UUP leader Tom Elliott wants his party's controversial Conservative Party link to continue in a new form — with the Ulster Unionists becoming the “franchise” for the Tories in Northern Ireland.To become a Comservative party franchisee, however, is not the automatic process Tom may think it is:
Are we right for each other?Or maybe that's if you want to become a McDonalds' franchisee? Whatever, same difference; with those conditions, I can't see Tom coming anywhere near meeting the mark.
Like we said, a career as a Conservative Party franchisee is not by any means for everyone. Equally, we don't accept just anyone either. Ideally, you'll already have a successful party and will have demonstrated significant team leadership.
There's more to running a Conservative Party franchise than taking our money and stopping our local candidates from running - much more. You'll need a remarkable aptitude for connecting and communicating with people. You'll be completely committed for at least 20 years, with no other conflicting interests.
Model Two then...
There has been some talk about a "Bavarian" model in which the UUP would be the local "franchise" for the Conservatives, along the lines of the German CDU and CSU.The mention of that previously unheard of "franchise" concept again, one day before the conference hints at a UUP spinner at work... but OK, why the CDU/CSU suggestion also doesn't cut the mustard:
1. Although they may differ somewhat on philosophy, there are very few tangible policy differences between the Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU)and its big brother, the Christian Democratic Union. It's only the slightest of exaggerations to say there are more political and personal differences existing within the UUP than exist between the two separate parties of the CDU and CSU!
2. Until very recently the CSU *was* Bavaria, so all encompassing was its hegemony there; the "disastrous" turning point of 2008 still left it with 42% of the vote! Even if greater policy differences existed, it wouldn't have been practical for the CDU to set up any kind of opposition to that sort of conservative power structure. That is quite patently no longer the case with the UUP in N.Ireland. At this juncture, then such a relationship would not be likely to bring the Conservatives anything tangible to the table .
And actually, I don't think it would do a lot of good for the UUP either, at least not in helping them in next year's Assembly Elections- the NI Conservatives would be the least of their worries on polling day and any kind of link with the Coalition government (given the populist anti/London "MOPE" mentality likely to be roused up their opponents) would be definitely counterproductive.
Time, in both their interests, for the UUP and the Conservatives to cut loose, amicably.