(live blog) And the UUP leader is … Tom

Tom Elliott, UUP
A video of the short (6 min) press conference is now embedded on the follow-up post.

(11.30pm) At the press conference Tom Elliott says that UUP will fight the next election under the UUP logo, with no pacts. He dodges the question on whether he could come to an arrangement with the DUP if they needed to beat the SF vote.

Pressed on the Conservative linkup he said “The UCUNF project is at an end”, though he pointed to a continuing, informal relationship with the Conservative Party in the future.

No decisions on rotating ministerial positions yet.

(11.00pm) In his acceptance speech, the UUP’s new leader Tom Elliott said that “as leader I’ll certainly not make this a cold house for [Basil’s] colleagues”.

Before Tom spoke, Basil acknowledged the brave support of some of his supporters, and spoke emotionally saying that he hoped his father (who was in the hall) was proud of him.

Tom Elliott acceptance speech

(10.50pm) Tom 643 (68.6%), Basil 294 (31.4%), 938 votes cast, 1 spoilt vote

(10.42pm) Here we go … candidates on stage, they’ve been told the result. Now awaiting the announcement.

Inside the hall

(10.30pm) Someone’s in no rush to meet the 10.30pm news bulletins. Still all stuck outside. Party members say that Tom “performed better than expected” while “Basil didn’t connect with the audience”. A 70/30 split in favour of Tom is expected when they eventually announce the result. Up to ten minutes ago, Basil didn’t know the result. There’ll be some bleary eyes on the buses heading west tonight.

(10.05pm)Media and blogger still stuck outside the hall for no apparent reason. The site of 1000 Ulster Unionists sitting in the Waterfront Hall doesn’t seem to be a sight the party want to show the world. Announcement now due in 10 minutes, but the press conference won’t be until after 11pm. Doors now closed again – no idea why!

(10.05pm) Declaration soon. Candidates back into hall.

view into the hall

(9.50pm) They’re being encouraged to head back inside the hall.

(9.40pm) Result now expected close to 10pm. Big queue for the male loos.

(9.30pm) They’re voting. And those who cast their ballots early are escaping upstairs to Bar 2 to get a cup of tea. Word from the hall is that both candidates spoke well. Tom spoke better than usual and certainly did nothing to throw his win away. He got a big standing ovation, Basil a bit smaller. Basil was reassuring in his speech and was also thrown some tougher questions – one constituency asking about abortion and ethical questions.

(9.15pm) All is quiet. They should be getting ready to vote, though with around 1,000 delegates present, it could take a while to pass round the boxes and then get them counted. Most of the assembled media are assuming that Tom is a cert to win. While there is talk that “Foyle is strong for McCrea”, it’ll be a major upset if Basil’s speech on the night sways enough voters to beat Tom.

(8.50pm) They tossed a coin and Tom Elliott got to speak first, with Basil kept out of earshot in a room backstage. About 250 members from F&ST arrived by bus, with others coming by car.

(8.15pm) They’re just about to get underway. The candidates have now been given 15 minutes to speak, followed by 15 minutes of questions. So it’ll be at least 9.20pm before they pass around the voting boxes. Boxes were available inside the hall for people who wanted to leave early (or not stay at all). Word is that Fermanagh & South Tyrone members were voting on the way in – with no intention of being swayed by the speeches.

(7.55pm) They came in cars, buses and by rail. Taxis drew up as close to the Waterfront’s door as possible. Cars reversed around roundabouts in a bid to get into unfamiliar car parks. Some folk will have quite a shock when they discover the big smoke’s parking rates later on tonight.

Bus outside Waterfront Hall

The candidates arrived in through the back, so had to come back out to stage their arrival for the cameras.

The 7.30pm start time has been and gone. Delegates queued up in front of constituency tables to get ticked off the valid voter lists in order to get their wristband and ballot.

Queues outside the Waterfront Hall

Think male. Think old. Females delegates made up less than 10% of the throng. Under 30s, even under 40s made up less than 20%.

Queuing up to register at constituency desks

Talking to people in the queue, a lot of people seem to have arrived with their minds made up.

