UUP’s cause for concern…

Although it was written for last Saturday, Alex Kane’s Newsletter column is probably even less welcome today in Cunningham House that it was back then. It speaks for itself.By Alex Kane

The decision to bring David Ervine into the Ulster Unionist’s Assembly Group has given me more cause for concern, and more pause for thought, than almost anything that the party has done since 1995. Ervine remains leader of the PUP. The PUP is the political voice of the UVF. The UVF remains armed, active and up to their necks in prostitution, drug pushing, racketeering and intimidation. Ervine is a member of the UUP’s Assembly team. In other words, there now exists a clear, direct and formal link between the Ulster Unionist Party and a loyalist paramilitary organisation.

This is about more, much more, than a one-off tactical manoeuvre, of concern only to the UUP’s MLAs. It has created confusion and given offence to a very broad swathe of pro-Union opinion. The party has moved from arguing the case for terrorists to be brought into government, and has, instead, given the whip to a UVF mouthpiece. As David Burnside admitted, the whole thing was “badly handled, badly presented and open to misinterpretation.”

And nor should the party try to justify its actions by reference to what the DUP has done in the past. I am not a member of the DUP. I have never voted for the DUP. I am well aware about the allegations of connections with loyalist paramilitaries and of flirtations with Third Force and Ulster Resistance. So what? What has that got to do with a convicted terrorist in the Ulster Unionist Party Assembly Group? Yes, the move may give the Ulster Unionists an extra seat in a hypothetical Executive, but it is a seat which is now dependent upon the nod of Loyalism’s answer to Gerry Adams. It is a politically uncomfortable and morally dubious position for the UUP to find itself in; and, to be honest, it unsettles me.

But whatever my personal feelings may be about the membership and nature of Loyalist paramilitaries, the fact remains that they have a huge and usually negative impact upon working class unionist communities. So it’s not simply about stating what we should do to dismantle their organisations and erase the false glamour that surrounds their key figures, it’s also about actually removing the deadweight of their malign influence on housing estates and working class areas. In whatever form it manifests itself, it remains the case that the mainstream unionist parties have a responsibility to the thousands of ordinary, law-abiding people who do live in fear in those areas.

Political parties have responsibilities above and beyond that of topping the polls. They have moral and societal responsibilities as well. If the risks the UUP took were worth taking with those who were perceived to be their traditional enemies and opponents, are the same risks not worth taking with people who are from a broadly similar cultural and political background? If you believe that the answer to that question is yes, then you will agree with what Sir Reg has done.

But those who do agree must now pray that the UVF keep their cocaine-stained noses clean and that the IMC is soon able to report positive progress in terms of decommissioning and moving away from criminality. Put crudely, this Jekyll and Hyde partnership depends entirely on the decent Jekyll keeping the monstrous Hyde under control. If he doesn’t, then it seems likely that the Ulster Unionists will disappear into an electoral black hole.

The line between inspired leadership and the madness of the bunker is a fine one and only time will tell if Sir Reg will walk that line with most of his party in tow. The fact that he hasn’t been deafened by public support from his colleagues, bowled over by an avalanche of popular approval, or presented with a UVF Statement Of Intent, would suggest that there are difficult days ahead.

The UUP’s electoral fortunes are now in the hands of some very unpleasant and equally brutal terrorists, whose ceasefire isn’t even recognised anymore. David Ervine needs to prove, and prove soon, than his transfer is worth the fallout it has caused. Personally, I still have huge reservations. I hope, though, to be proved wrong.

First published in the Newsletter on Saturday 27th May 2006

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  • Peking

    An excellent column as was his Hearts and Minds comment on the same issue.
    It’s just a pity that Alex hadn’t the courage to repeat his obviously strongly held views on TalkBack today where he capitulated totally when lined up opposite Sir Reg.
    He didn’t make one of the points made here or on H and M.
    It was all understanding and platitudes.

  • Loyalist


    Agreed. Alex has clearly been nobbled by Reg and the Galloping Major.

  • Alex. Kane


    Firstly, thank you for the comments re the column and H and M.

    My problem today on TalkBack is that I was being asked to comment on what Sir Reg was saying and try and put it in some sort of context. It’s the difficulty of wearing two hats, I suppose.

    Whatever may be happening in the letters columns of local newspapers I am not detecting a widespread internal revolt within the party–and certainly nothing like the reaction to “Simply British” and “Decent People.”

    There is no immediate threat to Empey’s leadership, although that may be something to do with the fact that all the obvious contenders inside the MLAs signed up to this strategy.

    I think there is genuine confusion about why the party needed to do this at this particular time, but again, what I’m hearing is that the grassroots seem to think the risk was probably worth taking.

    All that said, it was a huge risk and I’m not convinced that there is a credible exit strategy.

    For the record: My personal view is that the party made a mistake with this. I said so when I was first briefed about it and I repeated it at the meeting of constituency officers at HQ 2 weeks ago. Had I been an MLA I would not have signed up to it.

    But like nearly everyone else this was presented to me as a fait accompli.

  • Loyalist


    Have Reg or McFarland or any party officer spoken to you to express their anger at what you wrote in Saturday’s News Letter?

  • Belfastwhite

    Someone should wake the bold Alex up and tell him that Unionist Party Links with Loyalist paramilitarism didn’t just start the other week when the UUP tried to pull a flanker in the assembly. Even big Reg admitted to these links on BBC’s let’s talk but apparently Alex and the Newsletter have their heads firmly planted in the sand maybe he prefers the Unionist Party when they denied such contacts.

  • unionist

    Alex’s column was in keeping with his comments at the constituency meeting in HQ. While I don’t always agree with Alex and don’t on this occasion he has a unigue position as an insider and journalist. Sometimes he is inside the tent and sometimes he is outside it usually we don’t know which until we get our feet wet.

  • joeCanuck

    Seems like an awfully leaky tent right now.

  • buckalex

    if lady s jumps ship in north down
    will the last person left in the uup please turn of the lights

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Sir Reg, in my opinion, didn’t sound completely convincing on Talkback.

  • joeCanuck


    Sort of reminds me of the story about the man who fell from the top of a seventy storey building.
    As he passed each floor, he was heard to say “So far, so good”.

  • Loyalist


    He was utterly crap. Mumbling, fumbling and grasping for answers. Good grief if Dunseith can show you up, you know you’re onto a loser!

  • Carson’s Cat

    “Whatever may be happening in the letters columns of local newspapers I am not detecting a widespread internal revolt within the party–and certainly nothing like the reaction to “Simply British” and “Decent People.””

    Maybe the members of the UUP are now so battle weary that they dont have the energy to get too excited about the latest debacle to encircle Cunningham House – maybe the rump of unionists left in the UUP are so motivated by an “anything but DUP” motivation that they are actually driven to support anything criticised by others (particularly the DUP) that they will embrace this move, no matter how disgusting it is.

