the only way he can gull enough SDLP voters to help him cling onto his seat, and to hell with the rest of the UUP’s chances elsewhere in the Province.

    That it’s a deeply selfish, ultimately worthless tactic is no surprise from this quarter, but put yourself in the shoes of Ulster Unionists outside the weird little world of DT in UB: he has, in essence, called for what all the muddleheaded, doesn’t-Paul-Bew-talk-a-lot-of-sense?, folk have always wanted: an SDLP/UUP coalition. Now no matter that the UUP – last week more hardline than the UUP (the GImp!), the week before that, indistinguishable from them (poor old Reg) – can’t deliver on their end of such a pact (not having the votes), and the SDLP won’t (not having the inclination), David Trimble knows, when his own fate is not directly at stake, that Unionists have to pull together or hang apart. Hence his advice to vote down the red, white and blue line in eg the Strasbourg electiosn last year.

    Many people having mockingly said, if Trimble really wants to masquerade as a born-again confederalist, or whatever make-believe, Euro-funded garbage the intellectual wing of the Alliance party wnats to call what they believe, even if their voters don’t, he should at least have the courage to come out and say it, rather than pretending still to be a mon-state British Unionist. And here we have it: he’ll pretend that he’ll favour rule with the SDLP over rule with the DUP simply in order to save his own seat, but he won’t have the guts to say that he personally has ‘moved on’ from “the Union, and just the Union!” A many who neither cares for his friends not frightens his enemies is a wretched thing to ahev for a leader. Thank goodness for what will be elft of the UUP the decade long nightamre is finally almost over.

  • Jim Bob

    Anyone who thinks that the DUP will be any different from the UUP in terms of the constitutional questions and answers is deluding themselves.

  • GavBelfast

    Did Mallon and Trimble not end up having offices as far away from each other as possible at Stormont? A funny way of sharing “Joint Office”.

    I used to have a lot of time for him, and there was time when this tactic would have appeared sincere and may indeed – with SDLP reciprocity – worked. But I think it’s too late for that.

    Increasingly, it looks like it may be Lady Sylvia and David Burnside alone after May 5th.

    Who’s fault, Mr Trimble? That’s right – the bloody voters.

  • trig

    Its fairly easy to see which two parties are under pressure in this election

    Perhaps we could have a stoop/uup/ff merger

  • The Hawk

    Wise words, Gonzo.

    And any “decent” people thinking of voting for Michael McGimpsey in South Belfast should know that this man works in his Sandy Row office.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    There may be a case for seeking an alliance of the centre or for a pact with the DUP, but to attempt both in swift succession is simply incoherent. This is an idea he really ought to have developed much earlier than this. The sad fact is that it smacks of opportunism when I suspect he is probably entirely sincere.

  • Gonzo

    Malachi O’Doherty’s column should have more on this subject tomorrow. Since I posted, I noticed a couple of other stories that seemed to largely agree on aspects of it, so remind me to blog them tomorrow.

    I mean today. Night.

  • queens_unionist

    DT is really under pressure now.
    He realises David Simpson is going to take him right to the line for his seat..and most probably win.
    But the UUp have no one but themselves to blame. They do not do enough work on the ground. The simple fact is theya re in politics for there own wallets and think they come election time they’ll do a bit of canvassing, and elction stunt and get voted it for another term! WRONG
    the electorate are wising up to trimbles antics now.
    who do u think you are kidding mr trimble

  • davidbrew

    The UUP has lost the Unionist centre-right, and is now scrabbling for the centre, which already gravitated to the Save Dave campaign in 2001. When Micheal the Mortician takes over as leader in June (albeit without those magic letters MP after his name) he will go to that well again, only to find the water almost all gone.

    The pretence that they are the true hard men of Unionism was such a joke even they couldn’t go into an election running it. The wonder is that they ever thought it was worth while playing that game.

  • yerman

    You should get on the blower to Talkback – i’m sure Trimble would LOVE to hear you on! 😉

    Also interesting to hear that the UUP have to resort to getting paid employees (Stephen Warke) to ring up and tell Trimble how wonderful he is!!!

  • Private Frazer

    Just for Q-U:

    Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mr Paisley

    If You Think We’re On The Run?

    We Are The Boys Who Will Stop Your Little Game

    We Are The Boys Who Will Make You Think Again

    ‘Cause Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mr Paisley

    If You Think Old Trimble’s Done?

    It works for so many of our fine, upstanding politicos this little ditty.

    Personally I think the UUP are DOOMED….DOOMED I tell ye. They’re all DOOMED.

  • davidbrew

    You stupid boy

  • sean west

    It will be great to see the pompous Trimble gone.

  • fair_deal

    The Electoral Commission should really be selling tickets to a few of these election counts