The three contenders

Empey, McFarland, McNarry. There is still some doubt over the intentions of Lord Maginnis, however he will probably pull out by the end of the week when nominations close.

Empey’s press conference was well attended, and he had an interesting cross section of the Party in support. Definite supporters seemed to include Jim Nicholson, Danny Kennedy, Fred Cobain and Tom Elliot. He also had the support of a number of new Councillors such as Mark Cosgrove as well as the established faces of Bertie Kerr, Jim Rodgers and David Browne.

Alan McFarland’s launch was less pronounced in terms of supporters, however he stressed that this was by design in his speech:

And I stress that I am offering myself. There is not a sea of faces behind me; not because I don’t have support at Westminster, Stormont, in Councils or at our grassroots, but because I want delegates to vote for me personally rather than because particular people may be endorsing me.

Noticeable in the room however were Lady Hermon, Esmond Birnie and Leslie Cree.

David McNarry has decided not to do a “presidential style” press conference.

In terms of priorities, there seems to be very little difference between the candidates

Empey:

Those days of high-handedness are over. On my watch, full weight will be given to the views of our supporters. The antenna is switched on and in perfect working order. Your views count, and they will not be ignored or filed under ‘forgotten’.

McFarland:

The priority for the Party is to regroup, rebuild, reconnect and re-engage. It is an internal priority. We have to change and we have to be seen to change. Our grassroots, members and voters alike, who have stayed with us through our very darkest days need to have confidence in this Party again.

McNarry:

I am running for the Party leadership because I believe that I can inject an impact, which will restore the Ulster Unionists to our rightful position as No 1 in Northern Ireland. To succeed is not a daunting thought but the turnaround can be made more efficiently with our younger members being encouraged to play a pivotal role in making this Party successful.

The candidates all have the same core message to delegates; internal reform for external gain. Empey talks of “radically re-organising the Party”, while McFarland states “we have to change and we have to be seen to change”. It is perhaps this outside perception of change that will be the mark of success of whoever emerges the victor.

I also want to point out that this story is actually incorrect. The relationship between the UUC and the Orange Institution was initially between the UUC and Grand Lodge of Ireland, this however has not been the case since c1925 when it became a relationship between the UUC and the County Grand Lodges (initially including Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal, more recently limited to the 8 County Grand Lodges within Northern Ireland). One may think that the superior governing body of Grand Lodge could compel the Counties, however this is not the case and therefore it was not within the competence of Grand Lodge to break the link with the Party. This means that there will be a small number of Orange Delegates at the leadership contest on the 24th, however their numbers will be negligible. (City of Londonderry have not sent delegates for some time, Counties Antrim, Armagh, Londonderry and City of Belfast will probably not send delegates leaving Tyrone, and possibly Fermanagh and Down). One would imagine that the rules will be changed at the UUC AGM next March to remove the Orange from the Party completely.

The elections of 2005 were bad ones for the Ulster Unionist Party. As far as I can see there are those with a chance of winning the leadership, and those without. I have my own opinions on who those people are, and I have my own opinions on who the best leader to turn fortunes around would be. All I will say however (perhaps a little out of context) is that Reg Empey has it right in this sentence:

When the votes are counted at the end, the Ulster Unionist Party will be the victor.

  • Keith M

    Might I suggest that the people of Northern Ireland will preobably be more interested in the selection of this year’s Big Brother winner than this political slow bicycle race?

    At least Empey has a vision, even if it is only to join whatever is left of the UUP with the post-Paisley DUP in year’s to come. A canny collector might be advised to buy up UUP merchanise before they close down. Any one for the last of the “Simply British” badges?

  • Stephen Warke

    Keith,

    I have to say you have seriously misrepresented things in your above comment. Reg’s vision is certainly NOT to merge the UUP with the DUP in any shape or form. Yes, co-operation for the good of unionism is important.

    Reg’s vision is to take the Party forward UNITED AND TOGETHER with a view to making he necessary changes to enable us as a Party to reach our full potential.

