Doubts over Conservative NI strategy

Tom Griffin
30 September 2008

Tom Griffin (London, OK): Lord Trimble seems to have caused some jitters in the Ulster Unionist Party with his suggestion that the Conservatives will fight every seat in the UK at the next general election.  Is he hinting that the talks between the two parties may lead to a full merger?

Not everyone in the UUP would be happy about that prospect, as the lively comments thread over on Three Thousand Versts indicates.

In an interview with the BBC's Mark Devenport, David Cameron has admitted that the talks face some difficulties.

Meanwhile, Jeffrey Donaldson of the rival Democratic Unionist Party has claimed that a link-up aimed at defending the union may end up strengthening nationalists.  

In the last Westminster election, the arrogance of David Trimble and his coterie of advisors cost Unionism two Westminster seats, now it seems he wants to exert a similar malign influence in the next Westminster election from the comfort of the House of Lords.

People well recall that in 2005, the DUP offered the Ulster Unionists the chance to pick either South Belfast or Fermanagh and South Tyrone to run a single Unionist candidate. The UUP rejected this offer and both seats were lost to Nationalists and Republicans. 

Blogger Redemption's Son shares Donaldson's concern about splitting the unionist vote, but it's difficult to see how an electoral pact would square with Cameron's vision of the Conservatives as an anti-sectarian force, particularly in South Belfast, where it would mean allying with the DUP against the moderate nationalist SDLP.

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