If Basil wins will the last one to leave the UUP please turn out the lights

It was the Sun which famously stated in 1992 “If Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights.” The News Letter seems to be running a slightly similar suggestion about Basil McCrea winning the UUP leadership race. They are suggesting that many of the current MLAs would refuse to serve with Basil McCrea as leader: thus far only one MLA (John McCallister) has declared for McCrea.

Much of this likely to be hyperbole. However, there are repeated reports that McCrea is a highly divisive figure within the UUP and very few leading members like him on a political or personal level. The current rumours may be just that: rumours; however, the UUP leadership may also be somewhat concerned that McCrea’s self proclaimed outsiders bid for the leadership is gathering significant momentum.

The UUP has elected outsiders before and ones who had at times a less than perfect relationship with their senior colleagues (Trimble being a classic example). However, if McCrea is really anything like as unpopular with his assembly colleagues as is being suggested his winning could cause massive problems.

Tom Elliott’s detractors have tried to present him as offering “Managed Decline.” Although as mentioned above much of this may be hyperbole, it looks as if Basil McCrea, might manage to achieve not managed decline but a political supernova leaving very little apart from Basil. (Sorry Pete I am sure that is not an appropriate analogy).

In his News Letter Union 2021 article Basil McCrea suggested that he was confident that Sinn Fein would not gain the First Ministership: he also stated “Picking the right fights is a fundamental requirement of good leadership.” Unfortunately Basil seems not to have heeded his own advice and rather seems to be in danger of having a fight with almost all his assembly party. It would be truly ironic if a Basil McCrea victory, if it did occur, ensured that Sinn Fein would never hold the First Ministership: by creating a united unionist party containing almost everyone apart from himself.


  • joeCanuck

    many of the current MLAs would refuse to serve with Basil McCrea as leader

    Any idea of where they would go?

  • alan56

    Very interesting as usual Turgon. Nice twist at the end!
    In my opinion the problem is that in both camps in this election there may be a feeling that neither Elliot or McCrea are the ideal leader but choosing a ‘stop the other one’ option. Could it be that whoever wins may have a short tenure?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    There is surely no need for three right wing, Orange, Unioinst parties splitting the politcally motivated Prods (those Prods who vote) into three right wing, Orange camps.

    The somewhat unkept, Co Donegal born, Bazza has something of the feel of Boris Johnson about him and could, accent aside, almost sound like a British politican of the current century. But Bazza, it ssems, has no chance of being elected and Nationalists/Republicans can look forward to more interminable orange civil wars as Jimbo, Robbo and Tommo kick-the-red-white-and-blue out of each other as they all scramble for the ever decreasing Orange vote as sensible-moderate-secular-Prods continue to find solace in the Alliance party.

  • Alias

    “Any idea of where they would go?” – Joe

    It’s then a case of where Basil would go. The unionist are a stubborn bunch, so while a top-down process could be designed in giddy backrooms to shaft them, it’s more likely to be the outcome that any attempt to takeover and control them in a direction they don’t want to go will result in a shafting of takeover merchants. Unlike the Shinner party members, they’re not dumb sheep that are easily led…

    It remains the case – quite naturally – that social groups will vote for a particular party because it represents the interests of their particular group and not the interests of some other group or all social groups.

    FST was a good illustration of what happens when a party gets too far ahead of its traditional voters, and loses the plot completely. The party declared that it shouldn’t matter if a unionist of a nationalist was elected in that constituency because, logically, nationalism and unionism were interchangeable with each other, and so it declined to have a ‘sectarian pact’ with PSF in FST. Therefore, voting for a nationalist in preference to a unionist was degraded to the status of “sectarianism.” This was a good NIO trick for promoting the constitutional status quo because if it is sectarian to actively promote either ism then the constitutional status quo will hold by default.

    Unfortunately for the SDLP, their traditional voters in FST didn’t see it that way, and more than half of them deserted the party in that constituency to vote for the PSF candidate in order to exclude the unionist candidate from the office. So while the SDLP may congratulate themselves on their wonderful non-sectarianism and their degradation of nationalist politics (to accolades from NIO mandarins), their vote collapsed to half of what it was in the previous election.

    The ‘traditionalists’ just don’t get these new-fangled NIO politics…

  • student

    For me, an Elliot win = Reg mark 2, continuing the slow decline of the once great UUP. Would predict 8-11 Assembly seats at the next elections. McCrea on the other hand at least makes things interesting, could destroy the party as the NL suggests, or on the otherhand rattle the DUP and start at least a mini UUP revival. Anywhere between 5 and 25 seats could be possible at Stormont.

