UUP Conference

Comment 15 here wonders why I haven’t blogged the party conference. The answer is that I wasn’t there, unfortunately I could only make the UUC on Friday night. Gareth Gordon has a pretty good report on the BBC, which they have online here. The most interesting element of course being the invitation of a Nationalist to address conference, who finished by using the traditional Unionist battle cry – no surrender.

  • slug

    It was a good move to invite Margaret Ritchie to the UUP conference. And she seems to have been given a positive reception – a standing ovation.

  • Dewi

    Events of last weeks seem to have re-invigorated UUP – from impression of BBC report seem to have some cohesion. Often wondered why Burnside is still there however – is that a religious thing with him ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Burnside seems to have been quiet of late, no doubt waiting for his opportunity to challenge the leadership.

    I don’t see any particular evidence that the UUP are recovering. Their about-turn on the Ritchie matter was too obviously in response to public opinion, and seemed a bit daft given their own relationship with the PUP, which was itself handled in a damaging manner. It’s still not particularly clear exactly where they stand with respect to the institutions or their own role in government.

  • jake

    good stuff slugger o’toole! keep it up – you managed, i see, to ignore all the reports today which undermined the provo/dup lies about the quinn murder! this site is a sick joke!

  • Smithsonian

    Comrade Stalin
    Now, Now Comrade – no sour grapes.

    Surely you are pleased that the UUP invited the SDLP Minister to their conference. Isn’t that what a shared future is all about and as I understand it the invitation was made and accepted several months ago (well before the current unpleasantness).

    All parties undergo a period of metamorphosis in order to keep themselves relevant to the electorate. During such a period there can be occasional inconsistencies as different factions and personalities attempt to seize the agenda. Eventually however, a coherent strategy emerges which the electorate will in due course consider.

    The UUP are not alone in this. The DUP and SF have certainly moved on to different ground and who would have thought that the Alliance party would attempt to shed their “nice people” image and adopt the hair shirt of opposition getting stuck into everybody and generally putting themselves about?

  • jone

    jake,

    mate, you’re a bit off topic but rather than coming on here shouting the odds why not do something useful like posting a few links?

  • Rubicon

    What happened to the BNP / Anna Lo thread? (sorry – off topic I know).

  • The Gareth Gordon report, for which tip I am grateful, is highly illuminating. Ritchie, Burnside and Empey (in their different ways) were singing from the same song-sheet. It isn’t if the UUP and SDLP (though perhaps only a faction of the latter) go into formal opposition, but when. They will then, singly or collectively, have to compound a programme for government.

    That moment when is causing a few wry remarks among the usual suspects. Today’s Daily Telegraph has Jenny McCartney barely diluting the vitriol (but certainly going further than (say) Lindy McDowell in yesterday’s Belfast Telegraph or McKittrick in today’s IoS): [added quotes “” around url link – edited moderator]
    This month we have had a glimpse of the new Northern Ireland: a place of gleaming tourist centres and political cronyism, rocketing house prices and squalid murders, where victims emigrate and killers get promotion.

    My apologies if that hyperlink went wrong.

  • jake

    and jone why don’t you go forth and multiply yourself – the reason i made that comment is that on a day when the sunday papers are full of the quinn story this pathetic site has only one posting, on the uup conference, evidence, i would submit that mick fealty and his bunch on this joke of a site have been co-opted into the sinn fein/dup lying machine!

  • Rubicon

    jake – Slugger always appears quiet on a Sunday until at least evening. I think they’re either all off marching, at church or chaining up swings 😉

  • jake @ 04:38 PM:

    when the sunday papers are full of the quinn story

    Yes, indeed. Sad it is too. If only the Quinn murder were the totality of the thing, you might have more agreement round here. And the Quinn murder has been done over, very comprehensively, for example by Suzanne Breen in the Tribune (http://www.nuzhound.com/articles/Sunday_Tribune/arts2007/oct28_attack_on_Quinn_ordered_by_IRA__SBreen.php) What’s to add to that?

    This thread, though, is addressing a rather different topic: how to redress the democratic deficit that exists in NI politics? For that is why we have politicos defending the indefensible.

  • Alex Swan

    Was at both the conference and the meeting the previous evening, meeting went well, a mood of realism has obviously descended and Empey has achieved what Molyneaux and Trimble failed to achieve, a modernisation of the rules, as for the conference the reception for Ritchie was warm and genuine unlike that for Burnside, people have memories!

