Okay, here’s Alex’s valedictory…

This won’t be lightening the tone up at UUP headquarters… Alex Kane in today’s News Letter gives an indication why he’s walking… So did he lose an argument internally?

The sole purpose of the DUP – the very reason for its creation, I would argue – was the destruction of the UUP. The entire focus of their political, propaganda and electoral strategy was built around attacks on UUP policy and UUP leaders. There wasn’t an “arrangement” or “understanding” with us which they didn’t destroy when it suited them and you could count on the digits of a three-toed sloth the number of times the DUP did anything to try and shore up a collective approach to the problems faced by unionism.

Until fairly recently they were still describing us as the party of “rollover unionism” while continuing to launch particularly vicious attacks about the nature of our relationship with the Conservatives. Yet today we are expected to buy into the notion that the DUP and UUP should be friends again!

This is the DUP which triple-somersaulted from every position and pledge it ever held in order that it could occupy office. This is the DUP which yielded a mutual veto to Sinn Fein and changed the rules so that Sinn Fein could take the post of First Minister. This is the DUP which is being hammered by the TUV and shedding support by the day. This is the DUP which will struggle to hold seats in the Assembly or Westminster elections. This is the DUP which claimed that it had restored confidence to unionism and “ended the era of stop-start devolution and the intervention and interference of British and Irish Prime Ministers”. This is the DUP which has proved itself utterly, utterly incompetent. And this is the DUP which will dump the UUP when we have served our purpose.

Let me tell you exactly what the DUP mean by unionist unity. They mean a cobbled-together marriage of convenience to get themselves out of the hole that they have dug. Oh yes, they will spout the grand words of cooperation and maximising opportunities; and for good measure they will also drag in the Orange Order and ‘consultation with the pro-Union family.’ But this is about nothing more than the preservation of the DUP. And if this strategy manages to cause internal ‘conflicting message’ problems for the UUP; and problems with the UUP-Conservative relationship; and, better still, ensures that TUV voters are less likely to transfer to the UUP then so much the better from the DUP’s stupendously hypocritical perspective.

  • When I read this this morning I thought it was the best piece that Alex had written for ages. Now it turns out he’s stepping down. Coincidence?

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    Well at least some one in the UU party can see through the cynicism of the Dup.

    Ah but he has resigned.

  • Framer

    I think he is going to another job.

  • Drumlins Rock

    I never thought it a good idea for a DoC to do regular opinion pieces in a paper, as there is an obivious conflict in does he speak privately or for the party etc. but his voice is needed in the party and should be listened too, have the talks with the DUP gone than we suspect? or has Alex fallen for the DUP spin and the resultant hysteria evident on here?
    I cannot see the “talks” with the DUP going any further, the OO talks are almost a tradition now, and although the days of the OO running the UUP (or often vice versa) the party cannont afford to cold shoulder them either, as for the Hatfield talks, umm was it not the Tories that arranged them? so why would they deliberately scuttle thier own arrangment? I think if we look at the latest opinion polls we can see the real reason for those talks, the Tories may need the DUP votes, and want to at least partly get them on board.
    But as any vet will tell you be careful working with an injured animal, Peter will do anything to survive now and on reflection it was a gift horse for him, the line should be drawn now, as is obivious from those talks you cant trust them, but the likes of Alex etc. should be fighting to get the real business back on track.

  • Brian Walker

    Alex, many sympathies when you have had to bear your burden every day. But there is a bigger picture. Whether it’s desirable or not, the question persists: if a deal can be done between the UUP and Sinn Fein,(however flawed, betrayed etc) and another deal can be done between the DUP and Sinn Fein (again), the rank and file of unionism who on occasions transfer votes from one to the other party might not understand why a deal can’t be done between the DUP and the UUP. Ok we understand the nature of direct competition for votes but does it make sense in the end for intra- sectarianism to be more implacable than the intercommunal kind? People might also ask why the UUP has endlessly split of their own volition from at least 1969 to the vivid present – a tendency which began long before Paisley was able to rival them in numbers terms? And whether they’ll ever show any leadership again? You can’t blame it all on the DUP, you know. What is Alex’s direction of travel now? The notion that the UUP is still somehow the heart and soul of unionism is dead, sadly or otherwise. Perhaps they might even now carve out a non-sectarian pro-union identity that is generous to all?

