Of the 17 candidates proposed by the UUP side of UCUNF, only a proportion will go on to become the actual UCUNF candidates. So who will fall? The Tories will, of course, want at least a share of the 'winnable' seats.
Some of the 17 are newish and some are the same old-same old. Four are existing MLAs, so they, perhaps will be easier to 'sacrifice' to the Tories – apart from Tom Elliott who has serious ambitions.
- North Antrim: Robin Swann – a failed council candidate in 2005
- South Antrim: Adrian Watson – currently a councillor in Antrim
- East Antrim: Rodney McCune – came third (with 14.5% of the vote) in the 2005 Westminster election in North Antrim.
- North Belfast: Fred Cobain – currently an MLA; stood in North Belfast in 2005 and got 7.1% of the vote.
- West Belfast: Bill Manwaring – a new face; a frequent commenter on the Slugger O'Toole website under the pseudonym 'True Blue'.
- South Belfast: Paula Bradshaw – another newish face; girlfriend of the Tories hopeful (and ex-Alliance turncoat) Ian Parsley.
- East Belfast: Trevor Ringland – who set up the 'One Small Step' campaign to try to fool Catholics into becoming small-u unionists. Where is it now?
- Strangford: Mike Nesbitt – ex-TV presenter
- South Down: John McCallister – currently an MLA
- Lagan Valley: Daphne Trimble – wife of David.
- Upper Bann: Harry Hamilton – a Freddy Mercury impersonator; presumably this will gain him invaluable free publicity. Otherwise politically a newcomer.
- Newry and Armagh: Danny Kennedy – currently an MLA
- Fermanagh and South Tyrone: Tom Elliott – currently an MLA
- Mid Ulster: Sandra Overend – head of the UUP 'ladies' branch (aka the Ulster Unionist Women's Development Officer). Hence given an unwinnable seat to fight.
- West Tyrone: Ross Hussey – an old face, but a no-hoper. In 2005 he got 6.9% of the vote in this constituency, and couldn't even get re-elected to the Assembly in 2007.
- Foyle: David Harding – failed to get elected to Coleraine Borough Council in 2005, but was co-opted in 2009 to replace Liz Johnston. Do the UUP have no members in Foyle who could stand?
- East Derry: Lesley McAuley – a complete unknown. Obviously the UUP don't intend to really challenge Gregory Campbell, or they intend to let the Tories do it.
All in all, though, the UUP selection looks, at best, mediocre. The media has tried to talk up some of them as much as possible, but between the 17 there are none who will set the political scene ablaze. Hope for UCUNF must come, therefore, from the Tories. But they probably don't have anything up their sleeve either. They must be hoping that the mere novelty of their non-merger will give them a boost, because on the basis of these candidates they'll need it.
Ironically the only UUP 'candidate' who looks like a principled politician, and who enjoys genuine public support is the 18th - the one who will in all likelihood not be a UUP or UCUNF candidate - Sylvia Hermon. Of the whole bunch she is the one most likely to win a seat - but not for the UUP.