TUV Conference preview – evolving yet bringing guns back into politics

TUV party logoThe TUV went remarkably quiet after the May 2010 Westminster elections. However, this weekend, party members will be converging in the Royal Hotel in Cookstown for their party conference. Outside the party, it wasn’t terribly well advertised. While I received a belated invitation last week, I’m not free to attend. Not sure if anyone from Slugger will be along?

Printing out their conference programme used up more red and blue ink that I’d bargained for. There’s still the old-fashioned use of mnemonics to spell out FAILURE using the first letters of the bullet points describing “the failed Stormont we can’t afford” and ROADMAP for “the working Stormont we need”.

TUV 5 point plan

But the eight page booklet also reveals a party that has perhaps started to evolve.

The conference title is “Making Stormont Work”. Twelve months ago, I’d have expected it to be “Bringing Stormont Down”. Instead it’s about “our quest not to wreck Stormont but to improve it”.

It’s also out with the normal DUP-castigating rhetoric, and instead the leader’s message, along with the resolution summaries and the “5 point plan” is nearly completely devoid of mentions for other political parties. No knocking the DUP, vilifying Sinn Fein (well, just once) or ridiculing the Alliance.

In the morning, the party will debate a motion about the economy, condemning “the utter failure of the Stormont Executive to agree a coherent strategy for dealing with the Public Sector cuts and rebalancing the Northern Ireland economy in a fiscally sensible manner”. David Vance is proposing, and Elizabeth Lisk seconding. [The BBC reported this afternoon that the draft budget expected to reach the Assembly on Tuesday has been delayed by up to a fortnight.]

Then it’s Jim Allister and his leader’s speech.

After lunch they move on to a motion about Devolution brought by Keith Harbinson and Sammy Morrison. It’ll describe “the current form of devolution” as “undemocratic … unworkable and incapable of bringing either stability or good government”.

They’ll have a panel discussion on “the State of the Union” featuring Jim Allister, Keith Harbinson, William Ross and David Vance. No sign of any intention to deliberately listen to outside voices and reflect on other viewpoints.

Like all party conferences this year, there’s the mandatory education motion. It’s the only time Sinn Fein get a mention. “This conference deplores the destructive consequences of Sinn Fein rule within education.” The motion goes on to support parental choice, reflects the “need for both the voluntary grammar sector and the secondary sector”, seeks a single academic selection test and “strongly opposes public funding for Irish Medium schools, believing those who want such should themselves pay for it”.

The last motion wants “an urgent and radical overhaul in the present policing and security arrangements in Northern Ireland”, notes that “a recent opinion poll states that 14% of Nationalists are sympathetic to [dissidents]” and calls for former security personnel to have their personal protection weapons returned to them.

Who’d have thought a political party would be calling for the return of more guns to NI streets?

Four fifths of the TUV’s five point plan could belong to any party in Northern Ireland: Prudent fiscal management, employment strategy, education and security. The remaining point is their call for a “voluntary coalition” to create “a vibrant, confident and liberal democracy”.

So while there’s still plenty of distinctive anti-agreement sentiment, there’s also traces of realpolitik and engagement with some of the big issues of the day. Perhaps first generation evolution? With no mention of justice, health, environment, or social development, the TUV are still positioning themselves as a protest vote against a limited number of issues. It’ll be interesting to see the content of some of the speeches to see how they are addressed.

I’ll finish the post with the last sentence from Allister’s Party Leader message to conference delegates.

I trust you have a good day and leave renewed in your determination never to leave undone that which can be done in building towards a better tomorrow.

Hang on, is that the phone ringing? Must be the Plain English Campaign

PS: Jim Allister’s website seems to be down at the moment.

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  • Anon

    Improving Stormont? So just what is the point? All the Unionist parties want to make Stormont work better and have a commitment to move towards voluntary coalition. People will conclude that this outfit exists solely as a vehicle for egos and hatred of the DUP.

  • Anon

    “Log jam and chaos”

    Sounds like the title of a book, although the comma between log and jam is missing!

