Another UUP defector…

Slugger hears there was a bit of a barney at the UUP Officers meeting last week, when Lord Kilclooney (aka John D Taylor) allegedly told Reg to wake up and smell the flowers [make it a strong black coffee – ed] after James Leslie walked to the Conservatives. Today they have another less high profile desertion to teh Tory ranks.Bob Little was a member of the UUC Executive Committee until 2005. He cited the need to change the nature of politics in Northern Ireland as well as his admiration for David Cameron as his reasons:

“Change is in the air and a resurgent Conservative Party is good for the United Kingdom. I am impressed with David Cameron’s efforts to rebuild the Conservative Party and his wish to ensure it is a party of the entire United Kingdom. I think we in Northern Ireland can benefit from that and I wish to help in any way I can.”

Hmmm. Not exactly a deadly coup. But the UUP, so long fighting a readguard from the anti Agreement DUP, now face an action from an essentially pro-Agreement Conservative Party.

We are a long way from the 1860/70s when the Tories last had significant political representation in Ulster. But the party would be well advised to take some time out to work out just where it stands and what kind of future it can offer its more able supporters.

  • David

    This is inevitable. The UUP (or shouold I say OUP) was formed not as a political party but as a political class that took its ‘right to rule’ for granted. It seeks/sought to serve the interests of that politcal class…as opposed to the voters. Now that there is a hint of democracy in the air it is proving nigh on impossible to hold together. Why because it has no ideology to hold it together. It will soon be part of history.
    I suspect that Reg knows this and has been trying to create ground that the UUP as a whole can stand on. It is proving difficult. Thus the members slip away to join parties that match their ideology. Not even the meia will hold them together (and the media will try).

  • Elvis Parker

    At this rate Reg’s alliance with the PUP/UVF does not look quite so silly – an eventual merger with PUP/UVF could provide a valuable boost to their membership. (and the ‘financing’ arrangements of PUP could also come in handy)

  • Jeffrey was right!!!

    What? The same Bob Little who blamed Donaldson for all the UUP’s ills? The same Bob Little who was demanding Jeffrey be expelled for the sake of the party? The same Bob Little who was a UUP candidate in Strangford and who if he’d been elected wouldn’t be going anywhere?

    Such a great catch for the Ulster Tories. Such a principled man.

  • m

    Jeffrey Donaldson? Who he?

    I remember someone of that name being involved in politics once, then I heard he was joining the DUP, then I never heard of him again.

    Is he still alive? Working? Able to talk?

  • Frustrated Democrat

    David Trimble, when he was conned by the duplicitous SF, killed off the UUP in 2004.

    The UUP now has only a past and the sooner it realises that the sooner the Conservatives can get to work withe those members who wish to join and get rid of the UUP’s baggage of patronage and the OO.

  • Jeffrey was right!!!

    m

    Very much alive and still wining elections. Unlike the Ulster Unionists.

  • Mick Fealty

    m,

    Don’t you listen to Vincent Browne anymore?

  • Jeffrey was right!!!

    One thought. How can people like Grant Dillon, previously of fUKUP and Bob Little, limp as a lettuce Trimble-groupie be in the same party? Surely the divisions in Unionism over the GFA are just being imported into the NI Tories on a smaller scale? Or are the Tories going to become nuetral on the subject?

  • Butterknife

    Who is Bob Little?

  • darth rumsfeld

    Little Bob was named and shamed in the News Letter’s prediction for the Strangford constituency assembly elections as a major (no pun intended)asset for the UUP, a dark horse to top the poll no less. He was , if memory serves, the Hermonite standard bearer in the constituency against the supposedly hardline (hah!) David McNasty. Like a large number of the latecomer pro-Agreement UUP middle class converts he seems to have disappeared as qucikly as he appeared. Can’t see the Tories expending too much Bollinger on the flotsam and jetsam of Cunningham House

  • Mick, ‘the Tories’ last had MPs in Norn Iron in – hardly prehistoric – 1974, and from partition up to that miserable year, Tory MPs won all, or all but one of the Westminster seats at every general election.

