“An Ulster Unionist spokeswoman declined to respond to Lady Hermon’s comments”

No word yet on the independently minded North Down MP Lady Sylvia Hermon’s intentions regarding the next general election, but the News Letter has her comments following the weekend UUP conference. From the News Letter report

On Saturday many party members played down the North Down MP’s absence, pointing out that she rarely attends the annual conference. But, explaining her absence, Lady Hermon said: “I’ve been made deeply unhappy by my party’s decision to align itself with the Tories. “It was a decision made without any prior consultation with me. My views about it are already well known. “Whilst I am truly sorry to have missed seeing many of my Ulster Unionist friends at yesterday’s conference, I simply couldn’t go along and pretend to endorse the New Force arrangements.”

, ,

  • disinterested observer

    A few points – the idea that the link up was done with her being consulted is a bare faced lie. She was a party to the discussions prior to anything being put to UUP Exec. She could have raised objections during the discussions or at either of the two meetings of the Executive Council that voted nearly unaimously in favour

    Secondly her contempt for the UUP is widely known – she has hardly ever attended conference and by speaking out in the middle of the Euro election she tried to sabotage her own party’s election campaign.

    Finally if she had any respect for her party or the electorate she would spell out what her objections are i.e. she would openly admit she is a Labour supporter who was spell bound by T Bliar

  • Standup

    As already mentioned on another topic, Sylvia Hermon should persuade the Labour Party to let her stand as their candidate.

    They’ve already stated that they will put up candidates in 2011. So why not test the waters by having one candidate in the General Election a year earlier?

    North Down has shown in the past that it is willing to embrace change e.g. Laurence Kennedy’s considerable vote in 1992, standing for the Conservatives. But is Sylvia brave enough to stand up for her principles and the Labour Party?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    ..and then there were none, zero, zilch.

  • granni trixie

    From the outside,it looks the UU always underestimated and undervalued Herman as their sole representtive in Westminster. Did she benefit from a party machine? Was she included in top level UU talks? You cannot leave the sexist culture in the UU out of the equation – further evidence of where it lags behind some other parties in tackling this issue. Plus how can potential voters take seriously claims of ‘a new party’ presumably with new ways when the UU cannot unite its own party elites and supporters?

  • alan56

    Lady Sylvia has been quite sensitively treated by UUP since becoming the ‘unwilling’ partner in the relationship with the Conservatives. I think they will need to clarify the position soon or it will become a big liability and make UCUNF look vulnerable. Optics of the weekend conference went well but action to clear the air once and for all is needed very soon. Either Lady Sylvia follows her party policy or consider her position within UUP.

  • Dev

    She doesn’t want to be a Tory, seems like a perfectly reasonable position. From some of the comments you’d assume she has committed some sort of thought crime by not wetting herself with excitment at the prospect of her party being subsumed/merged/twinned/whatever with Cameron & Co.

    If – as I presume will be the outcome – she has to leave the UUP it will be a loss to that party, she always struck me as a conciliatory, pragmatic figure – the type of person NI politics could do with more, not less, of.

    Ha! submit word is ‘outside’

  • Frustrated Democrat

    I think it is fair to say that there were about 600 at the conference of Saturday. Of those I suspect that 90%+ gave Hague a standing ovation and also Reg when he praised the pact.

    These are the most ardent and active Ulster Unionists and would I believe have contained many Orangemen and their families.

    There is apparently therefore widespread support for the Tory pact among grassroots Ulster Unionism and not for the Labour supporting position of Sylvia Hermon.

    It is also think it is reasonable to assume that North Down voters will not support a Labour leaning candidate in large numbers, evidence of which I am sure will feature large in any campaign

  • Garza

    Lady Sylvia is the darling of moderate unionism. If she cant stand under the Tory banner, then it would be sad to see her go.

    Would love her to stand as a Labour candidate though, but who would want to vote for Labour nowadays?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Garza,

    just condsider the absolutely delicous irony of the Tories joining up with a party in Norn Iron and UUP supporters telling us about their new, shiny and progressive alliance/merger/whathefeck-is-it and it resulting directly in their most progressive representavie and only MP doing a runner*.