  • Stephen Ferguson

    I’d rather weapons were in the hands of former security personnel than Nationalist terrorists.

  • joeCanuck

    Did they book a table for two?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Actually it would have been interesting to attend. If Id had more notice Id probably have gone just for the craic. A bit like Jurassic Park.
    Real politick? Theres more to real politick than merely discussing bread and butter issues. There has to be a linkage to actual power. And the notion of the TUV getting anywhere near power is too risible to be “real”.

  • My crack about meeting in a phone-box was noted, Joe 😉

  • The links on the TUV website need updating. I like this bit of ‘mambo-jambo’ on the David Vance East Belfast link:

    You step in the stream,
    but the water has moved on.
    This site is not here.

    Perhaps he dived in, head first 🙁

  • Stephen Blacker

    Got to give respect to the TUV because they got a serious kicking in the polls at the Westminster elections and they are coming back for more. My experience of DUP voters is that they dont like backing losers, this is where TUV votes will come from so my money in on the TUV doing even worse than the 3.9% last time.

    As their leaflets show they have no real alternatives to the imperfect system we have, a system necessary because of our recent history. If the TUV had their way there would still be wholesale violence because their proposed tactics would not sit well with “Conflict Transformation”

  • Alan Maskey

    They don’t seem to have any policfies, except attacking the Irish language.

  • White Horse

    I suppose there’s no point in telling Jim that ideological nationhood of the Orange variety was traded for ideological nationhood of the green variety by John Hume in 1998.

    What stands today is social democracy and we need a social society reaching out and embracing each other.

    Liberal democracy. Well that just seems to be a word that Tories use when they seek power.

    Yes, I agree that Sinn Fein are not democrats when are only democrats as long as they have power.

    But as social democracy is by and large writing the script for all party political positions in Stormont, I see no reason for addressing either their rigor mortis or that of the DUP in a forceful way.

    Surely, Jim, you just fail to understand what happened in the last number of years.

  • Where are we going to get this social democracy from, WH? So far the ‘reaching out’ language has been mere tokenism.

    When my friends and I asked questions about the Rathlin ferry saga Jim Allister’s people were the only political folks who were prepared to apply the sort of pressure that has been seen more recently in the NI Water fiasco.

  • White Horse

    Yes, Nevin, but the ideological positions were strewn with dead people and bombed buildings.

    There has been some improvement.

  • These positions ebb and flow, WH. The SDLP-UUP spectrum has been severely eroded and my major concerns relate to the impact of 2012, 2016 and 2021.

  • White Horse

    My major concern is today. One day at a time, Nevin.

  • The TUV Will get thrashed they will poll even worse a lot worse than last time they offer us nothing.people are sick tired and sore of allister and his motley crew of no hopers. they will be lucky to get one seat i dont think allisters a shoe in in NA like people think.

  • So a question? Am I right that the TUV have softened their stance of previous years? Or is this just a restatement in more politically astute language?

    (TUV supporters – feel free to join in the conversation.)

  • From a communal perspective, I prefer to look ahead, WH. I was never in the scouts but their ‘Be Prepared’ motto has merit when it comes to exploring the implications of our troubled past and present.

  • fin

    I dunno, Jimbo reminds me alot of Steven Gately, I think the Boy Band image of the TUV could get them top spot on some chart somewhere, Jimbo probably needs to be more Daniel though and start handing out bunches of flowers to the Turgons sitting in the front row and thank his manny and Papa more

  • fin

    Why’s it in Cookstown had someone already booked Torra Borra

  • Alan, perhaps you should link to the TUV Winter 2010 leaflet [pdf file].

  • Wow. Just off to have a cup of tea after reading that.

  • White Horse

    Nevin

    I might argue that it is not so much a desire to be prepared as a desire to be in control. I think the future will unravel itself in a splendid way.

  • medillen

    Just to give you plenty of notice FJH Sinn Fein Ard Fheis 25/26th February Belfast, I am sure a vistors pass could be organised.

