UUP will become the ‘eccentric maiden aunt who lives in the Dave’s house’…

Below the fold we have a letter from four prominant party dissidents to the New Force deal between the UUP and the Tories… Their case, in part, is that the local party is putting the whole of its not inconsiderable political capital up for grabs to a new set of political opportunists (ie, the Cameroons)… Jim Nicholson’s loss of the role of Quaestor is just the first of a number of political prices the party will have to pay if it continues down the route it is going… But perhaps the key point, from their point of view, lies in the following rhetorical question:

Will those working class constituencies which have always returned Ulster Unionists still do so once it becomes clear that the Ulster Unionists have become little more than the eccentric old maiden aunt who lives in David Cameron’s house but to whom no one pays a blind bit of notice.

Hmmm… A maiden aunt to join the the mad old uncle drinking himself to death in the attic?

Dear Sir Reg

If there is one thing that the Ulster Unionist Party did not need it was a short term fix. Throughout its history the UUP has been a party which had the foresight and the commitment to fend off Irish independence, to form the Government of Northern Ireland, and to keep Northern Ireland running over half a century, including the challenging period of the Second World War. Today it appears that the UUP does not have the vision to see across to the far side of the Albertbridge Road.

There is no doubt that our Party had been floundering to redefine its role within Northern Ireland after the DUP stole its clothes and brought in a large number of UUP members to steer the DUP along the route laid out by David Trimble and the Ulster Unionists. But, rather than despairing and embarking on a journey which, as history tells us, will lead to betrayal and disappointment at the hands of the British Tories, the UUP should have forged a Unionist strategy for Northern Ireland.

The new arrangement is a great deal for the Conservatives.
They tried and failed to gain support here over a decade ago. In the 1992 General Election they received 5.7% of the popular vote. Their last outing was in the 1993 Local Government Elections when 9437 brave souls gave the Conservatives their First Preference Votes.

Under this new dispensation the UUP leadership are offering the Tories a Northern Ireland wide organisation, tens of thousands of loyal voters, around 150 councillors, over 20 MLAs and two seats at the Executive table at Stormont.

What does our Party receive in return? At one Executive Committee meeting we were assured that we would have two seats at the Cabinet table in any new Tory administration. Furthermore there are winks and nudges about strong financial support from Tory Central Office. Spin doctors, psephologists and various other types of tactical support will be forthcoming we are assured. Well, we will wait and see.

In return for this the UUP leadership has clearly handed over control of the new movement to the English Conservatives. The very name Ulster Conservatives and Unionists New Force indicates our subordination. But one need look no further that the European Election . The UUP had been members of the European Peoples’ Party for all of Jim Nicholson’s European career.

It was a grouping he was happy with and it had treated him and the UUP well – making him one of its three Quaestors. However, David Cameron did not favour the EPP and because Jim had to take the Tory whip he had to leave and join another more right wing group replete with some fairly dodgy eastern European MEPs.

In addition,we are now approaching a General Election wherein our candidates have to be jointly selected by the handful of Northern Ireland Tories. Some constituencies have been told that they must select Tories irrespective of the wishes of the local activists. Others have been told to delay selection meetings until secret discussions have been undertaken with London. Never in the history of the UUP have we submitted to another party having the final say as to who we should run for election.

Historically the Ulster Unionist Party was a uniting force within the pro-British community. Irrespective of your national politics you could be an Ulster Unionist. Left and Right could sit together in the same branch. Even when our MPs took the Tory whip the party remained a uniting force within Ulster. No longer.

Having shackled ourselves to the Tories what happens to UUP influence when they are not in office? What do we do if Cameron does not win a clearcut majority at the next election? Our Westminster strategy will lie in tatters.

Perhaps more to the point, how will this effect our opportunities of maximising UUP representation at Assembly and Council level. Will those working class constituencies which have always returned Ulster Unionists still do so once it becomes clear that the Ulster Unionists have become little more than the eccentric old maiden aunt who lives in David Cameron’s house but to whom no one pays a blind bit of notice.

The Ulster Unionist Party had had a pact with the pro-British community in Ireland and subsequently Northern Ireland since 1905. We were always an amalgam of Left, Right and Centre. That has been jettisoned by the leadership. At Council level we may well suffer a reaction from working class districts, especially in urban areas.

Perhaps you, Sir Reg, and the rest of the leadership should remember the advice given to Edward Carson when he followed a similar road. “Be careful Edward, the Tories have never adopted a cause yet but they have betrayed it in the end.”

Yours sincerely

Roy Garland, Dr Christopher McGimpsey, George Fleming, Councillor Ronnie Ferguson.

,

  • Drumlins Rock

    Can some people not move out of the past? things have to change, normal politics anywhere in the world is divided Right/Left. Or to put it even blunter the UUP is dead if it thinks it can go on the way it was, the DUP has stole all its clothes there, only by becoming a “conservative” party, which most of its voters are and starting the difficult task to drawing in catholic voters can it survive. From that point of view they have been given an enormous gift hourse in a Mainland tory leader on the up who believes in the union, yes it is sad that so on the left will not be able to adjust but the road to normal politics aint an easy one.

  • Greenflag

    They have a point . In fact several. As a non unionist I cannot endorse their party affiliation but from a purely political perspective it sounds like the ‘eccentric old aunt ‘ has put the family silver up for sale to the only bidder .

  • John East Belfast

    How and why does a letter like this get made public – I have no respect for leaks like this.

  • pro-British community

    Might be their (self-described) progressive way to describe the Unionist partys’ *traditional* target electorate… but it’s still communal and rooted in the dark ages.

  • Garza

    “Irrespective of your national politics you could be an Ulster Unionist. Left and Right could sit together in the same branch.”

    Thats not how normal politics works!

    They just cannot see the big picture. Small minds with a small mentality living in a small world.

    If they are concerned about left politics they can leave and help jump start the Northern Ireland Labour Party.

  • disinterested observer

    Prominent? Prominent? Well from regular whiging I guess that’s true. Not respected. Not widely supported. Not important. Yes prominent.

    Heard McGimpsey on the radio – twice he peddled the lie that NI Tories have only 120 members – in reality its more like 400.
    Most parties in NI have less than 2000 members – UUP has 1900.

    His main line seems to be that we cant trust the Tories because they will let you down – so better to be ‘ourselves alone’ And this guy is a unionist.

