Reg Empey to step down from leadership

It’s not clear what the last election ever held for Reg Empey. Had he won, he was already committed to stepping down from his ministry and membership of the Assembly. With his intention to resign now clear are now where we would have been regardless of whether he’d won his seat, or not. The big question exercising everyone inside the party is: who next?

Despite the poor look on not winning a single Westminster seats, it’s actual vote (if you allow for FST) remained steady. But there is not exactly a rich list of candidates to vote for. The one who’s been putting himself in the frame has been Basil McCrea, but it’s not clear what kind of support he has in the wider party.

He’s not leaving immediately . He can’t, I suspose. Unlike the Labour party, whose command mechanisms around leadership are made of industrial iron, there is no clear deputy as well as no clear successor. Reg goes leaving the party with reformed rules, which in the hands of a strong leader could turn it to something stronger and more ambition than we have heretofore seen.

I do think Patrick Murphy is a little too harsh in this morning’s (subscription locked) Irish News when he claims that political unionis has become “little more than a comfort blanket for the politically unthinking and a banner for the politically ambitious”. Yet when you look at the visceral backbiting of the octigenarian Paisley at his former deputy you begin to wonder what kind of future it faces.

That said, none of our political parties have yet scaled the heights of political endeavour. As one unionist friend put it to me during the election campaign, what we mostly has is a Blazing Saddles sort of democracy evoking the scene in which the black character, Cleavon Little, grabs a gun holds it to his own head and hisses: Hold it! Next man makes a move, the nigger gets it!

Whoever takes on the job [that nobody wants] will have to do something special with it. If they don’t, then all this talk of unionist realignment will be for nothing. The DUP, which has its own difficulties with its own political incoherences, cannot profitably realign with a political cousin that’s so visibly ailing itself.

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  • bulmer

    This leadership battle really will be bald men fighting over a comb.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    How embarassing for poor Davey arriving next week having promised the UUP a place at the heart of government and now knowing he was contributed directly to the party’s demise as an electroal forace and to the ending of poor Wee Reggie’s UUP career. He should offer an apology, admit he knows feck all about Ireland and promise not to meddle again until and unless he has been fully briefed by the foreign and Norn Iron offices.

    The first thing the poor dedraggled souls in the UUP should do is declare UCUNF dead and send an emissary off to Sylv to apologise and beg her to come back.

    In any study of the merits and otherwise of political unions the UCUNF fiasco will surely be used as an example par excellence of how it sholud not be done. Can anyone think of a more disatrous political liaison in Ireland or Britain or indeed Europe?

  • Greenflag

    Not just a comb – a comb minus most if not all of it’s teeth . A year ago with the polls showing a clear Conservative majority Sir Reg played the only card he could in the uphill struggle to win back the high ground of ‘unionism’ from the DUP .

    It was probably worth the gamble of an all or nothing fling at the political gods at the time . How it goes from here is another story . Lest we forget Sir Reg was between a rock and a hard place no matter which route he took .

    Good man Reggie not the worst of them by no means . And I hope we haven’t seen the last of him in NI politics as politicians of his calibre are thin on the ground .

    Oh yes I’m still anti unionist -but that’s neither here nor there 😉

  • Greenflag

    ‘Can anyone think of a more disatrous political liaison in Ireland or Britain or indeed Europe?’

    Not immediatley but Chancellor Merkel’s CDU coalition with the FDP’s could be a contender . Think FF/PD’s except with the PD’s having double the representation .

    The local Nord Rhein Westphalen State elections were a setback for Merkel with the left SPD and the Communists gaining ground with the Communists actually breaking through the 5% vote to gain representation.

    The Greeks of course are to blame and not Goldman Sachs , or AIG or the international credit agencies 😉

  • Mick Fealty

    No one get the Blazing Saddles allusion? Tax independence, so long as it doesn’t actually change anything we might be held responsible for.

    It’s a variation of this that would make any of our political parties flop anywhere else. (Only the UUP and SF have tried and for differing reasons have failed quite badly…

  • Comrade Stalin

    Sammy, I am not sure that the UCUNF tie up actually caused the damage to the UUP itself.

