The UUP: Rebuilding from Ground Zero

The Watchman sends us another of his think pieces on the UUP. Here he argues that the election of Sir Reg Empey gives the party the opportunity to rediscover its essential centre right values. This, he argues amongst other things, will involve adopting and promoting a non sectarian political voice if the party is to mount a future challenge against the DUP. But it must not lapse into what he terms “community relations-speak”.

By The Watchman

If the Ulster Unionist Party bungles the next few weeks and months as it has bungled just about everything else in the last 8 years then it really will be dead in the water. It has to realise that the electorate has given it a savage vote of no confidence. Its former leader, who often seemed divorced from reality, might blame everyone other than himself for the debacle. But a shattered party has no such luxury.

The post-Trimble UUP has not made a good start. The three leadership contenders publicly focused on internal party reform, not unimportant but comparatively peripheral. None mentioned the metaphorical elephant in the living room: the cumulative alienation of the unionist electorate thanks to an inept engagement with republicans. Trimble failed to grasp the interdependence of the IRA’s political and military wings. He believed that republicans were on a road that was certain to end in purely constitutional means and took political risks on that basis.

The result was a long list of failures: putting the unreconstructed IRA/Sinn Fein into power in breach of previous pledges, bungling the UUP’s approach to policing, endorsing procedural chicanery in the Assembly, and an ideological passivity (Dean Godson’s phrase) in the face of republican pressure. It discredited the UUP as a robust defender of unionist interests and the party’s centre-right vote duly floated off to the DUP.

The party may decide to advance towards a centre ground already occupied by the Alliance Party. That offers ideological purity but also a vote combined to bien pensant Greater Belfast. The Roy Garlands who argue for this approach have long been on the periphery of unionism. They regard an Olympian detachment from the concerns of most unionists as a mark of non-sectarian virtue and are happy for company in the wilderness.

They are often as dogmatic as Old Paisleyites in their own way and have learned nothing from the fates of Faulkner and Trimble. (Their stance misses the lesson identified by T.E. Utley 30 years ago: that the UUP always suffers more from fragmentation to the right than to the left.) The unexpectedly high vote for Alan McFarland suggests there may be a future powerful push in this direction from a large minority in the party.

Some may be attracted to a merger with the DUP but they should be more cautious. The DUP’s shortcomings have been obscured by the sheer awfulness of the Trimble UUP. Despite profound changes within the party, a united unionism under the DUP flag poses lots of problems:

· The party is still imprinted for the foreseeable future with a profoundly sectarian outlook.

· Although many representatives have a well-earned reputation for constituency work, the flipside is a long-standing parochialism. The DUP has never properly exploited its Westminster presence and constantly misses opportunities to build up support for unionism outside the Province. Its involvement at Westminster in matters that do not concern Northern Ireland has traditionally been dilatory.

· The tight control over the party exercised by a coterie at the centre would give enormous control over the future representatives of a single unionist party to a very few.

· Finally, the DUP’s opposition to the Belfast Agreement lacks credibility. Its fierce attacks on the UUP since 1998 have concealed a tacit acceptance of the Agreement.

In its first negotiation as the lead unionist party, only the intransigence of Ian Paisley kept the DUP out of what would have been a suicidal decision to share power with Sinn Fein just before the Northern Bank robbery. One constraint on the vaulting ambition within parts of the DUP is a unionist party that can hold the DUP to account. Parties exist to win votes and seats. The UUP must start again to compete with the DUP over the key centre-right, which comprises unionism’s centre of gravity. This has several implications:

· The UUP must make a clean break with the past. Its overriding priority must be to rebuild trust and credibility with the unionist electorate that has been shattered by David Trimble’s tenure. The UUP’s key strategic misjudgment was to believe that the IRA was in the process of giving up violence and that forming the Executive would accelerate that process. It needs to apologise for its mistakes and admit that it has learned from them.

· The party must differentiate itself from the DUP by trumpeting an assertive, proactive and robust brand of unionism that defends the quality of UK citizenship without reducing its cause to sectarian head counting. That brand must then be allied to sounder strategic judgment. Never again can a unionist leader entrust his own credibility and that of his party to the IRA. Many of its problems arose from Trimble’s determination to do a deal with the IRA at almost any price. Never again can terrorists be got in government on the basis that Trimble permitted.

The UUP must learn that there is a difference from setting out a non-sectarian prospectus and a discourse that just sounds wet. The difference can be easily illustrated. On his Let’s Talk debut, Tyrone Howe, a likely rising star of the party, lapsed very quickly into community relations-speak about “reconciliation”. At no point did he sound like someone who understood identifiably unionist concerns or would articulate them.

When, say, Bob McCartney makes the same comments, he can do so without losing credibility as a unionist champion because of his well-known combativeness on other issues. Howe, admittedly intelligent and telegenic, sounded like an Alliance spokesman. Nothing in terms of his delivery or content will ever pull back a DUP vote.

