Young Unionists exit stage right?

After some controversial debates recently, it looks like the Young Unionists may have called it a day online? Update: we are reliable informed it will be back, pending a redesign, in two to three weeks.

  • pith

    Luckily there is the Rugby World Cup on at the moment to provide some alternative top-quality entertainment but what will we do when that’s over?

  • George

    Why do they need to close down their current website while working on a new one? No one else does.

  • Kloot

    From reading the site over the last few months there seems to be either a lot of internal dissent within the group, or they are the butt end of a targeted campaign

  • Insider

    Clearly the Munce, Warke, Shilliday take-over has been completed. No freedom of thought permitted by Reg’s loyal phalanx!

  • hoganfromcountytyrone

    Don’t know about the other two but shilliday never gave me the impression that he was a big Reginator fan?

  • Cabals

    They tried to in 2004 but found they couldn’t!!

    Not likely, a certain few members may attempt to jump to either Allisters new group or the DUP. I gather they have been trying to attract attention for that purpose however I haven’t heard that anyone has actually taken the bait and wanted them to come over!! DUP would probably have too much sense which leaves the new cabal of the crazies.

  • Michael Shilliday

    I’ll confirm that isn’t possible to do. Even if it were there would be no chance whatever of it happening.

  • Turgon

    Michael shilliday,

    I seem to remember that one of the difficulties with the UYUC leaving the UUC was that there were not enough members left to make a quorum or whatever was needed. That is probably before your time. Might I suggest that most of the Young unionists of my day grew up; got married and got a proper job.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Actually I was at the meeting you’re talking about. Last time no one was talking about disaffiliation, just dissolution, which happened.

  • BonarLaw

    Remember that this bunch are a restart of the UYUC that had so much fun with Trimble post ’98. This new formation was supposed to be better controlled than King, Weir, Foster, Brown et al.


    “most of the Young unionists of my day grew up; got married and got a proper job”… with the DUP!

  • Truth & Justice

    It seems like a good kick in the teeth for Sir Reg and the UUP

  • Turgon

    Bonar law,
    Very good, I stand corrected. Actually a lot of us just gave up. Judging by the sucess of Mrs. Foster, Mr. Weir and others maybe we should have joined the DUP and then sold out. It seems much better than working for a living.

  • Peter Brown


    Are you insinuating that the old UYUC was out of control???

    Rumour has it K Donaldson is the only former UYUC chairman left in the UUP since at least 1990 everyone else has left for pastures new or just out to pasture (not green pasture though!)

  • Rory

    Young Unionists? Isn’t this an oxymoron?

  • webmaster

    ran out of money — too busy buying up domains.

    perhaps they will give up Jim Allister’s domain
    seeing he’s not part of the DUP anymore

    Some people have too much time on their hands.

    Saying that why am i reading this thread, seeing the youngunionists are completely irrelevant anyhow.

  • Big Ed

    Any truth that jonny hadley has left?

  • BonarLaw

    Rosemary Neilson & Glen O’Connor

    FFS take a good look at what you are writing before hitting “submit”.

  • Turgon

    [removed by moderator]

    I am reminded of a story which I believe is true (I was too young to remember).

    Bernadette Devlin was pregnant prior to marriage. The press waited outside Paisley’s house on Sunday for a comment. He told them he would not comment on politics on the sabbath or some such. So they were back on Monday morning. They asked for a comment and he said “He amongst you that is without sin let him cast the first stone”. I would suggest a similar position be taken here.

  • fair_deal

    Knock the man playing on the head now. Sock puppet comments have been removed. Any further breaches will result in cards being issued.

  • Turgon

    I am sorry that is what I meant by the above albeit more long winded.

  • Turgon

    Mick I suggest you remove my comment as well as it simply repeats a comment which should not have been made and has now been removed.

  • fair_deal


    In dealing with misbehaviour on a thread I usually issue a general warning first. This should not be interpreted as meaning all or many are in contravention of the rule. IMO your comment was within bounds although an amendment will be made as it is a response to a removed comment.

  • Turgon

    Thanks I had no intention to repeat an inappropriate remark. I intended to comment on the inappropriateness of the initial comment. I should have left out the quote. Thank you for removing it and sorry if the logical thread in this post is convoluted.