    The UUP has been broken for a long time in more ways than one. On policy it can’t make up its mind whether it is still the political wing of hardcore Orangeism, or a soft form of moderate unionism that can attract Catholic/nationalist transfers (or even tactical votes). This was no more obvious in South Antrim where you had the bizarre spectacle of Sir Reg Empey appealing to moderate Alliance/SDLP voters to support him to keep McCrea out, while at the same time encouraging DUP voters to support him to show their opposition to the DUP sellout over policing and justice. How stupid do the UUP think people are when they try to run on an anti-agreement platform despite their own role in signing the same agreement ?

    The party also appears to have some serious internal problems with financial control. It must have made a very large pot of money whenever it sold of its Glengall Street headquarters about five or six years ago. How did it therefore end up so deeply in the red that the Conservative Party had to bail it out ? Individual MLAs have had financial problems as well, resulting in one particular case where a UUP MLA had to pay off his staff after using up his whole expense allowance for one year in the space of a few months. To me this paints a picture of a culture of very poor organizational discipline, and that is a throwback to the days when the UUP were top dog, there was enough money coming in that financial prudence wasn’t as essential as it is now.

    I suspect that a lot of that money was spent on disastrous, expensive election campaigns, such as the “simply British” campaign which, while utterly stupid, was slick and professional looking in terms of its presentation. This, along with the Conservative tie-up, to me seems symptomatic of a party in denial over its need to aggressively re-evaluate its approach to winning votes, believing that gimmicks can succeed over the solid campaigning and constituency work used by the DUP, SF and Alliance which have delivered results whenever properly applied in recent years.

  • Alias

    The concept of “the n*gger gets it” doesn’t work in the enforced solidarity of mandatory coalition because they all ‘get it’ if one of the two main parties gets it. Reg can only be shot by one of two parties but can’t shoot them. He can, however, shoot his own party in the head – and it looks lke he has.

  • medillen

    What’s the bets Reg ends up in the House of Lords, like Trimble before him.

  • HarryJ

    glad to see reg go, a political failyure who is behind the belfast agreement, a failed pact with the UVF and now a failed pact with the Tories.

    Bring on basil – time to lighten the mood

  • HarryJ

    What’s the bets Reg ends up in the House of Lords, like Trimble before him……………

    he needs to hurry, itll soon be an elected house and you know how reg does at elections

  • Marcionite

    Whatever one may think of the Tories, we have to give credit for Reg’s attempt at bringing a semblance of normal politics to NI albeit in a very cackhanded fashion.

    The disgraceful way that two talented prospective parliamentary candidates from the RC community were ditched meant that I didn’t vote for them. I would have done but they have to show/reconstitute themselves as secular and pluralist unionists.

    Let’s put it like this, if all unionists were like Lady Herman and Nick Clegg (yes, he believes in the Union), Julia Goldsworthy, Trevor Ringland, Mike Nesbitt etc, then I would have absolutely no problem with majority rule as such politicians I have listed are not orangists or tub thumpers.

    These and their ilk are the kind of unionists that are needed, not the grey-orangistas like McNarry etc. Put them to seed. They endanger the union actually as their presence contains the stink of decades of sectarianism. Clear them out and bring in the sunshine unionists and create a brand new pluralist, multicultural unionism that evreyone in NI can belong to and support

  • Comrade Stalin

    Whatever one may think of the Tories, we have to give credit for Reg’s attempt at bringing a semblance of normal politics to NI albeit in a very cackhanded fashion.

    Reg had/has no intention of bringing normal politics to NI, hence his participation in a sectarian electoral pact.

    Normal politics is whatever people vote for, and people never voted Conservative. It is necessary to persuade people to vote differently, not employ a kind of sleight of hand by creating a political entity with two identities.

    The disgraceful way that two talented prospective parliamentary candidates from the RC community were ditched meant that I didn’t vote for them.

