Empey’s first Leader’s address

Sir Reg Empey gave his first address as Party Leader to the Ulster Unionist Council on Saturday at the Stormont Hotel. In it he sets out his opposition to “cabals running the show” and announces what appears to be a more formal contempoary to Harry West’s West Ulster Unionist Council (third entry).

Of the Party officers elected Lord Rogan stood down as President and was succeeded by former Mayor of Coleraine John White. The Panel of six was filled by Kenny Donaldson (Newry and Armagh), Johnny Andrews (Strangford), Terry Wright (Foyle), Joan Carson (F&ST), Peter Bowles (South Down) and Basil McCrea (Lagan Valley)

  • Pete Baker

    It’s not really a very sensible idea for Reg to be drawing attention to comparisons between himself and Tony Soprano, not when he’s admitting to talks with loyalist criminal gangs

    Some commentators have tried to write off this party.

    One political party in particular has desperately tried to write off this party.

    As Tony Soprano would say “forget about it”!!!

    Who’s writing his speeches anyway? I mean, last year he was The Reginator..

  • BooBoo

    The real reason why Rogan stepped down?

    Wait for breaking news sometime tomorrow or Wednesday.

    BooBoo

  • pakman

    Saturday seemed such a tame affair (fitting for a tame party?) – does anyone else out there remember fondly the AGM in the cattle shed at Balmoral? Back in the day …

    BooBoo

    Hmm. I don’t think we’ll have to wait until Wednesday.

  • dodrade

    “Who’s writing his speeches anyway? I mean, last year he was The Reginator..”

    Given the state of the party, who they need is Herbert West – Reanimator.

  • Yokel

    Break the formal link with the Orange Order you eeejits…….

  • slug

    “Break the formal link with the Orange Order you eeejits……. ”

    I think this formal link is now gone, at the initiative of the Orange Order.

  • RmC

    “I think this formal link is now gone, at the initiative of the Orange Order.”

    Could be this is why the UUP have yielded so much ground to the DUP.

    I hate to say this, but from where I’m sitting a party of (relative) moderates has no future in NI.

    Can’t see mild lil Reg out-Paisleying Paisley though.

  • pakman

    RmC

    actually they are a party of (relative) lightweights.

  • RmC

    “actually they are a party of (relative) lightweights”

    What, are you (s) aying that all the big (s) hitters have left? 🙂

  • pakman

    RmC

    Yes…the voters!

  • darth rumsfeld

    well Rogan decided to stand down on Friday apparently, and the new rules don’t allow for candidates on the morning, so the only man in the running was John White. He is a new Irelander and was presumably induced to stand by the Hermonistas to weaken Reg, and then found out to his delight that he ws the only candidate- though when Reg asked if it was the will of the meeting that he be elected there were a lot of shouts of “No!”

    Either that or Reg deliberately put up a geriatric lightweight against Rogan because he wanted a dependable yes-man, but in so doing he alienated a powerful fundraiser. Cunning plan, huh?

    So yet another serious mismanagement, coupled with the ill concealed resentments of the hermonistas bubbling under the surface as seen in Roberta Dunlop’s hint at officer discord in her leaked candidate’s letter. This one is about to blow, as BooBoo says- You’re smarter than the average bear, BooBoo!

    We also hear that a halfhearted heave against Basil Mccrea and Peter Bowles was motivated by the good ol’ boys of the Trimble era becoming increasingly irked by questions about finance, organisation etc. McCrea’s survival was obtained by a bizarre pact with some in the the anti-Agreement rump, but significantly others may have induced “Dave” Hooey from Aghadowey, Burnside’s bagcarrier and a PR consultant, to stand against Bazza , who is the party officer responsible for communication(yes, they actually have one).

    So what have we learned today children?

    Well the UUP is as it ever was, a coalition of squabbling factions that detest each other. But this time there are no great issues of policy or strategy at stake. Now its old men with frustrated dreams clinging on as young whippersnappers and middle class townies try to push them out. And actually that should make the implosion even more fun to watch, because there won’t be the camoflage of political principles to disguise the vitriol.

    Pip pip!

  • Yokel

    Bloody hell, the bloc vote for the Orange Order went a year ago….

    To those that suggest that the splt lost them votes..forget it. Paisley’s brigade never had a link with the order to begin with and I suspect Paisley’s religion grates with many in the ordr as it is. They voted for him for direct political reasons.

