Tuesday, 10 May 2011

What now for the UUP?

I had sat down to write a piece about the Ulster Unionists last night and ended up with 5 drafts, all different, all focusing on a particular problem for the UUP and a solution to the problem. In the end, I couldn't actually finish any of the pieces because each one kept leading onto another problem or required another problem sorted first and I got bored of writing about the problems within that once great party.

This is the challenge facing Tom Elliott: if he is to overhaul the party, where does he start?

As in any organisation there is an issue with resource that limits what Tom can do and when he can do it. Not only does he not have enough people to completely reform the party but he doesn't have the right people. I would write that he also doesn't have the support to make he necessary changes but that is an issue of leadership, not resource, and one Tom, and Tom alone must resolve.

Despite this, he absolutely must press on with a complete review of the party structure and the message. The elections are now over and unless there is a general election, he has another 3 years before the next one comes along. Tom should trust his Minister(s) to the task afforded and likewise, leave his MLA's to do their jobs and focus his attention on reform and appoint a working group with a set of objectives. It is then up to Tom to ensure they follow through on those objectives.

There will doubtless be some controversial decisions to be made and there will be those within the party that resist change - there always are - however, these people are, frankly; expendable. If you agree change has to be made in order to survive and then thrive, then those that resist become a liability and a threat to that objective and any value they may have been perceived to offer is negated by their risk.

This all assumes that Tom stays as Leader, of course, but therein lies yet another problem which he will have to address: the UUP is severely lacking in talent and there is no one around to properly challenge him.

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