    Yes, that’s because they resigned when it became obvious that UCUNF was nothing to do with ending tribal politics or bringing forward “real” politics, but was instead a shabby backroom deal intended to rescue the UUP from it’s own balance sheet and avoid the party having to address its lack of policy.

    Let’s put it like this, if all unionists were like Lady Herman and Nick Clegg (yes, he believes in the Union), Julia Goldsworthy, Trevor Ringland, Mike Nesbitt etc, then I would have absolutely no problem with majority rule as such politicians I have listed are not orangists or tub thumpers.

    Sorry, but I want nothing to do with a union where people try to rig the vote through an electoral pact to attempt to thwart those who don’t agree with it.

  • Crow

    Add to this a pro-Irishness, not a pro-United Irelandness but simply a removal of the nasty ethnic characterisation of NI politics that has been promoted in certain quarters. You would be amazed at how disarming this would be to a significant portion of nationalists (no pun intended).

  • Mick Fealty

    CS

    “Reg had/has no intention of bringing normal politics to NI, hence his participation in a sectarian electoral pact.”

    You might have no difficulty getting that one to fly during an election, but I think we both know the truth is Reg was not in control of what happened in FST. Therein lies the problem. The intention was good, though the practice was poor.

    The UUs have no shiny new candidates as progeny to ‘the plan’, and are therefore indefensible against the accusation they were always insincere. No matter how self serving such an accusation might be, the party needs either to find another plan work, or look at what went wrong last time and fix it in time for next years elections.

    If anyone thinks it is just the UUP that’s incapable of change, let’s wait for the deliberation on the RPA for evidence that corporatively our parties can effect any change without Whitehall moving the pen for them.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Its a certainty.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Mr Fealty, you are much too kind to Reg Empey. I am afraid that once again Comrade Stalin is much nearer the mark.
    Normal politics is what people here vote for. Actually I like that phrase so much, I will use it.
    The thing that the Overclass and the Bloggerati dont seem to get is that much to their chagrin people go out and vote SF-IRA, SDLP, TUV, DUP, AP, UUP.
    Its actually what the people want.
    Outside the leafier suburbs of South Belfast and the glossy garden parties featured in the Ulster Tatler, nobody is very enthused about Labour and Conservatives.

  • liberalnibbler

    No offence, but what exactly has Sir Reg Empey done to receive a Lordship? Has he ever been an MP, or held any prominent political position other than an MLA?

    On the other hand – Peter Robinson has been the First Minister of Northern Ireland: during which time he helped to complete one of the most difficult stages of devolution to Northern Ireland and has helped facilitate a functioning executive. He has also held various other Ministerial positions and has been actively involved in politics for over forty years, thirty one of which he served as an MP for East Belfast, during which time he became one of the longest serving members of the Northern Ireland Select Committee, and he has been widely praised by fellow non-Northern Irish MP’s for his political skills.

    Should Mr. Robinson not be due a Lordship?

  • Mick Fealty

    ‘Normal politics’ was CS’s term, not mine.

    But of course there’s always that quaint universal deal whereby we expect to choose our tribunes who then go ahead and make some decisions on our behalf.

    There must come a time when we all get that ‘or the nigger gets it’ is really just a joke. If people were animated about anything going into this election it was the balls up over education.

    And not just with Caitriona, but with the DUP too. Yet there is little doubt she paid for that mistake. The pattern in south Down within nationalism is not much different from anywhere else. The younger generation are much more inclined towards SF than their parents and grandparents.

    Messing up the business of politics will come with a price. Whether it is possible for a single political party to be the change or not is a matter for conjecture until and unless it happens.

    So long as the joke lasts, it lasts. I’m no hurry to run ahead of where the people are. Reg tried to point out it was a joke, and he failed. He didn’t actually lose any share of the vote for doing it (much of his parties perceived loses come more from hesitation and lack of professionalism than a wholesale rejection of the message as such).

    And the ‘change’, if it ever comes, may even come from within one of the two big parties. In the meantime, who knows when the break through will happen.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Mick:

    You might have no difficulty getting that one to fly during an election, but I think we both know the truth is Reg was not in control of what happened in FST.

