Increasing the price of disloyality within the DUP…

It has to be said that internal cohesion has not historically been a great specialism of Northern Ireland’s party system. Sinn Fein has long since been famous for its command and control structures, and often been unfairly judged against wider standards that look almost laissez faire in comparison. But they are no longer the only ones looking to assert control from the ‘centre’ over the ‘edge’. The DUP’s central party headquarters is now demanding their MLAs sign a two page contract (with accompanying letter of resignation which apparently can be triggered automatically)… Martina Purdey:

“Another clause, which has also caused upset, asks candidates to sign a letter of resignation which could be invoked by the party leader Ian Paisley if the member is in serious breach of his or her obligations under the contract,” she said.

“These obligations include regularly attending meetings and obeying party policy. Under the contract, the party leader having consulted a majority of party officers could submit the letter to the speaker’s office.

“Another source, upset by the contract, said it was an attempt to stifle dissension before election day. Party officers are currently meeting, but it is not clear if the contract forms part of the discussion.”

She also noted that one of the clauses imposed a £20,000 fine on members.

Some questions arise, not least whether it is actually enforceable under a concerted legal challenge? Or is it just a ploy to concentrate the minds of potential rebels. Either way, it could be a serious gamble…


  • Disorganised Uninterested Pretenders

    It just smacks of totalitarian control.

    So this is how the DUP planned to unite the Party then…

    Interesting how this document came out after most candidates have now been selected to run for the DUP.

    Wonder how many now wish they hadn’t bothered…

  • The Clockwoman

    I would say none for its still good money. Individual DUP MLAs can not be forced to resign but they can lose the DUP whip. The contract only works if they are employed by the DUP which they are not.

  • steve48

    Very dangerous territory for the DUP. This is obviously designed to ensure that certain elected reps do as they are told on the 26th March. But has Peter done his sums right and what happens if the FP wing have a majority and take the leadership post March 7th. Those signed letters could clear the decks for a McCrea or Allister takeover.

  • DUPer

    And another thing, the beatings will continue until the morale improves in this party !!!!

  • Disorganised Uninterested Pretenders


    But if they have written and signed the resignation letter, pre-election the letter simply needs to be forwarded to the Presiding Officer.

    It will then become public and that Member will hear of their resignation as they drive home from work listening to Radio Ulster.

    Quite unfortunate – but that’s the price you pay for being a member of the DUP…

  • outofinterest

    “Those signed letters could clear the decks for a McCrea or Allister takeover. ”

    Ah but wait a min, did Allister sign such a contract before he was elected as MEP? I very much doubt it and as he is not an assembly member this doesn’t cover him at all.

    McCrea similarly as an MP is also probably not covered by such a thing although presumably he will be if re elected as an Assembly member?

  • The Clockwoman

    They must be preparing the good ship DUP for power-sharing. I can understand a contract between the DUP and lets say Mr Smith which ousts him from the party, or even from a ministerial post but he cannot be ousted from the Assembly just because he disagrees with his party. He has a social contract with the people and if there is coercion then the contract isn’t worth the paper its written on.
    Even a oral contract is binding unless its made under duress. It has to be freely made.

  • Concerned DUP Member

    As a DUP memebr I’m concerned about this move… it shows a deep and severe lack of trust right at the top of the Party.

    What’s going on?

  • wee ulsterman

    Ah, the smell of blind panic wafting from Dundela Ave in the morning…

    Lacking any kind of central message, or any commitment of what they’ll do on 26th March, all they’re left to fall back on is this sort of totalitarian strong-arming of dissent.

    Really shows you how much at sixes and sevens they are. I was looking over some Slugger threads from 6 months ago – amazing how far the DUP have fallen since then.

    Even the mightiest press operations must one day crumble… and if this particular mis-step is anything to go by, we should be in for an entertaining campaign!

    More seriously, asking candidates to sign post-dated letters of resignation is seriously screwing around with the democratic process here, and I’m sure the voters will reward the DUP accordingly.

  • barcas

    It is the “Democratic” Unionist Party after all, let’s not forget. Is this an example of the way they intend to rule democratically, once in power?

    Not much change then, after eighty years of Unionist and British “democratic” rule.

  • Michael Shilliday

    It is very worrying for the democratic process, particularly given the method for replacing resigned candidates. What if the “wrong” candidate gets in somewhere? All the DUP have to do is place the appropriate letter on the speakers desk and the electorates mistake is rectified. Disgusting.

  • Inspector Clouseau

    Michael Shilliday,

    Not as disgusting and undemocratic as Alliance members redesignating as “unionists” to save Dave.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Far more surely? That wasn’t a small group of members of a party deciding who should and who should not be in a legislature over the heads of the electorate.

  • Inspector Clouseau


    Are you for serious? A small group of people were deciding that people who did not support the rule of law could stay in goverment against the wishes of the electorate.

  • They should name the document “The Paul Berry Memorial Letter”.

  • Michael Shilliday

    The electorate had not expressed an opinion on that matter, and never directly have. That is different to who they elect and who they do not.