Members going into the Waterfront auditorium

(5pm) The UUP will be disappointed if the Waterfront seats remain this empty at 7.30pm this evening! (Photo by Davy Sims on Flickr, used under licence.)

In the meantime, feel free to join Dewi, Drumlins Rock and others in a game of Guess the split of the vote.

Empty Waterfront Hall, set up for UUP leadership vote - photo by Davy Sims

(4pm) Paula Bradshaw (who stood alongside Basil at his campaign launch) has been blogging about the leadership vote.

In short, the question the public will pose on Thursday morning is not whether the UUP Leader is suited to appeal existing UUP voters, but whether he will appeal to new ones. Therefore that is the question UUP members must pose to themselves when they cast their vote the previous evening.

Over on the other side of the breakfast table, Conservative Ian Parsley may have risked the silent treatment when he published his recent post:

There is an old line in the Christmas special of the BBC comedy Yes Minister: “If Eric gets it, the party splits in three months; if Duncan gets it, the party splits in three weeks”. In this case, however, there is no Jim Hacker as third candidate to save the day. Currently, both candidates are keeping their actual policy positions internal, but making their mutual loathing apparent externally.

(3pm) In this morning’s Newsletter, Sam McBride outlines the process that the UUP is subjecting itself to in order to elect a new leader tonight. He expects half of the 2000 or so UUP membership to turn up at the Waterfront Hall with their identification in order to be ticked off the list and given a ballot card.

The 7.30pm start time will be pushed back if queues build up at the registration desks. Each candidate will speak for ten minutes and answer questions for ten minutes, while the other candidate remains out of the hall and out of earshot. Then ballots will be collected and “counted by neutral UUP staff in the presence of two verifiers from each of the candidates’ camps”.

The article suggests that the declaration will come around 10.30pm … convenient for the BBC and UTV news bulletins. But unless it takes two hours to count a maximum of 2000 votes for two candidates, Harry Hamilton may have to change into Flash Harry might and get up on stage to provide some entertainment.

This post will be updated throughout the evening as the UUP membership meet in Belfast to (for the first time) directly elect their new leader.

, , , ,

  • Delay probably as they try to force agreement on a unanimous vote. It would be the done thing.

  • Sam Thompson

    progressive, not patronising

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    “is it true that the Tories are opening associations in Foyle and other places in the east?? looksl ike they will be running in May after all”

    UUP, DUP, TUV, PUP, Alliance and Tories and according so Sam Thompson above Unionists need just the one more party

    So will seven be enough to cover it?

  • Big Bad Bob

    Tories opening as association in Foyle? Bet Martina’s quaking in her boots.

    Why don’t they learn from the last election and show some focus on where they might actually have a chance?!

  • Quincey

    Tom Elliott new UUP leader

  • bob wilson

    Sammy not convinvced the PUP will make it to May
    but I can confirm Foyle meeting of Tories held last night

  • student

    typical UUP, what is such a delay hoping to achieve? we’ve known the winner for weeks yet they still can’t announce it!

  • Sam Thompson

    are any of them progressive? Hmm, DUP, UUP, TUV – no. PUP – terror apologists. Alliance – non unionist. Tories – the clue is in the name ‘Conservative’.

  • What is the definition of progressive? There’s the question.

  • lamhdearg

    Do the UUP like UTV but not the BBC. if so result in 5 mins if not goodnight. thanks Alan

  • Donald Fraser

    You’re possibly correct Sammy – will jstill though just mean further ‘mainstream’ (i.e. offensively sectarian) Unionist decline. In any event – have cracked-open the Siran. Glorious stuff.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Great news for Nationalism? Let the Orange fratricide commence.

  • slug

    According to insiders both speeches in the hall were very positive.

  • slug

    We will now just have to wait for Lord Rogans announcement.


    Excuse my ignorance, but is that really what usually happens? I mean, I can see on one hand why it makes sense for the party, but really, if it were you would you allow yourself to be seen to have suffered such a punishing defeat when it simply wasn’t the case? Especially Basa of all people? Can you see him agreeing to that (if indeed it is he who has suffered a defeat). Gawd, we’ll be here all night waiting for a result.

