This morning I attended a town-hall style meeting, featuring David Cameron MP, leader of the Conservative Party (UK). I was impressed with the format and his obvious comfortability taking and answering questions from persons in the audience.
Many of the initial questions were predictably on the topic of the closer relationship between the Conservatives and the Ulster Unionist Party. I thought he explained his perspective well, better than in his written articles.Just to ensure that the questions weren’t all planted ones, I caught his attention and asked him what suggestions he would give to the US Republican Party in advance of 2012. In saying that one must be careful of making direct comparisions between parties in different countries, he said the if he ran a campaign on “guns and God”, he would’t fare so well. I immediately thought, “Well, actually, you might do well in Northern Ireland, mate,” but bit my tongue. Actually, a subsequent questioner made this point, to amusing laughter. But Cameron replied in kind, that the proposed closer association is a worthwhile risk to take, to see if the Northern Ireland electorate wants a more inclusive form of politics, based more on issues that affect the lives or ordinary people, than one of sectarian headcounts. Afterwards, journalist Martina Purdy nabbed me for a vox pop to camera. She asked, “Will you now be voting Conservative?”, I replied, “No, I’m a Liberal Democrat.” But I followed by explaining how this initiative has a better prospect than previous attempts, because of the political landscape post-Good Friday Agreement. The Conservatives have this morning session recorded and available at their Cameron Direct website. My query appears at about 30 minutes. I then went over the the UUP conference at the Ramada Hotel, Belfast, where I got to hear Cameron speak again, as well as UUP party leader, Sir Reg Empey. I video recorded both speeches, but sadly my battery let me down on the latter recording. Above is Cameron’s speech to the UUP conference audience (apologies for the poor sound quality). Meanwhile, here are some links to various individuals who have made some comments on this matter:
- 3,000 Versts: “Cameron feels the noise at UUP conference”
- Alan in Belfast: “The New Force … Or the Thing with No Name”
- O’Conall Street: “Cameron’s not so simple message”
- Redemption’s Son: “David Cameron on devolution”
- Sunder Katwala (New Left): “Floating above history in Ulster”
- Trevor Smith (Open Kingdom): “Conservatives will polarise Northern Ireland politics”