Why a Unionist pact is almost certain

The new Ulster Unionist leader, Robin Swann, will have had rather less time than he would have liked to shape his party’s attitude to the idea of pacts and co-operation with the DUP, not least while the UUP are still licking their wounds following the disappointing assembly result of six weeks ago.

Both parties face a rather stark set of circumstances. Both are financially depleted, facing their third election within 12 months and looking to the prospect of a further assembly election before the end of this year. The two parties, in addition, are reeling from the poor yield of Unionist assembly seats overall and the general threat posed by a reinvigorated Sinn Féin, as well as the slow bleed of votes towards the non-tribal centre represented by Alliance and the Greens.

If Sinn Féin position their election around maximising vote share, this complicates the pact calculation. Pacts have been shown to impact turnout – due to people believing that the result is a foregone conclusion – and are likely to cause a drop in the overall share of the Unionist vote. This effect is most pronounced in East Belfast, where the combined Unionist share in 2015 of 49.3% appears to be the lowest Unionist share in the history of the seat (I checked back as far as the 1960s). This is in a constituency where Unionism would consistently poll at least in the high 60%s – often higher – and where Peter Robinson once stormed home with 81% of the vote. The effect is much less pronounced in Fermanagh South Tyrone and North Belfast, where demographic shifts are playing their role. In Newry and Armagh, Danny Kennedy lost 5% of the combined vote from 2010, although his support level remains holed around the combined Unionist vote level in the years prior to that.

The danger of sacrificing vote share is the possibility that nationalism could edge further towards the 50% support threshold that would create real pressure upon the Secretary of State to call a border poll. But the signs are nonetheless that the two parties will plump for the psychological victory of maintaining or increasing the number of Unionist seats in Westminster. It’s likely that we will see a Unionist pact not only wider in scope, but oriented more in favour of the DUP than the previous pact of 2015. With the UUP somewhat weakened, the DUP are well placed to dictate terms, and the two parties will each be keen to avoid an expensive election campaign where they can.

My guess at this point is that the DUP will offer the UUP a free run in the two parliamentary seats they already hold, alongside Newry and Armagh. Danny Kinahan enjoys a degree of cross-community support and stands a chance of benefiting from non-Unionist tactical votes; the DUP would have to work hard to displace him. It’s not clear who they would run in the area; their three MLAs are quite well known, so it would depend on whether any of them wished to leave the Assembly. The DUP also know they have no chance in Fermanagh South Tyrone or Newry & Armagh. Michelle Gildernew is likely to put up a formidable fight in a constituency that is 58% pro-remain and which stands to be heavily impacted by any issues that arise from the UK’s departure from the EU.

In exchange, the DUP will require, in addition to support in North and East Belfast, that the UUP stay away from South Belfast, a constituency where they are unable to even win an assembly seat. A Unionist pact would almost guarantee a DUP MP, at the expense of some vote share. Unionists face a high price, from their perspective, for failing to agree a pact. Máirtín Ó Muilleoir may have trailed in 2015, but a resurgent Sinn Féin campaign could lead to the party squeezing through the middle.

With this pact in place, the principal threat to a Unionist parliamentary seat outside of F&ST is in East Belfast. Speaking on the Nolan Show this morning, Alliance leader Naomi Long indicated her willingness to run, but said that the decision is in the hands of the party. The DUP will not be able to hold this seat without a pact, and a loss here would come at some cost to Arlene Foster’s authority.

In all of the other existing Unionist seats I’d expect the two Unionist parties to run a fairly soft, inexpensive campaign, and may well agree to a protocol on this as part of their pact. The Ulster Unionist Party does not have the resources or capability to bring about a push against the DUP in places like Upper Bann or East Antrim. Likewise, there is no point in battling it out in seats that Sinn Féin easily hold, such as Mid Ulster. After a bruising Assembly election campaign, they’ll be happy to settle with no overall change, especially if that involves holding three out of the four Belfast seats.

 

 

  • Deeman

    Because most people are lazy and come the next Assembly election, some simple folk will not bother as “elections are pointless”.
    The best thing to do is to row in behind the consitutional republican cause, keep trying to improve society for all, stick out the hand of friendship to our british protestant neighbours and wait for Fianna Fail to arrive to carry the United Ireland project over the line on the victory lap.

