The two faces of UUP policy…

“NORTH Down must be an interesting place to be these days,” the LibDem’s Northern Ireland spokesman told the Commons during Monday’s debate on the devolution of justice powers.

Alistair Carmichael was, of course, referring to the constituency’s Ulster Unionist MP Lady Hermon’s support for the transfer of powers – in stark contrast to the Ulster Unionist position in the Assembly.

But he was also referring to Conservative member Ian Parsley – UCUNF candidate for North Down – who has come out against his own party’s position in favour of the UUP’s.

Ian has retaliated at the LibDems, which suggests a nerve was hit, although to be fair he maintained his opposition to dump his own leader’s position in favour of Sir Reg Empey’s. It will be interesting to see if Ian’s new policy alignment with a party he once described as men in grey suits works out.

Still, he should feel right at home if he jump ship again, since UUP positions tend to shift fairly easily. Step forward Sir Reg Empey, who has apparently been considering voting for the SDLP candidate for the Justice Ministry.

Why a party opposed to the position being taken by ANYONE right now is simultaneously considering backing an SDLP candidate is contradictory enough. But when you consider that Sir Reg previously voiced concerns about David Ford not being unionist enough to take the job, it gives you an idea of just how principled his decision to vote against the devolution of justice powers really was.
For those who forget, Reg wrote:

[A]re we to assume that the Alliance Party in general and David Ford in particular don’t really care one way or the other about the Union? Because if that is the case then it explains why they have never really been noted for their enthusiastic promotion of the Union.

And this does matter, because … David Ford has given a very clear indication that the Alliance Party is prepared to take the Justice Ministry. Many unionists – those who are not agnostic on the issue – would be very concerned that our first Justice Minister could therefore be someone who is not pro-Union.

In that case he should be even more concerned about supporting the SDLP candidate the job. The UUP would look utterly hypocritical to vote for the SDLP, so I hope they do.

In essence, we have a UUP MP lining up on the same side as the DUP against her own party, a Tory taking a UUP position against his own party, and the UUP leader thinking about opposing himself.

There’s nothing quite like a clear message. Good luck Davy Sims!

(Hat-tip: Roe Valley Socialist)

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  • Driftwood

    Gonzo
    Why did you pull your thread on Dr Paul Miller?

  • joeCanuck

    How many toes does the honourable knight have left? Hasn’t he shot himself in the foot a few times? I guess he has been lucky so far in that he hasn’t shot his foot when it was in his mouth.

  • Neil

    I love it. Reg the serial coalition addict is nought but a liability.

  • Greenflag

    gonzo,

    ‘we have a UUP MP lining up on the same side as the DUP against her own party, a Tory taking a UUP position against his own party, and the UUP leader thinking about opposing himself.’

    Hilarious . Shakespeare’s ‘Comedy of Errors’ is finally replaced by 21st century ‘Comedy of Unionists’;)

    ‘There’s nothing quite like a clear message.’

    :):)
    quite !

    Janus faced ‘unionism is bad enough but to show three faeces in the one God is an achievement which on this isle was only ever accomplished by Patricius himself with the aid of the trefoil a.k.a shamerock .

    But what can we call a movement that displays three faces at the one time ?

    A quick google search and up comes the following,

    ‘A lune or biangle. For example, a segment of an orange, which has two plane surfaces and one curved one. ‘ (one supposes the curved one is lady Slyvia ;)?

    Segment of an orange seems somehow so fitting in this case;) .

    Biangular Lunes of Orange Division (BLOOD) however doesn’t match UCUNF as an acronym even if a lot of it is spilt in the upcoming demise of one or perhaps two of Unionism’s biangular lunes ;)?

  • Mike

    Greenflag

    “Three faeces”?:-)

  • Impartial Reporter

    I think Greenflag said exactly what he meant.

  • alan56

    Driftwood,

    What’s that about Dr Paul Miller?

  • joeCanuck

    He’s the guy who can “cure” gays.

  • Neil

    And he’s struggled with thoughts of man love himself allegedly.

  • alan56

    Amazing thread.. where next….South Antrim?

  • IJP

    Gonzo

    This idea that I’m opposed to my own party’s position is one of those that if you repeat it often enough people will believe it’s true. It’s actually claptrap.

    My party’s position is that devolution of policing and justice should proceed as quickly as possible, but that the details of that should be negotiated by all the local parties – thus, Westminster passes the relevant legislation, and Stormont passes it too once the detail is accepted.

