“It’s all British- even the bits outside the chapel”

In the aftermath of last month’s European election, it was noted by some political observers- here and elsewhere- that Jim Allister’s biggest problem in developing a party which can provide a genuine challenge to the DUP at an Assembly/ Westminster election was the absence of competent candidates for the party.
News stories carried in the last couple of days have confirmed the accuracy of the assertion.
Firstly, there is the case of TUV Ballymena councillor, Robin Stirling, who was ejected from a fundraising dinner for the Milk Cup at the China Garden Restaurant in the town after heckling the legendary Manchester United and Northern Ireland goalkeeper, Harry Gregg, during a question and answer session hosted by Jackie Fullerton. Interviewed in the Irish News today (subs reqd.), Gregg claims the TUV councillor told him that “rugby players and football players are nothing but hooligans,” before adding the helpful advice that Stirling is “the type of man that should stay away from the gargle.”

Then, there is the case of TUV Antrim councillor, Mel Lucas, who has criticised those who removed loyalist flags erected outside a catholic church in the town (story in the Antrim Guardian not yet online). The flags had been erected by loyalists as part of a plan to ‘halt the march of nationalism’ in the predominantly unionist town. Flags were also erected outside Tesco (the scene of a noble loyalist victory over children participating in a sponsored bag-pack for the local GAA club) and outside the site of the proposed Antrim GAA County Centre of Excellence.

Speaking about the matter in this week’s Antrim Guardian, Lucas stated:
“[The flags] never should have been taken down…..I find it incredible that critics of the flags are suggesting that people proud of their flag are ‘marking out’ territory. That’s patently nonsense because it’s all British- even the bits outside the chapel….Criticise the people who put up these flags? I don’t think so. I salute them.”

Of course, the DUP thrived on sectarian-motivated comments like those of Lucas for generations, so it is unlikely that the Antrim man will lose his electoral base following the remarks.

But Allister is a considerably more intelligent and articulate representative, who knows that the type of electoral advances he requires in the next major electoral contest in the north will require him retaining support from a section of the unionist community who may baulk at such crude manifestations of sectarianism. For example, Allister’s attempt to play hardball with loyalist paramilitaries over decommissioning may cut little ice with nationalists, but it does little harm in the eyes of those unionists who buy into the narrative of the ‘law and order champion’ he has attempted to cultivate.

It appears he may have to revisit that cloning idea.

  • Comrade Stalin

    It’s only a matter of time before one of Allister’s supporters or party members makes a remark in public in sympathy with loyalist paramilitaries. When that happens it’ll be interesting.

  • Cushy Glenn

    What will be interesting is the double standards it will again produce. The horror and false indignation of the sluggerettes will be displayed in droves- much indeed as Donnelly’s childish thread. When was the last time any moral outrage was expressed at politicians actually being in terrorist organisations? Or giving them “advice and guidance” ?
    And perhaps a councillor got mouthy at a function. T’was ever thus. But of course when the Sinn Fein mayor of Limavady was over the local papers a few months ago for an exchange of opinions with the police who came to a hotel where there was a disturbance, that incident in no way could be taken to suggest the Shinners are all looney tunes without Mr Donnelly pontificating.
    It makes me laugh to hear the TUV being dismissed as having a lack of talent by those in our other parties- ordinary members of the public might do do with a straight face but local party hacks???. When we see the array of talent these more established parties have produced over the decades it’s no wonder we’re in the current farce

  • Jo

    The TUV is a one man show which bears a remarkable similarity to the UKUP. A motley crew of odds and ends who were a collective political embarrassment and ultimately – gone without a trace.

    Good riddance to them and in time, to this latest collection of nay sayers.

  • Mayoman

    Cushy: you miss the point. The TUV set themselves up to be something totally different from ‘the rest’, so as you quite eoloquently point out, when they quack in the same way, their raison d’etre of ‘not being ducks’ looks foolish and hypocritical. Worth pointing out I feel.

    [Play the ball, and try to keep to accurate facts – edited moderator]

  • Ms Wiz

    From all accounts it sounds like Stirling was plastered though what he has against rugby players and footballers I don’t know.

    As for Lucas, well, it is that time of year.

  • Since when has the inability to string a sentence together been a bar to a successful political career in NI? As long of course as you have the right green or orange tint.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    “[i]But Allister is a considerably more intelligent and articulate representative, who knows that the type of electoral advances he requires in the next major electoral contest [b]in the north[/b] will require….”[/i]

    He’s standing in North Antrim. The North is too vague it could also mean the east Londonderry constituency.

  • exile

    [i]He’s standing in North Antrim. The North is too vague it could also mean the east Londonderry constituency.[/i]

    Yawn yawn yawn, bla bla bla

  • “the absence of competent candidates for the party”

    Chris, that’s never been a problem in NI politics or indeed in politics in the rest of these two islands. Daithí McKay, an occasional Slugger commenter, appears to be struggling with some simple questions I’ve put to him on his blog.

