Monday, 6 September 2010

Those five pledges


At the launch of his leadership bid today(though to be honest everyone has been aware that he has been campaigning for the job since before the Westminster campaign) Basil McCrea outlined his five pledges to the membership.

The first promises that, should he become leader, McCrea will not take a ministerial portfolio, instead devoting all his energies to rebuilding the UUP.I actually like this one as the task in re-building the party at this stage is probably a full-time job and I certainly would like to see Tom Elliot make the same commitment.

The second vows to make education the first choice ministry for the UUP. Bit of a no brainer this one as every party will want to say the same thing during the election campaign. The challenge will be to outline what we will do with it once we have it. Given that Basil is the education spokesperson a lack of clear direction is of concern and is something that Basil will have to address in the next few weeks.

Third Basil pledges not to form electoral pacts. A very sweeping statement which leaves no room for manoeuvre and given the long term discussions needed to address the issue of voluntary coalitions in the future very short-sighted.


His fourth pledge is a strange one. Every MLA to have a vote of confidence from the entire party every year. To what end? What will be the consequences of losing such a vote? Resignation? How will those from differing parts of the country make an assessment of the value and contribution of an MLA from another constituency? Of course one could always take a cynical view of the proposal. Should Basil win the leadership the threat of a no confidence vote would act as an incentive for MLA's to toe his line. Anyone raising their head above the parapet can be removed. And thus a dynasty was born!

Lastly he pledges to compel elected representatives to attend executive meetings. Of course, given item four above, Basil will hope that none of the MLA's would dare raise their voice against him and having them at the executive will help with control of the party. This of course is strengthened by his decision to remove the entire officer team. It is unclear at this stage if he intends to replace them and if so how. Following the party rule changes the officer team is elected by the members and to change the rules Basil would require a 2/3rds majority of the party membership.

All in all Basil has based much of his campaign on seeking to remove what he calls the "cabal". His five pledges suggest that he wants to replace the "cabal" with a cult.

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