THE new UUP leader, Sir Reg Empey, outlines his vision for the future in the Belfast Telegraph. Many parts of it remind me of one of Reg’s pre-election appeals to the ‘garden centre Prod’ and Alliance types: “We’re a pluralist UUP and will represent everyone. No, really.” But if the UUP vision is of a modern, pluralist, inclusive Britishness – a Union for all, if you will – then perhaps choosing loyalist parades as your first issue to highlight isn’t the way to do attract that kind of voter.
Many of the ‘pluralists’ won’t recognise contemporary ‘Britishness’ in parades, and if that is the UUP’s key issue, then Reg is back where he started. They’re larglely tolerant people, prepared to put up with parades if it means that much to people, but it doesn’t really figure amongst their personal concerns.
If Sir Reg can help resolve parade disputes, then fine. And while that will have positive effects for everyone, it will be asking those who just got on with their lives regardless of the circumstances here to be grateful for the resolution of a problem they were never a part of.
Trying to work both sides of the room didn’t work for Trimble.