UUP: progress, stagnation or decline?

There is a concept in the stock market called a “Dead Cat Bounce” whereby the value of shares having fallen steeply briefly rises before resuming its downward course. The rise in the UUP’s share of the vote may well be real, however, it may also be a political form of “Dead Cat Bounce.”

The UUP’s tie up with the Conservative Party was analysed in great detail at the time it occurred both here on slugger and throughout Northern Ireland politics. It was seen by some as a great forward step which would result in large numbers of new CU voters and indeed members from both sides of the community. It was also seen as an irrelevance or as an attempt by Reg Empey to save his lacklustre leadership or indeed as a purely cynical ploy by David Cameron. Now with the votes counted the CUs are portraying the result as a significant step forward: they certainly seem to have a spring in their step as compared to previously.

The reality may be that this is a massive step forward. However, we have to put the result in context: it is a massive step forward that they are no longer losing percentage share of the vote. Compared to the previous European elections the CUs gained a fairly insignificant 0.5% of the vote. That is maybe a little unfair as Jim Nicholson’s 17.1% of the vote compares more favourably with the 14.9% the UUP obtained in the 2007 assembly elections. However, even that rise is not a huge triumph and must be set alongside just how disastrous the 2007 showing was.

The CU campaign was not exactly inspiring: its message “Time for Change” sat ill with a candidate who sometimes seems to have been in the European parliament since the Ice Age and although acknowledged as a good European MP is rarely seen between Euro election campaigns. His avoidance of being tied to a pro or anti Trimble faction in the past is more a testament to his invisibility than political cunning or the ability to rise above such debates; he effectively sat below them such was his near irrelevance. Nicholson also at times seemed a little uneasy with the New Force and did not seem to relish his position as the first ever joint candidate.

Chekov has a characteristically well argued analysis of the CU position after this election which is neither too rosy nor too bleak and alludes to some difficulties which may continue to exist within the organisation. There is the suspicion that some in the UUP were less than delighted by the Conservative link up and some unionists have privately suggested that the organisation is in serious difficulties with large numbers of UUP types far from enamoured with their new friends within the NI Tories who in turn are less than delighted by joining up with the UUP. However, there are also members of both parties who are pleased with the link and success may breed happiness. As such it is in the best interests of the CUs to extol the stunning success of Jim Nicholson’s campaign and his shattering victory in order to convince both voters and (probably more importantly at this stage) activists of the wisdom of the current direction.

Of course the success of being the first unionist elected and reaching the quote is largely down to large numbers of Jim Allister’s supporters deciding to transfer to what they see as the “honest lundies” rather than the “dishonest lundies” of the DUP. Whether that particular voting dynamic will persist is unclear. In addition the current sight of CUs rubbing their collective hands with glee over the possibility of taking Westminster seats is largely due to the hopes of the TUV slicing off large numbers of DUP votes and allowing the CUs in through the middle. Such hope of advance through others misfortune (a sort of practical version of schadenfreude) is of course part and parcel of politics, but is not necessarily the firmest foundation on which to build political success: still a win as a win especially in a first past the post election. Even this avenue to success is, however, not without its pitfalls; although it is harmless at Westminster, in any future assembly elections the CUs will be hoping that the TUV continue to transfer to them rather than the DUP for their second preference. That could lead to the CUs being a bit anxious about adopting some of the Conservative’s more liberal (especially socially liberal) positions: that in its turn may reopen rifts between traditional UUP types and Conservatives.

One issue which may also be relevant is turnout; this has been analysed in a number of ways but one which has not also needs to be considered. It is sometimes assumed that when turnout falls, as it does at all European elections and at this one particularly, the centre parties like the UUP (and SDLP) will fare worse as they gain proportionally more of their support from those in the electorate who are less passionate about politics and hence, less likely to vote. I suspect that was traditionally the case: however, I would submit that this may have changed. Now the UUP voters may on average be the more committed ones to turning out. If one is an only moderately interested in politics unionist (a semi garden centre Prod, DIY centre Prod if you will) one used to vote UUP; now one is probably more likely to vote DUP. As such when the turnout rises as it will at the next Westminster election, it may well be the DUP who benefit more than the UUP (or indeed the TUV). Clearly the DUP would be very foolish to count on such an effect saving them but equally the UUP would be even more foolish if they assumed that anything other than this will occur.

The events of last week are being heralded by some in the UUP as the beginning of their return to power: that may be the case. However, it could also represent an irrelevant minor change in a party which is stuck at the bottom of its political futures where it will remain. Alternatively there is also a danger that as the DUP vs TUV fight continues, the UUP far from being seen as the sensible alternative, could be seen as a complete irrelevance, fated to have their vote gently fall in future elections.

In reality none of these conclusions can be safely drawn form this European election. The CUs came out of this election in approximately the same state as they entered it: that that is being viewed as a success could be seen as showing just how badly they thought they were going to do and just how bad their campaign was. Their campaign only looks a bit better when compared to the DUP’s attempt to surpass the trail of incompetence Trimble had blazed with “Decent People vote Unionist.”

A final issue which this election showed is the effect of a high profile heavy weight political candidate. That must ring alarm bells for Reg Empey and his team: there is currently no one in the CUs who could predictably defeat Nelson McCausland in debate and we saw on Hearts and Minds how even Nelson (decent debater that he is) was torn apart by the unionist man of the moment, Jim Allister. Many unionists like to have a charismatic effective speech maker as their representative, we saw that in Allister at the count on Monday; where is the CU who could match that? Reg has not even been the star turn at his own party conference for the last two years. The CUs have a cadre of decent but far from stunning elected representatives and these people are likely to be the ones wheeled out to do battle at the next Westminster elections. Almost all of these representatives were defeated by the DUP last time out and they may have significant difficulty mounting a credible challenge even with a TUV presence in many constituencies. The alternative, bringing forward unknown new faces may be a valid alternative but it could exacerbate tensions between the UUP and Conservative parts of the New Force.

Still these issues, important as they may be are the problems for the next time. On this occasion the UUP have survived and even gained a little; it would be churlish not to let them celebrate that.

  • Isn’t it ironic, though, Turgon, that the best thing that has happened for the UUP in the past 10 years is the TUV …!

    As you say (and I fully agree), the UUP has “the possibility of taking Westminster seats [ ] largely due to the hopes of the TUV slicing off large numbers of DUP votes“. Indeed one of the best prospects they have is in East Belfast – a seat that, no doubt, the TUV would love to see the DUP losing. The winner, though, would be the vacuous Empey, giving the UUP both a propaganda victory and a (poor) candidate to sit at Camerpon’s cabinet table.

    But could the TUV really not stand in East Belfast? It would look like either cowardice or tacit support or Robinson. The TUV needs to think long and hard about its strategy for the next elections – it could easily end up providing the UUP with a windfall. Is that what you want?

  • Silverline

    Its good to see Turgon you are picking on the UUP today makes a nice change however an interesting thread, the UUP vote share went up but they actually lost 8271 voters going from 91,164 to 82,893 votes. It appears to be there lowest ever European vote hardly something to crow about, what does it mean it show their vote is still in decline.

    In relation to the TUV their candidate lost in the region of 115,000 votes, its easy to say it was DUP votes after the event but the TUV claimed it as a personnel vote before the election, while claimed as a moral victory it was hardly a ringing endorcement. I really believe having spoken to voters who voted TUV that you really have a problem many appear to have voted TUV becauce of expences and not the issue of power sharing and would go back to the DUP if they clean their act up? If this is the case you may well find the TUV vote across the provence could be down in the region of 20,000 – 30,000 voters and sucess in a Westminster election would be at the expence of one or two unionist mps loosing their seats to sinn fein.

    As for the DUP they had alot of factors against them such as poor election material,expences and a poor tv performance by their candidate. Despite all this they have got elected just, and have taken Allaster out of Europe, to loose 90,000 votes along the way is poor and needs urgent attention!

  • Comrade Stalin

    As you say (and I fully agree), the UUP has “the possibility of taking Westminster seats [ ] largely due to the hopes of the TUV slicing off large numbers of DUP votes”. Indeed one of the best prospects they have is in East Belfast – a seat that, no doubt, the TUV would love to see the DUP losing.

    Eh ? Their best prospect is in the DUP heartland ? Surely their best prospect might be one of the seats they actually held at some point during the past 30 odd years ?

  • Zoon Politikon

    It ought not to be a dead cat bounce but yet what has happened is that the DUP have the resources to regroup and rebrand and it will. The UUP do not. UCUNF-NF needs to keep the momentum up but will it? The europol election was the tribalism of NI at work, nothing more. DUP still got the majority of the 1st preference Unionist votes whereas UCUNF-NF still got in at stage 3.

  • iluvni

    I note that UUP MP Lady Hermon voted with the Government in the Dissolution of Parliament debate last week.
    Somewhat at odds with the vote of the Conservative Party.

    Time for Sir Reg to grasp the nettle and kick her out of the party.

  • slugprod millionaire

    my view: the two unionist parties in the most difficulties are the DUP and Alliance.

    Political parties get into problems when they no longer represent a constituency. Both of these parties have just lost their natural constituencies.

    DUP have lost the hardline vote to TUV.
    Alliance could lose the garden centre prod vote.

    Of course, none of this is a done deal.

    TUV need to broaden their candidate portfolio and not be a one-man band.

    The UCUNF have to lose some of the Orange Order sheen and beome even more modern, Cameronesque. it appeals to moderate Unionists as well as appeals to the whole of the middle class NI vote. (a constituency that lacks a centre right party to vote for)

    If the two parties can achieve these things then both the DUP and Alliance are toast.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Turgon,

    I dont think this analysis is up to your usual high standards (although of couse very well written), becasue you have neglected to include any real consideration of the probable impact of party policies.

    There are now 3 main Unionist parties and this patch of ideological territory is over crowded – there can only be 2 winners – one left and one right, one pro and one anti-agreement or perhaps just one but certainly not three.

    From a a tactical point of view the DUP, having now been tarred as the dishonest Lundies, are surely better holding their nerve rather than changing position based on their electoral ‘defeat’. If they do hold their nerve and their nose and endure the SF experience then it will be bad news for the UU with the DUP probably picking up those Unioists voters who would natrually vote UU but fear plunging Ulster into the chaos that might arguably follow from substantial TUV gains.

    If however the DUP do throw a wobler and Stormo collapses they wil be fighting it out with the TUV for the anti-agreement vote and this will give the UU Tory Crypto merger party a clear run with the back up of knowing that PoshBoyDC will probably be leading the fresh negotiations.

    Wee Reggie, although he will never admit it, must surely want the DUP to trip up over Police and Justive or some other contentious issue so that he can shake his head disapprovingly, smile quielty to himself and then head off to speak to his friend PoshBoyDC.

    I cant see Robbo being that stupid.

  • Framer

    The sneering stops or at least slows down.

    The one thing the UUP has that hasn’t gone away is a huge vote base particularly outside Belfast of ordinary, decent Protestants (and a few Catholics).

    They don’t want a charismatic or rabble rousing leader just a few seats at Westminster which may well come about in 11 months time – outside North Down.

    Council and Assembly seats a-plenty will still go their way because of PR.

  • Disinterested observer

    ‘As such when the turnout rises as it will at the next Westminster election, it may well be the DUP who benefit more than the UUP (or indeed the TUV).’
    Turgon. The UUP have already announced they will not be standing at the next election. ‘Conservatives and Unionists’ will be standing and as part of a wider UK movement who are seeking to remove Labour and be the next Government it could be that higher turnout will favour them.
    TUV will be standing on an ‘anti’ platform so what is DUP platform
    ‘Vote for us because we are on increasingly bad terms with the likely next Govt.’?
    Or do they just go blatantly Ulster Nationalist and say ‘you cant trust the English’? However this tactic would mean that they would effectively be saying ‘we are happy to get into bed with Irish nationalists but dislike our fellow Brits’
    At that point people might realise the DUP are not really unionists at all

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Stuck-record: “Wee Reggie, although he will never admit it, must surely want the DUP to trip up over Police and Justive or some other contentious issue so that he can shake his head disapprovingly, smile quielty to himself and then head off to speak to his friend PoshBoyDC” – but Stuckers, you’ve told us yourself, sooooo many times – http://sluggerotoole.com/index.php/weblog/comments/its-an-ex-stadium-plan-for-maze/P50/ – there is *no* executive for Reg to shake his heid in. Murderous McMarty pulled Sinn Five out, last year, as you told us he would, when P&J wasn’t transferred last year, as, er, you told us it would be. Oh well: after a superb weekend of slabbering laughter, I think you’re understandably off your game today. Tell you what, best thing for you to do today is to – keep on running.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    DO: I imagine that the DUP platform will continue to be, ‘we’re delivering on devolution: if you support that, support us’. Not least as I’m not exactly sure what the UUP’s alternative position actually is. Perhaps it’s good old fashioned, take yer pick: ‘we also support devolution-cum-Provos-in-office, but . . . a bit less/a bit more/differently, oh so very differently‘? For whatever else the Euro poll showed, it proved down to the very last box, and the final transferred ballot, that the Unionist votes in play *aren’t* in play for the UUP. How do we get them? Or rather, how exactly does Reg propose to go about getting them, given that he evidently hasn’t got any of them yet? Answers come there none.

    Give the Punt this: at least he *says* he learns the lessons of the Slugger threads he reads. What lesson do you think Reg has ever learnt? That collecting the fares while the Turtle drove the bus over the cliff wasn’t the very acme of political leadership? That rejecting the Tory pact the first time it was offered wasn’t, all things considered, such a matter of high principle to Reg after all? That presiding over the firesale of assets of a near-bankrupt party, and hence being obliged to beg for money from a party you used to denounce is a swift move? That continuing to flatline *is* progress? That vast potential collateral damage amongst such Unionist representatives as are elected in a FPTP poll *is* a price worth paying for Unionism as a whole, given that it will at least mean a possible handful of short-term UUP gains? But that’s all just tactics: I kepe coming back to the thing I suspect the pro-Union electorate will keep coming back to (and demonstrably did during the Euro poll), what exactly is the UUP alternative to the DUP’s approach? Alternative as in, ‘something different’, and not merely, ‘different, if oh so familiar faces’. Allister offered an alternative, and Allister got all the votes going. We didn’t, and we stayed just where we were.

    Reg doubtless does think there’s a viable future in this Chauncey Gardiner unionism: I don’t, for it depends on the Punt doing nothing either, and he’s just not that stupid. Or maybe he is, we’ll see: who will respond to this seismic political event by, er, responding, and who will, as per usual, sit on his ars* and hope for the best? Track records anyone?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Disinterested observer,

    “Or do they just go blatantly Ulster Nationalist and say ‘you cant trust the English’? However this tactic would mean that they we could effectively be saying ‘we are happy to get into bed with Irish nationalists but dislike our fellow Brits’”

    That is what they said before the Euros with Allister using the cracking line “Better British rule than SF rule”. But in effect that will have to be the UU/Tory crypto-merger party line as well as they ARE a pro-agreement party and being so you currently have to do government with Nationalist insurgents.

    PoshBoyDC has already told Unionists that the extent of his love-in with Unionism does not allow him to cross the the GFA line in the sand. If the DUP hold their nerve they will fight for the same votes as the cryptos and both will have to defend the bettter-in-bed-with-SF line than starting all over again.

  • fin

    Lets be honest, TUVites did not transfer to UCUNF because they felt they were the more honest lundies, they voted for them because they weren’t the DUP. Its not different with dissident republicans who spend their political capital throwing rotten tomatoes at SF, the party they use to support.

    There are several ways to look at the results for UCUNF, its essential to see where their votes came from, have a)brought the existing UUP voters with them or b) lost UUP voters and won new ones. Either result can be viewed as a victory of sorts for a party which is trying to change its clothes.

    What is evident on Slugger is that new(ish) faces supporting UCUNF such as ‘New Blue’ and ‘Seymour Major’ are a lot more appealing to nationalists than TUVite and DUP supporters, and I think alot more appealing to the 40% of ‘unionists’ who seem to have lost interest in politics in NI.