  • Skibo

    Why after arousing a nationalist electorate to get out and vote would we now ask them to go back to sleep?
    The best message we could send the SOS is there are as many Nationalist voters as Unionist voters.
    As for the rest of the world, nobody is listening. Even London isn’t listening, otherwise Theresa May would have given Brokenshire a couple more weeks to see if he can put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

  • Deeman

    Rory McElroy is standing in FST? he is the only catholic unionist i know!

  • Gopher

    Needs to be an agreed Pro stability candidate in North Down, Hermon has lost the plot.

  • Nevin

    Peggy, the other nationalist parties on the island don’t seem overly fussed about doing deals with the slightly constitutional SF. Why do you think Alliance and the Greens would be any more favourably disposed?

  • Deeman

    Err, she has the safest seat in NI. She has intergrity, respect and is more in line with British values than most of you right wing “religious” folk.

  • Jordy

    I think it’s more a case of if it falls back into the hands of the people that caused so much pain in FST will be the unbearable sting. It’ll be close but SF will probably edge it.

  • ted hagan

    Who is Rory McElroy?

  • ted hagan

    Why?

  • ted hagan

    Perhaps you should look in the mirror when it comes to bigotry.

  • ted hagan

    I imagine that ‘reaching out’ is the last thing you want.
    You relish your own prejudices too much.

  • Madra Uisce

    Northern Ireland hasnt worked in almost one hundred years which is why it remains both an economic and sectarian backwater.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    And after that wonderful dream we all woke up and had our cornflakes ! Wise up and catch yourself on ?

  • Ciaran O’Neill

    Why don’t you point out, screen-shot or quote specific times where I have been out of order Ted. Do yourself, and everyone else on here, the biggest of favours and finally, finally put your money where your mouth is. Put up or shut up

    If the height of your debating skills is simply calling people with whom you don’t agree a Lester Piggot then you deserve all of our sympathies as opposed to laughter

  • T.E.Lawrence

    The parties would not be merging in a PR-STV Assembly Election eg South Belfast return 1 Unionist last time round, the DUP would run one candidate and the UUP would run one candidate their voters would vote 1 and transfer 2 for their parties and candidates thus maximizing the Unionist vote to return 2 MLAs Is it sectarian No it’s called maximizing Pro Union MLAs

  • Skibo

    TE could you accept that Unionism are only assured of half of the seats?

  • Skibo

    TE the DUP were sure they could take the two Unionist seats and possibly next time they will. Why would they surrender the chance of two seats to ensure the UUP got one?

  • T.E.Lawrence

    What happens if FF don’t come ? They may have already sussed it out and know the South can’t afford the North ?

  • ted hagan

    You mean republicans are lily white saints and never see election victories in ‘sectarian’ terms? No of course not … ‘ tolerance and respect’ ; I get it;

  • ted hagan

    Triumphalism? Isn’t that’s what has been going on over the past few weeks? DUP/:SF Two tribes, both bigoted. That’s the way I see it. They deserve each other.

  • mjh

    That hits the kernel of the problem entirely. In order to maximise the chances of a pact producing the highest number of unionist MLA’s the DUP would have to surrender the chance of taking good chances of additional seats for themselves – even where they came closer than the UUP last time. Another example would be Lagan Valley.

  • Gopher

    I’m a pro choice athiest actually who would rather unionists would agree to equal marriage as a matter of fact. Not going to the Brexit negotiations with the strongest possible hand will damage the UK, Hermon seems determined to undermine Britain getting the best deal possible therefore needs deposed.

  • ted hagan

    Anglo-Saxon Protestant. What’s that all about then?
    You just fire cheap shots and paint stereotypes. Yes there are unionists party bigots, some are not. Yes there are Creationists or whatever they are called. Many are not. There are various views within these parties about abortion, same sex marriage etc but you want to lump them into one little box that suits your own narrow bigoted, intolerant, sectarian standpoint and that doesn’t involve too much thinking or too much understanding, or any debating skills for that matter,,because your mind is clearly closed. It would be refreshing on this site to read views that weren’t predictable and that were open to debating the mountain of humbug that emanates from BOTH Republican and Unionist camps in this sorry little state.
    And finally, could you point out the ‘wide diversity’ that represents anything other than Protestant or Catholic or Irish/British/Northern Iirsh in ourr enlightened country?
    And yes, you are totally out of order.
    . .

  • Ciarán

    “slightly constitutional SF”

    I just can’t wait to read this new moniker for the next year on all your posts. Seems a bit half assed though, if you don’t mind me saying, why not just go for good old SF/IRA?

