UUP attacking DUP from right, left or both?

The Ulster Unionists seem to be feeling the cold now the DUP appears to be taking ‘collective executive responsibility’ seriously. David McNarry (forgoing the niceities of cleanly playing the ball) argues that they are prioritising their relationship with the largest nationalist party, Sinn Fein, over the concerns of his own, minority Ulster Unionists:

“DUP Minister Peter Robinson, in an arrogant and nasty display of self-indulgent control freakery, spelt out to the Assembly recently that ‘there may be four parties in the Executive but there are two dominant parties’.

“This left no one in any doubt that he meant Sinn Fein and the DUP and clearly not any shared working relationship with Ulster Unionists. Cosying up to republicans, to the exclusion of other unionists, shows the extent to which the DUP will lower their principles in order to be in the First Minister’s office.

“I share in the misgivings of unionists and offer this challenge to all to stand up and face down the bluff and bluster of the DUP and join me in declaring that the political honeymoon period for their DUP/Sinn Fein coalition is well and truly over.”

It should be remembered that the UUP contained (until recently) a very large tranche of anti Agreement sentiment, – apparently the target audience here. Indeed, McNarry’s instincts appear to be to attack from ‘the right’, as the DUP head decisively for the centre ground. Yet it is not clear how much margin on that end of politics there is for a party which simultaneously appears to be courting the liberal/Alliance vote.

More disturbingly for party loyalists, McNarry here seems to be attacking the DUP for trying to do what his own party signally failed to do when they held the Office of First Minister – build a functional relationship with the occupants of the Office of Deputy First Minster.

  • darth rumsfeld

    In my time as a UUP member- deep shame- I remember the divisional Association AGM in 1996 had 200 people in attendance, while at my last AGN in 2001 there were 25. I can say probably 10% had died, but the remaining defectors had jumped off the Trimble train over the period. Virtually none of them joined the DUP- 10 at most. The rest are politically inactive, but would welcome a traditional Unionist party to vote for, and perhaps join

    When I joined the UUP in 1982 I was the second youngest member of my branch. When I left in 2001, I was still the second youngest member.
    Hardly grounds for optimism, and yet we were one of the strongest UUP areas in vote and organisation terms until the late 1990s.

    Since I left, matters have not turned around ( so it wasn’t my fault). Why on earth would any person of youth, drive, or ambition plunge into that becalmed gerontocracy when the DUP has career opportunities aplenty?

    With the best will in the world, an anti-Agreement Unionist in March had a very poor choice of cnadidates to vote for. A proper party with incisive leadership – muzzling the loony Ballymena cotinuity DUP element would be a real challenge to Punt’n’Doc, but it would need ten years to grow. And the UUP has neither the patience nor the integrity to hold to one course for that long.

  • Snaz

    Watchman and other bloggers.
    How many times do I have to say this.


    We have called the vast majority of events right in the last 10 years so much so that our political opponents have had to concede that all they said was wrong with our deal is now fantastic.

    Were there was going to be no terrorists in Government there are now laughs jokes and trips to America (I was at the Smithsonian and watched Peter and Martin at first hand)

    Were there was going to be no mandatory Devolution under DHont there they are Ian and Martin EQUAL and JOINT first ministers.

    Were the RIR was going to be retained they were disbanded (Unlike my mates in the Police who changed names and very little else)

    Were there was going to be an end to push over Unionism we have the Brighton Bomber on the Policing Board.

    Were there was going to be photographic decommisioning there was none.

    Were the IMC was going to be ineffective (Jeffrey and Arlene Special UUC meeting) the DUP now hang on their every word.

    Were there was going to be a United Ireland and a sell out now the Union has been secured by the consent principal.

    Were there was going to be not a bullet not an ounce we got loads of bullets and tons of semtex and a complete surrender of all Republicanism has ever stood for (Bobby would have piled the frosties into him if he thought that was what it was all for)

    Were there was going to be a Socialist Marxist in party in power on both sides of the borders our friendly Irish neighbours voted for centre right parties by a margin of 80%

    Were the ROI were NEVER NEVER NEVER going to give up articles 2 and 3 they voted by 98% to do just that.

    The UUP have lacked quality media performers against the backdrop of lies and failed and unattainable nonsense spouted by both the shinners and the DUP.

    BUT on every major issue we told the people how it was, and how it was going to be.

    We did not mislead, we did not lie.

    My Britishness flows through my veins with my every breath. I am passionate and proud of “Our Wee Country” as a proud and integral region of the UK.

    I was elected by over 60% of the UUC at our last meeting. Funnilly enough according to a lot of the rubbish in this blog I dont exist.

    I am not ancient, I run a multimillion pound business employing hundreds of people but I am not ambitious.

    I am not in the DUP (even though like most UUP members I have been approached)

    I have many, many good like minded Unionist friends who are in the DUP but I could never and will never belong to a party under a leader who calls the second largest UK religious group leader (Catholicism) the Anti Christ. The man who called Loyalist Paramilitaries onto the streets and then called them scum, and washed his hands of their communities.

    There are plenty like me in the UUP, and we have to work against a backdrop of massive mismanagement especially in terms of succesion planning.

    But do not ever call me a liberal wishy washy Unionist because that is simply talking shite.

  • dub

    like it or not snaz, ni is NOT an integral part of the uk. for instance perhaps you have noticed the small matter of the fact that the party which has been in government for a quite a long time now does not even organise electorally in ni..mmm.. so you cant even VOTE for one of the two major parties which in their interplay make up the uk political system such that it is. please point to any other region in Europe where such an extraordinary state of affairs exists. you might have noticed that the other major party organises in a small pale like enclave in north down and has never committed any resources into deepening its presence. its presence such that it is was forced upon it as was labour’s allowing people to JOIN it in ni(a very recent development and oppposed by Tony Blair). paisley understands all this only too well and is operatiing accordingly.. you guys are PISSING IN THE WIND.

