Empey, Cameron, Bob Dylan and Wuthering Heights

It appears that everyone has an opinion on the link up between the Conservative party and the UUP. It may represent a “frame shift” in the DNA of local politics. However, we have had momentous changes redefining politics in Northern Ireland on a number of previous occasions. The Alliance party broke the mould and changed voting forever (well I guess that is true in a very small measure within the Pale: I still await the sight of an Alliance canvasser in Fermanagh or South Londonderry). Unionist parties have come and gone, a number of them having purported to be seeking Catholic unionist votes. On a different note the Women’s Coalition was going to change politics here.
If the new party has success, I as a unionist, will be pleased as it may well increase the total pro-union vote. Actually I will be even less likely to vote UUP than I was before for the simple reason that had a been in GB I would probably have voted Labour in the majority of previous elections: being a hard line unionist does not automatically make one a dyed in the wool right winger. That problem also of course works in reverse: some right of centre Catholics, especially those within the Pale may well be attracted to the UUP (there are, however, problems which I will return to later). However, for those gained there may also be some trendy lefty Protestant types who drift off to the Alliance or indeed to the garden centres.

I have previously discussed the problem that the UUP is trying to reunite what was once a very broad base of party support and that problem remains enormous. At the moment Reg seems to be on a quest to “redefine” unionism and appeal to assorted garden centre types and liberals within the Pale. Although he may soon go back to trying pleasing those of us where there be dragons (west of the Bann), the suggestion that the shiny new Tory / UUP axis will fight every seat will play poorly out here. I do not wish to be condescending but sometimes I really do wonder what level of understanding of the concerns of West of the Bann unionists some within the UUP hierarchy have, let alone the likes of Owen Paterson the Tory NI spokesperson. Just for the record what is wrong with a united candidate to try (even if in vain) to evict an MP who does not sit in Westminster, believes that a future generation of republicans may have to go back to violence and cannot support people going to the police about criminal activity within her constituency? It appears that the likes of Owen Paterson regard trying to remove such a person as bigoted. I await the UUP’s attempt to explain this to those of us “represented” at Westminster by Mrs. Gildernew but unless the UUP disowns Paterson’s position I suspect this idea will do them considerable harm. It is also worth noting with regard to attempts to remove Gildernew as non-MP for F/ST that Labour and the Liberal Democrats stood aside to get Neil Hamilton out for less, and that Alliance has stood aside in the past in relatively similar circumstances.

Many others have analysed why David Cameron has become involved in this semi link up; the motives ascribed are cynical to varying degrees which I will not dwell on here save to remind people that David Cameron the new liberal Tory was also previously David Cameron the hard line Conservative and is not exactly adverse to sudden changes in policy.

Leaving aside the problems with the link up and the issues created by the UUP’s new best friends; not so much the elephant as the Argentinosaurus in the room is Reg’s leadership (I use that term in its loosest sense) of the UUP. Reg has been a singularly uninspiring leader. His predecessor on the other hand was fairly inspiring to some, unfortunately only briefly to those within the Northern Ireland electorate, but quite inspiring to many people on the international stage who did not actually get votes in NI elections. Trimble was, however, so talented that he also managed to find the time to retreat from every final political line in the sand he ever drew and of course successfully destroy a political party. It is also worth noting that very, very few Catholic unionist votes seemed to come riding to his rescue in 2001. As such exactly why they will be flocking to Reg’s new model army is an interesting question: not an impossibility, “the times they are a changing”, but I fear that the certainity that they have changed that much may end up at the next election “…disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind”

In trying to achieve what Trimble failed to do and expand the UUP tent “leftwards”, Reg is also hampered by some baggage of his won. Firstly it must be remembered that in the dying days of the Trimble leadership, Reg refused to give his leader complete support against those nasty members of the UUP who were objecting to the endless concessions so lauded by the outside world as “flexibility.” In addition, long ago when David Cameron was but a boy, Reg was involved in the Vanguard Unionist Party (just as Trimble was). Nothing wrong with that per se maybe but it seems more likely to appeal to a more hard line unionist position than the new cuddly image that he and Cameron wish to project for the UUP. It is also a fact I suspect Alliance and anyone else faintly worried by the prospect of a UUP move to the left will exploit mercilessly.

In one of its other objectives, however, this new shiny link up has achieved its aim perfectly. It has of course saved Reg’s bacon for another conference. I am afraid that Reg always reminds me of Edgar Linton from Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights: pretty decent and honest but completely ineffectual in the face of his opponents. Whilst voters may feel that Reg is a decent sort of chap, the overwhelming majority seem happier with Heathcliff (in this analogy in the shape of Peter Robinson, though I am not going to suggest that this makes Arlene Foster Cathy). Okay here is a link to Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights.

Of course the other salvation for Reg is that the rest of his party leaders (and as such any potential challengers) are pretty ineffectual as well and that there is a singular lack of any credible alternative leader. No Heathcliffs lurking amongst them: except maybe McNarry but I am afraid his ruthlessness is successfully scuppered by his lack of personal popularity within the party (or outside). I suppose David Burnside could be nominated as almost sufficiently cunning; his cunning plans, however, tend to remind me of Baldrick’s. This lack of credible alternatives may make Reg’s position secure but also demonstrates a further problem for the UUP in its quest to regain political power. None of its senior leadership cadre have any major popularity amongst the electorate and along with popular policies and a shiny new image a political party needs credible politicians if it wants any realistic prospect of success. One can go through constituency after constituency but with the possible exception of North Down, not one has a UUP politician who can realistically challenge the DUP leading local member in terms of popularity.

I have also previously alluded to the unlikeness of any young Tories from England (or Wales or Scotland) coming over to stand for the UUP. In the most unlikely event of any of them trying such a thing, I suspect it would result in a massacre worse than the one which befell the likes of Gareth McGimpsey in Strangford in 2005. I am again reminded of Martina Purdy’s withering assessment that far from being the “Young Turks” the like of Gareth McGimpsey were actually “Lambs to the Slaughter” (and unlike local pigs they did not even get a temporary reprieve).