    Leaving aside political ideology for a second, you seriously couldnt make it up, and if you add in political ideolgy it is seriously funny.

    *Gwan Sylv.

  • Joseph Addison

    There is no doubt that consultation took place and she promised to go with the democratic wishes of the party; but which party does the fair maiden give her loyalty to? Scottish Labour?. The problem is that confusion seems to be a tool in this particular member’s armoury “oh deary me I overclaimed the flat’s rent silly billy me!!Now can I do a Princess Di and blame everyone else and encourage the sympathy vote. Was it really 2004 that I was last in the Slieve Donnard ouch thats another oversight. The “Ordinary People” to quote my fellow Blairite Luvvies get locked up for telling porkies but not the Coyites.

  • andrew white

    the Tory takeover has been such a sucess that the UUP have actually lost their only MP, way to go reggie

  • Garza

    Nah sammy the ironic thing is that Lady Hermon rejects Cameron’s tories but voted along with New Labour when Cameron’s tories and New Labour are basically identical in idealogy.

  • Jack Ryan

    If she runs as an indo It will make North Down very interesting? You’d have to say she, DUP, UUP/Con with AP all having a good shot? I would however at this stage give her the edge, alliance voters likely to go her way and North Down has a history of electing non-big party MPs like Kilfeather & McCartney. By the way does anybody know has Bob hung up his political coat?

  • Joseph Addison

    MP’s are regularly deselected New Labour are always doing it. So whats new about North Down doing this? Anyway apparently the member is seeing the soup chef this week I am lead to believe. A right potage is to be expected with Horlicks to follow no doubt.

  • William

    I’m intrigued that so many are interested in the UUP / Conservative link-up….and much of it ill-informed and most of it bare-fared lies.

    However, I wonder why the Sylvia, who is only a Lady because her late husband was thought worthy [and rightly so] to receive a Knighthood due to his excellent work as Chief Constable of the RUC, didn’t bother to attend the Annual Conference from 2005 to date. There was no talk of a link up prior to 2008 and she couldn’t be bothered to attend.

    As a confirmed Ulster Unionist, I won’t lose any sleep if she doesn’t contest the next Westminster election on behalf of our party…..my only concern would be that North Down being the maverick constituency that it is, would elect Hermon as an Independent, considering their past form in electing Jim Kilfedder and Bob McCartney.

  • Being a former resident of North Down I am aware that Sylvia is an excellent constituency MP, which is probably responsible for her frequent absences at Westminster along with many other of our MPs there.

    And while I wouldn’t necessarily be upset if she kept the seat under another banner including Labour or independent, it would be abominable if the UUP continued to handle her with kid gloves and allowed her to remain under their banner, as some have suggested.

    And btw, was there any need for the “new force” reference in her latest comments? Seems a bit petty as I understand this is strictly the term used only on ballot papers and not in common parlance, or at least that’s how the party/parties would prefer it…

    Why Reg continues to put up with her behaviour, as a semi-detached member of the party, never attending conference and speaking out during the Euro campaign, I just don’t understand…

    He could have booted her out after her News Letter outburst, fair enough lost the only MP but shown he has some cojones and made a decisive move. The party ain’t gonna change it’s mind over the Tory link up because of her.

  • alan56

    William,

    I seem to remember reporting stories where lady Sylvia was very annoyed by ‘decent people’ campaign. She has a reputation for being ‘independent minded’ which can be seen as a laudable trait… others I have spoken to would refer to it as a serious problem of discipline and loyalty ! Any until now I do not think any of the political journalists were queing up to get her ‘take’ on issues of the day. She was always pretty much in the background. Mabe she is enjoying her day in the sun!

  • DC

    New Farce.

  • Rory Carr

    I see from post No. 7 above that Frustrated Democrat’s support for this UUP pact with the Tories is a bit luke-warm.