    At the risk of being called sexist it all reeks of a male committment phobia. i.e. we better not shack up with the Tories they might leave me/ I might meet someone better!

    At their age I would have thought these four would have got past that!

    BTW re Nicholson – he got those positions not because the UUP were in the EPP but because he was backed by the Tories!!!

    Very revealing that they refer to the Conservative Party as English Tories – on the very day their Deputy Leader proclaimed his support for the Union. Such petty nationalism – perhaps Roy hasnt lost his firebrand evangical bigotry after all!!

    As far a ‘subordination’ goes the Conservative Party are a huge party of the entire UK that has five times as many councillors as the UUP has members! And nearly 200 times as many MPs – before the General Election of course the UUP will be subordiante but it is about being part of a bigger entity for the good of the Union.

    The alternative ‘ourselves alone’ keeping ourselves aloof from the politics of the UK – no-one who pursues such a strategy should call themselves a unionist (

    Finally as for the working class vote thing. The UUP working class vote is already tiny but more importantly it is a pathetically dated view of how the electorate views itself and settles on its beliefs. Secondly

  • Eccentric? That’s rich! Add Dr John Coulter and you’ve filled a mini bus for day release.

  • Neil

    Anyone remember Reggie’s last

    link up?

    Reg is not a strategic thinker, as evidenced by his non stop trail of errors from day one. They may blame the DUP’s stolen clothes for their losses, and certainly they would be partially correct. But a certain degree of their staggering lack of success has stemmed from Reggie’s incompetence.

    We shall see how things work out for the link up, the UUs will get access to the Tory campaign machine, which might be a good thing, though in fairness being a social misfit, freak or ex prisoner is almost required for a political career here. You don’t need spin in this place, you can just come clean (unless you’re getting a sports massage from a gay man in a Belfast hotel wha).

    The other much touted benefit is the direct line to the PM’s office, once DC gets in that is. But DC has stated that he won’t overrule the wishes of the Assembly for the UUs, and proper order obviously, just cause you’re in business with the PM doesn’t mean you get to run roughshod over democracy. So you have a direct line to the PM, kind of like the way the DUP, SF and to a lesser extent the smaller parties have a line to the PM now. So if the UUs do well in the election they’ll have a line to the PM that they would have had anyway and they won’t be able to do anything with (bar beg for cash, or campaign help).

    In the end you’re left with two scenarios as I see it. Either the UUs get a bit of the celebrity effect, having Hague, Cameron and other articulate people visit will give them a boost, and they make gains (hey the only way is up, right). Or the whole thing doesn’t net you many gains, and the previously fairly straight talking and reasonably unpopular UUs will be aligned with the duplicitous and extremely dislikeable Tories.

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    Can we leave the ad hominem stuff out of it…? Please!!

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Slugger O’Toole Admin

    Have I missed something or some new rule here – suggesting that Wee Reggie will be oxtered oot if this liaison crashes is ” ad hominem “?

  • DW

    disinterested observer @ 02:40 PM “Heard McGimpsey on the radio – twice he peddled the lie that NI Tories have only 120 members – in reality its more like 400. Most parties in NI have less than 2000 members – UUP has 1900.”

    McGimpsey said on the radio the UUP had 140 councillors and 18 MLA’s at present. The Conservatives have no MP’s and no MLA’s here, so maybe distinguished observer or some other Tory member can inform us how many councillors do they have in local councils after 20 years on the NI political scene?

    Do David Cameron and the Tories honestly expect all UUP councillors and MLA’s to just join the Conservative party after this Westminster Election? Otherwise what road does the UUP expect to take if UCUNF win no MP’s seats in May 2010?

  • DW

    disinterested observer @ 02:40 PM “Heard McGimpsey on the radio – twice he peddled the lie that NI Tories have only 120 members – in reality its more like 400.

    McGimpsey did not tell a lie. See here:

    Electoral performance

    “The Conservatives in Northern Ireland currently have a low support base, attracting 0.5% of the poll (3,500 votes) in the 2007 Assembly election. As of 2007, they currently have no elected representatives in the Northern Ireland Assembly or Parliament. Their sole Councillor was elected as an Ulster Unionist in 2005,[6] and saw his total first preference vote more than half when standing in a much larger area in 2007.[7]
    The party’s best performance came in the 1992 UK general election, when party candidates polled 44,608 votes across Northern Ireland: 5.7% of the total. Their best performance came in the North Down constituency, where the local party chairman, Laurence Kennedy, came second, 5,000 votes behind the sitting MP James Kilfedder.

    Subsequently, the party rapidly declined. In the 1993 council elections, the party lost five council seats, being reduced to six councillors across Northern Ireland. In North Down, the party’s support more than halved, from 25% in 1989 to 11% in 1993, although they narrowly managed to win a seat in all four North Down electoral areas. Laurence Kennedy quit Northern Irish politics a few months later, while the party’s councillors in Lisburn and Carrick left the party to sit as Independent Unionists. In 1997 they were reduced to two council seats in North Down. Both councillors retired before the 2001 council elections and the party failed to defend one of their seats in 2001 with the other lost, leaving them without elected representation in Northern Ireland.”

    Policy

    “The party in Northern Ireland was largely opposed to the Good Friday Agreement, in contrast to the national leadership who were in favour.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservatives_in_Northern_Ireland

  • Greenflag

    drumlin’s rock ,

    ‘Can some people not move out of the past? ‘

    Some yes but a lot of people in NI across the divide have too much invested in the past to have any mental energies left over to consider their future .

    ‘ things have to change,’

    Why ? Things may change or it might be an improvement to change , depending on the kind of change but change for purely the sake of change is soon seen as cosmetic.

    ‘ normal politics anywhere in the world is divided Right/Left.’

    Tha may be but NI is not just anywhere in the world . It has it’s own little universe which keeps it insulated against the ahem ‘world ‘ outside .

    ‘Otherwise what road does the UUP expect to take if UCUNF win no MP’s seats in ‘

    The long and winding road back to the beginning of wherever they have ever been or will most likely ever be .

  • thereyouarenow

    What Ulster Unionists need is an Irish Conservative/Labour/Lib Dem party to choose from.

    No one party can be all things to all men.

    This letter while highlighting the UU party’s success’s suffers from amnesia about its catastrophic failures.