  • Alex Swan

    Oh I nearly forgot, all you DUPes out there, when are you having your conference? I suspect that when you do get round to holding one it will tkae more than wee Sammey’s comedy act to distract the ‘troops’

  • Smithsonian

    Alex Swan
    Perhaps, the First Minister will invite the Deputy First Minister to the next DUP conference? That would be an interesting speech.

  • Alex Swan

    Alex Swan
    Perhaps, the First Minister will invite the Deputy First Minister to the next DUP conference? That would be an interesting speech.

    Posted by Smithsonian on Oct 28, 2007 @ 05:50 PM

    Morecome & Wise, the 2 Ronnies, Cannon & Ball, the Chuckle Bros???????

  • Comrade Stalin

    Smithsonian, first off I’m not speaking for the Alliance Party, so my opinions should definitely not be construed as representative of their policies. They wouldn’t let an old Bolshevik in. I’m just an enthusiastic supporter.

    I have no reason to be either pleased or displeased at the UUP inviting Ritchie to speak at their conference, the internal politics of the party is really not any of my business. I do have some observations though, namely that firstly I still see the invitation as part of cynical bandwagon jumping by that party; and secondly, the UUP have had many opportunities to act in the forthright and courageous way that Ritchie did. Time and time again they have chosen, rather than stand up to loyalists in the same way that they stand up to the IRA, to instead welcome them in from the cold as fellow-travellers without setting any standards whatsoever on reducing violence, decommissioning or standing down. Initially McGimpsey reacted to Ritchie’s statement in the House in the same way that Robinson and McGuinness did, before he did an about-face. The only thing the UUP did was smell the coffee more quickly than the DUP & SF did.

    All parties undergo a period of metamorphosis in order to keep themselves relevant to the electorate. During such a period there can be occasional inconsistencies as different factions and personalities attempt to seize the agenda. Eventually however, a coherent strategy emerges which the electorate will in due course consider.

    Seems to me, then, that the UUP (and their immediate predecessors) have been in a state of metamorphoses since 1972.

    who would have thought that the Alliance party would attempt to shed their “nice people” image and adopt the hair shirt of opposition getting stuck into everybody and generally putting themselves about?

    The Alliance Party is acting right now pretty much as it has always done. I’m thinking of the days when the party leadership stood up and demanded that the British government send in troops to operate powerstations and break the UWC strike; when it went to court to get unionists back to work during the Anglo Irish Agreement business; and the party blazing the trail in having the UDP and Sinn Fein excluded from talks in the latter 1990s when their contemporaries were actively murdering people; or showing leadership when the very first opportunity came to elect the first Catholic Lord Mayor of Belfast and, some years later, the first Sinn Fein Lord Mayor.

    If being “nice people” means “promoting dialogue and agreement at all times, while consistently standing up to intransigence and paramilitarism”, hell yeah, I’m nice people. Aren’t you ?

  • Smithsonian

    Comrade Stalin
    I didn’t suggest that you were speaking on behalf of the Alliance party, strange that you should jump to that conclusion.

    However, it is hard to see how any party can move forward if “the sins of the father are forever to visited upon the son”. Times change, people change, the wider context changes… time to move on.

    I thought regardless of your political persuasion that an openness to a different point of view would be considered a good thing. The alternative seems rather unattractive.

  • Comrade Stalin @ 08:17 PM:

    Not just a good post, but a thoroughly uplifting overview.

    I am increasingly of the view that the old sectarian politics are dead as mutton, and that the new Northern Ireland is coming at us fast. St Andrews and its concomitants may well prove to be the nicest rat-trap in history: for which much thanks.

    The place for radicals (of all political and religious complexions) to be is outside the tent urinating in. From now on, the process of governing NI gets tougher, with no obvious kudos for managing the process.

    Two examples:

    The water-charge issue was bought off for another year: together with the three-year rates-freeze that may be a mistake, for it would surely be better to have the crunch now than a further year or two down the electoral cycle.

    The more I looked at Robinson’s financial planning, the less attractive the prospects looked. It is predicated to four dubious assumptions: raising £1.1B from selling off the assets; PPIs; Treasury borrowing; streamlining the bureaucracy. Turn that on its head and it means: dumping government property onto a likely-deflating market; increasing debt, running the (now obvious) risks involved in PPIs; and sacking civil servants: none of which is a sure-fire recipe for popularity.

