Unionists and Tories – enjoy the split…

OVER at ConservativeHome, Tory spokesman on Northern Ireland Owen Paterson confirms that UCUNF is standing Tory women and Catholics [his emphasis] in no-hope Ulster Unionist seats, somewhat reinforcing the view that both are second-class citizens in the UUP.

To announce it on the eve of Sir Reg’s so-called historic speech to the Tory conference merely reinforces the divisions in the UCUNF camp; the UUP South Belfast Association don’t want the SDLP’s Alastair McDonnell to retain his seat, but UCUNF is committed to standing everywhere and the only bargain to be struck is with the DUP in Fermanagh. And there is no way You Cunfs will stand aside there to allow turncoat multiple-jobber Arlene Foster to waltz home.

Even if we assume the rumour that the Tories and UUP will split the 18 constituencuies equally in order for the UUP to benefit from Conservative coffers, the choices so far indicate the Tory faction is being used as a face-saving device for the locals. As Mr Paterson stated [with my remarks added]:

Only last week, local Conservatives short-listed Catholic businesswoman, Sheila Davidson, in Lagan Valley [whose religion Paterson feels the need to emphasise for some reason]; in South Belfast [the seat where the UUP association wants a sectarian pact with the DUP to take the SDLP seat], Peter McCann, a Catholic former BBC producer of Top Gear from west Belfast; and in East Belfast, Cllr Deirdre Nelson, who defected from the DUP on Ballymena Council [a DUP defector being used to save her new party leader’s face by losing to the DUP leader instead of him].

Reg will today tell the Tory conference that “Mr Cameron is interested in Northern Ireland because of a genuine belief in the Union, rather than party or personal interest”. Well, I should hope so. Because on the current offer, there’s nothing to be gained for Cameron. The two party leaders agree that they have the final say on candidates, so UCUNF outsiders can look forward to the inevitable Schadenfreude later as the factions fall out.

Not that the Tories are offering us much either, apart from cuts, no commitment to adequately funded devolved policing and justice (although Cameron gave a mixed message) and certainly nothing for the Presbyterian Mutual Society savers.

Former UUP leader David Trimble will turn up at the Conservative conference today on crutches. Nothing could be more symbolic of the two parties’ relationship.

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  • IJP


    The Conservative Party lost any pretence it had about non-sectarian credentials when it jumped into bed with the UUP.

    Unlike the Alliance Party, when it did so in 2001 without even seeking a role in candidate selection?!

    However, your points on this and other threads about Catholic and female candidates I absolutely accept – if no women or Catholics are selected in winnable seats, the project will have failed on my own terms.

  • Comrade Stalin


    2001 was a little different. The UUP appear to be quite deliberately marking themselves out as more hardline than they were then.

    Fair play to you for putting yourself on the record in stark terms.

  • Brit


    Not sure what your problem is here. You gave a working definition of sectarianism, a charge which you were applying to the Orange Order. I’ve not thought about the issue that much but your definition appears reasonably logical to me.

    I then asked you to provide examples of conduct by the OO which falls within the definition. You have failed, as yet, to do so.

    I wasn’t trying to catch you out and I am no fan of the OO (which looks reactionary and backward looking from over here) but clearly if you are alleging sectarianism it is essential for you in order to sustain that claim to be able to show that their conduct falls within your own definition.

    Now your definition is as follows:-

    “Actively and deliberately employing language and behaviour which denigrates and disrespects another religion and is likely or intended to lead to a deterioration in community relations”

    It follows necessarily that a sectarian organisation, on your own definition, must actively and deliberately employ language and behaviour which denigrates and disrespects another religion. This is a necessary though not sufficient criterion to fall within your definition.

    Now you ask me this:-

    “Are you from overseas? are you not aware of what goes on around the parading issue regarding the totally inappropriate routing, behaviour, language of triumphialist parades through Nationlaist areas. For more inofmation see my earlier posts.”

    Well I am from Britain and according to some posters here a “foreigner” but I am very well aware of the Marching Season and the problems arising from the same. I am aware that many Catholics understandably consider it intimidating and unnecessary for parades to march through “their” areas, particularly when those parades may include symbols of support for terrorist organisations and when the behaviour of the marches often amounts to yobbishness if not outright hooliganism. I am also aware that many Protestants have been marching the contentious routes for many many years and have not chosen them to be deliberately provocative but the demographics have changed. I am aware that they perceive the opposition to their marches and the calls for re-routing to be motivated by a lack of tolerance, a lack or respect for their tradition, by a sense of engineered outrage (where Catholic areas were seen to have tolerated parades for deceds before a SF front organisation suddenly got involved) and by a desire by nationalists to flex their political muscles which is unfortunately perceived as an attack on Prods in the “zero-sum” game of NI politics.

