UUP: Another one bites the dust…

The Banbridge Chronicle today notes the departure of Harry Hamilton, who put the frighteners on DUP incumbent in Upper Bann in the last Westminster election in May and against the trend slightly raised the party’s share of the vote.

Instead the veteran Sam Gardiner (who was – many many moons ago – the youngest ever Mayor of Lurgan) gets to run alongside newbie politico Colin McCusker, son of former MP Harold…

That by my calculation brings the total of disaffected Westminster candidates from the UUP to three… Of all those new candidates, only Mike Nesbitt seems to have the backing of the new leadership, and looks like he might pull in something from the DUPs embarassment of riches in Strangford next May.

The UUP seems likely to remain the conservative male only club it always has been.

  • alan56

    Harry Hamilton showed real promise as a credible representative for UUP. The draw of the MLA’s salary is proving very seductive and hard to give up in some cases. Now the standard bearer for the ‘new crop’ of potential MLA’s is Lesley Mcaulay in East Londonderry. Could the party grandees dare to get up to something here too. Surely not!

  • HeinzGuderian

    The UUP seems likely to remain the conservative male only club it always has been.

    I should think so too !!

  • Barry the Blender

    The UUP seems likely to remain the conservative male only club it always has been.

    I’m not exactly sure that comment really fits into this thread: considering they deselected a sitting MALE MLA and are now running a WOMAN in Upper Bann

  • Jo-Anne Dobson?

  • Mick, the Chronicle link has this: “Inside this week’s edition of the Banbridge Chronicle read about Jo-Anne Dobson selected by UUP while ‘brand names’ are left out….”

  • Francis Hutcheson

    Harry’s performance in the General Election was very credible and demonstrated all that is positive about the Unionist position. The subsequent airing of the documentary following his campaign, which showed Harry to be a man of conviction and integrity, should have copper-fastened his name on the ticket next year … any other party would be delighted to have someone like him representing them!

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    The story did not actually open up for me. Yes I actually tried to open a link.
    But Mr Fealty slightly overstates Mr Hamiltons impact in May. The DUP were always very confident especially as David Simpson was ambiguous enough to keep the TUV out of the race and ambiguous enough on the doorstep to keep waverers on board.
    I noticed on a recent trip to the constituency that there were posters indicating Mr Hamiltons alter egos “Flash Harry” in a venue that one normally does not associate with UUP candidates.
    So fair play to him.
    I have always assumed that Joanne Dobson was a relation (granddaughter?) of old West Down MP John Dobson (not the worst for that time) so ever since Ive seen her name appear it seemed likely she would make it to the Assembly.
    Like Ive said the story doesnt open for me but am I right this means three candidates McCusker, Gardiner and Dobson.
    As Ive raised the issue on several threads, AP need to be wary about an import of “conservatives” and/or “unionists” taking them to the Right and leaving a flank open to attack from SDLP. They would of course gain more than they lose in terms of votes and conceivably seats. And if Mr Hamilton was to jump their way.it might just bring them a quota.
    A big capture for same reason would be Ms Macauley in East Derry.
    Now there ARE victims.
    Frankly there is no need for AP to offer Paula Bradshaw a fast track. She wont deliver them many more votes in South or East Belfast or Strangford.
    There is a logic in offering Ms Macauley a fast track but this would be hard on AP veteran Barney Fitzpatrick.
    Fast tracking in South And East Belfast and around would be hard on long time party activists like Maire Hendron and Geraldine Rice or newcomers like Andrew Muir who would be pushed down the pecking order. They deserve better.
    And Mr Hamiltons fast tracking would be possibly more acceptable as the May candidate was Mr Heading from Carrickfergus I believe.
    Yet in a sense this is bad news to the likes of Mr Heading, Michael Bower (Bangor) and Keith McGrellis (Belfast) who with some distinction raised the AP banner west of the Bann.
    They deserve rewarded by being offered winnable (at least) council seats in their own areas. They have earned that right. Naturally they will take a personal hit for the Party but possibly not what they enviasaged.
    So……the spotlight (not for the first time) falls on “Flash Harry”.

  • Barry the Blender

    Isn’t she one?

