Parsley Conservative Candidate for North Down, over to you Sylvia..

The BBC tells us that regular Slugger commenter Cllr Ian J Parsley, formerly of the Alliance Party, has been selected as the Conservative candidate for North Down. It will be up to the UUP/Conservative selection panel to decide whether he is their joint candidate in preference to the sitting MP for North Down, the independently minded Lady Sylvia Hermon – who has yet to declare her intentions. As the BBC report says

She now has several options:
• To change her mind about the electoral deal with the Conservatives and put herself forward as a candidate.
• To seek a special dispensation from the party leaderships which would allow her to stand for the UUP, outside of the pact.
• To walk away from the UUP and either stand as an independent or withdraw from politics entirely.

Only 1 and 3 are viable options, and 1 seems unlikely.

  • Option 1 would also require her constituency party selecting her as their option *against* Ian Parsley and that might be a lot more difficult than you’d expect for a sitting MP.

  • alan56

    Lady Sylvia could always back Parsley, stand for Assembly (even a future minister) or of course go to the Lords.

  • Greenflag

    So North Down will have a DUP , UCUNF , TUV , Alliance , and possibly an ‘independent ‘ Unionist -Lady Sylvia .

    Could it be possible for the SDLP to win this seat given fragmentation of the unionst vote ? Surely not SF ?

    Methinks Lady Sylvia will stand on her own merits i.e as an independent and will be re-elected and will be at Westminster when the UCUNF deal is a another failed memory .

    Unless of course she’s had enough of the game and is thinking retirement .

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Whatever she decides if the UUP end up with no seats it will surely be the end of Wee Reggie with panic in the ranks with the fear of further losses at Stormo.

  • DR

    first thing pete is you have 4 options up there not 3, no.2 is out as the UCU have to stand in every constuiency, no.1 is a long shot but as time has went on it is not out of the question, no.3 was always the likeliest outcome since the deal was first mooted, but no.4 could well be on her mind. when do ND pick their candidate? persume its not that far away, I sure we can be patient enough to wait a few more days and then all shall be clear, well a bit clearer..

  • Zoonpol

    She could join the Alliance Party 🙂

  • Dec

    I hope she stands (in whatever capacity).
    Therefore the people of North Down can choose between a politician of considerable principle or a smarmy, hyper-ambitious ship-jumping rat.

  • Big Bad Bob

    Delighted to hear it.

    Sylvia’s been a fine MP but she’s clearly had enough of Westminster.

    She should support Parsley, who will finally provide NI with some real representation at Westminster.

  • Bob wilson

    Dec you should moderate your language. Peter Weir is an upstanding MLA

  • Continental Drifter

    Agree with ALAN56.

    Sylvia plainly doesn’t want to be at Westminster any more, but she wants to represent North Down.

    She backs Parsley for Westminster, and she goes for Stormont where the link doesn’t apply. She’d be guaranteed a seat, an ongoing role doing what she loves, and indeed a ministry if she wanted one.

  • Garza

    I don’t why there is a big fuss is about this story.

    The Tories have to put a candidate in each seat as do the UUP, therefore by the pact the Tories have to put someone forward.

    I am quite excited by this U&C agreement.

  • @Greenflag. I think that is just wishful thinking even with a 5 way spilt on the non-Nationalist vote I still don’t see it splitting enough to allow the SDLP’s best 4.4% come into play. Don’t forget North Down has never elected an SDLP representative in any multi-member constituency wide election.

    Even when Marietta Farrell was in pole position (well 6th on 1st pref)to break that duck in 1998 she lost out to Jane Morrice.

  • LabourNIman

    1. I can’t see Sylvia joining the alliance party – this would mean she would have to take the Lib Dem whip in Westminster.

    2. Labour obviously haven’t been able to entice her to join.

    3. DUP will never win the seat in North Down, they just don’t like them. So it could be a good contest between Parsley and whatever nobody Alliance through at him

  • jone


    The ‘big fuss’ is the specific circumstances of North Down where the UUP appear to be heading towards the high risk tactic of not reselecting their only sitting MP.

  • Garza

    Jone it doesn’t say anywhere above that the UUP will not select Lady Hermon for North Down. It just says the tories have selected Parsley for North Down.

    the U&C will then choose between Parsley and whoever the UUP put forward (hopefully Hermon).

