TUV: the end?

When Jim Allister stood in the King’s Hall to make his speech after the European election enormous things seemed possible for the TUV. The high likelihood of him taking North Antrim at the General election seemed clear. This morning to quote Harold McCusker: “I felt desolate because as I stood in the cold …..everything that I held dear turned to ashes in my mouth.”

Although that statement was by Harold McCusker regarding the Anglo Irish Agreement it could equally be used to describe the state of the TUV following this election. It may not have been a complete electoral destruction but it was remarkably close to it. It seems that the suggestions that Jim Allister’s European vote was a protest vote were correct and the Belfast Telegraph poll which I derided only a few days ago was wrong for over rather than underestimating the TUV’s popular support.

More difficult for the TUV is that they ran a remarkably good campaign: good in all save votes gained. No members said terrible mad things: none of us called anyone a bigot. The TUV representatives on television were uniformly well presented, articulate and coherent. It might have seemed fair at the time to complain that the TUV should have been involved in the leaders’ debate but now it looks reasonable such was their level of support. Furthermore the failure to put Jim Allister on with the other leaders cannot be pretended to have cost the TUV the 40,000 votes they lost between last year and this. In debate with Paisley junior on UTV Allister was felt by most independents to have come out the victor and he might very well have defeated the other leaders had he been on with them. However, it is most unlikely that Peter Robinson or Reg Empey would have performed as disastrously as Diane Dodds and it is also unlikely that Allister’s demolition of her was worth those 40,000 votes.

The TUV clearly did not stand in every constituency so some fall in vote would have been possibly acceptable even though it would have been contrary to the gaining of momentum which is always vital in politics. Again, however, there is no way that the seats which the TUV did not contest could have yielded the 40,000 votes they lost.

The blame cannot be laid at the door of the TUV’s candidates either: clearly Jim was the star but there were others who were far from poor candidates. One might argue Sammy Morrison was a bit young and parachuted into the area but he fought a quite brilliant campaign: brilliant until the voters entered the polling booths that is. Keith Harbinson was the near victor of Dromore and yet he little more than quadrupled his vote with an electorate almost ten times as numerous. If one suggests that Keith Harbinson was too young then the TUV had more experienced campaigners: David Vance, potentially the perfect age to go into politics managed a mere 5.4% of a massively unionist electorate. The fact that his vote was greater than the margin by which Peter Robinson lost might raise a wry smile but even if (and I doubt it) all those votes had gone to the DUP it is not something which hard line unionists should be crowing about. To see a party and a candidate agnostic on the union defeat a unionist no matter what the personal rivalries of the past is something not befitting traditional unionism.

Other TUV candidates had all the experience and gravitas one could ask for. Willie Ross might have been criticised as at times a less than perfect MP but he had an impeccable history of hard line unionism; had been an MP for years and for much of that time a popular one. He was running in a seat containing amongst the most hard line unionists in Northern Ireland: the CU’s candidate was butchered by Gregory Campbell the outsider from Londonderry city yet Willie Ross the local even harder liner was cast aside with only 2,572: a vote which made Lesley Macaulay’s pretty pathetic 6,218 look half decent. The story was the same in Strangford where Terry Williams the former mayor of Newtownards and hard working charity campaigner gained a derisory 5.6% of the vote.

The TUV’s campaign was as good as it could have been; the candidates were more than reasonable. The only conclusion therefore can be that the message was not one which unionists wanted to hear. One might try to argue that the TUV’s campaign was too negative and maybe it was. However, the discussions of sleaze and so forth helped secure Jim Allister those 66,000 protest votes last year. In addition Peter Robinson was almost certainly brought down by people being fed up with the taint of the Swish Family and as such pretending that it was a major mistake to go hard after the expenses etc. is not a fair explanation of the TUV’s defeat.

The TUV did have a positive message for the future: one of Voluntary Coalition with weighted majorities and the like. These are concepts promoted by many unionists and are almost certainly amongst the ambitions ordinary unionists might have for the longer term. They did have difficulties getting that message across but that seemed as much as anything to be because people promoting the message did not seem convincing. The suspicion seems to have been that the TUV had no realistic strategy for implementing these no doubt popular aims and in addition no matter how hard the TUV tried to dispel the impression some seem to have thought that admit the democratic rhetoric there actually lurked the “No fenians about the place” views of old: something unionists are not interested in going back to. In addition these constitutional issues failed to resonate as compared to the bread and butter concerns. Again the TUV had these policies but that always seemed drowned out by the constitutional aspirations which unionists seem to have deemed implausible.

The question then arises can anything be salvaged from the wreckage of this electoral campaign? The answer is probably yes: however, there is a second more pertinent question which needs to be addressed in a few moments.

There is without doubt an assembly quota there for Jim Allister at the next Stromont elections. He is an effective politician with a track record of hard work both in high politics and in working for constituents whilst an MEP. No matter how great the loss of momentum it is almost certain that, should he want to, he can be in Stormont in 2011. In addition there are close to quotas here and there which in an STV election might bring in Keith Harbinson, someone in East Londonderry and possibly Strangford. They might take a quota in one of the seats they did not fight this time round: Upper Bann would be the most likely. Hence, it is most unlikely that the TUV cannot live to fight again another day with the expectation of some form of success. However, it would be success of an order of magnitude less than they would have wanted a few short hours ago: that leads on to the second more pertinent question: Should the TUV go on?

