Ian Paisley Junior clearly isn't on his hols yet (or at least the DUP press office is still at work). Christmas Eve morning witnessed a press release on the party's current most pressing preoccupation - its rival's internal candidate selection procedure. The website only features a truncated version, but its is the unabridged text which provides the authentic Junior pyrotechnics (ho hum!).
The Labour tendencies of leading members of South Belfast UUP are well-known. Does this explain the Tory insistence on imposing a blow-in upon the local UUP Association? The Tories are now insisting that all who refuse to subscribe to their views must be purged from consideration as UUP candidates, as has been demonstrated by the Tory intolerance towards the UUP’s solitary MP.
The UUP is being hollowed out at the behest of a party who when they last contested an election in South Belfast got 108 votes. Experienced veterans are being pushed aside in favour of a bunch of Notting Hill liberals who don’t understand Unionism and cant represent our community”, said the MLA
Confused? I don't blame you!
Junior is clearly appalled that the UUP's left leaning representatives have been overlooked in the South Belfast constituency, yet he is also adamantly opposed to 'Notting Hill liberals'.
It is a formulation which recalls David McNarry's 'wide-boy liberalista' outburst. And it makes as little sense. Neither of the probable South Belfast candidates, Peter McCann and Paula Bradshaw, is from London, or England. They have 'blown in' from nowhere more exotic than other areas of Belfast. Indeed Paula has a long history of community work in South Belfast.
I'd like to believe that a 'seasoned veteran' standing in the constituency would have commanded Paisley's support. I hadn't realised he was such a fan of Michael McGimpsey or Bob Stoker. But the truth is that the former has an important job in the Northern Ireland Executive which has quite rightly precluded him from a Westminster contest. Clearly Conservatives and Unionists, unlike the DUP, are taking seriously their pledge to abolish double mandates.
Either of the two UCUNF selectees who remain would make a much better MP than the DUP's likely candidate, Jimmy Spratt, another prospective double-jobber. They may not conform to Paisley's little-Ulster reading of unionism, but they are thoroughly compatible with the UK wide vision which the New Force seeks to promote.