    None of that has any direct bearing on my request for your to show how the OO fit within your definition of sectarianism. I am not denying that they do but just asking for some examples / evidence.

    As for the second limb of your definition the “likely to lead to a deterioration in community relations” could be attributed to many policies, actions and pronouncements of Sinn Fein the DUP the UUP the PSNI and probably most institutions in NI.

    I repeat my request.

  • IJP


    It’s something I feel strongly about.

    It would be different if there were no capable women or Catholics putting themselves forward – I do believe in selection on merit.

    The fact is, there are – on both “sides”, actually.

    There can be no more excuses.

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  • Harry

    As a unionist, I welcome any Catholic unionists to unionist parties particularly to the UCUNF. I know the Tories aren’t a official “Unionist” party but they are pro-Union, and to me that is what it means to be unionist – (I am pro-union unionist but I would not call myself a “cultural unionist.”

    On seat selection, it becomes interesting. TBH, I don’t think either Lady Trimble or Davidson will win Lagan Valley even with a TUV candidate. I think unionists distrust of (David) Trimble, would turn some UUP supporters off his wife (and I’m sure Jeffrey will remind the voters of the husband of the UCUNF candidate) while unfortunately I fear that the UCUNF will not be able to attract unionists from the DUP if Davidson were the candidate because there still seems to be unease about “Catholic unionists” such as Sheila. I condemn such unease, but sadly it’s there.

    South Belfast is more interesting. The electorate is more moderate, and contains a large SDLP support. I really do beleive UCUNF can win the seat even with a DUP candidate, as long as the DUP choose someone like Spratt. Firstly, the area is middle-class, which is perfect for the Tories. Secondly, if Mccann is chosen, I think he may just attract a handful of Catholic unionists who plumped for SDLP last time. Moreover, Alliance supporters may be attracted back to the UCUNF – and Maccann is just the candidate one wishes to show the inclusiveness of the Tories – a West Belfast Catholic who watched Bobby Sands’ funeral procession pass his house now joining the party of Thatcher – who many replublicans still beleive effectively “killed” Sands and other hunger strikers.

    I would choose Maccann for S Belfast and I hope the UUP members of the joint committee have the courage to do so, and then maybe S Belfast will be back in unionist hands, with a constructive, progressive “new unionism” candidate in Peter Maccann.

    I must say, I am impressed with the Catholic unionists the Tories are able to select. When they said they wanted to select Catholics, I thought “well the UUP don’t have any Catholics, and you’re support base is so small, you’re unlikely to have any Catholics, you’ll probably have to select English Catholic Conservatives to run in N Ireland. But I am quite impressed by both Davidson and Maccann and I think the latter has a good chance of (possibly) being the 1st Catholic unionist elected to Westminster from N Ireland.

  • Drema

    Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same. mp3 classic

  • John East Belfast


    “I think unionists distrust of (David) Trimble, would turn some UUP supporters off his wife (and I’m sure Jeffrey will remind the voters of the husband of the UCUNF candidate)”

    Hopefully Donaldson has lost all credibility and will be in no position to remind anyone of anything.
    He helped tear the heart out of his own Party and then jumped ship and did exactly the same anyway in the DUP. The rise of the TUV illustrates that those double standards have not gone unnoticed in that strand of unionism

  • disinterested observer

    What is the problem with the UUP? Why wont they get on with selection?
    Is it all about pride and ego?

  • borderline

    Sammy asked Brit
    “Are you from overseas?”

    Unfair Sammy, Brit had a weekend in County Down once.

    Obviously had a profound effect on him.

  • ZoonPol

    For a working majority of about 50 at Westminster the Conservatives may need the UUP in their back pocket however this is assuming the UUP trump the DUP in Northern Ireland’s constituencies – be they UCUNFs. If not then their ‘selfish’ interests most likely will shift.

  • Brit

    Borderline – are you my stalker?

    I consider that the charge of sectarianism is being used by Sammy, not according to a clear and objective definition, but merely as a stick to beat Unionists and Unionism.

    If your definition of sectarianism is so wide as to include the UUP then it must surely include SF and the SDLP and leaves only Alliance. This is sectariansm of an incredibly dilute nature and it really devalues the term.