It was put to me last night, when was the last time the UUP held the top story on the politics section of the BBC website? National and local blogs are talking about very little else today. Even nationalist bloggers are supportive.
Iain Dale is pleased that the discussions have been made public at a time of the UUP and Conservatives choosing. I became aware of the working group some months ago. Mark Devenport’s suggestion over the Euro elections is both a logical conclusion to arrive at, and a suggestion that has been made to me. This YouGov poll is encouraging, but also an indication of just how serious both parties are about this. That survey wasn’t conducted for a tenner.
Already I’m seeing correspondence from UUP members who range from being perplexed at being asked to sign up to a Tory pact when they are traditionally Labour supporting, to outraged at the suggestion. I fear for them that they are in a tiny minority. When even Lady Hermon is showing a willingness to engage with the prospect (and I suspect that she will agree), it’s clear that the loss of membership due to this (for there will be some) will be at least offset by a growth in support it will bring. The UUP would be mad to turn down this opportunity to ride the Tory wave. The DUP were insane to behave as they have in recent weeks and utterly alienate themselves from the next Government. Perhaps now they will understand that “everybody hates us and we don’t care” really doesn’t work.
There will be problems, most immediately with CAP policy, but when there is a will there is a way. And there is clearly a will.