    Maybe all that explains the lack of internal UUP revolt over the issue. However, the external disgust amongst the wider unionist community and UUP voters is very clearly there. Maybe those left within the UUP should be trying to create some agitation internally over this issue. I know they’ve had plenty in the past, but that doesnt mean that there shouldnt be ructions when something as nasty as this comes along.

    That’s what I certainly would think were I involved in the UUP.

    However, looking at it from outside, there is a further problem it would seem for the UUP. There clearly was/is a gap between Empey and Hermon. The fact that Hermon is the most high profile critic means that there probably are some who dont particularly like her and see this as a way of further isolating her. Alternatively, maybe the entire UUP actually does realise what a disgusting moral quandry they have gotten themselves into and but are paralysed by the fear of complete elctoral meltdown if they actually do try to raise questions about it. However, it would seem that meltdown is the prospect anyway if they do nothing.

    No easy answers for the UUP now – they’re damned if they ditch the PUP and damned if they dont. Either way, Empey’s obviously to blame, as are those who surrounded him and gave him cover for the move.

    Alex, 2 points:

    Were we in the midst of an election campaign would this whole episode not have been unimaginably worse than either “Simply British” or “devent people”? From what I seen of the reactions to that (albeit not from inside) were that no-one had any problem with either of those two slogans and they were practically universally supported (Burnside aside) until they were conveniently used as the reason for why the election had been so disastrously lost when in fact they were only bit-players in the whole farce.

    “But like nearly everyone else this was presented to me as a fait accompli.”

    Was it presented in this manner to the UUP Assembly Group? Were they actually asked for their support or otherwise? If not then surely there are some who can break cover and criticise. If they were asked for an opinion, was it just them and no-one else within the Party? Isn’t that a strange way to do business anyway when it was clearly going to be a big issue. Surely that question alone should be moving others in the UUP to ask how exactly their party is being run under Empey.

  • Loyalist

    Maybe Alex would care to respond to my question of 01:41 PM?

  • marco

    I would just like to say that I was watching the Hearts and Mines programme and i have to say that Sir Reg was the only one on the panel who was being honest. Its about time other parties started to be honest instead leading the voters a merry dance.

  • Loyalist

    marco – another one of CunningPlan House/UUP East Belfast Office’s sock-puppets.

  • Craigavonscanary

    “Maybe Alex would care to respond to my question of 01:41 PM”

    maybe he has better things to be doing than checking out slugger all day!

    “Was it presented in this manner to the UUP Assembly Group? Were they actually asked for their support or otherwise? If not then surely there are some who can break cover and criticise.”

    yes, because the MLAs are such quiet docile creatures they wouldn’t speak out no matter who said what to them…catch a grip.

  • exuup

    honest about what? honest abot the fact the UVF is group of drug dealing, murdering criminals who should all be arrested and locked up for a very long time? Or honest as in, were greedy bastards and would do anything to get another seat on the executive.

    Remember, when was the last time you heard teh UUP talk about sinn fein ending criminality before entering an excutive.

    They have lost all morals and principles just to get back into power

  • Loyalist

    Craigavonscanary – at last the typing pool gears up to defend the indefensible.

    Allow me to summarise your argument

    1. Ulster Resistance
    2. Red Berets
    3. Err…
    4. Thats it!

    Vote UUP – because the DUP’s just as bad as us. Pathetic.

  • Loyalist

    BTW, I posted my question to Alex within 3 minutes of his original post on this thread. I don’t think he would have needed to monitor the thread all day to see it.

  • Carson’s Cat

    I was just hoping that Alex could clear up for definate what the mechanism was to decide with/inform the UUP Assembly team of this decision.

    “the MLAs are such quiet docile creatures they wouldn’t speak out no matter who said what to them…catch a grip.”

    Quite a few of them haven’t got the capacity to make a judgement on the issue – as good Ulster Unionists they simply do as “the leader” tells them. I was also trying to see if we could get any info as to how extensive this consultation process was. If it was merely the Assembly Team who were consulted then surely shouldnt more of the Party be enquiring as to why they are so irrelevant. This is particularly the case for their MP (who clearly wasnt asked) nor their non-Assembly Team Party Officers. Should they not consider their positions on that Officer team given that their leader obviously doesnt give a monkeys what their views are.

    Its a shame, given that you obviousy check slugger for some of the day, you couldn’t enlighten us with a few more views on the whole subject or at least some semblance of a defence for this whole grubby little mess.

  • Ex UUP

    Apart from Cllr Bowles has anyone else spokenout againts this?

  • Henry McDonald once made an interesting point about loyalism. He noted how during the Troubles, Protestants who wanted to fight the IRA could join the RUC, the UDR, their reserves, or a myriad of HM Forces and many did. That meant the pool of applicants for the UDA and UVF was of a correspondingly lower quality (to put it politely). The paramilitaries have long been dominated by unionist society’s underclass: drug pushers, petty criminals, pimps, fraudsters.

    I’ll repeat the question I asked on one of the now deleted YU thread that none of the Cunningham House goons could answer: what could Sir Reg possibly offer such people that would make them abandon often lucrative income and the status that comes from being the local hood? Does anyone else know?

    Such people exist in other parts of the UK (think Kenneth Noye) where, without politics for them to hind behind, they are (sometimes) pursued by the police to the point of prison. They are certainly not dignified as “excluded people who need to be brought into the political process” as Empty declares about his new buddies. Empty’s thinking seems rather close to the New Left belief that bad people are simply people corrupted as the result of real or perceived oppression within society as a whole.

    Meanwhile, as I’ve previously said, the UUP is now the UVF’s hostage. The UVF only has to keep behaving to type and the UUP will suffer death by a thousand cuts as its leader’s judgment is questioned upon every atrocity.

    I remember an illustration given at an evangelical youth rally. The speaker, in warning against Christians dating non-Christians, used the following analogy. Imagine, he said, a Christian standing on a chair. The chair is next to a non-Christian partner who is standing on the ground. The Christian will find it impossible to lift the non-Christian to his level but the non-Christian will find it easy to knock the Christian off the chair. To adapt the analogy, Empey will find it impossible to turn the UVF constitutional, but the UVF will find it easy to wreck the UUP’s reputation.

    Hard times lie ahead. No wonder the YU muppets are in hiding.

  • joeCanuck

    Given yesterday’s disgusting event, I imagine that Sir Reg doesn’t have a leg to stand on, let alone a chair.

  • Dec

    Henry McDonald once made an interesting point about loyalism. He noted how during the Troubles, Protestants who wanted to fight the IRA could join the RUC, the UDR, their reserves, or a myriad of HM Forces and many did. That meant the pool of applicants for the UDA and UVF was of a correspondingly lower quality (to put it politely).

    An interesting point but flawed. Henry seems to think that membership of the crown forces and loyalist paramilitaries were somehow exclusive.

  • Paulus
  • defacto


    UYUC site is back up after a few problems with both threads in question still on it.

  • Alex Kane

    loyalist (re your post of 1.41–finally):

    Yes, a number of officers and MLAs informed me that my H&M piece and the column were very unhelpful. No names, no pack drill, though.