  • Brendan Heading

    Is this not what all elections are in Northern Ireland on both sides?

    They don’t have to be; pacts ensure that they definitely will not be.

  • Brendan Heading

    A matter of opinion of course, but since FST is so marginal and has spent so long in SF’s hands, I’m not sure it is the same psychologically as retaking SB.

  • Brendan Heading

    Sounds like nonsense to me. There is a choice – have a pact, and lose vote share but win seats; or don’t have a pact, run diverse unionist candidates and lose seats. They’ll come down on the side of more seats every time.

  • Brendan Heading

    Is there any particular reason why you’re ignoring the clear evidence as it has already been explained to you regarding the different factors at play in an FPTP election; and is there any specific reason why you are ignoring the result of the last Westminster election in these two seats ? It wouldn’t be because they disprove your case ?

  • Nevin

    Ciáran, there’s no need to get over-excited; the term is neither new to me nor even new:

    “It was not only the usual ‘dissident’ suspects who failed to see any possibilities of a transformation of Sinn Féin into the slightly constitutional form of Fianna Fáil.” .. in the aftermath of the 1998 Agreement.

    Apart from that, do you agree or disagree with the overall sentiment?

  • Nevin

    Brendan, it seems my words of caution, not case study, have neither penetrated your skull nor that of Colum Eastwood.

    In that table, the speculation was very good for SDLP and Alliance seats but well up the left for the others.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    The DUP would consider doing to keep alive another unionist party which attracts pro Union votes that they cannot get. Guys be under no illusions out there! There is some serious discussions being held within the unionist sticks how they can maximize and get that pro Union vote out or come back to unionism ! It cannot be done with one DUP Party

  • T.E.Lawrence

    As we have discussed earlier the game is not about DUP seats but maximizing the total Pro Union Vote ! Seats will fall to the unionists parties pact the way they want to manage the votes and transfers

  • TJ53

    She’s standing down that’s sorted.

  • Oggins

    Bingo T.E. Our future will not be determined by orange or green leaders, it will be by the winning of hearts and minds of the middle. Both sides banging tribal drums

  • Oggins

    Well considering the whole of Stormount are not in office and the fact that Belfast has the worst rush hour in the UK and the city has terrible bus links, i would question that. Yes i know he has inherited a lot of this.

  • grumpy oul man

    What is a ” pro stability candidate” what defines one.

  • Gopher

    Any confirmation?

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    I think you can depend on a unionist, NI or UK, to be as blinkered as it’s possible to be. It’s a function of having a right-wing viewpoint, and possibly something to do with early toilet-training. In any case, they are their own worst enemies usually, and in Scotland we are depending on this to be the continuing case.

  • Trasna

    The DUP shouldn’t even be in Stormont as they never signed up to the GFA.

  • Ciaran O’Neill

    I’ll tell you what, give me a shout when the unionist pact candidates DON’T match the description I’ve given above.

    I’m well aware of the diversity of opinion within broader unionism and more than aware that there are more brighter, articulate and perhaps passionate unionists out there other than those who dominate political unionism presently. But will they be on the unionist pact ticket? Hell no. The question you should be asking yourself is why

  • mjh

    Well is it about seats or votes, T.E? If it were really about maximising the unionist vote there would be no talk of a pact. Just look at what the last pact delivered in terms of votes in East Belfast.

    In the last ten years the total vote for all unionist orientated candidates never dropped below 59% at any election – except for 2015 when the pact reduced the unionist share to 49%.

    Look at the results in the other seats included in the pact.

    The evidence is that unionist pacts actually reduce the total unionist vote share rather than increasing it.

  • Deeman

    Then a border poll may be lost and NI will remain in the UK for another 7 years. Nationalism will have to wait for the 50 plus 1 scenario which is not ideal. The trust of a section of the British protestant community is key to a successful new Ireland.

  • Brendan Heading

    Nevin, as I said, I prefer to work with the evidence that is there. I appreciate that in your world that the words of a senior politician supercede facts; but that’s not how I see it.

  • ted hagan

    I’m not a unionist, so I don’t know why. I’m just anti-bigotry and anti- tribal and all the nonsense and prejudice that goes with it. From the DUP,, from Sinn Fein, it’s all bullshit; Can’t you see that?