  • BBC says Gardiner, Dobson and McCusker.

    A month ago the local association, according to the BBC, put McCusker as their number one preference, followed by Dobson, Gardiner, Savage and Hamilton. All five names were forwarded to the selection committee: local association members and HQ folks.

  • has harry left the party i thought it was just that he hadnt being selected.which still means harry is a member still of the uup

  • Stephen Ferguson

    Totally agree.

    Harry’s the kind of man who should be sitting on the UUP’s top table.

    Politicians like him, Paula Bradshaw, Basil McCrea and Trevor Ringland are the kind of people who can appeal to the ever growing catholic Unionist constituency in NI.

    Unfortunately the party seems to want to go the other way and fight the DUP for the traditional Unionist vote.

    A big mistake.

  • emanonon

    The drift to the past in the UUP is becoming more noticable by the day. Where will all the moderate refusniks go to ply their trade? They have no future in the UUP and are not really the types to join the Alliance party like Bradshaw.

    Where are the Tories when you need them, their silence is deafening?

    Have they vanished? Are they plotting? Does anyone know? Does anyone care?

  • has harry resigned from the uup,? because nothing is mentioned about him leaving the party.

  • slug


    Mind you, I do think they missed a gem with Paula Bradshaw.

  • slug

    Harry would have been great. But this is not top driven is it? Its the local party voting on these things.

  • Stephen Ferguson

    Hopefully a new, centre-right, small ‘u’ unionist party is in the offing.

    Well I can dream anyway……

  • chewnicked

    Another one bites the dust.
    It’s a kinda tragic that Harry had to wait on the hammer to fall.
    (I’ll get me coat on the way out.)

  • Framer

    If you worked hard for her during the election and she ups and departs to another party, gem would not be the word that springs to mind.

    The Alliance Party can have her although I suspect they aren’t that enamoured suspecting the package may yet include the wandery Ian Parsley.

  • MMX

    The UUP have selected 70plus years old Sammy Gardiner for Upper Bann as their lead Assembly candidate. Colin McCusker some cynics might say has been chosen on purely sentimental reasons because of his late father. Also did not his father launch a fund to challenge Articles 2 and 3 of the Irish Constitution what happened to this money? Did it dissapear into the Labyrinth of the 54 alleged bank accounts that presumably lead to the demise of Will Corry, was sum of the money used to seal his lips with a non disclosure clause.
    Joanne Dobson is one of the Great Leader’s disciples and is currently in the pay of the taxpayer as a member of Consevative and Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson’s staff.
    Harry Hamilton is left unrewarded in spite of his masterful Westminster campaign. In spite of being selected at the very last minute. George Savage has been rejected as in fact Gardiner should have been on age alone reasons.
    Elliott is seen as an Orange Traditionalist not wanting any of the cerebral thinking moderate wing near him.Outside of Upper Bann Colin McCusker has no profile whatsoever.

  • harry has not left the uup merely not being selected this time round.its no big deal

  • nope harry hasnt bitten the dust hes still a member of the uup

  • have you joined alliance slug.? harry is still a member of the uup and theres alaways next time round.

  • The Raven

    In agreement with all….such a huge mistake.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Let’s face it Paul, if you say something is going to happen it significantly shortens the odds on it taking place.

  • slug

    Nope-not joined Alliance.

  • IJP

    Frances has it right.

    Just when you think the Ulster Unionists can’t do anything even more stupid on candidate selection, they manage it.

    Such a party, or any party still contemplating any kind of deal with it, is not worthy of anyone’s support.

    Harry was the outstanding player of the campaign – hard-working, genuine, able (and needless to say outstanding entertainment). We need more like him in politics, not fewer.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Thats true……UUP have shown poor judgement in candidate selection.
    But some candidates show poor judgement in Party selection.
    Some do it more than once. 🙂

  • i take it then you are saying not just the uup but the tories which you are a member of ian are not worthy of anyones support.clarication needed ian dont forget as it stands the tories are still as we speak contemplating some kind of link/deal with the uup thats if you know something we dont and the link or any deals are over.clarication to my points please ian

  • Comrade Stalin

    “As far as I am concerned UCUNF is now at an end.” Tom Elliott

  • MMX

    The sooner the NI Conservatives, The UUP moderate wing and the pro British Alliance members get together and form an altruistic One Nation grouping affiliated to the Conservative Party the better. Campbell and his cabal have dragged the name Unionist through the dirt and made Conservatives a disadvantaged name to the broad electorate locally. 500000 non voters, who feel pro British but disenfranchised by the sectarian head count, are the key to power in this country.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    everybody wants to claim the 500,000 as their own or disenfranchised and pro union.