  • Bigger Picture

    Darth, Watchman, Turgon

    I may also becoming from a biased stand point but this hype of great opposition to the DUP never seems to materialise. However as weeks and months go by with no sign of break away opposition this only strengthens the DUP’s hand (if they play it right..not like at present). If the DUP show strength in Government and stop this love in business, i only think this will attract more people to the DUP rather than any new parties forming or a resurgance in the DUP

    However in order to successfully achieve this the party needs to move away from the Ian n’ Marty show, which i just can’t handle, ably assisted by Jnr, Poots, Donaldson and Robinson. It is a reasurring thing that others in the party have shown more fight against SF since May 8, mainly Nigel Dodds, Gregory Campbell and Sammy Wilson. I was marching just in front of a DUP MP at the twelth and was completely amazed that there was NOT a single dissenting voice and instead he received a great reception all along the route. As well what happened to the great protests that i would have expected at Paisley’s speech in Ballymoney??

    It is clear that the DUP will only grow if a sufficient level of opposition does not arise. I can not see that happening and if the DUP are wise enough to get rid of the big man in enough time and portray a strong voice at the centre of government then the UUP or any other dissenter will have a very tall mountain to climb

  • dub


    well it is entirely up to you whether you are bothered or not, but i am merely pointing out that IMHO you should be. It is disturbing frankly to see people like yourself, Darth and Turgon all clearly intelligent and articulate backing themselves into a political cul de sac every bit as divorced from political reality as Ruairi O Bradaigh’s lot… and that is saying something. You are romantic unionists (!) chasing a dream which in the past brought a lot of nightmares. Is it not time you all woke up?

  • inuit_g

    “so you cant even VOTE for one of the two major parties which in their interplay make up the uk political system such that it is.”

    That’s actually incorrect dub, the Conservative Party have organised here and ran candidates for quite some time now, and Labour too are (more slowly) moving towards establishing branches and running candidates also.

    Whether they will have any real impact remains to be seen, the Tories pulled in less than 1% of the vote for instance (but would have received more a few years ago)

    As for being an integral part of the UK, Northern Ireland certainly is an integral part of the UK, that status being explictly recognised in 1998 by the RoI by international Treaty registered with the United Nations.

    You might want to check out the Good Friday Agreement – I believe you’ll find the constitutional status stuff on Page 1 !

  • darth rumsfeld


    Methinks you protest too much

    You seem to take all the defeats Unionism has suffered on your watch as amazing achievements, and then blame the DUP for surrendering ..er after you had first. All that makes you is the honest surrender monkeys, and them the dishonest ones. O’Neill wouldn’t have touched your present policy with a 400 foot barge pole. Faulkner could have led the opposition to it.

    You called nothing right- you rolled over and then tried to blame the consequences on everyone but yourselves. Now that’s presented as visionary. You’re clearly still in denial. The electorate aren’t. Faced with a choice of incompetent honesty and competent dishonesty they took the latter.

    So yes, bluster all you want, you are wishy washy beyond peradventure- as much use as Hugh Grant in a Govan bar fight.

  • inuit_g

    You’re clearly still in denial. The electorate aren’t.

    Well, all 1.6% of them anyways…

  • dub

    inuit g,

    i said that it is not possible in ni and never has been to vote for the party which is currently and has for a very long time been governing the uk state… i.e. the Labout Party. This is 100 percent factually correct. Hence my allusion to ONE of the two major parties which in their interplay make up uk political life… I also said that the other one (the Conservative Party) operates in a small pale like enclave in north down. so where am i incorrect. ni is part of the uk formally and legally but is NOT an integral part of the uk in the way that is has always and continues to be deliberately excluded from national politics. Believe me if there was a large territory in France or Italy with its own name where the parties which aspire to govern the State have never organised with the exception of one which has made a very recent token effort to do so after it was legally forced to do so then that region would not be regarded as an INTEGRAL part of the State albeit it might be part of that State legally speaking.

    Labour might in the future organise branches and contest elections in ni but that is not the current situation nor has it been the situation for the past 80 years. This was the situation for most of those 80 years for the Conservative Party too, it is and also has always been the case for the Liberal Party and its successor parties.

    i suspect you still dont get it. Imagine in the ROI if the name of the State were the United Republic of Great Ireland and Munster and in Munster the Fianna Fail party did not and never had organised and Fine Gael after a legal challenge organised a couple of branches in Bandon in the last 10 years. And the Irish Labour Party had never organised there either. Would you regard that region as an integral part of the Irish State?? A region where the recent General Election which so enthralled the rest of the country would have been fought by Munster Unionists and Munster Separatists? Part of the State yes, integral part of the state no.

    Got it now??

  • Snaz

    Again from my blackberry so cant see who blogged.

    Our achievments of defeating Republicanism (both militarily through decommisioning and politically through the principle of consent and the fact that there will NEVER be a United Ireland) should be a cause for satisfaction for all Unionists.

    Added to that we saw an end to endless funerals of the brave men and women of the Police and the army not to mention the thousands of innocent victims caught up in the terrorists (from both sides) butchery.

    We created the conditions for record levels of investment in our towns and cities and also the highest levels of employment and lowest levels of unemployment in NI history.

    We have created the mantra for Power Sharing with our fellow citizens were we now arguing on slugger about our differences and not killing each other.

    So if you think i am going to apologise for strengthening the Union, and playing a leadership role in the destruction of all that physical force republicanism ever stood for not to mention creating the opportunity for a shared future (under British rule) that it took 10 years of Paisley bluster to accept, I wont, ever.

    I am proud of what we achieved but under Paisleys leadership some of it risks being undermined.

    The immediate challenge is to ensure that Policing and Justice is not devolved. We do not have the knowledge, political maturity and impartiality to be appointing Judges, deciding on sentencing guidelines and governing the judiciary. One only needs to look at the row over the victims commisionair to see the type of polorisation that would occur.

    Develution needs to be nurtured. We need to get to grips with our bread and butter issues within which there is no secterian under tones. We need Politicians to lead from a position of knowledge not just because they were elected.

    We need to be very wary of the love in both East/West from Mr Salmon and North/South from the likeable rogue Bertie. They are both ultimately wanting the same thing which is the break up of the UK.

    We need to start promoting the benefits of the Union and celebrate it (when did you last hear a Unionist politician saying WHY the UK is such a good platform for a quality, respect driven, diverse society.