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Of course pacts is about seats in any Westminster Elections and unionism is trying to find a way that all unionists will come out and vote for an agreed unionist candidate but as I have said previously unionism is also looking for voting transfer pacts in both future assembly and local council elections to get the maximum unionist turn out and voting transfers to increase the Pro Union Vote

  • mjh

    Thanks for the reply, T.E. But it doesn’t help me understand the enthusiasm for a unionist pact in the face of the evidence that it definitely weakens the total unionist vote share, and will almost certainly make it more difficult to increase the unionist total of MLA’s.

    I can understand the enthusiasm of the DUP, since a pact will emasculate the UUP ( plus transfer at least one and possibly more UUP Assembly seats into the DUP column) – and put the TUV and PUP even more firmly back in their boxes. So the DUP will emerge stronger, while political unionism as a whole will emerge with fewer votes, and with the recent SF gains cemented in.

    If it ever becomes possible to rub your hands with glee, and hug your sides with laughter at the same time, you will find them doing just that in Connelly House.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Believe it or not MJH the DUP has been more concilitory to other unionists since the SF Electoral Surge back in March ! They are beginning to talk to all shades of unionism which they ignored previously and know that they themselves can never maximise the Pro Union Vote in NI. Yes agree a unionist pact in Westie Elections because of the nature of FPTP is about gaining/holding existing seats for Unionism and their will be unionist voters who will refuse to vote for either party in a particular consitituency so you are correct this will not maximise the Pro Union Vote, but the next phase of the pact discussions regarding Assembly Elections and Local Council Elections is the most significant. It is here that the Pro Unionist Parties can agree to stand particular candidates in different constituencies to get all shades of unionist voters out who will then be educated to transfer down the line to all other Pro Unionist Candidates. I will let others up in Connelly House hug their sides with laughter at the next Assembly Elections when they see Unionist Ballot Boxes returning over 75% returns. As I have said before there is a lot of work going on in the undergrowth by little busy unionist ants at the moment !

  • Fear Éireannach

    The UUP voted for Brexit, they are no different now, whatever about the past.

  • Croiteir

    Whats this “we” business?

  • Croiteir

    Absolutely correct, it is numbers of votes that count for nationalists. However do not underplay the importance of Westminster seats. I would point out that the fewer unionists going to Westminster cuts the cash going to unionism and thus hampers their ability to operate, makes for bad optics abroad undermining their arguments, erodes local unionisms morale.

  • RWP

    What about Lady Hermon? If she decides to stand down, then could the DUP offer a free ride to the UUP in that seat, in exchange for South Belfast?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Why would Alliance tarnish its brand by allying with sectarians like SF?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Hardly something new, it was SF over 30 years ago and has been at various times since on and off. So what?

  • Peggy kelly

    The Fleg?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Explain?

  • mjh

    I’m equally dubious about the benefits of a pact for the Assembly/Council elections.

    I take the point that the presence of candidates from more than one brand of unionism will mitigate the loss of voters that we agree will take place in a FPTP election with only one unionist candidate on offer. But this still leaves the problem of
    those UUP voters who do not like the idea of a pact with the DUP in Assembly and Council elections some of whom will jump to another party in protest.

    On the question of a pact and a voter education programme having the potential to improve transfer rates between unionist parties I have three points:

    1) All parties have had transfer education programmes running for their own voters for nigh on 45 years. These have proved singularly unsuccessful. On average, when a party has more than one candidate standing, about a fifth of their 1st preference voters give a different party their second preference. (Even SF, which is reckoned to have the best “voter management” system saw 16% of their 1st preference votes go elsewhere when transferred at the last election).

    2) Transfers are much less important than first preferences when it comes to winning seats. It would require a very high level increase in the inter-unionist transfer rate to offset even a very small erosion in share of first preference votes.

    3) Even a substantial increase in inter-unionist transfers will be wasted if a pact reduces the transfer friendliness of UUP candidates to centre party and SDLP voters.

    Finally, and probably most important of all, has anyone worked out how the unionist parties are going to have a series of pacts throughout NI, accompanied by voter transfer education programmes without stimulating nationalist voters to maintain, or even increase, their turnout and transfer rates?

    I simply don’t understand the strategy. It seems like unionist solidarity is more important than the Union.

