[Just posted this over at bobballs, but thought it would be useful to post up here also.]
I’ve had a conversation with a few people close to South Belfast, and it has thrown a different light on things.
The leaked letter appears to have been written by people who wanted to enter into a genuine discussion with the Party leadership about matters relating to candidate selection in South Belfast. These are not people one would normally consider as rebels / or egoists / or stooges. I’m publishing its contents below…
From what I gather the letter was not written to be leaked (as these things sometimes are). That the letter was leaked is a matter of disappointment for Reg but also for many people in South Belfast.
I posted on this previously without knowing the content / context of this letter. Having read it, I can understand their motives and I can understand why SB was inviting a conversation on the matter. I feel I was unduly harsh about what was happening here.
The letter has been leaked, it is in the public domain. There’s lots of speculation about the content so I publish it below in order for the position of South Belfast to become clear. Certainly, this is no DUP plot – this is simply a conversation that members of the UUP (who are determined to win SB in 2010) want to have.
I don’t think there’s anything disreputable about the contents. In fact I would be amazed if an honest conversation like this did not take place.
My own personal advice to the UUP is that the leadership should go to SB and meet a full session of the constituency branch… and talk till you drop. Stay there till one strategy or t’other wins out. In my estimation, these are not plotters, they’re Ulster Unionists looking for a conversation.
TO: THE UUP PARTY LEADER – SIR REG EMPEY.
29th September 2009
DEAR SIR REG,
Following a meeting of the South Belfast UUP Association to-night, I am writing to you, to inform you of the following statement which was unanimously passed by the meeting viz.:
It is the unanimous view of this Association that it is essential that there should be one agreed Unionist candidate, agreed between the UUP-Conservatives and the DUP, to contest the South Belfast Parliamentary seat at the next UK Westminster general election.
South Belfast was a safe Unionist seat until 2005, and it is patently obvious that if both a UCUNF candidate and a DUP candidate contest this seat, this will result in the present MP – the SDLP incumbent being re-elected.
In this context, a motion was also unanimously passed that exploratory talks are undertaken immediately, and as a matter of urgency, with the DUP. This would be to ascertain the possibility of agreeing one Unionist candidate to contest the South Belfast seat, on behalf of all Unionists, who make up the majority of the electors in this constituency. Members at the meeting also stated that they could undertake talks with the DUP at a local South Belfast level, if this complemented and assisted the overall process, and objective, of agreeing one joint Unionist candidate.
As also agreed unanimously at the meeting, I have been asked to convey the above views and position to you, in the strongest terms.
On behalf of the Association, I look forward to receiving your reply as I have been asked to immediately convey any response back to our members.
Yours Sincerely, and Kindest Regards,
PS. I tried to get this uploaded as a JPEG in its original letter format, but that was an hour I’ll not get back. Safe to say, I received the full letter and not some words pasted into an email.