The Young Unionist Blog is back after a hiatus of a year. One YU offers their personal thoughts on the UUP Tory link-up with a federal model the choice.
However, denials about merger never being an option are curious. It is understandable why that may have now been ruled out in the course of the negotiations but surely it would have been more sensible to say it has been ruled out to deny it was ever an option?
Slugger’s own Mick Fealty seemed to think merger was on the cards. Conservative NI commentators on the day seemed to have similar thoughts. The langauge of the original statment was sufficiently ambiguous to cover a range of options:
explore the possibilities of closer cooperation leading to the creation of a new political and electoral force in Northern Ireland…These discussions with the UUP should mark the beginning of a creation of a new mainstream political movement…Northern Ireland could have a new political force
While Mark Devenport at the Conservative Party conference seemed to be getting different briefings from Conservatives:
“When you to talk to some NI Conservatives they see what’s afoot as very much a merger,”
And the UUP.
“I have been expressly forbidden from using the word “merger” about the UUP-Conservative love-in (by the UUP that is).”
Overall the preparations and original announcement were handled very well by the UUP and Tories but since then the ball has been fumbled. The UUP chose to bite at the DUP bait when the response should have been that negotiations are ongoing, all such issues will be addressed by the joint working group report and until an agreement is reached nothing has changed.