And so, the end is near…

SOMEONE once said that, ultimately, all political careers end in failure. And so David Trimble officially announces his resignation as UUP leader. It’s been a remarkable journey, from Vanguard and jigging down the Garvaghy Road with Paisley, to a Nobel peace prize and power-sharing with republicans.

Trimble said:

“At a private meeting with the President and Chairman of the Ulster Unionist Party this morning I indicated to them that I do not wish to continue as leader.

“There have been difficult times, but also times when we have been able to make a difference.

“I have no doubt that Northern Ireland is a much better place and unionism greatly advantaged because of our efforts.”

In the absence of the DUP at critical political junctures, there’s little doubt that Trimble was forced to do the heavy lifting for unionism. Perhaps it was his inability to sell the Agreement to the average unionist led to the downfall of this clever but rather charmless and now isolated figure.

That, combined with a party that was fatally split and incapable of reforming itself, meant that Trimble – one of politics great survivors – could never hold on for ever.

I’m sure he’ll be content in the Lords, away from the bickering. But WHO is going to lead the UUP? Lady Sylvia Hermon is the only MP left, and although the UUP is very centred around Westminster, my guess is that it will go for someone else. (Does anyone know what the UUP constitution says about the party leader’s qualifications?)

If Burnside had won, he could have made a bid for the post. Maybe he still will. Empey was never taking Robinon’s seat, but was always considered a contender for the leadership. McGimpsey’s humiliation at the polls has weakened his standing.

This is a party that has a lot of thinking to do about where it goes from here.

PA reported that the UUP is now expected to arrange a meeting of the party executive to organise a special meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council which will elect a new leader and at which point Mr Trimble said he would resign.

A news conference will be held tomorrow.

  • slug9987

    It’s between Empey and Burnside. Both have shown political skills over the last few years. Empey has the wider appeal, and be able to hoover up some middle ground vote, but Burnside would represent more of a break from the Trimble years, and might try to build up more of a partnership with the DUP.

    The UUP with one of these leaders could perhaps take back South Belfast or South Antrim at some point. After all, the DUP now have the hard job of leading and being criticised.

    How many UUP leaders has Paisley now seen off? 5?

  • Tim Roll-Pickering

    Does anyone know why Empey managed to increase the UUP share of the vote in East Belfast? Other than tactical voters coming home in Newry & Armagh it’s the only place where the UUP advanced at all.

    To be honest, is there anyone really available other than Burnside or Empey?

  • Tim Roll-Pickering

    slug9987: How many UUP leaders has Paisley now seen off? 5?

    Hmm:

    Trimble

    Molyneaux

    West

    Faulkner

    Chichester-Clark

    O’Neill

    6 in total.

  • slug9987

    Thanks Tim.

    I think Empeys vote went up through PUP not standing and Alliance vote dropping.

    If I were a UUP member it would be something to think about.

    Reg Empey who is high profile and a good performer, and capable of widening out the unionist vote to attract new voters, or David Burnside who might be able to attract back the Donaldson part of the party but who could turn off the more liberal UUP voters.

  • Travis

    If they decide on Burnside, they may as well pack up and join the DUP en masse.

    There was no difference between him and the singing Pastor in political terms – and consquently the Catholic tactical voters deserted him.

    That is why he is out on his arse.

    And any chance of appealing to soft nationalists would evapourate if he was to lead to the party. Let’s face it, the UUP need all the help they can get next time out.

    If I were a UUPer, I would go for Empey. He’s got experience, and can appeal to both the Orange core and beyond.

    As for Burnside – aren’t the UDA looking for a PR guy?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Burnside is one of the most unbelievable characters in the whole of unionism. I can’t believe how a guy who gets suspended from the UDR for writing in a UDA magazine can get off lecturing people about supporting the police and condemning “the destruction of the RUC”.

