AS if Tom Elliott didn’t have his sorrows to seek, the Tories in Northern Ireland are on the march again with the official formation of a new political party going by the name “The Conservative and Unionist Party of Northern Ireland”.
Given previous elections results, this is less an ominous threat and more a damp sponge casually tossed at the battlers within the UUP.
However, with at least one prominent candidate publicly jumping ship to the Bangor based Conservatives, will other UU’s be tempted to throw in their lot with the blue brigade, thus leaving the ranks of the increasingly blue-rinse backers of the Ulster Unionists.
After the re-buff from Tom Elliott to the Tory advances for a union with unionists, the new party will initially have an observer seat on the Conservative party’s national board and its own party leader. Will this be enough to attract UU members or like-minded independents? And how will the ‘unionist’ in its new title (not to mention the union flag logo displayed prominently on the party’s website) go down with that constituency that supports the values of a centre right party but is fiercely proud of its Irishness?
We have our doubts that the new party will be an instant success, but having its HQ in Bangor is an astute move. While Lady Sylvia Hermon attracted a sizeable vote for her personal constituency work and independent minded nature, there is a rump amongst the cognoscenti in Cultra, Helen’s Bay and Bangor West who might be persuaded at council, and eventually Assembly level to take a gamble.
Oh the horror of it all! We, and the average voter are confused enough with the Single Transferable Vote and sorting out the green and orange vote before trying to think through who is right wing, who is left wing, who is centre right and who is centre left. And then putting them in order on the ballot paper…spare the poor voters like us who struggle counting beyond five without taking one glove off.