There’s a battle going on in Unionism. It’s the battle for that most powerful of electoral commodities: the middle class voter. Traditionally a shoe in for the UUP, the party came close to offering the DUP it’s own clothes, when Michael McGimpsey launched a fiery attack on the DUP for going to Dublin and talking to big business (subs needed). Ian Paisley, the man who (according to modern political mythology) can only say NO!, seemed to revel in his apparently new found status of Ulster’s liberal man of reason!When probed about the event, he would only say:
“I made a very good speech, and was congratulated by everybody in the place,” says Dr Paisley. “I don’t know when I was received so well, or when I spoke so well.” Two large tapestries in the diningroom of the old House of Lords on College Green of the Battle of the Boyne and the Siege of Derry, complete with illustration of the Roaring Meg cannon, made him feel comfortably at home. “I had the Boyne water behind me, and Roaring Meg in front of me. We got the Boyne water, which was holy water, and Roaring Meg, which was holy smoke,” says Dr Paisley. He would happily go down for another such get together.
And there’s more of this kind of thing to come:
“This wasn’t a one-off thing. I think it will be profitable to us that these folk realise that we are interested in the economy and we want to do something for it.”
For Republicans it makes electoral sense to push the idea publicly that the DUP is temperamentally incapable of doing an inclusive deal, whilst privately working towards one. But it looks increasingly likely that the UUP have made the mistake of taking it as an unshakeable article of faith.
As a result, the DUP are happy to take the advantage with some considerable private (and public) relish!
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty