Friday, 5 November 2010

Alliance defection puts onus on the Tories.

I must confess I’m a little saddened by Paula Bradshaw’s decision to cast herself into the political black hole called Alliance.  The party is awe inspiringly pointless and its pointlessness was underlined by Naomi Long’s refusal to take up a seat in government alongside her Lib Dem allies.

Alliance had a perfect opportunity right there to make itself relevant and be something other than a bunch of nice people, whinging about dog dirt.  The party flunked its test spectacularly.  It remains a mere function of Northern Ireland’s divided society, with no vision for politics here, beyond a kind of perpetual suspended animation.

Yet, I wonder whether Paula had any credible alternative just at the moment?  As O’Neill mentions, on Unionist Lite, Tom Elliott has so far failed to hand in his homework, set by the Prime Minister at the Tory conference.

That leaves the Northern Ireland Conservatives in limbo as they await the go-ahead from CCHQ to begin an Assembly election campaign here.  The situation is beginning to have a look of chicken and egg about it.

There are some very prominent party figures whose patience with the Ulster Unionists has been exhausted and who are ready to back the local Tories.  But there are also dissenting voices, Jonathan Caine rumoured to be among them, urging patience with the UUP and its new leader.

There is also some understandable anxiety in the Conservative ranks that the available candidates for next May are not particularly high profile, as things stand.

Potential defectors to the Tories are unlikely to jump without assurances that the party will run and CCHQ will provide funding, while London is less likely to back an Assembly campaign unless local Conservatives can guarantee some new names.

Into the bargain, as last May’s debacle showed, a unfamiliar slate of Tory hopefuls will need a reasonable run up time, otherwise any chance of making an impact in a Stormont poll will be negligible.  So the UUP’s purposes are best served by delaying its verdict on the Conservative connection for as long as possible.    

If David Cameron and Owen Paterson still intend to bring the full political entitlements of British citizenship to Northern Ireland, a bit of firmness will be needed.  The Ulster Unionists cannot be allowed another round of endless procrastination.  Otherwise more politicians like Paula will be lost to unionism and to meaningful politics.

The UUP must either put forward a credible plan for an enduring relationship with the Conservative party - which will deliver pan-UK unionism - right now, immediately.  Or the local Tories must be given a chance to relaunch and fight May's election as a revitalised force.  CCHQ, it's over to you.

9 comments:

Andrew said...

'Yet, I wonder whether Paula had any credible alternative just at the moment?'

You mean, did she have any credible alternative to awe inspiring pointlessness?

The more hilarious question is how one can move from the Ulster Unionist Party to the Alliance Party without having any evident change of opinion.

Georgia said...

Paula has made herself a laughing stock - how suddenly profound views can change! Tom is, in turn, a laughing stock for failing as a party leader at the first hurdle; would he dare delay homework, for, say,Obama or Putin?? And how long can Tories' patience be stretched? Isn't this a repeat of the UCUNF failures at the hands of the UUP 'cabal'?

thedissenter said...

A comment on the Slugger thread to this subject would seem to suggest that Alliance is in the politics of winning seats, end of. In which case it would seem that Ms Bradsaw has probably a Party entirely in keeping with her own political priorities.

Seymour Major said...

The party is awe inspiringly pointless and its pointlessness

At the moment, the Alliance Party is a party for disaffected voters who view the others as sectarian. However, it can not survive forever as just an anti-sectarian party. If it is to survive, long term, it will need to define itself properly on the left-right spectrum. They should be thinking of joining up properly with the Lib Dems.

Anonymous said...

Apparently Elliott is delivering his essay on Monday 8th November. In it will be a gilt edged invitation for David Cameron to become President of the World Wide Orange Institution. Invitations have also been sent to all Conservative Members of the Cabinet to attend the 2011 July 12
th demonstations and each have a field to address. To facilitate this Tom wants an immediate seat in the Cabinet with peerages for Empey, Campbell and McNary. All to be appointed Night Soilers of the Chamber. McGinnis is to be made Governor of St Helena and all flights and sailings to St Helena will be banned forthwith. However Members of the UUP who have been reported to the UUP Disciplinary Committee will be exiled to Tristan da Cuhna.Fred Cobain is to be appointed permanent NI Ambassador to Cuba.Other daily outrageous demands will follow intermittently as and when the Floods in Fermanagh allow communication.
This audacious plan will place the UUP and the Orange Institution back into the position in NI society it so richly deserves.

Anonymous said...

'Jonathan Caine rumoured to be among them, urging patience with the UUP and its new leader'

Why? Elliott and the UUP are a waste of space.

The longer this is dragged out the dafter Owen Patterson looks.

If Parsley defects the raised hogh brows in London will be replaced by gossip about how Patterson has been fooled

Anonymous said...

The entirety of this discussion is built on the premise that the Tory Party actually gives a damn about bringing "real politics" to NI: whatever that means. I'm sorry to burst the bubble, but the only thing the Tories cared about was picking up 3 or 4 seats in Ulster: the UUP failed to deliver that and have now been dropped like a hot brick. If the local Tories want to go it alone then they should, but don't wait around for Paterson or anyone else to give you the go ahead.

Anonymous said...

People will soon find out if the Tories were serious or not about bringing real politics here.

If they ditch the UUP, select some candidates and put up funds then everyone will know they were serious and the UUP are finished.

Maybe to destroy the UUP from within was their game all along.

Anonymous said...

What we need is a centrist altriuistic political NI party affiliated to the English Conservative Party whic would attract the moderate non Orange progressive part of the UUP,the NI Conservatives,and the people in the Alliance Party who are not true Liberal Democrats.This arrangement would give the new Entity traction combined with funding and a really proven election machine behind us. The only way is for the silent majority to drive the sectarian parties to the margins of NI society.