    We’ve punched well below our weight for years, but now is the time when the phoenix will rise from the flames and there will be, make no mistake, a resurgence in the fortunes of the Ulster Unionist Party, assuming Reg Empey is elected by the Ulster Unionist Council.

  • Doreen

    On ‘Hearts and Minds’ last week Sir Reg sounded like D. Trimble all over again.

    We need something different, and last evening Alan McFarland sounded just that!

  • The Watchman

    Yes, the candidates do sound fairly similar – and that should worry any UU who has been doing any serious thinking. All of them – that’s ALL, just to stress – were standing on the bridge, cheering on their captain as he whacked the iceberg over and over again. They were all told repeatedly what the end result would be. They all chose to ignore it.

    Their talk of reshaping the party, whilst not unnecessary, simply ducks the issue. Much as the Cunningham House bureaucracy needs overhauled, Tim Lemon et al should not be scapegoated, implicitly or explicitly, for the electoral disaster.

    The problem is that the UUP has been losing ground ever since 1998 as the result of its poor leadership of unionism. It let down the RUC through its mishandling of Patten in 98-9. It sidestepped its manifesto pledges to share power eith Sinn Fein in the absence of decommissioning. It continued to sustain the Executive even when IRA/SF was implicated in criminality. It acquiesced in the procedural malpractice that saw Alliance become unionist for a day just to save its leader’s neck. Outside the Executive, it was disgracefully passive over the Joint Declaration. And so it goes on.

    THOSE things, YUs, are the reason for the electoral tsunami that none of you seemed to see coming. That’s why the DUP outpolled you in places like Lagan Valley and South Belfast for the very first time. Where is the leader who is prepared to admit some hard home truths? The present bunch of hopefuls seem to prefer idle corporate jargon to serious analytical judgment.

    And if you YUs aren’t prepared to face facts about the reasons for your party’s decline, then you’re better off back on your own site with Mr Shilliday providing another thread to snigger at Paul Berry.

  • G2

    “This means that there will be a small number of Orange Delegates at the leadership contest on the 24th, however their numbers will be negligible.”

    Is this because they owe such a large amount of money. The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland broke the link in March this year because they owed the UUP £12,000. for about six years backdated fees for 122 delegates.

    See website here:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/1813976.stm

  • G2

    We need something different, and last evening Alan McFarland sounded just that!

    Couldn’t agree more. Empey was deputy to Trimble & McNarry was an advisor. If the UUP needs a new beginning then the new leader must not come from the Trimble inner circle like Empey & McNarry were. Alan McFarland is that new spark of light the UUP needs to remould it into a new political party.

  • Elvis the dog

    >When the votes are counted at the end, the Ulster Unionist Party will be the victor. MS

    It’s a pathetic line-up, absolutely shameful. It’s really quite sad to see the party reduced to picking between these clowns.

    I’d love to throw my lot in and work to re-energise the party, but to be honest, I can’t really be arsed anymore.

    Whichever one of these candidates wins, the UUP will slide into irrelevance. It’s a damn shame.

  • martin

    What they need to re-vitalise the party is someone young,right wing and fanatic about Union.

    Bring on Michael Mc Dowell.

  • Gum

    Great one, Martin! 😉

  • Ally

    McNarry:

    “which will restore the Ulster Unionists to our rightful position as No 1 in Northern Ireland”

    This phrase demonstrates exactly why the UUP fell so badly.

    Without the word in bold it would be a fair comment.

    However this demonstrates they still maintain their old arrogance.

    Being #1 has to be earned, the UUP do not have a right to it.

    The DUP have earned their position as #1 and the day they believe they have a right to it will be a sad one indeed.

  • Ally

    Ooops – went a bit mad on the [p] tags

  • True Blue

    Great post Ally. That is what is wrong with the uu, they seem to think they are entitled to everything but as you say it has to be earned.

  • davidbrew

    megadodo productions present-

    Super souvenir UUP leadership memento mantelpiece feature!!!!!

