DUP’s election canvassing guidelines in full

DUP leader Peter Robinson canvassing in Lisburn in 2011. Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.com
DUP leader Peter Robinson canvassing in Lisburn in 2011. Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.com

The full DUP guidlines for its election canvass teams, which have been leaked to the News Letter:



Canvassing for votes is an essential component of a successful election campaign. It gives the party the opportunity to meet directly with the people who decide the outcomes of elections in order to persuade them to vote DUP. Canvassing is not an optional add-on. It MUST be done. Dropping leaflets is acceptable before elections or as an additional component of a campaign (i.e. eve-of-poll leaflets), but is never an acceptable substitute for canvassing. When done properly canvassing can persuade people to come out and vote for the party. When done badly it can drive people away from supporting the party and they in turn spread a negative impression of the party to their friends, neighbour and relations.

The purpose of this briefing paper is to provide some general rules: “do’s and don’ts” of canvassing as well as to address some of the issues most likely to come up on the doorsteps.


Gates: If a garden gate is closed when you arrive, make sure it is closed once you leave.

Lawns: Never walk across people’s lawns: stick to any path leading to the front door.

When at the door: “Hello, I’m here on behalf of ______________________, your DUP candidate(s) in the European/Council elections. Can I leave some literature with you?”

Once the person takes the leaflet: “Your support in this election would be appreciated. (pause to wait for an answer) Are there any issues or questions you would like to raise with me?”

European Election: “This is an election to the European Parliament, so in this election we are asking you to put a Number 1 beside our candidate and then transfer your vote to other Unionists”

Vote Management: “This is a PR election, so in order to get the 2/3/4 candidates in we are asking you to vote 1 (name) 2 (name) etc. etc.”

An Issue You Do Not Have the Answer to: If a person raises an issue that you are not familiar with or don’t have the answer to. Do not be afraid to say to them: “I’m sorry I don’t know the answer to that particular question”

This should be followed with:

(If the candidate is nearby) “but let me get Mr./Mrs. _____________________, our candidate to explain our policy”

(If the candidate is not close or nearby) “but if you give me your contact details, I will ensure that our candidate gives you a call to discuss the issue with you and explain our policy”. Conversations should be ended with “Thanks for your time. Much appreciated.”, or similar remarks (regardless of whether response was positive or negative)



“The government is delivering nothing”

· The Assembly and Executive are far from perfect, but better than direct rule which made decisions over our heads and behind our backs.

· Good decisions have been made:

o Free public transport for everyone over the age of 60

o Student Fees have been frozen in real terms

o Froze the Regional Rate / no water charges

o Lowest household taxes in UK. Average NI home is £2,500 better off over Assembly term

o Free prescriptions

o Record levels of investment in infrastructure like roads, hospitals and schools.

o More jobs attracted to NI than during any other period of government

o 75,000 people moved from benefits into work

“You are destroying the Health Service”

· The Department of Health in Northern Ireland accounts for almost 45% of the total government spending in Northern Ireland.

· The DUP recognised the importance of frontline health care by ensuring real terms increases in the health budget

· DHSPSS has got the best deal in the United Kingdom during the time the DUP has been the largest party. Scotland operates on a year-by-year basis and therefore the local NHS doesn’t know what it can expect from one year to the next. Wales is not ring-fenced and England has had to make greater efficiencies.

· The benefits of our approach to health issues are shown in the following statistics:

1. The number of people waiting for an outpatient appointments has been reduced by 16,085 since we assumed responsibility for the department

2. The number of people waiting for admission to a hospital has been cut by 8,320 since 2011

3. Arthritis sufferers who had to wait 9 months in 2011 for expensive anti-TNF drugs now wait less than 3 months.

4. MRSA and C.difficile infections are down by 43% and 14% respectively since 2011.

5. Standardised death-rate for heart attack has been reduced from 79 per 1000 to 61 per 1000 over the last 4 years.

6. Northern Ireland has the highest breast cancer survival rate in the British Isles.

7. Since March 2011, the number of consultants has risen by 12%. The number of middle grade doctors by 20%, the number of nurses, midwives and support staff has risen by 4%.

8. £800million is being spent this year on elderly care.

9. £250m for new Children’s Hospital

“The Executive is not working/all you do is squabble”

· There is too much bickering and squabbling especially between unionists. We want to see the parties working constructively together and better cooperation between unionists.

· Not been perfect but better than unaccountable direct rule Ministers and civil servants running NI.