I am sure that Alex Kane, Michael Shilliday and many other UUP members left the conference with a spring in their step. However, although I respect their political analyses and like those whom I know, I suspect that any confidence they may hold regarding a sudden turn of political fortunes to their advantage seems very unlikely to be realistic. Remember “go back to your constituencies and prepare for government.” What happened last week was not so much deck chair rearrangement on the Titanic as Reg making it to a lifeboat and knowing that the Carpathia was on her way: good for him but of little use to most of the Titanic’s passengers.

  • dub


    Thank you… its when i read unionists like you, the real deal, as it were, that i realise that northern ireland IS doomed to perish. The branch that does not bend breaks.

  • frustrated democrat

    Fortunately I believe that Turgon and his shifting politics are not represenative of the average unionist voter. The policies of the TUV may resonate with many unionists but most are realistic enough to know that they are the politics of the past and will have no impact on the current political structures.

    Those who do vote for the TUV can however have an impact on who is elected, it is probable that TUV will not be represented in the EU or Westminister but the votes taken from the DUP and how they transfer can change the face of the political make up here.

    If 20% switch to the TUV and 10% to the new pact, this is not ouside the possibilities given Dromore, then the DUP could lose 12 seats and the new pact could match them if they can gain some votes in the middle ground.

    However for the pact to achieve this, as Turgon points out, a rearranging of the deckchairs will not work it needs to have demonstrably new policies and candidates to attract a broad support. His concerns about FST and a unity candidate are understandable however the new pact cannot do deals with ‘sectarian’ parties and claim to be non sectarian it would send the wrong message to the rest of Northern Ireland.

    The main task for the new pact is to put together a committee that is ruthless enough to put aside old friendships and select a slate of candidates that is representative of the communities in Northern Ireland, a protestant male slate will not send out the message that is needed. For the pact to work many UUP stalwarts will disappear from the ballot paper, how they react will be important as the pact doesn’t need internal divisions even if they would convince voters about the reality of change.

    I am sure both parties are scouring NI for candidates that will have the talent and at the same time be acceptable to NI voters in both communities. The new candidates who historically may not have been directly involved in politics due to its current divisive message will be the new face of the pact. The parties will also be working on a set of policies that while being Conservative in nature will appeal to local voters as representing their views.

    They have got to get it right first time as there will be no second chance to make a first impression, if they fail it will put change back for another decade.

    We will know by June of next year, I wish them well they have a heavy responsibility to make it work for everyone in Northern Ireland.

  • The Raven

    “They have got to get it right first time as there will be no second chance to make a first impression, if they fail it will put change back for another decade.”

    Any UUPs I have spoken to, are looking at a 2-election future away. Change takes time. I think everyone accepts that – there will be no over-night fixes.

    I won’t be voting for it, but I genuninely, (naively perhaps), hoping that this is a medium to long term opportunity to provide Unionist voters with a genuinue, moderate option that will emerge through time, perhaps even through population and attitudinal change.

    All great empires pass away, and I am hopeful that this is a first step on a long road to the permanent overthrow of the Protestant theocrats that currently hold sway in Stormont.

    On a completely un-related note – Turgon…Vanguard?? How far back are you going here? Do you think anyone under the age of thirty could talk about Vanguard without having to google it first? This is a point worth making about many posts on here – people vastly under-estimate the ability of the current generation of young voters to not give a toss about anything other than their wallets.

  • elvis parker

    The fact that the main unionist party in the UK – the Conservatives- is standing in every seat and hoping to get a majority in the Westminister Parliament at the next general election is a great move for the Union and those who regard themselves as British.
    I agree with Turgon, however, about the standing in every seat playing badly particularly in the West. Can the DUP be persuaded not to spilt the vote by standing?
    Obviously the DUP spilt the vote in South Belfast last time and by proxy in Fermanagh South Tyrone too. I hope their anti British Ulster nationalist mindset doesnt lead them to doing such a thing again

  • William

    Turgon….no ‘deal’ is necessary between the UUP/Conservatives and the DUP in relation to the two seats lost, South Belfast and Fermanagh/South Tyrone.

    These were and are UUP seats and that is the party that should be contesting them….remember what happened to the losing of the seats.

    1. Fermanagh & South Tyrone: James Cooper was selected by the UUP to replace Ken Maginnis who had retired…the DUPes were unhappy and Maurice Morrow was selected by them to also contest the seat….Morrow took cold feet, least the seat be lost and he and the DUPes get the blame, so they coerced a victim of the Enniskillen bombing, Jim Dixon, a well-meaning but misguided old guy to stand and Gildernew won the seat by 53 votes……and her party took the liberty of keeping a number of polling booths open long after the 10pm closing time, by threatening Electoral Office staff, but that’s another story. Of course during the four years of the Parliament, Gildernew built up her electoral base and retained the seat at the next election, by a substantial majority.

    2. South Belfast: The DUPes couldn’t allow the UUP to have a free run in the election with the Rev. Martin Smyth’s successor, Michael McGimpsey…..they parachuted Jimmy S[pratt], a former Chairman of the Police Federation into the contest and the result was that Allistar McDonald of the SDLP [the Stoopes] won the seat.

    As you can see from the above, two Unionist seats were lost to Unionism due to the pig-headedness of the DUPes. Party interest allows trumps Unionist interest where the DUPes are concerned.

    So Turgon, if I were you, I wouldn’t get too agitated about the link between the UUP and the Conservative Party….just come out and vote for the best candidate in the European Election next June….Jim Nicholson and give your second preference to Jim Allister, who has also proven a fine, hard-working representative for Northern Ireland in Europe. If your preferences stretch to three, then give the DUPe candidate, probably Officer Dodds a vote. You know it makes Sense !!

  • Wm

    Sorry for the typo::::::

    Party interest ALWAYS trumps Unionist interest where the DUPes are concerned.

