UUP must accept decline is not temporary but a generational shift

UUP banner logo - slightly croppedExcellent analytical piece by the former UUP, now DUP member, Lee Reynolds (and late of this Parish) at the Critical Reaction blog on the roots of his old party’s underlying malaise. It cuts much more deeply and finely than any rash analysis of a single constituency.

For instance, he highlights the essentially introverted nature of the beast:

The UUP’s years of success had led to a complacency that blinded it to a steady decline in organisational capability. Its record of constituency work was poor – something of more significance in Northern Ireland than elsewhere in the UK. Indeed, the DUP’s far superior performance in this regard was a key factor in it always avoiding extinction at the hands of the UUP monolith. Decades in power instilled the UUP with the belief that the party and the Union was one and the same thing. Added to this was a ‘Leader’ culture verging on feudalism. A common joke was that if the Party leader proposed a United Ireland, he’d have had the guaranteed support of at least 40% of the party delegates. This inwardness and self-contentment blinded its decision-making to the public mood.

He goes on to identify three key failures:

Beyond the party culture, however, and even the evident decay in basic organisation, three main political failures stand out. The UUP first failed to see the changes that were occurring in the SDLP, with John Hume’s greener, pan-Ireland hue being in marked contrast to Gerry Fitt’s openness to an internal, Northern Irish solution. Thus the UUP didn’t grasp the importance of the attempt at administrative devolution in the early 1980’s: something Paisley and the DUP did.

Instead, encouraged by Enoch Powell, close friend and trusted adviser to James Molyneaux, they pursued the 1979 Conservative manifesto pledge of integration. Powell mistakenly believed that Thatcher’s personal respect for him extended to policy. But without its primary architect, Airey Neave, brutally murdered by the INLA, the will to implement the policy was not to be found. The normal Tory behaviour of one policy for Ulster in opposition and another in government won through with the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA) the result. The Agreement and the failure of Unionism to defeat it was the UUP’s second failure. This political emasculation meant that the scales in any future negotiation were not tipped well for Unionism. And it would make any future agreement a difficult sell: Unionist voters knew that 1985 had been a colossal political defeat, and were inevitably going to react harshly to more and still greater failure.

The third failure was in the battle for ideas. Nationalism offered a framework for the solution to Northern Ireland – the so-called three strands (relations within NI, on ‘the island of Ireland’, and, between Dublin and London). Unionism simply didn’t engage. This meant that when the peace process began Nationalism was offering a route map and Unionism wasn’t. This policy drift had been highlighted in a 1987 paper, the Task Force report, jointly produced by leading members of the UUP and DUP (including the now DUP leader Peter Robinson). However, its criticisms were buried and the drift continued.

His menu for regeneration:

The party needs to end its self-justificatory position on the peace process and admit the errors its lost voters long since convicted it of. The party needs a new and distinctive narrative which is relevant to voters, and is one that its representatives can convincingly sell. The party needs to accept its decline is not a temporary situation but a generational shift. The party needs to stop imagining that its internal prejudices are shared by the Unionist electorate. The party needs to demonstrate that it is competent. It needs to develop a culture of discipline. It needs to engage in and win the battle of ideas in terms of the policy competencies of the Assembly. Its needs to gain a reputation for constituency work. And the UUP needs a coherent and sensible approach to Unionist co-operation.

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  • Many of these have now become problems for the DUP – what is its purpose, its practical approach to unionist co-operation, and its competency in government. That generational shift is also one that is impacting on the DUP which has good constituency office network, but little on the ground and a narrative that is at best confused with a sense of Sammy/Robbo and some heading in one way, and just behind McCausland/Poots and others pulling them back. But that generational issue is wider to all parties.

    That said, spot on ref UUP.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    “The Agreement and the failure of Unionism to defeat it was the UUP’s second failure. ”

    This is a truly silly statement. When the tide turned in Anglo-Irish relations there was no way the UUP could swim against it – it’s a bit like blaming SF in 1921 for partition.