    Pity, with just a bit more fulsome praise he might have convinced me of its merits.

  • William

    Don’t worry Rory…..whatever way Sylvia goes, she certainly won’t be supporting your ideas !!!

    Furthermore, what business is it of dissident Republicans what the Unionist party does or who they link up with?

    I seem to sense fear amongst everyone from the DUPes to Alliance, to the Provos, to the Stoopes, to the Dissidents. Wee McNally is wetting himself!!!

    That fear would suggest that what the Ulster Unionists are doing is correct …..resurrecting a link up with our fellow Unionists in GB, with whom they had a relationship for over 80 of their 100+ years existence as a party.

  • Comrade Stalin

    It is also think it is reasonable to assume that North Down voters will not support a Labour leaning candidate in large numbers, evidence of which I am sure will feature large in any campaign

    FD:

    Bob McCartney indicated back in 1995 that he would consider taking the Labour whip. Alliance tried to use this to attack him. It did not work. I would therefore regard it as a mistake to believe that the North Down electorate are hostile to Labour, or at the very least that sympathy to Labour is a turnoff in an election candidate.

    Been there, seen it, done it old chap.

    Jonathan:

    And btw, was there any need for the “new force” reference in her latest comments? Seems a bit petty as I understand this is strictly the term used only on ballot papers and not in common parlance, or at least that’s how the party/parties would prefer it…

    I find it fascinating that the UCUNF organization gave itself this name and is going round asking everybody not to use it, perhaps belatedly becoming aware of how ridiculous it sounds. A bit like calling New Labour, I think reference to the full term usefully and succinctly expresses the cynicism many of us feel about it.

    Me, I think Sylvia is less annoyed about the Tory hookup and more annoyed that, as the sole MP, she wasn’t consulted about it or kept involved in any of the negotiations over it. I am not sure how credible UCUNF’s claims to moderation can be if the party cannot find a way to hold on to an established, moderate, and well regarded MP.

  • iluvni

    The Lady should be kicked out on her arse.

  • elvis parker

    Comadre Stalin you alliance chaps really dont know much do you. Think about the differecnes between 1995 and 2009. In 1995 the Tories had been in power for ages and were discredited. Labour were New (literally!)
    Fast forward to 2009. Labour are discredited. Many people in North Down have negative equity and many pensioners have send their pensions ruined – all by Gordo and Labour
    Yet Sylvia just thinks Gordon is unlucky
    LOL
    Run Sylvia run. Please!

  • Drumlins Rock

    mite I suggest that we be patient, the UUP selection has to be coming soon, standing on a joint ticket with the Tories is not compulsory so she cannot put her name forwards without a change of heart, however maybe she will remain a UUP MP up till the election and choose to opt out of westminister gracefully, sometihng she is fully entitled to do and may reap rewards in otherways in the future. Being an independant cant be that easy, yes I know she is alone atm, (appart from a few lords) but the party structure is still there and necessary espically around election time, I would think the chances of her signing up to Labour are slim, and the one things she must not do is get elected as an independant and then join Labour.

  • Jo

    One has to ask , if it is true that she wasn’t involved, as the sole MP, in the discussions leading to the merger, what was the motivation for this?

    Something intrinsic to her, or a perception/strategy of her by the leadership?

    On one level, a timely merger with the party likely to form the next govt was an excellent strategic ploy – for the first, UUs can form part of the cabinet. But to not have any MPs in conjunction with that “success”? Then again, Mr mandelson shows you don’t have to be an MP to be a powerful Minister…? Food for thought..

  • alan56

    Drumlins Rock
    Patience is not a virtue with an election coming. Press together with other political parties will see this as a’stress point’ which they will keep probing.

  • andrew white

    makes you think why IJP joined the Tories and not the UUP. With the Tories he was virtually guaranteed to be their candidate, join the UUP and he could lose out to Sylvia.