  • observer

    this is policitcs get used to it. DUP members will be elected under the DUP banner, if theyre not happy with the conditions they are free to run as independents and lets see how many actually get elected that way

  • Crataegus

    One would have to read the contract for proper comment, but I am sure there is plenty of ways out of it. If there is a will there is a way.

    So let us assume Mr East Belfast decides to leave the DUP in a years time. Do they then take him to court to try to collect their £20,000? That would look really clever and you could imagine all the defences and threats to reveal inside information. One court case and the DUP would be in shambles.

    Apart from that if someone no longer agrees best they leave. Imagine having a dozen MLA’s siting at your back all of whom disagree. Contracts do not change minds and sooner or later they will strike.

  • Henry94


    There is always that tension in political parties. But the model we are using is representative democracy and not Democratic Centralism which appears to be the DUP choice.

    The problem with the DC model historically is that it kills off dissent and debate within the party because the centre has the power to take revenge on those who question it. It’s an invention of V.I Lenin but it led to Stalin.

    It’s a bad model and they would be advised to abandon it.

  • I’m afraid this thread is a good example as to why I would rather eat grass than join the DUP. It’s been a long obvious paradox that a party, which proudly defines itself as ultra-Protestant, is structurally as authoritarian as any Papacy. (And, for all its rottenness, at least the UUP is not.) Of course, the DUP has had its control freak tendencies since its creation. But, whilst internal discipline helped the party when it was smaller, control freakery spells big problems now that it is the larger party. Ulster Protestant society is far too inherently schismatic (as Paisley should well know by now) for anyone to sit in Dundela Avenue and act like a master puppeteer.

    Mind you, if I was Michael Shilliday, and my party had been involved in the squalid gerrymandering that got his then leader leader re-elected as First Minister, I’d be keeping schtum.

  • mickhall

    Do DUP candidates for the Westminster Parliament have to sign such a document and if so one would hope its Speaker would have something to say about it, or is such intellectual thuggery reserved for the mockney Stormont Assembly.

    If the speaker of that assembly allows this nonsense to stand, it will reaffirm my contempt for that particular establishments democratic credentials. By the way what type of politicians would sign such a shabby thing?

  • John East Belfast

    What shocks me most about this is the breathtaking misundertanding of what consitutes unionist politics.

    ie the only thing any unionist in a politicam party has in common with another is the fact that they equally support the Union. Indeed we often cant agree on the best way to do that.

    However because we all agree on the Union then it means that people from very diverse opinions and backgrounds come together with different views on all other issues – moral, economic, social, education, health etc…..

    Indeed it is a strength of unionism that this is the case and causes policy on these issues to gravitate to the centre.

    That a policy is arrived at – true – but there is an understanding that that policy can change with other argument and persuasion – ie hope is never forfeited that things can change.

    eg the UUP dissidents hung in there thinking they could still change the ship’s direction.

    Yes that can be a weakness leading to anarchy and ill discipline but it also requires a different type of leadership – but not a dictatorship.

    Incidentally is there going to be DUP Policy on matters formally considered as ‘matters of conscience’ ?

    I wonder how Donaldson and co think about this.

  • True Blue

    I am not sure why everyone is making such an issue of this it has been practice in the DUP for this to happen. The issue must have been raised by someone who is not happy with the procedure or has never been selected for the assembly seat before and has run to the press. Shame on them they should remember that they are fighting for a seat for the Party not for themselves they are only a tool in the election process and if they are unhappy and very disloyal to the Party they then should stand down from the selection process and let someone who is happy to abide by the rules take their place.

  • Intelligence Insider

    Strikes me as a lot of shit that won’t be worth the paper any DUPe signs it on.
    As far as I am aware when a member is elected he supplies the Speakers office with a list of (up to) 5 people who would replace them in the result of his/her death or resignation. The choice of replacement is solely the members, not the parties or even the constituency offices.
    So, say Mr Orange is elected as a DUP MLA for North Antrim, he then falls foul of DUP HQ who produce his “resignation” from the Assembly. Now, even if it was decided that the “resignation” was enforcable (A huge if, if you ask me), Mr Orange can then say, well, my choice of replacement is Mrs Orange. Mrs Orange then becomes the member for North Antrim upon signing the pledge of office. Mrs Orange is then free to resign and nominate Mr Orange as her replacement.
    So seems like a pretty stupid move from the DUPes to me, but that in itself is hardly surprising.

  • Utterly, utterly worthless. If the baby barristers currently with Paisley signed off on this as legally watertight, he’d have been a lot better off paying out good cash money for some real advice. A waste of time and wood pulp – and stupid because, since it’s unenforcable, all they’ve ended up doing is look pointlessly silly (and fractionally frit).

  • The Big Man




  • McBurney

    Not only do the candidates have to sign this resignation letter, but also their replacements, so, Paisley could veto their replacements too.

  • For the last time (on this thread), no he can’t. It’s all idle, entirely counter-productive now that it’s been exposed to the light of public scrutiny, bluff (directed at DUP candidates, to compound the insult, if you can insult sheep). Paisley can no more ‘resign’ [sic] somebody else’s eg assembly seat on their behalf than he could get pregnant for them.