  • Dissenting UUP

    The real loser from this whole sorry episode has almost certainly been Reg Empey – who has been seen to stand idly by on the sidelines for six weeks or more as the blog was hijacked and used against the Party – and as the name of the party he his still rumoured to lead was dragged through the mud by DUP and Jim Allister supporters.

    Rumoured sightings of the supposed UUP “leader”, who hasn’t been seen at all since entering his Ministry in May, continue to periodically excite the Stormont rumor mill. His AGM speech will apparently be delivered by Hologram from an undisclosed location deep within the basement of the Employment & Learning Dept.

    Reg comes out of the whole affair greatly weakened and will almost certainly be challenged for leadership in six weeks time – particularly as his long-awaited, much-vaunted “party reform process” seems certain to fall far short of the wholesale transformation of party structures which the members want and which the party so urgently needs if it is to survive.

    With McNarry, McFarland, McGimpsey, Burnside and Basil McCrea all likely to stand for leader in six weeks time, it should be a defining moment for the UUP and whether or not it is possible for the party to survive, or whether it should just go the way of its apparent ‘leader’ and merely fade away into the night.

  • BonarLaw

    Dissenting UUP

    I know Reg has issues but McNasty, Tank Commander, Undertaker or even Basil Brush as alternatives?

    Dear God.

  • Bigger Picture


    I know talk about pinning your hopes on idiots like that, i would run now before being embarrassed any further.

  • unionist

    who is Burnside. wasn’t he the dodgy detective in The Bill?

  • fair_deal

    Ball not man people

  • Ballygobackwards


    The best character ever on The Bill!!

    Burnside was brilliant (detective not MLA obviously!)

  • BonarLaw

    Bigger Picture

    what hopes exactly? Regaining the upper hand in unionism? Merging with the Tories? Keeping ahead of the Alliance Party?

  • Change Please?

    Its got to be either McCrea or McFarland – both of whom the “Old Guard” absolutely despise – a great plus in my viewpoint!

    Were either the Tank Commander or Basil to get elected, it would spell the end of the Old Guard who have been running the party structure since the Molyneaux era.

    Perhaps then the Party will finally get its act together, put some clear blue water between our centre-ground Unionism and the divided DUP – and most importantly reclaim the Unionist centre-ground from Alliance, who have been “on a roll” recently as our Party has moved further and further from the middle-ground.

    But the way things are going under the Great Invisible Leader Empey, I wouldnt be at all surprised to see Alliance overtake us at the next election, indeed here in this constituency (East Belfast) I would be amazed if they didnt.

  • anon

    Rumour has it McCrea, McAllister (the South Down farmer) and more are backing McFarland in a revolution.

    All steams from Empey’s [edited by moderator – play the ball] decision on the Ministry.

  • anon

    Yus in meltdown. Dunn out as Chair Shilliday installed with Warke [edited by moderator – play the ball] as deputy.

  • Turgon

    Change Please?,
    Your analysis is interesting but other UUP posters on this site seem to hold exactly the opposite view and support denouncing the DUP as lundies.

    Surely the problem is that the UUP is now rudderless. It has no real charismatic leaders, it has no useful middle ground to occupy since the DUP joined the executive. There is nolonger the embarassment factor for unionists admitting they vote DUP (I can clearly remember that point and it was when I certain Trimble was finished).

    On the other hand there is no real credibility for the UUP in trying to cut across the DUP’s position to occupy a new home to the right of the DUP.

    I am sorry but it all reminds me of rearranging the deck chairs on that infamous product of the ship yard. I am sure the UUP will limp on; probably for years; but its chances of a comeback without some disasterous internal DUP split look very bleak. Even with a DUP split they are in danger of being irrevocably caught with the image of decay and being a spent force.

  • The UUP should be emphasising its role as upholders of British unionism and pointing out the difference between that philosophy and Ulster nationalism.

  • duper


    The DUP is a Unionist Party.

    The UUP are a liberal nationalist party.

  • Turgon

    I think that is a little unfair on the UUP. It does, however, chime in a way with the discussion on the new party thread reagrding liberalising tendancies in unionist parties. The UUP started quite hardline and gradually liberalised. The DUP started as a hardline unionist party and as you correctly observe is now a unionist party. The apparently inevitable liberalising trend seems to be affecting the DUP.

  • fair_deal

    Will the new sock puppet on this thread desist – use the one name.