  • He he Ha ha

    I’d rather weapons were in the hands of the New security personnel than Unionist terrorists.

  • Wasted Ballot

    Any word on guest speakers? I’m hoping Bob McCartney stays clear this time round..

  • Kaido

    Guest speakers

    They are so far back in time they could have a personal appearance by Genghis Khan.

  • To coin a phrase, Alan, the rhetoric hasn’t gone away you know 🙂

  • Jj

    If this were a meeting of dissident Republicans, or even SF, one of those attending this conference would be calling for their assassination on his blog.

    Obviously one hopes that the same thought doesn’t occur to anyone seeing this motley crew of bigots, racists and political failures assembling. Obviously.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    It did look promising for a while that Jimbo would help splinter the Unionist vote further – not looking promising at the moment.

    Did I see some something about some sort of cooperation/talks with the UUP somewhere recently?

  • Rory Carr

    Surely, now that David Vance has become one of their leading lights, it can only be but a matter of time before the TUV rises into political ascendancy.

    Or, on second thoughts, perhaps not.

  • WH, the unravelling is never splendid. Check out A T Q Stewart’s “The Narrow Ground”, in particular the chapter on Sermons in Stones.

  • Cynic

    Evolved to Neanderthal Level?

  • RepublicanStones

    In Cookstown visiting the inlaws, just passed the Royal Hotel, never seen so many De-Loreans parked in the same street before.

  • JAH

    It’s not just the Irish language judging by the excerpts!

  • fin

    So previously the TUV’s simple agenda was to get MLAs elected and not to take their seats in Stormont therefore collapsing the Assembly.

    The new agenda doesn’t differ, however, its ideas that other unionist parties have voiced previously so if elected and they refused to take their seats and can embarass the UUP & DUP a little bit as their reasons are what the other parties have already bought into.

    Wonder if it will work!

  • Ah, the joys of reading the discerning comments of Slugger’s cognescenti. Thanks also to Alan for his well balanced introduction, full of profound insight. I suppose those who think that Sinn Fein/IRA and the SDLP offer good government and and an effective economic strategy are well beyond the remit of logical debate.

  • MichaelMac

    Has a risng star ever dimmed so quickly. On the back of the European election bright things were predicted for the party and its leader. The Westminster election was a chastening experience for party with the major egoists getting battered in North Antrim and East Belfast.

  • Anything of note to pass on to “Slugger’s cognescenti”?
    Or are you just here to sneer?

  • White Horse

    Nevin

    Books by historians with agendas?

    I understand that unionists have anxieties that go well beyond anything expressed in our conflict and express themselves in the overwhelming need to march – a comfort rather than a meaningful merchant of war – but there are ways to bring about an everlasting peace.

    What about repentance? Understanding? Forgiveness? All these things will help.

  • White Horse

    An ideological position on economics that blindly informs us of the evil of the poor and the goodness of the rich is just a ruse for nationalism and is not sustainable in our structures which have left the respective nationalisms behind and are now endorsing their adversary, social democracy.

    The goal is no longer the maximisation of GNP, but the stability and justice of society. Soon all nations will be fed up with this endless heartless competition that drives our young people to despair in some futile attempt to make money our goal.

    We’re better than that.

  • So, facing deficit reduction and a sovietised economy, what shall we do? Tax plastic bags, tax mobile phone companies even though there are no tax-raising powers? Please.
    Sinn Fein/IRA have not a clue. And the SDLP? Mmmm, well, they are working on a plan that will mean no public sector job losses! LOL.
    Listen, TUV tackles these issues in a coherent and responsible fashion which I note the post here missed entirely.

  • Jj

    Sneering is what he offers. All of it. We’ve moved on from his times, thankfully. Its a pity we have to breathe the same air, but there you have it. All the gems of insight from the gathering of the born again racists and clock turn-backers

  • Mark McGregor

    Conferences like this, Unionism of this hue in general, normally makes me turn off.
    This one was no different, something about it was just wrong.

  • What biscuits did you get with your cuppa’s?

