The DUP and Ulster Conservatives and Unionists (UCU) have agreed on running a joint unionist candidate in Fermanagh and South Tyrone.So, does that make him a Conservative and Unionist candidate? Technically no; he's an independent and despite numerous past assertions to the contrary, there won't now be a Conservative and Unionist running in FST.
Rodney Connor, a former chief executive of Fermanagh District Council, will stand as an independent.
Mr Connor said that he is prepared to accept the Conservative whip, but, on matters concerning Northern Ireland, he will vote on basis of what he believes is in the best interests of his constituents.
I think it's a wrong decision by the C&Us:
1. It undermines, possibly fatally, the main publicised selling-point behind the UUP and Conservative link-up. Election pacts such as this can not deliver the new pro-Union politics promised here.
2. It sets a precedent which is uniquely Northern Irish, ie joint "agreed" candidates won't be taking on nationalists in Scotland and Wales. Once again we are being cut adrift from mainstream UK politics.
3. It passes the initiative back to the DUP, both in terms of the South Belfast question and the overall fight for the soul of Unionism in Northern Ireland.
4. Election pacts, by their nature, are undemocratic- provide the widest possible options for the electorate and let them not the party managers choose their representatives.
5. It displays a disturbing lack of confidence in the pro-Union message, can it only be sold on a narrow communal basis?
6. "We will run Conservative candidates in every seat in the United Kingdom". Pledge not fulfilled, makes it more difficult to convince the electorate of your sincerity in the future obviously
It's a pity; there are very good candidates standing in most of the constituencies for the C&Us, candidates who exemplify clearly the "change" promised originally by this link-up. Ironically enough, I also think Connor epitomises what should have been the message of the C&Us more than the originally chosen candidate Tom Elliott. But arriving on the ballot paper in this manner is not a good example of "post-communal" Unionism.