• boondock

    Altogether now
    Dum dum dum dum dum Another one bites the dust
    Great to hear Basil talk some sense on radio ulster shame about the usual one eyed troll reaction from some loyalist community worker

  • Comrade Stalin

    Basil is the only person from Unionism showing leadership and statesmanship at a very difficult time for everyone.

    Why is Michael Copeland not being disciplined for “lack of self discipline and teamwork” after undermining Mike Nesbitt’s – correct – call for the protests to stop ?

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “I am going to reflect on my position…”

    So who else might be reflecting on his or her position? I was invited to a UUP leadership gathering a few years ago and it seemed to me that John McCallister was Basil’s shadow; they seldom seemed to be more than a few feet apart. APNI is a ‘coffee morning’ coalition so it’s quite possible that some of its membership might traipse after Basil. The current tensions could easily lead to a realignment of the centre ground; coffee could be spilt.

  • BarneyT

    Boondock….too many “dums” :-)

    His party leader elected to take the matter to the Assembly Commission and McCrea criticised it. Now whilst he is right, I think most (irrespective of their party) would expect disciplinary measures.

    Sadly for the UUP it seems they’ve slapped down another member capable of reasonability.

  • BarneyT

    I had those thoughts too Nevin…but rather that shipping out, would it not be better for NI for the moderates to fight their corner and represent their largely moderate electorate?

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    A few months ago wasnt Mr McCrea at a Conservative event in Lagan Valley. That seems a more natural home than Alliance.
    Both Alliance and Conservatives might have been courting him.
    But as Nevin observes strengthening the middle ground might not necessarily be to the benefit of Alliance.

  • Haifish

    Is there room for Basil’s ego in Alliance?

  • Nordie Northsider

    If I were Basil I’d go Alliance. The Tories are a beaten docket.

  • BarneyT

    how do people think the alliance will fair election-wise given the attention they’ve received?

    UUP to tory does seem like a better fit, but unionism needs to shift back towards the centre I think.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Political unionism continues to tear itself apart.

    Events have been moving with astonishing speed lately. Last week political unionism proved itself to be against democracy. (Nevertheless the flag is gone from Belfast City Hall.)

    This week political unionism has proven itself to be against the rule of law, and openly in favour of state murder.

    The Da Silva report, while certainly a whitewash, was notable for the way it – and by that, I mean the British establishment – hung the RUC and Special Branch (ie the indigenous, ‘loyal,’ Ulster-based participants) out to dry.

    The census has revealed that the Protestant majority, on which the state of NI was founded, is gone, and gone forever. While it’s true that demography will not automatically deliver a united Ireland, it’s also true that demography has, for ninety years, automatically prevented a united Ireland. Census 2011 shows that demography can no longer prevent reunification.

    Alliance has been dislodged, with disgusting brutality, from its traditional default position of unionism-lite, by unionist mobs. (An Alliance-member friend said to me the other day: ‘now I see what you nationalists have been talking about all these years.’)

    The once-mighty Ulster Unionist Party looks ever less likely to survive, let alone rebuild. The DUP, unionism’s only semi-coherent political organisation, is retreating back to the street politics from whence it came, and where its Paisleyite heart really lies.

    An inarticulate, nihilistic rabble is on the streets, wrapped in Union Jacks, and a Tory PM and Tory proconsul declare themselves ‘ashamed.’

    Nationalist politicians remain diplomatically muted, and leave it to the forces of law and order to deal with the statistically-tiny unionist mob.

    Meanwhile, unionist attempts to widen the conflict and open a new front at Stormont have been frustrated, because unionism no longer has the numbers to impose its will on that democratic institution.

    More and more, this looks like a foreshadowing of what the transition to a united Ireland might look like – unedifying, but hardly apocalyptic.

    The obstacles to a united Ireland remain dauntingly large, but they now exist chiefly within nationalist Ireland, north and south. Unionism is eating itself before our eyes, and clearly no longer retains the capacity for decisive defiance.