  • Mick Fealty

    Indeed, I agree. It seems to me that the UUP leadership has singularly failed to understand the very crux of their appeal at the moment when the DUP has faltered. They are NOT the DUP.

    As for the overall settlement, they should have pushed forward and then let the pieces settle where they will. Teaming up with the DUP simply to have the certainty that they could keep Martin McGuinness out a job, is what it looks like: unionists trying to stupidly stuff a genii back into a bottle they themselves uncorked at St Andrews.

    As it is Sir Reg’s indecision (along with David Cameron’s necessary detachment) has lost the UUs momentum and good will. A link with the DUP under the DUPs terms would only have served to spread the brand damage from the DUPs to the UUPs.

    In the meantime, is Paddy Power reopening his book on 2016?

  • Nothing there from Alex’s offering that hasn’t been written many times on Slugger.

    It will be interesting to hear what Owen Patterson has to say as he surveys the wreckage of his own handiwork and perhaps those suggesting that direct rule would result in better governance than the Assembly will be having second thoughts.

    It does not look like the playing fields of Eton have prepared the Tories properly for the variegated landscapes of Northern Ireland.

  • “a genii they themselves uncorked at St Andrews.”

    Did they? I thought the agreement was between the two governments and that neither the DUP nor SF signed anything.

  • Alias

    Reg Empey said in response to Brian Walker on Slugger that he considers it a fundamental requirement that “that all UUP candidates are Unionists.” Well, forgive me for being a bit thick, but I would have thought all such candidates would have self-qualified by joining a party with ‘Unionist’ in the title.

    Obviously this qualification disqualifies circa 45% of the population of Northern Ireland from ever becoming UUP candidates. Since that 45% had no intention of joining the UUP, that ‘discrimination’ is unlikely to upset them.

    So we have a party that is comprised of members who are on one side of the constitutional issue. Is this sectarianism? Of course not.

    Indeed, Reg says also that he is “committed to a shared future” so the future that is to be shared is one between British citizens, delineated by national allegiance but not by religion.

    It’s simply to trite and self-serving an agenda for British nationalists such as Brian Walker to jump onboard the British state’s agenda of misrepresenting nationalism within NI as being sectarianism when that is blatantly designed to maintain the constitutional status of Northern Ireland and by his and the state’s own logic is ‘sectarianism’ since it gives the British nation a state but deprives the Irish nation of that entitlement, thereby ‘discriminating’ in favour of one nation to the direct detriment of the other.

  • Greenflag

    ‘It does not look like the playing fields of Eton have prepared the Tories properly for the variegated landscapes of Northern Ireland.’

    Then theory looked good on paper and opportune for the one time rising Tory tide . But that the waves recede the brutal facts of NI’s sectarian carve are staring Messrs Cameron and Paterson in the face . Did Sir Regicide not mention the ‘dreary steeples of Fermanagh phenomenon to the ‘wise men’ from the east ?

    Too late for the Tories to back out now without looking like proper gobshites in NI anyway . The rest of the UK won’t care either way or be bothered . For them the stubborn thickos in Belfast will be just that and no more, as it was in the beginning. is now and ever shall be for to become anything else the State itself will need to cease to exist in present format !

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Well no……it doesnt disqualify 45% from joining UUP any more than it disqualifies 55% from joining Sinn Féin.

    Not to labour the point but there is very little any of us can do about our ethnic label. There is after all a Government formula for so doing.
    But there is quite a lot we can do about making a decision on being unionist/loyalist or republican/nationalist.

  • Mick Fealty

    Nev [shakes head, then walks off without further comment…]

  • FJH, there’s also the choice between supporting a paramilitary candidate and one from the wider Unionist or Nationalist family.

  • Greenflag

    FJH ,

    ‘but there is very little any of us can do about our ethnic label. ‘

    True .

    ‘But there is quite a lot we can do about making a decision on being unionist/loyalist or republican/nationalist.’

    Not as much as you might think . Fair enough if you are living in Bangor but in other parts of the province ?

    Paramilitaries are not permitted to be candidates are they ? Excluding former paramilitaries of course .

  • Mick/Nev

    They did deal at St Andrews – ish

    But this deal is very different – in that it is a deal which they themselves have put together in direct dialogue.

