Bobballs read the runes more than a week ago. The UUP has made a good positive choice for the Strangford constituency, selecting former television presenter, and current victims’ commissioner, Mike Nesbitt.
I’m sure there will be a few noses put out of joint by this decision. Mr Nesbitt’s entry into the race is rather late. But he does represent the type of articulate, high-profile candidate which the Conservatives and Unionists should aspire to field.
If politics are to remain relevant to voters, if they are to give the appearance of openness, then there has to be a route to the top which rewards excellent communication skills and achievement in other fields.
Naturally people who faithfully attend party meetings and work their way up through local councils don’t like to be leapfrogged. However, candidature for high office cannot be viewed as an award for time-serving. The right candidate is the best candidate and one who stands a chance of winning the seat.
Whilst Nesbitt’s lack of political background has the capacity to cause resentment, he is also easily the most imaginative Ulster Unionist selection, thus far. If he is endorsed by the Joint Committee, he stands an excellent chance of taking a seat which has been thrown wide open by Irisgate.
UCUNF has had a shaky period and it is badly in need of some brave leadership and exciting candidates. That means selecting figures like Nesbitt where they are available, and if rumours that Michael McGimpsey is set to belatedly re-enter the fray in South Belfast are true, saying ’thanks but no thanks’.