    No, surely the Executive will not flounder on issues of violence or gangsterism: that’s now merely an opportunity for hand-wringing and tut-tutting. Its nemesis could and ought to be the bread-and-butter issues: health, welfare, transport, education. Yes, Robinson is pointing to increased investment in all those areas, but look a little closer and the ambitions are distinctly modest.

  • Turgon

    I was struck by the apparently small number of people present at the conference at least judging by the television coverage. I remember UUP conferences in the early and mid 1990s which had vastly greater attendances.

    I would agree that the UUP are doing a bit better of late but as far as I can see that is mainly because the DUP have been doing very badly in the last few weeks. I am unconvinced that the UUP have the new policies, leaders, vision etc. they need. We will wait and see but it all rather reminded me of David Steele’s comment “Go home and prepare for government.”

    In terms of Comrade Stalin and this “leadership….the first Sinn Fein Lord Mayor.”

    At the last local elections I was canvassed by a very middle class, late middle aged Alliance couple at the polling station. I was out of work, still wearing a suit and the way they approached me I got the impression they expected a pretty positive response. I took the leaflet and asked “Tell me which party voted for Alex Maskey for Lord Mayor”. The man did not even reply but took the leaflet back off me as the beaming DUP canvasser stepped forward. Maybe in some parts of East Belfast some Alliance types realised it was not seen as leadership by some of the unionist community. Of course woe betide the DUP canvasser who tries to canvass me next time.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Smithsonian:

    I didn’t suggest that you were speaking on behalf of the Alliance party, strange that you should jump to that conclusion.

    Not strange considering that you mentioned the Alliance Party in response to me for no obvious reason.

    However, it is hard to see how any party can move forward if “the sins of the father are forever to visited upon the son”. Times change, people change, the wider context changes… time to move on.

    I thought regardless of your political persuasion that an openness to a different point of view would be considered a good thing. The alternative seems rather unattractive.

    Can’t argue with any of that.

    Malcolm, thank you for the kind comments. The sectarian arrangement at present can’t be sustained, and I think given time that it will metamorphose into something else. What that will be is very hard to predict at the moment, but it depends to a great extent on how well, or how badly, the politicians make a stab at running the place.

    Turgon, I’ll bet you didn’t ask the DUP councillor what disciplinary action was to be taken against William McCrea for standing on a podium with Billy Wright ? Every time I raise that subject with DUP members they change the subject. The Alliance decision to elect Maskey is defensible, not least on the basis that Sinn Fein have an electorate and represent a section of the people. The McCrea-Wright thing was not.

  • interested

    Quite surreal really when you realise that the strongest unionist speaking at the UUP Conference was actually Margaret Ritchie!

  • Frank Sinistra

    “unfortunately I could only make the UUC on Friday night”

    That does sound unfortunate.

  • Garibaldy

    CS,

    I’m fairly sure some ex-Bolsheviks are in Alliance.

  • Turgon

    Comrade Stalin,
    Do not worry I was utterly disgusted by McCrea appearing on the same platform as Wright. Indeed at first I did not believe it, until I saw the television pictures.

    Incidentally as I am sure you are aware I am neither a member; nor supporter of the DUP.

  • Interested Observer

    Comrade Stalin

    I have heard this about SF having an entitlement to positions because of their electoral mandate so many times – and it bewilders me. Permit me to ask a few questions?

    Does the fact that people vote for SF make their actions moral?

    Did Hitler deserve his position in Germany given he was elected?

    Were those that sought to oppose Hitler wrong?

    Just because people vote for someone does not mean that they are ‘fit for’ or deserve government. Before anyone suggests I am not accepting the democratic outcome of elections, that is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that other parties like the Alliance should not support their election to positions such as Lord Mayor nor should the DUP accept a deal which brings them into government.

  • Snaz

    I can assure you all that Margaret Ritchies appearance was certainly not stage managed. She had been invited (and accepted) several months ago. It will be interesting to see if the compliment was returned.

  • DC

    Michael,

    There are many issues upon hich the UUP and SDLP can converge on and it would be prudent not to rule out the Alliance Party too at this stage in terms of structuring an ‘opposition’ style attack against the DUP-SF axis.

    But it is with an open heart and positive mind that new partnerships can be reached.

    To put it sweetly – get the hell out of that Executive. Find out the issues which all parties can converge on, find out those which have unique party stances then use the space in the media to unify positions againts the DUP-SF mode of governance.

    Leadership and compromise are required here and it fundamentally is about democratic partnerships where not everything can be accommodated at once in terms of party policy.