    “The party needs to end its self-justificatory position on the peace process and admit the errors its lost voters long since convicted it of”

    That is only true, if as seems probable, Tommo the newly elected Orange leader, is going to continue with the party’s mild/crypto anti-agrement policies (e.g. they voted agianst the transfer of police).

    But as Robbo encounters the same problems as Trimble did surely Unionists will see just that just like Trimble and deccomissioning, Robbo couldnt rely on the British governemt to stand by what he believed to be his precious triple-lock-veto on Police and Justice.

  • Greenflag

    As a pre obituary notice it’s a good piece . Gangrene is terminal when its too far gone. In the name of the father and of the son and into the hole they ( the UUP ) goes .

  • Skintown Lad

    I don’t agree that the condition is terminal. If I’m a principled Unionist who doesn’t want to vote for the evangelist loonie/bigotted DUP, or worse, the TUV, who do I vote for? The problems with the UUP are more than just cosmetic, I agree, but there is still a market for the core values that the UUP has stood for and continues to stand for (albeit not very well articulated).

  • Anon

    SL

    What are the core values exactly? “We’re nice don’t you know and oh, we’re not the DUP”.

  • Skintown Lad

    Anon, let’s say for the sake of argument you’re nearly right and the core values amount to:

    1. We want to remain a part of the UK; and
    2. We’re not the DUP.

    That’s enough to fill a gap in the market as far as voters are concerned, which is my point.

    Such simplistic approach won’t allow them to claw back the votes they’ve lost to the DUP but there is still a market there.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Skintown Lad,

    What about the extra 2 poiints to win back DUP supporters.

    1. We want to remain a part of the UK; and
    2. We’re not the DUP. PLUS
    3. W’ere now more anti-agreement than the DUP and
    4. We will fight for the rights of the Orange Order unlike the DUP.

  • Brian Walker

    All fair enough as far as it goes but what might the ” new narrative” be and what ” ideas” to the “battle” do they bring? Mr Elliot seems a nice man entirely comfortable sitting at his own fireside. However as I keep saying, you have to work hard to obliterate yourself entirely in a 108 member Assembly elected by STV.

    Voters on both sides of the divide seem reluctant to create a bloc monopoly so the UUP and SDLP will probably be given another chance.

    Scrapping the bloc designations would increase flexibility in the Assembly and marginally benefit the minor parties through ad hoc partnerships. This would appeal to the DUP but why should SF oblige?

  • John East Belfast

    This is just self justification.

    He way underplays the role of internal divisions in the Party that literally tore it apart and exhausted all energies.

    Pro Agreement UUP was fighting a battle on both fronts – both in terms of nationalism and also againts dissidents within and the DUP without

    In the end though we won the argument and for all Paisley’s DUP bluster they eventually fell into line after all the heavy lifting and sacrifices had been made by us.

    Yes it has largely cost us the Party but no revisionism now will change the fact that the DUP were on the wrong side of the argument with only selfish interests at heart.

    The most pathetic of all are thiose formerly UUP who caused the internal gutting of their own party over issues they ultimately embraced within the DUP anyway.

  • anon

    Sammy McNally

    Bang on about the OO all you like, people know that the Grand Lodge doesn’t speak for the majority of Orangemen and they also knopw that the DUP did infinetly more for the OO tha Elliot, McNarry or Empey ever did! For goodness sake the Orange couldn’t even get a meeting with Trimble when he was the FM. Don’t try and play the Orange card for the UUP because the orange, much like the rest of the unionist electorate know the uup is a lazy bunch of gougers that wouldn’t do a hands turn for anyone.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    anon,

    “the orange, much like the rest of the unionist electorate know the uup is a lazy bunch of gougers that wouldn’t do a hands turn for anyone”

    Assuming for the moment that is true – then perhaps now is an opportunity for the UUP to maximise the DUPs discomfort – that is why Tommo has wtitten to the OO regarding the parades legisaltion and the OO will presumably justify themselves by telling the world that the DUP proposals were too influenced by SF/IRA.

