New Force and the danger of déjà vu

I must admit to welcoming the Ulster Conservative and Unionist – New Force. If it produced a new mould breaking era of non sectarian politics I would be delighted. However, I would suggest that there are worrying echoes of the past in this new set up. I am of course referring to Trimble’s UUP: I know the comparison is far from exact but there are dangers lurking. Trimble’s leadership of the UUP was a triumph. This was the man who helped negotiate a new devolved form of government: he managed to move his party from opposition to power sharing and into the leadership of devolved government. He himself, managed to move from being the rather prickly, difficult, highly intelligent academic and sometime Drumcree marcher to being an internationally respected leader, welcomed at the White House and recipient of a Nobel Peace prize. He then went on to pioneer moving the UUP out of sectarian Northern Ireland politics and to a new future where “Decent People Vote(d) Ulster Unionist” and the UUP was “for all of us” and “Simply British.”

Of course then there is the reality: Trimble was the most unbelievably appalling negotiator; even his own supporters gave up any pretence of believing his assorted lines in the sand. He complained and complained and then failed to stop concession after concession to republicans. He was lauded by assorted people outwith Northern Ireland and indeed congratulated by Gerry Adams within it. He then presided over the most flawless destruction of a political party in recent British history, taking his count of seats from 10 to 1 in only two general elections; assisted by a manifesto which the 1983 Labour party would have regarded as inept.

Why do I bring all that back up again?

I am concerned that the spring in the New Force’s step is in part based on the favourable attention which they have received amongst moderate unionist politicos. These usually very nice, highly intelligent and well educated people from the Pale see themselves as “simply British” and as non sectarian, reasonable people. The sad reality for them is, however, that most people in Northern Ireland are less interested in politics. I am unconvinced that terribly many will see this new force as anything terribly exciting, fronted as it is by the same rather tired and indeed sad UUP leadership. Many middle class unionists within the Pale are not that moderate (I used to be one). Also moving outside the Pale the simple reality is that non tribal politics is not viable out west where there be dragons and I see little sign of it in the north of Northern Ireland where the Presbyterians of North Antrim and Orangemen of East Londonderry are unlikely to be easily convinced.

The New Force clearly wishes to attract pro union Roman Catholics: again a very laudable aim but again one which Trimble tried in the past. The New Force’s supporters can of course counter that they have lost the baggage of Trimble’s jig up the Garvaghy Road: but he had pretty comprehensively dumped that years before and the pro union Catholics showed little inclination to ride to his rescue on 23rd May 2005. In addition the senior UUP leaders who were there when Trimble performed political voluntary euthanasia on himself and involuntary euthanasia on his party are still there; convincing large numbers of nationalists and pro union RCs of their completely non sectarian nature may be difficult.

Another potential problem is the apparent slight differences between the two parties in this match made in heaven. Even leaving aside Sylvia Hermon (their only significant politician who can legitimately claim to have defeated a DUP candidate) there do seem to be some subtle differences between the UUP and the Conservatives. These are differences which may become more evident during an election campaign and will undoubtedly be mercilessly exploited by their opponents. It must be remembered that the public do not like divided political parties: again one need only look back to Trimble’s leadership to remember that for much of his time he had internal opposition and that air of division and uncertainty is always politically corrosive.

The other thing which worries me for the New Force is the appearance of shiny English Tory types. I know I have discussed this before but I do feel at times that some in the UUP are bewitched by a bit of Received Pronunciation, ideally along with a public school education and an Oxbridge degree. I well remember many of us the same age as Steven King suggesting that although he was hard working, intelligent and affable; the fact that he was popular with the media especially in GB and RoI did not mean his ideas were going to take the UUP to heroic successful glory (unless one regards the Charge of the Light Brigade in that context). Again I fear that the New Force could be bewitched by party advisors etc. brought in by the mainland Tories. These people are extremely good at their job; however, that job is in England (and to a limited extent in Wales and an even lesser one in Scotland). They use things like polling data and such like which are notoriously inaccurate in Northern Ireland. Much as the New Force supporting denizens of the Pale may wish it: in electoral terms Ulster is not the same as Finchley.

