UCUNF’s list of target seat grows?

13 01 2010

The Robinson fiefdoms of East Belfast and Strangford looked pretty well neigh impregnable up until, well, last week. But now? The UUP must fancy their chances (indeed, Daphne Trimble has claimed as much over at Iain Dale’s Diary).
  • STRANGFORD

The DUP’s 2005 victory in Strangford was emphatic but the Euro election changed the game somewhat. UUP people are saying that their tallies from Strangford were extremely encouraging. One said that those tallies indicated that, while Strangford might be just beyond them at this election, it would definitely have been a target next time out. The Robinson scandal has brought those ambitions forward – the constituency must be in the target category for May.

Coincidentally, the UUP have just held their selection meeting from Strangford. So who is one possible beneficiary of the Robinson crisis?

Step forward Philip Smith – UUP Party Officer in charge of training and ex-Ards councillor!! Of the two names going forward, he came out on top.

Philip’s got local standing and track record, and he should be acceptable to the Tories… for this is the same Philip Smith who defected to the Tories in June 2006. (He was also a Lib Dem rep at one point, so obviously Bobballs and the nano hamsters have warm feelings towards Philip Smith. Though any suggestion that he’s been on more Party lists than Paris Hilton is just hearsay right now.)

On the TUV side of things, I saw Cedric Wilson at the TUV conference and boy did he look full of enthusiasm and energy. If he goes again in Strangford, and in this climate, the DUP could be caught in a sharp cross-fire. So I wonder who the courageous DUP candidate will be? At one point Jim Shannon was leading the charge. Has he changed his mind yet? Who would really want to carry the DUP flag in Strangford this time out?

Philip looks like the perfect candidate for UCUNF. Could the Tories seriously put up someone better?

(Not sure who came in second here.)

  • EAST BELFAST

What of East Belfast?

There’s lots of chat that this week’s cunning plan has everything to do with Peter Robinson trying to save his name, anoint a successor and gracefully exit politics with some dignity. If this holds true, then East Belfast is an open contest at the general election for the first time in decades.

So who’s in pole position? By coincidence the UUP held their selection meeting recently and Tim Lemon came out on top. Tim ran for the party in 2001 and put in a great campaign which took a few people by surprise (whatever happened to David Alderdice?). He also produced the slogan of the ’01 campaign for my money. And like Philip Smith, he’s a well-known constituency guy who would perform very strongly.

Tim looks like the perfect constituency candidate. Could UCUNF seriously put up Deirdre Nelson?

I understand Trevor Ringland came in second. As a respected, trusted, articulate, centre-ground moderate with cross-community appeal he’s the identikit of what a UCUNF candidate should look like, so there’s considerable strength in depth here.

IMHO this electoral pact ought to maximise returns for the project – strong, local candidates of pedigree cannot be overlooked. I worry that the Tories will attain something of the character of the 16th Air Assault Brigade – y’know, rapidly parachuting their troops into hotspots and causing bloody mayhem. Highly entertaining, but is it necessary in every circumstance?

  • SOUTH BELFAST

In South Belfast, Paula Bradshaw came out on top [CORRECTED BELOW]. Bradders has coveted this for some time, there’s no doubt that she will be energetic and well organised. I hear that part of her spiel to the meeting this evening suggested Peter McCann is indeed a fully paid up member of the 16th Air Assault Brigade – parachuting in this time from far flung West Belfast. How will the Joint Committee resolve this one? I don’t see a quick decision – not for a couple of weeks at least.

Michael Henderson came in behind Paula [CORRECTED BELOW]. I hear his speech was excellent and he also offers many good qualities as a potential candidate.

[I wonder if Reg ever did answer the letter sent by the association. I’m sure Reg is a reader so I took the precaution of publishing it here. Just trying to help!]

In the meantime, congratulations Strangford, East Belfast and South Belfast – you’ve produced a very strong slate of potential candidates.

PS. Note that all UUP constituencies will select two people, and these names go forward to the UUP selection committee which then chooses the Party’s candidate in that area. 

PPS. The Chairman of SB Constituency Association has said that Michael Henderson came out on top of the ballot. My information was to the contrary but I am more than happy to correct anything I get wrong and at the earliest possible opportunity. See the comments section for that addition information from Bill.

