IT will be difficult enough for the Progressive Unionists to fill David Ervine‘s shoes. The unfortunate timing of his tragic death just before an election makes things hard enough, but Ervine‘s charisma and public profile will be sorely missed in this campaign, and his successor could struggle to make much of an impact before the polls. With the party not having performed particularly well in recent elections, even with Ervine’s profile, I doubt if invoking his name in this one will increase the vote. The PUP is fighting for survival in this election campaign. If the PUP went the same way as the UDP, political loyalism would be completely voiceless in a new Assembly. Without the restraint of the PUP, and with repercussions likely to flow from the Police Ombudsman report into security force collusion, the UVF could find itself in the same divided position as the UDA. However, as Sinn Fein has shown, there is one vote-winning card the UVF could play to the PUP’s advantage – it could seize the initiative and decommission or disband before the election, even though it’s more likely to happen later. If Gerry Adams can freely attend a UVF man’s funeral, their war is clearly over.