Conservatives and/or Unionists?

logo for Conservatives and Unionists - UCUNFSaturday’s Ulster Unionist Party Executive meeting will make important decisions about the party’s continued relationship with the Conservative party.

The Council meeting should be the opportunity for Sir Reg to bring some clarity to his leadership. Will he stay or will he go? The Newsletter and Belfast Telegraph both say he will go. But I’ll not be holding my breath as the UUP often seems to favour indecision and delay!

Will the UUP members steel themselves and cut loose from their 18 month old relationship with David Cameron and in order to either jump into the DUP’s unionist unity bed or else undergo a makeover and rebrand as the all new soft cuddly unionist party that doesn’t like to say no? While firmly at the front of many members’ minds, the wobbly relationship may not be on the formal agenda for Saturday’s meeting.

Visiting NI during his last minute dash around the UK on Tuesday 4 May, David Cameron promised

If I become Prime Minister, I’ll be back in a week.

I do half wonder whether he’ll keep his promise by turning up on Saturday at the council meeting?

There are big questions too for the NI Conservatives. Their own Area Council meeting is due on Saturday 22 May, with the Area AGM held soon after. (Should add that Weavers Court HQ weren’t forthcoming with the date for either the council meeting or the AGM.) And before that, the executive and constituency chairs will be meeting tomorrow to review the election.

Area chairman Tim Lewis has now held the position for 12 months, but his tenure may be coming to an end. In a recent email to local Torys, he comments:

Many thanks to Irwin Armstrong and Ian Parsley and all of you who worked so hard on the doorsteps to achieve a positive outcome. There is still a strong basis for a positive future and you have all made a major contribution to achieving long term success.

There is a clear commitment from the Executive to an open and frank process of consultation in order to learn from our experiences to date and to make plans for the way forward as soon as possible.

As I write, the sands are moving beneath our feet and already media speculation driven by elements of other parties is stoking the bonfire: be assured that this is a time for clear heads and steadiness under fire- there are no plans by the Executive to engage in any discussions on so called Unionist Unity by the Party in Northern Ireland unless it transpires to be the wish of our Party locally. I will certainly not canvass for it.

Though that last paragraph was later amended from “there are no plans by the Executive to engage in any discussions on so called Unionist Unity” to say “there are no short term plans to engage in any discussions on so called Unionist Unity“.

The remaining Conservative NI members may be reluctant to engage in direct political activity. Will many Conservatives be persuaded – or even volunteer – to stand as councillors at next year’s local government elections? Or will the party become a token presence for a few years while they recharge their batteries in the wilderness? Update – Ian Parsley is quite upbeat about the Conservatives on his blog though is “not hopeful about the direction the UUP will now take“.

A far cry from the 1992 General Election when Laurence Kennedy polled 14,371 votes (32% share) and came a very credible second in North Down.

Referring to the UUP/Tory linkup, Jeff Peel suggests:

The whole Conservative Project has been set back 20 years because of this folly. I suspect that most Conservatives will choose to take time before getting actively involved again.

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  • Liberal Unionist

    McFarland was another lightweight! It got boring watching him get battered from pillar to post every time he went on tv. Has to be Basil, Tom is a nice chap but doesn’t have the VaVa Voom as Henry would say.
    However if Basil gets the job You can hear the fawlty towers jokes being prepared.
    It is a happy Lady H couldn’t be talked into coming back though!?
    How about Fred Cobain?

  • Liberal Unionist

    [well off topic]

  • dundonald voter

    [well off topic]

  • Rob

    I do laugh at the suggestion that the UUP and Conservatives aren’t compatible. They were so for the best part of the 20th Century, what happened since then?? 😉

    Trouble is that if we reject the project, then that leave us cut off again from UK politics. Yes, the parties may claim to be “unionist”, but really they’re just as bad as Sinn Fein in terms of “ourselves alone!”

    Still, no UUP Lords in the cabinet, I see… 🙁

  • HarryJ

    what tolerance was shown to the garvaghy residents who didnt want the orange parade going down there road and a lot of dup people wanted them to go down?…

    orangemen have a right to walk down that road which is NOWHWERE near the houses !! you do have to come out to be offended. so please get your facts right….

  • SammyMehaffey

    As someone above said. Why do we need a unionist party. The majority of the population – at least 55% are unionist with a small ‘u’.
    Can we not have a conservative, Labour and if you like a LibDem party here so we can vote for real issues.
    The DUP in the last election were an embarrassing bunch of begging bowlers ready to backmail or sell their souls.
    The UUP/CU alliance was a complete cock up when they lost those excellent candidates who happened to be Catholics.
    The only good thing that happened was that robinson got told his fortune by his electorate who were disgusted with his various dodgy claims of whiter than white. Spare me from this entire lot.
    CHANGE? nothing changes here.

  • Liberal Unionist

    One slight problem was that there were no Catholic candidates, excellent or otherwise. The candidates the party ran have excellent, particularly Paula & Lesley who I predict will be MLAs next May.
    The problem in part was Cameron stabbing us in the back with the Paxman interview and Reg wanting the troops brought back in instead of battering the DUP for there behaviour.

  • Glencoppagagh

    “Cameron stabbing us in the back …..”

    By failing to promise complete exemption from cuts?

  • smellybigoxteronye

    Get someone new like Trevor Ringland to lead the party. I’m also impressed with John McCallister.

  • Liberal Unionist

    No by singling NI out for cuts in the Paxman interview. The media/DUP had a field day and what he really said was forgotten.