When you’re the leader of a political party, it is not helpful to have a nickname like TV Mike. It implies Shallowness. It implies Charm without Substance.
But I think that is unfair to Mike Nesbitt. So no cheap shots…this time.
So to be serious…what is Nesbitt all about. Are we underestimating him?
He is a Cambridge-educated journalist. He is not a stupid man. I don’t think it helps that he did the Sports at the end of the News. Sport like the Weather was comic relief at the end of the news….especially in the 1980s. In fairness, I think that’s where the fixed grin comes from. And somehow unfortunate that when he moved into the News anchor slot at UTV, the fixed grin stayed. he came across as lacking gravitas…..that doesn’t mean he is stupid. In fact I empathise. Even when I am composing a serious blog , I often the row in a one-liner. That doesn’t make me stupid. But then I have no serious ambition to lead a political party.
Nesbitt never gave me the impression of being anything other than a professional. The balance of probability was always that he had unionist sympathies but the nature of journalism is that a journalist will act as Devils Advocate so he came across as just as hostile to unionists as nationalists.
Of course this is now History. We all know it. we can all agree it. We were all counfounded when he became Leader of the UUP.
But his performance has surprised us. Most people will agree that he has been inept. The exceptions will be dutiful but unconvincing UUP people and DUP people unconvincingly praise him knowing that he is destroying the other unionist party.
But…why? What is Nesbitt doing? I honestly think anybody really knows.
Ultimately not everybody is cut out to be a politician. And few politicians are cut out to be a Party Leader. Nesbitts rise was meteoric . Never a councillor, he was first elected to the Assembly in May 2011. By March 2012 he ws leading his Party. Frankly, interacting for years with UUP branch members , serving his time on Newtownards Council….his fellow members would have known him.
But…it is now common belief that hof has been over-promoted. And the UUP will pay a heavy price.
Obviously I will not regret the demise of the UUP.
Now if I can just persuade the Conservative Party to elect Eamonn Holmes as Leader.