Sir Reg won’t be voting for the next UUP leader

UUP banner logo - slightly croppedSir Reg Empey is over in New York this week wearing his Minister for Employment and Learning hat. A BBC online news article explains:

Sir Reg’s itinerary this week includes a gathering of world leaders and a magazine event honouring the top 50 Irish-Americans working in finance … will visit the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a philanthropic institute set up by the software billionaire … attend a meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, which was formed in 2005 to “bring together a carefully selected group of the world’s best minds and most distinguished problem-solvers to focus on practical, effective measures”.

His message to the US is

“Northern Ireland is open for business”.

Since he’ll not be physically present in the Waterfront Hall and there is no vote-by-proxy arrangement, he’ll not be able to cast his a vote for either Tom Elliott or Basil McCrea on Wednesday night. Nor will he be able to congratulate the winner in person with a firm, photographed handshake.

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  • asitis

    Nice to see a politician putting the electorate before his party

  • alan56

    Could it be that after the leadership electon many will be saying…Reg, please come back…!

  • percy

    I’m not a UUP sort of chap, but I plead that Basil is voted in; he has some personality, and is a bit of a divel.

    T’other guy is terribly bland, and ya can’t help staring at his neck, its awfully long., and he’s too tall.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Empeys reign has been marked by incompetence.
    Placing a “X” on a ballot paper might be difficult for him

  • Granni Trixie

    What I find interesting in the run up to the UUP leader election is the ABSENCE of voices or interest from people we would think of as UUP leaders:Michael McGimpsey, Danny Kennedy etc.

    A foretaste of them opting out?

  • JOHN

    I think Danny Kennedy is being very clever as who ever the next leader is will have an impossible job and their time as leader will likely be short lived allowing Mr kennedy to step in when things have steadied a little.

  • Cynic

    If Tom Elliott is elected a lot will opt out – most of them voters

  • Cynic

    The Fermanagh Rump (FRUMP) will rule

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I think youre right. But in part its generational.
    Whoever wins it will weaken the UUP…as it will be fatally divided between an Old Guard that looks out of touch (Elliott) and Young Turks (in UUP terms)s (McCrea).

    Despite calls for unity and unconvincing handshakes and those ridiculous team gatherings at the foot of the staircase in Stormont……there will be people in the UUP who will have more in common with Alliance or DUP than their own party.
    Which is probably the next stage in the pre-ordained History anyway.
    Alliance will get some recruits out of it if Elliott wins. and will strengthen……although will you take Parsley back? LOL
    But AP will need to tread a little carefully.
    These “unionists” wont become “agnostics” overnight and there will be difficult periods. But it IS inevitable.
    Kennedy as has been pointed out will likely be a bridge between the New Leader and the UUP losing faction.
    McGimpsey? I think he sees the writing on the wall.

  • Granni Trixie

    For the record, IJP has always emphasised he is a Conservative now …which is not the same as a UUP-ite. An interesting dilemma for him – to have no power within UUP but yet to be tied in a strange way to the outcome of the UUP leader selection.

    Also, for the record, nothing to stop anyone joining or rejoiniing APNI as a MEMBER. Selection is on another level.

  • john greene

    Surely the Conservatives include Parsley are likely to be running – regardless of who wins – as the UUP has broken the link?
    No one could think Cameron could afford to continue to be tied to the UUP – especially not one in which McNarry, Cobain et al pull elliott’s strings

  • Comrade Stalin

    I don’t think it’s as simple as old vs new, Danny Kennedy or Michael McGimpsey would be obvious candidates, they both have the political nous to know how to lead a party and understand how to win votes. Watching the assembly debates, they are rather more capable performers than either of the two candidates and they likely have better ideas about how the DUP could be challenged. McGimpsey’s tenure over Health would stand him well, although that may be about to become a poisoned chalice as there is media speculation that the 20% cut due in our block grant will largely be directed to that department.

    My thinking is the same reason as Granni Trixie’s, there is a reason why they have stepped back from the front line. I also thought it was especially telling that neither of the two men put themselves forward as candidates for Westminster. Maybe they are thinking in terms of strategy, it might make sense to allow other people to preside over the slide to the bottom and then take over to mount a rescue.

    I doubt Parsley would try to rejoin Alliance, both sides in that particular matter likely have too much self-respect. A different question would be the issue of whether or not he regrets his decision. Either way, I think he’s preparing the ground to run as an Ulster Unionist-endorsed candidate.

    In terms of Alliance’s role, I think that it is becoming clear that there really is no such thing as soft or moderate unionism. The DUP have softened but yet managed to keep most of the hardliners in play. The UUP may be more polite, but the attitudes towards Catholicism and loyalist paramilitaries are, under it all, no different and to be honest the UUP’s moderate image makes it more insidious. With the DUP you know what you are getting, and into the bargain you’re getting politicians who are competent in office and who seem to act like they have to work for your vote.

    Granni, I rather suspect the Party is entitled to exclude anyone from membership if there is a possibility that the party may be damaged by the suspicion of mixed loyalties. It’s all academic of course as it’s not going to happen but it’s an interesting question.

  • Comrade Stalin

    UCUNF isn’t dead yet – Cameron recently declared his continued support for it (bizarrely). Either way, the link did not apply to the assembly which would in principle suggest that there will be both UUP and Conservative nominations for the seat. Parsley would be in with a chance, I’d say.

  • Granni Trixie

    CS: for me it would be a point of honour that APNI is open to anyone. Over the years people come and go, because of time commitments or brief fallings out etc.
    But membership is not the same as being selected to represent a party – at the very least one has to attract the support of constituency branch members.
    A hurdle too far for some.

  • cynic47

    The funny thing is that all those who jumped through hoops to be part of the great UCUNF are now up the creek without paddles. It must have seemed like a wonderful opportunity to quick track their ambitions for paid political position. If they had all stayed where they where they might indeed be sitting as a party appointed replacement MLA in the big house.

    Better the devil you know!!

  • cynic47

    UCUNF adventure