The CUs election and Rowan Atkinson

Mr. Bean is one of Rowan Atkinson’s greatest comic creations. Wikipedia describes the character well as follows: “ (he) is a slow-witted, sometimes ingenious, selfish and generally likeable buffoon who brings various unusual schemes and connivances to everyday tasks…. The humour largely comes from his original (and often absurd) solutions to problems and his total disregard for others when solving them, his pettiness, and occasional malevolence.” (Most of you must have worked out where this is going)Of all the politicians in Northern Ireland the one who seems most suited to these descriptions has to be the UUP’s own Mr. Bean: Reg Empey.

At the time of the European election I suggested that the UUP might be experiencing a dead cat bounce as their progress seemed more related to the TUV slicing off approaching a half of the DUP’s support than any significant advance of their own vote. However, the DUP promptly managed to develop a crisis of pretty unimaginable proportions. When Irisgate developed it looked briefly as if Peter Robinson might fall and practically all the DUP’s Westminster seats looked vulnerable; all the CUs had to do was not make a mess, choose some decent candidates, keep to some sensible policies and they might have expected several seats to fall to them. Clearly the CUs had some problems especially having a limited pool of talent but they might have expected to take a number of seats.

However, cometh the hour, cometh the CU’s Mr. Bean, in fairness helped loyally by an almost equally incompetent group of followers. They might have thought that having a fairly open selection procedure would raise the candidates and the party’s profile, a little like it did for David Cameron with the Tory leadership election. However, the selection procedure quickly descended into farce with the much vaunted Catholic candidates pulling out. Then we had the spectacle of the Conservatives vetoing Adrian Watson for holding unacceptable views on Christian guest house owners being allowed to refuse homosexual couples: views so dreadful that Conservative shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling felt compelled to say exactly the same thing; strangely he did not get vetoed.

The UUP’s tactics towards the policing and justice minister might have been sensible. They were underlining the problems with community confidence, something the DUP had stated was necessary for P&J devolution to occur. It was a reasonable political position. However, it was articulated from two positions simultaneously: the hard line one that P&J devolution was a Lundy typed sell out and simultaneously the liberal one that the DUP and SF were too extreme and hard line to allow a proper functioning executive. Such a Janus headed position might well have worked years ago (under Jim Molyneaux) when the UUP was a broad church which could be simultaneously to the left and right of the DUP. However, in the straightened times the UUP (with or without Conservative tie up) are unable to both out right and out left the DUP.

The UUP, with the CU tie up have of course tried to present their new project as a complete break with the past. However, that position has become very difficult to sustain on the P&J issue with the Westminster Conservatives supporting P&J devolution. The UUP portion of the CUs has been left looking as if it was trying to out right the DUP and making a bit of a fool of itself. That is of course unfair as the DUP were the ones who themselves stated that they would need UUP support to accept P&J devolution. Hence, this should be the DUP’s problem but who ever said that politics should be fair? Indeed it should have been the DUP in complete chaos, as the UUP refused to give them cover over their P&J sell out to the wishes of republicans. However, although the DUP have been damaged in the eyes of many unionists, the CUs have failed to reap the benefits.

Reg Empey and the CUs have managed to make the situation even worse with their candidate selection. Even Trimble only just lost Upper Bann but a seat which just after Christmas looked a certainty to fall back to the UUP, especially as it became increasingly clear that there would be no TUV candidate reverted as a likely DUP hold. The CUs chose Harry Hamilton, no doubt a decent person but a poor candidate and simply passed the advantage back to the DUP.

The utter incompetence of the whole CU project is demonstrated nowhere better than by the fact that their most non sectarian and civic unionist of public representatives, Sylvia Hermon, ended up leaving the party. That self inflicted blow illustrates almost better than any other how the CUs have managed to let the near certainty of huge gains slip through their fingers.

The simple reality now is that the only gain of which the CUs can be fairly confident of is South Antrim: Strangford now would represent a significant extra benefit. In multiple other constituencies the DUP’s main challengers are now the TUV. Obviously North Antrim but in addition it is difficult to see Daphne Trimble posing as much of a threat as Keith Harbinson. Jeffrey Donaldson might be the front runner but if by chance any disaster should befall him it would be the TUV not the CUs who would gain another seat. The situation is repeated in several other seats: David Vance is at least level pegging with Trevor Ringland in East Belfast and probably ahead; Willie Ross, a better and more likely option than Lesley Macaualy in East Londonderry. In East Antrim Rodney McCune has certainly been less prominent than Sammy Morrison.

Ironically despite the abject disaster which the CU’s answer to Mr. Bean, Reg Empey is in the process of visiting on the UUP, he might well end up remaining their leader. Whilst the rest of his candidates may fail, Reg is the most likely to succeed and it may prove remarkably difficult for the CUs to get rid of their personally successful though corporately disastrous leader, the more so if he ends up being their only MP. If one could believe that Reg had been so Machiavellian as to engineer the Adrian Watson debacle in order to become an MP, perversely he might be worthy of some respect: He might be more Blackadder than Mr. Bean. However, to expect such cleverness from Reg would be complete fantasy. Ironically the best person for CU voters to support in South Antrim should they really want long term success for their party might be Mel Lucas.