  • Mick, the genii (sic) you refer to comes from the two Governments understanding/misunderstanding of where the parties were at. That’s what it says in the St Andrews Agreement. The DUP might have proposed that FM post go to the largest party in the Assembly but I can see no mention of that in the Agreement.

    Here’s what in says in the 2006 Act:

    The nominating officer of the largest political party of the largest political designation shall nominate a member of the Assembly to be the First Minister.

    Surely there would have to be more Nationalists than Unionists in the Assembly for McGuinness to have a chance of FM. Or am I reading it wrong?

  • Kilwaughter

    Nevin,
    The legislation was changed at Westminster in the St Andrews Agreement Act 2007.
    This is the genie which the DUP let out of the bottle….

    OLD

    NI Act 1998 Section 16
    2) Each candidate for either office must stand for election jointly with a candidate for the other office.
    (3) Two candidates standing jointly shall not be elected to the two offices without the support of a majority of the members voting in the election, a majority of the designated Nationalists voting and a majority of the designated Unionists voting.

    NEW
    St Andrews Agreement Act 2007
    8 First Minister, deputy First Minister and Northern Ireland Ministers
    (1) For section 16 of the 1998 Act (First Minister and deputy First Minister) substitute—
    “16A Appointment of First Minister, deputy First Minister and Northern Ireland Ministers following Assembly election
    (4) The nominating officer of the largest political party of the largest political designation shall nominate a member of the Assembly to be the First Minister.
    (5) The nominating officer of the largest political party of the second largest political designation shall nominate a member of the Assembly to be the deputy First Minister.

  • Mick Fealty

    Indeed Kilwaughter. Trying to put it back in is a sort of undignified political idiocy that reflects very poorly on those advocating it.

  • Mick Fealty

    Nev,

    I see the point you are trying to make, it’s verging on the Jesuitical.

  • Kilwaughter, that’s precisely the quote that I’ve used. However, I’m informed that the genie appears in a qualifying clause further down the Act and not at St Andrews as Mick erroneously claims.

    Supplementary Clause 16C:

    If at any time the party which is the largest political party of the largest political designation is not the largest political party—
    (a) any nomination to be made at that time under section 16A(4) or 16B(4) shall instead be made by the nominating officer of the largest political party; and
    (b) any nomination to be made at that time under section 16A(5) or 16B(5) shall instead be made by the nominating officer of the largest political party of the largest political designation.

    I’m told that the UUP opposed 16C in the Lords but that the DUP didn’t.

  • Mick, I think the Jesuitical dimension didn’t appear until the drafting stage 🙂

  • Mark McGregor

    Nevin,

    You are correct. 16C did not appear in the St Andrews Agreement but magically appeared in the Act.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    GF

    The Conservatives have made it 100% clear they will only stay in the deal if the UUP do not have any further truck with the DUP for any election.

    The choice is clear, they cannot ride two horses at once, it is up to the UUP membership to decide what they want. Centrist non sectarian politics with the Cobnservatives or right wing sectarian politics with the DUP.

    The future or the past.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Re 16C

    The reason that the DUP did not oppose it was to push the ‘Vote for DUP to keep SF out’ line that spectacularly failed at the EU’s

    So the DUP are now using it for ‘unionist unity’ to keep SF out another spectacular failure in the making.

    More DUP self interest gone badly arwy.

  • Kilwaughter

    Nevin,

    You are spot on, copied and pasted wrong bit from HMSO. It is amendment 16C as you quite rightly say.

    DT said this at the time it was going through the House of Lords (22/11/06)…

    “Other matters in the Bill give us concern. Perhaps our greatest concern is about a last-minute change which was made to the legislation. It virtually ensures that, if something is not done, the election will be a disaster. I shall speak more about that change when we come to it, but, put simply, it will enable the DUP to go around Northern Ireland saying, “You must vote for us or you’ll get a Sinn Fein First Minister” and, at the same time, enable republicans to go around Northern Ireland and say to nationalists, “If you vote for us, you will get a republican First Minister”.

    The product of such a campaign can obviously be seen. It would not have happened but for a clause which slipped into the Bill at the last minute. I have no doubt that it slipped in because it suited both the DUP and Sinn Fein, and possibly because this was the only element of agreement that the Government could see between those two parties and so they grabbed it. However, they should have thought first before grabbing it because its consequences will be grim.”