  • Sam Thompson

    socially liberal? prepared to tackle the big problems in our society like segregation, public service reliance? rather than being happy to ‘manage’ the dire state we’re in

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Sam Thompson,

    You serioulsy think you need a 7th Unionist party for 1 million (and falling) Unionists.

  • slug

    To all those people who claim this is boring – why are you here?

  • Elvis Parker

    Once upon a time the Ulster Unionist Council had over 1000 members and they were delegates representing 1000s of other members.
    Now it is open to every single member and they have barely 2000 members in the whole of NI and only 1000 turned up tonight
    Says it all really

  • Sam Thompson

    i need a party i can vote for, not lots of similar conservative minded ones

  • slug

    Result: 70% Tom; 30% Basil.

  • 643-224. Basil wiped. Interesting to see how he reacts in the coming weeks and months.

  • slug

    Total votes 987; 693 to Tom and 294 to Basil.

  • 643-299 in Elliott’s favour

  • 643-294. Basil wiped. Interesting to see how he reacts in the coming weeks and months.

  • Big Bad Bob

    If you were really bothered about those things, Sam, you wouldn’t care about Alliance being “non-Unionist”.

    Besides, it’s not as if David Ford’s about to bring about a 32-county Republican Dream, is he?!

    Get your priorities sorted out.

  • Sorry. listened to UTV before receiving text from Hall

  • lamhdearg

    How many of basils 294 will now jump ship and join Alliance.

  • Basil to stand for AP in Lagan Valley? 😉

  • slug

    Congratulations to Tom for a clear victory. Comiserations to Basil who nonetheless received a good share of the vote. Tom has a clear mandate and can go forward with authority and the confidence that brings. I wish him all the best.

    Both men deserve credit for putting themselves foward. It is much better that there is a contest so that all the ideas can be discussed and the grass roots engaged on the way forward. So I am glad there was a contest rather than not.

    The campaign clarified a lot of issues for the UUP and I think it was a learning process for everyone.

  • john

    Oh dear enough said really.
    So which rival party will be happiest tonight?

  • slug

    Sorry ignore these – they are in error (blame Mallie!)

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    any prayers, speaking in tongues(Ulster Scots) , chanting?

  • lamhdearg

    Father Austin Purcell, ‘the most boring priest in the world’, according to Ted. A whole African village once sailed to their deaths to escape him. Talks constantly about the most trivial and irritating topics, including central heating. (TFFT).

  • if social and economic liberalism is the definition of ‘progressive’ the the Conservative-Liberal coalition seems to offer exactly that, and none of the local parties come even close. Reinvention starts here http://www.thedissenter.co.uk/2010/09/an-opportunity-to-reinvent-government/

  • Alias

    68% of the vote is a solid win. If Basil wants to, he can always go find these mythical unicorns called ‘progressive unionists’ and see if he can round up enough of them to form a new party. Given that progressive nationalists and progressive unionists combined equal a non-entity called Alliance, good luck to him.

  • Pippakin

    Oops. I think the UUP have confirmed they like the wilderness.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    So which rival party will be happiest tonight?

    Good news for SF, SDLP, Alliance, TUV and the UUP in the short term.

    Bad news for the DUP, UCUNF and the UUP in the long term.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    First item in Tommo’s intray will be getting a clear line of sight at Robbo’s arse so he can administer a hefty kick.

  • Greenflag

    Paying our respects to the dead 🙁

    So 10% were female and 80% over 40 . Pity Horseman isn’t around to comment on this latest own goal by Geriatrics United .
    70/30 is a convincing win . So it’s back to the future past imperfect then for the UUP . Maybe the ESB can do them a favour by switching off their lights !

    The DUP and AP have won this contest . Whatever Catholic ‘unionist ‘ votes Basil may have won will give Elliot a very wide berth . His Assembly strategy is a no go and his so called talks with the British Government will prove fruitless.

    Anyway it’s over for now .

  • Obelisk

    In the eyes of Nationalism…Tom Elliot was probably the best choice.

    He’ll tack closer to the DUP on many issues, and his own outspoken stance on the prospect of a Sinn Fein first minister virtually assures that next year’s assembly election is going to be the sectarian headcount we all suspected it would be. In the short term this will secure the First Minister job for…their rivals in the DUP.