    Maybe this shotgun marriage will be another failure. The Ulster Unionist party has gotten used to dealing with failure though.

  • Dewi

    “Perhaps you, Sir Reg, and the rest of the leadership should remember the advice given to Edward Carson when he followed a similar road. “Be careful Edward, the Tories have never adopted a cause yet but they have betrayed it in the end.””

    Who gave that advice? Anyone know?

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    JEB

    >>..I have no respect for leaks like this.<< I had a leak once, it was in the bog but after gettin the dodgy taps dealt with the leak stopped. Perhaps there is something wrong on the goodship UNCUF? I am amazed that concern for working class Unionists is raised as an issue here, when has that ever been an issue? And aren't working class Unionists not fed up with gettin used and abused by these shysters?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    PE,

    “I am amazed that concern for working class Unionists is raised as an issue here, when has that ever been an issue? And aren’t working class Unionists not fed up with gettin used and abused by these shysters? ”

    Perhaps “working class” is code for those less reasonable than the leadership (hard to imagine at times) who do not want a Fenain about the place e.g. South Belfast.

    Regarding the statement “But, rather than despairing and embarking on a journey which, as history tells us, will lead to betrayal and disappointment at the hands of the British Tories”

    Perhaps this is also set to appeal to those in the party unhappy with the unequivocal support by the Tories for the GFA. It is still a moot point if the majority of Unionists (UU and otherwise)actually do support the GFA/STA and they are now entering an alliance in which their support is assumed.

  • really not convinced

    Yes, I can see the benefits of this deal. I understand the attraction of national politics / no longer on the window-ledge of the union stuff. But only a fool looks at benefits and ignores the potential costs.

    For the general election, the UUP will likely run in 9 constituencies and the Tories will likely run in 9 constituencies. The UUP must abdicate its ambitions in 9 constituencies and commit resources towards getting people elected who will not owe them primary allegiance.

    The UUP is allowing itself to act as surrogate for another party’s electoral ambitions. This will be very difficult for local activists to rationalise (as in South Belfast).

    In North Down, the likely scenario is either Ian Parsley or an independent Sylvia Hermon returned. Will there really be any other UCUNF MPs? This deal will likely mean the UUP loses Commons representation (for the first time in its history?).

    Things have not been nailed down. This deal does not extend to the Assembly election. Activists are being asked to put in the hours to get Tories elected in 2010 but, as it stands, the Tories will return the favour by running against the UUP in 2012. How many seats go Tory then?

    But what if the UUP agrees an electoral pact in 2012? Is it any better? The UUP must still hand over winnable seats to Tory candidates. So this electoral pact may not directly increase the UUP’s representation. Some electoral pact.

    If this pact works and the Tories become strong, then UUP will have had to sacrifice seats and sacrificed their independence. It’s that simple – that’s what the letter is referring to when it talks about to the aunt no one listens to.

    But if this pact fails (like the PUP one), then the UUP will have managed to cause more internal bloody chaos for no reason.

    To my mind, this deal does not make sense as a mere electoral pact. It is so skewed towards the Tories. In order for the UUP leadership to enjoy the maximum benefit, and to compensate for their sacrifices (eg. Sylvia Hermon’s defenestration), it would make better sense for them if the long-term goal is merger.

    I do fear that continuing this deal may imperil the long-term future of the UUP as a political party in its own right. So I can understand what the gang of four are on about, and it’s not a dishonourable position to hold.

  • fin

    well put really not convinced. I wonder if Lady Hermons continued (but frosty) relationship indicates that Dave will provide a nice job for her prior to the election to ensure less competition for Parsley.

  • Seymour Major

    The only surprise is that this attack did not come earlier. I note that at least one of these names has been opposed to the pact since its inception.

    The leaders of the UUP would not have been naive enough to think there would be no opposition. Their battle-hardened experience over the Belfast Agreement in the past which led to their electoral downturn would have taught them that. I would reckon that Sir Reg is delighted that so much progress has already been made before this come out.

    This sort of gambit would have been anticipated.

    I think the dissidents will have debated the impact of their letter before or after the joint committee begin to select candidates.

    I dont think their cries will be heard very far or make much impact. I believe they have made their move too late.

  • pith

    These people have a good argument but one which they themselves undermine by inaccuracy. The UUP was not a member of the European People’s Party.

  • Drumlins Rock

    I think Seymour has got it about right there, it is quite an achievement to get the pact this far, and this is the true test period, one thing for sure every persepective candidate must give a reassurance to support all the others selected whether UUP or Tory, Orangeman, Catholic Woman or Athiest.

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘fend off Irish independence’

    Hmmm quite…because y’know, independence and self-determination for inferior peoples is such a horrid backward concept !

  • bob wilson

    Seymour’s comment the most balanced – and I suspect the most accurate

  • DW

    Seymour Major @ 07:54 PM. “I dont think their cries will be heard very far or make much impact. I believe they have made their move too late.’

    Agreed, but they have also spoken out to prove they are not like the many others who are led by the nose like nodding donkeys. The real truth will only come to the fore with the electorate in 2010.

  • really not convinced

    I don’t think there was any possibility that this letter could have threatened the pact no matter when it was released. Once the leadership were committed to the pact, that was it.

    Seymour Major is right to say this letter won’t make much impact, but that’s not the end of the problems for the UUP. It’s clear that they will lose Sylvia Hermon over this.

    Sylvia was an important link at Westminster for the UUP. She worked very closely with Labour throughout the bad old anti-agreement days. She was an important conduit in the political process, as well as being a popular personality in the party.

    Permitting the loss of Sylvia Hermon, more than the publication of any letter, exposes something about this deal that will appal many people in the party. But the leadership are clearly happy to tolerate this.

    With the deal in place, it is likely the UUP will lose its direct Commons representation – no MPs If this deal were not in place, they would have a safe seat and possibly another seat in South Belfast – two MPs.

    Without this deal the UUP were increasing their vote share (Dromore) and capable of delivering great conferences to inspire the troops (anyone remember that Margaret Ritchie conference)?

    So why do this?

    To make the promise behind this pact work (ie. UUP get a junior minister post), Cameron must ennoble a UUP. And Reg would seem to be obvious candidate for this. How will that be perceived?

