Belfast Telegraph

Vote for those you trust to do job, not more of the same: UUP leader Mike Nesbitt

By Mike Nesbitt MLA

In my view, this election will tell us how mature we have become as a democracy because, for the first time since devolution returned 19 years ago, voters have the ultimate democratic choice: if you are happy with the performance of your government, reward those parties by giving them another mandate, or, if you are not, vote in the Opposition and make clear you expect better.

I want this Assembly election to be a referendum on the handling of what Arlene Foster calls the "debacle" of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme and 10 years of the DUP and Sinn Féin either leading or being the sole parties of the Executive.

With another £85,000 of your money needlessly up in smoke the day you read this, RHI alone should be enough to encourage a vote for change.

This debacle is not an "orange" or "green" issue. It's about incompetence, arrogance, cronyism and the strong whiff of corruption.

These are not my values, or unionism's - or nationalism's. That is why I want people to vote for change. But what they cannot do is vote to change the system of government that we endorsed in the 1998 Belfast Agreement and other unionists did not change at St Andrews eight years later - the next Executive, if there is one, will be cross-community. So voters need to think about who they trust, across the full spectrum of political opinion.

If I took the DUP's advice in my area, I would be giving a preference to Robin Newton, the outgoing Speaker who lost the confidence of every party bar his own (and I think many of them may have privately lost faith).

I can work with Colum Eastwood and he can work with me, not because the law says we have to but because we both know it is the only positive way forward. My unionism is enhanced, not diminished, by embracing diversity.

Vote for the candidates you believe will do the right thing by your community, their constituency and this country.

As Arlene Foster told UTV recently, "judge individuals as politicians".

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