Tory results nothing to be proud of

The Conservatives fielded candidates in 16 Northern Ireland constituencies
The Conservatives fielded candidates in 16 Northern Ireland constituencies

Johnny Andrews complains in the News Letter on June 4 that Lord Lexden in his article on the Conservative Party and the UUP shows an incomplete understanding of local politics.

I am afraid that Mr Andrews ought to be relieved that Lord Lexden withheld from your readers just how comically bad the electoral performance of the Conservative Party was in most constituencies here this year.

Mr Andrews congratulates himself because his party increased its share of the vote on last year’s European election.

Has he (so one wonders)looked at those results constituency by constituency? In only three of the 16 constituencies in which they stood did the Conservatives win more than 1,000 votes and in only one of those three did they obtain a result in excess of 2,000. In eight constituencies the Conservatives came bottom of the poll and in two they were next to the bottom.

In one seat (West Belfast) their candidate gained 34 votes; in Newry and Armagh and Upper Bann their representatives obtained, respectively, 210 and 201 votes. In Londonderry East even the representative of Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol came 105 votes ahead of the Conservative candidate. The late Screaming Lord Sutch of the Monster Raving Loony Party did better in many of the elections in which he stood than some of the Tory candidates here.

That, Mr Andrews should know, is not the sort of comparison which should fill him with pride.

It is true that Mr Andrews himself obtained his party’s highest vote here (2,167) but even that result placed him sixth among the candidates. One of his colleagues came third – in East Belfast – but even he was over 15,500 votes behind Naomi Long.

Mr Andrews’s party not only has no MPs here – it also has no members of the Assembly or councillors either. What prospect is there that this situation will alter?

On the basis of these results does Mr Andrews really believe that his party as it is at present constituted has any future in Northern Ireland – any future, that is, other than as a tiny and futile self-regarding clique?

Mr Andrews may be unaware of Lord Lexden’s record of support for Northern Ireland’s place within the Union – a record that stretches back to his days as the late Airey Neave’s assistant in the late 1970s.

Lord Lexden is only too rare on the Conservative benches in either House in caring about Ulster’s welfare.

Mr Andrews would do well to reflect on Lord Lexden’s suggestions rather than in indulging in fantasies about his party’s electoral strength.

C.D.C. Armstrong

Belfast