    To think it has been mere weeks since Robbo’s ‘confident unionism / nationalism in crisis’ speech.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “would it not be better for NI for the moderates to fight their corner”

    BarneyT, as I suggested earlier today and previously, the Agreement tug-of-war settlement leaves APNI more and more exposed. It would be interesting to see whether or not London and Dublin are prepared to curb the DUP-SF-led descent into further bedlam.

  • Mick Fealty

    Billy,

    I think this actually quite perceptive:

    “Alliance has been dislodged, with disgusting brutality, from its traditional default position of unionism-lite, by unionist mobs.”

    I don’t think that’s a view shared within the party, but it is a substantially the opinion of a lot of people outside.

    Not sure Basil will jump to Alliance or the Tories, in the first place anyway. Unionism always wants to fragment, which is one reason Robo is trying to re-build a catch all DUP. The other is the tight demography.

    But I still maintain that there is an opportunity for the middle ground to landgrab here. Basil will doubtless be trying figure amongst other things just how comfortable LV would be if he were to compete with Trevor Lunn for instance for a limited pot of votes.

    Last I heard (by proxy, not the man himself) was a few weeks back, and word was independent unionist, which I’d say was the safe option for a man who finds the party environment a tad restrictive.

  • ayeYerMa

    wahahahahaha. Of course the dominantly Republican commenters here all love Basil — he gives you yet more compromises after 40 years of them already in one direction. How on earth could Republicans not love Basil!

    Oh, and look at Billy Pilgrim trying to lecture Unionism. Now, why can’t Unionists just bow down and be good boys like Alliance so we can implement our Republican agenda bit-by-bit?!

  • http://alaninbelfast.blogspot.com Alan in Belfast

    While I’ve no inside knowledge of Trevor Lunn’s retirement plans … there’s a fair chance Alliance will be selecting a new candidate at the next Assembly elections.

    From 2011 (via ARK):

    Edwin Poots (DUP) 7,329 (20.7%)
    Basil McCrea (UUP) 5,771 (16.3%)
    Trevor Lunn (Alliance) 4,389 (12.4%)
    Paul Givan (DUP) 4,352 (12.3%)
    Jonathan Craig (DUP) 4,263 (12.0%)
    Brenda Hale (DUP) 2,910 (8.2%)

    One or two of Alliance’s Lisburn councillors might fancy a run at the Assembly.

    While Mark Hill ran as the UUP’s second candidate in Lagan Valley, there’s no natural well known successor on council to run for the Assembly. Unless UUP ran someone well known locally in the town like Tim Mitchell.

  • Progressive Unionist

    So Mike takes disciplinary action against practically the only senior Unionist leader who’s been speaking sense during this crisis?

    And yet no disciplinary action taken at all against the three idiot UUP cllrs in Belfast who were jointly responsible for that inflammatory leaflet, which practically pointed the mob towards the alliance party, who’ve been the victims in all this?

    Absolutely disgraceful. Mike has shown no leadership whatsoever throughout all this.

  • Progressive Unionist

    BTW I really hope Basil stays on as a Unionist member of the assembly, even if as an independent Unionist (outside the UUP).

    That would be much better than just hopping to Alliance, because Unionism really needs sensible leadership voices like Basil’s (and John McCallister’s) at this point more than ever.

  • RegisterForThisSite

    I thought Basil had leadership ambitions so a move from the UUP would be a backward step, as he would be back to square one.

    Surely his career is better served sticking with the UUP and undermining Nesbitt, oh he is……

  • BarneyT

    AyeYerMa – sure isnt compromise a wonderful thing. Seriously, the scale of compromise was always going to be more weighted on the unionist side because of the disparity that existed. The republicans have also compromised by entering into political institutions (huge risk)…and you have to look at that move from a solely republican perspective (one that pre-dates recognition of the Dail)

    I can’t see how you calculate 40 years of compromise unless you think that the one-man-one-vote policy is a compromise. I would regard that as the start of demoncracy in NI. The goal has yet to be reached.

    How would you articulate the unionist compromise, and I grant you there has been compromise.