    So a lot done, much more to do and I believe that Unionism has a lot to offer ALL our people.

  • inuit_g

    Labour is currently in the process of organising here – I would imagine they will probably have a presence by the time the next Westminster election comes around. The Conservatives aren’t just restricted to North Down but stood in about half of NI constituencies.

    On your other points, the Walloon and Flemish areas of Belgium each have different main political parties which don’t contest the ‘other’ part of Belgium. The Aland Islands, a Swedish speaking part of Finland, have their own unique parties. In Canada there are provincial parties which don’t contest elections outside their province. In S. Ireland you would have had parties historically such as Clann na Tamhlacht who never contested elections outside of a rural base.

    Finally one’s available choice of political parties has no bearing whatsoever on “being an integral part of a State” which is a constitutional and legal definition.

    Again I would advise you to re-read the first few pages of the Good Friday Agreement and update your knowledge.

    It’s a point worth pressing home because, for Unionists, recognition of Northern Ireland’s status in the Union (principle of Consent) provides *the* basic building block around which the three strands of the NI / N-S / E-W institutions have been built.

  • Turgon

    Bigger Picture,
    I am still patiently waiting. Have you not answered the question in your own comment “However as weeks and months go by with no sign of break away opposition this only strengthens the DUP’s hand (if they play it right..not like at present). If the DUP show strength in Government and stop this love in business, i only think this will attract more people to the DUP rather than any new parties forming or a resurgance in the DUP”

    I doubt very much if Paisley or Robinson will change direction and as such a new party in the next few months is quite possible. If the others became the leadership there might well be a welcome at least partial change in direction. Equally I still think a split after Paisley is replaced (presumably with Robinson) is quite likely.


    You present a very impressive list of achievments. I am very doubtful, however, that the UUP gave us all of them, even many of them. I can well remember compromise after compromise by Trimble. “No guns no government” springs to mind.

    Remember that many unionists were very dispirited by the concessions the UUP made under Trimble. After each UUC meeting everyone though that he could not make another concession and he duly did.

    Paisley gained some things the UUP could not but then surrendered himself.

    I am dubious regarding your goals. Yes preventing the devolution of P&J is a laudable one but “We need Politicians to lead from a position of knowledge not just because they were elected.” Is that what you call McGimpsey’s leadership on health? I will not hold my breath.

  • Frustrated Democrat


    The facts you have given I by and large agree with, and the woes of the UUP can directly linked to the duplicity of Blair over decomissioning.

    However we are where we are, Paisley has done what he should have done, so he can’t be critised for what he is now doing now only what he did in the past and for his hypocrisy.

    It seems most people are prepared to accept the status quo so it gives the UUP a difficult time trying to carve out a new identity and positioning in the NI political spectrum. This is definitely not helped by Empey and
    McGimpsey joining the the Government and therefore not being able to oppose SF/DUP in partnership.

    The solution is in your hands, get them out of government and mount an effective opposition with policies that ‘unionists’ want to vote for, changes in internal structures will not win votes leadership and policies will.

    So over to you!

  • Calm down, Snaz, and stop your silly pomposity. I don’t care whether you run an international conglomorate or run a mop up and down the office bogs at 6am.

    “We did not mislead, we did not lie”. Sorry but I disagree. Remember “No Guns, No Government”? Or the wonderful “Understanding the Agreement” published by the UUP from May 1998. I’m tempted to go through the long list of reasons why the UUP ended up forfeiting the confidence of so many unionists but I’ve done so here already on many occasions. And, in any event, Dean Godson’s biography of Trimble is full of examples of when the Turtle and/or his party rolled over like the Andrex puppy or let go when they had Blair by his metaphorical goolies. But all that’s history now. Pointing out the DUP’s hypocrisy doesn’t cut much ice with me or my Orange Bro. Rumsfeld, especially because your party would have done exactly the same if it had been in the driving seat and probably a damn sight quicker.

    Don’t blame things on bad media performances because you’re kidding yourselves. You know what, some of us would be prepared to forgive the UUP a great deal, if some of its representatives had an ounce of fight in them. The only fight I see in the UUP comes from certain leaping Lordships when Turkish Cyprus comes up for discussion. To return to a question I asked earlier, why is the UUP so silent about the Castlereagh break-in witness who is under apparent threat from the Ra? Surely, in this land of milk and honey, the IRA isn’t threeatening a witness? Why is it being left to Jim Allister to make the running on it? Or perhaps the UUP, and the DUP for that matter, would prefer to draw a veil over it and pretend it’s not happening?

  • dub

    my dear inuit,

    like i thought you just dont get it. in all of your examples there are provincial parties who dont organise in the whole national territory. what is unique in the uk of gb and ni is that NATIONAL parties who have historically governed the metropolitan central state, the federal govt if you like, do not and have never organied in ni with the recent and only very partial exception of the conservatives. this means that NOONE in ni could have voted for the party which currently governs the state it belongs to. This believe me is a unique situation. of course ni is part of the uk state, and i am well aware of the legal position here and i am NOT contesting that. what i am saying is that ni has always been in a bizarre limbo semi detached place as far as the british state is concerned. most constituional theorists believe that the very essence of the british system is its 2 and a half party system of adversarial politics. you will notice that in scotland and wales all parties have traditionally been very strongly represented. if you cant vote for who rules you you are not living in a democracy and also it means that the state which claims you as an integral part of its territory has a very ambivalent attitude towards you. it also means that virtually all politics in ni is meaningless shadow boxing. one of the reasons sf was so cruelly exposed in a state where real politics exists throughout its territory. the conservatives in ni btw are now very exercised by these issues although it seems to have taken the finest brains of tory inclined ulster 80 years to have realised that ni is an exceptional place in western europe in this regard. “we are governed like a colony” i think is their leader’s way of putting it. How astute!! Mind you at least he grasps it… in my experience very few people in the north do and those that do do their very best to be in denial about it. this 80 yr old reality is a lot more important than words in the GFA.