There is a danger that the New Force is repeating exactly the same mistakes as Trimble’s UUP did: by focusing on and listening to themselves and sympathetic politicos and journalists; believing their own propaganda and spin and losing sight of their own electorate. By doing this they may manage to alienate a considerable proportion of their core support and yet pick up very few new voters: just because they think that they are presenting a “New Force” does not mean that the Northern Ireland electorate will agree with them. It is of course possible that this New Force may break the mould of NI politics; alternatively it may have no effect or even decrease Jim Nicholson’s chances of election. Clearly I am biased but there is a warning from recent history.

  • ??

    If it produced a new mould breaking era of non sectarian politics…..

    turgon why is voting DUP or SDLP sectarian. where is it the DUP or SDLP deny admittance ot prods or catholics…

  • ??

    talk about sectarian = here is a quote for the conservative Ni website, anti-ulster for sure:

    Editor, on February 28th, 2009 at 12:31 pm Said:

    The word “Ulster” will not appear in any campaign materials, posters, election literature etc. and this has been agreed with the UUP. I’m at a loss to see, therefore, why you think we’ve become the Ulster Conservatives. Where does Ulster appear in the branding that features here? It doesn’t.

  • Turgon

    ??,
    I agree it is not but that was and is the “logic” of some of UCU-NF. I agree it is a bit lazy to use their logic but it is a short hand into the blog.

    Sorry if it offends, I am trying to blog whilst minding children.

  • ??

    thanks turgon, following on from the UCUNFs attitude, surely if they really belived that the other parties were/are sectarian then they would be telling their supporters not to transfer to them at the Euro, and also telling the other parties not to transfer to them.

    hypocritical, the tories? Never

  • Turgon

    ??,
    Yes that may be the case, though all parties can indulge in a spot of hypocrisy betimes. However, what think you of my thesis that there is a danger of this being Trimbleism mark 2?

  • ??

    TUrgon, given that trimble is behind this thing and he is notorious for listening to his own clique im sure its pretty doomed….meanwhile in the real world people find the tories a bunch of stuck up, toffee nosed liars – thats not going to change.

  • 6 County Prod

    Mr Trimble is now a Conservative and has been successful in pushing and implementing a Conservative agenda, hence the fronting of Conservative in the new name.

    The UUP has been swallowed up and is the minor partner in the new arrangement. Like it or not, the UU’s are now subservient to the Conservatives. They will have to tow the line. They are no longer free to decide their own strategies or policies (which in any case have been disastrous).

    Mr Trimble has executed a bloodless coup d’etat.

  • Yes that may be the case, though all parties can indulge in a spot of hypocrisy betimes. However, what think you of my thesis that there is a danger of this being Trimbleism mark 2?

    As far as I know, there has been no advice on who to place your number 2 (there’s a joke probably lurking somewhere there); if none is forthcoming then, folk will just have to rely on conscience I guess.

    Turgon,

    Regarding Trimble Mark2, something which I think that Fair Deal once pointed out is relevant here. From day one of the “Peace Process” until round about 2005, the full concentration of the UK, Irish, US administration was concentrated on making sure that (aka appeasement) the provos didn’t go back to their old ways. Trimble (and Unionism) didn’t have a chance against those kind of odds. For whatever reason, now it’s different; Republicans are resorting to painting post-boxes green and removing statues of New Zealand Prime-Minsters in their quest for a “United” Ireland.

    In the present kind of environment, we need to stand back and take stock of where we and the Union are at. There are two inescapable facts; there is a pro-Union majority constantly reflected in opinion polls which greatly outweighs in % terms those actually turning out to vote UUP or DUP at the ballot box. Secondly, *traditional* Unionism, as exemplified by both the DUP and TUV is essentially defensive and so, cannot capitalise on any potential which involves the moving outside of normal “communal” boundaries.

    As you’ve pointed out, there are a whole host of imponderables here, not least the electorate(!), but I think and hope you’re underestimating the potential of this project. If it does come off, then we are moving into a completely new ball-game which will involve Unionism having to move out of its comfort-zone and fight for our cause on grounds other than history, culture and communal preference. But it’s on exactly those battle-fields that SF wishes to fight us each time- why should we continue to oblige them?

  • Turgon

    oneill,
    I do in all honesty hope you are right. We will wait and see.

  • frustrated democrat

    Who said Trimble had been involved in the negotiations or decision making? Or is this more black propaganda to suit an agenda opposed to the CONSERVATIVES AND UNIONISTS.

