Trevor Ringland was one of the shiny new non sectarian, politically right of centre, civic unionist, UCUNF members who was going to take the Tory whip when elected to Westminster. Then unfortunately the story went a bit wrong. Instead he was humiliatingly defeated, managing to take the UUP from second to third, loosing them over 2,000 votes and 10% of the electorate in the process.
After his humiliation Ringland memorably demanded the new UUP leader Tom Elliott make a political volte face and go to GAA matches (incidentally Ringland seemed to feel that he, Ringland had a god given right to seats for GAA finals). Then he threatened to resign from the party unless Tom do as he wished. When Tom Elliott met him (and I understand told him to stop grandstanding), Ringland made a bit of a song and dance before resigning: complete with resignation interview on Talkback.
One might expect Ringland to be quiet after this but of course that would be incorrect. Having tried and failed to make Tom Elliott do a political volte face, Trevor Ringland seems to be in the process of performing one himself. He has given an interview to the Belfast Telegraph. In the course of the interview Ringland claims to be “taking time to reflect.” Unfortunately this reflection seems both very rapid and all over the place.
The ex right of centre UUP / Tory hopeful now within a few weeks hopes to see the emergence of “left of centre politics” within working class unionist areas. It is of course possible for working class people to vote Tory and be right of centre (many are). However, it seems odd that a man who a scant few months ago was trying to get working class unionists (and nationalists) to vote for a right of centre party is now hoping for the emergence of a left of centre party. I do not remember him campaigning on a “Do not vote for me if you are working class” nor on a “Vote for me I want left wing politics” platform.
Furthermore Ringland has expressed considerable admiration for Dawn Purvis who was the mouth piece in chief for loyalist murderers for about two dozen murders before leaving after one more. Ringland stated:
“Dawn has a very key role to play, I think. Loyalists and unionist working class areas need a voice and Dawn has very strong attributes. I would certainly give her any help she needed.
“I hope that left of centre politics emerges in working class areas, as well as in nationalist and republican areas.
“We can’t keep ignoring the social and economic problems that face our society. It’s crucial that this politics does emerge in future,”
After all that he still suggested of Tom Elliott and the UUP:
“That’s not to say our relationship cannot be healed in the future.”
There is an alternative reading of all this: Ringland, a successful solicitor, rugby player and minor celebrity seems to have a vastly overinflated opinion of himself and his own importance. At a time it seemed a fun wheeze to stand for Westminster. Now he is thrashing about politically direction-less, looking for a mechanism to remain in the limelight and possibly keep his dream of a career in politics alive.
Unfortunately for Mr. Ringland the UUP and Conservatives are unlikely to fall for his bluff and charm a second time: Alliance are also likely to be most wary as indeed are the community sector he once involved himself with. Indeed Dawn Purvis may be the only one who will give him any help. The rank hypocrisy of the civic unionist, cross community, right of centre wannabe MP helping an, until a few months ago, loyalist cheerleader with strong left wing credentials is pretty breathtaking. That Ringland was willing to give this interview shows not only his self importance and political naïvety but also a complete lack of sense of irony. Still I suppose he has his solicitor’s career to fall back on. Hopefully he has more integrity in a professional capacity.