A gang of four?

According to the Irish Times there are now four declared candidates in the ongoing contest for the UUP leadership?.. When did that happen? ANYway.. Ken Maginnis, quoted in the report, is throwing his hat into the ring – “I am up for the leadership. Let me be frank, if I could find somebody that was 20 years younger than I am, who had the same objectives, the same experience, then I would not be up for the leadership.”.. So, if there was a candidate 20 years younger with the same experience Ken would withdraw from the contest? That’s not really very likely is it?

Well, according to the Irish Times the other 3 candidates, who are claimed to have already declared their intentions to stand for the position of leader of the UUP are –

Sir Reg Empey and David McNarry and Lord Kilclooney, the former Strangford MP John Taylor… Hmmm.. Has Reg Empey made any public statement on this?

Meanwhile, according to the Irish Times –

Lord Maginnis, the former Ulster Unionist MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone, has declared he will stand for the leadership of his party.

Announcing his intention, he sketched out his manifesto pledging to restructure the party, to listen to grassroots unionists and to build on the leadership of David Trimble by continuing to press for the Belfast Agreement.

He said he would not run if a younger candidate offering the same style of politics decided to run.[emphasis added]

He used the opportunity, talking to ITN, to praise David Trimble.. and to take a couple of swings at the DUP..

He criticised the DUP, branding them inconsistent. “Since November 2003, the DUP have not made a single, solitary change, except that they have weakened the agreement,” he said.

“They used to criticise the people’s forum that we have in Northern Ireland. Now they have actually conceded that we should have an all-Ireland consultative forum. That is something that worries me as a unionist.”

And on what he thinks needs to be done –

“I think I know exactly what needs to be done, and most importantly, I think I know the infrastructure of politics inside out, so that I have an immediate advantage in trying to reform and restructure the party to make it more effective.” He said the next leader should be committed to reaching out to ordinary party members: “That means getting out every weekend, meeting groups, talking to them, finding out what the questions are that were not answered, that caused people not just to vote against us, but not to come out to vote.”[emphasis added]

Ahh.. more consultation…

  • hensons

    What the UUP need is a salesperson who will sell the 21st century to unionists.

  • Tampico

    In his local paper, McNarry has said he is “seriously considering” running for the leadership.

    Great stuff. Has beens and never weres.

    The DUP will be quaking in their boots.

  • peteb

    “seriously considering” is one thing.. but how many have actually declared that they are running for the leadership position?

    Kilcloney, as I recall, said that he would be prepared to be a ‘caretaker’ leader.. and Maginnis is saying that, in effect, if a better candidate is found he’ll pull out of the race.

    As for the others.. McNarry possibly has declared.. but I don’t remember Reg Empey saying anything on the subject yet.

  • steve48

    Both Kilclooney and Maguiness need to get real. They are part of the reason we are in this mess either through being part of the dt cult or not having to courage to speak up when they seen things going wrong.
    They are both too old and if either think they are standing just for a year then I must ask what will a year change in terms of who will succeed.
    The party for too long at council, assembly, westminster and leadership level operated a policy of ruthlessly sidelining anyone who could challenge the sitting encumbants leaving a complete absence of a succession strategy at all levels. We are now reaping the consequences of that policy. The twisted concept of leadership as practiced by dt and accepted by many in the party probably means it will be a while before people understand what dt really lacked in ability.

  • The Watchman

    Whilst I sympathise with steve48’s sentiments, the UUP has to start where it’s at, not where we might like it to be if the Turtle hadn’t emptied the place of young talent. Taylor will do for the moment, he might conceivably make a decent job of it ….. which is more than can be said of Dublin Ken.

    My view of Maginnis was shaped by his performance at a rally in the Ulster Hall a decade ago where the News Letter put a range of pro-union people. The audience listened politely to John Alderdice and then Maginnis went on, the penultimate speaker before Bob McCartney. Maginnis made the mistake of going for Big Bob’s jugular which was a big mistake. He even resorted to his familiar “Don’t criticise me, I was in the UDR, you know” routine, as he always does when he’s getting a rough ride. When he left the stage, he was very loudly booed. I even heard myself on the radio that night heckling him. McCartney got a hero’s reception and destroyed Ken with just one opening sentence.

  • Roger

    Maginnis would need to stop that nonsense of I was in the UDR, I know some constituents of his in FST who went to him for some help and he couldnt have cared less and Raymond Ferguson was also involved. You could imagine their delight when both men failed to get elected in their perspective councils.

    Kens line that he will listed to grassroots opinion and then press on with the Belfast agreement is an extreme contradiction as grassroot unionists 2/3rds of them are against the agreement even a significant number in the UUP.

    I think the main contenders for the UUP are all wrong

    Burnside – Unlikeable
    Mcnarry – Too lightweignt, uncharismatic and a Trimble follower
    Taylor – Changes his opinion, too old and too associated with Trimble.
    Maginnis- Out of touch and arrogant.

    What the UUP needs to do is bring in someone who was against Trimble the most obvious is Burnside but I think Danny Kennedy is your best bet hes a traditional unionist and although hes pro agreement hes a little more sensible.