  • snakebrain

    Young Unionists; the NI Tory Boy’s

    What a lovely idea

  • Strange unionists when their leader courts the SNP, refers to the UK as a federation of “states”, says the British government is “the enemy” and puts the blame for economic stagnation on that government rather than on his republican mates and their 30 years of violence.

  • Elvis Parker

    DUP is a Protestant nationalist party, UUP is a Protestant parochial catch all party. Neither are unionist.
    McNarry will not embarass himself by standing – once biten. Didnt Burnside once say that he realised he was likealbe enough to be leader?
    That leaves Basil Brush and McGimp and Tory Boy Tank Commander
    Basil has annoyed too many people.
    McFarland would obviously promise not to take a Ministerial job and so could possibly buy some support by promise limos.
    If McGimp and the Reginator were force from office however UUP would go into freefall

  • Pounder

    [i]The UUP should be emphasising its role as upholders of British unionism and pointing out the difference between that philosophy and Ulster nationalism.
    Posted by Ziznivy on Sep 21, 2007 @ 04:25 PM[/i]

    They tried that with the “Simply British” catchline, and rightly crashed and burned for it.

  • anon

    UUP obituary

    A Unionist Party, once the main party of Northern Ireland in its running of a one-party state.

    Fallin from fame when it sold out Ulster thanks to a man called Trimble.

    RIP (after many years of tension)

  • Unimpartial Observer

    We’re not dead yet anon, but we need somebody who can help us retake the centre-ground from Alliance, instead of trying to imitate the DUP.

    I think that with the right leadership and with a clear moderate, non-sectarian, middle ground Unionism we can give the Party a clear definition, and see off the threat from Alliance.

    But First we need to get the right leadership.

    Six weeks and counting on that…

  • Turgon

    Unimpartial observer,
    “help us retake the centre-ground from Alliance, instead of trying to imitate the DUP.”

    Since most (though I accept not all) of the haemorrhage of support from the UUP was to the DUP (who then promptly stole your clothes and position); attracting Alliance voters is hardly going to put you back in the position the UUP once enjoyed. For the once mighty UUP to have seeing off the threat from Alliance as a goal shows how far the party has degenerated.

    There is only an “Alliance threat” in a number of Belfast and neighbouring constituencies and councils. Is this suggestion an implicit admission that west of the Bann, Upper Bann, East Londonderry etc. are all irrevocably lost? At least it shows realism.

    “But First we need to get the right leadership.
    six weeks and counting on that… ”

    And at the risk of playing the man who might that be? I do not see a charismatic champion comming over the hill to save you.

  • Unimpartial Observer


    The challenge at the moment is not achieving dominance over the DUP, but a challenge of simple survival.

    There is every danger that the UUP’s futile attempts to lurch to the right of the DUP will see Alliance gobble up the centre-ground pro-Union vote.

    The immediate priority is to put a stop to the lurch to the right, and elect a leader who is in tune with our grassroots – moderate, middle-ground Unionists – somebody who can stand up to the surge in Alliance support.

    Given that one recent poll has us just *one* point ahead of Alliance and that party support seems to have fallen off a cliff-face since the March election (down to 9% from 15%) there is great urgency now.

    The party is dying fast under the current leader, who seems to care more about being a minister than leading his party.

    New Leader, New Direction, Now! = the only possible hope for UUP survival.

  • Turgon

    Unimpartial observer,
    A very balanced and rational position and an excellent analysis of the position your (and a long time ago my) party is currently in.

    A few points though.

    I agree a lurch to the right, cutting across the DUP’s path is irrational but at the moment that is the only likely place where an unoccupied piece of ground exists.

    In terms of this “our grassroots – moderate, middle-ground Unionists ” I am not so sure. Your grass roots were a very broad church from the quite socialist position of the likes of Harold McCusker to the traditional Tory types of Willie Ross. From the liberal unionists like Ken Maginess to the hardliners like Willie Thompson. A very broad church indeed. Much of the grass roots was, however, rural and small town unionism. I do not think those are the unionists you are seeking to win back, they tend not to switch to Alliance we all know where they have gone.

    As to opinion polls; never believe them in a Northern Ireland context.

    Still I must admit yours is the closest to a coherent position I have seen from a UUP supporter in a while. I just observe that your strategy at its very best will do little more than allow you to bump along with a support base a little larger than Alliance. I do not think a new leader is going to help. I do not like playing the man but do you seriously think the alternatives are that impressive?