  • slug

    A rather poor blog.

  • Crow

    A clear case of two bald men fighting over a comb if ever there was one. I do believe there is an untapped market for a progressive, centrist, liberal unionist party. It is territory out of reach for both the DUP and the Alliance. They can only nibble at its edges. The “nice people” haven’t gone away you know, they are just uninspired. If you are a UUP member that aspires to be DUP-lite and wants more of the same then Tom is clearly your man. If you want to try and halt the decline and end the malaise, then screw your courage to the sticking place, hold your nose, cross your fingers and put an X next to Basil. At the end of the day, do you really have a choice?

  • Alias

    Shouldn’t you declare an interest as a Basil McCrea supporter so that the reader may be alerted to decide if your negative review of the blog is linked to the blog’s negative review of Basil McCrea? *raises eyebrow*

  • Alias

    “I do believe there is an untapped market for a progressive, centrist, liberal unionist party.”

    Leaving your Lady Macbeth exhortation aside, isn’t that properly an argument for starting a new party? The market is presently so small that there would be no return on the investment in a new party, so the reality, I suspect, is that there is no “progressive, centrist, liberal unionist party” because there aren’t enough “progressive, centrist, liberal” unionist voters to make it worthwhile. Putting the proverbial cart before the horse is undoubtedly a good way to build a disorganised and stagnant heap, and if that is what you are at then good luck with the exercise.

    The more sensible approach is proceed from where you are (ethnic unionism) to where you want to be (civic unionism) in an organised manner, bringing the bulk of your supporters with you. You can’t market a shiny new thing and expect every to buy it just because it is shiny and new but doesn’t actually serve any practical purpose. I think Trimble was on the right track and will be seen in time as being as significant as Carson in maintaining the union with the UK, but you have to get the voters to buy into that vision. That is going to take a lot of time and very careful management.

    Basil McCrea isn’t the man for the job. I don’t even think that he thinks that he is the man for the job. He puts me in mind of a careerist who has seen an opportunity for self-advancement by adopting a particular position and is going for broke with it – and boke is where the UUP will end up if he gets control of it. It is far better to promote someone who will take the party’s traditional supporters with him rather than someone who fully intends to cast all of them aside.

  • Crow

    “The more sensible approach is proceed from where you are (ethnic unionism) to where you want to be (civic unionism) in an organised manner, bringing the bulk of your supporters with you.”

    I don’t disagree with the approach at all but it would seem that the desire to get from A to B would be fundamental to achieving it. Tom Elliott is not the man to make that journey. If you are saying he is a safer pair of hands until someone is found who can make that journey well fair enough but I am not sure the UUP can play the long game.

  • Drumlin Rock

    Crow, I can see where your coming from and setting aside personalities, it is not enough for a leader to move from your A – B on their own, they need to carry virtually all the party with them, Trimble failed because he had only 70%, Paisley kept a tight control and carried 90% with him it seems, when they respectively carried the deals across.
    Basil is seen as already in camp B by many and is unlikely to carry many other with him, Tom is more in Camp A but is cautiously progressing towards B, and should carry most with him if persuaded.

  • lover not a fighter

    In fairness the lights pretty dim for Unionism already.

  • Seymour Major

    Neither candidate seems to have grasped the art of campaiging for the leadership of a political party. There is nothing wrong with criticising your opponent. You just have to do it in an oblique way, i.e. with respect and without invection and vitriol.

    McCrea’s criticism over the Gay Pride/GAA events was much too overt. Tom Elliot’s reaction to it has now made him look like a man with thin shoulders who lacks dignity.

    Whoever wins will need to convince the wider electorate that they are capable of uniting the disgruntled losing wing of their own party. From what I have read and heard, neither candidate has the credentials or the capability to achieve that.

  • slug

    I would argue that people who post blog entries shoudl declare an interest. It raises the standard of the blog to do so.

  • Mr Brightside

    So the UUP mirror the SDLP, with the candidate choice being who can cause the least electoral damage.

    Any chance that the UUP, SDLP and AP parties could combine, and provide voters with a real option of a secular party that advocates social justice and free enterprise, yet does not get it’s knickers in a twist over constitutional status or a SF 1st minister?

    Surely a large swathe of the electorate are crying out for this?

