"Don't write off the UUP just yet"

Alex Kane’s speech to the Lagan Valley Ulster Unionist Association last night makes the Newsletter today. Whilst his assessment is not exactly upbeat, he thinks the party’s opponents are too quick to write their potential resilience in the upcoming elections. Full text below:

By Alex Kane:

Hans Christian Andersen—the bicentenary of whose birth falls this Saturday—was a deeply paranoid man. In his later years he convinced himself that he would be accidentally buried alive and, no matter where he slept, had a notice pinned to his nightgown and above the bed itself, reading: “I May Just Be Sleeping”. It may be necessary for the Ulster Unionist Party to hang a similar notice on the front door of Cunningham House, once the general and local government election results are in.

From both the historical and political point of view, though, the Ulster Unionist Party has a legacy of which it can be mostly proud. With its roots in the Home Rule crisis, which dominated British politics from 1886 to 1920, and formally constituted in March 1905, the party has survived under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. It was created to protect the union between Great Britain and Ireland and then, later, to govern and maintain the newly created Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom.

And now, a century after the party was formed, and 84 years after Northern Ireland was created, Northern Ireland is still within the United Kingdom. Still there after a sustained and bloody terrorist campaign. Still there after forty years of vicious and inaccurate propaganda from both nationalism and republicanism. Still there after the congenital spinelessness of successive British governments. Still there after one stupid policy initiative after another from the Northern Ireland Office. Still there because the Ulster Unionist Party never wavered nor deviated from its primary mission.

So, the Union is safe, but what about the Ulster Unionist Party itself?

Since 1972 and the prorogation of the Stormont Parliament, the UUP has been trying to find a new and clear role—both for itself and for unionism in general. That hasn’t been an easy task. The simple fact of the matter is that unionism is not in a position to dictate its own terms and it hasn’t been in that position for almost forty years. Oh yes, it was in a position to say no to an awful lot, but it wasn’t in a position to deliver its own alternatives. Indeed, after the collapse of the Sunningdale Agreement in May 1974, unionism was effectively sidelined, ignored and marginalized—-standing helplessly by as one political indignity after another was heaped upon it.

From being a party that had thrived on the mantra of “United We Stand” Ulster Unionism began to crumble into warring cliques, factions, cabals and even new parties. To be honest, that wasn’t a surprising development. When one of the primary tasks of the UUP was to provide continuous government for Northern Ireland it was very much easier to ensure control and cohesion from the centre, while stoking up the fearful consequences of what could follow any public or private disunity.

But once that task had been removed from the party—and once it became clear that there would never again be a single party government—it became impossible to control Ulster Unionism. Splits, formal and temporary, were inevitable, aided by the re-introduction of Proportional Representation and the electoral opportunities provided thereby. Aided, too, by the fact that the UUP lacked—and still lacks—the centralisation and disciplinary structures required by modern political parties. Take Lagan Valley’s own MP. In the UUP Jeffrey Donaldson was a go-it-alone thorn in the side, who exploited internal structural weaknesses for his own ends. In the DUP, Jeffrey Donaldson is a lobotomised patsy who does exactly what he is told to do by his new masters.

It is also worth noting that the UUP did very little internally to respond to the changing political circumstances. There was an assumption, that, come what may, the party would always be the dominant force within the pro-Union community. And even today, there are those at the centre of the party who believe that the DUP’s present lead is a mere aberration and that the electorate will quickly return to its senses. That, I have to say, is a fundamentally stupid approach to the situation. There is a very strong case for saying that the DUP has been utterly hypocritical in the past sixteen months; but the bigger question is this—why have more unionists been prepared to vote for hypocrites than to vote for this party?

My own view is that the UUP pursued the right course of action over the past seven years, at least in terms of policy. We were right to do what we did; right to negotiate, endorse and attempt to make a success of the Belfast Agreement. Yet, here we are, seven years on, and the Agreement is lifeless in the water, the party is divided and diminished and the DUP is seemingly on the verge of sweeping all before it on May 5th. How can we be in such a mess if we pursued the right policy? Putting it more bluntly, how can the DUP, which now endorses exactly the same policy as we did, be in such a strong position?

There are five main reasons;

Perception. Presentation. Policy. Leadership. And psychological.

We were perceived as disorganised and disunited.

We took the Oscar Wilde approach to selling the Agreement, allowing it to become the policy that dare not speak its name. And we had to spend too much time explaining why we were collapsing the structures, rather than enjoying and exploiting the benefits of a stable and successful form of government.

In terms of policy we didn’t and aren’t setting out the vision that supposedly underpinned our commitment to the Agreement. There were very strong social, moral, practical and political reasons for doing what we did, but when was the last time you heard them?

In terms of leadership I neither see nor sense a realistic strategy for the way ahead. And nor do I detect any evidence that the leadership is prepared to accept that it might have handled things better.

One of the most basic facts of electoral life is that people tend to vote for parties which either look like winners, or, at the very least, look like they will hold their own. The UUP is no longer the biggest party in terms of votes. No longer the larger of the unionist parties. No longer the largest at the Assembly or Westminster. It fell to its lowest ever vote last June, when it didn’t even break the 100,000 barrier! It is registering a mere 16% in opinion polls!

There is absolutely no point in fighting the election unless we take all of these factors on board. Each of them can be addressed. Speaking about them does not represent a sign of defeatism: but denying the existence of the problems we face is a sure-fire route to continuing and wider spread setbacks.

That said, the situation is not as bleak as it may at first appear. Despite the relentless pounding and pressure of the past seven years the party has not gone into electoral meltdown and I don’t believe that such a fate awaits us in a few weeks time. Since 1993 we have declined by about 7% overall and shed around 30,000 votes. That is not good, but it certainly isn’t catastrophic, particularly when you consider the internal and external problems we faced. And I also take the view that much of the decline is attributable to our own incompetence in terms of strategy and discipline. I don’t believe that this election will represent our shining hour, but nor am I anticipating our obituary.

But, that aside, we still need a clear and unambiguous message for the electorate—and one that represents the real feelings of our members, those who have to sell it on the doorstep. We must avoid the hackneyed claptrap of the “Simply British” campaign, with its pictures of fish and chips and Mini Coopers. That campaign diminished our efforts, trivialised our risk taking strategy and insulted our members and our voters.

· We must have a message to hold the voters who have stayed with us.

· We must have a message for those who stopped voting for us, but who haven’t voted for other unionists.

· We must have a message for those who have never voted before.

· We must have a message for those who left us to vote for other unionists.

And the bases of those messages must be built upon and around our legacy. We have been, by any definition of the term, a very successful political party. Yes, we have had problems, but one hundred years on and we are still standing and still fighting our corner.