    A glaring booboo is not to recognise SF as a party of the centre today, its because it is, that the SDLP is suffering, and to an extent the same goes for the DUP, they may try to cover it with a bit of bluster but they have moved and thats what made room for the TUV on the extremes.

    The TUV have no political representation of note and very little on policy, D-Day is the next Westminister election and JA has (wisely or foolishly) agreed to a head-head with one of the Paisleys. If he wins that seat the TUV will survive, to progress he’ll need at least another seat. To get enough momentum and publicity he’ll need to cover a number of seats with big(ish) names, he’ll need to get them onboard fast, the next 6 months are crucial for JA, he has in effect done nothing yet apart from launch a new party.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Stuck-record: “That is what they said before … using the cracking line …” – and Stuck-record, if ever a man knew some crackin’ lines that had been used before, and before, and before, it’s you. Among my faves, natch: the building of the Bawbybowl, the lack of British sovereignty, the collapse of the executive, the transfer of P&J, the TUV not getting 20K, and, well, you know the rest. As do we all, and how grateful we are to you for keeping on telling us them, regardless of drear conventions like reality, facts, common sense or any of that dour ould ‘jibber jabber’.

    But I’m glad to see that an artiste of your standards is always looking to add new tunes to your ould staples. Today we see the premiere of, “PoshBoyDC has already told Unionists that the extent of his love-in with Unionism does not allow him to cross the the GFA line in the sand”. All the classic Stuck-record tics are there: an invented assertion (what Dave’s supposed to have done), a breathless assertion about the future (which we can be sure as sure can be, will be ignored, come the future, when said assertion is, yet again, demonstrable, patented Stuck-record BS), and, comfort-blanket hugging of the finest kind – dat grand ould ‘GFA line in the sand’. That’s the same one Stuck-record has entertained all youse for so many years with, when he told you dat ‘da Brits couldn’t do dis, dat and da other’, den, mysteriously, wordlessly, realised dat dey could, dat Dave in particular could, but dat dey shouldn’t, oh pluze, oh pluze, oh pluze. You’re a treat Stuck-record, and you’re a very wise fellow indeed to keep on running

  • LTU – you are as repetitive as Sammy and about as amusing. The next election is for Westminster and what is distinctive about the CU is pretty obvious – being part of the next government. As for Stormont, how about the principle of an accountable executive in which all the component parties have input? The idea that the ONLY pertinent issue is whether to operate the Agreement or not is simply not tenable.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Chekov,

    “The idea that the ONLY pertinent issue is whether to operate the Agreement or not is simply not tenable. ”

    Not the ONLY issue but the MAIN issue. I understand the need to talk up any differences with the DUP but “PoshBoyDC has already told Unionists that the extent of his love-in with Unionism does not allow him to cross the the GFA line in the sand.”

    Its government with SF unless the SDLP jump ship with UU/Tory cryptos or with the DUP.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    And Chekov you’re about as informative as Reg is: ‘what is distinctive about the CU is pretty obvious – being part of the next government’. So the appeal rests on what our mainland coevals do? So the pact wouldn’t make sense when the Tory party *loses* general elections? So Cameron is going to make – assuming, c/O Jim Allister, there is one – a freshman Tory MP from NI a Cabinet member on Day one? Or, God help us, he’s going to make the Turtle one? And as for that drivel about Stormont: the set-up at Stormont allowing for the current directory is *exactly* the one Trimble (and Reg) negotiated, and assured some of us at the time that this entirely predicatble outcome wouldn’t happen. But that, appears, to be it: ‘an accountable executive in which all the component parties have input’ is the cheerled UNCUNF defintion of the way forward. In other, reiterate exactly all the slogans that got us to where we are today: fourth place. And even if you think that this is a good objective – I certainly don’t, holding manadatory ‘power-sharing’ to be an anti-democratic abomination – but also hold that it is not presently being realised by Trimble’s hopeless Belfast Agreement structures, what exactly are you proposing to ***change*** to bring the institutions into line with how you think they should best be working? And again, answers come ther enone: Reg isn’t suggesting changing anything: Reg, apaprently, believes in the system he believes isn’t working. And the sole reason he belives it isn’t working is because he’s not at its apex. That’s an argument of sorts, it’s just not one that has any evident traction with NI voters willing to change parties.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Stuck-record: careful, you’re actually over the line now, from spacer to certifiable public danger: don’t, sans attribution, quote yourself. It really doesn’t add to the, uh, ‘authority’ of your arguments. But do keep making stuff up, and most of all, do keep on running.

  • Not the ONLY issue but the MAIN issue.

    It’s the main issue for a quarter of the unionist electorate. The rest have accepted power sharing as a principle and the debate is around how it should be operated. To suggest that the ONLY means to distinguish parties is whether they will or will not participate in government is fallacy. The the CUs will remain pro-power-sharing but with profound differences with the DUP as to the best means to operate it.

    Every main party (other than Sinn Féin) has acknowledged that mandatory coalition with mutual veto for the two biggest parties is an inefficient system in the long term and moving towards a better form of power sharing is a goal, but the only party which wants to bring down the institutions altogether is the TUV.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Mick, Turgon,

    I say this reluctantly, but surely persistent ‘stalking’ by my admirer must at some point be in contravention of some man-playing rule.

    Perhaps a little reminder?

