Saturday, 26 July 2008

Theft of Dave's bike obscures political development

No longer on his bike

The theft of Dave Cameron's trusty bike from outside Tesco's in the Portobello Road attracted plenty of media attention. Apparently Dave was seen plaintively walking along the road asking if anyone had seen his trusty mount. The BBC reported the important news that the Conservative leader had been 'picking up a few bits of salad' when the theft occurred.

All this obscured the more important news of a new alliance between the Conservatives and the Ulster Unionists which it is hoped will be finalised before the autumn. Before the Northern Ireland crisis, the two parties acted as one with selected Ulster Unionists getting junior ministerial jobs. Now the plan is that they will take the Tory whip again and that Lord Trimble, who already takes the Conservative whip in the Lords, will join the Shadow Cabinet.

Although the Ulster Unionists only have one MP, even that could be important in the event of a hung Parliament - still not impossible despite 'reading off' of the next general election outcome from by-election results. Linking up with the Tories might give an electoral boost to the Ulster Unionists as a party that transcended the sectarian divide.

There are some downside risks for the Conservatives who might be associated, whether fairly or not, with old fashioned sectarian politics. But against that it makes them look less of a purely English party.

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