    “The Three Monkeys- hear no future, see no future and have no future”

    yes this superb statuette can be yours for only £16.90. Its finely handcrafted lifelike portrayal features Sir Reg Empey,as “hear no future” , producing his manifesto from where a monkey normally stores his nuts, David McNasty as “see no future” with a large placard round his neck saying ” I am a leading Orangeman, honestly”, and another monkey who has a name noone can remember as “have no future” complete with cardboard cut out tank. All three are crouching precariously on a precipice.

    Reviews for this high quality product include-

    “Another great victory ( just don’t let it be Reg)” Lady Sylvia Hermon

    ” Why didn’t I get a knighthood?” Ray Boggs Sr

    ” We’re doomed laddie” – Alex Kane

    “Does my gun look big in this?”- Gerry Adams

    be the envy of your friends- and don’t go to the Ramada next Friday

    (Also reduced to clear- large job lot of papier mache purple turtles were £100 now £0.01- would suit family with large number of dogs as recyclable litter tray)

  • Valance

    Stephen Warke: Re yesterday’s 04.24 post

    1) “Reg’s vision is certainly NOT to merge the UUP with the DUP…” That is clearly a matter for debate, but what is certain is that a number of Reg’s closest supporters want such a merger.

    2) “…to take the party forward UNITED AND TOGETHER…” Is that why Reg plotted with Donaldson in the summer/autumn of 2003 to undermine UUC policy and destabilise Trimble? He got thoroughly shafted for his efforts and didn’t even have the balls to challenge Trimble head on. Reg has always lacked courage and always will.

    3) Reg is busy trying to distance himself from the latest election campaign. He was on the campaign committee and he was deputy leader of the Assembly party. He knew what was happening, but again, he didn’t have the balls for a showdown.

    4) At least half of the people now supporting Reg just want to be bag carriers for him and get themselves a bit of publicity. The other half, knowing his lack of courage, just want to hobble him and spin him to their way of thinking.

    5) Mr. Warke, all the way through the election campaign you and your YU cronies (many of whom post on this site)called it wrong on every issue and every result. It might have been better had they devoted their efforts to getting the youth wing at Queens off the ground (three years and still waiting); or building the overall YU membership (still less than 30 paid up members). It’s idiots like you, feeding the vanity of failures like Reg, who have destroyed the UUP and mainstream unionism. Individuals like Donaldson, Burnside and Kane may have rocked the boat (from different ends of the spectrum, perhaps) but at least they have a genuine feel for grassroots opinion. You, along with the Ulster Tatler set, and the overarchingly ambitious YUs who have joined the party in the last 2 to 3 years haven’t a clue.

    Valance

  • thomas

    If Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom then would it not be better to realign itself with the Conservatives rather that the DUP. After all it shall never have the pluralistic vote that other parties have and the chances of the allegedly republician biased secretary of state of Northern Ireland (whoch the DUP has endorsed) and his colleages acting on its agenda is nill.
    At least the Conserveratives do have two different strands of ideology that would encompass the UUP no matter of their hue.

  • David Vance

    Thomas is quite right – an ideological link-up with a David Davis led Conservative Party could help revive UUP fortunes AND help differentiate the UUP but the little Hitlers vying for the top job don’t even see beyond their noses.

  • Who Shot Walter Mitty?

    Re: Posted by: Valance at June 15, 2005 10:45 AM

    2) ‘”…to take the party forward UNITED AND TOGETHER…” Is that why Reg plotted with Donaldson in the summer/autumn of 2003 to undermine UUC policy and destabilise Trimble? He got thoroughly shafted for his efforts and didn’t even have the balls to challenge Trimble head on. Reg has always lacked courage and always will.’

    You would be well advised to note that your use of language (deliberately?) distorts the position. Of course, ‘plotting’ with fellow senior party figures is no crime in any party. I am sure that those involved would explain their actions as trying to restore UNITY and TOGETHERNESS. But, perhaps in your wisdom – Valance, you know differently.

