TUV officially not standing

Following on from Pete’s blog (and no I was not Martina Purdy’s well placed source though if she ever wants to contact me…) the TUV have formally announced that they will not be running in the Enniskillen by election. I will reproduce the text of their statement below the fold and then comment on it.The Central Council (Executive body) of the Traditional Unionist Voice has endorsed a decision by its Fermanagh Branch not to contest the upcoming Enniskillen by-election. The Council issued the following statement:

TUV’s primary goal is to oppose IRA/Sinn Fein and dislodge it from government, unlike those who admitted them to government, we, therefore, will not rush into a venture capable of strengthening Sinn Fein. The forcing of this by-election, in addition to producing a brazen volte face on dual mandates by the DUP candidate, more importantly, could add an extra republican councilor to Fermanagh District Council. In these circumstances we have no interest in being dragged into this unseemly dispute between the two pro Belfast Agreement unionist parties.
We do, however, look forward to offering the people of Enniskillen and across Fermanagh the opportunity to vote for Traditional Unionist candidates in future elections.
As for this by-election, we certainly do not want to see a republican victory. We acknowledge there is little to choose between the two unionist candidates. Both are now supporters of Sinn Fein in government, yet both would claim to be the one to keep them from winning a council seat!

This was a difficult decision for the TUV but I call authoritatively state that it was a unanimous decision by the local party.

There are a number of criticisms one can make of the decision: The TUV are a political party and one of a political party’s most important functions is to fight elections. As such one could argue that they should have stood, after all they did not call the by-election. In addition apparently a fair number of Fermanagh people have suggested that they would have voted TUV but will abstain rather than vote DUP/UUP (something the TUV and I personally would strongly council against).

In addition not standing will be presented as running away (I await multiple DUP posts to this effect). It will be suggested that in an STV election there should be no problem with vote splitting (the answer to that of course is: SDLP, West Tyrone). The TUV will be presented as a flash in the pan and as losing momentum. In actual fact this decision does involve a certain loss of momentum. I would suggest, however, that although there are reasons for the TUV to stand there were better reasons for them not to stand.

Had the TUV stood it is highly likely that if this seat falls to SF the other unionist parties would have taken the opportunity to blame the TUV for the loss of the seat. They would have looked at how many TUV votes failed to transfer and would have blamed the TUV party for that. The fact that the UUP forced this election and that the DUP insisted on a problematic candidate for co-option would all have been forgotten in the race to find a scapegoat. I can easily imagine the cries that the TUV supposedly so opposed to SF had handed the seat to them; I can even guess which commentors on slugger would have said it.

Fermanagh unionists are a bunch with long memories and it would have done the TUV little long term good to be seen as the ones who handed the seat to SF. One need only think of the way in which Jim Dixon’s ill fated campaign for Westminster is remembered for handing Gildernew Fermanagh / South Tyrone.

The next good reason is that this is a very finely balanced seat. The numbers of unionists and nationalists are essentially equal. In such a scenario there is a high danger of vote splitting giving SF the seat. It is a simple fact (leaving aside any damage the TUV might suffer) that the TUV do not want this seat to fall to SF. Had this been a seat with even a medium sized unionist majority or indeed a no hope seat, then a TUV candidate would have been a certainty.

Overall then this was always a Catch 22 for the TUV. Either standing or not standing would have resulted in attracting massive criticism from the DUP. In this case, however, one option is better for unionism as a whole (not standing). As such although a difficult decision it was always going to be the one the TUV was going to make.

  • interested

    Turgon
    If this was so unanimous then why was a “Selection Meeting” organised for last Friday night, with two candidates putting their name forward. However, this was suddenly cancelled when higher powers vetoed the local members.

    Moving on…
    “In addition not standing will be presented as running away (I await multiple DUP posts to this effect)”

    Just because you predict criticism doesn’t mean its not valid.

    The point here is that the TUV have said their reason for not running is to prevent a seat going to SF. However, in the view of the TUV there is no real difference between the DUP and SF – they’re in joint partnership “unequal yoke, yadda yadda yadda” in Government at Stormont, along with, of course the UUP and SDLP. Therefore whoever the electorate of Enniskillen cast their vote for, it will be a pro-St Andrews candidate.