    All of my instincts are against the UUP/PUP deal and for the reasons I set out in the column. That said, I argued over the last few years in favour of taking huge risks with SF/IRA and I encouraged people to take a “leap of faith.”

    I now find myself in the opposing camp, yet being urged by people I respect to join them in the “leap of faith” they are taking with the PUP. I fully understand the motives behind the decision, but I have severe problems with the methods employed at this time.

    The decision wasn’t mine to make. It was taken collectively by the UUP MLAs, each and everyone of whom must have known the possible consequences and knock-on problems which would accompany their decision.

    I didn’t actually know that Sir Reg was due to be on TalkBack; I had been invited (wearing my commentator hat)to give an assessment of where the UUP stood at the moment. He did his interview on one line and, when he had finished, I came through on another line. I wasn’t there to duff up the leader and simply offered an opinion. The party has problems, yes, but they don’t, at present, appear to be on a major scale. MLAs are not reporting rebellion; associations are not being flooded with resignations and there is no obvious challenger hanging around the wings.

    And nor is there, in spite of some mischievious comment from BooBoo (and yes, BB, I worked out the code word to your identity–too many lunches together over the years, mate!), any sign that an emergency meeting of the UUC will be summoned.

    It is possible, however, that the grassroots reaction is one of pure indifference, the same sort of indifference which lost us votes on a massive scale last year. If that is the case, then the silence may actually be an indication of continuing meltdown. I sensed the UUP was going to be slaughtered at the elections in 2005 and got serially abused by HQ for voicing that view. I just don’t get that same sense this time.

    So there, albeit in a airy nutshell, is my dilemma. On a personal level I don’t like what the party has done and had I been an MLA I would not have signed up to it as it stood on Friday, May 12.

    But having put ourselves in this position I can only hope that we get a quid pro quo pretty damn quick. At the very least I hope there is a credible exit strategy.

    Best wishes,


  • Michael Shilliday

    Thats twice I’ve been accused of what amounts to censorship. No thread has been removed or closed on the YU blog.

  • ct

    Two things I find wrong,

    a. That anyone should be derided for having achieved majority. Pointless and irrelevant.

    b. That the UUP should have done what it has done regarding Ervine. A disgraceful piece of small-world chicanery.

  • ct

    Forgot – 3. Alex is still in the UUP. Surely not a “fight from within” line please.

  • BooBoo

    Alex—just come over from reading the link provided by Paulus on post 25. Great piece from someone called Matty about the puppet masters of the DUP.
    Can see where you are coming from on this one and understand your “problem” but some of us still think you are being unusually restrained. Hope your’e not being tempted to the middle ground.



  • John East Belfast


    “I now find myself in the opposing camp, yet being urged by people I respect to join them in the “leap of faith” they are taking with the PUP. I fully understand the motives behind the decision, but I have severe problems with the methods employed at this time.”

    Sorry Alex but the only motive behind this was to get an extra seat from Sinn Fein and make us relevant by hoping that any publicity is good publicity.

    The notion that good and honest folk sat around in C’Ham House thinking about how best to make the UVF law abiding citisens and took a risk such as this isnt believeable.
    It was pure misguided self interest.
    Anyhow the fact that he was third or fourth on the list simply discounts this.

    Not to mention the fact that the PUP dont represent working class loyalist areas anyhow and indeed are the problem not the solution.

    The Agreement with SF/PIRA isnt comparable either.

    You cant choose your enemies but you sure can choose your friends – it scares me how this isnt understood.

    Business is no different than politics – I would be very careful who I choose as a partner in the former and I see it no differently with the latter.

    There is this notion that politics is a dirty game and therefore anything goes.
    It might in the Balkans or Africa or even France or Italy but all this does is discredit politics.

    I think some of the people who have started to believe this in our Party have been involved in NI politics too long and have been tainted by it. The fact that so many of our Young Unionists cant see it (with the admirable exception of Peter Bowles – a leader in this country for the future I hope)is deeply concerning.

    The bottom line of UUP principles should be the type of people with whom it forms an alliance – in my opinion we crossed the line.

    As for an emergency UUC I have discovered that the majority of Party members I have spoken to support this move or are indifferent to it.

    Anyhow many good Alliance type people and even moderate nationalists think Ervine is a terribly sincere chap and should be encouraged.

    Who knows after some internal housekeeping involving the odd murder or two and one last push to raise a few pounds the UVF may hang up its weapons and the UUP can claim the credit.

    It all stinks to me.

  • ct

    Notwithstanding the old argument about standing for one party and switching to another (J Donaldson) the only possible deal with Ervine could have been that he left the PUP and joined the UUP. As it stands a representative of a party linked to a terrorist organisation is a member of the UUP assembly group i.e. and I mean i.e. a representative of a party linked to a terrorist organisation and a member of a body of the UUP. Disgusting.

  • Alex. Kane

    Hi JEB,

    Have just had a fairly long telephone conversation with an old friend, whose judgement I value very highly. He had heard me on TalkBack and his response was, “Alex, you didn’t sound comfortable and you didn’t sound convincing. Playing down the centre is not in your nature.”

    Having read your post and those of BooBoo and ct I think I have been uncharacteristically cautious in this matter. Indeed, the logic of my opening arguments in the column and the H&M piece would suggest a harsher tone. God help me, I even found myself agreeing with Karl Rove’s criticism of me on another thread!

    You are right, “we crossed the line” on this one and it “stinks”. And yes, Peter Bowles has shown a courage that I haven’t.

    Best wishes,


  • joeCanuck


    Well done.
    Everyone knows, or should know, that they can’t possibly be right all of the time (my wife keeps reminding me when I try to pontificate).
    It takes a lot of courage to admit that one is wrong. Wish that other politicos had such courage.

  • bertie

    “For the record: My personal view is that the party made a mistake with this”

    A mistake as I remember from a line in a training video featuring John Cleese is wearing a black bra under a white blouse, it is not a suitable word to describe an act of gross immorality.

  • ed

    Looking at the “Thinking Aloud” section of the UUP website I note the headline piece is a speech to a relaunch of the Edenderry Branch of the party by Kenny Donaldson.


    Kenny asks an important question, that is, the UUP needs new candidates, “where do we get them?” The answer, community workers!! Are those the same community workers that are also members of the PUP or UPRG such as mmmmm Billy Hutchinson or Frank McCoubrey. Is this the best the UUP can do?

    In the same piece he defends the Ervine decision, I wonder does the decision still sit so easy with him tonight?

    Billy Armstrong has a piece immediately below entitled, “Armstrong exposes Republicanism’s Failed Strategy”, its a pity everyone else has been exposing the UUPs’failed strategy over the last number of days.

  • IJP


    Whatever may be happening in the letters columns of local newspapers I am not detecting a widespread internal revolt within the party–and certainly nothing like the reaction to “Simply British” and “Decent People.”

    That should trouble you more than anything.

    Your fellow party members have a bigger problem with a slogan than they have with inviting representatives of active paramilitaries into their bosom. What does that tell you about them?