    4) ‘At least half of the people now supporting Reg just want to be bag carriers for him and get themselves a bit of publicity. The other half, knowing his lack of courage, just want to hobble him and spin him to their way of thinking.’

    We have heard a lot about ‘bag carriers’ in the UUP and UYUC. Admittedly, it is rather shameful that some literal bag carriers are rewarded with CBEs. Perhaps something for Valance to reflect upon, considering his nexus with the previous UUP leadership.

    5) ‘Mr. Warke, all the way through the election campaign you and your YU cronies (many of whom post on this site)called it wrong on every issue and every result. It might have been better had they devoted their efforts to getting the youth wing at Queens off the ground (three years and still waiting); or building the overall YU membership (still less than 30 paid up members). It’s idiots like you, feeding the vanity of failures like Reg, who have destroyed the UUP and mainstream unionism. Individuals like Donaldson, Burnside and Kane may have rocked the boat (from different ends of the spectrum, perhaps) but at least they have a genuine feel for grassroots opinion. You, along with the Ulster Tatler set, and the overarchingly ambitious YUs who have joined the party in the last 2 to 3 years haven’t a clue.’

    Targetting Mr. Warke (of e-bay fame) and his YU ‘cronies’ seems a bit harsh. Of course, those close to the YU would know that there has been quite an anti-Queens YU agenda running within the YU for some time. It would also be apparent that installed as the QUBYU contact was an utterly feckless fellow, who conveniently abandoned his position in February, leaving those left (with some semblance of a clue of what needed to be done) little time to pick up the ball.

    Valance refers to YU membership. It is curious where these stats came from (

    Donaldson and Burnside, one has much respect for, and there is no doubt that had Regs ‘plottin’ or negotiations with bona fide party members been a little more productive the party would be better off now. However, failed journalists like Kane are not worthy of any position of reverence.

    Kane, the self styled UUP advisor, press guru and media personality – a genuine feel for grass roots opinion. Bull s**t. Good feel for coffee shop journo chat and reading (as if it is difficult) media consensus.

    The matter of having amitious YU has never been a problem for any political party, let alone for the UUP. Perhaps it is self styled (massively over hyped, over ambitious, expoliting their duplicity of UUP membership card coupled with NUJ card – for pecuniary advantage)media commentators who need to reflect on their contribution to the cause.

    When knocking doors in South Belfast at the last election did Kane or his slavish, unopinionated and symbiotic muppets, Charles and Maxwell, start selling their coffee shop analysis and prophecies of UUP calamity with the residents of Sandy Row or Donegal pass?

    It is time for less whining and more action. It has long been the case in the UUP that those that ‘do anything’ get it in the neck from those who ‘do nothing’. Perhpas if we were busy ‘doing’ within our own area of competence, we would have less time to snipe at others.

    WSWM

  • thomas

    I am sure the powers to be, at YU central command have all ready met to discuss the contenders to the UUP crown and to have a good and lively debate on the issue: good mooting debate!
    But just for my own reference David what branch of Conservatism does David Davis potray?

  • Enniskillen DUP

    Michael,

    Do you still believe that “Arlene Foster and Norah Beare stole votes” in the 2003 assembly election?
    UYUC weekend Enniskillen Sept 2004

    So much of yout prediction that the UUP would take East Belfast!! lol

  • Enniskillen DUP

    Why on earth is Tom Elliott supporting Reg Empey. Is Tom not supposed to be anti-agreement?? Where are your principles Tom?

    As regards “established faces of Bertie Kerr,…”

    Bertie Kerr is an embarassment to even members of Fermanagh UUP members. He just surpassed the DUP’s Mandy Mahon by a few dozen votes thanks to SF and SDLP transfers.
    It was the same man who said on the day of the count in Omagh, “well, i’d rather have a Sinn Fein MP that a fuckin DUP MP!!”.

    Bertie Kerr is a disgrace and he is sitting is on borrowed time!

