Unionist difficulties…

THIS is more of an update to Pete’s post than anything – a report of Lady Hermon’s address last night to the SDLP North Down Constituency Association (via Jeff Peel). Hermon reportedly confirms she will stand as an independent, and – after the UUP talks with the DUP organised by the Orange Order – admits she doesn’t know which way Sir Reg Empey is leading his party. The depth of ill-feeling is self-evident, although even Sir Reg might now be having second thoughts about unionist unity.

On the news that Lady Hermon secured the unanimous support of her local constituency association, the SDLP reporter wrote: An experienced politician opined was that such a vote was “the kiss of death”.Despite the spin, the UCUNF project does appear to face real difficulties. As Davy Gordon writes:

There is a cold, old-fashioned logic to the calls for unionist pacts, and it is clearly a tempting prospect for some in the UUP.

Unionist unity would be likely to play well on the doorsteps, and could wrest Westminster seats from nationalists and the First Minister’s desk from Martin McGuinness.

But even showing an interest in such a direction calls the rhetoric of the Tory link-up into doubt.

How can you not take sides if you are thinking of moving towards a pan-unionist front with the Orange Order cheering you on?

Cameron should also be aware of the potential risks to him from the speculation of recent days. He has made much of moving his party to a socially liberal position.

Whatever old-guard views may still exist in his rank-and-file, the Conservative leader will not be hitting out at single mothers or pandering to homophobia. Those kinds of views would be toxic to his cause.

So would he be able to live with a three-in-the-bed scenario with the DUP? And what does all the unionist unity speculation do for the Westminster principle of bipartisanship on Northern Ireland?

Elsewhere, on a slightly related topic, Bobballs writes: I am hearing on good authority that the DUP has suspended all Westminster selections until further notice. This is as a result of ‘pact’ talks.