  • The assumption that is made in articles of this ilk is that the package that will be on offer is the UUP. You debate how effective the UUP will be in convincing Catholic voters, yada, yada. However, this is a joint initiative and the brand will NOT be the UUP. Rather joint Conservative and Unionist candidates will be offering a jointly defined manifesto and will, if elected, take the Conservative whip. That’s NOT the UUP. It’s a new brand that has not, until now, existed. As a result, it introduces an entirely new dynamic into the debate and to the electorate. Move on. Get with the argument – because potitics is moving on.

    Jeff Peel

  • bob wilson

    I love the way the Dupes say you mustn’t spilt the vote – but the next election the European in June I missed the announcement about how they wouldnt stand against the two unionist incumbents for fear of spilting the unionist vote.
    Maybe they arent struggling to find a candidate after all maybe the have decided to take the high moral ground and not contest the Euros.
    Was that pigs of Santa flying past my window?

  • bob wilson

    Jeff – you make the assumption that these so called posters Want to change the debate.
    Sectarianism is what they know and for the DUP it works.

  • Turgon

    You are of course correct that both F/ST and South Belfast were UUP seats. However, by far the biggest vote in both is now for the DUP. Neither the DUP, UUP nor anyone else owns the seats for unionism just as no party owns the unionist electorate. Remember that prior to 2001 most seats were UUP. However, that was then: this is now.

    Jeffrey Peel,
    How foolish of me: there was me assuming that the same people were just being partially rebranded. I am confident then that we will not have all the old faces but instead a shiny new crop of Tory / UUP representatives. The likes of David McClarty in East Londonderry and all the other old near dead wood will be cleared out. Indeed new young turks will be brought in. Oh yes the UUP tried that before didn’t they and look what a resounding success that was.

    The sad reality for the UUP (and the NI Tories) is that the same leaders will be presented having had a mild makeover. This will be of mild interest to some politicos but I very much doubt it will have much effect with the unionist electorate, nor the pro union RC population.

    Incidentally tell me what then is your solution to the F/ST issue? I suppose you feel that for the greater good of your self image within the Pale we here in Fermanagh should continue to be unrepresented at Westminster and have an abstentionist MP who proclaims that a future generation of republicans may have to go back to violence and refuses to encourage her constituents to go to the police with information about serious criminal activity? All that so that you can parade your supposedly new semi merger in the vague hope that it might garner some garden centre Prod and pro union Catholic votes?

    Why not just go the whole hog and side with Greenflag in favour of repartition? Oh yes your leader is committed to the whole of the union. It just rings a bit hollow down here. Never mind we are just ill educated bumpkins and here be dragons.

  • William

    Turgon….You are speaking of election prior to Paisley’s ‘Road to Dublin’ conversion, after his party’s ‘topping the poll’…that was then, what now…I doubt that the DUPes would win an election the way they did….I think the Dromore bye-electionwas a wake up call for them, hence Arlene Foster’s quick change to the rules, postponing the next local Government elections for three years.

    As Jeff Peel says….the UUP link up with the Conservative party will provide opportunities for many who didn’t vote and for those who wish to have the same chances of those in the rest of the UK, of having their MP as part of the Government party…Isn’t that a good thing????

    If it is all so wrong, why are the naysayers so active on this blog and elsewhere demeaning it? Me thinks they may be worried????

  • Rory Carr

    ” Unionist parties have come and gone, a number of them having proported (sic) to be seeking Catholic unionist votes.”

    I know, I know, Turgon. And we might even have voted for them except for our lack of confidence in their ability to spell correctly. After all we did need educational opportunities so that we might at least outsmart that which we could not outgun.

  • Turgon

    Sorry Rory, now fixed

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it


    I largely agree with your analysis – Wee Reggie is weak and ‘splitting’ the Unionist vote (not coming to an agreement with the DUP) somewhere like FST will play badly with the electorate. Anyway, I think their appeal will be largely limited to South Belfast and North Down.

    The DUP should be mildly concerned by the new alliance with the possibility of some % gains by the TUV but there can be little doubt that Nationalists will be the main beneficaries of this new funny alliance which will undoubtedly lead to an intensification of Unionist disunity.

  • W

    I shows how shallow Rory Carr’s argument is when he has to stoop to correct spelling mistakes. He is correct in saying that his lot couldn’t outgun the British / Unionists but what did their ‘smartness’ get them in Education. A loony lady still living in Louth, as the master of our Education system and who has only spent 8 days in her office in the 18 months she has been ‘in office’.

    Not forgetting of course, that irrespective of how badly the Sinn Fein / IRA ‘on sabbatical from terror’ Ministers are, they now administer British rule in loyal Northern Ireland.

    Didn’t ould ‘pastie supper’ Bobby die in vain for that ?

  • William

    McNally…..if it’s a ‘funny allianc’ you’re one Republican who seems to be taking it very seriously !!!!

  • William

    I delibrately spelt ‘Alliance’ wrongly, in order to get Rory Carr a reason to respond !!

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it


    would you not agree that the best alliance for Unionism would be one that delivered a single Unionist voice for Norn Iron?

    The very best, being at least partly realistic you can hope for here is 2 strong voices. Given the nature of Norn Iron politics this is NOT good for the union.

    Do you not at least admit there are some dangers for Unionism as result of this ( funny ) alliance?

  • William

    McNally…S…Of course, I wish to see Unionist unity and I want to get back to the days pre-1973 when there was one major Unionist party, but as you will know, Paisley set up the original PUP, the Protestant Unionist Party, which became the Democratic Unionist Party. This outfit, successful as it has recently become, was built bullying, half-truths and downright lies, as was evidenced in the most recent Assembly election, when the Unionist Electorate were told, ‘You must vote DUP to stop Sinn Fein’, whilst the party hierachy knew full well that if the electorate listened to me and made the DUPes ‘top of the pile’, they already through their ‘lines of communication, the RTE Journalist’, made an agreement with Sinn Fein / IRA.

    What you may not know is that in ‘times of need for the DUPes’, Robinson has asked the UUP to meet to discuss a move towards ‘uniting’ but then goes cold, when he gets a response agreeing to meet.

