Brian Ervine resigns as PUP leader

After the PUP’s failure at the Stormont assembly elections Brain Ervine the leader of the PUP has announced that he is going to stand down. This will be the third leader the PUP has lost in little over two years. Dawn Purvis of course resigned over the murder of Bobby Moffett after having become a member about the time of the Loughinisland murders and remained a member and subsequently leader for some two dozen murders following the ceasefire. After Purvis’s resignation Dr. John Kyle an East Belfast GP became interim leader. He proposed breaking the link between the PUP and the UVF but his party disagreed. Despite that Kyle remained interim leader of the PUP (still UVF linked) until Brian Ervine became leader and announced that it was no mere link but a bridge.

Whatever the link / bridge it remained, complete with a good old fashioned cheerlead by Brain Ervine protesting against the arrest of loyalist criminals for crimes predominantly against working class unionists. Ervine stood unsuccessfully (as did Purvis) in May and the party are now left with two councillors (one being Kyle). The party apparently had a deficit of £57,000 last year.

Having singularly failed to gain support from working class (or other) unionists (or anyone else) this may be nearly the end for the PUP. Such a demise may well be lamented amongst some of the chattering classes who seemed bizarrely attracted to the UVF cheerleaders and failed to understand why they received so few votes from their supposed target audience. Unfortunately for the PUP, telling working class unionists that they had been foolish – even stupid – for having voted for mainstream unionist parties was never a particularly good vote winner. Insulting and condescending to your electorate is remarkably ineffective and although it may have cost the chattering classes little to insult and condescend the unfortunate truth for the PUP was that doing so seemed, unsurprisingly, a turn off to potential support.

In addition the simple truth was that the PUP always seemed more interested in supporting the UVF than the people it purported to represent. Since the UVF along with the UDA have always been amongst the worst oppressors of the working class unionist community (both before and after the ceasefire) it is hardly surprising that the PUP gained so few votes.

There remains the truth that working class unionists are often inadequately represented by the mainstream unionist parties. The answer to that is hopefully for the mainstream parties to listen to working class unionist needs and encourage members to come forwards from those communities. As has been seen from the PUP’s disaster the solution is not criminality but in addition not people lecturing from a distance.Rather it is for the working class communities to bring forward their own representatives. In actual fact in East Belfast there seemed to be some recognition of this with the UUP having Michael Copeland and the DUP Sammy Douglas who have at least some credibility in this regard. Now it is time to ensure that Stormont delivers for working class unionists as well as everyone else. The PUP with or without either of the Ervines or Purvis were always a distraction to this: hopefully they will be a distraction for very little longer.

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  • Mark McGregor

    Bizarre seeing Douglas treated as some kind of undisputed moral compass in comparison to Purvis.

  • tacapall

    “Whatever the link / bridge it remained, complete with a good old fashioned cheerlead by Brain Ervine protesting against the arrest of loyalist criminals for crimes predominantly against working class unionists”.

    What ! – Not even a mention that most of those arrests are concerning the activities of the Mount Vernon UVF and the 15 murders they committed while being RUC special branch agents, the majority of the victims being catholics. Not even a mention that the RUC special branch officers who controlled and directed their activities seem to have immunity certificates, you didn’t answer from the last thread Turgon –

    “Is knowing that a murder is going to happen and having the power to stop it but allowing it to happen any less callous than those who pull the trigger.

  • damon

    Openly speaking out against those new UVF murals on Newtownards Road might have been a start. And even calling on them to be painted out. And letting local people have their say about what they think of them.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Openly speaking out against those new UVF murals on Newtownards Road might have been a start.

    Don’t hold your breath if you’re expecting unionist politicians to do anything about loyalist paramilitarism. They won’t.

  • Turgon

    Sadly there is a bit of truth in Comrade Stalin’s remark. Unionist politicians have sometimes been far too quiet in their condemnation of loyalist paramilitaries.

    That said of course Naomi Long was busy helping Dawn Purvis when the latter was still PUP leader.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Sad attempt at baiting there, Turgon. Haven’t you come up with anything better ?

  • Mark McGregor

    Turgon,

    So you continue to fixate on former elected representative Purvis and ignore current MLA and former political advisor Douglas? Someone that was actually in the UDA!

  • Turgon

    Mark,
    I am not in the DUP. If Douglas was in the UDA I condemn that unreservedly. If he had murdered anyone I would condemn it all the more.

