Thursday, 8 October 2009

Empey to stress pan UK unionism at Conservative conference

This morning the Ulster Unionist leader will emphasise the genuine commitment to Union which has led David Cameron to the UCUNF deal. As he addresses Conservative conference Sir Reg Empey will tell delegates,

“The simple truth of the forthcoming General Election is that David Cameron probably doesn’t need a single Ulster Unionist vote or seat to get him over the threshold of Number 10….. Therefore, it seems fair to conclude that David’s interest in Northern Ireland, the Union and the Ulster Unionist Party is not a short-term mathematical calculation.”

It is a point which has frequently been overlooked as opponents attempt to question the Conservative leader’s unionist credentials. It is often implied that Cameron will readily submit to centrifugal forces, threatening to tear apart the Kingdom, if he comes to power at Westminster.

Empey is correct to contend that there is no such subterfuge. David Cameron is a unionist whose instinct is to defend the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom and normalise Northern Ireland’s position within it. And the desire that Northern Ireland should play a full and unexceptional role in British national politics is an aspiration which the UUP chief will emphasise in his remarks.

The basic premise of UCUNF is that candidates should appeal to the electorate by addressing the same issues which animate voters across the UK. Focussing on policy, and accepting that the constitutional issue is settled, Conservatives and Unionists can attract voters from across the community. Pro Union voters in Northern Ireland need only be confident enough to step outside the communal mindset and start expressing their British citizenship by participating actively in the nation’s politics.

Sir Reg will close his speech by paraphrasing Casablanca,

“David, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

If it is to be a beautiful friendship then South Belfast, and other constituencies, will have to understand the responsibilities which pan-UK unionism entails.


Richard said...

Liked the stuff on Iain Duncan Smith. I honestly think the CSJ could have a lot of answers for the problems we have in the run down areas and estates of Belfast, Derry, Portadown and Strabane.

Worklessness, Drug Abuse and drift into Criminal Gangs are universal to London, Glasgow, Nottingham, Manchester and Belfast.

So too are the solutions universal.

Reg should push this message more. Would go down well with the socially concerned electorate.

He should also consider how he might trial and pathfind CSJ ideas through his ministry (while it still exists).

Such endeavours would both find favour with Team Cameron I feel sure, and prove to the NI electorate that the link up has hard and fast day to day benefits to deliver, not just theoretical benefits.

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