Unionism is constrained by a Belfast Agreement that is loaded in favour of Republicans. The DUP is discovering that the only basis for a return to devolution is another leap in the dark and putting its fate in the good faith of Sinn Fein. Unfortunately, it is not in the IRA’s interests to wind up its armed wing and, in any event, the nationalist electorate will never punish Sinn Fein even if the DUP accuses it of reneging on a deal. That puts unionists at a huge disadvantage and will test the DUP’s traditional unity and discipline to the limit. A key test for the UUP is to look beyond the Agreement.

· The party desperately needs new faces that are not discredited by past failures. There is a deficit of rising talent. (Proof of that can be seen in the website of the Young Unionists that has run comment threads full of puerile gloating at Paul Berry’s expense.) The UUP must creatively build new non-institutional links with Orangeism, for the estrangement of rank and file Orangemen from the party has been an overlooked factor in the party’s decline. It must also reach out to other burgeoning cultural groups within the Ulster-Scots movement and hopefully draw on the grassroots talent there.

· In terms of organisation, there must be a clear out of the Trimble faction from Cunningham House. May 2005 may have been the worst reversal but it was not the first electoral setback. A new leader will succeed or fail on whether he can build a sharp campaign machine to rival that of the DUP. The decay at a constituency level must also finally be addressed. Towering ambition and in-fighting should not be allowed to wreck any more constituency associations, as the sorry lesson of South Belfast should demonstrate.

There will be no quick fix for recovery. But despite the DUP’s current ascendancy, there is clearly a place for an alternative brand of unionism: constitutionally sound; non-sectarian; and non-parochial. The DUP may be less stable than it looks on the surface and its eventual leadership succession is likely to weaken the party in a number of ways.

It may have cornered much of what talent there is in unionism, but it still has its mediocre representatives. It is beatable. The task for the new UUP leader is to show, through strength of personality, strategic direction and firmness of purpose, why the party deserves to lead unionism once again.

  • The Watchman

    Basil,

    Debate is all about opinions and my opinions are based on facts. I said above that “traditional supporters (have) despair(ed) of the party to defend their interests”. How do I know that? Well, the 9000 votes for the UUP in Lagan Valley might be a clue, down from the 26000 – 30000 Wee Jim and Wee Jeffrey used to get. Or the fact that your grouping on Lisburn Council has shrunk to a rump. And then there are the little indicators: the Ballymacash aunt who told us over a Christmas family meal that she was voting DUP for the first time, the lodge brethren who were openly hostile to the UUP, etc.

    As for anonymity, I am not in a position, given my employment, to disclose my identity. That doesn’t take away anything from my argument. Of course a case can be advanced without anonymity, but anonymity does not invalidate the intrinsic merits (or otherwise) of any case. Suffice to say that I have never shied away from expressing my opinions when I have been able to do so. (Oh and I used to be in your Association.)

    You say that those in authority “must be committed to the rule of law and normal democratic standards”. Exactly. The whole point is that Trimble put IRA/SF into power where no such commitment existed and that is a large part of the reason for the UUP’s meltdown. Do you agree?

    But Trimble was not forced to take this course simply because Westminster is responsible for economic policy. In fact, you seem to be suggesting that the mere fact of the subvention should compel unionist politicians to do what they are told. That may not be your position, but that is what you appear to be saying. If that is the case then you are making my point about credibility for me. No unionist politician ever gained electorally from being seen to jump at a Prime Minister’s request.

    Yes, of course you defeated Daphne Trimble for the nomination in Lagan Valley, but I understand you were in support of the party’s decision to go into government with Sinn Fein and to remain there for nearly 3 years. Is that the case?

    I have no wish to attack you personally or perpetuate an endless exchange here. All of us indeed need to look to the future. I think your economic analysis is sound. But I remain unconvinced from your postings that you understand why the UUP vote has collapsed. Without that understanding there will be no recovery. I wrote my article above on what I believed the reasons to be. If you think I am wrong then tell me where.

  • Occasional commenter

    David Brewster seems to have the answers to everything. Why doesn’t he stand for election?

    And if he knows it all, he wouldn’t need to run on a DUP ticket. But then again they probably wouldn’t want him too as he is so damn opinionated.

    People like him have contributed to ripping the UUP apart. All he does is criticise and offer no solution. He is obviously so confident in his views having to always express them here on Slugger.

  • Basil McCrea

    cladycowboy
    Not only is your argument weak but you don’t offer any suggestion as to why the million people would change their collective mind.

    IJP
    Good to have independent corroboration of the facts.

    Eddo
    You ask why?
    Countries (and arguably culture) develop to defend economic interest. If you want to build ships or sell cloth on an industrial scale you need access to a big market (the British Empire at the turn of the century).

    Those days have gone. We live in a post industrial (and post agricultural) environment which is particularly challenging.

    How do you satisfy the needs of the people if local political institutions have been removed, the global economy moves against you and you are in the middle of a terrorist war.

    You turn to the sovereign power and ask for help and when the sovereign power lets you down you become anxious and agitated, and react accordingly. That’s why it happens.

    What should we do instead?
    The lot of the people of Northern Ireland will not improve until and unless we have genuine political stability and a commitment from all sides to build the economy of Northern Ireland. We need huge investment and retraining to be able to afford the services that the people deserve and demand.

    Who will provide the investment, and what return will they see for their investment?