  • Stephen Ferguson

    Who do the tens of thousands of pro-UK catholics in NI vote for though?

    Orange Order linked UUP, religious fundamentalists in the DUP, UVF linked PUP or the non-Unionist Alliance?

    They don’t seem to have anyone to vote for.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    It just seems a remarkably optimistic view that the formation of a single party (NI Conservatives, the moderate UUP types and the pro British part of AP) will so enthuse the 500,000 non voters (who are all pro union apparently) that they will immediately form large lines at polling stations and vote for this party.
    Now….I expect if that was seen to be correct……all the elements you mention would actually form that party as presumably you cant be the only one who has thought it thru to this logiccal conclusion….as you alone see it.

  • Georgia

    Hopefully the Conservatives?

  • Insider

    Firstly the UUP being wedded to democratic principles allowed the Upper Bann Consituency to hear all candidates and vote.

    Colin McCusker by far out shone the rest (on his own merit with little reference to his father who died 20 years ago!)followed by Joanne Dobson.

    Any polticial party will approach the electorate with experience and new candidates and thats exactly what the UUP are doing in Upper Bann, two new candidates plus one experienced candidate. The team also brings an up and coming UUP women onto the ticket thus giving the electoate the best range of candidates.

    The only dissappointment is that Harry didn’t make it – but there never was going to be 3 new candidates on the slate so one of the three was going to lose out – it happens, its politics

    Credit where credit is due the UUP may actually have got this one right!

  • why on earth would harry join a rabble outfit such as the ni tories,who polled a pathatic 3000 votes right across ni the last time they stood.what a mad suggestion

  • have you lost leave of your senses yet another crazy idea.its never going to happen the tories here are finished

  • Granni Trixie

    Dear God please let Flash Harry join Alliance…..
    (my wee prayer at bedtime).

  • cynic47

    The difference between Harry and some of the others in the news at the moment is that he is the type of person who would ask what he could do for the party as opposed to what can the party do for him. I don’t see him doing head over heel changes in principle just to get his name on a ballot paper.

  • dennis

    just like the uup

  • redhugh78

    Ever growing catholic unionist constituency?

    Any evidence for that?

  • Seymour Major

    Harry Hamilton’s initials abbreviate to Ha. Ha. He must have inherited his talent for comedy from his parents!

    I hope he joins the Conservative Party. We might not be allowed to put up candidates but at least Harry would liven up our Christmas Party.

  • Stephen Ferguson
  • Drumlins Rock

    Ok, I hate to bring in reality and spoil your fun, but think we need to clear up a few things.
    Firstly Harry was unfortunate this time, but that’s politics, the first election you have to win is selection by your local association, and with these the speech on the night is often the clincher, Harry came 4th and was very close to Sam so realistically the party panel could have went for either but chose Sam for several reasons I imagine,
    firstly, he did get a higher vote than Harry, that’s simple.
    secondly, he is a sitting MLA, and you would basically be sacking him, doing it to one “stalward” was prob hard enough.
    thirdly, he is still a popular figure in the area, and Harry really should have did better in Westminster.
    As for the other two selected, they were the first choices locally, and although also associated with Lurgan, Colin would have a strong Portadown connection, and Jo-Anne is closer to Banbridge.
    Harry was unfortunate but hopefully his chance will come yet.

  • thanks seems that has shut up a few of the distractors and trolls.

  • Vada

    That’s very well said Drumlin, and thank you for it, as I was getting increasingly irritated as I read down the comments.

    I am perplexed by the quality of the journalism above however, and although I neither know nor care what Mick’s political views happen to be, his ommission of Jo-anne Dobsons selection perhaps indicates a dislike of the UUP. Downright shoddy IMHO…………..

