Alex Kane takes note of the specific criticism being made of mainstream unionism for abandoning working class unionists/loyalists (which in many ways accounts for more of the nationalist/unionist turnout differential, than say those of the proverbial ‘Garden Centre Prod’). But as Kane retorts, neither the UPRG nor its predecessor organisation, the UDP, have made much of a fist of it either:
In East Londonderry the PUP and UDP took a combined vote of 753 in the 1998 Assembly election. Neither party fielded candidates in 2003 or 2007. In North Antrim the combined vote was 1041 in 1998 and only 230 when the PUP stood in 2003. In Foyle the PUP took 287 votes in 1998. In South Antrim the PUP got 1546 votes in 1998, but only 311 in 2003. And in East Antrim the combined vote was 2028 in 1998, plunging down to 534 in 2003.
In other words, while the UPRG may insist that mainstream unionism isn’t attracting loyalist working-class votes, it is also very clear that the specific political parties which have tried to tap into that vote (namely the Progressive Unionist Party and the Ulster Democratic Party) have also failed spectacularly.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty