I sympathise with Johnny Andrews desire to have national UK parties fully organise here (‘DUP must bear responsibility,’ News Letter Decemeber 14).
Electing parties that better match voter’s socio-economic outlook makes for better politics, whilst increasing Northern Ireland’s value within the UK, just like Scotland. Even Jeremy Corbyn supports the Union with Scotland. But unless nationalists do too, the fear is that voting Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat within Northern Ireland will split pro union votes and allow Sinn Fein to dominate - similar to the SNP in Scotland.
This danger has been around a long time. In 1929 the Unionist government abolished proportional representation for parliament elections, not to reduce nationalist representation but to squeeze out the anti-partitionist Labour Party and independent unionists.
They feared Protestants voting for the Labour Party (which many had more in common with socially than big house conservative unionist leaders) which might then side with the nationalists and take control of parliament.
Abolishing PR left a two party state – unionist against nationalist – making elections a referendum on the Union and securing Northern Ireland against Dublin threats and London duplicity (sounds familiar). Almost a hundred years later elections are still referendums on the Union. The irony is that even though unionists were a majority and supposedly ruling the roost, the presence of the nationalist minority dictated voting patterns: fear of a non-unionist majority pushed voters towards unionism (and nationalists the other way), in turn polarising politics which in turn suits Sinn Fein’s failed Northern Ireland state agenda today.
It is a vicious circle that impossible to escape from. As much as I’d like to see United Kingdom parties elected here I can’t see how it can happen.