  • The Watchman

    In my posting of 4.54, I said about a Basil McCrea post,

    “In fact, you seem to be suggesting that the mere fact of the subvention should compel unionist politicians to do what they are told. That may not be your position, but that is what you appear to be saying.”

    I think on hindsight, that wasn’t an entirely fair comment to make. It’s a bad idea to leap to conclusions over what may or may not be implied and everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt.

    However, I’m interested in the implication of this statement of Basil:

    “Not only does Westminster control the money but they are the sovereign government. To put it bluntly they call the shots.

    “A point you recognise in criticising my postion but don’t seem to recognise with regard to David Trimbles.”

    Is the point that in going into government with Sinn Fein, Trimble did it because Westminster was calling the economic shots? And if so, should any unionist leader be willing to act on this basis in the future?

  • Basil McCrea

    The Watchman
    Here is why our vote collapsed
    • “Your party is divided”
    • “No Guns, No Government”
    • “I won’t vote for you whilst Trimble is in charge”
    • “You gave away too much”
    • “You have lost touch with the grass roots (working class)”
    • “The Northern Bank Robbery”
    • “The McCartney Murder”
    • You ran a poor campaign
    • The opposition ran credible opponents
    • Negative campaigning is so much easier.
    • We provided Leadership. We took a risk for peace. Both SF and Blair let us down. We paid the electoral price. Northern Ireland is still a better place now than it was 10 years ago.

    Did I miss anything?

    Regarding my vote
    Getting 9,171 people to put an X against your name is a humbling experience. My campaign team worked hard and we fought for every vote. You can’t over turn in 4 weeks opinions that have been formed over four years but we made an impact and we will address the issues.

    As for your other points. You cannot stand up to Westminster
    • if you require £5.5 billion in subvention to keep the state going.
    • if the thing they fear most is a bomb in the “City of London”.
    • if they have no votes in Northern Ireland, and no selfish or strategic interest in the province.

    Finally the harsh reality for us all
    Nobody cares about Northern Ireland, except those of us who live here.
    We cannot survive without the support of the United Kingdom.

    The handouts will not continue unless there is political stability. You cannot build an economy without political stability. The lot of the people of Northern Ireland will not improve until there is political stability.

    So somebody had better tell the people. Political stalemate means that your prospects get worse everyday. We live in a global economy. No Peace, No Progress.

  • Occasional commenter

    Basil,

    Only hit ‘post’ once, the page is sometimes very slow when it loads up.

    If you give it time it will load up and your post will be shown, as everytime to hit ‘post’ it will post it hence posting it several times.

  • Carrington

    Basil – would it be fair to say you spent more than a quid for every vote you got?

  • Bob Wilson

    Basil:
    ‘As for your other points. You cannot stand up to Westminster
    • if you require £5.5 billion in subvention to keep the state going.
    • if the thing they fear most is a bomb in the “City of London”.
    • if they have no votes in Northern Ireland, and no selfish or strategic interest in the province.’

    Basil I agree with you on the above – sort of. The truth is that I think that if WE in NI were prepared to take the plunge and build real politics in NI through Conservative, Labour, Liberals we would not have to ‘stand up to Westminster’ because we would no longer be inexplicable outsiders to the UK political system.
    I personally think the subvention to NI (horrendous as it is economically) is no more under threat than that to Scotland, Wales, NE England or NW England. Things have improved a lot and the size of the subvention can be (and will be) squeezed especially with security on the backburner at present. But there is no reason to believe it will be squeezed particularly hard – althou admittedly the fact that the main parties have no votes here makes it a soft option at present.
    The greatest threat is not just that the main parties ‘have no votes in NI’ but that coupled with the fact that we cannot build empathy and understanding for the Union from outside the UK party political system.
    The UUP or more accurately the UUC was a useful tool for ‘crisis management’ in the 1900s but it is now part of the problem not the solution.
    Leave tribal defeatist politics to David Brewster and the DUP (look at his nonsense about doing business with the South)

  • Stalfords biggest fan

    Basil – would it be fair to say you spent more than a quid for every vote you got?

    how much did you spend chris?

  • davidbrew

    goodness me , so many attacks -so little time.

    Rebecca- sorry for misidentifiying you this time, but you have used the nom de plume before, so I can hardly be blamed for the assumption- and you do then go on to make precisiely the sort of ill informed attack on the Orange order which the initial poster made .

    I don’t insinuate any group is more Unionist BTW, but I do conclude from the garden centre Prods’ selfish apathy that they aren’t exactly going to be factored in to NIO calculations as a significant element to be socially engineered into compliance. The Shinners have a similar view- hence their targetting parades post 1998.

    Next- occasional commentator:

    ‘David Brewster seems to have the answers to everything. Why doesn’t he stand for election?’

    I have-and I won. But if I hadn’t- does that mean my ‘answers for everything’ are invalid?

    ‘And if he knows it all, he wouldn’t need to run on a DUP ticket. But then again they probably wouldn’t want him too as he is so damn opinionated.

    People like him have contributed to ripping the UUP apart. All he does is criticise and offer no solution. He is obviously so confident in his views having to always express them here on Slugger.’

