Despite the hostility of the press “…it’s still the DUP which has the muscle to get things done”

Interesting observations by Alex Kane on the internal life of Unionism

…the Orange Order’s decision to support Gibson’s participation is a very clear signal of their recognition that it’s still the DUP, rather than the smaller unionist parties, which has the muscle to get things done.

The PUP also has some big choices to make in the next few months.

The announcement that they will be contesting the 2014 Euro elections (first time since 1999, when David Ervine got 3.3 per cent), the 2015 general election (first time since 2001) as well as the 2014 council and 2016 Assembly elections means that they have to give more thought to a credible socio/economic manifesto and devote less time to on-the-street protests.

The protests may result in airtime, but they’re unlikely to deliver enough votes to make a difference anywhere. Yet if the party adopts a quieter approach to politics it may find that it gets absorbed in the very large shadow cast by the DUP. Either way, it will have its work cut out to make itself relevant in what is an increasingly large pro-Union field.

According to one private research into the PUP’s support base conducted seven or eight years ago, their core communities were pretty unequivocal. Over and over again people identified the link with the UVF as the signal reason they would not vote for them.

There is no viable political future for the PUP so long as they retain a moody and ungovernable terrorist grouping in tow.

Meanwhile what some nationalist commentators like to view as fragmentation is more often a tendency to diversify within unionism’s political market. Despite the overwhelming hostility of most of the mainstream media, it is still the DUP which retains control over the balance of power both within and without unionism.

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