Friday, 30 April 2010

Fred highlights DUP hypocrisy over Civil Service cuts

Fred Cobain,
Conservatives and Unionists candidate for North Belfast

The recent street protest by NIPSA civil servants is the latest visible sign of DUP economic mismanagement.

Earlier this week they tried to scare the electorate with forecasts of cuts that would come if the Conservatives and Unionists win the forthcoming Election. Those claims were exposed as lies and if further proof were needed, it has emerged today in the shape of the NIPSA protests over fears that the DUP Environment Minister is about to cut 270 jobs in the Planning Service.

This is in addition to the £113 million of cuts which the DUP Finance Minister has imposed on the local Health budget in this financial year.

People are not stupid. They know the economy is in a bad way and they know that hard decisions will need to be taken.

But they also know that it is utter hypocrisy for the DUP to scare-monger about what the Conservatives and Unionists might do if they came to power, at the same time as DUP cuts are already crippling the Health Service and forcing civil servants onto the street.

At Stormont the Ulster Unionist Party has consistently warned the DUP about the black hole which had been allowed to develop in the Stormont budget, but the DUP's response was to deny reality and accuse us of being financially illiterate.

Peter Robinson is busy saying one thing on public spending - and printing entirely another in his manifesto wish list.

As recent events have shown, it is the DUP who are financially illiterate. Except it would seem when it comes to claiming Westminster expenses, munching their way through mountains of food or selling off plots of land.

Mike Nesbitt speaking at the Conservatives and Unionists manifesto launch

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Ross says Northern Ireland has everything to gain from 25 year plan for businesses

Ross Hussey,
Conservatives and Unionists candidate for West Tyrone.

The shocking misreporting of what David Cameron actually said does nothing to assist the debate on how we achieve what everyone knows needs to be done - namely the rebalancing of the Northern Ireland economy and the growth of local enterprises.

The Conservatives and Unionists already have plans to help businesses employ more people - by cutting corporation tax, stopping labour's tax on jobs, and promoting more flexible employment so that work pays.

No one disputes the need to tackle the UK's national debt and make public services more efficient. The UK will pay £42billion on interest payments this year alone. That is money that will never be spent on health, education or infrastructure. If we do not get the national debt undercontrol interest rates will also go up hitting every mortgage holder in Northern Ireland. We also risk the long-term economic stability of the UK. You only have to look at Greece to see how badly it can go wrong if national debt ets out of control.

In direct contrast to the policy Labour would be forced to adopt, the Conservatives and Unionists want to develop a 25-year plan to re-build the private sector in Northern Ireland and move away from our dependence on public funding in a managed way. It is essential there are Conservatives and Unionists elected as MPs to ensure this remains high on any incoming government's agenda.

Thus, the choice at this election is again clear. We can have five years of chaotic and unplanned cuts under Labour with no voice for Northern Ireland, or we can have change and the development of a 25-year economic plan for growth under the Conservatives and Unionists directly influenced by MPs from Northern Ireland.

Danny asks for the DUP to clarify where they stand on public spending

Danny Kennedy,
Conservatives and Unionists candidate for Newry and Armagh 

The DUP's rejection of David Cameron's call to grow the private sector in Northern Ireland is a staggering rejection of previously stated DUP policy.

The DUP's confusion, however, does not stop there. On the issue of public spending the DUP leader has now explicitly contradicted his own manifesto, less than 1 week after its publication.

The opening paragraph of the DUP manifesto economy section states:

Growing the private sector is the key to economic success. It will be the private sector that will lead the UK into economic recovery. We need low interest rates and must reign back public spending and invest more wisely. Spending reductions must be pursued rather than seeking to increase taxes, though restricted spending cannot jeopardise recovery. A key priority of the next Government must be reducing debt. Public spending in recent decades, and particularly over the last two years in response to the recession, has caused the United Kingdom to be laden with exceptionally high levels of debt.

Yesterday, however, Peter Robinson totally refuted this stance and his previous statements on the size of the public sector in Northern Ireland. He said:

The public sector in Northern Ireland as a percentage of the population is of a similar size to elsewhere in the United Kingdom … We need more public funding.