  • Jeffrey was right!!!

    Darth

    Indeed. Any bets on when Cllr. Peacocke will be joining?

  • Julian Robertson

    Darth

    Bollinger? Bollinger?

    Kristal only. Standards, Darth, standards.

  • Jeffrey was right!!!

    Ah Julian, good. Perhaps you could answer my question – how does the Tory Party in Ulster plan to accomodate people such as Grant Dillon: former member of the UKUP and anti-GFA man with the likes of Little?

    Cue Julian telling me how anti-British I really am for asking a question that is only directly relevant in Northern Ireland…..

  • darth rumsfeld

    “Bollinger? Bollinger?

    Kristal only. Standards, Darth, standards.”

    soon to be mung bean soup and chickpeas, you damned Cameronian treehugger!!!

  • Ulster Tory

    Jeffrey was right!!!!
    About what?
    How different will the “Fair Deal” be from the old GFA?
    What was the substance of Jeffrey’s move to the DUP when they are only following where Trimble led? Was it just personality clash?

  • Er Indoors

    James Leslie last week, Bob Little so far this week, who knows who will step forward at the Bournemouth Barfly conference? Any suggestions? By the way Julian, I’ll go with the Kristal. Good choice.

  • darth rumsfeld

    er BTW JDT isn’t an officer and wasn’t at their meeting last week

  • PeterBrown

    I didn’t think JT was an officer either but assumed in any event he wouldn’t have been there as it was too wet and cold to have been in NI last week….

    What shoould worry the UUP about the defections isn’t just the numbers but the importance of the people who are leaving – look at a Party Directory from 10 years ago and ask yourselves who is still alive and which of those is still in the Party? Even those who like Smyth, Leslie, Lyttle and Bowles who were hailed as the new hope for the Party have already clambered into the few remaining lifeboats. It is the workers at grassroots who were largely anti agreement and left with Donaldson in the belief that the Party was beyond the point of no return. Now those charged with turning it around are leaving themselves and yet no doubt this post will prompt the usual request for favourite tunes from the ever dwindling orcestra (now more like a string quartet!) on the deck of the Trimble Line SS UUP who would have us believe it is unsinkable…..

  • Elvis Parker

    Rumours abound that Trimble himself might defect (doubtless in return from some position from Cameron) Apparently he is speaking at Conservative Conference on Monday.

  • Mick Fealty

    I did say allegedly (with emphasis)… Goes off to consult notebook again…

  • Er Indoors

    I wouldn’t take an appearance at a fringe meeting as a declaration of intent – Trimble has been there before, as have the ubiquitous Barfly Burnside, Donaldson et al. I’ll wait to find out the goss from the regular attendees.

  • pith

    Nobody should be surprised by Jeffrey Donaldson’s profile disappearance. He was only interesting so long as he was the image for internal UUP opposition to David Trimble. As a loyal member of the DUP he could hardly be expected to be making the news any longer.

  • BooBoo

    Trimble will defect to the Tory whip when the Assembly is wound up and he ceases to be an MLA.

    Bob Little is not a major player in any sense of the term, but his defection is another sign that the UUP cannot guarantee to hold on to anyone at the moment. Lack of recruitment and cashflow is crippling the party and the closure of the Assembly has the potential to bankrupt it.

    The party cannot even afford to have an annual conference this year, aware that lack of interest from the remaining grassroots means it would be financially unviable. Mind you, it also means that Empey will avoid any potentially embarassing attacks from the floor on the state of the finances and the consequences of the UUP/UVF fiasco.

    In one sense, though, he is a very lucky man. The leadership is now such a poisoned chalace that no-one is likely to challenge. McFarland, who would have been a serious bet before the PUP business, has now been abandoned by most of the people who championed his cause in the last leadership election.

