Tom Elliott, Leader of the UUP resigned tonight.
He was elected to the position in the summer of 2010. Perhaps not surprisingly…….seemingly twenty per cent of the UUP voters who elected him were from his Fermanagh-South Tyrone constituency.
Elliott is a throw back to the days when the UUP was the dominant party in Norn Iron. But he seems to be living in 1966 and simply out of his depth. The fifteen members of the UUP are not all Fermanagh farmers….they are a diverse bunch. Possibly too individualistic or belonging to a faction to be a coherent Party.
Now that Elliott has stood down, technically any of the other fourteen could be elected Leader. But five have been publicly named as possible.
Elliott is typically old style “unionist” and that Orange Order, rural backround is probably still the biggest component part in the UUP but the drawback is that similar MLAs to Elliott …..Hussey, and Beggs have no real clout. Copeland, Cree and Gardiner are little more than lobby fodder. Dobson and Overend are women and I cannot see UUP being ready for that even if it is International Womens Day and they were oth like Swann elected in 2011.
That leaves six. Mike Nesbitt wants it. The former UTV journalist is to me……all hype and no substance. He gets on well with journalists and is photogenic and can present himself well on TV………..but thats all there is to him. Yet it might be enough. I suspect that his natural leanings are more socially “liberal” than traditional UUP members.
Basil McCrea is too obviously “liberal” and not quite trusted enough by traditionalists. John McCallister is “liberal”, an all-round nice guy but has the advantage of a rural seat……albeit not a safe one. He is also in favour of UUP going into Opposition.
This leaves three. Surprisingly nobody mentioned Michael McGimpsey, veteran UUP former Minister. He has an unfortunate funereal appearance. But he might be a good compromise…….as would Danny Kennedy, the only UUP Minister. He is a safer pair of hands than Nesbitt.
Surprisingly perhaps Danny Kinahan was mentioned tonight by Alex Kane, the political commentator. Yet it makes a lot of sense. I like Danny Kinahan.His family have served Norn Iron well. His father was Unionist “Lord” Mayor of Belfast and the family business Lyle & Kinahan was literally on my walk from home to school every day. An uncle Charles Kinahan was a founder member of the Alliance Party.
Thus Danny Kinahan actually ticks a lot of boxes. He is a decent guy, served as an officer in the British Army (a plus for unionists), has liberal sentiments and has that “big house” appeal. He is also capable. Frankly he was not a name that came to mind but when Alex Kane mentioned him….my first reaction was that it makes a lot of sense. Yet it is……..as several have said……the worst job in Norn Iron politics.