    But the details were not negotiated by all the local parties, and thus could not be accepted by them all. I simply stated that I fail to see why any party left out of the negotiation – far less one deliberately excluded to such an extent that they had to download the deal from a public affairs website! – should have to vote for a deal without any accompanying detail.

    Also I, and all my party colleagues, local and national, did view this as an opportunity to get the Executive functioning properly – an opportunity which has been missed. The poor performance of the institutions and popular ridicule to which they have been subjected brings the very reputation of devolution (upon which both the Belfast and St Andrews Agreements are predicated) into serious disrepute. This does nothing for the political or economic stability we all want to see.

    There’s no inconsistency there, an plenty of evidence of positions being taken for the good of Northern Ireland, rather than immediate party political gain. If you want inconsistency and party political gain, try “There will be no devolution of policing and justice during this Parliament” or “Devolution [of justice] will not occur in a political lifetime” – both said by DUP MPs within the past year. Why did they vote in favour? We all know the real answer.

    I’m afraid I do have to wonder about my former party too – when I left it, it was opposed to the Programme for Government on a number of grounds, few of which have received any attention from the Executive since (not much has, after all). Yet, magically, it is about to sign up to that very same Programme. People might remember that the next time they accuse others of lacking principles.

  • Greenflag

    impartial reporter,

    ‘I think Greenflag said exactly what he meant’

    Normally this is the case but I was so impressed by Gonzo’s side splitting compression of the sheer lunacy of the situation that I could not resist joining in the general badinage at another of ‘unionism’s own goals 😉

    Davy Sims has it all to do . I trust he can walk on water . He’ll need to 😉

  • Harry J

    ijp it is the UUP who are the ONLY party in th assembly not to agree to the devolution of policing, are you saying it is conservative policy that the will of the majority of people be held up because 18 old men are having a hissy fit?

    “Devolution [of justice] will not occur in a political lifetime”

    was actually no sinn fein policing and justice minister, although im will accept your version if you show me the actual quote

  • joeCanuck

    South Antrim? From the BBC:

    It is understood the South Antrim Ulster Unionist Adrian Watson may yet be reinstated as the party’s choice of candidate for the Westminster election.
    Sources suggest the party leadership has been in touch seeking clarification on a range of issues.
    Mr Watson had been told on Monday by a senior Ulster Unionist he was no longer deemed suitable, after the Conservatives raised objections.

  • Harry J

    The poor performance of the institutions and popular ridicule to which they have been subjected brings the very reputation of devolution (upon which both the Belfast and St Andrews Agreements are predicated) into serious disrepute…..

    of course the tories could bring in a voluntary coalition which would provide better government. why wont they?

  • Greenflag

    harry j ,

    ‘of course the tories could bring in a voluntary coalition which would provide better government. why wont they?’

    Because SF and the SDLP would walk out and there would be no ‘devolved ‘ government . The Tories despite their new found ‘unionism’ in theory would much prefer to keep NI at the end of a long spoon in practice . As it was in Carson’s time-is now and forever shall be until such time as the spoon no longer reaches the grubby chins of the ungrateful .

    As to the poor performance of the institutions and the popular ridicule I would’nt fret . There’s hardly an ‘anglophone ‘ government anywhere on the planet now that is not the subject of popular ridicule and convulsed by economic paralysis .

    It’s no longer Government by the people nor even government by the elected politicians -it’s government by the banks and Wall St aided and abetted by the City of London. Our politicians are all scared shitless of getting on the wrong side of the ‘money men’.

  • Procrasnow

    The UUP most have a very short supply of potential candidates if they may yet reinstate Adrian Watson. I am very suspicious about converts. what was the reason for the conversion from anti gay to pro gay? surely not the potential salary as an MP? I listened to his TV interview a few minutes ago from the BBC archive, when he referred to homosexual as ‘that’ he would not have ‘that’ in his guest house/home. If He and his wife checked the marriage licences of heterosexual couples attempting to book into the guest house, then the ‘Christian’ objection would be balanced but I imagine if that were the case we all would have read about it before now. I imagine Christian parents who would not want their daughter exposed to the reality of 2 men sharing the one room and bed, would like wise not want their daughter exposed to the reality of an unmarried man and woman sharing the same room and bed.

    There is a wave of information circulating in gay circles this year, since kirk’s girl friend revelations, indicating that in the census of 2001 there were 67,600 unmarried cohabiting couples, of which 1,300 were gay. That is 66 cohabiting straights for every 1 gay cohabiting couple. or as it says 66 fornication couples for every gay sex couple. Why are Christians only concerned with the 1 and not the 66, that fornication is the 1st sin of Sodom in the Epistle of Jude, strange flesh being the 2nd.