    Comrade,
    I seem to remember that at the time when Long helped the then PUP leader you denied that she had done until presented with incontrovertible evidence of the same.

  • I was about to reply, concerning councillors helping councillors in other parties, but the display of the comment below the text box shows an automatic black card! (In Google Chromium browser.)

  • Don’t worry there’s a glitch…i have one too

  • Mark McGregor

    Turgon,

    Weird to see the moral high ground of ‘if’ and ‘would’ being applied to a DUP representative that did actual ‘terrorism’ given your frantic years long squealing over a former member of the PUP convicted of squat.

  • separatesix

    Damon you claim the PUP should have encouraged the painting over of the recent loyalist mural on the Newtownards Road that’s hypocritical as it was only painted in response to a grossly offensive Whiterock mural as you well know!.
    I suppose the PUP is an irelevant subject now.

  • dennis the menace

    shouldnt it be up to the police to deal with loyalist (and republican) paramilitaries?

  • separatesix

    Very predictable that comrade stalin only seems to have an issue with loyalist murals.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Turgon,

    This is awfully childish and it really is way beneath you. But since you asked, as I recall your definition of “helped” was somewhat tenuous and it was so silly I barely remember it, especially given that it took so bloody long to coax it out of you. Wasn’t it some sort of assembly procedural matter ? You’re talking as if Long turned up at Purvis’ house and gave her a suitcase full of cash or something.

    Mark has already made the point about Sammy Duddy. Duddy isn’t the first elected unionist politician with a loyalist past. It is, of course, extremely interesting that loyalists who claim to have “repented” are welcomed with open arms. “repent” is a funny word. A couple of the Shankill Butchers got early release after they “repented”. Unionist politicians didn’t say a single word at the time; nothing like the clamour when the GFA prisoner releases came up. I guess it must count for something more than the word of a decommissioning panel comprised of independent international experts.

    FWIW speaking personally I’d have no problem working with someone like Dawn Purvis. Any day of the week and twice on Sunday. She was/is a breath of fresh air and has a constructive perspective. I am not completely sure that I agree with the thrust of the “better education for Prods thing” (I don’t think the problems are unique to Protestants) but at least she was out there doing stuff, looking at problems that most of the other politicians have ignored. Fundamentally I have no issue with politicians working with paramilitary organizations provided there is a real chance that the work will lead to the winding down and disarmament of those organizations in the longer term.

  • Turgon

    Comrade Stalin,
    “personally I’d have no problem working with someone like Dawn Purvis.”

    Well that tells us something. Purvis (the supposed children’s champion) was the individual who organised a protest when a child murderer was arrested over withholding information over the murder of a child – Thomas Devlin. Purvis the women’s champion said nothing when a UVF member murdered and disappeared a woman – Lisa Dorrian.

    Purvis did practically nothing for working class unionists: her defeat in the election despite a highly sympathetic media shows how much time and effort she had put in. Her report into educational underachievement was extremely late in the day and seemed more timed to try to get a Quango typed job if she lost her seat.

    She also worked with the UVF supposedly helping them to go away (aka cheerleading) for approaching two decades: that is rather a long time with remarkably little to show for it; but a lot of cheerleading. That you regard such an individual as having a “constructive perspective” is interesting. It shows either you are an absolute fool or (probably more likely) that you have believed the idiotic hype which this individual and her terrorist predecessor managed to put out.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Turgon,

    I don’t really see the need to go around on circles on this again. The efforts to lead the UVF away from violence haven’t been especially successful. I don’t believe for one second that this was because people like Purvis didn’t try to stop it. But the important part is that they tried.

    It’s not like I’m motivated by some sort of desire to help the UVF. I’ve been threatened by loyalists on a few occasions and as I said the other week, I found out recently that family members were put out of their houses and in some cases only just barely managed to get out of dodge on the building sites where they worked before the local death squads showed up to single out the catholics. I’m shocked by this but able to deal with it. Other people are able to deal with it as well – the remarkable and humbling example that springs to mind being Alan McBride.

    So yes, I have no problem confirming that I’d far rather have Dawn (I’m sure she’d have been re-elected had it not been for the PUP split) that a politician who says “I condemn terrorists” in public and then hangs out with them in the background. Or for that matter a party which opposes prisoner releases, but whose members think that this is compatible with getting certain loyalists off the hook. And no, I’m not getting at you with that comment, just underscoring that it’s not the debate about releasing prisoners or talking to paramilitaries that pisses me off, but the pure brazen hypocrisy of certain politicians.