  • Harry J

    is this the same incompetent CUs that Jim ALlister has told his supporters to vote for?


  • Turgon

    Harry J,
    I suppose an honest half wit is probably better than a dishonest one. Also I do not think Jim Allister has advocated supporting Reg Empey in South Antrim.

    The fact that on a pretty CU bashing blog you immediately attack the TUV shows where you think the real threat to the DUP comes from in this election. I suppose I should thank you for proving my point that the TUV are the main threat to the DUP.

  • Harry J

    Turgon it was your leader who said to support the CUs


  • dundonald voter

    turgon why get annoyed at that silly wee man? the dup dosnt jnow its arse from its elbow check out the punts economic policies on their manifesto and the sammy wilson contradicting it!!! its now official they are useless!! ask harry about the dup link up with the lib dems yes thats the ones who gave us home rule the last time they had power. then ask him about the labour party a unashamedly reunification party!! like i said you just need to look at their economic policy which sammy blew out of the wate(they dont even talk to each other now) and then listen to their supporters linking up with lib dems and lab. if ever anyone would make you vote any one but the corrupted party its that numpty!!

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    I agree totally, it is hard to think of any political party that has made such a pigs mickey out the opportunity that was gifted to them by the Iris affair and Wee Reggie may as well have bought a red nose, buckets and ladders to go with his bowler hat and invited everyone (except Sylv and Adrain and of course any Fenians) into the big UCUNF tent for a hearty belly laugh at the two totally incompatible circus animals trying to copulate.

  • Mrazik

    Jeffrey Donaldson might be the front runner but if by chance any disaster should befall him it would be the TUV not the CUs who would gain another seat.

    What might that be Turgon?

  • ding dong

    Here Harry, in Upper Bann there is only one Homer Simpson as the kids have pointed out/embelished the DUPs posters, and we know he’s not a very happy DUP MP, in fact many think he would be very at home inthe TUV but to suggest that he supports the UUPs is really pushing it!

  • dundonald voter

    harry why did your party say it would only go into government with sinn fein once they decommisioned? does 60% now count for full decommision?/ another lie eh harry

  • dundonald voter

    ding dong the simpsons are beginning to decidely look like the robinsons!!!

  • alan56

    Its not too late to tell all your supporters to vote C and U. Thats probably Harry’s concern!!!

  • Turgon

    Harry J,
    Yes I am sure he suggested supporting them in North Antrim, South Antrim, east Antrim, East Londonderry, Lagan Valley etc. etc.

    Now I am sure you might be able to put up posters or do something useful for the DUP as your attempts at spinning seem even more incompetent than usual.

    The UUP are pretty useless but at least they opposed Sinn Fein’s long term goal of getting the control of policing and justice out of the control of London and instead into the hands of the poodle David Ford. The UUP may be almost completely useless but at least they seem to be capable of establishing when an idea is actually one useful to Sinn Fein and against the interests of unionists.

  • dundonald voter

    they always said that you had to be really stupid to vote for the dupes. listen to harry and that answers everything!! wee footnote harry the dupes dont want you stupid people anymore thats why they are getting good looking males and females from america!! smart and attractive!! get out before its to late

  • alan56

    Even a small allotment in East Belfast which you dont own but might help your family feed itself costs more than a fiver !

  • dundonald voter

    honestly mate they only used you till they got into power. the sad thing for the punt even his manifesto launch now isnt even in east belfast. east belfast dont want him and he has to now hold manifesto laundhes in the ulster hall!!! roll on the election till we get rid of the punt and the puntess!!!

  • Interesting thoughts Turgon. I think you’re right on Empey making a mess, although I don’t think the DUP was ever in as bad a position as you suggest. I’d be surprised if the TUV takes second place in the unionist race in as many places as you suggest. But I suppose the UUP are in that much chaos it is entirely possible.

    On a separate but related note, and sparked by Harry J’s remarks. Has the TUV explicitly addressed why it it is contesting seats against the DUP and UUP on the grounds they are in the Executive only in some areas. I mean, I can see the logic of not wanting to cost unionism seats, but is there a question here of applying a principle accross the board, and not doing so? That seems to me it might be a gap in their claims to be acting on principle whereas all other unionists have sold out.

  • John East Belfast


    “David Vance is at least level pegging with Trevor Ringland in East Belfast and probably ahead;”

    Where did you hear that ?

    I bet you £100 for Slugger tip jar that Trevor polls DV at least 2 to 1

  • slug


    I think you are too negative about the CUs candidates. Many of them are new faces with a lot of promise. There is not the old grey haired male problem that the UUP used to suffer. Rather they reflect a changing politics.

    I think some of your assersions above carry bias, particularly those in the second last paragrah.

    I believe you are wrong on Lady Hermon, there was no way she was ever going to sign up to the CU agenda so it was right to run someone else.

    Regarding Reg himself, I think he can certainly be criticised for not going for the kill – he does not have the ruthless streak that could have taken advantage of the DUP.