The DUP must tell voters in Northern Ireland which position it actually stands for. Is it the "spending reductions" of their manifesto or the "more public funding" of yesterday's Peter Robinson statement?

First the DUP supported growing the private sector - now it appears to be against it. First the DUP called for spending restraint - now it wants more public money spent. When will the confusion and the flip-flops end

Sir Reg Empey at the Conservatives and Unionists manifesto launch

Sir Reg Empey,
Conservatives and Unionists candidate for South Antrim

For most of my political life manifesto launches in Northern Ireland have summed up how our politics was cut off from mainstream British politics.

Across all parties, we talked about what we would like to do ...

but it stopped there.  Why?

Because Northern Ireland was a place apart.  We had no real say in who would be Prime Minister of our country.  No meaningful role in the Mother of Parliaments.  No chance of being involved in the government of the United Kingdom.  Well, we have changed all that …

We, the two great parties who stand on this manifesto have already changed politics in Northern Ireland.  The Ulster Unionist Party - the party that ensured Northern Ireland's place in the United Kingdom.  The party which defended democratic values against the onslaught of terrorism during the dark years of the Troubles.  The party which took the courageous decision in 1998 to build the peace.

And our colleagues and friends in the Conservative Party.  The Conservative Party which governed the United Kingdom for most of the 20th century.  Stood firm during the Cold War, ended British decline and restored British pride.  And is now ready to give the decisive government required to lead our country out of recession.  

Our two great parties are now working together in partnership to build on these achievements.  And to end Northern Ireland's semi-detached status within the United Kingdom.

William Hague's presence with us demonstrates the Conservative and Unionist conviction that Northern Ireland is not a place apart - but an integral part of the United Kingdom.  Needless to say, you are once again very welcome to Northern Ireland.

This Conservatives and Unionists manifesto - a manifesto for a government of the entire United Kingdom - signals that the days are past when Northern Ireland was relegated to the window-ledge of the Union.  This is a manifesto to put Northern Ireland at the heart of the Union.  A manifesto which expresses unionism's historic belief in 'our cherished position of equal citizenship in the United Kingdom'.

Others in this election tell us that Northern Ireland would be best served by a hung parliament.  It is hard to believe that self-proclaimed unionists are actually promoting this.  Not only would a hung parliament undermine the ability of a government to take the decisive action required to lead our country out of recession.  It would hand influence to the Scottish and Welsh nationalists, determined to break up the Union.  It would hand influence to the Lib Dems, determined to see the UK in the Euro and governed by a federal Europe.

Those of us who cherish the United Kingdom cannot be hoping for such an outcome.

Those of us who want to see our economy led out of recession and debt must be campaigning for a strong mandate for a Conservative and Unionist government.  Not the indecision and grubby back-room deals of a hung parliament.  

If we want to see change - real, meaningful change - in Northern Ireland and across the United Kingdom - it will only come through a Conservative and Unionist government.  The change that will restore economic prosperity.

And that, by the way, does mean - must mean - growing Northern Ireland's private sector.

Over the weekend we saw just how worthless are the words spoken by the other political parties on growing the private sector. The other parties argue against us.

Because we have the audacity to suggest that Northern Ireland should not be left on the window ledge of the British economy.  That we in this part of the United Kingdom should have the jobs and economic opportunity that come with a vibrant private sector.

I can't think of a better illustration to show how we must vote for change on 6th May.

The change that will put Northern Ireland at the heart of the Union.

The change that will deliver a government which is not neutral on the Union like Labour.

But passionately committed to our United Kingdom.

The change that will restore economic opportunity to all parts of the United Kingdom.

This is the change for which this Conservative and Unionist manifesto stands.

This is the change for which we - Conservatives and Unionists - stand.

So let's take this message right across Northern Ireland.

And take Northern Ireland into the heart of the Union.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Sandra welcomes Conservatives and Unionists commitment to female candidates

Sandra Overend, 
Conservatives and Unionists candidate for Mid-Ulster 

As Women’s Development Officer for the Ulster Unionist Party I have been well aware that there was a lack of female representatives at a senior level in the Party.

This is something which the Party has sought to address and I am delighted to say that this is now a thing of the past, as evidenced by the fact that we have four female candidates standing under the Conservatives and Unionists banner in the forthcoming Westminster Election.

