Wednesday, 31 March 2010

DUP follow our lead again

It would appear that where Conservatives and Unionists lead, the DUP follows.

Last week they finally capitulated to Conservatives and Unionists pressure on double jobbing. This week they have come out in support of our policy on a UK Bill of Rights. And of course we cannot forget the big volte face they made in following us in the Assembly.

While they might follow our lead, however, there is a crucial difference between us.

The DUP will never be in a position to replace Labour’s Human Rights Act with a UK Bill of Rights because the DUP will never form or be part of the UK Government.

Conservatives and Unionists are the only party standing in Northern Ireland that can possibly form the government of the UK and deliver the change we need.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Ex Igne Resurgam

In all the excitement of election preparations I have shamefully neglected my blog – no more.

I am back.

What’s more, I believe we are back!

Lisburn’s motto is so appropriate for Ulster Unionism’s position today. After being down for a number of years, we are poised for a big recovery.

I’ve been spending the last couple of weeks engaging with the electorate.

In the Old Warren estate where I was leafleting, I was well received; I chatted to lots of voters; none were hostile.

What a difference a few years makes. In the old days, when I was fighting David’s election battles in Upper Bann, the DUP were there, following us round, giving noisy accompaniment to our canvassing teams – but I haven’t seen sight nor sign of them in Lagan Valley.

And people want to talk: the other night it took me an hour to canvass an estate of 38 houses. It was great to have the time to engage and listen to people’s concerns. So far there are two big issues on the doorstep – the economy and education. We must not ever underestimate the depth of feeling there is against Katriona Ruane’s attempts to destroy our education system.

And on the economy, people are responding to the opportunity we are giving them to get rid of Gordon Brown.

We have agonised for months, if not years about North Down. Now we have a resolution, and we know where we stand. I can’t predict the outcome of the election in that constituency, but if Sylvia is returned, what will she do? Will she sit with labour? Or with the remnants of the DUP? Or will she cut a lonely figure on her own? And will the overwhelmingly conservative leaning electors of North Down be content with that?