Belfast Telegraph

McCrea is the antidote to the divisions in our society

New UUP member Ruth Barry explains why she is backing Basil McCrea to bring a wind of change to the leadership of the party

As a 26-year-old female with a Catholic family background, I am not the usual type of person one would associate with the current Ulster Unionist Party leadership campaign.

It is, however, because of my desire not to be part of any political organisation that takes people for granted on the basis of gender or religion that I want to be able to play my part in a Basil McCrea-led UUP.

From the limited appearances of McCrea's leadership rival, Tom Elliott, on both television and radio, I simply can't get any sense of him having the necessary desire or drive to implement change.

Tom Elliott is, by all accounts, a decent and hard-working man.

The reason I will not lend him my support, however, is that - although he claims to be progressive - I do not believe he is progressive enough.

I feel Basil is looking at policies, the economy - things that really matter to Northern Ireland. He is not looking to the past.

We are living in difficult times. All of our community desperately need political leaders that have the ability to inspire.

If I and others of my background and generation are to buy into the new politics of Northern Ireland, then change is required.

That change must not be just cosmetic. It has to be core-value-driven in order to count.

Young people are simply fed up with the same old broken-record politics, played by politicians that are constantly out of tune.

The reality is that Northern Ireland politics is crying out for individuals that want - and more importantly have the force of personality to implement - value-added change.

They have to be able to take politics by the scruff of the neck and drag it, if necessary kicking and screaming, into the 21st century.

Basil McCrea, in my opinion, has the personal appeal to attract individuals into the political spectrum with the necessary qualities to actually deliver for the common good.

He speaks with confidence. He can argue his case with humour and with a smile. He does not threaten or make people feel uncomfortable.

The absolute mess of our current educational system, and the inability of certain politicians to move outside their marginalised mindset, makes one despair.

The performance of Basil McCrea in the Stormont chamber provides a refreshing change to the stilted, pre-programmed and scripted style of so many of the current batch of elected representatives.

His self-confident approach on issues as diverse as policing and the economy have led me to look for politicians, either from the ranks of Ulster Unionism, or indeed from outside the party, with the intellectual capacity to take him on in a one-to-one debate.

It is as much of an indictment of Northern Ireland politics as it is a tribute to McCrea's personality that few, if any, exist.

For the first time in my lifetime I genuinely feel that we have a politician in Northern Ireland that can really transcend the entrenched positions of the past.

People of my generation want political leaders that don't feel constrained by having to look over their shoulder.

We, irrespective of their broader cultural definition, want to live and contribute to the development of a better place for our children to grow up in. We are tired of the old slogans and the tribal definitions.

We want a political leadership that is prepared to reach out to all, irrespective of class and background.

Northern Ireland has suffered far too much for the old faces and old attitudes to remain unchallenged by men like Basil McCrea.

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