Ulster Progressive Unionist Association

The Ulster Progressive Unionist Association was a political group which was founded in 1938 and was active in Northern Ireland for a few years thereafter.

Ulster Progressive Unionist Association
LeaderWilliam John Stewart
Social welfare
Political positionCentre-right

The founder of the group was William John Stewart, the Ulster Unionist Party United Kingdom Member of Parliament for Belfast South between 1929 and 1945. He continued to take the Conservative and Unionist whip at Westminster, even though Progressive Unionist candidates opposed Ulster Unionist ones in the 1938 Northern Ireland general election and the 1943 Antrim by-election.

The Association provided the main opposition in the 1938 general election, as the Nationalist Party decided to boycott in some areas, and the Northern Ireland Labour Party was only able to contest five seats. It represented a former section of the Ulster Unionist Party which opposed the official economic policy; in particular, the lack of urgency in dealing with unemployment and housing shortages. It proposed the maintenance of the union with the rest of the United Kingdom, the equalisation of taxation with the rest of the UK (which would have increased government revenues), and the use of this to tackle unemployment and provide housing with cheap rents. It also proposed to adopt the programme of the Ulster Farmers Union.[1]

While it soon became apparent that the Association would not win a significant number of seats, it was widely believed that Stewart would either win or come very close in Belfast Cromac, against the young official candidate Maynard Sinclair. However, Sinclair won comparatively easily, with a majority of 29% of the total of votes cast. The closest contest came in East Down, where W. J. Price came within 1,000 votes of taking a seat, but even there, where the Nationalists were not contesting, the UPUA was unable to attract tactical votes from nationalists.[1]