  • bertie


    I was thinking the same thing

  • darth rumsfeld

    Noone can fault Alex for finding this a dilemma, given his regard for Empey and co, but I still don’t think he understands how the average UUP member/voter is looking at this to explain the apparant antipathy.

    Firstly, the longstanding pact in Belfast City Hall was not known about by the vast majority of members outside Belfast, and it will not have been popular with (yes, them again) the “decent people” who vote UUP in the city either.

    Secondly, as any fule kno, many branches of that gerontocracy called the UUP meet once or twice a year to lap up the pep talk from the local MLA and an imported guest. Most branch AGMs are held in the autumn, and with the silage to be cut etc etc, and then the Twelfth coming up the essentially passive politicos in the UUP won’t be holding too many meetings for months. Even Constituency associations traditionally only meet quarterly, when the increasingly parlous finances are always the main topic. So there won’t be mass resignations ( if there are masses left to resign- my former division had 160 delegates at its AGM in 1996; 11 in 2005) but a few more members will find the lure of bowls ( not Peter) or Eastenders more attractive after the events of this week.

    Thirdly, the rule changes now make it virtually impossible to call a special UUC, compared to the good old days when I used to help collect the signatures. Of course the leadership wanted this, but I’m not sure its a good thing. Those meetings were firstly great crack, but secondly probably the first real political meetings many UUP members had ever been to , with debate, skullduggery, abuse, tnesion- all the real stuff of politics- a million miles away from an October evening in front of the Superser on a hard wooden bench in the local Orange hall trying to decipher a Billy Armstrong speech or getting out of being branch secretary again.

    The UUC as presently constituted will never experience real political debate again, and the only outlet for members displeasure will be at the annual beauty pageant that is the election of officers. How times are changed from the times when the media hung on the word of every UUC delegate whose vote could make or break the peace process. It must be like Thierry Henry starting next season for Carrick Rangers after the Champions League Final. And that in itself is perhaps the biggest problem the UUP will have-shorn of influence, irrelevant to the media and government, cash strapped and demoralised- the last thing it needed was a short term stunt to gratify one of the good ol’ Assembly boys with nary a thought for the feelings of the poor bloody infantry

  • Bob Wilson

    ‘It was taken collectively by the UUP MLAs, each and everyone of whom must have known the possible consequences and knock-on problems which would accompany their decision.’
    Can you clarify Alex are there any MLAs who are against this move (even privately)

  • Alex. Kane


    Wouldn’t disagree with most of that last post–apart from the fact that I don’t have much “regard for Empey and co.” I was opposed to Reg in the leadership campaign, don’t forget.


    I know a number of them had private reservations about it and the fact that the Group now resembles a Trappist Order would suggest that those reservations still exist. Esmond Birnie has gone public with the view that the link should be dissolved if a UVF connection is confirmed with the Haddock shooting.


    Your point (re election slogans vs PUP/UUP pact) is well made.

    Best wishes,


  • Carson’s Cat

    We can’t be having your kind around here – too damned honest and reasonable.

    Bring back the Young Unionists, they were much more fun!!

  • Tomorrow not Yesterday


    There’s some interesting and some not so interesting commentary on this blog thread. As someone, who is not amember of any political Party per say I would say the following:

    Where I was born and reared, neither the then Official Unionist party or the latter DUP gave a stuff about how my area progressed, both parties turned a blind eye to the mayhem within my community where bully-boys controlled law-abiding working class loyalist people.

    You on here appear to be overwhelmingly; Ivory Tower Unionists or the “chattering classes.” You need to take a major reality check. Since the formation of our State, working class loyalist people have been used as cannon fodder by both the Establishment and you morally upright; so-called mainstream unionists.

    I for one have no difficulty in acknowledging that Reg Empey has at least faced up to his failings of the past. To recognize fault within yourself is real strength and I only hope that he has the resources and support to carry the job through which he has started.

    Didn’t Empey say months ago that the core issues needing resolution within unionism/loyalism were; parading and criminality/paramilitarism?

    None of you toffs should be surprised then at the direction he has taken his Party in recent times. He and the UUP have a great deal of repair work to do for what has happened in the past.

    A few comments ago, I see someone called ed has called into question comments made by a guy called Kenny Donaldson who I since see is a UUP Party Officer. Whilst I can’t possibly transcribe exactly what Mr Donaldson was saying, I would suspect that ed has seriously mis-represented the fella.

    If you read through his speech from start to finish it is plain to see that he abhors violence and criminality and those who rule with iron fists over their communities in loyalist areas.

    I understand exactly the point he is making in respect of community workers. I think that what he’s saying is that people whom have a past but who are genuinely committed to a new democratic future are best placed to initiate change on the ground. They can explain to young people the futility of their actions and show young men and women that there is a better way for them.

    To those of you who say; once a terrorist, always a terrorist or once a criminal, always a criminal, take your head from out of your cosy arses. Northern Ireland’s history stinks, period; shit went on which was caused and sponsored by; the British Government, Dublin Government, Republican Movement, militant loyalism and so-called mainstream unionism.

    If people continue to fail to learn from the failures of the past, we are all destined to repeat those same sins in the future.

    I hope to read more material like that which ed has provided us with and I would impress upon all within unionism and loyalism to redouble efforts in transforming criminal-ridden loyalist communities into democratic communities.

    Sermon concluded.

  • BVG

    As the person who broke the Ervine story on Friday 12th could I just say that Alex Kane has steered a difficult course with a fair amount of honesty. Its easy for some of us who post anonymously to live in a world of black and white/right and wrong convictions–but whether he calls it right or wrong on issues he is always willing to rethink. A rare quality.

    By the way, the post from Tomorrow not Yesterday reads very like Kenny Donaldson’s own style.


  • Wee Ulsterman

    Well said ‘Tomorrow not Yesterday’ – Reg is leading the party in exactly the right direction, difficult though it may be, how can unionism as a whole move forward without bringing our deprived communities with us? We would end up like a bird with just one wing – why should the loyalists be the only ones left outside the peace process??

    Nobody else seems to give a stuff about this significant chunk of our community – the record of both the UUP and the DUP hasn’t been great on this in the past, but Reg has the guts to acknowledge his party’s mistakes and steer his party towards dealing with them.

    Moral absolutism and righteous indignation may make for punchy soundbytes here on slugger, but do absolutely nothing to get real about solving the problem.

    Reg has the courage to take the brickbats without blinking. Real Leadership. About time.

  • Wee Ulsterman

    BVG says: “By the way, the post from Tomorrow not Yesterday reads very like Kenny Donaldson’s own style.”

    What rubbish! There’s not a misplaced semicolon in sight! 😉

  • BVG

    In simple electoral terms it would make more sense for the UUP to shore up its existing base rather than reaching out to the “deprived” unionist community.

    It almost destroyed itself embracing republican terrorism–is Empey going to finish the job by embracing loyalist terrorism?

    wee ulsterman–Reg “taking the brickbats without blinking”? Ever seen a rabbit caught in headlights as the car approaches?