    Huh ? What exactly stopped Reg could not have said “we’re not participating in a pact because UCUNF is rising above sectarian politics” ? Your answer may well be “political reality”, but if that’s the case then the political reality is sectarianism, and Reg’s talk about ending tribal politics is total nonsense.

    The pact fell on its face in any case. And that is probably a lot to do with unionist voters not being at all happy about being told who to vote for. There are other forces at work down there as well, and I’ve heard the Masonic order being invoked a few times in relation to the whole matter.

    The UUs have no shiny new candidates as progeny to ‘the plan’

    I’m not persuaded that shininess and newness are necessary. The DUP did very well running old, well-established names. When I was at the count in the Valley leisure centre, a lot of the TUV activists were guys in their twenties and even in their late teens. Some of their candidates were quite young as well.

    the party needs either to find another plan work, or look at what went wrong last time and fix it in time for next years elections.

    Look at how the DUP succeeded. A lot of it is through the candidates having good visibility in the community – I see the DUP around here all the time, never the UUP. They also have a fixed narrative which they stick to, the UUP does not, sometimes anti-agreement, sometimes pro-agreement depending on whether “Slasher” McNarry is standing in for Reg Empey that week. There are some who argue that the party is authoritarian and moves to silence dissent or anyone straying from the line, but maybe that’s what is necessary to protect the party’s brand.

    Sadly for the UUP, I don’t think it has the dynamism or the leadership required to drive the organization forward to realise these changes.

    Fitz, we sort of agree on that stuff, but coming from different directions. You simply cannot, in any part of the world, bring an outside party in and say “vote for these people, it’s what normal people do”. Aside from the issue that voting Conservative is not at all normal in vast swathes of the UK outside of the south of England, you can’t ignore the way political parties develop from the grassroots.

    What people call “normal” politics is actually beginning to come in of it’s own accord. I heard the other week about Gerry Kelly putting an ad in a community newspaper circulated in mostly Protestant parts of North Belfast, which talked about how SF were the best and most effective party to deal with problems over housing. Nigel Dodds likewise has been around the leafier parts of Catholic North Belfast. Both sides have smelled the coffee and realize that to expand their vote they’ll need to find ways to appeal across the community.

    Maybe, as the decades pass, things will go the way the politics immediately following the Irish civil war did; we still have the two sides of the treaty represented in Fianna Fail and Fine Gael – the history is still there, not completely forgotten but very much relegated to the back of people’s minds.

  • The Raven

    Really? I’m wondering about the up-to-45% of people who don’t vote at all. Who speaks for them? Not this sad shower we have here. It’s like Groundhog Day come election time. At least, in his favour, Reg threw up a few new faces. God forbid we’d vote for new people though…

  • sbelfastunionist

    Yet again the UUP turns to internal process and another party review. Ever consider that the people contributing to this review are part of the problem and don’t have the answers. The DUP will be rubbing their hands if they continue the UCUNF disaster. I thought a common problem during the campaign debates and interviews etc was that the UUP failed to articulate any real benefits from the tory link. Every UUP member interviewed constantly went on that they were fighting to be in the government and to have seats in the cabinet but it just sounded as if they were after the perks themselves rather than explaining what they would do with them and how it could benefit NI explicitly. On a related point, has Lord Trimble not received a call from Downing Street yet?

  • Alias

    “In the meantime, who knows when the break through will happen.”

    Yeah, voodoo can take a long time to heal the sick. It’s much better to put your faith in systems than in witchdoctors.

    Normality will emerge in NI when the two nations merge into the nation that actually has the right to national self-determination in Northern Ireland, i.e. the Northern Irish nation.

    If that occurs then you will have a de facto nation-state in NI and will have the normal politics that follows from sound first principles.

    It won’t happen under the existing agreement – that’s all about separate nations, fiefdoms, and mutual vetoes held by those separate nations because neither can trust the other not to operate the state as a de facto nation-state for its own nation.

  • lamhdearg

    Alias, Dito on that post, Only i prefer “the ulster nation”, separate like england is from scotland.