  • Turgon,

    An intriguing analysis. On the “who voted for the UUP?” question I have heard a few different scenarios. No one knows, but a plausible one is that the voter profile of the UUP is assumed to be the older generation – and they vote. Therefore in a lower turnout, UUP turn out would not be affected as much as others.

    For those who have more of a voter base in the 30-50 range would be more affected. Not sure if it holds any weight, but it is fun to speculate.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Chekov,

    “The the CUs will remain pro-power-sharing but with profound differences with the DUP as to the best means to operate it. ”

    If the wind blows a particular way on how to operate the DUP are cute enough hoors to re-align.

    But this sounds like Tory spin ‘power to the people’ stuff. The plain prods of Ulster are not interested in esoteric stuff in Stormo.

    For the UU Tories to have any chance of reversing their forunes they need Stormo to either continue performing badly or collapse – if SF and the DUP get their act together (and you could argue this is unlikley) then that will be the crypto-merged party’s best opportunity.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Oh please, you’ve slabbered witlessly for years now, making stuff up relentlessly, then when called on it, shamelessly ignored it. If you’re going to go on making stuff up, as you have on this thread for instance (your unsupported assertions about what you claim Cameron has said), you’re going to go on being called on it. So it’s as simple as this: keep making stuff up Stuck-record, keep being called on it: the only thing being played is not the liar, but the lies. By far the simplest course of action – and the honest, sane one too – would be for you to stop making stuff up. Do you think you could do that? (And see how sensible it was to stop running?)

  • So the appeal rests on what our mainland coevals do?.

    The appeal lies in pursuing common interests with a mainland party and participating, properly, in national politics.

    So the pact wouldn’t make sense when the Tory party *loses* general elections?

    Of course it would. Northern Irish unionists would still be participating in the Westminster Parliament to a degree which none of the other parties offer.

    So Cameron is going to make – assuming, c/O Jim Allister, there is one – a freshman Tory MP from NI a Cabinet member on Day one?

    Not necessarily. One need not be a Cabinet member to participate in government. The point is that CU MPs would be fully participating on the same basis as other Conservative party MPs from the rest of the UK.

    And as for that drivel about Stormont: the set-up at Stormont allowing for the current directory is *exactly* the one Trimble (and Reg) negotiated, and assured some of us at the time that this entirely predictable outcome wouldn’t happen.

    The mutual veto was entrenched at St Andrews ditto the largest party designation taking the FM position. The means by which SF / DUP have operated the executive – behind the scenes deals, semi detached polit-bureau and so forth has exacerbated an imperfect means of government. .

    But that, appears, to be it: ‘an accountable executive in which all the component parties have input’ is the cheerled UNCUNF defintion of the way forward.

    Pursuing a modern British Conservative agenda entails a political programme by itself. But you’re unlikely to be interested in that type of detail, because it is not fixated on SF in government.

    In other, reiterate exactly all the slogans that got us to where we are today: fourth place.

    Better than trying to ‘out Prod’ Robinson and Allister.

    Reg isn’t suggesting changing anything: Reg, apaprently, believes in the system he believes isn’t working. And the sole reason he belives it isn’t working is because he’s not at its apex. That’s an argument of sorts, it’s just not one that has any evident traction with NI voters willing to change parties.

    Reg is realistic enough to acknowledge that the best way to bring about change is to seek agreement rather than screaming impotently from the sidelines. The same tactics which copper fastened the principle of consent, involved unionism in a political process which was passing it by with the result that the Union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland is stronger today than it was ten years ago. All of which comprises to you an unacceptable sell-out and abject failure.

    The Conservative party is of course fully on board as regards voluntary coalition as a desirable end point. I’d put more faith in the future UK government’s chances of achieving that outcome than in the futile cries of Jim Allister.

  • Seymour Major

    I dont think anything can really be read into this election from the CU point of view.

    Nobody within the CU alliance would disagree that the CUs either gained or lost anything in the Euro election. At the same time, putting together this alliance in terms of building a joint organisation to fight elections is still very much “work in progress”. There were no expectations from either the Conservatives or the UUP that the result would be very much different.

    The CUs have plenty to look forward to, including the selection of the candidates which will yield, hopefully, an exciting new crop of political names.

    The CU ship is very much still on course.

  • Mick Fealty

    LTU,

    Sammy can be a bit of a stick-you-like-glue sort himself (Pete’s been the recipient of his shadowing in the past), but there’s a line between legitimately and persistently calling people to account for their past views and getting personal.

    I certainly uphold your right to do the former, but not the latter… You could both do with remembering that it doesn’t take much to switch from robust and intelligent criticism and reflexive trolling.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    I well remember his gurning at the estimable Pete, which made Samso’s whine about me all the more ludicrous in its lack of self-knowledge.

    My tack’s simple: if he fibs, I’m going to call him on it. And of course I’ll call him on the fibs, and not merely for being a persistent, shameless fibber (that’s human nature, invigilation of which is above my pay grade). If that passes over into something else, I’ll of course be delighted to be banned (the time it frees up …).

    Not to sound uncharacteristically optimistic, humane, benign, inclusive, and well, yeauck, Mick-like, one of the great virtues of the internet, as opposed to eg print media (papers, books etc) is that when someone behaves exactly like Sammy – endless fibbing, utter refusal to engage – you *can* call him on it. Sammy, of course, relies upon no one quite being boring enough to stick at calling him on his more blatant fabulations, but, well, he’s learning otherwise.

