An interesting letter in the Belfast Telegraph from London based Alan Patterson, who argues that the potential cost of losing David Trimble is that there is no one to sustain the improved image of Unionism in Britain.
One key strength of David Trimble’s “new” unionism which has been virtually ignored in Northern Ireland has been the considerable impact which his positive and pragmatic stewardship of the Ulster Unionist Party has had upon unionism’s much maligned image in Great Britain. David Trimble was an Ulster Unionist who was prepared to compromise on political detail, if not his principles and who was able to articulate the veracity of unionist ideology to a wider British audience.
In his absence, where will the voice of Ulster unionism emanate from? Will the DUP, with its mix of unionist rebels and evangelists from rural Ulster, be able to sustain the progress made by Trimble and his colleagues, especially since 1998, in dismantling the vicious stereotypes of Ulster loyalism which prevailed throughout most of the Troubles. What then, in this period of “post-Ulster Unionism”, will be the reaction of the British public to Northern Ireland, and specifically to the approach of its newly-elected unionist leaders? True loyalism, as many have pointed out over the last 30 years, considers the reciprocal feelings of both partners in the Union.