Friday, 13 November 2009

Conservative appointment signals a party eager to get started, but they're still waiting for Sir Reg.

At the general election, whether it is held in March, April or May, Conservatives and Unionists will field a strong slate of candidates across eighteen constituencies in Northern Ireland. Today the Conservative party announced that Jonathan Caine will rejoin its team, becoming Chief of Staff to shadow secretary of state, Owen Paterson, in the run up to the poll.

The appointment is a statement of intent from Tory leader, David Cameron. He is treating the campaign in Northern Ireland with the utmost seriousness and the Conservatives are prepared to invest in the best people in order to make it a success.

Caine spent more than eight years as Assistant Director of the Conservative Research Department, where he specialised in Northern Ireland. Between 1991 and 1995 he operated as special adviser to two secretaries of state here. Latterly, he is a director at lobbying firm Bell Pottinger Public Affairs. Owen Paterson describes him as ‘one of the foremost experts on Northern Ireland politics’.

The addition of another serious figure to the Conservative and Unionist team indicates that the Tories, at least, are eager to begin campaigning in earnest in Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, as I intimated yesterday, the Ulster Unionist selection process has dragged on in several constituencies. Compounding these delays, the party’s leadership has proved unwilling to firmly dismiss speculation that agreed unionist candidates could stand in South Belfast and Fermanagh South Tyrone.

This prevarication is expensive. It is important that the New Force starts to explain its vision and introduce its candidates to the voting public, as soon as possible. The sense of impatience within all levels of the Conservative party, and amongst Ulster Unionists in constituencies where selections have already been made, is becoming palpable.

The pact has been forged on the clear understanding that eighteen candidates will contest eighteen seats and the potentially contentious business of allocating the constituencies to one or other of the parties may as well be started sooner, rather than later. There’s no valid reason not to get on with it!


Garza said...

Has there been any selections yet at all?? All i have heard is Lagan Valley, Upper Bann and South and East Belfast.

Anonymous said...

There have been NO selections as yet, several nominations from both sides but the UUP still haven't bothered to start the process in 4 or 5 seats.

Is it because they have no candidates who want to actually do some work in Westminster or maybe the Conservatives have too many good candidates?

The questions are, how many seats each have and who will provide the money for the campaign?

fair_deal said...

There can be some fun had with that particualr appointment.

O'Neill said...

Is it because they have no candidates who want to actually do some work in Westminster or maybe the Conservatives have too many good candidates?

Third possibility, with all the hoo-haa about double-jobbing nobody wants to give their cushy number up at the glorified county council up on the hill (aka Stormont).