Wednesday, 15 April 2009

A little concern

"A little concern" the phrase used by a DUP insider to describe current preparations for the forthcoming European election. The normally unflappable DUP appear to be concerned at how they are being received across the country. Having had difficulty in persuading anyone to consider running for the position (apart from a few Councillors and rumour has it one MLA who saw the writing on the wall for his selection chances next time round) the DUP selected a big name. Unfortunately having the name is not the same as having the profile. Confident that the Shankill Road Councillor would appeal to the rest of the province the campaign, under the direction of a junior minister no less, started with each MLA ordered to take the Shankill Councillor for a day and "get her known". This process has been supplemented with a series of roadshows where the candidate, accompanied by senior party figures, gets to answer questions from the, generally speaking, party faithful. Not only have these events not been as successful as anticipated, the Shankill Councillor has failed to shine. Indeed her party colleagues have answered so many questions for her the faithful are doubting whether she could deliver anything in Europe. Indeed things have got so bad that the normally reliable rural DUP voter is looking at his milk cheque and wondering who will improve his income. They are choosing either of the two Jim's as they at least have an understanding of the issues affecting farmers. A radical shift in DUP strategy is apparently on the cards with the Shankill Councillor being sent back to the city to get out the normally euro-reticent urban voter. All of this has consequences for the campaign director, who has not yet earned the trust of the faithful, and the party leader who appointed him. The whispering campaign has already started against Robbo and a poor result followed swiftly by the devolution of policing and justice will see the DUP enter a Westminster campaign with serious questions about the leadership and direction of the party.

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