The UUP launched their 43 page manifesto three weeks ago highlighting the party’s plans for mental health, economy, agriculture and whether they will go back into the Executive.
The manifesto, unlike others, does not place a huge emphasis on the party leader, Mike Nesbitt, rather it profiles other candidates throughout.
Going back into the Executive
Like all parties the UUP say they are running for government in this election. However, it places two caveats that the prospective Programme for Government must be collective and have a progressive commitment to benefit the people. Although what this actually means, is left up to the reader to guess.
The UUP has already published some papers on the issue of healthcare. Like the other parties, it has taken to issue a 15 point plan in its manifesto.
Unlike the DUP and Sinn Fein, the UUP does not make a money commitment to an increase in the health budget.
But it does make some commitments in the area of mental health with a Mental Health Champion, a strategy to put mental health on a par with mental health.
These are the most extensive commitments to mental health made by any of the main parties thus far in a manifesto.
The UUP propose implementing the economic inactivity strategy which has not yet been implemented by the Executive. They also place an emphasis on manufacturing with a target to match the EU target of 20% of Northern Ireland’s GDP related to manufacturing industry.
The UUP propose reducing the cost and ambiguity of local and central government regulations that are holding up the building of new homes. They pledge 10,000 new social homes by 2021 and commit to end the scenes of people sleeping rough on the streets of Northern Ireland.
In perhaps one of the more humorous attempts to differentiate themselves from the DUP. The UUP set out their stall on policing with a look back to the past.
The party pledge to increase PSNI numbers and want to see an increase in community confidence. However, there are few concrete spending commitments as to how this is paid for and specific measures as to how they achieve greater confidence.
The manifesto does have a strong commitment to mental health which makes it stand out. However, there are no costings or indications as to how more police and extra funding for difference services would be achieved. Likewise, there is some ambiguity about the criteria the party would use to go back into the Executive.
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs