UUP: the party's far from over!

There is nothing inevitable about the demise of the UUP. So argues Henry Patterson in yesterday’s Sunday Life. He lists the party’s substantial electoral assets in the wake of what was by any reckoning, a bad performance: 127,000 votes in the Westminster election; 111 seats to the DUP’s 178 in the local government elections; and 24 seats in the Assembly. He cites Liam Kennedy’s observation that none of NI’s political parties have managed to break out of the ‘ethnic autism’ which has kept them all firmly within the boundaries of one community. A Shared Future anyone?

  • Karl Rove

    Hmmn, *assets*. We have 24+1+1+8+X cllrs at the moment. Leaving to one side the bright future we have thanks to the likes of David Archer, let’s look at those assets: 1 MP, widely disliked within the party, even by her own side, and with zero appeal to lost UUP voters; 1 MEP, who was elected on the coat-tails of a DUP newbie no one had peviously heard of; 8 peers, who between senility and dancing with the reaper give little to the mother of parliaments, save our jovial bekilted turn, and one ex-FFer, who gives, well, we’ll leave out of discussion what he gives, but the party’s doubtless still suitably grateful; and then we have the 24 MLAs. An asset for sure, but how for how much longer?

    Patterson nowhere addresses this simple, simplistic even point: how many of those will be left after the next Stormont elections, should there ever be one again? And by not addressing this point, Patterson, by accident of course, falls into the camp who thought we have feehold tenure. The grim truth is that we have been plunging downwards for the last 4 elections in a ow, and thee is NO reason to suppose that anything is about to change.

    As things stand, a Reg-led UUP will be lucky to have 12 MLAs, should there be another Stormont poll. 12. And all we have to do is slip a fraction more (and you can see why this prospect will appeak to Unionist voters) for the DUP on its own to have more than half the seats in a revived Stormont.

    There is no strategy for a fightback on offer from Reg (the only man worth talking about, as he is going to win), and the future for the UUP is therefore very depressing. Whether its implosion will mean that the post-Paisley DUP will oppotunistically move to being party congenial for all Unionists (which it most certainly is not at the moment) waits to be seen. Fogive me for not feeling optimistic though.

    And the thing that annoys me (othe than the shamelessness of the moons who cheered Trimble on as he drove the bus over the cliff) is that it still doesn’t need to be this way. There is a way to harness the DUP and the UUP to the greater benefit of the Unionist whole (ie by maximising the total; potential Unionist vote) and it’s ight in front of our faces: a link up with the Tories. But when Trimble last suggested that (in 2003) who led the opposition to it on the Exec? Reg . . .

  • Karl Rove

    Erratum
    For ‘moons’ read ‘morons’ throughout. The moon is where I would like to send Tim Lemmon, Michael McGimpsey, Ratfink McGimpsey, the press office, Lord Bumble should-have-been-put-out-to-grass-years-ago, Alex Feigned, and all the rest of them. Sans oxygen, of course.

  • fair_deal

    Should the decline of the UUP be terminal?

    No reason why it should be however taking the advice of people who helped to get you in the poor situation in the first place would I think not be the wisest course. Neither is trying to peddle a representation of the DUP that most Unionists voters won’t buy into.

    There has been a small pool of well-educated and highly intelligent people attracted to the UUP, however, for all their abilities they seem to political sense.

    The ‘my and my four mates think this let’s try it’ approach will not help the UUP come back.

    I remember from my time on the UUP after we had a poor election the leadership trying to soothe us with privatley commissioned polls that said 75% of the party’s voters were content witht he party’s direction.

    This approach overlooked the glaring fact that after we had lost tens of thousands of votes that 1 in of UUP 4 voters were still unhappy never seemed to cross their mind.

    Here is a recent statistic (from the NILT survey (I think) it was quoted at a recent University of Ulster seminar on Unionism and Orangeism) that should give Henry and the UUP insiders food for thought, 92% of DUP voters believe their’s is the best party, 47% of UUP voters also believe the DUP is the best party.

