UUP must reform or die…


AS the UUP continues to tear itself apart with in-fighting, the News Letter over the past day or two has been like reading an extended obituary for the party. Today, the only UUP MP warned that Sir Reg badly needed to reform it, with Reg giving the excuse that he had been thwarted inside the UU Council and sidetracked by elections. Things might get resolved if Saturday’s AGM motion gets the ball rolling – but don’t bet on it, as the party is highly resistant to change. Nick Garbutt offers some words of wisdom here, and while it is as clear as day that the party needs root and branch reform from top to bottom, if it doesn’t happen quickly, instead of the glacial pace it has favoured, the UUP will die. Unionists appear fed up with hand-wringing, whining excuses and blaming others. When even David Trimble says he has no problem with his new party trying to overthrow the one he led for a decade, you know that reserves of sympathy and loyalty are running low for a party that has the appearance of dying a slow death.

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    Have to agree with this one. I remain a supporter of the UUP and would love to see it start to pick up ground again and move back to a more dominant position in Unionism. I believe that the UUP has a role to play and the nonsense about a single unionist party is unrealistic. The DUP are not a wide enough church (quite literally) to absorb the spread of unionist opinion. I am a unionist but I could never fit into the DUP, I am pro abortion, I am pro gay rights and gay marriage, I believe Darwin’s Theory of Evolution to be substantially correct, I am an atheist and I am not that much of a monarchist. I am pretty liberal but I would bet that I am not the only unionist to have these views. The UUP needs to exist so that views such as these can at least find some space to fit into. Now the list above is not UUP policy by any means but my views were tolerated and I felt I had a place in the party.

    The great problem that has beset the UUP, and I argued this fact to Trimble on god knows how many occasions, is that it just isn’t organized to be a political party of the 21st century. The UUC was created to bring together all unionists in one place and the UUP was designed to be the political voice of the council and of all unionists. That hasn’t been the case for many years and the purpose and functions of the UUC are simply an obstacle to the development of an efficient disciplined and functional political party. The UUP has needed major reform for many many years. An internal reform process began back when Donaldson and some others argued it at the party conference and UUC but in the decade of work they never produced anything meaningful and very few useful reforms were initiated. I am not so daft as to blame all the problems on one person and I am aware that a great deal of it is structural and system based problems. It will take a culture shift in the UUP to manage a successful reform process and it will be tough work. But having said that Reg has had 2 years as leader to do this, or at least start seriously trying to do this. The fact that his attempts were thwarted by the UUC shows how little real work or understanding he and his cabal actually have of what is needed to be done. This is on top of the fact that Reg has been a party officer for over a decade and could easily have used his position to take up a leadership role in serious party reform but he never did.

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    The UUP in 15-20 years time could once again be an electoral force. But it’s going to take hard work and the creation of a generation of new figures who will be around in 20 years time and in their prime. The Assembly team has just got older since I left the average age is probably well into the late 50’s. That’s not a vibrant forward looking political movement.

    Personally I sincerely hope that by the end of Saturday the UUP has a new leader. 2 years ago I felt that Reg would not cut it on party reform and 2 years later it’s evident that he hasn’t. Now with his time being eaten up by a ministerial post it’s even less likely. He had 2 years to do little else he delivered nothing. He won’t do better when the civil servants fill his day with mindless pap and try to housetrain their minister.

    In truth I don’t believe the UUP should even be in government at this point all energy should be focused on party reform. Once the party is restructured and starts to develop a coherent message and clear ideas it can look outward. But until then all energy needs to be directed to real sustained reform.

  • IJP

    Same old same old, Duncan.

    The same was being said in ’98, when 28 seats was rightly deemed a shockingly poor result.

    The Ulster Unionists are culturally incapable of reform. They do not constitute a single organization in any meaningful way. Individualism and dissent are core to its very nature.

    I should add that personally, I wouldn’t hang around in a party where views central to me – whether on policy or strategy – were merely “tolerated”.

  • darth rumsfeld

    Dunc was even tolerated in the Orange Order which required him to assert his Christian reformed beliefs- in spite of him being- we now discover- an atheist!

    Perhaps part of the problem with the UUP- and now we see the DUP at it too- is that there really is a tolerance of the “all mouth and no trousers” politicians. Hypocrisy and double speak have always been needed in politics- hence Jim Allister’s short participation as a front line politico-but to think that the Unionism of Carson and Craig was inherited by such feeble merchants of bombast and bluster is truly depressing.

    You can’t fault HMG for crushing opposition that’s so obviously rotten, but frankly there’s a whole class of Unionist politicians who have shown themselves unworthy of the burden handed on to them- and they have been endorsed by the electorate. I’m with Bonar law (the real one) who said “There are things greater than parliamentary majorities”

  • Peter

    Duncan,

    The UUP are dead, friend. It would be true to say that the DUP are dead too, they’ll just seem to run the show but they simply are propping up the unionist vote until the big-hitters arrive. What is happening is a major change in UK politics. More home grown politicians are being attracted to mainland politics, as it’s the only way to secure and renew a future UK, where the home nations have more clout in it’s running.

    The Union ain’t dead, it’s just reforming!