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52 responses

13 01 2010
deirdre

Bob,
I don’t do this very often at all but there is one point I fgeel I should make in regards to your post. I am no blow-in to East Belfast. I was born, raised and educated there. Indeed, I only moved to Ballymena in the past few years, so if I’m a blow-in anywhere, it’s here not east Belfast.
Just a clarification you understand, not a criticism.

13 01 2010
bobballs

Hi Deirdre

Thanks for getting in touch. Point taken – completely accept that. I don’t for one minute believe you’re a blow in to EB on a personal basis. In fact I linked to a story which emphasised your connections to the constituency.

However, in my opinion, you are more closely associated politically to Ballymena given your work with the council there. My point was that the UUP are nominating people who on paper look to be exceptionally strong constituency candidates.

I use humour in this blog chiefly to make it more readable. Humour can be a bit of a blunt instrument so I do hope that, in making my point, I haven’t caused any offence.

Thanks again & best wishes…

13 01 2010
Peter McCann

Bob, I must make another correction.

I am not blow-in. I went to school in South Belfast for 14 years. I worked for eight years in South Belfast. I bought my first home off Sunnyside Street and lived in Stranmillis before moving to England to work on The Cook Report (combating crime), Watchdog (championing consumers) and Top Gear (well, what can I say!).

I fully support the link-up between the Conservatives and UUP as it heralds the end of tribal and sectarian politics. It is the only way to mend a broken society and a crippled economy.

Regards, Peter McCann.

13 01 2010
owenpolley

Bob – who came second in Strangford? Bill McKendry or have I got that wrong?

13 01 2010
bobballs

Sorry Owen been out of circulation for a bit – i heard it was a Colonel Colin Heron.

13 01 2010
bobballs

Hi Peter!!

My goodness, I’m very popular today! Good to hear from you!

Appreciate that, and v happy for you to highlight your SB credentials here.

BTW, all that stuff about combating crime and defending consumers is fine… but Top Gear you say! Tremendous.

(I had no idea i was so popular among local tories. High fives guys!)

PS. In Peter’s case I’m merely reporting the suggestion of ‘blow in’ from the UUP meeting. So you don’t need to correct me per se, but am more than happy for you respond to the suggestion. Indeed, I thought it was important for you and Deirdre to have a right to reply (as opposed to being buried down here), so see my latest post!

13 01 2010
Bill White

Bob

I was the Chairman at last nights South Belfast selection meeting and your analysis and result from South Belfast is totally wrong. Yes – a vote was taken (supposedly confidential) but it did not produce the result that you have indicated – Both candidates got a good vote, but Michael Henderson came out top. In addition, a large No. of delegates voted for both candidates as being equal in terms of being good potential candidates.

In any case, both candidates from South Belfast now go forward to the next stage in the internal process on an equal basis.

Bob: If you are running a Blog like this, or indeed any other type of media outlet, may I respectively suggest that in future you check any information you receive with more than one source, and also perhaps with the actual people who ran the meeting that you are discussing!!

Bill

13 01 2010
bobballs

no bill, it is not totally wrong. Two people came through last night’s selection. I correctly identified them. So it did produce the result i indicated.

Yes, i made an error about which one came first – but you play this down and make the point that they both go forward on an equal basis. So how vital was this error? Seems low grade if i take what you say at face value.

also, I know the exact vote bill – don’t overstate the position.

Bill: I don’t need your advice on how to run this blog. As you know my information on SB tends to be pretty accurate. But I regret my error, and i have done everything i could to correct it as speedily as possible.

13 01 2010
We’re not blow-ins: local Tories « Bobballs!

[…] not blow-ins: local Tories 13 01 2010 My post here has generated a response from local Tories […]

13 01 2010
13 01 2010
Mike

The Philip Smith bit confuses me a little. Are you saying he left the UUP for the Conservative Party in 2006, and by 2009 was back in the UUP?

Shaping up to be a very interesting election, and prior to that an interesting selection process for Conservative and Unionist candidates – looks like there will be some pretty strong C&U candidates some with a very real chance of gaining seats.

13 01 2010
bobballs

Hi Mike – erm, yip, that’s pretty much it!