The TUV’s aim was to bring down the current power sharing arrangement and remake it as a voluntary power sharing coalition: Jim Allister repeatedly talked of creating a bridge head of TUV MLAs to make the current Stromont system of mandatory coalition unworkable. Such ambitions have disappeared as snow off a ditch. All the TUV can hope for now is, at best, 2-3 MLAs and even that would be a major achievement. Such numbers would not bring down Stormont nor would it help refashion it. If the TUV do disappear then unionism collectively may lose a few votes though even in the short term most people who were willing to vote TUV will be unlikely to let their votes go to waste by sitting at home. Hence, there is little justification for the TUV remaining as a place for lost votes to go.

The TUV does have some political talent. Jim Allister has more than the vast majority of other unionist politicians. However, although I personally regard him as an affable, friendly man who will listen and take note of others viewpoints; that is not the opinion of most of his political opponents. It will be a long time before any other unionist party will be keen to have a man who sticks to principle so much that he will rip apart a party to keep to it and he is too honest a man to change his principles overnight. Other TUVists deserve an honourable mention. David Vance may be highly caustic on his blog but in public and in real life he is a good political analyst, though he is unlikely to be given a chance at representative roles outside the TUV any time in the foreseeable future. Keith Harbinson and Ivor McConnell have significant ability and are young: who knows where they may turn up in the future? Finally Sammy Morrison is (and I say this with no hyperbole) a young man of boundless energy and organisationally superb. He single handedly kept a significant political operation on the road for months. Unfortunately for him, he does believe in what he stands for and is unlikely to want to join another unionist party in the near future.

Overall then yes the TUV can survive albeit in extremely diminished form but I say this honestly to people whom I regard as friends: it probably should not. We aimed for something which history may show to be a silly footnote. It is now time to accept the electorate’s decision and join the UKUP, NIUP et al. in political oblivion.

As for me I will quote Tolkien for the first time: I should “diminish and go into the West.” But maybe I have already had the arrogance of my pseudonym Turgon, refused the warning to leave, and am already caught in the fall of Gondolin. No matter I have my health, surprisingly still a job and my family and who knows the News Letter may still have my ramblings. Mick has not thrown me out (yet) either.

  • Gerry Lvs castro

    Well said Turgon. The TUV should exit the stage with dignity.

  • Mark

    Turgon,

    An elegant and gracious post – I wish you well.

    I imagine you and I would share many of the same core unionist values but after the 1998 assembly elections iIdecided what you have perhaps just realised – the Union is on borrowed time, too many of our representatives are really Ulster nationalists, begging grants from Westminster and “Keeping Ulster Different!” not unionists and the GFA and St Andrew’s agreement are merely staging posts to unity.

    It is said that David Trimble signed the GFA after being under “intolerable pressure” from a ruthless Blair led government and some of the stories of the threats put upon the UUP at that time would curdle your blood (if you believe them). So, perhaps, in the words of Arthur Miller “Nobody dast blame that man”

    The DUP are probably just doing their best to manage the inevitable for their people but its not democracy and watching the overt displays of evangelical fervour at some of the counts last night I felt glad to be out of it all.

    Where is the pluralist, inclusive Union that I dreamt of helping shape as a twenty-something? ………… now, what are the words of the doxology again?

  • Mark McGregor

    Never a good idea to be too hasty when making a public declaration on a change in political direction. You could end up regreting it.

  • JG

    That post was a bit long and I got bored half way through… bit like one of Jimbo’s rants then.

    Bye bye TUV.

  • Mark,
    Yes and I do regret it already in that I still believe in what I signed up to three years ago when Sammy Morrison contacted me. It may be that the TUV can be salvaged: however, the historical precedents within Northern Ireland are not favourable.

    Also I have always tried to be honest to a fault and call it as I see it. I might suggest that that is a failing you also suffer from.

  • Wasted Ballot

    The TUV are done – come the next election we will see a DUP/UUP joint campaign and no unionist will spare a vote for the TUV after the trouble they have tried to stir up.

    They were a hard right party in a province that has had more than it’s fair share of similar. Unionist are gradually moving towards the centre and take the step away from tribal head counts, unfortunately for them most of them taking this step choose to stay home on polling day.

    There is a place for ‘conservative’ politics and it will stay with the DUP for a long time to come. What the members of the TUV have to ask themselves is does being a pro union voter mean you have to be in a right wing party.

  • Mark McGregor

    Sure once you get over the disappointment you can do another honest one on how you found the result difficult and emotional but on review and consideration you have decided to continue in your support and build for the future…blah etc…

  • Greenflag

    Turgon ,

    ‘We aimed for something which history may show to be a silly footnote. It is now time to accept the electorate’s decision and join the UKUP, NIUP et al. in political oblivion.’

