Running eighteen candidates is a nonnegotiable component of the Conservative and Unionist pact.

In today's Belfast Telegraph I argue that any ambiguity about the eighteen candidate issue undermines the Conservative and Unionist message.

The Conservatives and Ulster Unionists' electoral pact has, from its inception, been predicated on 18 candidates contesting all 18 Northern Ireland constituencies in the next General Election. No ifs, no buts, no maybes.

Yet the UUP remains coy about declaring unambiguously that UCUNF will not stand aside for the DUP in either Fermanagh/South Tyrone or South Belfast.

Tom Elliott MLA is the latest senior figure from within the party to claim that he is open to discussions with Peter Robinson. At the party conference in October leader Sir Reg Empey appeared similarly reluctant to dismiss speculation about 'agreed candidates'.

However, if the UUP is still committed to offering the Northern Irish electorate normal politics and a full participative role at Westminster it must extend its offer to every voter, not merely those who live where there is a comfortable unionist majority.

Incidentally, personal conceit compels me to point out that "promising to extend political entitlements linked with British citizenship to British people to whom it has previously been denied" did read "British people to whom they" in the original copy! I know, I know!


fair_deal said…
"The DUP's appeal for "unionist unity" might seem bitterly ironic to long-term observers of Northern Ireland's political scene."

Long-term observers would know that the DUP has a long track record of standing aside and seeking deals. A quick perusal of the northern ireland election site would educate you on such matters
Anonymous said…
If the UUP ends up with no seats the New Force will be seen to have been self-defeating.

Better an ad hoc deal after any seats are won in the election?

It looks like the DUP will have to be magnanimous and stand aside, at least in South Belfast, which is winnable for the union.

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