    The UUP are clearly not in a good place and they seem to have given up on the ‘Liberal’ route to recovery (based on the Basil and UCUNF debacles) so talking the traditional Unioinst route down – the Orange one – may be what Tommo has maped out.

  • anon

    Tom Elliott has a view on the parades proposals? When did this happen? Thus far the only reason given for oppossing the thing was because the uup wasn’t on the working group – childish or what? Io lookl forward to hearing how the bold Tom and his mate McNarry propose a deliverable strategy fopr resolving the parades issue. Let’s hear it Sammy, now the uup are standing up for the orange what’s the big idea?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    anon,

    See below from the BBC. Tommo will wait until the OO spakes and then row in behind them – thus allowing him to sugggest that his party is closer to the OO than the DUP is – if the UUP aint tuning Liberal perhaps Tommo reckons he’ll turn it Orange.

    ****
    Meanwhile, the Ulster Unionist Party leader Tom Elliott has written to the Grand Master of the Orange Order following remarks made by two members of the DUP on Monday.

    Speaking on the BBC after the shelving of the new draft Parades Bill, Simon Hamilton claimed the DUP had negotiated with the “full knowledge and agreement” of the Orange Order while Jeffrey Donaldson said they had followed the “remit” given to them by the loyal institutions.

    Mr Elliott wants Robert Saulters to clarify if that was the case.

    The Strangford UUP MLA, David McNarry said the DUP claims needed to be challenged.

    “As far as the grand lodge is concerned it has been brought into the political arena where it didn’t want to be,” he said.

    ****

  • dennis

    unionist who doesn’t want to vote for the evangelist loonie/bigotted DUP…..

    which party was it at the last election whose members openly said they would would discriminate against gays staying at B+Bs?

    it was the UUP and the Tories…bigotted you bet

  • dennis

    Assuming for the moment that is true – then perhaps now is an opportunity for the UUP to maximise the DUPs discomfort ……….

    if the UUP could not damage the DUP with MP expenses, Irisgate or Robbos land deal, not to mention the devolution of policing and justice then they will have no chance of making any headway with this issue.

    Remember, The OO had their representative present all they way through the negotiations.

  • joeCanuck

    One of the major problems for the UUP is that they have effectively been left stranded by the DUP’s slow drift towards the centre. I mean, even Paisley Snr mellowed at the end. So they haven’t figured out where they stand anymore. They have tried going to the right (P&J) but that ground is crowded. They really need to decide that the only way forward for them is to totally embrace the idea that all citizens are equal and to become what they really are at their core – a conservative party, that keeps an eye on any challenges to the Union.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    dennis

    “if the UUP could not damage the DUP with MP expenses, Irisgate or Robbos land deal, not to mention the devolution of policing and justice then they will have no chance of making any headway with this issue.”

    Tommo’s election has signalled that the UUP are not heading down the path to Liberalism so it is reasonalbe to assume he will try some other route back from the brink of extinction – I am suggesting he will at least try to play the Oranger-than-you- card aginast the DUP and that some sections of the OO will back him. Do you not agree?

    Whether it is successful remains to be seen but I think it is fair to say you would have to be very naive or very loyal to the DUP to not admit that the DUP have both fecked up the parades issue and left space on their right for Tommo-the Orangeman to exploit.

  • dennis

    it will be come very clear very quickly that the parades issue had OO input all the way through. They had their own representatives there during the whole course of negoiations and the forming of leglislation.

    It was the McNarrys inthe OO who fecked it up , no one else

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    dennis,

    How are the DUP going to deal with the points below raised by Allister. These sentiments will no doubt be echoed by the OO and by Tommo the Orangeman – so they can just be dismissed by claiming Jimbo is a lunatic.

    “The DUP/Sinn Fein proposals were, at best, no improvement on the failed Parades Commission, because they were built on the twin pillars of enhancing the need to consult with Sinn Fein orchestrated ‘residents groups’ and the delivery of decision-making to adjudicators where McGuinness had his own hand-picked placemen, who could even be convicted terrorists, because criminal convictions were not a bar. Little wonder such skewed and ill-considered proposals met with rejection.”