    I don’t suppose your thread is a diversion from Jim Allister’s comments about the Deputy’s meeting in Downing Street? Was Martin McGuinness representing the OFMDFM, SF or the PRM Army Council, the ‘legitimate’ government of Ireland?

  • micky jim

    Sterling always was a liability. Edwin Poots spoke on radio Ulster reacting to the news that he had left the DUP. He said every time he heard Sterling speak he cringed. The TUV must now know what Edwin Poots meant. Time for Sterling to be put out to pasture and the TUV to show they are a disciplined force.

  • fair_deal

    The expectation that the TUV will simply wither is a highly questionable one.

  • kensei

    Nevin

    Chris, that’s never been a problem in NI politics or indeed in politics in the rest of these two islands. Daithí McKay, an occasional Slugger commenter, appears to be struggling with some simple questions I’ve put to him on his blog.

    As in – he’s just ignored you?

    Fair_deal

    Probably, but I’m not entirely convinced that the EU results automatically mean that the TUV are at that level. I’d like to see what happens in a Westminster or Assembly election but I suppose the DUP don’t hae the luxury of waiting.

  • “As in – he’s just ignored you?”

    Not just me, Kensei 😉

    They can run but the pervasiveness of modern and not so modern technology makes it difficult for politicians and senior civil servants to hide. It’s fascinating to watch them squirm and prevaricate when the answers to FoI requests et al expose their shenanigans.

  • joeCanuck

    Being tired and emotional does not excuse Stirling’s obnoxiousness.

  • kensei

    Nevin

    You think bombarding somone with umpteen questions on a blog about another member of the party announcing something is a strategy likely to produce any fruit? Or, you know, not?

  • ABC

    And so Nevin’s love affair with Jim Allister continues…yawn!

    I wonder will the TUV deal with Sterling in the same way as they dealt with prominent Fermanagh activist Blayne Bailey, who listed his hobbies on his Bebo page as “watching porn” and “w*nking”. At the time I recall the TUV suspended him. He didn’t look too suspended sauntering around the Kings Hall doing tallies for Jim Allister!

  • I’m not sure even the TUV believes masturbation is a suspendable offence. Good to see you back by the way Nostradamus. Any predictions to make for the general election?

  • ABC

    TUV hypocrisy pointed out. Up jumps a UUP hack to defend them.

    Enemy of my enemy is my friend continuing I see….

  • Dec

    I’m not sure even the TUV believes masturbation is a suspendable offence.

    What’s their position on sports massages?

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Chekov – if it’s predictions you want, ask Shillers: some of us are still technically dead, from having laughed ourselves to death over his 2005 General Election predictions. Though that said, his Stormont ones, before and after were pretty good too.

  • Micky

    Candidates will be a problem for the TUV with members like Robin Sterling, Blaine Bailey.

    Names already mounted as candidates in any forthcoming election include:

    Allister (N Antrim)
    Harbinson (L Valley)
    Lucas (S Antim)
    Calvert (U Bann)
    Robinson (E Antrim)
    Morgan (E Belfast)

  • I’m not defending the TUV, just taking the piss out of your prurient post. I know nothing about this guy, but why would he be suspended for a puerile comment? To be honest I’m not particularly interested in that, but I thought I would take the opportunity to welcome you back Beavis. I missed input from Butthead and yourself during the aftermath of the Euro election. How’s he keeping?

  • The Big Man

    “Micky”

    Who is Morgan (East Belfast)?

  • iluvni

    I’d say the TUV would be better served not contesting some seats if the names listed are the potential candidates. The one listed for my constituency, if correct, will not be getting my vote in a million years.

  • Driftwood

    Is that Mark Harbinson for Lagan Valley??

  • Peter

    Driftwood,

    I imagine it is Keith Harbinson. A very nice guy I must say, but such a pity he has gone down the TUV route for me.

  • fair_deal

    Driftwood

    No it is Keith Harbinson the Dromore by-election candidate.

    Last I heard Mark Harbison was running about with Basil McCrea, although that was a while back, has he switched?

  • Different Drummer (new and improved)

    Handicaps are important in any race and it looks like the DUP will be dealing with a few in the months ahead what with double jobbing, failed cases and failed sponsorships.

    On the other hand

    Diane Dodds Euro Victory – pyrrhic at the time – will soon be looking be very hollow indeed.

    It does not matter what TUV candidates are or say – the cry has gone up and it is getting louder as every week passes:

    WE ARE THE PEOPLE!!

    And it does not matter who is joining the TUV in saying it – it is that it is being listened too

    The more the executive falters the more Jim-Ulster-Allister will be joining him in saying it with him.

    BTW Anyone know how much has been flowing into the TUV war chest after the Euro vote……?

  • sinless

    Drummerboy|: looking through the BBC website, it is all red faces for the Orange bottom enders. Why heckle a Busby Babe unless you are a Man City fan and/or an Ulster Orange (mon the Huns)?

    I saw papa Doc standing bejhind his m/puppet son, the way Adams had always a goon behind his back when he was coming clean about his MI5/GFA role.