  • slug9987

    UUP probably have two target seats-South Belfast and South Antrim. They might be able to do the Fermanagh deal to get South Belfast regardless of leader, although Burnside might be better able to get this. To get South Antrim, where many unionists and Alliance people will want rid of McCream they would need Empey. Empey seems to have more charm than Burnside – an important factor in politics. I think Empey is slightly ahead on these arguments.

  • Tim Roll-Pickering

    Perhaps, but isn’t Empey also in that picture, smiling and singing with McGimpsey and McGuiness? What can he really offer that’s distinctive from Trimble? Is a former minister in the Executive really the person to revive the party’s fortunes?

  • Travis

    but isn’t Empey also in that picture, smiling and singing with McGimpsey and McGuiness?

    What picture is this?!

  • slug9987

    Travis – a picture smiling with Martin McGuinness where Empey and McGimpsey and McGuinness are holding up their left hand to make a duck shape (for some reason).

  • Travis

    Was wee Jeffrey not spotted in the bar of a Donegal Hotel enjoying a pint and yarn with McGuinness and a few other Shinners?

    Is this unionist politics in action? Being photographed in Sinn Fein’s company is more important than water charges in the voter’s mind?

  • tom

    “i can’t believe how a guy who gets suspended from the UDR for writing in a UDA magazine”

    cs

    I have never heard that before,any other details on the story

    Sounds interesting

  • Jim Bob

    Maybe it was Daniel O’Donnell

  • slug9987

    Burnside was against McCrea who is not a strong candidate, that might explain why his vote held up better than e.g. Beggs.

    I have not really heard a coherent policy vision from Burnside other than unionist unity, it is not clear that ‘unionist unity’ is good for debate in unionism or the job of holding the DUP to account for their actions.

    Another point is that Burnside is not a very devolutionist person. Empey, I think, is more devolutionist. This might appeal to the UUC if it is devolutionist.

    Empey seems quite cautious, that might seem attractive to UUC delegates after Trimble, who was quite reckless.

    In terms of people skills, is Empey better with the people in the party and could probably do a better job of building it up.

    On the other hand Burnside might be more ruthless and form a tighter organisation.

  • Tim Roll-Pickering

    Travis, I’m no DUP supporter by a mile but that photograph was damaging for the UUP and, I guess, McGimpsey personally – it gave the DUP a good image of the UUP as “soft on Sinn Fein”. Empey would no doubt be hounded by taunts on this as well.

    To be honest it’s more Empey’s record in the Executive that is a key factor.

  • slug9987

    Tim The photo should not be allowed to determine the leadership. Anyhow Empey was not sitting next to McGuinness, unlike McGimpsey.

  • Nicholas

    slug9987 – there is no way the DUP will do a deal with the UUP on Fermanagh/South Tyrone for South Belfast, now that the UUP are clearly behind in both constituencies. The Shinners didn’t need a deal with the SDLP to get where they are now, and the DUP will no doubt reckon they can do the same (and I think rightly so in the case of South Belfast).

    Does anyone in the UUP actually like Burnside?

    On the other hand, not sure that Empey leading the party towards the centre is going to be very successful either – that’s what Trimble thought he was doing…

  • Jo

    There has ben so much crowing at Trimbles prospective demise from the bitter non-contributors on this site that its almost an anti-climax when the inevitable happens.

    Yet another person, who while not being faultless, tried to do a deal but couldnt make it stick despite 71.2% of people voting for it.

    Now he has paid the price and those – who will be forgotten hours after they finally snuff it – will exult. Im sure Im not the only one feeling quite sick.

  • WindsorRocker

    “couldnt make it stick despite 71.2% of people voting for it.” Jo at May 7, 2005 05:04 PM

    Some points:

    1. What the 71.2% voted for was different from what they got!
    2. A majority of unionists supported GFA, now they dont’.As a result of parallel consent, which the 71.2% backed, it’s back to the drawing board methinks.

    You sound like a moderate, except you are in favour of crude majoritarianism.. Ironic..