From a UU POV i think they’re producing the best slate of candidates they’ve had for some time. The Tories can also add an interesting dynamic. A very interesting five months ahead!

13 01 2010
Disinterested observer

Ironic is it not that two former Ulster Tories – Philip Smith and Michael Henderson should top the UUP selections in their respective areas.

BTW is Trevor Ringland wearing a parachute?

13 01 2010
bobballs

Disinterested Observer – or could it be further evidence of how easily the Tory political DNA mixes with the UUP’s? Or maybe it’s just ironic.

re. Trevor. Parachute? No way. Given the way he played for the BaBas against the 84′ Aussies, Trevor wears red boots and a big cape. Doesn’t he?

13 01 2010
gmacor2

Given the boundary changes Jim Wells may go for Strangford.

14 01 2010
bobballs

Hi gmacor2 – thanks for this, i think you might be right. (heavily caveated!) but i now hear from a DUP source that Jim Wells is being discussed as a serious option for Strangford.

13 01 2010
Framer

Surely Reg should be the UUP Strangford by-election candidate.

He has the gravitas and the maturity that the former MP never had.

14 01 2010
Whisper

Seems that the UUP selections for North and West Belfast have been overlooked, both were held months ago and no one seems to know anything about them.

No strong candidates from UUP or torys in either seat then? Maybe Peter McCann could stand for West Belfast, as he grew up there.

14 01 2010
Bill White

Bob

Re. South Belfast – If you don’t mind me saying your response seems pretty aggressive – calm down a bit!

Yes, two go through to the next stage, and as only two applied for South Belfast then both these candidates go through to the next stage and I was only trying to convey this arrangement in a positive way which was fair to both candidates. However, this doesn’t remove you from your responsibility of conveying information in an accurate manner.

E.g. you say in your third line that ‘I know the exact vote Bill – don’t overstate the position’ – I therefore ask that if you knew the exact vote then why did you say Paula Bradshaw came top? Are you admitting to a blatant lie?

Bill White

14 01 2010
bobballs

Likewise Bill. And I haven’t tried to duck anything – because i corrected the error as quickly as possible and pointed to it immediately in the main post.

In all things, errors will occur – its how you respond to them that counts. I couldn;t have done more to sort this so don;t chide me for attempting to remove myself from any responsbility.

Do you really think that I’m actually admitting to telling lies? Honestly Bill don’t be so childish.

Right now, we both know the exact vote. Yet you have come here talking about accuracy but you seem to be pushing the envelope on your analysis of the results. ‘a large No. of delegates voted for both candidates as being equal in terms’. Really?

I don’t see there’s anything to be gained from continuing this.

14 01 2010
Unrepentent Unionist

” Framer (23:45:19) :

Surely Reg should be the UUP Strangford by-election candidate.

He has the gravitas and the maturity that the former MP never had.”

lol WTF!?

14 01 2010
Bill White

Bob

You didn’t answer the direct question I put in my last paragraph – if you knew/know the vote result, why did you say Paula Bradshaw came top?

Re. saying ‘a large No. of delegates voted for both candidates’ – I was just trying to convey an impression that both candidates were good and acceptable candidates.

However, I take the thrust of your point about the actual No. of delegates attending. As has already been stated on Slugger (so I’m not now giving anything extra away here) – Yes, we had one sizeable branch who decided en-mass not to attend the meeting, and there were over 30 other delegates who didn’t attend because they disagree with the strategic approach that the UUP are taking towards South Belfast. This should not be surprising to anyone taking into account the ‘South Belfast letter’ situation that occurred last year.

However this doesn’t take away from the authenticity and credibility of the result from the selection meeting.

Bill White

14 01 2010
bobballs

Bill – I received information from 2 sources and i produced what i felt was a fair and honest post. The information on who goes through was accurate, but there was a misunderstanding about who comes top (which i corrected). I then got figures on the full and complete vote after the post. The person who gave me that info did so on the basis that I didn’t blog it. So I have the information but I’m respecting their wishes.

But this is the annoying bit. The two Tory candidates spotted something they didn’t like so they engaged constructively with this blog. I’m entitled to my opinion but so are they. Out of fairness to them I posted up their comments separately as a right to reply. I want people to engage here and I aim to be fair to everyone (hence my speedy correction for you).