    Do the people of Enniskillen therefore not deserve an anti-St Andrews candidate? Arguably if the TUV want to damage the whole Assembly and Executive, particularly from the unionist side, running against a sitting Minister in the Executive and either defeating or wounding her could be a massive scalp and propaganda victory for those opposed to devolution. In that vein its hard to understand the electoral shyness, unless of course the TUV is scared that it now can’t live up to its own post-Dromore hype.

    Presenting the SDLP in West Tyrone as an example of how votes can be split in PR is managing to pick out the one tiny exception which probably proves the rule. If the TUV made it patently clear that they wanted all of their voters to transfer down the line then it wouldn’t be a problem. Using an example of absolute and complete electoral incompetence where party colleagues clearly couldn’t get along just doesn’t cut it.

    Of course we should also quote the maginficent one himself, Chairman Jim who has described the electoral process as an “unseemly dispute”. Of course Jim doesn’t want to get involved in an “unseemly dispute” which might actually involve the electorate in Fermanagh getting their chance to say whether they endorse the TUV… that might just be too high risk a strategy… especially when you’ve got a high profile candidate from the area just sitting champing at the bit to have a go!

    I just wonder what seats the TUV will or won’t fight in the future where there is a good argument that their intervention might lead to the seat going to a nationalist. I’m sure Jim’s piety will all be fudged then…..

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Turgon,

    I resent you publically soliciting the attentions of someone I have my heart set on.

    re. TUV. Did they know that the recent ‘movement’ on Police and Justice was imminent when they made their deicision? I always assumed the DUP would wait until after by-election before showing their hand.

    Are the TUV going to recommend the UU to the electorate as Wee Reggie may well be positioning himself in-a-convoluted-round-about-way against the transfer and more generally against the DUP/SF coalition.

  • DC

    Politics without a cause is just career politics.

    The TUV should stand aside and let SF dislodge the IRA from NI politics. The guys and girls in the TUV can go back to Church and lobby hard just like the rest of us wanting our own set of democratic changes.

    Personally, you wouldn’t wish d’Hondt on anyone and it is probably an easier task standing down the IRA army council than, with absolute demands, trying to work a power-sharing d’Hondt. But, as Alex Kane says, they could have changed it at St Andrews…so, as Pete says too let no one interfere with that.

  • Turgon

    interested,

    Yes the TUV can be criticised. However, I have always believed in unionist unity. I think there are times when the TUV (and indeed the DUP and UUP) should stand aside.

    I do not know if you are from Fermanagh but the overwhelming majority of Fermanagh unionists would be happier to see a unionist rather than an SF candidate. In this case there was a very significant danger of vote splitting letting in SF. Yes of course people can call to transfer and sometimes it does not work. West Tyrone SDLP is not the only example: South Belfast is a pretty good example as well. Also had loss of transfers caused the DUP to lose the seat would the DUP have said it was okay the TUV told their supporters to transfer? I am sure that is the case. A pig just flew past my window.

    The meeting was unanimous. No one put their name forward. The only person who made any comment putting possible advantages to standing was me. I had been invited as I now live there.

    It was Sammy McNally what done it ,
    I do not think the TUV knew and I do not think it would have altered the decision. I do not think the TUV will recommend anyone other than to say vote UUP/DUP as you chose.

    In terms of Martina Purdy: pistols at dawn?

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Turgon,

    re. Martina – if it wasn’t for that fecker de Chastelain I would be up for it.

  • fair_deal

    Turgon

    “it was a unanimous decision by the local party”
    “The meeting was unanimous. No one put their name forward. The only person who made any comment putting possible advantages to standing was me. I had been invited as I now live there.”

    For whatever reason someone told the media something different.

    Sunday Life 03/08/08 Page 18

    “The TUV branch met on Friday night and Mr Morrison’s name went forward along with a prominent Orange figure as potential by-election candidates.”

  • ben

    How could any sensible, thinking person look at the dreary, hateful manifesto of this joke sham party and think “that’s what the future should look like!”