  • fin

    borderline whataboutry lads

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    It seems a little cruel to compare the CU performance to a dead cat bounce but I must admit it is underwhelming. It seems to me to have opened up a number of ‘opportunities’ but maybe in the Sir Humphrey Appleby sense of insoluble opportunities. The result is so inconclusive it is tough to see which way to step now. Yes it is an improvement over the 14.9% in the 2007 Assembly election but it is not much over the last European result. It is dangerous to conclude from this that the pact has in any way improved the UUP vote and it may be that the UUP simply polled pretty much its baseline of support but equally you could argue that it is a step up from 2007 and represents a little positive momentum. I think both are plausible. It really will need another outing to determine if it’s got legs for a longer haul. The problem of course is North Down. I cannot see how Sylvia Hermon can run as a CU candidate after what she has said and it is nonsense to think you could run her in glorious isolation from the other 17 candidates so as I said before the UUP has to choose between the pact with the conservatives and its sole remaining and vote winning MP. Given that choice I would personally opt for keeping her and the UUP’s independence even though I am a conservative party supporter but the UUP has a pretty good history of ignoring peoples vote winning capacity in choosing its candidates e.g. Burnside being picked over me in 2000 so I am not holding my breath for a reconciliation with her. Of course if she is dumped which is the most likely outcome then she may well run as an independent and I think that will make the seat a nasty three way squabble. If the TUV came in that might help damp down the DUP vote but I have to say I think if the DUP ran a decent candidate in the absence of the TUV they would be in with a good shot of winning it.

    Really for the UUP the TUV is a godsend at this point. The pact doesn’t seem to me to have ignited any great enthusiasm in the wider public and I don’t really think anyone much gives a toss that their MP will be a faceless lobbyfodder backbencher for a conservative government over being a rump regional party MP instead. The influence of NI MP is small and will remain so in or out of the major party groupings. The growth of the TUV may well leach enough support from the DUP to allow UUP/CU candidates to slip in, equally it may be that the big shift in unionism is happening and the UUP will lose more to the DUP who morph into the centre unionist ground instead. It may be that the whole TUV thing will provide the UUP with a chance to claw back but equally it may well be just the kind of opponent the DUP needs to convince the remaining UUP people to jump over and realign more permanently with the DUP. It is a tough one to call really. I still think the DUP has a way to go to be universally acceptable and it has a tough line to straddle to maintain its base and their cultural outlook with any potential new people but I suppose if they become a broader church (maybe even the odd atheist) they may well be able to do it. I suppose from my perspective has the DUP become the kind of place that would have me as member yet?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Duncan Shipley Dalton

    re. ” equally it may be that the big shift in unionism is happening and the UUP will lose more to the DUP who morph into the centre unionist ground instead.”

    Precisely. Surely the key point is which direction the DUP now turn – stay in the centre ground and make Stomo work with SF or take to the anti-agreement foothils and camp out beside the TUV who have better anti-agreement positions already staked out.

    Having already lost North Down before a shot has been fired surely Wee Reggie must be praying that Robbo leaves the middle ground to give him a free run.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Mick,

    re. “Sammy can be a bit of a stick-you-like-glue sort himself (Pete’s been the recipient of his shadowing in the past)”

    Thanks for that. But your little side swipe is deserving of challenge.

    Pete refused to discuss anything that suggested the DUP might have difficulties with Police and Jutice (backed up loyally by yourself) and that they might be boxed in by the STA to show willing on the issue under the threat of SF collapsing Stormo, threats of papal rule by the SOS and Jimbo on his right flank. He was castigated for his repitition by numerous others – although I was undoubtedly the most committed.

    The DUP dillemma is now so obvious that even Pete may have something to say other than exercising his pinhead dancing skills by simply repeating “it’s not a deadline”.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Sammy, does it make any difference to your blether that you’ve said exactly the opposite, countless times, to the stuff you’re coming out with even merely on this thread? You’ve – do we need to link to it yet again? – already said that the Executive is over, that Sinn Fein has pulled out, that P&J is already transferred etc etc – since all of this was utterly shameless guff that you won’t fess up to, do you see quite why your, uh, ‘credentials’ are so risibly slight when it comes to dese latest Stuckist pronoucements? I had hoped that you had stopped running away, but evidently not.

    But just to thud that home, (and since we know how much you value this, I’m quoting you) you’ve: ‘refused to discuss anything that suggested …’ that when you, Sammy, had insisted British sovereignty had mysteriously ended, though only this last month to somehow recrudesce, or that Sinn Fein would by now have alreayd walked out of the executive, or that by now P&J would alreay have been transferred, or that by now the executive would have collapsed etc, etc. You’ve utterly, in every instance, refused to engage with any of the consequences of your past, well, ‘chatter’: demonstrated to be untrue with tedious, quoted detail. You’ve displayed a superb, almost heroic lack of self-awareness, but a convincing rhetorical approach, well, not so much.

    Look, here’s some simple, droner to droner advice: take it on the chin, either blether manfully that all demonstrably, contradictory BS was ‘a bit a craic, shure’, or, engage in some spacer sub-Marxian rhetoric about how although all that previous guff has apparently gone t*ts up, it’s actually all part of a long term, inevitable process whose aspects we can’t yet fully discern. Go on: and then you can get back to, as you like to put it yourself, ‘jibber jabbering’ whatever nonsense you like. Or alternaively, keep on whining about others doing what you’ve done in spades for years, and, dismally, keep on running.