· As a result of Executive decisions, NI has the lowest household taxes of anywhere in the UK

· Coalition government is not easy in any country. Look at Westminster and note the difficulties with the Lib Dem / Tory government

Budget Cuts

· They are being imposed upon Northern Ireland by the Coalition government in Westminster

· We rely on a £9.6b Block Grant from Westminster to pay for our services in NI

· Despite the cuts, we have ensured that health has best deal of anywhere in UK

· Unlike SF, the DUP sits in Parliament and has opposed cuts to NI

“We have no opposition at Stormont”

· The UUP, SDLP, Alliance and Sinn Fein produced the current system in 1998.

· There are too many MLAs and Ministers. We would prefer around 80 MLAs and 8 government departments

· Since 1998 the DUP has been making the argument that we need to have a more voluntary system of government with an opposition.

· The UUP during their time as the largest party never once supported resources being set aside for funding an opposition.

· The DUP is committed to moving to a Westminster model, but we are sensible enough to realize that in order to achieve that we will need the consent and support of other parties. This cannot be done by the DUP alone.

“The education system is in chaos”

· The issue of selection has been resolved: we secured academic selection in law as part of the St. Andrews Agreement.

· SF has not been able to prevent schools using academic selection. That would not have been the case under direct rule.

· Our Ministers introduced a scheme to recruit 234 graduate teachers to help improve numeracy and literacy and gave graduate teachers experience

· Increased the number of funded PhD places by 60%

“Direct Rule was better than devolution”

· Direct rule was not accountable to the people. Look at OTR scandal as an example.

· We would have had water charging, double digit rates hikes and no say on gay-marriage

· No-one would argue that our system of government is perfect but it is better to have local people taking important decisions rather than unaccountable direct rule minister who fly in to Northern Ireland, stay for a day or two and then fly out deciding our country’s future.

· Because of measures like the freeze on the regional rate and not introducing the direct rule plans for water charging, the average household is £2500 better off.

· Household taxes in Northern Ireland are the lowest of any UK region.

“Is the DUP for integrated education?”

· The DUP wants to see a single education system for all of Northern Ireland. Indeed, whilst initially all parties attacked our proposal other unionist parties are now gradually agreeing with us.

· At the minute we have too many educations sectors: Catholic Maintained, Controlled, Integrated, Irish Language etc.

· We proposed the establishment of a Commission to examine how a single system could be created and to identify public concerns about moving forward in that direction.

· Obviously such a change would bring forward issues such as school Assemblies etc but these matters could be discussed and addressed.

“What has the DUP delivered for older people?”

· Proposed tougher sentences for attacks on the elderly. A mandatory seven year sentence

· Extension of free public transport for anyone over 60

· Abolition of prescription charges

· Delayed payments scheme for rate-payers

· Older Person’s Commissioner: an independent voice to challenge the local government over delivery for older people.

“What has the DUP delivered for students”?

· Opposed the Tory plans to increase fees to £9000 per annum.

· Frozen Student Fees in real terms

· Increased apprenticeships

· 60% more funded PhD places

· Attracting high value jobs is a key element on the Investment Strategy: allowing graduates to stay at home. Examples include the New York Stock Exchange & CITI

“What has the DUP delivered for Small Businesses?”

· Business Rates Relief Scheme: started in 2007, extended to more businesses in the latest budget. This saves small business £5m per year.

· Industrial de-rating has saved businesses £58m

· Simplification of the planning system.

· Started a review to reduce red-tape

“On The Runs” Administrative Scheme

· The On The Runs Administrative Scheme was a secret scheme established as a side deal between Sinn Fein and the Labour government led by Tony Blair.

· No other party, was made aware of this scheme by the government.

· At the time Gerry Adams told the Government he needed an “invisible” scheme

· The collapse of the Downey case brought into the open the scheme for the first time.

· Since then the DUP has been instrumental in establishing four separate lines of inquiry into how this scheme came about:

o The judge led judicial inquiry chaired by Lady Justice Hallett which has the highest level security clearance

o The Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee inquiry which DUP MPs Ian Paisley and David Simpson are involved in

o The Northern Ireland Policing Board investigation which was delivered as a consequence of the actions of Jonathan Craig MLA, DUP Group Leader on the Policing Board and

o The Assembly Justice Committee, chaired by Paul Givan MLA is also taking evidence on this matter in order to get to the bottom of how this state-of-affairs came about.

· When we asked about the existence of such a scheme in the House of Commons in 2006 we were told none existed.

· The DUP is pursuing this matter vigorously. The actions of the previous government have been a grievous act against innocent victims and their families.