  • disinterested observer

    Sylvia scored another serious own goal by basically signalling that walking her dog was more important to her than the views of her own party.
    Radio Ulster was very interesting – people have some sympathy with her but dont agree with her

  • fin

    OMG, speaks her mind, goes against authority and walks her dog in the middle of a crisis, Sylvia Hermon is Roy Keane

  • Jo

    Fin’s post above, this IS the constituency that elected 2 renegades: Jim Kilfedder and Robt UK Unionist I’ll stand in several constituencies and still lose 1 man party.

    The former at least did some constituency work to justify his independent status. The longer term impact on the area is yet to be seen, bearing in mind no other part of NI elected a truly Green candidate, whose success is unlikely to be repeated in a non-PR election..

  • Framer

    Just what is this constituency work which everyone believes is so vital?

    Going to events locally is fine but your job as an MP is to be at events in Westminster.

    MPs are basically powerless outside of exerting influence at Westminster and trading their vote.

    John Hume got jobs etc for Derry because the DFA in Dublin did it for him.

    Otherwise Jim Kilfedder achieved next to nothing locally, apart from re-election, nor indeed has Lady Hermon that I know of.

    Conning the electorate as to your popularity is fine in relation to re-election but it gets no no babies washed.

  • pete whitcroft

    Lady Sylvia under any banner save BNP, SF or SDLP will hold the seat.
    What seats can UCUNF be sure of?
    East Belfast No, Strangford No, North Belfast No, Lagan valley No, Upper Bann No, any of the Antrims No,East Derry No, Upper Bann No, South Belfast maybe.
    Lady Sylvia could beat Reg & Cameron.
    And I think she knows it, as do the DUP.
    Then what of the Euro triumph?

  • John East Belfast

    Comrade

    “I am not sure how credible UCUNF’s claims to moderation can be if the party cannot find a way to hold on to an established, moderate, and well regarded MP”

    What rubbish – Her differences are about the traditional Tory v Labour debate – nothing to do with moderation in the context of NI politics

    Anyhow what does it say about the AP when it cant hold onto a established, moderate and well regarded Councillor like Ian Parsley ?

    “Bob McCartney indicated back in 1995 that he would consider taking the Labour whip. Alliance tried to use this to attack him. It did not work. I would therefore regard it as a mistake to believe that the North Down electorate are hostile to Labour, or at the very least that sympathy to Labour is a turnoff in an election candidate.

    Been there, seen it, done it old chap.”

    You really are deluded – it “didnt work” because the AP couldnt hold a candle to Bob McCartney even if he said he was going to take the Communist Party whip.

    Bob McCartney won because he was the best unionist at the time – he was articulate, smart and had the gravitas for the ND electorate.

    ND is primarily a Pro Union seat and then it is Northern Ireland’s safest Tory seat.

    As for Lady Hermon she is highly regarded in her own field but at a Party level she has wasted the opportunity to provide lead and direction. I have been in the Party over 10 years and I have never heard her speak once – anywhere or on anything. Even during the viscious Pro and Anti Agreement debates

    If she has a problem with the Tory link up I would have loved to have heard her speak about it – staying away from things and saying she isnt happy about it is not the way to present your case.

  • Jo

    “If she has a problem with the Tory link up I would have loved to have heard her speak about it ”

    Fair point – what is the source for her views, if she hasn’t ever spoken about this publicly?

  • Drumlins Rock

    John has raised the issue of Lady Slyvia’s “leadership qualities” there has certainly been little sign of those during her career with her local constituency work being touted as her main and really only achievement, can she, or she even want to go it alone and found another party?

  • granni trixi

    re ‘darling of unionism’- what a myth.

    Sylvia (as was, Paisley) was the ‘darling’ of previous UU leader who plucked her from nowhere to be the candidate – presumably because he had worked with her and knew her and it was handy to have a connection to the RUC. As far as I know, she had no track record in politics previously (think she did campaign to keep open the private school her children attended).

    So therein lies a problem manifest at the weekend where her judgement did not tell her she must attend the conference to explain her views.

    Having not worked through UU party ranks she has not learnt pragmatism and how to deal with differences in her own political party. She only knows how to do ‘stand alone’. So be it.