  • typo

    Hmmn

  • loki

    Think you’re all underestimating the Conservative input here. Keep watching.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    The Conservative (ie CCHQ) input thus far has amounted to: some money, but more in the sense of things being juggled about and promised than a direct subvention; the appointment of a local numptie (with no discernable election-wining form) to the supposedly crucial role of ACD; Marion Little sticking her oar in; and, and this is the high point, the Euro-cavalcade of stars eg Hague et al. And, er, that’s it. Well not strictly ‘it’. There’s also been the behind-the-scenes business of CCHQ telling Reg which Westminster seats they (note the absence of any coy nonsense about ‘we’) intend to have (ie foist candidates on), while Reg (and the UUP) can lump the unwinnable rest. Reg hasn’t folded yet, and I for one have no idea whether he will. I half wonder whether these latest results will have rather gone to his head and he’ll now dig his heels in?

  • dodrade

    The Dromore By-election and Euro elections seem to show that the UUP vote has bottomed out, for now. Personally I believe the effect of the Tory Pact on Nicholson’s performance (up 0.5% but down 9,000 votes)was negligible.

    The UUP could still gain seats at Westminster without increasing their vote if the TUV take 40% chunks out of the DUP vote next time as well, but I suspect a Conservative victory will be a double edges sword, as an Ulster electorate exposed to swingeing public sector cuts (which is more than likely) by a Cameron government could well take it out on the UUP.

  • Framer

    Sylvia has chosen her path and that will be the end of the matter so far as the UUP is concerned.

    She has left the party like Kilfedder who ironically was a Tory MP in all but name. And he scuppered Laurence Kennedy getting enough Tory support in 1992 to unseat him.

    As an Independent Unionist candidate s
    she is probably a winner although in a four-way split goodness knows who will emerge top. Even Alliance might. If they stand against their chum which they didn’t before. My bet is Peter Weir representing the new moderate DUP.

    And Duncan what is the point of enjoying your only “vote winning” MP doing her own thing, taking no party discipline and embarrassing those who spend hours at dreary meetings trying to put the party back together. If not trying to wreck the Conservative UCUNF project.

  • Disinterested observer

    Apparently the ‘revelation’ that Slyvia Hermon is a Labour supporter is going down like the proverbial lead balloon in many parts of North Down. Anoraks on slugger may have known it for years but many are genuinely taken aback!

    DSD’s analysis shows he is not in NI and is out of touch. Most UUP activists are incensed that she spoke out during the election campaign and believe her decision to vote with Labour against the disolution of Parliament is the last straw.

  • Stormont Insider

    I don’t see the DUP running Weir as it would run against the remarks made by Iris, those who support her remarks couldn’t vote for him and those against are more likely to vote for a less “homophobic” part anyway.
    Sylvia needs to put up or shut up, without party backing she will fade away.
    The Alliance are most likely to lose their backing from conservative unionism and that leaves the UCUNF the only party likely to go through.

  • Seymour Major

    As I said earlier, the CUs have not had a real chance to get going. Party organisation is still work in progress. It is also crucial to winning seats and is the crucial reason why the Conservatives have not prospered in Northern Ireland since the unionist movement was founded.

    Nobody should underestimate the potential of NI voters to vote conservative at a general election. The potential has already been identified by research carried out by Yougov for the Party in June 2008. The result of that survey showed that 45% were likely or very likely to vote Conservative at the next general election if given the opportunity.

    One big difference between the Euro Campaign and the GE campaign is that in the latter case, there will be a constant stream of media intensity, which nobody will be able to avoid.

    When you connect that up with the fact that there will be 18 Conservative candidates, you suddenly have a General Election that has the potential to mean something to the Northern Irish Electorate.

    I suggest this is a “known unknown” factor going into the next election.

    I also suggest that the longer it takes for the election to be called, the more likely it is that these factors will combine to enable the CUs to pick up seats.

    Peter Robinson will be hoping for an earlier general election.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    SM,

    The plain Unioinst people of Ulster may me stubborn but they are not stupid. They only needed to be told once that a candidate ie Jimmy Nich. was a Tory and it was job done. He was available in ALL constituencies in the Euros and yet the UU/Tories lost votes and flatlined percentage wise even when the right was gaining in Britain and across Europe.

    Initially, you told us that was NOT going to happen, whereas most Sluggerites who dont support the UU told you it WOULD – though you may well have belatedly downscaled your otptimism as reality began to sink in. You are now trotting out the very cliched excuses many of us suggested before the election you would trot out e.g. the “Party organisation is still work in progress”.

    This merger has probably already cost the UU their only Westminster seat and when you start building your arguement on foundations of jibber jabber such as a “known unknown” then that only reinforces the view that it is simply more wishful thinking and that you will be WRONG again next time out.

  • Frustrated democrat

    LTU

    I am still trying to figure out what your political direction is. I see plenty of what you are against, that seems to be everyone and everthing, but little of what you are actually for.

    Could you inform us exactly what you are in favour of and what your policies are to get there? That would be much more interesting and informative than your continual diatribes against all and sundry.

  • kensei

    LTU

    If every piece of bollocks talked on this site was called on, people would die before the task was finished. I suspect some of those saliva specked rants of yours will start looking a touch silly in retrospect. It’s a safe bet, given that nearly any regular here has said some utterly idiotic things, myself included.

    Hounding someone…. is just a wee bit creepy.