  • BarneyT

    progressive – “Unionism really needs sensible leadership voices like Basil’s (and John McCallister’s) at this point more than ever” – certainly does

  • Alone and Easy Target

    Apologies firstly for going slightly off topic – has Basil closed all his offices in Lagan Valley?

    Secondly, the amazing thing about Basil’s politics is that he could make himself fit into any party currently contesting seats in Northern Ireland. UUP, APNI, Conservatives, DUP, SF, SDLP…..

  • Gopher

    It’s a big choice and a personal one. For me there is no point in the UUP anymore and I would hate to see yet another fad unionist independant. It would be great to see McCrea join the Aliance party and bring personality to it and see if the centre ground can kick on.

  • http://alaninbelfast.blogspot.com Alan in Belfast

    Expect there’ll be a new chair of the Employment and Learning Committee announced soon.

  • SK

    A UUP MLA last night attended a gathering of scumbags protesting the lowering of the union flag. He did so a matter of hours after Mike Nesbitt made calls for such demonstrations to be suspended.

    What action will be taken against him?

  • GEF

    SK, I presume you are referring to Michael Copeland East Belfast. He was also in attendance at the first protest at the rear of the City Hall last monday week. However he has stated he was only present as an observer, if you could believe him.

  • OneNI

    Is this the same Michael Copeland who has removed all Party branding from his website and is being touted as a DUP backed ‘unionist unity’ candidate for East Belfast at the next General Election

  • boondock

    ”wahahahahaha. Of course the dominantly Republican commenters here all love Basil — he gives you yet more compromises after 40 years of them already in one direction. How on earth could Republicans not love Basil!
    ayeyerma you forgot to mention that he was born in the free state so even more reason for you to be suspicious of him.

    What are Basils options

    1 Stays with the UUP to try to modernise the party from within. Dont think its a realistic option after today. He was beaten and beaten well by Tom Elliot in the leadership contest even though as it turned out Elliot couldnt lead a choir and Hamilton, Bradshaw and Ringland all jumped ship among others. That alone showed where the party was going ie outflanking the DUP on the orange stakes. When Mike came in as leader there was optimism that he may be the charismatic moderate to get the UUP back on track but as we have seen in the last few weeks that was a pipe dream.
    2 He becomes an independent unionist. The plus side for unionism is they dont lose an MLA and maybe he will replicate the success lady Hermon has had as an independent MP. This as Mick points out is the safe option but it has its risks just ask Alan McFarland who left the UUP with Hermon only to then lose his assembly seat at the next election.
    3. He joins the Tory party. In theory probably his natural home but it would be a disaster for his political career as we would never hear or see him again
    4. He joins the Alliance party. Considering its his stance over the flag at city hall and the criticsm of the unionist retaliation at Stormont this is probaly the likely outcome. I disagree with some who say it will make the Alliance too unionist, most people see Alliance as unionist lite anyway and John Alderdice wouldnt have been neutral on the border and yet was one of the parties most successful politicians. As for Lagan Valley Im pretty sure there is stilll no nationalist quota so maybe there is room for 2 Alliance members to succeed.

  • boondock

    sorry forgot to add option 5 which is he leaves politics alltogether but that would be a shame as unionism and Northern Ireland in general is lacking quality politicians

  • SK

    “SK, I presume you are referring to Michael Copeland East Belfast. He was also in attendance at the first protest at the rear of the City Hall last monday week. However he has stated he was only present as an observer, if you could believe him.”

    ____

    Indeed, was he “observing” when he posed for photos with the protesters whilst holding one of their banners?

    Mike Nesbitt came out yesterday and declared that all protests should be suspended. A couple of hours later, Michael Copeland, MLA is a willing participant in one of the protests that his party leader was calling a stop to.

    Will he be censured? I wonder.