Paula Bradshaw is standing in South Belfast, Lesley Macaulay is running in East Londonderry, Daphne Trimble is our candidate in Lagan Valley and I shall be contesting Mid-Ulster.

Indeed with four female candidates, that is four more than the DUP, who have in the past not been slow to criticise us on this very issue.

I myself have been keen to ensure that people are promoted on merit regardless of whether they are male or female – to do so would mean losing out on a great deal of talent.

Irwin comments on DUP’s economically illiterate manifesto

Irwin Armstrong, 
Conservatives and Unionists candidate for North Antrim,

The DUP manifesto emphasises why we badly need a change of political direction in North Antrim. 

Not only is this document economically illiterate, its brass neck when it comes to expenses is scarcely believable!

While other parties have at least shown some contrition for exploiting the expenses system, the DUP is still trying to justify its behaviour! 

In fact it claims its MPs’ expenses “were of an entirely different nature” to those of other MPs. What arrogance!

While people in North Antrim work hard and struggle to pay their weekly food bills, our outgoing MP repeatedly claimed £400 worth of food a month for the short time he actually turned up to Westminster. His son was forced to resign as junior minister after constant questions about his relationship with a property developer.

After forty years of DUP/Paisley domination the last major international investment in this area was before Ian Paisley won our Westminster seat, the major hospital was lost to Antrim, the Army barracks closed, the local tax office is now closed, Ballymoney has lost much of its manufacturing industry and the side roads are in an appalling state. In contrast the Paisley dynasty’s chief legacy to North Antrim is a plush DUP constituency office in Ballymena. As one local man on the doorsteps summed it up ‘£60,000 a year for their office from the tax payer and I struggle to meet my bills’.

Voters in North Antrim are not fools. Many people I speak to on the doorsteps are angry about the expenses scandal and they know that the DUP are up to their necks in it. They want change and an end to dynasty, coat tail politics.

I, as a first time candidate and business owner, offer a chance for a new, transparent style of politics in North Antrim. I will publish my expenses monthly, so that every constituent can assess how they are being represented and every taxpayer can find out how their money is being spent and I will publish a monthly summary of my work for the people of North Antrim.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Political careers seem to begin in West Belfast!

Bill Manwaring,
Conservatives and Unionists candidate for West Belfast

In February 1969 a young man took his first steps as a political activist, canvassing a small area of West Belfast for the Ulster Unionist Candidate Basil McIvor. This young man knocked on doors and extolled the virtues of Mr. McIvor as a good man and a caring politician. That young man's name was David Trimble.

41 years later it was my good fortune to be able to invite Lord Trimble to help me canvas a part of that same area - the now much expanded Riverdale area of West Belfast.

For Lord Trimble it was an opportunity to revisit the start of a political career which has so far included the glowing achievements of the Good Friday Agreement and a Nobel Peace prize.

For me it was a great chance to show the resulting political changes where I, a pro- union politician, can knock on doors across West Belfast and talk openly with the residents, regardless of their religious or political beliefs, about change for us and our children.

The work that has been done by Lord Trimble and so many others in the last fifteen years has made Northern Ireland such a better place - but we are only at the start of this journey. Over the last three weeks, knocking on doors all over West Belfast, I keep hearing that people want change, they want politicians who will address the economy, poverty, housing and crime - these are the things that the people today in Riverdale were talking about.

That is the change I am proud to be campaigning for.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

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Sandra is committed to resolving difficulties faced by older people

Sandra Overend, 
Conservatives and Unionists candidate for Mid-Ulster 

Pensioners have worked hard all their lives; they have paid their taxes and contributed to our economy and society. It is simply unacceptable that thousands of older people are continually facing poverty and hardship.

This election is crucially important for pensioners. 13 years of a Labour Government has seen the state pension depleted and private pensions decimated by Gordon Brown.

Conservatives and Unionists believe that pensioners deserve a better deal and that is why we are committed to protect existing age-related entitlements and increase the basic state pension in line with rising living standards.

We are committed to look at how to abolish the Default Retirement Age allowing people to work longer. We will protect free TV licenses, disability living allowances, attendance allowance and the pension credit.

