Senior unionist politicians and members of the Orange Order have called for so called “unionist unity”.
I believe that unionist unity would be a step in the wrong direction which would handicap the development of real issue driven politics in Northern Ireland.
Unionist unity has been presented as some sort of unionist pact in the Assembly aimed at retaining a unionist First Minister. Unionist unity would also include Westminster pacts in seats like Fermanagh South Tyrone, south Belfast, north Belfast and possibly east Belfast.
However this presents a number of problems. First of all you cannot simply form a new group in the Assembly.
Assembly groups need to have a party structure which could include a shared HQ, shared bank account etc. As no one has successfully attempted this sort of manoeuvre before both parties could be disappointed as to how close the relationship would have to be. Another problem is that unionist unity has a poor track record.
Falling turnouts and general disengagement from politics show that people want something different. The Platform for Change believes that real issue driven politics is the only thing that can motivate the increasing number of non-voters in our society.
To do this parties need to reach out beyond the constitut-ional issue and offer politics on the issues that daily affect the lives of everyone in Northern Ireland.
Platform for Change Committee