On this occasion, Nelson McCausland becomes the latest DUP representative to have a pop at Ulster Unionists for striking a deal with the Conservative Party. It is extraordinary that a matter which has, as yet, concerned only the internal organisation of two parties which are not linked to the DUP, has occupied its press office so regularly. There is nothing terribly concrete for Nelson and his ilk to attack, so the ad hominem assault on Reg Empey which comprises the meat of this piece is fairly typical.
Personal abuse has always remained a speciality of the Paisleyite party. However, it is not on sure ground when it argues bread and butter politics, still less when it attempts to interpret mainstream British political policy positions. McCausland tries to infer that the Conservative party will not support academic selection in Northern Ireland, because in Britain it is not committed to reinstating that system.
His contention has been swatted away easily enough by the Tories’ local branch.
“The party fully supports the retention of selection in areas where it exists and where parents want to keep it. Which is clearly the case here.”
Had McCausland performed even cursory research as to the Conservative approach to education he might have ascertained this position. The basis of conservative philosophy is that one size does not fit all and that parents’ preferences should be pivotal to provision of education.
If the DUP intends to attack Ulster Unionists on the meat of Conservative policy, it had better begin by determining what comprises that policy. If a debate ensues on the merits of genuine issues, so much the better, otherwise Democratic Unionists will simply be sniping snidely from the margins, as other unionists immerse themselves in the business of British politics.