  • Elvis Parker

    Duncan I would have thought you would have followed James Leslie and David Trimble down the Conservative path not this mind numbing stuff about reforming the structures of a party that has no purpose other than survival?

  • Genuine Snapshot

    Chaps, it *had* to be the UUP’s structures that the poor, deluded electorate has kept rejecting, election after election after elction. God forbid they were rejecting the policies (or politicians) Duncan ‘felt comfortable with’, let alone epoused (and factionally supported). Remember, none of you are as smart as Duncan. He’s in MENSA.

  • Genuine Snapshot

    I’m man enough not to blame this damned sticky keyboard for the ‘epoused’, as opposed to espoused, but of course to accept it as a mistype subconsciously serving as yet another shocking indication as to the sort of person Duncan has to waste his time corresponding with. Poor old Duncan. Poor old, smart old Duncan.

  • Yokel

    You miss the point lads…Duncan hopes the UUP will have a new leader.

    Is it possible there is enough in the bag for a palace coup against Reg at this time? Yes or no?

  • interested

    Darth,
    Surely part of the problem with unionist politicians in particular is that the ghosts of Carson and Craig are ‘dug’ up as what politicians nowadays should be like.

    The unionism of Carson and Craig cant be passed on to a politician in 2007 – because nearly over 80 years have passed by. Frankly Carson is shockingly mis-represented by unionists – its not like he even got what he wanted yet eventually accepted (not terribly enthusiastically) something he clearly didn’t think was a victory. Unionists now however are sold the myth that Carson somehow achieved everything he ever wanted to get.

  • Ignited

    Party structures are a serious issue and once they are dealt with (if they are) it will render the party fit for purpose.

    But importantly, as Genuine Snapshot stated, it is not the structures that the electorate are soundly rejecting it is the policies and the politicians. The UUP needs to develop policies for the unionist people that are specific to their needs – not some Alliance Party of NI rip off. Secondly they need to learn from their mistakes concerning young talent (Donaldson, Foster, Weir, etc) and make sure they are given the opportunity to face the electorate in a winnable seat.

    Only if this is achieved can the UUP possibly have any future. At the minute (and in the past) there has been dynasty building and self-serving egotists who have put a glass ceiling on the chance of moving up in the party. Learn the lessons of the past and give those who are capable the chance of proving themselves.

  • Garibaldy

    Darth,

    Would this be the unionism of Carson who died broken hearted at his failure and the loss of the 26, or the unionism or Craig who sold the unionists of Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal right down the river?

  • This whole debate missses the point. The UUP’s internal structures are substantially irrelevant. Getting rid of the Orange link (even though it was the Order who broke it) attracted zero Catholics and lost the UUP a lot of party workers. How many people sit on the Ulster Unionist Council is about as relevant to the UUP’s vote share as the Society of Maldive Aardvaark Fanciers is to world peace.

    The UUP needs to work out what point there is in its existence in a world where Gerry Adams is sharing power with Ian Paisley and the IRA is basically a Bloody Sunday commemoration club. If the answer is ‘no point’, its members had better work out which of Alliance, the Tories or the DUP is more appealing to them before they waste any more time and effort.

  • Yokel

    Sammy

    The internal structures argument is ultimately a canard and part of a case building up against Reg to oust the man.

    What I don’t know is how powerful the movement is to oust him, but there certainly is one.

  • Genuine Snapshot

    What’s the point of APNI Sammy, given that even the UUP’s vote tally looks titanic compared to their miserable trawl? Seriously, in a world where Whitehall has contrived to get the bigot Paisley and the employee McGuinness locked into a partition-administering Stormont, what exactly does the Alliance offer us? Hard to get much more ‘cross-community’ than that stitch up. Equally, given the Alliance’s shameful support for compulsory ‘power sharing’ (thus obviating the entire point point of participative representative democracy, at whatever tier your vote is being cast), what honestly can they usefully say against said stitch up? ‘Er, it’s what we always wanted, what a pity it, er, didn’t happen sooner?’ Nope, from where I’m sitting, it’s look as if the point of the Alliance is much as its always being – to get a certain strata of the middle classes their Quango places.

  • Greenflag

    Duncan Shipley Dalton,

    ‘An internal reform process began back when Donaldson and some others argued it at the party conference and UUC but in the decade of work they never produced anything meaningful and very few useful reforms were initiated.’

    Perhaps it’s time to give up ? When a succession of UUP leaders fail to execute much needed reform this may be nature’s way (back to Darwin) of saying that the said party has reached the end of it’s adaptive capabilities and/or it’s particular niche has now been claimed by a fitter -more aggressive newcomer. Jeffrey Donaldson practised politician that he is , saw the writing on the wall and made the leap.

    The Conservatives will if needed use whichever Unionist votes at Westminster are the most numerous i.e DUP. This may seem like a possible scenario at the next Westminster election but over the longer term and in the past 100 years the Tories have only ever ‘needed’ Unionist MP votes during the latter half of John Major’s Government . UUP historians may look back at the ‘Molyneux Integrationist Period’ as the time when the UUP finally went under to the more ‘nativist’ DUP !

    Perhaps the Alliance Party might prove a better longer term political home for Unionists who cannot stomach the DUP ?

