When former UUP deputy leader and now crossbench peer Lord Kilclooney spoke to the BBC’s Gareth Gordon he said:
I think in recent years the Ulster Unionist Party has failed to show what it stands for … First of all, I can’t think of any policies it really has promoted strongly in the last five years or so; secondly it has failed to show a clear distinction from other parties and thirdly (it has failed) to stop rowing within themselves.
Another interviewee, Bill White – a former Ulster Unionist constituency chair who is no longer in the party – commented on the state of the UUP’s political machinery:
I think when Reg (Empey) then took over and Tom (Elliott), I think the party in all that period of time wasn’t really concentrating or looking at the party itself and how it performs in elections and planning for future elections thoroughly enough.
I was involved in seven election campaigns in my time. They certainly have an image of unprofessionalism, lack of organisation and doing everything at the last minute. I always had this feeling that if there was an election in May, the Ulster Unionist Party would start preparing for it in mid-March.
Having read that, look back at the graph.
What kind of up-hill struggle does tomorrow’s new UUP leader have ahead?
Alan Meban. Tweets as @alaninbelfast. Blogs about cinema and theatre over at Alan in Belfast. A freelancer who writes about, reports from, live-tweets and live-streams civic, academic and political events and conferences. He delivers social media training/coaching; produces podcasts and radio programmes; is a FactCheckNI director; a member of Ofcom’s Advisory Committee for Northern Ireland; and a member of the Corrymeela Community.