    Bertie you times coming to an end…

  • Sean Fear

    David Vance has come up with a better candidate for UUP leader than the three contenders on his website, A Tangled Web, recently.

  • Indeedeo

    Mmmmmm….so Tom is backing Empty for the leadership-surely he’s not being an opportunist and hoping that when Reg takes the reigns he’ll be needing a trusty Deputy? Surely Tom wouldnt be opportunistic…he’s got no past record of that kind of behaviour (well not of being succesful at it anyway!)

    To be honest, if i was still in the UUP and i was faced with voting for one of these 3 donkeys as party leader, i’d stay at home and at least then i couldnt be blamed for voting one of them into ‘power'(limited as it may be).
    Alas, hairdressers across the country have old ladies clammering to get the ‘blue rinse’ done for their big day out to elect a new leader.

    To all those delegates attending, I recomend Alan McFarland….and don’t worry they’ll introduce him to the platform so you’ll know who he is!

  • Enniskillen DUP

    Michael,

    You mention that Empey has the support of “established councillor” Bertie “every other word I say is f*ck” Kerr. This is presuming that Bertie Kerr will actually be there on time…

    In the council term 2001-2005 Bertie has only been on time to 3 council meetings. Also I would advise that there is going to be a bar at this function please get someone to hold Bertie back from the good stuff.

    edited – ball not man

    Will this election be on the first past the post system or by PR? If by PR will there be any SF candidates for Bertie to transfer on to?…

  • Fermanagh Young Unionist

    True Blue or Indeedeo (whichever you prefer being called),

    What is so wrong with Tom Elliott supporting Sir Reg?

    “Surely Tom wouldnt be opportunistic”
    Now who does that remind me off??

    “i couldnt be blamed for voting one of them into ‘power’”
    Or maybe you are just painting this image of insignificance over the new leadership for the DUP now realise it will not be such an easy job and will begin to see the UUP as a major threat again?

    “To all those delegates attending, I recomend…”
    And why would they be interested?

    ………………….

    Valance,

    “Reg is busy trying to distance himself from the latest election”
    Did Sir Reg not increase the UU votes in his own constituency?

    “still less than 30 paid up members”
    Where do you get that interesting idea out of?

    “It might have been better… building the overall YU membership”
    Have the DUP a youth organisation?
    …………….

    Enniskillen DUP,

    “Do you still believe that “Arlene Foster and Norah Beare stole votes”
    Technically yes.

    “Why on earth is Tom Elliott supporting Reg Empey”
    Because he is the obviously the next leader and Tom sees him the most suitable next leader.

    “Is Tom not supposed to be anti-agreement??”
    Yes.

    “Bertie Kerr is an embarassment to even members of Fermanagh UUP members”
    Your attempts here to smudge Bertie Kerr’s image are just pathetic. Since when has he been an embarrassment? What is there to be embarrassed about?

    “He just surpassed the DUP’s Mandy Mahon by a few dozen votes thanks to SF and SDLP transfers”
    That has to be one of the weakest points I have heard you say, Bertie’s vote went way down because Tom Elliott’s vote went way up. Its common sense people who normally voted Bertie voted for Tom simply because of his higher profile that day. As to your comment about SF transfers I can tell you that Bertie got most of his transfers from Tom and then most of the other UU candidates (Wilson). Have you even seen the figures? I ask you – did Joe Dodd’s vote not collapse? This is a perfect example of the bertie-tom scenario.

    “same man who said on the day……”
    Who told you that? Someone else here made that accusation a few weeks back, maybe your just repeating them? Anyone that I asked never anything about it.

    “Bertie has only been on time to 3 council meetings”
    Interesting idea there now! How do you know that? I doubt it. He held positions in a number of areas.

    “On Friday night at the UUP “election Celebration Party”
    Wherever you get this info from seriously needs to be considered, it was not a ‘celebration’ party, it was simply at get-together for people who helped the UU campaign in Fermanagh and a chance for the association to thank them, these included canvassers and polling agents etc.

    removed

    “If by PR will there be any SF candidates for Bertie to transfer on to? ”
    Have already explained…

  • G2

    “Why on earth is Tom Elliott supporting Reg Empey”?

