“politically, strategically and electorally reckless”

David Ervine’s attempt to answer his critics over the UUP’s Faustian pact is still online for now [but if you want to read it for free be quick – Ed] It’s more ill-tempered fingerpointing than answers though, which is why I didn’t note it previously, but it has prompted a response from Alex Kane in today’s paper in which he raises some other questions of not just David Ervine but the UUP leader Reg Empey too

Why, Mr Ervine (Sir Reg, too, for that matter), do you think that the UUP’s grassroots would welcome an institutional link between their party and any, let alone the most vicious, of these paramilitary groups?

And with a UUP executive meeting scheduled for Friday criticises directly the chosen strategy of Reg Empey:

I would have had far fewer problems with a process which might have culminated in closer ties with the PUP and the wider loyalist community; but a process which begins by establishing a formal connection between the UUP and a still active terrorist group, strikes me as politically, strategically and electorally reckless.

Even if the UVF mounted some sort of decommissioning PR stunt on July 1, it doesn’t make the UUP’s position any stronger, for we would still have to wait for years before there was enough hard evidence to suggest that the UVF was a relic from the past.

And the longer the wait (involving the usual hiccoughs and “unsanctioned” activities), the more ongoing and knock-on damage there will be to the UUP.

So no, Mr Ervine, you haven’t answered this particular critic. I can see no benefits to your membership of the Ulster Unionist Assembly Group and – apart from the increasingly nebulous prospect of a hypothetical seat in a hypothetical Executive – you haven’t actually outlined any other benefits yourself.

, , ,

  • pith

    Evidence surely that it is always more advisable to read a dictionary than to eat it.

  • Betty Boo

    Is this not part of a balanced diet?

  • Pete Baker

    pith[y]

    ???

  • tameloyalist

    What exactly is wrong with Ervine using big words? Is he not good enough or something?

  • Rory

    Just on a matter of correction of the allusion to Peter Hain as “…he of the Troops Out Movement” contained in the article. I was among the founding members of the Troops Out Movement (TOM) and was relentlessly active in that movement including serving in positions of national office up to 1980 and I also happened to know Peter Hain at the time through a mutual friend, a South African woman who had leave South Africa because of her perceived links to the early ANC.

    Mr Hain certainly had no connection with the TOM at that time nor do I recall that he ever expressed much interest on the question at all. After all it was a bit too sensitive too mix with his own anti-apartheid Young Liberal campaign with which he was pretty much consumed. Indeed I don’t recall anyone from the Liberals ever having any association with TOM or its policies which would have been much too contentious for the sensitive fainthearts of that organisation.

    Nor do I recall him ever making any notable comments on Ireland at any time since then up to and including his appointment as NI Secretary.

    Perhaps others may have different information.

  • Loyalist

    Has Ervine told McFarland about his disdain for “Major this or Captain that”?

  • fair_deal

    Ervine’s piece is a significantly missed opportunity. As Alex points out it is a “diatribe against the DUP” and not a very good one at that e.g. plenty of journalists have been having a bash at the DUP based on past behaviour to try and claim otherwise is foolish. Its too long, rambling and attacked the critics rather than addresses the issues or answers the questions.

    In the past if Ervine adopted process speak it was usually an indication he was under pressure and having difficulty defending or explaining something. The failure in this article to address the issues could indicate that not only do the UUP not have a clear reasoning/understanding of why they chose this path the PUP don’t see to have one either.

    At the beginning of the peace process many Unionists suspended their disbelief in paramilitarism willingness to change. They were consistently let down by Republicanism but more so by Loyalism. Ervine needed to provide an honest examination of why past engagement with loyalists has not produced the results people want and why this approach would produce where it failed. This article doesn’t do that.

  • Pete Baker

    The thing is, fair deal, Ervine has clearly stated the reasoning/understanding of why they chose the pact – as linked in a previous post [also above]:

    “Simply, to move one seat to either the DUP or the Ulster Unionists would restore a majority balance on the executive,” he said.

    “That is the sole reason why I’m doing what I’m doing.”

  • fair_deal

    PB

    If that is it then he should have sent one line to the Belfast Telegraph not this. Also people need a narrative to understand an action which this article could have provided. The Exec seat is a justification not a narrative.