    As can be seen, most recently with the talk about the Euro election next June, the DUPes are more interesting in them becoming the party with the highest vote in the election, rather than the need to ensure that two Unionists win seats. Party before Unionism is their rallying cry…

    What I would really wish Sammy? is that the many decent Roman Catholics who were lulled into voting for the ‘terrorists on sabbatical’ would desert them in droves and vote for the new alliance and if they can’t do that, at least vote for a party that has the same ultimate aim [the reunification of Ireland] but haven’t killed nearly 2,000 people in their quest to achieve it.

  • William

    Sammy…the above post in the last paragraph should read ‘….the same ultimate aim as SF / IRA….’ I sure you knew that anyway !!

  • Eddie

    Some of these posts are far too long. If you can’t make your point succinctly,why should we get repititive strain injury scrolling? Yawn.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it


    SDLP are to some extent the mirror image of the UU and they are exploring their own funny alliance with FF. This will not change their fortunes significantly but like with UU/Tories will have attractions for some.

    Norn Iron because of the GFA is locked in a continuous constitutional battle with every election seen as a potential advance or a loss to the other side. This is not the place that moderates will propser as the disappearance of both the Unionist and Nationalist middle grounds show.

    If I were a Unionist I would want rid of Stormont and simply have complete political integration within the UK – but the British now need the consent of the ROI ( as per the GFA ) to offer that the Tories sticking their oar in to the ongoing tribal politics of Norn Iron does really seem to make a lot of sense.

  • William

    Sammy…..If we had had Governments with a backbone, the Republic of Ireland would have been in the European Court of Justice back in the late 1970s, after both the ROI and UK signed up to the Treaty of Rome and became full members of the then EEC. One of the clauses of that Treaty states words to the effect that, ‘no member state can claim the terrority of another’.

    You may seek to correct me Mr. McN…however, I don’t claim the credit for the above opinion….in 1997, whilst I was Auditor of my Uni Law Society in Dublin, a then TD by the name of Michael McDowell, who went on, as you will know to be AG and a Minister in the Irish Government, responded with the above opinion to a question on the subject, after he had delivered a lecture on Articles 2 & 3 of the Irish Constitution to the LawSoc of the Uni I attended. He stated that had the UK taken a case, they would have been successful. I incidentally still have a transcript and an audio tape of that discussion

    So, regarding the GFA, again Sammy??, had we a UK Government of principle and backbone, they would tell the Irish Government to take a running jump and consign the said agreement to the dust bin of history.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it


    “So, regarding the GFA, again Sammy??, had we a UK Government of principle and backbone, they would tell the Irish Government to take a running jump and consign the said agreement to the dust bin of history. ”

    As a Nationalist I’m a fan of the GFA (though it could be bit greener) and it allows me to welcome and hopefully enjoy the Tory alliance with the UU because rather than having to worry about the Tories adopting pro-Union policies I know they have their hands effectively tied by the GFA.

    ps Although not a fan of Mickey McDowell’s policies I do enjoy his ability to upset the established views on the National question and on financial matters.

  • Ingrid Watson

    Poor William,

    When refering to Fermanagh/South Tyrone should remember that the DUP won a by-election in Enniskillen recently, increasing their vote.

    The UUP vote stayed the same, the worse in its history in the town.

    Your verbal spewing should take account of the electoral fact.

  • Bigger Picture

    Yawn yawn yawn.

    In the new age of Unionist politics the UUP cannot even stand up and support their new position and instead have to go back to attacking the DUP. Surely if this is such a great and shiny new movement sweeping all before it you would have no need to attack the DUP? The reaction on here just shows that it is not about unionism but a way for the UUP to try and defeat the DUP. As someone else said Party before the electorate.

    Nothing new and given Empey’s record it will go tits up before June with the new shiny face of all things Conservative and an inspiring Cameronesque front man in, er Jim Nicholson.


    I think your blog has been spot on and very well done.

    I will only say one more thing. For all those complaining about vote splitting go away and calm down. The Ulster Unionist Party are the most arrogant shower i have ever come across, with the attitude of well we have had this seat for so long therefore it’s ours. No it is not, and it is this arrogance coupled with their incompetence that has led them to be a bit part player in NI politics ( even more now while tied to the Tories, no more downing street negotiations for them when Cameron takes over). Any sense would dictate that pacts have to be reached and childish blame game antics will not solve anything, other than as Turgon has pointed out, give Gildernew another four years.

    And as the European Election looms large i will say this regarding so-called vote splitting. The DUP has topped the poll in every European election ever held. Jim Allister was elected not on the basis that he was Jim Allister, but because he stood for the DUP, even though he likes to think otherwise (a 20 year career at the Bar while fantastic only makes you known to your criminal clients not the Gen Public). and as the largest party in NI the DUP has every right to contest the election and any decision not to would be ludicrous. Yeah let’s give our opponents another five years to attack us instead of contesting the seat against them, that is logical?!

    Say about vote splitting all you want but that title will be decided once the votes are in and if i were a bookie i would already be paying out on who thatwill be.

  • Bigger Picture

    If i can also add,

    On the abstract the idea of the Tories forming partnerships with local parties is good but i do not think it will alter much either. It is great Cameron coming over, saying all this and that, but he’s away back to London now and has left the UUP and Owen Patterson to get on with it. All the people will see is the face of Reg Empey telling the electorate that they’re friends with the Tories. Cameron may be hard to take on but his troops on the ground in NI, Reg and the UUP, are tried and tested failures electorally in NI and without a full scale integration i actually can’t see how anything changes.

  • Ron Savage

    Turgon, what future are you exactly offering unionism and Northern Ireland other than a permanent zero-sum game of demographic-based squabbling?

    Open your eyes.

  • Turgon

    Ron Savage,
    I am afraid that I find it difficult to believe that we can import what is essentially a completely different way of looking at and participating in politics. If one looks at other divided societies one tends to find that the divisions do not change substantially: Belgium springs to mind, so does the former Yugoslavia etc.

