Parsley quits… again.

North Down Conservative Ian Parsley has announced his second resignation from a political party inside 14 months. Using his blog this evening to deliver this lengthy resignation letter, Parsley states:

I notified the North Down Conservative Association of my intention to resign as a member Saturday week ago, effective from midnight the following Thursday. I have long sought the most effective vehicle to pursue and deliver effective mainstream, non-sectarian and responsible politics in Northern Ireland. Despite best intentions, the Conservatives lack the political space and capacity to deliver this.

Parsley goes on to accuse the Tories of “squandering” the opportunity to break into Northern Ireland and says:

The Conservatives should long ago have been honest that they could not afford to take the serious political action required to seek an electoral mandate in NI given the current political and economic situation here; they should also have recognised months ago that the new Ulster Unionist Party lacks any commitment to the “mainstream, non-sectarian” politics to which the Secretary of State has rightly committed himself.

Serious questions have to be asked about the advice received in senior party circles which still leaves them publicly committed to supporting the Ulster Unionists at the forthcoming elections into late November!

His spouse, Paula Bradshaw left the Ulster Unionists to join  her husband’s former party colleagues in Alliance on October 5, the party he left himself last September to run for Westminster on the Ulster Conservative and Unionist ticket. The North Down Borough councillor has sent this parting shot to bloggers:

Ultimately, it is the candidate who is selected who puts his/her name before the electorate; it is the candidate whose reputation was on the line; it is the candidate who takes the brickbats from anonymous blog commenters with nothing better to do.

Parsley suggests that despite displaying an appetite to actively enter the Northern Ireland forum, the Conservatives don’t have “the true political will to build something which will last into the long term as a true means of advocating and promoting effectively mainstream, non-sectarian politics”. After effectively admitting backing the wrong horse, Parsley then dedicates the remainder of his resignation letter to patching up his differences with the Alliance Party, which surely opens speculation as to whether he will join his partner in donning the yellow ribbon once again.

I can say that I was greatly sorry about the manner of my departure from the Alliance Party, which I mishandled, and for any hurt I caused those who had campaigned for me just months before. For this I can now unreservedly apologise. Those close to me will be aware of the great upset it caused me to leave the party, but particularly to do so in a manner which gave those within it any cause for anger or regret.

Tyrone based journalist for the Ulster Herald/Tyrone Herald.

I also tweet @AldousDuke and blog at

146 thoughts on “Parsley quits… again.

  1. Fitz, have you ever heard of the term “paper candidate” ? You are aware that all parties, including Alliance, run them ?

  2. Agreed. Naomi Long is a great example here. She didn’t have a mentor, and she’s only in the party what .. ten years ? Nonetheless she did her thing and progressed from councillor, to MLA, to MP.

  3. I’m not persuaded, Seymour, that the Conservatives were genuinely trying to find a breakthrough. They were looking for a way to reinforce their credentials as unionists, in the traditional UK Scotland/Wales/England/NI sense (rather than in the Ulster Unionist sense) and this was a way of doing that. UCUNF and the local Conservatives here were dropped as soon as they ceased to serve a useful purpose.

    I don’t think Ian or anyone else would be at all flattered by this idea that politicians live or die based on their mentoring. In fact I think, if I understand Ian at all, that it is the opposite of where he sees things – he wants to see people outside of political circles coming in and using their skills. I don’t think it’s as simple as that, but I do see what he’s trying to say.

  4. he has a poor public image. He should consult a PR Company.
    They would probably advise him to issue a long rambling statement of regret, anticipate ridicule on blogs, praise his former Alliance colleagues and……..well thats it really.

  5. Nevin @ 10:29 AM:

    That’s a trifle unfair (can one be “unfair” to a politician, even a strawberry-blonde one?).

    What theyworkforyou says is that Long, like all NI MPs, has spoken, questioned and voted less than the average (and the average is bulked up by the mass of English MPs with no other forum). Which is what one would expect.

    The regularity of her voting makes her about the mid-point of the eighteen MPs: of the “active” ones, more regular than Gregory Campbell (45%), Sylvia Hermon (7%), Alastair McDowell (23%), Ian Paisley Jr (44%), Margaret Ritchey (26%) and about the same as Sammy Wilson (48%).

    So, what’s your point?

