WRITING in the Indo, Damian Corless is yet another neutral who appears to have put his faith in Trimble, but now sees him as a busted flush. He argues that “it’s hard to whip up sympathy for a UUP that might soon be receiving the last rites, because the Ulster Unionists have done little to cultivate the sympathies of neutrals. An innate mean-spiritedness has made the party hard to warm to, even after its move towards a softer stance in recent years.”Corless also wrote:
Faced with the probable annihilation of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) in today’s UK General Election, David Trimble warned voters against being duped into supporting the “sectarian carve-up” of the North by hardline rivals. Coming from the leader of the party that engineered the sectarian carve-up of the North in the first place, Trimble’s plea seems likely to succeed only in uniting the North’s tribes behind a wry smile.
For ardent republicans, the UUP’s relatively recent plantation of the high moral centre-ground signifies no more than a shower of scoundrels in search of a last refuge.
I find Corless’ thoughts difficult to disagree with, although the SDLP much take a fair share of the blame for the sectarian carve-up that now exists.
Whatever goodwill Trimble built for the UUP on neutral ground largely disappeared when he attempted to portray his party as more hardline than the DUP since the Assembly election of 2003.
The centre ground is unlikely to vote for a lame duck leader who let Northern Ireland down and then arrogantly tried to bribe or steal centrist votes. Neither will DUP supporters vote for DUP-lite.
The demise of the UUP might be the purge that is needed to re-energise and re-align unionism and the real centre ground. Sometimes you have to knock things down to rebuild better…