    I would love to be wrong, I genuinely would. If we had “normal” politics I would be very happy. I just do not see it happening. Indeed I would suggest that by its very nature the current arrangements entrench the sectarian nature of politics here. Yet these arrangements seem to be supported by the Conservative Party which is trying to tell us that it and the UUP are creating a new sort of post sectarian politics. That just shows how unlikely the whole thing is.

    Ron, I wish I was wrong but believe me here in Fermanagh I walk around with my eyes wide open and I just do not see this new Nirvana which you are proposing. It might be easy to see in Bangor and the like but out here or for that matter in most of NI, I find it difficult to believe. Indeed I might suggest that either you live in North Down or else your eyes are the ones which are shut. Tell me are you from Fermanagh or do you just come down here the odd time to see the caves and the big houses?

    As I say I would love to be proved wrong.

    By the way I find it interesting that none of the Tory / UUP brigade here have addressed the Argentinosaurus in the room of Reg’s leadership. Also none of them have explained a sensible strategy as to how to get Gildernew out apart from Arlene Foster (for whom I am no standard bearer) standing aside despite having come much closer to beating Gildernew than Tom Elliott.

  • runciter

    Indeed I would suggest that by its very nature the current arrangements entrench the sectarian nature of politics here.

    The border is what entrenches sectarian politics here.

  • frustrated democrat


    Reg Empey is the leader of the UUP, Neill Johnston is the leader of the Conservatives in NI, David Cameron is the leader of the Conservatives in the UK.

    Why did you decide that Reg will be the leader of the new pact when anyone elected will take the Conservative whip and will therefore be part of the Conservatives party in the EU or Westminister and will therefore be a part of the party in those arenas. Nothing has, as yet as I understand it, been agreed for the assembly where Reg might be the leader or then again might not depending on the electorate and Reg’s wishes.

    So your question is a little redundant.

  • Turgon

    frustrated democrat,
    The question is far from redundant; indeed your interjection merely puts it into starker relief. Will the new semi pact result in a new leader for the Northern Ireland UUP/Conservatives? Will it be the NI Tories who are lumbered with Reg or will the UUP have to adopt the leader of the much, much smaller NI Tories as their leader? Or are Reg and the UUP happy to be completely subsumed within the Tory party led by Cameron?

    Whichever of these scenarios plays out the question remains, will the same utterly uninspiring leadership be kept by the local UUP/Tories: if so I doubt they will gain much support. Do you not see the importance of leadership? Simply pronouncing that there is a new sort of arrangement with the Tories is not some sort of set of magic words which will instantly transform the UUP’s fortunes.

  • William

    Ingrid….I wonder why the DUPes had to parachute into Enniskillen, a Government Minister who had not long before resigned from the same Council, citing insufficient time to do both jobs and rear a young family. Why was a young 19/20 year old student [Thomas Hogg, if I recall correctly]
    good enough for co-option, but not good enough to fight an election?

    As to the UUP vote remaining the same, it was a by-election and as I recall it the candidate fought an excellent campaign and would have been a more regular attender at Council meetings and much more able to represent the electorate than the succesful one will be able to.

    The comeback by Foster merely showed one thing…the DUPes are more interested in power than representing their constituents.

  • frustrated democrat

    Turgon on the contrary no one will be under any illusion that for the EU and Westminister they are voting on a Conservative manifesto for the EU and the UK respectively so everyone knows who the leader is in those areas and what whip they will take.

    Fo the assembly election it is reasonable to expect that the results of the two previous elections will be examined in detail to see if the pact is working satisfactorily before looking to 2011 and deciding on that election and if necessary who is available to be the leader in NI from the current and probably new members. Why would anyone want to decide on a precise formula for 2011 when there is no imperative reason to do so.

    So for the EU and Westminister if unionist voters don’t find Cameron to be the leader they want to support they shouldn’t vote for the pact. I however susupect the leader, whoever it is, and manifesto for the assembly and will be acceptable to a wide range of unionist voters if the pact is extended to that election.

    With regard to FST voters will have the chance to vote for a unionist candidate who might be part of the next UK government, so if any party is concerned about splitting that unionist vote they should stand aside. I would not be in favour of any deals based on a sectarian headcount, the new pact to succeed needs to move away from that historic type of carve up.

  • Turgon

    frustrated democrat,
    You are completely ignoring the whole issue of leadership. Jim Nicholson will still be the candidate. I could put a Porsche badge on my rather clapped out estate car but that would fool absolutely no one. I am sorry, the vast majority of voters will still see the same uninspiring slate of candidates; or do you think we will see new people standing. Clearly Jim Nicholson is standing for Europe, are you telling me there are going to be young new people for Westminster? If so how will they get a profile prior to the election? How do you prevent another “Lambs to the slaughter” debacle.

    I do genuinely wish your project well; I am sure it has a sound theoretical base. However, practical politics, especially in NI argues that this is all pie in the sky, even more so out here in F/ST. What we need is to remove a non-MP who also cannot properly support the police and who thinks future republicans might have to return to violence. Your only suggestion is that the largest unionist party here stand aside so that theoretically a candidate can be elected who might have a place in the government. Such an explanation I am afraid simply shows how out of touch you are with the realities of west of the Bann unionism. I am no fan of the DUP but I would argue very strongly against my party standing at Westminster and will advocate voting for Arlene Foster (some one whom I do not support) as the only realistic way to remove Gildernew.

    Politics is indeed about having vision and ideas; it is, however, also about being practical and sensible. Your suggested solution to the F/ST problem is completely impractical. Much as I might at a theoretical level like my MP to sit on the front bench on right side of Mr. Speaker in the House of Commons, at this point in time my main concern is that my MP actually be willing to enter the chamber and represent me.

  • Turgon

    frustrated democrat,
    Sorry thought of some more stuff.