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    Re Lagan Valley:
    Trevor Lunn is 65 years old. And I would suggest the balance of probaility is that he would stand down next time.
    The figures suggest Alliance is on a steady 11%-12’5% of vote. UUP 20%-22%.
    The UUP vote will likely fracture three ways across Norn Iron.
    lets say equally to Alliance, DUP and a UUP rump.
    Id suggest that.
    And possibly four ways in East (if Conservatives) have high enough profle people.
    McCreas best chance is to be the Alliance candidate but how exactly that would be greeted by AP people in the constituency is adifferent matter.
    Theres a 10% “nationalist” vote to be courted.
    We was one of the most recognisably Conservatives in that ill fated Coalition thing….but how can Alliance really remain the same party by bring McCrea, Hamilton, Bradshaw, Parsley on board….most if not all with political ambition without alienating SOME ambitious loyal Alliance people……a stock answer that those loyalists only want the best for the Party………doesnt really cut it.

  • Neil

    Nesbitt’s been a good laugh as UUP leader. I really thought they’d hit rock bottom with the whole UCUNF thing and Reg, but I might have jumped the gun.

    By the time Nesbitt (Johnny Come Lately) has finished there’ll be no-one in the party but him. This is great.

  • Neil

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-20711565

    Conal McDevitt joins the list of people under death threat.

  • simtrib

    @BarneyT

    I can’t see how you calculate 40 years of compromise unless you think that the one-man-one-vote policy is a compromise. I would regard that as the start of demoncracy in NI. The goal has yet to be reached.

    True that we don’t entirely have one man on vote once you waft away the smoke and remove the mirrors, but that’s because when it comes to the assembly floor a vote for a unionist is only worth 80% of a vote for a nationalist (and a vote for Alliance is worth sod all).

  • simtrib

    @SK

    A UUP MLA last night attended a gathering of scumbags protesting the lowering of the union flag.

    If they were peaceful, which presumably they were or else you would have mentioned it, then what makes them scumbags?

    Maybe if you read some of what they were saying to each other you’d have a more nuanced view. It seems that the vast majority are intent on being peaceful. Many are also talking about the importance of registering to vote for the next council elections and hoping for a turnout surge on the back of anger about the flag, I guess a bit like the election of Bobby Sands in a “unionist seat”. They’re certainly not all thugs.

  • sherdy

    Has some hacker inserted Nesbitt as a viral worm to infect and destroy the party?

  • NOT NOW JOHN

    “Oh, and look at Billy Pilgrim trying to lecture Unionism. Now, why can’t Unionists just bow down and be good boys like Alliance so we can implement our Republican agenda bit-by-bit?!”

    The fact is that Republicans voted to implement an Alliance Party policy. Starting with the GFA, both Unioinists and Republicans have been (often unwittingly) implementing an Alliance Party agenda bit by bit. Perhaps it is only at times like this that they realise it and go beserk for a little while.

  • SK

    Simtrib,

    If you look at the related headline on the Newsletter website, you’ll see that “scum” is a word straight out of their own (admittedly limited) vocabulary. They set the tone.

    Any thoughts with regards to the point I was making, namely that Mike Nesbitt is an absolute hypocrite? Basil McCrea loses the whip for having the gall to stick his head out of the pigeon hole, yet Michael Copeland has free reign to associate himself with the blue bag brigade even after being told not to. Does strike you as consistent?

  • Red Lion

    Progressive unionist – do you remember our dialogue some weeks/months back about how moderate and liberal unionism needed a ‘spark’ to waken up and get out of the unionist monlith parties, not least because a very sizeable chunk of the unionist electorate (ie moderates) have no party to vote for??

    Well here’s hoping this is it!!

    At last a union politician has spoken out!

    Basil – the future shape of the union lies upon your shoulders. You’re just about the only man with long term vision and integrity. The UUP would be in such a better place right now if you were in charge. Being an independent union assembly member might be a good place to start (God knows NI needs your voice at Stormont), but hopefully your friend John might join you and from there do tiny acorns grow…into a new movement/party!!

    Its what so many pro-union people are crying out for!! The most unrepresented market in NI politics today!

    PS don’t forget to engage working class unionism, and the small but increasing Catholic pro-union vote but with your non-tribal sensibilities you are already well aware of this.

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    Gopher[2.53] With Basil joining alliance[if he does] the lights would go down on Ford shortly thereafter as personality is in short supply there.

  • ThomasMourne

    Basil has one more important step to take – out of a sectarian party.