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    “If that happens, it will be difficult even for a party as monolithic as the DUP to hide its divisions.

    But if the UUP is to benefit from such a situation it needs to raise its game radically, both in terms of its chaotic and dysfunctional organisation and, most crucially, in its lack of involvement and activism on the ground.”

    A pretty fair assessment really. The above comments strike me as the key point here. The opportunity for recovery may, or may not be created depending on how the DUP manage their own internal contradictions and the level of ambiguity in the outcome of any IRA statement and further talks. Most likely though it will be a far longer process and the UUP will have to patiently make up the ground over a long period of years. The number one task will be to stem the electoral blood flow at the next Assembly election by holding onto at least 15 seats and the closer to 20 seats the better for a UUP recovery. The long term outcome is uncertain though and talk of ‘rightful places’ at the top of electoral unionism demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the problems. I actually severely doubt that the next UUP leader will themselves see the results of any success they may have but their job is essential in taking the opportunity now to remake the party and to provide the future foundation for a possible recovery.

    The hard thing for the UUP is that the dysfunctional nature of its internal structures are a direct product of the internal power relationships inside the UUP. This is actually what has to be reformed and a lot of people and groups within the UUP are going to potentially lose their power and influence. This will of course be strongly resisted and may even stymie any new leaders attempt to carry through reform.

    This would be my major concern in the leadership race, the more I see those old guard members rallying round Sir Reg the more any prospect for meaningful reform seems to recede. The UUP will not recover it electoral prospects by tarting up a few aspects of its structures, or buying a few new bits of technology, or getting a new logo on its headed paper. The problems are far deeper and far more fundamental than that and if they are not actually tackled head on then the weaknesses that have cost the party dear will resurface very quickly and undermine any prospects of future recovery. I really hope that the UUC listens very carefully to what the candidates offer on Friday night. My fear is that they will all talk about reform but the kind of power reform that is need will be evaded as soon as it gets hard and the old guard remind the leader who put him there in the first place.

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    fairdeal,

    You sure about this?“Here is a recent statistic (from the NILT survey (I think) it was quoted at a recent University of Ulster seminar on Unionism and Orangeism) that should give Henry and the UUP insiders food for thought, 92% of DUP voters believe their’s is the best party, 47% of UUP voters also believe the DUP is the best party.”.

    The party competition survey by ARK after the 2003 Assembly Election had the number at 39% of UUP voters/supporters believing that the DUP was the most effective voice for unionists vs. 58% believing the UUP was. That’s not quite the same question as ‘best party’ so are you sure about the specific survey question? If your number of 47% were correct that would be a significant further shift from 2003 and would be an 8% gain in effectiveness rating by the DUP since 2003-4. That’s worrying but not actually surprising in the circumstances of major defections etc.

    If I had to isolate the UUP problems right now I would say they are:

    1. Perceived weakness/ineffectiveness as a party.

    2. Poor organization, discipline and communication (internal and external).

    3. Worrying older age profile for supporters than the DUP. The distributions are almost the opposites of each other with DUP voters concentrated in the under 35 vs. UUP in the over 55’s Not good for a future UUP recovery either as the voters die off. Luckily for the UUP the younger people tend to vote less than older voters so that helps but its temporary relief and the long term trend is bad.

    I know some people would like to simply obsess about policy positions but quite frankly it’s just not on the radar any more. The major divisions are now gone. Political unionism has solidified its center ground around a vaguely skeptical view of the agreement. That’s not an outright rejection just a desire to see something substantial come to unionism and to see the SF/IRA pay up for the perceived concessions that they received. I don’t detect any major difference amongst political unionists on this position. Even the alliance are sat on this ground right now. Hell even I count myself in that mainstream as well so what does that tell you about the political center of gravity right now? The last thing the UUP needs is a major rehash of the pro-agreement/ anti-agreement fight. Its utterly pointless, it wont change anything about peoples current voting behavior but it will feed masterfully into the perceived weakness of the UUP and keep those effectiveness numbers collapsing.