  • tapir balls

    darth, watchman – so what about the question put earlier about forming a new party to the right of the DUP?

    you clearly seem to think there’s a market for anti-agreement unionism beyond bobs 1.6% at the election.

    well if there is such an appetite for it, why not form up a party of your own? what have you got to lose?

    surely if you really believe in all you say, and I have no doubt you are men of strong conviction, is this not the only logical option to take?

    you’d get burnside and mcnarry from us as well as perhaps half-a-dozen dup backbenchers who would hop to something closer to their convictions if they felt it was real and offered a credible alternative. not to mention all those non-voters among whom you seem to detect such clear distaste for the dup-sf deal.

    if i was an anti-agreement unionist upset about what Paisley had done,

    if i believed that many, many others out there shared my views,

    if i truly believed my country was being betrayed as you say you believe,

    i would be out there organising each and every day, building a new party home by home, street by street across the province

    instead of merely deriving shallow satisfaction from haunting every slugger thread about the uup like a couple of Old Labour fogies who have never gotten over the Blair years

    cards on the table, gentlemen, please

  • Snaz

    In terms of Ministers in our Government my point was not a party political one but a general one. During the politics of Direct Rule all NI parties have always had an attitude of gimme gimme gimme more without saying who or how it was going to be paid for.I always called it the politics of the playground.We have now entered (hopefully sustainably) a new dispensation were it will be the outputs of your departments that will be the measurement of your political skills not what foot you kick with etc,etc.

    In terms of the UUP achievments I would have thought even our most staunch critics (and I accept there are many) would acknowledge that the relatively peaceful dispensation we enjoy today would not have happened were it not for the risks taken in mid nineties by the UUP and SDLP.

    Frustrated Democrat,
    The Opposition debate is a non starter until we can have voluntary as opposed to mandatory coalition. There is no structure for a workable opposition under this system. Personally I would love to see a cross community voluntary coalition emerging (all parties except the marxist shinners who would be a disaster for our economy, taxation etc,etc if such matters were ever, god forbid, devolved) but this is not going to happen in the forseeable future (certainly not while Paisley leads the DUP such is the baggage that he brings to people like me).

    Firstly dont be thinking I was a jumped up w—-r by saying that there are young professional elected reps in the UUP. I am proud of my working class Unionist roots. Point is there are several young talented people in the UUP who will hopefully come through (Paula Bradshaw who is the Director of the Greater Village Regeneration Trust in the Village area of South Belfast, Mark Dunne the Mayor of Larne, Kenny Donaldson a very capable young Unionist from Crossmaglen, Rodney McCune a young Barrister with a great deal of ability to name but a few.)We continue to attract people from a cross section of our community and I completly agree with DR point about snobby UUP people who looked through their noses at “DUP” types. My DUP colleagues have very similar views to me, only I could never serve a party led by Paisley.

    I do not see why we cannot regain your support and help. We are still a broad church and whilst root and branch reorganisation will not in itself make recovery happen it will provide opportunities for people of talent to come through (hopefully some of the above and others).

    We all hate the provos mudering scum and the difference between me and Mr Allister is that I believe 100% that it is the PSNI role to provide the evidence to the DPP to lock up all persons involved in criminality regardless of their organisation and background. I do not believe in bringing down our Devolved government everytime there is a crime in which the provos are implicated.Let the police do their job and the politicians start to do theirs.

    I hope in the future you can join us as we confront the shinners on a socia economic basis having defeated there murderous and heinous campaign for a United Ireland by force.

  • Frustrated Democrat


    Of course there is a structure for a workable opposition the UUP can create it whatever way they want it by opposing the ‘Governing Parties’. Of course there would be a financial penalty for some of the UUP MLA’s as their income might be reduced.

    But it seems the UUP now puts £s before principle, they cannot continue to critise a Government of which they are an integral part.

    The choice is clear, be a real opposition with clear policies or be prepared to become the lap dogs of SF/DUP scrabbling for scraps around the table and all the time withering and dying on the ground. Remember the UUP belongs to its grassroots not the few MLA’s and Executive members who seem to be unable to comprehend what has happened and what is required to preserve the party’s future.

    Act while there is time………….the alternative is catastrophe.

  • Snaz

    I respect your view but dont agree. We control 55 percent of the Executives budget and arguably its most important dept.
    I would rather stand for what we have done rather than critising others.
    I believe the outputs from the DUP taking very small ‘action’ depts (i accept the strategic importance of finance) especially if they back the Maze, might make them vunerable if we do a good job on Health and DEL.
    I agree that the financial interest of MLAs should not dictate party policy and if a ‘go into opposition’ group emerged it would be any interesting debate.
    I feel handing ministries to your political opponents would leave you in a very negative position and one in pragmatic terms would leave you out of influence until we turn around the 2 to 1 current DUP MLA majority.

  • Turgon

    I am pretty doubtful if the UUP had that vast an effect in procurring the IRA ceasefire. I suspect the British Army and RUC along with the British and Irish governments had more effect along with the all the communitites being fed up with their crimes. What happened then is that the UUP sold out repeatedly. Your risks for peace include ditching “No guns no government”. Do you want to defend that one? Explaining that you brought about peace will not really wash with me.

    You have not persuaded me that McGimpsey will be any use at all at health. Does he know anything about it or was he just dying to get his nose in the trough?

    You have completely ignored your electoral armageddon west of the Bann. I was once one of that species now represented by one or two of my relatives and that’s about it. remember there are very few Alliance votes to pick up there or is ensuring Arlene does not get FST the sum total of UUP ambition west of the Bann?

  • Frustrated Democrat


    I completely disagree opposition parties are Governments in waiting, having Ministries will not impact on voters regardless on how well they are run (ask the Lib Dems why they are not in the Brown cabinet).

    Having alternative policies that voters want impacts on voters, pointing out the shortcomings of Ministers and Governments impacts on voters, having strong leadership impacts on voters, being a credible unified party impacts on voters.

    On a personal note I want to hear a proper thought out strategy for Northern Ireland, and how local Government will actually make a practical difference to the people here in health, economy, education, law and order etc. not looking backwards at the past.

    We are where we are there is no going back and voters aren’t interested any more in the old rhetoric they are prepared to accept the status quo as a compromise between orange and green with no UI in sight and Republicans in Government.