    These are very dark and very depressing days for the UUP.

    BooBoo

  • Paul P

    That’s right Jeffrey Ds profile is so low he only gets to represent the DUP on programmes like BBC’s Hearts and Minds!

  • Carson’s Cat

    Peter Brown
    I cannot for the life of me disagree with a word that you say. Then of course my mind wonders to the question of why you cling on, limpet like, to the good ship UUP when even the metaphoric, and in some cases close to literal, rats are deserting the sinking ship?

  • Carson’s Cat

    Paul P
    “That’s right Jeffrey Ds profile is so low he only gets to represent the DUP on programmes like BBC’s Hearts and Minds!”

    That’s because we’re dealing with people who think that ‘Folks on the Hill’ is a docu-soap. I wouldn’t waste your energy.

  • Julian Robertson

    Jeffrey

    “Cue Julian telling me how anti-British I really am for asking a question that is only directly relevant in Northern Ireland”

    Don’t be silly.

    All this pro/anti GFA labelling that gets thrown about – explain please how relevant it all is now? I know it makes people feel better but please….

    The “anti” DUP aren’t bringing anything down but holding out for the proof they need to be convinced paramilitary activity has stopped in order to do a deal, have elections and, er , get the institutions up and running

    Surley the differences are along the lines of how and when rather than if?

    A lot of time has passd and a lot has been done – whetehr good or bad is immaterial as we have to deal with where we are.

    Isn’t that exactly what the DUP is doing?

  • rapunsel

    I can’t be bothered to read the rest of the posts on this issue. But some non entity unionist defects to the tories– big deal. We always knew that the ulster unionists are tories in disguise anyway– better to have the bastards out in the open . God help the fools that think they will have any more success with the tories here than they did with the ulster unionists — from some hope to no hope i think. Good luck and good riddance I say.

  • George

    Jeffrey Donaldson is probably the south’s favourite unionist.

    Is this good or bad for his profile?

  • Mick Fealty

    Whatever you think of his performance when he was in the UUP, he has been a mature performer since his move. The DUP is scrupulously collegiate in terms of sharing the media work. He certainly hasn’t gone away!

  • pith

    “Scrupulously collegiate”. Yes the DUP is that alright. Not much chance of seeing Jim Wells pop up to talk about environmental issues though is there? Not if he loses them the chalet bungalow vote.

  • darth rumsfeld

    A serious question for Julian.

    Many a long year ago I sat in the audience of well scrubbed lawyers and doctors at a POLITICAL meeting in the Ulster Hall when Bob Mccartney demanded equal citizenship. Oh how we cheered every barbed comment! Yet soon it became clear that these people were congenitally incapable of commitment to political work- y’know- knocking doors, licking envelopes, invading Clontibret(oops, wrong flashback). True, many did join the North Down Tories in the Lawrence Kennedy times, but they didn’t stick at after he left.

    In 1998 I saw similar political virgins- or second time arounders in some instances- come into Glengall Street to help Trimble con the Unionist electorate in the refernedum, and then to push Sylvia towards Westminster. Their zeal to push aside longstanding UUC delegates to win every punch up at the Waterfront was frightening. But again, come the 2001 general election, and most had gone.

    Now, this political class of professional cuckoos in the nest seem to be gravitating towards you. You are genuinely a Conservative- through the very lean recent years. These are glory hunters, with about as much commitment as the average Manchester United fan, but if the trend is repeated they’ll gut your core membership and try to oust you and yours.

    And they are fundamentally “Nice” Unionists- not Tories at all. They are going to pick away at the constitutional issue- as the North Down Tories did. They’ll try to reignite the integration flame, or reheat the GFA, or a hundred pet versions of making Northern Ireland a nice wee country- just like Helen’s Bay.

