Page last updated at 09:39 GMT, Thursday, 1 April 2010 10:39 UK

Tory UUP link-up a 'dictatorship'

Adrian Watson
Adrian Watson has the backing of Ulster Unionists in South Antrim

The Ulster Unionist mayor of Antrim has called his party's link-up with the Conservative Party "a dictatorship".

Councillor Adrian Watson, who had hoped to the be the UUP candidate for South Antrim in the General Election, said he was "totally against" the alliance.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, North Down MP Lady Sylvia Hermon, said the link-up was "pointless".

Lady Hermon resigned from the UUP last week and will now run as an Independent in the forthcoming election.

The Ulster Unionist Party has formed an electoral pact with the Conservatives for the Westminster elections.

Mr Watson was told by a senior Ulster Unionist he was no longer deemed suitable for the South Antrim candidacy, after the Conservatives raised objections.

A joint Conservative and Unionist candidate for South Antrim has not been announced, but Mr Watson said the South Antrim Association chairman told him it would not be him.

"Nobody from the party leadership can lift a phone, or send me an email, so I've heard no official word," Mr Watson told BBC Radio Ulster.

"I was the democratically selected candidate. I got 90% endorsement from the good people of the South Antrim Association."

In the Belfast Telegraph, Lady Hermon said she delayed her departure from the UUP in the hope that the "link with the Conservative Party would come unstuck".

"I didn't want to leave, even over this Tory thing. I have agonised and lost sleep over it. I had hoped my children would go on to join the UUP," she continued.


Conservative issues with Mr Watson's suitability are believed to stem from a complaint made against the guesthouse he runs by the Rainbow Project.

In 2006, the support group for gay men, accused him of discriminating against same sex couples.

Mr Watson said he would feel "uncomfortable" about having gay couples in his bed and breakfast.

He said the business was based in his family home, and his wife, a Christian, could be upset

Mr Watson said Conservatives were now calling the shots within the UUP.

"The paymasters of the Ulster Unionist Party are now the Conservatives," he said.

"Recent literature, just out in this constituency, the word Ulster is not even there, it's called the Conservative and Unionists, so I am totally against it.

"What have we achieved, we've lost a member of parliament, an MLA."

North Down MLA Alan McFarland resigned from the party on Tuesday.

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