    Agree on what you can within each party, but leave unique grounds for specific party interests. Also, ensure that in the combat against the DUP-SF government that in the papers those issues which have been agreed upon as a line of attack against the DUP-SF can be discharged on an individual party basis giving rise to a cumulative effect of eroding the salience of both those parties in government.

    Ultimately, get the hell out of the Executive and bring the opposition in together, in a unified stance, to ensure that, strip by stip, all parties outside of that gross Executive can attack those inside of it by issuing out attacks *together* regarding certain agreed policy areas.

    Essentially it is worth forming an opposition coalition around certain fundamental policy advocated by the DUP-SF while in government to ensure that the combined effect of such opposition wipes out the voice of the two extremes.

    This in the end will bring down the DUP-SF.

    But as of now get the hell out of the Executive only if all those parties outside of it can be moved to an agreement allowing a consensus-coalition form of opposition that WILL bring down the government through a united form of protest.

    Good luck everyone. Down with the DUP-SF form of governance.

  • Truth & Justice

    I to was suprised at the low turn out less than 250, interesting to see McCrea & Burnside trying to out do each other to take the leadership of Reg, it seems the UUP are still split, and to invite an all Irelander from your political oponents is just sheer madness.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Turgon, just making the point that people seem to expect answers to tough questions from only one side of the fence.

    Interested Observer:

    Does the fact that people vote for SF make their actions moral?

    No. Likewise I consider the Iraq war immoral, but that does not invalidate Dubya’s presidency. Arguably, the fact that he was elected on a fiddled ballot may do so, but we’ll stick to the point for now.

    Did Hitler deserve his position in Germany given he was elected?
    Did Hitler deserve his position in Germany given he was elected?
    Were those that sought to oppose Hitler wrong?

    Hitler came to power legitimately and by the rule book (more or less).

    I have to confess right up that I don’t have the answer to the question “how do you stop nasty people getting into power”. The trouble is that this is not what unionism has been about. Face it, unionism has been about “how do you stop nationalists getting into power”, the “commitment to peaceful and democratic means” thing is the merely the latest gambit. It used to be that “disloyalty” was an acceptable reason to keep people out of power, but I think you guys gave that up because it made you sound like fascists. The SDLP didn’t have a paramilitary wing but the unionists kept them out anyway. Meanwhile, unionism actively courted the friendship and support of violent and dangerous men who kill unionist voters as well as other people, and it still does. There is a long list of occasions where unionism has leveraged it’s relationship with violent psychopaths in order to get it’s own way. We saw that in it’s recent form a few weeks ago over the Ritchie/CTI affair before sensible heads put a stop to it.

    Fundamentally, the point which seems to be underlying your questions is that democracy needs to be overruled when the people who are elected are not acceptable to a proportion of the electorate. I cannot accept that, as that isn’t democracy, and your conception of democracy and freedom is badly broken if you think that it is. You seem to be under the misconception that you have the sole right to define what is democratic and therefore define certain groups of people, who coincidentally happen to be fenians, out of the right of sitting in government. Well, you don’t.

    If we made the rule “anyone who has associated with or has links to men of violence will not be permitted in government” ~70% of the electorate here would be disenfranchised. That is the bottom line that you have to deal with.

  • Elvis Parker

    Turgon
    ‘Tell me which party voted for Alex Maskey for Lord Mayor’
    I imagine in a few years time that Alliance couple will ask you ‘tell me which party put Sinn Fein into power and kept them there for 4 years?’

  • dewi

    Invting a nationalist inspired I reckon actually. Political dynamic there fascinating. Add FF to the mix and who knows what could happen. Exciting times… And yesterdays Fealtygate of missing link.. How on earth can Dubliner resist ?
    Seriously, impressions count in this business and impression was of cohesion and dynamic.

  • Briso

    Agree with all of that Dewi. In addition, it may turn out that Robbo’s most serious, unforgivable error of the last few weeks was making Empey look statesmanlike, something which up to now seemed utterly impossible. Surely the last thing the Clontibret Invader wanted…

  • steve48

    T&J
    Recognising that you still have difficulty with the nature of real politics I know this will be hard for you to understand. The UUP conference actually focussed on real politics this weekend and urban regeneration was one of the themes. It was therefore no surprise that the Minister responsible was asked to speak, we also focussed on health and had a presentation from Michael McGimpsey.
    As for other parties attending in the future I for one expect to see representatives from the Conservative party supporting the need for a pro-union pact to oppose the nationalism of the SNP Plaid and the DUP.
    As for the numbers there were certainly far more than the 250 quoted (remember this was a conference not the UUC) and indeed any number would be far greater than those at the DUP conference last year or this which I think if memory serves me right was in fact zero.
    While the UUP gatherings in the past may have been a source of disagreement I can’t recall one ever being cancelled just to avoid a debate.