  6. Malcolm, I thought my response was balanced 🙂

    Naomi and the English MPs (and most others) are only members of one forum. Sammy Wilson seems to manage three!

    My other point related to Peter Robinson’s ‘difficulties’, difficulties that benefited Naomi. I look upon the East Belfast result more as a DUP loss than an AP win.

    I also think that AP will sadly miss her local punching power. Those AP reps that have remained behind are lightweights by comparison.

  7. Parsley states: ‘….it is the candidate who takes the brickbats from anonymous blog commenters with nothing better to do’.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but was not Mr Parsley himself pulled up on Slugger for doing exactly the same thing – using a pseudonym and not his own name?

    Perhaps he and David Vance could form an alliance (oops!) of failed joiners, leavers and wannabe’s and whine for ‘Ulster’ in unison. The Full of Sound & Fury Party.

  8. It’s not a qualitiative analysis either – all things discussed nationally actually don’t all have regional impact, regardless of being MP.

  9. APNI: the repository for bruised egos of UCUNF. How long before Bradshaw throws another hissy-fit and leaves when she’s not picked to run for something? As for Ian, appalling judgement from the beginning of his dalliance with the Tories, including leaking the details of his own resignation, then denying he was planning to resign. Alliance must be mad to have either of these pair near them.

  10. Nope……he would be sitting behind David Cameron nodding wisely and throwing brickbats at his former and future colleague Naomi Long.
    Presumably he now supports BOTH the Alliance Party and the Conservative-LD Govt which Alliance opposes.
    As AP says it will no longer do that “changing designation” thing in the Assembly it would be absurd to have Parsley in the Party (although presumably Bradshaw no longer supports the Tories she supported in May).

  11. Well we are (almost) assured that there will be no fast tracking, no U turns over selections already made and no musical chairs in accomodating Bradshaw who is already in AP and Parsley (who is not yet in AP and may possibly never be again).
    We are again (almost) re-assured that the golden couple will have to wait to the next election cycle (say four years) before being considered as candidates.
    Like I say we are ALMOST re-assured ……but AP are prolly thinking “never say never”. But uncertainty is not actually a good thing and the Parsley-Bradshaw addiction to uncertainty and indecision is contagious.
    AP are now smitten with it too.

  12. Apparently Ian used to be in the Conservatives then joined Alliance. Then he defected to the Tories. Now he has defected but to Alliance. Next year….

  13. It will be interesting to see if the lady who works for Anna Lo gets knifed and the Laganbank nomination handed to Bradshaw instead or if Tom Ekin changes his mind about staying on council, decides to step down, and opens the door for her in Balmoral.

    I am convinced that she will be an APNI candidate somewhere in Northern Ireland at the local government elections.

    Watch this space.

  14. Nevin: from where do you get your info/opinons?
    First of all there is general consensus that whilst Naomi Long benefited from a vote against PR, that the election result came fair and square from hard work on the ground and because people ‘know’ her more widely from her performance in the media and as Lord Mayor, powerful combinations. She has not gone to mars and still Deputy Leader working with us as well as representing EB as an MP. We are also fortunate that we have other good people working away in EB – in case you had not noticed, we tend to be team players – not dependant on any one person.
    If new people come to us,these are the values to which we aspire.

  15. Aside from the obvious spin…….Id have to say Granni Trixie is right here.
    I am on record here as getting the Naomi Long election hopelessly wrong, although I did have the good sense to reconsider including East Belfast in a treble.
    But on the Thursday before the election I was in East Belfast for the first time in years and it felt “different”……something was in the air. The Belmont Bowling Club were already plotting.
    Not quite as bad as Romania when the Mr & Mrs Caes….er the Romanian President and his wife were toppled. But a discernable feeling.
    Id also differ from Anon……any Party will have generational change. So if Tom Ekin or anyone else decides to call it a day after years of service, its not necessarily because they are ousted or knifed. Over the next few months Slugger (in fact its already started) will be reporting that this councillor or that MLA in five parties is getting axed.
    Nine times out of time its “voluntary redundancy”.
    But that leaves open the question of younger LOYAL AP people being allowed to step up to replace them rather than Bradshaw and Parsley.
    I have on my own blog been taken to task for not including any women in my list of up and coming AP people…..but of course Im sticking to the Muir-Heading-Bower-McGrellis line up because they have made the traditional step up already and made themselves known to a wider public.

