The Independent MP for North Down?

From today’s Politics Show, BBC NI’s Yvette Shapiro reports on the fall-out in North Down over UUP MP Sylvia Hermon’s comments about the newly conjoined UUP/Conservative Party – with musical accompaniment by some popular beat combos..

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  • “Since then the North Down MP has flown low under the media radar.

    Despite being re-elected in 2005 as the sole UUP Member of Parliament, she prefers to communicate with her constituents through the local newspaper.” .. Sheeran, BBC

    Well apart from her website which I linked to on earlier Slugger threads:

    “I will use this site to keep you informed and up-to-date on North Down constituency matters. You can use this site to check out the latest news from Westminster, and learn more about the work I do helping to tackle the issues affecting my constituency”

  • Disinterested observer

    Am I following this correctly? The MP for North Down – whose contempt for the UUP is well known (look how she announced this mid election campaign)- thinks she should be allow to ignore the deal agreed between the UUP (unanimously) and the Conservative Party which is lead by an overtly pro Union David Cameron.
    Is she a unionist?
    Is she simply lining herself up to run as am independent?
    UUP face the choice between keeping an MP who has made her pro Labour sentiment well known and merging with the Conservatives.
    Surely they must simply select someone else?

  • ??

    the UUP executive did not endorse it unaminously

  • blinding

    I think I like this Lady.

    Could she be Northern Irelands Purdey?

  • Gripler

    The word “overwhelmingly” was used, as nobody voted against the matter

  • ??

    the UUP membership have never had the chance to vote on it

  • Elvis Parker

    ?? or Peter why dont you clear off and admire the site of your proposed mansion with Iris?
    What are you going to call it? Swish Towers?
    Any vacanceies for a chef to keep the food cooking?
    Btw are the Dodds’ planning on a palace too?
    If I was them I’d hold off just yet.

  • “Rebellion on the Gold Coast” .. Beeb link

    Sylvia dealt with this sort of jibe very well back in 2001:

    “During the election campaign I was struck, and rather offended, by the fact that North Down was frequently described in the media as the gold coast, with the “have yachts and have nots”–and more recently as “the gin and Jag” constituency. These descriptions paint a grossly inaccurate image of my constituency and its wonderful people. I shall take a few moments to paint a different picture.

    It is true that in Bangor we have a magnificent marina that is full of yachts. It is the fourth largest marina in the United Kingdom. It is true also that in Bangor we have the Kilcooley estate, where there are about 650 children without one play park or playground between them. Millisle is a small coastal village which is scenic for tourists, but having canvassed there I can tell a different story. It was there that I was asked for my autograph for the first time. It was a humbling experience to find that young children regarded it as the highlight of their day, week, month and perhaps their year to ask a parliamentary candidate for her autograph.

    The lives of all these children deserve to be enriched with much more investment in youth facilities the length and breadth of the constituency.

    June 26th, 2001”

  • Rory Carr

    With the acutely humane sympathies betrayed by Lady Hermon in her above statement (courtesy of Nevin) it is easy to see why she feels such distaste at the idea of allying with the Tories.

    The “have yachts” of North Down may not be so happy with her as a consequence of such concerns but the “have nots” are better served.

    I must say that Lady Hermon is also growing in my esteem, which I don’t suppose will do her much good round these parts.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Go on ye girl.

  • eranu

    hang on a mo!! before getting carried away, does anyone know if she actually got a play park for kilcooley or something to do for folk in millisle? if she did, great. if she tried for something and failed, still good. if she did nothing then its just hot air??

  • Bob Wilson

    Interesting quote from 2001 of course since 2001 live has got markedly worse for all the citizens of North Down. First with a property bubble allowed to happen due to lax regualtion by Chancellor Brown. And now a ‘bust’ from the man who boasted he had ended boom and bust!

  • blinding, I’ve spotted the Purdey connection. Maybe she’s too independent for any party:

    “Speaking after the vote, the Ulster Unionist MP said: “This was one of those wonderful Parliamentary occasions where commonsense and justice won the day, and the Government was rightly disgraced by its discriminatory policy on Gurkha settlement rights. Quite simply, the Government’s policy amounted to a betrayal of the Gurkhas, many of whom have given their lives in the service of this country.” SH press release

  • eranu, she welcomes comments on her website.

