Basil McCrea calls on Sir Reg to “go soon”

The BBC reports that Ulster Unionist MLA Basil McCrea wants party leader Sir Reg Empey to step down now rather than in the autumn as he had indicated.  From the BBC report.

Mr McCrea, who is viewed as a possible contender to replace Sir Reg, says the party needs to elect a new leader as soon as possible.

“There’s a general rule that whenever people decide that they’re going in any walk of life, that if you don’t go soon, what you end up with is a lot of discussions,” he said.

“They become increasing fractuous as time goes on and frankly, it does no good to either the incumbent leader or the party itself.

“The party really needs to get to grips with issues, about what it stands for, what its vision is.

“The best way of doing that is to have a leadership election.”

Update The Belfast Telegraph reports

, , , , ,

  • Tell it to Frank Sinatra!

  • mark

    good advice, please read the “end of the party” by Andrew Rawnsley about the damage done to new labour by Tony Blair’s long drawn out departure and you will see that Basil is right, it does the party no good at all procrastinating about such matters

  • On the morning after the election, Basil said [starting about 1 min into the clip] that the party needed to figure out its strategy and elect a leader to match that strategy by June to give a full year of stability before the next elections.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    I think it fair to say he was a very poor leader – he seemed to swing from trying to position the party as modern, moderate and reasonable by linking with the Tories and then to outflanking the DUP on the right by cosying up to the OO and trying to wreck the STA agreement.

    He should have gone one way or the other rather than be buffeted about by events.

    ps Did well on the debates though.

  • hello david u still an offical spokespersons for the monster raving looney party/TUV.???

  • The UUP are all over the place a complete shambles some want the link with the tories to carry some want links with the DUP and some want to go it alone.shambles the whole UUP

  • Hi Paul

    Still a sock puppet for the Ulster-Scots Orange Order Manipulation Party?

  • nope david I am not answer my question are you still a member of TUV yes or no.

  • joeCanuck

    Not a particularly smart move by a possible leadership contender. He needs to read “The Prince”. You get someone else to do the dirty work such as stabbing another in the back.

  • unionistvoter

    Basil is concerned that while he thinks he is in with a chance now any drawn out leadership campaign will show up his lack of substance.

  • I think basil is right look what happened to blair

  • aquifer

    The UUP have been running on Empy for ages.

    Reg may imagine himself indespensible but the electorate voted no thank you.

    Leading the UUP is like herding cats, who could do it, why would you want to?

    You think you are sitting round a table with rational folk but someone beats the big orange drum in the distance and they are off over the green hills again.

  • cynic47

    Basil is worried that Mr Nesbitt, God forbide, builds up a head of steam between now and the Autumn. The wee old dears in the party will be charmed by Michael. Basil is no mug. He’s also not leader material.

  • I wonder joe if basil is preparing the ground not for himself but a candidate he will support in any leadership election

  • you can just picture it nesbitt leader and flash harry as his deputy.lmao

  • cynic47


    At least Vancey tells us who he is. How many slugger names do you have now to hide behind?

  • tresc2003

    Meanwhile, the rest of the UUP membership is calling for Basil to shut up. I would predict that it shall be touch and go as to whether the blithering Basil gets reselected as an MLA in Lagan Valley. He is not liked as much as he would like to think.

  • One things for sure the UUP have a lot of soul searching and thinking to do and not much time to do it.

  • Drumlin Rock

    think you have just about got it there UV.

  • midulsterunionist

    Basil is ever the opportunist but he would be a disaster for the UUP, i actually like mike nesbitt but my problem is he is too new into the party and hasn’t really proved his leadership skills yet but definately i’d rather have him than Basil… I think Tom Elliot has it

  • union mack

    its probably time for the UUP to have leader who is not in the OO, make a statement that they can actually move on. Basil is not leadership material, but then neither was Reg

  • The chief whip fred cobain has just said there may be action taken against basil mccrea

  • midulsterunionist

    Fred Cobain whipping Basil McCrea… thats one thing i did not want to envisage lol but seriously Basil does deserve to get knocked down a peg or two plus if he does win just imagine all the basil fawlty jokes that the DUP will send around!!