    -And doesn’t it drive you mad that you can’t answer them, but have to resort to personal criticism? BTW perhaps you’d prefer slugger not to have opinions, or only one approved worldview- (probably scripted by Bono)
    If I did contribute to ripping the UUP apart, I’m proud of my small part in destroying that amorphous blob of flabby smug and prejudiced people who have been a blight on political development of their community by reason of their defeatism. perhaps the new UUP will do better. Good luck to them.

    (cleans blood off shoes)
    Bob Wilson
    So I’m a defeatist , eh? What does that make all the UUP ‘ deal at any price ‘ brigade then? And what’s wrong with talking economics with your neighbour- so long as it’s in that context. Perhaps I’d be easier to stereotype if I was advocating a boycott of ‘all those Free State products that are invading Ulster by stealth – except Guiness obviously cos it’s owned by prods’, as one civic leader of Belfast once advised me?

    Basil Basil Basil
    When are you going to learn? Guess what- there are people in the DUP and beyond who do actually think about more than just the Glorious Revolution. Galling though it must be to admit, Jeffrey does actually spend more time on encouraging economic development in LV than he does on exposing the horrid Vatican conspiracy to subvert his constituency. (I’ll let you guess which of your Ulster Unionist Council colleagues might have warned me about that one ).

    The trouble with the UUP is that it has simply become another name for incompetence, and no matter how many new and shiny faces it produces, the electorate will judge from experience , and politely decline to support it.

    As for discipline- well you can’t even sort out the Irene Cree farce, and your only MP is having to issue ‘hands off’ statements to those who covet her seat ( as my total lack of modesty prevents me from not pointing out I mentioned here first two weeks ago)

    Northern Ireland is a better place now than 10 years ago, you tell us . So what. It 1995 it was a better place than it was in 1985. In 1985 it was better than in 1975. Don’t look for credit that doesn’t belong to your party or your Agreement. Both hindered progress, rather than create it. In 10 more years it’ll be better still, because ordinary decent people will make it so, particularly if they are free from the criminality ans threat of terrorism lurking at the fringe of Government.

  • davidbrew

    goodness me , so many attacks -so little time.

    Rebecca- sorry for misidentifiying you this time, but you have used the nom de plume before, so I can hardly be blamed for the assumption- and you do then go on to make precisiely the sort of ill informed attack on the Orange order which the initial poster made .

    I don’t insinuate any group is more Unionist BTW, but I do conclude from the garden centre Prods’ selfish apathy that they aren’t exactly going to be factored in to NIO calculations as a significant element to be socially engineered into compliance. The Shinners have a similar view- hence their targetting parades post 1998.

    Next- occasional commentator:

    ‘David Brewster seems to have the answers to everything. Why doesn’t he stand for election?’

    I have-and I won. But if I hadn’t- does that mean my ‘answers for everything’ are invalid?

    ‘And if he knows it all, he wouldn’t need to run on a DUP ticket. But then again they probably wouldn’t want him too as he is so damn opinionated.

    People like him have contributed to ripping the UUP apart. All he does is criticise and offer no solution. He is obviously so confident in his views having to always express them here on Slugger.’

    -And doesn’t it drive you mad that you can’t answer them, but have to resort to personal criticism? BTW perhaps you’d prefer slugger not to have opinions, or only one approved worldview- (probably scripted by Bono)
    If I did contribute to ripping the UUP apart, I’m proud of my small part in destroying that amorphous blob of flabby smug and prejudiced people who have been a blight on political development of their community by reason of their defeatism. perhaps the new UUP will do better. Good luck to them.

    (cleans blood off shoes)
    Bob Wilson
    So I’m a defeatist , eh? What does that make all the UUP ‘ deal at any price ‘ brigade then? And what’s wrong with talking economics with your neighbour- so long as it’s in that context. Perhaps I’d be easier to stereotype if I was advocating a boycott of ‘all those Free State products that are invading Ulster by stealth – except Guiness obviously cos it’s owned by prods’, as one civic leader of Belfast once advised me?

    Basil Basil Basil
    When are you going to learn? Guess what- there are people in the DUP and beyond who do actually think about more than just the Glorious Revolution. Galling though it must be to admit, Jeffrey does actually spend more time on encouraging economic development in LV than he does on exposing the horrid Vatican conspiracy to subvert his constituency. (I’ll let you guess which of your Ulster Unionist Council colleagues might have warned me about that one ).

    The trouble with the UUP is that it has simply become another name for incompetence, and no matter how many new and shiny faces it produces, the electorate will judge from experience , and politely decline to support it.

    As for discipline- well you can’t even sort out the Irene Cree farce, and your only MP is having to issue ‘hands off’ statements to those who covet her seat ( as my total lack of modesty prevents me from not pointing out I mentioned here first two weeks ago)

    Northern Ireland is a better place now than 10 years ago, you tell us . So what. It 1995 it was a better place than it was in 1985. In 1985 it was better than in 1975. Don’t look for credit that doesn’t belong to your party or your Agreement. Both hindered progress, rather than create it. In 10 more years it’ll be better still, because ordinary decent people will make it so, particularly if they are free from the criminality ans threat of terrorism lurking at the fringe of Government.

