In a recent letter to the Newsletter it was suggested that the UUP has little influence with the Conservative Party. In fact the very opposite is true. The author of the letter has failed to take account of the very real change in Conservative Party policy where the next Government will be committed to the Union. A change brought about by the direct intervention of the UUP. Perhaps the DUP and others would prefer the semi-detached neutral commitment of a Labour Party which for so long has sought to avoid taking a stance on the issue.
The UUP has continued to work with our Conservative colleagues to create the opportunity for Northern Ireland to have the flexibility to develop our economy and attract new business. Again something neither Labour nor other local parties have committed to do.
The UUP recognises the role and function of a national party in national politics in the same way that the Conservatives recognise the role and function of a regional party in regional politics. Whether we refer to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland devolution has changed the relationship with national politics. We in the UUP are mature enough to recognise that and work with our colleagues in the Conservatives to make politics at all levels work.
Obviously there are those who believe that national politics are about a part-time commitment with a full-time wage and about a semi-detached relationship with the rest of the UK. Like those who represent them they will find this process hard to understand. We will be happy to outline the benefits of full engagement within the United Kingdom to Irish Nationalists and Ulster Nationalists alike.