Basil McCrea launched his leadership campaign this morning. I wasn’t unable to get along to it, but I called in with a few people to get their sense of how it went. Overall, the Elliott campaign should be worried – Basil was described as putting in an immense performance.
So as not to place individual superlatives under any duress, I’ll simply mention that the metaphor used by one observer involved Bruce Springsteen. In other words, Basil put in a star turn at the Merchant Hotel.
Reflecting on the event this morning, Chekov reckoned that ‘McCrea’s team is exuding confidence. If it has any basis in reality the leadership race could be a tight run thing’.
We know that Basil’s great at looking plausible (with the odd notable exception) and great at hitting the right pitch in his public statements (with the odd notable exception), but where was the vision behind today’s launch?
- McCrea will not take a ministerial portfolio, instead devoting all his energies to rebuilding the UUP.
- McCrea vows to make education the first choice ministry for the UUP
- McCrea pledges not to form electoral pacts, with the DUP, or anyone else
- All party MLAs will face a vote of confidence from party members at the end of the year, if he wins the race
- Finally, McCrea pledges to remove the party officer team and compel elected representatives to attend executive meetings.
The next round in the leadership roadshows takes place in East Belfast tomorrow night. This is the perfect opportunity for the Tom Elliott campaign to hit Basil before he builds up more momentum. And with the contest increasingly deteriorating into a slanging match, I expect fireworks.
PS. I’m waiting for an emailable version of the speech to be sent across to me now. I’ll post this up as soon as possible.