  • PaddyReilly

    Perhaps he could get together with David McClarty of East Londonderry and maybe Sylvia Hermon and form that Liberal Unionist Party that Red Lion keeps on about. Unlikely to win many seats but could be holding the balance of power.

  • iluvni

    Just another UUP MLA whose ego is more important than his party. Sling him out on his arse. He hasnt been remotely loyal since being rejected in the leadership election. Its all been about Basil.

  • Red Lion

    Ha Ha i know Paddy its a bee in my bonnet

  • Gopher

    danielsmoran [7.20]

    Alliance’s biggest drawback going forward is they lack personality and with Alliance unlike the other parties it has to be a semi literate personality to appeal to people was half a brain. I think Ford, if he lets someone like Basil have a free role would make a good straight man for him. There is a real chance to effectively test the centre ground it would be a shame if ego’s got in the way.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Basil is once again acting in a statesmanlike manner and I feel he has a very important contribution to make in NI politics irrespective of which party he is in (as long as it is not the Ulster Unionists as it seems pretty clear that there is no respect for his viewpoint there). We need people like that in NI politics and every MLA who stands up to be counted for sanity in the way Basil has pushes us just a little bit closer to a sensible, lasting reconciliation.

    If Basil or others who share his perspective were standing for election where I live, whether it be for the Conservatives or for anyone else, I would give them my #2 preference without having to think too hard about it.

    As to the question about where he goes from here, it’s anybody’s guess. As an Alliance party member I would warmly welcome Basil as I see no incompatibility between his values and those of the party as I conceive it. I can’t, of course, speak for anyone else but I really doubt there are people in the party who would strongly disagree. There have been of course plenty of clashes and criticisms in the past over domestic policies and things in the Assembly but I don’t see these as blocking issues. I have no fear at all of Alliance’s core non-sectarian, liberal values or its sense of fairness and compromise being diminished in any way.

    Basil may also choose to join the Conservatives. This would not change my opinion of him but as I have said before the Conservative brand is not in good shape in Northern Ireland. I still think his personal vote would carry him through but it would be difficult to attract newcomers to that party.

    Regarding the internals in Alliance .. I know nothing, and if anything is being discussed it will be kept very tight indeed – few people beyond a small handful close to the party leader would be informed of any negotiations. This is as it should be as such discussions tend to be very sensitive. Correspondingly, however, this gives the party leader relatively limited scope to offer concessions, and the party leader certainly cannot promise, for example, selections without the permission of the local association, or concessions over policy or the party’s constitution.

    I mention this because this matter may bring an interesting conundrum for the party. The party has always insisted that it welcomes nationalists, unionists and others. But only the latter of those designations is formally represented in the party’s Assembly group. Does the party need to have a discussion about whether or not welcoming unionists and nationalists into the party fold – especially would-be defectors – means requiring those members to designate as “others”, or does the party need to allow elected representatives to choose their own designation ? It’s a tricky issue and one which would be internally controversial. But it may also be an issue which could preclude people like Basil from joining unless it is resolved. Likewise applies to any nationalists who are in search of a political home but feel they would be required to hide their identity or constitutional opinions.

  • otto

    Interesting idea Comrade but there’s a difference between being open about your default position on the border and actually designating as one thing or the other under Stormont’s rules. Isn’t Alliance about putting the health of NI society ahead of the constitutional question, even if that means prioritising integration over your own constitutional preference? Designation suggests that your priorities might be the other way round and I’m not sure that’s something many candidates would find useful or appropriate.

  • otto

    Btw – Basil as a Donegal born prod who’s quite happy to attend a Sinn Fein conference on unity to “put the unionist position” (or even just to have a discussion about how Sinn Fein sees the practicalities of life for ulster prods in a united Ireland) sounds like exactly the kind of person I’d like to see in Alliance. I don’t think it would be fair to lumber him with the need to decide whether to designate as one think or another.

  • Reader

    otto: Designation suggests that your priorities might be the other way round and I’m not sure that’s something many candidates would find useful or appropriate.
    In any case, I thought that – following some tactical manoeuvres in the past – the rule now is that parties, not individual MLAs, designate.
    If individuals could designate, that would leave the centre ground parties with desperate vote management problems in elections.