    I must admit I haven’t see anyone apart from Cameron from the South of England. Apart from Owen Paterson from the West Midlands the rest seem to be mostly people from a Northern Ireland background.

    Maybe it doesn’t suit the agenda of some here to find that the NI party aren’t ‘imports’ or blue bloods just ordinary local people who want better things for Northern Ireland.

  • dub

    Turgon,

    I see that,despite the fact that you abjure any Irish indentity, you simiarly feel alienated from the British “mainland”. What the fuck are you, just a white settler?

    You are right however about the UCUNF… they are a non indigenous bunch of political technocrats trying to pretend that “Ulster” is an extension of Southern England. You do have the great merit of appreciating the unreality of that proposition.

  • Turgon

    dub,
    What am I? A humble blogger

  • Bob wilson

    Interesting piece with which I obviously disagree but for info Owen Paterson is the only Englishman on the Joint Ctte and the staffers from CCHQ are very ordinary folk – not atoff in sight I assure you!

  • ??

    #

    Interesting piece with which I obviously disagree but for info Owen Paterson is the only Englishman on the Joint Ctte and the staffers from CCHQ are very ordinary folk – not atoff in sight I assure you!
    Posted by Bob wilson on Feb 28, 2009 @ 10:30 PM

    SO how many are from working class areas? how many are live in housing exec properites

  • frustrated democrat

    ??

    Maybe you should ask the same question of all elected senior politicians in NI. I would be interested in the answers you actually get.

    Could we start with the First Minister and the other DUP ministers and then move on to all Ministers?

  • ??

    i thought we were talking about the JNT committee

    BTW what ever happened to the word ULSTER – that lasted about 24 hours, ashamed of it are we?

  • frustrated democrat

    ??

    Seems you want to apply standards to the Conservative Unionists that don’t apply to other parties.

    Isn’t the DUP actually officially called the Ulster Democratic Unionist Party? Ashamed of it are we? UDUPES has a ring to it for their members.

  • ?/

    frustrated wasnt it the UUP who were telling members taht Ulster wouldnt be dropped , and 24hrs later, lo and behold its gone.

    The DUP havent used the word ulster since its inception – if they were to drop the word democratic or Unionist members would care.

    So , to quote teh Tories;
    Editor, on February 28th, 2009 at 12:31 pm Said:

    The word “Ulster” will not appear in any campaign materials, posters, election literature etc. and this has been agreed with the UUP. I’m at a loss to see, therefore, why you think we’ve become the Ulster Conservatives. Where does Ulster appear in the branding that features here? It doesn’t.

  • frustrated democrat

    ??

    No it was made clear to UUP members at their meeting by Empey and Nicholson that the campaigning name was Conservatives and Unionists, so again your information is wrong.

    Since they are neither Democratic nor Unionist why would they care – they are Ulster Nationalists which is the bit they don’t use, strange.

    What about the DUP ministers then – do they live in working class areas or executive houses or do the First Minister and his wife live in ‘Paid for by Politics Manor’?

    Yes UDUPES does have a certain something.

  • ??

    from the irish news:
    There has been speculation that one option is the ‘Conservative and Unionist Party’.

    It is understood that only three of the party’s MLAs are in favour of dropping ‘Ulster’, five would not comment while 10 out of the 18 would oppose the move.

  • ??

    from the BBC:
    Another member of the old guard said he was an “Ulster Unionist all the way”, and a third said that he would have strong objections to dropping Ulster if Northern Ireland or some other local branding was not included: “Without local identity, what’s the point?”

    From the Tories:
    The word “Ulster” will not appear in any campaign materials, posters, election literature etc. and this has been agreed with the UUP. I’m at a loss to see, therefore, why you think we’ve become the Ulster Conservatives. Where does Ulster appear in the branding that features here? It doesn’t.

  • frustrated democrat

    ??

    At the meeting which decided, with no votes against, to go ahead with the deal the UUP clearly understood what they were voting for including ‘Conservatives and Unionists’. The Conservatives also had no one voting against and they understood what they were voting for.

    Now those were REAL votes of the most senior members of both parties not any silly opinion poll or speculation.

    Which one do you believe, or shouldn’t I ask?

  • frustrated democrat

    ??