  • Pete Baker

    fair deal

    I doubt that there is any narrative beyond the executive seat.

    That’s why the initial emphasis from the UUP was SF losing a seat – the side argument being that made the UUP better Unionists than the DUP.

    But the criticism continued, and so a narrative was created.. but only as a cover-story – one which David Ervine doesn’t appear to be keen to play along with too closely.

  • Ziznivy

    Ervine’s article is fair as regards the brickbats it throws at the DUP, it fails to address the concerns of UUP sceptics though which is surely the constituency he should have been addressing. He’s preaching to the converted as regard DUP hypocrisy and their malign influence.

  • pith

    Nothing wrong with a few big words but he does labour them. He reminds me of Chris Eubank. His sentences also wander all over the place.

  • Crataegus

    This is one story that is going to grind on and on. Nice one Reg.

  • Turbo Paul

    Holding David Ervine up to ridicule sends out the message that politics are reserved for the elite.

    The disaffected among the unionist community, who are fed up with the elite and junkets of the mainstream, must be allowed representation, even if those chosen are not as articluate, (in the beggining)as the elite.

    It seems so pompous to decry David Ervine for any lack of experience, and then try and prevent him from gaining that experence.

  • If Davy Dictionary had had a titter of wit he would have answered the key point against any political association with the PUPs: namely that he is happy to be associated with some of the worst thuggish, drug-dealing, black/brown skin-hating, extorting, scum-like low life ever to have stood on hind legs. (Hope I haven’t been too easy on them.) Instead all we have is a rant: against the DUP, oh, and all those long-dead UUPers with distinguished military titles.

    Nevertheless, there is one telling statement in his long chippy diatribe (is he in a contest with John Prescott?): his description of paramilitarism as “the product of bad politics”.

    So let’s paraphrase:

    “It’s not their fault my mates beat up blacks in south Belfast, extort money from law-abiding businessmen, sell drugs, never mind “stiffing Taigs”. It’s all the fault of society for creating the conditions for conflict. They commit horrible actions but it’s not their fault they did them. It’s Big Ian’s fault, or some Old Etonian stuffed shirt from Glengall Street c. 1962.”

    As I’ve said previously, one of the most odious features of the PUP is the way in which Ervine and his ilk have lapped up the New Left crap that blames “society” for crime instead of the criminals. Pathetic.

    How long has this story run so far? Is it a month? And it’s still going strong.

  • Just to point out, the comments facility has put asterisks over one of my words.

    In case anyone believes it was a profanity, it was a word beginning with “s” and rhyming with “drum”.

  • fair_deal

    TP

    “The disaffected among the unionist community, who are fed up with the elite and junkets of the mainstream, must be allowed representation, even if those chosen are not as articluate, (in the beggining)as the elite.”

    1. No one is denying them representation.
    2. If you mean to imply the PUP is their representation electoral results indicate very much otherwise.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Turbo Paul: “Holding David Ervine up to ridicule sends out the message that politics are reserved for the elite. ”

    Please spare the callow class rhetoric. The UUP has gone on and on about ‘no terrorists in government.’ Then, to gain an advantage in an executive that may never exist, they toss their integrity to the wind so they can pick up this malodorous murderous muppet, namely Ervine.

    Turbo Paul: “The disaffected among the unionist community, who are fed up with the elite and junkets of the mainstream, must be allowed representation, even if those chosen are not as articluate, (in the beggining)as the elite. ”

    The greatest joy and pain of democratic voting systems is that the people almost always get the representation they deserve. Since we are discussing the “disaffected among the community,” they likely get squat all, given the system. If you want progress, you’d best “disaffect” more Loyalists away from the DUP, since that’s where their votes are now.

    Turbo Paul: “It seems so pompous to decry David Ervine for any lack of experience, and then try and prevent him from gaining that experence.”

    It’s far easier to decry him as the mouthpiece and front-man for terrorists and hold him up as the ultimate personification of the UUP’s abandonment of principle. The fact that his writing style “wanders to is own accordion” is just a bonus.

  • Turbo Paul

    A true middle class, white collar, conservative, elitist, opinion if ever there was one, demonstrated by the watchman.

    If David Ervine is able to remove the criminality question from the whole of the Loyalist argument then he should be appauded by Unionism.

