The Conservative/DUP/ UUP secret talks at Hatfield House took place for one purpose only, according to one of those present. That was to halt the march of Sinn Fein and to block any power grab by that party in the eventuality of it becoming the biggest party. One Unionist participant in those discussions at the home of Robert Salisbury’s in Hertfordshire said:
“Hatfield was about forming a common( Unionist ) electoral entity to stop Sinn Fein becoming the biggest party.”
The same source drew attention to the fact that such an arrangement would have to be worked out and settled ahead of an Assembly election being called.
No one can predict the outcome of any election but Unionism figures the gap between the two Unionist blocks with Jim Allister of the TUV in the field is going to narrow and break down at around 24/25 Assembly seats each.
There is a view across the political spectrum that Sinn Fein has steadied the ship due to Martin Mc Guinness’s leadership and to the delivery on policing and justice.
Against this background there is a possibility that Sinn Fein has the potential to grow the party.
To follow the logic of the Conservative party’s affiliation with the Ulster Unionist party and the desire of the Conservatives, out of their own mouths, ‘to elevate politics onto the national stage
‘and not to allow it to be dragged into the gutter of NI tribalism,’ there can be no Tory involvement in Unionist head counts through Unionist unity.
Would their inclusion in such a political potion not be the antithesis of what the Conservative vision purports to be ?
This begs the question then. Why did Owen Patterson want anything to do with the Hatfield House discussions if we are to accept the integrity of the quote attributed to one of the Unionist Talks participants that the real goal was ‘about forming an electoral entity” ahead of the Assembly elections?
[This article originally appeared on Slugger O’Toole]