  • Carrick

    Yokel its not a palace coup you smell but a grassroots storming of the palace, i know two long standing members of the party going tomorrow determined to put the leadership to a vote so that other candidates can then come forward.

    The feeling is Reg would certainly not win a vote on his leadership very handsomely even if he was unopposed!

    Normally at Council meetings these things go through quietly when someone is unopposed but not tomorrow – Reg should have known his own weakness before he decided to split the party so that he could get a ministerial Mercedes and a comfy job – he obviously cant both lead the party and do a full-time ministers job!!

    Yet this is what he seemed to want to do, and the fact that he’s been so exposed as putting his own self-interest in a ministry ahead of the interest of the party. The media have focussed on McFarland but other senior people like Tom Elliott and David McClarty were largely sidelined too – so tomorrow should be a very interesting day and I intend to have a front row seat and certainly to make Reg aware of my own concerns!

    Even if he’s not brought down tomorrow he will be soon the partys clearly in the twilight of his leadership – at the very least he will be forced to choose between being minister and being leader, I cant see him being allowed to be both though as usual the Cunningham House mandarins will try to manage things so he does!!

    I’ve been going to Council meetings for over 12 years now and this should be as sparky a meeting as Ive ever been at and i hopefully will mark a revival of the party and we get some new leadership at the top and start winning back support and voters again!!

  • Greenflag

    sammy morse ,

    ‘If the answer is ‘no point’, its members had better work out which of Alliance, the Tories or the DUP is more appealing to them before they waste any more time and effort. ‘

    Succinct advice from a pro 🙂

  • Ginfizz

    Jeepers those News Letter articles are truly depressing stuff! Why does Darwin give these boys column inches to gurn about how the evil DUP successfully triangulated them? That’s politics chaps, don’t complain, get back in the saddle and try to regain lost ground – that won’t happen by coming over as sore losers.

  • Inspector Clouseau

    There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that there is anyone within the UUP leadership that has the skill or balls to manage the type of reform needed to transform the party. It’s over boys and girls.

    Unless they headhunt the Punt.

  • Ginfizz

    “Society of Maldive Aardvaark Fanciers” – to be fair they probably have more members than the UUP now!

    ;-0

  • Philip

    At this weekend’s AGM the UUP will start its long and narrow road back to form …

  • Genuine Snapshot

    I really would like all those ticks who shouted or hissed ‘traitor’ &c at traditionalist, agreement-doubting UUPers/UUC members like me, when we criticised Trimble to come back to Slugger. He wrecked the Party, and now has buggered off to a Party he spent most of his immature adult life attacking. And this was the man you lot were so vehement in abusing us for daring to doubt? This was the man *you lot* cheered on as he and his flacks drove Donaldson out of the Party. Well done David. But wellest done of all, *you lot*, the people who let him do it to the UUP.

  • BonarLaw

    Carrick

    “I’ve been going to Council meetings for over 12 years now and this should be as sparky a meeting as Ive ever been at”

    You must have missed the cow shed at Balmoral then.

  • Ginfizz

    Yeah Philip, difficulty is we’ve heard this after every mauling in the last ten years – and it never happens. Frankly, the internal re-structuring argument will have no bearing whatsoever on whether or not Unionists will be prepared to vote UUP again, in anything like the numbers they did in the past.

    I agree with some posters that Reg ain’t up to the job, but who else is there? LSH? McFarland? McGimp? or please G-d no, Basil McCrea?

    Come forth Kenny Donaldson, your hour is nigh!

  • Ginfizz

    BL

    Ahh the cowshed! One of the best meetings I was ever at – Ken Maginess trying to tackle a whole squad of YU’s singlehandedly!! Excellent stuff!

  • BonarLaw

    Ginfizz

    LOL! I thought he was going to draw his piece!

    But those were the days when the UUP mattered to the body politic. Not now.

  • But a new problem for the UU must be the shift to the centre of the DUP. Those who were pro GFA and continued to vote UU may likely consider a power sharing, co-operative DUP as a real alternative in next election – leading to further reduction in UU suppport.

  • Yokel

    Carrick

    Any circumstances in which someone like yourself would accept Reg staying on as leader otr is it a case of just go?

    I’m guessing there may not be enough to force some kind of decisive vote at the weekend but certainly to make a serious public diaplay.

  • Snaz

    Myth number one, “Unionism has united around the DUP” – FACT – 207,000 votes out of a pro Union population of circa 650,000 is hardly an emphatic endorsement.

    Myth number two, “The UUPs falling membership is well below that of the DUP”
    OBSERVATION FROM TALKING TO DUP COUNCIL COLLEAGUES FROM THROUGHOUT NI – Much lower membership/turnouts at meetings etc, BUT CRUCIALLY, younger, hungrier and more motivated.
    We are going to have 300-500 delegates there tomorrow. I know this is less than the UUC used to get but it is still a good cross Northern Ireland representation of grass roots Unionist people.