    Because Elliot is going to the UUC meeting on 24 June as an Orange delegate who is voting for fellow Orangeman Reg Empey.

      (Orange delegates can vote for UUP leader)

    “Tom Elliott, an Ulster Unionist Assembly member and the County Grand Master for Fermanagh, is among the Orange delegates entitled to vote. “I’m an Orange delegate and I can confirm that I’ve got notice of the meeting,” he said today.”
    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/story.jsp?story=647112

  • Michael Shilliday

    In anticipation of any whinging, t’was I who removed the potentially libellous comments from this thread.

  • Enniskillen DUP

    FYU,

    “Libellous comments” i wonder what that could be? Ken Maginness couldn’t by chance be up for libel on the same claims…interesting indeed.

    As you well know Joe Dodd’s vote was 400 compared to Bertie Kerr’s 200. Consindering that Arlene Foster was by far the more high profile candidate than Tom Elliott will ever be, I would say that Joe did fantastically. Taking into account that the two wards where voters were advised to give Arlene there no 1 preference polled exceedingly well the result was no surprise.

    Namely in Lisbellaw where the DUP outpolled the UUP approx. 5:1 on our tallies. Although if you went by the SF tallies we out polled the UUP 6:1.

    It’s quite simple to find out cllrs attendance by looking at the minutes of the meetings where it also says who arrived late.

    As regards the disgusting comments made by Bertie in the toilets in Omagh, wasn’t he stupid to blurt that out not knowing who was in one of the cubicles. To be precise new DUP councillor Paul Robinson.

    Quite obviously Norah Beare and Arlene Foster did not steal votes. It will also be fun at the next assembly election to see the DUP get 4 or even five assembly seats in Lagan Valley. A nationalist should never have taken a seat there in the first instance…

    To be honest I hope the UUP to do elect Reg Empey as there leader although I was hoping that James Cooper would go forward for the job. As long as the UUP continue on the path they’re on the DUP will prosper. The battle within unionism is over and the DUP will not be distracted by any UUP infighting.

  • G2

    “As regards the disgusting comments made by Bertie in the toilets in Omagh, wasn’t he stupid to blurt that out not knowing who was in one of the cubicles. To be precise new DUP councillor Paul Robinson.”

    The dirty tricks the DUP get up to amaze me down in Omagh and Fermanagh. I hope Arlene Foster has not been hiding in the toliet cubicles to tape Bertie’s colourful comments. So as to play back to him at a council meeting?.

  • Fermanagh Young Unionist

    Ekn DUP,

    “As you well know Joe Dodd’s vote was 400 compared to Bertie Kerr’s 200”
    You obviously have difficulty understanding the basic point here, Bertie’s vote was approx 850 in ’01 and Joe Dodd’s was 1100 so they both lost votes to their fellow party runners, that is nothing to be embarrassed about, no one is claiming that their popularity has fallen just that there were other higher profile candidates – it’s a simple fact of life.

    “Arlene Foster was by far the more high profile candidate than Tom Elliott will ever be”
    How’s that? We all know that Arlene got a lot of publicity about her defection and as a result she appeared on our TV screens more often.

    “quite simple to find out cllrs attendance by looking at the minutes”
    And you have read all the minutes of every meeting in the last four years?

    “To be precise new DUP councillor Paul Robinson.”
    How come some people say that it was not Robinson?

    “DUP will not be distracted by any UUP infighting”
    Remember the DUP’s first election broadcast… if they stop seeing UU as their biggest enemy what will fill their next manifestos etc?

    G2,

    “The dirty tricks the DUP get up to”
    Very true, a prime example of this is Arlene writing letters then sending them into a newspaper using supporter’s names.

    “I hope Arlene Foster has not been hiding in the toliet”
    Nothings impossible in regards to Arlene Foster.