  • Rethinking Unionism

    Unionist unity is an oxymoron..many unionist voters would prefer McDonnell to Spratt when it comes down to it. . They will never sign up to some merger with a party that still exemplifies a visceral sectarianism. If Burnside succeeeds there is no place for the middle ground…may as well go back to Alliance. Remember Burnside lost his seat because (a) people did not vote and (b) Alliance voters decided not to vote tactically and although McCrea is from the old school he is a pantomine character and relatively harmless Fool me once..

  • The Watchman

    Rejoice, rejoice.

  • Menzies

    Why doesn’t the UUP do us all a favour and simply fold. They have failed the unionist people since the day and hour they came into existence including the not-so-halcyion days of Stormont when their power was so absolute they excluded an entire community to the extent that eventually that community turned on them which subsequently has resulted in the place we find ourselves today – right up to our necks in brown, smelly stuff. A more arrogant, aloof and frankly irresponsible rabble one could hope to meet.

    The UUP has embarrassed and humiliated the unionist people once to often. Goodye Mr Trimble, good riddance, enjoy your smug, egotistical speeches in the House of Lords and never darken our door again.

  • Keith M

    First of all I need to shoot down a canard “A majority of unionists supported GFA, now they dont’according to WindsorRocker. Actually if you go the maths in the referendum results and the assembly results that folwed soon afterwards, then it is almost certain that the majority of Unionists didn’t vote for the agreement (assuming that APNI voters did and that nationalists in NI, split the same as voters in the Republic).

    As to who leads the UUP, whoever takes over has got a huge job on their hands. I don’t think it will be Hermon (too lightweight), or McGimpsey (a PR disaster), so I would agree that it could be Burnside vs Empey. I admire Burnside, but he does have a certainn chill factor for the residual Trimblite rump. He would clearly be the best leader to move the party towards the majority of unionist opinion but I just don’t think he will make it.

    As for Empey, he’s a nice man but far too close to Trimble over the key 1998-2001 years. Also he will never be an MP as long as he stands in East Belfast.

    As for the next generation, Basil McCrea impressed me, but he did disasterously against Donaldson. Nesbitt even worse.

    Whoever they choose I think the fate of the UPNI awaits the UUP.

  • iluvni

    Give Lord Ken the job.

  • True Blue

    Trimble is going and about time as well. he has single handedly destroyed the uup.

    just talking about basil mccrea, what happened him!! as far as i know hes not even standing for council, so he will just disappear and maybe come back in 4 years for another hiding!!

  • peter

    The problem with the GFA was that a majority of Unionists never voted for it. 82% of people voted in the referendum. It attracted the non political and that was perhaps part of its downfall.The results of it were thus manipulated to pretend that it had Unionist support.

    The DUP won by giving a clear message. The UUP in recent years has been just drift. The McGimpsey family were the worst thing ever to befall the UUP.SF led Trimble a merry dance. They wont do that with the DUP.

    The Result should have been 12-6 to Unionists in seat terms. At some point in the future nationalism will be seen to be weakened by the loss of at least two seats. W.Tyrone is also a posible loss after the strong vote Deeny got.

    David Trimble should have demanded IRA disbandment before he went into government in 1998.This will be the DUP bottom line. The present assembly will never meet and there will be fresh negotiations in the summer followed by an election in 2007.

    Trimble could not in the end sell a deep flawed GFA to his community. By having a government based solely on sectarianism the GFA merely reinforced everything that is rotten here and simply reinforced the bigotry and hatred that exists.

  • Robert Keogh

    peter,

    The problem with the GFA was that a majority of Unionists never voted for it.

    You have some evidence to support this assertion?

    An analysis of the 1998 GFA and Assembly votes clearly demonstrates that 50% more unionists voted for the GFA than against it.

