Basil McCrea expresses disappointment in the press as he decides not to stand again…

They will eat you up if you don’t feed them, said Phillip Gould, Tony Blair’s favourite pollster. After breaking away from the Ulster Unionist party along with John McCallister Basil McCrea has told the Belfast Telegraph that he is calling it a day on politics

“I was disappointed that certain parts of the report didn’t get the attention they deserved, particularly the issue of conspiracy,” he said.

“The report was unequivocal. Ridiculous allegations that were made two years ago have proven to be unfounded, but the entire experience, the delay and the worry, has had an impact on me and on my family.

“I’m not running away, complaining that it’s too harsh. I was pleased to have been totally exonerated and I shall leave the Assembly with my head held high. I gave it my all and I’m pleased that I had the opportunity to do so.”

Parts of the press who once lionised McCrea and NI21 as the next big thing, turned on in more recent times, and effectively being left on his own in the party decided to do the decent thing, and take the exit at the next election.

Perphaps having the press (or the public narrative) on your side is not always the greatest help in the longer run…

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • the rich get richer

    Its a pity that NI21 did not work out !

    Unionists could really have done with something different to potentially vote for !

    It was “Handy” for the other two Unionists parties that this new choice was extinguished at birth !

    Makaveli would have been intrigued with the shenanigans….!

  • Ulsterexile

    I think Basil and his shenanigans could be described as narcissistic more than Machiavellian! Pity though as I for one, bought in to the whole concept of NI21.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Makaveli? MacKaveli? MacAnexclamationmark or two!!!!!!!!!

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    “Perhaps having the press (or the public narrative) on your side is not always the greatest help” It’s very interesting to me that the self destruct button was pressed from within. Hope, optimism, change, breath of fresh air etc. seem to be too foreign or exotic for some of our entrenchedly chauvinistic or inflexible political players. The forces of negativity are once again victorious.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I did too.

    Fittingly enough (with regards to your moniker) I recall suggesting to NI21 that they spend some time courting and appealling to unionist ex-pats as from my experience they tend to mellow after being away from NI (and to a lesser extent the UK ) for so long.

    Ho hum.

  • Nevin

    Mac an Bhealach?

  • Ulsterexile

    I think a lot of us that live “across the sheugh” viewed it as a breath of potentially reasonable fresh air. However doing so would not have helped them gain votes back home. I only hope that someone can somehow pick up the ideological baton!

  • Robin Keogh

    This is disappointing. I had hoped he could pull it together after being through such an ordeal. NI21 offered a fantastic opportunity to give unionism a progressive voice, one which could have eventually changed international perception. I wish him well. Maybe after a decent rest he might have another go. I hope so.

  • Ulsterexile

    I think Basil is pretty much a spent force politically. He has made to many decisions that have seemed rash, if for the right reasons, such as his poorly timed change of designation in the assembly. This, along with the inevitable mud that will have stuck from the inquiry, means that his perceived weaknesses and vanity will always be an easy political target, and some one that the electorate in Northern Ireland will never gravitate towards.
    Lets hope Progressive Unionism can find a new, more worthy, champion and direction.

  • Brendan Heading

    Unionists never had someone different to vote for. A day before the election NI21 abandoned its Unionist position. We now know that this was done as part of an effort to force John McCallister out of the party.

  • Brendan Heading

    the change of the designation was not actually “poorly timed”, it was deliberately done to force the deputy leader to resign. The personal spat between the two leaders overrode all political or electoral concerns.

  • Ulsterexile

    I think all those candidates for the local councils, and those of us who had bought in to the party, would disagree! forcing through such a measure on the eve of their first election could hardly be described as politically expedient or sensible for the party no matter the context. Northern Ireland my be desperately crying out for pragmatic politics, but their are limits!

  • Acrobat_747

    I have heard rumours about two other high profile MLA’s but the media simply won’t touch that story. Basil is just easy prey.

    In NI, there is one rule for certain people and another rule for others.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Actually Exile, I’m inclined to disagree regarding the effect it would have on the votes back home;

    If a sizeable ex-pat block could be established and indeed plugged into this could lead to revenue for campaigns if not just a cohesive and visible sense of pride in being from NI.

    Every little helps and all that jazz.

  • Granni Trixie

    Me too. Hope I’m wrong!

  • Granni Trixie

    But why did you not see from the start that the driving force at leadership level was self interest? I say this whilst acknowledging that Ni21 was attractive to many people seeking somethng better than what they perceived is on offer.

  • Ulsterexile

    I think you answered your own question there Granni! Like many others, I suspected it, but hoped for better.

  • Greenflag 2

    Macchiavelli could have said I told you so 😉

    There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.

    Niccolo Macchiavelli

    Well at least he tried

    Somewhere out there is another Unionist Sisyphus preparing to roll that rock uphill to the summit only to see it being rolled back down again by the Unionist Gods .

  • Brendan Heading

    NI21 was Basil’s baby and he did whatever he liked. everyone else was just along for the ride.

  • Brendan Heading

    At least they learned a valuable life lesson which will come in handy the next time someone shows up offering a bridge for sale.