    I accept of course in Prodiban unionism we have a few leadership problems.

  • Porlock

    McFarland has not half the bottle that people imagine. His whole leadership campaign was orchestrated by Alex Kane and Lady Hermon. I doubt if there was one word or thought which wasn’t supplied by them. When it came to sorting out the ministries etc Kane was off the scene and Mcfarland seriously overplayed his hand and his importance within the party.

    Basil McCrea is an ideologically rootless lightweight who belongs to Alliance rather than the UUP. He looks semi professional because he is surrounded by thickos

    Burnside is a duff performer and lacks charm.

    McNarry is, as everyone says, plain McNasty.

    The problem for the UUP, and it has been noted by others, is that it doesn’t have a figure within its MLA or MP team who can offer the leadership it needs. It’s best people have gone or are now semi-detached.


  • As a slight aside, does anyone know anything about the DUP’s youth wing, rumoured to be known as ‘Young Democrats’? The other four main parties have pretty open and readily accessible youth groups, but alas we never seem to hear from this mysterious DUP youth wing. Who’s their leader? Do they run campaigns? Do they exist?

  • Peter Brown

    Why is everyone in the UUP obsessed with stemming the trickle of votes to Alliance and hoping to mop up their 10,000 votes instead of retaking the 100,000 votes lost to the DUP? The election results clearly show the middle ground of unionism is now to the UUP’s right but instead they want to move left and attack Alliance???

  • Peter Brown

    And to get back to the thread what is the significance of the upheavals in ther UYUC for the leadership of the UUP – are the new officers loyal to the Esteemed Leader as implied elsewhere on this thread or is this the first move in the coip d’etat / leadership challenge? In the past the UYUC has played a pivotal role in upheaval in the Party is it about to do so again?

    IMHO the UUP is generally reluctant to stab leaders from the front they much prefer them to resign and anyone trying to wrest the leadership from an incumbent will have a harder time than filling a vacancy….

  • Unimpartial Observer


    The problem is the UUP have lurched so far to the right of the DUP, that they have now moved well to the right of the unionist middle ground.

    This rightwards lurch, exemplified by the fact that Reg has abdicated practically all leadership responsibilities to McNarry, and seems a hostage of the party’s right wing, has meant that the party has completely abandoned its core “Middle Ulster” support base.

    It is little wonder that AP have gained so much momentum, given that the UUP isnt even fighting for the middle-ground, instead its engaged in a futile “Mr Tough Guy” joust with the DUP and Jim Allister on the furthest extremes of Unionism (where, of course, the party has zero credibility post-1998)

    Turgon, thanks for your comments. I do think that if a new moderate leader we elected – be it McCrea, McFarland or somebody else – the UUP could at least assure its survival, and define itself strongly where it belogns – on the centre-ground.

    It is the sense that the UUP are attacking from the right of the DUP, rather than reflecting the moderate Middle Ulster values of their core (the people most tempted to vote Alliance) that is doing the most damage.

    Whether the UUP will be able in a few years to turn that survival into a position of being able to compete with the DUP is unknown – but survival itself is the first thing they need to secure.

    If things keep going as they are, they are hurtling towards a humiliating election, and 5th place behind Alliance which would certainly spell the end of the party.

  • Turgon

    Unimpartial Observer,
    Very good analysis.

    Three things,
    Will the strategy you propose ensure survival or just reduce the rate of decline and when further decline occurs will your strategy be ditched?

    Second, do you think the UUP understand the problem enough to make such a change? I still remember when they thought they would take Strangford back from Iris Robinson; it was not that long ago (remember the young turks / lambs to the slaughter).

    Thirdly, you have addressed all the issues in a very cogent fashion except one, who for leader and do they have the necessary qualities?

  • Unimpartial Observer

    Turgon, to answer your questions:

    i) I think with strong definition on the centre-ground will halt the decline, ensure survival, and provide a breathing space and a platform for future growth.

    ii) I’m not sure they do tbh, but the leadership election will tell. If they elect a clear moderate reformer there is hope. If they elect a candidate backed by the old guard – the “good old boys”, there is no hope.

    iii) Not sure yet. Of the possible candidates most often named, McFarland is the most impressive, not least as he was proved absolutely right that Empey shouldn’t have tried to do both the Leadership and the Ministerial job at the same time.