    What about where the senior members of the DUP live or have you given up on that subject?

  • Comrade Stalin

    I must admit to welcoming the Ulster Conservative and Unionist – New Force.

    That’s interesting Turgon, I hadn’t put U down as a CUNF.

  • Comrade
    History repeats itself, first as tragedy,second as farce.

  • ??

    At the meeting which decided, with no votes against……….

    so how many abstained then

  • frustrated democrat

    I understand 2 out of approx 100 (UUP) and none respectively.

    You point is?

    Do you answer questions or only ask them?

  • ??

    so it wasnt unanimous as perorted by M Shilliday

  • frustrated democrat

    He was probably there he may be better informed than I, you had better ask him?

    Still not answering questions I see.

  • ??
  • danielmoran

    turgon….. trimble, far from being a moderate, showed himself at the harryville protest and at the garvaghy road to be as entrenched in sectarian attitudes as any orangeman. that is drummed in at an early age. there is no equivalent on the catholic side. but after his crafty move in going into office with sinn fein in 2000, he showed a degree of political astuteness. trimble could take the gamble on the implosion of his party because he knew that if that happened, it would at least smoke out from cover his longtime adversary, paisley.
    From statements that paisley has made since the seventies it’s clear that it was no part of his plan for his political legacy to be forced into the open and actually have to earn his name for posterity.and in the process subject himself to the fickleness of his voters. paisley fully expected to go to his grave, and be seen as the greatest unionist leader they never had. well he didn’t bargain for what trimble did. now he’s exposed to both his ‘flock’ and his party’s base as the cynical opportunist he always was. his legacy is forever tainted, and for that at least i must reluctantly give trimble credit.

  • Turgon

    Danuiel,
    I agree to an extent re Trimble not being a liberal though I think he moved towards a more liberal position. Certainly some siren voices within the party did suggest that the hard line stance re Drumcree was a show to get elected leader (they may have been correct or he may genuinely have been hard line and moved).

    I am interested re the suggestion that the implosion of the UUP would smoke out Paisley. It to an extent did but I do not think that was in any way part of Trimble’s plan. I was in the party (though not that senior) during the Trimble leadership and every time any of us suggested that we were losing the support of the unionist population that was ignored or dismissed. I think Trimble and those with whom he surrounded himself was shocked and surprised when the party was destroyed in 2005.

    I think that the result was much as you say but the reasoning by Trimble was not as complex as you imply: still a very interesting take on it.

  • frustrated democrat

    ??

    As I said I wasn’t there so any information I have is 2nd hand, so you should ask someone who was there. However I am at a loss to see why 2 votes one way or the other out of about 100 should so be so important to you.

  • Turgon,

    I have never stated that our project is risk free and it could suffer electoral failure like the UUP with Trimble. To call this Trimblism Mark 2 is rather an unfair comparison.

    There are things which have to be done yet in order for us to become electable across the divide. Trimble may genuinely have wanted “normal politics” but he never did what was necessary to achieve it. For starters, he never made any attempt to move away from Unio-centrism.

    Perhaps the most difficult thing that we have to do in order to attract Catholics is to persuade them that Unionism is not a dirty word. In my opinion, we will not obtain the trust of Catholics unless unio-centricism is toned down. There is no need to be unio-centric organisation because we are not campaigning to keep the Union.

    For the same reason, we should not be using Union Jacks at elections. UUP activists need to understand this. In order to win, we have to campaign as Conservatives, just as they do in England. We dont need to go on about the Union. We need to get away from the politics of “the Flag”

    Now of course, all these things that have been suggested might be completely ignored by those in my party. We shall see.

  • GetMeOutaHere!

    Strange that the new “joint” web site that appeared last week http://www.conservativesandunionists.com has now deleted all reference to the UUP. Looks like the UUP is distancing itself. Does this mean that the UUP is really just in this whole thing for the money and hasn’t, in fact, a Conservative bone in its body. So much for gaining influence at Westminster. The Tories are aligning themselves with a bunch of nutters. They should get out of this situation as soon as possible before they get tainted. And the best brand to use is the one they use everywhere else in the UK: Conservative. The U word is a total liability and the UUP is a basket case.

