Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Now is the moment to sharpen up or be left behind

Unionist politicians often report calls for unity on the doorsteps but, going by recent experience, voters like diversity.

Tom Elliott said as much when DUP boss Peter Robinson advocated closer links.

"I have always questioned whether or not a single party would deliver the required electoral success for unionism," UUP leader Mr Elliott said.

Northern Ireland has changed. The ending of the IRA's war, the removal of the republic's constitutional claim over Northern Ireland and Sinn Fein's acceptance of a political way forward have all contributed to new confidence in the unionist community.

People are looking for politicians who can talk about bread and butter issues and offer a choice at election times - being sound on the constitutional issue is no longer enough.

The DUP has responded by moving towards the centre.

In contrast, the UUP has struggled to reinvent itself.

Without a clear vision it risks being absorbed by some other party - whether the Tories, the DUP or a mixture of both.

The UUP and SDLP were distinguished as the parties of the peace process - their leaders even won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Nobody can live on past glories forever, and no party can survive in the long term unless it is able to project an identity which offers voters a clear alternative to its competitors.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz