First casualty of the UUP/Tory Meet up…

Slugger has just received an email from the Vice Chair of the Conservatives in Northern Ireland, Jeff Peel, announcing his resignation from the Joint Committee. He lays out the reasons in the full text of the email below…

Today, as Vice Chairman of the NI Area of the Conservatives, I took the decision to resign from the Joint Committee set up between the Conservatives and the Ulster Unionist Party. The purpose of this email is to explain why.

Last Thursday evening both the UUP and Conservatives NI area councils met to agree a paper from the joint committee of the UUP and Conservatives. The most substantive element of this paper was the name that the two parties would campaign under. The proposed name in the paper (Ulster Conservatives and Unionists – New Force) was essentially an arrangement to ensure that the paper would be passed by the UUP council. The Conservatives received assurances via email from David Campbell, Chairman of the UUP, prior to the Council meeting, making clear that despite the wording in the paper, the only name that would be used for campaigning purposes would a “short form” of the name i.e. Conservatives and Unionists.

It was also made clear to the UUP in the joint council meetings that the only branding that would be acceptable would be the regional form of the official Conservative ‘tree’ logo device, and the Conservatives and Unionists typography in the official Conservatives in NI colours. Therefore we took the email to mean that the UUP had accepted the short form name and branding. Our Area Council was briefed to this effect and passed the paper. The UUP Council also passed the paper (with no dissent). As Conservatives we wished to ensure that branding reflected the non-sectarian and national nature of our joint initiative – with successful candidates taking the Conservative whip in Europe and in Westminster.

It was agreed by both sides that there would be NO media briefings on the Thursday evening. However, this deal was broken by the UUP who briefed the media on the long form version of the name – despite assurances to us that the short form version would be used. The local and national media coverage only featured the long form version of the name that was NOT agreed by our side.

As a result of this, it was agreed by our side that we would release a logo featuring the correct short form branding.

The UUP complained bitterly that we had released this branding. At a joint media conference held last Friday the UUP insisted that we remove all logos from display material. Moreover the UUP has continued using the long form version of the name in media releases despite assurances that the only naming to be used was to be Conservatives and Unionists.

As a result of this, I have come to the conclusion that the UUP does not have the interests of Conservatism at heart. Rather, as the UUP is facing a severe financial crisis, it sees the Conservatives as a means out of its financial and electoral woes. Many UUP members (although by no means all) still adopt a little Ulster mentality when it comes to politics, and the Party’s only MP is simply not a Conservative.

It is for these reasons that I have taken the decision to resign from the Joint Committee. Although I’d like to make clear that I am NOT resigning from the Conservative Party and am NOT resigning as Vice Chairman of the Conservatives in Northern Ireland. I fully support the Conservative Party under the leadership of David Cameron and I hope to see it elected to government after the next general election. I would encourage the Party to seek a mandate to govern every part of the United Kingdom without entering into deals with other political parties.

Jeffrey Peel

, ,

  • That is a bold gambit.

    This bit, in particular is cutting: “I have come to the conclusion that the UUP does not have the interests of Conservatism at heart. Rather, as the UUP is facing a severe financial crisis, it sees the Conservatives as a means out of its financial and electoral woes. Many UUP members (although by no means all) still adopt a little Ulster mentality when it comes to politics, and the Party’s only MP is simply not a Conservative.

    There is no way that Peel can remain as vice-chair of the Tories if the arrangement with the UUP goes ahead. It now can only be one or the other, and I suppose it is Tory Head Office who must make the decision.

    This is all really blowing up. I think the Tories (English) really did not know what they were getting into, and this despite almost a year of negotiations. What kind of advice was Peel feeding back to London? Presumably he knew what the UUP are like? Did he warn against the non-merger? Did he support it, only to change his mind too late? It’s all very strange.

  • Dewi

    Good scoop Mick.

    “Rather, as the UUP is facing a severe financial crisis, it sees the Conservatives as a means out of its financial and electoral woes.”

    In which case the UUP behaviour over the last week or so seems even more strange…

  • ABC

    Anyone listening to him on TalkBack? This is really damning stuff.

  • Another point:

    I presume Peel’s e-mail was not addressed only to you, Mick. It would be extremely bad form to inform a blog before your head office. But it seems you got a fairly early copy, so Peel may find he is unpopular with head office, since he went public before they have had a chance to massage (or bury) the story.

    It has not yet been covered by the MSM, which means they didn’t get the e-mail.

    Methinks Peel is about to walk the plank.

  • Aghho

    The ONLY voice that has been heard through the whole of this shambles has been that of Mr. Peel.

    I would hazard a guess that Mr. Peel did not have a choice of leaving the Joint Committee, the Conservative party have had enough of his stupidity and acting as the ‘one true voice’ of conservatism in Northern Ireland and have canned him.

    I would be happy to put money on Mr. Peel no longer being a ‘central’ memeber of the NI Conservatives for much longer.

    All of the crap that has been created over the last week is directly contributable to Mr. Peel, no outbursts from UUP or (real) COnservative leadership have been heard.

    In my humble opinion the removal of Mr. Peel from the Northern Ireland political arena is the best thing that has happened since the announcement that voters in Northern Ireland can finally have a say in who governs us.

  • Cushy Glenn

    gloriously funny
    Captain Mainwaring objects to having to share his wee dunghill and puffs himself up in a sanctimonious display of pompous nonsense

    Heard him on Talkback talking about the UUP having too much baggage for his taste
    Sooo, the Miners’ strike, the poll tax, the Anglo-irish Agreement, the Belgrano, Munich, Tariff reform,the Jameson Raid, electoral reform, and a hundred other twists and turns in the increasingly desperate attempts to hold on to power are irrelevant, but those beastly orangemen aren’t?

  • slug

    My verdict – Peel is flakey and not suited to politics.

    He rose high in the NI Conservatives because they are a small club, not a political force. The exit of Peel is a good thing for the future of the new arrangements between UUP and Conservatives.

  • ABC

    Poor Cosgrove on now trying to claim it’s “business as usual” – unfortunately for the UUP it is – utter shambles!

  • CMB

    This man Peel has again put the cat among the pigeons and will keep this blog awash with the people against “The Force”. As a UU supporter I hope they all walk, this arrangement or merger which ever way you look at it was doomed from the start. If as has been stated the UU only wanted to get this of the blocks was financial it was perhaps a poor start. I did not support the UU most of my life to get into bed with people like Peel.

  • Peter

    To be fair to Jeffrey Peel, there are many people who agree with his political viewpoint. If his claims about the divisions within this pact are substantive then it will have big repercussions as to its future electoral success.

    I for one will vote C&U;if the UUP do abandon what I see as the ‘little Ulster’ mentality. If they don’t I’ll be back to the Alliance party… in which case I feel slightly disenfranchised. Damn first past the post!

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    As mentioned many times here on Slugger this had RTA and comedy classic written all over it – and was only ever going to be of benefit to Nationalists whether it worked – by splitting the Unionist vote further or went arseways – by leding to Unionist recrimination.

    But what is all that ridiculous deflection nonsense about the Logo? This is about a hasty liaison in which political desperation (financial as well?) drove Wee Reggie into the waiting arms of a doe-eyed-Posh-Boy-Tory suitor unacquainted with life outside of public school and the city and who just does not seem to realise that Ireland is a foreign country.

  • E
  • John East Belfast

    Jeffrey Peel’s problem is he doesnt understand NI politics in that if you want to move a whole constituent in another direction you have to do it slowly and in small steps.

    The name was a compromise for now – although the New Force at the end was daft and unnecessary – and if your objective was to ultimately align NI unionist (at least) politics with main line UK politics then it wouldnt be done overnight.

    He just didnt have the patience or political tact.

  • Alan

    Mr. Peel is not a politician. He has gone before he was pushed. Singlehandedly he almost managed to scupper the deal between the UUP and Conservatives. I don’t think he will be greatly missed

  • Firestarter

    well said John East Belfast.

    Clearly Peel hadn’t been happy about this for a long time and it has now bubbled over.

    Hopefully, he’ll do us all a favour and fade into the distance, or better still move to the mainland where his pompous and arrogant viewpoints may find a home.

  • fin

    Ulster Conservatives and Unionists – New Farce

  • “Stupidity” might be the description of some.

    If you pick through the whole sequence of events, you will note that there has been a lot of “stupidity” all around.

    What Jeffrey has said regarding the Orange Order in politics is well known. I wont repeat any of that here. There has been a lot of negative and vituperative comments about Jeffrey on Slugger and elsewhere.

    Jeffrey may have sounded like a “hard liner” from certain viewpoints. In reality, he is actually one of the most tolerant people that I know. It is ironic that in order to defend his position of tolerance, he has had to aggressively fight intolerance.

    I particularly support the last paragraph of what Jeffrey has said. I have no doubt that will be the position of many (if not most) of us in the Northern Ireland Conservative Party.

  • Urgh!!

    Jeez have the UUs copped on that they are just a smokescreen to cover the Conservatives selling out the Union to the SNP.

    There could be blood on some fine carpets if the penny has dropped.

  • Carson’s Cat

    Jeffrey Peel may not be a politician, he may not understand Northern Ireland politics.

    He may (in many people’s opinions) talk utter rubbish on the vast majority of occasions.

    However, even he speaketh the truth sometimes… and when he does its nice to hear:

    “Rather, as the UUP is facing a severe financial crisis, it sees the Conservatives as a means out of its financial and electoral woes.”

  • Greenflag

    Horseman,

    ‘I think the Tories (English) really did not know what they were getting into, and this despite almost a year of negotiations.’

    Par for the course in Ireland . The Tories have never got it right and never will . Can’t you see -they never had any real ‘interest’ in the island .

    ‘ It’s all very strange’

    Not at all . It’s to be expected . The English ‘tories’ don’t see Ulster Unionists as real ‘tories’ and some Ulster Unionists are still aggrieved over Ted Heaths kick in the goolies to ‘their ‘ Stormont.

    Anyway it’s not a cert that the Tories will be back in Government next time out anyway. This current economic crisis may .

    Meanwhile in the real world – real governments are making up ‘policy ‘ as they go along . Ideology don’t work anymore -It never did .

  • Greenflag

    error above – unfinished sentence

    ‘This current economic crisis may upset any and all expected political scenarios .

  • Milford Cubicle

    Cue Mr. Shilliday?

  • jeep55

    Whither Sylvia Hermon?

    “Many UUP members (although by no means all) still adopt a little Ulster mentality when it comes to politics, and the Party’s only MP is simply not a Conservative”

    Talk on the street is that she will stand as an independent at the next election with Alliance backing. And she will win the seat. UCUNF nil seats?

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    It’s a pity Slugger’s memory hole yawns ever wider, because yesterday evening all of this was cheerfully explained for those interested in UUP/Conservative relations, in some detail, on the “NI Conservative blog forced out by blog warfare?” thread. But then all the posts on that thread were, sans explanation, still less, record, deleted. Without wanting to scale Mick-like levels of pomposity myself, blogging’s *not* going to become anything like politically central for as long as silliness like threads wordlessly vanishing occurs.

    FWIW, your humble & etc, muttered thus:

    A few home truths: Peel was a self-indulgent liability, utterly devoid of basic political nous, batting *way* above his place in the team, and arrogantly heedless of the firm, precise and well-meant warnings of others.

    Let’s get a few more things straight: the UUP/GB Conservative deal was cut far above the heads of the odds and sods who comprise the ‘local’ Conservatives; indeed, as has been documented time and time again in this very place, the ‘local’ Conservatives, right up until they realised (because CCHQ told them) that four legs were in fact considerably better than two, were militantly opposed to any sort of link up with the “sectarian” UUP.

    Why London decided cutting a deal with Empey made sense is a story for another day, but it was a decision London took, with reference only to themselves, and to Empey for his side of the deal. The people who most definitely didn’t make the deal, partially because they were never in favour of taking it, partially because they (as the current and ongoing fiasco all too painfully demonstrates) were and are comprehensively lacking in the ability to make it work, are those self-same ‘local’ Conservatives. Who, let us not forget, were tasked with nothing more complex that dotting i’s and crossing t’s – and even so have managed to royally c*ck that up.

    I’ve no doubt that the deal *will* stick, but as we are now seeing, it is being made to do so over the political corpses of those who never wanted it in the first place, to wit, Peel et al.

    Perhaps by way of explaining this bizarre spat to outsiders, who are doubtless rightly mystified why and how a deal struck between Cameron (ie the next PM) via Woodentop with Empey was being disrupted by a handful of politically immaterial non-entities, so few in number that their tally of support in NI is actually lower than even the figure for the UUP’s present, pitiful membership, well it’s fairly simple.

    Where, once upon a time, the ‘local’ Conservatives were outraged old-school Tories, of solid UUP qua Tory vintage, pro-law and order, integrationist to their core, anti-sectarian Enochites and, crucially, decent, uneffusively Christian, anti-Agreement types (precisely because it a.) rewarded terrorism & b.) sanctified sectarianism), you know, solid coves like Barbara Finney, today they’re a weird little sect of prissy, self-regarding ‘liberals’, of whom Peel is hardly even the most absurd and electorally toxic.

    The only pity here is that CCHQ has been too kind, too long to the wasters who have proven themselves so conclusively incapable of garnering votes for Toryism in Ulster. Not, of course, that they can actually bring themselves to say ‘Ulster’, believing it to be sectarian (you know, unlike the Republic’s usage of, oh, ‘Ireland’), the Grade A space cadets.
    Posted by Laughing (Tory) Unionist on Mar 05, 2009 @ 06:11 PM

  • Mick Fealty

    Slugger’s memory hole is conditional on people playing the ball and not the man… Said thread to be re-instated when I have the time to go through it…

    Yours pompously,

    The owner…

  • Kathryn Johnston

    Was it Brendan Behan who said the first item on the agenda of any new Irish political grouping was the split?

  • slug

    Very good, Katheyn!

  • jone

    Peel’s Talk Back interview now available on the BBC story.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/7928536.stm

  • Fermanagh Young Unionist

    The proposed name in the paper (Ulster Conservatives and Unionists – New Force) was essentially an arrangement to ensure that the paper would be passed by the UUP council.

    So he is claiming the Ulster Unionist Executive were deliberately mislead? That’s unlikely …

    the only name that would be used for campaigning purposes would a “short form” of the name i.e. Conservatives and Unionists.

    Then how did he assume the UUs/Conservatives would inform their voters that the name was UCUNF on paper? Text them the night before? Email them? Or just assume that everyone would know about UC&U;’s on the day?

    It was also made clear to the UUP in the joint council meetings that the only branding that would be acceptable would be the regional form of the official Conservative ‘tree’ logo device, and the Conservatives and Unionists typography in the official Conservatives in NI colours.

    So it was Jeffrey’s way or no way? What exactly did the UU’s get out of his proposals? He really does not understand the idea of cooperation very well.

    The local and national media coverage only featured the long form version of the name that was NOT agreed by our side.

    Erm did we not agree identical papers last Thursday night?

    As a result of this, it was agreed by our side that we would release a logo featuring the correct short form branding.

    So he through the toys out of the pram?

    As a result of this, I have come to the conclusion that the UUP does not have the interests of Conservatism at heart.

    Because Jeffrey didn’t agree with us we’re not unionist?! Meh I think we’ll take our chances…

    Rather, as the UUP is facing a severe financial crisis, it sees the Conservatives as a means out of its financial and electoral woes.

    Actually there has been very little talk of money. And it may surprise Jeffrey but we made the deal with the UK Conservative Party, not with him.

    It is for these reasons that I have taken the decision to resign from the Joint Committee. Although I’d like to make clear that I am NOT resigning from the Conservative Party and am NOT resigning as Vice Chairman of the Conservatives in Northern Ireland.

    Lol yeah, whilst I would prefer to see no one in either party leaving I struggle to see how he will remain NI vice chair – one things for sure; he definitely won’t be their media spokesperson anymore!

    It’s unfortunate to see Jeffrey has taken this decision. I’m sure he brought some talents to the UU/Conservative link up, however it was relatively clear that he wasn’t happy with David Cameron’s fondness of Unionism, indeed the fact that Cameron went over the NI Tories heads with the lead up to discussions probably didn’t help.

  • Why is the UUP just one disaster after another?

    they can’t even organise a take over…

  • ABC

    FYU

    “So he is claiming the Ulster Unionist Executive were deliberately mislead”

    If you are asking me to decide who I believe Jeff Peel or Campbell and Empey, I know exactly who I believe!

    I think it is extremely clear that one group of people were being told one thing and another group an entirely different thing in order to secure their support.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Technically this is a ‘local’ Conservative fiasco, not, for once, another UUP one. Indeed, it’s quite the reverse, as the UUP has now, fairly firmly, put the anti-link up ‘locals’ back in their box. And from Empey’s point of view, what has been most heartening is that CCHQ have stood behind him rather than the nominal NI Conservatives. Though for anyone with any ‘Ulster Tory’ experience of dealing with the glacial disinterest of Central Office, why any of this – being shafted by London in favour of footsie with the UUP – should come as a surprise is entirely beyond me. I suppose it only goes to bear out what some of us have been saying about just how weird, and un-right wing the handful of folk who comprise ‘Alliance Rite’ actually are.

  • Given the obvious unequal yoking – and what looks like the need for the UUP to squash the local Torys – how long can this new farce in local politics stay married?

    And will the local media just stick to calling him “Jeff” as they seem to be finding “Jeffrey” difficult?

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Certainly state media aka the BBC is incapable, online, of conventionally spelling ‘Jeffrey’. But doubtless to the peculiar people, all four and a half of them, who are the ‘local’ Conservatives, the BBC is a bastion of progressive étatisme at its very finest.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    BTW, for those of you who can’t be bothered to listen to the farrago Peel spewed out during his chat with the Archbore, here are some verbatim hightlights:

    I’d just had enough . . . the whole Ulster Unionist Party doesn’t want to embrace non-sectarian politics . . . the UUP welched on the deal . . . They want to use the ‘Ulster word’ [!] . . . they want to be an Ulster protestant party . . . The party is still tainted by Orangeism . . . It thinks about the protestant community . . . The Ulster Unionist party simply brings too much baggage.

    And golly aren’t those of us who honestly and openly support the deal better off without this particular viper. Incidentally, Peel called the Republic simply ‘Ireland’, making all the more risible his pained aversion to ever saying ‘Ulster’ where one might also say ‘Northern Ireland’.

  • Moonchkin

    Poor aul UUP, after their long and storied history they’d finally retired to the back room with the proverbial whiskey and a revolver….

    and now they’ve even managed to totally botch their own political suicide!

    you would think that the process of surrendering and being taken over by another party wouldn’t require too much strategic genius for the UUP to carry off, but no, even this was clearly a step too far for Reg and his team…

    may the Farce be with them…. (its great for giggles if nuffin’ else… )

  • fair_deal

    So to sum up the UUP managed to negotiate another deal that started falling apart quickly with lots of finger pointing, recriminations and blame being thrown around?

  • Firestarter

    Intersting to note, its the Toffee-Nosers in the Tories that can’t keep their word!

    as of 16:35 http://conservativesni.net/ is still functioning…

    Come on CCHQ… get it down! Get Peel out of sight!

  • Greenflag

    ‘I think it is extremely clear that one group of people were being told one thing and another group an entirely different thing in order to secure their support.’

    Obviously this Peel could be a Fianna Fail candidate in the making ,but he’ll need to improve his political skills in the ‘cunning and devious’ department ;)?

    Did ye ken Jeff Peel
    And the great misdeal
    With the Ulster spiel
    And their Tory free meal
    How he was made to kneel
    For his views pastille

    Now it seems unreal
    That this Tory cockatiel
    Was far too genteel
    For the party of O’Neill
    And Empire dishabille

    So the heraled deal
    To beat DUP zeal
    Had no sectarian appeal
    For the orange commonweal
    Was too difficile
    And the Orange Order squeal
    Was heard in Kiel
    And even in Mobile
    So this whole ordeal
    And it’s innards piecemeal
    Has unravelled freewheel
    In mode cartwheel
    On it’s way downheel
    Like a pimpmobile

    And best wishes to Jeff in his future political perambulations even if not attached to the UUP pimpmobile “

  • Smug O’ Toole

    Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Incidentally, Peel called the Republic simply ‘Ireland’, making all the more risible his pained aversion to ever saying ‘Ulster’ where one might also say ‘Northern Ireland’.

