Ken Maginnis tells Nesbitt that he’s a cross bencher so there isn’t any whip [Updated x 2]..

Who would be a leader of the Ulster Unionist party? Courtesy of John at Nuzhound, this editorial says much that needs saying on both sides of this argument:

Ken Maginnis, in his political heyday, was a courageous politician who also fought terrorism as a member of the UDR. But his intemperate language on the issue of gay marriage does him no justice. While he is entitled to be opposed to gay marriages, this newspaper disagrees strongly with the views he expressed and the words he used, which were both distasteful and wrong.

But The Nolan Show should also look to its role in this row. The programme is a fine example of interactive radio, stirring up debate on very many important subjects, and more often than not reflecting public opinion in a forthright manner.

However, there is a suspicion that Mr Maginnis’ comments on yesterday’s programme were exactly the sort of reaction the programme makers had hoped for when he was invited. The net result was a debate of the extremes which doesn’t exist in the real world.

Update: Interestingly, Lord Kilclooney is marked as a Crossbencher, but Lord Maginnis is not… On the official online list of Peers, he is clearly marked down as taking the Ulster Unionist whip…

Update2: Just after lunchtime today, Lord Maginnis was held by the House of Lords to be a member of the Ulster Unionist Party. The office of the convener of the Cross Bench group of independent Peers have confirmed to Slugger that Lord Maginnis is not one of their members, precisely because of his membership of a party.

Quite. but the political problem remains. Not least there’s the how to remove a whip from a guy who’s [not] crossbench peer (meaning, erm, that there is [effectively] no UUP whip in the House of Lords):

“I explained to him: Don’t, for Heaven’s sake, do this because you cannot withdraw something which I don’t have.

“It really is a gesture of folly rather than a gesture of effect and one which has come out of a knee-jerk reaction.

“You can’t at the same time as you say ‘this is a matter of conscience’ say ‘but because someone has expressed a different view from what I would have done I’m going to discipline them’. I haven’t been irked until now – and I still won’t lose any sleep over this – but I am irked.”

Hmmm… the nightmare goes on…

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • dwatch
  • Mick Fealty

    Post vacant since 2005…?

  • Mick Fealty

    Having checked the list of peers I’ve now added the House of Lords seems to believe that Ken is in fact taking the whip of the Ulster Unionists… And unlike his former party colleague Lord Kilclooney is NOT a Crossbencher after all…

  • OK. So who is Chief Whip and who else is being whipped. If John Taylor is cross-bench and Trimble and Empey Conservative, how many more are there? Lords can do as they like, and it is all a bit academic.

  • michael-mcivor

    ” fought terrorism as a member of the UDR” well thats debatable – but it was a waste of time for Ken since the armed UDR/RIR was removed from patrols in Ireland-

    The Telegraph Editor viewpoint also wants the Nolan show to share the blame-and maybe any pain also-a disgraceful stance for any reporter to make about others in the same line of work-this was just a sullied view that Ken Maginnis made on marrige-its nobody else’s fault if Ken as not got the wit or decency to debate-

    Now the UUP as being found out to be telling us all lies about removing the whip from the bold Ken that never existed in the first place because Ken is a crossdresser- sorry- crossbencher-

  • Mick Fealty

    No, Empey is UUP… As is Liard… No record of a whip anywhere yet…

  • Mick Fealty

    And Rogan… so just four of them as far as I can see…

  • andnowwhat

    I’m trying to recall the term Fionnuala O’ Connor used about Nolan on the radio yesterday. It was something about baiting but certainly not praise. Oddly, given her usual line, the person she was flattering about was Ken himself.

    On hearing about the whip being removed, I did wonder about that to myself ie. what whip? I’m wondering who is going to end up with egg on their face at the end of this. Given Ken’s personal credentials, as listed above, I’ve a feeling he may do very well in this (I love mixing metaphors) bun fight.

    As an aside, O’ Connor mentioned a speech that Ken gave where he berated unionist ambivalence to violence and received a slow hand clap for his efforts. I can’t find it on the net and would appreciate it if someone could point me in the right direction. Thanks

  • Mick Fealty

    PublicWhip has Laird, Rogan and Maginnis all down as CBs… Only Reg is whipped..

  • Empey takes the Conservative Whip. The list of affiliations is ‘Party’ and not whip. In Lords only Labour , Lib Dem/Conservative Whips and that is as Govt v Opposition. If Lib Dems were not in Coalition then they would be whipped by Party – just something they’d do as a Party and not in ‘official’ role. Rest fall under cross-bench as too small to be relevant, or take lead from Commons under ‘Parliamentary’ Party steer. But as UU has no-one in Commons that is academic. Could be wrong, but don’t think so.