  • granni trixie

    Turgon:you left out of your list of evidence on whcih you base your analysis that Purvis appeared to be ambivalent on subject of punishment beatings eg ” you middle class people just dont understand working class areas.” Well, those working class people have now spoken through the ballot box.

  • Reader

    Comrade Stalin: Duddy isn’t the first elected unionist politician with a loyalist past. It is, of course, extremely interesting that loyalists who claim to have “repented” are welcomed with open arms. “repent” is a funny word.
    If you don’t like the religious overtones of the word ‘repent’, then how about, ‘remorse’, ‘regret’ or ‘rehabilitatiion’ instead? In moral terms – even secular morality (sssh – don’t tell Turgon) – they trump ‘tactical ceasefire’ or ‘that was then, this is now’ as a way of bringing people who have done bad things back into civil society. After they have done their time, of course.
    Or you may think there is no way back.

  • Turgon

    Reader,
    Yes a very fair point. I think remorse is a useful word. Repent is useful in that it implies going back and reversing but I agree it has far too many religious overtones.

    I do not think people need a religious conversion experience to turn away from their murderous past. It often helps and as a practicing Christian I believe it has enormous value but I agree it is in no way a
    prerequisite to turning away from evil and indeed thereafter having a useful and productive life.

    granni trixie,
    Again a very fair pont. It demonstrates that Purvis really was not a champion for working class unionist communities but rather for the lumpen proletariat of the UVF terrorists. Those terrorists having largely gievn up murdering and terrorising Catholics, turned their full energies on to drug dealing, prostitution, and protection rackets and general criminality which overwhelmingly affected working class unionists.

    In her post PUP manifestation Purvis sucked up to assorted media luvvies and members of the liberal chattering classes but seemed little more interested in working class unionists than she had been as PUP leader.

    Fortunately working class unionsts saw through not only her PUP manifestation but also her independent one and the people have spoken. Still I am highly suspicious that the loathsome hypocrisy of Dawn Purvis as something like children’s commissioner awaits us. She needs some mechanism to keep her snout in the trough: it would be a travesty too far if she had to work for a living like the rest of us.

  • Trapattoni

    @seperatesix

    Murals painted in response to other Murals??? I think not even if it was the case why did the East Belfast UVF never feel the need to paint murals in response to IRA murals in the Short Strand???

  • Black card? Seems appropriate since much of the above is pot slagging kettle.

    PUP scored a grand total of fewer than 1500 votes last month. Story. End of.

  • Nuance

    Turgon,

    I respect your opinion, but isn’t it time for something a little fresher about the PUP/UVF/Purvis? I’ve heard this line a thousand times from you, and to be honest, it’s driving me away from Slugger. I’d like to see some different responses to some of these issues – I don’t know how many times you have to wait for a UVF/PUP news story to gleefully pounce on and run the same broken record, but I’d suggest moving over and finding another hobby horse.

    I’d be extremely critical of Ervine’s campaign; his latching on to the HET grievance vote was doing little more than playing to a gallery that typically don’t turn out to vote anyway. But my biggest criticism is that by trundling out the line, he helped embed that particular constituency in the morass of self-pity, paranoia and anger directed everyway but inwards. That is the current story about the loyalist paramilitaries, not the turgid, tired blanket condemnations we’ve heard a million times before and don’t advance the debate or the issue one bit.

    Looking forward to seeing some fresh analysis. Or else it simply dropping off the agenda, and allowing those on the ground committed to trying to move things forwards (including the likes of Purvis) to get on with things.

  • Comrade Stalin

    separatesix:

    Very predictable that comrade stalin only seems to have an issue with loyalist murals.

    Given that we’re on a thread talking about loyalists, wouldn’t it be a bit thick of me to change the subject to someone else ? Or is it the case that when I’m discussing a subject I have to reduce list my opinions on everyone else just to placate morons who see hidden conspiracy and bias in every unspoken sentence ?