You on the other hand, had much less to complain about than the Tory candidates (who have both risen considerably in my estimation). As you point out who comes top is not critical, but you said that I had got it all totally wrong (when i hadn’t); then you lectured me on how to run a blog; on top of that, when your core point is the maintenance of accuracy, you spun a couple of lines about the vote which in themselves were simply not credible; then in conclusion you all but accuse me of telling blatant lies.

So step back from this a second. I wrote a piece which was positive about your candidates in SB, and about the UUP generally. You have managed to turn that completely on its head by telling me that I’m completely wrong, implying I’m a liar, and stating below that the UUP will parachute candidates into constituencies (then supplying the psephological reason why that’s a bad idea), and that there is sizeable division within the constituency.

I don’t know what to say Bill. Maybe if you want to continue this you should take it offline?

14 01 2010
Bill White

Bob

I also noted your other point about ‘parachuting’ candidates e.g. Peter McCann. However, many of the UUP candidates also fit-in to this category so we need to be careful before we start criticising others re. this. This issue has come up within the South Belfast Association – I think the consensus is that we don’t mind where a candidate originates from, as long as they are a good candidate.

However, we would expect a candidate if they win the South Belfast seat, to make a commitment to come and permanently live in the constituency (i.e. if they’re not already doing so), and join a local church (of whatever religion!!), charity, and Sports clubs etc.. etc…, and be seen regularly in the constituency e.g. shopping at Sainsbury’s in Forestside, or Tesco at Belvoir etc… etc…

Psephology-election research shows, that over a No. of years this ‘building roots in the constituency’ stuff results in the collation of a large No. of committed voters. Alasdair McDonnell has lived in the South Belfast constituency nearly all his life, has been a GP there for 20-30 years, and personally knows a heck of a lot of people – again Psephology-election research shows that it’s 90% certain that someone will vote for you, if they’ve met you personally. The DUP have been at this ‘building roots in the constituency’ process for years! – Alasdair McDonnell scores 10/10 on this, and interestingly the previous South Belfast MP – Martin Smyth also scored 10/10 in this dept.!

Incidentally, I recall a senior Conservative saying to me that the above commitment is a firm requirement of all Conservative candidates in GB.

NB I’m not saying that this is a crucially important issue, and it’s not the only issue that affects election results, but it’s a factor that’s ‘in the mix’ with all the other factors that affect whether you win/lose an election.

Bill White

14 01 2010
paul

Whos the candidates going forward for selection to the joint committee for North and West belfast.?I havnt heard any names yet

14 01 2010
Inthemidst

Slugger was inaccurate, it said Windsor branch did not attend the selection meeting enmasse but there were members from that branch there. Slugger said they wrote a letter saying they backed the Tory, really? Was that the branch but one certain member who happens to be the UUP director of communications.

As for the rest of Belfast isn’t Bill Manwaring the candidate for west?

14 01 2010
Whisper

Who?

14 01 2010
South Belfast - General Election 2010 - Politics.ie

[…] & Conservatives had their nominations last night. Details of which can be found on the UCUNF?s list of target seat grows? Bobballs! blog Between 3 candiates at present for the vote within that party – Peter McCann, Paula Bradshaw […]

14 01 2010
Floating Voter

Just came to this site off Slugger to see what was happening with the UUP in South Belfast. I expect the UUP to win the seat back off the SDLP. However I had to laugh at the unprofessional comments by the chairperson of the South Belfast meeting last night. Bill, if you had a problem with what was said, PM Bob in private, instead of tunring it into what looks from here, an attempt to undermine Paula Bradshaw

14 01 2010
Bill White

Bob

To be honest I feel you started the tone of this discussion – If you look at my first reply I say re. South Belfast – ‘If you don’t mind me saying your response seems pretty aggressive – calm down a bit!’

You mention the two Tory candidates engaging constructively – However their issue re. ‘Blow-ins’ etc. is a subject of a totally subjective nature. I also contributed my opinion re. this in terms of saying about living in the constituency and building roots etc., but again this is only my opinion. There are others that think there’s nothing wrong with ‘parachuting/blow-ins’ (call it what you like) and that’s their opinion. The key point is that this issue is subjective, and open to differences of opinion which are all legitimate, so a reasonably constructive dialogue can usually take place re. these sorts of issues. You actually say ‘I’m entitled to my opinion but so are they’ – How true, and I’m also entitled to my opinion re. this issue!