  • slug

    SDLP is a Labour party while UUP is Conservative and ALliance Liberal.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Any chance that the UUP, SDLP and AP parties could combine

    Christ, have we not done this to death already ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    does not get it’s knickers in a twist over constitutional status or a SF 1st minister?

    I’m actually not convinced the electorate are that worried about an SF first minister.

    A lot of people thought the electorate might be worried about the devolution of policing and justice powers. In May they were granted a specific opportunity to reject further devolution – they chose instead to vote for parties who were endorsing it.

  • Mr Brightside

    And what’s your point?

  • Dewi

    This isn’t a real political party – it’s a soap opera. Is the relationship with the Tories officially finished?

  • Mr Brightside

    I only ever dip in and out of this site, so don’t keep abreast of what has or hasn’t been debated to death. But glad to hear it’s previously come up. A coalition of the centre would get my unexercised vote.

  • Drumlin Rock

    In a more perfect world they would all merge for a few years then agree to split into two parties centre left and centre right, but bit of a pipedream that one.

  • Drumlin Rock

    Is any other party any different? the main difference is the broad open nature of the UUP it is a bit more public.
    As for the Tory link it was only for two elections and those elected during those election, which obviously dosnt apply in westministers case, but Jim Nicholson is still a Conservative & Unionist MEP so far as I know, so the relationship continues there. It was never intended to extend to Stormont or Councils, and would have little benefit for either party there. I dont think the Lords were ever included and party structures remain seperate. It can discussed again in a couple of years!

  • Comrade Stalin

    Cameron has publicly committed himself to it. Which gives whoever takes over the leadership the interesting responsibility of having to spurn the Prime Minister in the event that the decision is taken to end the hookup.

  • Comrade Stalin

    the main difference is the broad open nature of the UUP it is a bit more public.

    That’s a funny way to spell “factionalized and split”.

    It was never intended to extend to Stormont or Councils, and would have little benefit for either party there

    As we all suspected, all that stuff about creating a non-sectarian, reinvigorated etc. movement was all bollocks, and the real objective was about maximizing mutual benefit for both parties.

  • cynic2

    If they elect Basil they will struggle but have hope. Tom is a perfectly nice person but every vote for him is a vote for oblivion. The cabal don’t even see this and fear change – all change

  • It’s depressing that the most adventurous idea unionism has to offer at the moment is “unionist unity”, which is simply geared towards remaining the biggest. Usually being the biggest party is an aspiration that comes with the overall aim of changing things. I’m struggling to see the point to Unionist parties apart from some centre-right market leanings and the desire to prevent nationalist parties from getting high office. (And oddly they downplay the more useful centre-right part).

    If Unionism is to grow and convert nationalist party voters like me, then proclaiming your main aim is to defeat the other side because they’re evil/untrustworthy, and then spend the time afterwards crowing about having won, isn’t the best strategy. Of course, that’s probably not the aim of the unionist parties – it’s probably to keep the base sufficiently energised to keep them in power – but it’s not the most attractive brand of politics.

    What I’d really like to see is the UUP, SDLP and Alliance running as a moderate government-in-waiting with an electoral pact/electoral campaign with some common elements at the next election. Not that it will happen.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Surely at least one Unionist party should be attempting to make itself at least have the look and feel of Britishness about it and continously opting for Orangemen to hold most of the important political offices in their party seems (although welcome by us on the green side of the fecnce it has to be admitted) is a serious policial mistake by the UUP.

    Most British politicians seem to have more in common with Southern politicans and with the SDLP – and probably even SF(see Blair’s memoirs) than they have with Unionist politicians – dour, conviction politics based on the culture of religious affiliation and intolernce is simply not going to win you any friends.

    C’mon Tom ye boy ye.

  • Erasmus

    ”SDLP is a Labour party while UUP is Conservative and ALliance Liberal.”

    Plus the fact that the SDLP is nationalist, the UUP unionist, and Alliance (constitutionally) neutral.

  • fudged

    Hardly very democratic for MLAs to threaten to reject Bazza if elected leader , cabal now resorting to scare tactics.We need frank and open debate between the two visions of unionism now at least out in the open.We have Bazza’s modern open minded radical business new UUP approach to reach out to the 114,000 non voting pro Union electorate lost by both Unionist parties or the traditional country more pro farming agricultural managed decline FRUMP approach represented by Elliot(Fermanagh Rump Unionist Party not original already alluded to in another thread ).Just like new vs old labour-it’s actually a NO BRAINER and the UUP/electorate would benefit from seeing the differences out in the open so they actually know what they are getting whoever wins .