    If anything the UUP need to be stepping up the attacks on the DUP in their vulnerable areas in particular the stories about links with developers, their poor record at Westminster, their populist “jam today jam tomorrow” economics.

    But the CUs are spelling out their message of being a party that can form a UK government and I think that is a good message.

    The election is something of an experiment for the CUs – they have new clear message and a fresh and promising set of candidates. Its something different for unionism and I applaud Reg for offering the electorate that.

  • alan56

    David Vance should support TR… is that not the logic?

  • alan56

    What I mean is that DV cannot win EB but TR could cause Robbo problems

  • dundonald voter

    The election is something of an experiment for the CUs – they have new clear message and a fresh and promising set of candidates. Its something different for unionism and I applaud Reg for offering the electorate that totally agree slug

    just wish they could be a little bit nastier but then we want good people to represent us, so keep them the way they are. reg could take s.a all right

  • slug

    Dundonald Voter and Turgon

    Not all voters appreciate nastiness.

    Robinson’s “are you dense” interview with Seamus McKee really turned me off Robinson. It shows a smallness to him.

    Jim Allister is guilty of being too negative at times. However he is not like Robinson when it comes to nastiness of the type in the McKee interview.

    Robinson has really blotted his copy book.

  • smellybigoxteronye

    Got to agree with you Turgon on East Antrim. While I think the direction that the UCUs are plotting for the long-term is one I would support, I just can’t vote for them at present due to the poor candidate selection. While Rodney McCune seems like a nice enough kid, I just can’t vote for him as I think Sammy Wilson will represent the constituency much more effectively.

  • Harry Jay

    Turgon your just too stupid to see what the DUP is doing. We see the bigger picture. Your just an uneducated TUV dinosaur

  • dundonald voter

    23.Turgon your just too stupid to see what the DUP is doing. We see the bigger picture. Your just an uneducated TUV dinosaur

    what picture do the dup see harry ? well they will see a lot of pictures after the election. by the way did you see were the punt held his elction manifesto? wasnt in east belfast maybe the campaign there isnt going very well. in fact harry i live in east belfast and i can tell you it aint!! people are actually ripping up the leaflets in his face. hasnt been at a door since

  • dundonald voter

    time to go punt

  • dundonald voter

    i hear clontibret is a nice place to go in may

  • emanonon


    The TUV’s high water mark was the EU’s, reports from several constituencies report the CU’s are in fact the recipients of fed up DUP voters not the TUV. Ringland will win East Belfast, Empey South Antrim, Hamilton Upper Bann, with probably at least one other. Allister will not be going to Westminster in North Antrim.

    The TUV will not get 5% of the vote in Northern Ireland overall.

  • “The situation is repeated in several other seats: David Vance is at least level pegging with Trevor Ringland in East Belfast and probably ahead”

    I’d love to see the evidence on that one Turgon!
    I suspect DV will hold the defeat of Robinson, by whomever, and the resulting inner turmoil of the DUP as a moral victory. I can’t believe he thinks he’ll be the man to deliver the killer blow.

    Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Are you the wreckless gambler formerly known as “Moderate Unionist”? our bet’s still on I trust?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    “Are you the wreckless gambler formerly known as “Moderate Unionist”?”

    certainly not, but due to unforseen bovine difficulties down on MU’s farm making him unavailable to the virtual world I have agreed with the big fat agricultural Prod to take over his bets in a cross community gesture.

  • Good man;)

  • Framer

    Turgon is right about the UUP and the Policing and Justice vote which also showed that the Conservatives will not temper their NI policies because of UCUNF.

    I think it is the UUP Assembly Party which has a become a row of Mr Beans. Unstaked they grow in every direction and think only of the little world of Stormont.

    McNarry and McFarland are key examples, although the latter has followed Sylvia into the uber-moderate wilderness, to be joined by too many of the Westminster candidates, bar Reg and Michael Nesbitt.

  • cynic2

    Oh dear Turgon. Are you suffereing an attack of bile or have you just supped too much of the old communion wine?

    Despite all your desperate puffery the voters will have their poll on the TUV on 6th May. My betting is that it won’t be pretty.some of your analysis is, frankly, risible. Have you read David Vance’s blogs for example? Would you vot for him?

    In any case winning or not (and the CUs) are out to win, I would rather be on the side of the angels trying to drain the muddy, corrupt, sectarian political swamp, than just wallowing in it arguing about who has more mud on them than the next man,

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    of course there is one watery constituency now up to its political oxters in the tribal swamp and we know where the responsibility for that lies.

  • The Raven

    “Ringland will win East Belfast, Empey South Antrim, Hamilton Upper Bann, with probably at least one other.”

    I think it would be reasonable to add East Londonderry into those potentials.

  • The Raven

    “Ringland will win East Belfast, Empey South Antrim, Hamilton Upper Bann, with probably at least one other. Allister will not be going to Westminster in North Antrim.”

    I think it’s also getting reasonable to add in East Londonderry to that tally too.

  • The Raven

    Oops…still getting used to the speed!!! Sorry!