  • Comrade Stalin

    otto, Alliance’s position can certainly be summed up as putting NI society ahead of the constitutional question. But does this preclude having a strong opinion on constitutional matters ? I think people can still call themselves nationalist or unionist while at the same time prioritizing getting NI on its feet and sorting out our problems.

    Personally I am very much “other”, I have a lot of opinions on the constitutional situation and they tend to change a lot over time. But is the party potentially missing a trick by saying that it is a cold place for people who want to call themselves nationalist or unionist ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Reader, not to my knowledge (but I am not an expert on the rules). You have to declare your designation when you take your seat and you cannot change it again.

    AFAIK there is nothing to stop parties permitting members from designating as they like. But it would be a complicated and highly controversial internal issue for a party to deal with. Alliance’s redesignation to save Trimble back in the day was extremely internally controversial, even though it was only temporary.

  • Red Lion

    We have a unionist politician actually going against the dogmatic and selfdestructive big house unionism in a significant and liberal and visionary way, possibly for the first time post GFA. Can anybody think of any other instances post GFA?
    This could be a possible milestone for I’m sure (I know) there is a sizeable portion of the electorate ready to fall in behind such a voice. If Basil grasps this opportunity and gets his liberal message across then it can only grow.
    Basil and John could jump together.

  • Progressive Unionist

    Well it would certainly open up some intriguing opportunities if Basil and John did jump together to form a progressive new unionist nucleus. McClarty may be tempted to join them and there are also others in the UUP benches who would be alienated by Nesbitts lurch to the hard line right. Also I agree with Red Lion that there is definitely an appetite out there for Basils principled and moderate brand of unionism so such a group could really pick up momentum.

  • GoldenFleece

    Will McCallister be the next to be disciplined?

    Apparently he has been ordered not to attend a Northern Irish Conservative Christmas Event in Newtownards tomorrow night where he is speaking.

  • SK

    “Apparently he has been ordered not to attend a Northern Irish Conservative Christmas Event in Newtownards tomorrow night where he is speaking.”

    Oh that should be interesting.

    I think at this stage, the best Christmas present Mike Nesbitt could give those guys is expulsion. Best to get off the ship before it sinks.

  • Ulidian

    Well McCallister would probably be a goner in the next assembly election. As for McCrea, is he really the sort to actually build a political party from scratch?

  • Red Lion

    I think its possible he would, he’s a capable man, previously worked in business. He’d need a few partners and i’m heartened of reports McCallister has been given an ultimatum.
    McClarty, Sylvia Herman, Harry Hamilton, Paula Bradshaw, even Dawn Purvis if it weren’t for her new job, would all be interested.
    But i think a loose association of independents might be the first step.
    And they will bring others from the UUP with them, and a few enlightened DUP souls, too. They would take from Alliance but I think where such a strength would be for such a movement is its attraction to the younger voter, and the scope for bringing in new faces inspired by a new union politik is quite wide, bigger than the number of younger folk wanting to join the DUP.I think such a movement would attract from virtually sections of society here in NI and thats not empty rhetoric.

    One slight outside bet for McCrea, and i hope its not true, but he could have an interest in the mainland GB Tories. He’s lived and worked in England for a decent period of time before, but Norn Irn needs him!

  • Comrade Stalin

    Please don’t jinx John McAllister’s chances by saying that he “previously worked in business”. So many politicians who used this label have failed, not least including Mitt Romney in recent times.

    No, the guy should be standing up for sanity, common sense, a bit of give and take and sorting things out amicably, and above all reuniting Northern Ireland and getting the place on its feet. Then he’ll have my vote, or at the very least a useful transfer.

    Red Lion, I can think of a very small handful of post-GFA sane unionism. The PUP in Belfast City Council about ten years ago proposed changing the flags policy to designated days. As far as I know they only reversed this position following the DUP’s recent campaign.