    Good call . BTW being honest to a fault is an admirable trait but not one that necessarily delivers electoral success . I’m sure Jim Allister is a dacent man but politics is a profession for those who profess to have principles at the same time as they plan to sideline said principles if they have to , in order to cope with the political realities which election results throw up . The TUV never seemed to me to have had much grasp of the political realities of NI.

    Give yourself a few months -pick yourself up and dust yourself off and look again at the political theatre . Remember it could have been worse . You might have been a TUV candidate now minus his deposit .

    I don’t expect Mick will throw you out . Why would he after all he’s a Unionist too and he’s probably going through a similar ‘reexamination ‘ following the UCUNF whitewash /demise .

  • Mark McGregor

    Ha. Mick’s a Unionist. Love it.

  • smcgiff

    A Fáinne wearing unionist! :o)

  • Mark McGregor

    He’s one of those Cafflick Unionists the ‘Life and Times’ poll keep interviewing (I reckon they just call him 20 times)

  • paolo mac

    As a Catholic, I originally thought JA was just a bit deluded and an old-timer. I was surprised by the TUV’s campaign on majorities and opposition which is undoubtedly the way things will eventually have to go if we are ever to get over the legacies of the last 40 (or 90) years.
    Now, having seen his disgraceful bitter go at Noel Thompson last night, I see he is an old-style bigot. It made me feel so uncomfortable.
    I hope he disappears from the political scene for good.

    Any chance of getting the video posted?

  • John

    Turgon,

    Everyone who come across Samuel treats him as a joke. Please do not encourage him, he will only be disappointed in the end. He has made numerous gaffes in the past. By the way, Morrison is 27, Keith Harbinson is younger than him, so by inserting age as a factor only makes you come across as condescending.

    Did you see Vance on The Daily Politics, on BB2, last week? He was an embarrassment to Northern Ireland.

  • Michaelhenry

    the T.U.V, they came, they saw, they lost, there is no room for those who oppose the AGREEMENT.

  • Alias

    Jim is beginning to look a bit like a loyal American soldier abandoned on some desolate pacific island still fighting the war long after his side have won it.

    Most unionists are well aware that the formerly disputed constitutional position is settled, with all parties and governments agreeing that sovereignty over Northern Ireland legitimately belongs to the United Kingdom. If ‘traditional’ unionism, banging on about the union and the Fenian hun, looks outdated it’s simply because it is.

    The internal matters that Jim is also concerned about are related to internal administration and Jim here too gives the impression that he wants to throw out the baby rather than just change the bathwater. Is there really going to be any votes for MLAs who are seen as opposed to Stormont even if that is not really the case?

    So, as Jim probably knows by now, he is selling 18″ black and white TV in a market that demands a minimum spec of 42″ LCD…

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Turgon,

    Disappointing call – who are we Nationalists gonna call to split the Unionist vote now? Surely Jimbo can struggle on until the Assembly elections to help Marty become first minister. Perhaps even more disappointing than the TUV doing badly is the Unioinst electorate appearing to be somewhat ahead of its political leaders and is voting for a moderate unsectarian party like Alliance – much more of this and I may have to ditch my favourite-Orange-Prod-stereotype.

  • Alias

    Which is what it’s really about, Sammy: seeking an end to political fragmentation within unionism so as not to conceed office to the other tribe.

  • slug

    Turgon

    I think the TUV is just one party too many. Unionists surely don’t need three.

  • Wasted Ballot

    eh what about the PUP?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Turgon,

    We don’t agree on a lot of things but I thought your analysis was very sober and rational. A couple of observations :

    The TUV representatives on television were uniformly well presented, articulate and coherent.

    I can’t agree with this. Harbinson, maybe. Vance appeared like a nervous wreck. Jim Allister tried to steamroller over people in the debates he featured in, and came across as an ignorant bully. I have always found find his gravelly, drawling voice to be a source of intense irritation and I’m sure he wasn’t the only one.

    I think we are at the point in Northern Ireland where elections are very much being decided on the basis of constituency work. An elector in a constituency with a hardworking and well liked MP has a choice to make. Does he vote against powersharing and risk losing the representative who Gets Stuff Done and who he know will get his local problems sorted ? Or is keeping his excellent local rep who helped get his daughter into the local school and got police to finally sort out local anti-social behaviour problems more important than the ongoing existence of powersharing which, while unpopular, still has potential ? I think that a lot of people may have made that calculation and voted DUP or SF for that reason.

    To me, people not voting against powersharing is significant. We’re starting to do real politics.

  • iluvni

    When Trevor Collins petitioned on behalf of Torrnes Knight, and TUV kept him in the party, their claims to be ‘different’ were blown out of the water.

  • joeCanuck

    Turgon,

    Time for you to join the party you really belong to, Alliance.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Most unionists are well aware that the formerly disputed constitutional position is settled, ‘

    Not in FST they don’t.

    How’s the ‘sovereign ” US stock market doing today ? And that ‘sovereign ‘ pound sterling ?

