There has been speculation that UUP bad boys Basil McCrea, John McCallister and David McClarty may form a new political party – I know, you’re probably thinking it wont work, UCUNF was a spectacular failure where unionists are concerned, or, maybe you’re thinking we have enough party’s as it is. Do we really need another pro-union party?
The short answer to this is yes.
Here’s why I think we do in fact need another pro-union party formed around the ideas of these three MLAs.
It’s no hidden fact that here in Northern Ireland we have a very poor voter turnout [54.5% in the 2011 Assembly elections]. One potential reason for this may just be that people are fed up with the same old political parties with the same old ideas and feel that they have no appropriate choice so decide not to vote at all.
Under Mike Nesbitt the UUP was meant to be a party that everyone could relate to and that everyone was welcome in… Well that’s what he intimated at in his leadership speech. “I am appealing today to Protestants and Catholics, to Jews and Muslims, to members of all faiths and none – men, women, urban, rural …. Chinese, Indian, eastern European …. this appeal is to everybody.”
Evidently John and Basil did not feel that warm welcome. So, where to for liberal unionists?
I think it’s fair to say that the DUP can be ruled out fairly quickly as a possible home for liberal unionists as all DUP MP’s voted against the Equal Marriages Bill and in addition the DUP, take the stance that gay people should not be allowed to donate blood in Northern Ireland may suggest that Ian Paisleys ‘Save Ulster from Sodomy’ campaign may just have some life in it yet.
So let’s re-cap quickly. We’ve ruled out the DUP as a home for liberal unionists and we can now rule out the UUP under Mike Nesbitt.
The Union is safe. Maybe it’s about time that we had a new party that helped to deliver this message and make the union a place where every person really does feel welcome instead of attempting to cling onto votes by distributing 40,000 leaflets which may make some people think otherwise.
In addition, when I hear the DUP or UUP say that they are pluralist parties open to everyone. I frankly just do not buy it. Let’s look at the concept of unionist unity which will take place in Mid-Ulster. The DUP UUP and TUV – Three unionist party’s who all support a unity candidate. Now lets look who they are battling against – Sinn Fein. In simple terms this is plainly about green versus orange. Why do I think this? Ask yourself this. How much have you heard about Nigel Luttons policies which will tackle problems in Mid-Ulster. Have you heard how he is going to tackle the unemployment rate? I could bet you that you haven’t. What I can bet though is that you have heard about his father who was an ex RUC reservist who was murdered by the IRA. There also might just be a slim chance that you’ve also heard that Francie Molloy, the Sinn Fein candidate was rumoured to be involved in the murder of Frederick Lutton, Nigels father.
This is why we need a new pro-union party in Northern Ireland. We need a party that tackles the real problems in Northern Ireland and puts these ahead of any ‘green vs orange’ battle.