Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Drawing inspiration from Obama

Nick Robinson has been interpreting British political leaders’ reactions to Barack Obama’s election victory. David Cameron and Gordon Brown in particular have been conspicuously swift in their attempts to sequester a little of the US President Elect’s gold dust for their own purposes. During Prime Minister’s questions the Conservative leader clashed with his Labour counterpart, whose conference jibe about novices has acquired unfortunate connotations following Obama’s victory.

Cameron’s cadres in Northern Ireland have also been drawing inferences from the presidential election. Obama is depicted as an inspirational leader who proves that anyone with necessary aptitude can ascend to the top political post in America.

Whilst the UK does not encompass close to the 50 states comprising the US, it does include 4 constituent parts and the lesson which the NI Tory blog gleans from Obama, is that it is hugely important that parties should compete robustly in every corner of the Kingdom, including Northern Ireland. The Democrat campaign was notable for contesting every vote in every state, even in traditional Republican heartlands. The Conservatives are likely to be the only UK party in a position to attempt such a broad-based strategy, accepting no ‘no go’ constituencies. According to the Conservatives, it is only their party currently offering a route to No.10 Downing Street for any aspirant Northern Irish Obamas.

This is a laudable lesson to extrapolate from the American election. It is enormously important that people in Northern Ireland should be fully involved in the politics of the United Kingdom. It was to this end that David Cameron and Sir Reg Empey set up a working group in an attempt to establish a new, pan-UK, Conservative and Unionist movement. If the example of Obama can add any extra impetus to the formation of this movement, or provide inspiration to those who might be wavering, so much the better.

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