Alex Easton MLA has warned that unless Unionism stops fighting within itself and changes, the Union will be lost.
Speaking today Alex Easton MLA said:
“For too long and I include myself in this criticism, Unionism has been fighting itself and handing victory after victory to those who want to cause disharmony within the Unionist family and those who aspire towards a United Ireland. In truth, everything is aligned against Unionism and we have allowed this to happen. What chance does Unionism have while there are five pro Union parties all fighting for an ever-smaller pool of votes? What chance does Unionism have when around half the Unionist population does not even vote because they feel there is no point and that Unionist parties no longer represent their way of thinking? Society has changed; two generations have passed since the signing of the Belfast Agreement and have been replaced with a younger generation who have different values and have completely different lives to the one many of us had to endure during the troubles. Unionist parties have failed to recognise this change and have failed to respond to it, this is a failure by all of us.
Demographics are changing and no longer is there a Protestant majority, this trend has been ignored. For us to stay in the Union, we need to embrace and sell the virtues of the Union to all sections of society, this we have failed to do and can only do through change, being united and selling our vision for the future, instead of just reacting all the time. Unionism must learn from the past, we can’t trust any Westminster Government as time and time again we get side-lined and ignored with policies and agreements forced upon us whether we agree or not. Direct rule in many ways endangers us more, as successive Westminster Governments seek to reward those that want to do away with the Union, the only way that we can deliver, is to govern ourselves and sell a positive Union that all would be happy to be a part of.
We have also allowed Brexit to fragment us, and we have allowed those who seek to destroy the Union to use it as a basis to undermine and unite to sow discord and weaken the Union. Let there be no doubt, when Unionists vote Alliance in such large numbers, there is something not right and the warning bells need to be listened to. There is also a collective failure to realize that many of our people think differently and are voting differently. Unionist parties have failed to understand and do anything to halt this alarming trend that will be used to argue the case for a Border Poll in the near future. The challenge for Unionism is to unite, embrace change and sell the Union as a positive thing.
I am today calling on all Unionist Party leaders to meet with a desire to unite and admit mistakes of the past, to join as one, to create one unionist family, with a modern day unionism that can be attractive to everyone and secure the Union for another 100 years. I am prepared to play my role in this but others need to lead before it is too late. The challenge is for Unionist leaders to come together and talk, put their baggage aside and for once do something that unites us all and reverse the damage being done. Grassroots Unionism need to agree a collective way forward that unites before we put ourselves into a United Ireland, by arguing, fighting, running to the press and dividing. It is never too late to unite, so I am calling on all Unionist Leaders to meet and agree a way to unite us all because that is what we need now!