  • Drumlins Rock

    For once I agree with Jim Alastair on this, the DUP should be “Hoist with your own petard” on this issue.

  • [quote][i]The nominating officer of the largest political party of the largest political designation shall nominate a member of the Assembly to be the First Minister….. Posted by Nevin on Feb 01, 2010 @ 03:07 PM[/i][/quote]

    Nevin,

    That suggests that the nominee would need to be elected and accepted with majority support from the Assembly and therefore the position is subject to a free vote of all Assembly members …… Yay or Nay, carried with a simple majority, rather than it being read as the way the DUP proposed it to be read. There could have been some cynical brainwashing there to lead a group think to render them an unwarranted advantage? Which some would say would not be at all inconsistent in the dodgy way of doing things in competitive adversarial politics?

    And subsequent “fine tuning” of earlier papers does not appear to change the above requirement that every nominee be also elected with a simple majority share of the vote.

    Hell, without that very simple and reasonable safeguard, what would be to stop the biggest party nominating a ridiculous bigoted idiot to the post unopposed?

  • Drumlins Rock

    Guys any Legal experts here? is it possible to have what appears to be two completely contadictory clauses in a bill? surely all the bill now say is the FM come from the largest party, and the DFM from the second largest, all the rest is waffle, and nonsensical, should it have become law at all and will it stand up in court?

  • John K Lund / Lllamedos / Suchard

    dThe Orangemen in the Troika have put the Orange Order before The Conservative and Unionists Pact.Their team at Hatfield and Schomberg house were all Great Panjandrums and Grand Viziers of the Orange Institution; which is a 32000 strong bunch of unpatriotic bully boys peddling their xenophobic vitriol against anyone who had the Cajones to attempt to stop them in their antediluvian approach to modern politics.
    The procrastination of agreed dates for candidate selection has been used to make certain they did not have a Roman Catholic Conservative candidate about in a half winnable seat and possibly no Conservative at all. The promotion of a certain Homophobic candidate in South Antrim is a complete insult to that constituency’s electorate.
    The Princess Diana like syndrome in North Down should have been dealt prior to the 42 day vote. The woman was clearly a Blair babe becoming a Brown sycophant possibly by over exposure to New Labour members.Reg if he is not careful will complete the North Down selection process after the Election.
    Alex Kane is to be congratulated for his article and also his letter of resignation and The Orange Institution further rammed into oblivion in the dustbin of history. They are no longer part of the UUP or most certainly not The Conservatives and Unionists and their members want to cast off their Orange crutches and acquire the self confidence to be political activists without Orangeism.

  • pittite

    The UCUNF project is the only deal approved by the UUP Executive the question remains why was McNarry on TV Hearts and minds promoting a 1970s ‘united we stand’ sectarian brand of unionist unity when his Executive the previous week had come out against such moves?Was he on a solo run or just not in touch with the Executive?Was the Leader and Chairman aware of the programme as their Director of Communications now discloses he was given minimal notice of it and also of the Schomberg House/Hatfied talks?It appears McNarry was also at odds with his local Strangford association at Saturdays management meeting where he failed to explain why he was at odds with his Executive.

    There is no doubt Cameron will pull the UNCUNF deal if there are closer ties with Orangeism/unreconstructed DUP.

    Reg needs to hold his nerve with his more outward looking vision for the wider Union,it appears UUP dinosaurs have been panicked by the threat of a Sinn Fein First Minister the very strategy Robinson has relied on to polarize the voters when he changed the rules at St Andrews.Reg should use his new found influence to change these rules to enshrine the co-equal nature of the offices of First and Deputy First Minister,this would defuse the need for unionst unity.

  • Alias

    Drumlins Rock, I’m not a lawyer but I covered this before so you might get some clarity from that old Slugger post:

    [i]Actually, it appears that the offending clause is Section 16C(6) of the Northern Ireland (St Andrews’ Agreement) Bill:

    If at any time the party which is the largest political party of the largest political designation is not the largest political party—

    (a) any nomination to be made at that time under section 16A(4) or16B(4) shall instead be made by the nominating officer of the largest political party; and

    (b) any nomination to be made at that time under section 16A(5) or16B(5) shall instead be made by the nominating officer of the largest political party of the largest political designation

    These are 16A(4) and 16A(5) respectively:

    (4) The nominating officer of the largest political party of the largest political designation shall nominate a member of the Assembly to be the First Minister.