  • Mick Fealty

    House of Lords office say they have no record of a change… am waiting for a call back on that though…

  • cynic2

    Its a shambles. Is the UUP.

    Plus ca change

  • Mick Fealty


    The official position is that Rogan is the whip, and the others mentioned are, until ten minutes ago still in the UUP Lords party.

    No confirmation on whether Reg is still following the Tory whip.

    Only Kilclooney is a CBer. Trimble of course has gone to the Tories.

  • Framer

    Crossbencher can mean sitting on said benches as UUP members and Lord Kilcooley do or being part of the Crossbench group which Lord Bew but not Ken Maginnis does.
    Not tto sure about Baroness O’Loan and Paisley but Baroness Blood takes the Labour whip.
    The punishment for Maginnis is that he is being put out of the party’s team – more symbolic than real.

  • Mick Fealty

    That’s that ‘unwritten’ constitution at play again then…

    Ken and the word ‘team’ don’t quite resonate somehow…

    BTW, I am chasing that up.

  • But presumably Ken has paid his 2012 subscription to the UUP. Wasnt he a Nesbitt supporter in Fermanagh-South Tyrone?
    The actual term “whip” has little significance.
    But I think I noticed last week that the NI Conservatives are claiming Jim Nicholson MEP.
    To all intents, UUP only exists at Stormont and Council level.
    Regardless of party membership, Nesbitts writ does not really run to Westminster or Europe.

  • dwatch

    “No confirmation on whether Reg is still following the Tory whip.”

    I think the UUP would look very foolish if Lord Empey was following the Tory whip in the House of Lords and having recently been appointed chairman of the executive when Mike Nesbitt became leader.

  • Mick Fealty

    What I have so far is pretty jumbled, but that may be as a result of the slightly random nature of the constitution.

    The public whip site is well out of date regarding these guys.

    Rogan is the party’s leader in the Lords. So far as I can Reg is given the Tory whip (which means he gets their information on how they will vote), because he was gazetted as a Tory peer, but as a member of the UUP he does not ‘take’ it.

    And there’s another interesting line which I am currently researching… fascinatingly arcane place the Lords…

  • Skinner

    all this talk of whips is only going to lead us down a path of deviancy

  • Mick Fealty

    Right, officially, Lord Maginnis is NOT a crossbencher.

    He may sit in that part of the house during sittings. Others may think of him as independent because he does not take the whip of a major party. The Lords may categorise him as ‘other’ because he’s a member of a minor party.

    But he is NOT a member nor can he be considered a member of the CrossBench group BECAUSE he remains a member of a political party.

    My understanding is that he and others in the party may have applied for such membership in the past, but that it was made clear to them that they could not be in the UUP and a CrossBench peer.

    There. As for whips in the Lords, there is one (to be applied by Lord Rogan if necessary), but that generally in the Lords, the whip is used sparingly if at all amongst minor parties…

  • Mister Joe

    From the History Learning site:

    Whips in the House of Lords:

    Party discipline tends to be less strong in the House of Lords, and the Whips are less exclusively concerned with party matters. Defeat for the Government is normally less serious. Nevertheless, for major issues the Whips still strive to ensure a good attendance. There is no pairing system in the Lords.
    Government Whips in the House of Lords hold offices in the Royal Household. They also regularly act as government spokesmen, which happens only rarely in the House of Commons.

  • I can just imagine Rogan trying to tell Ken what to do! Basically, Nesbitt’s great admonishment is a whisper in the wind.

  • Mick Fealty

    And Ken’s status as a cross-bencher a figment of his imagination… storm in a hippie tea cup anyone?

  • cynic2

    Perhaps he meant “cross” bencher?

    Or is this just another variant on forgetting where one is or misplacing ones spectacles as one gets older?

    Now, where did I put that Party?

  • Alias

    Perhaps he meant “cross” bencher?

    As long as he didn’t mean crossdresser…

    Good work, Mr Fealty – using the real-time advantage to get one step ahead of the MSN.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Nesbitt’s inexperience is showing. He has been made to look foolish by a guy who equates homosexuality with bestiality.

    There’s a difference between leading a political party and taking an editorial line.

  • tomthumbuk

    I’m not really familiar with these practices, but would homosexuals, when having sexual relations with an animal, usually have them with a beast of the same sex as themselves?
    I suppose it’s a matter of personal choice…”there’s nought so… etc, etc”

  • dwatch
  • Mick Fealty


    “…a guy who equates homosexuality with bestiality.”

    That’s the spin Billy. What he said, believe it or not, was rather more intelligent and nuanced.