    Politics have really changed accept it and look to the future.

  • Wilson

    Snaz, I broadly agree with you say and certainly that the pro-Agreement UUP have been entirely vindicated in the courageous stance taken in 1998.

    But what about McNarry’s comments – what about his attack on our new power-sharing coalition which we have been working for nearly ten years to establish?

    What about McNarry’s contemptible schoolyard bully labelling of my neighbours and friends who might happen to be nationalists as “Klingons” ? – which has been mentioned to me so many times I am sick of trying to defend our Party and the words of this power-hungry numbskull.

    Will the UUP distance itself from such shameful sectarianism from within our own ranks?

    Will the UUP banish the current confusion and clarify its support for our new government – how can we ever deliver such important things as free prescriptions and free elderly care if we are making bigoted sectarian attacks on our partners in government?

    I want to hear real answers from Reg Empey on these questions. It’s not enough to hide away in his ministry. Not if he wants to lead our Party. It was Empey who appointed McNarry to such a prominent position in our Party.

    Does Reg Empey stand behind McNarry’s divisive sectarianism or does he not?

    If Empey cannot give me a clear answer to that question, then I’m sorry but I cannot possibly support him any longer as leader of this Party.

    If he cannot stamp down on the basest sectarianism, he does not deserve to lead our Ulster Unionist Party.

  • bertie

    Hey folks! so this is where all the unionists on Slugger have been hiding! 😉

  • Bigger Picture


    I should firstly point out that in the section you quoted from me it is meant to say, a resurgence in the UUP not DUP, so i apologise for this typo.

    To maybe answer your question. I agreed with the DUP’s position of going into Government mainly because i felt it is better to go in and show the shinners what tougher unionism is all about. However sadly Paisley is letting us all down in regards to his individual antics and it is getting increasingly harder to support his individual comments.

    However i do believe that there are still those in the party who still wish to maintain the stronger position in relation to SF and if this voice can win through then i believe that no amount of re-organising by the UUP or others would save them. How many paly pictures have you seen Dodds or Campbell in, joking and laughing with SF??

    It may be far fetched to think of a situation at present were the Paisley’s will simply disapear and Robinson will stand idly by and let Dodds take over but it is what needs to happen.

  • Snaz

    In terms of McGimpseys potential performance I think he could already become the surprise packet. Michael has always been a real constituency worker within South Belfast in general and within the Village and Sandy Row in particular. He is in it to help ordinary people with their everyday life and ask any local community worker and they will tell you that Michael and Bob Stoker are there all the time (not just at elections). I think this is a good background to understand his portfolio from a real peoples perspective and provide some contrast to the Health professionals and trust Directors that he will have to deal with.

    In terms of West of the Bann I have a real affinity with Unionists in these areas (my current girlfriend is from Newtownstewart. Again I think that playing Big Unionism instead of little Ulster is a key to changing the arrogance of the shinners here.Ramming it down there throat that they are part of a partionist NI within the U.K. and how they have been rejected at the polls by the Irish electrate.
    FST and South Belfast are no brainers for me and should have been done last time round. If that means Arlene beating Gildernew I would be delighted. Under those circumstances (and the Assembly poll has confirmed conclusivly that this remains the only circumstances that Unionism has a chance in either seat) the UUP candidate, if we dont double job which again I disagree with, might be a surprise. A Young professional female with massive roots in the South Belfast community would be my personal choice.

    Frustrated Democrat,
    We will have to agree to differ in terms of opposition under the current arrangements but I completly agree with you in terms of your last point.

    The future of political success here will change over time to what you actually achieve for the people during your tenure and to that end I look forward to a lot of people who would not have touched our secterian flag waving political arena, entering the fray and driving the skills sets of our elected reps up. That is a major challenge for all Parties and again the UUP need to become an attractive proposition for such talent (which I believe a key output of our review will achieve (selection lists based on a range of skills and community involvement))

    I cannot answer for the leader but I know he is a massive Power Sharing Devolutionist.

    Reg Empey and his wife have spent a lifetime in public service to achieve a shared cross community future. You can make your own mind up on issues of leadership but in my experience there have been few more consistent public reps in NI during the troubles who have campaigned against the evils of sectarianism.

  • popcorn

    “Please do cite the statistical research that proves that is a pool of the said garden centre Prods out there to be mobilised by the UUP.
    And if you perchance do manage to establish their existence, maybe you can explain the UUP’s extreme incompetence in failing to mobilise them at every single election?”

    Ah Watchman, I agree with you that the garden prod theory is probably a myth – re-reading my post it sounded more like a dig than I meant to.

    But I am interested in what your view of the future of unionism is, the more time goes by, the more I am starting to think that maybe one large unionist party is the way forward because I can’t see any other groups of unionists that can be harnessed – working class loyalists are generally not voting, those to the right of the DUP didn’t go for mc cartney and his ilk.

    Thus as a genuine question, do you feel there needs to be more than one unionist party and if so which market of unionist votes would they target?

  • Wilson

    Snaz, I know your trying to stick up for the team, but you know as well as I do that such an explanation is simply not good enough.

    Reg Empey appointed McNarry to such a senior position.

    As Leader of the Party, Reg Empey is 100% accountable for what our senior spokespeople say in our Party’s name.

    The buck stops with Reg.

    Does Reg not realise how damaging his appointment of McNarry has been to his standing in the Party?

    And how everytime McNarry opens his mouth Reg is just weakened further?

    It was terrible judgement of Reg to appoint McNarry in the first place to such a senior position where he was obviously going to try to push his own personal agenda and overshadow that of the leader.

    This is precisely the sort of situation where either the party leader shows some authority and makes it crystal clear that McNarry’s divisive views do not speak for our Party, or else the party grassroots need to start looking for a new party leader.

  • Ziznivy

    Snaz. You must be having a shit holiday to be spending so much time on your Blackberry.

  • Snaz

    McNarry certainly would not have been my choice, either politically or intellectually.

    In terms of Reg leadership i personally think any change at this stage would be change for change sake. Who ever leads the party needs a completly different modern structure if he or she is to have a real say and in the middle of a review i think it deflects from the real business in hand of making our great party fit for the purpose of the sustained winning of elections.