    As one with gay members of my family circle I would like to see more of Adrian Watson’s conversion that just hearing about it. I think there needs to be a time to test the waters so to speak to build public confidence, and maybe he could run next time, when his actions in being pro gay outstrip his past in being anti-gay.

    The ‘normal’ majority who embrace diversity are a bit like the catholic church, we accept converts, but dont make a convert Pope on the day of his conversion.

    What does anyone think of him showing his openness and acceptance of gays now by walking in the gay pride parade this year to show his support? Not just talking about it, showing it?

  • Cheers for the hat-tip Gonzo.

    The UCUNF project is proving rather difficult for both parties involved, although Ian makes a valiant attempt to hide it. Also during that debate Sir Patrick Cormac, the Conservative chairman of the Northern Ireland Affairs committee, criticised the Ulster Unionist Party for their stance on the devolution of these powers. The Conservative Party want to look like a responsible party of government, taking a bipartisan line on Policing and Justice, yet this is in tension with the requirement to keep the UUP on side.

  • Driftwood

    certainly makes South Antrim an intersting place these days.
    I wonder if the Rev.’Dr’ Willie McCrea will chip in with his views on Adrian Watson’s outlook.

  • Comrade Stalin

    IJP:

    There’s no inconsistency there

    IJP, you can’t seriously get away with claiming that it is consistent to vote in one place to proceed with devolving these powers, and vote in another place to frustrate those efforts. Do you really think people are going to wear that ?

    Likewise, you can’t claim that a party which continues to participate in an executive can criticize the working of that executive while still claiming to be principled. There’s a lot to be desired in the way the executive is operated by the DUP and SF – so why didn’t the UUP/SDLP resign and use the opposition benches to mount a campaign for reform ? I’d have been quite happy to support Alliance joining them.

    A cynical person, seeking to explain the strange UUP behaviour, might refer to the value of ministerial salaries. A less cynical person might argue that the way to effect political change is to work with what you’ve got and do what you can to influence it. That’s why your argument about the deal being a bad one is wrong and misses the point, and it is why you and the UUP can now be regarded as an anti-agreement element.

  • alan56

    CS
    What with the P&J vote in Stormont and the possibility of UUP voting for an SDLP Justice minister we might be witnessing the beginnings of an ‘opposition’ at Stormont. How it would work out…who knows but it will be interesting to see UUP voting for a nationalist minister while SF are voting against a nationalist minister. Curiouser and curiouser!

  • cynic47

    IJP

    Did you ever mention any of the concerns held by the UUP to DC? Are you he only card carrying Tory standing shoulder to shoulder with the UUP on this issue? Why did Owen Paterson not take the opportunity to vindicate your position in Parliament the other day?

  • alan56

    I think if you look at some votes in the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly there are occassions where alliances are formed that do not exist at Westminister. Is that not what devolution is all about?

  • dwatch

    Its not the first time Conservatives NI and their Tory buddies across the pond have been totally inconsistent with each other. NI Tories opposed the GFA alongside the DUP and the main Conservative Party in UK supported the UUP, & SDLP in implementing the 1998 GFA.

    Read evidence:

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

  • Comrade Stalin

    alan56,

    SF will be voting for Alban as the first nominee, but the vote will fall because it won’t have DUP support, so SF will “reluctantly” vote for Ford, their second choice. It’s all high farce.

    Things would be “interesting” if the SDLP and UUP left the executive, which is the only way they could really pretend to be an opposition. It is impossible for them to be as serious as Parsley is trying to claim they are about fixing the problems if they are prepared to continue operating the structures.

    My own contention is that the UUP won’t line up with the SDLP because they won’t get into bed with fenians. I’d love to be proven wrong, as that’s when we’d know things really are changing.

  • alan56

    CS
    Oh ye of little faith! You might be right though. Surely any issues where unionist/nationalist don’t just vote on orange/green split represents some movement? For better or worse.

  • Not sure about the Greens and the PUP but if the UUP, Sinn Féin and the SDLP supported Alban Maginness then it would leave only the DUP and Alliance supporting David Ford. Of course, the DUP alone can veto the SDLP nomination but David Ford’s ‘cross-community’ support would only be a technicality.

