Risk of splitting the unionist vote

FROM:- Unionist voter – name and address supplied

I read with alarm the recent reports indicating the plans of new UUP leader Mike Nesbitt regarding Upper Bann.

It is very clear that the new UUP leader, in rejecting any form of co-operation at all with fellow unionists, is embarking upon a course of splitting the unionist vote in Upper Bann at the next General Election with the real danger that this could well hand the seat to Sinn Fein.

The results of the last constituency-wide electoral test in Upper Bann revealed quite clearly the harmful impact that Mr Nesbitt’s vote splitting policy would have on unionism here.

At the 2011 Assembly Election the party strengths were as follows: SF 11,528; DUP 11,499; UUP 10,426 and SDLP 4,846. A total of 22,951 votes were cast for all unionist candidates; 8,500 more than the 16,374 votes cast for all of the republican/nationalist. Upper Bann ought to be a safe unionist seat for many years into the future.

Despite this SF emerged as the largest party by a mere 29 votes.

If Mike Nesbitt and the UUP go ahead with their plan to split the unionist vote at the next General Election; then despite having a massive unionist majority, Upper Bann would end up with a Sinn Fein MP – who simply wouldn’t turn up to represent the electorate at Westminster.

Such a UUP policy and approach that would reduce the number of unionist elected representatives and replace them with abstentionist Sinn Fein MPs who would simply not turn up, is not a pro-union or pro-unionist policy and approach.

I would encourage unionist voters of all shades to make it clear to Mr Nesbitt and the UUP that this vote splitting policy that would hand Upper Bann over to Sinn Fein is simply not acceptable.

We have two UUP MLAs and UUP councillors in both Banbridge and Craigavon councils. It must be made clear to them that it is imperative that Upper Bann retains a unionist MP and Mr Nesbitt’s vote splitting plans for Upper Bann must be shelved.