Jim Allister’s Traditional Unionist Voice is the best thing to happen to the DUP. Behind the usual bluster, the DUP are probably guffawing to one another in expectation of the strange and unusual death of the UUP.
If you’re an Ulster Unionist and you think the TUV poses a problem solely for the DUPs then you really need to rethink. A strong Jim Allister means curtains for the UUP.
Why? Because pro-agreement DUP now plumbs the well of moderate Unionism for its votes. The DUP are content to leave its traditional vote behind because it knows these can be replaced with voters coming in from the centre. The DUP knows that it’s competing against the UUP for ownership of the UUP voter base, and it’s convinced it can win.
The TUV’s ‘Not in My Name’ document vividly illustrates who inhabits the Unionist right wing, ground recently vacated by Paisley. The document effectively enhances DUP centrist credentials. And by opposing the Prodiban and blustering at the Ghosts of Politics Past, the DUP entrenches its position as a next-generation moderate, pragmatic, centrist Ulster unionist party.
What of the UUP? Strategic geniuses like McNarry and Burnside push the UUP ever further to the right – towards voters more than happy to be represented by Allister et al.
When Ritchie got lionised at the UUP conference, the strategist David McNarry did this. Burnside shows his support and esteem for the integrity of the Union by attacking the Guy Fawkes of the North (known to the layman as the First Minister of Scotland).
Constant attacks can’t say anything about who you are. At best it demonstrates who you’re not. Can the two Davids tell us what the UUP actually stands for? Or Reg? Or Basil? Or Danny? And what about that Opposition lark?
If you’re a moderate, centrist, pro-agreement Unionist horrified by the TUV and you want to give Stormont the best possible chance of working – who do you vote for? And if you’re a Unionist that feels cheated by the DUP – who do you vote for? And if you’re a floating voter but just want something approximating stability – who do you vote for?
Or to put it another way, if you looking for a directionless, disorganised, poorly financed, irrelevant, amorphous wreck of a party – who do you vote for?
The TUV’s leaflet and the DUP’s attacks are making the news. But for staff at Bobballs the headline story as a result of the TUV leaflet and the DUP’s attacks is simply this: where now UUP?