I’m grateful again to Jonathan Calder for drawing my attention to this example of control-freakery by the Democratic Unionist Party, which is asking their candidates to sign a contract committing them to support party policy.
This one little incident demonstrates why Ulster unionists have such bad public relations. I can’t imagine the Sinn Fein leadership tolerating it for too long if their elected representatives demonstrate quirky, maverick views that contravene official policy. But somehow these things will be well understood without having to be spelled out.
By contrast it is typical that the more literal-minded unionists will want party loyalty rules put in black and white, so that there is no ambiguity. And perhaps typical too that at least one among their number should find it unacceptable and leak the story to the press.
For anyone wanting to understand more about the cultural differences between Unionist and Nationalist/Republican politics I recommend this article by Ruth Dudley Edwards.