Congratulations Mike Nesbitt

On Saturday Mike Nesbitt (81% of the votes cast) defeated John McCallister (19%) and is the new Leader of the UUP.

It wasnt close….81% is an overwhelming endorsemment and from the UUP perspective …..that kind of endorsement (81-19) is much better than 55-45. Nesbitt has a mandate. The first nonOrange Leader. Traditionalists obviously either voted for him or were not enthused. But seemingly ok with his election. The loudest advocates for John McCallister were people not in (or no longer in) the UUP………and members of political parties should not choose a Laeder based on the preferences of its enemies.

I still think Nesbitt is lightweight. I thought the same as a news anchor. But his steady advancement from sports reporter to news anchor to Victims Commissioner to MLA and Leader of UUP (within a year of election) indicate a man who is a bit “lucky”………and probably one thing the UUP actually need is a bit of luck.

His big idea…. living for a day as a poor person is frankly a gimmick. But Mike Video Diary could just work as a means of re-inventing himself. It worked for Michael Portillo (but he spent a week in Liverpool). Nesbitt spending a day in Ballysally in Coleraine….or outreaching to Catholics in Poleglass will hardly have the same effect. But it would at least be newsworthy. And apparently he has been inundated with offers.

It is surprising however that he seemingly paid little attention to his colleagues reports (often on poverty in Norn Iron) and surprising that while campaigning in 2010 or 2011, he never met poor people. And surprising none have visited his constituency office. My understanding is that most MLAs of all parties have heard harrowing tales which have moved them all.

But perhaps Mike Nesbitt would be more credible if he had found out what it was like to be poor BEFORE he voted for welfare cuts a few weeks ago.

Nesbitt has already signalled his intention to go into the next Assembly Election (2015) as a Minister…….which is obviously bad news for Danny Kennedy, who surprisingly did not stand for the Leadership. Is Kennedy to be the UUP candidate in the European Elections in 2014? Will Danny Kinahan get a turn in the Stormont Election?

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