    I think Reg has been a safe pair of hands and if im totally honest my assesment of MLA discipline is that the numbers make that more difficult that might otherwise be the case.

    In the highly possible scenario were Paisley allows Policing and Justice to be devolved then DHont is re run and there only needs to be a couple of loose ego based cannons who take advantage of the numbers for us to lose our 2nd minister.

    That said I dont think any British politician should be allowed to make sectarian, racist or homophobic comments and certainly if Reg viewed McNarrys comments as any of those then he should be told to put the record straight publically that they were not meant to offend our fellow Ulstermen.
    If he was unable to provide such assurances then he should be stripped of the whip.

  • Snaz

    Im actually having a great holiday. Lying by the pool in Sorrento. Slugger beats challenging customers, awkward suppliers and staffing issues (still get the constituency issues though holiday or not but hey no one forces you to become a public rep)
    As my other passion in life is Leeds United you can see why i need my blackberry to see if i will have a club to support next season and if my season ticket money is going to vanish.
    Thanks for your concern!

  • Richard James

    “Who ever leads the party needs a completly different modern structure if he or she is to have a real say and in the middle of a review i think it deflects from the real business in hand of making our great party fit for the purpose of the sustained winning of elections.”

    I don’t know a single individual who cast their vote on the basis they approve or disapprove of the UUPs structures.

    Nor has there been a problem with the leadership getting its way. Trimble did so in face of 45%+ opposition at UUC meetings. The party was more united and on message in this election than in any other, we polled worse than we ever have.

    And to be honest the premise the party’s problems stem from Jeffrey criticising policy or presentation is false. You couldn’t have spun no guns, yes government. People would have been disgusted with the treatment of the RUC, especially after Trimble’s claims that Ken Maginnis had ‘saved’ it, irrespective of what Jeffrey Donaldson had said. If anything the strong oppostion shown by a large section of the party is probably what shored up our vote for so long. It only collapsed after Jeffrey left and there was no prospect of the UUP getting a leader in tune with the electorate.

    The real issue is the party’s message, and I suspect this review is nothing more than a diversion from the elephant in the room. It was the party’s leadership that alienated voters in Larne, not East Antrim constituency association. And how the leadership, with no knowledge of the wider electorate let alone a particular area, is going to select the best candidates is beyond me. Voters aren’t too keen on the original models of Reg and McGimpsey, why on earth would they plump for carbon copies?

    “I think Reg has been a safe pair of hands”

    How? He managed to squander any bounce that could have been made from replacing Trimble. His one major political decision, the link with PUP/UVF sent garden centre Prods scurrying back to the Alliance Party (to the extent Reg had to suffer the indignity of being outpolled by Noami Long). In spite of his wish to promote youth he managed to cause two former chairmen of the UYUC to leave the party (there are now only two former chairmen of that organisation left in the UUP, one of them being McNarry!!!). I know from Mark Dunn’s election campaign that there was no help whatsoever coming from Cunningham House. Peter Munce was sent on a kamikaze mission up in Foyle. His letter to each sitting MLA before the election urging them to stand again shows he had no desire to see the current gerontocracy replaced with younger faces.

    So in terms of wooing lawnmower man, reaching out to those former voters we have alienated and having a more representative Assembly team he has been an abject failure.

  • Richard James

    “His letter to each sitting MLA…” <------ refers to Reg, not Peter.BTW considering it wasn't so long ago we got into bed with the PUP/UVF why hasn't the party uttered a word regarding the death threats emananting from the UVF to a father who removed a placard bearing his sons name from teh top of a bonfire? Are there no decent people left in Cunningham House or the Assembly team?

  • Frustrated Democrat


    Are you a future political leader or a businesman, you can’t be both.

    If it is a businessman what were you doing on the American trip, and if it is a political leader why haven’t you stood for election?

  • Michael Shilliday

    I’m pretty sure Snaz isn’t trying to hide his identity, but just in case he is, I’ll just direct you to council results in East Antrim in 2005. He did stand.

  • Turgon

    Sorry to take a while to get back and I am sure there are more important issues but I cannot really let you escape re McGimpsey
    “I think this is a good background to understand his portfolio from a real peoples perspective and provide some contrast to the Health professionals and trust Directors that he will have to deal with. ”
    So why then has McGimpsey announced a review into having one health board (a money saving idea) but allowed the creation of five health trusts including one vast one for Belfast which is the biggest in the UK and may well cause problems. Maybe he just does not know much and will not change a decision already made but will avoid a decision about to be made.

    On to FST. Telling us your girlfriend is from Newtonstewart is hardly very important. Am I supposed to go wow he understands west of the Bann? As far as I know the DUP offered to stand aside in FST or South Belfast last time in exchange for a free run in the other but that was vetoed by the UUP. Do you think the DUP should now stand in South Belfast in exchange for UUP not standing in FST? I am not a DUP supporter any more (and have never been a member) but I think the last Westminster election lost the UUP any right to make such demands of the DUP. The unionists voters chose pretty clearly.

    Also on that note your talented Mr. McGimpsey seemed to specularly misread these voters he is so close to.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Snaz /Michael

    Sorry, by election I meant for a full time post as it is difficult to be a future part time political leader.

  • Snaz

    Richard James,
    Who said that our problems stem from Jeffrey criticising policy, certainly not me.In my opinion our problems stem from our party and our brand having lost the trust of the electrate as a result of being attacked from inside and out by a lot of people who now espouse the exact same views under a banner of “we won” and suddenly that “unionist confidence has not been higher for a generation” Exactly because other Unionist were not attacking them calling them lundys, traiters and sell out merchants.

    Your second point about our message, please tell me which policy issues you are concerned on.

    This leads me onto your final point. There is no question (in any of the review meetings I have attended) of the Leader selecting the candidates. All models I have seen have the constituency associations creating a list of qualified people who have expressed an interest in different positions, (ie Councillor, MLA, MP, MEP etc. This will tell us were we have Gaps in terms of Succesion Management etc and people will have to give a clear and early indication of whether they are going to stand or not so the party can plan properly.