    I bet constitutional matters will soon become the key issues, except at supper club meetings when you all sit down to listen to Anne Widdicombe read from her latest bodiceripper. Bet there won’t be many Roman catholics in the new intake either.I’m not a Conservative, but you deserve better than that. Let them in, and soon you’ll be agreeing with Randolph Churchil’s dismissal of thsoe “foul Ulster Tories”

  • Bushmills

    As usual a sound analysis from Darth. The truth is that the Ulster Tories are basically a miniature, slightly more liberal version of the UUP, hence the defections of a late. How exactly people like Big Grant Dillon and Little Bob can be accomodated I do not now, but I’m sure Julian will find a way….

  • pith

    Darth, that’s a very long question – and you haven’t even finished it. It’s a good one though.

  • Ulster Tory

    Quite right Darth, these people have no right getting involved in politics. Who knows, they might even do something dangerous like entice the 50% of unionists who don’t vote to get off their backsides. Or even worse, draw the political centre of gravity a bit East instead of South.
    At least with nasty unionists you know where you stand, right Darth.

  • Bushmills

    UT

    Sorry, but everywhere “these people” have been has tunred to sh*t – look at the UUP in Strangford – Bob Little actually had a hand in the shambles that constituency is in – why is he going to do great things with the Tories, when he didn’t with the UUP?

  • darth rumsfeld

    UT
    Don’t be so sensitive- anyone can be involved in politics. You don’t need a brain- look at John Prescott. But you need to be careful that leaders can control and convicne followers. I actually think young Bowles might be quiter a capture. But many of the rest are dross. They lack stickability or vision. Suggest to them that they should sponsor a match at Carryduff GAA in the heart of suburbia where Tories should be strong,as a means of attracting RC middleclass voters and see the reaction

  • darth rumsfeld

    ..oh, and isn’t it significant that your targetting the 50% of Unionists who don’t vote- not a word about all those nationalists. EVen the Scottish tories realise there are SNP voters they could poach

  • Julain Robertson

    Darth

    Wasn’t actually a question there but I see what you are getting at. Sat in the same Ulster Hall meeting as you by the way.

    Without laying bare the inner workings of our Party, let me at least say this.First of all, lets put trhings in perpsective. Its not as if the entire UUP has pitched up on our doorstep. Those who have come to us have done so after a lot of thinking – it’s not easy ditching a party and colleague that you may have worked hard for, especially when going to, whilst a massive party across the entire UK, is a smaller party in this region. I think the reaction is interesting as it further highlights the problems the UUP have as they are losing people to the DUP, to us and also just losing people from politics altogether.

    When I started out in the Conservative Party I saw some of the problems we had. I like to think (though many will dispute this of course) I am not quite as naive as I was then. When a party grows in numbers of course pressures grow – actually I faced many pressures in my stint as chairman here and have dealt with them. I offer as proof the fact we are still here and may now have turned a corner.

    Go to any part of the Conservative Party and you will find the same pressure over approaches to for instance, taxation, the constitution, immigration, the EU to name only a few. It’s all part and parcel of any political party and we all muddle through.

    Everyone who joins us knows they are joining a massive UK party with big issues to tackle and a lot to do – not a regional party obsessing 100% on one issue.

    I think those of us who have been at this for a while know what we have to do. I think you do a disservice to those joining by using such sweeping statements. Lets wait and see how we develop, lets see how w emeet the challenge and lets wait and see how all the other parties develop – after all, don’t they all have their own internal pressures to constantly manage?

    Also, we don’t have the budget to sponsor anything so Carryduff GAA will have to wait a while.

    Bushmills
    “but I’m sure Julian will find a way…. ”

    If I thought you were serious I’d be flattered.

  • PeterBrown

    CC

    I walked away from the UUP months ago – I knew the minute I read about the PUP pact on Teletext that I had to leave mainly because a party that I had come to accept was already politically and financially bankrupt but was capable of being saved was now morally bankrupt and deserved to be scuttled and partly because the first i had heard about that particular development was by reading about it on Teletext. Hadn’t heard there’ll be no Conference this year though – presumably the lack of sutiable telephone kiosks to hold it in meant no suitable venue. Who else can remember being asked to move further forward every time a TV camera appears to make the hall look full? How many Ulster Unionists can you fit in a mini? All of them!