  16. Again, I find myself defending Naomi Long. She may not get good ratings on “they work for you” (another nonsensical computer data base) but rather obviously she spent several years working for the people of East Belfast and they voted for her on that basis. Just how many East Belfast voters look at computer databases such as “they work for you” I have no idea.
    Probably not many.
    Will they look at the site before casting a vote next time? No.
    Should they? No.
    There is more to being a MP than Westminster.

  17. Absolutely correct.

    I dealt with Nevin’s similar barb at Long above. To repeat myself: contrary to the assumptions here, theyworkforyou shows that Long’s record compares quite favourably with the generality of NI MPs. That she (and others) apply a version of the “West Lothian” answer, and do not vote on purely English matters, is surely to her credit.

    Lest we forget: any UCUNFer who, by mischance, had been elected last March would be whipped to support the ConDems on just such parochial matters.

  18. 1. Would imagine that NL spends her time smartly (in modern sense) by that I mean clocking into Westmister strategically for issues which are relevant to NI/EB and where she can have impact.
    Strikes me that you could go through the motions, have a sit down,twiddle your pen and paper for the cameras when you really could be elsewhere working more profitablly.

    2. If FJH is looking for promising wimmin, take note of Catherine Curran who works for Anna Lo and who has just been selected to run for Laganbank councillor.

  19. The Alliance Party would be mad not to run Paula Bradshaw somewhere. She offers a route into the working class in South Belfast similar to the one Naomi Long took so successfully in East Belfast. However, it won’t be at the expense of the likes of Anna Lo or Cathy Curran, who are outstanding representatives in their own right (actually the latter more than the former in my experience).

    As for Parsley, I find his explanation quite logical really. The Alliance Party is preparing us for normal politics; I thought UCUNF might be a quick route to achieving this; it turned out it wasn’t; therefore I’m supporting the Alliance Party again.

    There will come a day when the Alliance Party ceases to be meaningful because real politics has taken over. It was overly optimistic to suggest that day had arrived, but optimism is an admirable trait.

  20. Cool……Im always looking out for promising wimmin….in er politics. I will certainly follow her campaign with interest. That would be Stephen McBrides old seat?

  21. The medium is the message – so who is BBB?
    Must say, P&I have been great for recruitment to Slugger.

    One of the mantras for us in APNI in 70s was that we wanted to do ourselves out of business ie normal politics. But as with ‘peace’ had to learn that it comes slow. For it took a long time to understand that we need cultural change as well as structural. It has even taken certainly my lifetime for most to acknowledge that we are a sectarian society, as a problem to be addressed (but whcih incidentally was acknowledged by Allliance from its very inception).

    So if the people you mention (and yourself) are so smart what has taken so long to learn this lesson? Alliance for slow learners?. Keep digging.

  22. Mr Parsley reminds me of the well worn Groucho Marx comment, about not wanting to be a member of any club that would actually have him. I hope APNI have more wit than to take him back.

  23. GT, I did say Naomi had punched well above her weight but, from a media perspective, she’s now largely invisible. I wasted two hours of my time discussing the Rathlin ferry scandal with a senior AP politician, not Naomi.

    She has only had answers to three written questions yet, when you consider the NIW fiasco, there were plenty of opportunities to explore the relationship between the Treasury and DRD but AFAIK they weren’t taken. Sometimes it takes more than three questions to pin a minister down!

  24. I am absolutely sure he was a Councillor – think he was before Steve McB. Maybe byelection? But I am sure it was Laganbank.

