Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Nesbitt might be best bet for UUP

The Ulster Unionist Party has been riven by factional bitterness for years, contributing in no small measure to its continuing failures at the polls.

Outgoing leader Tom Elliott claims he was the victim of internal sniping and a former leader, David Trimble, faced an almost monthly trial of strength before he too was ousted. So the hopefuls who put their names forward at today's nominations to find a successor to Mr Elliott know they could be in for a rough ride.

Perhaps that is why there is talk of a dream ticket with Mike Nesbitt and Danny Kennedy working in tandem - one possibly leading the party and the other heading its Assembly team. Nesbitt, of course, is the new boy in the ranks, something the party has never looked upon too favourably in the past. It likes its senior members to have served a long apprenticeship. Kennedy fulfils that role, giving the team a promising blend of youthful exuberance and experience.

If the party was to accept this dual ticket, it could prove to be a masterstroke or, at the very least, a sensible move. Nesbitt, it goes virtually without saying, is media-savvy, an excellent communicator and someone able to project a positive image of the party. He could also appeal to younger voters - even if the party's backwoodsmen would regard him with some suspicion as an upstart, and he has no Orange Order links, which could also be more appealing to the coming generations.

The fact that he has an attractive and high-profile wife, Lynda Bryans, is surely another plus point.

Political anoraks may ponder his policies, but the ordinary voter likes to glimpse the man and his family. After all, apart from Iris Robinson, how many of our politicians' wives - or husbands - could anyone identify?

Isn't it about time politics here were given a facelift and maybe that will come from the most surprising of sources - the UUP.

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