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Full text of David Simpson's letter to Mike Nesbitt: 'Such behaviour is totally unacceptable'

Published 16/05/2015

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt
UUP leader Mike Nesbitt
David Simpson
Colin McCusker post

Dear Mike,

Thank you for your open letter of Sunday, May 10, 2015. Without a day off for the last few months, I had commitments with my wife and wider family in the last few days which I have prioritised over this matter. Although we differ on many things I know you are a family man and will understand my reasons for prioritising these commitments.

I appreciate your congratulatory remarks. I am humbled that the people of Upper Bann have once again elected me to be their voice in the House of Commons. As has been the case over the last 10 years I again dedicate myself to delivering for everyone in the Upper Bann constituency.

I indicated in my acceptance speech at the count how low and despicable the campaign descended as polling day approached. I was particularly disappointed to see and hear comments about my children's ethnic origin and the fact that they were adopted being brought into conversations and debates.

Likewise I was disappointed to be publicly labelled a liar, a cheat and a manipulator and accused of not having been involved in the Meningitis B vaccine campaign in comments posted online which have since been deleted.

The behaviour of supporters of your party at the count centre in Banbridge on Thursday, May 7 was very unprofessional to say the least. When I was speaking people in the audience continued to shout and one even went as far as drawing their hand across their throat in a manner which suggested they wanted to slice one of my esteemed supporters' throats.

Such behaviour is totally unacceptable in a democratic society and I would have expected workers and supporters to behave in a professional rather than bully-boy fashion.

I entered politics to serve my community and improve our area not intimidate my opponents. I deeply regret the fact that some of your party supporters became so frustrated by the decision of the people of Upper Bann to re-elect me that they behaved in an outlandish way. Unionists ought to work together, even when in competition and the benefits of such co-operation are clearly visible from the result in Fermanagh & South Tyrone.

I note your commitment to deal with anyone in the Ulster Unionist Party who made disgraceful remarks about my children. Many of the online comments are now removed and some apologies for such comments have already been received by my children.

We could argue and debate for some time to come about various face-to-face comments made during the campaign but for my part I do not intend to get further involved in a claim and counter-claim scenario. My daughter posted a very personal and heartfelt response to some of these bullies who made comments and who have subsequently disappeared into the shadows.

I would bring to your attention the attached posting from your general secretary and local councillor, Colin McCusker.

Mr McCusker seems to have removed this comment a short time after posting. I would be alarmed and disturbed if he, as general secretary or in any other capacity, was referencing hurtful comments made during the campaign and I would seek clarification on this forthwith.

As someone who started my business from my kitchen table with very little, my wife and I know that few walks of life are more difficult than business. Politics does not need to be dirty.

People who seem to take delight in it being a 'blood sport' do a great disservice to those who enter politics to improve their community and give a voice to the voiceless. I don't say to those people 'bring it on' I say to them 'wise up and grow up'. I trust this does not reflect your attitude to political discourse.

Your own party published a leaflet which included previous votes cast for your party from outside the Upper Bann constituency leading to a false conclusion about the respective electoral strengths of the parties in Upper Bann. Your campaign literature falsely accused others of 'duping'. Furthermore when my son-in-law was wrongly accused of criminal damage your candidate issued a comment to the media without checking the facts.

In such circumstances on previous occasions I have resisted making public comment when my campaign posters were damaged. Perhaps that's the benefit of experience!

In due course my family will conclude our investigations into all these matters. Where necessary we will refer any relevant issues to the appropriate authorities.

It is a matter for you and the Ulster Unionist Party as to whether you want to conduct your own investigation. For my part I do not intend to make further public comment on these matters and any associated material that we may supply you will certainly not be done in a public forum.

I regret you felt motivated to publish your letter and that I learned of its content from the online media. Perhaps you might reflect on whether that was the most professional course of action. I trust you will understand that due to that decision it is appropriate that I publish this reply.

In conclusion, I am delighted that this election demonstrated that when unionism works together unionist people are the beneficiaries. I have always been an advocate of unionist co-operation and it was regrettable that we were not able to include Upper Bann and South Belfast in the pact between our parties. I suspect with the benefit of hindsight you may also regret not agreeing what was offered in those areas. This has been a tremendous election for unionists across Northern Ireland and I look forward to working with your Members in the House of Commons as we seek to deliver for the people of Northern Ireland.

Yours in the unionist cause,

David Simpson

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