Monday, June 13, 2005

The dangers of having too little choice

Anyone who thinks that a leadership election is at its best has only a few candidates might want to take a look at the Ulster Unionist Party leadership election for this in practice.

So far the leadership is being contested by:

David McNarry, a Member of the Legislative Assembly from Strangford.
Sir Reg Empey, a former minister in the power sharing Executive and a Member of the Legislative Assembly from East Belfast.
Alan McFarland, a Member of the Legislative Assembly from North Down.

One of the key issues the new UUP leader has to address is how is the party going to avoid being relegated to a tiny fringe concentrated in the area to the east and south of Belfast - i.e. East Belfast, Strangford and North Down!

There was also the bizarre spectacle of former deputy leader Lord Kilclooney (formerly John Taylor) first offering himself as an interim leader and then promoting Colonel Tim Collins as an outside candidate! However Collins declined.

Sadly both Sylvia Hermon (the only UUP MP) and David Burnside (the former South Antrim MP and one of the few UUP members with anything approaching a profile in the UK as a whole) have declined to run, removing the prospect of a real firey battle between different wings of the party.

We should know the outcome on June 24th. Is there anyone who cannot stand the wait?

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