    There are too few protestant/unionists in Northern Ireland for there to be two main parties I think one traditional party is whats essential.

  • fair_deal


    Danny K is a decent bloke but don;t think he could take the step up to leader

  • Roger


    Yes he is a decent bloke but there is nobody else the rest are too old but I just think that there are not enough unionist in NI for two main unionist parties.

  • fair_deal

    I see him more as Party Chair or Chief Whip

  • Roger

    who do you see as leader,

    Incidentally what sort of money would members of these parties be making

  • Chris

    The new leader of the UUP would not be making any money…in fact it would cost him money to be leader, in terms of travel expenses etc…

    The UUP have very little funding (unlike the DUP who get a lot of money from the Free Presbyterian Church and other sources) and with only 1 MP left their financial situation gets a lot worse.

    Why would you want to be leader of the UUP? It certainly wouldn’t be for the money, it certainly wouldn’t be for the power (the UUP now has none).

    The only reason anyone would want the leadership is out of sheer concern for the party and unionism in general. The DUP are quite frankly sectarian and nobody outside Northern Ireland respects them, they give unionism a bad name.

    We need someone to take over the UUP leadership to give people like me (a unionist with no respect for the DUP) options!

  • fair_deal


    I must admit I don’t particularly care. the DUP is close to positioning itself were I always thought the UUP should be.

    1. They shouldn’t fixate on a leader that’s part of the UUP’s problem.
    2. They have to realise its at least a 10 year journey and many of whom will be called upon to do they work will NOT see the fruits.
    3. All offices need to change. Taylor as Party President. Empey as Leader. Beggs Jnr as Assembly Party leader (Burnside would be preferable but he’s too anti-assembly to be credible as group leader). Danny Kennedy as Party Chairman. Middle management should be brought into the officer team

    MLA’s are on abt £30K

  • bertie

    “nobody outside Northern Ireland respects them”

    that may be what you wish. However in the same way that those in NI who were long term UUP supporters and thought that they would never vote DUP, but now have, many mainland unionists who used to support the UUP and again felt little afinity with the DUP are now seeing the DUP in the light that they used to view the UUP and for the same reasons.

  • Tiny

    The party needs a strong party Chairman to sort the party machine out leaving the leader to get on with promoting the party among the voters, the first job will call for ruthlessness and the second for a good communicator with clear policies that appeal to a broad spectrum of the electorate.

    All is not lost, the unionist community is becoming increasingly secular, yet they are represented by a party of protestant fundamentalists, I have little doubt that if presented with a firm but secular unionism they will turn back to the UUP in sufficient numbers to ensure the party’s survival.

    There is also the issue of the ‘stay at home voter’ if significant numbers of them can be persuaded to turnout on election day again the UUP will benifit, however persuading these people to vote will be difficult but not impossible, the challenge will be to make politics relevant to their lives, with the restoration of devolution this will be easier. one thing is clear, if the UUP follow the advice of Burnside and try to align themselves closer to the DUP the party will be swallowed up.

    As for electing a 67 year old leader, what signal will this send out, it would be better to elect a relative unknown to the post, with an experienced Chairman they could rebuild from the ground-up.

  • Roger

    How good a party chairman is Maurice Morrow of the DUP.

    I think that the UUP are out of commission for a least a generation the support they lost to the DUP will be hard to win back Strangford and E Londonderry now look like DUP strongholds.

  • Young Fogey

    From my perspective, David Burnside would make a great Ulster Unionist leader.

  • davidbrew

    Rejoice- the phoney war is over!!!!! Ken has modestly announced that he is the man. He would step down for a younger man who had his skills and experience but sadly nonesuch exists, so duty calls. Expect five weeks of subChurchillian groaning in a similar tone until Ramada time-and some none too subtle digs between himself and JDT, as their rumoured longstanding antipathy is reignited.

    He’s already commissioned David Bowie to write his campaign song, from which we now present an extract…

    “Drumglass Oddity”

    “Ground control to Major Ken
    have you gone completely round the bend?
    Can you hear me Major Ken?
    Can you hear me major Ken?
    Can you..”
    ” Here am I sitting in Dungannon
    Far from the real world
    The UUP is blue
    And they’re’s nothing I can do”


  • DCB

    From an alliance perspective anyone but Silva and the more hardline the better as a lot of people would thing sure whats the point of voting for a less competent DUP.

    If only the Alliance would apoint someone with more chrisma; they could really start to carve out a profitable niche. Really hated seeing Ford on TV talking about Trimble offering him a peerage, shows that they have a leader who will not be trusted by anyone.

    On the other hand am I the only person who thinks that Burnsides attacks on Lady H is part of a strategy to finsih the UUP off and merge the rump of it with the DUP.

    Excuse the spelling, worse than normal owing to a thundering hangover

  • Roger

    Burnsides attack on Syliva was correct she would have been disaterous for the UUP and it ruined her chances so she wisely chose not to stand and resorted to family commitments.