    UNDISPUTED FACT – The current, 100s of small branches, over 40 divisions, 18 Constituency Associations, 130 Party Executive, Ulster Young Unionist Council, Ulster Womens Unionist Council, 15 Party Officers and a Leader is a structure from a bygone era. IT MUST BE CHANGED. NO IFS NOT BUTS. IT IS NOT FIT FOR THE PURPOSE OF SERVING THE UNIONIST PEOPLE AS WELL AS MAXIMISING THE DECLINING OVERALL UNIONIST TURNOUTS.

    Threats
    Doing nothing. The same people doing the same job and most importantly our Elected Representitives ageing with little or no succesion management.

    Opportunities.
    Root and Branch party reforms. No more “jobs for the boys”. Looking at ability, and talent as opposed to 30 years service.
    Super Council Elections coming up in 1/2 years time. No double jobbing removes the DUP big hitters councillors (Jeffrey etc) bringing in their party colleagues who only got 50-100 first preferences.

    Redundancy package for Councillors not standing at 1,000 per year served up to a maximum of 20,000 (Tax Free) will see a significant number of UUP Councillors doing just that.

    That will give younger Councillors (of whom we have seen in 2005 an increasing but still not enough number), articulate females (they do exist)
    and others who have been continually thwarted by the “youve got to wait your chance brigade” an opportunity of really presenting a UUP to the electrate of grass roots qualified Unionists with a fire in their belly to make Northern Ireland work for the good of its people and actually promote the Union rather than aspouse little Ulster inwardness.

    It will also then produce our next batch of MLA candidates who can do what happened in South Down when we actually presented the electorate with a 30 something candidate of high quality.

    We will then hopefully have several ambitious politicans, province wide, competing for the Leadership and various MP slots.

    BUT IT ALL MUST START TOMM WITH A RESOUNDING VOTE TO CHANGE THE PARTY TO BE FIT FOR PURPOSE.

    As an Ulster Unionist elected at 38 in 2005 with a background in running a large organisation I am putting myself forward to the UUC tommorrow to help drive root and branch change.

    We have the talent in the party (if we create structures to give them a chance)

    We have the policies (look at the vast majority of NEW DUP policies)

    And crucially, we have Northern Irelands well being and the Unions promotion at our core.

    It will be tough but it can be done

  • interested

    Snaz
    Methinks you protest too much….

  • BonarLaw

    Snaz

    you manifesto hints slightly at desparation (too much SHOUTING for one thing).

    The problem is that even at 38 you may have missed the boat with the UUP. Where are the Westminster seats in which the UUP will be in contention within the next two years? In what constituencies will the UUP increase their Assembly representation? What is there to suggest the downward trend in support can be arrested, let alone reversed?

  • Bigger Picture

    Snaz,

    A high quality candidate in South Down?? Did i miss the recent elections?? I watched John McCallister on Hearts and Minds after the elections and he was awful and could not even put across what the UUP were planning to do in the new Assembly. As well as this the UUP vote in South Down was well down from the previous assembly elections. I am sorry to say but if this is the quality that the UUP are looking towards then voters will continue to look elsewhere!

    The UUP’s problem is that they are not producing any new young talent(please don’t dare mention Basil McCrea as someone capable) that are capable of encouraging more people to come out and vote. It is the same tired, beaten ticket faces all the time.

    Look at the DUP by comparison where more new and young faces are coming on all the time, Michelle McIlveen, Simon Hamilton, Jonathan Craig etc etc. Not to mention a working hierarchy in local government. The UUP would do well to consder this point.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    1. DSD is not in MENSA he failed to qualify,just not smart enough, much to his chagrin.

    2. The UUP is probably not salvageable, especially with DSD’s support as the only Athesist Orangeman who is openly prepared to admit his lack of principles.

  • Snaz

    Bonar Law,
    Firstly its two years on from when I was elected so Im now 40.

    Secondly it was not shouting but PASSION something I think we need to have more of to promote our core values. (Did you see Mr Poots on last night??) and something that we did not do enough of when we were defeating the provos and confirming Northern Ireland as British for ever!

    Thirdly. I think there are plenty of constituencies were we can gain in Assembly terms.

    South Antrim, North Antrim, East Londonderry, North Down, Strangford, West Tyrone, South and East Belfast. In South Antrim and South Belfast Unionism as a whole needs to do better because its unmotivated electrorate meant Nationalist and Reublican gains.

    Westminster wise it will be a much longer haul.
    The two constituencies were we were the closest to the DUP were Fermanagh and South Tyrone and South Belfast. If we do not agree a single Unionist candidate then Unionism will not win them. We certainly should have done this last time. So that is one gain I can see for us and two for Unionism over all.

    A lot of DUP MPs ARE acceptable as modern secular Unionists but South Antrims Willie McCrea is one that I really believe the right quality of candidate could take, probably over two elections (which is the minimum history shows us it takes)

    In terms of “missing the boat” this cannot be a serious comment. Several MPS only gained there first seats when in there late 40s early 50s or older.

    How many times did Dodds fail in North Belfast.
    Sammy was over 50 when he won (at the second attempt) East Antrim.

    Simpson.

    Allister first lost East Antrim over 20 years ago.

    By the way I am not getting away from the reality that unless we stand high quality candidates none of this will happen and Unionisms decline (not just UUP but DUP as well as has happened over the last 10 years) will continue.