    Slight correction in your terminology is required . In the case of Northern Ireland the Fenians are not the Huns as any Belfast Cafflick will tell you after he punches you in the nose . The usual term of abuse btw is Fenian scum 🙁

    Your historical analogies are also in need of correction. It was’nt American soldiers who were abandoned on Pacific islands it was Japanese . One of them surrendered eventually about a decade or so ago iirc .

    If memory serves me right his name was Allister San or was it Ucunfuku San – Might even have been Alias San but then all these orientals are all the same eh . I mean you can’t trust them can you . At least you know you can trust Goldman Sachs eh ;(?

  • Greenflag

    The problem is not the number of ‘unionist ‘ parties . The problem is ‘unionism ‘ as a political creed . It looks like the DUP may even be evolving into an NI ‘nationalist ‘ party augmented with an orange hue . In Scotland the Tories won 1 seat and did only marginally better in Wales . Northern Ireland has become a very cold house for Tories .

  • Greenflag

    As he’s in the west of the province I’d recommend the DUP as a better choice . East of the Bann I agree that AP would suit him better 😉

  • Greenflag

    Very true but more importantly they really had no grasp of the political realities as they were and are and will be in NI for some time .

  • Mr Crumlin

    Turgon – think that was an honest post. However I was pleasantly surprised at the positive campaign by the DUP – I wonder if unionists also found it refreshing.

    I think that there is a realisation within unionism that working the Assembly with SF does not dilute your Britishness. There may also be a realisation that SF are not the devil incarnate and that positive politics benefits all.

    If the penny has dropped with unionists this is a good day. What we need now is for this to be grasped by those republicans wedded to violence. None of us can rewrite the past but we can be the authors of our future. Working together will not make me any less Irish than it will make you British – we’re all Ulstermen afterall.

  • pinni

    Turgon, welcome back to reality.

    You are still in a little denial as illustrated by one of your comments above. Referencing JA, you said: ‘It will be a long time before any other unionist party will be keen to have a man who sticks to principle’

    Jim, like most politicians, has been not a little specious. First he was against and then for and then against negotiating with SF. Not the actions of someone who ‘sticks to principle’, wouldn’t you agree?

  • union mack

    I think most unionists seen that the world didn’t end with SF in government, and policing and justice, and realised that Allister was all about scaremongering. It’s about time unionits threw off the shackles of that ‘siege mentality’ that’s been in the blood. We’re not there yet, but it’s a start. Maybe unionists will stop tactically backing the SDLP to keep SF out too… if the SDLP can’t win their own battles, so be it. As we already know, the shinners (whatever their past) can be worked with.

    I’d also like to thank the TUV for standing, as it gave the public the opportunity to really have their say on powersharing. It’s been said. Now we know where we stand, it’s time to move forward. Also have to say, that unionism has, after 40 years, got to grips with the fact that positive campaigning works. Eventually

  • Stephen Blacker

    I think the TUV are finished, they had a good profiled campaign and offered their target voters an easy option, “If you vote for us you will not have to deal with Sinn Fein.”

    Even this carrot was not grasped by the voters. The realities of political life here is much different to the one the TUV painted. They tried but failed to turn back the painful progress that has slowly been made.

  • Stephen Blacker

    I think the TUV are finished, they had a good profiled campaign and offered their target voters an easy option, “If you vote for us you will not have to deal with Sinn Fein.”

    Even this carrot was not grasped by the voters. The realities of political life here is much different to the one the TUV painted. They tried but failed to turn back the painful progress that has slowly been made.

  • Driftwood

    Did you do your bet on my call CS? I made a fair bit of dough on that 100/1 shot a few weeks ago.
    And i’ve still a few quid going on a 2nd general election within 18 months.
    I’m not entirely convinced by your argument. Do you think Pat Doherty won in West Tyrone because of his constituency work?
    Back in the real world, the one where decisions have to be made regarding the deficit, Europe, Tax, National Insurance, Benefits freezes/cuts, Afghanistan etc, which is Westminster business, I’m not too sure where Alliance stand. If you’re starting to do ‘real politics’, where do you stand on Trident?

  • TheHorse

    Jim just went for what he thought was a gap in the market – No Surrender unionism and it wasn’t there. I guess we can all now move on now to normality and equality.

  • Driftwood

    Oh, and abortion and the extension of the 1967 act to here, I take it Alliance are all for it?

  • Sammy Morse

    8-0

  • Greenflag

    ‘where do you stand on Trident?’

    I would think Comrade Stalin would have the good sense NOT to stand on Trident not before it submerges anyway 😉 but I could’nt possibly say the same for the eh UCUNF lads 🙁 They’d probably open the hatch while submerging in order to sink at greater speed 😉

    I was sorry to see that Evan Harris lost his seat in Oxford West Abingdon to the Tories by 167 votes but I was happy for Gisela Stuart who held Birmingham Edgebaston although with a reduced majority . An indication that a hard working MP sometimes can beat off the swing against their party via hard work .

    They have until Tuesday afternoon imo to hobble together a new government under either Cameron or Brown . My gut instinct is that it will be Brown .