  • Silverline

    11 Play park in Kilcooley was the Council not Lady Hermon.

  • “Go on ye girl.”

    Well, she’s a country girl from Co Tyrone, Sammy, a farmer’s daughter – and a Paisley 😉

  • Silverline, the Council would have been one of the players in this and other projects

    “Sammy Wilson (DUP) was not satisfied about how the project was so effective simply by the respect earned by those members of Impact working on the coal face. He alluded to the possibility there may have been some other reason why the project worked so well.

    It was put to Mr Wilson by Mark Gordon that the reason the Ulster Unionist MP Lady Sylvia Hermon is always so warmly received in Kilcooley is because of the work she does in and for the community and she has earned the respect of the residents; if it works for her and for another DUP Councillor why would it not work for Impact?” ..

  • Expenses111

    I think this is the end Of Lady Slyvia Hermon career. If she goes as an Independent then the DUP will swoop in. They do need someone else than Peter Weir as he looks a bit sleazy

  • Pigeon Toes

    Rory, Sylvia is growing in my estimation as well- even if she is originally from Tyrone!

  • Expenses111, perhaps Independents will make a come-back. Some of the Party people haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory.

  • Rethinking Unionism

    Northern ireland is not an easy fit for the Conservatives and no matter how many voters would wish to see a change in UK government, they are less impressed with the idea that the Ulster Unionists will wield either power or influence over any incoming administration. Sylvia Hermon has been an outstanding public representative and will be elected under any number of banners. Reg would be well advised to figure that out at this stage and act accordingly.

  • ??

    the tory tie up has been a great success, massive splits in the party and now no MPs.

    Well Done Reg

  • Expenses111

    Reg Empey should be called “Boomerang Empey”!! Everything he does always comes back on him

  • loki

    Lady H thinks that kids asking for her autograph makes their day? How out of touch can you get ffs?
    Rory re the above (9) how the hell is this “humane”- out of touch and arrogant more like

  • Pigeon Toes

    “Go on ye girl.”

    Nevin I really feel that I must point out that the correct turn of phrase is “Go on ye girl, ye”

  • Thank’s, PT, perhaps that Sammy isn’t from Tyrone 🙂

  • Pigeon Toes

    “Thank’s, PT, perhaps that Sammy isn’t from Tyrone” :Nevin, I suppose he’s just born lucky..

  • Driftwood

    From Lady Hermons website:
    With some 400 Police CSOs to be recruited in the next few months, Lady Hermon stressed: “The old argument of the NIO that 50:50 recruitment had to restore an historic imbalance within the police service is wholly inapplicable in this instance. There is obviously no historic imbalance for Community Support Officers when we’ve never had them before. It’s utterly contemptible that the Government has legalised religious discrimination in further police recruitment.”

    As for the extension of the Police Ombudsman’s powers, the North Down MP was “astounded that these now include power to reinvestigate a police officer who has already been acquitted.”

    Although no DUP Members attended the Committee to vote against the legislation, Conservative MPs voted with the Ulster Unionist MP. The Liberal Democrats unexpectedly chose to endorse the extension of 50:50 recruitment by voting with the Government.

    It’s clear that she is a straightforward decent Ulster Unionist, scathing towards the bigotry and indolence of the DUP, hard working constituency MP. She just doesn’t feel comfortable with the Conservatives. That’s her choice. She has done an excellent job and the electorate in North Down will choose whoever they wish next May.
    It’s not a defining moment for the UUP or the Conservatives. No big deal.

  • dodrade

    If any other leader fell out with their entire parliamentary party over policy they’d have to backtrack or resign. However in the UUP, where political sanity is nowhere to be found, they do their best to drive their only MP out of the party!

    Whilst i’m sure most unionists would prefer to see Cameron as Prime Minister, I very much doubt the Tory alliance will gain Nicholson or any other UUP candidate a single extra vote. Lady Sylvia on the other hand could probably win North Down on her own, her personal vote was double that of the UUP in the council elections.