    Bigger Picture.
    I agree with you in that Succesion management has been our single biggest failure when you are on top. The best companies do it, the best football teams do it. Its easier to attract the best when you are on top than when you are struggling and undoubtably the Egos of the past/present will significantly delay the evolution of the future.

    In terms of John, I never said that he was the greatest media friendly person in the world. But if you met him or knew him you would find him warm, intelligent and articulate and someone who understands the issues locally and I think will make an outstanding local MLA.

  • BonarLaw

    Snaz

    thanks for replying.

    You have missed the Westminster boat as far as the UUP is concerned- all the examples of current MPs you give are in the, er, DUP. You say yourself that only S.Antrim could be a gain from the DUP the election after next- 10 years hence. That is assuming that the consolidation of the seat seen in Strangford and N. Belfast won’t be repeated there.

    In order to pick up Assembly seats next time out you will nead to have some momentum behind you. Now, nothing is impossible but you are ten years into a downward trend how do you see anything other than stabalisation being possible in the next four years? Especially as you have both flanks exposed as Naomi Long showed in E.Belfast?

    All that said, it’s heartening during these debates to hear of someone taking the broad unionist cause into consideration. Seats were needlessly handed to nationalists which I trust won’t happennext time but are you going to tell Tom Eliot not to bother next time?

  • Snaz

    BonarLaw,
    Due to this mis management of the past it will now be the DUPs pick as to whether or not its South Belfast or Fermanagh and South Tyrone, not ours.

    From a Unionism perspective I think that the UUP would be better in FST and the DUP in South Belfast.

    The only thing that can stop Unionism winning FST is SDLP types voting for Ms Gildernew, Unionism will win South Belfast comfortably with one candidate.

    So I think Tom would be less offensive to SDLP types than Arlene but as I said the mismanagement and arrogance of the past has removed that decision from the UUP. I ONLY HOPE THAT THE DUP ARE STILL OF A VIEW TO AGREE TO SINGLE CANDIDATES AS BOTH 2007 RESULTS CLEARLY SHOW THAT IS THE ONLY WAY UNIONISM CAN WIN. South Belfast with 2 out of 6 Unionist MLAs

  • BonarLaw

    Snaz

    the fact that Arlene is in the Executive would suggest that this is the DUP preference (assuming, of course, that they are interested in dealing with the UUP again- once bitten etc.). Sprat has had his chance and blown it big time so won’t be the prospective candidate next time out. I suspect that the DUP will fancy their chances even without a deal if the Gimp is the UUP choice.

  • Snaz

    BonarLaw
    If the DUP really cares about promoting Unionism it has to do a deal (I know many colleagues who think they dont but BOTH patrties have shown anti Union arrogance in the past).

    This is the reason why our overall Unionists turnouts are at an all time low as people are just turned off by our daily Newsletter infighting.

    If they/we do not do a deal then it will be a disgrace (as it was last time round when WE handed the seats to our REAL political opponents.

    Country first, party second, self no where!!

  • kensei

    “The only thing that can stop Unionism winning FST is SDLP types voting for Ms Gildernew, ”

    You wonder – might they just do that if Unionism makes a pact in order to try and win FST, a Nationalist seat? You’ll undoubtedly get leakage in such a scenario, either to Alliance, Independent or none, and SF have form for getting SDLP votes when needed.

  • Elvis Parker

    Snaz
    What about UK politcs? Cos seriously UUP have no chance of getting seats back at Westmin. and will probably lose North down

  • Snaz

    Kensei,
    Thats is exactly my point.

    The SDLP types are far more likely to “allow” a UUP person to win the seat than a DUP one.

    Thats why from a Unionist perspective I think it would be better if the DUP went for South Belfast and the UUP FST.

  • Snaz

    Elvis,
    There are several winnable Westminster Seats but the work has got to be put in at Constituency level, within Council and within the Assembly to provide Westminster winnable profiles at that level.

    In all honesty Devolution has given the Party a chance it would never have had to rebuild electorally and it is up to the party to grasp that opportunity or continue looking inwardly and blaming everyone else.

    The DUP took donkeys years to groom, lose, lose again and finally win many of their Westminster Seats. We must show the same patience and start the planning process NOW for the future.

    There are no quick fixes in politics as in business or in life you must plan for long term sustainable success and as the UUP should know only to well that if you “Fail to plan you had better Plan to Fail”!!

  • BonarLaw

    Snaz

    “There are several winnable Westminster Seats”

    No, next time out there is one (only with the DUPs’ blessing).

    What about N.Down? Can Sylvia hold?

  • darth rumsfeld

    ..er, was it not the UUP which always said biggest party gets to run in swing green/orange seats? UUP is in major diffs in both FST and SB. Its bargaining position is imeasurably weaker than in 2005, when there was almost an even match.

    This is more like Jim Allister’s first resignation- a much smaller party having to stay small by forgoing winnable seats or risk carrying the blame for losing them. Will it really risk it? If I were Punt, I wouldn’t be doing any deal.

    Snez
    Larne fans have a lot of passion, but they’re still never going to win the league. Get used to the ghastly new realities of politics.

  • Ginfizz

    darth

    Have you heard who all is in for the officers posts?

