I was a little perturbed to read Mick Fealty’s post on Slugger this morning indicating that only Bob Stoker and Michael McGimpsey would seek an Ulster Unionist nomination for South Belfast. Presumably Mick is writing on the basis of information which he has been given. However, I’m pleased to say that I’m led to believe that he has rather jumped the gun.
It is my understanding that nominations for the constituency do not close until Friday.
Back in September, on Open Unionism, I expressed the hope that a fresh list of UUP candidates would emerge, not drawn in main from the Assembly party. I stand by that analysis and I believe that, for the most part, candidates will not already be MLAs.
South Belfast in particular is sorely in need of a new, vital contender who can articulate with enthusiasm the advantages of the New Force. Despite Michael McGimpsey’s creditable performance as Health Minister at Stormont, or more accurately because of it, I believe that he should concentrate on his Executive duties.
The name mentioned in conjunction with South Belfast which best personifies a new and hopeful form of politics, I believe, is Paula Bradshaw.
She has worked closely with deprived communities in the constituency and has, accordingly, an existing profile. As a young activist her appeal can extend across class divisions and age barriers, in a way which is not true of some of the other personalities who have been mooted for the seat.
Previously ’Three Thousand Versts’ has expressed its support for Neill Armstrong in North Antrim. Equally, Paula Bradshaw in South Belfast represents another energetic young voice, in tune with the ethos of the Conservatives and Unionists arrangement.