  • danielmoran

    to turgon…. i.take your point on trimble’s thinking at the time. you’re in a position to know. Still, trimble must have permtted himself a sly chuckle recently as, first paisley was stripped of his church leadership, opting for the political path only to see that taken from under his nose only weeks later you have to laugh.

  • Michael Shilliday

    ??, you are on this occasion correct. The decision was not quite unanimous, there was a brief moment when I thought it was, during which I updated Twitter. So the support for the motion was only massively overwhelming, not unanimous. I do apologise.

  • ??

    #

    ??, you are on this occasion correct. The decision was not quite unanimous, there was a brief moment when I thought it was, during which I updated Twitter. So the support for the motion was only massively overwhelming, not unanimous. I do apologise.
    Posted by Michael Shilliday on Mar 01, 2009 @ 04:54 PM

    Michael who was it that abstained and was it just the two?

  • ??

    From the CU website:

    “The Conservative Party is open to everyone who shares our political values.”
    +
    “VISIT THE MAIN CONSERVATIVES IN NORTHERN IRELAND WEB SITE AND BLOG”

    why doesnt it say the UUP is open to everyone? why has it expunged the UUP?

    Why isnt there a link to the UUP website?

  • ??
  • ??

    on the conservativesandunionists.com it boldy states:
    The Conservative Party is open to everyone who shares our political values.

    with the removal of all mention of the UUP , does that mean they dont?

  • Mack

    Seymour Major –

    Why not just campaign as the Conservatives and take a geniunely non-tribal position then? A border poll is likely unwinnable (for nationalism) for a couple of decades, so theoritically you could take the heat out of the issue and build a coalition around UUP members, NI Conservatives and northerners with an Irish identity who hold right wing views.

  • Turgon

    Seymour major,
    I agree that to call what you are doing Trimble mark 2 is unfair. However, I do see similar dangers of chasing a potential group of new voters and failing to hold the traditional support base. I am not advocating you not doing what you are doing: I am just suggesting (as you agree) that it is not risk free (then again nothing is).

    You quite clearly understand the challenges; what neither I nor you can know is whether your strategy can achieve what you want. I note that you say there are few English Tories involved and I think that is a good thing. I have absolutely nothing against these people but I am dubious about the transferability of the tactics which have achieved quite a bit in England to NI. You should of course use these people’s talents, hard work and advice. However, never fall into Trimble’s trap of listening to what you want to hear from people who whilst very talented lack the total immersion which is often needed to fully understand NI politics. Not that new thinking is a bad idea it just needs to be tempered with an encyclopaedic knowledge of what went before.

    You strike me as someone with their head screwed on and who will not fall into the trap: I hope for your sake all NI conservatives / unionists are as sensible.

    Regards

  • ??

    who said the tory takeover wasnt a tory takeover.
    From the Conservative NI site:

    “Let’s see to what extent the UUP become Conservatives in the near-term and then we can judge. But I repeat that Conservatives and Unionists is the only branding (complete with Conservative colours and logo) that will be used for election purposes and is the only logo that will appear on the ballot paper against C and U candidates.”

    It either the Tory way or the highway for the UUP

  • Seymour Major

    Turgon,

    Regretably, I think that the hopes expressed in your last paragraph may be dashed.

    I have just called for an end to the UUP / Tory link up. This is not something I have done lightly, I can assure you. For some time, I have felt the strain of knowing we may be in an alliance with a party which simply was not ready for Normal politics. The UUP view as to what should go into the logo instead of the one launched by the Conservatives on Friday was the final straw for me.

    I dont believe I am being disloyal to my own party. I believe I am speaking for its best interests. We are very small here in Northern Ireland. We have not had much success here in the past but I believe we can grow on our own and eventually break the mould of Northern Ireland Politics. The UUP have their own party machine. It would have been ideal if they could see things the way we do.

    I have watched and listened very carefully to what the politicians have said. Has anybody heard Sir Reg say that he is a Conservative? Ever since the agreement was struck last November, he has kept referring to Unionism ad nauseum. I now think back to David Cameron’s speech last December. It was an appropriate pro -union speech for the occasion but with hindsight, it has actually fed UUP unio-centricity.

    Yes I am a Unionist and British but the way I feel right now, the “U” word sticks uncomfortably in my gullet. It seems that Sir Reg cant get away from the North-South axis onto the left-right axis where we want to campaign.

