Last night the Ulster Unionist Party elected Tom Elliott MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone as their new leader. This morning he said:

“What I want to see is a party that actually represents the population of Northern Ireland.

“I want to see for the Ulster Unionist Party the same as I want to see for the people of Northern Ireland – that is a working together, that is an integration, not a carve up between two parties or two sections of our community.

“I want an all-embracing party that actually represents Northern Ireland.”

However, how all-embracing a party can it be if the leader of the UUP is not prepared to attend Pride events of GAA sporting events. As my friend and colleague Mícheál pointed out not in certain communities. 3000 Versts asks questions about what direction the UUP is going to take, again asking will it retreat back to Orange Order and the ‘unionists’. Over at Slugger O’Toole there is still a warning that the party need to take off the brake and come out of reverse, something that must not be forgotten simply by the size of Elliott’s victory.

Slugger carries this analysis of the result, much in line with the feeling on BBC Northern Ireland’s Hearts and Minds last Thursday:

“The DUP will be happy tonight. Alliance will be happy that the UUP won’t be steering too far into their centre ground. And the SDLP will be upset that they’ll still not have a credible ally in the centre ground – the UUP and SDLP tend to succeed together and fail together.”

So the reforming campaign of Basil McCrea had fallen by the wayside. Does it seem that the UUP have taken the lesson from the 2010 election that being too liberal is not the way to reach out to Northern Ireland? If it is and Elliott retracts to the right the fight for certain parts of the community of Northern Ireland will become harder once again.

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