    Having dumped Sylvia Hermon, brought UUP representation to a close at the Commons and ended the UUP as an independent voice in politics, Empey gets elevated to the Lords. That will look absolutely appalling.

    In addition, the Tories have made clear they are against pacts with the DUP. Fair enough. But the performance of the TUV will either confirm the continuation of this pact, or allow it to be questioned still further.

    Not everything is in the UUP’s hands – remember that Allister pact story before Dromore? A nudge nudge quasi-electoral pact with Jim Allister will cleave support from the DUP. So don’t everyone go standing on principle about sectarian deals with the DUP – the critical intervention of the TUV (complete with its uncompromising world view) will be decisive as to whether the deal thrives or not.

    This pact is still definitely not a merger we’re being told. But none of this makes sense in the absence of a discussion about merger. I personally feel that the leadership are being disingenuous – a merger must be in the background.

    This letter was not a seminal moment. The treatment of Sylvia, the election result / performance of the TUV, and how they announce the merger plans will be the seminal moments. By that point, the UUP will have lost the letter writers, lost me and lost many more people in the Party.

    But as I say, the leadership will no doubt stay the course. They’ve got a Churchillian commitment to self-destruction – ‘we will fight ourselves on the beaches and in the fields, we will fight ourselves on the landing grounds etc etc’.

    The UUP was comfortable before this deal emerged (Dromore, centre ground consensus forming with SDLP, and so on). None of this was necessary. And it’s all loaded in favour of the Tories. Seems the UUP just dislikes extended periods of internal harmony. I think this deal stinks.

    BTW – comparisons with the past are bogus. When the Tory relationship occurred in the past it didn’t require the UUP to hand over constituencies to a miniscule local Tory party.

  • Seymour Major

    Really not convinced,

    I agree with your comment that comparisons with the past are bogus. At least you would agree with me that it is unfair to compare the Conservative leadership at the time of Edward Carson with David Cameron.

    Your comment highlights the fact that the two paths available to the UUP before the pact – the one that they are going down now and alternative one which they may have been pursuing at the time of the Dromore by – election – are completely irreconcilable. The vast majority of UUP members have bought into the pact and the time for debating an alternative way forward passed by some time ago.

    These dissidents will be told bluntly that there is no turning back.

    If it is so obvious to me that there is no turning back, it would probably be similarly obvious to these dissidents. If so, then they may already have decided their future before writing the letter. That would make the letter not so much a cry for reason as just be a piece of cosmetic dressing designed to make them look more principled when they defect to another party, such as the DUP or the TUV.

    Perhaps the timing of the letter – just before the candidates are selected – is significant after all. It would not surprise me if defecting was their next move possibly just after the announcement of new candidates for the purpose of taking some of the shine away from the new stars.

  • really not convinced

    I should say that I greatly admire what David Cameron has done for the Tories. But not so much as to agree the sublimation of the Ulster Unionist Party into an entirely different state.

    Yes, I feel the UUP are on the wrong path and I cannot reconcile that with my own wishes. Ultimately, I must go.

    I accept the UUP has mostly bought into the pact, but many that remain inside are agitated and not fully convinced. The Party has not managed Sylvia Hermon effectively. She has been mistreated and will be viewed by many as the victim of self-aggrandising old boys in UUP HQ. Already she has the media on her side – her departure will cause consideration problems for the pact.

    But I think you’re wrong about defections. Defect where? If I go there is no political home for me. Not in the DUP, not in the TUV. Sylvia will be totemic for dissident UUP types – she will attract a lot of support from the disaffected. That means votes in North Down, and protest votes in nearby constituencies.

    When I leave, the UUP loses a committed, lifelong voter. How many voters of this type will they gain? Is this deal reducing or adding to that large constituency of unaligned ‘garden centre prods’?

    The UUP is happy to say my views are surplus to requirements. Fine – then my surplus vote goes with me (but not to the DUP or TUV).

    In terms of timings – the selection of Parsley was no accident. This occurred on the Friday before the conference, so hyping tensions and placing more pressure on a strained situation. The local Tories did this to force Sylvia’s hand… it was an insensitive act that put unnecessary pressure on the UUP.

    The local Tories are out to maximise their gain from a poorly negotiated and overly generous deal from the UUP. I don’t necessarily blame the local Tories for doing that, but I blame the UUP leadership for allowing it to happen.

  • northern whig

    So you have the non-nationalist choices of;

    Traditional Unionist
    Democratic Unionist
    Conservative Unionist
    Alliance
    Progressive Unionist
    Green

    and you still can’t find a “political home”?

    What constituency is it that you think isn’t served by one of the above?

  • really not convinced

    Seems simply doesn’t it?

    Well, we know I’m opposed to the UUP’s relentless absorbtion into the Conservative Party (and the way they’ve mismanaged internal opinion). I’m not endorsing that.

    So what is my constituency?

    Well, I’m a moderate Ulster Unionist who believes in building a progressive centre-ground consensus.

    That rules out the TUV and DUP for a start. APNI have been telling me for years that I’m sectarian (for voting Ulster Unionist). That rules them out. The PUP’s link to the UVF is not something I’m all that crazy about. That rules them out. I guess that just leaves the all-island Green Party… which is fairly agnostic on anything approaching NI politics. Hardly what you call home, is it?

    Where’s your home ‘northern whig’?

  • I don’t understand

    Really not convinced

    What does the term ‘Ulster Unionist’ mean to you?

    I am not being cheeky I just don’t get why ‘Ulster Unionists’ need to identify themselves as ‘Ulster Unionists’ and not ‘Union Unionist’.

    What makes Ulster Unionism different from English Unionism, Scottish Unionism and Welsh Unionism? Is it a history thing or is there something different about ‘Ulster Unionists’ that makes them need to stand apart from the rest of the union.

    As I say I do not intend to sound cheeky with my questions, I just don’t understand why ‘british’ people in Northern Ireland are not happy to identify with the ‘British’ political parties, now that they have been given the choice to do so.

  • Brit

    A decent Unionist Party would take the best genuinely progressive bits from the PUP, the liberal and moderate Unionism of parts of UUP and the non-sectarian secularism and de facto Unionism from the Alliance.

    If I was a resident of NI I guess I’d end up voting for UU. Maybe the PUP on day if they travelled further away from their UVF roots and attracted someone else with the charisma of Ervine.

