Nesbitt on Unionist unity and the Westminster election

Ahead of the UUP Conference on Saturday, Irish News political correspondent, John Manley sat down with the party leader, Mike Nesbitt to discuss Unionist unity and the upcoming Westminster elections.

Let’s begin with the UUP target seats for the upcoming election that Nesbitt thinks are ripe for his party

He identifies DUP-held South Antrim and Upper Bann as seats where the UUP is most likely to prosper, but admits that success elsewhere is likely to rely on a pact of some kind.

Earlier in the Summer, Manley reveals that Nesbitt reached out to the SDLP but eceived a “cool response.” The aim was to make some sort of trade-off involving Alasdair McDonnell’s seat and the Sinn Féin-held Fermanagh-South Tyrone.

Nesbitt argues;

It would send out a huge message to unionism that the most westerly constituency in the United Kingdom is no longer in Sinn Féin hands but is back in unionist hands…Could that have been done through an understanding with the SDLP? We will never know.


Nesbitt also voices concern that after next May’s general election, unionism will be unrepresented in Belfast’s four Westminster constituencies. He explained his worry that North Belfast could fall to Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly at the next election.

For Nesbitt, being a proper Unionist means that “you’re not simply obsessed with your own party that’s where your focus should be…Yes, it would mean our candidates standing aside but we will do what’s right for Northern Ireland.”

Interestingly when it comes to East Belfast, Nesbitt refused to rule out his wife, Lynda Bryans as a candidate for the upcoming elections. Perhaps that will give Naomi Long a sigh of relief as she prepares to defend her marginal seat.

The full interview is in todays Irish News

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  • Morpheus

    Tell me, if SF came out and condemned each depressing murder is that supposed to give republicans the warm fuzzy feeling that their side was doing the right thing?

    I am with Carl – seldom did I hear condemnation of loyalist killings from political unionism over the years. It took until late 2013 to get this for goodness sake:

  • Paddy Reilly

    The 2011 Assembly results for Upper Bann were

    SF 11,528
    DUP 11,499
    UUP 10,426
    SDLP 4,846
    Alliance 2,765
    TUV 1,026
    UKIP 272

    So theoretically, SF would win in a General Election in which it was facing two Unionist candidates. So much for Unionist pacts? What I imagine this means is an exercise in blackmail, i.e. the UUP will withdraw in Upper Bann if the DUP does in South Antrim.

  • carl marks

    Yes the DUP condemned republican violence every time it happened but and i repeat they very rarely if ever condemned loyalist violence, please point us towards the two national papers you looked up.
    unless you can produce evidence to counter the evidence produced by others on this thread and my own experience then i think we are done here.

  • carl marks

    “He [Paisley] may have condemned violence and taken extraordinary pains to avoid getting caught up in it, but he stirred, inflamed, ranted and terrified loyalists into believing that their heritage and their very lives were threatened.”

    again he condemned republican violence but the quote you have given points to Paisley stiring up things but making sure he didn’t get his own hands dirty.

  • Comrade Stalin

    all these huge long posts over MU’s use of the word “immoral” in a context with which you disagreed. I think you need a hobby.

  • Morpheus

    You logged in for THAT?

    Listen join in the conversation or don’t, I don’t care but I have to ask – what has happened to turn you from a decent poster who could respond with respect and humour to this? Lapsed Communist not going so well huh?

  • Bryan Magee

    In Upper Bann the UUP have a lot of potential candidates. JoAnne Dobson, Doug Beattie, and Colin McCusker. Each would have been a good candidate, but I am glad they chose a woman.

    They’re getting to work promoting her as a person with a very good set of values, supporting the Health Service:

  • Comrade Stalin

    I think you don’t like it when I disagree with you.

  • Morpheus

    That’s got nothing to do with it, you have disagreed with me and others plenty of times before but at least you did it with a modiucum of respect, wit and humor – where has that guy gone?

    If you think it’s acceptable for MU to show intolerance by branding people immoral and indecent just because of where they put an X on election day – the dictionary definition of bigotry – then that’s up to you but at least tell me why and argue your case rather than jumping in with nothing more than a childish, snide comment.

  • Gaygael

    Unionism has not discussed pacts here. If Catherne Seeley (good choice sf) makes it through the middle, it will be quite the result for them. I don’t think that they realistically think they can win,(it will require a perfect unionist storm) and is more about consolidating that second assembly seat the next time out.
    The UUP are serious about these two seats. A lot of focus on them today at conference. South Antrim is a fair dig for UUP vs DUP with no pesky croppy squeezing through the middle. Upper Bann is complicated but Mike has firmly set out his stall.
    And he talked pacts today of North Belfast (uup dead here anyway so nowt to gain, DUP should be urging PUP not to stand) and FST where he pitched that they should run.

    Apart from a dig at the DUP for losing east belfast, it and south were not mentioned. That’s what is interesting.

  • Gaygael

    They have kept strong here consistently. And great that they choose Joanne.

  • Croiteir

    I would listen to that if the unionists were not former paramilitarists and traitors. And if you are sick of the SF/DUP rut get rid of the cause – the border

  • MainlandUlsterman

    McGuinness and the IRA have always chosen their words very carefully. He’s apologised for when they killed “innocent” people. Not for everyone they killed, or anything like it.

    By “innocent” people, that’s “innocent” in the twisted moral universe of the IRA, not how you or I would understand it. By “innocent”, he only refers to people they didn’t mean to kill and perhaps some they did mean to kill but regret now because it makes them look bad – like all the people that got blown up by their random bombs placed in shops, pubs, cars and so on. He has never apologised for the killing of what they call “legitimate targets”, e.g. police officers, retired police officers, soldiers, people in the police reserve, people in the army reserve, prison officers, people who helped the police, people who committed certain crimes in Republican areas, members of rival Republican gangs, people who did building work for the security forces (my friend’s dad fell foul of that one and was machine-gunned to death outside his house), members of the judiciary, MPs from opposing parties, mainland politicians, senior civil servants …

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Agreed – he had to shoulder a lot of blame for that