  • davidbrew

    goodness me , so many attacks -so little time.

    Rebecca- sorry for misidentifiying you this time, but you have used the nom de plume before, so I can hardly be blamed for the assumption- and you do then go on to make precisiely the sort of ill informed attack on the Orange order which the initial poster made .

    I don’t insinuate any group is more Unionist BTW, but I do conclude from the garden centre Prods’ selfish apathy that they aren’t exactly going to be factored in to NIO calculations as a significant element to be socially engineered into compliance. The Shinners have a similar view- hence their targetting parades post 1998.

    Next- occasional commentator:

    ‘David Brewster seems to have the answers to everything. Why doesn’t he stand for election?’

    I have-and I won. But if I hadn’t- does that mean my ‘answers for everything’ are invalid?

    ‘And if he knows it all, he wouldn’t need to run on a DUP ticket. But then again they probably wouldn’t want him too as he is so damn opinionated.

    People like him have contributed to ripping the UUP apart. All he does is criticise and offer no solution. He is obviously so confident in his views having to always express them here on Slugger.’

    -And doesn’t it drive you mad that you can’t answer them, but have to resort to personal criticism? BTW perhaps you’d prefer slugger not to have opinions, or only one approved worldview- (probably scripted by Bono)
    If I did contribute to ripping the UUP apart, I’m proud of my small part in destroying that amorphous blob of flabby smug and prejudiced people who have been a blight on political development of their community by reason of their defeatism. perhaps the new UUP will do better. Good luck to them.

    (cleans blood off shoes)
    Bob Wilson
    So I’m a defeatist , eh? What does that make all the UUP ‘ deal at any price ‘ brigade then? And what’s wrong with talking economics with your neighbour- so long as it’s in that context. Perhaps I’d be easier to stereotype if I was advocating a boycott of ‘all those Free State products that are invading Ulster by stealth – except Guiness obviously cos it’s owned by prods’, as one civic leader of Belfast once advised me?

    Basil Basil Basil
    When are you going to learn? Guess what- there are people in the DUP and beyond who do actually think about more than just the Glorious Revolution. Galling though it must be to admit, Jeffrey does actually spend more time on encouraging economic development in LV than he does on exposing the horrid Vatican conspiracy to subvert his constituency. (I’ll let you guess which of your Ulster Unionist Council colleagues might have warned me about that one ).

    The trouble with the UUP is that it has simply become another name for incompetence, and no matter how many new and shiny faces it produces, the electorate will judge from experience , and politely decline to support it.

    As for discipline- well you can’t even sort out the Irene Cree farce, and your only MP is having to issue ‘hands off’ statements to those who covet her seat ( as my total lack of modesty prevents me from not pointing out I mentioned here first two weeks ago)

    Northern Ireland is a better place now than 10 years ago, you tell us . So what. It 1995 it was a better place than it was in 1985. In 1985 it was better than in 1975. Don’t look for credit that doesn’t belong to your party or your Agreement. Both hindered progress, rather than create it. In 10 more years it’ll be better still, because ordinary decent people will make it so, particularly if they are free from the criminality ans threat of terrorism lurking at the fringe of Government.

  • davidbrew

    goodness me , so many attacks -so little time.

    Rebecca- sorry for misidentifiying you this time, but you have used the nom de plume before, so I can hardly be blamed for the assumption- and you do then go on to make precisiely the sort of ill informed attack on the Orange order which the initial poster made .

    I don’t insinuate any group is more Unionist BTW, but I do conclude from the garden centre Prods’ selfish apathy that they aren’t exactly going to be factored in to NIO calculations as a significant element to be socially engineered into compliance. The Shinners have a similar view- hence their targetting parades post 1998.

    Next- occasional commentator:

    ‘David Brewster seems to have the answers to everything. Why doesn’t he stand for election?’

    I have-and I won. But if I hadn’t- does that mean my ‘answers for everything’ are invalid?

    ‘And if he knows it all, he wouldn’t need to run on a DUP ticket. But then again they probably wouldn’t want him too as he is so damn opinionated.

    People like him have contributed to ripping the UUP apart. All he does is criticise and offer no solution. He is obviously so confident in his views having to always express them here on Slugger.’

    -And doesn’t it drive you mad that you can’t answer them, but have to resort to personal criticism? BTW perhaps you’d prefer slugger not to have opinions, or only one approved worldview- (probably scripted by Bono)
    If I did contribute to ripping the UUP apart, I’m proud of my small part in destroying that amorphous blob of flabby smug and prejudiced people who have been a blight on political development of their community by reason of their defeatism. perhaps the new UUP will do better. Good luck to them.

    (cleans blood off shoes)
    Bob Wilson
    So I’m a defeatist , eh? What does that make all the UUP ‘ deal at any price ‘ brigade then? And what’s wrong with talking economics with your neighbour- so long as it’s in that context. Perhaps I’d be easier to stereotype if I was advocating a boycott of ‘all those Free State products that are invading Ulster by stealth – except Guiness obviously cos it’s owned by prods’, as one civic leader of Belfast once advised me?