Locally we need to rejuvenate the Warm Homes Scheme to ensure that as many people as possible are protected against fuel poverty.

Conservatives and Unionists are the only candidates in this election who can deliver for pensioners. I firmly believe that as a society we need greater respect and collaboration between the generations and we need to ensure that pensioners have the dignity and security in their old age that they deserve.

Harry says the DUP hung parliament strategy threatens the Union

Harry Hamilton,
Conservatives and Unionists candidate for Upper Bann

The DUP Manifesto attempts to portray the possibility of a hung parliament as 'a once in a lifetime opportunity' for Northern Ireland. This is almost precisely the same language used by the anti-unionist Scottish and Welsh nationalists. In a joint statement last month, the SNP and Plaid described a hung parliament as 'a once in a generation opportunity' to advance their agenda.

The DUP are prepared to dangerously gamble with the Union by aiming for a hung parliament. The very fact that Scottish and Welsh nationalists are also working for this should alert unionists to the real dangers in this strategy. A hung parliament would result in a weak government and a weak Union. It would increase the power of the separatists, seeking to use their influence in Parliament to tear the Union apart.

While the DUP share a platform with the SNP and Plaid, the Conservatives and Unionists are determined to see Northern Ireland at the heart of the Union - not allied to those who want to end it. Being on the window ledge of the Union, giving influence to Scottish and Welsh nationalists, is not a unionist vision. Nor is hoping for a weak government that can be held to ransom by the SNP and Plaid. On 6th May the people of Northern Ireland can vote for a strong, pro-Union government at Westminster by voting Conservatives and Unionists.

Paula says votes are not for sale in South Belfast

Paula Bradshaw,
Conservatives and Unionists candidate for South Belfast

I want to clarify that votes are not for sale in South Belfast.  I would emphasis this after the news of Jimmy Spratt's offer to trade his Assembly seat in return for the withdrawal from the Westminster campaign.

This is typical of the DUP who think that everything has a price. Contrary to Jimmy's policy I do not believe that constituents, or constituencies can be traded like a sliver of land.

For that reason I would never accept a seat to which I was not democratically elected. I am not prepared to deny voters their right to real representation. As far as I am concerned seats cannot be traded. Although when it comes to what the DUP really stands for the electorate have come to the realisation that it is not trust and integrity - particularly given the news reports and revelations over the last few months.

I am deeply disappointed that Mr Spratt has ignored the invitation to join my campaign. I have been canvassing for six weeks and the message on the doors has been clear. Unionist voters want a Unionist returned at this election. The only way we can ensure that this happens is by putting up a strong candidate who can attract votes from right across the pro-Union constituency and those who may never have voted unionist in the past. I believe I am that person.

Let us not forget what this is really about. The DUP may attempt to claim that this is about unionist unity. Who split unionism in the first place? If this is about the best thing for Unionism then why are the DUP refusing to back a candidate who can boost Northern Ireland's role within the UK? Is that not what Unionism is meant to be about? While the DUP share a platform with the SNP and Plaid, the Conservatives and Unionists are determined to see Northern Ireland at the heart of the Union - not allied to those who want to end it."

There is still time for one candidate to unite voters in South Belfast - therefore to Jimmy I would say - my door is always open.

Mike Nesbitt says it is time to move beyond 'Little Ulster'

Mike Nesbitt, 
Conservatives and Unionists candidate for Strangford

This Election will provide the Unionist voters of Northern Ireland with a genuine choice.

I believe Conservatives and Unionists are offering candidates who, if elected, will take their seats at Westminster with hundreds of other Conservatives and Unionists from throughout the United Kingdom, and be in a position to shape the policies of the next Government of the United Kingdom from its very core. For the first time in over 40 years, locally elected politicians will be at the heart of British politics.

I believe that the people of Northern Ireland deserve the opportunity to engage fully in mainstream National political life. The Union and Unionism is bigger than a "little-Ulster" mentality. For the past 40 years Northern Ireland political life became detatched from the British mainstream, and as the terrorist campaign unfolded in the 1970s and 1980s we did become a place apart. At last we have an opportunity to remedy that.