    But then what do you expect from the party which let Trimble lead it to annihilation in 2005 two years after the writing had been on the wall after being overtaken by the DUP in the 2003 Assembly elections.

  • ??

    It’s clear that she is a straightforward decent Ulster Unionist, scathing towards the bigotry and indolence of the DUP,

    sorry is that the same UUP that complained about the GAA being in tesco, or the UUP who complained becasue the Irish national anthem was played in Newry, or the UUP which complained because a Muslim was made head of religous affairs at the BBC

  • ??

    It’s not a defining moment for the UUP or the Conservatives. No big deal.

    LOL the whole of the tory merger was to have UUP MPs in the cameron cabinet, bit hard when there no MPs!!!!!!!

  • Silverline


    Just curious who was the DUP Councillor you refer to taht is respected in Kilcooley?????????

  • Carson’s Cat

    Sylvia clearly doesn’t feel comfortable with the Tories – its the fact that some people can’t seem to get their heads around that which is most amusing of all.

    On the other side – there are probably few people who seem to fawn over quite so much as Nevin here n Slugger, but she’s very popular in her Constituency. A combination of “niceness”, and a constituency with a history of throwing up odd results may have something to do with it.

    I don’t agree with her views, or the fact that she doesn’t appear to actually be very ‘political’, apart from being a bit of a New Labour fan, but heck, you can’t argue with success and she’s getting elected on the back of it which is more than many of her party colleagues can testify to.

    Whilst Slvia mightn’t be comfortable with the Tories, she might be equally as uncomfortable with the Ulster Unionist Party – one which according to the papers today has the UDA as their ‘poster boys’ (so to speak). Perhaps Reggie might want to be thinking about whether disiplinary action is worthwhile for those who thought bringing in a bit of Brigadeer glamour into the campaign was a good idea… Mind you, that in turn might bring out some others who aren’t Tories either, but who just haven’t had the swingers to speak up – the total cowards.

    I would imagine Hermon also sees through the whole ‘Ulster Unionists in the Cabinet’ crap for the rubbish it clearly is. Cameron has given a few vague promises that someone might possibly get a low-ranking bag carrying appointment possibly at some time in the future. I also think that her expenses phone-call to Nolan and the subsequent foray into views on UCUNF was fairly well thought through.

    She might come across as the dippy upper-class garden fete opening MP, but there’s a sharp enough brain in there to get elected on the basis of all that niceness. She’s managed to stick the knife squarely in between Reg’s shoulderblades yet cleverly enough that Empey launches a thinly-veiled attack on her and then has to say that there should be no disciplinary action taken against her.

    She might be viewed as something of an oddity within the UUP, but she’s got more political nous than Empey, Kennedy and the tank commander McFarland all rolled into one. The fact that they’re going out of their way to get rid of the one spark of popularity which appears to inhabit the good-ship UUP shows just how little political intelligence appears to inhabit Reggie’s combovered bonce.

    Whilst the ‘First Lady’ of North Down clearly deserves a thread – we could of course be embarking on another about the ‘First Bird’ of North Down – that Peacock who struts her stuff at fashion shows but not at Council meetings. Mind you – I’d wager that in the obviously copious amounts of spare time she has to mull these things over, that she wouldn’t be too keen on the UDA sticking up posters in Holywood should she run as an independent too at the next Council elections.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    The UUP/Tory marriage was almost as ill-advised as the Lloyds HBOS one and although there was less shotgun and more consent in the political version of the marriage from hell as Sylv hinted the UUP chappies have been behaving like a bunch of bankers…and just like the Chairman of Lloyds who recently disappeared off the scene so Wee Reggie should surely be considering his own future.

  • Silverline, the article doesn’t name the councillor. Here’s a list of names from The Kilcooley Community Forum AGM:

    “Alex Easton, MLA, NDBC
    Heather Corten, NDAI
    Tony Hill,NDBC
    Brian Wilson, NDBC
    Ann Wilson,NDBC”

    Alex Easton is a member of the DUP

  • Silverline


    I gave Easton a second pref vote at last Assembly election because of the work he does, could he give hermon a run for her money?