    Who will then take most of the plaudits for defeating the challenge of Sinn Fein, whilst Sinn Fein can go back to their supporters and say we could have gotten it had it not been for a sectarian pact.

    Now the Catholic Unionist vote the UUP was hoping to tap is a bit of a fantasy, they’d probably stick the X down in the polling booth if there were a border poll but I think most of them wouldn’t bother voting for a Unionist party if the Union itself isn’t under threat. But next year’s Sectarian carve up should alienate them even further.

    This could be the beginning of the end.

  • DisillusionisedUnionist

    as someone who is a northern irishman, who has not voted for 10 years, who wants to look forward to the future, who is young, who wants to reach out to different communities, who wants to put the obsession with the past behind us…..i say tonight, why am i being offered a new leader who has been elected by a bunch of old men, a quarter of whom are from his own back yard….talk about out of touch with people…
    I hope sylvia hermon talks to basil mccrea and both have the guts to create their own progressive party and move this country forward, unlike the orangeman who’s outdated and uninspiring persona gives the progressive people of this country yet another cul-de-sac to vote for…do the old cronies of this country just not get it or what???

  • Dixie

    Is the Pope away home to Rome? Bigot Ian is too auld to kick him anymore…

    What are we talking about here? Ah right, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dummer have decided who is going to freewheel the bus down the hill to the scrapyard.

  • john

    Night night everyone 2 hours ahead and tired will go to bed thinking how the UUP’s remainig 100000 votes will be carved up amongst the other parties at the next election.

  • Donald Fraser

    Certainly does – it ‘clarifies’ that they’re indisputably fucked and has been a ‘learning process’ for anyone who thought the antediluvian duffers had a sensible thought left in their collective party consciousness. Well done lads – I’m enjoying an exquisite glass of Medoc in your honour.

  • SDLP Man

    Congratulations to the winner. Interesting that you need
    two thirds plus one to be elected as Pope in a Papal Conclave. Elliott has exceeded that. I’m sure he’ll appreciate the comparison.

  • Cynic

    Another step on the road to UUP oblivion. A hall packed by the Fermanagh Association got their man in. The Fermanagh Rump Party is all that’s left.

    So as a Unionist who wants to respect and live with his nationalist neighbours, who do I now vote for? A Fermanagh Orangeman who detests Gaelic sports and appeals to the lowest Common Denominator. No thanks.

  • The UUP press team gave no explanation for the delays … though (at least some of) the TV folk were slipped the result early to meet their bulletin.

  • Donald Fraser

    Celebrations have already started among Elliott’s core support…..

  • Alias

    Or change its name to FFA (Fermanagh Farmers’ Association). The DUP are still damaged goods with the unionist voters moving to them for much the same reason that SDLP voters moved to PSF (that was how the state via Blair directed them to vote with Blair rewarding the hardliners by giving them sweeties in side deals so that each tribe would vote for the party that demanded the most and conceded the least). There are no sweeties now, so each party will stand or fall on its merits, and so it is still all to play for. If the UUP can point out the DUP’s shortcomings and promote the interests of its own voters then it will regain support that it lost.

  • Progressive Unionist

    Well that was expected, but still so very disappointing.

    The UUP was in the last-chance saloon and they blew it. The party has ossified to the extent that much of it’s membership is completely out of touch with pro-Union voters, especially the aspirational working families east of the Bann many of whom dont’ bother to vote.

    Basil’s idea of a positive, progressive and pluralist unionism would have reconnected with those voters. Instead the members opted for the guy who’s going to offer up a mere reheated version of the DUP ‘traditional unionist’ menu.

    The verdict of the Party Membership was made clear tonight.

    The verdict of the pro-Union electorate will be made clear next May.

  • Dixie

    I think you are right Pippakin, personally i thought Basil would have been a better leader to bring the party out of the mess their in. He is a bit more forward thinking than Eliot who still hangs onto the old beliefs of yesteryear unionism.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Great stuff…….Tom Elliott looks like the charismatic and “broad church” leader that unionism needs. I fully expect him to be First Minister in next years Assembly.

