Well, Sylvia, we knew it was coming, but like this? During an election campaign?
One view as to ’why’ she did it like this seems to be that Sylvia got spooked by the expenses row then, displaying her usual flare for media management, decided to create some misdirection by blurting out some eye-catching rubbish about not being a Tory.
Oh dear. Bad enough that her original, long, rambling statement in response to the expenses allegation may have had the effect of expanding (and not minimising) the story somewhat. But to compound her problems by willingly introducing a second negative story is just incomprehensible. That one will follow her for some time to come.
What is the end result of her day’s work today? Well, the electorate may well think she’s on the take and the Party may well think she’s a traitor.
It didn’t have to be this way. Why did she get so spooked by the expenses story? Is there more to that story that’s yet to come out? What she did today just seems like, erm… (what’s a polite phrase for gaffe-ridden SNAFU worthy of Mr Magoo?)… er…. an asymmetric and disproportionate addendum to a fairly bland expenses story. She had kept her own counsel for many months, could it have hurt to wait another 3 ½ weeks?
Setting aside what she’s been telling the media today, the Reg statement can be read to imply that she won’t be selected by the UUP for the general election anyway.
“The leadership of the Ulster Unionist Party is disappointed that Lady Hermon, in the middle of an election campaign, has chosen to give a series of interviews in which she has challenged Party policy and the collective decisions taken by her colleagues.”
It goes on:
“Her own position is not an issue in the present campaign. She was assured last year that she would not be required to take the Conservative Party whip in the lifetime of the present Parliament. Candidate selection for the General Election is not yet underway, meaning that any decisions regarding her own selection process in North Down do not have to be made at this point. This makes the timing of her statements all the more disappointing.”
Or in others words, nothing is guaranteed. How do can she be selected after this? Ah well. Farewell then Sylvia. Bobballs also hears that the vast majority of her constituency party are happy to remain within the party. So when you go, you go it alone.
Everyone will fancy a crack at North Down next year. DUP/APNI/UUP are all strong there. But how will Sylvia’s voters respond to the expenses issue and to the fact that she betrayed her own party during election time?
She bit both the hands that feed her in the same day (electorate, then party). That’s quite some feat and kinda unnecessary. It’s a very great pity. Liked Sylvia a great deal. What a shame.
The silver lining is that this issue needed to be dealt with. And now it’s sorted. The way Sylvia has gone about playing her hand has ensured that the UUP assumes the role of victim to her headstrong attack, and that the UUP leadership appears firmly in control by reacting so completely and so promptly (fancy that!). Sylvia has jumped early and inflicted damage on herself. There were very many worse scenarios than this…
UPDATE: Well, it looks like the UUP wants to explore all of the worst possible scenario. DAnny Kennedy has been on the radio telling everyone that Sylvia is entitled to her views, that he will continue to persuade her about the Tories, that he hopes Sylvia will… Oh dear. So this isn’t sorted.
The UUP have not censured Sylvia/removed the whip etc. Nope, they’re treating it as part of a debate that’s being held by an open and democratic party. Do us all a favour. Either she is in or she is out – she says out. So why not deal with the situation as it is, instead of burying your head in the sand and pretending this isn’t getting ENORMOUSLY DAMAGING?
Danny has basically let it be known that the leadership will not act decisively against Sylvia. She now has leverage again. She will leave, but now it will be on her own terms. For the UUP, the moment to deal with Sylvia has passed and now she will remain a story throughout the rest of the Euro campaign and into the general election. Nobody is satisfied by this situation as it prevails. Apart from sulking and being disappointed, I’m confused as to how the UUP intends to handle this. (Cameron would certainly have removed the whip from her. Apart from discussions, cups of tea and custard creams – do the UUP intend to apply any sanction at all?)
Given the media management abilities of both the UUP and Sylvia, the only thing I’m certain of now is that another swirling media cock-up is right round the corner. Anyone with a lingering affection for the UUP should look away now…