Tuesday 23 February 2010

The UUP 17

It should be 18, of course, but Sylvia Hermon is still refusing to endorse the UCUNF non-merger.

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.
So which ones will go on to actually carry the UCUNF banner? A lot depends on whether the Tories have managed to find any decent candidates – especially having accidentally lost three of them!

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.


Anonymous said...

your analysis looks thorough, but isn't really.

It was Ross' brother Derek who was an MLA, Ross is an Omagh Councillor.

Sandra Overend's maiden name is Armstrong. She's actually a better candidate there than the UUP have had in a long while.

In the unwinable seats you're probably looking at Assembly candidates.

Horseman said...


Thanks for the correction on the Hussey's. I should have noticed that!

Overend I don't know, but anyone who supports the kind of gender apartheid we see in the UUP (and elsewhere, unfortunately) is not a progressive politician. She strikes me as an example of the old UUP, with the 'ladies' making tea and sandwiches. If you know better, please share!

Anonymous said...

Well I do know better. Sandra has actually done more than anyone else to take the UUP away from that. She isn't involved much with the "ladies" organisation because that is what they are about - old women sitting about making tea (and raising money in fairness to them). Sandra has actually been responsible for a lot of good work in the development of women candidates in the UUP. You'll notice that in 3 by-elections in the past 3 years all 3 UUP candidates have been women. 2 wins so far!

Horseman said...


If Overend is committed to 'taking the UUP away from that', then her first act as 'Womens Development Officer' should be to get rid of the insulting and belittling 'UUP women' sub-group, and insist that women members are just members - nothing more, nothing less. I feel very strongly about this (and not just in the UUP, of course). Gender separation is wrong and should not exist except where there are compelling reasons. Hiving the 'ladies' off to a marginal 'womens group' is designed to remove them from where the actual action takes place. They should be in the same meetings as the men, arguing, fighting, compromising and losing where necessary.

There have always been women candidates at local level, so so what if the last three candidates were women. Take a look at the UUP website, though, and you'll see the reality of the UUP - middle-aged and male. That's fine for me, by the way, because it'll hasten the demise of the UUP.

Anonymous said...

Separation is not the right word. There is a party structure, and along stide that runs the Cllr's group, Youth group and Womens group. The womens group isn't a bad idea per se, just in the way it is currently run. Sandra to her credit has circumvented it and done good work outside it.

But women ARE in the same meetings as the men, they are just also in some meetings that the men aren't.

Horseman said...

... they are just also in some meetings that the men aren't.


Anonymous said...

It's not a bad question, but then why are under 30's allocated a group?

I guess part of the answer is that it can be preferable to create as much structure as possible to give your members as much experience as possible. Would the YU Chairman get as much advancement in other organs of the party if the UYUC didn't exist? Maybe, but probably not. Would Kenny Donaldson, Mark Dunn and Peter Munce have stood without the UYUC? Probably not. I think working specifically on getting women forward is how to fix the problem the UUP has with women candidates, and Sandra has succeeded where the "ladies" have failed.

hoboroad said...

The UUP has announced Sylvia Hermon will not stand as a UCUNF candidate at the Next General Election.

hoboroad said...


Anonymous said...

Re Ringland's One Small Step campaign what it asks people to do is:

"I commit to working for the common good and towards a peaceful future that is based on equality and mutual respect.

I will take an active role in my daily life to ensure the society I live in is inclusive, peaceful, just and fair.

I will personally work towards reconciliation, tolerance, mutual trust and the upholding of human rights for all."

Given the nature of your blog and "political" beliefs, I can easily see why you have problems with those kind of sentiments.

Much better to keep those sectarian fires of hatred burning, eh Horseman?

peteram79 said...

Ringland will play extemely well in East Belfast's leafier parts - rugby international, solicitor, pillar of the local (moderate) church. Robinson is bloodied and will lose a chunk of the lower middle class core of his support that will have been hoorified by the events surrounding the entire Robinson clan. If the TUV can score well across the harder line areas, and there's no reason why they shouldn't as there is no risk of "letting one of themmuns in", then we might, just might see an upset in East Belfast.

hoboroad said...

Yeah Naomi Long must think she is in with a chance. She must benefit from a three way split in Unionism. And if the Alliance party stand aside for Sylvia Hermon in North Down again East Belfast must be their best chance of a Westminister MP.