Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: UUP ill-advised to cosy up to the DUP

The Ulster Unionist Party has not covered itself in glory in recent elections, and the state of the party is now a pale reflection of its triumphant days when it was the main force in unionism.

Its history has been a study in self-destruction, ranging from the decision first to break with the Conservative Party during the troubles, and then to enter into an ill-advised pact with the Conservatives at the last election.

The UUP fared predictably badly and it was roundly punished by the electorate for such a foolish decision. Now the latest development in this political comic-opera is the revelation that senior party members are making overtures to the DUP.

This is exactly what the DUP wants in its ambition to be a pan-unionist party, and David McNarry, in holding talks with the DUP, is moving naively into their web.

McNarry has also claimed that the Development Minister Danny Kennedy is working well with the DUP in the Executive, but that may be nothing more than an indication of a pragmatic relationship at the top level.

Perhaps David McNarry is currently on a solo run with rather less support that he supposes, and that he is merely a lone scout rather than a significant figure bringing the UUP into unknown territory.

Either way the elected party leader Tom Elliott should move swiftly to advise David McNarry and any of his supporters of the error of their ways. Any attempt to move closer to the politically wily Peter Robinson will have only one result, which is a bigger and stronger DUP at the expense of the UUP.

Tom Elliott needs to show strong leadership by stamping out any move in this direction. The electorate, which has already made its voice clear on these matters, needs a pluralism of choice rather than a solid unionist bloc.

If Tom Elliott fails to do so, he will find himself presiding over a shrinking party which will mean less and less to the unionist electorate at large.

It is time that the UUP, at last, showed some political sense.

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