  • Tiny

    True Blue, McCrea is standing for the council and will probably be elected

    Belfast Gonzo, as far as I know any member of the UUC can stand as leader, there is no need for the leader to be an MP, in fact in the distant past the leader was a Stormont MP, the Westminster MPs had a fairly low profile by comparison

  • fair_deal

    David Trimble replaced Molyneaux’s do-nothing Unionism with do-anything Unionism. Both were doomed to failure. History will not be kind to Trimble to his handling of his Party or the Process.

    As to his replacement the UUP has to stop thinking in terms of the ‘LEADER’. This almost furher culture was one of the most unsettling things about the UUP when I was a member.

    Rethink

    “many unionist voters would prefer McDonnell to Spratt when it comes down to it.”

    If this claim is true how come Smyth, a right wing, anti-agreement, Loyal order leader was able to see off McDonnell handsomely?

    Similar arguments about the attitudes of Unionist voters were employed to explain why Spratt couldn’t beat McGimpsey and they have been proven to be rubbish.

  • davidbrew

    many years ago I remember a newly elected Unionist leader of my acquaintance telling me smugly, that, unlike any of his predecessors in post, HE would of course be able to restore Unionism to greatness, because he would be the first Unionist leader to outlast Paisley……..

  • bobcat

    what about turning the UUP into the Ulster Scots Party led by Lord Laird himself?

  • slug9987

    DB

    “many years ago I remember a newly elected Unionist leader of my acquaintance telling me smugly, that, unlike any of his predecessors in post, HE would of course be able to restore Unionism to greatness, because he would be the first Unionist leader to outlast Paisley……..”

    At the time, 10 years ago, with Paisley at age 70 and having only 2 or 3 MPs it would have seemed quite plausible.

    Who would have thought that Dr Paisley would be leading the largest party in NI in the year 2005 at the age of 80?

    Will Paisley just keep on going?

  • Indeed

    I know its not strictly on the topic, but i appear to have lost a Fermanagh Young Unionist. Anybody know where he’s gone? He used to be so ready to share his wonderful insight into the elections. Come on kid, share your views now.

    NB. Your views should include an apology to the unionist people of FST. Good lad.

  • WindsorRocker

    “Will Paisley just keep on going?” slug9987 at May 7, 2005 06:54 PM

    For all of the remarks and uneducated comment directed at Paisley, I have to say, that having seen him on a recent walkabout on the Cregagh Road during the campaign, many politicans would love to have his interpersonal skills. He was able to connect with people in a way that I have seen very few others do.

  • Jo

    OK, the 71.2% yes vote might not have lasted and that was not only due to Trimbles failure to sell the deal but also the continuous sniping and undermining of what has been described as the most disloyal party membership in NI.

    The motive for the latter? Personal gain and political power, naked unprincipled and uncompromising.

    (Maybe the latter element is still to be tested. I may or may not hold my breath)

  • Keith M

    Robert Keogh, let me re-arrange your post. “An analysis of the 1998 GFA and Assembly votes clearly demonstrates that 50% more unionists voted for the GFA than against it.” …. “You have some evidence to support this assertion?”

    Even the spin doctors who tried to fool people into the idea that a majority of Unionists voted for the Agreement (they didn’t) would not claim that 50% more voted for it.

    Again as I’ve posted previously; look at the referendum and then the assembly elections that came soon afterwards. A majority of unionist dis NOT vote for the Belfast Agreement.

  • Jo

    I think D. Trimble might appreciate this joke, albeit somewhat ruefully:

    I was bullied at school, called all kinds of different names.
    But one day I turned to my bullies and said -‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me’, and it worked!

    From there on it was sticks and stones all the way.

  • Paul P

    If the UUP really want to rebuild they need to forget about electing any of Trimble’s associates as leader.

  • Grateful Citizen

    DT — Thankyou!

    You made N.I. a better place from the days of the bombs and guns.

    You aimed to bring the masses of Unionism somewhere where they didn’t want to go. However you have brought Unionism further on from where it would have been.

    Republicans our on their knees and they cant get up, becuase of you!