  • Cushy Glenn

    Of course Punt wants an early election as the TUV organisation is only going to get better. They can deprive the DUP of at least 5 seats in the next general election- some of which should revert to the UUP- East Belfast South Antrim and perhaps Lagan valley being the most likely. East Antrim and North Antrim could go TUV or UUP with an even split. And East Londonderry and Upper Bann could go almost anywhere.

    The truth is the DUP talent bank is empty, as the European election shows. Junior will have to stand in North Antrim, and Punt will secretly hope for a loss to TUV since his antipathy to Junior is well known.
    In Lagan Valley Donaldson and Poots are ruled out, so they’re left with Jonathan Craig- a stranger even to his own mum. But my spies tell me Basil isn’t guaranteed a run at him.
    Gregory Campbell has the smallest personal vote in NI, where he was the liberal candidate when he stood against Willie Ross(!) and he’s not exactly loved. A strong traditional Unionist has a shout there- the UUP won’t be kee to run McClarty again, even if he fancies another tilt.
    And who knows what might happen in North Down if there’s a four way split of Unionism, as Sylvia completes her long walk to independence before the election? My guess is that Alliance grandees are putiing a few guineas on Parsley, and even some on Naomi Long in east Belfast against dull dull dull Robin Newton and the serial underperformer Reg. of course if the Conservatives are adamant about having a candidate in every constituency then TUV might harm them as much as the DUP, but a frank chat with Dave might bring the Punt empire crashing down-sweet revenge for mon general

  • 0b101010

    The potential has already been identified by research carried out by Yougov for the Party in June 2008. The result of that survey showed that 45% were likely or very likely to vote Conservative at the next general election if given the opportunity.

    That would be some quair swing from 0.4% last time around in 2005 (18.1% with the old Orangemen tacked on as well).

    Now I’m not familiar with the details of that poll but it’s not a leap to assume it limits the options to the mainland parties, explicitly or implicitly. That wouldn’t be saying a lot.

    The electorate have had the opportunity to vote Conservative for decades and it hasn’t played out. They had the opportunity to get behind a “Conservative” for Europe and the numbers (17.1%) just weren’t there.

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    Disinterested observer,

    I don’t believe I am out of touch at all. My own view is that the majority of the UUP probably support the pact and it was evident at the conference last year that most people give it a warm welcome. I haven’t suggested otherwise. It is also clear that a number of party people do not like it but I don’t think they are in the majority. I also fundamentally agree that Sylvia’s vote to support the government in the dissolution vote is indefensible.

    My own view of all this that the pact now has too much momentum to be stopped before the next General election so I don’t see how Sylvia differences can be accommodated. I think its a shame because I have very serious doubts about the advantages being gained from the pact with the Tories. I am a Tory supporter and I am out canvassing for the Conservatives at the moment so I don’t come at it as an anti Tory person. The needs and situation of NI is different though and what works for England is not necessarily the same as what NI needs. The pact is going to cost the North Down seat or at the best put it into serious jeopardy. At the same time I think it is a certainty that 18 candidates will run and that means that FST and SB both stay as nationalist seats. My own view of all this is that the gains from the pact are just not great enough to counterbalance the losses. I would prefer that the UUP say thanks it was a fun try but we prefer to go our own way. In that event we could do a deal with the DUP and give Arlene a clear run at FST and get a free run for a UUP someone at SB.

    Hopefully the UUP would then be able to win both SB and retain North Down and would once again have the magic number of 2 MP’s which would allow the short money funds to flow once again. The UUP has historically been utterly shite at fund raising and came to rely on the short money but when the parliamentary party went below 2 that source dried up. It is only the Stormont short money that keeps the ship afloat at all. The pact with the Tories brings money and I agree with Laughing (Tory) Unionist above not much else. The so called election wining expertise is not much. Some new software which is useless because the UUP doesn’t canvass properly anyway and doesn’t know what a GOTV effort really looks like and some PR expertise which is not much use either because what plays in England is not the same as NI. The whole trade off seems a little underwhelming to me. The notion of a broader non sectarian political movement that can appeal to a wider audience and bring normalised right left politics to NI is a nice idea but it is cloud 9 stuff I am afraid. NI won’t have normalised politics in my lifetime I reckon. How can it when the nationalist’s community is represented by the people it elects now? How can it when it has institutionalised links with the Republic and the cultural and political history that it does have. It is nice to think that the NI is a British as Finchley but it really isn’t. There is no doubt in my mind that it is British and would be best served by staying so but it is a particular colour of British and it has an Irish tint and I happen to think richer for it. That being the case I am convinced that a local unionist party with its roots deeply embedded in the unionist political culture of NI is going to be better placed to serve that community. People should not put on blinkers here and realise where the pact is going to lead. The longer term picture would see an ever closer union and the effective eventual merger of the UUP into the Conservatives. The UUP will cease to exist. I am not convinced that everyone who is supporting the pact has thought that through fully. I initially was a supporter of the idea but I have changed my mind and I don’t think the best interest of the UUP and in turn and more importantly the unionist community are best served by it. At this point I think that with the emergence of a likely stronger TUV this will mean that the DUP will need to broaden and move to occupy the moderate ground in unionism. I think the future offers great risk and opportunity to the UUP. It could remain where it is and offer the moderate unionist response to the TUV whilst the DUP struggle to retain their own hardliners and miss the chance to broaden. Alternately the DUP will successfully broaden and will squeeze the UUP out of existence as it becomes a pointless echo of a revamped DUP. I don’t know how it will play out but I am not convinced that an increasingly English looking and sounding NI UUP/Conservatives grouping is going to be able to meet that need effectively.