In its centenary year I think this party will emerge from the election strong enough to rebuild, reconnect and reengage. I believe that we actually need two vibrant mainstream unionist parties; cooperating when necessary and working separately to build and maximise the total pro-Union vote. It’s no longer enough to say we are unionists. Instead, we need an image, identity and range of policies which will consolidate our remaining vote and attract a new vote. And I’m not talking about trying to move to the right of the DUP or trotting out the slogans about a return to traditional unionist values.

The pro-Union electorate have a very important decision to make on May 5th. The UUP has proved itself capable of realistic thinking and realistic policies. It took the risks when others stood in the wings. The Union is still here. NI is still part and parcel of the UK. Unionism has a new-found respect and influence. That is the doing of the UUP.

The DUP on the other hand has precious little to show. In fact, it has nothing to show. And that is what people need to remember when they reach the ballot box in a few weeks time. The DUP cannot point to one policy or strategy of its own which has made a button of difference to the constitutional position of Northern Ireland. It cannot highlight any particular success of its own. It has promised much and delivered nothing. After years of bombarding us with policy papers and position documents there is no new agreement; no new Assembly; no new decommissioning; no new devolution. For all of its recent claims to be the new voice of unionism, the DUP remains the No No No party of old.

While it is true that the UUP has been seriously damaged and weakened in the past seven years, it is not the case that the faults are terminal and its demise inevitable. There is a very broad swathe of the pro-Union community, which has distanced itself from the two unionist party political machines, both in terms of membership and voting. I take the view that that is largely because neither the UUP nor the DUP has made a serious or sustained effort to either engage or re-engage that constituency, choosing, instead, to concentrate on a pointless battle to be the dominant force in an ever-diminishing pool of voters.

Whatever happens on May 5th, there will be a new spirit in the UUP and there will, inevitably, be a new leadership within a matter of months. It is vital at that stage that the restructuring process begins immediately. Passing the leadership to anyone, merely on the Buggins’ Turn principle, or the “they are the best of a bad bunch” option, would be the very worst thing that the party could do at this stage.

The Ulster Unionist Council has nothing to lose by taking a risk with the leadership issue. I don’t think there is anyone who can unite the party and heal the wounds overnight, so it needs to look for someone who can appeal beyond the traditional core and create a new form of unity around a new way of doing business. Whoever wants the job will need to set out a clear gameplan for recovery. Whoever gets the job will have a maximum of two years to rescue the party. Survival now depends upon the UUC making one of the most difficult decisions it has had to make since March 1905.

There are still some very difficult decisions ahead for the unionist parties and the pro-Union community. And there is still a vital role for the Ulster Unionist Party to play. I don’t believe that the DUP has the instinct for taking the really tough decisions in politics; but I do believe that there are tens of thousands of potential voters out there who will respond to this party when we put our house in order.

This party laid the foundations of Ulster Unionism. It has been consistently faithful to its primary duty to protect, promote and preserve the Union. It has never avoided the difficult decisions, or refused to take necessary risks. We have nothing to be ashamed of and much to be proud of. When it comes to this election we must ask the electorate to examine our history and judge us on our record. But, most important of all, we must give the electorate the assurance that we will get our act together this time, and become, once again, the voice and choice of the pro-Union majority in Northern Ireland.

  • Keith M

    What a lovely couple the undertaker and Lady Harmless will make as they become the last ever UUP MPs. There’s about as much chance of a UUP revival as the Pope resuming his football career.

  • Davros

    There’s about as much chance of a UUP revival as the Pope resuming his football career

    in the circumstances that’s a remark in poor taste .

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    I hope he’s right. It would be a shame if Sinn Fein and the DUP remained the majority parties for any length of time. Elected officials that polarised will mean we’ll never see a return to government here. And from a Unionist point of view, the DUP seem more interested scoring points from superficial slogans than actually delivering their supposed hard line on terrorism.

  • davidbrew

    I agree with Alex that things haven’t actually been that bad to date- but only in comparison to what is coming.

    Look at the Westminster candidates they’ve selected. What a tired old bunch of retreads, and freshfaced neophytes, with a distinct lack of street fighters capable of getting down and dirty in the struggle for the soul of Unionism. OK, so the UUP have never exactly had an inspiring Parliamentary slate, but they can’t compare to the DUP’s team- some of whom aren’t top drawer either, it has to be said. The difference is that the DUP is beginning to think less in terms of an inferiority complex motivated jealousy of the UUP, and the first shoots of community leadership have begun to emerge. Admittedly this isn’t easily detectable in the mouth of the elections, but it is there, and will become much more evident after May 5th. Breaking free of the need to look over their shoulders to the UUP will transform the DUP.

    And as for the Councils- well it’s the same old gerentocracy,many dating from the 1980s or before,possibly hoping for a big payoff after local government reorganisation, leavened with a very few fresh faces, like the admirably enthusiatic Kenny Donaldson in South Armagh. Hopefully people like him and Rodney McCune aren’t too scarred in the bloodbath to leave politics. No recruits for the major rebuilding to be found here. Normally PR protects the UUP in local government elections, but a fall of another 25 seats or more would be impossible to claw back.

    The trouble with the UUP is that it now has the smell of death about it, and for the less engaged voter that’s enough to make him/her write it off. There has been a slight rally in the past few months- as there always is from a death bed patient- but for better or worse Unionism will be lead by the DUP for the next ten years. That won’t stop the UUP frantically posturing as the true hard men of Unionism on one hand, and the party that is the home of Liberal Unionists on the other.

    As W D Flackes would have wished he’d said they are now ” a thing of sound and fury, signifying nothing”( sadly, it was Shakespeare )

  • IJP

    in the circumstances that’s a remark in poor taste.

    Agreed entirely. There’s no call for that here on Slugger.

    Make your point, but show some respect.

  • IJP

    the Ulster Unionist Party has a legacy of which it can be mostly proud.

    Alex Kane is someone I respect highly, but is this some kind of sick joke?

    If setting up a state and then governing it undemocratically to the specific detriment of nearly half its people is something you can be proud of, I wonder what you’d ever be ashamed of!

    Some individual Ulster Unionists have shown astonishing courage and principle. But the movement as a whole has a shameful history consisting of deliberately allowing fellow country(wo)men to be deprived of rights and fairness. I’m not expecting people to pay for past misdeeds, of course standards were different decades ago, and what’s done is done. But being ‘proud’ of it now is a disgrace.

  • ballymacarn

    why would any ulster unionist association ever ask alex kane to speak to a meeting, especially when you know the speach is going to posted on slugger.

    So much for having a private meeting.

  • davidbrew

    whoa just a minute IJP

    Noone’s going to seriously deny that the Unionist party exhibited all of the rottenness that goes with being permanently in power for 50 years ( you don’t have to scratch the surface too deeply to find this still prevalent); nor can it be denied that there was a very small pool of political talent which rarely threw up real talent- sadly repeated in our football team for much of the past 125 years; but you’re starting to sound like a Civil Rights child of the sixties after one bad trip too many in your comments.

