No Future for UU’s?

David Vance completes his trilogy of articles on Unionism with an essay on the UUP. He does not see bright things in its future instead:

I honestly do not think it has a future. The DUP has successfully salami-sliced it from the political right, the Alliance Party has moved in to feed on the soft left…It has no charismatic personalities, it has no unique political perspective, and in fact there is absolutely nothing about it that appeals.

  • There is absolutely nothing about it that appeals. And what about the UUP?

  • Greenflag

    David Vance is basically repeating what is already known . Now that the DUP have gone down the UUP road (even further some would say) will their future be equally as bright /dim ?

    While DV makes an intelligent analysis one is left with the feeling that if he ever found himself atop the Unionist political dung heap what would/could he actually do that would be ‘different’ and yet command wide Unionist support ?

    Methinks not a lot . For it’s not just the UUP that does not have a bright future . Unionism itself is a dim star becoming ever dimmer .It’s out of sync with the times – out of sync in modern Britain and out of synch with modern Ireland (ROI).

    Unionism is so much out of sync that some may even see it as sunk ! . The DUP can only keep what’s left of the union afloat by trying to hold on to their last gambit !

    And what a gambit ? An SF lifebelt !

    Carson one presumes would not be amused !

  • Ziznivy

    It’s rather amusing reading Mr Vance’s lacerating comments about the acumen or lack of it of particular individuals, interspersed with anecdotes from his own sparkling political “career”. To paraphrase Bill Hicks, really basic irony, but you can still get a hoot.

  • Ziznivy,

    Bill Hicks, great guy. I loved his line…

    “God put [dinosaur fossils] here to test our faith!”… I think God put you here to test my faith, dude.”

  • David is right. Hardly anyone in the last week has been prepared to consider another implication of last Monday’s humbling of the Doc. Now that both unionist parties, you’d fancy the DUP as the stronger party to finish the UUP over the next few years.

    What interests me more is (a) whether the DUP starts shedding traditionalist support as the Executive moves into turbulent water and if so (b) whether anyone can harness that lost support and turn it into a serious alternative to the New DUP.

    Come on Green Flag, nothing to say about repartition?

  • slug

    Prediction: the UUP under Empey will re-initiate a phase of unionist unity which means working with the DUP, a role reversal of the way the DUP worked with the UUP in the 1980s. Empey will not be replaced until after the next Westminster election in 2010, when the UUP will hope to retain a seat and make progress on winning a second. They will aim to retain an MEP with a new candidate. Not exciting stuff but I don’t see them disappearing. It would be bad for unionism not to have electoral competition.

  • slug

    Also it will be interesting for the UUP to see how the DUP handle their succession issue in the next 3 to 6 years. After Paisley unionism will be essentially secular and the UUP will not be able to rely on the votes of those who couldn’t support Paisley. Instead, the competition between the two parties will be determined by the performance of the new DUP leader, an unknowable at this stage.

  • Greenflag


    ‘Come on Green Flag, nothing to say about repartition? ‘

    Be patient Watchman -Give the Assembly time to collapse/sit whichever comes first. Or why not just wait for the Seven Council carve up .
    Repartition is Unionism’s last card in NI . They’ll play it when they’ve nothing left by which time it will probably be too late as usual !

  • kokane

    As there is not much difference between SDLP and SF or between UUP and DUP it will be interesting to see how the 2 communities will react with their vote. On the Nationalist side there is a bit more of a class divide. DUP will need to play down their clerical influence or presumably protestant youth will be embarassed into voting for the UUP.

    Not sure if community is better of in ministerial terms to have a big party and a small one (above ministerial level) or just a big one.

  • Dave

    While I agree that the UUP is finished I also suspect the DUP will loose a substabtial number of its voters in future elections. It can no longer use the slogan ‘Stop Sinn Fein’ and its double crossing of the Unionist electorate will come at a price.

    I predict that Nationalists will be the real winners with a reduced Unionist voter turnout they can certainly increase their council seats and maybe even their number of MPs.

  • samrg

    I presume that David Vance is commenting on the demise of the UUP from a pro-union perspective. Therefore several of the posts above aren’t really pertinent.

    Let’s briefy examine some additional salient history of the UUP and its decline from hegemony. It governed largely without opposition for 50 years. Nationalists were only ever able to amend a piece of legislation on wild birds! During that period the UUP saw no need to develop in terms of political sophistication. It made no effort to win over Catholics to the case for the Union and the Orange link persists. It played the Orange card at every turn against the small NI Labour Party. It paid little heed to what the wider world might think of it.