  • Progressive Unionist

    Nonsense. The UUP can’t just offer up the same traditional unionism as the DUP – the DUP have all the big hitters and political big beasts.

    The UUP needed to create a clear contrast between itself and the DUP, which it could only do by offering positive, progressive, pluralist Unionism – it blew that chance tonight.

    It’s very depressing.

    The Northern Ireland voters will give their verdict next May.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Robinson and the DUP will make mincemeat out of him as they did with Empey.

  • dible

    They’re washed up and totally lacking in ideas. Old men bussed in from the country, out of touch and clueless.

    Surely FF and the UUP cannot be far from a formal link-up.

    Fianna Fáil Unionist Catholic United Protestant Party

    Vote FFUCUP.

  • Alias

    If these progressive voters exist in large enough numbers then why is no party looking for their vote and why do those who claim they exist not produce the statistical evidence to support their claim? Indeed, why not start a new party for the express purpose? It seems they want to be taken on faith alone rather like messiahs and other lunatics, and have some subliminal purpose that is aimed at completing the self-destruction they almost completed with the conservative alliance..

  • Comrade Stalin

    I don’t really see it as a case of good news or bad news. No party can afford to sit on their laurels and say “ah-ha, they have elected a stupid leader, now we just sit back and wait for the votes to roll in”. I don’t think the electorate say to themselves “what a moron, I’m going to go off and vote for this other party that I’ve always opposed before”.

    As far as I have seen, the electorate in NI tend to vote rather consistently for politicians who speak directly and who demonstrate a work ethic.

  • Dixie

    Vote for the Shinner, sure they’ve help put the Londonderry back into all things Derry City Council and they’ve put Derry firmly back in the UK with the UK City of Culture thingy…


    You’re a right Cynic who can’t see their United Ireland’s been stuck in the attic with all things Republican like the Smash Stormont Posters.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Evidently you consider Alliance out of the question. So what would that party have to do to obtain your vote ? Furthermore, how do you think a Basil and Sylvia party would distance themselves from Alliance ?

  • pinni


    (killing myself laughing)

  • Progressive Unionist

    I’d placed a lot of hope in the UUP over the years, but you may well be right Sam, maybe it is time for a new progressive party.

    At the next election, pro-Union voters will just be offered three brands of stale, “traditional” unionism – DUP, Tom’s Fermanagh UUP, and TUV…

    There’s nobody out there for progressive pro-Union voters who want to live in a shared society with nationalism within the UK.

    It may be that Tom will surprise us and strike out in a more progressive direction, but nothing he has said makes me think that.

    As of now, there’s clearly no reason for GAA supporters, or for members of the LGB community to vote UUP. How many of the 25% pro-Union Catholics are keen on GAA sports you reckon?

    Maybe it is time for something new… the UUP have forced out so many progressives that there’s already a base for it (possibly Lady Hermon MP and Alan McFarland MLA if they were interested?)

  • Alias

    I missed this but my reply to your post before fits perfectly.

    I agree that the UUP are fluff but the “big hitters” in the DUP are pretty dumb too – they only look big in a small pond. They’re full of errors, and a few smart aides to the UUP leader would be able to exploit them.

  • DisillusionisedUnionist

    By being Unionists who can look forward not backwards, and can gain votes from people under 50, pretty simple really…

  • Progressive Unionist

    There are over 100,000 stay-at-home unionist voters (who came out to vote for the Good Friday Agreement but have stayed at home since)

    The UUP suffered massive swings against it to Alliance in the last Assembly election.

    Next May the Northern Ireland voters will make their verdict clear on Tom’s rural, traditionalist unionism.

  • plainly speaking

    The UUP have taken a giant step this evening … into oblivion. Where can an ordinary decent voter find a centre right, pro-union, non-sectarian box to tick come election time?

  • iluvni

    Sylivia Hermon..dont make me laugh. Has she bothered her arse voting in the Commons since the general election. Last I looked she had a 0 from 62 vote record.

