Belfast Telegraph

How UUP lost the plot

By Gail Walker

So Lady Sylvia’s been and gawn and done it. Her decision to resign from the UUP and fight the North Down seat as an independent has been greeted with glee here.

Her candidacy provides a flash of excitement in the midst of the business-as-usual tedium of local politics.

Now, I’ve a lot of time for Lady Hermon, who’d have made a good party leader. Moreso, she’s fundamentally right about the UUP’s electoral pact with the Tories — UUP voters are not necessarily Tories. Full stop.

So, how could it have been let come to this pretty pass? Somewhere along the line Lady Hermon — as orthodox an Ulster Unionist as it’s possible to get, hence her status until recently as their only sitting MP — was sidelined by the party leadership. To such an extent that not only has she resigned from the party — bad enough for an outfit |seriously short on profile and experience — but she has determined to run against her former natural |colleagues.

Playing politics is one thing, |certainly laudable in itself in a country where it’s almost rude to let politics interfere with instinctive historical responses.

But alienating Lady Hermon has guaranteed yet another split in the unionist vote in what should be a shoo-in for Gold Coast unionism.

The North Down vote could be the template for what happens right across Northern Ireland — the massive unionist vote dribbling away on the one hand and the nationalist vote flooding to Sinn Fein on the other.

Cheers brethren.

Belfast Telegraph

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