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Guest blog: Tom Elliott represents change that’s ‘planned, tested, surgical in nature

Open Unionism has requested blog posts from supporters of each of the candidates running for the leadership of the Ulster Unionists. The first is from Mike Nesbitt who outlines his view as to why Tom Elliott should be the next leader of the UUP.

By Mike Nesbitt

I am quite taken with a story attributed to Charles Handy, the influential management guru, about a particular type of South American frog. If you put this frog in a pot of cold water, and slowly heat it, the frog dies, because it will not spot the existential threat in the changing environment.

I do not wish to be the type of unionist that fails to spot the evolving threats around us. But when it comes to change, I am also the sort of person who says “be careful what you wish for.” Change for change’s sake could turn out to be as big a threat to the Party as inertia; neither is an acceptable way forward; either could be the end of us.

Prune a rose bush in the right way, at the right time, and you will see it grow. Hack it to bits and you will kill it.

The change I want to see is planned, tested, surgical in nature. I am not afraid of a little pruning back this winter, if it yields a better blossom in time for next year’s elections. But makes sure the secateurs are in the right hands!

I want a link with the Conservatives, but our candidates to stand as Ulster Unionists. That’s Tom.

I want co-operation with fellow unionists, but no unity. That’s Tom.

I want to improve the relationship between UUP Headquarters and the Constituency Associations. That’s Tom.

When I started my broadcasting career many years ago, I was attracted by the shooting stars of the industry, presenters and producers alike. There were other “steady Eddie” types, but I could not figure what they offered. I know now, because it is they and their organisations that survived and thrived.

In my career, I had to make a difficult decision between wanting to be liked or respected. I choose the latter, and it’s a value that informs all my big decisions today. Because earning respect in this context means listening to what your members want, making difficult decisions, and spotting when the water’s getting hot.

Mike blogs at


Filed under: elections, guest blogger, UUP, ,

4 Responses

  1. Chekov says:

    Nicely written article but ‘none the wiser’ are the words which spring to mind.

  2. Chekov says:

    Diss – I think it’s important to point out, that although I have backed McCrea on the blog, my support is fairly qualified. I’m not an out and out enthusiast by any means. It’s a fairly disillusioning choice, but insofar as I have a view, McCrea is the least worst option.

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