    Basil McCrea, (interesting business history that man….), woeful politician who thinks he’s being so clever but you can see the brain working as he searches through his library of stock phrases. He’s poor end of story, easily destroyed.

    Dont knw much of the others but thats a stinker..John White..the re-invention of CoCo in another guise….?

  • BooBoo

    Darth,

    I’m not sure that there is such a group as the Hermonistas anymore. Her increasingly crackpot endorsement of Blairism makes her unacceptable to those who hate Labour in any form.

    Empey could quite easily have allowed nominations from the floor when it was announced that Rogan was standing down. (BTW, in yesterday’s Bel. Tel it was claimed that Rogan stood down because he didn’t believe that the Presidency should be a contested office!!!) In view of the fact that there was only one candidate remaining it was open to the Leader to “interpret” the rules.

    John White was pushed into candidacy by Basil McCrea. Having fawned around the old man for months, Bazza now has what he hopes will be a pliable puppet in place.

    Good news though is that when the truth stumbles into the public domain all of the officers will be totally tarnished.

    As you note, Darth, this really should make the coming implosion much more fun.

    BooBoo

  • JohnKerry

    Darth

    Interesting hypotheses, if it was the good ol boys trying to nudge the young whipper snappers (if you’d call Basil young) out then how do you account for Basils close ally Johnny Andrews getting the 2nd highest number of votes and the 25 year old community worker Kenny Donaldson topping the poll convincingly?

  • RmC

    Well well, such nice balanced assessments there.

    If I’m to take the last couple of posts seriously then I have to believe that compared to the UUP the DUP are shining exemplars of statesmen.

    That being the case, how come they can’t even get a parliament of local reps up, let alone running?

  • pakman

    RmC

    from that I assume you would run with the current assembly – D’ Hondt, shinners and all?

  • RmcC

    “from that I assume you would run with the current assembly – D’ Hondt, shinners and all?”

    Nope, I’m not a politician. I thought that’s why we elected these reps, to sort out such problems.

    Otherwise it would be standing room only in Stormont with the rest of the 1.5 million of us pouring out onto the lawns and blocking the traffic to N’ards.

  • BooBoo

    JohnKerry:

    Kenny Donaldson topped the poll because he was heavily supported by the good old boys. They love him now. In case you hadn’t heard he has fallen out big time with Bazza and Co.

    Also, if you knew what some of Johnny Andrews’ Strangford chums were saying about Bazza then you would realise they may not be allies for much longer. Why do you think Johnny came 2nd and Bazza came last? The UUC is as split as it ever was.

    But the day of reckoning is coming to the UUP and real unionists are going to take control again. It will be bloody and messy, but it will be worth it to get the wittless liberals ousted.

    BooBoo

    BooBoo

  • pakman

    RmC

    You don’t have to be a politician to have a political view. What form would your preferred legislature take?

  • RmcC

    “You don’t have to be a politician to have a political view.”

    Sorry, thought you were asking me how I’d solve the impasse.

    “What form would your preferred legislature take?”

    Two houses seems the reasonable choice. Or maybe three – best of three decisions? Might be fun. No, I kid you.

    There’s a lot of talk on this thread about liberals, as if liberal is a dirty word. NI needs liberals right now before the bully boys go too far. Any more polarization and this place is in deep trouble.

    Trimble tried but didn’t try hard enough. Maybe Reg will surprise us. I mean, it’s not like running a real country is it? More like a small city and its surrounding pastureland.

  • JohnKerry

    “Also, if you knew what some of Johnny Andrews’ Strangford chums were saying about Bazza then you would realise they may not be allies for much longer. Why do you think Johnny came 2nd and Bazza came last? ”

    Not sure that Andrews has many chums in Strangford, rest assured McCrea and Andrews are as in each other pockets as much as ever and conspiring together as much as ever. Johnny Andrews almost topping the poll was the shock of the day and puts paid to the random theories circulating on this thread. Plus one of the biggest good ol boys stalwarts/tea makers May Steele was at last kicked out.

    By the way, “alot of shouts of no” against John White was in reality a couple of loud voices who seemed confused and upset as to why Rogan had stood down which is still a mystery.

  • GWB

    Some people seem confused as to how a normal political party operates! Whay is it bad that there was an open competition between groups of people for the election of officers? Donaldson has managed to fall out with noone who carries votes in his western bolt hole, which is a real shame. Hoey was clearly an anti McCrea candidate, but I’d bet that most Hoey voters also voted McCrea! Bit daft putting up an anti old brigader against another anti old brigader. The comments on White seem very ill informed. didn’t Rogan say something about retaining the integrity of the office?

