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