  • Personally I find it more bizarre that the DUP and the BNP haven’t merged.

  • pith

    Wolf. Give it time. First Sinn Fein then….

  • snaz

    Dealing with the letter.

    1.Fiction number 1. Nicholson was forced against his will by his new Tory masters out of the EPP into some far right group.

    Reality – Although both the UUP and Conservatives were relatively content in the EPP this came apart over a core policy issue. The EPP supports Lisbon ratification. UUP Party policy and Conservative Party policy utterly rejects Lisbon.

    Reality numner 2. Nicholson has been a FULL member of the European Conservative group for nearly 10 years so this deal only reflects the reality of what Jim Nicholson, as an Ulster Unionist, was already in.

    Action – EPP position untenable. Both parties left to form centre right group opposed to Lisbon.

    Fiction number 2. – That some UUP Associations have been told not to select a candidate as a Tory is being hoisted on them.

    Reality – All UUP Associations will go through the UUP new selection procedure and we will end up with 18 UUP nominees to present to the Joint Committee.

    Final ratification of all Candidates will be done by the UUP Executive Committee.

    Reality number 2 – There is not a single deal done for a single seat. Candidates will be selected on merit based on their ability to attract the most votes.

    Fiction number 3 – The UUP Executive was told that the UUP would have 2 cabinet seats.

    Reality – No such commitment was ever given. If anyone can tell me the date that this pledge was made to the UUP Executive I will get the minutes.

    Reality – Mr Cameron has indicated that he would like to select his cabinet from the best talent in the entire UK. If the UUP gets the right person elected, they will have the opportunity of being in our National government.

    Fiction Number 4 – The Conservative Central Office are supporting this financially.

    Reality – The Conservative Central Office have not been asked for or offered a penny. Funding to date has came from private donors, reported to the EC via the NI Conservatives and UUP seperately.

    Conservative Central Office have provided the excellent Battleground Director Marion Little and of course a secretary of state in Owen Patterson who is in NI more than the person he will replace in May next year.

    So the premise of this letter is factually wrong.

    There is mo merger, it is an electoral pact.

    The UUP had several roadshows around NI which were attended by over 1000 people not to mention several Executive Committee meetings which in the end agreed the deal with not a single delegate voting agsinst.

    The project is about creating better East West links for Unionism.

    That does not mean to the detriment of North/South relations or community relations here in NI.

    No one ever pretended that innovative politics would be easy but so far the signs for Northern Ireland, the UK and for both the UUP and the Conservative Party are encouraging.

    Fellow UUP members. Keep the faith.

  • cynic

    Snaz

    Pull the other one! Any political trade off deal has never been put down in a set of minutes. You mustn’t be long enough in the tooth to realise that one.

    The Tories may not have pushed hard cash the way of the new force, although I doubt that very much, but they have have provided many services on an “in kind” basis and these have a financial value.

    Your reality number two is the one that has really had me laughing. Ian Parsley didn’t make the biggest bare faced jumping off ship in the history of democracy to have to sit outside a selection committee meeting like an expectant father waiting to hear if a UUP nomination or he gets the nod to stand in North Down. That of course is subject to the UUP performing a huge piece of political suicide by pushing Lady Hermon out to satify a vengeful David Cameron. Ian Parsley must have a very hard brass neck but he wouldn’t have done what he did without assurances. He even got a job out of it to compensate for the loss of consultancy fee’s from the Alliance Party. He has been told that he will be standing and anyone who doubt’s that is not dealing in reality.

    Ms Nelson would have liked North Antrim but the best prize that the Tories could guarantee her was a shot at East Belfast. Again she didn’t leave the DUP for any other reason other than to advance her own political aspirations. The Tories have been going around the countryside for month’s now offering opportunities for anyone who signed up with them and the higher the profile the better.

    I feel sorry for the UUP stoogies who will have their name put forward for North Down and East Belfast and anywhere else that the deals have been done. Anybody who thinks that there is a great big clean sheet of paper sitting in front of some grand committee is a fool!.

  • northern whig

    What we need is another new party to represent the traditional liberal voice of the ulster unionist.

    A catchy name would be Traditional Ulster Liberal Unionist Voice

    Who wouldn’t choose TRULUV?

  • New Blue

    Cynic

    I would pay much less attention to your supposition and much more attention to snaz, who obviously knows about the position of the partnership than most who have spoken on this thread.

    All of your suppositions above in relation to candidates and selections have absolutely no grounding in reality. The best candidate will be selected in each constituency. The final selection before approval by the 2 party leaders will be by the UUP/Conservative joint committee and will result in an exciting new opportunity for the electorate in Northern Ireland.

    We need to support this partnership so that we can start moving away from the ‘Little Ulster’ mentality of some unionists and start offering inclusive politics to those who support the union but may not support ‘Little Ulsterism’.

  • IJP

    Cynic

    Just to correct a glaring inaccuracy – I have neither expected nor received any “assurances” regarding candidacy. There was competition for the Conservative nomination in North Down for a start!

  • borderline

    I fear that not for the first time in these parts, something that works out well in practice (UUP-Tory link up) will fail because folk cannot understand how it works in theory.

  • northern whig

    An internal competition with the Tory party for selection doesn’t imply that there’ll be genuine competition for the candidacy at the second stage Ian.

    Would the UUP even want to win it if that meant putting another UUP candidate up against Sylvia? If someone’s going to lose I think they’d prefer it was you.

  • frustrated democrat

    Snaz / New Blue

    It is time for the UUP to underline some facts re the Conservatives to their members, so that posters like cynic do not have the opportunity to make up ridiculous stories that are completely groundless.

    Although there is only one Conservative Party it has hundreds of local members so it is not a London centric process.

    No one has joined the Conservatives with any guarantees of either nomination or standing in any seat at any level.

    No deals have been done over any seats for either party, best person, regardless of ethnic background, religion or colour, to get selected in all cases.

    There is absolutely no demand, nor has there ever been, from the Conservatives to the UUP not to nominate members of the OO.

    All donations have come from individuals not the Conservatives in GB.

    The support from GB comes in three ways, experienced people, proven systems and the fact the Conservatives are riding high in the polls and look like being the next government.

    The deal only relates to the EU and Westminster elections. Any move forward after that will be up to both parties and their members to decide.