  • oneill

    “I’ve heard the Masonic order being invoked a few times in relation to the whole matter.”

    Not only have the Masons prevented Celtic from winning the Premiership (so I’ve heard, since they control both the refs and the media in Scotland) they also put the evil eye on the UCUNF? FFS, do you seriously believe that?

    There’s a whole host of reasons why the UCUNF project has failed but the principal is the fact that too many in the UUP couldn’t move out of the comfort-zone and sell the Union as a standalone rather than as a subsidiary part of an overall communal package.

  • medillen

    I respect alot of what you post however the fact that you felt the need to use the backward unionist term of SF-IRA disappoints me.

  • Mick Fealty

    I think it was meant as a wind up med…

  • Comrade Stalin

    oneill, I was referring specifically to FST.

  • Comrade Stalin

    ‘Normal politics’ was CS’s term, not mine.

    No, “normal politics” was not a term I coined during this discussion. That came from “Marconite” up there who was trying to suggest that “normal politics” is voting Conservative.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    oneill,

    “There’s a whole host of reasons why the UCUNF project has failed but the principal is the fact that too many in the UUP couldn’t move out of the comfort-zone and sell the Union as a standalone rather than as a subsidiary part of an overall communal package.”

    There is always a tendency after political failure to suggest that the problem lies, not in the message itself but in how it was sold and so it is with UCUNF. Bitter experience has taught the Unionist electorare, that in DUP-speak the British government cannot be trusted with the Union having been force fed the Anglo Iirsh agreement, the GFA and the STA by bipartisan Tory and Labour governments.

    The Plain Unionist people of Ulster were therefore not going to buy any message, no matter how it was parcelled up by UCUNF, that required them to trust those who had continously let them down as opposed to those who for all their faults like the DUP, had a track record in fighting their corner.

  • slug

    I am sure he will get one. Basically the DUP nominate several people so its more up to the DUP than the PM.

    Robinson will probably not seek one until after he steps down as FM which may not be for another while.

  • slug

    In terms of the benefits its really the policies in the manifesto that are the reason to vote for the party, and in their case it was one that now is going to be put in place. So we shall see a more prudent approach to public spending – with an eye on the public debt – but also an avoidance of the NI hike which is a tax on jobs.

  • slug

    There is also a plan to cut company tax across the UK by several pence, to rebalance the economy towards making things.

  • Jay

    Remember the song “Its not how you start , its how you finish”
    PR is mired in scandal and should be too toxic to enter the Lords without bringing the whole thing into disrepute.
    You bring up the point of Empey receiving a peerage and I agree completely – he doesnt deserve one. Baroness Paisley? I mean what on earth has she done over all others to deserve such an accolade?
    Its a slap in the face that “problem” people are given a peerage in order to remove them from NI politics as some kind of reward.

    Its almost as if its the early release scheme in reverse.

  • oneill

    “There is always a tendency after political failure to suggest that the problem lies, not in the message itself but in how it was sold and so it is with UCUNF”

    If a party, as a collective, isn’t seen to be 100% committed to the message they’re publicly giving, the electorate would be foolish to put their trust in that message or the people delivering it.

    It may well be they would have won no seats anyway, even without the Hatfield fiasco and the FST pact, but at least the longer term strategy supposedly behind the project would have been recognisable and still in place. A better delivery of the message and candidate selection could have been worked on, but as it is the UUP ended up with the worse of both worlds: no seats and no independent strategy in place to correct that stat of affairs in the future.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    oneill,

    what level of support is there within the UUP for UUCNF to continue? Presumably any officially negative comment will be delayed at least until after Cameron’s visit next week.

  • Sammy NcNally etc

    “what level of support is there within the UUP for UUCNF to continue?”

    I’m very much on the fringe, so I can’t give you a definitive answer on that. But personally I think the events of the last few months (and not just the election campaign) have proven there isn’t the necessary support within the party to carry the ideas originally behind the project forward.

  • UUP Future?

    Aye – there’s definitely no longer much support for the Tory link. (many if not most former supporters of the link accept this) – But it also seems that there isnt a clear majority in the UUP for an alternative route.