  • Scaramoosh

    “In Parliament, Hermon has established herself as an independently minded politician, in some instances voting against the prevalent beliefs of fellow unionist MPs, including her decision to vote against the replacement of the Trident Nuclear Weapons System and also to repeal Section 28, legislation that prevented public discussion of homosexuality in schools. She did vote for identity cards and 90-day detention.[2] Her votes are generally in support of the Labour government.”

    If people had bothered to read her Wikipedia profile, they would have seen the inevitability of the current “crisis.”

    In that the Alliance were prepared to atand aside to allow Hermon to beat Robert McCartney, one assumes that they would do the same were she to become independent….

  • Know nothing about the political geography of North Down, Silverline. I don’t often hear Alex’s name mentioned in dispatches.

  • Wilhelm

    UUP member Ignited (

    [i]”The UUP political hacks can sneer all they like at Lady Hermon, but in the public arena, she was the last remaining example of a successful Ulster Unionist. She was respected and listened to by her electorate, and she could hold her own against the increasingly dominant DUP. The public at large will be scratching their heads at the actions of Sir Reg on this one, as it appears extremely counter-intuitive. Why go to such lengths to alienate your only MP? Your only remaining successful brand of the UUP? Lady Sylvia is viewed as a progressive and untainted Ulster Unionist, kind of the direction the UUP should be heading in.”[/i]


    As a Nationalist I must admit I like her. She is of course a committed Unionist but has more guts, balls, steel and principle than all the men in the Unionist Party combined. She knows what she stands for but comes across as a very fair minded individual in her political and religious/sectarian leanings. If I had a constituency problem I would have no problem in asking her advice. She has exposed the ridiculous right wing Tory nonsense that Reg Empey has landed the Ulster Unionists in and the UUP are seriously worried. I urge her to stand in the next Westminster election as she would be returned with a majority.

  • Comrade Stalin

    In that the Alliance were prepared to atand aside to allow Hermon to beat Robert McCartney, one assumes that they would do the same were she to become independent….

    I don’t think that’s a safe assumption at all.

    One of the principle motivations behind Alliance standing aside was to help keep out anti-agreement wrecker candidates and ensure that a small minority would not gain a disproportionate voice.

    Now that Bob McCartney and fUKUP are gone, and the DUP are no longer wrecker candidates, there is no particular reason for Alliance to step aside. If Sylvia Hermon is held in as high esteem in North Down as the media are reporting she is, and I don’t doubt this is true, she’ll be able to see off opposition from the DUP and other quarters without Alliance denying its own supporters a voice.

  • cynic

    I haven’t stopped laughing since someone, I wonder who, introduced the name of a certain DUP memeber who they thought could give the Lady a run for her money. The Lady has more class, intelligence, wit, courage, ability, political radar, and good looks in her little finger than the individual named has in his entire entourage. He might struggle to remain at Stormont if the number of seats are reduced as the golden boy of the party, Weir, will mop up the DUP vote. Neither are as popular as they think but Weir shades it by a mile in experience etc. Can’t fool all the people all the time! Back to having a giggle!!

  • ??

    wonder what sylvia has to say about the UDA putting up posters for Jim Nic

  • Peter Brown

    Just when you thought it couldn;t get any worse for the UUP…..

  • slug

    Perhaps for INCUMBENT UUP MPs and MEPs it should be made optional whether to stand under the UCUNF banner and take the whip.

  • north belfast watcher

    Lady Hermon appears to be the sort of “decent person” that the UUP used to pride itself on representing. Unfortunately the current UUP leadership of Empey and Kennedy are too thick to see that. It would appear that Empey is more concerned with Sylvia as a potential threat to him, given that he will never have a seat in Westminster. She certainly has more guts than he does. She stood up to the leadership the last time they had a brainwave about getting into bed with paramilitary hoods (albeit slightly more polished ones) and hopefully she will come out and condemn the latest disgraceful link up between Nicholson’s campaign and the UDA.