Where next for the Ulster Unionist Party?

What next for the UUP?

To date no one has highlighted the significance of the resignation of David McClarty, Deputy Speaker of the N.I. Assembly and a senior member of the UUP.

McClarty was elected to Coleraine Borough Council in 1989, served as Mayor (1993-1995) and has been a member of the Assembly since 1998. His resignation from the party and deselection, some months ago, is therefore significant.  Chosen to be Deputy Speaker of the Assembly in 2007,on the restoration of devolution, he clearly held favour within his party. So what happened? He has said that his decision was forced by two or three individuals within the party and he has left with a heavy heart describing it as one of the saddest episodes in his life.

He said that the party had left him rather than him leaving the party.

He is considering standing as an independent or joining another party and is to come to a decision in the next few weeks.

The UUP ran three candidates in 2007 and took 18.5% of the vote. Last May their candidate, Lesley Macauley, took 17.8% of the vote (6,218 votes).

The question is: what effect will he have on the UUP vote in East Londonderry if he stands as an independent or with another party? Is he one of many disgruntled members?

  • Michael Shilliday

    This post would add some value with less questions and more answers. Those answers incidentally, are all in David’s interview with Talkback on Monday.

  • To date no one has highlighted the significance of the resignation of David McClarty.

    We’re still waiting. Maybe someone decent will eventually get hold of the subject?

  • john

    I dont think McClarty leaving will effect the vote too much. The UUP vote will be lower this year across the whole of the province thanks to the ”Elliot” effect. If McClarty stands as an independent then he may take a few more votes off the UUP but not enough to threaten a quota for himself.
    DUP to take 2 seats. One each for SDLP, SF and UUP and the last seat could go anywhere but most likely DUP or TUV

  • Andrew

    His departure raises questions about the ability of the UUP to function as a party effectively. Perhaps Michael can elaborate (?). That’s ofcourse if he hasn’t joined the Tories?

    McClarty is one of many who have left in recent months and I believe that there are more to come.

    McClarty will not win in East Londonderry but risks taking a proportion of the UUP vote. I think they retain the seat but on transfers.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    “John” more or less sums it up accurately.
    In 1998 UUP got 25% of the vote and fell to 22% (2001) and 19% (2007) and Lesley Macauley did ok in Westminster 2010 to hold on to 18%. Thats one certain seat in 2011.

    Frankly being a woman helps and being from a constituency with a decent AP vote and a liberal (university) unionism and bible thumping (Willie Ross defecting to TUV) there was always a chance that Macauley would be on the 2011 ticket.
    Likewise her perceived liberalism and possible defector (a la Ms Bradshaw) if not selected probably concentrated minds.
    David Harding who is also selected paid his dues by standing in Foyle in May and therefore is due promotion. In this context three candidates is a luxury.
    Three stood in 2007 and ironically Mr McClartys best hope would have been to be take his chances as the front-runner of three. That might cost UUP a seat.
    Have to feel just a little sorry for McClarty. Not exactly a stellar performer, he might well be good as a working MLA but the role of Deputy Speaker necessarily prevents showboating or grandstanding.
    So he is a bit unlucky.
    But he is hardly Alliance Party material. So I cant see him signing up but with a decent AP vote already there and McClartys profile, he would be a shrewd capture.
    And as Pauline Armitage discovered being an Independent is hardly going to win it for him.
    But “John” has the maths right
    2 DUP
    1 SF
    1 UUP
    1 SDLP
    The sixth seat…..TUV DUP as “John” said but the key here is the destination of AP transfers (AP cheerleaders talk up their chances here but its a lon shot to win a seat with less than 6% Westminster vote).
    Margaret Ritchies recent appeal for the middle ground to support each other is not a call for SDLP supporters to vote AP as a second preference.
    On the contrary its an appeal….and a clever one for AP voters to give a second preference to SDLP.
    And that could decide the sixth seat.
    The transfer of Claudy and Banagher wards (from SDLP heartland of “rural” Derry City) might be significant as was the choice of one of these councillors Thomas Conway as the Westminster runner.
    Interesting battle for sixth seat.