  • darth rumsfeld

    OK JohnKerry, I stand corrected about the various eddies carrying the pondlife from one corner of the pond to another, but on the main point I do understand that the rump of the good ol’ boys are fighting a desperate rearguard action- I didn’t actually claim they’d won, otherwise Mccrea would have been ousted, as would Bowles. They did manage to save Joan Carson though-presumably on a block vote of that strange land that time forgot called Fermanagh/South Tyrone.

    It ‘ll be particularly interesting to see if Ken Maginnis is challenged by the new bods for treasurer- incidentally didn’t that used to be elected at the UUC? I hear he’s still asking for £130k Short money as a parachute payment for the UUP at Westminster, but is making little headway.

    Boo boo- hate to disappoint but the real Unionists are long gone- not necessarily to the DUP, but to their gardens, Lodges or whereever. All the anti-Agreement people I talked to last week were intending to mow their lawns on Saturday. To paraphrase a saying “They have gone away, you know” :0)

  • elvis Parker

    Whats a parachute payment ?

  • UlsterMan

    A number of observations I’d like to make to this thread as a non-aligned Party unionist are:

    I treat the likes of McCrea and his ilk with sheer disdain. Their motivation in politics appears to be; me and myself alone. He wouldn’t have the first clue what it is to be a unionist.

    I recognize that the UUP attempts to play the broad church role so it’s hardly surprising that those returned on Saturday don’t exactly see eye to eye. The real test of an effective political machine is; can they do their arguing in private, reach consensus and sell collective policy publicly? With the UUP, (going by past performances) you would have to conclude, probably not.

    It seems to me rather strange that one of the few geezers within the UUP whom I have respect for is getting lambasted because he topped the poll. Whilst I may on occasion disagree with Donaldson, one thing I will acknowledge is that he’s someone with guts, is confident in his own arguments and is not afraid to feel the wrath of his own community if he believes something controversial needs said.

    I met him for the first time approximately three years ago at a good relations seminar. I was impressed by his honesty and the vision he articulated for the future of our Province within the framework of the United Kingdom.

    I remember thinking on that day, this guy is too genuine for politics – maybe he’ll prove that you can succeed in politics whilst having integrity.

    Boo boo –

    “Kenny Donaldson topped the poll because he was heavily supported by the good old boys. They love him now. In case you hadn’t heard he has fallen out big time with Bazza and Co.”

    I can’t comment on whether he’s fallen out with people because I don’t know but one thing’s for sure his vote demonstrates that he is respected across the Country. I’m no expert but I don’t think he could’ve polled upwards on 90% of delegates support if those votes were simply from members based West of the Province.

    The comments on this thread would indicate that the UUP have their work cut out, as someone who neither describes himself as a UUP or DUP man, I simply pray that unionism collectively gets its arse in gear before towns like mine, Portadown are under the control of Shinners from Donaldson’s neighbourhood, Crossmaglen.

  • pakman

    RmC

    I’m really interested – what do you want your politicians to deliver by way of a legislature? Primary legislative powers or the Welsh model? Voluntary coalition or a corporate assembly? What about executive collective responsibility? How many members? How elected? What’s the liberal preference?

  • JohnKerry

    “this guy is too genuine for politics”

    I don’t like these kind of comments, it makes it sound like its inevitable Donaldson will leave the UUP. I would very much hope that he’ll stay and continue to rise within the party, he is a natural leader, has a good political head on him and is an all around good guy. All qualities that are not often found in NI politicians.

  • RmcC

    “I’m really interested – what do you want your politicians to deliver by way of a legislature? Primary legislative powers or the Welsh model?”

    “Yeah the Welsh model might be safest. I don’t think we can trust our reps with primary powers: look how Hain had to come in and be fireman.

    “Voluntary coalition or a corporate assembly?”

    “I think it would have to be a coalition. PR would also be good, as it’s the fairer democratic system.

    “What about executive collective responsibility?”

    Would make a change 🙂

    “How many members?”

    The fewer the better. Remember what I said about a small city? And far fewer camp followers i.e. the ludicrous number of aides Trimble and the others had in the Assembly. What was it, twice as many as the US president! Again, think small city.

    “How elected? What’s the liberal preference?”