    The Conservatives are already looking at Westminister policies that can help revitalise the Northern Ireland economy. Owen Paterson works tirelessly to promote NI and help it move away from the problems of the last 40 years.

    The whole purpose of the deal is to improve the lot of everyone in NI and to promote the position of NI firmly within the UK. There are no side deals, backdoor deals, under the table deals or any other secret deals.

  • New Blue

    FD

    As far as I am concerned, every member of the UUP I have spoken to is aware of all of your points. Unfortunately there will always be those who have an agenda (often tied to some real or perceived slight from the deep dark past) which does not fit with the partnership.

    Borderline

    I think you are completely spot on here – the challenge, as I see it, is to show the electorate how the partnership can give us the opportunity to make the next step away from the seperated past and into a shared future. This will, not might, take years and require the commitment of many talented and, most importantly, open-minded, people.

  • cynic

    There are none so blind as those who cannot see!

    Lets wait and see how the deals/no deals all work out over the next few weeks. The truth will out!

    Perhaps I am wrong and IJP didn’t get any assurances about his electoral future but he got a job with the Tories which I presume he didn’t have to apply for as a result of a public advert and for which he didn’t have to compete with others through interview. I hope he puts me right if this is incorrect I would be pleased to apologise.

    Perhaps if he is going to answer that one he could also tell us that if he had been elected to Europe as an APNI rep would he have resigned his seat to jumpover to the Tories?

    FD

    I don’t know what your party affliation is but you quite rightly tell us that the deal is only for the European election and the Westminster election. Has the penny dropped with you yet that the reason for this is the fact that the Tories in London don’t give a toss about parish politics in Northern Ireland and that what they are doing is a big picture strategy that suits their agenda in the next UK general election. The UUP will have a long time to reflect on all this.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Cynic

    Your post shows how little real information you have about anything, therefore you have to make it up. The truth is out!

    The deal was for the first two elections to come up i.e Europe and Westminster, and then depending on its success it would be for the parties to decide whether to roll it out to Stormont and councils.

    That is where the deal is and will remain until after the Westminister election, and so far it has been very successful.

    It has absolutely nothing to do with Conservatives not wanting to become involved in devolved matters, they are the party of the UK and are in the Scottish and Welsh governments.

  • DW

    Frustrated Democrat @ 10:30 AM “The deal was for the first two elections to come up i.e Europe and Westminster, and then depending on its success it would be for the parties to decide whether to roll it out to Stormont and councils.”

    Frustrated Democrat, if they roll it out to Stormont & Local Councils this would certainly indicate a merger between the CP and UUP?

    If this be so then surely the UUP must become defunct otherwise how could the CP and UUP hold MLA and local council seats in Northern ireland local politics as two different political parties.

  • disinterested obserer

    DW help me out here – being in a purely six county party with one MP on the Opposition benches is better than cutting a deal and gaining the ear of a clearly sympathetic Cameron, Hague, etc.
    Do you think Northern Ireland should never aspire to normal politics?
    The danger with such an approach is from the tendency of extremists in DUP and SF to play on communal fears.
    Surely the UUP needs to advance an alterantive and linking up with the Conservatives is a radical alternative?
    Using terms like ‘merger’ or ‘defunct’ is a distraction the important point is that what is being presented is clearly different from the failed politics of before and is a major step towards bringing NI into the mainstream of UK politics?

  • cynic

    FD

    I haven’t stopped laughing since I read your post.
    Everyone else can see the way this is all going to roll out. You are going to help create a profile for a load of people who had no previous experience or interest in politics to run for Westminster under the new force banner and then you are going to think about whether or not you want to go forward with the Tories as one grouping into the Assembly and Council elections. That is of course if they want to go forward to these elections still holding your hand. Either outcome will ensure that a number of the present crop of UUP representatives will be receiving their P45 and the wanabee’s who sit on the wings waiting their chance may forget about it as the new force will be spoilt for choice. If the two parties should decide to put up their own candidates quite a number of bums are going to get bitten as the Tories with their profiles polished by the new force will take seats.

    If it wasn’t so serious it would be hilarious. Basil Mc Crea was one who was wise enough to see the writing on the wall and who made a smart decision to excuse himself from disappointment at a selection meeting of the grand committee.

    Turkeys and Christmas!!

  • DW

    disinterested observer, only a merger between the CP (NI) and UUP into one single Conservative & Unionist Party will please David Cameron and Owen Patterson after the Westminster election. That will not happen without a democratic referundum held among fully paid up members of the UUP.

    At present most UUP members would not agree to a merger and the complete dissolution of their 100 year old political party. The UCUNF pact was agreed to test the waters in the coming election. If it fails there will be no merger and David Cameron will drop the UUP like a hot potato.

    Recent update from todays newspapers:
    No shortage of support for Ulster Unionist MP

    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/politics/No-shortage-of-support-for.5777073.jp

    Party is to blame and not Lady Hermon

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/letters/party-is-to-blame-and-not-lady-hermon-14545042.html

  • frustrated democrat

    DW

    As I understand it she was fully consulted at all stages and chose not to agree, that after she had said she would abide with the will of the party.

    She now has several choices – stay in the UUP and not stand, leave the UUP and stand as an independent, leave the UUP and not stand, leave the UUP and stand for another party.

    The one choice she does not have is to stay in the UUP and stand without agreeing to take the Conservative whip at Wesminister as that is the fixed will of the party.

  • DW

    frustrated democrat @ 05:54 PM: ‘As I understand it she was fully consulted at all stages and chose not to agree, that after she had said she would abide with the will of the party.’

    frustrated democrat, what you understand is probably gossip and supposition.

    Lady Hermon had no reason to sully her good name by telling untruths to the newspapers. What had she to gain by telling a lie that she was not consulted before Sir Reg, and David Cameron released their article in The Telegraph in 2008?

    The discussions she was refering to were those that happened for three months before the newspaper article was released.

  • IJP

    Cynic

    Professionally, I put my business’ name forward to do a project with a Conservative-aligned thinktank and my idea was accepted – slightly to my own surprise, I can’t deny!

    Clearly, had I been elected an MEP, I would have been elected as the Alliance Party representative and would have remained within that party, content that its brand and values meant something to people right across NI (and I would never have put forward such a proposal).

