“Let me take two issues where I think we [the Ulster Unionists] could show better cohesion and coherence. The first is Opposition. Recently, there has been talk of bringing this forward through a Private Member’s Bill. I see no way that a space for an Opposition can be made other than through legislation at Westminster to amend the 1998 NI Act.”
So runs the latest slap-down by Mike Nesbitt on John McCallister. There were no half measures – he went on to mention, yet again, the leadership election, quoting it as evidence for him and against Mr McCallister. (It has to be said that the full text, available here courtesy of the Londonderry Sentinel, is anything but “coherent”. He in fact attacks Peter Robinson on the grounds that running two DUP candidates at the European Election would be bad for Unionism – in other words, he wants one DUP candidate for the sake of Unionist Unity! And, after all, try telling non-Unionist Councillors in from Castlereagh to Carrickfergus to Craigavon that “Unionist Unity is a “myth…”!)
This blog came out in support of Mr McCallister’s effort and it wouldn’t have taken much for Mr Nesbitt to have done so too. Even a minor re-phrase, to “We will look at Mr McCallister’s proposals with interest, alongside our work to influence Westminster legislation in the same direction“, would have done it. But openly to disagree with Mr McCallister – adding into the equation yet another pointless swipe about the outcome of the Leadership election – was, well, just unnecessary. It was also anything but “coherent”!
It was not only unnecessary, it makes Mr McCallister unwelcome yet again to pursue perfectly legitimate and popular objectives from within his own party. I don’t see who in Ulster Unionism gains from that.