Westminster Election 2024 platform: Ulster Unionist Party leader Doug Beattie

The UUP vision focuses on the place where we live, delivering representation and public services that are fit for purpose

Doug Beattie, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) speaks during his party’s manifesto launch at the Stormont Hotel in Belfast
Ulster Unionist Party leader Doug Beattie. PICTURE: LIAM MCBURNEY/PA (Liam McBurney/PA)

The electoral battles materialising in the Westminster election are both complex and multi layered. For the Ulster Unionist Party, they can be represented in a three sphere Venn diagram.

Firstly, there is an internal unionist battle that is focused on integrity, honesty and perceived blame.

This battle centres around the DUP’s lack of transparency and openness surrounding the Safeguarding the Union deal. With weasel words they have attempted to distance themselves from the outcome of a two-year, two-way negotiation with the government which excluded all others. Having excluded all others, they now blame those they excluded for doing nothing.

The negotiation end-game came with an outlandish claim that the Irish Sea border had gone. A claim they maintained until a general election was called and other unionist parties and the unionist electorate forced them into a slippery U-turn and position reset.

They were dishonest and it’s a dishonesty that has plagued the DUP for a long time. From their support for the Northern Ireland Protocol to their direct input into the Windsor Framework.

Their boycott was an electoral strategy, nothing more, in the same way their present position on the Safeguarding the Union is an election strategy. ‘Make Northern Ireland Work’, a slogan appropriated from the Ulster Unionist Party, should read ‘Make Northern Ireland work for the DUP’.

If the internal unionist battle is limited to several Westminster seats, the same can be said regarding the battle for the middle ground. Here, the Ulster Unionist Party face off against the Alliance Party in North Down and Lagan Valley.

Alliance have painted themselves as all things to all people and in doing so they have had some success. But scratch the surface and you see a popularism that will never progress beyond the next election cycle.

What is Alliance’s vision for Northern Ireland in 20 years? A united community, but where will we find that united community in the future. Within the United Kingdom, within a united Ireland, as an independent state? Nobody knows, not even Alliance – and that is a deceiving policy.

The Ulster Unionist Party have been clear, we want to see a united community within a United Kingdom. Some may not agree with our long-term vision but at least we give it and don’t work on a five-year electoral vision just to secure votes. This is where Alliance find themselves. In the same way Alliance won’t define a woman, and how they will protect women in sport, space or language. They won’t outline their long-term vision for Northern Ireland, this is political cowardice.

The third layer is the battle for representation. Sinn Féin is an abstentionist party, they are clear about this policy, and people vote for them because of it. Yet they still want the kudos of their representatives being referred to as a Member of Parliament. They want the money, for offices, travel and other expenses, without the work. They want to be part of the establishment but distanced from it.

The majority in Fermanagh and South Tyrone voted for representatives who would take their seat in Westminster. Yet our electoral system means that the majority have been left with no representation. This is something the Ulster Unionist Party will challenge and once returned to Westminster will move to stop it happening in the future.

Sinn Féin try to portray themselves as a party of the people. Yet recently they voted not just to strip 2.3% from the health budget but also to grant themselves an extra £100,000 a year of taxpayers money just to run their own party structures.

In the centre of this overlapping Venn diagram are the words: integrity, vision and representation. The Ulster Unionist Party has shown real integrity since Brexit, an honesty that few wanted to hear but now accept. Our Vision focuses on the place where we live, delivering representation to all our people that builds an enduring prosperity and public services that are fit for purpose.

The people have one vote, on one day, with one chance to vote for change. The Ulster Unionist Party, with the support of those who vote, will deliver that change.