Thursday, 2 September 2010

Are cracks beginning to show in Elliott's coalition?

What’s going on with the coalition behind Tom Elliott’s leadership bid?

The Fermanagh South Tyrone MLA has poured cold water on rumours of merger with the DUP and kept his options open on the Conservative link.  Yet Ulster Unionist Chief Whip, and Elliott supporter, Fred Cobain, couldn’t resist attacking the Tories, suggesting that the UUP would be forced to make an alternative electoral pact with Peter Robinson and his party.

Meanwhile rumours persist that discussions with the DUP about 'unionist unity', at senior levels, are ongoing.

The contradictions don’t end there.  An intriguing little tussle is tucked away in the comments zone of an otherwise innocuous post on Mike Nesbitt’s blog.

Nesbitt, the leading moderate in Elliott’s team, congratulates the Down GAA team on their success in the All Ireland Gaelic Football championship.  Reasonably enough a reader asks how his generous sentiments sit with support for a leadership candidate who reassured UUP members that he wouldn’t attend ’gay pride marches or GAA matches’.

The former Victims Commissioner is quick to deny the allegation on Elliott’s behalf, but it is substantiated by a senior UUP member who provides details and a direct quote.  The statement clearly doesn’t sit well with Nesbitt, but it’s meat and drink to a traditional Orange unionist like Elliott.

In Monday’s News Letter Liam Clarke wrote about inconsistencies which are becoming evident in the Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA’s campaign.  Tom Elliott’s attempts to be “all things to all people” could become the rock on which his leadership chances flounder.

He has assembled a broad coalition as the basis of his bid and his position suffers from all the flabbiness which that entails.  It’s up to Basil McCrea to ensure that his campaign is tighter and focuses on big ideas, rather than internal party politics.

After all, if Elliott were to become leader on the back of a patched together alliance, what are the chances that he could hold it together, or provide purposeful leadership and a clear message for an Assembly election?    


DR said...

Chekov, am tempted to say at least Tom has a team of supporters, but it seems Basil now has your goodself as well John McA.
To start talking about cracks is rubbish and you know it, Tom has made it clear a DUP merger is out, Fred may have different ideas but despite that he still believes Tom will be the best leader, the variety of different viewpoints amongst Tom's supporters is amazing, some of them are very different from his own views, but they all believe he is the right person to lead the party.
He is also the last person you could say is "all things to all people" usually being very forthright about his opinions, the difference is he also respects other peoples views and works with them just the same, he definately isnt on a campaign to sideline or force out those who dont fit his "vision".

Anonymous said...

Be careful about what you say lest it comes back to haunt you!

Mike Nesbitt is now in a difficult position having asked for evidence, he was given it from a reliable source.

He has to accept that he is now a senior part of a team whose leader was economical with the truth when he spoke to him, and holds views completely the opposite of his.

Rock and hard place come to mind!

Chekov said...

DR - In actuality there isn't a candidate in the UUP race pushing a position which I'm happy with. My personal judgement is simply that Elliott is the worse choice.

He may have ruled out an out and out merger, but there are 'unity' options which are, at least for the time being, short of a merger.

And the 'variety of different viewpoints' behind Elliott worries rather than reassures me, particularly when I see some of the figures who are backing him. My thoughts on burying differences, in order to present a display of unity, are laid out in this article.

Jeff Peel said...

How can anyone muster any interest in this matter? The UUP is, as its acronym suggests, utterly, utterly pointless.

Seymour Major said...

I can corroborate the allegation that Mr. Elliot would never attend a GAA match.

In 2009, when Mr. Elliot was still a prospective parliamentary candidate for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, I made a suggestion to an agent of Mr. Elliot that it would be a very good cross-community gesture if Mr. Elliot attended a GAA match. I can virtually quote verbim Mr. Elliot's response as told to me by the agent, which was

"They have their culture and we have ours"

I am rather surprised that Mr. Nesbitt does not know Mr. Elliot well enough.

I would like to see the UUP elect a leader with plenty of intellect and a detachment from Orangism who is committed to developing a form of unionism which is completely separate from Protestantism. Of course, there seems to be very little chance of that happening in the near future.