    It’s a cliché but really its all about organisation organisation organisation!

  • fair_deal

    DSD

    I am not certain about the question. I checked with my source (an attendee at the conference) the best party was how the speaker characterised it (so it may not have been the wording of the question) but he is certain about the figure of 47%.

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    fairdeal,

    I looked at the NILT survey but I couldnt find that one but it may have been a part of the other data. I assume that they will follow up the 2003 survey anyway to track changes. It sounds like it is the question I identified above. If its 47% of UUP supporters that is a dire figure for any party and certainly highlights the depth of the problem.

    (By the way just out of interest did we ever meet/scowl at each other in person? My email works if you feel the need to reveal your self or maybe you prefer the anonoymity or modesty?)

  • fair_deal

    Our paths did cross on a number of occasions (more in your pre-Assembly period) at YU and UU meetings.

    I feel no need to reveal myself. I like the anonymity as it means my views stand or fall on their own not viewed through the prism of people’s perception of me, NI is too small a place and too many people carry grudges rather than accept debate is debate and not personal vilification and also the ball not man rule means I am not using this site to hit and run with personal attacks.

  • The Watchman

    Patterson is right to say that the UUP has not been totally destroyed but that should not be used as a sticking plaster to conceal the party’s inadequacies as similar arguments were so used in 1998, 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2004. Long term, as Duncan identifies, the DUP has a much younger age profile. If the UUP doesn’t revive soon, then it will simply die out.

    The major task for the UUP is to rebuild its credibility with the unionist people that has been shattered by the strategic, tactical and managerial bungling of the Trimble era. I don’t see it in such narrow organisational terms as Duncan and, it seems, all 3 leadership candidates. When Arlene Foster, who I believe would have succeeded Jeffrey as leader, departed she referred to the “lack of fight” within the UUP. She was right. The UUP will have to find some way to reinvent itself as a forceful defender of unionist interests without succumbing to the sectarianism of the DUP.

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    fairdeal,

    fair enough just being nosy but I can understand your point and there is much to be said for trying to default to reasoned argument.

    Watchman,

    “shattered by the strategic, tactical and managerial bungling of the Trimble era.”

    I think that overstates it a fair bit. I am not about to make that many excuses as I think the UUP has suffered a terrible electoral collapse these last 7 years and its idiotic to try to deny it. Some of it is down to the policy arguments but if it were all about the policy then the DUP would not have scuttled like crabs to occupy the ground the UUP broke open. The UUP broke open the new ground and shifted the debate but its the DUP who have been the ones to most effectively capitalize on it, irony abounds!

    The comment of Arlene has some resonance and fits with what I am saying about organisation. I don’t purely mean that things are not done neatly enough, or on time, although thats true as well. It’s the deep sense of organizational malaise that cripples the UUP and it comes from the parties organizational ethos and its dysfunctional nature. I don’t think that the members of the UUP lack fight although perhaps not in the sense Arlene would like but rather that any sense of momentum and effective representation is lost amongst the endless internal party power games and squabbles. For this reason I think it is right to focus on organizational reform rather than anything else.

    Although it is not the only problem and engaging with the unionist community again is critical. But these other things will flow from the reorganization and they wont happen without it. Its just matter of prioritizing what you can do and focusing your energy on that task. That’s why I see the next phase of the UUP purely in organizational terms and don’t really see much point in other debates for the next few years.

    Its really like labor in 1983-1987 they didn’t get to the work of building the relationship with the electorate that developed into the new labor bandwagon until after 1992 but does anyone seriously think that would have happened had they not done the hard work of tackling internal reform and dealing with the militant tendency in 1983-87 first? Lots of people will want to jump ahead to fight about the policy heart of the party but the hard slog of just getting a soundly operating party machine can not be put off any longer and without it all other discussions, whilst fascinating, are simply academic.