  • Greenflag

    ‘but it’s not the most attractive brand of politics.’

    Eh? Unionism was never into ‘attraction’ . Repulsion is the word and repulsion the game as in repulsing of nationalists , republicans , taigs , fenians , papists and anyone or everyone who doubts that God is a protestant and that King Billy on his white horse his 17th century vicar on earth .

    Your moderate government in waiting is a true work of idealised fiction although well meaning and potentially progressive . You’ll need to contact Stephen Hawking to possibly supply you with an alternative ‘universe’ in which such a ‘pact’ could happen 😉

  • Greenflag

    ‘the cabal don’t even see this and fear change – all change’

    Can’t really blame then can you ? I mean lets face it since they started to discover back in 1968 ? 1965 ? that there was another political universe out there which did not prescribe to their unipolar world view it’s been a downhill slalom all the way .

    Change has not been good to the UUP . They are not only not good at it, but amazingly attract the worse aspects of change like iron filings drawn to a magnet 🙁 There is no word in the English language which can accurately describe the sheer boneheaded kamikaze politics of the current UUP and it’s direct antecedents 🙁

  • White Horse

    It has to be asked as to why Reg Empey made no defence when Gerry Adams accused him of being equally guilty of what seemed close to directing terrorism, on a par with Martin McGuinness, this week. It seems that “no unionist party leadership” was any different to the Sinn Fein leadership in this respect.

  • Comrade Stalin

    What we have done to death already is the idea that banging several parties together on a joint ticket does not work. Look at the election results and how well UCUNF did.

    Why would you vote for a coalition of the parties, but not one of the parties individually ? It doesn’t make sense.

  • john

    Can someone explain to me why so many of the UUP MLA’S are so anti Basil and how mature of them to threaten leaving the party – after all if thats what the grass roots members want then it shows you how out of touch and arrogant some of the these more senior members of the party really. It may help explain why the support for the party continues to fall. Get real and get behind your leader who ever it maybe.

  • Cynic

    Who reliably says they are

  • cynic47

    Would you even want to a member of the UUP right now never mind being the leader? The UUP ship has filled with too much water to be pumped out and refloated. It is surely going to hit the bottom some day very soon. The founding fathers of Unionism must be spinning in their graves.

  • USA

    McCrea is an emminently better choice than the backward looking Elliot….managed decline indeed.

  • Drumlin Rock

    your right CS, normally combining parties will lose votes short term at least, lets say 10% of their respective votes, sometimes the reward could be worth it, ie. they form the government and prove their ability etc.

  • Drumlin Rock

    I wonder are people seeing a bit of a theme develope? When it is those who oppose the policies of the UUP who are most vocal in supporting Basil….

  • Granni Trixie

    No chance. Why would APNI risk its USP of cross- community identity by joining nup with the SDLP and UUP? Far from drawing in new people it is likely to alienate present supporters. Me for one. …I mean I joined Allince not the SDLP or UU for what to me were good reasons.

    Now cooperation with other parties on specific issues is another matter and probably a good idea.
    And as has been said above, we have aired this debate previously.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    “When it is those who oppose the policies of the UUP who are most vocal in supporting Basil”

    You may well be right in relation to Unionist commenters here – but do you accept that from the Nationalist and certainly Republican perspective what we really, really want is as many overtly pro Orange Order Unionist parties as possible fighting over the territory which is arguably diminshing.

    Basil’s election would be bad news for Nationlsism in both the short term and the longer term. In the short term it would lead to a strengthening of the DUP – meaning Marty would have zero chance of becoming First Minister and SF have lesss chance of gaining seats and in the longer term the UUP would have marked out territory for itself where it could have some chance of building a coherent political liaison with the Tories and normalising Unionist policies – ie not continously fighting over who-is-the-Orangest-of-them-all and perhaps win the support of those who have drifted to the Alliance and more importantly those who currently stay at home.

    SF (who should be the UUPs main rival rather than the DUP) will obviously want Tommo rather than Bazza to lead the UUP as they can expect a highly enjoyable 3 way civil war with Jimbo throwing his lot in with UUP and with the British politcal establishment watching on in bemusement. And of course it wont help that the main item in the new leaders in-tray will be the pigsmickey the DUP have made over the parades issue and that will be far to tempting for Tommo as an OO man himself not to try and stick the
    ceremonial Orange sword into Robbo.