    Then again we’ll wait and see, McCrea is good with the media and has done v. well for a newcomer to the party.

    Others may also come forward in the next five or six weeks.

  • Unimpartial Observer

    All that said, if Gordon calls an election on Monday (and his talk is titled “General Election” in the Labour conference agenda) it’ll be curtains I think…

    Although you couldn’t write a maverick like Sylvia off entirely – she’s done a great job at distancing herself as much as possible from Reg!

    But across the rest of NI it’ll be curtains.

  • Turgon

    Unimpartial Observer,
    Clearly you are a very different sort of unionist from me but I think you would have made a better spin doctor for your version of unionism than Steven King et al.

    I am afraid I still think you have an uphill struggle every bit as difficult as those of us from the prodiban school of unionism.

  • duper

    DUP have a good chance of winning North Down.

    Why? Alliance voters will vote Alliance as Alliance is pissed off with the UU’s taking their seats and they have got a momentum behind them now after their fairly successful Assembly election.

    Sylvia lacks a political issue to campaign on.

  • Peter Brown


    The UUP gave up the middle ground of unionism to the DUP by surrendering it without a fight on Good Friday 1998 and has never seriously attempted to regain it – only someone from within the Pale (ie south of the A8, east of the Bann and north of Ballynahinch) could possibly seriously suggest that the Alliance Poarty is the main threat to the UUP and to do ignores 10 of the 18 constituencies (at least) where it is in fact the DUP.

    Those who opposed Reg and backed McFarkland in 2005 have no appeal whatsoever outside the Pale and the UUC members from outside the maginot Line that that group want to through up to protect North Down etc were the downfall of McFarland then and will probably do so again – they realise that the non voting garden centre unionist only exists in a handful of constituencies and to see the UUP move further away from the epicentre of unionism to secure the votes of this small and diffcilut to woo group of people will finish the UUP in the rest of the country.

    North Antrim etc don’t do wine and cheese and don’t rate presentation over content – if the UUP as a whole goes down that road it will flieck the switch on the life support machines keeping numerous associations alive but hey at least the UUP might still hold North Down and that’s the most important thing to one group in the Party – consolidate not advance!

  • Skyblues

    Peter North Antrim dont do wine and cheese parties because we cant afford the bloody wine and cheese.

  • Turgon

    Peter Brown,
    I love the new definition of the Pale, I had not heard that before.

    In a way I think you and Unimpartial Observer are both correct. His/her strategy is probably the best way to hold off Alliance in North Down and other parts of the Pale. It will sacrifice the rest of Northern Ireland but keeps some UUP alive.

    To try to cut across the DUP to a right wing position will be very difficult to achieve and even then I doubt many of the voters who deserted the UUP for the DUP will come back. McNarry is the most credible hardliner and I do not think he is likely to attract many DUP votes and could well loose the Alliance type vote.

    A leftward move by the the UUP might actually help hardline unionism. Since it would create a possible small vacuum between the DUP and UUP; I suspect the DUP would then move a little to the left to get the votes of defecting UUP members (politics as nature seems to abhor a vacuum). This DUP move could in its own turn leave a larger space for any possible new hardline unionist party. Alternatively it might make some of the more hardline DUP types see that their party is drifting ever more the wrong way and make a proper effort to stop this movement.
    Just a thought.

    I wonder if it is because you cannot afford wine and cheese in North Antrim or because you are too mean to buy it?

  • Skyblues

    I wish we were to mean to buy wine and cheese sadly…

  • Jim

    Why not give this a try:

  • Peter Brown

    That’s my definition of the Pale – many calling for change in the UUP want it to be smaller than that – anything ouside N Down E Belfast (on the mistaken assumption that the Alliance is the biggest threat here!) S Belfast and the good (ie posh) bits of Lagan Valley can be left to the DUP as scorched earth to save 3 1/2 constituency associations! As for west of the Bann – here be dragons or the edge of the flat earth as the old maps used to say!

  • I agree with Peter Brown that the UUP needs to go after DUP voters not Alliance ones, as I’ve said to the point of RSI. (I have respect for Peter for putting up with this nonsense in the UUP for so long.)

    Will the last person in the UUP please put out the light behind them?