Thursday 25 February 2010

UCUNF, Catholics, and the other nine seats

So, nine of the 18 Westminster seats have their named UCUNF contenders, and nine don't. However, the UCUNF promise was not just to stand in all 18 seats, but also to bring a 'new non-sectarian' politics with them. An implicit part of this promise was that there would be Catholic candidates standing for UCUNF. The nine named yesterday are, to the best knowledge of this blog, either Protestants or 'from the Protestant community'. So that leaves the nine other constituencies to provide the Tories with their Catholic candidate(s).

However, the two Catholic candidates that the Tories so proudly paraded before the world in October 2009 resigned earlier this year citing their disgust at the prospect of an electoral deal between UCUNF and the DUP.

Assuming they don't come back – and Sheila Davidson's chosen constituency, Lagan Valley, has just been handed to Daphne Trimble by UCUNF – that leaves the Tories, and UCUNF, currently with no Catholic candidates whatsoever.

What of the nine remaining constituencies? Could one or more of them play host to an as-yet-unknown Catholic Tory?

North Down – No, this seat has been earmarked for (Protestant) Ian Parsley. Even if the UUP steal it back, the two UUP contenders (Johnny Andrews and Bill McKendry) are both also Protestant.

Fermanagh and South Tyrone – There is slim-to-no-chance that the Tories will pull a local Catholic rabbit out of their hat. The UUP's Tom Elliott is a Protestant, and the unionist voters of the area are unlikely to take kindly to the bussing-in of a Catholic 'celebrity candidate'.

East Derry – No, the UUP contender is Lesley Macauley, an unknown, but probably not a Catholic (or they would have said so). In any case, she is simply keeping the UUP side of the bargain – the candidacy is almost certainly going to Duncan Crossey, another Protestant.

That leaves the three 'Antrims' – North, South, and East – two 'Belfasts' – South and North – and Foyle. The Tories 'big thing' was that they had found a west Belfast Catholic – and one connected to the popular Top Gear TV show too – to stand in South Belfast. But he has gone, probably not to come back. There simply are no other 'big names' for the Tories to stand. Tories are rare in Northern Ireland, and Catholic Tories even rarer.

So the Tories have a difficult decision to make. Do they stand an unknown just because he/she is a Catholic – thereby being sectarian to show that they aren't sectarian – or do they allow their actual members to stand? If Sheila Davidson returns to the fold she could be accommodated not far from her Lagan Valley home – in South Antrim, for example, or even South Belfast. But it would be hard to imagine Catholic Tories standing – or being successful – in North or East Antrim or North Belfast.

The most likely seat for the Tories to stand a Catholic in – if they can find one in a hurry – is Foyle. It is a majority Catholic constituency to start with, and carries no risk of loss as it is currently held by the SDLP. The UUP nominee would be no problem to side-line since he is not local.

However, if the Tories do not find a Catholic to stand for them, at least one part of their promise will have been broken.


Dazzler said...

I would not be suprised if they put a catholic tory up in FST or SB or both. This would allow them to keep their promise and prevent the split in the unionist vote (assuming unionists will not vote for a catholic in large numbers)where the DUP could win back both seats.

peteram79 said...

Firstly, you are attempting to accuse the UCUNF of breaking a promise they didn't make. You judge a pledge to be "non-sectarian" as an implicit commitment to stand at least one Catholic, and then accuse them of breaking their promises if no Catholic stands. So your whole analysis is based on your interpretation of what a statement means, not an explicit commitmenmt.

Moreover, how do you know that Duncan Crossey is a protestant, not that it particularly matters either way?

Paddy Canuck said...

"However, if the Tories do not find a Catholic to stand for them, at least one part of their promise will have been broken."

Wait, I've seen this movie. Wouldn't this just be a matter of cruising up and down West Belfast late a night and shoving a guy into a Ford Cortina at gunpoint, nomination papers at the ready, and snarling, "You're a Thatcherite, aren't ya, Patrick?" :)

Anonymous said...

Thats not funny, ask the families of the victims.

Unionism/loyalism has to take its share of the blame. Time for pete to recognise this and move on.

Anonymous said...

Peter seems very moderate to me. A real gentleman...

Anonymous said...

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it