Ulster Unionists in merger talks with Conservatives

Noel McAdam reports in today’s Belfast Telegraph on Ulster Unionist Party in talks with the Conservatives.

Oh, it will all end in tears, ultimately.

I’m old enough to remember the efforts of the Northern Ireland
Conservatives to be formally recognised by the mainland party, back in
1989. The NI local party succeeded through a mainland party conference,
even though the mainland party leadership disapproved.

Even as recent as 1998 and 2003 (AFAICR), the NI local party
complained about lack of mainland support, because central office’s
policy was to support the UUP candidates.

So, two problems with an ever-closer union of Tories. One, how does
central office deal with those Conservatives in Northern Ireland who
consciously do not want to be associated with what they would deem to
be an ethnic (Protestant) party? Two, how long does the honeymoon last,
until some future policy decision drives a wedge between mainland
Tories and the UUP?

I agree with Conall McDevitt’s argument
that “all politics is local”. But as that quote is attributed to the
great US Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neil, I would agree, wouldn’t I?
But it’s true.

I would be more impressed if the UUP were in talks with Fine Gael, or even more radically, the SDLP, about greater cooperation.

But for me, this dance with mainland Tories is a tired tune I’ve heard before.

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