Saturday, 11 September 2010

Traditional unionism

During the Ulster Unionist leadership campaign the term traditional unionist has been derided as something to be avoided as uncouth, rural and not politically correct.

But should we deride the term, after all what are the attributes of a traditional unionist.
Loyal to Queen and country – absolutely and importantly being aware that without playing a more positive and active role in the United Kingdom unionism risks degenerating into a form of Ulster Nationalism.

Resolute – from the formation of the state traditional unionists have stood firm in face of hardship, in war, against terrorism and in difficult economic times.

Compassionate – they have a love of their fellow man and seek to serve their community through voluntary action and endeavour.

Hard working and industrious – from the creation of Northern Ireland - and indeed even before - they have built the factories, mills, farms, and businesses that have kept Northern Ireland working and producing.

Political leaders – they built Northern Ireland up and stood against the terrorists who would tear it down. They recognise that our society is not yet all that it can be. It is traditional unionism that will focus our political effort to drive out poverty and deprivation.

Tom Elliot will take this party forward with loyalty, resolution, compassion, hard work and leadership.

For Ulster Unionism the challenge will be to show that we are the best placed party to take Northern Ireland forward. It will not be enough to simply ask for the electorates support to keep the other parties out, instead we must show how, by electing Ulster Unionists, problems will be solved and for individuals their quality of life will be improved.

We live in a society where there are children who go to bed hungry because they live in poverty.

There are 11 year old children who have started their post primary education without the numeracy and literacy skills to learn in that environment.

There are 16 year olds who left school in June with no qualifications, no route to further and higher education, no training opportunities, no jobs and no hope.

Finding employment for anyone in good times is difficult enough, now it seems an impossible task.

50000 people are on waiting lists for housing.

As heating costs rise there are families who must make the choice between heating and eating.

As we grow older the demands on our health service grow greater.

If we are to deliver for the people of Northern Ireland then these are the issues that we must address.

The choices we have will be difficult and those who take them must be prepared to stand over them.

But be of no doubt the leadership that is required both for Ulster Unionism and for Northern Ireland will require that those decisions have to be taken.

That means becoming a party fit for purpose, a party whose objective is a better life for all, a party of ideas, a party of delivery.

We should not allow ourselves to be ring fenced by the dogmatic approaches of others or distracted by the blue skies of Utopia but we should set ourselves the goal of providing the leadership our country needs across all areas of government not just those we control.

I believe Tom Elliot has the skills our party and our country now need and by supporting him I believe that Ulster Unionism can begin to return to a position of leadership not just by the strength of our words or the attractiveness of our ideas but by the resolute nature of our actions.

1 comment:

  1. I think that when people attack 'traditional unionism', they're attacking the anti-Catholic, Orangist unionism of an earlier era. There's no denying it existed. Quite simply, the phrase 'traditional unionism' is unlikely to reach out to the Catholic electorate, which the UUP should be doing. Just my two cents.

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