    Alex Kane’s Newsletter piece was fairly on the money – he identified three main groupings in the UUP: a sort of ‘orange / McNarry’ wing who want to unite with the DUPs, a ‘blue Tory’ wing who supported the Tory link, and a ‘moderate / centre ground’ wing who want to stay independent of both the Tories and DUP and stand on the moderate pro-Union centre-ground.

    From the Newsletter it very much seems like it was the Orange wing who convinced Reg not to stand aside immediately because it would damage the prospect of merger talks with the DUPs – a worrying sign for those who think a single unionist party would be less than the sum of its parts.

    That said, when first I heard of the three month delay before a new leader (i.e. “typical UUP, times are desperate, need for action is urgent, yet they go for three months of navel-gazing etc”) (haven’t there been more than a dozen “comprehensive internal reviews” in the last 10 years or so?)……

    But on reflection, three or four months from now the Tory/Lib govt will be well into their stride, cutting public services all over the place and poll figures will reflect that. Already Labour have bounced up four points in today’s polls (plus they have a third of very pissed-off non-Tory LibDem supporters they can win over) – my guess is that by the autumn it’ll be clear to even the most diehard Tory ideological fanatics within the UUP that continuing with the Tory link is political suicide.

    The next Assembly election is next year – does the UUP really want to be in a position of defending the Tories’ massive, unfair spending cuts, while DUP MLAs are busy organising packed-out community meetings to protest the closure of local libraries / swimming pools / primary schools etc?

    By autumn it’ll be clear the Tory link is political suicide, which will hopefully open the way for all those in the UUP opposed to the idea of just giving up and merging into the DUPs to find common ground and elect a new centre-ground leader who can appeal to a broad range of moderate pro-Union voters.

    Or is this just wishful thinking on my part?
    (I do really deeply hope the UUP can come out of this dreadful mess and build an independent future for itself and perhaps this clouds my judgement!)

  • UUP Future?

    Also, that BelTel poll showed that 55% of UCUNF voters wanted Cameron (the other 45% didn’t) – so once the Tory link was broken, those with pro-Tory sentiments would clearly have a major role to play in any future “moderate, big-tent centre-ground” UUP.

    The big question for pro-Tory supporters is do they want to stick with a 100% Tory ideologically-pure but electorally-doomed UCUNF – or work with their fellow moderate, centre-ground pro-Union people (who may dislike the Tories but agree on the need for new non-sectarian centre-ground unionism) to build a “big tent” UUP that can offer pro-Union voters a real alternative to the DUP?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    UUP Future,

    I appreciate that the Alliance are a touch wishy-washy on the constutional issue but they are a Unionist party and surely a natural home for sensible, secular Unionists. They now also have a link with the new government (something the UUP craved in UCUNF) and a Minister in Stormont and if the UUP redefine themselves as you suggest they will be in direct competition with Alliance except the latter although much smaller in electoral terms will not have the sectarian baggage (most of the elected officers of the UUP are members of the OO) which the UUP will still have to drag aound.

  • Mustler

    I voted unionist. Does that make me sectarian?

  • Drumlin Rock

    CS, I have a wee bit of an insight into FST and Rodneys Campaign from the UUPs side, as far as I could see the pressure for a candidate came from the ground up, and I saw nothing to hint at Orange, Masonic, Alien or other influences putting any pressure on, to be blunt I think both UUP & DUP were dreading the reception they would have got on the doorsteps without an agreement.

  • James Broadhurst

    What has he done?!

    Enterprise minister, employment and learning minister, acting first minister, lord mayor of belfast twice, deputy mayor once, councillor since the 70s, chief negotiator for the good friday agreement, which has been the basis of the entire peace process, whether you like it of not…etc..

  • Comrade Stalin

    DR,

    You chose your words very carefully. I didn’t say the Masons created the situation, but the connections of certain people with the Masons is probably a contributing factor to a critical number of unionists staying at home.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Mustler,

    Difificult to give an accurate answer without all the facts, but for example if you voted because the candidate was a member of the OO I would say that would be strong indicator you were.