  • Progressive Unionist

    The DUPs most certainly aren’t “pretty dumb too” – they went through 6 months of political hell before the election this year and came out with an excellent result (except East Belfast) – they pretty much nailed the TUV which was their main aim.

    A “few smart aides” isn’t going to do the trick for Tom, the UUP are too lacking in talent (and not likely to attract any more with Tom’s backward traditional unionism) – they’ve lost touch with the more progressive section of the pro-Union community.

    Also you’ve seen Reg Empey’s pact with the DUPs in Belfast – how can the UUP hope to compete with the DUP if it’s making pacts with them all in the name of ‘traditional’ unionism?

    There are three ‘traditional’ unionist parties now – DUP, Tom’s UUP, and TUV – and traditional unionism would barely win 40% in a consent referendum on the future of Northern Ireland.

    So Unionism has a very big problem right now.

  • Dixie

    The above is not me, it could be a doppelgänger or something…

    How can two posters post under the same name anyway?

  • TOSM

    Given the intrinsically misogynistic nature of Unionist politics, am I the only one who finds it ironic that the great white hope of the ‘Official’ Unionists is someone so popular in his own heartland that he has been beaten by a unionist woman on 2 occasions?!?

  • propaganda

    Nationalism mate….

    (sorry couldnt resist)

    the obvious choices for the ulster unionist is either the DUP and TUV or Alliance as you well know.

    else its apathy, the fastest growing unionist movement.

  • Obelisk


    I would argue that next May Unionist voters will come out in large numbers to vote for Tom’s brand of rural, traditionalist Unionism.

    Of course they’ll all be voting DUP but as Tom has made clear, as long as a Unionist wins then policy differences are irrelevant.

    Just like his party is irrelevant.

  • Driftwood

    simply wont vote

    A Conservative at council level

    And Stormont doesn’t matter anyway.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Doesn’t that apply to the DUP ? They’re getting votes from people under 50, look at the age profile of their MLAs. Looking at their website, there’s nothing there about the union or Prods or smashing nationalist or the meddling free staters. What is it about their approach that puts you off ?

  • John East Belfast

    You would think Willie Ross had just been elected leader to read some of these comments.

    Give the guy a chance and there is absolutely no reason why a liberal and progressive wing cant still function within the UUP. Those who think it cant dont understand how the UUP functions and also way over estimate the individual power of the party leader.

    Tom will not be the only face of the Party and if the liberal wing fails to get its message across then it only has itself to blame.

    Indeed this could work. Just as unionism requires a range of unionist parties to maximise the unionist vote so does the UUP itself.

    Tom can challenge the DUP for those traditional and especially rural votes but the party is big enough for a different touch east of the Bann.

  • Progressive Unionist

    Alliance are not pro-Union.

  • Greenflag

    That reminds me of the yarn re the former US President a certain Bush . The question was asked as to why his nearest and dearest always sat on top when they were lahem ets use a polite word – intimate .

    The answer to the question was that Dubya could only FFUCUP or something very similar 😉

  • Alias

    “The DUPs most certainly aren’t “pretty dumb too” – they went through 6 months of political hell before the election this year and came out with an excellent result (except East Belfast) – they pretty much nailed the TUV which was their main aim.”

    Give over… their leader, the ex-MP for East Belfast, didn’t even grasp that its security policy was more important to the British state than any electoral difficulties that he faced. He ‘wised-up’ and finally saw things the state’s way when a state-owned broadcasting service dug up some details about his and his wife’s business arrangements. He is damaged goods, and so is his party.

    Robinson is a good organiser but my view is that the DUP would still be the minor party in unionism if the British state via its government of the day didn’t make a calculation that it should promote the ‘extremes’ at the expense of the moderates on the basis that any deal done between the extremes would last longer than a deal done by moderates, so his party’s success is down to Paisley’s big mouth and Blair’s duplicity rather to any genius on his part.

    “A “few smart aides” isn’t going to do the trick for Tom, the UUP are too lacking in talent (and not likely to attract any more with Tom’s backward traditional unionism) – they’ve lost touch with the more progressive section of the pro-Union community.”