  • Ulster Tory

    Darth,
    I said unionists not Unionists. A small but important difference. While I’m an optimist I can’t see any Irish Republicans joining the Tories, no matter how much he/she may agree with us on bread & butter issues. But the door is very much open to anyone – no matter their religion, race or background – as long as they subscribe to the Party’s values, rules & ethos. And that includes promotion of the Union between NI & GB.

    So anyone defecting from the UUP to the Tories will be an anti-Catholic one issue obsessive – surely your getting us mixed up with the DUP?

    And of course if we don’t promote a sectarian form of unionism then we are “half baked”.

    Damned if you do….

  • kensei

    “Suggest to them that they should sponsor a match at Carryduff GAA in the heart of suburbia where Tories should be strong”

    I’m not entirely sure this is the case. While there are undoubtely natural Tories, I think the Catholic population is more like Scotland – suspicious of the Tories and a touch more left wing.

  • Bushmills

    Julian

    Oh yes. Your many “pressures”, like when Neville Sanders told Paul Cochrane’s parents to stop whinging about their son’s death, your party went through a disciplinary hearing to suspend him and then let him in through the back door to run again.

    PS. Pass on our regards to Councillor Sanders in Bournemouth.

    BTW, you can expect the likes of Bob Little etc. to begin agitating to have anti-agreement members of your party put out within about 10 minutes of their first meeting.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “I think the Catholic population is more like Scotland – suspicious of the Tories and a touch more left wing.”

    .. er, you mean… like David Cameron :0)

    “I said unionists not Unionists. A small but important difference.”

    Well not really. If you aren’t trying to be persuaders for the Union to nationalists then what’s the difference between you and a tribal party here? You support the GFA as a party, which you seem to believe parks the constituional question.

    I’m not expecting a canvass in Andytown yet- though your loathsome leader may well seek a quick photo opportunity with international statesman Gerry to go with his other abandonment of traditional toryism- but you must surely reach out to our repressed minority on the Malone Road and other ghettos?

    And one tip for the Conservatives- a dead Eric Forth is ten times the man a live David Cameron will ever be- elect him leader now!

  • Carson’s Cat

    Peter Brown
    “I walked away from the UUP months ago”

    Fair enough, my apologies for insulting you with the suggestion that you may still be a member.

  • ExUUP

    Will the last person left in cunningham house please turn the light off

  • Egroeg

    After these five UUP deflections anyone know is the Tory party situated anywhere else in Northern Ireland except in Bangor or Holywood in North Down? Were do they hold meetings, are they secret, and how many members do they have?

  • Julian Robertson

    Bushmills

    Try engaging the brain before spouting your vitriol. You are getting boring.

  • bertie

    I’ve always found Bushmills to be very entertaining.

    Just how pro agreement are the NI Tories. I find it hard to beleive that Barbara Finney is the only anti agreement Tory in NI.

  • Er Indoors

    Yes, Egroeg, we do – you make us Tories sound like a secret religious sect with bizarre practices. There is a coven of us who meets in Lagan Valley, round my house, and I wouldn’t know how to get to Bangor or North Down (I actually thought they were one & the same)without a map. But then I’m just a blow in, so what do I know??

  • Egroeg

    [b]Yes, Egroeg, we do – you make us Tories sound like a secret religious sect with bizarre practices. There is a coven of us who meets in Lagan Valley, round my house, and I wouldn’t know how to get to Bangor or North Down (I actually thought they were one & the same)without a map. But then I’m just a blow in, so what do I know?? [/b]

    Er Indoors,

    The Tories in Northern Ireland (Not Ulster) seem to act like a secret society, if you just hold meetings in peoples homes. Likewise If you dont advertise were you meet how are politically Conserative-Unionist minded citizens know were to go if they were interested in joining the Tory party?