    They didn’t rule undemocratically, as you put it, though undeniably they ruled in an amateur and arbitrary fashion. They governed in exactly the same way as every other part of the UK ,with no regard to the particular circumstances of the population in NI.

    Where the UUP could have been proud- and all Unionists can still be proud- are in the following areas:

    a) the formation of a broad political movement, regardless of class, and gender in 1905, before such ideas were routinely accepted in politics in most parts of the Western world,at the same time demanding rights from the state – the fundamentally egalitarian point made by Bonar Law when he said “There are things greater than parliamentary majorities”

    b) the securing of the wishes of an indentifiable proportion of the British subjects in this portion of the UK within the state in the face of a nationalism which could not accommodate their ethos and the containment of sectarian strife in the establishment of the administration

    c) insisting on the same standards for NI citizens as for the rest of the UK ( admittedly not always achieved) in social matters such as the NHS, education, and the very beautiful legal Aid scheme

    I’m not sure to whom you attribute astonishing courage, but you should include Carson, Craig (certainly in his first two administrations, before he ran out of steam), and some day people are going to have to look at Brookeborough’s legacy, not one throwaway remark on a 12th platform, in creating a stable, if stagnant NI in the 1950s- not visionary, but perhaps just what was needed.

    I fear, however, you mean the odious O’Neill- a ludicrously vain wannabe head of state, who deliberately sought to smash the NI Labour party in the 1960s for party political ends to the detriment of the state as a whole, Faulkner(actually probably a flawed hero- like Nixon undone by his ambition and insecurities) and please Lord not the purple turtle, who may have had courage in the sense only that he had neither the patience nor the vision to build a sustainable coalition within his own community before going hell for leather for the First Minister’s bauble.

    All irrelevant now, of course, and I suppose I can be accused of jealousy when you are kicking a party that’s so obviously down – I thought I was that one trick pony!

  • Keith M

    Davros : “in the circumstances that’s a remark in poor taste.” What is good and bad taste is purely subjective.

    IJP “Make your point, but show some respect.” Anyone meritting respect gets it from me. The Pope does not and will not.

  • Michael Shilliday

    why would any ulster unionist association ever ask alex kane to speak to a meeting, especially when you know the speach is going to posted on slugger.

    They didn’t, it was Lisburn Branch.

  • IJP

    Keith

    You are welcome to your view, but the Pope is representative of much more than a single man to a lot of people. While you (and I) may disagree, your above comment is cheap.

    David B

    They governed in exactly the same way as every other part of the UK

    No they didn’t. Democracy has nothing to do with majorities. They governed by majority rule on behalf of a specific group in opposition to another specific group. That is not how it works elsewhere in the GB, and that is not democracy – but then, Unionist reps rarely were much in touch with either of those.

    Your points a), b) and c) are not unreasonable and I think there is something vastly superior about Carson’s Unionism than about any form I see today. I’m not suggesting the movement doesn’t have things which it can take into the future with a degree of pride.

    But to suggest it has a ‘legacy of which it can be mostly proud’ shows a distinct failure to recognize anything even approaching historical reality, is genuinely offensive to a lot of people, and shows most worryingly that even the most ‘Liberal’ of Unionists is somewhat divorced from the reality of the problem we’re trying to solve.

  • Davros

    I’ll agree with Ian in respect of the Pope, and add that the Pope is important to a lot of our friends here on Slugger and for their sake as much as anything respect should be shown.

  • Gonzo

    I bet I know which Robbie Coltrane film Keith M will be watching tonight…

  • Alex Swan

    Reference tastless remarks about the Pope, it is said that the Pope’s medical condition was the subject of a joke at a recent DUP fund raiser, it seems bad taste isn’t the preserve of bloggers

  • PS

    On the Late, Late show tonight, Fr. Brian Darcy told of how His Holiness gave free Presbyterian protesters on his visit to England a special Papal blessing, including Big Ian himself!

  • cladycowboy

    Keith M

    ‘Davros : “in the circumstances that’s a remark in poor taste.” What is good and bad taste is purely subjective.

    IJP “Make your point, but show some respect.” Anyone meritting respect gets it from me. The Pope does not and will not.’

    OK then, you’re a cock

  • Yawn

    “Reference tastless remarks about the Pope, it is said that the Pope’s medical condition was the subject of a joke at a recent DUP fund raiser, it seems bad taste isn’t the preserve of bloggers”

    Yawn

    “On the Late, Late show tonight, Fr. Brian Darcy told of how His Holiness gave free Presbyterian protesters on his visit to England a special Papal blessing, including Big Ian himself!”

    Double Yawn

  • alex swan

    It may be a big yawn that at a Drumbo DUP fund raiser the crowd were entertained to an impersonation of the Pope with ‘Parkinsons’ however these were the same people who following Gerry Springer The Opera were demanding that christianity be shown more respect, Jeffrey Donaldson who was at Drumbo made this point on Talkback recently, if christians can’t respect each other, how can they expect to be shown it.

  • davidbrew

    “No they didn’t. Democracy has nothing to do with majorities. They governed by majority rule on behalf of a specific group in opposition to another specific group. That is not how it works elsewhere in the GB, and that is not democracy – but then, Unionist reps rarely were much in touch with either of those.” says IJP

    er,that’s exactly what democracy is about. And sorry, but recent examples of Labour rotten boroughs such as Coatbridge in Scotland and parts of the Midlands with large Asian communities, never mind some of the loony left councils like Brent in the 1980s sadly show that pandering to your own electorate isn’t an exclusively NI thing. And just why is the Labour party in Glasgow called the Murphia?

    Gerrymandering was invented in the USA, and is still routinely practised there to disenfranchise minorities- and of course the unlovely Dame Shirley Porter tried to do it in London. Read Private Eye to see how democracy is abused throughout local government. I’m not saying the Unionists pre 1972 were saints- only that they were just as bad as any party guaranteed power by demographics/ sectarianism

    BTW another Unionist achievement- in a primitive 19th century form , of course, was to focus on its role as part of a wider community- the Empire- which is of course widely derided by people who curiously are often ardent pro Europeans- the 21st century equivalent of the Empire. When I hear Irish nationalists proclaim they are proud Europeans, I wonder how they ignore the contradiction in their own position, and the tact that Unionism wrote the book on the role of a minority in a construct of many races/ states over 100 years previously.

    And actually Unionism was always acutely in touch with (conservative) thinking in Britain- to the extent that it wasted a lot of time on nonsnes like the threat of the Soviets to Our Wee Country, etc- we are , as you will know, still easily able to find people (usually in North Down) for whom it is still 1950s Eastbourne. part of the problem of O’Neill was that he thought we should be like a Dominion, with him head of State(natch) in a nice hat with ostrich feathers on it.

