Why won’t candidates slug it out in public?

The two leadership contenders are on Hearts and Minds tomorrow night. The party hierarchy are afraid of division, apparently (also helps to fill out the time). The SDLP were just the same.

In fact the last time anyone was prepared to was to thrash out matters in public was Alliance in 2001 in the Ford/Bell contest…

  • They’ve so little to say we can only be grateful it is a two week campaign.

  • London_Irish

    “The party hierarchy are afraid of division”

    In the UUP? Horse and stable door springs to mind…

  • alan56

    A head to head might favour McCallister in the unique constituency that is the UUP membership. Nesbitt is clearly the front runner for now but it does seem McCallister is gaing traction. Might be an indication of who the ‘men in grey suits’ favour?

  • Drumlins Rock

    Mick, can’t wait till the day ther’s a DUP or SF leadership contenders debate!

    The theory is political parties keep divisions, such as debates internal, as London Irish said we aren’t that good at it, but at least let us pretend a bit! But it would be good to debate openly ideas, without it being seen as splits and divisions, but politics here isn’t quite at that point yet.

    Alan, for a party that usually resembles herding cats it always amazes me that these men in grey suits have such influence, if they do Mike could be in trouble based on his wardrobe! http://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/QueensNow/PhotoGallery/LongGallery/Image,243608,en.jpg

  • “slugging it out” suggests Division and a kinda spectatator sport for our amusement.
    The UUP would have been better advised to keep the debate internal. After all it is a limited electorate. So whats the point of addressing the public at large.
    The easiest way to be privy to a Leadership Debate is to join a political Party …..and going public increases the chances of division rather than reducing it.
    A few months ago on this very site, I suggested that SDLP members would be well advised not to be drawn into discussion on the Leadership election……..and that worked out pretty well. I myself attended a few hustings and a candidate launch. Essentially a Leadership election can work out as divisive or unifying.

    In another post Mr Fealty alluded to an observation that the SDLP Leadership Election had increased a sense of camaraderie.
    It is not something that I actually thought of before…….and obviously it would be wrong of me to comment one way or the other.
    But I suggest that the right way to go about things is (a) talk to your members….(b) talk to your wider support base………(c) talk to the electorate.

  • Drumlins Rock

    FJH, I agree with you advice, but can’t help breaching it occasionally 🙂

    I however try to constrain myself to countering the most outlandish comments (such as Lord Maginnis delivering Tyrone & Fermanagh votes to Danny Kennedy) and light hearted ones like above.

    So is the contest unifying or divisive? I think more of the former, even the last time, there was a rough period in the centre but by the time of the vote things were well settled, and it created a buzz within the membership for good while. I was quite disappointed when Danny didn’t stand for that reason, it would have added more depth to the debate within the membership, but I think discussions are building up now, a quick sharp election is better!

    I don’t think there will be any new divisions after this, but its still important that its a winner and runner up, not a winner and loser, I will be a bit cheeky and say that might have boosted Basils vote slightly the last time!

  • FuturePhysicist

    Oh Mick, this is typical of local journalism … less demand of the real issues more demand for tag team professional wrestling.

    Very libertarian.

  • Comrade Stalin

    A few months ago on this very site, I suggested that SDLP members would be well advised not to be drawn into discussion on the Leadership election……..and that worked out pretty well.

    Pomposity reaches ever-new levels around here.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Saying that, that Ginger haired bloke with the beard in America might be on the Fianna Fáil recruitment list.

  • Mick Fealty


    They did a and b, but not c… which I suspect was a result of just talking to each other…

  • I can assure Comrade Stalin that I can reach even higher levels of pomposity. 😉
    Mr Fealty I fear you are wrong.
    They have indeed done (a) talk and indeed listen to members.
    They have not yet done (b)…that is ongoing.
    When (a) and (b) have been completed (and it will take several months) then it will be time to speak to the electorate.

  • MF 1145. More a case of talking PAST each other. Nesbitt is Kennedy’s proxy. He’s on the same page. I believe the UUP will show themselves as the lemmings they are by jumping over the cliff in electing Nesbitt. The centenary of NI will be notable by the burial rights anniversary of the Ulcer Unionist Party and well deserved.

  • Talking to a party’s membership and to the ‘wider support base’ (whatever that is) is all fine. But unless there is engagement and understanding of why the electorate is not voting for you that conversation is introverted, looking more at the world as it ought to be rather than how it is, and completely failing to understand the gap between what you are and what you need to be. NI Party memberships are small, and shrinking. Talk to the navel by all means, but not talking to the electorate and having an informed conversation with the membership is pointless. Faultline in UUP/SDLP and indications that DUP/SF less on the button that they once were.

  • alex gray

    If you want a lively debate why not have both candidates debate with McNarry who represents the views of many UUP members. Nesbitt is to the UUP what Blair was to Labour – the leader of a party who was not really OF that party. Like Blair, Nesbitt is a public schoolboy with distinct conservative leanings. The only difference is that Blair won power. The chance of Nesbitt or any other UUP winning power is non-existent, espoecially in an 80 seat Assembly when so many of the present UUP MLA’s were elected on the last count. The quotas will soar and the UUP will be down to 6 or 7 seats with the DUP still over 30. By the way, talk is that Nesbitt plans substantive talks with the Tories when he is elected, to get another injection of money into the UUP, He thinks he can buy votes. Plans to slick it out with Robbo at the next election. He should remember that Norn Irland is not Surbiton.

  • Home Secretary

    The big question is who willl Nesbitt apoint as Chairman as this will be the first time the leader appoints the post directly.Will Nesbitt be his own man or will he be a puppet of ‘same old same old’ men in grey suits otherwise known as the cabal who continually have promoted the ‘all things to all men’ style fudge?
    The alternative emerging under McCalister is the new broom with decisive fresh thinking and vision along with the clear direction of opposition and undoubtedly will bring a new style of chairman

  • emanonon

    Who is Nesbitt? It is widely discussed that he attended unionist unity talks in Lough Erne. So does he support McNarry’s view or not?

    Is he GAA supporter or not? He was a supporter at one time but then spurned them when he supported Elliot who wouldn’t attend a GAA match.

    Voters should make sure they know who they are supporting. With McCallister they know what they are getting and can take a decision based on firm policies, with Nesbitt.?

  • Drumlins Rock

    How did you find out about the secret underwater talks! Scuppered yet again, Tom was so sure negotiations in a submarine of Devenish Island would never leak! I guess any hopes of Mike becoming captain have been torpedoed.

  • andnowwhat

    Wow!!! Just watching Mc Callister on H&M talking about Mc Narry and how he would expel him ASAP. Very strong, especially as he spoke so well leading up to that about his plans for the party.

    He is also very outward looking in his comments. As Home Secretary said, a new broom