    It’s the “more progressive section of the pro-Union community” that is responsible for one of its most spectacular political blunders (the Conservative link-up), so if the party has a few smart aides then they won’t be found in that section of it. Besides, Basil McCrea is a member, so is he “too lacking in talent” to assist the party or will he trundle off for a long sulk like a scorned child? If the latter, then the party was spared another blunder that the ‘progressive’ wing would have foisted upon it, i.e. electing someone who lacked commitment to the party.

    To be honest, I wouldn’t bet on either of these two gentlemen being able to revive the UUP’s fortunes (which would exhaust even the ablest of folks) but Tom Elliot will be able to bring stability to the party and after that we’ll find out if the party is over or not…

    “Also you’ve seen Reg Empey’s pact with the DUPs in Belfast – how can the UUP hope to compete with the DUP if it’s making pacts with them all in the name of ‘traditional’ unionism?”

    Logic would suggest that that question could equally be asked of the DUP, and so there is no reason to assume that a pact works to one party’s advantage but not the other (unless, of course, one party directs its voters to vote for the other party’s candidate).

    But I don’t see that it is ‘sectarian’ to prefer a unionist candidate to a nationalist candidate if you happen to be a unionist. Neither do the nationalists in practice since half of the SDLP’s voters in FST defected to PSF after the former party refused to agree a pact with the latter.

    It would be sectarian, however, if you preferred a Catholic to a Protestant candidate but it is politics and not religion that is largely in operation there.

    “There are three ‘traditional’ unionist parties now – DUP, Tom’s UUP, and TUV – and traditional unionism would barely win 40% in a consent referendum on the future of Northern Ireland.”

    Unionism is a broader church than you think. The British state is doing a fine job of consolidating the constitutional status quo, and all unionists in NI really have to do is not mess things up for it or its puppet parties, so just focus on issues that matter to ordinary people and you’ll find that ordinary people form the two communities. There is no need to make a big song and dance about how ecumenical and pluralist you are or to launch a big PR exercise aimed at charming the ‘taigs’ since traditional Irish cynicism will cause all of that to backfire on you. Focus on the issues that matter, put in the steady work on them, stop the neurotic soul-searching and the awful appeasement, kick the hell out of the opposition at every opportunity, and the rest will fall into place in a few years…

  • Just to wrap up the guess the split of the vote part of the thread … while a lot of people ran with 70/30, the future’s bright, the futures orange at 7.55pm got it spot on with his/her guess of 68/32. And hats off to the Belfast Telegraph’s David Gordon who also called exactly right.

  • Donald Fraser

    Jeez – is it? Typically mirthless Yank.

  • JOHN

    Thats incredibly acuurate from the futures bright the futures orange could you please get in touch with him to predict all the racing and fooball for the weekend – I could do with some winnings

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    I’m afraid to report that whatever about football and racing the record of ‘the futures bright the futures orange’ is very poor for rugby at least — and even worse he doesn’t settle his bets.

  • Big Bad Bob

    It’s nonsense that the Conservative link-up was a miscalculation.

    Its delivery was miscalculated. Mainly because the non-progressives set out to scupper it for their own petty reasons, Elliott among them!

    The UUP without the Conservative link has no purpose.

  • JR

    The UUP might bring some votes back from the DUP with Elliott as leader but as stated here before the overall lack of choice within Unionism will lead to a reduced Unionist vote.

    Nationalism is the overall winner here.

    Does anyone have any figures for the amount of unionist politicians who are members of the orange order? An institution to which less than 4% of Protestants in Northern Ireland belong?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I know I know……I couldnt resist.

  • billythekid

    One cannot help look open mouthed and dumb-struck at the the Ulster Unionists latest attempts to consign themselves to the past. The election of ‘establishment’ candidate, Tom Elliot is a further illustration of just how how of touch the UUP is.

    Unionism is begging for a strong, articulate and broad-minded leader to unite them. One with out the baggage of family problems and financial questions that Peter Robinson posesses, one without the Basil Brooke sectariasm of Jim Allister and one without the ‘not sure what to do’ incompetance of Sir Reg.

    I should say that when I say unite I am not talking about one Unionist party, but a leader who can communicate effectivly with other unionists to combat Sinn Feins growing straglehold on politics in the north.