    However, adding the professional side to my own strongly held political preference for a change of government at the coming election (and my desire to participate in a party with national rather than sub-regional influence), I came to the conclusion that both my professional and political future were best served in the modern Conservative Party.

  • IJP

    Frustrated Democrat

    I’ll intervene just once here, in fairness to you as you!

    It is evident to me that consultations were not as wide-ranging as they could have been.

    Nevertheless, we are where we are, and this cannot be allowed to detract from the big issue here. In NI we are heading into choppy waters, to say the least – there is pressure on our public finances which requires a strong voice at Westminster, there is pressure on our security forces which requires a strong voice at Westminster, there is pressure on NI households facing debt and job insecurity which requires a strong voice at Westminster.

    I trust we will have the best possible team of candidates going forward to present the case for giving us that strong voice. We are in far too serious a situation to allow ourselves to be deflected by peripheral, parochial concerns.

  • Guest

    IJP,

    All your logic concerning the link-up goes right out the window when one considers that it is most likely that Labour gets back into power in the next 8/12 years.Indeed,it means that no matter there political left/right leaning UUP supporters will have no say in UK politics.
    The link-up shows up clearly the fallacy of the union,that Irish MPs will never have equal voice to English MPs.and that to have any voice they need to pre-negoitate arangements.Isn’t clear when one examines the union and its arrangements as they are,that UK law in fact English law,and english law Uk law.Carson weeps…..

  • elvisparker

    Guest – in 8 to 12 years Labour will be contesting elections in NI alongside the Conservatives

  • Guest

    Elvisparker,

    They may be.They may do.

    Then people will have the right to vote Labour without being unionist.UUP are offering only conservative uk wide politics ie.not labour politics.The same people have had right to vote conservative till now that voting conservative means voting unionist.Placing unionist at the centre of Uk wide politics has taken away the right of people to vote right or left without voting on the border.and when Labour is an alternative vote in Northern Ireland,will voting for them mean voting anti-unionist.Don’t think you lads have this through at all.Not that i’m complaining…….

  • DW

    elvisparker: ‘Guest – in 8 to 12 years Labour will be contesting elections in NI alongside the Conservatives’

    elvisparker, why are labour waiting 8 to 12 years? What about the Labour’s pact, or linkup with the SDLP when Gerry Fitt started the party? Surely Labour’s refusal to put forward candidates for the coming Westminster election is evidence they are tactical voting and do not want to take votes away from this middle class Catholic Irish Nationalist ‘Solicitors, Doctors & Lawyers Party’ who are no more supporters of socialism than the man in the moon.

  • DW

    elvisparker, could it be possibe that in 8 -12 years time the UUP will be merged with the Conservatives, SDLP merged with Fianna Fail, and FF, CP & LP will all have MLA’s in the Stormont Assembly?
    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/let-battle-commence-14545043.html

  • New Blue

    Guest

    “Then people will have the right to vote Labour without being unionist.UUP are offering only conservative uk wide politics ie.not labour politics.The same people have had right to vote conservative till now that voting conservative means voting unionist.Placing unionist at the centre of Uk wide politics has taken away the right of people to vote right or left without voting on the border.and when Labour is an alternative vote in Northern Ireland,will voting for them mean voting anti-unionist.Don’t think you lads have this through at all.Not that i’m complaining…….

    I would consider that you have not thought things through.

    Submit word – READY – the question is are we?

    The primary objective of the partnership is to strengthen Northern Irelands’ place within the union by democratic means.

    This is not an attack on Nationalism, is is a move towards a true democratic process much closer to the current Scottish model.

    Those who are nationalist facing will vote for parties who support a UI, those who are pro-union should have the chance to vote for Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat.

    If we are serious about working towards a shared future then surely that future should be led by democratic principles.

    The move by the Conservative party to more fully engage in NI politics, coupled with the genuine desire by most in the UUP to move away from sectarian, non democratic, politics is a step in the right direction, and should be supported, in principle at least, by everyone who sees themself as a democrat.

  • Guest

    New Blue,

    I don’t take it to be an attack on nationalism at all.I made concerning the UUP wedding itself to the right wing when so many here claim that this deal gives them the right/left choice that the six counties have to their mind never had.You have not addressed that point.
    Those who are nationalist will indeed vote for a party that supports the nationalist line.They will look after themselves.Nothing new in that.Nothing new in the link-up,except unionists fighting for the unionist vote.Fine,but don’t pretend that this gives nationalists a right/left choice when it doesn’t even give unionistsz that choice.

  • New Blue

    Guest

    I am not sure that there is a real left/right opportunity in British or Irish politics at present. The main parties seem to be divided by shades of gray as opposed to clear idealogical differences.

    My point is that the step by the Conservatives is the first step in ‘mainstreaming’ NI politics into the union. Why should NI be the only part of the union that cannot vote for the main parties of the union.

    I want to see Labour, Lib Dems and Conservatives competing for our votes in the same way as they do in London, Manchester, Glasgow or Cardiff, but I think it is essential that we also have a strong and democratic nationalist movement to allow for those who wish to campaign for a majority vote come a UI referendom.

    What I really want to work towards, and this is the ‘holy grail’ for me, is people voting on the issues and not from religious or sectarian principles.

    Nationalist and Unionist alike have the same needs when it comes to education, employment, social justice, health, housing etc. etc. We need our politicians to start addressing these issues and stop beating the sectarian drums.

    We’ve come a long way in the last 10 years, but politically we are only starting to consider what could be. The mainstreaming of our politics is the next, and possibly most challenging, hurdle we must deal with.

  • Guest

    New Blue,

    Very honest post;thanks.

    I’ll respond in kind by putting aside the left/right argument in spite of the conservative alignment with the Euro right and the hard hard right…..;;

    where I disagree is in your assertion that the national question(the irish one) is a sectarian or religious issue.It is only through fault of the fact that most other issues are under the gravity of the constitutional question.What you consider mainstreaming I consider streamlining.That is how it has been and i’m realistic enough to recognize that it will probably still be so when we have this world departed.

