Stormont reform should be your price, Allister tells DUP

TUV Leader Jim Allister pictured with all seven candidates  at the TUV Westminster manifesto launch held at the Dunadry hotel in Templepatrick' Photograph: Stephen Hamilton/Presseye
TUV Leader Jim Allister pictured with all seven candidates at the TUV Westminster manifesto launch held at the Dunadry hotel in Templepatrick' Photograph: Stephen Hamilton/Presseye

Peter Robinson should be demanding fundamental reform of Stormont as the price for the DUP’s votes in a hung Parliament, Jim Allister has said.

Launching the TUV’s manifesto in South Antrim, its leader was realistic about the prospects for the party’s seven candidates in the first past the post system which favours larger parties.

But he made clear that the party is building towards next year’s Assembly elections where he hopes to be joined by several other TUV MLAs.

The manifesto was launched at Dunadry in South Antrim, an area where the party might hope to get an MLA next year.

The manifesto covered familiar TUV territory such as its call for a Stormont Opposition, but Mr Allister said the familiarity of the document pointed to his party’s consistency.

The party has adopted the slogan ‘enough is enough’, a phrase which Mr Allister said was “resonating” with voters.

Although it is a Westminster election, Mr Allister repeatedly rounded on Stormont, saying that “electors do not tend to distinguish between” failures by MPs and failures by the Stormont Executive, which he criticised for running up £1.8 billion of debt.

He questioned the DUP’s priorities for any post-election negotiations in the event of a hung Parliament, saying that the party ought to be insisting – above all other demands – that Stormont’s “undemocratic” system is replaced if it is to support either Ed Miliband or David Cameron as Prime Minister.

He claimed the First Minister had a Sinn Fein “ransom letter” on his desk seeking more money for welfare at the expense of education and health.

The manifesto said: “We are alarmed at the growing tendency among some unionist representatives towards a sense of ‘Ulster nationalism’ and the ease with which some assist Sinn Fein in insisting that the rest of the UK owes us a living. We want to strengthen the unity of the UK, not further undermine it.”

Nationally, he said that “there is one huge issue” above all others – the chance of an EU referendum.