New UUP leader must rebuild the party – Wilson

Published on Thursday 29 March 2012 10:45

Chairman of the Larne branch of the Ulster Unionist Party, Andy Wilson, has described the contest for the UUP leadership as “an opportunity to reconnect with the voting and non-voting public”.

Speaking at a branch meeting, the former mayor said: “Party members will have the opportunity on March 31 to vote for a new leader to take the party in a new direction and re-establish it as a credible alternative to the current status quo.

“Whoever wins – whether Mike Nesbitt or John McCallister – will have a mandate to make sweeping changes within the party to make it fit for purpose once again. There may be painful decisions to be made in the short term, but a new leader must be given the task to recreate a party with a clear purpose and programme to place before the electorate ahead of the next cycle of elections beginning in two years’ time.”

Mr Wilson added that turnout in East Antrim “has been collapsing” in recent years. He said: “In general, people are disinterested and turned off by politics here. People have simply stopped voting.

“The net result is that, almost by default, we are being governed from Stormont by an Executive dominated by an unholy alliance of ex-terrorists and fundamentalists. We, as the Ulster Unionist Party, have got to look forward and develop a credible alternative. We have got to get our act together so that we can present ourselves to the voting and non-voting public as a party and as candidates worth voting for.

“The election of a new leader is an opportunity for a fresh start for the party which created the state, secured our British citizenship and helped create the relative peace we all now enjoy.”

Guest speaker at the branch meeting was Leslie Cree, Ulster Unionist MLA for North Down, who gave an historical talk about the Home Rule crisis and the 1912 Ulster Covenant.

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