    The last thing the UUP needed to do at this stage was lumber itself with another policy which was going to divide it internally and have it duffed up externally. It has far more pressing problems to deal with. It seems to me that Reg has abandoned the idea of winning back the DUP defectors or the gardencentre prods and has opted for the only group left—the so-called deprived loyalists. But to get them on board he needs to change the present shape of the UUP. He is destroying the party for a voting bloc which won’t materialise.

    Anyway its only a matter of days before the Assembly group wobble themselves into a freefall.


  • ed


    I was thinking the very same thing re Tomorrow not Yesterday!

    I see the YUs are back at their computers, with their blinkers on, in force!

  • fair_deal

    On the community worker stuff as someone who works in that sector I am very wary of it. Fractionalism is already too strong in many communities and trying to get community workers to align with one sole party will feed that.

    Most areas have political representatives from a number of parties, a community worker should respect the political choice of their community and work with that range of representatives.

    Also the PUP tried this and it did not succeed politically and ended up hampering the good work some community workers had been doing.

    I think the proposal is driven more by an absence of talent in the UUP ie We don’t have anyone, can we borrow some from a different sector and low participation in political parties (applicable to all Unionist parties).

    The task they should focus on is recruiting their own personnel and internal opportunities to develop talent not a stop gap approach of grab a community worker. Broadly nationalism has gotten the relationship about right, two sectors with strong working relationships but limited cross-over of personnel.

  • Kenny Donaldson

    It was been brought to my attention that a speech I made at Edenderry Central’s relaunch has been published on this blog website and subsequent comments have been made relating to it.

    I would like to confirm to you all that:

    1. Although a past contributor of blog threads on the YU website, by and large I don’t comment on active threads because I find it a worthless exercise. I know what I’m about and what I believe and I refuse to give any faceless individual the opportunity to attack me for it.

    2. Ed, BVG – I don’t have time to play around on a computer.

    3. Ed, I would ask that you and others contact me directly to ask me why I say something, rather than assume the mantle of being my puppeteer and getting it wrong big time. That may be a novel idea but that’s the way I do things.

    Finally, thanks ‘Tomorrow not Yesterday’ and ‘Wee Ulsterman,’ whoever you are. Please log onto the UUP website get my contact details and give me a bell and I will see if I can help you find something to channel your positive thoughts into which will deliver a benefit/product at the end.

    Kenny Donaldson

  • John East Belfast

    TNY & Wee UM

    Can you tell me why you believe the UUP alligning itself with the PUP to increase its share of ministerial seats in a non existance Executive is anything to do with helping loyalist working class areas ?

    What those areas require are investment – business people are not going to put factories, warehouses, offices and shops there because loyalist paramilitarism will come looking for their cut. If anything giving the paramiltaries political respect is a slap in the face of the many good law abiding citisens in those areas who want a greater degree of Law and Order and only providing cover for those paramilitaries

    The people themselves also need to attain better standards of education so I cannot see how the UUP’s passion to retain selection at 11 is going to give a leg up to more than a handful – who can be counted on the fingers of one hand ?

    It is way over 10 years since the first cease fire – they have had ample time to disband and get a job like the rest of us and earn an honest living.
    They tried going into politics and were rejected because the people do not want them – ie the people you say we are helping

    You arent making any sense

  • Rubicon

    KD – rarely seen such high minded crap used as an excuse not to get in discussion with the electorate. It sounded like, “pontificate and run”. What fox-hole do you expect protection in? Or is it the hermit life you’re opting for?

    Good choice – take advantage of all the time given you and attend humming courses too. You’re going to need them!

    Politicians (or political officers) who won’t involve themselves in debate – but invite private telephone discussions instead – are most eloquent in what they represent.

    Have your private discussions with the loyalists you are about to march up the hill of false expectation again. Would it be too much to ask that you first tell them that your “deal” has nothing to do with representing deprived areas or persuading loyalists to call a ceasefire?

    Can you be honestr and tell them that you entered the deal for other reasons?

    Perhaps you’re right – THAT conversation will need to be done in private!

  • moaningmyrtle


    Says you under the protection of an alias!! The man is offering to give me his full attention and an opportunity and talk openly, how is that cowardly?

  • Rubicon

    Did I say “cowardly”? Don’t think so. It’s another danger I’m pointing to and it won’t be the first time well intentioned loyalists have been used in this manner.

    Do you think Reg has just had a conversion and is now interested in the plight of Protestant working class areas? What was Reg responsible for in the Belfast City Council – economic development? For how many years?

    Take a look at the East of the city and then compare it with the rest and ask whether Reg has ever had any sympathy for the plight of his constituents.

    I hope he does talk honestly with you (he has already ruled out “openly”). Let him explain what the UUP hope to get – (3 ministers and 2nd nomination) and then listen to what you are promised in return. Let him also explain why the PUP pact was one of many options explored – it might identify the true motivation behind this deal.

    At the end of that wee-conversation – why not also ask – where were you in the last 20 years?!

    Spouting about guns, government and decent people as I remember.

  • Kenny Donaldson


    Getting into a discussion on a blog website is not “discussion with the electorate.” My views on the Ervine/loyalist issue aren’t masked behind a code-name. I express these views at branch meetings of the UUP and within the public press.

    Anyone who wishes to discuss these issues with me ‘man to man’ or ‘woman to man’ is very welcome but I will not engage in dialogue with people who are “so forthright in their viewpoint” that they feel it necessary to conceal their identity.

    BTW, I’m 25 – I can’t be held accountable for the actions of the past which occurred prior to me entering the world. What I can do is analyse the past, see where mistakes were made and play my part in ensuring that these same mistakes aren’t repeated in the future.

    I will not be posting on this thread again.

  • darth rumsfeld

    I think what this decision -and the subsequent fallout shows- is that the UUP is now simply the Assembly grouping and their families/ acolytes/employees-even more so than under Trimble, when at least there were a few MPs who had to have their egos stroked. The retrospective consultation with constituency association officers was a farce, and probably only called because of complaints from such as Alex. What must really disappoint the ordinary 5/8ths is the supine behaviour of the officers.In my day the idea that they would have permitted such a step without prior discussion would have been unthinkable

  • darth rumsfeld

    … and I was typing Kenny’s post proved my point. I wonder did he get as sniffy when he found out that a major policy decision had been taken behind his back, or did he just suck his thumb like the rest of them? What’s the point of being an officer if you aren’t consulted ? And bleating at private branch meetings is no substitute for leadership.
    Perhaps Ken and co are still a bit shaken by the attempted heave against them by the other Ken and the good ol’ boys in March, and just want to keep their jobs at all costs!

  • BooBoo

    darth you are spot on about the supine officers and the even more supine executive. On all the “big” issues of the day Trimble at least went through the process of consultation. Empey doesn’t bother. Hardly surprising. With the exception of Peter Bowles the officer team is a bunch of patsies. Why didn’t they call an emergency meeting to discuss this? Why hasn’t the exec been called? They really are a lamentable shower.