    The time for squealing about your true unionist voice is OVER. The time for defining yourself exclusively strictly in terms with Norn Iron’s relationship with Britain and what you think about the DUP is OVER. Yesterday has been and gone and is OVER, you are now just a pathetic shower of sad celibate chinless obsessives moaning in church basements and vomiting forth manifestos and leaflets as if they mattered. They don’t. You don’t. Grow up and get a life. Go out and meet some girls or something. You’re boring, you’re irrelevant, and you were out of date three decades before you were founded.

    What kind of a world would it be if people like the TUV ruled it? Imagine an eternity of lukewarm tea and ignorant, hatchet-faced bible-thumpers telling you what you can’t do on Sundays.

    [edited by moderator – play the ball]

  • interested

    F_D
    “For whatever reason someone told the media something different.”

    You’re not suggesting that anyone in the TUV would tell porkes are you???? Not from the party of “traditional family values”.

    Next they’ll be denying that there are splits already emerging within the coalition of the mad the bad and the downright clinically insane.

  • Blackmouth

    interested

    “Next they’ll be denying that there are splits already emerging within the coalition of the mad the bad and the downright clinically insane.”

    or even worse that members have been suspended from the party for their own good…..oh wait!!!

  • Comrade Stalin

    It’s reasonably straightforward what is happening here. The TUV aren’t standing against the DUP because they are afraid of a Sinn Fein candidate getting in on a split unionist vote. As with Dromore, they lack confidence that they will be able to attract significant numbers of disaffected DUP voters, and have calculated that they would rather snipe from the sidelines than suffer a second embarassing election defeat. It exposes the TUV’s flaws directly when they essentially admit that they don’t believe that they will receive the “traditional vote” of the majority whom they believe have been hoodwinked.

    The stark disparity between what has been blogged and what has been reported in the Sunday Life demands some swift explanation.

  • Blackmouth

    Comrade Stalin

    The explanation that I would offer is that the TUV Press Officer said they would be having a selection meeting (in which he would be seeking the nod), whixh went ahead, only for Chairman Jim to rule that they wouldn’t be running. The TUV Press Officer being a paid employee, he was in no position to argue…….

  • interested

    Comrade Stalin
    “they are afraid of a Sinn Fein candidate getting in on a split unionist vote.”

    Doesn’t explain why I’ve had TUV members say to me that they see no difference between the DUP and SF anyway and that they view both parties as essentially the same – quoting the fact that they sit in Government together as justifying this view. They take a pro St Andrews vs anti St Andrews view, with all the political parties on one side and the TUV on the other. That’s why their “keep the seat out of SF hands” line doesn’t quite wash.

    I do agree though that there hasn’t been a satisfactory answer as to why the Sunday Life were prepared to go to print quoting that the TUV were running a candidate and indeed had the selection meeting had been held. It wasn’t some mix-up in communication, but clearly a source who was in the know within the TUV. Why there has been a change of heart, and a dictat issued from on high over-ruling the selection will no doubt emerge in time.

  • Comrade Stalin

    interested:

    That’s why their “keep the seat out of SF hands” line doesn’t quite wash.

    I disagree. While there are hardline nutters who think that SF and the DUP are the same, there are people like Turgon who would not actually believe this, who would have friends and/or family in the DUP, and who merely think that the DUP are wrong or misguided. These are people who, the TUV calculate, would be very unhappy if the TUV caused an SF candidate to take a formerly unionist seat.

    The TUV’s core point is that unionists did not vote DUP in order to do the St Andrew’s deal with SF. If that contention were true, surely they could confidently predict that bulk of DUP votes would swing to the TUV. The fact that they don’t believe that they can pull this off shows that they don’t have faith in their own argument.

  • Blackmouth

    Comrade

    The decision not to run certainly does show a lack of faith in their own PR. Nevertheless, Samuel Morrison was the person quoted in the Sunday Life and one can infer that he was the cource telling the Sunday Life that TUV was having a selection meeting. Why did a selection meeting in which 2 people declared their interest in carrying the standard for the the TUV in Enniskillen become one where they decided not to run at all. I refer to my previous explanation.

