Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The drums are rumbling in South Belfast

I wrote at the weekend:
Nevertheless that "one of their own", in this case Peter McCann, would be just the kind of well-qualified and intelligent candidate I guess Cameron and the Conservatives would be looking to attract to the project; the reaction of the UUP in South Belfast, however, will be interesting, to say the least.
Lo and behold...
The Ulster Unionists and DUP should discuss running a single unionist candidate in South Belfast, local UUP constituency members have said.

In a letter to UUP leader Sir Reg Empey, the Ulster Unionist Association suggested the move was needed to retake the Westminster seat from the SDLP.

The move could potentially bring the Ulster Unionists into conflict with their Conservative electoral partners.
Especially for the South Belfast Slow on the Uptake, Cameron has reiterated yesterday:
Speaking of his party's link with the Ulster Unionists, Mr Cameron repeated his pledge to put up joint Conservatives and Unionists candidates in every one of Northern Ireland's 18 Westminster constituencies.
That, as Chekov points out here, has been a core principle from the beginning behind the concept of the Conservatives and the UUP fighting as a joint force. If Sth Belfast are now suggesting joint candidate with the Dupes then they are directly opposing what has been agreed previously and are suggesting an ending of the arrangement with the Conservatives. Or...they were/are collectively too thick to realise what they really agreed to before, which is also a distinct possibility and not only in South Belfast unfortunately.

Either way using this as a justification is laughable:
It is understood a recent meeting of the South Belfast Ulster Unionist Association concluded that unless a single unionist candidate runs for Westminster, it is likely the seat will be retained by the sitting MP, SDLP Deputy Leader Alasdair McDonnell.
Is this a new assessment of the situation, one that’s changed since the agreement last year between the two parties?

They can either at least attempt to move pro-Union politics here forward with the Conservatives or they should start redigging and hopping in the trenches alongside the DUP and TUV; it’s not possible to take both options.


Owen Patterson has an optimistic and actually quite inspiring piece in Conservative Home this morning:
It is important, too, that we bring into politics people who might have been put off by the sectarian squabbling of the past. Make no mistake – the Conservatives and Unionists are a modern, compassionate and inclusive centre-right force that wants to build a shared future for everybody in Northern Ireland. We aim to attract into our ranks people from all parts the community, whatever their ethnic background, religion or gender. Only last week, local Conservatives short-listed Catholic businesswoman, Sheila Davidson, in Lagan Valley, in South Belfast, Peter McCann, a Catholic former BBC producer of Top Gear from West Belfast and in East Belfast, Cllr Deirdre Nelson, who defected from the DUP on Ballymena Council.


tony said...

I know you are sincere over these matters Oneil but sometimes it helps to really spell out what these people are suggesting. Despite what some of you guys may well want, are they achievable when your party is still rooted in the old 'No pope here!' mould?

Perhaps it is all the media attention over any proposed Papal visit that is stirring the dinosaurs?

O'Neill said...

We'll see; I'll make a not very original observation though, the UUP, like most other NI parties, suffers from a surfeit of egos and one or two of them are may be feeling the risk of being pricked if this gets off the ground.

The Papal Visit? Apart from a McCrea Jr outburst, pretty much ignored from the rest of the usual suspects. Those protesting against the child-abuse scandals may turn out to be the ones making the biggest noise though.

Anonymous said...

Personally I think if the DUP and UUP enter into any electoral pacts, it can only harm the UUP who need to put some space between themselves and their unionist rivals. Otherwise, the raison d'etre of both parties just becomes being unionist, which is inadequate in my opinion. After all the SDLP are not like Maoists or the Taliban that they need to be kept out at all cost.

As for the worry about the pope, I think that is laughable in this day and age, like a fear of whichcraft (not that I'd like to wake up and find him sitting on the end of my bed).


Anonymous said...

"Unionists would like good possibility of Unionist representation, shock." turn to page 3.

O'Neill said...

"Otherwise, the raison d'etre of both parties just becomes being unionist, which is inadequate in my opinion."


It seems a worrying proportion of the UUP are content to become the DUP B Team in all but title.


Page 3 of what?

Unionist elite genuinely believe in creating a long-term base for a non-tribal, non-communal pro-union vote, at this present moment in time that would shock me.

fair_deal said...


David Cameron has made the Tory position consistently clear. The problem is the UUP hasn't done so in similar terms, why not?

O'Neill said...

"The problem is the UUP hasn't done so in similar terms, why not?"

Reg has, the last time he did in August Arlen was rolled out to give the usual spiel. I'm not sure how much clearer (or often) the point could have been made.

fair_deal said...

"Reg has"

No he hasn't. He has made statements open to two interpretations.

He does say this:
"I'm not in any way moving away from the position that has been stated (by David Cameron)..."

But in the same interview says things like this:
Asked if there are any circumstances under which his party would stand aside in the General Election, Sir Reg said that he "would not be rushing into anything"...

"We are not convinced that by doing these sort of deals that it necessarily protects the pro-union position but I'm going to analyse it, think about it and take stock over the next period of time."


If the door is shut and will remains so then the UUP leadership should say so not DC has said the door is shut but we are going to have a think.

O'Neill said...

I think I may have overfocussed on the same sentence as Arlene but yep, a clarification would be helpful in the present circumstances, maybe we will get it a hint of that in tomorrows speech...