    Please stick to things which you obviously know more about- like football obviously, and Ulster Scots. :0)

  • Davros

    I’m not saying the Unionists pre 1972 were saints- only that they were just as bad as any party guaranteed power by demographics/ sectarianism

    And let’s not forget abstentionism. a major factor.

  • Alan2

    I`m afraid the UUP increasingly come across as big house Tories and Tony Blair`s whipping boys.

    “Drumbo DUP fund raiser the crowd were entertained to an impersonation of the Pope with ‘Parkinsons’ however these were the same people who following Gerry Springer The Opera were demanding that christianity be shown more respect,”

    How do you know they were the same people? There are Christians in the DUP but DUP most certainly does not mean they are all Christian (exept perhaps in the nominal term of the word).

    I have also seen Paisley jokes told at such events. ….Woman goes to buy a bra…do you want a Catholic bra, a Salvation Army bra or a Paisley bra
    I can`t remember the exact wording but basically
    Catholic bra holds masses
    Salvation bra is uplifting
    Paisley bra makes mountains out of mole hills.

  • IJP

    David B

    You’re supporting my position, for goodness’ sake!

    I said the Unionist Party did not have a ‘legacy of which it can be mostly proud’. None of the other parties guaranteed power (e.g. those lovely lads in Zanu-PF of the late great Ba’ath Party) have legacies of which they can be mostly proud either, and none of them is/was operating in a democracy. I’d already said that circumstances at the time to some extent explained why what happened happened, but just because ‘lots of other people do it’ does not make it a proud legacy!

    The word ‘majority’ appears in no definition of ‘democracy’. The British electoral system depends on majorities, yes, but this is part of a democratic process where tradition and the guaranteed swing between governing parties dictate that everyone will be represented and no single majority group will consistently overrule and oppose a minority. That is not and was never the case in NI, any more than in Hussain’s ‘democratic’ Iraq or Mugabe’s ‘democratic’ Zimbabwe.

    Democracy works. Majority rule doesn’t.

    Please stick to things which you obviously know more about- like football obviously, and Ulster Scots.

    Right back at you… if you weren’t a Gooner I’d demand a yellow card…! 🙂

  • IJP

    those lovely lads in Zanu-PF of the late great Ba’ath Party

    those lovely lads in Zanu-PF [or] the late great Ba’ath Party

    [sarcasm off!]

  • The Watchman

    Sorry Alex (Kane), you just don’t get it. Anyone can see there is something
    seriously wrong with the UUP but your diagnosis and thus the remedies aren’t
    accurate. At some point, you and others are really going to have to stop
    putting variable amounts of blame on Wee Jeffrey for political manure deep
    in which you find yourselves. (“A lobotomised patsy”? Anyone else thinking
    of Tom Elliot?) You all blamed Jeffrey for the travails, but now that he’s
    gone, along with his big Lagan Valley vote, on your logic, shouldn’t the UUP be
    sailing to success? Why not put the lion share’s blame where it deserves to
    be: the wretched Trimble-Gimp-Cooper-Rogan leadership.

    It’s the leadership, stoopid. The idea of testing the IRA made sense only if it could
    be done at a proportionate cost. That testing had consequences: (1) the UUP
    had to break clear manifesto commitments which confirmed Trimble as
    essentially expedient and untrustworthy, (2) it made internal party
    management even more difficult, (3) the process of testing constrained the
    UUP on other issues – Godson’s verdicts of “constitutional minimalism” and
    “ideological passivity” spring to mind – and, most importantly, (4) Trimble
    himself gambled the future of his leadership and thus his party on his flyer
    on the Provos coming off. More sceptical unionists looked at Trimble and
    his increasingly desperate efforts to “test” the Provos when he kept getting
    fleeced by them on every occasion and wondered if Papa Doc would do a better
    job and occasionally keep his eye on the ball. All that
    has fuelled the DUP’s rise and Trimble further obliges them by
    clinging on to his leadership and forcing those out who might have been able
    to dig the UUP out of the hole in which the wretched Purple Turtle has put
    you all. That’s the argument about the leadership you should be making,
    Alex, not blaming those awful fish and chip adverts and other inherently peripheral matters.

    You give 3 “We Must Have a Message” bullet points. But why is there none
    for the thousands of unionists who have defected to the DUP since 1998?
    (Some of them are in my own family as I discovered during an impromptu focus
    group session over Christmas.) How are you going to win them back? You see, I suspect that you have no real interest in doing so and you would rather
    the party turned itself into an Alliance Mark 2 to hunt down those nice
    garden centre people and thus drive up the overall unionist vote. Nice in
    theory but that’s a recipe for further UUP decline. Parties exist to win
    elections and the people most likely to vote are those the UUP needs to go
    after (and recover) in the first instance, i.e. the people who defected to the DUP over
    Trimble. Once you have done so, then and only then, turn your attention to the garden centres.
    To abandon the broad church idea leaves your party at the mercy of people who habitually
    don’t vote whilst the DUP hoovers up those centre right unionists who do.

    Recently I read Graham Walker’s book on the UUP (good at the start, rubbish
    by the end). It was striking the efforts made by UUP leaders of the past to
    manage their party in such a way as to keep it in the unionist mainstream
    with an instinct for the electorally popular. But Trimble’s strategically
    flawed, ineptly executed leadership has turned a broad church into a narrow
    unionist sect, with scant appeal outside middle class Greater Belfast and even more incredibly transformed the DUP into a mainstream
    outfit.

    To give you an example very close to home, your Association has
    blundered big time in choosing a charmless anti-DUP attack dog whose
    prospects of holding your last seat in the capital city rest upon getting
    habitual DUP voters to support him. I suspect it won’t happen and it
    remains to be seen if you haven’t parcel-wrapped the seat for Alasdair as a result. I know for a fact that there have been more resignations from your Association following the Gimp’s selection, which isn’t what should be happening in a healthy party. And to think that you would have had an unconditional free run from the DUP if you had chosen Christopher Montgomery.

    But that’s the problem with refocusing a party in an
    entirely speculative direction, as you advocate. It is likely to get the
    UUP nowhere except the wilderness. Still, if you want to bury a party, who
    better than an undertaker to do it? Michael, your hour is at hand.

  • Paul P

    keeping with the thread

    How can the the Ulster “unionist” Party be taken seriously as representing mainstream unionists when they advocate inflating the nationalist/republican vote at an election.

    Also the UUP leadership didn’t try and sell the 1998 agreement to unionists because it couldn’t be done. When they did make an attempt at “selling” it they lied.

