Foyle DUP candidate Gary Middleton says tactical voting for the sitting SDLP party in an attempt to keep the seat out of Sinn Fein hands tomorrow would be a mistake.
Unionist people should vote for unionist parties, he says.
“A vote for Sinn Fein is a wasted vote in my opinion because they don’t take their seats so they cannot be a voice for this city in Westminister,” he said.
“I also feel it is important that unionists do remember what the SDLP have done in recent months.
“They backed the banning of poppies in the Mid Ulster Council where they voted with Sinn Fein to do that.
“The naming of the McCreesh playpark in which the SDLP again, their leader, said he would deal with this issue and they haven’t done that.
“I feel that unionism needs to stand up against that. I feel people should vote for the party that will best represent your views and not just simply because a few months up to an election they are trying to be wooed by the nationalist parties.
“People should remember exactly what these parties stand for.”
Middleton has enjoyed a rapid rise through the ranks of the DUP. Earlier this year he became leader of the party grouping on the Derry City and Strabane District Council, and also became an MLA. And his profile in the city has risen on the strength of two successive terms as deputy mayor.
And he says he wants to represent the views of the entire city were he to add MP to his list of achievements.
“There is a real change out there right across the city and there is a real feelgood factor. People want to move on and respect the other traditions,” he said.
“I want people to come out and vote for me because I have a proven track record in politics .
“I have been an elected politician for just over four years, served as deputy mayor on two occasions and indeed as group leader as well.
“I am a hard worker. I am going to represent the view of those who elect me and also those who didn’t vote for me. I will work for everybody.
“I want to fight for jobs and investment in the city.
“The infrastructure of the region is a major problem which needs to be addressed and we in the DUP have to have strong voice in that respect.
“I want people to come out and vote for someone who will not shy away and will take their seat.
The DUP’s election campaign was hit by the unfortunate timing of Jim Wells’ resignation as Health Minister last month.
“He realised that he did make a mistake and that those views are not the views of the party and did not represent me so I welcome the fact that he apologised for that and has indeed resigned the health ministry post,” Middleton says.
“Within all parties there will be differing views but ultimately I am a DUP member and the vast majority of views will be shared.
“Any time that I have a different opinion I am more than free to raise those within the party and we can work through them.
“I would class myself as in between the liberal and conservative aspects of the party. I am very strong on my cultural identity, on the union but also I do have a lot of respect and tolerance for all walks of life.”
Middleton says that the future of the city depends on its people working together but insists that he will always work for the benefit of the protestant, unionist and loyalist population.
“It is vital to maintain the protestant identity within the city. I am a member of all of the loyal orders but from the level of an elected politician I fight for additional funding and support for these types of cultural activities,” he said.
“That’s not to say that it is just the PUL community that I fight for. I believe overall, and we saw during the UK City of Culture year that traditions can celebrate their cultures in whatever way they want either individually or together and it worked very well.
“It is vital that we keep up these traditions because that is something that will ultimately work long term for us through things like tourism.
“People from all over the world genuinely want to come here now and spend their money and time.
“I don’t see a conflict between working for the PUL community and also for a more unified community as a whole.
“Within all of these organisation there has been a huge amount of work done to try and bring people along to make them aware of what our culture and history is all about.
“That work can be recognised right across the city.
“There is a real change out there right across the city and there is a real feelgood factor.
“People want to move on and respect the other traditions.”