Wednesday, 22 September 2010

UUP sets its course as Elliott secures thumping win.

Well it appears that the UUP membership has descended, in all its decrepitude, on the Waterfront Hall and done the fateful deed.  All the excitement of UCUNF, pan-UK unionism, normalising politics seems a long time ago and a long way away now.  The Ulster Unionists are back to the dreary steeples and Tom Elliott is their new party leader.

What now?  Will Elliott stick to his promise to reject 'unionist unity' or does his careful definition mean that we're in for the whole depressing charade of agreed candidates, shady back-room deals and a hand in glove relationship with the DUP?  Will he really try to attract pro-Union voters from across the communities in Northern Ireland, or will it be back to the Orange Order and the 'unionist people'?

It's worth remembering that David Trimble was considered the hardline candidate when he was elected leader in 1995, defeating John Taylor.  But the trajectory of his campaign was very different, as were the talents he brought to the table.

We'll have to wait to see where Elliott will take the party, or whether it is actually his hand which is on the rudder at all.  Perhaps he will surpass expectations.  Perhaps he will conform to the worst fears.  Whichever is the case, there should always be an electoral vehicle for moderate, outward looking pro-Union politics, whether it is the UUP or another party.    

  

15 comments:

Dilettante said...

*Sigh* Oh well. Maybe if the UUP and DUP set off on a path of convergence it will create the electoral space for a more liberal, pan-UK unionist party to emerge?

Anonymous said...

'there should always be an electoral vehicle for moderate, outward looking pro-Union politics'

There is it is caled the Conservative and Unionist Party

slug said...

No new party-its naive to try that. Better to work as part of a larger group. Tom won. Basil will work with him. New people are coming into the UUP all the time. There is not that much differene between them.

Chekov said...

Slug - the party is dying and this will hasten its demise. Ringland, I believe, has pretty much jumped this morning. No doubt, over the months and years to come, there will be more to follow.

slug said...

I agree with Ringland's agenda. I don't agree with Elliott on what he said. I think he will have to grow out of those old fashioned (1970s!) comfort zones if he is to be a successful leader. And how naive to dig that hole for himself in the first plsce! But being realistic I don't think a new party would succeed because there's not enough room for one between the UUP and Alliance.

Seymour Major said...

Chekov,

You are absolutely right to state that the UUP is likely to decline further under Mr. Elliot and absolutely right to reserve just enough circumspection in case we are all surprised. It all depends upon how things pan out.

If support for the UUP remains static at the next assembly election or the lose no more than 3 seats to the DUP, there will probably be enough of a base to reverse those fortunes in the future. I say this with a certain amount of caution. If there is a loss of seats to the Alliance Party, I think that will be more damaging to the UUP

Basi McCrea represents a certain constituency of UUP supporters. That will grow as the traditional constituency declines.

It is that point which leads me to believe that McCrea may actually be in a stronger position, having lost the leadership, than if he had won it.

He does not need to form a new party - Yet. All he has to do is to keep 'talking the talk' and acting as a rallying point for the Civic unionists. He will also be able to increase the strengh of his coalition as more of his supporters climb the ranks of the party.

At some point in the future, he may have amassed enough power and influence to either take over the UUP leadership or form a new party.

One of the fascinating things about politics is that you never know what is around the corner.

Seymour Major said...

Chekov,

You are absolutely right to state that the UUP is likely to decline further under Mr. Elliot and absolutely right to reserve just enough circumspection in case we are all surprised. It all depends upon how things pan out.

If support for the UUP remains static at the next assembly election or the lose no more than 3 seats to the DUP, there will probably be enough of a base to reverse those fortunes in the future. I say this with a certain amount of caution. If there is a loss of seats to the Alliance Party, I think that will be more damaging to the UUP

Basi McCrea represents a certain constituency of UUP supporters. That will grow as the traditional constituency declines.

It is that point which leads me to believe that McCrea may actually be in a stronger position, having lost the leadership, than if he had won it.

He does not need to form a new party - Yet. All he has to do is to keep 'talking the talk' and acting as a rallying point for the Civic unionists. He will also be able to increase the strengh of his coalition as more of his supporters climb the ranks of the party.

At some point in the future, he may have amassed enough power and influence to either take over the UUP leadership or form a new party.

One of the fascinating things about politics is that you never know what is around the corner.

radex33 said...

A very good post Seymour, and I would agree with it if I could. The problem is that for now and for the foreseeable future, the UUP is under the leadership of a sectarian homophobe. Any member who remains within the party is identifying with the party and its leader. I am going to wait a few days before I do anything, but as things stand, I expect to resign.

CW said...

Dillettante:
"the electoral space for a more liberal, pan-UK unionist party to emerge?"

They already exist - they're called the Alliance Party.

Phil Larkin said...

How wonderful at last to hear an optimistic prognosis on the condition of civic and progressive unionism from Seymour Major! Why don't more unionists from the UUP camp think like him?

He is one thousand times right to say that civic unionists should not form a new party - no good will ever come of this! Did the SDP in GB ever amount to anything after it split from the Labour Party? Of course not! The place for Basil Mc Crea is currently alongside Tom Elliott, flying the flag for civic unionism, reduced corporate taxation, and growth of the private economic sector as hard as he can. This is the task not only of civic unionism, but of the SDLP, Alliance, and the entire centre ground in NI politics - and this includes the moderate unionist and nationalist media, and websites such as threethousandversts!

At every available opportunity, McCrea and others should be encouraging his colleagues to howl for a reduction in the corporate taxation rate and investment in NI, FROM WHEN HE GETS OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING, UNIL HE GOES TO BED AT NIGHT!!! This is the way to gain participation from the "silent majority" of the Ulster middle classes, both unionist and nationalist.

I'll be back with more in the same vein later on.

Phil Larkin

Jeff Peel said...

Phil, should McCrea also be shouting for a corresponding reduction in the block grant to pay for the reduction in corporation tax - or are you yet another 'cake and eat it' type?

Phil Larkin said...

Jeff,

your comment is at least pertinent, and you are right to pose the question.

I am not so naive as to believe that NI can continue to receive the same block grant from Westminster, while simultaneously being permitted to reduce corporation tax. Yes, there will have to be vast made in the NI block grant, but surely it is not beyond the wit of man to be able to do this in a way in which the block grant is tapered off in some way rather than suddenly?

Don't you believe, Jeff, in rebalancing the local economy?

Phil

Jeff Peel said...

Phil, I do indeed - and in my professional capacity I will be arguing for it.

Ulster Liberal said...

How Unionism could do with a figure like David Ervine at the moment.

Ulster Liberal said...

How Unionism could do with a figure like David Ervine at the moment.