Last week, Edwin Poots was elected leader of the DUP. You will have read all about him. I have. You may not previously have known much about him. I didn’t. We should hesitate, I think, to respond to his elevation with a broad-brush sneering dismissal, or in personal terms. We know, of course, about Mr Poots’s creationist beliefs and most of us reject them, and I don’t like his views on homosexuality or abortion; but Poots has proved able to work pragmatically with republican fellow politicians.
In an important way, though, this isn’t about Poots, but what he represents: a unionist shift towards back-to-basics fundamentalism. His party is lurching towards a ‘core-vote’ strategy: consolidating its appeal to its fiercest supporters in the Protestant community while laying aside ambitions to win back voters peeling away from strident unionism.