Tories and UU’s score a palpable double whammy…

Bottom line on the competition between Ulster Unionists and the Tories versus the DUP remains a one horse race, particularly on the ground where most of the former’s battleground seats remain without an obvious contender with possibly less than a year to go to the next Westminster election. But in at least one scrap they have bested their bigger rivals: the media ruck over MPs’ expenses. It began with a weak and entirely disingenuous interview by Gregory Campbell on Hearts and Minds, who fudged the issue of multi mandate seats by making references back to the poor performance of single mandate UU MPs, few can remember the names of. And Conall takes the view that Peter Robinson losing his temper in an interview on Newsline the other day was a big PR mistake.

His Deputy’s typically ballsy reply over those two rented houses in London the party’s MPs seem not to be using that the British Government owed his party millions, and that “those people who argue Sinn Fein is not entitled to this money the same as all the other parties need to catch themselves on” will go down better with their base.

However, the Tories and the UU’s have bagged themselves a couple of very palpable hits at a time when momentum seemed to be draining away from them with the messy business surrounding the UCU-NF name. It should be warning to both parties at the top of Northern Irish politics that the inveterate civil warring in the Castle (and the ensuing lack of product) will not necessarily be filled by a vacuum, but by rivals who not quite as down and out as they may have previously presumed…

It remains to be seen whether the Tories make good their pressure on Sinn Fein… There is no sign they have given much thought to tackling the issue of MP’s expenses beyond the next election when the ennui currently consuming large parts of the British press will no doubt dissipate when it finds other ways to employ itself… But the Tory capacity to catch their opponents unaware was proven in this last week…

Mr Empey may not have the iron clad instincts of political battler… but he knows a man who does…

, ,

  • Mark McGregor

    Mick,

    In two months you get to see for real if any of these ‘punches’ have made an impact where it counts – with the public.

    I suspect the UCUNF may be about to find out they didn’t even register a point with the judges.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Although the recent past may not be indicative of the near future, the British government’s has generally been more in touch with Nationalist Ireland – partly due to Nationalism’s more secular outlook and partly because the British analysis of the situation as reflected in the GFA is more or less in line with Nationlaism lite ideology.

    Obviously the Tory/NF alliance has signalled a shift towards a more Unioinst approach but they are hemmed in by the GFA and luckily, from a Nationlaist viewpoint, their potential for mischief is quite limited.

    Wee Reggie may, from under the coat-tails of PoshBoyDaveCameron(PBDC), be able to let off the odd salvo himself and also claim that any direct hits by PBDC agianst Nationlaism (e.g. stopping SF expenses) were partly due to his influence – but this can work either way – as any Tory fire that deliberately or inadvertently hits Unionists (e.g. Parades commission, Gay law change) may also be partly attributable to be Wee Reggie.

  • qubol

    Mick: “his deputy”….. hmmmm. We’re not playing that game now are we?

  • Mick Fealty

    That’s my suspicion too Mark. Thus the ‘one horse race’… Those battleground constituencies where they were once strong are drifting with the lack of local focus both in the fudged ‘merger’ and the lack of candidates…

    It’s clear from this that the Tories have a fighting instinct the UUs don’t yet possess. I’ve rarely seen a local party clock two rivals in one move like that (Opportunism depends on taking your opportunities and playing them well)…

    Ironically, it’s the clocking of SF that may play the more strongly for them, even though I agree with those commenters here who point out that it won’t hurt SF, it should benefit the UUs..

  • Mick Fealty

    It was a figure of speech q… no offence was intended or implied…

  • iluvni

    I think the biggest mistake the Tories will find they’ve made with the electorate is choosing to saddle themselves with the worse than useless UUP.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    The Conservatives and Unionists seem to have hit the ground running and the professional influence of CCHQ is already apparent.

    When voters who favour the United Kingdom look at the 3 main options on the ballot paper the TUV, DUP and the CU’s it seems they will have little doubt as to who can represent their interests best on both the economy and the United Kingdom.

    I look forward to the next year or so and two elections with great interest, I know who I think will be smiling the most and who will be past their sell by date.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Frustrated Democrat

    Do you anticipate a higher % turnout from North Down in the Euro poll which had a poor showing in 1994 as it must surely be a very fertile territory for the new alliance?

    If the alliance are elected in the Euro poll but come a poor third, with a reduced vote, will you be happy to re-emerge on Slugger to admit a degree over over-optimism? Or will you simply say that Unionists were frightened by the DUP into voting for them to avoid SF topping the poll?

  • Glencoppagagh

    Testing

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Sammy

    There are a lot of things in play in North Down including Sylvia Hermon and any impact she may have on the electorate so hard to forecast, but as you say it should be a good area for the CU’s.

    I don’t speak for the Conservatives and Unionists but my summation is that they will get a minimum 110,000 in the poll with 120,000+ a possibility.

    It is very likely that they will come 3rd behind SF and the DUP. I cannot see the DUP beating SF in fact I can’t see them getting past about 140,000, with the TUV getting 35,000, and I would expect SF to exceed that.

    I can’t see the DUP getting much traction from campaigning to try to top the poll instead of SF given they will have been their partners in Government for about 2 years.

    So probably I would see as below +/- 5,000 depending on who the others are. But we may well see my early forecasts change as the campaign heats up and we have a clear picture of all the runners and if the SDLP are gaining ground.

    SF 150,000
    DUP 135,000
    CU’s 120,000
    SDLP 90,000
    TUV 35,000
    ALL 15,000
    Others 15,000

    Anything less than 110,00 would not be good for the the CU’s and would be a definite sign of over optimism on my part.

    However a good long odds bet would be the CU’s to be the first pro UK party to be declared elected.

    What do you think?