    I think you are getting yourself a little too riled up on this chap. He is correct in referring to the ROI as Ireland as that is the official name of the country (26 counties). The government is called the government of Ireland, not the government of the Republic of Ireland.
    http://europa.eu/abc/european_countries/eu_members/ireland/index_en.htm

    http://ec.europa.eu/ireland/general_information/ireland_eu/index_en.htm

    ROI is only used by nordies and in international football. I thought this was fairly common knowledge. Baby infant level geography.

  • picador

    Baby infant level geography.

    God spare me from Free Staters!

    IRELAND HAS 32 COUNTIES

    Baby infant level geography

  • Mack

    Picador

    Yes it does, but the name of the state to the south is defined by Bunreacth Na hÉireann.

    http://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/upload/static/256.htm

    Article 4

    The name of the State is Éire, or, in the English language, Ireland.


    The state in the north is called Northern Ireland and not Ulster. In the state to the south there is pretty much unaminous support for the name “Ireland”. In the state to the north the term “Ulster” as a name, does not enjoy the same level of support. So, I would suggest keeping the name of the state as Northern Ireland until such a time as an alternative commands sufficient support.

    Calling Northern Ireland “Ulster”, is a different proposition to calling the state to the south by it’s constitutionally defined name. Though I can understand why it upsets people.

    I have to admit a growing respect for the NI conservatives, princpled it seems.

  • borderline

    The UUs in Stormont tried to change the name of NI to Ulster in the 50s and the Tories wouldn’t let them.

    That’s the 1950s I mean.

    I was going to remark on how things haven’t changed much in 50 years, but, on reflection, it’s suuuch a short time.

    Pass the popcorn willya, Paddy.

  • AJJM

    I like Jeff. I like (most of) what he stands for. I tweet with him occasionally. He even dislikes the DUP as much as me! But he is completely wrong here.

    If he didn’t like the name (I personally not fussed on it, but recognise the need for compromise) he should have discussed this in the committee. Even if he thought the UUP had agreed with him, as soon is it appeared they hadn’t, he should have sorted it out privately. He is acting like a child over this, and is damaging the relationship set up by people like Owen Paterson with the UUP.

    It is quite ironic, that by being so uncompromisingly for normal politics, he may have damaged the progress towards that.

    I was jubilant when the pact was announced. I thought that the outcome of the process and the potential it provides might be worth staying in NI for. I hope Jeff hasn’t damaged this.

  • picador

    Well North Korea is called the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea but it’s North Korea to me.

  • Peter Brown

    Well who’d have thought we’d see the days of Jeffrey being the UUP scapegoat so quickly after Donaldson’s departure?

  • I love it when a plan falls apart.

    I love it even more when a cunningplan falls apart.

  • Richard James

    It’s a pity to see Peel resign over something that’s hardly an issue of principle. He’s really stretching things to claim the Union flag and the word Ulster are sectarian. If there’s a problem with the name it’s the absurd “new force” part.

    He’d have more credibility if he simply stated the UUP wasn’t a party the Conservatives should be associated with.

  • fair_deal

    Borderline

    “The UUs in Stormont tried to change the name of NI to Ulster in the 50s and the Tories wouldn’t let them.”

    Incorrect. There was a civil service paper produced on the topic but when it went to the Stormont Cabinet it was rejected with IIRC Brian Faulkner leading opposition. It never got as far as asking the national government/Tories. Although Stormont did stick Ulster on almost every single public body it ever created.

    A funny one was when Whitehead Council passed a motion calling for the Prince of Ulster to be created. Stormont did pass on the request but chose not to put up a fight when the palace declined.

  • borderline

    FD,

    I am afraid I slipped up in failing to distinguish between 1950s UUs in Stormont and 1950s civil servants in Stormont.

    You may pardon me this 🙂

    We both make mistakes in our assertions according to http://dic.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/1216501

  • As a result of this, I have come to the conclusion that the UUP does not have the interests of Conservatism at heart. Rather, as the UUP is facing a severe financial crisis, it sees the Conservatives as a means out of its financial and electoral woes.

  • Quis Separabit

    As a Young Unionist I personally think this new “pact” is disastrous.
    Even the very name of the new “organisation” – the new force smacks more of a paramilitary organisation than a serious political party.

    There is no wider appetite in Northern Irish politics for links to mainland parties. The conservative tag, I can predict with some confidence, will sound the death knell for the party at the next Westminster elections.