  • Comrade Stalin

    Drift, I put in the bet about six weeks ago and made a nice little sum, thank you very much.

    Trident’s easy. People should stop being misleading; it is not an independent nuclear deterrent, It’s a double key system. The case for having nuclear weapons is less to do with independence (which we don’t have) and more to do with us pulling our weight on a global level. Even then, I just don’t see the value in spending billions on a weapons system that can never be fired.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Alliance see abortion as a matter of personal conscience – which is line with the three main UK parties including the Tories.

    I’m pro choice up to the end of the first trimester, but that is my personal view and it is certainly not representative of Alliance.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Incidentally Drifty old boy, I seem to remember that we had a bet about Naomi coming third. I’d bet you that she’d beat Ringland as I recall. I assume you’re planning to honour it. If I recall the bet was £100.

  • West Sider

    I don’t think he is. In fact, I’m certain he ain’t.

    BTW – Mark – be honest, after all that’s happened in the last 24 hours, I’m sure you felt a little surge in your heart when it all played as it played…

  • Fabianus

    Comrade Stalin,

    “Jim Allister tried to steamroller over people in the debates he featured in, and came across as an ignorant bully. I have always found find his gravelly, drawling voice to be a source of intense irritation and I’m sure he wasn’t the only one.”

    You’re not alone in that. The man is almost entirely lacking in charisma, if not to say charm. Every time I see and hear him I sense a terrible bitterness in his soul. Pretty it is not.

    He’s a dying breed and I trust this election has presented us with the death-throes of this sort of embarrassing and atavistic hardline Unionism.

  • The PR system is better than the British first past the post system in every way but one: the excitement of polling day. Adrenalin pumps in all political anoraks as we wait with baited breath for the results to come in. I loved election night. I loved the stunned glee I felt when Peter Robinson lost to Naomi Long. I watched RTE and the BBC and spent the night happily flicking channels as nationalists and republicans did well. A great night, tremendous result.

    And then I read your well written post and I remembered the other side of the election coin. The sheer cruelty of the count, public, painful and very lonely. It hurts to lose and there is no privacy, no hiding place to lick open wounds. Your post was thoughtful and regretful but I think you will quickly realise the end of the TUV was inevitable, founded as it was on ideas based on a UK that has not existed for decades.

    I believe in a united Ireland, I accept that not everyone does, I rely on peace, time and the realisation that all of the people of this island are better together, to change minds and hearts.

  • outsidegawkingin

    I agree that Jim saw a gap in the market and went for it. I think at the time there was still a market oppurtunity as anti agreement Unionism was still in quite popular demand.
    However I get the feeling that Jim’s marketing policy of his product was poor rather than the product.
    I think there may have been an oppurtunity for a more progressive, anti agreement approach. The 2 terms are not necesarily contradictory, yet Jim some how always made it seem this way.
    I get the feeling that the anti-agreement message is now damaged goods because of the TUV and will never be resurfaced again unless a major crisis hits the executive.

    Personally speaking I could never lend my support to the current system, but I recognise that politically I will die a lonely man.

  • West Sider

    “Turrourists in government” seemed to be Jim’s big line – but surely tourists aren’t allowed to register for election in other jurisdictions, and I’m surprised a QC didn’t know that.

    Maybe that’s why they didn’t get anywhere, and David Vance now needs another career after failed internet crank, failed media pundit and now failed politician.

    I hear he can sing though, so all is not lost.

    Get on the phone to Louis now, Dave – the new shaved head and trimmed moustache… why, you can land one on the milk hearted UUP now by outflashing Harry in the new East Belfast’s Got Talent heats in the Bunch O’ Grapes this weekend.

  • West Sider

    All good points, sir.

    The most heartneing thing about these results is that our Unionist fellow citizens have now accepted the power sharing settlement and rejected scare-mongering career politicians who care little for them.

    Also, they have also rejected the Tories – and while they vlaue their Britishness (and fair play to them) they reject opportunitistic British parties who’d use and abuse them (as they did in the past) parachuting in and propping up out of touch upper middle class parties.

  • Alias

    Creative licence, dear boy. Japan lost the war.

  • abucs

    There’s a story from the Philippines where after the Americans took back Corrigedor island some Japanese soldiers escaped capture by hiding in the forest.

    Periodically they would break into the prison camps housing their Japanese comrades, so they could get something to eat by posing as prisoners. 😮 True story.

  • Fabianus

    Cruel, cruel….

    LMAO

  • PaddyReilly

    Tsk tsk Turgon, someone did a survey of the really succesful and found that what characterised them was that they were impervious to initial failure.

    I mean I have followed the Greens since the 70s, given up on them as a lost cause and they now have their first MP!

    The trouble with FPTP is that all smaller parties are squeezed into non-existence when some major issue is at stake, In this election the Respect Party has lost its MP and the BNP all its councillors in one area. You are not alone.

    Westminster elections are not for Mickey Mouse parties.

    But Stormont elections are. There the system encourages the formation of micro-parties. The goodwill demonstrated in the Euros is there for the plucking. With that many votes you should be good for a dozen MLAs.