  • Snaz

    Bonar Law,
    I repeat that it will take time to challenge in the full list of winnable Unionist seats. It took the DUP years and years, I suspect, subject to the obvious promotion of the best in our party not the longest serving, we can compete sooner than it took them.

    North Down is winnable but we need to get our collective act together to ensure that it happens rather than hope it does.

    Darth
    Look at any figures you want, NEITHER party can win EITHER seat without a compromise. I have already conceded that it is the DUP pick so do not understand the point you are making.

    In terms of passions for lost causes (Larne) if I told you I was a Leeds United Season Ticket holder and am not going to Southampton tommorrow in our crucial run in would you understand what passion really means.

    Unionism is not a lost cause but we all need to start promoting it. The UUP will be back if it maximises its assets, people, financial and policies.

  • Ginfizz

    Snaz

    Who are the candidates for the officers posts?

  • Snaz

    Joan Carson – Fermanagh – Outgoing officer seeking reelection.

    Sonia Copeland – East Belfast
    Cllr Mark Cosgrove – East Antrim
    Richard Holmes – Foyle (I think)
    John Lund – Lagan Valley
    Michael Shilliday – Lagan Valley
    Robert Swann – North Antrim – Ran as Coulters running mate in assemly elections.

  • BonarLaw

    Snaz

    don’t under estimate the unionist electorates’ ability to plump for the one most likely to beat themmuns- remember N.Belfast 2001?

    BTW who else apart from Shilliday is in the field tomorrow?

  • BonarLaw

    Snaz

    oops!

    Like ships in the night!

  • Ginfizz

    Sonia Copeland?!!! WTF?!!!

  • Ginfizz

    Michael perhaps, but Sonia? Seriously, if this is the calibre of people is it really any wonder the UUP is in the state it is.

    The only one on that list anywhere near worth voting for is Cosgrove. What about young Dunn – he seems fairly capable.

  • BonarLaw

    Joan Carson?!!! WTF?!!!

  • BonarLaw

    I’d give Richard Holmes a vote.

    As for that Cosgrove bloke… 🙂

  • Ginfizz

    BL

    Indeed! Having been one of the dreadful cabal who produced the mess that the UUP is in, along with the May Steele’s, and Olive Whitten’s of this world, one would have thought Joan should be put out to pasture, if you’ll pardon the expression.

  • Snaz

    I could not possibly comment!!

  • The Third Policeman

    “confirming Northern Ireland as British for ever!”

    What was the UUP’s election slogan there again? ‘For everyone’ or some such nonsense? Hmmm.

  • BonarLaw

    Snaz

    good luck tomorrow.

    Although in the UUP it is best to be careful what you wish for!

  • Ginfizz

    Ahh! I’ve just realised who Snaz is – good job I didn’t say anything bad!

  • darth rumsfeld

    “Would this be the unionism of Carson who died broken hearted at his failure and the loss of the 26, or the unionism or Craig who sold the unionists of Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal right down the river?”

    Indeed it would. That is to say, a Unionism that suffered substantial losses but still was not completely defeated because it had leaders who were prepared to take a stand and made HMG draw back. Compare the current lot, who lost in 1986, and have never been taken seriously since. Bloodied but unbowed is somehow nobler than smacked about and simpering-Ian take note.

    BTW, wasn’t Marshall Petain also a defeatist octogenarian when he slept in Vichy? Vive le General Allister!!

  • Snaz

    Ginfizz,
    Mark Dunne is certainly capable but is probably concentrating on becoming Mayor of Larne this year. Larne Council have agreed to operate their own version of DHont and its the UUP turn this year.

  • Ginfizz

    I see.

  • Bigger Picture

    Snaz,

    “How many times did Dodds fail in North Belfast.”

    None he didn’t run in 1997 to stop a split and allow Maginness in(how times have changed i know!). Before and since he has always topped the poll.

    I don’t understand though where you think there are 7 winnable Westminster seats, which ones are they??

    On a different point DUP will definatley favour FST next time around especially with Arlene Foster now in the executive. Jimmy Spratt was a good candidate in 2005 but i think only lack of any better option in SB will mean him standing again for Westminster.

    UUP will probably hold North Down but expect maybe McFarland to be there instead of LSH. As in SB the DUP need a good strong candidate and i don’t think that’s Peter Weir.

    Im sure you are correct about John McCallister and have heard that said about him myself. However my point is that it is in the spotlight of the media that the youth in political parties need to be show cased, which would in turn lead to more joining. I doubt John McCallister inspires anyone to join the uup with his performances and is therefore hardly a shining example of “new uup”.

  • Snaz

    Bigger Picture,
    As is always the case we need to ensure we dont put “round pegs in square holes”. It is unfair to the person and you are quite right it does not promote the party correctly.

    All I will say is that hopefully we can introduce some relatively new, media friendly faces over the next few years.

    I think the Super Councils provides a good platform to start that process but again it will not be achieved without careful planning. Nothing in life happens by itself you have to make it happen!!

    Politics is the one area were you cannot do it alone and must bring all along with you.(Elected Reps, Party Workers and crucially the voters!!)

    A lesson for the UUP their perhaps?