  25. I tend to agree more with Granni Trixie than you “Bob”.
    First off despite her best efforts to become a representative , Paula Bradshaw is not one.
    . Her attachment to the Conservatives and signing up to Camerons lot shows that she is not as close to the working class as the Alliance Party. Despite her Village credentials which are no doubt part of her portfolio of skills, she manifestly failed to connect with them in May.
    Until a few minutes ago, I thought that Bradshaw had actually fought Balmoral ward for UUP last time. Actually it was Laganbank. She polled badly and the Alliance Party did much better than she did. She adds nothing.
    I don’t know Catherine Curran. Until earlier today, I had never heard of her. Despite not living in South Belfast, I have an historic interest there but it would take micro knowledge to really know Alliance office staff.
    A pic would have helped as I might have seen her handing out Alliance freebies last election or at some “event”Yet you do know her, well enough to call her Cathy but as youre not in Alliance, you obviously have an interest in politics/community work in the area……and are pro-Bradshaw. Fair enough.
    But Anna Lo is the MLA in South Belfast and the APs numero uno in the area. Maybe Granni Trixie can tell us the situation re Balmoral for next year (Ekin again?) and as she has pointed out Curran is the Laganbank runner. This would suggest that Bradshaw is not considered in APs Top Three.
    So your promotion of Bradshaw alongside Curran but dismissing Lo is a curiousity.
    How could that possibly play out? Well by any reading there is realistically only one quota for AP in South Belfast. Its unlikely two runners would add up to two quotas. But between Bradshaw, a loser but at least well known in South Belfast and Curran, about to go into her first election as a candidate….Bradshaw would be front runner and more likely to win.
    The subtext with Alliances choice of Curran….probably made or anticipated before Bradshaw packed her portfolio of skills in a carpet bag and landed on APs doorstep….is that Lo is the MLA and (at this stage) Curran is the anointed successor.
    That’s bad news for Bradshaws supporters OUTSIDE the Party. But good news for loyal AP people INSIDE the Party.

  26. Indeed who is BBB?
    I find the posse of people (all outside Alliance) anxious to talk up Parsley and/or Bradshaw to be interesting.

  27. Why would IJP give five days notice of his resignation to the Tories? Was it to see what offers might be forthcoming?

    And why would so many people post on the question of Parsley and his partner Paula who have the political judgement of Robert Kilroy Silk? Is it car crash blogging?

  28. Nevin, I read this earlier today and being the rather sad hack that I am was formulating a reply. But I was browsing the excellent site and found out that I can’t really put it better than TWFYDC themselves :

    Simply put, we realise that data such as the number of debates spoken in means little in terms of an MP’s actual performance. MPs do lots of useful things which we don’t count yet, and some which we never could. Even when we do, a count doesn’t measure the quality of an MPs contribution.
    Our advice — when you’re judging your MP, read some of their speeches, check out their website, even go to a local meeting and ask them a question. Use TheyWorkForYou as a gateway, rather than a simple place to find a number measuring competence.

  29. BBB, a couple of things. My comments here have been about playing a long game. For Alliance to win votes, it has to be trusted. To be trusted it has to be seen not to be engaging in cynical opportunism and, rightly or wrongly, that’s exactly what it would look like if PB immediately sprung up campaigning for victory in a seat with some kind of prospect.

    Four years is a long time and by that time the party may want to try for that second seat. PB may want to take a shot at it, Cathy may fancy her chances too. Who knows ? It’s also hard to say how long the party will take to get used to the idea of ex-UUP representatives. The experience of ex-UUP types within the DUP is instructive here. Of course Alliance should inherently a lot more open to diversity and different ideas than the DUP is, so in many ways it is an interesting test.

    The objective of the Alliance Party is to put itself out of business in the long term. I’d be very happy to live in a country where I no longer thought Alliance was necessary. That said, politics doesn’t travel in a straight line, which is why despite the civil war being over with 75 years ago you still have the descendents of the two principal actors within it slugging it out in the Dail.

  30. Does Slugger (or if not, ought it to) keep Top Ten or Twenty of the numbers of responses to posts?.
    This is not as a comment on quality I suggeswt but because it is interesting just to note patterns. The present topic is a prime example – it is popular (currenly nearly 150 and still running) – but why so popular? Has to be because it is perceived as absurd rather than of keen political interest, though in midst of the responses,many insightful points have been raised. I dont imagine that slugger whizz kids would have problem capturng this kind of data mechanically. (and apologies if this is already done and I haven’t noticed).

  31. There is a valid point there: why do we obsess/mock over such a meretricious minion as Parsley?

    Could it be because, as a general rule, the denizens of Sluggerdom, despite our ideological, sectarian and other divisions, share a general disregard for all our Lilliputian politicians? That Parsley is just one of the sub-species, writ infinitesimally small?

  32. Whilst IPs approach may be logical, there’s something rather pathetic about hawking yourself round the parties, looking more and more desperate with every move.

    Given “career politicians” sems to be adirty owrd at the moment, hard to see how IP can attract much support. He now has the reputation, to use the US term of a “flip-flopper”.

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