Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Not so fast. South Belfast contest remains open.

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.


Jim McAndrews said...

With you entirely on that Chekov.

Paula Bradshaw is Excellent with a capital E.

sllug said...

Paula Bradshaw all the way

Dewi Harries said...

What a palaver - the next months are going to be fun....

Jeff Peel said...

Of course, whatever nominees are put forward by the UUP will not necessarily be selected as the candidates. The Conservatives already have a nominee. The joint committee will decide (oh to be a fly on the wall). I should also remind you that the local UUP constituency association would prefer to do a deal with the DUP rather than split the "Unionist" (read, Protestant) vote.

I don't know Paula or any of the other candidates from the UUP side. But I agree with your sentiment that serving MLAs should be discouraged. It also puts into question how committed an Assembly minister is if he's willing to potentially stand down from his ministerial position if he were to win. But, then again, if McGimpsey is the candidate it's highly unlikely that he will.

Anonymous said...

Catholics to battle each other in historic Belfast election

Catholic unionist to contest seat against Catholic nationalist

* Buzz up!
* Digg it

* Henry McDonald
* The Observer, Sunday 20 December 2009
* Article history

The way has been paved for a historic electoral contest in South Belfast that will pit a Catholic unionist against a sitting Catholic nationalist MP.

The former lord mayor of Belfast and veteran Ulster Unionist Bobby Stoker yesterday ruled himself out as a candidate, while the Observer has learned that health minister Michael McGimpsey will not fight the Westminster seat.

The absence of the UUP's major figures at the general election clears a path for the Conservative and Unionist candidate Peter McCann. A former BBC senior executive in Northern Ireland, McCann is a Catholic from the west of the city.

The absence of an experienced unionist with strong links to the area is a boost for sitting SDLP MP Alasdair McDonnell. If the Tories' candidate is the only one to run on the UUP-Conservative ticket, it is understood that the Democratic Unionist party will stand a rival, in all likelihood the former police officer and councillor Jimmy Spratt.

Councillor Stoker, who has a large support base in the Donegall Road, Village and Sandy Row areas, said: "As a matter of principle, I will not be standing. I was not mindful to stand under a joint Conservative-Ulster Unionist ticket, but I will canvass for the party."

One source close to the Ulster Unionist leadership claimed that McGimpsey was also reluctant to stand as a joint Tory-UUP candidate. "It leaves the party with the Conservative candidate Peter McCann with a near clear run to stand on the joint ticket. And that means that, for the first time in Northern Ireland's history, we will have a pro-union candidate who is a Catholic standing against a nationalist MP who is a Catholic," he said.

A spokeswoman for the UUP said no one could comment as there was an "ongoing selection process" taking place. She said the decision would be taken in the middle of January.

rutherford said...

^How likely is it that McCann will get to run?