The hesitance within the DUP to confirm Jim Wells as the candidate for South Down is somewhat of a strange decision.
I have never had a conversation with Mr Wells, besides our tussle during the DFP committee Nama hearing, however I felt he was terribly treated not only by elements of the media but also by the party he gave his life to following the witch hunt against him by a crazed left wing mob!
Mr Wells had his career almost ruined and had intense pressure heaped upon himself and his family after an edited video appeared online accusing him of making offensive remarks. The video and the alleged comments during a canvass thereafter were grossly and purposefully misinterpreted in order to feed an aggressive campaign being waged against him.
What is surely more disappointing for Jim Wells however is the treatment he received at the hands of his own party. Mr Wells was the strongest defender of Mr Robinson during the Nama inquiry, I suspect somewhat reluctantly, and this was even after the former DUP leader had effectively forced the DUP veteran into resigning.
The least Jim Wells should have received was the courtesy of the party officers strongly supporting his candidacy in South Down and announcing it early on. Yet he has been made to wait and left in the dark.
This shines a light into how the DUP has turned from the ‘family party’ into a ruthless political machine that has little by little cast aside the stalwarts of the ‘old days’ and replaced them with fresh faces, many from the old enemy, the UUP.
Despite the differences I had with Mr Wells at the Nama inquiry, I respected his undivided loyalty to Peter Robinson, his old friend and party leader. Mr Robinson showed no such loyalty to Jim Wells or for that matter Sammy Wilson. Hardly surprising given how Robinson and his side-kick, Timothy Johnston- who slithers around in the background scheming and ‘fixing’ within the party- ousted the founding father of the DUP, the late Rev Ian Paisley.
It matters little to me whether the DUP party officers nominate Jim Wells or not, but the whole episode does highlight how the ‘family party’ has changed, for the worse some may argue.
If the DUP cast aside one of their own in South Down, then I would love to see Jim Wells running as an independent against the new fresh face that they put in his place.