Monday 8 June 2009


Typical. No sooner does David Cameron do the impossible and persuade me to vote Tory than the Ulster Unionists screw it all up.

My MP is Lady Sylvia Hermon, a thoroughly decent person who is likely to get my vote by dint of that decency. Since the last Northern-Irish election, she has been the Ulster Unionist Party's only MP. Any party with half a brain between them would realise that this makes her the most important person in the party — or, at the very least, up there in the top three or four. Not the UUP. Every time you hear anything on the news about the UUP, it's a bunch of old men discussing important things, with the only member of their party able to wield any actual power in the UK's Parliament conspicuous by her absence. It's been very difficult not to get the impression that they view her as a bit of an embarassment, really.

And it turns out that that impression has been correct. The UUP have made an alliance with the Conservative Party — which is probably a good move in all sorts of ways, except that it turns out they've done it without consulting Hermon.

Let's just recap that, for those who missed the significance. The UUP have agreed to merge with the Conservatives. This means that all UUP MPs will from now on be Conservative MPs, voting with the Conservatives. All UUP MPs is Lady Hermon; there are no others. She wasn't consulted. The UUP leadership are all rather huffy about it and have clearly been caught off guard by some jumped-up little woman not doing what she's told, but a Conservative spokesman seemed quite happy to just call it as he saw it and accused the UUP of screwing up their people-management. Mind you...

It is understood that [her] feeling the Conservatives have little understanding of Ulster politics, compounded by discussions with one senior Tory who repeatedly referred to “Irish MPs” and Mr Cameron’s decision to wear a green tie to a unionist event, has not lessened over time.

And, now she's been told to vote with the Conservatives, she's refused, announced she'll be leaving the party, and decided to stand as an independent at the next election. And, for that, she's got my vote. Who cares if she supports Gordon Brown? He can't rely on her support; he has to talk her into it. She's a good person, and she's now shown that she'll refuse to be pushed around by anyone.

At the present time, I can't see myself standing under a Conservative banner. If my party chooses to move to call themselves by a different name, I'm terribly sorry and terribly disappointed by that but I remain an Ulster Unionist. That was certainly my mandate and I've loved serving the people of North Down. They have stood by me through the most difficult of times and if they choose and wish me to serve them I would do my very best to do that.

Lady Hermon, consider the box ticked.

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