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Nesbitt's unionism is just scatter-gun populist spin

Published 29/10/2015

The UUP leader's policies are a confused mish-mash, swinging between posing as a liberal unionist and acting like a hardliner.

At the party's conference, Mike Nesbitt played up his liberal credentials, but he's inconsistent and the UUP hasn't lived up to that position through its actions.

He says he supports an integrated education system, but unlike the NI Conservatives, who have proposed financial incentives to ensure all schools are integrated by 2025, he won't specify a target date. Meanwhile, the UUP has been consistently evasive on ending segregation in teacher training colleges.

Mr Nesbitt's message on same-sex marriage is equally confused. He tells his party that opponents of an equal marriage Bill are "on the wrong side of history" and acknowledges that denying gay people the right to get married causes mental health problems, yet he's set to either vote against it in the Assembly, or abstain.

The UUP also claims to want a better system of government at Stormont, yet its leader has come out against a Bill which would deliver an official Opposition to hold the Executive to account.

The Ulster Unionists have a lot of easy answers on mental health services, childcare and the Social Investment Fund underspend.

On more contentious issues, there is no consistency and Mr Nesbitt swings widely between a hardline stance and liberalism.

The UUP leader thinks he's got his message right, but to impartial observers it looks more and more like populist spin, which attempts to mean all things to all people.

JOHNNY ANDREWS

NI Conservatives

Belfast Telegraph

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