Wednesday, 29 October 2008

An electoral pact next week is good. As long as there's a new political movement by Christmas

On Slugger, Pete Baker has picked up Frank Millar’s aside that an ‘electoral pact’ with the Conservative Party is likely to be formalised by a UUP executive meeting next week. Millar is an insightful and well informed journalist, particularly as regards Ulster Unionism. It is likely, therefore, that movement on the proposed deal will take place next week.

Interesting questions therefore remain. What will be the extent of movement which we can expect from next week’s executive meeting and will this movement encompass the whole of any emergent deal?

Millar uses the rather amorphous term, ‘electoral pact’. Recently the same vocabulary was deployed to accuse Ulster Unionists of reaching an agreement with the TUV, recommending mutual vote transfers in the 2009 European election. Perhaps the language implies that whatever is agreed next week may not include the full range of exciting possibilities which David Cameron and Reg Empey’s joint statement initially suggested.

My suspicion is that it is an agreement for European elections which the executive is ready to endorse. This will involve Tory backing for Jim Nicholson’s campaign and a shared UUP / Conservative manifesto for Europe.

Of course this represents the least problematic strand of cooperation between the two parties, given that Nicholson already works closely with Conservative MEPs in the European Parliament and belongs to the same group. Much, much more is required if the realignment’s potential is to be realised.

I would be surprised if trickier aspects which have held up the Conservative / UUP movement’s formation are ironed out before next week. But they should and must be overcome as swiftly as possible.

My understanding is that advocates of the deal are still hopeful David Cameron and another huge Tory name could address the rearranged UUP conference in early December. That affords a slightly more forgiving timetable.


Anonymous said...

I think Sir Reg Empey can see the bigger picture and wants to no a deal.
I hope that Lady Sylvia Hermon also realises that if she wants to beat the DUP this is the way to do it.

Anonymous said...

This a a salami tactic by Sir Reg he will dismantle the UUP no members slice by slice - first EU then Westminster and finally Stormont elections.

The Northern Ireland Conservative and Unionist Party will be with us for all elections by the end of 2010.