    Plus the terrorist RUC paying ££££mills in compo.

    Still, at least Rangers are top dog in Scotland.

  • “And so Nevin’s love affair with Jim Allister continues”

    It’s as simple as ABC. I link to press releases from various parties depending on the point I want to make. Sammy Wilson apparently started to use a spell checker after I posted one of his press releases a few years ago.

  • Observer

    Look back at the humble beginnings of the DUP and remember the hotpot of ranting mad men that gathered around IKP. They couldn’t have mustered a team for University Challenge but they suited the moment! You don’t have to look any further than the present collection of DUP MLA’s and Councillors. Its never fair to generalise but an awful lot of them would struggle to hold down a decent job in the real world. Certainly nobody would put them in charge of the economic planning of a huckster shop never mind a small company. If Allister hits the right buttons and puts out the right messages, especially if the DUP keep giving him plenty of ammo, he will be able to pit donkey against donkey at both the Westminister elections and the subsequent Assembly election. Must say that I detect a high level of nervousness in a number of DUP MLA’s about their long term future. Being in power isn’t half the fun of throwing smart remarks from the sidelines. Every Stormont seat TUV takes is one less DUP MLA and three or four DUP local advisers out of a job as well.Glad I’m not looking down that tunnel!

  • Spellchecker

    Just think – if that boy Mel Lucas becomes an MLA his name will be MELMLA!!

  • Big Maggie

    Observer,

    “You don’t have to look any further than the present collection of DUP MLA’s and Councillors. Its never fair to generalise but an awful lot of them would struggle to hold down a decent job in the real world… If Allister hits the right buttons … he will be able to pit donkey against donkey at both the Westminister elections and the subsequent Assembly election.”

    I keep hearing—and yet again on this thread—how intelligent Jim Allister is. Perhaps he is but he hasn’t shown moi much evidence of same. I’m sorry, but all I see is a man lacking in new ideas but with more than a bit of negativity.

    Can anybody tell me how he plans to make Northern Ireland work for the benefit of all its citizens? And yes, I’m including guest workers.

    I’ve combed the TUV website for clues. I’ve found little beyond DUP and Sinn Féin bashing, together with all the reasons why the Assembly isn’t working.

    Please! I could have told him that and more over a glass or two of the naughty red. Where are the wondrous ideas for progress?

  • Observer

    Maggie

    Having wonderous ideas has never been a criteria for electoral success in our wee country. Sad really!

  • Frustrated democrat

    As I noted before the EU election the members of one party had developed a strange walk as they had become the contents of the nutcracker with one leg being the TUV and the other the CU’s.

    This strange gait is going to itensify over the next year and has already seen internal splits in the DUP, Donaldson’s exile, and their attempted move away from double jobbing has exposed their lack of any depth. Wilson’s strange attack on the Conservatives has revealed his total lack of ability to run the country’s finances as he doesn’t even understand the basics – see http://threethousandversts.blogspot.com/.

    The DUP have lost votes over sitting with SF to the TUV they will now start to lose them to the CU’s due to the incompetence of their people in office.

    If the CU’s can come up with a credible slate of candidates for Westminster, a manifesto that resonates with voters both linked to the probable next PM and party in power in the UK, it will start to build a very credible alternative for middle ground voters who have moved on from ‘Border Politics’.

    The TUV only have to raise the spectre of SF and point to the actions of the DUP to hold their core vote who are the DUP members who have always opposed SF, whether you agree with Allister or not the line that, there are an awful lot of Assembly P45’s in 67,000 votes, has sent shock waves through the DUP in the Assembly where it could see the loss of 10 members to the TUV.

    It would then only take the CU’s to gain a few seats to displace the DUP as the largest pro Union party and leave them with nowhere to go.

    Everyone will be watching over the next year to see where the DUP will go and how they will attempt to get out of the nutcracker as it further tightens its grip.

  • Silverline

    Frustrated democrat

    I think you may have got the TUV 67,000 voter intentions wrong they were not all about power sharing other issues such as expences, double jobing, played a role in the TUV vote I would expect TUV to get half that vote in a Westminster – Assembly vote, if the DUP get their act together.

  • Frustrated democrat

    Sliverline

    As long as the DUP keep repeating the message, it was lots of things, the faster they will decline.

    The DUP are so far not prepared to accepted the elelphant in the room, 67,000 voters don’t want SF in government and 65% of those wouldn’t even give them a 2nd preference.

    The vast majority of electors don’t want anything to do with that policy, but we all have to accept that it exists and that it has support.

    The impact that a sucessful TUV will have still has to work itself through. It could cost the DUP several seats at Westminster and the Assembly and if the DUP feel the need to move away from the centre might have a very considerable impact on how the Assembly is run. The TUV have already smashed the proposition that the DUP are unassailable and exposed them as vunerable and now divided. What else may result we will have to wait and see.

  • loki

    A little bird told me the DUP is split in two at the Toytown Assembly. More fun ahead I think.
    submit word “much” so ok – MUCH more fun ahead