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    oops – so they CANT just be dismissed by claiming Jimbo is a lunatic.

  • Cynic

    A mad strategy – to align the UUP with the OO to the right of the DUP.

    Hey boy….it goes down well in Fermanagh so that’s ok like….as for the rest of us ….?????

  • Alan N/ARDS

    The problem with the UUP ( in my humble opinion) is too many second rate politician’s like McNarry, who do abosolutely nothing for the ordinary voter. They are filled with delusions of grandeur but do nowt. Let’s hope McNarry gets the boot next time round. On the other hand, Mike Nesbitt seems and sounds like a breath of fresh air.

  • White Horse

    The problem with the UUP is that they tend to be in their demeanour, from the leader down, limited by the sense of impending death. They tend to be dour to the extent that it is comfortable to accept that they won’t be around for long.

    I think they’re doomed and that that is a good thing because it means that unionism is doomed with nothing to save them other than the damaged DUP and the fringe lunatics in the TUV.

  • dennis

    Sammy the point is the OO had peole engage all the way thorugh this process including in forming the leglislation.

    Its only at the end, because of certain OO members who are in the UUP, that it fell apart, jsut to get back at the DUP

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    dennis,

    Fair enough point (which the UUP will deny saying that there were secret meeting with SF and the DUP which they had no access to ) but the DUP will still have to deal with the poitical fall out over it.

    But do you not agree that Tommo (will with the assitance of the OO) will try and make an issue out of it like Allister is doing?

  • dennis

    Sammy of course they will
    But look what the DUP has gone through recently
    Both the UUP and TUV failed to make any real impact of their troubles, indeed it was Alliance who benefited in E Belfast.

    Many Many Many unionists wouldnt give a toss about the parading issue and the more the UUP bang on about it the more they look to be in the pocket of shrinking organisation.

  • If the objection to the DUP boils down to its “evangelism” (which I read as a mealy-mouthed way of saying “appealing to the lower-orders”), then wait and see.

    What we know is that the DUP is subtle and capable of chameleon-like transformations. If there is a social-liberal, centrist force to emerge across the body that is currently the NI protestant majority, it must be or come out of the DUP.

    That conveniently leaves the UUP with the rump: the more-refined [Anglican?] cohort who can’t, yet, bear to go the North Down route. In short order, the UUP will decline into the lost mists of Big House Unionism from which it was dragged by populists at the turn of the last century. Now, populism? Where does that presently reside?

    At some stage the message will strike home: the Union is moribund. We shall not see its like again. Fortunately. The rest of the (rapidly-dis)United Kingdom is evolving a new, decentralised accommodation. Cameron’s “Big Society” (once the “cuts” agenda is discounted) is devolution writ very parochial; and it is an idea which has traction.

    It won’t be Robinson, but I fully expect to live to see a DUPer stretch out the hand of friendship (and political convenience) across the denominational divide. Doubtless it will be in the name of “democracy” and a regional interpretation of “unionism”.

  • ThomasMourne

    I had a look today at the UUP website [for the 1st time ever] – living dangerously!
    The main item on the home page is a report of a meeting between the new dear leader and Young Unionist freshers in Queens & UUJ. I might have been impressed if he had met a number of freshers from a broad spectrum of political opinion.
    On the policy page it is only at the 5th point [out of 6] that we get the objective – “Promote the good governance of Northern Ireland and Great Britain for the benefit of all its’ people and unite the people of Northern Ireland and foster a tolerant society.”
    Before that we get all the usual baloney that separates people in NI.

  • Comrade Stalin

    DUPs discomfort

    The DUP have just passed through a wall of fire (the May elections) almost completely unscathed. What discomfort are you talking about ? And try to answer this time without quoting Jim Allister.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Do you believe this bullshit, Sammy ? Do you really believe people like McNarry saying that the OO doesn’t want to be involved in politics, despite it attending a joint DUP/UUP meeting ?

