Thursday, 25 March 2010

North Down's Independent Unionist MP

North Down my home constituency is renowned for its mavericks at least in my life time.
In 1970 they returned Jim Kilfedder as an Ulster Unionist MP, but he resigned from the party seven years later to become an Independent Unionist in 1977 then formed the Ulster Popular Unionist Party which was basically him and a few local councillors. At the end of his time he was challenged in 1987 by Bob McCartney who stood as a real Unionist. Bob had actually been his Ulster Unionist opponent in the previous 1983 election. McCartney then went out to fight as a UK Unionist in the 1995 by election following Kilfedder's death. His party has a slightly wider sphere of influence though briefer, reaching into Stangford, Lagan Valley, Antrim South and Antrim East, with MLA in the first Assembly until the others fell out with McCartney.
So in 2001 when North Down elected Ulster Unionist Sylvia Hermon as their MP it was the first time in my memory that they had a mainstream Northern Irish party holding the seat in Westminster. On Monday as Lady Sylvia was cosying up to Ian Paisley and making an intervention during Peter Robinson's speech on the new Northern Irish provisions for Justice devolution she said:
"I want to put on record that this Ulster Unionist representative in this House-for whatever time is left to me to speak for the party here..."
I said on twitter is this Sylvia announcing to the House that she is to stand again as an Independent? I appear to have been correct, today she has resigned from the Ulster Unionists and made that announcement:
"I have taken a considerable amount of time to think and to reflect before coming to this decision, but I believe it to be the right one for the Party and for me.

"The tremendous support I have received from constituents during the recent stressful and difficult time in my political life has encouraged me greatly, and convinced me that I ought to run again as a candidate."

You know what? Knowing North Down politics as well as I do I reckon that is one seat that David Cameron and Reg Empey don't have a hope of wrestling off the incumbent. North Down likes their mavericks and they have one again.

This post has been sent via email therefore spacing and fonts may not appear at my usual standard. Also there may be links to other relevant blog entries or other content added later today along with adding the correct tagging.

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