    Reader:

    If you don’t like the religious overtones of the word ‘repent’

    It’s not the overtones that I have a problem with. It’s the apparent fact that people are judged on their words rather than their deeds.

    then how about, ‘remorse’, ‘regret’ or ‘rehabilitatiion’ instead? In moral terms – even secular morality (sssh – don’t tell Turgon) – they trump ‘tactical ceasefire’ or ‘that was then, this is now’ as a way of bringing people who have done bad things back into civil society.

    I remember how the then “combined loyalist military command” called a ceasefire and expressed “abject and true remorse”. A couple of years later they were back to the mindless slaughter again. Like I said – words and deeds.

    After they have done their time, of course.
    Or you may think there is no way back.

    How we deal with the past is a thorny one, no doubt about that. I don’t think we’re ready to do it. Republicans are obviously very unhappy talking about the bad things they did. Less discussed is the fact that unionists don’t even want to admit the bad things they did. And when you push them on it they’ll still justify them.

    Turgon:

    Fortunately working class unionsts saw through not only her PUP manifestation but also her independent one and the people have spoken.

    That is one fantasy too many, Turgon. There were 3500 loyalist votes split more or less evenly between Ervine and Purvis. Had it not been for the split, Purvis would have been comfortably re-elected. The UUP would have probably lost their seat instead.

    I see there’s a £57K debt against the PUP. I wonder who is liable for that.

  • Comrade Stalin

    This stuff about murals being painted in response to other murals is bullshit.

    Paramilitary murals exist to enable such organizations to assert their authority over the neighbourhood.

  • damon

    That’s right Comrade Stalin. I wonder what would happen if you were to stand along the road there by the new murals right now on this sunny saturday afternoon and ask people passing by, what they thought of them and whether they were happy for them to stay up. And tell them you were doing a survey about local opinion of them.

    And ask them what they thought of the line on one that says something like ”We always go a little bit further”.
    Ask them what they thought was meant by that.

    If doing something like that is impossible on Newtownards Road because you’d get intimidated off the street within five minutes, then that’s something Brian Ervine – who I know very little about – should have been addressing.
    If he couldn’t even deal with a small local issue such as that, then there’s not much point in a PUP.

    Btw, I heard the headmaster of Ashfield boys school in east Belfast on the radio the other day, and they do hurling.
    Which I thought was very enlightened. So maybe it’s not as bad as those murals make things look.

  • Reader

    Comrade Stalin: I remember how the then “combined loyalist military command” called a ceasefire and expressed “abject and true remorse”. A couple of years later they were back to the mindless slaughter again. Like I said – words and deeds.
    I didn’t believe them then and I wouldn’t now – collectively. But I don’t know anything about Duddy – people who do know him seem to have sufficient faith in his change.
    And in contrast Turgon seems to be quite definite that Purvis was relatively recently campaigning for some sort of immunity for the criminal actions of a UVF man. Turgon’s repeated contribution may be tedious, but I still haven’t seen that point addressed by anything other than whataboutery. Maybe that would be worth a try?

  • Comrade Stalin

    I didn’t believe them then and I wouldn’t now – collectively. But I don’t know anything about Duddy

    (it’s Sammy Douglas by the way. I screwed that one up too. Sammy Duddy is the recently deceased ex-UDA transvestite guy.)

    – people who do know him seem to have sufficient faith in his change.

    Yes, and that’s the part that I find fascinating. In order for SF to come into the process there was a list of demands presented, including demands for photographic evidence and witnesses. I bet Sammy Douglas wasn’t asked for anything like that. Even now, we still hear DUP politicians saying that Sinn Fein must know who the dissidents are and should hand their details over to the police. Do you reckon Sammy Douglas has ever been asked to hand over details on his former cohorts ? When’s the last time you ever heard a unionist call for loyalists to do this ? I wonder if that subject was on the itinerary when William McCrea had that infamous stage appearance with Billy Wright, although somehow I doubt it.

    And in contrast Turgon seems to be quite definite that Purvis was relatively recently campaigning for some sort of immunity for the criminal actions of a UVF man.

    Turgon gets very annoyed every time someone mentions the fact that a couple of TUV members did exactly this not long ago. Given that Jim Allister did not find it appropriate to take any action, it would seem that campaigning to have a convicted murderer let off on a common assault charge is compatible with TUV membership.

    Turgon’s repeated contribution may be tedious, but I still haven’t seen that point addressed by anything other than whataboutery. Maybe that would be worth a try?

    To me the core issue here is unionist hypocrisy. How can hypocrisy be discussed if we rule out whataboutery ?