    Where we fundamentally differ can be summarized by Cameron’s statement that the constitutional question has been settled.It is not because there is not a united ireland that I believe it has not been settled.It is not because UK parties do not organize here as they do in Britain.It is not because Northern Irish MPs are not part of the cabinet.It is because devolution is not complete.It is because north-south bodies have not been worked to their potential.It is because Irish(or irish/british,or northern irish) MPs do not have the same voice in westminster as English Mps.Your solution is a once in a life-time alignment that may put some of those Mps into cabinet in ignorance of them ruling themselves out of the next Labour cabinet.Is the union so unfair that Irish Mps must pay with their future to have any present?
    I await an argument on popualtion.I’ll letter that argument to Mr.Cameron when Europe out votes the Uk on “population”.

  • DW

    The Gang of four letter and the earlier S Belfast Association letter has no doubt not been ignored by Tom Elliot MLA from F&ST; UUP association. Looks like he changed his mind.

    What will happen to Tom now, will he be threatened to be disciplined by party headquarters like the naughty gang of four for challenging UCUNF party policy decisions.

    UUP MLA is ‘open’ to electoral pact talks
    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/politics/UUP-MLA-is-39open39-to.5780401.jp

    DUP push unity unionist candidate

    THE DUP in Fermanagh have unveiled a new campaign designed to bring Unionists together around an agreed candidate in Fermanagh and South Tyrone and South Belfast.

    A leaflet will be delivered to every home in the Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency, highlighting the DUP’s commitment to ensuring that both seats are returned to Unionism in the next Westminster election.

    However, Ulster Unionist Tom Elliott has said that a debate in public is not the way to reach agreement.

    Mr Elliott said that he is more than willing to talk to the DUP about an agreed candidate but said that discussions need to be held behind the scenes not in a public arena.

    Launching the DUP document, Arlene Foster MLA said: “The DUP is the leading party in both South Belfast and Fermanagh and South Tyrone. We want to see both those seats returned to Unionist hands in the next Westminster election. In 2005, we offered the UUP a choice of seats – they would pick one and we would contest the other. Unfortunately, Trimble and Empey rejected that offer and the result was that South Belfast and Fermanagh and South Tyrone were lost to anti-Unionist candidates.

    “Now we renew our offer to the UUP. We will give them a clear run in one constituency of their choosing. People should be in no doubt whatsoever of our commitment to seeing Unionism advance and maximising Unionist representation in the sovereign parliament at Westminster. The people living in these two constituencies will not take kindly to any party that describes itself as pro-Union but who by their wilful actions hand over two seats in Westminster to parties that want to dislodge Northern Ireland from the Union.

    “Our offer is a generous one. The DUP was the largest party in both constituencies, indeed at the last Westminster election, the DUP came ahead of the UUP. However, our approach is not about advancing parties, it is about advancing Unionism.”

    In the last Westminster election in 2005 in which Michelle Gildernew, Sinn Féin won the seat, the breakdown of nationalist/unionist voting was as follows: Michelle Gildernew (Sinn Féin) 18,638; Arlene Foster (DUP) 14,056; Tom Elliott (UUP) 8,869 and Tommy Gallagher (SDLP) 7,230. This means a potential unity unionist candidate could poll in the region of 23,000 votes.

  • Garza

    Guest. The constitutional argument has been settled as it is up to the people of the NI and ROI to decide. No political party can attain an UI only the people, therefore politcal parties can now focus on other issues rather than focus on the one (which we have had for decades).
    Saying that the constitutional question won’t be settled unitl a UI reeks of your own bias, I’m afraid.

    It is amazing how people here complain about our tribal politics, then when one party attempts to move away from tribal politics they are attacked for it.

  • Guest

    “Saying that the constitutional question won’t be settled unitl a UI reeks of your own bias”

    I think I made it very clear that I was saying nothing of the like.

    Read again.

  • Garza

    Guest, my apologies. I’ve yet to have my morning coffee yet :-).

  • Guest

    Garza,

    Accepted as always.

    Ye lazy fenian!

  • eric

    “elvisparker, could it be possibe that in 8 -12 years time the UUP will be merged with the Conservatives, SDLP merged with Fianna Fail, and Fianna Fail, Conservative Party & Labour Party will all have MLA’s in the Stormont Assembly?”

    What also should be borne in mind in any such dispensation is that Fianna Fail don’t want to contest Westminister elections – which means the anti-SF nationalist might well support one of the UK governmental parties (Tory or Labour) at a Westminster contest. Then the question might be why are the remaining DUP/TUV splitting the Unionist vote?

  • New Blue

    Guest

    “Your solution is a once in a life-time alignment that may put some of those Mps into cabinet in ignorance of them ruling themselves out of the next Labour cabinet.Is the union so unfair that Irish Mps must pay with their future to have any present?

    This is not my solution. My solution is that individuals who support the Conservative values stand and campaign on those values. Those who believe in the Labour values (so tempted to be negative here, but will refrain)stand and campaign on those values, those who support a UI stand and campaign on those values.

    What I would like to see is a Northern Ireland where there are a guaranteed 18 Conservative candidates, 18 Labour Candidates, 18 Lib Dem candidates and 18 Nationalist candidates (plus, of course any number of smaller ‘special interest group’ candidates) standing for the Westminster election.

    Regardless of who’s in Government and who’s in opposition, we should have 18 elected representatives doing thier best for the people of Northern Ireland.

    The fact that my personal leaning is towards the Conservative party in no way reduces my desire to see democracy being the primary tool we use for our continued forward movement.

  • Blodeuwedd

    first they came for the MP and i did not speak because i was not an MP

    Then theyl come for the MLAs and i will not speak out because im not an MLA

    Then theyl come for the councilors and i wont speak out because im not a councilor .

    The Ulster Unionist party is going to be taken apart piece by piece and the membership dont even seem to realise. Either the Ulster Unionist party is just that The Ulster Unionist Party or its not… you Cant be 2 political parties at the same time . Who is going to be represented a future conservative government? …. an Ulster Unionist or one of the Conservative party cronies ….even if UCUNF win 3 seats at the next election whos to say it will be the seats with UUP candidates rather than tory

    This blog has been the only REAL debate members of the uup have been given –

    one last point if i can be so bold – sylvia Hermon is the only UUP member or politician who has been asked to change her political identidy – the leadership can still be uup , the MLAs and councilors can still be UUP but Lady Hermon has to be UCUNF , Perhaps thats upsetting for her some people feel pride in what the ULster Unionist Party stands for and what it has achieved for Northern Ireland in the Past , if i was an Ulster Unionist MP i would Run under no other Banner than the UUP.