  • Henry94

    The UUP should learn from the SDLP. They have to offer something that the DUP don’t. Of course if a deal is done that is going to be very difficult. There may be an opening for a pro-European liberal unionism comfortable with the all-Ireland demension to the Agreement.

    It is also worth remembering that when Paisley goes to his infernal reward the DUP may fall out over the succession.

    They should go for their only MP as leader.

  • Jo

    Henry, a female leader worked for the Tories in 79!

  • Davy Sideburns

    Surprised Tom ‘Only’ Elliott ‘Can Win It’ hasn’t already been appointed. James Cooper and Lord Helpus were gushing in telling us what a great politicial propsect he is/(was?) Maybe he’s just waiting until the first cut of silage is in!

    Ah, that whiff of power!

    Oops, silly me, it’s only manure!

  • soaphil

    slug 9989 said “Burnside was against McCrea who is not a strong candidate, that might explain why his vote held up better than e.g. Beggs”

    That is rubbish – William McCrea is a very strong candidate. Ask anyone in the Mid-Ulster constituency, where he was an MP for many years. He worked very hard for all people, no matter what their race or religion. He is committed to helping people in their ordinary and everyday lives. You will realise this also if you heard his speech on TV.

    William McCrea is also a great orator, and preacher. You can hear his sermons at the given link. Well done William ! I know you will be a great asset to the South Antrim people. All the people. Roman Catholics find William McCrea is willing to help them as much as he will help a Protestant. He makes no distinctions.

  • soaphil

    By the way, here is the link mentioned above ! Sorry !

    William McCrea Sermons

  • Tim Roll-Pickering

    So why in 2001 did he drive many Catholics into voting for Burnside to get rid of him? Why is he personally despised across the spectrum like no other?

  • soaphil

    I can only ask you to go to his former Roman Catholic constituents in the heart of Mid Ulster and ask them if he worked hard for them.

  • David Cather

    He generally well liked by those who have met him including the Irish News’ own Suzanne Breen. He has had the integrity to stand by his pricples and he has stood in the gap manys a time when others fled the field. If the price we have to pay for a politician of integrity is a few Country and Western albums then he comes cheap at the price. Personally I just don’t buy the album’s and I don’t listen to Downtown, Radio Ulster or whatever station plays Willie McCrea.

  • Davros

    David – I caught part of his victory speech. A few seconds into it I realised why people might be tempted to vote Sinn Féin.

  • Omaghstani

    He worked very hard for all people, no matter what their race or religion.

    The huge ethnic minority communities which existed in Omagh, Cookstown and Magherafelt in the 80s and ealry 90s really appreciated Mr McCrea’s hard work for them. That’s why to this day, Asian people flood into multi-culti hotspots like Beragh and Moneymore.

  • Comrade Stalin

    “He has had the integrity to stand by his pricples “

    So the Billy Wright podium thing was a principled stand ?

    Do you reckon his RC constituents enjoyed seeing him on a podium with a guy who made it his sole business to murder Catholic civilians ?

  • headmelter

    Burnside or Mcrea
    no tactical voting here this time, even if it might have been worthwhile.
    Do I have to learn some hymns now?

  • archie

    david cather

    I think suzanne breen works for the Newsletter??

  • David Cather

    She only writes a column in the Newsletter. I was wrong about the Irish News she’s a journalist for the Irish Times. Or at least she used to be; she sued the Irish Times for religious, sexual and political discrimination and victimisation (basically the whole shebang) last year so she might not work for them any more. 🙂

  • mark 1

    Try and persuade Michael Mcdowell to join the uup and give him the job of Head Honcho.

  • pete

    Empey could not win East Belfast ever.
    Burnside could win back South Antrim.
    Upper Bann is a lost cause for any UUP candidate.
    During the council election analysis it will become clear what areas have a hopes of a comeback.
    I would like to see Burnside on a unite unionism ticket take on Sylvia on a Conservative and Unionist ticket, anyone else just won’t stand out as offering something clear.