    I just dont believe that the UUP are capable of campaigning the way we want them to. If their leaders had genuine insight and recognised the problems, we could have organised courses and workshops to help their activists because I assure you that the latter would need training to campaign to Catholics.

    Unfortunately, we cant even get past the first stage of Identity and Branding. On that saga, enough has come out from the negotiations to tell me that the UUP simply do not recognise the toxic aspects of their existing brand let alone the need to suppress unio-centricity in order to attract Catholic votes.

    Agreement on Campaign strategy and tactics are eons away but negotiating those to the way we wanted were likely to be even more difficult.

    I now believe it is in the best interest of my party to break off from the UUP.

    If my party decides to carry on with the UUP, I wont resign from the party but I will withdraw from political activity.

    Mack at No. 18, you could be onto something.

  • Paddy Matthews

    I just dont believe that the UUP are capable of campaigning the way we want them to. If their leaders had genuine insight and recognised the problems, we could have organised courses and workshops to help their activists because I assure you that the latter would need training to campaign to Catholics.

    Unfortunately, we cant even get past the first stage of Identity and Branding. On that saga, enough has come out from the negotiations to tell me that the UUP simply do not recognise the toxic aspects of their existing brand let alone the need to suppress unio-centricity in order to attract Catholic votes.

    You know, I don’t normally feel particularly sympathetic towards the UUP, but the prospect of Sylvia, Reg, et al having to sit through lectures on campaigning techniques by a micro-party who have failed to get any candidate elected to any position in Northern Ireland over the last ten or more years brings tears to the eyes.

    Pure comedy gold.

  • John K Lund

    Well said Seymour Major. The UUP have to realise that with only 1900 members. It is the rest of the electorate that are the voters to wooed. If this deal is lost in my humble opinion the party,my party, will just go into terminal decline. The 170000 non voters are turned off by the name Ulster they perceive it as regretfully bigoted and sectarian. It does not break the mould adequately enough to get them out to even vote let alone endorse us with their mandate. The Conservatives took a long time to realize this fact, that the way to obtain a large enough majority of voters needed to win power, and rid us of this attrocious government, was to stop pandering to the Tory Faithful. Their vote was already secured it was those non voters votes which were not. We can all fester, mope and moan like a lot of victimised unfortunates going precisely nowhere; or get involved in the United Kingdom properly with full time members in one job at all levels of National Government. The time is right – Never has Labour been so compromised. Now is the time to administer the “coup de grace”; if we dont do it now we become turkeys voting for Christmas and commit wanton “Hari Kari”. Finally we must remember that we need change, as in all politics, and some of those whose previous performance has helped get us into the state to which we have been reduced could be regarded by the progressives as being seen to be practising job and position retention as a policy of self presevation. These people are simply not acting for the future benefit ot the Ulster Unionist Party..

  • Fermanagh Young Unionist

    I just dont believe that the UUP are capable of campaigning the way we want them to. If their leaders had genuine insight and recognised the problems, we could have organised courses and workshops to help their activists because I assure you that the latter would need training to campaign to Catholics.

    Seymour,

    So why haven’t the Tories ran these ‘workshops and courses’ for themeselves? 3,400 votes across the whole of Northern Ireland doesn’t give the Ulster Unionists any confidence at all in the Tory campaigning methods lol.

    Anyhow I am sure there is a piece of wood outside that will have time to listen to your holier-than-thou nonsense.

  • Seymour Major

    It is morning now. I am about to go to work. I have reflected on what I have said. I am happy that I said what was right.

    Thank you John No. 23. I know there UUP members like your good self out there who share our vision and desire to change things.

    No. 24. If you had any sense, you and any other UUP members would keep your mouth shut or at least acknowledge that you are a listener and would wish to understand and keep an open mind before commenting further.

    I am only one person. I dont matter.

    There is nothing “holier than thou” about me. I want people in both our respective parties to grasp the real nettle. I want normal politics. I want what my leaders and your leaders say they want. What I dont want is for our party to be used as a political meal ticket to fight only the DUP. That is what it is looking like right now. I genuinely wish I was wrong and still hope I am proved wrong.

    Consider this also. If I am seen to be maliciously attacked by more and more from your party, it will send a very clear message across my party that denial is present right across the UUP. Is that what you want?

