Empey sets out his stall

The Irish Times’ Northern editor, Gerry Moriarty, was at Reg Empey’s official launch of his candidacy last night at the Holiday Inn in Belfast (see comments), and noted that he had quite a crowd assembled.. although the UUP’s only MP was noticeable by her absence. Empey is also reported as saying that, if he becomes leader, the UUP would be unlikely to return to a power-sharing executive until Autumn 2007[subs req].. at the earliest.

The noticeable absentee..

The party’s only MP, Lady (Sylvia) Hermon, was not present, did not send her apologies and is not seen as a supporter.

Still a sizable crowd there though –

More than 100 of his supporters attended his campaign launch in the Holiday Inn in Belfast last night, among them five MLAs including Fred Cobain, Danny Kennedy and Tom Elliott. MEP Jim Nicholson, who was not present, has also pledged his support. With the number of MLAs there and apologies from other Assembly members, it was indicated that more than half of the UUP’s 24 Assembly members support his candidacy.

and a swipe at John Taylor.. and the first mention from the UUP of what the Belfast Telegraph described yesterday as a “testing period”

Sir Reg said if Lord Kilclooney was proposing leaders who were not members of the UUP, he should at least check if they were willing to stand. Of the peer’s “has-beens” remark, he said: “If this party is to succeed, the days of Excocet politics have to come to an end.” Were the IRA to stand down fully, end activity and decommission, he believed it would take the lifetime of the current Assembly, due to expire in autumn 2007, before the UUP would enter a power-sharing Executive with Sinn Féin.

  • Tim Roll-Pickering

    The noticeable absentee..

    The party’s only MP, Lady (Sylvia) Hermon, was not present, did not send her apologies and is not seen as a supporter.

    The noticeable absentee..

    The party’s only MP, Lady (Sylvia) Hermon, was not present, did not send her apologies and is not seen as a supporter.

    So who is she backing? Alan McFarland?

    And has Empey earned the scorn of Jim Molyneaux yet? (Seemingly an essential qualification!)

  • Tampico

    Reg Empey – [Play the ball, Tampico – ed. Mod]

  • Carrington

    Wel, well, well, Lady Hermon and her protege Diana “The Duchess” Peacocke have a differing opinion.

    For if Lady H wasn’t at Empey’s shin-dig, certainly Diana was – her coiffured bonce was visible a mile away.

  • Weavering Wanderer

    From one who was actually there at the launch, I dont think we should take much from Lady Sylvia’s absence.

    She may choose to be a neutral, then fall in behind whoever is elected by the Council.

    With being the one MP she may feel that one side may use her as a major endorsement to their campaign, only a suggestion

  • Justice

    Well done Weaving Wanderer. You have a great sense of humour. Lady Hermon – a major endorsement – very funny.

  • Justice

    Poor Reg must be punch drunk. At the press launch of his leadership bid Reg Empey said,

    “We may have taken a standing count, but this is a 15-round contest, where guts and stamina will count for more than a lucky punch in the first round of a long and demanding contest. When the votes are counted at the end, the Ulster Unionist Party will be the victor.”

    How out of touch can you get? The UUP have been beaten in four successive elections – the Assembly, The European, the Westminster and Local Government elections. To suggest this is “a lucky punch” shows Reg the reject is incapable of understanding the nature and depth of the problem his party is facing and consequently he will never discover how to arrest the decline.

    In the two elections of 2001 the UUP were on the ropes and by 2003 the DUP had demonstrated its dominance. While the result of the Assembly election in 2003 might have been described as a points victory for the DUP the next three election campaigns saw the UUP being counted out. Indeed if in the Westminster contest there had been a boxing-style referee the contest would have been stopped in the first round.

    Reg might be seeing things differently – lying on his back on the canvass – but from where most spectators have been viewing the contest the UUP is sprawled out and no medic would allow them back in the ring.

    Why would unionist voters, who disliked the UUP’s stance on the Belfast Agreement so much that they electorally slaughtered the party, feel differently about the party because it changes its leader to the architect of that hated agreement?

    Reg as UUP leader is the DUP’s dream – no surprises, no change in public perception, no new ideas and most of all – no threat.

  • Joe

    Reg can bring to the UUP something they have not had in a long time….unity.

    That alone makes the party a threat.

    Once Paisley retires the DUP will fall to bits

  • Roger

    Joe

    Laughable when Sir Reg is considering a dup/uup merger.

    Why is there so much talk about a post Paisley DUP with Peter Robinson at the helm the DUP is in a safe pair of hands.

  • IJP

    The DUP will not fall apart post-Paisley, indeed the whole ‘post-Paisley’ era is a bit of a myth. The Robinsonites are already running the party to most intents and purposes, and have been since they won the argument about whether or not to take ministerial positions. The DUP will not be defeated unless its opponents at least get the analysis right!

    her coiffured bonce was visible a mile away.

    Ahem, that’s also ball not (wo)man – where’s the ed?

  • tiny

    Justice, the boxing analogy isn’t appropriate to the situation the UUP finds itself in, when describing the struggle between political movements for that is what political parties are a manifestation off there is no end as such, the struggle goes on, that’s the nature of politics.

  • Justice

    Don’t blame me Tiny the boxing analogy was chosen by Sir Reg. I just extended it … for fun.