  • OneNI

    Am amazed to hear MCCallister has been told not to attend the Conservatives event in Strangford. I thought Nesbitt said the UUP were going to be a centre right unionist party? What is wrong therefore with McCallister addressing a gathering of Conservatives – the main centre right unionist party in the UK?
    Come to think of it why did Nesbitt pursue the policy of ditching the link up with the Conservatives? What direction does Nesbitt want to go in?
    Why hasnt he disciplined the 3 councillors on Belfast City Council? Who runs the UUP?

  • BarneyT

    OneNi – perhaps Nesbitt only targets those that pose a direct threat.

    I think the UUP have missed an opportunity to pursue real politics rather than become embroiled in the current flag mess. Nesbitt has muddying the mainstream uniionist waters of identity…and such unionists I would argue are not merely identified by the struggle to keep NI British or hate campaigns, but by centre right politics. Not my political cup of tea, but it is a valid enough position.

    So, the UUP and the PUP should take a step back and look at the opportunity that presents itself. I have at times been suprised at how moderate the PUP with Purvis and the late Irvine have appeared at times, and perhaps they are “real” because of how they interface with the troubles and their local community.

    The UUP are clearly removed from many of the issues affecting the protestant working class, however they represent a section of the unionist population that neither the UUP or DUP can really claim to do. If you remove the British\ Union element (not saying they should), the UUP would have pan NI conservative orientated support.

    The PUP and UUP have a chance to neatly carve up the unionist vote loosely into left/right politics, and wrestle control from the DUP. They can capture the unionst vote as comprehensively as the SDLP and SF do the nationalist
    epublican vote, as unionism is fractured.

  • OneNI

    You could be right Barney if he gets rid of McCallister as well as McCrea he has no credible rivals left!

  • mjh

    Not sure it’s exactly a question of getting rid of rivals for the leadership, Barney T. After all neither are any threat to him having both failed to win the leadership before by a long margin. Suspect it has more to do with Nesbitt’s future plans for the UUP.

    Sometime between the publication of the BT poll in the summer and the UUP party conference Nesbitt seems to have decided that the only future for himself and the UUP lies in a pact with the DUP. This would include the DUP running only 1 candidate in the Euros, common Westminster candidates, and co-operation on the numbers of candidates run by each party at Assembly and Council elections.

    There’s no guarantee that the DUP would agree of course. But if they did the last thing Nesbitt would want would be two MLA’s (McCrea and McCallister) disrupting the announcement, fighting the arrangement inside the party and possibly ultimately resigning in protest. Especially if one was Deputy Leader .

    So he sacks McCallister as Deputy on a flimsy excuse the first chance he gets, then he takes the opportunity to push McCrea out the door as soon as the opportunity presents itself. Now he appears to be going after McCallister.

    When they are both finally gone he will be free to pursue his stratagy.

    No matter how poor a view you have of Nesbitt’s leadership abilities it makes no sense to push out two high profile MLA’s on a mere whim.

  • OneNI

    Good job Trimble has already joined the Conservatives – with remarks like that attacking the DUP he’d probably be thrown out by Mike Nesbitt!!
    With joint statments and joint initiatives it really does seem like Nesbitt has handed the keys of the UUP to Robbo

  • GEF

    Belfast flags issue: Lord Trimble accuses DUP.

    Former first minister David Trimble has accused the DUP of “cynically” stirring things over the flying of the union flag at Belfast City Hall.

    The Conservative peer told the BBC the row was more to do with the DUP’s attempts to win back the East Belfast parliamentary seat from Alliance.

    http://news.google.co.uk/news/url?sa=t&ct2=uk%2F0_1_g_1_0_t&gid=LCL&bvm=section&usg=AFQjCNGjV1v42d_xylNnnXoxe6m-dDwaOg&did=770633479005707862&cid=52778041724767&ei=NVXLUNDnNoqX8QPP2gE&rt=HOMEPAGE&vm=STANDARD&authuser=0&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.co.uk%2Fnews%2Fuk-northern-ireland-20728991

  • thesaint

    Shocking, I just hope McRae sticks to his principles its quite apparent to me that there isnt many unionists with any.