  • ??

    I see this new farce is continuing with apparently 10 uup mlas angry over the exclusion of the UUP logo from campaign material. U CUNFs

  • Comrade Stalin

    FYU,

    The Tories have about ten million votes across the UK. They don’t have the local touch, but believe me, they know far more than the UUP know about winning elections. Speaking strictly theoretically, their knowledge could indeed be used to restore the UUP’s fortunes. The reason why it won’t is more to do the UUP being far too set in their ways to stand for it.

    The UUP know nothing about how to fight elections. For most of their history, they never had to fight one; just put up a candidate who would breeze in on the tribal vote. The crunch came when the DUP decided to challenge them in their core seats, and won. From what I have seen of them around here, they haven’t a baldy about how to campaign on issues on the ground, or canvass the constituency properly, or use technology to track voter patterns and monitor the response on the doorsteps.

  • ??

    seems some in the UUP are posing a fightback to the Tory takeover

    http://unionistsnotconservatives.wordpress.com/

  • Posted by Seymour Major on Mar 01, 2009 @ 03:44 PM:

    For the same reason, we should not be using Union Jacks at elections. UUP activists need to understand this. In order to win, we have to campaign as Conservatives, just as they do in England. We dont need to go on about the Union. We need to get away from the politics of “the Flag”

    That is why the “Conservative Party” should be prosecuted under the Trades Description Act.

    Posted by Seymour Major on Mar 01, 2009 @ 10:55 PM:

    I just dont believe that the UUP are capable of campaigning the way we want them to. If their leaders had genuine insight and recognised the problems, we could have organised courses and workshops to help their activists because I assure you that the latter would need training to campaign to Catholics.

    Reminds me of Terence O’Neill saying “Give a Catholic a decent house and he’ll behave like a Protestant…”

    What planet are the New Farce on? Will they make it to June without disintegrating?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Reading some of the contributions here, it feels more and more like the UUP borrowed the “Conservative” brand in a half-hearted attempt to improve their fortunes without having to do any work. I don’t think the Conservatives are taking it as seriously as some might believe.

  • Fermanagh Young Unionist

    The Tories have about ten million votes across the UK.

    Em yea, but they do have a distinct advantage that they are a National party whereas the UU’s base is little more than a hundred miles wide. Let’s try to be a little more sensible…

    Speaking strictly theoretically, their knowledge could indeed be used to restore the UUP’s fortunes.

    I don’t disagree, however everyone knows that if the UU’s are to get any advice and assistance it will be coming from Conservative HQ in London, not their ‘hq’ in Saintfield. After all the NI Tories 3,400 votes aren’t even enough to get a single MLA elected across most of Northern Ireland.

    The UUP know nothing about how to fight elections. For most of their history, they never had to fight one; just put up a candidate who would breeze in on the tribal vote

    Generalisations are great, especially if you’re a supporter of a party then thrives on them – the APNI. But yea you’re completely right, because since we won most of the seats in the old NI General Elections we haven’t changed a bit. We still all live in castles, but I’ll tell you one thing; you just can’t find a good butler these days.

    it feels more and more like the UUP borrowed the “Conservative” brand in a half-hearted attempt to improve their fortunes without having to do any work.

    You can think what you want but for this to work over here you have to admit it will be the UUP machine that will still be putting up the posters and knocking the doors. Our arrangement with the Conservatives is through London, not merely their NI branch.

  • dub

    Seymour Major,

    You are a man amongst pigmies.

    I hate to say I told you so about Cameron’s disgusting speech last year to the UUP Conference, but there you go.

    If Fianna Fail ever get properly up and running in the North then I think you should join. Because Irish national politics WILL work in the North one day and rational 21st century people like your good self will realise that that is the route to normal western european democratic values on this island.

    On the UUP website only the other day there was a priceless piece of vintage sectarian thinking in relation to the boundaries of Belfast and “Unionist people” being betrayed. It is an absolute wonder to me that the Tories ever thought they could work with this shite. That is why i was so profoundly shocked by Camneron’s speech… he was pandering to the absolute LOWEST instincts of ulster unionism. There was no way back after that.

    Mick Fealty,

    I think you should read Seynour’s post above and realise now just how crazed we who attacked your reaction to Cameron’s speech thought you were at the time…