Today's Alex Kane column truly sums up the worst of the debate about Unionist Unity. I must admit to be sorely tempted to fisk it. It certainly provides ample material for it even falling into conspiracy theories at the end. I must also admit I am surprised that someone general produces more thoughtful and thought-provoking articles ends up relying on what is standard UUP boilerplate.
However, Alex makes this point:
"Yet the truth is that both the UUP and DUP are losing votes separately, so I'm not convinced that they could increase votes together."
This admits that the present arrangement is not fulfilling the potential, thus if that is the case why is an exploration of something different so bad?
Kane makes the claim:
"It's not the absence of unity which is turning off the unionist electorate"
Elsewhere he expresses concern for evidence so he might care to look at the result in FST were Unionism came within 4 votes of taking the seat and closely matched the 2005 result while in South Belfast a divided Unionism delivered a deteriorated Unionist position. So unity came much closer to delivering an extra seat than division did.
As to the desire for a policy agenda maybe he should see the "unity of added potential" as a means to move towards such a goal. Both unity and a stronger policy agenda are perfectly possible, they are not mutually exclusive. Unionism overall might also be better off if its commentators didn't try to kill a potentially useful debate because of a burden of history and perception or simply list problems but rather engage in creative thinking about possible solutions.