  • Justice

    Let Reggie lead the party. He was DT’s side-kick in bringing about the destruction of democracy through the Belfast Agreement so why not let him finish demolishing the UUP. Reg would be the best UUP leader – for the DUP. (Though Michael Vote-Splitter McGimpsey would run him tight)

  • mark

    give the job to Mickey Mouse Mcdowell.

  • peter

    The GFA referendum attracted the apolitical.82% turnout.The general election produced a 61% turnout. This was Trimbles downfall. Apolitical Unionists voted for the agreement and then refused to vote again. That was Trimbles downfall.

  • Valenciano

    KeithM: “as I’ve posted previously; look at the referendum and then the assembly elections that came soon afterwards. A majority of unionist dis NOT vote for the Belfast Agreement.”

    So you say Keith, but you need to elaborate.

    You miss one crucial factor: there was a huge differential turnout in the 1998 referendum. Bluntly FAR MORE Unionists turned out for that election than Nationalists. The overall turnout was a whopping 81% and there wasn’t a great deviation from that which means that the turnout in the protestant East was almost as high as the mainly Catholic West. Here (courtesy of Nicholas Whyte’s site) is the turnout per constituency followed by the difference compared to the subsequent assembly election:-

    Mid Ulster 87% 2%
    West Tyrone 83% 4%
    Newry and Armagh 82% 6%
    Foyle 79% 7%
    Fermanagh S Tyrone 85% 7%
    West Belfast 76% 8%
    South Down 84% 10%
    North Antrim 80% 11%
    East Londonderry 80% 12%
    Upper Bann 83% 13%
    North Belfast 78% 14%
    South Belfast 80% 16%
    Lagan Valley 82% 16%
    South Antrim 80% 17%
    East Belfast 81% 17%
    East Antrim 79% 19%
    Strangford 80% 19%
    North Down 80% 21%

    The 6 with the greatest difference you will see are, as it happens also the safest Unionist seats and are all heavily Protestant. The 7 seats with the smallest difference in turnouts are those which elected Nationalist MPs in 2001.

    Now the crude sectarian headcount at that time was around 57-43. The differing turnout made it at least 60-40. So even assuming the dubious proposition that ALL Catholics voted in favour, that still leaves a majority of Protestants voting in favour as well to make up the other 31%.

  • Valenciano

    I didn’t bother to get a postal vote for South Antrim. McCrea did indeed share a platform with an LVF killer but Burnside is far more shady. Besides contributing articles to the UDA’s Combat magazine in the 1970’s he refused a job as the UDA press officer in the same period after attending the interview. But not because of any principled objection to their murderous campaign against Catholics, his objection was that the wage wasn’t high enough. Like McCrea he has done all this while sanctimoniously refusing to deal with Sinn Fein on the grounds of their links to terrorists!

    He has also called for a merger of the UUP and the DUP making him effectively Wee Jeffrey mk2. So the idea that Nationalists should have propped up someone who has showed exactly the same hypocrisy as McCrea and who will probably defect to the DUP in due course anyway is absurd.

  • dee st

    More examples of constitutional unionism and the linkage with loyalist paramilitarism

    Whats the difference ??

  • Davros

    Whats the difference ??

    The old Bailey bombing gives you your answer.

  • Roger

    Empey is not a suitable replacement for Trimble he is too much associated with the GFA and is basically Trimble with less hair.

    Burnside is not the right man either uncharismatic and is likely to soon join the DUP along with a number of other UUP members(a claim that is also made in todays Irish news).

    I feel it is now the time for just one unionist party and party that is democratic vibrant and can attract protestant/unionists of all ages I feel there does and HAS to be a reallignment around the DUP.

  • Tim Roll-Pickering

    Does anyone know why Empey managed to increase the UUP share of the vote in East Belfast? Other than tactical voters coming home in Newry & Armagh it’s the only place where the UUP advanced at all.

