“If Disability Living Allowance went away and people had to get up in the morning and go to work…”

Not a great weekend for the UUP. With Robin, due to Swann off and leaving the health service drifting aimlessly towards the rocks, their great hope to take the North Down seat, Colonel Tim Collins, gave a disastrous interview to the Newsletter. It really is worth a read.

Here are some of the best bits:

was also scathing about his potential rivals, saying “they are concerned with potholes, parking and dog excrement on the pavement”.

Mr Collins argues there “isn’t any quality whatsoever” or anyone with the necessary sort of “gravitas” amongst the other candidates.

On the current MP Stephen Farry: “He is not a unionist. He’s said that himself. He is someone who would prefer that another jurisdiction runs this nation. North Down is solidly unionist, and I want it represented for what it is.

“The position of the Alliance Party is at least vaguely if not broadly pro-nationalist. People need to be aware of that… I want to offer a modern, progressive deal within the Union”.

On a border poll, he said: “In the privacy of the polling booth, when people had the choice to pay 60 euros for every visit to the doctor, and 60 euros for every every prescription – if Disability Living Allowance went away and people had to get up in the morning and go to work – I think that the Union would be secure between about 85 and 90 per cent”.

“The Ulster Unionist Party in my mind is the party that young people are looking towards. The two things I want to deliver, above everything else, is to appeal to the youth and make the case why unionism is important to them. And youth from right across the spectrum. People from catholic, protestant and no religious background at all. People who are newly arrived here in Northern Ireland, making their life here – why unionism is the thing that should be offered to them.

He claimed public services in Great Britain are “collapsing” because “since 2016 a greater number of people than the entire population of NI have come and settled in Britain. Many of these people work in low paid jobs, they’re not contributing – some are but the vast majority aren’t – in terms of tax. They need somewhere to live, they need health, social services. That’s why the NHS is collapsing, because it’s just overwhelmed. The housing sector is completely overwhelmed – and we’re seeing people who have been on housing lists for a long time being side-stepped [because of the public duty] to look after asylum seekers”.

The voters of North Down are famously an independent lot with a history of backing non-traditional candidates. Maybe they will like the cut of Colonel Tim’s jib but I don’t think so.

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