UUP DUP Splitters? Or doubling back to Unionist unity?

Here’s an interesting one. The UUP attack site, Pants on Fire, has a piece attacking the DUP on the grounds that not only did the DUP fatally split the Unionist vote in Fermanagh South Tyrone, but they also ran in South Belfast in 2005 and lost that seat for unionism too. Now that is interesting. Not least since, if the party sticks to the Cameron doctrine (of running in all 18 seats regardless), then it will be the UUP (rather unambiguously) splitting the vote in both places…

So maybe the blame game is just getting started early this year? Or, given it is couched in terms of ‘lost opportunity’, is this a prelude to a shift in strategy? Has Jonathan Caine’s return seen an Ulsterisation of the Tory’s NI strategy? Pressed in greater Belfast for quick gains, such a deal could bring South Belfast back into play (though probably not with the party’s capable but hard pressed Health minister). It would certainly drive a horse and cart through David Cameron’s 2008 promise, but we are getting used to a pattern of forced reversals in that quarter in recent weeks.

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