    Aren’t you capable of distinguishing between reality and political games being played (badly) by the UUP ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Yeah but Jim Allister blamed the DUP. Apparently, despite failing to win any votes, Jim Allister is a man unionists listen to. Don’t argue with Sammy, you know he must be right.

  • Comrade Stalin

    How are the DUP going to deal with the points below raised by Allister.

    Why do you think they’ll bother ?

  • Peter Brown

    Jeffrey and Arlene left nearly seven years ago – surely the UUP isn’t still blaming them for the 2010 fiasco?

    IMHO it’s the reverse – the internal divisons which were rehearseed so publically because of the parties antiquated nature merely distracted from the real problem (which still exists) that many in the UUP (mainly in the old guard) still believe that it is their (divine) right to be the largest party.

    Consequently if they stand around (or given the state of the party currently cling on) and do nothing for long enough the DUP will mysteriously implode, the scales will fall from the eyes of the unionist electorate and with no effotrt whatsoever on the part of the UUP (something many of the party are experts on) the ship will right itself.

    I think someone needs to show the next Party conference (assuming they even have one anymore) Titianic – especially the part where the band continues to play as the list perceptibly increases – and see if anyone realises the analogy and if not strike up “Nearer my God to thee” over the PA and see if the penny drops – the UUP is not unsinkable!

  • richiep

    There is definitely space emerging for a middle of the road party that refuses to be defined by unionism / nationalism but promotes a fairness / equality agenda against a background of good inter-community relations. I’m not talking about Alliance MK2 or a kind of ecumenical street movement. What would drive this would be a demand for employment , health , education , infrastructural improvements etc. It would mean a level of support from current SDLP , UUP voters but , especially , from the many in the unionist tradition who seem to have opted out of politics by not voting at all in recent elections.
    If properly driven , it would show up the DUP and SF for the sectarian merchants that they really are .

  • Peter Brown

    Which is different from Alliance and the existing SDLP & UUP how exactly?

  • Granni Trixie

    Which is different from Alliance,how?

  • Driftwood

    The DUP in America:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/26/us/26pastor.html?_r=1

    ?

    just a thought.

  • John East Belfast

    Peter Brown

    Lee Reynolds was given us a 40 year plus history lesson and brushed over the GFA split.

    Nobody is denying the UUP had to change – like any other political party.

    However what has led to the current demise is the early 21st Century gutting that went on. This is only 2010 so the wounds are still raw and the after effects are still being felt as a result of losing a generation of members.

    Infact it is amazing the Party is still standing at all.

    The reason it is of course is there remains around 100k of core unionist voters who would/could never vote DUP and Alliance doesnt do it for them either.

    There is a place for moderate unionist voters and that remains the UUP.

  • Peter Brown

    John

    I have said it before and I will say it again becayse to date no-one has taken me up on the challenge and I think it is obvious why….

    In electoral terms the UUP was in decline before 1998 because it was complacent and its elected representatives at every level were with a number of noteable exceptions notoriously lazy.

    It went into freefall after 1998, you claim because of its internal divisions, but not for the first time and probably not for the last until everyone in the UUP abandons this myth, I repeat that for everyone you find who used to vote UUP and was put off by the internal divisons (I’m sure you will find one or two) I will from experience on the doorstep find at least 100 who left becasue they no longer trust the UUP.

    The UUP is the victim of its own arrogance (our electorate will continue to vote for us no matter what we tell them and then what we do completely differently) and unfortunately it still isn’t completely cured……

  • Glad to see I’m not alone in scanning the NYT. As it says here: “Is there something wrong with Eddie Long?”

    Beyond the snooty, refined skirts of the Gray Lady, there were one or two sharper comments about Bishop Eddie L. Long. One went along the lines of “Another pimp in the pulpit”.

    Are we not lucky that such things cannot possibly happen in an Ulster saved from sodomy?

  • John East Belfast

    Peter

    You can muse about hypothetical long term declines all you like but I tend to stick with the short ter reailities on the ground – all of which I experienced

    However staring you in the face is the fact the UUP have never recovered from their selling of the GFA to a 50/50 split unionist electorate and an internal civil war that left many casualties.