    The Connolly House vote will be going to Tommo.

  • slug

    Tom Elliott does seen an honest and straightfoward sort, which is to his credit. I don’t agree with or share his responses to some questions – but I respect his honesty.

    DR do you know whether Tom Elliott generally supported Trimble rather than Donaldson in those close UUC votes in the late 1990s?

  • Paradigm

    Elliott will be a decision maker – he has a shrewd political brain and makes his presence felt through openness, hard work, determination, commitment and consistency. McCrea on the other hand has still to quantify his professed ‘business acumen’ by failing to publish this CV since he returned to Northern Ireland just 12 years ago in 1998 – having managed to avoid the previous troubled years or contribute to any solution. Remember “…… some of the people some of the time”.

  • It seems that the UUP is in a shocking state if its choice of leaders is between Basil McCrea, with all his faults, and Tom Elliotasaurus, who seems to be a throwback from the Jurassic era. Neither is fit for purpose as leader of a modern day political party – but then again we are talking about the UUP.

    Of the two, Basil is the more forward looking, he was recently interviewed on Raidio Fáílte, the Irish language station, about his views on Irish language and culture. Tom Elliot seems to live in a time warp all of his own with his vow not to attend a GAA match or Gay events. He should have the grace and good manners to wait till he’s asked before refusing to attend events.

  • Joseph Addison

    Fermanagh Gump to lead Frump.He is too thin skinned to be a serious party leader. Naive and totally out of his depth. His Utopian Dream would be only coloured in Orange, Purple Crimson or Black and full of religious headbangers leading Kick The Pope Bands of DUP supporters. He might misguidedly call it culture if the Cabal allow him to. This man has as much charisma as a wet weekend in (S)cunthorpe drinking (T)yphoo from a cracked Orange Commemorative Mug with that well known pederast King Billy on the front.
    ” You cant rush change in the Orangery. They don’t like it.”

  • Comrade Stalin

    Even by your standards this is a bunch of bizarre, invented bullshit with no connection to reality.

    – Now that the TUV have been eviscerated there is almost no prospect of the DUP losing any significant number of seats to the point where there can be an SF First Minister. The only other route is SF taking lots of seats from the SDLP, that would require a total SDLP collapse which doesn’t seem likely given May’s results. I’m not sure that it’s a number one objective for nationalists anyway; I’m not convinced that nationalists put quite the same store that unionists put in being on top.

    – The UUP under Basil aren’t going to build a political liaison with the Tories, as he has committed himself to ending the link if he becomes leader.

    – the idea that the UUP will suddenly morph into this caring, sharing, quasi-Alliance entity overnight as a result of Basil taking over, and all those tired old bigoted wankers will all say “ah yes, we’ve got a new leader now, let’s be nice to everyone” is your funniest one yet. Nice one. No UUP leader has ever been able to change that party.

    – I doubt that SF have an especially strong perspective or preference on the question of the UUP leadership. The DUP will continue to squeeze the UUP no matter who takes over as leader, and there will continue to be safe refuge in Alliance for anyone who wants to try a different approach. Alliance would, of course, be making a grave mistake to try to sell itself as the natural home for disaffected UUP supporters, or to somehow sit back and wait for UUP votes to magically come its way. The party should continue to strengthen and broaden the appeal of its core message, as it has been doing, and people should make their decision to support the party on that basis.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The lesson the DUP appear to have learned is that a lot of the unionist grassroots, shock horror, don’t really give a stuff about politicians attending GAA matches, hence the total lack of fanfare over the attendance of Poots at a match a while back.

    Despite embracing power sharing, devolving policing and justice powers, attending GAA matches, shaking hands with Martin McGuinness and all that other stuff, the DUP vote has pretty much held up despite their first sustained challenge for quite some time (excluding East Belfast). Turns out that unionist voters are much the same as everyone else, they care as much about politicians who are competent and confident, and who put the hours in, as much as (or more than) they care about the core policies. So if Elliott thinks that he can win by dragging everything backwards – well all I can say is I’d like to see him give it his best shot.

  • Drumlin Rock

    Slug, I think although there was a lot of the agreement Tom was not that happy with, he supported the agreed party position and helped ensure the deal carried through.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    Leaving you ranting/rambling aside there can be little doubt that both Alliance and SF will benefit from all the Unionist parties bunching together on the declining piece of Orange territory which is being constantly eroded by Nationalist demographics and the tendency of some Unionists voters to switch to the more secular more ideologically neutral(though still Unionist) Alliance Party because they dont like being identified with religious intolerance.