  • cushyglenn

    McClarty is undeniably popular in Coleraine and could do better than people think. More significantly, he rents the offices in Limavady and Coleraine from the UUP and is thus crucial to their finances. This will be a major blow to their upcoming election campaign. The ticket is very heavily slanted towards Coleraine and the liberal wing of the party in what was always traditional (i.e. hardline) UUP territory which has never really bonded with Gregory

    Of course there is a certain irony about him being knifed by the faceless men, given the way in which Willie Ross was cut adrift by the local heirarchy eleven years ago. It may be that the poisonous backstabbing which so pervaded the UUP will cost it a seat here, but even if it doesn’t the vote will slide further.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Another welcome sign of gangrene at the heart of this moribund entity. Let’s just enjoy the demise of this purposeless ragtag rump outfit and entertain no more of this silly vaccuous nonsense about it having a useful role to play in the future.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Just wondering, have any of the other parties completed their selections yet?
    It is always a blow not to selected after putting your name forwards, particularly if your a sitting member, on a personal level I can understand Davids decision, and wish him well.
    At the end of the day elected members need to ensure they maintain sufficient support from their own local membership, for whatever reason David has failed I don’t know, but ladies and gentlemen thats how democracy works.
    Maybe we should be more worried about those parties that dictate from above who they want in each area, and hold their elected members by the short and curlies in case they step out of line.

  • DC

    Where next for the Ulster Unionist Party?

    Going by the looks of that grey haired pensioner pictured above – perhaps retirement and long cruises?

  • john

    Fair point Drumlins about democracy and the selection process. The only problem is at a number of these local selections the numbers who actually vote are very small and its easy for personal grudges to be settled instead of choosing who is best for the party and people of the constituency.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Drumlins Rock……I fully take the point about “those parties” but there is actually a bigger point.
    MLAs are the “representatives” of their constituences AND effectively the “delegates” of their local Party.
    Id be surprised if there is more than 120 UUP members in East Derry so effectively Mr McClartys livelihood is in the hands of (say) a maximum of 120 people at a selection convention. Indeed presumably 60 votes would have been enough to get him on a ticket and as likely as any of the others to be elected in May.
    In its own way thats just as callous as the “those” parties.
    If my figure of 120 is about right….then keeping a good relationship with most of them is vital.
    And yet McClarty in signalling his intention to stand as an Independnt unwittingly contributes to the “fault line” between local party members and their MLAs.
    It always to me seems a relationship based on mutual suspicion.
    An intake of just 40 “new” members can seriously unbalance the relationships in a local party. And Im sure Mr McClarty has been watching the new members in ward areas with increasing concern over the past few years.

  • dwatch

    ‘Going by the looks of that grey haired pensioner pictured above’

    Since when did grey hair qualify you to become a pensioner?
    I thought one had to reach the age of 65 to qualify for a state pension. David McClarty does not qualify yet.

  • cushyglenn

    ..er, sorry to interject FJH, but what decent AP vote?
    Alliance is historically irrelevant there. 1 councillor in Coleraine- elected in a protest by election, and none in Limavady, and a poor fifth place in every election for thirty years does not amount to a decent vote. I can’t remember the last time there were 2 AP councillors in the constituency, even when it included Magherafelt DC. Limavady’s last AP councillor was elected in about 1977. There is a rump in Portstewart that often put in 1 councillor in Coleraine.
    The UUP in the constituency is riven with factions. For years the Limavady traditionalists funded it, while the liberals despaired of their MP. Now Limavady UUP is moribund, and the rural Coleraine branches are similarly rotten. The gerontocratic chattering classes of Coleraine run it now, but can’t pull out a vote. All the councillors are about 100 years old- Harding excepted, and he only got in after a death. He’s positioned himself as a liberal, but hasn’t set the heather ablaze.
    And I seriously doubt if there are anything like 120 members on the books. It’s more likely 70 or 80. In which case they are similar to many other UUP associations, of course. It was one of the most “Orange” associations at one time too, but that’s ancient history too, and the footsoldiers are long gone. As for women members, my guess is that Macaulay is in a minority of under a dozen…

  • At the end of the day elected members need to ensure they maintain sufficient support from their own local membership, for whatever reason David has failed I don’t know, but ladies and gentlemen thats how democracy works.