  • Blackmouth

    . should be ?

    sorry

  • Turgon

    Blackmouth,

    No one declared their interest. It was agreed very early on (ie right at the start) we were not running anyone. It was commented that there were two people we could have run had it been a ward we thought should have been fought. However, it was felt that we would much prefer a DUP or UUP victory than an SF one. Comrade Stalin is of course correct that I regard the DUP or UUP as infinitely preferable to SF. Yes froth will be said about there being no difference but I think Fermanagh unionists (possibly more than any others) know what SF has always been about. If you are trying to say that Fermanagh TUV supporters would give a seat to the political fellow travellers of the people who committed all those murders in Fermanagh you are either dishonest or stupid.

    Now you can either believe me or not: I care little

  • Comrade Stalin

    Turgon,

    I believe there are people in the TUV who lack any concept of political strategy and who would love a fight to the death with the DUP, they’re the same people who think it’s acceptable to picket a church. They don’t realize that you guys would get your ass kicked, and that is why you’re sitting out. Clearly, the more clever people have decided that the party needs to live to fight another day.

    However, this whole business does raise serious questions about the credibility of the party’s message and the degree of confidence they have in it, and you can expect the DUP to run and run on that matter.

  • outsidegawkingin

    Here goes Blackmouth again with his rumours of splits. Two weeks ago he said Mel and Jack had resigned from the party, only to be exposed as a lying DUP spin doctor.

    After your previous wrong predictions do you expect people to pay an notice of you?

  • “These are a few of my favourite things………”

    Any more on the TUV’s first suspended member Blane Bailey?

  • 0b101010

    Is inactivity the new disruptive force? Preemptive abstentionism! At least it means you won’t lose a deposit.

  • daniel

    “It was agreed very early on (ie right at the start) we were not running anyone. It was commented that there were two people we could have run had it been a ward we thought should have been fought”

    something fishy here. if it was AGREED right from the start no one was running, why then get into a discussion about who might have run. sounds like it was DECREED rather than AGREED that no one would run. makes the sunday life spokesman comments all the more interesting

  • cynic

    Forgive me but ….. who cares?

  • Blackmouth

    outside

    I never claimed Mel Lucas had resigned from the TUV. You are the liar. I said that I had heard Robin Stirling and (I think) Jack McKee. Interesting that in your mud-slinging, there is actually no denial of my theory.

  • Blackmouth

    Turgon

    Well, Allister’s comments show that its more than froth that is said. He clearly considers the DUP and Sinn Fein (and the UUP) to be one in the same….

    This is all about Allister not wanting his Dromore baloon burst by the voters in Enniskillen.

  • Lenny

    Turgon

    “If you are trying to say that Fermanagh TUV supporters would give a seat to the political fellow travellers of the people who committed all those murders in Fermanagh you are either dishonest or stupid.”

    Obviously , they would have no problem giving their support to the DUP, the political fellow travellers of the loyalist paramilitaries.

  • Blackmouth

    Award for finest bit of whataboutery must go to Lenny.

  • Lenny

    Thank you Blackmouth, I just wonder why unionists who supported terrorists are fit to govern while republicans who supported terrorists are not. I don’t expect an explanation

  • The North Belfast Unionist

    “I think Fermanagh unionists (possibly more than any others) know what SF has always been about. If you are trying to say that Fermanagh TUV supporters would give a seat to the political fellow travellers of the people who committed all those murders in Fermanagh you are either dishonest or stupid.”

    Try telling that to the people of North and West Belfast who have lived alongside republicanism for the past 30 years. Unionists here more than fermanagh know about the scourge of the IRA. I’d rather have a party like the DUP in fighting against SF rather than a bunch of do gooders from Ballymena who have never “had a fenian about the place” before sitting at the side and letting Gordon Brown and Shaun Woodward give in to SF demands over our heads. Unlike many of the TUV supporters we have had to deal with republicans on a daily basis and we in the PUL community are best placed to do it.

  • “TUV’s primary goal is to oppose IRA/Sinn Fein and dislodge it from government,”

    Is that really it’s goal?

  • ggn

    “TUV’s primary goal is to oppose IRA/Sinn Fein and dislodge it from government”

    How is that in any way possible?

    Sinn Féin are in government because people vote for them, indeed a majority of nationalists vote for them.

    How does the TUV propose to change the voting habits of nationalists?

    Presumably it is the intention of the TUV that only unionists would be entitled to be in the government but the question must be asked, would that be workable? 55% automatically ruling over the other 45% as the natural order?