  • Comrade Stalin

    David, are you going to run for election again ? I enjoyed watching your squirm on TV when you were asked to explain the things you’d written on your blog about Muslims.

    Why is it that your strident and direct language melts away to fumbling when you’re facing a camera ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    I love it!

  • White Horse

    David

    TUV – its ideology died in 1998. It’s just the blind arrogance of Jim Allister that he thinks that no-one would dare do that to him. John Hume did.

    I don’t see any economic positions but I’ll guess that he’s thinking of the UK position – maxiimising UK GNP.

    Dib Dib Dib Dob Dob Dob nationalism. Maximimise inequality to get the required result. Blame the poor and make everybody insdecure to ensure that momentum is kept up.

    Hardly a plan, more a sociopathic enterprise.

  • Cool.

    So, no thoughts on the economy. Whatsoever Great stuff, guys. Slugger always lives down to expectations.

    Comrade – Stick to your gulags.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    David,

    Fair play to you for entering this obviopusly hostile forum.

    As a Nationalist I hope the TUV does moderately well and takes votes from the DUP – but not enough to disrupt Stormo.

    But it is regretably difficult to see the TUV making any electoral headway outside of North Antrim – any positive indications to the contrary that you can share?

  • Seriously……..what biscuits did you have with your cup’s of tae?

  • Mark McGregor

    Does anyone else find all the TUV topics, varied as they are, inevitably seem like DUP reruns from 10 years ago?

    Very likely, as they are, to naturally inspire the faithful. Can anyone explain how the electorate would endorse this?

    Strangely they find unanimous internal confirmation of these position and kudos to them all for that, it’s something we have to accept but

    Can they really find other people that could support them electorally? Kindred spirits in the general population?

  • ItwasSammy

    We don’t wish to disrupt Stormont. We wish to transform the essence of how it works. We seek to democracy restored, an opposition in place, an executive that functions. Oh – and to have effective economic strategy. How many must be on the dole BEFORE some people realise it ain’t only Stormont that doesn’t work. Irish Nationalism should look see – consider the rotting carcass of the Irish economy, and give blessings for their British orbit.

  • WH, I don’t see any signs of repentance from our Unionist and Nationalist politicians. So where’s this everlasting peace going to come from?

    The marching tradition precedes Unionism and Orangeism but I’ve never viewed it as an expression of anxiety. Where did you get this peculiar notion from?

    As for anxiety, why focus on Unionists? I’d have thought that levels of anxiety on either side of the peace walls would have been about the same and probably a lot higher than in places remote from trouble spots.

    Stewart is a great read; he also seems to have a good understanding of our troubled past.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    David Vance,

    I understand your ‘democracy restored’ arguement but the Stormo rules say you need agreement form Nationalists to get change – have you got anything to offer us?

  • How about;

    Government that works? An executive that delivers, an opposition that hold them to account? The basis for democracy and one that thinking nationalists should consider as being worthy.

    The totalitarian Stormont model has failed. It has failed at every level. Sinn Fein/IRA are happy with this but then they seek failure. Do you?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Jaffa cakes probably

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    yes….nostalgia is not what it used to be.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    David Vance,

    We are happy enough with the current system – for the moment – but if you want something changed then you will have to trade with something we want- that is how politics/power works. Generalised statements about democracy however laudable they sound dont fit the billl.

  • It was

    What level of unemployment are you happy with? What level of chaos in Education do you enjoy? Is it possible Northern Ireland’s Nationalists quite like totalitarianism?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    David,

    You are missing the point here Nationalists may work with a variety of economic models some to the right some to the left but to change the current blanace of power in Stormo we will need something from Unionism in return.

  • Jj

    Vance obviously high on something.

    Whatever it is, it certainly won’t ever be the feeling of political power. Tick, tock.

  • White Horse

    Yes, Fitz.

    Perhaps you see now why Sinn Fein was rescued in order to trade it for unionism?

  • Jj

    “Why is it that your strident and direct language melts away to fumbling when you’re facing a camera ?”