    This, Drumlins Rock is absolute dogs’ egestive matter.

    1. David McClarty topped the members’ vote in the constituency by a country mile.

    2. It was a panel of members, (4 from the association and 3 from HQ I believe) that deselected him/

    3. Democracy is an absent ingredient from UUP selection meetings.

    cushyglen, who I assume lives up the Windy hill road somewhere seems one of the more reliable contributors to this thread.

    FJH: The last seat is up in the air in EL. It won’t go nationalist though and sure as frig won’t go SDLP. Smart money, DUP hold unto 3.

  • McClartys livelihood is in the hands of (say) a maximum of 120 people at a selection convention

    Not true.

  • dwatch

    ‘Going by the looks of that grey haired pensioner pictured above’

    Since when did grey hair qualify you to become a pensioner? I thought one had to reach the age of 65 to qualify for a state pension. David McClarty does not qualify yet.

    Forgot to add, fellow UUP MLA’s Reg Empey, Michael McGimpsey, Fred Cobain, Leslie Cree and David McNarry are much older than David McClarty, and they have all been selected by the UUP to stand again in the assembly election May 2011.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Cushyglen
    To some extent I was trying to head off Alliance cheerleaders saying that Alliance Party had a chance of taking a seat in East Derry. By West of the Bann standards the Alliance vote is respectable in East Derry (5.5% and 2,000 votes) but as Ive stated thats hardly enough to have a realistic chance of winning a seat. But it DOES put a lot of potential votes in play for transfers.

    Again my 120 estimated number of UUP members in East Derry is a guestimate. Again the intention was to overstate the number rather than understate it …..as the UUP cheerleaders (like AP cheerleaders) would have jumped on me. Im quite prepared to accept any lower figure as it emphasises my point that MClartys very livelihood is in the hands of a comparatively small number of UUP activists.

    We agree the sixth seat is up for grabs. And Im sure we agree that SF is safe on 1 seat with about 20% of the vote.
    SDLP is safe on 16%…..all achieved in FPTP.
    Interestingly SDLP improved on its 2007 vote by 2.5% and SF dropped a miniscule amount. Thats the Claudy/Banagher factor.
    But again it comes back to local issues and its not just the unionists who have “issues”. Theres a Billy Leonard factor, theres a post Claudy Reprt factor and theres the distribution of those AP transfers.

  • IJP

    Conquistador

    Your point number 2 is accurate, but it is also the reason McClarty is making no sense. He says he was knifed “locally”, yet actually he wasn’t.

    In fact, the central Committee made the choice it was designed to make – it brought through the prominent new blood. Which explains why certain other senior UUP figures in other constituencies didn’t even let the prominent new blood get that far…

    Anyone who thinks the UUP will get anywhere by clinging on to its current crop of MLAs is guilty of the greatest delusion at all. But McClarty’s excuse that somehow this was a “local problem” runs it a close second.

  • dennis the menace

    Anyone who thinks the UUP will get anywhere by clinging on to its current crop of MLAs is guilty of the greatest delusion at all. But McClarty’s excuse that somehow this was a “local problem” runs it a close second……..

    didnt leslie mcauley only get 18% of the vote ?? so much for the prominent new crop ….

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    The prominent new crop and their supporters have a record of overstaing their vote gathering potential.

  • Michael Shilliday

    IJP, your last para is right, we won’t, but no one (bar 2 or 3 in the Constituency) believe that David McClarty is one of those who needed put to pasture. He is a proven vote winner, a nice guy and a genuinely respected long standing MLA.

    McClarty topped the poll in the constituency meeting and got a majority of the vote in the Committee, but the other two got more. That stinks of axes grinding.

    I’ve said it before and say it again, those committees are badly chaired. There should have been no question of McClarty being deselected, the Constituency decided it would be him and one other. The Committee should have voted yes or no to McClarty and then who was joining him. That said it does not excuse the members of the committee, a minority of them as it goes, who did not vote for David.

