Unionism – the Northern Ireland version, that is – has to be one of the least fashionable causes in British politics and one that in electoral terms is withering on the Orange vine. 

Its political leaders are not best-known for reaching out. In the past, when Westminster was content to leave them to their own devices, their instinct was to build up the ramparts. Most – James Craig, Basil Brooke, Brian Faulkner, Ian Paisley, Peter Robinson and Arlene Foster – saw their job as defending the keep, whatever the cost. Only Terence O’Neill and David Trimble dared to extend the hand of friendship to their nationalist fellow-citizens, and both soon after were discarded with what the CIA likes to call extreme prejudice. 

Even Paisley, the man who taught Margaret Thatcher how to say No, was cast out, not only from his role as Stormont’s First Minister but as moderator of his own Free Presbyterian Church, when it was felt he had grown too close to Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness.