Friday, 16 March 2012

Leader of the (rather small) pack

WE'VE been crunching some numbers, well as much as our basic understanding of mathematics allows, on the leadership "battle" to be top Ulster Unionist dog.

There are 15 UUP MLAs. Mr Elliott, in stepping aside as party leader reduces the group of MLAs who may be considering running for leader to 14. Danny Kinahan says he is backing Mike Nesbitt, effectively ruling himself out of the race.

That leaves the number at 13. Basil McCrea is said to not be running as leader again, thus reducing the number of MLAs running to be leader to 12.

Mike Nesbitt and John McCallister have said they're ready to lead, while the media, with seemingly unparalleled access, have been talking about potential collaboration – clarified today when Danny Kennedy announced that despite what the media said he wasn’t running to be leader, but he had had discussions with the other candidates.

So take away the two now wanting to be leader and we have ten other MLAs who can help decide.

Observant readers who got past P7 maths may have noticed the flaw in our "adding up" but bear with us...

The election of a new leader for the UUP will fall to around the decision of about a dozen MLAs and the party executive.

From once being an electoral hammer of - and for - the north, the UUP has been reduced to deciding the new boss with few still in post to help make the decision.

Whoever sups from the potentially poisoned chalice of leadership will need to ensure they have a heart to resist poisonous internal struggles; the heart for making a decision on whether to go into opposition; and, the poisoned heart of the real politician who is ready to exorcise malignancy and both demand and encourage loyalty.

Combining aspiration, pragmatism and ruthlessness...good luck with that!