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UUP leader must appeal beyond UUP core

September 18, 2010

Whatever the outcome on Wednesday evening, the Ulster Unionist Party Leader on Thursday will have to appeal beyond the party’s ever decreasing core vote.

Today UUP members received an election address from each candidate – Tom Elliott’s took the form of a leaflet, Basil McCrea’s of a letter. Both had their strong points. Ultimately, however, Tom Elliott’s was an appeal to the “traditional Unionist voter”, playing up is own background in farming and the UDR/RIR; Basil McCrea’s was an appeal along his campaign slogan of “no change, no chance”.

I do not quite agree with Basil that he is the only candidate who would give the UUP a chance. Tom has his strong points, is a party loyalist, and I believe would exceed expectations if he attained the ‘top job’. It is perhaps understandable that he has gone for the traditional appeal during what is, in fact, an internal campaign.

Nevertheless, the challenge on Thursday morning will be to appeal just not to “Traditional Unionism”, but beyond that base to the many pro-Union people who vote for other parties or have stopped voting at all. A focus on the constitutional question, vague technicalities of First Minister electoral system, or even much-welcomed statements on reducing bureaucracy will not entice people (not least since many already believe that the DUP will stand up for them more on all of those points).

In short, the question the public will pose on Thursday morning is not whether the UUP Leader is suited to appeal existing UUP voters, but whether he will appeal to new ones. Therefore that is the question UUP members must pose to themselves when they cast their vote the previous evening.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 19, 2010 2:56 pm


    a very good thread and i welcome your comments i too agree tom if elcted leader will surprise a lot of people hes far more effective and will make a strong leader.I think tom will make the changes required at a pace that everybody is comfortable with.appealing as you say to the whole community and not just the core uup voters and you will very quickly see tom pitching for that vote.

  2. harry cullen permalink
    September 20, 2010 1:18 pm

    The core vote never wins elections, they are won by selling the message to,the broader electorate who are floating voters, so does it not come down to “who is the best person and has the best chance of selling our vision and policies over the next six months” prior to the elections.

  3. September 20, 2010 4:50 pm

    well i would say basil is clearly the best performer but in my opinion does not have the man mangement skills required to lead the party.


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