  • Elvis Parker

    Pardon my ignorance but how many positions are up for grabs?

  • darth rumsfeld

    Unionists in FST will plump for Foster, as Stoops have plumped for the plump Shinner in recent times.
    I reckon McDonnell will be hard to shift in SB, and certainly not unless there is a shiny new candidate for both/either Unionist parties.Alasdair is assiduously courting nice prods-at church fetes,school prize-givings etc

    The Gimp has lost heart, and Spratt is batting above his average already.Perhaps by 2010 Richard Bullick will have stepped out from the shadows- the blue-rinses do so love a barrister, and Sandy Row will like an Orangeman

  • Snaz

    Bonar Law,

    Thanks for your kind comments (your first since I started blogging here a week ago, ha,ha) but seriously I am under no illusions about either my chances of success or the difficulties in creating and managining change. You are on a hiding to nothing with all voluntary positions within any organisation and especially political parties and more especially the UUP. You only need to read the bloggs on slugger to realise that. Without boring you or sounding like a self promoting wanker I have been running a large succesful company for years and have a track record in managing change. I also have done so in my “part time” public sector role!!

    I believe in our wee country and in our very important big Nation and want it to thrive and prosper.

    Now that we are going to get real politics we are all going to have to “up” our game and hopefully that will attract more talent to all political parties.

    No silly soundbite shite but every single blogger who cares about their community shares a lot of common goals on how to improve our lot but now that our constitutional position is secure (it still needs to be massively promoted) we really do need to get on and deliver.

    To do this I believe we need a lot more people who could not be arsed with the sectarian politics of the past but that would dearly love to help shape a prosperous future to get involved in all political parties.

    The UUP needs to be in a structured position to be an attractive proposition to such people as at the minute it simply is not.

  • Bob Wilson

    ‘To do this I believe we need a lot more people who could not be arsed with the sectarian politics of the past but that would dearly love to help shape a prosperous future to get involved in all political parties’

    To do that you must surely offer politics that includes Westminster as well as Stormont and as Sir Reg said on telly last night regioanl parties cannot exert influence at Westminster

    (He was trying to explain away Trimble’s move)

  • “To do that you must surely offer politics that includes Westminster as well as Stormont and as Sir Reg said on telly last night regioanl parties cannot exert influence at Westminster”

    Snaz, I wish you best of luck tomorrow and at least you are prepared to come on here and debate your point of view. But if Sir Reg has given up on having any influence outside of NI what would point of voting for UU in a Westminster election? I doubt the DUP think that they don’t have influence in Westminster and a regional Government will still have to negotiate with Downing Street.

  • Snapshot,

    sorry for not replying but I had a day’s work to do.

    You’re still looking at the past, even in your chosen grounds for attacking Alliance. As Gorbachev said to Honecker in October ’89, “history punishes those who get left behind”. Alliance has a huge amount of space to grow in the next five years.

    Firstly, on the traditional orange and green stuff, Paisley and McGuinness will operate a cosy, probably quite well run, carve-up. Not everybody wants or likes that. Power-sharing was and always will be only a means to an end. Once it was in place, it was always the right time for Alliance to start agitating for something better.

    Secondly, they’ll be the only party with more than one MLA which isn’t in the Executive. That leaves a huge amount of space to exploit the Executive’s mistakes on ‘bread and butter’ (how I hate that phrase!) issues. It might mean them moving in to slightly new territory by challenging the lazy, cosy, soft-left consensus of NICVA and the public-sector élite that all the parties buy into here, but I’m sure they’ll cope.

    As for the UUP, not only do they not have a distinctive message, but Paisley-McGuinness already seems to be a functioning better with warmer personal relationships than Trimble-Mallon/Durkan ever did. If the DUP and Shinners do well, the failure of the UUP only becomes more apparent; if they do badly, the UUP get dragged down with it. Either way, that is a debate about tactics. The UUP’s problem is vision and values.

    What is the point in the UUP? If I am a firm but pragmatic Unionist, why not vote DUP? If I am a moderate who happens to feel British and come from a Prod background but has no problem with people who think different, why not vote Alliance? If I’m a provinical small-business type who’s more interested in finance and tax than anything else, why vote for a UUP which is de facto Social Democratic ahead of the Tories?

    That’s the three-way vice in which your head is being gripped. Being rude about me or Alliance does not solve your problems. What is the unique selling point of the Ulster Unionist Party? I honestly couldn’t hint at it, and your vote these days is largely based on long-term loyalty and distaste towards Paisley. That’s not a recipe for any future at all. And how you set local associations’ levy to HQ is irrelevant to that debate as well.

    At least you realise you have a problem; the SDLP have just had the worst election result in their history but most of them think they did alright in the circumstances. If PJ Bradley’s latest contribution is a sign of how they’re going to play the game, they could disappear before you do.

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    Interesting discussion, Snaz makes a lot of good points. I have just one quick point of clarification for our limavady sage darth rumsfeld. I was an Orangeman for many years from 1992-2003. During that period I was a church going Christian and a believer. Around 2002 my faith began to weaken and I reconsidered my view of god. I moved to become more agnostic and felt that I should not stay in the Orange order so I resigned from it. I always believed the Order was fundamentally a Christian religious organization and that belief was essential to be a member. Since my time in America and particularly since my time in the Deep South living around extremely hard line Baptists I have moved to become an Atheist and finally accepted that I just don’t believe in god anymore. Hope that clarifies my position re the Orange order.