  • Liberal Unionist

    Sir Reg needs to listen to what the party want and not just his chums on the UU Executive! Time to go!!! Along with his pal Lord Trimble, they have dragged the party from disaster to disaster.
    The party needs a strong energetic young leader and to put this daft tie up with the Conservative party back in the Christmas cracker from which it came.
    As for David Campbell (UUP chairman), he should remember he was only reselected by a very slim majority, had it not been for the fact we were a month away from the General election, he too would have been out on his ear and most probably will be next time!

  • Pete Baker

    Update The Belfast Telegraph reports

    Fellow MLA [and UUP chief whip] Fred Cobain said almost everybody in the Assembly team had been “very annoyed” by Mr McCrea’s intervention.

    And the North Belfast MLA said the issue of disciplinary action against Mr McCrea would be discussed at a meeting on Tuesday of next week.

    And the BBC adds

    [UUP chairman David] Campbell said that the party executive had “overwhelmingly endorsed decisions about Sir Reg Empey’s leadership and the timing of any leadership election”.

    “There was also widespread dissatisfaction expressed at the behaviour of Basil McCrea in attempting to conduct party business through the media,” he added.

    “The decisions of the party executive are clear, and they are decisions that Basil McCrea should respect.

    “The party will no longer tolerate individual members whose indiscipline threatens the efforts of the wider membership whose primary focus is on the recovery of our party and our country.”

    He said that while Mr McCrea was an MLA, he could not be described as a “senior member of the UUP”.

    “Mr McCrea has never held a senior post within the UUP assembly group, was not voted on to the current executive by his constituency association, and is not a party officer.”

  • Liberal Unionist

    Yes thats what we need to inspire the electorate. ‘Dull as Ditch water’ Elliott! We might as well pull the shutters down.

  • Well the SDLP took swift action I would think basil can expect the whip to be withdrawn.

  • HeinzGuderian

    Empey was a disaster !! The UU Party is supposed to be a credible alternative to the religious fanatics in the DUPper/Taliban,instead we have Empey complaining about running the Belfast Marathon on a Sunday,because of religious reasons ?
    Whomever the new leader is,I can only hope for an Atheist,free from any orange order links…………well,one can dream,can’t one ? :O)

  • Its quite clear the UUP is on its last legs I really think they need to think about disbanding and those that want to go off and join an alliance type of party can do so those that want to have links to the DUP can do so and those that cant want to go off to do other things can do so.They cant go on any longer like they have being the term the ulster unionist party is both irrelevant and redundant.

  • drumlins rock

    Dont mistake a drole country accent for dullness, he usually gets to the point pretty quick and has did his homework.

  • drumlins rock

    there is a happy medium you know Heinz, I think the religious vote still outweighs the secular one even for the UUP, but they need to be “moderate” enough to contain both.

  • Lionel Hutz

    I’ve seen both Rodney Connor and John O’Dowd around the RCJ in the last hour. I can see no thread on this. I FST being challenged

  • Seymour Major

    The following article by Liam Clarke in the latest Sunday Times, might provide a clue as to why McCrae is coming out now

  • SammyMehaffey

    I think the shutters are down for good. there is no way the Cons will continue the link with the UUP after the sectarian shenanigans they got up to pre election.

  • SammyMehaffey

    Action shouls be taken against the entire executive. they presided ove a complete shambles.

  • alan56

    The problem faced by UUP is that there are no obvious leaders. McNarry or Elliot would be disasterous and are already damaged goods. (Oranger Order devotees and ‘unionist unity’ advocates in the FST disaster). David Campbell (who you might ask) has been party chair in one of the most disasterous periods in the history of the party. He is dull and lacks charm and is also in hock to Orange Order. Where can a leader come from in UUP that does not have the OO as a back seat driver. Narrow’s it down

  • Framer

    Liam Clarke suggests a non-member and an unelected member as potential UUP leaders.Fantasyland.

  • asitis

    There are a number of members from the Westminster candidates list who are non OO and moderate without being Tory.

    The UUP needs new blood in leadership and in the officers group. It also needs to bin many of its useless elected reps.

    A bit of work on the ground with the voters wouldn’t go amiss either.

  • DC

    I’m kost for a reasoin why there is a need for any such rush.

  • cynic47

    Bring back the North Down Two. How can a party with so few talented people in their ranks afford to cut their nose off to spite their face?