  • spiritof07

    seems to me that Margaret Ritchie is doing a better job of leading the SDLP (although not elected to the position)than Sir Reg is of leading the UUP.

  • Bla

    Interesting speech from McGimpsey – denouncing the DUP as Thatcherite whilst the day before Johnny Andrews was attacking them for being advocates of state interference and big government. Good to see the old knack of consistency still there inside the UUP!

  • Bla

    BTW, it’s clear that the only reason why Ritchie was there was so that Reg could bask in some of her “reflected” glory. Let’s face it, she’s done a better job attacking the DUP than that iseless waste of space Empey ever has.

  • Bla @ 11:52 AM:
    Thatcherite versus state interference and big government amounts to lack of consistency ?

    Hmm.

    I have a lot of relatives who were Yorkshire miners before the Lady and her government interfered. The historical evidence would indicate that Thatcherism was liberal economics administered by a very big and interfering government stick. Sounds just like DUPery to me.

  • I’m encouraged by that debate seems to be focused on the important areas and the ideas needed to rejuvenate the party are being raised and discussed. The fact that opposition as a concept is emerging as a serious debate within the party is encouraging. The other emergent issue at the weekend was contained in Johnny Andrews speech and Mark Cosgrave’s motion about pan-UK unionism. Establish the party as the antithesis to DUP’s Ulster nationalism. An outlooking party with connections to unionists throughout the UK and opposing nationalism throughout these islands also. These are definitely the areas the party needs to explore.

  • dewi

    In view of Rifkind et al’s latest iniatives a pro Unionist pan archipalegic front might have better luck with Gordon than the Tories.

  • sdlp

    It doesn’t seem as if the sdlp will return the favour…..

    SDLP conference

    Friday 2nd November 2007

    7.00pm Opening of conference

    7.30pm Environment

    8.15pm Deputy Leader’s Speech, Alasdair McDonnell, MP MLA

    8.30pm International Affairs

    9.15pm Regional Development

    10.00pm Equality and Human Rights

    10.30 Conference adjourns

    Saturday 3rd November 2007

    10.00am Health, Social Services and Public Safety

    10.45am Housing and Social Development

    11.30am Justice

    12.15pm The Economy, Enterprise, Trade and Investment

    1.00pm Conference adjourns

    2.15pm Address by Party Leader, Mark Durkan MLA, MP

    2.50pm Presentation of the Dan McAreavy Trophy

    3.00pm Fraternal delegates and distinguished guests

    3.15pm Political Affairs

    4.00pm Local Government

    4.20pm Education

    5.00pm Agriculture and Rural Development

    5.25pm Consumer Affairs

    5.40pm Culture, Arts & Leisure

    6.00pm Conference adjourns

    Sunday 4th November 2007

    11.00am Private Session

    3.00pm Close of Conference

  • páid

    Interested Observer,

    I’m afraid that by introducing Herr Hitler to the discussion you automatically forfeit the argument.

  • Frank Sinistra

    Why are the SDLP and APNI having theres on the same day? Alliance should expect limited jouranlistic and interest group attendence.

  • Turgon

    Elvis Parker
    “I imagine in a few years time that Alliance couple will ask you ‘tell me which party put Sinn Fein into power and kept them there for 4 years?’”

    My answer would be the DUP.

    Can I point out that as one of the resident prodiban; indeed I have been accused of being a standard bearer for Jim Allister on this site, the above question does not really apply to me. Rest assurred though that next time the DUP try to canvass me they will be asked exactly that sort of question. The only problem is that few cnavassers make it to my cave in the Belfast extension of Ballymenastan.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “I’m encouraged by that debate seems to be focused on the important areas and the ideas needed to rejuvenate the party are being raised and discussed.”

    Only problem being that the plans to rejuvenate are about as relevant to the electorate as a relaunch of the Ford Anglia. It’s still going to be a clapped out old banger, even if you put airbags and an ipod player in it. The DUP played second fiddle for 30 years even though it was led by the dominant figure in Unionism- what is the UUP going to do for a similar period with no giant personality? And the calibre of the second rankers is much worse than the DUP.

