The troubles faced by Tom Elliott


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So what was the tipping point for Tom Elliott?

Was it his falling out with David McNarry over newspaper revelations of talks with the DUP?

Or was it Danny Kennedy's support for the upgrading of the A5, a project which the Fermanagh-based party leader had consistently opposed?

Mr Elliott blames those who "have not given me a fair opportunity at developing and progressing many initiatives", adding that "some of this obstruction and hostility began immediately following my election as leader and has been relentless since then."

However, as the Fermanagh MLA acknowledges this is "part and parcel of politics", a game in which leaders make their own luck.

Anyone who has dealt with Tom Elliott knows that personally he is a courteous, mild-mannered country man.

But his leadership has been hampered from the start by a tendency to slide headlong on banana skins of his own making.

I have written an analysis piece elsewhere on the website which revisits those comments about Gaelic matches and Sinn Fein "scum" which got Tom Elliott into hot water.

The question now is whether his successor will have better fortune avoiding obvious potholes and charting a way forward.

A shift into opposition could change the political realities at Stormont, but is it a risk UUP supporters are prepared to take?

Alternatively carrying on as now could expose the Ulster Unionists to a slow death as they become an even more diminished force within a 96 or even 80-strong assembly.

Leadership contenders have only a week to make their minds up.

With Tom Elliott's Fermanagh based supporters still representing a large percentage of the internal UUP electorate, the outgoing leader could - if he wants - still play an important role in deciding who his successor should be.

Mark Devenport Article written by Mark Devenport Mark Devenport Political editor, Northern Ireland

Future Northern Ireland Assembly changes outlined by governments

Stormont would put arrangements in place for an opposition as early as March 2015, according to the government paper circulated to the parties at Stormont House last week.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    What differentiates the OUP from the DUP nowadays ? Nothing - is what I believe most unionists will say. The DUP are as conservative as the UUP so that suits unionists! and we don't need varying degrees of unionism - a unionist fundamental will do.So guys - do all us unionist voters a favour and come together - and we can kick on from there...So a good conciliator to replace Tom please...

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Who is he? What did he ever do??? In my opinion he was like most of NI's politicians in that no one knows or really cares about them or what they do!

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    I just hope the new leader doesn't try to resurrect the UUP/Conservative alliance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    What is needed is someone who would bring this party into the mainstream. That is one of peace and tolerance. What I fear may happen is that you will get someone who is more extremist in their views. This is something both the DUP and SF have realised although there are often soundbites to try and passify the more zealots within the parties. Time for real politics rather than tribal politics!



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