    Because he’s a coward? And a bully?

    But good his attitudes were questioned. The more the mans hate-filled attitudes are publicised, the better.

    Not, “No-Mates”, but “No-Vote Vance”?

  • Jj

    “David,

    Fair play to you for entering this obviopusly hostile forum”

    …And why could it possibly be hostile to him? Anything to to with the 2 most objectionable things about him?

    Everything he thinks and everything he says.

  • lol – Slugger, the land of play the ball not the man.

  • Comrade Stalin

    David Vance is fundamentally characterized by the way he flounces into a discussion, drops a few bombs and then buggers off without providing any direct answers to questions. Can’t do that in front of a camera.

  • Comrade Stalin

    You’re mad.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The Humespeak is really starting to get to me. It’s a kind of psychological torture.

  • Comrade Stalin

    You don’t play the ball, David. Any moment now you’ll throw your rattle out of the pram and bugger off.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Wrong, as ever. But at least you are consistent. Now, if any one would like to address issues of managing deficit reduction, addressing the democratic deficit, that would be nice. Or perhaps you would prefer to insult me?

  • White Horse

    CS

    Nobody should undersestimate John Hume. Those who do, do so at their peril.

  • White Horse

    Nevin

    Anxiety? No people understands the unionists less than than the unionists. A noble people? How about institutionalised cowardice? Nobody’s blaming them.

  • Apart from Nationalists, WH 🙂

    So you’re in denial about Nationalist anxiety. Ah well.

  • RepublicanStones

    The totalitarian Stormont model has failed. It has failed at every level.

    Which is why the Brits porougued it back in ’72.

  • White Horse

    Nevin

    You seem to be confusing local tensions with the argument that I am presenting in relation to the totality of the unionist mindset.

    Of course the existence of divisions creates local “anxieties”.

    My contention is however that the plantation of Ulster is at the root of Unionist anxiety, because of very normal feelings of having betrayed a neighbouring people, made them angry and giving themselves a feeling that the debt would one day be repaid.

    All unionist poilitics reflects this anxiety. The unionist institutions march because of this anxiety and in doing so continue to pledge allegiance to this plantation which causes them so much anxiety.

    It is clearly a circular self-endorsing route like that of many of their marches.

    The key for us to return to normality on this island is that we get the unionists to face up to this anxiety.

  • mr vance i cant wait for you to stand again next year oh what fun the dinaurs returns,lmao

  • no you dont vance you are telling untruths your policy is to wreck the assembly to bring stormont down.allisters own words to polirise the asembly so it will collaspe naughty naughty david.whats your manifesto pledge vote vance no future for anyone i will wreck any future for you all,lmao

  • well david youve have nothing too offer any of us no policies only to wreck the assembly nothing.oh i cant wait for you too get a thrashing next may oh what fun.lmao

  • WH, I have met Unionists and Nationalists on a regular basis over many years and I don’t recognise this ancient anxiety that you describe.

    Even Hume IMO misrepresents it: “These two communities in Northern Ireland, Catholic and Protestant, Nationalist and Unionist, have both behaved like threatened minorities and only by removing the fears which they both feel can a just and durable solution be found”. Personal Views

    Why don’t you just accept that Unionists and Nationalists have opposing political aspirations and they have little time for the other’s aspiration?

  • White Horse

    Nevin

    So what’s the marching all about? You know it has pseudo-religious claims. It seems to me that all religion is about calming anxieties. Clearly unionists have vastly greater anxieties.

  • Some of the reply options appear to be missing, WH!!

    Some of the OO parades are to church; others are to ‘The Field’. There’s a mix of religion and politics. Trades Unions and the AOH also parade behind banners.

    II’ve had a look in the News Letter Index and found this:

    “13 June 1746 +Belfast anniversary accession throne demonstrations joy. Volunteer independent companies parade +Hanover!Quay vollies bonfires illuminations=Masareene,Lord/Hon.”

  • White Horse

    Nevin

    “There’s a mixture of religion and politics”

    Yes, the marching serves both purposes, and that it is why others see it as sinister.