  • YelloSmurf

    1967, even with the PUP supporting Alban, he would not have a majority of the Unionist vote without the DUP. In addition, because a cross-community vote only requires a majority of Unionists and a majority of Nationalists, the votes of those who are not designated as either are not counted (so the Green Party won’t have any influence over the vote. Brian Wilson could vote for Carmen Miranda to be justice minister for all the good it will do him).

  • YelloSmurf,

    Yes, I made that point myself when I said ‘Of course, the DUP alone can veto the SDLP nomination but David Ford’s ‘cross-community’ support would only be a technicality.’

  • YelloSmurf

    Indeed, 1967. And when you put it like that it shows just how mental the current system is. I don’t know what your thoughts are, but I would much rather see a weighted majority. I would be prepared to have it very heavily weighted if it could make parties more comfortable with it, but I’m aware that it will probably not happen any time soon.

  • YelloSmurf,

    That is definitely an idea worthy of discussing. ‘Ugly scaffolding’ and all that…

  • Jack Black

    Comrade,

    So David Ford will be Justice Minister because the DUP wont have a Catholic in the job? How very cross community.

  • slug

    1967

    I am really much less of an Alliance supporter than I used to be, but it remains a disgrace that their votes count for less. This is a human rights issue-one man one vote. Alliance, being meek, don’t rock the boat on this, but they should. As should Greens.

    Perhaps however the most important reform is to have an official oppisition system. When Alliance join the Executive the absurdity of no opposition party will be even more plain to see.

  • Impartial Reporter

    I think I raised this a little while ago…….

    Alliance (shome mishtake surely?) Party members, will you use your positions within your party to ensure your candidate is withdrawn so that the candidate who is voted for by everybody but the DUP (and yourselves) can take the position they deserve under the electoral mandate they have been given.

    Or will you let your party ‘steal’ a seat in a dysfunctional Executive?

  • Impartial Reporter

    Slug

    Problem with the creation of an opposition is two fold;

    Parties would have to set aside the constitutional issue.

    ‘Short Money’ would have to be made available to maintain a resourced opposition – not sure that will be given.

    An agreement that placed the largest elected party from each designation in government and the 2nd largest party from each designation as the funded opposition would be a real step forward.

    But none of our 4 shit-for-brains executive member groups can see beyond their own petty, dysfunctional ministries

  • YelloSmurf

    Nineteensixtyseven

    I’m not even sure that it is ugly scaffolding (although I hope that some of that comes down eventually), it’s just exchanging one bit of ugly scaffolding for a less ugly bit.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    IJP

    You seem to have forgotten that your party leader Cameron phoned Reg, urging him to vote for the transfer of justice. Hardly the nuanced position you put forward.

    But nice to see yourself lined up behind your new party leader – the one who thought David Ford wasn’t unionist enough to be justice minister, but the SDLP is OK. How principled would the UUP seem if they now vote for ANYONE, given all your arguments above?

    Now THAT’S claptrap.

  • dwatch

    [i]SF will be voting for Alban as the first nominee, but the vote will fall because it won’t have DUP support,[/i]

    Together these three parties SF, SDLP & UUP have 62 MLA’s. If they all voted in the assembly they would have 57.4.
    Surely this is enough to elect an SDLP candidate as P&J minister?

  • dwatch

    [i]SF will be voting for Alban as the first nominee, but the vote will fall because it won’t have DUP support,[/i]

    Together these three parties SF, SDLP & UUP have 62 MLA’s. If they all voted in the assembly they would have 57.4 percent.
    Surely this is enough to elect an SDLP candidate as P&J minister?

  • YelloSmurf

    No, Dwatch, because it requires a majority of Unionists and a majority of Nationalists. Without the DUP there is not a majority of Unionists so it falls.

  • Driftwood

    Why not give the post to Brian Wilson of the Green Party, everyone will be happy.

    Apart from the absurd Finlay Spratt who is up for most ridiculous public sector union loony of the year.
    Beating BA and the National Rail Network will be a real triumph for parochial politics here.

    I’m sure Alliance will take a principled stand in voting for the Green Party or SDLP or otherwise they would be guilty of cynical self promotion.

    Or just give it to Ford, whose dying to appear relevant and be done with this non event. Real power will still lie with SoS Owen Paterson.

  • Impartial Reporter

    AHEM!!!!!

    9.I think I raised this a little while ago…….

    Alliance (shome mishtake surely?) Party members, will you use your positions within your party to ensure your candidate is withdrawn so that the candidate who is voted for by everybody but the DUP (and yourselves) can take the position they deserve under the electoral mandate they have been given.

    Or will you let your party ‘steal’ a seat in a dysfunctional Executive?