    Remember that the NI Tories are tiny. Almost everyone in the new party will be UUP members. Unless hordes of new people join (highly unlikely) and are promoted to senior positions (even more unlikely), the people who select the new shiny candidates will be exactly the same people who have selected the UUP candidates at previous elections.

    Let us take East Londonderry as an example (I know it well, I was in the UUP there for years). Now there is no relevant East Londonderry NI Conservatives. The “new grouping” there will the UUP with conceivably a few new faces. That group will select the candidate to take on Gregory Campbell. Are you trying to tell me that they are going to select someone new and fresh? If by some miracle they did is that person going to gain a profile in the next two years? If by a further miracle they do are they going to unseat Campbell?

    I do not wish to misuse scripture but your idea could

    “…be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. ” (Matthew 7:26-27)

  • bobwilson

    Turgon rightly points out the difficulties involved in this project but the alternative is defeatist parochial unionism.
    As a NI Tory from about as far West of the Bann as you can get in NI I believe that this focus on vote splitting in places such as FST is a tactic by the leaders of traditional unionist parties to stifle debate. To me it is much more important to be involved fully in UK party politics and make sure our voice is heard rather than getting into a lather about who wins FST, West Tyrone, Galsgow East of Merthyr Tydfil

  • Essentialist

    Consider the FST problem. Ask what have the DUP or UUP done for unionism or their constituents lately? Now to regain the seat from Sinn Fein a unionist/Conservative pact is required. An agreement to support a Conservative/Unionist candidate (Conservatives can nominate) will allow a test of all claims. Arlene Foster and the DUP can handle the loss (if it occurs) since the seat is in Sinn Fein’s hands right now because of arrogance and power hunger. The UUP cannot win back the seat alone. The Conservatives promise much to Northern Ireland voters but are simply using this place as a test for a future SNP/Conservative government in Scotland. Why not test them out?

  • White Knight

    Whatever Jeff Peel and Bob Wilson may think, if the branding doesn’t include the wording “Conservative and Ulster Unionist” (or Ulster Unionist and Conservative) then it won’t be approved by the UU Executive at the end of January.

    Similarly, if such a pact holds untl the 2011 Assembly and Council elections then any Conservatives elected will take the UUP whip (on the basis that the UUP is likely to have the larger number of elected representatives).

    The NI Conservatives are in danger of getting carried away with their own importance. They have no elected reps in NI and a total vote less than the UUP’s recorded membership.

    What has been agreed so far is that the TWO parties will join forces for electoral purposes. It isn’t a merger. It won’t be a merger.


  • frustrated democrat


    You seem to know the minds of 100 executive members – have you asked them all or even 35% of them, the answer is probably no since I know a few and none of then are hung up on the name. In any event how can a national UK party be in a pact with a party part of whose name relates to 3 counties in another country?

    You are also making assumptions about things that will not be decided for sometime so in essence what you are giving are your opinions on what you would like to happen. There isn’t a problem with that as long as you don’t attribute them to the whole party. The truth is the people who are senior in the parties will decide the name and who the leader in NI will be not you or me (unless you are one of them) and the executive will support the decision as it always does.

  • bob wilson

    oh dear White Knight I think you need to lie down. This is an alliance not a pact and as such compromises are required on all sides.
    Abusing your new partners is not the way to make progress
    Strange when people want to berate the NI Tories then make out the deal is with Party HQ in London when it comes to issues of branding etc you seem eager to pretend the deal is solely on NI affair.
    Truth is if you read Cameron’s speech you will see he is essentially saying he is a NI Tory so peculiar for you to suggest Cameron is getting carried away with his own importance

  • Why am I still a UUP voter?

    Bawb – why do you keep coming out with this cr*p? You spent the equivalent of half an e-lifetime boring the rest of us on Slugger rigid with your self-serving tripe about the UUP. Back in the bad old days, you used to be a very busy bee indeed, telling us all what sectarian scunners the UUP were, and what, at root, provincial, sectarian hoors an NI-only party *had* to be. And now, it turns out that all along what you really wanted was for Dave to cut a deal behind your back, so that you’ll end up campaigning and voting for the UUP candidates we’ll select. And if you think the joint committee is anything other than figleaf, pray tell, where are we going to see you on offer come the next general election?

    Curiously the submit-word for this comment is “fact”. Go figger.

  • Why am I still a UUP member?

    “Just for the record what is wrong with a united candidate to try (even if in vain) to evict an MP who does not sit in Westminster, believes that a future generation of republicans may have to go back to violence and cannot support people going to the police about criminal activity within her constituency? It appears that the likes of Owen Paterson regard trying to remove such a person as bigoted.”

    Interesting you make that argument Turgon because upon meeting Owen Paterson I made the point about deals being done in FST and South Belfast.In reply Mr Paterson said that this deal was more important than 1 seat.I doubt very much thAT unionists in FST and South Belfast would appreciate being told that in effect their constituencies do not matter.

    Also if Lady Hermon resigns over this deal there is a very good chance that in the 2010 General Election the UUP could win no seats as without this deal I reckon the UUP would have held North Down and won either South Belfast or FST due to a deal with the DUP.

  • The first move by the new non-sectarian Tory EU candidate, Jim Nicholson, is to call on the Irish government to give money to Protestant schools…

    There seems to be absolutely no common purpose between UUP and Tories either on Slugger or anywhere else. This weird grafting is doomed to failure.

    The UUP lost FST and South Belfast due to the arrogance of its leadership clique which insisted on candidates unacceptable to other unionists. In SB half of the party activists were driven out or left in disgust. You cannot win elections that way. Adding 200 Tory voters will not help.

  • bobwilson

    ‘And now, it turns out that all along what you really wanted was for Dave to cut a deal behind your back, so that you’ll end up campaigning and voting for the UUP candidates we’ll select’
    I guess your not a betting man?

  • Why am I still a UUP voter?