    It will be interesting to see if the “simply British”/integrationist approach cuts it with the electorate , given the irrational attachment of Unionists to Stormont based adminstrators- arguably the DUP are more on message on that one

    And the idea that Ritchie is star of the show says more about the wane of the UUP than almost anything. She’s extremely limited , and thinks shrill haranguing amounts to statecraft. There are half a dozen more able ministerial candidates in the SDLP front tank

  • “The DUP played second fiddle for 30 years even though it was led by the dominant figure in Unionism- what is the UUP going to do for a similar period with no giant personality?”

    That’s a bit of a non-sequitur Darth. You rather disprove the thesis that unionist politics is personality dominated with the first observation.

    “It will be interesting to see if the “simply British”/integrationist approach cuts it with the electorate , given the irrational attachment of Unionists to Stormont based adminstrators- arguably the DUP are more on message on that one “

    There’s a subtle difference between wishing to uphold unionist ideals within a devolved UK and integrationism. I’ve yet to hear serious suggestions from within the UUP that devolution should be rolled back. The contention is merely that links with the rest of the Kingdom should be strong, that unionists should align themselves against the forces of nationalism throughout the United Kingdom and that the centrifugal forces holding together the Union should not be weakened or undermined.

    Simply British was a crap slogan and a misconceived campaign. That doesn’t mean that the notion of Britishness and the totality of relationships within the United Kingdom isn’t important to unionists or is a dead duck in terms of unionist politics. The UUP need to be advancing more forceful arguments for British unionism rather than jettisoning the principle. Voters need to be educated as to exactly what unionism means as a concept and as to which party is upholding these values.

    The UUP will not any time soon wrest leadership of the unionist community from Paisley and the Ulster nationalists, but by actually galvanising behind a coherent philosophy which is progressive and well argued a recovery will begin. If we are not the most popular party within unionism we will at least be the right one.

  • Snaz

    DR,
    The DUP quite simply do opposition wonderfully well (promise all, responsible for delivering nothing). However they have made a very, very poor start to the first ever go at real power, certainly from a Pro Union perspective. I wont list everything, but calling British ministers squatters, thanking and praising Bertie for his few hundred million of NI investment (which wasnt done for any soft nationalist reasons but to improve the competitive edge, against OUR companies/tourism sector, for his own border regions)whilst castigating the UK treasury for their EIGHT THOUSAND MILLION POUNDS ANNUAL block grant, a junior Government minister with an equality portfolio calling a minority group “Disgusting”, the same Junior Government minister telling the world that he hardly knows a developer whom it turns out is a close party colleague, friend and business associate, “freezing” the regional rate when they had (quite rightly) cried outrage at the Direct rule predeccesors putting it up by 18%!! (theyve banked that), and proposing a not fit for purpose increase rise of just 1% in Health spending whilst giving away unneccesary goodies that we simply cannot afford. False promises which are being undone from Water rates to accountability of ministers, you name it theyve cocked it up. All this and Chuckling up to McGuinness and co not to mention not doing what all right thinking Unionists want and putting pressure on the UDA to decommision.

    Unionist out there are already sick of this duplicious lot and the UUP are in the process of making the internal changes that will mean that we are the sum of our parts which has not been the case.

    The talent is there, the second raters you think so much of in the DUP, will have to deal with many, many undelivered promises.

    How long the road takes will depend on just how unpopular Sinn Fein/DUP become but if you think the average Unionist does not wish to give them a bloody nose, I think you are wrong.

  • BonarLaw

    Snaz

    so you were looking forward to the election that wasn’t?

  • Snaz

    Not as much as I think that a lot of DUPed Unionists are looking forward to the next election.

  • Turgon

    Snaz,
    I cannot comment for Darth but I am looking forward to the next election and like at the last I will not be voting DUP. My wife did last time and does indeed feel DUPed. The last time I voted for the UUP was, however, for Willie Ross the time he was beaten by Gegory Campbell. I doubt I will be returning to the UUP.

    I will probably abstain as I did last time unless a new party is formed or one of the exicting parties comes out for renegotiation of the agreement and no power sharing with SF without further movement from them (as the DUP did and then duped us).

    I do not know how much support the prodiban position would attract but I do not think you can by any means assume that the disenchanted DUP vote will all automatically come the way of the UUP.