    He was trying to make a conservative argument for why the laws governing marriage should remain in place. To paraphrase, it was roughly that if you change the law on this will we next move on to Bestiality.

    That’s not saying that bestiality is the same thing. What it is saying is that homosexuality is one of a number of taboo practices that ought not to be endorsed by the state.

    It would be a ropey argument even at the best of times, but it’s an appeal to a consensus that has disappeared like snow off a ditch in the last ten or fifteen years.

    The slightly unkind thought I had the day other was that given, like most people I know these days, lesbians and gay men are no longer strangers but friends and members of my family that the same is probably true for Ken’s.

    I guess no one has had the courage to tell him yet…

  • Sorry, Mick, it’s not ‘spin’ – it IS him equating the two things and you make that clear yourself when you paraphrase his argument – “homosexuality is one of a number of taboo practices that ought not to be endorsed by the state”

    That’s equating the two things right there.

  • Mick Fealty

    It is not Ed. Taboo is a fascinating subject, and one perhaps for a time when I’ve more time.

    Very good piece on it with regard to the variable definitions of incest here:

  • Billy Pilgrim

    ‘That’s the spin Billy.’

    Sorry Mick, but if there’s anyone spinning furiously here, it’s your good self.

  • alex gray

    The issue of Ken Maginnis’s carefully staged outburst is irrelevant. What matters is that he was deliberately defying Nesbitt. He had been warned not to talk before without getting clearance from the UUP Press Office. So he did it again. The problem for Nesbitt is that Maginnis was central to his election as party leader. It was his very public backing of Nesbitt that scared Danny Kennedy into chickening out of the leadership contest. Maginnis is now saying Nesbitt must “consider his position.” The means one thing and one thing only – Nesbitt has lost his key supporter and is, in consequence, vulnerable.

  • Mick Fealty

    That is by far the most salient political point Alex in all of this fascinating diversion.


    If you listen to that programme you will have a better idea of where I’m coming from on this. Ken is out of time, that’s all.

    One of the reasons I retain some respect for him is that he holds views that some senior members of my own family do (you know, some of those who actually still believe in the Catholic church’s teaching).

    It does not mean I agree with him, but neither am I going to give anyone a bye ball in hardening it into something it’s not.

    No other party could manage a flareup like this. No other party the size of the UUP has as many reps in the Lords, where losing touch with the lived reality of the society around them is an occupational health hazard.

    As someone said earlier, most others would have the wit not to go on Nolan over a death trap issue like this. He did, and it’s good we got to talk about the issue in consequence.

    But it really does show the ignorance and intolerance that comes out when there’s an opportunity to beat up on an aging Unionist peer…

    As a senior associate in Tom O’Neill III’s political consultancy in Boston said of US attack ads a couple of years ago, “it’s just too easy, the more we hit them (a named rival) the more the dollars keep flowing out of our supporters.”

  • cynic2

    “Nesbitt has lost his key supporter and is, in consequence, vulnerable.”

    and all this shows why the UUP is unelectable

  • dwatch

    John Taylor, has attacked Nesbitt and come out in support of Ken Maginnis over his remarks on the Nolan show “UUP leader’s bid to silence Maginnis over gay remarks Hitler-like, says ex-party grandee”

    Read more:

    “Maginnis ‘has massive support’ on gay stance”

  • Drumlins Rock

    “Maginnis was central to his election as party leader. It was his very public backing of Nesbitt that scared Danny Kennedy into chickening out of the leadership contest.”

    I try not to comment on internal party stuff, but will say Alex is half right, the issue is the defiance not what was actually said, however I totally disagree on the notion that Maginnis was central to Nesbitts election, even in FST he has little or no influence, Kinahan had a larger effect on Kennedy, but I think the feedback was telling him what way things were going anyways. Ken did not organise any buses, nor has he for sometime, nor will he if he thinks he can mount a challenge!

  • alex gray

    Just because Kinahan had an effect does not mean that Maginnis did NOT also have an effect. Both did in their own way influence Kennedy’s thinking. They were both part of the mind control Nesbitt exercised over Kennedy in that last week before Kennedy ran away and left mainstream or traditional unionists with no one to vote for. Since then Nesbitt’s team have been busy turning the UUP into a little micro-party (apologies to Sinn Fein) sitting somewhere on the middle ground – which is very narrow by the way – and vying with Alliance for the small number of votes to be had there. Alliance will of course do it better because they are more experienced and actually believe in what they are doing and they unlike the micro UUP can attract Protestant and well as Catholic voters.

  • fordprefect

    Had to laugh at that one, “he was courageous fighting “terrorists”. How can he be courageous when he was a member of a terrorist organisation himself, i.e., the UDR?