The local political scene has changed utterly since 1998, and now is the time for Northern Ireland and its People to regain their rightful place within the Union. I believe that we can best do that as an integral part of the Conservatives and Unionists at Westminster, with the genuine prospect of real power and influence over issues such as taxation, benefits and defence. Unlike any other Northern Ireland Party, we actually can deliver on the promises we make and the policies we put before the electorate.

Others can promise, but only Conservatives and Unionists can deliver.

A vote for the DUP is a vote to weaken the Union and endanger the economy. If elected, DUP members will sit as a small pressure group on the Opposition benches with the Scottish and Welsh Nationalists. A fringe grouping sitting amongst those whose sole aim is the breakup of the United Kingdom, but who will settle in the meantime for a Hung Parliament in which they can use their votes as a bargaining chip to loosen the ties that bind us together as a Nation.

Second Television Party Election Broadcast - Conservatives and Unionists

The Second of our Party Election Broadcasts (PEB) for the television

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Paula calls on the DUP to commit to debate on real election issues

I submitted my papers yesterday, and can confirm I am now officially the Conservatives and Unionists candidate for South Belfast.

I really am looking forward to a campaign based on issues, and I note that the DUP alone stand outside such a campaign.

I have been on the doorsteps for weeks now, in campaign with the Alliance Party, the SDLP and the Green Party which has been based solely on the issues which count at this election - taxation, welfare and pensions. I am looking forward to continuing that debate over the coming two weeks or so.

The DUP and Sinn Fein alone have, uniquely, has stood apart from that debate, instead trying to base its campaign on narrow, sectarian interests. The DUP is the only party delivering a ‘split’ - splitting Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK by attempting to deprive us, uniquely in our country, of a full role in UK affairs. The DUP will have to explain why it is seeking to deprive us of the type of British political debate which would be taken for granted in every other part of the UK.

The DUP has already admitted that it cannot win the seat, otherwise it would not have put so much effort into campaigning for a ‘Unionist Unity’ candidate. Nevertheless, the challenge now is for the DUP to engage in the same debate that the rest of us have been engaged in - on issues, not identity.

I have been clear all along that I believe I can win the seat, without any such pacts, by engaging with the people of South Belfast on the issues which matter to them, and on the issues on which we have a real voice at Westminster.

Ian Parsley on having a say in who will be in government

Conservatives and Unionists Westminster candidate Ian Parsley was out and about in North Down at the weekend with Ulster Unionist MLA Leslie Cree and supporters to engage with people at the doorstep as wel as gauge public opinion in one the its busiest shopping areas, Main Street, Bangor.

Ian Parsley, already a well known face in local council, said "I am encouraged by the response on the doorsteps. People are responding well to the need for us to bring national politics to Northern ireland and deliver a change of government. This applies right across the constituency."

Local Northern Ireland Assembly member Leslie Cree, in support of Mr Parsley's campaign, said "This is realistically the first time people in North Down will have a say on who will form the next Government of the United Kingdom.

"I believe, and none of the constituents I have met disagrees, Brown and Labour must go!

"Gordon Brown is responsible for destroying final salary pension schemes. He sold the country's gold reserves at the worst possible time, and he has accumilatied a massive deficit which our grandchildren are likely still to be repaying. It is crucial the Labour Party is replaced."

The group was supported by Owen Paterson, who may be the next Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. This is further evidence of the commitment to North Down shown by senior Conservatives.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Only Conservatives and Unionists can strengthen influence at Westminster

Trevor Ringland
Trevor Ringland, Conservatives and Unionists candidate for East Belfast, speaks on who will be best placed to strengthen Northern Ireland's best interests at Westminster.

The idea that a tiny bloc of ‘ourselves alone’ DUP MPs at Westminster can have more influence over Northern Ireland policy than Conservative and Unionist MPs operating within the mainstream is frankly laughable.

Conservative and Unionist MPs elected from Northern Ireland will be part of UK-wide pro-union party; the DUP will be a stand alone rump trying to sell themselves to the highest bidder.

Conservative and Unionist MPs from Northern Ireland will be eligible to serve as ministers in government; no DUP MP will ever be a minister in a Westminster government.