    The history of provincial gerrymandering etc is well-documented and need not be repeated. After WW2 the UUP stepped further out of line with Britain by refusing to reform the discriminatory local franchise restrictions.This proved to be possibly the UUP’s most complete act of political folly,as it was to later provide the Civil Rights movement, and then Republicans, with their most effective propaganda slogan ie “One Man One Vote”.

    Ironically,the early Civil Righters walked behind a banner which read “British Rights for British Citizens in Northern Ireland”. The over-reaction of a UUP-controlled RUC to Civil Rights demonstrators – in full view of the world’s media – led to the fall from grace of the UUP, when Westminster soon after prorogued Stormont.

    The UUP then again proved themselves a vehicle of anti-British reaction by opposing the Campaign for Equal Citizenship in the 80’s. This pressure group was simply asking that people in Northern Ireland be allowed to join and vote for the mainstream British parties if they so chose.It had considerable cross-community support for this demand.

    The UUP, egged on by the six-countyist DUP, expelled the CEC President Robert McCartney from its ranks for seeking to stand on a CEC platform against a non-UUP candidate in the 1987 General election. Glengall St also expelled almost the entirety of its North Down branch on the same grounds. As David Vance well knows, Bob Mc Cartney retreated back into provincialist party politics by establishing his own party the UKUP.

    And so Northern Ireland remained in the singularly un-British position of being quarantined from the main parties which actually governed the UK state. This is one of the most relevant aspects of the Northern Ireland polity. So blindingly obvious that it is often over-looked. It continues, as the Labour Party still refuses to organise here.

    In the recent Assembly election the UUP was up against it in terms of the DUP v Sinn Fein main show in town. However it bumbled on into further demise by failing to learn either from its own follies or the success of others. For example, the DUP and SF used sitting Westminister MP’s as standard bearers to maximise the vote.The UUP languishes in the humiliating position of being reduced to having only one MP. What did they do? Well they chose not to run her in North Down, thereby sacrificing a very winnable third seat. Imagine SF not running Gildernew or Adams or McGuinness……

    It is also indicative of the UUP’s incompetence that it could only muster one female candidate.

    Lady Hermon,UUP MP North Down,is now pretty much a party dissident. Among other things, she has been publicly critical of her party’s alliance with the PUP-a veritable masterstroke -which she feels managed to lose the party votes to both the DUP and Alliance in East Belfast. It would be no surprise if Sylvia Hermon went over to a pro-union party on the rise- viz Alliance.

    The additional vote mismanagement farce in South Belfast (and probably elsewhere) seems to confirm that the UUP is in the grip of a death wish. It could have taken the principled stance of going into opposition against the DUP and SF but chose not to.

    Having said all that,one has to ask whether, it really matters whether the UUP shrinks to marginal relevance.The DUP has morphed into the DUUP just as those other post-Sunningdale slow learners SF have morphed into the SFDLP. And, the two communal blocks will grind away at each other (thankfully under conditions of truce), until demography determines otherwise.

  • ballymuck

    Is it just me or does DV ride that “!” key a little too hard?

    He could be making some telling points from time to time, for all I know, but he comes across like the sort of fellow that waves his arms and maybe even sprays a bit of spit while he shouts at you.

  • Butterknife

    I was going to read it but then i read the sub title. Waste of 5 minutes. Totally immature and lacking in every department.

  • Butterknife,

    Did it really take you 5 minutes to read the sub-heading? Wow – you are a deep reader.


    Interested to read that an exclamation mark obviates the meaning of a sentence in your world. PS I don’t think I have shouted at anyone.

  • ballymuck

    Yes DV, on re-reading, my response it was a little harsh, if not just plain rude. My apologies.

  • seanzmct

    samrg is correct. The UUP and DUP have repeatedly shown themselves to be profoundly provincialist
    and un-British in terms of policies that would have made Northern Ireland a more congenial place for Catholics.

    The DUP is particularly “our wee six-countyish” in its politics and a recent Sinn Fein joke about theirr “Brits Out” policy has quite an element of truth in it.

    I would not say that the UUP are finished, but it is hard to see where any revival of fortunes will come from.

    What odds that the DUP will settle for a federal Ireland outside the UK?

  • abucs

    Of course the current momentum has been with DUP and SF for some time and that will carry them further in the next couple of years.

    But one can make the case that assembly politics will mean a shift in the thinking of the electorate and with different responsibilities (or should i say some responsibilities) parties will be marked to a different scorecard.

    Might still mean DUP and SF will dominate but if UUP and SDLP are going to claw back to anywhere near even parity, being first mover on handling the new resposibilities will be vital.

    If i was those parties, i’d be seeing the assembly as a great (perhaps the last) opportunity.