  • elvis parker

    What has Sylvia achieved POLITICALLY?
    She may be a good constituency worker but we have 6 MLAs and loads of Councillors to do the social work.
    Politically her attendance record is poor, she supports Labour.
    Poilitcal achievments? None what so ever

    Come to think of it what political views does she have? Does she blame Gordon for the negative equity in NI or the destruction of pensions?

  • igor

    You are all reading too much into this

    Just ask yourself the question “What would I rather do. Walk the dogs in driving rain or spend the afternoon at the UUP Conference?”

    See..Simples!!

  • igor

    ” The Lady should be kicked out on her arse.”

    Ah … I see the Alliance voter is in today

  • YelloSmurf

    I can’t see Sylvia losing it because she is a popular constituancy MP with a strong personal vote. Constituancy work counts for a lot in the minds of the electorate because it is what gives them a personal connection to thier public representative and they remember that thier MP (or MLA or Councillor) sorted thier housing or dealt with thier planning concerns or helped thier local school.

    A good piece of casework, done well, will give an elected representative more Kudos than anything in the House of Commons, where they are simply a face on the back benches.

  • Joseph Addison

    The first thing you have to do is buy a ticket if you want to win the lottery. This the Lady has failed to do,it is said she inhabits an Ivory Tower and totally ignores her collegues and any overtures apart from certain Labour MPs. This is a charade that is a mere sideshow, and WHO cajoled her into voting for the 42 Days and all the other misguided Labour bills she has gone into the Labour Lobbies for. Were these daft exspeditions launched after consulting her party leadership? Not B….. Likely. Deselect PDQ.

  • Comrade Stalin

    John EB:

    What rubbish – Her differences are about the traditional Tory v Labour debate – nothing to do with moderation in the context of NI politics

    Personally I think it goes a bit deeper than that.

    Anyhow what does it say about the AP when it cant hold onto a established, moderate and well regarded Councillor like Ian Parsley ?

    It was Ian who changed his mind, not the party. With Sylvia, it’s the other way around. Someone obviously decided either that she didn’t count, that she wasn’t worth consulting, or that she was expendable.

    You really are deluded – it “didnt work” because the AP couldnt hold a candle to Bob McCartney even if he said he was going to take the Communist Party whip.

    John, please read my comments in context. Frustrated Democrat said that Sylvia being close to Labour might harm her in what is perceived to be a traditionally Conservative-ish seat. I pointed out that McCartney’s talk of the Labour whip, and Alliance’s efforts to talk this up, had no effect. I did not say that this was why the party lost that election.

    ND is primarily a Pro Union seat and then it is Northern Ireland’s safest Tory seat.

    It is also, actually, the seat where Alliance has come closest to getting an MP.

    Joseph, the party leadership did not consult Sylvia about the Tory hookup and apparently kept her out in the cold. That might explain why she’s pissed off.

  • DW

    Comrade Stain @ 09:59 PM. “Joseph, the party leadership did not consult Sylvia about the Tory hookup and apparently kept her out in the cold. That might explain why she’s pissed off.”

    Hell has no fury than a woman’s scorn.

  • disinterested observerr

    Comadre and DW – as I pointed out in post No. 1 the idea that she was not consulted in simply not true

  • John East Belfast

    Comrade

    “Personally I think it goes a bit deeper than that.”

    Please tell me because to me it is nothing more complex than Lady Sylvia being Pro Labour and anti Tory – not a dishonorable position but I just wish she would argue her case

    “It is also, actually, the seat where Alliance has come closest to getting an MP.”

    It is also the seat where the Tories came closet – people forget Laurence Kennedy.
    I was always of the impression that Oliver Napier in East Belfast was where you came closest but I will tyake your word on it.

    With all due respect though I think ND is a Tory Pro Union seat. It is not Lib Dem and it isnt nationalist – such parties will only prosper in a split vote scenario.

    Settling aside the AP coldness to the Union your policy of pushing the UK into the Euro is another ND vote loser.

    Joseph ?