  • DC

    Unfortunately, the DUP-SF have managed to keep the water-wolf from the door until 2009 and even at that it seems that the charge will be less than what was previously anticipated. This will lessen any potential chance for a charge towards them.

    It would seem the British government either cooked the books on this purposefully with a view to get those estranged parties to move into government together; or, perhaps, direct rule was lazy rule and the Civil Servants weren’t squeezed enough in terms of bringing into play more heavily worked figures.

    Most of all though, the DUP will be judged on its ability to grow the private sector and SF on the basis of educational reform; these two issues will not form immediately but in say another 2-3 years coming up to election time the voters, at that point, will hopefully be able to determine whether those parties in the Executive have supplied enough vitality into two lagging areas.

    As an after thought, if the DUP-SF intends to take money for water from the regional rate what then of the separate charge arrangements namely that of those the private sector, in the form of Xansa and Echo (both English firms) were to run to collect the money to fund reinvestment.

    It was mentioned, was it not, that a call-centre with exclusive billing and customer care arrangements would be provided in order to manage the funding of water sewerage improvements. Are they now scrapped as a result of this and if so is that another direct rule contract broken because the contract was awarded and in fact recruitment drives to fill such posts initiated.

    Once again, as suggested, direct rule plans abandoned, why isn’t Mr Efficiency worried over any such letigation over this particular issue.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Turgon,

    I’m sure you have answered this elsewhere. But Bob McCartney provided a clear choice for people who wanted to rule out government with Sinn Fein. It was patently obvious that getting into government with SF was the DUP’s objective once the polls were over. Why didn’t you vote for Bob ? Why did you vote for the DUP knowing that they would be in government with SF ?

  • Briso

    >no power sharing with SF without further movement from them

    What movement is that exactly Turgon?

  • Turgton

    Comrade Sralin,
    As I have repeatedly said I did not vote DUP last time. I did not vote for McCartney as I feel that he although a fairly good analyst of politics and sharing many of my views; is a pretty hopless leader and was a non credible candidate.

    Briso,
    I have different views from other members of the prodiban but I would have thought disbandment of the army council, an end to criminality by the IRA; full and complete SF cooperation with the police when crimes are actually committed rather than what we saw recently. Not having leading SF members announcing they would not go to the police, not having leading SF members telling us that future republicans going back to violence. That would be enough for some.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “The talent is there, the second raters you think so much of in the DUP, will have to deal with many, many undelivered promises.2

    I don’t- and I won’t be voting next time out unless Jim Allister has a runner.

    But seriously, where is this rich vein of virgin talent in the UUP?
    The last batch -Donaldson, Foster, King, etc were let go to the DUPes by the good ol’ boys who are still running your party- Jim Wilson back as chief exec, Ken Maginnis as treasurer- in a fit of pique.
    A clutch of untried YUs, virtually no women, Basil Mccrea the nearest thing to a poster boy and the rising star some farmer from south Down whose name I’ve forgotten. Still, better than the 2002 election and “secret weapon” Cecil Walker, I suppose…

  • Ahem

    The funniest thing coming out of conference is the, in effect, hay list, er, I mean A List Reg now thinks he can roll out. As Bro Darth says, the sheer volume of talent will blow the DUP away. Seriously, they needn’t even bother standing next time out. 12 nill, 12 nill, 12 nill. Singalong! 12 nill, 12 nill, 12 nill! Hypnotic, ain’t it? Oh and look: here’s the Gimp with the Koolaid.

  • Porlock

    Darth,

    “…the rising star some farmer from south Down…” is John McCallister. Unlike McCrea, who is ideologically rootless and happy to hitch his star to any useful bandwagon, McCallister is genuinely likeable and an increasingly impressive performer.

    More important, he is building up a fan base in the media and gathering support from some UUP figures (and MLAs) who don’t like the good ol’ boys and who view McCrea with some suspicion.

    I suspect Empey will hang on comfortably until 2009 (having had a good EGM and conference). I picked up from a very reliable source that McFarland is about to be rehabilitated to the inner circle, another move that will strengthen the leader. I’m also led to believe that McCallister is being groomed and prepared for a much higher media profile.

    Porlock

  • BonarLaw

    “I’m also led to believe that McCallister is being groomed and prepared for a much higher media profile”

    Well, they wouldn’t be grooming him for Westminster now, would they?

  • Porlock

    BonarLaw,

    No, my understanding is that the plans for McCallister do not include a go at Westminster next time round.

