BASIL McCREA: Electoral pacts play havoc with political parties. They confuse the electorate, they create huge internal difficulties and they prevent parties from highlighting the shortcomings of political opponents. The UUP must now stand on its own two feet, it must offer its own policies, select its own candidates and offer its own vision for the future. Above all, it must convince the electorate that it is not only significantly different from its opponents, but also worth voting forThe UUP on Belfast City Council obviously think otherwise:
THE first step towards a DUP-UUP electoral deal has been taken after details emerged of bilateral talks authorised by both parties' leaderships.In the (unlikely) event that McCrea wins tonight, this would be his most pressing problem in a nutshell. He doesn't believe in "Unionist Unity", carve-ups at the ballot box or joint *communalist* candidates, but how could he prevent those elected UUP representatives who do so from carrying along their own merry path?
The "exploratory meeting on potential future cooperation" on Belfast City Council is understood to be an attempt – at least initially – to agree on the number of candidates which each unionist party will stand in next May's election.
But if a deal can be struck in Belfast, both sides expect there to be increased pressure for it to be replicated across the province at next year's assembly elections.
If he does lose, then it will be up to Belfast City UUP (and in the bigger picture, Tom Elliott) to answer the question McCrea indirectly poses:
"If such deals with the DUP are in place, what exactly then is the point of the UUP remaining as an independent party?"