    And of course I forgot that Newry & Armagh had Paul Berry as the DUP candidate – did his exposure in the press account for the UUP advance here? The DUP vote was down 1%, the UUP up 1.6%.

  • Keith M

    Valenciano, firstly a person who doesn’t vote for a Unionist party is not a Unionist. If it came down to a referendum that offered a choice of ramaining part of the UK or a “United Ireland” they may well choose the status quo (as would APNI voters), but these people can not be described as Unionists. For me they fall into the “others” category until they demonstate otherwise by coming out and voting for Unionist parties.

    Secondly, the turnout in the referendum may have been relativly higher in Unionist areas, but have you considerd that the differential may not be unionists but rather nationalists or others whose votes would not be effective in an election?

    Ask yourself this question, as part of the negotiations that led up to the BA, serious consideration was given to people being given green or orange ballot papers to indicate whether they were nationalist or unionist minded to prove that the agrement had support in both communities. However once the final text was agreed this critical control measure was dropped.

    To be honest it makes not a jot of difference now, as everyone clearly sees that the majority of Unionists support a party that opposed the agreement, however this particular canard does need to be shot down.

  • cladycowboy

    WindsorRocker,

    ‘ except you are in favour of crude majoritarianism.. Ironic..’

    or Democracy, perhaps? I understand your point, but the truth is we play on a field(N.Ire) of crude and illegal ‘crude majoritarianism’. If both ideologies of Unionism and Republicanism play a moderate game then due to the skewed field we play on then the endgame will still be that my county will be in union with GB. So no can do.
    The Ulster covenant is the biggest example of crude majoritarianism,backed up with 100,000 guns.
    Its only fair that there is more movement from the side that has benefitted most from this crude majoritarianism

  • Former Ulster Unionist

    At one time I and others imagined we would have been cock a hoop at Trimble’s resignation but many of us just felt “who cares” yesterday because it is irrelevant. The irony is that if Trimble had listened to the anti-Agreement camp his situation would not be so bad. However, by refusing to listen to his critics and by ignoring every other election result, Trimble ending up sealing his own fate and taking the whole party down with him. He could have taken the hint and resigned long ago with his dignity intact but instead he dragged it right to a humiliating end.

    He has also ensured that the party will now have no clear successor. Outside Hermon, there is no figure left who is likely to get elected to Parliament the next time. It will be a battle of the mediocrities.

    While focus will be on the seats which were lost, the other votes should be analysed too. In Fermanagh, the bitterness of Cooper and Maginnis made them blind to what was happening in unionism and they cost unionism a seat. Likewise, McGimpsey was so full of his ego he didn’t realise that he could not maximise the unionist vote in the way necessary to win South Belfast. To be hammered in all 18 seats was remarkable. Even the DUP could not have imagined such a scale of victory.

  • Comrade Stalin

    FUU, you can’t really accuse Trimble of taking the party down with him given that the party supported him through something like ten separate leadership contests throughout the years since the agreement was signed.

  • WindsorRocker

    Comrade,

    Even though I too am a former UU, I do agree with your point.

    We have reached the Norn Iron equivalent of the Nuremburg Trials and it is not enough for the likes of Empey, McNarry, Taylor, Maginnis, Cooper, Hermon et al to say that “We were only following orders”.
    These people propped Trimble up over the last 7 years and as such they cannot wash their hands of him. On a bigger scale this is still and Ulster Unionist Party membership who unanimously elected Trimble leader in March. A change at the top will not change things.

  • Tim Roll-Pickering

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/vote_2005/northern_ireland/4527559.stm BBC News is reporting that Sylvia Hermon (nee Paisley!) is considering standing. She’s concerned about her family (Jack Hermon has Alzheimer’s and their children are young), “But I care for the party. I care desperately for the future of Northern Ireland so I will think carefully over the weekend and decide at the beginning of the week what I am going to do…”

    Hmm – if Trimble became another Faulkner, would Hermon merely be Anne Dickson?