    Basil Basil Basil
    When are you going to learn? Guess what- there are people in the DUP and beyond who do actually think about more than just the Glorious Revolution. Galling though it must be to admit, Jeffrey does actually spend more time on encouraging economic development in LV than he does on exposing the horrid Vatican conspiracy to subvert his constituency. (I’ll let you guess which of your Ulster Unionist Council colleagues might have warned me about that one ).

    The trouble with the UUP is that it has simply become another name for incompetence, and no matter how many new and shiny faces it produces, the electorate will judge from experience , and politely decline to support it.

    As for discipline- well you can’t even sort out the Irene Cree farce, and your only MP is having to issue ‘hands off’ statements to those who covet her seat ( as my total lack of modesty prevents me from not pointing out I mentioned here first two weeks ago)

    Northern Ireland is a better place now than 10 years ago, you tell us . So what. It 1995 it was a better place than it was in 1985. In 1985 it was better than in 1975. Don’t look for credit that doesn’t belong to your party or your Agreement. Both hindered progress, rather than create it. In 10 more years it’ll be better still, because ordinary decent people will make it so, particularly if they are free from the criminality ans threat of terrorism lurking at the fringe of Government.

  • davidbrew

    goodness me , so many attacks -so little time.

    Rebecca- sorry for misidentifiying you this time, but you have used the nom de plume before, so I can hardly be blamed for the assumption- and you do then go on to make precisiely the sort of ill informed attack on the Orange order which the initial poster made .

    I don’t insinuate any group is more Unionist BTW, but I do conclude from the garden centre Prods’ selfish apathy that they aren’t exactly going to be factored in to NIO calculations as a significant element to be socially engineered into compliance. The Shinners have a similar view- hence their targetting parades post 1998.

    Next- occasional commentator:

    ‘David Brewster seems to have the answers to everything. Why doesn’t he stand for election?’

    I have-and I won. But if I hadn’t- does that mean my ‘answers for everything’ are invalid?

    ‘And if he knows it all, he wouldn’t need to run on a DUP ticket. But then again they probably wouldn’t want him too as he is so damn opinionated.

    People like him have contributed to ripping the UUP apart. All he does is criticise and offer no solution. He is obviously so confident in his views having to always express them here on Slugger.’

    -And doesn’t it drive you mad that you can’t answer them, but have to resort to personal criticism? BTW perhaps you’d prefer slugger not to have opinions, or only one approved worldview- (probably scripted by Bono)
    If I did contribute to ripping the UUP apart, I’m proud of my small part in destroying that amorphous blob of flabby smug and prejudiced people who have been a blight on political development of their community by reason of their defeatism. perhaps the new UUP will do better. Good luck to them.

    (cleans blood off shoes)
    Bob Wilson
    So I’m a defeatist , eh? What does that make all the UUP ‘ deal at any price ‘ brigade then? And what’s wrong with talking economics with your neighbour- so long as it’s in that context. Perhaps I’d be easier to stereotype if I was advocating a boycott of ‘all those Free State products that are invading Ulster by stealth – except Guiness obviously cos it’s owned by prods’, as one civic leader of Belfast once advised me?

    Basil Basil Basil
    When are you going to learn? Guess what- there are people in the DUP and beyond who do actually think about more than just the Glorious Revolution. Galling though it must be to admit, Jeffrey does actually spend more time on encouraging economic development in LV than he does on exposing the horrid Vatican conspiracy to subvert his constituency. (I’ll let you guess which of your Ulster Unionist Council colleagues might have warned me about that one ).

    The trouble with the UUP is that it has simply become another name for incompetence, and no matter how many new and shiny faces it produces, the electorate will judge from experience , and politely decline to support it.

    As for discipline- well you can’t even sort out the Irene Cree farce, and your only MP is having to issue ‘hands off’ statements to those who covet her seat ( as my total lack of modesty prevents me from not pointing out I mentioned here first two weeks ago)

    Northern Ireland is a better place now than 10 years ago, you tell us . So what. It 1995 it was a better place than it was in 1985. In 1985 it was better than in 1975. Don’t look for credit that doesn’t belong to your party or your Agreement. Both hindered progress, rather than create it. In 10 more years it’ll be better still, because ordinary decent people will make it so, particularly if they are free from the criminality ans threat of terrorism lurking at the fringe of Government.

  • davidbrew

    goodness me , so many attacks -so little time.

    Rebecca- sorry for misidentifiying you this time, but you have used the nom de plume before, so I can hardly be blamed for the assumption- and you do then go on to make precisiely the sort of ill informed attack on the Orange order which the initial poster made .

    I don’t insinuate any group is more Unionist BTW, but I do conclude from the garden centre Prods’ selfish apathy that they aren’t exactly going to be factored in to NIO calculations as a significant element to be socially engineered into compliance. The Shinners have a similar view- hence their targetting parades post 1998.

    Next- occasional commentator:

    ‘David Brewster seems to have the answers to everything. Why doesn’t he stand for election?’

    I have-and I won. But if I hadn’t- does that mean my ‘answers for everything’ are invalid?

    ‘And if he knows it all, he wouldn’t need to run on a DUP ticket. But then again they probably wouldn’t want him too as he is so damn opinionated.