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    “When Arlene Foster, who I believe would have succeeded Jeffrey as leader”

    Respectfully disagree there. The lost leader was Peter King. terrible waste of a sound talent in my view. I dont think he even likes me anymore but I still think it was tragedy that he was lost to the UUP and largely to political unionism too as he doesnt seem very active in the DUP. Great Shame.

    It was the hardest thing about those years in the UUP losing the friendship of people like Peter and remains my greatest regret.

  • Sammy

    DSD
    “The lost leader was Peter King. terrible waste of a sound talent in my view. I dont think he even likes me anymore but I still think it was tragedy that he was lost to the UUP and largely to political unionism too as he doesnt seem very active in the DUP. Great Shame.”

    I wouldnt disagree with any of that. It is very interesting to look at the UUP talks team who went into negotiations in 1998 – obviously all people whom Trimble rated as intelligent and able enough to negotiate. The number of them currently out of active politics is disappointing. I only say currently because I think it is a job that the DUP have to undertake to get these people who are all now sitting more naturally close to the DUP’s position to re-engage them.

    You never know though, the DUP may some day encourage the likes of Peter King and John Hunter to run as candidates in a future Assembly election (if there is one). I discount the notion completely that the UUP will ever re-attract them.

  • fair_deal

    DSD and Sammy

    The rumour mill was the DUP were encouraging Peter King to consider going for a position on the NIHRC (I don’t know if he did or not).

    A return to politics wouldn’t pay John and he seems pretty content with his life at the moment.

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    John Hunter would not be on my list of lost talents, sorry. He was/is too erratic. The DUP have done reasonably well at picking up some talents and have coaxed Tim Cairns, Richard Bullock et al into the camp so they havent done badly. It will be challange to the UUP to build a bench as strong over the next few years and to shed its less edifying and useful front benchers.

  • davidbrew

    leaving aside the obvious fact that I am the lost leader of Ulster Unionism, what will be really interesting about reg’s inevitable victory on friday is the turnout of UUC delegates. The -ahem- less than glittering field may be a factor, but there is still a sizeable number of anti-Agreement people in the UUC who have noone to vote for in a slate of “yes”, “yes please”, and “yessir that’s my baby” pro-Agreement drones. What does a protester ( protestant?) do in thses circumstances? Well, I hear they’re going to stay at home. My bet is the total vote will be under 600, though if it’s as low as 500 the successful candidate won’t even have a majority in the UUC

  • The Watchman

    I’ve always been thoroughly anti-Agreement, but not even I would claim that that the core of the Agreement would have been enough to finish off Trimble, never mind the UUs. The DUP recognised this early on when it tacitly accepted the parameters of the Agreement whilst noisily exploiting the hostages to fortune donated by Trimble. When the Agreement was shown to be incapable of restraining IRA/SF, the Turtle’s credibility went down the pan, allowing the DUP to tap into the widespread feeling that the UUP was a pushover that failed to advance unionist interests even within the Agreement. (Godson also came to this conclusion.)

    I’ve laboured this point because the UUP does not realise the deadliness of the pushover tag. It needs to regain credibility as a defender of unionist interests. I’m not sure exactly what Duncan means by internal reform but I feel that it is the easy option that ducks the central problem of credibility. The party cannot afford to spend several years talking to itself about structures if there could be a snap Assembly election after a DUP-SF deal.

    I agree with the points about Peter King and John Hunter and point out that I did suggest here in January that they should stand and try to keep the South Belfast nomination away from the Gimp. Perhaps a visit to the Bar Library on bended knee by the new UUP leader may be in order. Oh, and perhaps a Harrods hamper for Limavady’s legal community?

  • davidbrew

    a good start Watchman, but perhaps Berry Bros and Rudd would be of more benefit, as I would have to be very very drunk to contemplate rejoining the UUP. Oh, and the UUP new leader may be in the Bar Library soon enough- to consult with the UUP legal team about certain pending libel actions which have been referred to in the press recently.