  • Alex Swan

    Alan2, name another british political party that holds a Gospel Concert to raise funds, also I don’t believe you can compare a ‘Paisley joke’ about a bra with an impersonation of a dying man’s medicial condition, even if he is Pope.

  • Rethinking Unionism

    Where the UUP could have been proud- and all Unionists can still be proud- are in the following areas: a) the formation of a broad political movement, regardless of class, and gender in 1905, before such ideas were routinely accepted in politics in most parts of the Western world,at the same time demanding rights from the state – the fundamentally egalitarian point made by Bonar Law when he said “There are things greater than parliamentary majorities” b) the securing of the wishes of an indentifiable proportion of the British subjects in this portion of the UK within the state in the face of a nationalism which could not accommodate their ethos and the containment of sectarian strife in the establishment of the administration c) insisting on the same standards for NI citizens as for the rest of the UK ( admittedly not always achieved) in social matters such as the NHS, education, and the very beautiful legal Aid scheme Interetsing analysis as ever from David…seriously wide of the mark The formation of the Ulster Unionist party in 1905 had everything to do with facing a perceived common enemy and nothing to do with enlightened political prescience. You find the same script the world over. What would have happened if Irish Home Rule had succeeded. Would we be in a very diffrent place to the present arrangements.? There were always three stands and the temporary arrangement that was one party government in the North was never built on a solid foundation. As for credit for receiving the same standards as UK citizens..None of these mounumtnatla schievements such as the NHS ot the 1948 Education Act had the slightest genesis in Northern Ireland. It was mere happenstance David. There is indeeed a compelling Unionist case but it can never have any efficacy unless it is built on the widest possibler civic basis and not on the narrowness of the loyal orders and the latest common enemy. That is why the DUP is doomed to failure no matter what election mandate they achieve. You will not gain ground in Briatin following a narrow sectarian agenda no mattter how bright Dodds and Robinson are.Trimble understood that. One final thought…you still dont strike me as a “una duce una voce” DUPer

  • George Waterson

    “also I don’t believe you can compare a ‘Paisley joke’ about a bra with an impersonation of a dying man’s medicial condition, even if he is Pope.”

    Is it not surprising that none of the DUP supporters have ridiculed the very suggestion that the Pope’s condition was the subject of a joke and impersonation at a DUP ‘do’

  • Davros

    It has been announced, read on Balrog, that the Pope has died, may he Rest In Peace.

    As a mark of respect I shall not be posting for 24 hours. My condolences to all the Roman Catholic contributors on the board.

  • IJP

    Davros

    See relevant thread.

  • IJP

    RU

    Excellent points in your 0720PM.

  • Paddy Matthews

    Davros:

    As a mark of respect I shall not be posting for 24 hours. My condolences to all the Roman Catholic contributors on the board.

    Davros, while I’m sure we all appreciate your gesture, I doubt if anyone here believes it necessary.

    While I would disagree with your political views, you always express them civilly and display respect for the opinions of others. Thank you.

    No-one who has experience of the “past form” of that particular poster on soc.culture.irish could be surprised by his remarks. Being regarded with contempt by him is no shame. He himself deserves no respect.

    alex swan:

    It may be a big yawn that at a Drumbo DUP fund raiser the crowd were entertained to an impersonation of the Pope with ‘Parkinsons’ however these were the same people who following Gerry Springer The Opera were demanding that christianity be shown more respect, Jeffrey Donaldson who was at Drumbo made this point on Talkback recently, if christians can’t respect each other, how can they expect to be shown it.

    I imagine the rationalisation would be that Roman Catholics are not Christian. The Pope is regarded as the anti-Christ by these people, isn’t he?

  • Jonathan McCullough

    Paul P,
    Obviously you’d rather see pira/sf elected in as many seats as possible. Whats more important to you, total unionist vote or ensuring that the provisional republican movement are beaten in the areas that it’s possible it can happen?

  • Vespasian

    The point is not what is the UUP’s past but what is its future.

    Its future depends on many factors such as:-

    1. Can it find a new role for itself as its old role as ‘defender of the union’ and ‘no surrender’ has been eclipsed by the DUP?

    2. Can it find a new leadership that is willing to embrace the future and not the past and one which is not cast in the mould of David Trimble who mismanaged the party for the last 8 years?

    3. Can it widen its voter base into the golf clubs and rugby clubs and bring back those who decided they did not want any part of sectarian politics or of a non descript Alliance party that can have little effect on anything?

    It almost needs to do a ‘New Labour’ and convert itself into a ‘New Unionism’ which completely removes itself from the old Orange Order connections such as having meeting in Orange halls and recreate itself as a secular party and concentrates on selling the United Kingdom as being the only viable economic option for Northern Ireland and on the normal day to day politics that matter to people.

    In other words it should forget its past and concentrate only on the future.

  • Antrim

    There seems to be no forward thinking on this thread. Will the DUP do a deal with SF after the election? If so will such a coalition survive?
    Will the UUP Never, Never, Never recover it’s position?

    There is more to life than this inter necine war, and IJP you cannot build consensus if you continually hammer home negative issues from the past. They aren’t relevant, we should be moving forward.

  • Keith M

    Antrim, you ask some good questions and while the answers have to be guesswork, here’s my thoughts.

    “Will the DUP do a deal with SF after the election?”. This is down to to SF/IRA. If the IRA goes out of existance then I say “yes”.

    “If so will such a coalition survive?”. There is no doubt that this would be a shakey coalition, but as long as both parties are interested in holding power and are willing to put their difference behind then, I would be optimistic.

    “Will the UUP Never, Never, Never recover it’s position.” I never say never, however under Trimble the downward trajectory will continue and its very hard to see another leader in the nodding donkeys left in the UUP. All in all I think they will stuggle on for another decade becoming increasinly irrelevant, and probably merge with the APNI, if that’s still around by then.

  • IJP

    Vespasian and Antrim

    We cannot build a future if we do not learn the lessons from the past.

    The 1912 Covenant, for example, while understandable in its historical context, is just that – a historical document. It needs binned. Yet it is Unionists, not I, who harp back to it (see current Ulster Unionist web site), and if they choose to do so as if the document has some kind of relevance while also claiming to be democrats, I will point out that it is not a democratic document and has no relevance. Likewise it is false to claim the NHS or Social Security are anything to do with the Ulster Unionist legacy, indeed many aspects outrageous post-dated their introduction in GB, often by decades (e.g. legal aid).

    It is not unreasonable to point out to Unionists, just as to Nationalists, that if we seek to build a future on a false historical foundation, we have no future. Since neither Unionists nor Nationalists are capable of presenting a true historical foundation, it stands to reason that neither can deliver a future.