    That is what defined the first decade of the 21st century for the UUP. Let’s not over complicate what happened

  • aquifer

    ‘ they’re doomed and that that is a good thing because it means that unionism is doomed with nothing to save them other than the damaged DUP and the fringe lunatics in the TUV’

    Yep they do the wronged martyr thing but having tried to suppress and oppress british citizens of other faiths it won’t wash.

    The Tory link is an intelligent differentator with the potential to overcome the orange issue and to definately link the UUP with mainland Britain.

    They will drop the link for sure.

    The arethen doomed and good riddance for they will sink the Orange with them.

  • Peter Brown

    I was there too John don’t forget – maybe knocking different doors and maybe sitting in a different part of the Waterfront / Ulster / Kings Halls but I was there from 1997-2006 and probably more centrally involved in everything that went on than you were.

    The reason the UUP never recovered from GFA is because they lied about it and were caught and many of their former voters who bleieved their lies felt and indeed still feel they were duped.

    I notice that once again you didn’t take up my challenge, presumably because it explodes the myth you were attempting to perpetuate once again that it was all about internal division when it was all about what we were internally divided about – keeping (or ultimately not keeping) our word.

  • John East Belfast

    Peter

    “In electoral terms the UUP was in decline before 1998 because it was complacent and its elected representatives at every level were with a number of noteable exceptions notoriously lazy”

    I assume you dont include Jeffrey or Arlene in that ?

    “The reason the UUP never recovered from GFA is because they lied about it and were caught and many of their former voters who bleieved their lies felt and indeed still feel they were duped”

    but telling lies about the Agreement didnt seem to do the DUP any harm ?

    Long term decline in any institution can only really be determined over the long term and in retrospect.
    The time period you are talking about was to short.

    However a death blow by a drammatic change in events can make all the difference – it can rock something to its foundations and maybe even totally put its lights out.
    For the UUP at this stage is very much the former.

    The promotion of the GFA and the internal civil war that followed was such an earthquake and the after shocks are still being felt.

    That is the main reason we are where we are and not something that started in the 1950s and then suddenly gatered momentum in the last 10 years

    If PIRA had fully disarmed on Trimble’s watch and Blair had any sense of integrity about him we would all have been in a very different place.

    What unionism demonstrated was it has no real problem with power sharing and SF in Govt – it even swallowed prisoner realeases.
    The UUP, on behalf of unionism did all the heavy lifting on those fronts and seriously damaged itself in the process.

    If you want to believe some other narrative then we will simply have to agree to differ

  • You are both right, short and medium and long term. It is hard to cover all over 40 years, and the fallout from the GFA was the most serious marker in recent decline, but only because of the weaknesses that were already there. Interesting though that the DUP has repeated the same mistakes as the UUP: a failure in trust and an arrogance of power.

  • Peter Brown

    John

    One of the problems with the UUP was that Arlene (now widely credited with being an effective Minister and possible next leader of the DUP) was not a UUP elected representative before 1998. Jeffrey is and always has been a hard working MP and there were others in the UUP who were but there were more who were not hard working or not media savvy enough to get that impression across.

    The point at which the UUP wnet into freefall was when No guns no government went out the window and our vote collapsed as an inevitable result – and we kept repeating the mistake.

    The DUP are not perfect – far from it, but if they knew they were going into government they were careful enough not to make explicit commitments to the contraray and then blatantly break them. That is why they are not in the same position as the UUP…..

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Peter,

    “The DUP are not perfect – far from it, but if they knew they were going into government they were careful enough not to make explicit commitments to the contraray and then blatantly break them. That is why they are not in the same position as the UUP…..”

    It is certainly arguable that the position the DUP found themselves in with their claims of not in a political lifetime and their precious triple lock in relation to the transfer of police and jusitce was very similar to that which the UUP found themsleves in over decommssioning – in that they were effectively forced over the finishing line by a British government that simply wanted the the peace train to keep moving at any costs and running over a few unionists whether Trimlbe or Robbo was not going to upset them unduly.