    I hear that Reg’s Roadshow to whip up support of delegates has produced modest attendances- only 20 delegates from 3 constituencies in Coleraine last night as an example. He has essentially been confirming the anti-Agreement analysis of 1998 as the correct one- pah, too little too late!
    As my Latin teacher would say ” si monumentum requiris , circumspice” – loosely translated as “It’s all your own bloody fault”

    I hear the meeting is in a typical state of UUP chaos, as the orange delegates all received notices, followed by letters telling them not to come. Some will attend, no doubt.

    The list of delegates was not given to the candidates, but they were mailshotted directly from Cunningham House- a cynic would say this confirms rumours that constituency organisation is in such disarray that many had not provided lists for 2005 and the 2004 list is still being used. Fortunately I am not a cynic,although I do hear the hotel has been told not to expect more than 500.

  • davidbrew

    late breaking news-
    there is a plot afoot to invite lady Sylvia to stand down when the new leader is elected, in order to allow him to fight a by election and get to Westminster. Apart from the tacit acceptance that east belfast is now unwinnable, it’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of the One Great Victory, and might not be appreciated by the notoriously touchy Ballyholme electorate. yet that’s what passes for strategy these days in Cunningham house.

  • Sinn fein voter

    I hope the UUP do rise again this strong approach by the DUP refusing to enter government with sinn fein is all worng. At least the uup entered government with us and were prepared to play loose in order to keep us there. This DUP approach is wrong and i think the sooner we have a more looser uup at the helm of the six counties the better for everyone. i would like to say to those who voted dupers why did you do it the uup have done good for you in the past and will continue in the future all the dupers want is to support the police force, keep republicans out of governmnet, promoting bigoted parades and moaning on about the rentention of the stupid union the uup never done this and were more respected as a result.

  • martin

    I will try one last time to help the Ulster Unionists.

    The only man who should be your leader is Michael Mc Dowell.

    Hes the only one who can save you–I know it and i think deep down you know it too.

  • VerucaSalt

    Martin

    one prob with that – at the end of the day the PDs are a united ireland party like all the other parties in the south. So please stop wittering on about McDowell, he’s no more likely to be leader of the UUP than John Hume is.

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    “I’ve laboured this point because the UUP does not realise the deadliness of the pushover tag. It needs to regain credibility as a defender of unionist interests. I’m not sure exactly what Duncan means by internal reform but I feel that it is the easy option that ducks the central problem of credibility. The party cannot afford to spend several years talking to itself about structures if there could be a snap Assembly election after a DUP-SF deal.”

    Organizational reform goes right to the heart of the credibility issue. I think you misunderstand/misrepresent me. I don’t mean for a bit of new technology to send emails to everyone, or new fax machines and then we say ‘wow’ look at all the modernization. Those things are just productivity tools anyway. The problem has been the fact that the organizational and communication structures are completely dysfunctional. Until that changes there is no prospect of credibility being recovered. Just putting it off because there is an election round the corner is exactly what has gone wrong these last 7/20 years.

    Largely I agree that the central issue has been the collapse in the UUP’s credibility but I place that at the foot of organizational and structural weakness leading to perceived ineffectiveness rather than purely as a consequence of policy choices. The manner in which the Agreement played out definitely hurt the UUP but the damage was exponential because of the party’s organizational and structural faults. As the policy disputes have largely disappeared now anyway, as political unionism has converged, then its certainly not ducking the issue at all it is in fact the only key issue.

  • martin

    Verucasalt,

    I’m going to stop talking about Mc Dowell.

    There are no United Ireland parties down south apart from Sinn Fein. Fianna Fail indulges in a bit of nationalist retoric,saber-rattling when they are in opposition.
    The PDs ,with the exception of liz o Donnel are almost more Unionist than DUP.Its actually in these partys interest that there is never a United Ireland-because unification would not only be an end of Northern Ireland it would also bring an end of the 26 county state–and the political dominance over it that these parties especially FF/PD have had.