Conservative and Unionist MPs from Northern Ireland will be able to influence government from the inside; DUP MPs will be permanently on the outside.

Conservative and Unionist MPs from Northern Ireland will back David Cameron who has said that he’ll never be neutral on the Union; DUP MPs are prepared to give us five more years of Gordon Brown and Shaun Woodward who are at best neutral on the Union.

“The whole of the DUPs strategy appears to be borrowed from the anti-Union Scottish Nationalists, who are campaigning for the political and economic instability of a hung parliament. They would marginalise and weaken Northern Ireland within Westminster.

“Instead, Conservatives and Unionists are campaigning for a decisive mandate for change, and end to Northern Ireland’s semi-detached status and participation in the mainstream of national, UK politics.”

“We will bring out the best in all our people in a Northern Ireland for all, inside a United Kingdom for all, and we will work constructively with all those with whom share this island.”

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Mike Nesbitt challenges DUP to public debate

Mike Nesbitt, Conservatives and Unionists candidate for Strangford, has challenged the DUP’s Jim Shannon to join the other main candidates at the election debate scheduled for Regent Street Presbyterian Church on Thursday 29th April.

“I understand most of the candidates have already indicated their willingness to attend, but Mr Shannon has quoted a prior engagement. I also had plans for next Thursday evening, but was happy to cancel and attend the debate. The public are right to expect all the candidates to do likewise.

"The debate is being organised by Christian Aid and will be the only opportunity the voters of Strangford will have to question the Parliamentary candidates on their views.

“After a year of shame and scandal in politics, all candidates have a duty to be totally open and transparent with the voters. That means standing in front of real voters, answering real questions.

“I repeat, I have cancelled my plans and will attend Regent Street on Thursday 29th. If Jim really cannot break his prior engagement, let him propose an alternative time, and I’ll be there."

Friday, 16 April 2010

Sandra Overend calls for support for Police in War on Drugs

Sandra Overend, the Conservatives and Unionists Candidate for Mid-Ulster in the forthcoming Westminster Election has praised Police for their actions in seizing £20,000 worth of drugs in Magherafelt on Thursday 15th April.

Sandra said;

"I know the entire community will join me in congratulating the Police for this seizure of cannabis resin in Magherafelt.

It is every parent’s nightmare to learn that their child is involved with drugs, and I know that every family in Mid-Ulster will be delighted to learn that this particular consignment of drugs is off our streets.

This is more good news following the Government’s decision to ban Mephedrone which had emerged as a so-called “legal high” and was having a terrible impact on young people .

The Police both need and deserve the support of the entire community in Mid-Ulster and far beyond to combat the criminal gangs who deal in drugs and seek to make money from selling their poison to young people, destroying families and communities in the process.”

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Bill out and about in West Belfast

Yesterday morning saw The Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Caroline Spelman visiting my constituency. Caroline has a real grasp of the key social issues facing marginalised communities and must be a real asset to her own constituents in Meriden.

We started the morning by visiting residents living in some of the worst conditions I have ever experienced. Hearing their stories of how they feel that they have been abandoned by the statutory agencies as well as their elected representatives underlines the feeling of despair being shown by many of the people in West Belfast.

From here we visited the offices of the Forum for Action on Substance Abuse (FASA) to discuss the problems that our young people are facing which are forcing more and more into drug addiction and suicide.

Caroline was involved in the formation and currently sits on the board of a similar organisation at home called 'Welcome'. It was great to have a future minister showing her clear understanding and empathy of this challenging and devastating issue.

Our next stop was to visit the Suffolk and Lenadoon Interface Group (SLIG) where we met with staff and community leaders involved with this very successful project.

Formed 16 years ago, SLIG has proven to be an excellent example of how our two communities can work together towards understanding and reconciliation. The success of this group is used throughout the UK and beyond as an excellent example of post-confrontation development.

My sincerest thanks to Caroline (and Simon) for their support today, it is exciting to think that, as Conservatives and Unionists we could have such a qualified and committed minister in the next government. All we need is for each of us who have had enough of the double jobbing and lack of accountability shown by our politicians to VOTE FOR CHANGE.

