Open Unionism


A forum to discuss new ideas and perspectives on Unionism…

Another UUP MLA faces deselection

The UUP have held another selection meeting. This time in the Upper Bann Constituency.

The late MP’s son, Colin McCusker topped the poll with successful Lurgan by-election candidate, elected in February 2010, Jo-anne Dobson, coming second. Sitting MLA Samuel Gardiner came in third. The other sitting MLA, George Savage, came in fifth. The party is expected to stand three candidates and it is thought that Mr Savage will face deselection.

The fate of Westminster candidate, Harry Hamilton, is unsure as he came in fourth. Should the party over rule the decision of the association it could cause uproar.

The possible deselection of sitting MLA George Savage comes as David McClarty, Deputy Speaker and MLA for East Londonderry, faced a similar fate earlier in the week. He however remained victorious in today’s News letter arguing that there was a miscalculation in the points system.

The UUP have adopted a new system of selection based on scoring candidates as opposed to the more traditional system of one member, one vote. The new system saw Leadership candidate, Basil McCrea, romp home in Lagan Valley the week before last. It was rumoured that he could have faced deselection himself.

Filed under: Assembly elections, elections

Guest blog: Tom Elliott represents change that’s ‘planned, tested, surgical in nature

Open Unionism has requested blog posts from supporters of each of the candidates running for the leadership of the Ulster Unionists. The first is from Mike Nesbitt who outlines his view as to why Tom Elliott should be the next leader of the UUP.

By Mike Nesbitt

I am quite taken with a story attributed to Charles Handy, the influential management guru, about a particular type of South American frog. If you put this frog in a pot of cold water, and slowly heat it, the frog dies, because it will not spot the existential threat in the changing environment.

I do not wish to be the type of unionist that fails to spot the evolving threats around us. But when it comes to change, I am also the sort of person who says “be careful what you wish for.” Change for change’s sake could turn out to be as big a threat to the Party as inertia; neither is an acceptable way forward; either could be the end of us.

Prune a rose bush in the right way, at the right time, and you will see it grow. Hack it to bits and you will kill it.

The change I want to see is planned, tested, surgical in nature. I am not afraid of a little pruning back this winter, if it yields a better blossom in time for next year’s elections. But makes sure the secateurs are in the right hands!

I want a link with the Conservatives, but our candidates to stand as Ulster Unionists. That’s Tom.

I want co-operation with fellow unionists, but no unity. That’s Tom.

I want to improve the relationship between UUP Headquarters and the Constituency Associations. That’s Tom.

When I started my broadcasting career many years ago, I was attracted by the shooting stars of the industry, presenters and producers alike. There were other “steady Eddie” types, but I could not figure what they offered. I know now, because it is they and their organisations that survived and thrived.

In my career, I had to make a difficult decision between wanting to be liked or respected. I choose the latter, and it’s a value that informs all my big decisions today. Because earning respect in this context means listening to what your members want, making difficult decisions, and spotting when the water’s getting hot.

Mike blogs at

Filed under: elections, guest blogger, UUP, ,

Calling all candidates…

Keith Belfast has got a decent project running. He’s attempting to catalogue all the social media tools employed by candidates at the upcoming election (just like he did for the Euros).

But it’s a big job to get info on every general election candidate – so he needs help. Lots of help. Check out his post and contribute (the form is here).

Being able to access a comprehensive directory of this type should make it easier to bring candidate voter together and to promote engagement. Looks like a great idea…

Filed under: elections

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