  • grumpy oul man

    Wonderful,just a while ago on another thread you were saying that Aliance’s alaince with the Shinners over the flag done them no good, now you seem to be implying that a ( very unlikely) alliance over Brexit would be a first.
    Did you also advise the UUP not to have a pact with the secterian DUP.
    I ask because dispite the obvious and open secterism of the DUP ,a quick check of other threads show no such problem with parties having deals with secterian parties as long as they are unionist secterian parties.

  • Barneyt

    You could argue that abandoning your remain position during an election that is driven by brexit, in favour of a unionist pact is tribal at least. There’s a reversion to politic-normale here by the UUP and with a new leader they have an opportunity to step outside of sectarian politics. They’ve elected not to and are in every sense part of the brexit effort. They are persistent followers, rowing in behind the preservation of the union campaign alongside the DUP who have helped ensure that the UK union is near fatally damaged. The DUP on the other hand are entirely consistent

  • Peggy kelly

    It supported SF and SDLP on the removal of the BCC flag

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Fair Play to you mjh you have now pushed me into an irish border poll referendum ! Remain in the UK or All Ireland ? What way would you Vote ?

  • Brendan Heading

    TE,

    I don’t doubt that what you say is true, but we’ve been here before. Do you remember the Unionist Forum and other similar bodies that the DUP set up to try to draw other unionist parties in to get them to toe the DUP line following the “crisis” that was the flags issue ? Eventually the other parties walked away from it when its purpose became clear.

    It is unsurprising that they would do this again. The DUP’s objective is to be the single unionist party, and the largest party in Northern Ireland. I think you know this. They’re a clever bunch, too clever to let a good crisis go to waste, so they’re using SF’s surge as a basis to finally swallow up the PUP (such as they were), the UUP, TUV and others.

    I’ve no doubt the DUP will successfully make the case for a pact. But there are two problems. First it will result in no net change in the number of Unionist seats. The prospect of a gain in South Belfast will offset the likely loss in FST. Second, as noted, the overall Unionist vote share will fall as moderate unionists, deprived of a moderate pro-union voice, switch to the next-best option which is Alliance, or in some cases the Greens. I’m not predicting an Alliance landslide, but every ~7000 voters who drift takes another 1% away from Unionism.

    There are more problems if nationalists go ahead with their own pact, or if the Unionist pact galvanizes more nationalists to vote tactically. A nationalist pact would secure South Belfast and regain FST, leading to the Unionist coalition losing a Westminster seat overall. It may also threaten North Belfast; I doubt Nigel would lose but his minority would take a serious dent.

    So what you’re doing here is trading what is, at best, the prospect of holding the existing number of unionist seats for a drop in your vote share. By all means, go ahead. Just don’t try to say that you’re trying to maximise long term support for the union, because you aren’t.

  • Reader

    Peggy Kelly: It is not enough to reach out to Nationalist simply to ‘preserve the union’. There needs to be sincerity and a genuine commitment to respect Irish Identity, culture and customs. Unless that is proven beyond doubt, Nationalists simply will not trust political Unionism.
    You’re quite right. And of course nationalist outreach to unionism has always fallen at exactly the same hurdle.

  • Reader

    Trasna: The DUP shouldn’t even be in Stormont as they never signed up to the GFA.
    Technically, neither did SF. And the DUP went into Stormont under the revised terms of the StAA.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Your still missing the point Brendan – This Unionist Pact goes further than a Westminster Election ! It goes into a collective unionist political working group to agree who or what politicians, parties and local community representatives are the best to get a Unionist Ballot box at a current 50% return to a higher improved percentage return ! The DUP knows that it cannot maximise the Pro Union Vote by itself and has to work with all shades of Unionism which it is now doing !

  • MainlandUlsterman

    That was a mistake by Alliance, though I think it was well-intentioned. In principle, reducing the number of days the flag is flown on is fine and they voted for it on that basis. So far so good. What they forgot was that we’re used to such major symbolic changes being made by cross-community consensus these days and that was not achieved – there was no agreement on it. Forcing it through by simple majority was legally correct but really a very inappropriate way to proceed on the issue.

    I think in some eyes the Alliance brand was tarnished by that. I certainly think it was a bad mis-step.

  • Peggy kelly

    Majority Unionist councils don’t really do cross community consensus so it be that important. As for the Fleg, Alliance did the right thing and the electorate has accordingly pushed Unionism into minority status.

  • mjh

    Sorry it has taken so long to reply, T.E. I was having trouble with the ‘reply’ function this morning. I think it is growing tired of my babblings. Anyway it has given me the time to give the properly thought through response that you deserve.