DUP’s efforts “designed to blind the electorate to the real issues”

Conservatives and Unionists East Belfast candidate Trevor Ringland has said that the DUP’s efforts to shift public attention on to South Belfast and a Unionist Unity candidate are “designed to blind the electorate to the real issues”.

“Mr Robinson does not get to decide what unionism is.  Mr Robinson does not get to decide what Unionist unity is.  Mr Robinson does not get to call other Unionists “liars” and then call for Unionist Unity.

“It is deeply insulting to the Unionist electorate to have disingenuous invitations to ‘unity’ dangled in front of them as some of sort of smokescreen. The DUP should be in no doubt – hurling insults in response to genuine questions about the activities of their leader is not the correct response – answering those questions is. .

“This is the party whose leader, Peter Robinson, called me a “liar” during a television interview on 2 April.  He also called his fellow members of the Executive, Sir Reg Empey and Michael McGimpsey, “liars”.  All this because we dared to ask for clarification on questions raised in two BBC television programmes.

“We invited him to clear his name in relation to a land deal, but he has yet to give satisfactory answers to the questions raised. 

“Following the BBC Spotlight programme in early January, the First Minister sought legal advice and temporarily stepped aside until he had received and considered this advice. 

“This advice was not published, and I call for it to be published now. Furthermore I call for Peter Robinson to withdraw his claim that I and Ministers Empey and McGimpsey are “liars”. Furthermore I again call on Peter Robinson to publish to publish the advice now.

“It appears that Unionist Unity in the minds of the DUP is to name call, attack and expect others to do their bidding.  Our politics deserves more.

“The DUP are only capable of pressing old buttons that have served unionism so badly.  Their recent behavior has been bad for unionism.”

Unionists have more in common than separates them.  Together we can build a confidence and pride in what we believe in and what we stand for.  We will be inclusive and a Northern Ireland for all in a UK for all.

I believe in a Unionism that has pride and confidence in itself, that is inclusive and will play a full role in Northern Ireland and the UK.

DUP election strategy is just to look for a free run

A Conservatives and Unionists spokesperson has said that the DUP's election strategy "speaks volumes about the reception they're getting on the doorsteps".

"Throwing leaflets at voters and asking opponents to step aside seems to be the DUP's latest 'clever device'.

"It comes as no surprise that a party employee acknowledged, on Facebook, that he would 'leaflet until the cows come home just leave out the human interaction'. Let's be honest, how could you sell what the DUP have to offer with a straight face?

"Given the public backlash over accusations against their Party leader and the flood of criticism over their 'swish' families' expenses claims, I would imagine the doorsteps on the DUP campaign trail are distinctly chilly. In that context, it's no wonder their campaign amounts to drowning voters in literature.

"Now, not content with reaching an accommodation over Fermanagh and South Tyrone, they're positively begging for their opposition to step aside in South Belfast and even West Tyrone!

"If this is their best shot at an election strategy, then they mustn't have much faith in their campaign.

"They don't want to talk to the voters, they're desperate for other parties to step aside, and poor Peter is being victimised by the media…. Perhaps the DUP should just take their ball and go home."

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Television Party Election Broadcast - Conservatives and Unionists (NI)

The First of our Party Election Broadcasts (PEB) for the television

Reg welcomes the Conservative manifesto

Ulster Unionist Party leader Sir Reg Empey, the Conservatives and Unionists candidate for South Antrim, has welcomed today's manifesto launch by David Cameron.

"The manifesto launched today shows that only David Cameron and the Conservatives and Unionist have the leadership, vision and energy to deliver the change the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, needs.

"We strongly welcome David's commitment to strengthen the Union and, through the relationship between the Conservatives and the Ulster Unionists to bring Northern Ireland into the mainstream of UK politics.

"That's what his invitation to join the government of Britain means.

"David Cameron's attitude stands in stark contrast to Gordon Brown and Shaun Woodward who believe the British Government should be neutral on the Union.

"It is clear that Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK need a government with a decisive mandate for change.

"That can't be delivered by the DUP who along with their SNP and Plaid Cymru allies are campaigning for the political and economic chaos of a hung Parliament that will put our recovery at risk.

"Only by backing the Conservatives and Unionists can people in Northern Ireland elect a Conservative and Unionist Government committed to the Union and to real change."

