The NI Conservatives would probably be the first to admit that the performance of their eight candidates in the recent council elections was less than stellar. They would, however, also be justified in claiming as a minor miracle that after the traumas of the last three years, there was a Conservative presence at all on the ballot paper.
The aftermath of the UCUNF fiasco and the UK leadership’s apparent lack of commitment earlier this year, not surprisingly, took their toll on both the local branch’s morale and (I’m guessing) membership figures but they do now at least appear to be back on the local political ladder again, albeit on the very lowest rung.
A big plus point in their favour is that they also now have a full-time campaign manager, Owen Polley, working on behalf of the party. Owen is no stranger to many here on Slugger and is, in my opinion, a very perceptive and clear thinker on both N.Irish and the wider UK’s political affairs. His main task will be to initially generate interest in the party and also (re?)-build its grassroots network in the hope that when the next round of elections come round, the Conservatives are in a position to, at the very least, influence the final result.
Not an easy task by any means but as Irwin Armstrong, the party’s chairman in Northern Ireland, pointed out last week, over 45% of people in Northern Ireland chose not to make their voices heard at the last Assembly Election and:
“For a huge swathe of society there is nothing on the menu of parties to tempt their political palates.”
The new Northern Ireland Conservatives website is now live here.
Along with a new Facebook site here.
And (just about starting) on Twitter.