  • Peter

    The election may not be the disaster for the UUP people think. Firstly they may well gain Fermanagh and hold S.Belfast. Secondly Catholics may well vote for them in no hope seats like E.Antrim.

    We shall see.

  • Alex Swan

    Paddy, can you imagine the outcry if the Pope’s illness was mocked at a Tory fundraiser, it demonstrates how far the DUP is from being a normal political party and why ultimately they have no long term future should the Province get it’s act together.

  • steve48

    Have to say I agree with a lot of what Alex had to say. The few months after the election which will see a very necessary change in leadership will be interesting.
    While many around Trimble were responsible for Jeffery leaving, Jeffery himself never had the courage for the leadership challenge.

  • GavBelfast

    I’m no particular fan of Jeffrey Donaldson, but I cannot imagine he would be at all comfortable in a gathering of Free Presbyterian fundamentalists making sick jokes about the Pope.

    Where are there details of what was actually said?

  • Paul P

    Jonathan McCullough

    Unfortunately it seems likely that SF-IRA will not lose any votes despite being exposed as non democrats.

    A lament from some UUP commentators is that the unionist vote is in decline, voting for nationalists will hardly reverse the decline.

    The suggestion that unionists vote for eager “united irelanders” is exactly why the UUP should be written off.

  • alex swan

    It has been claimed by a couple who attended the DUP fundraiser in Drumbo Presbyterian Church Hall that one of the ‘performers’, a Presbyterian Minister and a member of the Grand Lodge of Ireland impersonated the Pope with particular emphasis on his Parkinson’s condition, my sources were disgusted and have written to the person involved expressing their disgust. It seems they attended the event believing it to be a Gospel Concert; apparently Drumbo Presbyterian Church didn’t want it billed as a DUP event.

  • GavBelfast

    If that is the general idea of what happened, it sounds tasteless and degrading.

  • No Fool

    I wouldnt worry too much about the comments from Alex Kane

    Did no-one notice what day they were printed in the Newsletter? Clearly Alex was helping the Newsletter with their traditional April 1st story.

    That is the only concievable reason I can think of how any relatively sensible person could sign their name to a document predicting UUP success at the General Election.

  • Alex Swan

    The reason the UUP will survive is that the DUP for reasons I have outlined above will only ever appeal to a section of the unionist community, while they might be in front at the moment I doubt they will be able to maintain this position in the longer term, a good proportion of the unionist people who voted DUP at the last election are at heart uncomfortable with supporting Paisley and what he stands for.

  • No Fool

    Alex
    What timescale is ‘the longer term’ exactly – a generation perhaps? The DUP are becoming a wider party by the day – Ian Paisley isnt going to be around for ever and everyone knows it. The DUP is already much bigger than the one-man peronality cult that it may well have been and which many UUP people like to think it still is.

    The uncomfortable reality for you is that most unionsists cannot sit comfortably with David Trimble and what he has stood for. With all of Ian Paisley’s faults its even sadder testament for the likes of you that the DUP has clearly surpassed the UUP with him still around – warts and all!

  • Alex Swan

    No Fool, you shouldn’t over state the gains made by the DUP recently, as Alex Kane has already pointed out the UUP isn’t dead in the water although I will admit we are in trouble, as to Trimble I doubt if he will be around much longer, then it will be for the students of history to asess his contribution to life in the province. As for the DUP not being a one man personalty cult, Robinson will forever being haunted by the popular image of him with ‘red beret’ in one hand and ‘expenses form’ in the other, as for the rest, again their mixture of religion and lack of grace when under pressure makes them even less attractive to the unionist in the street than the big man himself.

  • Alex Swann You are So Wrong

    Alex Swann

    Aye right enough, ordinary Unionists are repelled by people like Nigel Dodds, Peter Robinson, Sammy Wilson and Iris – that’s why they keep voting for them!

    Honestly, if this trite, petty personality-bashing is what passing for credible analysis in the UUP it’s no wonder you lot are getting stuffed!

    BTW, “ordinary Unionists” find the leading figures in the UUP to be a bunch of condascending toffs, but don’t let that get in the way!

  • Indeed

    Alex Swan,

    Thankyou for the early morning chuckle, just what i needed.
    Its good to see that the UUP bases it’s hope for returning as Unionisms leading party on the basis that Robinson has an image stigma attached to him and that the others are, from your analysis, just a little too Protestant for Protestants to like them. With experts like you involved the UUP will thankfully continue to decay.
    You see while the UUP seems to do everything possible to distance itself from Protestantism in it’s true meaning, the majority of Unionists still do hold dear to basic Protestant principles, and as such this belief you have that the DUP drives people away because of religion may be true to a small minority, but election results show that it doesnt bother the vast majority.

    As for lack of grace under pressure, i must point out that under the DUP unionism has stood firm in the face of pressure, unlike under Trimble & co who just caved in when the going got tough. With the DUP as unionisms leading party it is now SF/IRA which is under pressure and long may that continue.

    Lack of grace under pressure Alex….in many UUC meetings i saw your esteemed party leader pop under pressure from a few minor heckles. Surely not a charactheristic befitting of a leader of a poltiical party to his own members?

    BTW, are you predicting a win for David Simpson when you say DT may not be about much longer?

  • Alex Swan

    ‘Indeed’ in reply to your thoughts, “while the UUP seems to do everything possible to distance itself from Protestantism in it’s true meaning, the majority of Unionists still do hold dear to basic Protestant principles,” this claim perfectly illustrates my point in that like your political masters you have identified Unionism with Protestantism and who can blame you, after all in the DUP fundamental Protestantism and Unionism are two sides of the one coin, but is that the mainstream view? As I have asked previously, what other mainstream british political party would hold a gospel concert as a means of raising money, let alone as claimed, mock a dying Pope?

    Go to Forrestside or Sprucefield any Sunday and the car park will be full of cars, are you suggesting these people are all Catholics, of course not. The problem is that by identifying Unionism with fundamental Protestantism of the sort exhibited in the DUP even greater numbers of unionists will simply choose to remain in front of the television come Election Day.

    You refer to the “vast majority”, the vast majority have never supported the DUP except at Europe, even then it was accepted that the UUP was the leading party, after all Ian Paisley himself only claimed the ‘crown’ of Unionist leadership following the assembly elections despite have topped the poll in the European elections for years.

    “Lack of grace under pressure Alex….in many UUC meetings I saw your esteemed party leader pop under pressure from a few minor heckles” when I referred to ‘lack of grace’ I was thinking more of the scenes outside the election count in Upper Bann when David Trimble and his wife were subjected to the sort of physical abuse handed out to political opponents in Zimbabwe, nor was this violence an isolated case, what about the scenes in Fivemiletown when a DUP Councilor was filmed kicking an opponent?