    Although its not only here, the remainder of NI tend to be found wanting……How Robbo is telling like it is and in touch with the people for getting discounted canteens off the menu at Stormont……grow a pair, and tell it as it is, a tiny fraction of the mess they are in and not to mention all those jobs for the boys & gals up on the hill…..what % are the advisors up in the last 5 years? A couple of those salaries would perhaps cover most of the cheap stew on offer……..or is it perhaps OFMDFM control the purse strings, and these jounralists pander to them in case there is a move from printed ad’s and into the real world of cost savings and the internet!!!

  • Drumlins Rock

    Can also just add that perception that Tom Elliott leadership is somehow “anti-Progressive” dosnt exist in reality, if anyone can define what the phrase actually means. In Fermanagh and South Tyrone Tom’s running mate (subject to final confirmation) will be Kenny Donaldson, a young and progressive member, certainly not a “DUP Lite” character but someone who is willing to challenge the sterotypes where necessary.

  • Lyman

    May not be as much of a dream as you think!

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Well thats true…….but surely just a little “spin” involved as well. I think we can all reasonably say that FST result is a foregone conclusion. There will be no surprises.
    SF 2 SDLP 1 UUP 1 DUP 2
    So Elliott has the necessary running mate to hoover up some votes that he may not get (which go to him as #2), placate one of the Partys younger folk (the liberals).
    But in reality if the UUP was serious about a second seat in FST, they would select a man or woman with South Tyrone roots (to balance the ticket)……..a man from South Armagh is tokenism.

  • drumlins rock

    FJH, thats the idea I know, but Kenny has been working in Fermanagh for a few yrs now and I think will prob be resident there by election time, obviously its not going to be easy winning a seat back but I think he has a good chance and its not just tokenism. Tom didnt need his votes the last time to get in, being just 32 votes under a quota. At the end of the day it will take about 1,200 voters to switch from DUP to UUP, got our work cut out but its doable.

  • Alan N/ARDS

    Looks like the UUP are on the road to oblivion. At least in Strangford there will be one excellent candidate. Mike Nesbitt. Shame his running mate is going to be McNarry! Maybe Strangford could parachute Harry in at the last moment and dump McNasty. Might even vote UUP if that was to happen.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Drumlins Rock,
    Do-able but I suggest unlikely.
    As always the nomination papers will be an interesting indication of who is really backing him to the hilt and who is going thru the motions.
    Even if my (and just about every analysts/anoraks) arithmatic is wrong there is only three “pro union seats there) and that means 2:1 or 1:2.
    Im inclined to think that if Ms Foster had stayed within UUP there would be 2:1 in their favour (albeit with no “Tyrone” MLA).
    I have no insight into how her defection plays with her previous voters down there. Its complex……not least because Ms Foster who I understand is Church of Ireland (?) does not fit the traditional DUP profile….complex geography with two very different council areas and (as I used to live in that constituency) a curious hereditary system of the same families always seemingly involved.

  • Drumlins Rock

    you can vote nesbitt no1 and then transfer to anyone or no-one after that, dosnt mean you will help “McNasty” in fact your vote could be the decider between the two of them….

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Mike Nesbitt….now I think he must be the one person irritated by the whole UUP fiasco. More than Ringland and Bradshaw…..he was the very face of the whole “new” UPFCU thing and as Irisgate unfolded he must have been checking out flats to rent in London.
    Then it all went extremely wrong.
    I think Mike Nesbitt of UTV would be exactly the kinda interviewer who would have little or no time for a Tom Elliott.
    Now Nesbitt is reduced to being the loyal front man …..put up to grin inanely at the camera to tell a former UTV colleague that the UUP is not divided.
    But what exactly lies ahead for UUP…and Nesbitt.
    Curiously the strength of the Partys executive lies in the west and its electoral strength in the East.
    They go into this Assembly Election……divided (never a good sign) with 18 seats. And out with……well too early to do the maths.
    But still divided. Having formented division and secured UUP support to get elected, one or two new MLAs will have a (pre planned) crisis of confidence and leave the Party but not the Assembly.
    Elliott resigns.
    And Mike Nesbitts time has come.
    Gin and tonics all around.