    The negociations needed to convince the UDA/UVF to renounce criminality can only be achieved by someone who can speak on equal terms, rather than try a patronising approach, which would be doomed to failure.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Turbo Paul: “If David Ervine is able to remove the criminality question from the whole of the Loyalist argument then he should be appauded by Unionism. ”

    Mayhaps, but that is one hell of an if…

    Turbo Paul: “The negociations needed to convince the UDA/UVF to renounce criminality can only be achieved by someone who can speak on equal terms, rather than try a patronising approach, which would be doomed to failure. ”

    No, it takes a carrot and a stick, not just someone who can speak “bad English” fluently.

    If certain news sources are to be believed, we have the LVF / UVF feud to look forward to this summer, as well as another round of internal UDA house-cleaning over the Shoukri brothers. Its going to be a long, bumpy ride for Ervine and Co.

  • Carson’s Cat

    Turbo Paul
    “If David Ervine is able to remove the criminality question from the whole of the Loyalist argument then he should be appauded by Unionism.”

    I suppose 12 years since the so-called ‘ceasefire’ hasnt been enough to get his paramilitary mates to stop selling drugs to children, extorting money and generally being parasites to the unionist/loyalist community.

    Rather ironic that you mention a ‘patronising approach’ – The rhetoric from people like Ervine is about as patronising as it comes. He has the audacity to insult our intellience and tell me that its my fault that his mates sell drugs and kill people. Its my fault that they refuse to hand over their guns and its my fault that his mates are the only people who make the IRA look good!

  • Turbo Paul

    If there is to be further bloodletting within the loyalist clans then better a man like David Ervine to be there to try and broker the peace, even sever the links between criminality and the UDA/LVF/UVF once and for all.

    Who else can the loyalist community turn to in order to broker the peace, a limp wristed, mainstream, junket junky, who lives in an Ivory tower isolated from the street level frontline.

    Let the UDA.LVF/UVF officialy declare:

    Any members comitting criminality does so independently and “Not in our name”

    Or are we to ask every defendent appearing in court, “Who do you vote for?” then that political party faces critisism????

    How many UUP/DUP supporters have been convicted of crime, many, but the UUP/DUP are not held responsible for their actions.

    Rather than keep throwing cheap shots from the cheap seats, perhaps we should come up with constructive ways the UDA/LVF/UVF can demonstrate its ability to enter the politcal arena.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Turbo Paul: “If there is to be further bloodletting within the loyalist clans then better a man like David Ervine to be there to try and broker the peace, even sever the links between criminality and the UDA/LVF/UVF once and for all.”

    You makes this sounds as if it is Alexander at Gordium. He can’t even get the group he fronts for on a real ceasefire, let alone the whole of the Loyalist alphabet-soup gangs.

    Turbo Paul: ” Who else can the loyalist community turn to in order to broker the peace, a limp wristed, mainstream, junket junky, who lives in an Ivory tower isolated from the street level frontline. ”

    Again, it is not as if he hasn’t had a chance in the past, what, 12 years? What has the silly little muppet been doing in all this time, if all this wonder is his to accomplish?

    Turbo Paul: “Rather than keep throwing cheap shots from the cheap seats, perhaps we should come up with constructive ways the UDA/LVF/UVF can demonstrate its ability to enter the politcal arena. ”

    oh, let’s see… stop shooting one another, learn to “turn it off” the way the Republicans seem to do, realize that dealing drugs and shooting one another does not make for a promising career path, disarm… y’know, the little things that make a difference.

  • Alex. Kane

    Turbo Paul:

    “Rather than keep throwing cheap shots from the cheap seats, perhaps we should come up with constructive ways the UDA/LVF/UVF can demonstrate its ability to enter the political arena.”

    Well, first of all, they did try to enter the political arena, through the PUP and the UDP. But no significant electoral breakthrough was made and the PUP is reduced to Ervine in the Assembly, with a few UPRG-linked councillors in Belfast. The simple fact of the matter is that the unionist/loyalist community (unlike the nationalist/republican community)is unwilling to vote for political parties with direct links to terrorists. (A lesson there for Reg, perhaps!)

    Second, genuine efforts have been made—through the Loyalist Commission, the UPRG and various back channels—to come up with the “constructive
    ways” you talk of. But again, it seems as if the paramilitaries concerned have a greater interest in retaining their criminal empires than in engaging in political dialogue.