  • Cushy Glenn

    Unionism is now led by the DUP much as I hate to admit it, and despise the quality of their representatives

    The Cunfs are as relevant as the Irish Loyal and Patriotic Union and should stand down- they are plainly exhausted. Of course they won’t, and McNasty and Basil are going to feed their delusion for reasons of personal ambition.

    TUV can return anything up to 5 MLAs but that’s not enough to disrupt the joint authority project. a baseline of 10 is essential.

    Unionism needs to have a long term strategy based on a recognition that the Union has changed, and focussed on more than winning seats at elections. Ironically the DUp’s Ulster nationalism might provide some clues as to the best way forward

  • TUV’s problem was always that their headline policy was negative – no government with Sinn Fein.

    The reality of Northern Ireland is that if you want to change the system (which I think more people accept is necessary than might be apparent) you have to start from the status quo, and this is where TUV’s position fell down: supposing they had become the largest unionist party and refused to enter mandatory coalition, there would have been no negotiations. The UK Government would simply have pulled the plug on the Assembly, and that would have been the end of it. If 30 years of Direct Rule taught us anything, it was that the NIO ministers will never govern NI as it would wish to be governed, ie fairly and having proper regard to its needs.

    I strongly believe the system has to change so that any coalition of at least two parties representing both sides of the community may form the Executive, regardless of whether they are the two largest parties or not. This ought to give confidence to both sides that their community will be looked after (the reason why pure voluntary coalition even with checks and balances will never be accepted), but in the short-medium term, you have to start where we actually are, and build the trust to move to where we should be.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    PR,

    Lets be honest (as per my earlier post) the last thing we (fenians) need now is for the TUV to throw in the towel – presumably you will have to re-adjust your formulas on your spreadsheets to allow for this totally uncharacteristic outbreak of sanity by the Unionist electorate.

    ps Cracking Nationalist percentages in North and South Belfast – there seem to be some very good going forth nad multiplying on behalf of Ireland in those constituencies?

  • PaddyReilly

    Looking at the figures, I think we can conclude that smaller parties do not do as well in General Elections, where there is no chance of them being elected, as they do in Assembly elections, where they are good for one seat. Take for example Strangford.

    In 2007 Alliance got 11.3% of the vote, in 2010 8.7%.

    In 2007 the SDLP got 8.5%, in 2010 6.7%.

    This does not mean that these parties are doomed to fail in the next Asssembly election, as Mark MacGregor is proclaiming on another thread: it just means that their supporters did not turn up as enthusiastically to help them lose as they would have done if there was a chance of winning something.

    Ergo, in an Assembly election the TUV would win seats. It would not have the power to implement its policies of course, but politicians are often better at securing office for themselves than they are at implementing their policies.

  • braniel unionist

    in my view, the electorate is sayin to the tuv…….. u need to rebrand with a ‘positive’ message….. otherwise it’s curtains!

  • Of course, the quickest way to get Sinn Fein out of Government is to have a United Ireland. Neither Fianna Fail nor Fine Gael is terribly anxious to have them in a coalition 😉

  • I think this response, and the original post, make very good points. The fact is that TUV lost because potential voters don’t agree with its policy. Allister did well last year because he was a good candidate and had been a hard-working MEP – I am personally grateful for his help with some work I was doing with the Burmese opposition, and I’m sure there are many similar stories to be told. But his party message was unattractive to most voters, and as Turgon says had no credible means of delivery even for those voters who agreed with it.

    In fact I think the bigger lesson from the vote was that voters with a Protestant background are simply no longer excited by campaigning on the Union. Some probably do hate the idea of SF in government, and can’t vote for the DUP or UUP who accepted it, and can’t believe that others can reverse it. But I suspect that even more have noted that, as UM says above, the world did not end with SF in government, and while they probably still support the Union, they are not sufficiently worried about it to vote for any party which has maintaining the Union as its strapline.

    Now, Unionist politicians faced with this situation have two choices. You can try and ramp up the scare factor of a united Ireland, to change the minds of the voters; or you can try calibrating your message to what the voters are actually interested in. I would submit that this week’s votes demonstrate the failure of the first of these alternatives.

  • Dave

    I hope they fight on to be honest. DUP may aswell be called DUP-Sinn Fein these days. Its a joke we cant have a normal democracy in this country and are forced to have terrorists in government. A lot of my family used to be targets to these guys and now they sit in government. Its sick.

    And dont get me wrong I want both sides to have equal representation in government but why do most nationalists feel they have to vote for terrorists.

  • mick

    there should be 2 ballot boxes TUV and all the rest who cave in to terrorism wake up the loyalist population of n.ireland

  • I am very interested in those last comments. I agree that even now the TUV could get 3-5 seats at Stormont. I also agree wholeheartedly with braniel unionist about rebranding. The problem is that we did believe in positive things but failed to get that across. Now that was in large part our fault. However, in addition we were not given the time by the other parties or media to advance the positive message. The final issue is whether the electorate believe that we are honest in out positive message and further whether they believe it possible. If all those could be satisfactory answered then there might be a way back.

