Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Why Danny gets my vote for leader

Danny Kennedy, the first contender to throw his cap in the ring for the UUP leadership is regarded as reasonably strong on the cross-community credentials.

But it's for something much more basic that he'll appeal to the wider community. Kennedy doesn't come across as cross.

Unusually for a unionist leader, he appears a personable, easy-going sort with a sense of humour. He hasn't got a history of glowering, glaring, grandstanding, being sour or being dour.

He smiles a lot. He seems to get along well with people. This might seem like trivial stuff but politicians - especially unionist politicians - often underestimate the importance of the likeability factor where the electorate is concerned.

And he's not just style without substance. Kennedy has considerable experience in local politics.

He describes himself as a conviction politician (they all do.) And in a party which has developed a reputation as being less about serving the public more about people looking after themselves, he does indeed come across as in it for the right reasons.

Is he the leader the UUP needs though? God knows.

The party is now in such a tailspin that it's going to be a mammoth task pulling anything back. Whoever takes control will have to crack the whip and make changes as well as try to unite and heal old sores. The able and likeable Kennedy would certainly seem like a good bet.

But as recent years have shown, never overestimate the ability of the UUP to think strategically.

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