    People like him have contributed to ripping the UUP apart. All he does is criticise and offer no solution. He is obviously so confident in his views having to always express them here on Slugger.’

    -And doesn’t it drive you mad that you can’t answer them, but have to resort to personal criticism? BTW perhaps you’d prefer slugger not to have opinions, or only one approved worldview- (probably scripted by Bono)
    If I did contribute to ripping the UUP apart, I’m proud of my small part in destroying that amorphous blob of flabby smug and prejudiced people who have been a blight on political development of their community by reason of their defeatism. perhaps the new UUP will do better. Good luck to them.

    (cleans blood off shoes)
    Bob Wilson
    So I’m a defeatist , eh? What does that make all the UUP ‘ deal at any price ‘ brigade then? And what’s wrong with talking economics with your neighbour- so long as it’s in that context. Perhaps I’d be easier to stereotype if I was advocating a boycott of ‘all those Free State products that are invading Ulster by stealth – except Guiness obviously cos it’s owned by prods’, as one civic leader of Belfast once advised me?

    Basil Basil Basil
    When are you going to learn? Guess what- there are people in the DUP and beyond who do actually think about more than just the Glorious Revolution. Galling though it must be to admit, Jeffrey does actually spend more time on encouraging economic development in LV than he does on exposing the horrid Vatican conspiracy to subvert his constituency. (I’ll let you guess which of your Ulster Unionist Council colleagues might have warned me about that one ).

    The trouble with the UUP is that it has simply become another name for incompetence, and no matter how many new and shiny faces it produces, the electorate will judge from experience , and politely decline to support it.

    As for discipline- well you can’t even sort out the Irene Cree farce, and your only MP is having to issue ‘hands off’ statements to those who covet her seat ( as my total lack of modesty prevents me from not pointing out I mentioned here first two weeks ago)

    Northern Ireland is a better place now than 10 years ago, you tell us . So what. It 1995 it was a better place than it was in 1985. In 1985 it was better than in 1975. Don’t look for credit that doesn’t belong to your party or your Agreement. Both hindered progress, rather than create it. In 10 more years it’ll be better still, because ordinary decent people will make it so, particularly if they are free from the criminality ans threat of terrorism lurking at the fringe of Government.

  • slug9987

    Basil

    I am very encouraged by your comments. I hope very much you will stick with politics, standing as an MLA and MP again in the future. NI politics needs you.

  • Thomas

    So Basil running for 2010 Westminster elections?

  • Rebecca Black

    DB

    I don’t think I have attacked the Orange Order, I certainly attack with enthusiasm the people who hang on the end of marches and cause trouble but then orangemen themselves I do not have a problem with. In fact I have been known upon occasion to watch the bands play.

  • davidbrew

    goodness me , so many attacks -so little time.

    Rebecca- sorry for misidentifiying you this time, but you have used the nom de plume before, so I can hardly be blamed for the assumption- and you do then go on to make precisiely the sort of ill informed attack on the Orange order which the initial poster made .

    I don’t insinuate any group is more Unionist BTW, but I do conclude from the garden centre Prods’ selfish apathy that they aren’t exactly going to be factored in to NIO calculations as a significant element to be socially engineered into compliance. The Shinners have a similar view- hence their targetting parades post 1998.

    Next- occasional commentator:

    ‘David Brewster seems to have the answers to everything. Why doesn’t he stand for election?’

    I have-and I won. But if I hadn’t- does that mean my ‘answers for everything’ are invalid?

    ‘And if he knows it all, he wouldn’t need to run on a DUP ticket. But then again they probably wouldn’t want him too as he is so damn opinionated.

    People like him have contributed to ripping the UUP apart. All he does is criticise and offer no solution. He is obviously so confident in his views having to always express them here on Slugger.’

    -And doesn’t it drive you mad that you can’t answer them, but have to resort to personal criticism? BTW perhaps you’d prefer slugger not to have opinions, or only one approved worldview- (probably scripted by Bono)
    If I did contribute to ripping the UUP apart, I’m proud of my small part in destroying that amorphous blob of flabby smug and prejudiced people who have been a blight on political development of their community by reason of their defeatism. perhaps the new UUP will do better. Good luck to them.

    (cleans blood off shoes)
    Bob Wilson
    So I’m a defeatist , eh? What does that make all the UUP ‘ deal at any price ‘ brigade then? And what’s wrong with talking economics with your neighbour- so long as it’s in that context. Perhaps I’d be easier to stereotype if I was advocating a boycott of ‘all those Free State products that are invading Ulster by stealth – except Guiness obviously cos it’s owned by prods’, as one civic leader of Belfast once advised me?

    Basil Basil Basil
    When are you going to learn? Guess what- there are people in the DUP and beyond who do actually think about more than just the Glorious Revolution. Galling though it must be to admit, Jeffrey does actually spend more time on encouraging economic development in LV than he does on exposing the horrid Vatican conspiracy to subvert his constituency. (I’ll let you guess which of your Ulster Unionist Council colleagues might have warned me about that one ).

    The trouble with the UUP is that it has simply become another name for incompetence, and no matter how many new and shiny faces it produces, the electorate will judge from experience , and politely decline to support it.