    Okay, I bet a thousand quid not one winnable seat will have someone with a Conservative pedigree, rather than an UUP background. Not one. Now, truth be told, I’m fairly well off, so a grand here, or a grand there, won’t too painful. I’ve zero idea what your circumstances are Bawb, but I implore you take up my offer, as this will the easiest money you have ever made in your entire life. So, definitions: a winnable seat is *any* NI constituency that has had any sort of Unionist MP at any point in the last *five* parliaments. I bet you £1000 pounds that not one winnable Unionist seat will have a UUP/Conservative candidate whose background is Conservative rather than Ulster Unionist.

    I am glad, however, that you have dropped the absurd lie you used to spew that you a.) knew about the deal, before you were actually told about it & that b.) your tame acceptance of it in any way tallies with the absue you used to direct at the UUP.

  • frustrated democrat

    ….still a UUP voter

    There are two old sayings – ‘it is better to keep one’s mouth shut and be thought a fool rather than open it and prove it’ and ‘he who pays the piper calls the tune’

    Maybe you should consider them before throwing your money around even if you have so much!

  • Why am I still a UUP voter?

    How a fool? More generous nonce, I would have thought. After all, Bawb – in effect – assures us that there will be Conservative candidates in seats the Ulster Unionists might win. You will note my emphasis because of course if any seats are won by the UUP/Conservative alliance, it’s the UUP half that will be doing the *winning*. We’ve seen the fruits of Bawb’s stand-alone campaigning efforts, and frankly, they ain’t worth emailing home to CCHQ about. Bob has more time to make these assurances because he no longer wastes our time pretending that he personally cooked up this deal, rather than being told about it after the fact. Anyway – it’s a free grand for him. As I say, I know nothing about his personal circumstances, maybe he too doesn’t need the lolly. But if he likes free money – and he could always change it into roubles and give it to George Osborne – here it seemingly is on a plate. So just flap that gob one more time Bawb and we have a bet. Me: not one winnable seat [see above] will have a candidate whose background is Conservative rather than Ulster Unionist. You: anyone, anywhere.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Why am I still a UUP voter?

    It will be interesting when the odds for the Euro elections come out – I would guess something like DUP 1/2, SF 2/1, UUP/Tories 25/1, SDLP 30/1, TUV 50/1 to top the poll.

    UUP 1/3 to win 3rd seat, SDLP 4/1, TUV 20/1

  • michael

    “…I still await the sight of an Alliance canvasser in Fermanagh…” That as may be Turgon, but Alliance was canvassing in the recent FST by-election. In fact, correct me if I am wrong but…, Alliance actually stood in the recent byelection in FST whereas TUV didn’t.

  • bob wilson

    What a bore clicked on ‘Why I am still a UUP voter’ only to discover that it is obviously a fake email. Then went to all the trouble of checking my genuine lagansider@hotmail.com email to see whom I would be claimed my £1000 off but no emails from this Loudmouth – all talk.

    Perhaps you would have the courage to communicate via Mick – I trust him to pass the money on

  • WhiteKnight

    frustrated democrat (Dec 15, 02.52):

    I am a member of the UUP Executive who both attended and spoke at the November 20 meeting.

    The UUP branding may not matter to some of the people you know, but it certainly matters to me and to those who spoke—the majority of whom raised the issue.

    By the way, any decision requiring a change of the UUP identity on ballot papers or other election material requires the endorsement of the UUP Officers, the Party Executive and the Ulster Unionist Council itself.

    I am broadly supportive of the link-up, but I won’t vote for any relationship which removes UUP from the branding.


  • Why am I still a UUP voter?

    Fine, fool, the bet’s on. Close of nominations is going to be fun. But whatever happens to my money, I’m glad you’ve stopped lying that you knew about the deal before you were told about it. That was just plain silly Bawb.

  • bob wilson

    I have already explained the background to the deal.
    Guess you think the 4 Conservatives on the Joint Committee will be from GB right?

  • frustrated democrat


    Don’t take his money, it would be unfair to do so.

  • frustrated democrat


    And if 65% of the executive does will you accept it and if not what will you do?

  • Why am I still a UUP voter?

    Bawb, four local Tory numpties are a dead cert. But because, as FD implies, I fear you’re kinda simple, let’s just go through the bet one more time, speaking as slowly as we can: a thousand quid says not one winnable Unionist seat will have a UUP/Conservative candidate at the next general election whose background is Conservative rather than Ulster Unionist. All of you have to do is ensure that solitary, meagre, teensy-tiny little thing: a single Conservative selected for any seat the UUP might actually win. Since you’re so confident of taking my money, I have to say, I’m slightly surprised you don’t just go and get selected yourself Bawb. Think how much you could crow then . . .

  • bobwilson

    Excellent I shall have my money by the end of January!

  • Bigger Picture

    Of course guys you are both wrong….there is no such thing as a winnable UUP seat, unless they decide to enter a pact of course.

    Let’s face it where are you actually going to make gains come next Westminster?

    East Londonderry – No
    East Antrim – No
    South Antrim – Maybe but all that depends on the Jim Allister effect rather than the UUP. However that all seems to be on the wane.
    North Antrim – Hell no
    North Belfast – Hell no
    East Belfast – Reg fighting with Naomi Long for second
    Upper Bann – See south Antrim
    South Belfast/FST – Pact depending otherwise no
    Strangford – No
    Lagan Valley – No

    You see i just do not buy that the pact makes a difference Cameron is away home and we are left once again with Reg and the rest of the directionless gawp that make up the UUP.

    There is a stupid debate on whether English tories will come over and stand, that’s grand by all means but as Turgon pointed out bringing in fresh faced nobody’s who will have had no experience of NI politics will not endear voters. Just cast your mind back to when Andrew Hunter MP stood for the DUP in Laganvalley, if a Tory MP couln’t get elected to the Assembly what chance does any other Tory of a far less substantial background actually have?

  • WhiteKnight

    frustrated democrat (Dec 16. 04.19)

    It won’t work out like that.

    This deal will only go through in the UUP Executive if Sir Reg keeps a very substantial majority on board (90% +). He will not split the party on this.

    Similarly, a 65-35 split on the abandoning of the name would have to be endorsed by the UUC and that would reopen too many old wounds.