    To make matters worse for the DUP, the parades legislation issue, which was the very poorly designed political figleaf to help cover their humiliation over bending to the British Government (and perhaps worse SF) over the transfer of Police, has now been removed and they now look politcally exposed to the UUP intent on revenge.

    Whether Unionists turn again, against the DUP this time, remains to be seen, but surely sonner or later Unionists will realise that when the British government strategically adopts the Nationalist view of the world e.g. Anglo Irish Agreement or the GFA – there is feck all Unioinst Parties can do about it.

  • Comrade Stalin

    To paraphrase an old computer proverb, “Those who do not understand Alliance are doomed to reinvent it”. 🙂

  • Err ,,, wasn’t that George Santayana on the need to remember the past, and around 1905? I think that qualifies as the most-frequently misquoted axiom on record.

    What Comrade Stalin may have intended was “Those who do not understand Windows 7 are doomed to switch to Mac-Os”. And wise they would be in their re-generation.

    More seriously, Comrade Stalin is quite correct. Did Alliance (and all its baggage) not exist, it now could be a heck of a good place to start.

  • Wasted Ballot

    I think it goes deeper than an aging party – unionism itself as a single issue that unionists and ‘others’ no long see as something worth voting for.

    The biggest block of voters in NI are folk that don’t want to vote for tribal unionist parties – but as Alliance and Greens do little to actually expand (lets be honest both are purely interested in keep the same number of seats come next May) on their base they just sit at home.

    Unionist parties no long have the narrowed sighted devotion that SF shares with it’s voters.

    Is it the death of the UUP? Yes, but to be honest I don’t see a cross community party that will be able to pick up the seats, so more people will sit at home.

  • Granni Trixie

    I cannot speak for the Greens, but can say that you are absolutely wrong in implying that APNI is not ambitious and has noit tried to expand.

    A background to bear in mind is that after promising beginnings (say 15% voters at its height) the party had to learn that realistically it was not going to take over the world of NI politics. I see this as a strength for it then concentrated on being effective and many would say, has punched above its weight.From time to time it has had to get over problems,even to sustain.

    By good strategic planning and favourable external factors, it is now being listened to probably more than before and infact is encouraged to be more ambitious for the future. Watch this space.

  • Comrade Stalin

    … adopts the Nationalist view of the world Anglo Irish Agreement or the GFA – there is feck all Unioinst Parties can do about it.

    There’s a lot they can do about it, principally by putting their armed followers on the streets and bringing about a rather bloody civil war. Of course, it helps immensely that the British government has not adopted a nationalist view of the world, and that nationalists have accepted partition and what they used to call the unionist veto.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Actually the original computer-related saying is “Those who do not understand UNIX are doomed to reinvent it”. I wasn’t consciously invoking the version about history.

    Things change in ways that we don’t expect but I think the principles upon which Alliance were founded still apply in pretty much unmodified form today.

  • Comrade Stalin

    As Granni has said, Alliance plans to win more seats. As I said in the other thread, the party sees this as a long game, and I think most people in the party are clear that the only way to expand is to combine the right policies with good leadership and solid constituency work. This is a long and slow way to build a party up, but it should be sustainable and lasting.

  • Comrade Stalin

    And actually I don’t think the UUP is dead just yet. The idea that it can be a moderating, progressive influence is dead (not that this idea was ever taken seriously by those of us with sense) but there are plenty of votes out there for people who want to dream about an idyllic return to old-time Ulster Unionism.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    CS,

    The AIA/GFA introduced a 2nd veto – e.g. now integration with Britian is off the agenda with Southern approval and the British have recognised the right of the Irish people alone (“without external impediment” ) to decide their future.

    But that aside, the politics of Ulster post-troubles remains the British dragging Unionism across the required finishing lines and instead of recgonising this Unionists or crpyto Unioinsts(such as yourself) tend to blame their own parties or SF.

    But I do agree with you that Unionism is largely characterised by the threat of civil war if theilr strange loyalty is unrequited.

    What an embarassing basis for an ideology and political ethos.