    It is 2008 folks.

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Looking at it from the Nationalist side of the fence the TUV seem to have made a principled stand which from their viewpoint means they cannot agree to ‘terrorists in government’ ie Sinn Fein. I suspect that in their heart of hearts they know they that they have very little chance of changing this political reality. In my opinion they will be of benefit to Nationalists in one of two ways – in the unlikely event that can become large enough to stop the assembly working properly then there will be a bigger say for the Irish governement in Non Iron affairs (which most Nationalists would I suspect be happy with ) or if they remain simply a thorn in the side of the DUP they will continue to split the Unionist vote in some constituencies which will also benefit Nationalists.

  • Conquistador

    Well we all know that Jim and the Tuvvies want a united Ireland, because that’s what the Duppers say. Obviously standing aside to increase the liklihood a unionist victory is just the next step in his strategy toward Dublin rule.

  • Blackmouth

    Conquistador

    When exactly have the DUP ever said that the TUV wants a United Ireland? They may have said they believe the TUV are helping nationalists by splitting the vote, but they have never claimed the TUV wants a UI -stop setting up straw-men.

  • Conquistador

    I suppose your lot will say whatever suits at the time, but there is a lot of crap floated about describing how TUV are all for Dublin rule and are somehow not unionist because they don’t think Sotrmont’s great.

  • Conquistador what are the TUV for then? in the real world? i.e. politics of the possible?

  • Blackmouth

    Conquistador

    So that would be a never then? The DUP have never said the TUV are in favour of a United Ireland? Thank you for that admission.

  • Bigger Picture

    Blackmouth and Conquistador

    The DUP have never accused the TUV of such folly. However I was talking to a chap in the high TUV circles (draw your own conclusions) who informed me that he would rather have a United Ireland than Stormont on the basis it would be more democratic. He forgot however that the Shinners would still be down there as well though…

  • Dewi

    “…..he would rather have a United Ireland than Stormont on the basis it would be more democratic.”

    That’s the sentiment that I humbly suggest will become more and more part of the Ulster Scots peoples mindset as SF representation in Stormont grows. I think that many would rather Dublin rule than Shinner rule.

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Dewi, Bigger Picture

    “he would rather have a United Ireland than Stormont on the basis it would be more democratic”

    it would surely be political suicide for any Unioinst to say any such thing publically – after all they would by definition stop being a Unionist and would in fact be adopting a Fine Gael line on SF. Now there a thought, a TUV/FG alliance – I probably would vote for them in those circumstances and we could have big Jimbo as TUV Teashop as he’s more photgenic that Biffo and more honest than Bertie (though that probably applies to most of those in Mounyjoy).

  • mchdr

    Turgon

    If/When the IRA Army Council disbands will the TUV accept Sinn Fein being in Government?

    One of the TUV’s “alternatives” is a “Super Council” at Stormont. Would this alternative include Sinn Fein even if the Army Council do not disband? If the answer is no then how could the TUV expel an elected party out of Government?

    If you cannot explain your parties stance/strategy on these issues then how do you expect potential TUV voters to trust you with their vote?

  • What is the view of the TUV on the IMC?

  • Blackmouth

    a wile melee

    Jim Allister was totally prepared to accept the word of the IMC when they were saying the IRA was still active/involved in terrorism etc. – now their message no longer suits him, he dismisses their findings.

  • Blackmouth

    Weren’t the DUP guilty of that too in their time??? billboarding a report when it suited the message….

    No surprise then that Jim still does the same…

    The DUP found that the selective hearing routine only worked short term…. Jim should also realise this…

    If it ‘really’ was an issue of timing on Jim’s part surely a year on and no IRA activity is litmus enough for him??? I’d say the TUV position in another year will be harder to maintain..

    a few face changes at the helm of SF and it will be even harder to maintain…

    or a SF name change…. “Ourselves Alone” not a great “inclusive” party name in the 00’s…

    anyway..