  • Snaz

    Sammy Morse,
    “If I am a moderate who happens to feel British” then why not vote Alliance.

    Because like the Irish Government the Alliance Party do not PROMOTE the Union they say our constitutional posistion is not really that important as long as we all get on together. Obviously they support the principal of consent but so do the SDLP, Sinn Fein, The Irish Government, the American Government all of whom aspire to a United Ireland.

    Moderate, progressive, pragmatic Unionists like me LOVE BEING BRITISH. It is not some little after thought.

    There are now plenty of similarities between the pragmatic wing of the DUP and the UUP and that is to be welcomed. I put Northern Ireland and the U.K. way ahead of any narrow party interests. BUT it is a good number of DUP members, elected representitives and voters who are now happy to espouse core UUP values.

    Why the hell should people who share those views not vote for the party that has always had them rather than the (albeit very welcome) Johnny come latelys?

    The Alliance party has at its core people who dont really care about which Constitutional entity we end up in as long as we all get on.

    Me and the 110,000 UUP voters care passionately about our Britishness without diluting our wish to see our country prosper free from secterianism.

  • John East Belfast

    DSD

    Out of interest why did you join the Orange Order in 1992 ?

  • Continental Drifter

    *Snaz*

    110,000???

    Where do you get the extra 7,000?!

    Think you’ve just made sammy’s point.

  • Inspector Clouseau

    Many of us found a home in the DUP because the UUP were patronising, self righteous, snobby etc etc.

    Has the UUP changed?

  • kokane

    How is it that Unionists turned on Trimble and the UU after he cut them the best deal they could get – if it had been left to Reverend they would now be in the shit. Its got to be the worst case of political ingratitude since the Englezes ditched Winnie after WW2.

  • duncanshipleydalton

    Interesting discussion, Snaz makes a lot of good points.

    I have just one quick point of clarification for our léim a mhadaigh sage darth rumsfeld.

    I was a UUP man for many years from 1992-2003. During that period I was a racecourse going Christian and a believer in the superiority of the British race and MENSA. Around 2002 my faith began to weaken and I reconsidered my view of the Turtle. I moved to become more agnostic and felt that I should not stay in the Orange order so I resigned from it. I always believed the Order was fundamentally a Christian religious organization and that belief in underpants was essential to be a member. Since my time in America and particularly since my time in the Deep South living around extremely hard line Democrats, Clintonites and Baptists I have moved to become an advocate of free love and finally accepted that I just don’t believe in Sir James Molyneux, fine claret, life everlasting and the Union of Saints anymore.

    Hope that clarifies my position re the Orange order, cocaine and homosexuality.

  • páid

    sorry I meant the ‘Communion of Saints’

  • darth rumsfeld

    DSD is of course entitled to change his beliefs and be respected for it- he was after all once an opponent of the GFA!

    And I’m not from Limavady as he seems to think, though it is a fine town

    The UUP will today be awash with calls for unity and reform- as it has been for years. That’s not the problem, though there are still too many good ol’ boys in key posts who haven’t realised their time is past.

    It has no forseeable role, and no big names- here or on the horizon. Look at the useless Tories- the public only know of Dave and..er Boris (possibly some remember Hague). The Tank Commander came close to beating Reg, and his profile is lower than David Ford’s. Ask any punter at Nutt’s Corner market to name a UUP hack , and the silence will be deafening.

    The media- a most unforgiving mirror- sees its elected members as dead wood. Even Sean Crummy only bothers lampooning the Gimp-Reg is his straight man. None of the worthies/worthless seeking to be officers can change that. For 3 decades Paisley was a one man band, and only recently have Punt and pals acquired a dubious gravitas to make them publicly identifiable as players. They were an irritant and irrelevance for years- just as the UUP will be until 2016 and beyond but who will carry their brand name in the interim? And no Free P type groupies able to put in the legwork in the wilderness years either.

  • Was that DSD 1.50am post really Duncan?

  • John East Belfast

    Sammy Morse

    I would have thought that 1.59 am would have shown it wasnt – I thought you were an analyst of facts and figures ?

    although was it just careless of paid to blow his cover

  • Greenflag

    If it was – Northern Ireland has a new comedian with a degree in advanced skepticism brought about no doubt as a result of Darwinian evolution 🙂

    I suspect the writer is a Fenian . Who else would know the difference between the Union of Saints and the Communion of Saints -the former being living members of the TUC whereas the latter are those former members who have passed on 🙂 Must not be confused with the Latter Day Saints crowd who formerly specialised in polygamy which is now frowned upon by the USA’s Mormon Republican Presidential candidate Mitch Romney .

    Also there was no mention of non belief in the Union of Sinners which has to be another clue .

    Anyway UUP mortuus est . Somebody needs to call the undertaker and write the headstone epitaph for the stonemasons.

    DSD should consider Alliance if he wants to make a difference in NI . David Trimble will enjoy his political retirement in the Lords. He probably deserves it .