This won’t be lightening the tone up at UUP headquarters… Alex Kane in today’s News Letter gives an indication why he’s walking… So did he lose an argument internally?
The sole purpose of the DUP – the very reason for its creation, I would argue – was the destruction of the UUP. The entire focus of their political, propaganda and electoral strategy was built around attacks on UUP policy and UUP leaders. There wasnt an arrangement or understanding with us which they didnt destroy when it suited them and you could count on the digits of a three-toed sloth the number of times the DUP did anything to try and shore up a collective approach to the problems faced by unionism.
Until fairly recently they were still describing us as the party of rollover unionism while continuing to launch particularly vicious attacks about the nature of our relationship with the Conservatives. Yet today we are expected to buy into the notion that the DUP and UUP should be friends again!
This is the DUP which triple-somersaulted from every position and pledge it ever held in order that it could occupy office. This is the DUP which yielded a mutual veto to Sinn Fein and changed the rules so that Sinn Fein could take the post of First Minister. This is the DUP which is being hammered by the TUV and shedding support by the day. This is the DUP which will struggle to hold seats in the Assembly or Westminster elections. This is the DUP which claimed that it had restored confidence to unionism and ended the era of stop-start devolution and the intervention and interference of British and Irish Prime Ministers. This is the DUP which has proved itself utterly, utterly incompetent. And this is the DUP which will dump the UUP when we have served our purpose.
Let me tell you exactly what the DUP mean by unionist unity. They mean a cobbled-together marriage of convenience to get themselves out of the hole that they have dug. Oh yes, they will spout the grand words of cooperation and maximising opportunities; and for good measure they will also drag in the Orange Order and consultation with the pro-Union family. But this is about nothing more than the preservation of the DUP. And if this strategy manages to cause internal conflicting message problems for the UUP; and problems with the UUP-Conservative relationship; and, better still, ensures that TUV voters are less likely to transfer to the UUP then so much the better from the DUPs stupendously hypocritical perspective.
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