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    The TUV have taken a principled stand which from their point of view is effectively that “they will not have a terrorist about the place” – this policy will over time become less and less credible (as mnetioned by a wile melee above ) as SF become more and more distanced from violence. Unless of course that is something goes badly wrong and SF are mired in some controversy – perhaps relating to the relationship between the police and MI5 – or the fallout from a dissident outrage with SF unable to support a crackdown in republican areas – then the TUV will be able to say I told you so and Robbo and the DUP will be in serious trouble. Like most opposition parties they are relying on something bad (in this case calamitous) happening to the incumbent government in order for their day in the sun to arrive.

  • Blackmouth

    Poor Jim – the DUP will cast these words at him from now until the European election:

    “For me the abolition of the Army Council was always a litmus test of the sincerity of Sinn Fein/IRA’s professed transition to involvement exclusively in peaceful and democratic processes. The Army Council is the apex of the military structures of the republican movement. The DUP has long pledged that the military structures must go (it has been one of its “Seven Principles” for years and was reiterated in the manifesto for the March 2007 election.) Now, it seems, the Army Council can stay. Then, I can’t.”

    So if the Army Council goes, just what is Jim’s objection to government at Stormont?

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    Blackmouth,

    If we assume, as mentioned above, the TUV considers SF leaders as terrorists i.e. they sat on the Army Council (this is the standard Unionist opinion as far as I know) then Jimbo and the TUV are sticking by their principles to not have a ‘terrorist about the place’ and it is the DUP (and the UUP before them) that have departed from their previously principled positions.

    Of course principles dont always make for good politics and exactly the same logic can be applied to the other side of the fence with republican dissidents accusing SF of selling out short of a UI – with the crucial difference that the TUV are not in the businesss of killing anybody. But dissidents and the TUV have a valid point but dont seem unable to grasp that the world does not operate in terms of simple black and white, good and evil, goodguys and badguys and that more often than not the truth of the situation lies somewhere in between.

  • I feel that the TUV are then losing momentum in terms of their political position the further the calender rolls on from Dromore….

    this i feel is directly related to their main position of opposition on the credentials of SF entering government and Blackmouth comes in with a timely intervention…

    this is where the debate needs to focus if the TUV are to parade as a serious contender..

    just my opinion btw

  • ITWSMWDI

    “If we assume, as mentioned above, the TUV considers SF leaders as terrorists i.e. they sat on the Army Council (this is the standard Unionist opinion as far as I know) then Jimbo and the TUV are sticking by their principles to not have a ‘terrorist about the place’ and it is the DUP (and the UUP before them) that have departed from their previously principled positions.”

    i understand your point however say 5 years down the line (or less) with a few important face changes at the SF helm (as i metioned earlier) where is Northern Ireland under TUV direction in the interim hypothetical direct rule period???? using as an example the direct rule track record that has gone before…

  • Blackmouth

    Sammy McNally

    Jim Allister was very clear and has been – the Army Council is the hook he has hung his anti-Stormont hat on. Now that it looks like that hook is about to disappear, what does he do?

    The TUV is rapidly running out of road….

  • It was Sammy McNally what done it

    wild melee,

    I agree they are fecked… unless SF strategy goes into reverse – perhaps because the Tories do something dull or some security fiasco.

    Principles have prices and the price the TUV will have to pay is that they will (probably) just fade away like the others that stood (and faded away) on this very principle e.g Bob Mc Cartney.

  • valuedopinion

    Blackmouth

    If the Army Council were to disband how would they prove it? It is doubtful the TUV would accept Sinn Fein, PIRA or the Goverment’s word on the matter.

  • interested

    valuedopinion
    “It is doubtful the TUV would accept Sinn Fein, PIRA or the Goverment’s word on the matter.”

    Its doubtful that the TUV would acccept anyone’s opinion telling them that the Army Council had been disbanded. If however, some wee woman down the street told them that the IRA was armed, active and was planning to overthrow the world then they’d take it as gospel truth though.

  • Alfie Crichton

    The TUV’s treatment of Blane Bailey during this selection furore is truly despicable.

  • Fermanagh Young Unionist

    Just like the way that you, I mean that young Thomas Hogg fellow, was treated by the DUP…

    You know as well as I do that Blane’s not in any party so your constant fixation with him is beyond me. But if you ask me, I would have thought you would have been keeping your head down and just hoping people forgot all about your somewhat short political career.