    Clearly they deal with their anxieties by attempting to further a political agenda that is little more than bullying and which serves to make them feel even more at odds with their enemies and thus accentuates the anxiety.

  • Alias

    If folks want to engage in verbal abuse of other posters then they should at least try to make it entertaining for those of us who aren’t particularly interesting in reading what is either the catharsis of social and personal anxieties via message boards or the puerile emulation of schoolyard bullying wherein bonding occurs between group members by victimising its non-members. When you have to marginalise on the messenger then it’s more likely to be because your own message cannot withstand their scrutiny. So most folks will look at the gang bang of Mr Vance and see a bunch of weak kids in a schoolyard who desperately require mutual reassurance and validation rather than the kool kidz they imagine themselves to be. David Vance is very good at trolling that pitiful ilk into revealing their true colours…

  • JH

    I don’t know David, maybe it’s not everyone else for once… maybe it’s you.

    But either way, what’s important is whether the TUV have adapted their policies and whether they now have the capacity to gain popular support. After all, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.

    And that’s the problem isn’t it. The electoral currency in sectarian policy is constantly decreasing as people realise they’d rather compromise on their aspirations and live peacefully with their Protestant/Catholic neighbours. For example, a large section of the population here support the use of the Irish language even if they don’t use it themselves. You might gain more electoral traction by supporting but controlling expenditure on an Irish language strategy, in the process helping to de-politicise the language, rather than opposing it outright. I think THAT would be an example of Stormont working for all the people of the North.

    You probably won’t though?

  • WH, you appear to be reacting to a caricature. Hume’s Personal Views is riddled with such nonsense. He claims to have studied history but he demonstrates a very limited understanding of past events. He’d be a strong candidate for the Straw Man Award!!

  • White Horse

    Nevin

    I’m sorry you resort to insult but having lost the argument, or the argument lost you, what can we expect?

    It’s different paradigms really. Yours has no value, but it is so part of you that you will never realise.

  • WH, you’re promoting a straw man argument so you’re hardly onto a winner. 🙂

  • White Horse

    Straw men, Nevin, I think you’ll find.

    Tell me, why do you think they march? Does it not simply come back to Institutional cowardice? As I suggest, nobody blames them, but where were they when the war was fought – claiming roads?

  • Jj

    Alias

    Your own posts apper less than criticial of Vance and indeed you might have some sympathies with his perspective. At least you should make that clearer lest a casual observer thinks the man is undeserving of criticism.

    For example, his view that “Muslims are the cancer of the Earth” on his own thread, kindly reprinted here for those of us that he has chosen to ban from his own site, in the interests of freedom of speech.

    The man has stood for public office and as such is as fair game as any other politician who steps on to Slugger (as ideed many have done). However, none in my years of reading here have ever shared his attiude of mocking contempt, amidst a view peurile in its bigotry and devoid of rationality. Only here would you have someone seeking to convince others politically resort to calling them names.

    There is an infinity of gullible people out there who might think he is hard done by – but fortunately, the man himself is very finite. Tick, tock.

  • WH, you can think of yourself as a straw man or a straw dog. I’ll leave that one to you!

    Where does cowardice feature? Unionists and Nationalists as well as Trades Unions march/parade. I don’t know the origin of this tradition but it obviously goes back a long way as the newspaper item from 1746 shows. It seems to produce a sense of solidarity and camaraderie amongst those who participate.

    Which war do you mean? There have been so many. Soldiers from across these islands and from amongst the diasporae endured the horrors of the battlefield in WWI and WWII. Some years earlier as civilians they might well have been walking behind an OO, AOH or Trades Union banner.

    Here’s a white horse for you and a collection of photos which illustrate inter alia the continuing use of townland names. Even the naysayers will appreciate the traditional roots of a name like Ballyoglagh 😉

  • Closing comments on this thread and moving any remaining discussion – that is tolerant and linked to the post – over to the post looking at the TUV conference speeches.