    More Questions?

    No1) Is it imperative to be a freemason to hold office in the Tory party, as it once was to be an Orangeman to hold office in the UUP?

    No2) Are the Tories here only looking for conservative professional middle class UUP deflectors, or are deflectors from other Unionist DUP, PUP parties and working class loyalists welcome ?

    No3) As your party is the only main UK party here at present , what do you think if the Labour Party were to set up a mandate in NI?

    No4) Why do you only meet in peoples homes, does the UK Tories not give you monetary assistance to set up a conservative club like they have in England to meet in?

    No5) Do you think the failure of the DUP & SF to set up a devolved government by 24th November will attract more Unionist minded citizens who wish not only to be more involved with main Whiehall politics , but help solidfy the Union between UK and NI

    No6) Finally what about Belfast, were do the Tories meet here.

  • Er Indoors

    Thought provoking stuff, Egroeg!Answers – no, no, great, if only!,I’ll get back to you on 5, and 6 – whereabouts in particular in Belfast are you looking for a secret sect coven meeting, ‘cos there’s several to choose from.

  • Er Indoors

    And another thing – is it normal to see secret coven meetings advertised in the press? I don’t think so – you’d be asking for trouble. Any likely prospective member would make their initial overtures thru’ the usual channels, and then get invited to a meeting/social.

  • Egroeg

    [b][i]Thought provoking stuff, Egroeg!Answers – no, no, great, if only!,I’ll get back to you on 5, and 6 – whereabouts in particular in Belfast are you looking for a secret sect coven meeting, ‘cos there’s several to choose from.
    Posted by Er Indoors [/i][/b]

    If you have any info regards ongoing monthly meetings in the South Belfast area I know of a few Unionists who may be prepared to deflect to the Tories if a the DUP & SF fail to agree to a Devolved government in November.

  • Egroeg
    Seek and ye shall find.
    Or in more modern parlance.
    Email me and I shall direct thee.
    Bemused what influence the setting up of devolution in November has. Regardless politics has to move in A New Direction

  • Egroeg

    [b]Egroeg Seek and ye shall find.
    Or in more modern parlance.
    Email me and I shall direct thee.
    Bemused what influence the setting up of devolution in November has. Regardless politics has to move in A New Direction[/b]

    I and others have e/mailed this e/mail address not once but twice over many weeks and never received a reply.

    office@conservativesni.org.

  • Er Indoors

    Egroeg, don’t know why the office@ address is not producing results, I promise to investigate, but in the meantime email lagansider@hotmail.com

  • Nevin
  • PeterBrown

    Isn’t it Barbara Finney who was the recipient of the infamous pre devolution letter from her then MLA now UUP Leader guaranteeing her as a constituent that there would be no guns no government which was subsequently widely circulated when the opposite actually happened? Think I still have a copy somewhere but presumably that’s been deleted off the Cunningham House hard drive – unlike the old UYUC address list apparently…..

  • bertie

    Peter

    I think that you’re right, but we were never meant to take suce reassurance seriously, were we?

    I wish I had the promises made to me in writing.

  • exuup

    is there anyone left in the UUP to defect?

  • PeterBrown

    “Will the last person left in cunningham house please turn the light off”

    No need to worry – this will happen automatically when the last 50p in the meter runs out

  • Butterknife

    Peter you are so bitter.

  • pith

    Who gave the UUP 50p?

  • ‘Who gace the UUP 50p?’

    I don’t know, but at the very least I hope they got a peerage for it. And failing that, a Free State senate seat.

  • exuup

    Who gave the UUP 50p?

    not another bank heist surely?

  • exuup

    Who gave the UUP 50p?

    or should that be piggy bank heist?

  • pith

    So the UUP-PUP alliance is yielding dividends afterall?