    If you are worried about it then safer putting your ‘X’ beside an Alliance candidate next time you exercise your democratic right.

    Hope that helps.

  • UUP Future?

    Well I absolutely refute the idea that to be Unionist is to be sectarian, and I think there certainly should be a moderate centre-ground non-sectarian Unionist party to vote for.

    There are tens of thousands of pro-Union voters who don’t identify with either the Tories (too right wing) or the DUP (too sectarian) and the failed UCUNF project meant that at the last election these voters had to either stay at home or vote for a non-unionist party like Alliance.

    I can certainly understand why, at the last election, a moderate pro-Union voter would feel closer in values to Alliance than to the right-wing public-sector slashing Tories, or to a DUP which included the likes of Willie McCrea etc.

    The UUP need to free themselves up from both the Tories and DUP and stand on their own two feet and offer a non-sectarian unionist alternative – or else more and more pro-Union voters are going to be moving to Alliance (or in PR elections to smaller parties like the Greens).

  • Bulmer

    It’s lumbered with its glorious history from Carson and Craig onwords. Also its dreary conservatism on all matters. In my youth people told me they voted Unionist because they relied on Westminster to bring in the social changes. Left to their gerrymandering devices, Ulster under the UU would have been as backward as Dev’s ‘ourselves alone’ Eire.

    Lady Hermon is clearly a far better role model (with a great all party reputation in Westminster as has become clear in the past week) but as a silly woman she was expected to toe the line. Maybe there’s a clue to the direction they should take,

  • Comrade Stalin

    Well I absolutely refute the idea that to be Unionist is to be sectarian, and I think there certainly should be a moderate centre-ground non-sectarian Unionist party to vote for.

    A moderate centre-ground non-sectarian unionist party would be an oxymoron (likewise for a nationalist party). Such a thing can’t exist. The UUP is not moderate and never will be.

    The trouble here is that as soon as you try to be moderate, suggest that folk should try to get on with people they disagree with, and recommend that people find a way to define themselves other than their religion or their view of the union, you immediately get dismissed as a sanctimonious, holier than thou, wishy-washy no-hoper.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Left to their gerrymandering devices, Ulster under the UU would have been as backward as Dev’s ‘ourselves alone’ Eire’

    No would have been . It actually was . At least from 1920 to 1945 with some economic lift being provided by WW2 .See Prof Joe Lee’s Ireland 1912 to 1969 on the actual economics of both NI and the Free State/ROI.

    Not until the mid 1950’s did NI start to significantly outpace the Republic in terms of economic growth . Both parts of the island were fairly similar in terms of economic growth from the early 1960’s to the early 1970’s . Thereafter rising oil prices , widespread conflict in NI as well as political instability resulted in the beginning of a relative decline in NI’s economic growth rate compared to the Republic’s .

    Despite that it was not until well into the 1980’s i.e after the 1987 IMF fiscal scare that the Republic began to pull significantly ahead in terms of productivity per capita and economic growth rates .

    As to the forecast for the next decade ? One way or the other it will hardly matter for NI who the leader of the UUP is or even the DUP for that matter but it will matter as to who is resident in No 11 Downing Street and whether or no the economic and monetary strings currently being pulled in Frankfurt etc will be successful .

    The crystal ball has gone very cloudy . We are entering a new paradigm but nobody seems to know what it is ;(

  • Greenflag

    Mulster ,

    In theory yes in practice perhaps not . In practice yes and in theory not . The same can be said for anyone who votes in NI except perhaps AP voters .

    I would’nt worry about it . There may or may not be room in the goldfish bowl that is NI local politics for a moderate centre ground non sectarian unionist party . . There is the DUP and AP . The latter could do with some beefing up and the former with some beefing down . There were approx 250,000 votes cast for the combined UUP/SDLP/AP in the Westminster election . It seems to me that that ‘centre ‘ ground has a greater potential for making inroads into the support of the two main ‘tribal’ groups than it might think . Will they or can they do so ?