  • SCW

    The DUP are the laughing stock of the electorate tonight

  • the other one

    Apparently there are 17 candidates refusing to sign the letter on the advice of a certain MEP.

    A number of those are known to have already called for Paisley to step down in the last few months and are concerned that they could be “resigned” the day after the election.

    DUP briefing sessions for candidates are reported to be in disarray as only one faction at a time is turning up.

  • interesting

    the other one… how reliable is your source?

  • the other one

    Its been right before and I’m picking up locally that DUP candidates are worried about ratification and what they will have to commit to before ratification. Essentially they are being told that they must support the leadership if they decide to enter government on whatever date the leadership decides without being specific.

  • DUP Where Are You?

    The DUP contingent are very quiet on slugger today…

  • darth rumsfeld

    who do you mean? Neither FD nor myself are DUP members, while Karl are Watchman UUP? Only Stalford is a DUPer and he’s probably out hoovering up the Gimp’s voters as we speak. I agree with Karl again BTW as to the “contract’s” unenforceability.

  • The Big Man

    “Paisley Must Go and Go Now”

  • “Paisley Must Go and Go Now”

    I second the motion.

  • The Clockwoman

    In my opinion if Paisley went and Robinson became less bitter about the UUP then we could see a unionist revival around the DUP … maybe *cough*

    OK how is this for simplicity:

    Pro GFA Anti GFA
    ======= =========
    Alliance is UUP lite DUP is UKUP lite
    UUP is DUP lite UKUP is ….

    Pro St AA ergoGFA Anti StAA
    ======================== =========
    DUP is UUP heavy UKUP is DUP heavy

  • The Clockwoman

    Sorry for the lack of spaces but hopefully you get my thinking…

  • Hello Darth,

    I warn you solemnly that if you describe me as a UUP member again I shall be taking legal advice from Drew or Arlene for defamation. Surely the ECHR says every watchman is entitled to a reputation.

  • True Blue

    This thread is getting very boring I am not sure who from the UUP etc are trying to make something out of nothing but this is an non story. The DUP have done this in 1998 and in 2003 in the first and second assembly elections and there was not a word from the press and their lackies in the UUP etc. As I said before it is a priviledge to stand for an election as a Party member remember you are only a small cog in the election wheel and loyality to a Party is essentional and it is nothing to do with the DUP being afraid of disent this was a requirement in 1998 & 2003 when the DUP was chewing the UUP up and spitting them out

  • the other one

    If its not an issue why have 17 candidates found it impossible to sign the letter on the advice of a well known MEP.

    The duplicity of the DUP is finally catching up.

    Mr Paisley insisted promises made to them by the Government were written, not verbal.
    He said: “We are teaching the British Government a lesson, they will not pull the wool over our eyes.
    “When they are found wanting, we give them a knock between the eyes and they will see stars. We are not going to be pushed around.
    “We are in this fight to win for Ulster and democracy and to keep the British Government to the promises they made. None of these promises are verbal, they are promises which are written down.
    “They know if they don’t keep them, these writings will be taken out and pushed down their throats publicly.”

    Belfast Newsletter 18th October 2006

    Unlike the UUP, the Democratic Unionist Party will place
    no reliance on any assurances from Government or other
    parties, whether verbal or written. The test for the DUP
    will be whether commitments have been met by inclusion
    in legislation or promises already delivered upon.

    DUP Devolution Consultation Paper 27th October 2006

  • Brutus

    and the plot thickens….

  • True Blue,

    I’m not from the UUP and don’t have any particular axe to grind. But you seem to be a bit too much of a party loyalist. The unionist people turned on Trimble and the UUP when the time came, and you should be aware that the same will happen, if necessary, to Papa Doc and the Punt, should they go down the same road. Have you not learned Trimble’s lesson that control-freakery doesn’t work?

  • True Blue

    The Watchman
    Insults do you nor your reasoning any good, so I am not going to repeat myself as I feel you are not listening, I may be a Party Member and that is my business. What you class as control may be different to what the DUP regard it as. If you are refering to the Leader and the Deputy Leader they have names like everyone else, and yes every one and I mean everyone in Northern Ireland should have learned Trimble’s lesson that is why both the gentlemen to whom I assume you are refering are making sure that everything is in place before anything happens at Stormont. Northern Ireland position within the Union is not secure as Trimble would have us think that is why the DUP have taken the hard stance that have with the British Government they are not date led but delivery led and I am prepared as a Unionist and a Loyalist to give them 100% support and thank goodness most of the Unionist family are of the same mind, it is the also rans that are bent on destroying Northern Ireland.

  • True Blue,

    Why do you not face up to the truth that your party is engaged in the same somersaults for which you once blackened Trimble? Or do I really have to Do A Bob, and read Papa Doc’s statements during the 2005 election back at you? Or if the cold record ain’t enough for you, there is the tiny matter of the DUP pulling its punches against Trimble even when the Executive was functioning. As Dean Godson pointed out, the DUP could have pulled out of the Executive and made Trimble’s position totally untenable. The DUP did not because it was too fond of having its feet under the table. I believe your party will snatch at a deal once it gets the right form of words.

  • Alan Millar

    the only Unionist No party at the next Elections is the UKUP