    Best wishes,

    Alex.

    PS: Am off to the cinema now, so won’t be able to continue with the commenting.

  • elfinto

    I suppose you’re off to see the new Ken Loach film, Alex. Enjoy!

  • duffy

    The whole thing is hideous. Most hideous of all is the “bring them in from the cold” line. Hume was condemned 12 years ago for a similar line. At least with him it was a genuine rationale.

    Who is being brought in from the cold? The single political representative of an organised crime outfit. Are the communities that they terrorise ever to be brought in from the cold or is their fear the acceptable price to be paid to make sure that Sinn Fein doesn’t get the ministry of arts, culture and leisure?

  • What do nationalists or republicans think about Alex and many other Slugger unionists when they state their principled opposition to Ervine’s alliance with the UUP?

    Does it not demonstrate that the reason they are so hostile to the IRA is because they are hostile to paramilitarism per se? Some nationalists appear to believe that unionist opposition to the IRA is based entirely on sectarianism – and for some it is – but the attitude of Kane and other unionists here suggest other reasons, that go across the board.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Gonzo: “What do nationalists or republicans think about Alex and many other Slugger unionists when they state their principled opposition to Ervine’s alliance with the UUP? ”

    Not a whole lot, in the sense that A) the UUP/PUP deal was somewhere between a publicity stunt and a desperate cry for attention. Opposing it — putting what was a legitimate, principled party straight into bed with the front-man of an active terrorist group — comes pretty natural. On the down side, kill off the UUP and we’re left with DUP and some also-rans for the Unionist vote, which means gridlock until either Big Ian joins the choir invisible or the ROI and UK get tired of this farce.

  • Turbo Paul

    “A true middle class, white collar, conservative, elitist, opinion if ever there was one, demonstrated by the watchman.”

    Don’t be so quick to make assumptions. My family on both sides came from working class Belfast. If you think I am scathing about the loyalist paramilitaries, you should hear one of my relatives who lives 2 doors down from a UDA honcho in a loyalist estate.

    My family was also been subjected to loyalist racketeering when it operated a business and provided much needed jobs in loyalist areas, so don’t you dare come on here to lecture me. There isn’t a single social problem that the paramilitary lowlife will not make worse.

    “The negociations needed to convince the UDA/UVF to renounce criminality can only be achieved by someone who can speak on equal terms, rather than try a patronising approach, which would be doomed to failure.”

    Exactly how do you persuade people to give up criminality if it means that their income goes through the floor? Any suggestions?

  • darth rumsfeld

    well folks, it’s yet another opportunity for those still interested in picking over the corpse of Ulster Unionism to see the foot in mouth brigade at this afternoon’s executive, so…..

    LET’S GET READY TO [G]RUMBLE!!!!!!

    BTW paranoia stalks Cunningplan House like Ken Maginnis before he’s had his lunch-all grumpy and aggressive. In spite of the assurance from Alex elsewhere that he wasn’t going to jump, there’s still nervousness- and now the typing pool are being briefed that another party officer who has been hitherto atypically bashful is set to threaten to resign if the outcome of this afternoon’s meeting is another fudge over financial queries.

  • Loyalist

    Darth

    “now the typing pool are being briefed that another party officer who has been hitherto atypically bashful is set to threaten to resign”

    Basil McCrea,
    Basil McCrea,
    what can I say?,
    It’s Basil McCrea!!!

  • IJP

    An outstanding article, Alex.

    But as a member of the UUP I certainly don’t want the DUP’s inconsistencies and hypocrisy to be used as the yardstick against which the UUP measures its own policies and strategies.

    This line in particular strikes me as obvious, but seems to have been missed by too many of your party colleagues.

  • IJP

    Gonzo

    Care to name these “other Unionists”?

    I can’t think of a single one that has come out as principled as Mr Kane and remained in the party.

    (For all Sylvia’s rantings, what has she actually done and said as the party’s most senior elected representative to end this nonsense? As she herself would say, she’s had five weeks and nothing’s happened…!)

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Alex

    Say it again and keep saying it there is no room in the UUP for terrorists or anyone who supports them.

    Reg Empey must go for this disastrous error of judgement.