    The TUV are the strongest minor hard line unionist party in recent memory. However, we have only a few councillors. The electoral cycle was against us etc. etc.

    Maybe I was too pessimistic in the blog but no matter how rosily one views it getting back to anything significant is going to be extraordinarily difficult and the loss of momentum has been huge.

  • Battle of the Bogside

    Dave

    The British government are also terrorists, the difference being that the IRA have gone away, British army terrorists have moved to other lands. They are involved in an illegal war with its main objective to steal the resources of an other so as to keep your children warm!!!

    Every combatant of our conflict, be they IRA, RUC, UDR, UVF etc. etc. were all terrorists. I do believe some unionist politicians were also members of these terrorist groups. What is your opinion on them being in government???

  • PaddyReilly

    In an expanding universe, time is on the side of the outcast. Those who once inhabited the suburbs of human contempt find that without changing their address they eventually live in the metropolis. Quentin Crisp

    You are a victim, Mr Turgon, of the FPTP system. But never fear. As we speak the Liberal Democratic leader is conspiring to make sure this dastardly monster never rears its ugly head at Westminster again. And in any case, Oranges are not the only fruit nor Westminster the only gravy-train. Console yourself with Stormont, where there are prizes for everyone.

    Politics is hard slog. Fanning the Welsh & Scottish Nat, Green and UKIP flame has taken a lot of time: but now we have seen two impossible occurrences: a Green and an Alliance MP in the same parliament.

    Personally, I prefer the fragmentation that occurs in a 6 seater system such as Stormont. It means that there is a spectrum of opinion and that the true balance can emerge.

    Just remember, Proportional Representation is your friend: FPTP an unpleasant juggernaut which has wiped out your closest associates, which decent people are working to do away with.

  • PaddyReilly

    I am not a Fenian: I am a Moderate Unionist. My Unionism is so moderate that it extends to Durham and Cornwall, but not to Scotland Ireland or Wales.

    South Belfast was exactly as in 2007, but fair enough the Constituency boundaries have been moved, so there has been a bit of a recovery needed.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    PaddyReilly/Moderate Unionist,

    Your previous predictions of the turning green of NB at the next election does now look quite realistic – Deputy Dodsy was suggesting that Nat. growth had now peaked – is that how you see it.

    What areas/districts are driving the demographic greening of SB – does that also still have legs?

  • CatinHat

    I think both North and South Belfast have more to do with internal migration than fertility rates.

  • PaddyReilly

    Catinhat is right here. But your friend Dewi suggests that the phenomenal number of young Fenians in North Belfast is fueling the growth of SF. But these people have to have somewhere to live and work and accommodation is a bit tight: tho the expansion of the constituency in a Northerly direction has helped I suppose.

    SF’s work on the constituency concentrates on making sure everyone is registered and the postal vote is available for students in California and the like. Waking up students in the Holylands and bussing them out to Fearmanny to vote for Michelle sounds like a really determined party machine.

    My contention is that if they had not been forced to do all this slogging for FST they would have performed the same miracle in NB. There’s a lot of SDLP voters who might have seen the light if they had their kneecaps threatened.

  • USA

    Dave, do you wish to see SF banned from office? If so, then that is not democracy!

  • TheHorse

    We have now seen that rejectionist Unionism is narrowed to the religious fundamentalists, the men in collars or connected to them who have toed the party line have prevailed – what more of a message do you want ! You missed the boat you were born in the wrong decade. Time to move on Turgon.

  • Battle of the Bogside

    Such a load of one sided tripe!!!

    End the hierarchy of victims; end the hierarchy of combatants!!!

    Unionism, both British and Irish, did on the Catholic/nationalist population, what the Catholic/nationalist did on the Protestant/unionist/British population. The difference being, the unionist/British/Protestant violence was undeniably state sponsored!!!

    Away and get some books and do a wee bit of reading. You portray republicans as the only terrorists in our conflict and that is simply lies!!!

  • Lionel Hutz

    Mark,

    Unionism is in inevitable decline because few Unionists have been brave enough to spell out a vision for a pluralist UK, which would celebrate rather than rival it’s Irish heritag, and those that have have been roundly rejected at the polls by unionists. Unionists don’t seem to realise what the DUP and the extremist parties such as TUV and it’s predecessors do to the nationalist population. They inflame passions that are unhelpful to their cause.

    If Unionists could only learn to advance socially inclusive politics rather than pacts, they may encourage a conversation with nationalists and could even pursuade a few. Nationalists dislike Unionists a hell of alot more than they dislike the Union, which has made many nationalists cross the consciental rubicon to vote for Sinn Fein. Interestingly, for all my dislike of Peter Robinson, he was doing just that in an Irish News article a few weeks ago.

    I accept that Nationalists need to have a similar realisation of what Sinn Fein do to the unionists, even if it is more simply their presence rather than words or actions that stoke the flames of unionist passion.

    Nationalists need to pursuade unionists that if a united Ireland is inevitable, it is not to be feared, rather it should be embraced. They have a long way to go in that regard.