  • The Watchman

    It’s obvious that whoever wins on Friday is going to knock down the party’s internal structures and build again. I don’t disagree with the need for this at all, and I concede that modernisation goes far beyond windowdressing things like e-mail. These problems have plagued the UUP long before the civil war over the Agreement. My point is that the UUP’s lack of credibility goes far beyond organisational shortcomings. To take the example of the Tory Party, the Hague reforms of 97-8 addressed some of the organisational shortcomings but did not in themselves solve the underlying problem that the Tories were (and are) still not a credible party of government.

    Do change the UUP to turn it into a modern and effective campaigning machine (isn’t David Vance a management consultant type?) but there is still the need for some very deep strategic thinking if the UUP is going to get out of its hole.

  • The Watchman

    BTW, that’s a joke about DV.

  • VerucaSalt

    yes, they may not mention it much but at the end of the day, all the parties in the south are united ireland parties, I know this from talking to people from each of the parties. I guarentee if you look at their constitutions there would be a mention of a united ireland.

    Although you are right in practise, most of them don’t give a shit, but if push comes to shove you might be surprised.

  • Nathan

    “The PDs ,with the exception of liz o Donnel are almost more Unionist than DUP.”

    I wouldn’t be so sure about Liz O’Donnell’s lack of unionism, Martin.

    Away from Leinster Hse, within the walls of her million-pound Victorian mansion in the leafy and oh-so plush suburb of Dartry, she is married to Michael Carson SC. He’s a Northern Protestant from a unionist background, whos best known as the geezer who came down south to make mega-bucks as a lawyer.

  • Karl Rove

    Married to ‘Northern Protestant from a unionist background’!!?!???!!! Burn the witch (and drown any litter).

  • martin

    Verucasalt,

    yes i know that they almost all have it in their party constitutuions and that most of their party members favour a UI (I actually believe the party members).But–the political leaders of the south use this unification by consent as empty retoric-in the past 80 years they have done nothing.

    I favour world peace and total disarmament from all nations–sounds good doesn’t it-but that is all it is sounds and words-dont ask me how Im going to bring this about–I have no intention of trying,just like them.

    Also the private views and policies of these party leaders is very far removed to what they lead their supporters to believe .

    The Southern voter badly needs to move away from hereditary voting——i.e my grandfather fought on the anti-treaty side and then followed De Valera’s Fianna Fail for the rest of his life==.

    Thats all well and good but Bertie Ahern is no Eamonn De Valera–Bertie ‘s corrupt and arrogant Fianna Fail is a disgrace to the original party.

    The way this voter should see it is—My grandfather would be outraged at what Ahern has done to the party he thought so much of, its time to vote for just about anyone else to stop this rot.

  • VerucaSalt

    “The Southern voter badly needs to move away from hereditary voting——i.e my grandfather fought on the anti-treaty side and then followed De Valera’s Fianna Fail for the rest of his life==.”

    Absolutely, they are awful for it, although not as awful as Northern Ireland voters, morons who vote for the two sides who instigated hte troubles and then whinge about how nothing happens in NI politics. Wake up a smell the coffee should be any sensible party’s slogan for the next assembly – prob to be called next week with DUP egos the size they are!

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    Watchman,

    I don’t disagree at all. It is all about credibility. The Tories are a decent example and have many similar problems in that they are appealing to a declining demographic which is hamstringing them on the policy front and preventing them breaking out into the wider support they would need to get back into government. A lot of them just think wait for Gordon Brown to reassert the labor left and the votes will roll in but they are kidding themselves. (Browns not that daft for one thing!).

    The UUP has a similar dilemma and it wont be solved in a short period of time. I agree that it will take long-term strategic thinking. I don’t have fixed views on how best to do that. I am just realistic that to try to do that before you deal with the organizational problems would be pointless. The previous attempts at reform internally have all run aground on the wider political process and come to nothing. In this case the tiller is not in the hand of the UUP anymore and they need to have the courage to just realize that no decision by the UUP will dictate the outcome of the wider political process, that’s now Peters problem. The UUP however can instead focus its energy on internal restructuring and prioritize that task. Once that’s done then it will be time for strategic thinking about where to move to (that’s where we might differ more substantially but I would hunt down the empirical data before I tied myself to any particular outcome as the end goal).