· We want the truth. We have nothing to fear from the truth but other parties in NI may

Welfare Reform

· These reforms are directed by the Coalition government in London. Not of our choosing.

· The DUP negotiated a range of measures designed to offset some of the worst effects of the Welfare Reform Bill that has passed through the Westminster Parliament: these include ensuring that the “bedroom tax” will not apply in Northern Ireland.

· The package of measures that we have secured for Northern Ireland means that Northern Ireland is more protected than any other UK region from the worst effects of this legislation.

· For Sinn Fein to hold up the process of implementing the welfare reform measures that have been secured will mean punitive reductions in the Northern Ireland block grant allocation.

· We have already received a penalty from the Treasury of £15m.

· Every month that we don’t proceed with the bill will result in a fine of £5m

· That will mean that departments such as Health will stand to lose a lot of money (the current estimate is £68million). It will also mean less money for roads, schools and employment and learning.

· The real reason for the SF delay in implementing the law is that they are trying to face both ways: being in government in Northern Ireland whilst playing an oppositional role in the Republic of Ireland.

The table below outlines welfare spending in Northern Ireland

Without welfare reform

2010/11 - £4.9billion

2018/19 - £6.7billion

Difference - increase £1.8billion

With welfare reform

2010/11 - £4.9billion

2018/19 - £6.3billion

Difference - increase of £1.4billion

UUP forced a u-turn on Maze

· It was clear from SF’s behaviour in Castlederg that they could not behave responsibly with this project

· The UUP started the Maze project

· It was the UUP which opened the prison gates and let the prisoners out

· We want to see the Maze Site developed for business

· The Balmoral Show was a tremendous boost to the Site. The Show had record number through the gates.

“SF is ruling the roost”

· A united-Ireland has never been further away. Gerry Adam’s campaign for a united-Ireland by 2016 is never mentioned anymore.

· A recent BBC poll showed that a majority of people in every County supported Northern Ireland staying in the UK.

· The PIRA campaign was not about SF Minister’s drafting laws to be signed by HM The Queen or SF sitting in an Assembly with two Union Flags flying over it.

· We work with SF because they’re the second largest party in NI

· Union Flag

· The DUP is the only Unionist party to have a consistent and clear record on the display of the Union flag.

· We believe that the flag of our country should be flown 365 days per year on government buildings such as Belfast City Hall and Parliament Buildings, Stormont.

· The UUP were the first party to introduce the concept of designated flag days and in this they were supported by the PUP. Recently their councillors in Craigavon blocked a DUP initiative to restore the flag to permanent display at the Craigavon Civic Centre.

· The leader of the PUP voted for designated days in the Assembly and in the City Council, so the PUP pretending they are staunch supporters of the flag now, is hypocritical.


· The DUP supports the right to parade.

· We believe that the confrontations and disputes around parades were created in the mid-1990s by Sinn Fein for political advantage. Since then, especially in Belfast, they have lost control of the situations that they created and are competing to “out-green” the dissident Republicans who have now taken control of these disputes.

· The Parades Commission, in their determinations have shown that they are inconsistent and have become part of the problem around parades and protests.

· To that end, the DUP put forward proposals that would have seen the Parades Commission abolished. We offered a new way forward on parades/protests.

· Unfortunately some people inside the Grand Lodge of Ireland, specifically, David McNarry and Tom Elliott used their influence to secure the rejection of those proposals and the Parades Commission stayed in place.

Re-defining Marriage

· In Europe, Westminster, Stormont and in local councils throughout the Province, the Democratic Unionist Party stands four-square behind the traditional and most universally recognised definition of marriage.

· The issue has been debate twice in Stormont. On both occasions it has been rejected by a cross party majority. Indeed, on the second occasion the majority increased.

· The Democratic Unionist Party will continue to defend traditional marriage.

Local Government Rates

· Local government rates are too high and the DUP is determined to change that.

· Every DUP councillor elected in Northern Ireland will be committed to supporting as a minimum, no increase in real terms in local government rates over the course of the council term.

· Ideally, the party would like to be returning more money to families by way of year-on-year rates reductions, which would give people more money to spend on paying other bills such as food, fuel and utilities.

· We believe in providing the best possible services, but for the lowest possible costs to council rate-payers.

· A policy of supporting as a minimum a rates freeze amounts to an effective cut when taking into account the current rate of inflation of 2.7% (CPI).

· The record of DUP councils such as Castlereagh and the influence of DUP councillors in Belfast shows that in areas where the party is entrusted with a mandate from the electorate we pursue policies that put more money into the pockets of our hard-working families.