    Elliots election also proves nationlists belief that unionism is still in a place of saying no, Elliot is perhaps the most conservative Unionist leader in decades. He is uncomfortable with gay pride and the GAA, there are two sectors of the community alienated straight away. Ken Maginnis defended Elliots position on the GAA by stating he couldnt attend on a Sunday for religious reasons. Fair enough.

    But Tom Elliot is now a party leader who has aspirations of being First Minister, he cannot afford to use the Sunday worship card anymore. He can’t work only six days a week, he must be able to work 24/7, if he can’t then he will fail in re-establishing the UUP as a serious party. Running a party is a serious undertaking, running a weak party with nearly no mandate is an impossible undertaking. A Part time leader who fails to woo or even try to woo the GAA or the gay community not only alienates them, but alienates moderate, liberal unioists such as Trevor Ringland and Basil McCrea, and where I live that is a lot of unionists.

    What amazes me most is that the party workers in the UUP, who have Politics and PR degrees have failed to spot this or advise on this. One thing is for sure they need to get into the real world, Tom Elliot has the hardest job in Northern Ireland polictics now, they have to start by brining Tom into the 21st century.

  • Comrade Stalin


    This is the problem. You can’t be progressive and at the same time have the position on the union as the deal breaker.

    Political parties in NI aren’t in a position to effect the constitutional position of this place in any meaningful way. All they can do is engage in pathetic stunts, like sticking Irish language signs on things or complaining about the ESB take over of the electricity grid. Accordingly, it’s pointless to support parties which offer a constitutional position above all else – unless the need to vote in order to mark out your tribal colours is important to you.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Their timing is absolutely perfect, just in time for the comprehensive spending review.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Now the Catholic Unionist vote the UUP was hoping to tap is a bit of a fantasy, they’d probably stick the X down in the polling booth if there were a border poll but I think most of them wouldn’t bother voting for a Unionist party if the Union itself isn’t under threat. But next year’s Sectarian carve up should alienate them even further.

    I’m not sure how it works. Sure, there are more than a few Catholics who will vote for the union in a border poll. But I don’t think there was any prospect that they would be inclined to vote Unionist in order to express their support.

  • Comrade Stalin

    There has never been anywhere near one million unionists at any time in NI’s history.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    The uncomfortable fact for Unionism, and particularly moderate Unionists is that being against things gays, catholics, GAA, Darwin etc gets you to be the biggest party based on those unionists who actaully vote – Unionists also have the Alliance and the Tories as moderate Unionists, but East Belfast aside, dont bother to vote for them.

    If Basil had been elected in the short term the UUP may faced near wipe-out as the DUP rounded on their wooly-liberal pro something stance and the stay at home moderate Prods might have simply distanced themselves from what looked like a failing party.

    In the longer term though Basil might have then started to show signs of growth though probably never replacing the DUP as party of choice for most Unionists- uncomfortable for some but true.

  • > … against … Darwin …

    I didn’t think they were that anti-Newsletter!!!

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Surely he’s not named in honour of the great man?

    Just noticed on wiki the following “The newspaper’s editorial stance and readership, while originally republican”

    Wonder if any of the original editorials are to be had or perhaps they have some old republican memorabilia locked away?

  • billythekid

    I hear ya,
    But surly politically the aim was to have a UUP leader that can provide a debate in the unionist community, that will encouage them to at least vote for someone, for him or against him? This is where a level of unionist unity could have been found surly?
    From the outset it coms across that Tom Elliot is just another nay saying, stand still unionist, so why bother voting for someone not that different from Sir Reg. Though oddly Mr Elliot has already started to grow on me, their is a humility in his victory speech that seldom came out on his campaign.

    Basil would have done well at election time, I agree it would not have broke the DUP, but he would have campaigned well and performed well in debates. In all honesty its hard to see much change to the status quo come next years election.

  • tonto

    but alienates moderate, liberal unioists such as Trevor Ringland and Basil McCrea, and where I live that is a lot of unionists…………….

    load of Tosh, the UUP fielded the most liberal array of candidates at the election and got stuffed, Ringland was one of the worst performers!