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Lady Hermon in Stormount either, she is a good politican and works hard for the people of North Down.

  • jone


    Do you honestly think that under the present circumstances the UUP could put Sylvia forward to the joint commmittee?

  • elvis parker

    Garza do you really see Hermon taking the Conservative Whip – the UUP could only short list her if she agreed to do so?

    She is a supporter of Labour and an admirer of Gordon Brown – not a great electoral platform these days

  • @LabourNIman re your Point 1, sorry, no Alliance MP would be compelled to take the Lib Dem whip. Unlike the UNCUNF pact, Alliance & Lib Dems are informally linked; membership of one does not assume the other, or preclude any other’s (if you follow me).

    Doubtful she’d accept any party’s whip as a quid pro quo anyway; more likely to go Independent (Unionist).

  • Richard Aardvark

    Whilst 100% behind UCUNF I think I’ll be physically sick if Parsley wins the nomination over Sylvia.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Is the reason the UU have shortened the length of their conference so that they can get a slot on the comedy channel?

    Does anybody think there will actually be any fist fights at the confernece – or will it just be (Sylvia’s) handbags?

  • Continental Drifter


    That’s an impossible position to hold and you know it.

    Sylvia has constantly voted with Labour, including on key votes.

    You cannot be both behind UCUNF and behind Sylvia.


    Sylvia hasn’t attended Conference for years.

  • Richard Aardvark

    Continental Drifter,

    Sylvia’s a Unionist who has often been the UUP’s conscience.

    Parsley is a sanctimonious turd who has frequently furnished both his anti-Unionist and UUP credentials on this site.

    I’ll go for the liberal over the united Irelander any day.

  • DC

    “2. Labour obviously haven’t been able to entice her to join.”

    It isn’t permissible for her to join as the party’s rule book and constitution needs amending for that to happen properly.

    Unless this is addressed by the powers that be then nothing can truly happen. It would of course merit consideration as it could become a refuge for the more Labour-minded Unionists out there on these shores.

  • LabourNIman

    Mr Ulster – Lib dems and alliance are ‘sister parties’ according to the lib dem website. My understanding is that they would take the whip. However, this is something only an alliance member can set straight

  • Observer

    Mr Parsley should be able to push a bit of cash towards his campaign given the generous sums of “consultancy” monies he has been reported as having received from the suckers in the Alliance Party. The biggest sucker is “Dr” Farry who as well as employing a very close relative as an assistant also is reported as having paid his fellow North Down Councillor around £17,000 for services rendered.Its amazing how the lilly white can appear a little grey when the spotlight of transparancy is shone on them. Anyone who votes for an opportunist turncoat and brazen user rather than supporting Lady Hermon needs their head looked at. She is probably the best and most dedicated MP from Northern Ireland unless anyone can suggest another name? The UUP has been led up a blind alley and they really do believe that their fortunes are going to change come the next Westminster election. Have any of their aspiring candidates or sitting members for the Assembly or the Super Councils looked beyond next May to evaluate the impact that a continuing pact with the Tories will make on their career. A number of names that have been plucked out of nowhere will run under the Tory ticket and get elected at the expense of quite a few sitting UUP representatives. Think about it boys and girls!! If they don’t accommodate Lady Hermon and put her forward as their North Down candidate then they are going to suffer the biggest humiliation in their history and there have been quite a few trip up’s for them in recent years. North Down will sound the final death knell of the UUP.

  • elvis parker

    ‘the best and most dedicated MP from Northern Ireland’ she may well be but what has she achieved?
    Like all NI MPs they sit on the sidelines (if they bother to turn up)
    Truth us all she does is prop up Labour

  • andrew white

    3. DUP will never win the seat in North Down, they just don’t like them……….

    really? in the last assembly election the DUP took 35% of the vote to the UUPs 24%

  • Standup

    The option Sylvia should choose is to persuade the Labour Party to let her stand as their candidate. Given their current ratings, I’m sure Gordon Brown would be very happy to have another recruit. But is Sylvia brave enough to stand up for her principles?

  • Cynic


    You are quite correct but that was before the people found out what the DUP are really like! They won’t take two Assembly seats next time around and if its been a dogfight up to now between their two sitting MLA’s watch the dirt fly closer to the event. Should be interesting.