    You claim that the DUP has held firm in negotiations. This is the package of concessions the DUP agreed to in the talks before Christmas, talks that to quote Ian Paisley on the 8th Dec “have resolved issues in relation to all aspects of the comprehensive agreement”.

    British MEPs and MPs being allowed to sit in the Irish Parliament with speaking rights, and no doubt voting rights in the future. Agreement to devolve Policing and Justice and opening the way for a Sinn Fein Minister to take charge.

    The acceptance of two new all Ireland bodies, with the possibility of even more, and finally not one change in any of the Good Friday Agreements thirty pages, so much for the DUP’s ‘Fair Deal’!

    This is what Gerry Adams had to say on the 7th December, “I believe that Sinn Fein can say yes to the political package…In addition to defending the Good Friday Agreement, we have made significant progress across a range of other important issues,”

    As to the future, I have no doubt that the Ulster Unionist Party will be around in another hundred years, as for the DUP and their heady mix of fundamental religion and politics time will tell.

  • davidbrew

    Oh dear, another UUP spinner ignoring the cold facts. But in any event, ther electorate will soon decide whether the future of Unionism rests with Beggs or Dodds,Cooper or Donaldson, Nesbitt or Allister.

    BTW, the UUP seem to have landed another coup- Tyrone Howe as council candidate in Banbridge – but surely the forwards are supposed to be the stupid ones? ( Yes I was one)

  • George

    Davidbrew,
    “insisting on the same standards for NI citizens as for the rest of the UK ( admittedly not always achieved) in social matters such as the NHS, education, and the very beautiful legal Aid scheme”

    Actually, the UUP voted against the NHS and the Education Bill.

    Unionism insisted on the opposite, namely retaining the status quo of no decent health care or education for the working class. It was the post-war Labour government that pushed it through regardless of unionist objections.

    I love the way today’s unionism claims credit for liberal policies it despised back in the day.

  • Alex Swan

    David, is it not a fact that ever greater numbers of unionist voters are staying at home, after all in the recent Assembly elections the DUP over all vote changed very little, in other words while many voters were turned off by the UUP they were not attracted to the DUP, is this not why total unionist votes in recent elections have scarcely exceeded the total recieved by nationalist/republican parties despite unionists being in a healthy majority over-all

  • Rebecca_Black

    Paul P

    “The suggestion that unionists vote for eager “united irelanders” is exactly why the UUP should be written off.”

    As long as people are in the UUP and people vote for and support the UUP, it will not be written off. Its called democracy.

    You seem to be singing from the same hymn book as Christopher Stalford who in saturdays newspaper commented that the only way to maximise the number of unionist seats acheived in Northern Ireland was to run the DUP in every constituency. This is typical of the arrogance we see from the DUP, I am not disputing they are the largest unionist party and the largest party. They attract alot of unionist support but they do not monopolise the support of every single unionist in the province.

    This plan of avoiding electoral pacts and running DUP candidates in every single constituency probably will give the DUP more seats but it will also boost the number of seats gained by Sinn Fein. Northern Ireland is sliding towards extremism on both sides and scarily nobody seems all that bothered about it.

  • Stalford

    Rebecca

    You clearly weren’t reading terribly well – what I actually said was that Sinn Fein’s ambition to top the pan-NI poll can be thwarted by Unionists in rock-solid Unionist areas voting DUP.

    I also don’t happen to think that Unionism is best served by abandoning the field in a quarter of the country!

    Furthermore, the DUP position was never to run in every seat in the province. An agreement could have been reached whereby the two Unionist party’s shred a seat each in the case of FST and SB – you supported that position – it’s a pity those arrogant sods at Cunningham House refused to.

  • Stalford

    shared, not shred. Ooops!

  • Rebecca Black

    Stalford (as you appear to have lost ur first name)

    Pity I threw the newsletter out after I read it because I am fairly sure that in your cackling arrogance you talked about the DUP being the only party for unionist voters. I’m surprised Mick didn’t do a thread on it, I remember having quite a few things to say about it.

    It seems that you are unsure about where unionists should run and where they shouldn’t.

    “I also don’t happen to think that Unionism is best served by abandoning the field in a quarter of the country!

    Furthermore, the DUP position was never to run in every seat in the province”

    Which is it then? Abandoning parts of the country? not running in every seat? Make it slightly clearer for us please.

  • Rebecca Black

    *by the way, give up with the word arrogant…any dupper calling anyone else arrogant at the min seems faintly ridiculous.

  • Paul P

    Rebecca,

    Why should unionists have no other option than to vote for David Trimble in Upper Bann and Dominic Bradley in Newry and Armagh and how would this increase the pro union vote?

  • Fermanagh Young Unionist

    Put it this way, the DUP are not helping Unionism when their threating to split the unionist vote in 2 key constituencies. If they had any sense then they would stand down in SB and FST and let unionism succeed but since the DUP leadership can only be described as group of power hungry leeches and their egos exceed actual reality then I personally cannot see N.I moving on productivly.

  • yerman

    FYU,
    The DUP are threatening to split the unionist vote in those two constituencies, but only in exactly the same manner that your party is threatening to.

    Read what Christopher Stalford posted – the DUP offered the UUP to have its pick of the two and they’d take the other – a fair and honourable compromise.

    However, Jas Cooper (just while we’re doing arrogance) and Micky McGimpskey preferred endangering seats to doing deals with other unionists (much as they quite like deals, but only with terrorists).

    Rebecca,
    The way to maximise the unionist vote (In my very humble opinion) is that in safe unionist seats both parties should slug it out for support – how does it appeal to unionists to come out in vote in somewhere like North Down if its a single unionist v alliance contest (hardly a knife edge one that!).

    In seats where there is no chance of a unionist MP (the Foyle, West Belfast, Mid Ulster type seats) then both parties can again fight it out – they dont affect any possible outcome of the election and unionists should be encouraged to increase the overall number of votes cast throughout the country.

    However, in seats where a split unionist vote can definately affect the outcome (note i said definately – i.e. we need this based on election results) then there should be an agreed unionist candidate. This motivates the people in those areas to come out because their vote can result in a unionist MP. This is the case in just 2 constituencies, S Belfast and Fermanagh S Tyrone.

    You most certainly do not motivate unionists by either
    A) telling them to vote for the SDLP
    or
    B) giving them no choice of who to vote for in an area which is never going to be lost from unionism.

  • PS

    I’m not known for my sympathy for the DUP but I have to say that if the SDLP came to SF with a deal similar to what the UUP are offering the DUP, I’d expect them to be laughed at.

  • davidbrew

    Interesting to see the UUP trying to sell their “save our skins” policy as a “Stop Sinn Fein” policy. Logically they should then be meeting with the SDLP and openly advocating a voting pact- after all, if they stood down in South Down, and SDLP stood down in Upper Bann, they could maximise the pro-Agreement, anti-SF vote in each. They could win E Londonderry, and Foylewould be saved for Durkan. They might even sign up the Alliance for a pact to dump the Robinsons and Nigel Dodds , in favour of two UUs and Alban respectively.