  • Drumlins Rock

    FJH, it would be miracle for 4 Unionist seats to appear, we can dream lol. The only other theoretic upset would be McHugh or a similar candidate doing better than expected.
    Remember fermanagh out weighs the tyrone bit 2:1 and thats not counting Fivemiletown, one of the strongest Unionist wards looks towards fermanagh. There is no real tensions between the two parts so far as I can see.
    Arelene certainly took alot of votes with her and has a high profile, but Tom’s increased profile should cancel that out, Kenny wil obviously concentrate on ST, and has the full backing of the party, I’m guessing the nomination papers will be party officers from both associations. BTW he also is a CoI, but then they do outnumbers us presbys in this part of the country.

  • MMX

    What are the Odds on the UUP winning more than 12 seats??

  • always ulster

    if the tuv chooses 2 fight F/ST then you would persume the gap between the DUP and UUP would narrow..then its down till TUV transfer who would take the 3rd seat..i suspect the UUP could clinch it. Watch out Maurice, your assembly days are numbered!

  • always ulster

    how many seats will TU V win?

  • Drumlins Rock

    One if lucky, and would give JA a 50/50 on that one, UUP should be able to pick up one or two, with only a couple looking vulnerable. but a week is….

  • john greene

    Eh because they have 300 MPs two dozens MEPs and oh yeah they are the Govt of the UK?
    Perhaps Harry is a Unionist and wants normal poltics?

  • Cushy Glenn

    I’m sick to death of hearing about these moderate Unionists thousands-RC, or Bangor based middle class generally. There’s no evidence that they have ever existed, and let’s face it, from Trimble onward enough effort has been made to hook them. There sure ain’t 500,000 who care enough to vote for anything- that liberal one time voter tide maxed in the referendum at perhaps 100,000- and to be blunt any Catholic Unionists who ended up with the UUP seemed to move on quickly when their careers didnt take off as expected
    I’d be prepared to bet at least as many stay at homes are in fact hard liners who haven’t a sane TUV candidate to vote for, or who can’t warm enough to Jim’s personality
    and the UUP isn’t linked to the orange order, as posted by Stephen Ferguson- yet when Trimbleism brought about the severance of the link did it reap any harvest of guilties, wishy washies, or ultra-montanist One nationers

  • Francis Hutcheson


    I keep hearing this “500,000 non-voting Unionist” line.

    The reason the local Tories will get nowhere is they actually believe such claptrap.

    Notwithstanding what I’ve said above, the UUP will still get 75,000+ votes and will likely win 14-18 seats. The Tories, having walked away from NI as soon as the going got tough, stained their brand with sectarianism, and then introduced the cuts, will be lucky to get the 3,000 votes they got last time.

    The fact is when people turned away from the DUP in East Belfast they went to the Alliance Party. Bradshaw went to the Alliance Party. I wouldn’t rule out Granni‘s prayers being answered either.

    The Tories have dithered too long. They’re finished.

  • MMX

    Well where isyour money? lets get someone to run a book and get some odds posted.Furthermore how do you know the Tories have gone? Give the PM time to look at Tom’s late delivered homework. Apparently it was so bad his parents Mr and Mrs Cabal would not let him post it and he had to send it by Orange.

  • Stephen Ferguson


  • dwatch

    MX `What are the Odds on the UUP winning more than 12 seats??

    Reply: Evens they win 13 seats.

  • Seymour Major


    Would I be right in suggesting that seats the UUP are most likely to lose would be in Upper Bann, Antrim Eeast, Mid Ulster, North Down, Belfast South, South Down and Belfast North?

  • Drumlins Rock

    there is still a chance a 4th seat could go Nationalist, so TUV unlikely to stand, and they would get hell on the door steps for the “12 spoilt votes”, they prob will vote for Tom lol.

  • Stephen Ferguson
  • in my view the uup seats at risk are upper bann north belfast south down east antrim north antrim with possible gains in west tyrone and strangford and south antrim.I think however things will cancel themselves out and the uup will return 18 seats they have at present thats if they have a fair wind on the day a bad day and the uup could return 12 seats which i have to admit is the end o the party.