Former Ulster Unionist Party leader John McCallister has quit over the appointment of a joint unionist candidate to fight the Mid-Ulster by-election. Mr McCallister said: "It's nothing personal to Nigel, I know Nigel. It is about principle. I am opposed to unionist unity and I do not want to be part of that." Nesbitt and McCallister haven't seen eye to eye at all over the recent past, indeed McCallister was sacked by Mike Nesbitt as UUP deputy leader for making a speech criticising unionist unity
It comes the same week the UUP sanctioned Basil McCrea and has left many onlookers confused regards who is calling the shots in this pact between the UUP and the DUP. It seems painfully obvious Nesbitt is dancing to Robbo's tune, something that McCallister also touched upon.
With the recent victory (?) of sorts for unionism in the recent Spotlight poll, it would have made sense to take a softer line in NI and embrace the % of nationalists that are content within the UK, instead Nesbitt, who makes Big Tom look like a shrewd politician, has jumped into a DUP bed and thrown his support behind Nigel Lutton. Ironically it may have been the rhetoric and stances of John McCallister that secured some nationalists' willingness to remain within the UK in the recent poll. Lutton's father an Orangeman and RUC man was killed by the IRA, Nigel credits the Orange Order for stopping him joining loyalist death squads in the immediate aftermath of his father's death.
McCallister went further by attacking new UUP Mike Nesbitt in a letter:
He said: "Your failure to articulate and communicate a distinctive UUP stance - based on Ulster Unionism's core values - on last year's parades controversies, on the Covenant centenary, on the Union flag debate, on the misguided Unionist Forum and on the potential of electoral pacts with the DUP has unfortunately inflicted grave damage on the Party.
SF can also breathe a sigh of relief in the fact that Victims campaigner Willie Frazer and Ulster Protestant Forum leader Jamie Bryson said they will not be running in the by-election against Lutton. McCallister was someone nationalists felt they could business with, indeed Honest John said he had first voted for the UUP in 1992, because of the party's values and had "no interest in supporting other narrow expressions of unionism, committed as they were to confrontation and triumphalism".
The Mid-Ulster by-election will take place on March 7.
Coming to a cinema near you soon:
The Sequel: Bye-Bye Basil...
UUP's John McCallister quits over unity choice - BelfastTelegraph.co.uk