Alex Kane offers his answer on the UUP’s role and future. He believes:
there is room for two mainstream pro-Union parties here, co-operating when necessary, while competing to attract and maximise the total pro-Union vote.
He defines the UUP’s future role as:
the role of the UUP is to be the voice of pluralist, co-operative unionism…to espouse and promote a philosophical vision and a socio/economic agenda which places the general needs of Northern Ireland above the specific electoral needs of Sinn Fein and the DUP
However, is the UUP capable of this role and is it a distinctive positioning? This sounds close to what the UUP tried in the Assembly election and it didn’t reap rewards this time, was it simply voter disbelief? Also he seems to pin some future electoral hope on the mythical 100,000/150,000 referendum voters:
If they can be motivated for that sort of poll, as they were for the 1998 referendum, then it is surely possible that they could be motivated on other issues, too.
Would there not be more immediate gains in the UUP identifying and targeting the 40-50,000 formerly regular UUP voters who haven’t switched to other parties but sat at home in 2005 and 2007?