Many ordinary unionists feel that the divisions in political unionism are driven more by personality clashes, minor differences of opinion and contrived rows rather than genuine philosophical or ideological differences.
In terms of the peace process with even TUV nudging the door open to power-sharing (under voluntary coalition) disputes would seem to be over when and how rather than if. The UUP (with PUP support) settled quickest taking a risk on promises (that weren’t delivered), the DUP waited for more up front delivery from the PIRA and more checks and balances while TUV essentially want to a bit more from the PIRA, wait a bit to be sure and change the form of devolution. Lately some UUPers seem to have been engaging in the superiority complex that contributed their problems in the first place with the “We are the real Unionists you know”. This seems to be more a rationalisation of their present usurption as the dominant party.
Considering the diversity of the Unionist community is the best way to maximise the support a single party considering the inflexibility it created in the past? The ‘one party’ view also excludes from Unionist political history the challeneges from left, right and populists that the UUP faced in the Stormont era. However, it would be difficult to argue that the diversity required:
Since Stormont collapsed in 1972, the unionist people of Northern Ireland have been encouraged to vote for at least 30 political parties
Keeping in mind the occassion and audience Drew Nelson can be forgiven for a reliance on a singular “community” and “people” if Unionism is to flourish in the 21st century it will move beyond its historic core community. While differences are theoretically possible in 2008 what are the “genuine philosophical and ideological differences” in the public positions of the Unionist parties?