    Kenny Donaldson is a typical example. Promises to talk behind closed doors etc but not the slightest effort to justify what his party leader has done. No doubt Kenny will be well rewarded by Lord Maginnis for his willingness to toe the line on everything. You may escape responsibility for what happened 30 years ago Kenny, but you won’t escape responsibility for linking the UUP with a terrorist organisation.

    And while I’m on the subject, what about the boul Basil McCrea? Why the silence from him on the issue? Or, as usual, is he just sticking his finger in the wind before deciding which way to jump? Johnny Andrews has already supported the pact in a letter to the Bel tel and the new president–John Whyte–was wheeled out to the Assembly on May 15 to give his approval. There you go, excluding young Bowles, 5 out of the 6 new officers have supported this UUP-UVF alliance. It really is all over for a once great party.


  • IJP


    There are many areas of disagreement between us (although not as fundamental as between most!), but I will say that I wish more members of every party, not just yours, were prepared to speak and act with such genuine integrity and thoughtfulness.

    The past few weeks have genuinely led me to question who else there is to negotiate with to turn this place into a proper functioning liberal democracy – midst the mire of sectarian blind spots, hypocritical rantings and dazed defences of overly ludicrous party lines.

    The above exchanges show that there is at least some vague hope!

  • bertie


    you’ve beaten me to it again.


    I am agrier than I can articulate about this dalliane with the devil and hearing about Talkback added to that feeling of helplessness when people pussyfoot arround when the morality should be crystal clear. However, for what its worth, and I’m not expecting that you should care a jot about the opinion of an anonomous poster on a blog, but I think you have shown an enormous amount of courage on this thread in terms of facing the critisism and taking them on board. I doubt if I would have had it in me. I undertand to a degree the notion of loyalty to a party but,as I’m sure you realise there are higher loyalties.

    I hope that you will eventually be lead by your obvious decency (sorry but the word fits) 😉

  • Alex. Kane

    IJP: Flattery will get you nowhere with me!! But thank you, anyway.

    bertie: The reason I post, post under my own name, and allow my columns to be posted, is because I do value and am influenced by the thoughts and insights of others. As I have said on many occasions I don’t take any of the criticisms personally and I don’t bear grudges. So again, thank you for your comments.

    My own rethinking of the PUP/UUP pact (and the input from bloggers here, along with conversations I have had all week) will be reflected in Saturday’s column.

    Best wishes,


  • Wee Ulsterman


    I do very much agree about extent of the plight the loyalist paramilitaries have brought about in the areas where they are active.

    But I know Reg is sincere in his efforts to bring about change and end the plague of paramilitarism in those areas – he is talking directly with the paramilitary leadership in order to get decommissioning and a permanent end to violence.

    He has made this a consistent theme of his leadership – pretty much every major speech since he’s became leader has discussed this.

    Like almost all unionists I totally condemn loyalist violence. But we can’t just sit there and condemn – these people come from our community and their activities are a plague on our community.

    As mainstream unionists we are in a unique position to get involved and try to exercise our influence for the good – it would be completely irresponsible not to at least try (though the head-in-the-sand approach sure has sadly characterised ‘mainstream’ unionism’s approach to loyalism for much of the last 30 years)

    Reg said on Talkback he’s going to give this a serious effirt, and if he concludes he’s getting nowhere he will break the link. He sounded to me like a man quite certain of what he is doing and why he is doing it.

    I agree with you 110% about academic selection by the way; it’s imminent end is but another jigssaw part in solving the problems of loyalist poverty and alienation.

    I’m really glad to see the UUP taking all this so seriously – after a while I foresee the other parties getting stuck in too – these problems really affect us all, a stable Northern Ireland is impossible whilst loyalist communities remain wedded to violent paramilitarism.

  • BVG

    wee ulsterman–Sir Empty was dreadful on Hearts and Minds last night, one of the very worst performances I have seen. No passion and no conviction. Reaching out to loyalist paramilitaries is one thing, putting them in your Assembly group is another. And don’t forget that Ervine was probably 4th choice.

    The Loyalist Commission didn’t deleiver.

    Empty’s own “direct link” with the UVF didn’t deliver.

    Why do you think a UUP/UVF deal is going to do anything?

    Most disturbing for Empty is the refusal of his MLAs to go public in support of all of this.

    Most disgusting of all is fact that Empty is now playing the “how do you know it was UVF” game. Crap response to adopt.


  • darth rumsfeld

    Have to agree that the Mekon was atrocious last night, to the extent that he was forced to distance himself from his Vanguard past in Arsene Wenger type myopia- “I wasn’t at Ormeau Park!”. Thompson probably couldn’t believe his luck as Mr teflon fell to punch after punch.

    The flurry of media activity suggests Reg realises the magnitude of the miscalculation, but what a lonely figure he cuts. Where is loyal deppity Kennedy, or the twenty sheep at Stormont who- a little bird tells me- were given a statement of support for the move, but mysteriously they all seem to have forgotten to send it to their local rags?

    It is becoming clearer that plotters are letting the media soften Reg up for a challenge or series of challenges. Danny boy is keeping his head down as the criticism grows, while Tank Commander is supporting Reg’s efforts in a “he’s terribly well meaning you know, but..” manner. Throw in the pending financial crisis, with at least three constituency associations all but skint, and you can understand just why the MLAs monies are so critical to the UUP’s very existence, but are at the same time stifling any chance of change or the advancement of new talent.

    As I posted yesterday, this ought to be the time for officers to use their weight to bring the MLAs and their ambitions into line, but the team is -Bowles apart- lacking in the moral fibre to try. Sadly he’s a perceived lightweight, but we are now entitled to view the real ambitions of Basil Mccrea and co as more for self than party. Naming their HQ after Joe Cunningham may have been inteded as a tribute, but it’s beginning to look more like a very public act of self-indictment, when comparing him with the pigmies currently in charge.

  • Loyalist


    Re. Josias Cunningham. You are absolutely spot on. I have often wondered if Sir Jo had still been around would Trimble have been able to carry on wrecking the party for as long as he did? Probably not.

    Say what you like about Cunningham, Molyneaux, Smyth etc. but they knew, in a Protestant-Fianna Fail-style way, how to steer the party, position it and ensure its electoral success. When one looks back at past UUC Officer teams and compares them with the present batch, one sees just how downright crappy the Ulster Unionist Party has become.

  • Rubicon

    Wee Ulsterman – if you genuinely believe this pact has anything to do with, “loyalist poverty and alienation” I wonder if Reg will nominate Ervine to be one of the 3 UUPAG representatives on the Preparation for Government Committee. If he doesn’t will you re-think?

  • Loyalist

    Sir Jo was a firm believer in the “glass of whiskey and a revolver” school of party management. He would never have allowed a situation where Lady H is the sole MP never mind a pact with the UVF.