  • bulmer

    turgon

    An excellent objective post. You clearly were having a funny moment throwing in your lot with TUV. The electorate clearly thought so as well.

    JA’s old fashioned Kick the Pope politics is of another era. Just as the BNP and UKIP discovered, the far right is now a very lonely space in UK politics. Reg’s lurch to the right was equally a failure.

    So now we have an Ulster electorate which is broadly centre/left, just like its fellow Celts in Wales and Scotland.

  • Sammy Morse

    Alliance’s policy on Trident is in the Alliance manifesto which you can download from our website, Driftwood. You can also read our policies on “the deficit, Europe, Tax, National Insurance, Benefits freezes/cuts, Afghanistan etc.”, in our manifesto, which being one for a Westminster election, focused primarily on Westminster issues. We covered all the subjects you mentioned.

  • Sammy Morse

    Were UCUNF candidates (not that it really matters now) signed up to the Tory policy on abortion, or did they adopt the traditional UUP stance? Do UUP members feel comfortable being hitched up with a party which is overwhelmingly in favour of abortion on demand up to the 20th or 24th week of pregnancy?

  • Barneyjo

    Dave
    Surprising as it may seem, Nationalists dont vote for Terrorists. Like everyone else, they give their vote based on their adjudication on the policies of all candidates, and base their selection on that; same as you.

  • Outsider

    Turgon,

    Surely a seat at Westminster was always beyond the TUV? At this stage it needs to get active on the ground with the focus on the election of councillors and MLA’s.

  • Alias

    Jim Allister allowed Paisley to lure him into standing in a constituency that he couldn’t win, thereby allowing Paisley to effectively end his (faltering) political career. The sublime Dan Hannan was very complimentary about Allister’s work as an MEP, and he would probably be an excellent MP as an independent. But there are a few question marks about his political judgement…

  • slug

    If Nicholas is right this would suggest unionist unity arguments are weak.

    It may also suggest that the UCUNF project should focus on the real issues rather than the fact of its Unionist credentials. Its unionist credentials are fine and good, but in future UCUNF (or its successor) should campaign on the socio – economic issues and take the union as given.

  • RepublicanStones

    No members said terrible mad things: none of us called anyone a bigot.

    One of your members did and does run a site which the Sunday Times euphemistically referred to as ‘right wing’. On which he stated some things which can only be described as bigotted.

    Aside from that Turgon, twas very interesting reading your thoughts of the TUV’s apparent failure. A touch cynical as to the future of Jim’s wagon I might suggest, but then again given the lack of hay made from the scandals which beset the party which drew his ire, perhaps not.

  • tacapall

    I think the DUP today sparked a bit of life back into Big Jims bones, he can now point his finger and cry foul.

  • Battle of the Bogside

    JC?

  • andnowwhat

    Reading a certain TUV man’s blog I was amazed at his defence of the BNP and UKIP. There were other things that I thought were frankly out of this world (not in a good way).

    Allisters literal bile is shocking to catholics/nationalists.

    Sorry TUV, we will not be told who to vote for. Haven’t you got it….we will fight for our rights and fight hard!!!

    He even attacked unionist voters on election night. Exactly who the hell does he think he is to do that??!!!

    Sorry if this sounds condescending but I actually was furious on unionist voters behalf.

    Unionists don’t want the TUV just as nationalists/republicans don’t want the dissidents (if they had the balls to stand).

  • andnowwhat

    Obviously I meant to say condescending. Sorry

  • mr p

    Allister and co tried to wreck the fp church, now that there finished in politics they better behave in r church`s!
    fp=dup church
    no surrender 2 tuv

  • Neil

    The fact that his vote was greater than the margin by which Peter Robinson lost might raise a wry smile but even if (and I doubt it) all those votes had gone to the DUP it is not something which hard line unionists should be crowing about. To see a party and a candidate agnostic on the union defeat a unionist no matter what the personal rivalries of the past is something not befitting traditional unionism.

    Yeah, that was never the idea? LOL. What exactly did the political analysts in the TUV anticipate when they set out to take votes from the DUP? I’m sure Vance (‘good political analyst’ – not so ‘caustic’ in reality, as a browse of any of his posts on this site would illustrate), or someone with the ‘good’ skills mentioned could have figured out that taking votes from the DUP would harm their electoral chances with regard to the other non-Unionist parties snapping at their heels?

    Has a ring to it of a man trying to wash his hands of the unpleasant yet gauranteed consequences of trying to damage the DUP, which is exactly what the TUV were about. No-one heard them attacking Nationalists or Republicans, that thinking went unsaid by and large, because the TUV were too busy taking lumps out of the DUP and hey, it’s rude to talk with your mouth open.

    Also I wouldn’t worry too much about winding the party up yet, the Nazis only took 2.8% of the vote in 1928 and look how well they did.

  • midulsterunionist

    So it’s not Christ’s church? It’s the DUP’s? Do you not see a problem with that… you cannot serve two masters et al?

  • Ryan Fitzpatrick

    Not this time round. Where do you expect SF to make the number of gains (8) I count needed to win? SF are nearing saturation anyway … ie they aint getting any bigger after 2007.