    Anyway, South Down has already approached someone else (a she as it happens)who is not at present a member of the party. And no!!! It’s not Margaret Ritchie.

    Porlock

  • slug

    If I lived in South Down I would be very tempted indeed to vote Ritchie for Westminster.

  • Turgon

    The excitment in UUP circles is now almost palpable. There seems to be the beginings of belief that they are about to regain their “rightful position”.

    All this has a rather flimsy basis in fact at the moment. That is not to say that it is impossible but there remain very significant obstacles. It is currently a revival in the media with little evidence elsewhere.

    This mini revival is, I would submit, led by the recent failures of the DUP. The continuing allegations regarding the Causeway, the PR disaster which was the UDA money, the reaction to the Quinn murder; and over all of it the continued feeling that the DUP have much too cosy a relationship with SF. Indeed a feeling that the DUP and SF are carving up government between themselves whatever the other parties and the public think.

    So the DUP may temporarily be out of touch with the views of the unionist electorate. The DUP may very well recover and the crisis may be more in the heads of the media and politicos rather than reality. Even if it is true there are problems for the UUP.

    The UUP have achieved very little in government. Empey has done little of obvious note and McGimpsey’s major decision was not to make necessary reform in the NHS. I am very dubious about there being an “A list” of UUP stars waiting in the wings.

    Even if the “A list” did exist and are extremely talented there are still very significant problems. The severe atrophy of the local party structure is a major problem which is very difficult to rapidly solve.

    One of the major complaints about the current dispensation is that it is a carve up involving the four main parties with the major two having the lion’s share of the power. The UUP were, however, one of the major architects of this system. They propose some reform but by far their main aim is surely to take the DUP’s position and have their own hegemony of power with one of the nationalist parties.

    This leads on to the next problem. The UUP complain (rightly) that the DUP seem far too friendly with SF. Yet what is the likehood of the UUP standing up to and fighting SF in government? This from the party of “No guns, no government”. Unionist voters who are disenchanted with the current system are in danger of being offered more of the same but with the UUP having a “love in” with SF. There is little evidence of a real appetite from the UUP to completely reassess the current system (which they helped create) but instead there is the appearence that the UUP would like to get themselves into what they see as their natural place of being the main unionist party. Maybe they would not be as quick to get their snouts in the trough as the DUP but I am unsure and I suspect they want a bit of dictatorship themselves.

    The segment of the party which seems to want a complete renegotiation seems to have done fairly badly in the latest conference and in McNarry has a leader who is unlikely to provide a major break through within the UUP let alone in the electorate at large.

    All this leads on to the other option which the disgrubtled unionist voter could take. One could argue for a complete reanalysis of the nature of the current agreement with an end to mandatory coalition, proper cabinet government with collective responsibility, a serious look at ending the mutual veto. There also remains the issue for many unionists of SF in governemt with the army council still extant and some members unwilling to support the police properly, a problem which recent events will have done nothing to allay.

    So I still feel that the unionist electorate will be anxious about returning en mass to the UUP. Once bitten twice shy and all that sort of thing; even leaving aside the problem of lack of leading personalities etc.

    Of course anyone who knows my views knows where this is going.

    The stage is set for an attempt by the prodiban to offer a genunine alternative to the current arrangements. I have outlined the options before but to those who say renegotiation is impossible I would suggest that that was said before the DUP gained the predominant position in unionism.

    Of course all the problems of no “A list” apply far more so to the prodiban, the lack of a grass roots party is even more a problem for the prodiban than it is for the UUP. The challenge is as I have frequently stated before massive. However, if the unionist electorate want an alternative to the DUP then yes there is the UUP which I would argue is not very disimilar to more of the same and anyway they have tried that before and rejected it. To quote Robert Frost in “The Road Not Taken”:

    “I shall be telling this with a sigh
    Somewhere ages and ages hence:
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.”

    I have made my choice; I wonder how many of the unionist electorate will agree. Well even if (when?) we fail at least it can be like Mallory trying to scale our own version of Everest.

  • Thomas Neill

    I find this all interesting. Fundamentally the DUP has always been a party of protest by opposing the reforms of our ex-PM Terence O’Neill whose only crime to include the SDLP more to the more recent media claims by the now first minister that Sinn Fein must disband etc. Now that they are in the driving seat of unionsim it appears they have diluted their zeal for the poison of power. The DUP may be no worse now than SF but the UUP cannot escape the blame for they have allowed this to happen!