    Reg & co. have managed something remarkable – a Trimble era nostalgia movement. Just like the hankering after the long gone DDR, Trimble nostalgia is enjoyed by those who thought things could only get better but have been let down by events. Come back Grocer, come back Fat Jack and, dare I say it, come back Turtle your party needs you.


  • Loyalist


    I was having a chat with a UUP Councillor the other day who made the very same point.

  • darth rumsfeld

    ….and whisper it not in the Assembly group ( or is it now a “Brigade”? :0))but I’ve even heard some UUPers say “come back Jeffrey”

  • Darth

    “but I’ve even heard some UUPers say “come back Jeffrey” ”

    Ah, the love that dare not speak its’ name!

  • BVG

    On the subject of party jumping re Jeffrey. Can anyone confirm a sniff I got last night that one of the UUP’s “big hitters” has been receiving what were described to me as “informal approaches” from the DUP?


  • BVG what constitutes a UUP “big hitter” these days? Does the moniker “MLA” do it?

  • Jeffrey never went away you know – he will be in our Agreement sceptical hearts forever, our Prince of Peace Process doubters, the wee man with a big dream, uh, where was I? Oh yeah, I’ve woken up in an alternate dimension where the UUP, the Mother-of-God, actual-factual Ulster fricking Unionist Party has given the whip to the UVF.

    Kane, meanwhile, snore. Sorry, what I meant to say, heavens above, the lengthy consultaive process for his next column has completed in pre-report stage, the silo teams are feeding in their working papers, and, All Ulster Waits For Saturday. Or maybe, just maybe, not. It can’t be said often enough, the reason the UUP is in the mess it is is because of people like Kane. Problem, not solution.

  • Karl Rove

    maybe, but at least Alex has a charm and competence that is so obviously lacking in the rest of them.

    Don’t get me wrong, if the UUP membership was exclusively made up of Alex clones I wouldn’t dislike it any less, I would just feel more sorry for it!

  • Loyalist

    Am I the only one who finds Rove’s posts extremely entertaining? (I’ll get my coat!)

  • darth rumsfeld

    I’ve got beyond feeling sorry, and even past amusement. As for schadenfreude, even its charms have begun to pall. I suppose I just want the whole sorry farce to end, the realisation that the UUP is no more to finally filter into the dried peas that are rattling aound in their heads, and the assets to be flogged off ( I quite fancy the oilpainting of Carson from the bored(?)room for my office )
    Because if it goes on much longer it will transcend cruelty. I mean, just imagine the UUP 2010 style- Billy Armstrong as leader, and David McClarty as the third chairman in a year, succeeding Basil McCrea and Michael Shilliday. Meanwhile Lord Ervine of Long Kesh is the only representative at Westminster, and Joan Carson is the great white hope for the future, with the party’s priority to get the memebrship back into double figures

  • Loyalist


    I have to agree, it is somewhat pitiable, but by the same token, like a dreadful car crash, I just can help looking on. I mean Reg has pulled of a feat I thought was impossible – people are actually hankering after the glory days of DT!

    The party post 2005 was defeated, but now it just seems utterly hollow, devoid of any yalent whatsoever and truly on its last legs. Roll on the next election to put them all out of their misery. I must say I’ll miss the UUP once its gone: for sheer entertainment value there was nothing like it.

  • The (private, personal) tragedy in Reg’s embrace of the UVF is – if it’s legitimised anything, it’s brought people like me to the point where we can, unbelievably, face up to the fact that we’re going to have to vote DUP.

  • Garibaldy

    Karl and other disgruntled UUP voters,

    I have been watching the reaction to all this with great interest, and have not commented, but at this point, I really would like a number of questions answered.

    Why were you so surprised by this deal, giving that a similar one has been operative in Belfast City Council for years?

    Why is it morally worse than voting for Hugh Smyth during the Troubles to ensure a unionist mayor?

    Why is the DUP any better when it appears that only opportunism stopped them from supporting Tommy Kirkham of the UPRG in Newtownabbey?

    I won’t go into the 1970s, which Reg has done, as there’s some argument that they were different times. Nor the Anglo-Irish Agreement period when a certain very prominent unionist politican came very close to blaming RUC men who were getting burnt out of their homes for their own predicament.

    You can say that giving them the whip is different, but it seems not to be unique (Belfast City Council), and certainly is far from the first time for cooperation, even in recent years. In fact, what about the riots last September, when both Reg and the DUP seemed to have raised tensions, and then blamed the police for men shooting at them?

    I don’t think you realise how all this looks to those outside unionism, who mostly are more accepting of the deal as practical politics than Karl et al. Can you see why all this looks like a storm in a teacup?

  • The point is, it’s a storm in our teacup. Never forget that though, for the voters, ‘all politics is local’, for politicos, all politics is personal. It’s a personal affront to me that my party has given the whip to a monster like David Ervine. My approach to politics is that he and Adams are morally indistinguishable. To address your DUP points: I don’t need to address them. I’m not in the DUP, have not voted for them hitherto, and am not about to join them. That said, and for what little it is worth, I do not think that Unionists should have voted for any sort of paramilitary for any sort of position. In relation to the local government posts you specifically mention, I thought that at the time, and I, obviously enough, still think it today. It was morally wrong then, and it’s, as predicted, now proving to have been tactically inept as well.

    In the case of the UUP whip on the City council – a dreadful decision about which some of us chuntered on, largely, ineffectually kane-style behind closed doors, but to no avail. There are some very, very questionable people in the UUP (with, on Belfast City Council, the most willing fellow traveller, cf, Whiterock, of ‘loyalists’ being the Gimp). I’ll be the first to admit that. It was very obvious to me that Trimble’s victory margin, whether in the UUC, or individual constituency associations, was, time after time, made up of ‘ex’ UDA men. It disgusted me then that he relied upon such men; just as it it disgusted me that, when Stormont came back the other week, he made a fool of himself by being all over Ervine.

    Ultimately, your question actually revolves round a matter of media mechanics: why, in other words, has this issue (the whip being given to Ervine) attracted attention others things certainly should have done earlier? Simply because some issues are ‘wedge’ issues – the press follows some stories, and not others, and with surprisingly little rhyme or reason to it. Their filtering processes, however intentional or unintentional are, self-evidently, crucial to determing what ‘news’ is. And therefore what it is that hapless party leaders find themselves having to react to. People like me have been able to exploit Reg’s insane decision over Empey to put some heat on him, but (and again, this is the high politics of the thing), it’s not going to do us any good. People like me no longer really have a dog in UUP fights (i.e. we don’t have a leadership contender to ally behind). And the true death rattle for the UUP has been the sound of silence from all the MLAs on the Ervine deal. If the UUP was going to be saved from the UVF, someone by now should have stood up and denounced this deal. Say what you like about Donaldson, but he would have at least had the guts to do this.

  • Garibaldy


    Thanks for that. It seems this is for you personally the straw that broke the camel’s back. The reason I raised the DUP was because you said you were considering voting for them. I was asking what made them morally superior. I see what you’re saying about the media, but again its unionists on here saying they will not vote UUP again that has raised my interest, not the media.

