In my internet meanderings I came across this post by Nicholas Whyte in response to my Garden Centre Prods. Of my three lines of argument he agrees with two and provides a statistical argument against the second - that I have overestimated the East Ulster Catholic turnout issue. He believes that:
"However, Reynolds' wider conclusion (if I read him correctly) is that it's not worth the while of Unionist politicians trying to engage with the '100,000 or more' voters who participated in the referendum and not in the subsequent election."
In my enthusiasm to challenge the GCP myth I may have created this impression but it was not my intention so I can put him at ease. I have no problem whatsoever with Unionism reaching out to get more voters, I wish it were more proactive in that field. However, I don't consider trying to do so on the basis of misidentification, over-estimation, preconceived notions of what their views are (rather than a research base) and to the degree of obsession that it excludes other opportunities e.g. minority ethnic communities (who have barely been discussed as a new source for Unionism despite them being the most speedily growing social group in Northern Ireland in the same period as the GCP theory.)
He adds an interesting angle to the UCUNF debacle that I hadn't considered:
"...the problem is that by 'normal politics', the UCUNF integrationists actually mean 'English politics' - not Scottish or Welsh, where Labour and the Nationalists compete for the top spot, with Tories and Lib Dems (now the UK's ruling coalition partners!) in third and fourth place. Most Northern Irish voters know Scotland at least as well as they know England, and can spot the difference between 'normal' and 'English', in politics or anything else."
I would add one further caveat to his argument that is like most he ignores the role of organisation in delivering votes. Disconnect with voters isn't simply an ideological/political driven issue but also one of personal relationship.
BTW Nick's intermittent political blogs are well worth reading despite having to wade through a large number of Dr Who ones to find them.