Ulster Unionists' beliefs are the way forward
Published 05/02/2010 | 08:00
The Ulster Unionist executive is to be congratulated for bringing some semblance of order to the utterly chaotic shambles that has been the 'unionist unity' talks.
While many within the broad unionist family sentimentally believe that unionist unity is desirable, many more are now asking: what have we to unify around?
The values and principles of the Ulster Unionist Party and the DUP have diverged massively over recent years. The DUP has virtually turned itself into an 'Ulster nationalist' party frequently derided as having a 'Little Ulster' mentality. This is not mirrored in any way by the Ulster Unionist Party.
Is a belief in the Union sufficient to sustain one unionist entity? Personally, I don't believe it is, but in any case I don't believe that the UUP and the DUP actually view the Union in the same way. The union espoused by the Ulster Unionist Party is one of mutual benefit to all the citizens of the UK, based on pluralist values and increasingly inclusive in its nature.
This is not something that can be said of the DUP, a party still reliant on a fundamentalist church for its core membership, a party which seeks to use issues such as parades and 'Ulster Scots' as a weapon rather than an asset.
If there are members of the DUP who are uncomfortable with the principles and values their party espouses, then their true home is within the Ulster Unionist Party. This is the only form of unionist unity that will work or be lasting, a realignment of unionists around principles and values as opposed to personal interest and personal ambition.