Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

NI21 election meltdown: This is stale, not fresh, politics

Tina McKenzie  with NI21 leader Basil McCrea (left) and deputy leader John McCallister
Tina McKenzie with NI21 leader Basil McCrea (left) and deputy leader John McCallister

Tina McKenzie made one particularly telling observation about the infighting that has beset NI21, a movement that launched itself last June under the slogan “fresh politics”.

“This is something that has been carried over from the Ulster Unionist Party — it was famous for its fights, heaves and underhand tactics,” she said.

But she added: “What works for the Ulster Unionist Party does not work for the people of NI21 — it is stale politics, not fresh politics.”

Mr McCrea and Mr McCallister were both stalwarts of the UUP during a period of decline marked by intrigue, defiance of the leadership and defection. They were no strangers to the dark arts of politics as they struggled to move their party in a more liberal and inclusive direction.

Things have, to some extent, stabilised in the UUP since they left — but the chaos has reappeared in NI21. In its brief history it has chalked up a list of resignations and oustings as long as your arm. It needs to think long and hard about that.

It is not just that members, many of them like Ms McKenzie new to politics, invested a lot of idealism and energy in the new movement and should not be let down.

Mr McCrea and Mr McCallister set it up and their reputations depend on its performance under their leadership.