    What I voted for in the last executive was a “joint” ticket with both parties in the branding. Given that almost every other speaker made the same point I would have little hesitation in believing that a proposal to exclude Ulster Unionist from the branding would be defeated by the executive.


  • Why am I still a UUP voter?

    Can I just confirm that Bawb’s up for this bet?

  • bob wilson

    Oh yes

  • Why am I still a UUP voter?

    Do. You. Under-stand. The. Terms?

  • Turgon

    Why am I still a UUP voter,
    As a fundamentalist I am unsure what position I should take on gambling on a thread I have created. Still each to his own etc.

    Might I suggest a scenario by which you might lose but still have a moral victory?

    If the Tories/UUP adopted some daft NI Conservative candidate with no profile and no hope and parachuted them into Fermanagh / South Tyrone. That would have the effect of being almost a pact with the DUP (the candidate would attract few canvassers and no significant support). As such this would give Arlene Foster a better chance yet would allow the likes of Owen Paterson to proclaim that they had a candidate in verey seat.

    Just a thought but a side effect of this might be you losing your bet.

  • Why am i still a UUP voter

    I understand your fears Turgon, and as an Ulster Unionist who has always been an integrationist Tory, my contempt for the flip-flopping of Reg (supposed Gimpite leftie who screwed up the last attempt at reunion) and Bawb (who might and main used to proclaim his opposition to UUP ‘sectarianism) is thus variously and unendingly heartfelt. They *might* do what you suggest, and for such a risible outcome, I’m more than prepared to fork over a grand. Think of it not as being betting, but rather as clowns drawing their salary from me for professionally making fools of themselves (though, yes, I accept, they would do this voluntarily: indeed, I suspect Bawb and Reg would do it in their sleep). My own suspicions include: Bawb desperately trying to claim one of the handful of people who have any sort of Conservative *and* Ulster Unionist ‘career’ as being magically solely Conservative in pedigree; or, absurdly claiming that someone *without* a Conservative pedigree at all actually in fact secretly has one. Tim Collins would spring to mind, but for the fact that he has already, yet again, brushed them off. Anyway, we can consider it telling that Bawb has not affirmed that he understands the fairly clearly stated terms of the bet [see above]. Maybe he’s not that keen to take that certain grand off me after all? How queer.

  • Why am I still a UUP voter?

    C’mon Bawb, you’re not normally so shy: do, do, *do* tell me you’ve understood the bet? I’m sooooo keen to give you that certain grand.

  • Why am I still a UUP voter?

    Bawb, I’m not saying you’re a mouth or anything, but, do let me know that you understand the terms of the bet as I am HEAP sincere in my desire to give you the grand you’re so assured of getting. Or perhaps you’ve worked out that, since you getting the dosh is such a cert, my real ruse is to try and get you yourself to step forward and offer yourself as an Ulster Unionist/Conservative candidate at the next general election? Actually, for the fun that could be had with that, I’d pay your deposit. So you see quite how much I’m now willing to lose on your behalf?

  • bob wilson

    You obviously work in the public sector Cllr – what with the amount of time you have on your hands.
    Given how much the DUP do U turns I’m certainly not spending my money but I am very confident.
    The terms being simply: if anyone of a Conservative background rather than a UUP one stands in a seat recently held by a unionist you will give Mick Fealty a grand to give to me?

    I suspect this nonsense is a pathetic ruse to deflect from your anti British Paisleyite agenda – no integrationist could oppose political integration

  • Why am I still a UUP voter?

    Bawb, you’re R for retarded. I’ve stated clearly that I’m an integrationist, and, that I’ve always supported Unionist and Conservative reunion. Unlike Reg. And you. But still, it’ll be a great pleasure giving you the 1000 quid.

  • frustrated democrat


    If, as you say, you are an integrationist, support the Union and the Conservative Unionist pact, why are you attacking, with such vitriol, someone who obviously supports similar things?

    If you want to throw out challenges and personal abuse and go beyond normal comments you certainly shouldn’t do it from behind a curtain of anonimity.

    If you want to stay anonomous just contribute the money to the new pact as you would lose anyway, however if you want to reveal who you are you might get a few more takers including members of the new joint selection committee if and when they are announced. They I am sure will be less unbalanced than you however upon seeing them, if you are still so sure, you could make a few ££££.

    I have my doubts about your credentials, you can easily allay them……………….

  • Why am I still a UUP voter?

    I’m attacking Bawb because he is a monumental loudmouth who did the micro-cause of CCHQ-recognised local Toryism *immense* harm. He lost them votes, much as I fear he will now lose both Conservatives and Ulster Unionists’ votes. His flapping gob has been painfully in evidence not least in his constant goulderising here on Slugger, principally at the UUP for being inherently “sectarian”. And I don’t really need to prove my integrationist, pro Conservative/UUP reunion credentials to anyone, and especially Bawb. Because I’ve always held those views, whereas Bawb’s only seen the merit in them since Cameron told him to. As far as the lolly is concerned, you’ll doubtless be glad to know the four £250 postal orders have been procured. And as far as posting under your name goes – this is *exactly* what’s wrong with Bawb and makes him such a flyweight source of bother for the dear old cause. Most Norn Iron politicos, if they have the nous to know nothing else, know not to use their real name when slabbering on on Slugger!

  • frustrated democrat


    You think ‘bob wilson’ is a real person………….. must confess I don’t remember meeting him, maybe he stays West of the Bann, have you meet him?………… maybe you are confusing him with someone else entirely?

    In any event, real or otherways, personal abuse is not called for especially from behind a screen.

    There are only a few things that matter for the future

    1. The pact is being negotiated in NI not London

    2. 50% of the selection committee will be from each side.

    3. The Conservatives will persumably bring in well known and successful names from across the local communities as potential candidates to put alongside those of the Unionists.

    4. The synergy of the two will create an electoral force that will exceed the individual parties past results.

    Why don’t you work in partnership instead of slinging abuse?