    Again, PR. In such an unusual situation as NI’s you can’t have plain ol’ majority rule. That would mean the DUP lording it over the nationalists, and we can guess what kind of abuses that would lead to. So it’s back to the Assembly and power sharing.

    And yes, this means the shinners. If they represent the will of whole swaths of nationalists then they must take power, like it or not.

    But… It’s up to liberal politicians to ensure that we never return to the bad old days. One definition of liberal is “generous”. Some generosity might make a welcome change.

  • pakman

    RmcC

    thanks for that. Just one point – are your bad old days terrorists in government AND at war or just terrorists at war?

  • RmC

    “thanks for that. Just one point – are your bad old days terrorists in government AND at war or just terrorists at war?”

    Nope, my “bad old days” are those of the abuse of power, which led to terrorism. We have to be careful that those circumstances never return. This is why liberal thought, not closed minds, is needed.

    Terrorists cannot be at war. There is warfare and there is terrorism. If a terrorist engages in warfare he ceases to be a terrorist and becomes a combatant. Minor quibbles you may say, but they point to the absurdity of George Bush’s “war on terrorism” – and maybe why he’ll never “win” it.

    Hope I’ve been helpful.

  • darth rumsfeld

    Just one point- Jim Nicholson topped the poll for UUC VPs the week after his affair was in the press-is Donaldson getting a sympathy vote too for being the man with the shovel walking behind Billy Armstrong?

  • JohnKerry

    fairly pathetic darth, sour grapes?

  • darth rumsfeld

    Er, yeah- I’m really May Steele. I wish I’d been mowing the lawn on Saturday :0)

  • John East Belfast

    BooBoo

    “Why do you think Johnny came 2nd and Bazza came last? The UUC is as split as it ever was.”

    BREAKING NEWS – the UUP has an election for 6 posts from 8 candidates and one comes second and one come 6th – therefore we must conclude the Party is split !

    What nonsence being spouted above by those with a vitriol towards, in some cases, former colleagues.

    The bottom line is that the UUP took all the risks and made all the ground.

    I have asked before on this site to give me one concrete success for the Union ever to be scored by Paisley and the DUP only to be met by silence.

    It is this fact that so irates the DUP and their supporters – we put our country before our Party and our country came out tops.

    The Unionist Electorate is starting to realise that all the DUP are delivering are wreckless English Ministers who fly in and out with no heart our soul in our economy or agricultural and who have effectively given up in favour of a move towards joint authority.

    When that point is strongly made by the UUP then lets see who will implode

  • JohnKerry

    “I’m really May Steele. I wish I’d been mowing the lawn on Saturday”

    lol, me too!

  • Jawn – those ‘wreckless English ministers’ are your fellow countrymen, so wind your neck in. It’s exactly this sort of thing that those of us who put the Union first HAVE to accept. Otherwise you may as well admit what your words plainly make you out to be: an advocate of an independent Ulster. Why people like you are in the UUP never fails to amaze me. If you can’t accept English ministers here you have no place calling yourself British. And your claims about what we in the UUP have done are preposterous: what actually happened was that people like you in the Trimble faction destroyed the Party because you put one blinkered individual ahead of party, country and every damn other thing.

  • Elvis Parker

    Karl Rove – methinks you are losing the plot:
    ‘If you can’t accept English ministers here you have no place calling yourself British’
    If these English politicians were part of a UK wide party that had members, candidates and possibly even elected representatives then your remark would justified.
    However Labour continue to discriminate against people in NI

  • Yokel

    Karl & Elvis

    Terrible anamolies both…so from now on lets get rid of all such situations…

    Ulster Unionists accept English Ministers…..

    Labour Party, set up here…

    Ulster Unionists. Stop demanding additonal help for the country beyond what any other part of the UK gets (don’t be saying ya haven’t now)

    British government stop subsidising so much….

  • Yokel

    By the way, one question for the polticos on here who seem to know the OUP..sorry UUP, so well.

    In elelctions turnout of pro-unionist voters versus those of nationalist persuasion. I appreciate this varies from place to place but what I’m trying to find out are Unionists overall turning out less than nationalists and if so by a ballpark how much?

  • JohnKerry

    Yokel

    I’m not sure how you could find that information out, possibly by comparing turn out in very unionist constituencies such as Lagan Valley and comparing it to the turn out in heavily nationalist constituencies such as West Belfast. It sounds like something the electoral commission should know.

    On a anecdotal level, you hear much about low unionist turnout, not sure how accurate or not this is.