How do you solve a problem like Sylvia

Well, one half of the UCUNF team have been assembled with the UUP releasing their list of 17 nominees seeking to become UCUNF candidates for the forthcoming election.

But don't we have 18 constituencies? Ah, yes. North Down. With the incumbent Lady Sylvia refusing to take the Conservative whip and refusing to put her name forward for the project that has left a vacancy for the UNCUNF candidacy. Cue Ian Parsley stepping in to birdie that 18th hole. (I promise I will not refer to golf any further)

Lady Sylvia has been a conundrum for the UUP for a while. Voting more with New Labour, a party that was even more ambiguous on the whole NI in the UK thing than the Tories and of course has quite few 'Brits out' supporters such as 'Red' Ken Livingstone, and has always had a warm place by the fire for what had been physical force republicanism. Lady Sylvia, while a great constituency worker, seems to have been less than friendly to the UUP cause. Indeed, she dropped the clanger in the middle of the European election putting Jim Nicholson in an awkward position.

I suspect she intends to run as an independent, which kind of puts her in the position of not standing as an Ulster Unionist Party representative. Recently, she spoke at an SDLP dinner in North Down attacking the Conservative Party and the UUP link up.

It will be a very interesting election in North Down. I would guess that Ian Parsley will be the candidate to take on Sylvia. However, with Sylvia being the incumbent and having a good reputation as a constituency MP, Ian will have his work cut out for him. North Down also has a reputation for backing mavericks. But it is also a constituency that would be a conservative stronghold were it in England. I think it will be a politico's nightmare to properly predict.

The other UUP nominees (to be a candidate, the two parties of the UUP and Conservative Party have to ratify who is standing where) are:
  • North Antrim Robin Swann;
  • South Antrim Adrian Watson;
  • East Antrim Rodney McCune;
  • North Belfast Fred Cobain;
  • West Belfast Bill Manwaring;
  • South Belfast Paula Bradshaw;
  • East Belfast Trevor Ringland;
  • Strangford Mike Nesbitt;
  • South Down John McAllister;
  • Lagan Valley Daphne Trimble;
  • Upper Bann Harry Hamilton;
  • Newry and Armagh Danny Kennedy;
  • Fermanagh and South Tyrone Tom Elliot;
  • Mid Ulster Sandra Overend;
  • West Tyrone Ross Hussey;
  • Foyle David Harding;
  • East Londonderry Lesley McAuley.
Owen Polley, in his 3000 Versts of Loneliness blog post 'Better late than never. Or 17 out of 18 ain't (too) bad!', gives an excellent run down of the UUP nominees and I think a fairly accurate rating of the chances.  He is unkind to a few, but that would be a discussion for another day!

The DUP are in diffs at the moment, but I think they will keep a large number of their MPs seats.  I think the UCUNF project could potentially pick up 3 seats.  The SDLP have a good chance of retaining their 3 seats, though what happens in South Belfast will be a deciding factor in the retention of the third seat.  Sinn Fein will hold on to their seats, but their performance will be closely watched.  


Anonymous said...

interesting post - would Sylvia maybe take a peerage??

Anonymous said...

Maybe North Down will blaze the way to left right democracy with Sylvia as the first British Labour Candidate supported by that ever popular Ulster born parliamentarian Kate Hoey, defending her seat against a Conservative candidate. Then Bob McCartney and the Equal Citizenship Movement of 20 years ago will see their dream come to fruition. After her loyal support of Labour in Westminster, it would be sad for Sylvia to stand as a wishy washy independant and sad for the electorate of North Down as well.


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