  • Your point number 2 is accurate, but it is also the reason McClarty is making no sense. He says he was knifed “locally”, yet actually he wasn’t.

    Ian, I believe that the committee was composed for four from the association and 3 from HQ. It holds therefore that one or two local people who managed to secure a place on such a committee could plunge the knife into the sitting MLA, especially if there was a score to settle.

    Hope I cleared up your mistake there.

  • cushyglenn

    McClarty was valuable to the UUP in being able to pull in an urban middle class vote. The UUP strength in the constituency has always been rural, and older voters. The urban working class was largely written off by the party. Now it seems that the party are pitching for the middle class vote in the greater Coleraine area, with Harding ( a vet) punting for a rural vote

    The last seat could just go TUV if they found a credible candidate- Garvagh MLA McQuillan is vulnerable- but perversely McClarty’s transfers might even help the UUP sneak their second seat. It will go to a Unionist of some hue however. It could even be McClarty if the DUP get their voters to transfer down to him.

    I expect Macaulay to be the victor in the UUP contest, but she is rather too exotic for the avarage Unionist voter, and I wonder whether she is capable of providing the foundations for a UUP revival. Twittering skills do not a firm political basis make.

  • Michael Shilliday

    – but perversely McClarty’s transfers might even help the UUP sneak their second seat.

    I’ve no idea what you’ve been smoking, but it’s strong stuff. McClarty standing as an independent puts the UUP’s existing seat under a lot of stress, there is no chance whatsoever of a second.

  • dwatch

    Conquistador: ‘Ian, I believe that the committee was composed for four from the association and 3 from HQ. It holds therefore that one or two local people who managed to secure a place on such a committee could plunge the knife into the sitting MLA, especially if there was a score to settle.’

    These four were no doubt the office holders of the E Londonserry association. If DM topped the poll in the original selection process then its obvious he has still support from the majority of members of the association. Wether they will continue to support him if he runs as an independent will remain to be seen. Not unlike former UUP MLA Alan Mcfarland from ND who likewise will be standing as an independent the results in May 2011 election will be interesting.

  • dwatch

    These four were no doubt the office holders of the East Corrections: Londonderry association. If DM topped the poll in the original selection process then its obvious he has still support from the majority of members of the association. Whether they will continue to support him if he runs as an independent will remain to be seen. Not unlike former UUP MLA Alan Mcfarland from North Down who likewise will be standing as an independent, the results in these two constituencies in May 2011 election will be interesting to watch.

  • dwatch. You appear to grasp what Ian James Parsley cannot. The 4 from East Londonderry were all office holders in the association, and bear in mind that there’s nothing to stop other East Londonderry members being a HQ nominee. This process places an inordinate amount of power into the hands of a few locals.

    Cushy Glenn. Both Campbell’s DUP running mates are of very poor quality, but that didn’t stop them before. The last seat is unionist, or possibly alliance (Nicholas Whyte tends to overcall their chances).
    If the DUP balanced poorly with Campbell on say 20%, McQuillan on 7% and Robinson on about 11% then there was a reasonable chance that the UUP or TUV could have sneaked the last seat. I don’t see where TUV would get any transfers, but the UUP could perhaps have expected half the alliance vote and a reasonable chunk of TUV’s which could overtake Adrain.

    (East Londonderry is an area where I have a feeling that TUV’s votes are equally or more likely to come from the UUP than DUP)

    But Michael Shilliday is right. They were given a chance of two and fcuked it up!

  • Michael Shilliday

    As I understand it all 3 of Holmes’ appointees must be from outside of the Constituency. I know that in this case at least they were, and he himself stood down from his usual role for that reason.

  • That makes it ok then.

    So Michael, what are your assembly predictions this time round. All UUP candidates elected on the 1st count?

  • Drumlins Rock

    nah conq, better vote management will mean it will take a few counts, but eventually we will win all 30 seats we are standing in.

  • The silent majority

    I have always been a UUP supporter but having seen how DISHONOURABLY they treated their trusted MLA I can no longer vote for anyone associated with the party.When a man like David is thown aside for lesser candiates one must wonder has the party some sort of”death wish” Is it too late for the leadership to take charge of this madness and give party members the candiate they voted for?.

  • IJP

    Conquistador

    In fairness, you’re making McClarty’s case better than he did.

    Essentially what you’re saying is that the “plot” he believes is responsible for his de-selection involves specifically two or three of the four final panellists who were from East Londonderry. I think he’d have gained more sympathy if he’d just said that, thus pointing to a flaw in the selection system which most people would have bought. As it is, you’d think the Illuminati were behind this all…!

    It seems to me the difficulty is that McClarty had no idea his performance had been so poorly rated by his colleagues. No one, it seems, had ever raised any problems with it; no one had ever sought to advise means of improvement; no one had offered any hint that he may be at risk (remembering that all politicians think they are doing a top-rate job so any such heckles would need to be raised loudly and consistently). Add to that that he is a reasonably successful and articulate man in his own right, and you can see why he doesn’t feel good about it.

    However, he has shown an incredible naivety. The selection process was reformed to involve the panel precisely to enable newer candidates to come through (like I say, elsewhere the Grey Men just ensured they didn’t even get that far) and to stop association loading. It is up to all candidates for selection to recognise that it is competitive.

    Somewhere along the line, not for the first time I suspect, what has happened is that the UUP has come up with a good idea but abjectly failed to communicate it and the reasons behind it. After all, one of the advantages of the new system was surely supposed to be that it would improve the performance of the current incumbents and be seen overall to be fairer. It’s safe to say neither of those has happened.

  • Michael Shilliday

    It seems to me Ian, that the naivety here lies with you, not David. In fairness you don’t have all the information to hand about what precisely went on when in the committee, but it is clear that the knife was deliberatly wielded by at least three locals within and without the committee. What happened was cock up and conspiricy in almost equal measure when it comes down to it.

    Total recklesness, and it was all so avoidable.

  • DC

    IJP

    Did you write a little article into the Belfast Tele highlighting conflicting Alliance policy on privatisation of water yet keeping reservoirs entirely public?

  • The silent majority

    Let us be clear what has occured,DMcL who is greatly respected by ordinary paid up members has been dropped by a few dishonourable “men in grey” who could not or failed to get elected.Interestingly they seemed to ensure that their choice were of such a quality that they too will not command the support of the electorate.If this foolishness is not corrected by the new leadership the UUP in londonderry is DEAD and we heirs of Sanderson & Carson may look to another party who is strong enough & loyal enough to deserve our votes

  • Sorry to be slow in catching this – I just want to defend my speculation about Alliance’s chances here. The 2010 Westminster election results were:

    DUP 2.4 quotas
    SF 1.4 quotas
    UUP 1.2 quotas
    SDLP 1.1 quotas
    TUV 0.5 quotas
    Alliance 0.4 quotas

    Now, 0.4 quotas is not normally a good starting position; but look at those figures: there are five safe seats, and no party has a clear lead on the sixth. It obviously won’t be a Nationalist seat, so what happens to the spare half quota of Nationalist votes?

    In 2007 they were simply lost – the last count saw an SDLP surplus of 1500 of which less than 200 votes went to the remaining candidates, all Unionists. But if the last Nationalist candidate goes out of the race before Alliance is eliminated, the chances of Alliance beating the last Unionist (likely either DUP or TUV, on those figures) are not bad.

    Granted, that last is a biggish ‘if’, and come May we can probably expect the DUP to bounce back a bit which increases their chance of retaining all three seats. Granted also, TUV did better than Alliance in 2010, and I do state on my site that they too would be challengers for the last seat on that basis; though they will be less attractive to Nationalist transfers (and quite possibly also for first preference votes) in the coming 2011 election.

    Having said which, independent Unionists have done well here before, and McClarty may well feel it is worth trying to repeat Boyd Douglas’ success of 1998. I have absolutely no reading of how well that might play with the voters of Coleraine (or Limavady, or Magerhafelt, or the rural fringes of Derry).

    And as in all such cases, the more votes you get, the more likely you are to get elected, whatever the configuration of the other parties!