    Basil offers a glimmer of hope, although a lot of pain in the short term for those who want to see at least one Unionist party becoming vaguely modern and forward looking and perhaps even British in appearance.

    So lets hope the UUP go with the Orangeman?

  • randomjoe

    Im sorry but the uup is at the stage now where if it doesnt take a risk with change and Basil it is finished.

    You have to look at all the MLAs that are openly supporting tom they are the old school cabal who are despaate to hang on to their jobs . Some of the better UUP MLAs are actually leaning towards Basil but havnt declared openly .

    if you want to be DUP lite then vote Elliot , if you want the UUP to have a fighting chance then McCrea is the only option.

    Perhaps if the cabal leading the party had better structural planning over the past 6-8 years then we would have more options in this leadership election. Instead self inteserest has lead to MLAs and councillors staying on well past their sell by dates.

  • slug

    That does make me warm to him.

  • Driftwood
  • slug

    I am surprised you read him CS. Life is fleeting.

  • randomjoe
  • slug

    It is grim down there and their appalling macro management has negative effects on us.

  • toker

    Basil Mccrea if elected could make a big difference to NI poliitics .He could be help UUP make signifigant gains in areas like South Antrim nad Laganside with catholic votes like Sylvia hermon did in North Down and the SDLP did in South Down and Derry with protestant voters.
    I m surprised the Media did not focus more on Elliots remarks were he appealed to cheap prejudices saying that he would not attend a ( GAA match or a gay rights rally) this is old style secterian politics.

  • Drumlin Rock

    of course toker, all those DUP voters (many of whom used to vote UUP) will suddenly decide they are really moderates after all and vote for Basil, that the main area the UUP can gain from.
    As for the “significant gains” from Catholic Unionists these are a long way off as yet, and it would be preferable to still have the party in one piece to win them over when the time comes.
    As for Tom’s remarks, the media did focus on them because they were not a big issue, he aid they wern’t his type of event and would be unlikely to attend.

  • Nunoftheabove

    So turn the lights out then. Truthfully, why should anyone give a shit whether the UUP survives or not ? On the contrary, surely given it’s unlovely history and utter irrelevance to the present their discontinuation would be something of a deliverance to this society.

  • slug

    One thing that puts me off Tom is that he seems keen to do unionit unity deals with the DUP. That is not great for the UUP. The DUP seem to prefer Tom; that worries me. With Basil you can restassured that he will take the fight right to the DUP.

  • toker

    sorry drumlinrock if I was not clear on my point, I am not saying that these people are closet unionists the same way as protestants that voted for sdlp wont become nationlists. It is tactical voting that would move out more extreme choices like mccrea in south antrim. I think it is also a healthy thing for any democracy if somebody votes outside his or her tribe. This can work as we saw in Westminster results of SDLP in Derry and South Down, as well as the votes in north Down and east Belfast show that cross community voting can work and will mean that a representative will represent all parts of the community which is much more democratic.

  • Nunoftheabove


    No quite as healthy as ceasing to recognize politics in purely tribal terms would be. That’d be starting to approach something approximating to a healthy democracy.

  • Drumlin Rock

    Slug, Tom is firmly against the Unionist Unity idea, I heard him state that once again tonight at a leadership debate, yes he might co-operate with them in some issues, like he will with the SDLP (who are usually the ones reluctant to work with the UUP) and will with the Conservatives when useful, but he promises that it will only be UUP appearing on ballots etc.

  • Drumlin Rock

    PS, If it were the case that SF preferred Basil, would that worry you too? I’m hoping come mid May next year Tom will be the one worrying the DUP 🙂

  • Progressive Unionist

    Tom has been ambivalent on the idea of unionist unity, as have his supporters like Fred Cobain who recently threatened to do a deal with the DUPs. Tom also seems open to continued formal links with the Tories, whereas Basil has very wisely ruled this out.

    The only way the UUP can have a future is as a self-confident independent party. Tom represents more of the same and managed decline.

    Basil represents a chance of reaching out to the middle-ground (AP and Green voters) and the hundred thousand stay-at-home voters disillusioned with a choice between two regressive, traditionalist parties (the DUP and Reg’s UUP).

    Also, even his opponents have got to give Basil credit for nailing his values and beliefs to the sticking point on issues like the GAA and LGB rights, even when that might be unpopular. That’s the mark of true leadership.