    But of course the UUP daren’t be so open, as they must still pretend they believe in Unionist unity, and that it’s more important than their wretched Agreement, proving they were never committed to it in the first place. BTW Who thinks they wouldn’t be lacerating the DUP just the same in F & ST if the seat was held by Tommy Gallagher on a split Unionist vote? it’s not about SF at all- its about their own dreams of faded grandeur returning. it’s not the Shinners
    stoopid
    The UUP are quite content with abstentionist SF MPs at Westminster, as they don’t affect the arithmetic (good when once every twenty years they have influence), and they can use them as convenient whipping boys when the Tories or Blinkertt/Clarke feel the urge to get tough on law and order- “Why not crack down in Ulster, too?” they whine, after confering legitimacy on the Shinners in 1996, and conrinuiong to do so to this day, notwithstanding Michael McGimski’s John Wayne impressions

  • Teaboy

    “after confering legitimacy on the Shinners in 1996”

    Can’t remember UUP Forum member and Talks member D Brewster saying that in 1996.

  • Rebecca_Black

    Yerman

    I don’t recall saying that I think there ought to be a unionist pact in every constituency in Northern Ireland. That would be a trifle un necessary, a unionist pact should be made in Fermanagh/South Tyrone, South Belfast, Newry and Armagh, West Tyrone, Mid Ulster and any other area where it is a nonsense to run two unionist candidates. For example in my home constituency of Strangford I think both unionist candidates should fight it out because I believe voters ought to be given an alternative to Lady Robinson and her Harrods bags, but then thats just my personal feelings about that particular constituency.

    “In seats where there is no chance of a unionist MP (the Foyle, West Belfast, Mid Ulster type seats) then both parties can again fight it out – they dont affect any possible outcome of the election and unionists should be encouraged to increase the overall number of votes cast throughout the country.”

    I disagree with that, only one unionist candidate should be run in those areas, they won’t win but they’ll give the republicans a damned good scare and provide a united unionist voice and morale boost for the unionists living there.

  • yerman

    Rebecca,
    Maybe you dont agree with a unionist pact in every constituency – but on that issue you seem to be at direct odds with your party leadership who proposed exactly that!

    For some strange reason David Trimble et al felt it necessary to protect Lady Hermon and her Harrods bags, as well as Boggs and his dump/retirement home. The DUP have always been more than happy for all their MPs to face whatever challenge the UUP can muster (even if it ends up only being baby McGimpski – would have been real fun watching Dermot Nesbitt getting the electoral clobbering he deserves – but will just have to watch that in South Down instead).

    How exactly is a united Unionist candidate going to give nationalists/republicans a ‘good scare’ in Foyle, or Mid Ulster for that matter – remember McGuinness got 51% of the vote there last time, and that isnt to count the SDLP vote! West Tyrone cannot be won either – Wille Thompson’s victory was a fluke, and it will never, ever be repeated – unionist parties in those circumstances give no-one a scare and again reduce choice to the electorate when there is no opportunity of it actually bearing fruit through the election of an MP. In areas where there is no chance of the seat being won, the aim of both parties should be to maximise their respective totals, and in doing that, increasing the overall unionist turnout across the Province.

  • davidbrew

    “Can’t remember UUP Forum member and Talks member D Brewster saying that in 1996.”

    Then you weren’t listening, teaboy! As the record shows (McDonald, Godson, just about every UUC, UUP Eexec and Officers Minute etc) I was one of a few who urged Trimble not to continue in the talks when the Government agreed to admit the Shinners. What about addressing the fundamental points in my post instead of cheap shots behind a rubbish alias? Oh, and milk, no sugar, pronto please.

  • Non-Unionist

    A good result in South Belfast will be that obnoxious swine McGimp, being kept off the green benches!

    Alasdair McDonnell or the DUP – for goodness sake even Gerry Rice, but not that plonker!

  • Rebecca Black

    Yerman

    To be honest I don’t think anything would scare Gerry and co more than unionists co-operating. A united unionist candidate who in areas like Newry and Armagh could pull all the unionist voters and attract all unionists from orange man to catholic unionists would be very powerful. They wouldn’t beat Sinn Fein but they would get a respectable vote.

    I don’t think you need to be a genius to work out that unionist bickering works to keep the heat off Sinn Fein. What about a determined, united anti violence stand?

  • jonty

    brewster said “was one of a few who urged Trimble not to continue in the talks when the Government agreed to admit the Shinners. What about addressing the fundamental points in my post instead of cheap shots behind a rubbish alias? Oh, and milk, no sugar, pronto please. – “

    So why the chance now brewster , why you not against your party december talks that inculded the ira?

  • Stalford

    Rebecca

    Dificulty is that your party only wants to make this determined anti-violence stand in areas where it will materially benefit, leaving the major Unionist party to sweep up votes in unwinnable seats (i.e. WB and MU).

    It is self-interest and self-interest alone that is motivating Trimble et al. Your motives may indeed be genuine, but I don’t believe their’s are one jot.

  • Stalford

    Rebecca

    Dificulty is that your party only wants to make this determined anti-violence stand in areas where it will materially benefit THEMSELVES, leaving the major Unionist party to sweep up votes in unwinnable seats (i.e. WB and MU).

    It is self-interest and self-interest alone that is motivating Trimble et al. Your motives may indeed be genuine, but I don’t believe their’s are one jot.

  • Rebecca Black

    Stalford

    negotiations are still going on with both sides mistrusting the other. To be honest I don’t believe the DUPs intentions are genuine, you yourself may be wearing this liberal facade now but last time this was dicussed you reverted back to type and came out with some jibe along the lines of just wait til 5th May. It looks very much to me like the DUP are far more concerned with smashing the UUP than smashing Sinn Fein.

    Under such climate of course the UUP are on the defensive. Negotiations can hardly be easy given the amount of very personalised slander all the senior UUP politicans face on a daily basis from the DUP. Compromise under such circumstances must be desparately hard. Pity people in both parties can’t see the wood for the trees.

    *by the way, buy yourself a dictionary.

  • Rebecca Black

    As a Dupper MLA from south down told me about a month ago.

    “the enemy isn’t Sinn Fein, its weak unionism”

    Call me cynical but I reckon thats still the informal party line in the DUP.

  • Ted

    I’ve just seen Tom Elliott’s piece in today’s News Letter.

    Can anyone tell me where he means by ‘beyond’ when he says ‘west of the Bann and beyond’?

    Surely the boul Tom’s not thinking of becoming a T.D………………………(Tractor Driver?) 🙂