  • Liberal Unionist

    Drumlins Rock
    Oh great a younger version of Reg, just what we need!

  • Liberal Unionist

    Lady H would be welcome back, Sooty McPharland no one particularly wants back!

  • Comrade Stalin

    How can a party with so few talented people in their ranks afford to cut their nose off to spite their face?

    The answer lies in the question. The UUP is a modern day outworking of Darwinian theory.

  • Procrasnow

    Who on earth cares whether he goes or he stays?

    Ulster Unionism is dead. someone said recently what has the Monster Raving Loony Party and the Ulster Unionist Party got in Common?….No MP’s

    Who cares about Sir Reg? forget the past and move on to policies and issue that matter, That Party does not matter any more.

  • Good evening and welcome to Sky Sports and straight to the action

    My lords, ladies and gentlemen
    Introducing first
    Fighting out of the blue corner
    With a record of two wins and one loss
    This man is 6 feet tall of the ground
    He weighs 195 pounds
    He is a current , reigning and defending
    Ulster Unionist MLA
    Fighting out of Lagan Valleee
    Councillor Basil “Boom Boom” McCREA

    Fight fans don’t go away, we’ll be right back after the short summer break

  • Progressive Unionist

    Basil was speaking for many many people and what he was saying is just simple common sense!

    This heavy-handed response is ridiculous! Talk about double standards!!

    David McNarry has been spending his time since the election issuing statements saying “lets merge with the DUPs” and even when the votes were still being counted on election night that Reg’s position was untenable.

    Terry Wright – the man who’s meant to be leading an impartial review – has published an article playing up the idea of links with DUP and Tories and completely ruining any chance he has of being seen to be impartial.

    No action gets taken against either of them yet when Basil speaks his mind suddenly out rapidly and speedily comes this righteous hammer of indignation!! It’s crazy, talk about double standards!

    Now Basil is probably going to get driven out the same way as Sylvia Hermon and Alan McFarland were – all proven vote winners who can appeal to liberal unionists and who speak for tens and tens of thousands of positive unionist voters!

    The UUP should be doing the exact opposite and going to Sylvia and apologise sincerely for forcing her out and inviting her back to stand for leader and to lead the party forward – she was proved absolutely right about the disastrous Tory link!

    At this point voters will easily be thinking that the UUP doesn’t want a single liberal unionist left about the place in which case the UUP is just doomed. It’s already at death’s door and its only hope is reaching out to the huge number of people who don’t want links with the DUP, or the Tories or hardliners in the Orange Order and who just want to get their moderate UUP back to speak up for them – the pro-Agreement party that we had after the Agreement.

    If the UUP dont get the message and go and bring down the hammer on Basil for speaking common sense then moderates should just up and leave and form a new unionist party free from the Tories and DUP and a party to speak for tens and tens of thousands of moderate voters and I bet such a party would easily win more seats than the UUP at the next election, especially if it brings back Sylvia and Alan.

    If the UUP is going to keep on with this systematic purge of all its vote-winning senior liberal members like this then it deserves not to have a future, because it’s turned its back on its own grassroots in order to play footsie with hardliners and Tories and Duppers.

    When will the decent people grassroots rise up and take back their party?

  • HeinzGuderian

    A happy medium,Rock ?? A fortune teller on coke !! I dunno,maybe if we could somehow take religion out of politics and SCHOOLS,things might just get a tad better ?

  • HeinzGuderian

    ‘The UU Party does not matter anymore’. The alternative for the Unionist people is 6,000 year old earth believers. morons,bigots,religious fundamentalists,……..just wait until I get to the Robinsons……………….

    The Ulster Unionist Party HAS to matter…………….the alternative is ……………,I can’t bring myself to contemplate it !! :O)

  • Is it Basil’s thyme or does he lack sagacity?

  • WhiteKnight

    The problem with Basil McCrea is that he sat on the fence during the whole UCUNF debacle.

    Lady Hermon voiced her very public concerns. Alan McFarland expressed his concerns internally and then resigned in order to support Hermon. Alex. Kane (the UUP’s former Director of Communications) expressed his concerns at Party meetings and then resigned from his job.