The point about who topped the South Belfast selection poll is entirely different as it’s a factual matter i.e. either one person topped the Poll, or the other did, or it was a draw – and you have already admitted you got this wrong. That’s fine, so let’s leave it at that – in fact your first para. of your last post is a very reasonable explanation of what happened.

I did not tell you how to run a blog – I only told you that maybe it would be a good idea to check particularly factual matters with 2-3 sources before posting – NB This is sort of checking is not necessary with subjective matters like the ‘parachuting/blow-ins’ subject as detailed above, as this only involves opinions so no-one can say categorically that you are right or wrong.

You say that I said that the UUP will parachute candidates into constituencies – I said nothing of the sort. You say I supplied ‘psephological reasons why that’s a bad idea’ – Yes I did do this, and what’s wrong with that?, as I thought I was only contributing to this debate that was started on your Blog by others including yourself. & Yes, of course there is a division within the South Belfast Constituency Association – the ‘dogs on the street’ know this – Do you not remember the infamous South Belfast letter situation?, which went a bit public to say the least!!

Yes – I agree, if we want to continue this then let’s take it offline (email me with your Mobile & we can meet for a coffee & a chat sometime).

Bill White

14 01 2010
Whisper

When I google bill manwaring and UUP all I get are Fred Cobains website and a ‘under construction’ http://www.billmanwaring.com

Does anyone have any more info?

And who have UUP selected for North Belfast?

15 01 2010
bobballs

hi whisper – sorry, just coming to this now. i’ll try to see what the answer is! will post up if i hear anything…

16 01 2010
Whisper

Thanks Bobballs

I can’t get anything about North or West Belfast. West I understand the unknown candidate (lets see UUP and Torys knocking on doors in Andytown or maybe having a good discussion in the Felons!) but you would think the UUP and Torys would give North a good rattle.

14 01 2010
Floating Voter

Bill, some Public relations course you need. If you are going to present yourself as someone of public opportance to the UU party, you need to understand there is a way to do that. I am sure a word in this blogger’s ear, by way of the contact button would have sorted the issue, instead if telling an award winning blogger how to run his blog.

14 01 2010
Bill White

Floating Voter & others – Please Guys or Gals – I don’t want to get into a slanging match over this.

All I was trying to do at the start of this was correct an error (That I had received a complaint about) – I wasn’t trying to undermine anyone. In fact, this factual error was undermining the ‘other’ candidate, and I was just trying to be fair.

In fact, if you look at my posts you will see that I tried to enhance both candidates positions by stating, among other points, that a large No. of delegates supported both candidates etc… – indeed Bob (with some justification) criticised me for this by saying that this was ‘stretching things a bit’ (which I accept is true to an extent!!), but again I was just trying to ‘sort of’ keep both candidates equal, as they are both proceeding to the 2nd stage of the process anyway on equal terms. NB It wasn’t me who publicised that a poll had taken place – indeed the poll, and the poll result, was meant to be kept confidential! I.e. it wasn’t me who started all this!!

I agree with your last point – As you can see from my last post (which was posted just before yours) I’ve accepted Bob’s suggestion re. taking this offline.

BTW: I like your second line & your confidence – however a lot of people expected Liverpool to beat Reading last night!. However, yes, I agree – this seat is winnable back from the SDLP, but it needs to be worked hard at, & BTW: the election will be 16 weeks today – That doesn’t sound long when you say it like that!!? Will you be able to help with a campaign & canvassing – of which a lot will be required!

Bill W.

14 01 2010
Bill White

Floating Voter & others- I’ve no wish to continue this any longer.

I’ve already accepted that Bob has corrected the error & that’s fine ,& as I’ve said before, that’s all I wanted to do in the first place, i.e. to be fair to both candidates.

I now see a tone of nonsensical insults coming into messages back to me, & as such I will not continue with any dialogue.

Bill W.

14 01 2010
bobballs

in bill’s defence, he is a well respected operator in his constituency and zealously defends the interests of SB. We’ve had a disagreement here but on a personal note bill is held in high regard and I wouldn;t want to see him or anyone else insulted here. Best to move on!