    To stretch a metaphor the UUP right now is a clapped out Lada/(American made car!) of a political vehicle and it needs to be traded in for a BMW/Mercedes rig. Then when you have a vehicle that can actual take you somewhere you can chart(argue about) the direction in which you want to drive. For that reason my focus is obsessively about party reform and I sincerely hope that the next leader will focus on that task to, pretty much, the exclusion of all others.

    I think Reg knows it but would have problems once he start challenging vested interests and I have some doubt about his clarity of thought in the necessity to get it done. Alan is more focused on it and I think has batter handle on it I also think he could push it through as he would come in with a far more reformist agenda and largely unsupported by any particular internal vested interests groups. McNarry doesn’t have any clarity of vision about the need for any of this and would sit back and wait for the dissatisfied DUP votes to rollback to their rightful place. That’s the best recipe for oblivion in my view. He talks about reform but I would be astounded if he delivered anything. For that reason I think Alan McFarland is the man of the hour and I really hope the UUC see it.

  • martin

    Verucasalt,

    “Though not as awful as northern ireland voters, morons who vote for the two sides who instigated the troubles and whinge about why nothing happens in N.I politics.”

    two totally different senarios old boy.

    I would say the British by ever occupying and colonising Ireland instigated the troubles.

    There really isnt any alternative though–theres the dead UUP,for the unionists and there is the slowly dying sdlp for nationalists and for all their peace talk they really didnt do anything—-wo wee Hume spoke to Adams—-The british and Irish government were already doing that before him–they just kept it quiet.

    Then theres the Alliance –Unionists who just arent sectarian.

    Is there really any difference between Fianna Fail,FIANNA gAEL,Labour and the PDs now honestly discard all their empty retoric–is there really any difference——Southern voters should turn in mass towards the Greens and Sinn Fein if they want to break the stagnant mould of the 2 alternatives that are exactly the same.

  • Intelligence Insider

    Duncan,
    I have to disagree with your choice of “Sneaky” McFarland, can you really see in the gallant Major any qualities that would benefit the UUP as a whole?
    Coming from a military background myself (42 R M Cdo. )I for one will not be supporting A.M. Yet, although I have left all the Orders ( L.O.L, R.A.P.C, R.B.P and A.B.O.D.) I still feel that David McNarry is the person best suited to lead the U.U.P. forward. He is wanting to lead a party with the support of grass roots unionism and that, as a party, is what we need to appeal to. The N.I. Life and Times survey shows the need for unionism in particular to start identifying with the 18 – 34 age group and I feel David McNarry is more likely to do this than either McFarland or Empey. This age group is more likely to identify, and trust in , one who they see as their own than one they see as a Knight or a commisioned Serviceman

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    Intelligence Insider,

    Your joking right? There may be reasons to support David McNarry but the idea that he appeals to the youth has got to be the weakest.

    Whats the evidence of that assertion anyway? I am not sure of his age but if he is my side of 50 i would be shocked so that puts him in the same place as the other two age wise. So what is his Ali-G like youth appeal?

    I support Alan because he is a decent man with a strong resolve and a decent manner. With a bit of work i believe he can raise his media game and more importantly he is best placed and most committed, in my view, to actually seeing a process of party organisational reform through to conclusion. Those are the qualities I see and the ones that I think the party badly needs at this juncture.

  • bob wilson

    ‘a process of party organisational reform’
    Duncan I’m sure the UUP needs organisational reform but more importantly it needs a political raison d’etre. If DUP has sewn up Protestant Unionism surely The Way Forward for liberal unionists is to join the Conservatives, Liberal Democrat or Labour parties?
    UUP has no clear principles beyond the Union and no clear policies – and no clear future