    (5) The nominating officer of the largest political party of the second largest political designation shall nominate a member of the Assembly to be the deputy First Minister

    The largest party of the largest designation only nominates the First Minister if is also the largest party. In other words, the minority community may nominate the First Minister if the minority community has the largest party. That may indeed return to bite Mr Robinson on the ass.

    That is different from what is declared the British government’s St Andrews’ Agreement site, where it states in Annex A (Strand 1 Issues) that:

    “The Nominating Officer of the largest party in the largest designation in the Assembly shall make a nomination to the Assembly Presiding Officer for the post of First Minister. The Nominating Officer of the largest party in the second largest designation in the Assembly shall similarly nominate for the post of Deputy First Minister.”

    The official site states that it must be “the largest party in the largest designation in the Assembly” that nominates the First Minister. [/i]

    That was the Bill, which is different from the Agreement and different again from the Act. In the Agreement, it was the “the largest party in the largest designation” but that was qualified by being “in the Assembly” rather than “the largest designation” (unqualified). Clearly someone pulled strings between the Agreement and the Bill to get the desired change added to the Act.

    Unfortunately, the official site is now gone: http://www.standrewsagreement.org/annex_a.htm

  • Alias

    “Well no……it doesnt disqualify 45% from joining UUP any more than it disqualifies 55% from joining Sinn Féin.”

    Either you are confused or I am. Why would Irish nationalists join a British nationalist party? They would only support a party that declared that the nation they belonged to had no entitlement to a nation-state if they were not nationalists of that disenfranchised persuasion.

    “Not to labour the point but there is very little any of us can do about our ethnic label.”

    Are you a national group or an ethic group? If you are the latter, then are entitled to the same rights as other British citizens within the British state (since that is what the British constitution states). If you are a national group then you would not be seeking entitlements from a state that is not controlled by your nation.

    “There is after all a Government formula for so doing.”

    Yup, for granting you the same entitlements that all British citizens should enjoy.

    “But there is quite a lot we can do about making a decision on being unionist/loyalist or republican/nationalist.”

    I would think there is bugger all that can be done about it. The British nation has control of the State and good luck to you if it is your intention to persuade them that they are not British and should renounce their national rights. You might want to study some of the methods that the Security Services used to lead you to renounce your national rights (assuming you were Irish) but first you might want to buy up large chunks of the British media to spread similar propaganda since the British state have no intention of allowing you to borrow their media to promote a non-British national agenda. 😉

  • DerTer

    Alias
    Let’s try to tidy this up a bit. Can you explain why, according to your earlier post, the necessity to be a unionist to join the UUP “disqualifies circa 45% of the population of Northern Ireland from ever becoming UUP candidates”? In particular can you explain which 45% of the population you are talking about? Are you talking about the Catholic population by any chance? If so, are you saying it is impossible to be a Catholic and a Unionist? Let me give you a lead in to your response: later in the same post you say ” the British state’s agenda of misrepresenting nationalism within NI as being sectarianism…is blatantly designed to maintain the constitutional status of Northern Ireland and by his and the state’s own logic is ‘sectarianism’”. You catch my drift? Kettle and pot?
    However, you compound your less than subtle sectarianism in your latest contribution. In response to the eminently sensible rejoinder: “Well no……it doesnt disqualify 45% from joining UUP any more than it disqualifies 55% from joining Sinn Féin.”, you say “Either you are confused or I am. Why would Irish nationalists join a British nationalist party?” when what you surely mean is why would Catholics want to join a unionist party.

  • DerTer

    Sorry – forgot to add “The answer of course is that maybe they want the union with GB to be maintained”

  • aquifer

    Poor Alex. Domestic abuse in the Unionist family and the UUP just keep coming back for more. The Paisleyites slapping them about, but still the earthy male embrace of the Orange holds so much comfort. They know they should leave, but they just can’t seem to think straight. Trimble did theory, but he got shafted too -right?

    Time to join a real UK party, like Alliance?