  • Reader

    Richard Aardvark : I’ll go for the liberal over the united Irelander any day.
    At Westminster she voted for ID cards and 42 day detention, so she’s no liberal. Maybe she was kidnapped and replaced by a nu-labour clone a few years ago?

  • DC

    Standup – it should merit that or it would be worthy of quick change re rule book if it were anyone but Brown in Labour because the credentials are there. She would be very unionists for a Labour Party that’s been centrist-to-nationalist in flavour here. But a start’s a start.

  • Nomad


    “Labour obviously haven’t been able to entice her to join.”

    It isn’t permissible for her to join as the party’s rule book and constitution needs amending for that to happen properly.

    Unless this is addressed by the powers that be then nothing can truly happen.”

    That changed in 2006.

  • DC

    Nomad, as a point of clarification Labour as a Party Constituency Organisation is formed here in NI.

    Labour NI do not have a backing up clause XIV or XV permiting Parliamentary & Local Election candidates.

    This is the final hurdle and the *hopes* are for this to be squared off for NI local elections in 2011.

    Clearly Sylvia is an MP, she needs to stand as Parliamentary candidate so the expectation is that this clause is needed ASAP, not just hoped for through internal debates by 2011.

    Ergo, pronto pronto not manana manana. The word being: leadership (Brown?).

  • Greenflag

    stephen glenn

    ‘I think that is just wishful thinking even with a 5 way spilt on the non-Nationalist vote I still don’t see it splitting enough to allow the SDLP’s best 4.4% come into play. ‘

    Not so much wishful thinking more like winding my neck out a bit . Thanks for the numbers . I’ll wind it back in again ;). It sounds like it’ll be an interest contest for the ‘unionist ‘ vote either way

  • igor

    So let me see. The choice is between the proven Lady with a substantial local base and low in Parsley with a strong track record of no hope defeats.

    That should be a hard one to choose then, shouldn’t it.

    Don’t miss the obvious – that the Conservatives need to keep the integrity of their pact but in reality field a no hoper as they want her to win

  • Observer

    It has become pretty obvious that the deal Mr Parsley brokered to jump ship included the candidature for the Tories in North Down. It is equally obvious that the horse trading will ensure that if Lady Hermon does her own thing that it will be the Tory choice of candidate who will finally stand. Mr Parsley was given a salaried job by the Tories on a one year contract that will keep him in pocket money until after the election. If he had any sense I hope that he also secured pension rights!!
    This all means that the UUP will have to make their choice of a UUP candidate to go before the Grand Committee along with Mr Parsley for the eventual, and certain, rubber stamping of him as the joint candidate. I wonder how many Patsy’s will step forward from the UUP to put themselves through a selection process to become the token UUP nomination for the Committee to consider, ho ho ho. I would imagine that any UUP members who have the slightest titter of wit will steer well clear of that charade. That said I am sure that there will be a few Walter Mitty characters prepared to pump themselves up and give it a go.

  • Framer

    Lady Hermon’s expenses overpayment is explained below (plus the chutzpah of blaming the Commons Fees Office) yet this is an MP whose staff are paid over £90,000 p.a. to do such menial tasks:

    “She said she only discovered the error when she contacted the Fees Office on Monday.

    “Even though I immediately reimbursed the House of Commons with the £2,730, I remain profoundly upset and embarrassed,” she said.

    She said that she had written on the claim forms that she wanted them to be checked by the office.

    She told the BBC she had “naively assumed” that the Fees Office would have checked so was relaxed amid the furore over MPs expenses.

    But when she phoned the office she said she was shocked to learn that there had been an error.

    She also complained that the Fees Office had failed to apologise to her.

    …Asked about the claims of some Conservative MPs with whom her party is now affiliated for electoral purposes, Lady Hermon said claims for some items were “indefensible, immoral, cringe-making and outrageous” – BBC

  • walnutdeskandduprent


    and your point is??

  • Quincey

    Am i the only one who thinks that the whole palava gives a very realistic possibility of Peter Weir taking the seat??

    Irrespective of current discontent i nthe DUP bases, the TUV you would imagine would never be significant in the area, plus even a major decline in DUP vote would be offset between A hermon strong personal vote, a UUP vote base that would vote for a cow if it has the uup label, and a Parsley vote that has a reasonable personal basis in the area.

    Is this realistic at all?