  • fair_deal

    Hermon as leader would be going from disaster to catastrophe.

  • McStick

    Burnside sees himself as a PR guru – he is – while at BA he did more to promote Virgin Airways than even Richard Branson could manage with his grin and publicity hound mentality.Burnside was involved in dirty ticks campaigns that backfired so spectacularly that some though he was on the Branston’s payrole – not Lord King’s.
    So he arrives back into NI and what happens? The firm that he is apparently opposed to starts to grow spectacularly. Sidling along beside Molyneux (see Lord King) and Jeffrey, he failed to support any aspect of Unionist policy – so why did he join? Personal aggrandisement? David – nah?
    The best joke I ever hear about the Troubles was about the guy who was shot in the leg by the army – then arrested for possession of a bullet. This is like Paisley. In the Sixties he personally created a situation that left an armed response as the only option for a lot of Nationalists. Any advance of civil rights or human rights for Catholics/Nationalists was met with a show of naked political aggression and potential force. SO to see him get to such a position by opposing those that he so forcefully helped by his negativity is sad, but not surprising.

  • The Watchman

    McStick,

    You do realise that you have just libelled Burnside re so-called dirty tricks?

  • slug9987

    Watchman – good point hopefully Mick will delete.

    Watchman – who do you support in the UUP leadership contest?

  • Valenciano

    Keith: “a person who doesn’t vote for a Unionist party is not a Unionist.If it came down to a referendum that offered a choice of ramaining part of the UK or a “United Ireland” they may well choose the status quo (as would APNI voters), but these people can not be described as Unionists. For me they fall into the “others” category until they demonstate otherwise by coming out and voting for Unionist parties”

    In which case we reach a stalemate based upon definitions. I would venture to say that most people would disagree with you. To me and a lot of others, a Unionist is someone who supports the Union between Great Britain and N.Ireland. Your statement that those who do not actively vote should be classified with others doesn’t make any sense. This is akin to saying that if someone normally votes SinnFein and fails to turnout that they cease to be a Nationalist and end up in some phantom other category along with Alliance and others. Sorry but I don’t see it.

    As for your statement that the new voters may have been Nationalists, that is very easily put to bed on the basis of the figures. The greater turnouts on the basis of the figures was in the East. Heavily Nationalist areas turned out to the same extent as the Unionist east for the first time since the creation of NI. If it was really Nationalists that were turning out in greater numbers then we would expect to see the reverse, ie greater turnouts in the West.

    The 80% (+21% vs the assembly election) turnout in North Down is very striking. Most would agree that there is a very close correlation between numbers of Catholics in a constituency and numbers voting for nationalists. The difference can only be accounted for by protestants turning out. You might very well choose to believe that this was a silent Protestant Nationalist minority turning out on the Gold Coast for the first time. I rather think that that viewpoint speaks for itself and find the idea of these latent SDLP voters difficult to believe.

    You mention the idea of orange and green ballot papers being given out. First I’ve heard of it, do you have a link to support this?

  • slug9987

    Valenciano – well argued post.

  • Justice

    “Does anyone know why Empey managed to increase the UUP share of the vote in East Belfast? Other than tactical voters coming home in Newry & Armagh it’s the only place where the UUP advanced at all.”

    Empey managed to let the UUP vote fall by 3% since the Assembly Election and Robinson put the DUP vote up 10%.

    This was the best DUP result in East Belfast at any election (other than the united unionist ones of the ’80s). He did get 43% in this constituency in 2001 and in 1983 he had 45% but I think he had better boundaries then. The 49% this time makes him unassailable.

    With the Boundary changes due to bring the DUP stronghold of Dundonald into East Belfast the UUP will not even get a sniff of this seat in the future.

  • Tim Roll-Pickering

    I was looking at the change since the last Westminster election – arguably a better shot since both times there was talk about unseating Robinson and the DUP normally do better in these elections than elsewhere.