SF Attempt to transfer Funds from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2

· On 20 December 2013, when the Agriculture Minister announced her intention to make a transfer of 7% from pillar 1 to pillar 2 for the years 2014 to 2019: she did so in a press release that was issued by the department a full ten days after the Northern Ireland Assembly rose for the Christmas recess. She didn’t consult anyone.

· That 7% amounted to a total of £114 million that was to be removed from our farmers without consultation with or approval of the Executive. To add insult to injury, the Minister then stated that, prior to reaching her decision, she had consulted widely on the matter. That was not the case.

· The DUP’s Finance Minister challenged this decision in Court and won the case.

· As a consequence of the changes made at St. Andrews Ministers are not permitted to go on solo runs any longer.


· Representatives of the four main political parties, from party leaders down, have indicated very clearly their opposition to the provisions of the 1967 Abortion Act being extended to Northern Ireland.

· In the last test of public opinion those four main parties polled in excess of 85% of the votes cast. Furthermore Alliance Party members have also, on an individual basis indicated their opposition to the extension of the 1967 Abortion Act here.

· We are pro-life and oppose abortion being used as a contraceptive.

· This is a deeply sensitive issue for many in the community

Lines to take on the European Union

Main line to take – “The DUP believes the EU needs to change. We support renegotiation to bring about that change. Then it’s the choice of the people through referendum.”

Detailed points

· The DUP believes that the people should have a say and that an In/Out referendum should be held

· DUP MPs helped secure a commitment from David Cameron to hold a referendum by 2017 if he wins the General Election

· The PM has promised to renegotiate our relationship with EU and we wish him well

· Unless substantial powers are brought back to Westminster, we will be saying it is time to go

· Until that vote takes place it is vital that Northern Ireland gets the best possible deal from Europe and Diane Dodds MEP is doing that important work


- DUP has tripled funding for victims and survivors since devolution leading to increases for individuals and groups. Over £50million in this budget period.

- Over 8000 victims now get support and help from the Victims Service at significantly increased levels

- New Victims Commissioner, Victims and Survivor Forum, new Victims Service – all since devolution

- Significant increase in number of ex services groups getting funding support under Victims and Survivors funding since devolution.

- We have brought forward a bill to change definition of victim to exclude perpetrators, Sinn Fein could not veto – however vetoed by SDLP and Alliance support for SF. We have the bill still ready if sufficient support can be generated within the Assembly

- DUP have lobbied the Prime Minister on the Libyan compensation issue on behalf of victims of IRA terrorism. We continue to work on this issue.


- £80million of new money secured for community led fund, which is ring fenced for communities.

- Anticipate that vast majority of this will be allocated to projects before summer recess, with almost £40million already announced

- We have ensured a fair and equitable distribution of funding across Northern Ireland and the community

- Will fund new community and sports facilities, refurbishments, education programmes along with employment, youth and health projects


- Listened to parents and how unaffordable childcare is. Bright Start Childcare Framework is now released.

- £17million investment in creating up to 7000 new affordable childcare places across Northern Ireland and sustaining a further 1000.

- Supporting community sector getting involved in childcare, including within the school’s estate.

- Grant scheme is now open

Education Actions

- Through Delivering Social Change we have been able to invest around £30million in schemes with impacts on educational achievement over the last 2 years

- Includes;

o 20 new Nurture Units to work intensively with primary school children with needs and their families

o Over 200 new teachers to work across schools to tutor in Numeracy and Literacy

o Extra parenting support through a new health led pilot

o 10 Family Support Hubs – bringing together a range of health and education interventions for children in need


The local newspaper is an excellent way of communicating the party’s position and most local papers outside of Belfast have an entire page devoted to letters from readers.

Here are some useful tips for writing letters to the press:

1. Keep it brief. Editors are always looking for space. If you can make a point in 100 words, don’t use 300.

2. Don’t give up. If your first effort is not printed, keep trying. Eventually you will have a letter published.

3. Keep a positive surplus. Whilst many people write to the letters page to register complaint, positive letters highlighting the good work of the Assembly or the party are relatively novel. The party has a good message to sell, so letters doing so from non-elected members of the public are more likely to be printed than a party press release. If your local MP, Assembly Member or Councillor helped you or a community group, make sure everyone hears about it!

4. Don’t be scared of going on the attack. Whilst positive letters should be the majority of your effort, if another party does something you do not agree with, make sure everyone hears about it!