14 01 2010
Alex. Kane

Bob,

Just a quick correction to ‘Inthemidst’ (12.01.35) and his comments about the UUP Director of Communications.

I resigned from the South Belfast Association a few weeks ago because I now live in East Belfast. I didn’t write, sign or see the contents of any letter from the Windsor Branch re the South Belfast Selection.

Regards,

Alex.

14 01 2010
Patricia Mallon

Although I do not understand the ins and outs of this exchange, I can pick up, accurately I think, that 2 unionist factions in South Belfast are in conflict. How on earth can they expect to convince the electorate they can be effective poltiicans if they cannot convince each other?

15 01 2010
Unrepentent Unionist

Patricia, Bill, Alex et al.

Patricia has a point! How on earth is Unionism to win back the seat from a nationalist when such infighting is so prevalent!?

15 01 2010
inthemidst

Problem in south Belfast is when you introduce some old sod like Splitter Spratt wanders on to the scene, doesn’t have a mission to getting elected, perhaps he should follow Iris’s lead and retire ……

15 01 2010
Unrepentent Unionist

inthemidst

how can you suggest that when he polled more votes than McGimpsey and the UUP in 2005 Westminster and the 2007 Assembly election?

16 01 2010
Peter McCann

Dear all, there is no ‘in-fighting’.

There is robust open debate between the two pro-union parties – Conservatives and UUP. This is healthy and to be celebrated. It is the sign of a confidence, courage and progressive thinking. Together the C&U are promoting all inclusive, non-sectarian and non-sexist politics.

Only we offer the opportunity to have a say in national politics – on the benches of the UK government. Only we give voters the chance to get rid of Gordon Brown. Only C&U has a national economic strategy that will save jobs and bring prosperity to South Belfast. All this is in stark contrast to other parties.

Whoever is selected by the C&U team, they will be the best and strongest candidate – Paula and Michael are indicative of the high calibre of talent that exists throughout the UUP. As a Conservative, regardless if I am chosen or not, I look forward to working with them, Bill White and the rest of the UUP. Together will win and deliver a victory in South Belfast.

Time to look forward and not back.

Peter

16 01 2010
Bill White

Well said Peter – As you say, there is no infighting, just robust ongoing debate about the best way to win the seat back for the Unionist camp.

16 01 2010
Inthemidst

uh huh unrepetent, just ask any police man what they think of their self appointed champion Spratt … it ain’t flattering

17 01 2010
bobballs

hi whisper – i hear the same as other commenters here…. from the UUP it will be Red Fred Cobain in North and Bill Manwaring in West. I also heard from one source that stephen nicholl was a second name in NB, but i would need to confirm that.

while possibly unknown, i hear lots of good things about bill. Committed, hard working etc… hopefully he can build up towards a council seat.

hope that helps!

17 01 2010
Whisper

Thanks Bobballs – is there any names for these seats coming from the Conservative side?

17 01 2010
Alan in Belfast

My goodness, the thread has grown since I last called in to see. One of the Sunday papers I scanned while waiting to pay for petrol tonight cited Mike Nesbitt as a likely candidate for UCUNF in Strangford …

17 01 2010
Alan in Belfast

Found it – Sunday Life

18 01 2010
Unrepentent Unionist

Inthemidst

Jimmy Spratt is a well respected worker in the community and he has served South Belfast proud since 2005, and 2007 in the Assembly!

Peter McCann, hi!

What do you intend to bring to SB?

Do you think the Orange Order offers something positive to the local community as well as society across NI?

26 01 2010
Gerry Moriarty doesn’t read bobballs: official « Bobballs!

[…] Times reports that Trevor Ringland is a UUP nominees for the UCUNF candidacy in East Belfast. Gerry clearly doesn’t read ol’ bobballs and that makes me […]

1 02 2010
Chinafox

Just thought I would throw this into the mix I have been told one of the UUP candidates for South Belfast is a Roman Catholic originally from the Lower Ormeau and it is not Bradshaw. Not sure whether this info is accurate but it may be worth checking as I am sure the people of Sandy Row would find this difficult if a Catholic from West Belfast did not go down to well with the UUP in South Belfast

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