    McCrea hung about, waiting to see which way the wind would blow. He could have resigned along with McFarland and campaigned alongside Hermon. He chose, instead, to campaign for UCUNF candidates and was even photographed with Bill Manwaring in West Belfast and Daphne Trimble in Lagan Valley.

    Much of what he said a few days ago was a rehash of what Kane had written in his column last week. The difference, of course, is that Kane gave a fairly clinical assessment of the difficulties posed by stringing out a leadership contest; while McCrea sounded like a man in a hurry to get the top job.

    But what, exactly, is McCrea offering the UUP and the wider pro-Union electorate? He supported talks with the SDLP. He supported links with the PUP. He was photographed with his arm around Jim Nicholson at the Euro count last year—a victory that supposedly marked the successful lauch of UCUNF.

    McCrea has made no secret of his leadership ambition, having first aired them a few weeks after his spectacularly unsuccessful bid to topple Jeffrey Donaldson at the 2005 General Election.

    Instead of bending the ear of any journo who will give him a bite of publicity, it might be a better idea of McCrea gave us sight of the grand plan he has to save the UUP.


  • slug

    So his loyalty is a problem, Bill?

  • Liberal Unionist

    So Basil is being criticised for not breaking ranks and speaking out against the party before the election then? Its called loyalty!
    Hes speaking out now as Reg is continues to dither, as he has done for most of his leadership. In addition the fact hes staying on for 6 months means a new leader only has 6 months to let the voters get used to him!
    Find it interesting that the party website suddenly is swamped in Tom ‘Dull as Ditch water’ Elliott statements.
    Can the party really be daft enough to select yet another empty suit???
    As for McNarry many in the party will remember his acts on election night, Brutus had nothing on David. for the entire campaign he sniped away from the side pushing his own agenda which harps back to the days when the Order ran Unionism. The man is beneath contempt. Perhaps Fred was to busy campaigning to crack his whip against Grand Master David.
    Empey, Trimble and McNarry and their cronies on the party executive have overseen the almost destruction of the grand old party and all need to now step aside and let a younger generation try and repair the damage they have done!

  • Liberal Unionist

    Are you really qualified to ask that question David considering you have Jim Allister as a leader and got hammered by the Unionist voters?

  • Liberal Unionist

    No sense of humour then? I suppose I can understand that after the Ulster Unionist Party joined TUV in having 0 MPs – the difference being you started with 10 not so many years ago.

    The bigger issue here is where the UUP – or is it UCUNF? – now goes? I believe Basil may be right to have raised the issue of leadership but there are ways one can do this without risking being seen as an arrogant self-publicist, you know. Personally, I hope the UUP does get a decent and dynamic leader with vision.

  • Liberal Unionist

    The main reason for decline in fortunes of Unionism in general is that senior Unionists in general are weak and lack new ideas.
    The very fact that all 3 Unionist leaders took such a hammering at the hands of the electorate shows that.
    The only answers these pathetic little men can come up with is Unionist Unity, lumping together Unionists of all shades on this one issue will not work.
    The Union is not peoples sole interest in politics anymore as Sir Reg found to his cost. people are better educated and more politically aware than in the past when all a Unionist leader had to do was stick his sash on and the masses would pour into the polling stations.
    There is a huge swathe of middle class Liberal Unionists, who while they want to maintain the Union, are far more concerned with Mortage repayments, rising fuel prices and the pathetic wages on offer in Northern Ireland compared to the rest of the UK.
    Trying to lump these voters in with the DUP who are slightly to the right of the Taliban will not work and will spell nothing but disaster.
    This move in my opinion has less about what is best for the Unionist people and more about what is best for McNarry, Campbell and the rest of the Empey heads in the party executive. Most of whom are only interested in preserving their cushy positions.
    A new Unionist Party is needed, however this will not be found through allowing the UUP to be swallowed whole by the fat bloated whale of the DUP. I for one want nothing to do with Gregory Campbell, Sammy Wilson, Willie McCrea or Wee Jeffrey. It can only be found by the party turning its back on sectarianism and the Orders and truely embracing Liberal Unionism for all.
    This means Catholic candidates, real policies to help people from all walks of society, not bringing the troops back onto the street as Sir Reg suggested.
    The slogan was Vote for change! Its certainly time! Lets start with the party leadership.

  • Liberal Unionist

    Wonder why he didn’t discipline McNarry as well???