    The UUP is being run by amateurs who seem to have little idea about finances, policies or even what their electorate (or what is left of it) thinks. Surely within their councillors or grassroot ranks there is better available.

    There may not be much to chose from in this group of elected MLA’s few of whom can carry on a reasoned debate, but RE is not the one to go forward with.

  • Loyalist

    IJP

    “Care to name these “other Unionists”?”

    Loyalist, The Watchman, Karl Rove.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “Basil McCrea,
    Basil McCrea,
    what can I say?,
    It’s Basil McCrea”

    Well it ain’t Reg, that’s for sure!

  • Ah yes, the urgent and pressing matter of Basil McCrea and scansion. Last properly addressed here, I think.

    Whatever did become of so many of those well loved Slugger ‘characters’ (‘the Tools’, as they’re affectionately known) who used to populate UU threads before the fall, er flood, er, general election? Did I really imagine them all? Was David Archer only a dream? Has this last year merely been the UUP’s ‘Bobby steps out of the shower’ moment after all? So many questions, so few beers, er, tears.

  • Loyalist

    Correction to my post addressed to IJP. Apologies, I didn’t realise you were asking for examples of UUP members who have behaved with as much principle as Alex Kane – like looking for hen’s teeth I’m afraid.

  • Turbo Paul

    Watchman, I am not saying give up criminality, I am saying if those criminals want to continue to committ crime, they do so as other conventional criminals do, no hiding behind a political affiliation.

    If they refuse to leave the UDA/UVF etc, then the organisations are disbanded or those who are not involved in crime must take back their organisations.

    If you are right and the UDA/UVF have only criminals as members, then they must be refered to as other criminal gangs, such as the mafia in America.

    So lets never refer to the UDA/UVF/ as political parties, rather as criminal gangsters.

    Then if David Ervine wants to still be accociated with them, he will be exposed for being a Gangster in a suit.

    However, I must add that just because David Ervine has not yet achieved a peace deal and end to criminality, it does not mean we should not keep trying.

    If this was the attitude then the PIRA would not have been coaxed into taking the actions it has.

    Surely the motto has to be: if at first you don’t succeed then try try try again.

    As for the UUP/DUP not wanting anyone accociated with terrorism allowed into the peace process, I find this a bit like “Those who lived in Glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

    I am certain that all the leaderships of UUP/DUP during the conflict knew of terror acts and murders, its just they did not get caught.

    The scene of Ian Paisley and David Trimble parading down the streets of Belfast arm in arm some years ago, in a colonial, triumphant manner was an incitement to to cause terror if ever there was one.

    The blood of those killed are on the hands of all involved, including the current leaders of UUP/DUP/UDA/UVF/Sinn Fein, PIRA/RIRA/CIRA, Brit govt, Irish Govt,

    So enough of this “holier than thou” attitude from current mainstream leaders on all sides, you are all as bad as each other , and you all enjoy a privilaged lifestyle to the detrement of the people.

    I say sack the whole bloody lot, all of them are rotten to the core, and start again with new younger leaders for all the parties.

    While we are on the subject, has anyone ever wondered if the English want the Unionists as fellow countrymen??

    Rather than waiting for the Unionists to vote to leave the Union, why can’t the English have a vote on whether they want the Unionists to remain???

    The vast majority of English people regard Northern Ireland as a £1.5 Billion a year “Stone in their shoe”

  • pith

    Excuse my ignorance. Who is Basil McCrea?

  • exuup

    any word on how the UUP meeting went today?

  • lib2016

    What the ….! Unionists have supported every dirty trick by a succession of rogue British governments including torture, murder and extortion of their own fellow citizens and elected at least twice the most bigoted rightwing leader with the shadowiest past available to them, and now they want to pretend that they have clean hands.

    No wonder the Brits are in the process of disowning you. They have destroyed their own legal system and any respect there was in Europe for the Common Law in order to defend you and still you hide behind a veneer of Victorian hypocrisy while demanding a return to the failed oppression of the past.

    Embrace the GFA, beg Sinn Fein to give you one more chance at powersharing, and pray that the rest of the world continues to give you a fool’s pardon. One more parliament and your show’s over!

  • IJP

    Hi Loyalist,

    No apology necessary – you basically made my point very effectively for me!