I arrived back from blizzard conditions in the Czech Republic late last night, and I haven’t had a proper opportunity to examine news from the last four days, as yet. Therefore I offer a rather tentative toe to dip back into the scalding pool of political blogging.
Mick Fealty has picked up on a piece carried in the Lisburn Star, which suggests that Basil McCrea will not pursue parliamentary candidature in Lagan Valley, preferring to concentrate on his Assembly duties.
Mick wonders whether Westminster is set to become a ‘second tier chamber’ for unionists, by which I presume he means a less pressing priority than Stormont.
Looking at the quote from McCrea which is included in the article, two aspects of it are interesting. First there are the MLA’s ‘significant objections’ to double jobbing. These are important and the UUP should not be tempted to soften its line on the issue, as the election approaches. If any MPs are returned to Westminster from the UUP’s Assembly team, they must be immediately replaced, by cooption, at Stormont.
Second is McCrea’s contention that, “the focus of all decisions that affect Lagan Valley is at Stormont and that is where I need to be ….this is a clear indication of where my priorities lie for the people of Lagan Valley”, a statement with which I have more of a problem.
A central premise of the Conservatives and Unionists coalition is the notion that crucial decisions are taken at Westminster, and Northern Ireland needs proper representation there, devoted to involving itself fully in national politics. It is also a fairly crucial tenet of unionism that Parliament remains sovereign.
McCrea is entitled to pursue his career at Stormont, rather than seeking to become an MP. Indeed given his policing board duties it makes sense for him to do so. Clearly he feels that his constituents can be better served by this course of action.
It is important, however, that in justifying his decision he doesn’t undermine the message that Westminster remains a vital priority for unionists, worthy of the name.