    There will definetly be a central involvement because the UUP is the only party who cannot select candidates from the centre, who cannot look at a province wide balance in terms of age, experience and gender. The DUP centre does pretty much what it likes (remember the deselection of the entire Larne DUP in 2003) but I would hate to see us doing that. A Balance of local selection of the pool and joint central local input and ratification would be my own preferred method.

    The current methods clearly gave not worked. We in East Antrim produced a well balanced ticket with a candidate in his 20s one in his mid 40s and one is his 60s. However Richard with 4 Councillors out of 8 in Carrick and Larne Councils being elected in 2005 at under 40 we, unfortunately are far from representitive. A nice letter went out to all associations from the leader asking associations to consider younger candidates and women and in most places it simply did not materialise. Maybe thats why we kept our two MLAs by a margin of circa 1,000 votes even though it was a dissapointing result overall in terms of a further drop in our vote and voter turnout.

    Our candidates must reflect our electrate and for me this is our single biggest challenge. The right people speaking up for the UUP in the right way starts to turn the media consensus.

    So called Loyalist Paramilitaries and their dirty deeds should always be roundly condemned.

    I fully accept that is now likely to be the DUPs first pick and my thinking is that this is exactly why they have put Arlene into a ministry. However it is very clear (from the Assembly Election Results) that the ONLY chance Unionism has in either is to run one candidate.
    So I think Unionism can and will win both seats back if we have a DUP in one and UUP in the other.

    I am not close enough to McGimpsey or Health to give a qualified opinion on whether his proposals are good or bad. I think we all want to see a well managed, well funded, motivated Health service delivering a best in class front line service to all regardless of your ability to pay. It is against this background that Michael will be judged as will all other ministers.

    Ref his closeness to the people so why did he misjudge them. The last few elections (Fair Deal and not saying what we are doing on the 26th March) were very difficult for the entire UUP brand. Many succesful DUP candidates were very average but got elected on the party ticket.

    Unionism had a disaster in South Belfast with 2 out of 6 MLAs and Michaels personal vote held up ok in a very bad election for UUP specifically and Unionism in general (4 MLAs lost 3 to Nationalism and Republicans)

    Frustrated Democrat.
    At the minute I am very busy running my business, being a councillor a member of the DPP and Director of two Community and Business related organisations through Council. In addition I am a UUP party officer and a father.

    Who knows what is ahead but if I am ever a candidate for MLA or MP it will only be as a result of me divesting myself of the vast majority of my non political interests. Cannot scream triple and quadrouple jobbers at others and do the same myself (even though a large number of MPs in the Commons do both)

    The Americans have an interesting rule which I learned from my trip which would stop all forms of practical double jobbing.

    Whilst a Congressman, Senator or President you are only allowed to earn 24,000 extra dollars from an outside source.

  • Frustrated Democrat


    When meetings are held to select UUP candidates, the people who attend are not representative of the electorate, they are by and large old middle class and conservative and in country areas tend to be from farming backgrounds. They select candidates who reflect them. The only place the younger candidates get a look in is in unwinnable seats.

    This means the UUP are running many totally unsuitable candidates across the province and will never suced until they start grooming candidates for the next election, now would be a good time to start selection for the next group of MLA’s .

  • Turgon

    I have to admit you seem to have potential as a UUP politician. You posted this

    “In terms of McGimpseys potential performance I think he could already become the surprise packet. Michael has always been a real constituency worker within South Belfast in general and within the Village and Sandy Row in particular. He is in it to help ordinary people with their everyday life and ask any local community worker and they will tell you that Michael and Bob Stoker are there all the time (not just at elections). I think this is a good background to understand his portfolio from a real peoples perspective and provide some contrast to the Health professionals and trust Directors that he will have to deal with.”

    in praise of McGimpsey and then when I questioned his knowledge, ability etc. you posted this
    “I am not close enough to McGimpsey or Health to give a qualified opinion on whether his proposals are good or bad.”

    Quite an impressive U turn on one thread.

    I am still amazed that you think the DUP should let you have a free run in South Belfast, if you had any respect for the unionist electorate you would stand aside in both seats (and remember I was once in your party and nolonger support the DUP so I have no specific axe to grind on this).

    I see at least you have not continued to try to explain your kinship with west of the Bann by your girlfriend being from Newtonstewart at least that shows a little insight as it did sound both daft and patronising, still I will forgive you for that.

    Enjoy your holiday you sound like a very busy man (I do really mean that).

  • Snaz

    Frustrated Democrat,
    I agree with everything you have said on candidate selection which is precisely why the current procedures need to be changed.

    1. Candidates should have basic skills sets and or backgrounds in the community or community infrastructure.

    2. Selection lists will achieve your exact point.
    i. Prepare years in advance for every election.
    ii. Identify weaknesses in both Council and MLA areas giving the Director of Elections (who ever that may be in the future(for me a full time paid position))the chance to see the potential weaknesses you mention and either proactively head hunt suitable candidates or else put in a suitable candidate from another, similar area.

    Sammy Wilson East Belfast to East Antrim
    Willie MCrea Mid Ulster to South Antrim
    Mitchel McLaughlin Foyle to South Antrim

    So whilst the local association has a significant say the DOE job is to make sure that there is a balanced team. (these are my personal opinions)

    I really cannot let you away with that.

    What I said initially was that MMG is very close to a community in the Village and Sandy Row that has a lot of Social, Health and Housing issues. I felt, and still do, that this should help give him a good balance as opposed to a typical middle class professional background perspective.

    My latter blog just said that I personally was not a Health technocrat (DETI yes) and that ultimately he will be judged on results.

    No spin, no U turn, just calling it as I see it.

    Sorry for patronising you by saying my girlfriend was from Newtownstewart (I did not mean to irk you)

    The point I was making was that a lot of Public Reps from Greater Belfast have no idea as to the feelings of Unionist living West of the Bann. From my girlfriends family, friends, minister etc,etc I have had many chats and can understand the deep sense of isolation and alienation that they sometimes feel. Bottom line is they suffered proportionally far more during the troubles with far higher proportions in the security forces than us folk like me who contest Council elections were there is not even an SDLP candidate let alone a shinner.