Conservatives and Unionists Radio Party Election Broadcast

Vote for Change
Our Party Election Broadcast (PEB) first broadcast on the Radio this morning (13 April 2010)

Watch out for our television PEB tonight!!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Sandra Overend meet small business representatives on business recovery

Along with Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Theresa May, Ulster Unionist Party Leader, Sir Reg Empey, and the rest of the team, I met with representatives of the Federation of Small Businesses.

I firmly believe that only the election of a new Conservative government will provide the confidence and support which the vital small business sector desperately needs and thus aid Northern Ireland’s economic recovery.  Mid-Ulster has long been an area where small-businesses have provided much needed employment and they have been badly hit by the recent economic crisis and cannot afford to wade into another era of Labour’s financial mismanagement.

Given that small firms employ more than 62 per cent of the private sector workforce in Northern Ireland, this is clearly an area that needs a great deal of care and attention.  I know that small businesses are instrumental in delivering economic recovery and contributing to unemployment rates, but this is dependant on them being enabled to succeed.

Small businesses can help lead the way out of this downturn, enable sustainable growth and create essential new jobs for Northern Ireland.

Secure your postal/proxy vote (by 5pm Thursday 15 April)

Anyone wanting to apply for a postal or proxy vote for the General Election needs to act quickly to meet the deadline of 5pm on Thursday 15 April.

The time frame for summiting postal and proxy vote applications is laid down in legislation and the only exception is in a case where the applicant applies on grounds of illness that has arisen after the normal closing date.

The Conservative and Unionists would urge everyone to take action to get their postal or proxy votes before this Thursday.

You can read more on the Electoral Office of Northern Ireland website or you can go directly to their information leaflet.

Willie Ross and Dr Who.

Lesley Macaulay has recently commented on the announcement of Willie Ross as the TUV candidate for East Londonderry

When she heard the news she replied:

‘The TUV attempting to bring back the old MP from the last century is a bit like the BBC trying to bring back William Hartnell as the new Doctor Who!’
She also added on a more serious note that 

'East Londonderry is crying out for a forward looking, full time, energetic and positive MP.  People are weary of the same old faces and the same old negative politics that makes no difference in their lives. I want to see positive change on jobs, the economy, tourism, education and health, for all of us. It’s time for a fresh start.’

If you want to get in touch with Lesley Macaulay, the Conservative & Unionist Parliamentary Candidate for East Londonderry, you can contact her on 078 6680 9031 or email her at

Friday, 9 April 2010

Conservatives and Unionists reject poverty of ambition for Northern Ireland.

Sir Reg Empey, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, has responded to Peter Robinson's comments about a hung Parliament.

Sir Reg has said that the DUP's entire election strategy is to campaign for political and economic instability across the United Kingdom.  A hung Parliament would mean a government paralysed and unable to take the key decisions necessary to secure economic recovery.

Conservatives and Unionists reject this complete poverty of ambition for Northern Ireland.

Sir Reg reaffirmed that Northern Ireland's semi-detached political status will end and bring Northern Ireland back into the mainstream of UK politics.  This was acknowledged in 2008 when Conservative leader, David Cameron, said at the Ulster Unionist Party conference "The semi-detached status of Northern Ireland politics needs to end. This is not true representative democracy and it has got to change."

Conservatives and Unionists believe Northern Ireland deserves better.

Register to vote for the real poll!

Remember to register to vote for the General election taking place on 6 May.

The deadline for registering is 5.00pm on 20 April 2010 

Make your vote count.  

Vote 4 Change.  

Vote Conservative & Unionist.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

vote for Conservatives & Unionists on-line now!

belfastjj has cottoned onto this whole voting thing in a brilliant way to get us all practised for the big election day in Northern Ireland on 6 May.

Not wanting to disappoint belfastjj on his enterprising citizenship we would encourage as many people to go to the on-line poll and vote!

belfastjj NI Election Cast ur Vote @vote4changeni @utvelection @bbcnivote2010 #tweetni @bbcnickrobinson @duponline

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Welcome to Vote4Change

Welcome to the Vote for Change in Northern Ireland social media hub.