    What I’m really asking I suppose to some extent is what is the logic behind abandoning the UUP now. It seems to me that a unionism dominated virtually exclusively by the DUP is less likely to build a stable NI than one with a strong UUP. Wouldn’t the end of the UUP be a bad thing for NI? If so, then surely the thing for unionists to do is not to abandon it.

  • From a small ‘u’ unionist stand-point (and personal experience as a member), the end of the UUP most certainly is a bad thing. Not least because it is obviously that bit more plausible to imagine either, a) Catholic pro-Union votes being harvested by the UUP, as opposed to Paisley’s undoubted sectarianism, or, b) a stable UUP-based hegemony being tolerable to enough Catholics that enough of them won’t bother to come out and vote (nationalist).

    The more interesting question is, what can be made of what is currently called the DUP? As people like me find that we just cannot any more continue with the officially-UVF-linekd UUP, we are forced back upon the DUP, much as we have historically disliked it(and pace all the stuff mentioned above, whatever the DUP have done, they havenot extended their party whip to a man who is, unquestionably, a Loyalist terrorist). I was pessimistic about what could be done to make the DUP more agreeable, still more to non-Protestants, let alone anti-Agreement UUP types like me, since I assumed the UUP would linger on for some long time, with people like me sticking with it. I don’t expect that now – and with more people set to make the journey Donaldson already has, why assume that the Robinson led party won’t be different to the Paisley led one?

  • Garibaldy

    We were talking about the leadership of the DUP on another thread. If Matty’s argument is right, then the DUP will remain fundamentalist. I raised the possibility of Donaldson returning to the UUP, and that wouldn’t surprise me totally if it did happen should he be marginalised in the DUP.

    As for the DUP and terrorism, again, perceptions outside unionism might well be different. particularly in mid-Ulster.

    I’m wondering about Alliance. As I understand your unionist identity is very important to you, so they may not be for you, but do you think some UUP voters will find them preferable to the DUP? Part of the problem here is that the quality of their leadership and spokespeople has declined far below that of the UUP.

  • BVG

    Karl—It seems to me that the problem for people like you is that the UUP hasn’t been run or guided in a way of which you approve. This forces you, in post after post, to vent your spleen (and I don’t deny that it is an excellent read; a touch of the barrister perchance)on Trimble, Empey, Kane (for whom I have a lot of time) and Young Unionists (for whom I have no time at all)et al.

    Let me ask you a question from the perspective of someone who is not a member of the party: why did the element of the UUP with which you ally yourself fail to keep or retake the upper hand? I have a great deal of sympathy for your position and agree with much you say. But surely you would acknowledge that there are people in your party who have acted perfectly consistently, in terms of what they are trying to achieve. Agreed, you may not like them personally, and you may not like the policies they have pursued, but some of them, at least, have ploughed a steady furrow through all of this.

    Finally, are there any conditions under which you would join (as opposed to voting for) the DUP?


  • While consistency is one of my middle names, even I concede that it can be over-rated. That said, who exactly do you have in mind as being consistent in the UUP in the last decade? Trimble? You should have seen behind closed doors – a flapper of the worst order? Reg? While I priggishly disapproved of Donaldson fessing up to his biographer so many of the details about Reg’s conditions for stabbing Trimble, let’s afce it – the world and his ward chairman knew that Reg would have acted if he had had a thimbleful more courage. And Jeffrey come to that – bunking off to the DUP was hardly a consistent act for a good upstanding Enochite. And me? There are times when the only thing I’ve consistently done is beign disappointed in the numtpies I’ve supported for Leader once they’ce actually got there.

    As to the meta-why? – why we, the ‘traditionalist’ faction, lost? – it’s very simple: lack of talent. It’s hardly as if the Trimbleites were brimming over with talent, but they had the resources of the government, government owned broadcast media, and tame print press behind them. Beyond Jeffrey, as the current silence from MLAs shows all too painfully, who exactly is there to be a front man for crypto-Tory integrationist anti-Agreement Ulster Unionism? Posters on blogs do not count: in fact, they are more or less ruled out precisely because. One of the sad things in allt his for me is that, take Darth there for example. He ought, by now, to have been a UUP MP. Indeed, 2005 probably should have been the election when he succeeded the garcefully retiring incumbent. But, things didn’t work out that way, and the DUP won’t be dug out his seat any time soon. So in short – if you have no one to lead you, you won’t go very far.

    Would I join the DUP? No. Would I join the post0DUP, if there is one? Who knows? Maybe it will pupate into soemthign beautiful. On the other hand, maybe Paisleyite necromancy will mean that a dead hand of sectariainism will grip that party forver and a day. In which case the snobby middle classes like me will just have to hold our noses and silently, unethusiastically vote for the (now considerably) less stinky of two stinky options: a party founded and led by a sectarian fool (with all that that implies for the calibre of the men who went silently along with him during his worst excesses), or, a party that gives the whip to David Ervine. Very, very sadly, no contest.

    Anyway, your Ch$ news is now on, and the VRWC requires that I should invigilate their pinkery. Cheerio and good night, o my UUP of long ago.

  • bertie


    ““but I’ve even heard some UUPers say “come back Jeffrey” “

    Ah, the love that dare not speak its’ name! ”

    Is anyone due to be outed?

    I wouldn’t approve of that of course. Instead we have to create an environment where these people can come out themselves. It won’t be easy if they’ve felt that they have had to deny their true nature for so long. The first few will need the most courage but the more that come forward an announce to the word that they are Jeffrey supporters and further lore that they feel no shame, then the easier it will be for the rest.

  • darth rumsfeld

    There was a lot of talk in 1996 about Trimble ushering in “new Unionism” a la Blair’s New labour. And indeed he he did- though not in the UUP. He certainly saw off the crusties at leadership level, but relied on the crusties at local level- let’s not kid ourselves that the UUC supporters he pulled in were committed to the project. And yes, there were some very dodgy types who infiltrated-West Belfast in particular had several grizzly converts to the cause.

    But Unionism for the forseeable future is the DUP, and that means it must become a broad church. In many ways it has changed remarkably since 1998, and has hoovered up all the talent within Unionism. It has quite some way to go of course, but intelligent people like you will have to climb on board or be lost to active politics. The challenge will be to hold a consensus, which instead of common goals of defeatism and self preservation -let’s call it Empeyism-has a pragmatic and proactive approach- and it don’t bother me if that included a US Christian Right motor.

  • tiny

    for the DUP to become ‘mainstream’ and attract the sort of unionist voters who stay at home it will have to ditch the Free P’s, the extent to which party and church are interwoven was demonstrated in the recent Berry interview when he revealed that despite the accusations his local Free P church stood by him, that was until he took the party to court, then the church dropped him!

  • tiny

    Another thought, with Paisley in unionisms ‘driving seat’ unionism becomes even less attractive to the middle of the road unionist voter resulting in even greater numbers staying at home come election time, it may well be the case that in the not to distant future that while unionists are in a majority in terms of sheer numbers they will be in a minority electoraly!