    So I certainly did not wish to be partonising but pointing out that I am not without some pratical understanding of the feelings of my Unionist brothers in these parts of the world.

    Dont worry when I am back in NI next week I will dissappear from your slugger radar and get back in the real world.

  • Richard James

    “In my opinion our problems stem from our party and our brand having lost the trust of the electrate as a result of being attacked from inside and out by a lot of people who now espouse the exact same views under a banner of “we won” and suddenly that “unionist confidence has not been higher for a generation” Exactly because other Unionist were not attacking them calling them lundys, traiters and sell out merchants.”

    The UUP lost the trust of the electorate because it repeatedly lied to them. Ironically the first breach of the UUP manifesto came with the abandonment of ‘no guns, no government’, not the actions of anti-agreement Unionists in the party.

    Now while I agree with you that the DUP’s recent stance is hypocritical I feel you ignore the issue of competance. The UUP made repeated leaps of faith by entering government prior to complete decommissioning and got screwed over each time. The DUP was astute enough not to entrust it’s electoral fortunes to SF/IRA.

    I know several people who voted for the Belfast Agreement who now vote DUP or not at all over our failure to make it work for them (on issues such as defending the RUC). Unless we acknowledge their grievances and apologise for them, instead of claiming we were right all along and everyone else was stupid not to see that (Alan McFarland’s TV appearances are particularly bad in this respect), we have no chance of winning voters back. And unlike the lesser spotted garden centre Prod the UUP committed hari kiri to attract, these people have a track record of voting and swing elections.

    “Your second point about our message, please tell me which policy issues you are concerned on.”

    Well aside from the weak stance against Loyalist violence taken since Whiterock until now. The vacuous ‘for all of us’ campaign which failed to give the electorate a single reason to vote for us (I don’t think we had an original policy, and basically promised bread and circuses for everyone). There is the failure to give the electorate a real choice by not going into opposition. The appointment of Michael McGimpsey, who is loathed amongst the Unionist community, to the poisoned chalice of health. Considering the poor financial package negotiated by the DUP hospital closures are inevitable, and rightly or wrongly McGimpsey will get the blame and with his reputation the mud will stick.

    “A nice letter went out to all associations from the leader asking associations to consider younger candidates and women and in most places it simply did not materialise.”

    Which is pointless when at the same time urging sitting MLAs to stand again. We weren’t going to gain seats in this election, so fresh faces had to come at the expense of the septagenarians (it being unlikely a newcomer will unseat an incumbent). And if Reg were serious about giving young talent a chance he would be urging these MLAs, and indeed many present councillors, to stand down to give someone new a chance to establish themselves. However that would involve taking on established interests, something Reg has no stomach for.

    BTW how does the central leadership intend to measure talent or who will do well in a particular area? You cite Sammy Wilson, Willie McCrea, and Mitchel McLaughlin as examples of parachuting candidates in to an area and them doing well. However they were well-established politicians in their own right, it is harder to get that to work for newcomers (especially in a declining party where name recognition can be a candidates only saving grace).

    “So called Loyalist Paramilitaries and their dirty deeds should always be roundly condemned.”

    It’s a pity Empey doesn’t share your sentiments, the party remains silent on these deaths threats and a family being forced into hiding.

  • Snaz

    On candidate selection we agree. The questions you are asking will be asked by all UUC delegates in the run up to adopting the review. Drop me an email with your mobile number on it and i will give you a ring and we can meet up to discuss this but i feel you will support the proposals.

    On policy i was talking about actual policy, Free personal Health Care for the elderly, retaining academic selection but promoting more vocational/specialist schools, etc etc

    The packaging is an all round area we are going to need to improve but for me the substance of our policies are good.

    I dont think we are going to agree on the issue of WHY we lost peoples trust. The perception that we did not defend the RUC was probably the single biggest loss of support to the UUP but the facts do not support this.

    The DUP watched Patton going through the commons and did not raise a single amendment (we raised hundreds).

    It was not in our gift.It was/is a devolved matter so the British government could do what it liked,

    But for me it was mostly cosmetic. My friends who are in the police got the same money for upholding the same laws working from the same police stations. They were good cops in the RUC and remain good in the PSNI.

    The only promise i can think of that we broke was the No Guns no Government and even then we had the political courage to remove ourselves from Government 3 times.

    The real liar was Blair who promised that he would act if we did our bit and they did not do theirs.

    Compare this to the DUP as recently as the last few years.

    No mandatory coalition with Sinn Fein under DHont

    Decommisioning must be photogaphed

    Disbandment (not name change) of the RIR

    No working of the North/South ministerial Council as it was an ’embryonic United Ireland’

    So you are totally right that we lost the trust for the type of reasons that you give but that was because others told lies that they have since forgotten in the last few months.

    That said we do need to ask people to trust again and not as you rightly say ram ‘told you so’ down peoples throat. Another thing that the right people can help with if we can get them into positions of influence.

    Give me a shout.

  • Wilson

    “That said I dont think any British politician should be allowed to make sectarian, racist or homophobic comments and certainly if Reg viewed McNarrys comments as any of those then he should be told to put the record straight publically that they were not meant to offend our fellow Ulstermen.
    If he was unable to provide such assurances then he should be stripped of the whip.”

    Snaz, I certainly find myself in agreement with much of what you say here and, like you, I hope the UUP does still have a future. More than anything I hope you are right that Reg will move quickly distance our party from McNarry’s disgraceful divisive comments which have caused such offence – and move him swiftly to a position more appropriate for his particular level of talent

    – perhaps our spokesperson on issues surrounding the expansion of the Ulster Canal?

    – or perhaps he might even head up our Party Task Force on future relations between NI and the Republic of Micronesia?

    I hope you are right and that Reg will swiftly crack down on these so-called spokespeople who think they can oppose the peace process which our own Party helped to found and develop and which has finally bore such promising fruit in recent months with the restoration of devolution.

    McNarry must be urgently replaced as chief whip by somebody much more in tune with the party grassroots in terms of support for our new power-sharing Assembly.