    I’m not sure how we leapt from discussion of a unionist pact to the subject of a border poll.

    Do you mean that unionist parties have only two strategic options in the face of the SF advance, it’s either a pact or call for a border poll?

    I can’t see the benefit of that option for unionist parties either.

    Firstly, they will be well aware that the SoS cannot legally grant a border poll unless he believes that the majority of voters want a united Ireland. Obviously Unionists calling for a poll so that they can vote against a united Ireland does not fulfill that requirement. So they won’t get one.

    Secondly, it makes no sense for Unionist parties to assist SF in the pursuit of their tactical objective to convince their supporters that a united Ireland could be just around the corner and that it’s only the SoS’s refusal to grant a border poll which is standing in the way.

    Fortunately for those who wish to retain the Union there is a third option – although it is not one that the DUP appears to believe would suit its own narrower party interests. That is to recognize that whatever Sinn Fein says or does, no matter what the day to day fortunes of the DUP or the other Unionist parties, there is only one mechanism by which NI can be taken out of the UK, and that is by a referendum.

    So just make sure that you would not lose one.

    That means don’t rely simply on firing up your base supporters. Frankly you can take their vote for granted in a referendum – they have no other way to go. That doesn’t mean you have to be disrespectful to them – it’s just that if you give the impression that no one else matters you had better be very confident that your base will always be nicely over 50% of the voting public or else one day you will lose.

    Next you need to win potential swing voters. Some of these vote for centre parties and may never consider voting for a Unionist party, but could be persuaded in a referendum to vote “remain”. Some vote nationalist parties but might see the Union as in their best economic interest or might not see the upheaval of change as being worth it. Some (and possibly an increasing number in the future) may actually be voters for a unionist party – as a considered choice rather than as an inevitable result of their emotional attachment to the Union.

    Finally you need to minimise the turnout of possible “leave” voters. You can do nothing about the nationalist base, but you can persuade their swing voters that they are better off as they are and avoid stimulating them to vote by giving them offence.

    There’s a strategy for the Union if the unionist parties wish to build on it.

    You asked how I would vote.

    Well I no longer have a vote in NI, but that does not answer your question.

    The 15 or 16 year old mjh, full of an idealized Irish nationalism, would have unhesitatingly voted and campaigned for a united Ireland. Then (among other things) came the IRA campaign. The brutality, pointlessness, evil and futility of that campaign could not be squared with my previous vision of nationalism, my notions of democracy or the moral standards impressed on me by the nuns in primary school. My sense of identity was unaffected, but from then on I have always believed any mixing of politics and nationalism of any description to be a curse.

    Since then the border question was closed for me. A clear majority wanted to remain in the UK, the IRA campaign had ensured that would be the case for at least a generation, both the UK and the Republic were in the EU within which borders were going to become increasingly meaningless, practically I could drive to Dublin as easily as to Belfast, and there was no economic case for a united Ireland. There were (and are) far more important issues to be dealt with. If there had been a border poll I would have voted to remain.

    It’s important to remember that I would have voted that way IN SPITE of and not because of the unionist parties. Of the five main parties the UUP was always my third choice for a preference.

    And a future border poll? Well the advocates of a united Ireland have not made an irrefutable economic case for change, nor have they explained how they would cope with unionist sensibilities in a manner which would ensure that we did not end up with a reverse image of the problems which have dogged NI since its creation. For a change of that nature, I would require convincing on both those fronts. And I am repelled by the widespread assumption that all they have to do is wait for the great demographic change to deliver them a 50% plus 1 majority. (Anyway I suspect they will be sadly disillusioned.)

    But make no mistake, Brexit removes one of the props which would have kept those like me either voting to remain In the UK or abstaining. The consequences will need to be addressed in some way by any unionists seeking to implement the strategy I outlined earlier whatever their own views on the matter.

    I could say more but I have gone on too long already.

    But lastly I have a question for you, T.E.

    What reason is there why any genuine Unionist (one who puts maintenance of the Union ahead of party interests) should not embrace this strategy rather than pacts or border polls?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    They should do though, is my point.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    In answer to your last question mjh None it is the correct stradgey for unionism as you have nailed it the Union should always come 1st for any genuine unionist before party !

  • Brendan Heading

    Yeah, a “political working group”. There have been dozens of such groups over the past few decades.

  • Starviking

    So did Labour, yet I don’t think Labour could be described as a Brexit party.