    As for discipline- well you can’t even sort out the Irene Cree farce, and your only MP is having to issue ‘hands off’ statements to those who covet her seat ( as my total lack of modesty prevents me from not pointing out I mentioned here first two weeks ago)

    Northern Ireland is a better place now than 10 years ago, you tell us . So what. It 1995 it was a better place than it was in 1985. In 1985 it was better than in 1975. Don’t look for credit that doesn’t belong to your party or your Agreement. Both hindered progress, rather than create it. In 10 more years it’ll be better still, because ordinary decent people will make it so, particularly if they are free from the criminality ans threat of terrorism lurking at the fringe of Government.

  • Basil McCrea

    davidbrew
    So you feel you have the economy covered. What is the position on industrial de-rating? How many firms will close?
    How will we provide the 142,000 new jobs required over the next 10 years. Is there a future for manufacturing? If not how will the skilled working man (grass roots?) earn a living. The private sector pay is 86% of the UK and falling. How will we tackle that that?

    The UUP is incompetent
    A common complaint but not incurable.
    The UUP lacks discipline
    Develop the right policies, deliver the correct vision, offer the right leadership and this ceases to be a problem. OK it might take a little time but parties that impose iron discipline destroy freedom, individuality and democracy. Three things worth fighting for.

    Northern Ireland will be a better place in 10 years time? How will it happen? What will be different? What is your vision of the future? Will there be power sharing or direct rule or joint authority.

  • bertie

    Basil Mc Crea

    “The British will continue to send billions every year and both sides can demand that she lives up to her responsibilities”

    Why do unionists use the term “British” as if they weren’t. The most common examples of this are “the British government” and the “British army”. When the army were mobilised during firefighter strikes etc. the English didn’t refer to it as the “British army”, just as “the army”. If we cannot accept our Britishness, how
    can we expect anyone else to.

  • Basil McCrea

    bertie
    The statement was written in the 3rd person because I was referring to multiple parties some of whom live in Northern Ireland but do not consider themselves British. All sides need to consider that the Union brings significant economic benefits to everybody that lives in Northern Ireland. Of course there is more to being British than economics, but the tangible benefits are significant and should not be ignored.

    For my part, I do consider myself British, but I also consider myself to be Northern Irish. It is worth pointing out that many people who live in Great Britain refer to themselves as English,Scots or Welsh, though of course they are all British.

    I hope that explains my position.

  • weejeffrey

    Davidbrew

    what is your vision?

  • bertie

    Basil

    thank you for the reply. The language we use is part of the battle. Anyone calling themselves English Scotish, Welsh or Northern Irish does not take away from their Britishness. Calling others British as if we were not also does. Whether others in NI do not consider themselves British is for them to argue. They don’t need us to facilitate it.

  • davidbrew

    I see I have also suffered the curse of multiple posts on this thread for which apologies.

    Basil has obviously been mugging up on the statistics in between noticeably not denying that his party is indeed incompetent.

    Yet surprisingly Basil himself has presented no solutions. That’s right- not a sausage. Why?

    Well, perhaps short of declaring UDI it’s because we’re actually a very small region of the United Kingdom, taking our economice direction from Gordon Brown. The most brilliant Stormont Ministers are going to be constrained by the size of the budget they are given. Study Craig’s administration if you don’t believe that an annual begging bowl trip to Whitehall won’t be needed. Or perhaps they should just go ahead and spend money they haven’t got- like the education Boards did.

    The slices of the cake are then doled out either by direct rule Ministers or the Minister of Finance in a new Executive. So Ministers then go begging from mark Durkan’s succesor, who might juist favour his own Party colleagues. Let the horse trading commence!

    Remember the percentage of the NI budget the UUP controlled in the 1999 executive?- About 10%. That’s right. The largest party hadn’t the confidence or guts to take on the big tasks of Health or Education, and then whinged when SF took over 60% of the Budget, and made the tough choices about hospital closures ( admittedly also the wrong choices). To protest their delusional power base in the UUC Trimble and co went for Culture, in case a Shinner Minister acted like a Shinner and gave us all Irish lannguage street signs or something else guarenteed to be a gift to the DUP.

    How will NI be a better place in 10 years time? because ordinary people will make it so, without being side tracked by the platitudes of politicians. House prices will continue to rise; wages will continue to increase; life expectancy will increase; more drugs will cure more illnesses; Mick Fealty will have been awarded his Professorship at the University of hawaii for Weblog studies; and Arsenal will have been European Champions for a record eigth time.

    And most of the tired old generation of politicians which have blighted society will have gone for good (that’ll particularly help your party, if it has survived).

    Hopefully the Assets recovery Agency will even have got round to seizing the assets of a few provo overlords, though I’m not holding my breath on that one. Even more unlikely they may have got round to raising the rates for Legal Aid to help the struggling small businessman.

    Now Basil- you’re the “economics is the key” man. How are you going to sort out the following-
    a/ water charges
    b/ the cost of recycling our waste
    c/ the over dependence on the public sector for employment
    d/ the drugs epidemic?

    Proper Policies, not pious platitudes please!