TUV Conference – from “a thorn in their flesh” to “a great big cactus inside their shirts”

TUV party logoThe TUV held there annual party conference in Cookstown today. I wasn’t there, but offer some snippets from the speeches (or highlights of speeches) emailed through from the TUV press office. There was practically no online activity around the conference – and the non-attendance of former candidate David Vance probably dampened the volume of tweeting.

Party President William Ross opened the conference by addressing the party’s continued existence:

I am sure that some are surprised to see us still alive, active, and exposing their weakness. Those who desire our demise have underestimated our resolve and dedication to the future welfare of Ulster.

He worried that “given the present chaotic state of the National and World finances and the resulting concerns that people have about employment and debt, many people have lost sight of the ongoing erosion of Ulsterʼs place within the United Kingdom.”

He understood that there is an enormous amount of Political Capital involved in the ʻPeace Processʼ and its anticipated end result”.

Many in Stormont, including, I fear, nearly all in the Executive, have a huge ego to protect. Some love their Office and its trappings; some love the limited power that SF/IRA allows them to exercise. Most of course are deeply attached to their salary …

My Friends, the future of this land depends upon sound political judgment about the consequences which will follow from a particular course of action, and this often entails hard practical decisions – not taking the easy option. The events of recent years proves that the judgement of those who lead and support this party were correct in the past and are still correct today.”

Ross finished by “congratulating our Party Leader on his election to the Assembly”.

It is a lonely post, surrounded by people who dislike him, who denigrate what he says and some who hate him because their own conscience condemns them for their own moral disintegration. Why? Because they know he is right in what he says.

Jim, you said you would be a thorn in their flesh. In fact you are a great big cactus inside their shirts and inside minds. It is my prayer, and hope, that the Unionists of Ulster will be heartened by what one man is doing.

The next hour was spent listening to invited outside speakers: Glyn Roberts (Economy & Business), Boyd Douglas (Economy & Agriculture), David Brewster (Culture), Hazel Gibson Beare (Health), Bernie Smyth (Health), Alex Elliott (Justice).

Then it was the turn of party leader and MLA Jim Allister. His full speech isn’t available – perhaps like Alex Attwood he prefers to speak off the cuff! – but the published extracts include the following portions. (Perhaps unpresresentative given that only extracts were available, but a quick Wordle does seem to highlight the contents of the speech.)

Jim Allister 2011 party conference speech extracts - via wordle.net

Stormont – that cocoon of DUP/Sinn Fein misrule – may be a cold house for principle, conviction and truth, but it will take more than that to silence this Traditional Unionist Voice. TUV men and women are made of stern stuff and we need to be. Salute courage of all our councillors who fight lonely but stoic battles.

Whatever our numbers, as a party we’ve made our mark. No one needs explanation as to where TUV stands and will continue to stand. In every generation there have been those determined to hold to and do what is right and no matter how much others may forsake the ground and principles of traditional unionism, this party will stand, because we can do no other.

Allister singled out the DUP willingness to elevate Francie Molloy to the post of Principal Speaker despite their previous demands that he be pursued for war crimes.

Whatever it takes to keep SF happy and the DUP in office, is the creed by which the DUP lives today. The lion is supposed to be the symbol of the DUP, but how IRA/Sinn Fein has tamed it and turned it into a roll-over pussy cat – only towards Sinn Fein, of course. Dare to be a Traditional Unionist and it will still be a battle a day.

Allister said that the Massareene trial showed “how big a con decommissioning was” with “Provo weaponry and Provo bullets, supposedly decommissioned, but very much on active service in the murder of two soldiers’.

Yet, not a squeak from those who once demanded not just decommissioning, but photographic evidence. Well, here – not for the first time – we have indisputable forensic evidence that it was a con and, suddenly, it doesn’t matter. Why, because preserving Provos, and thus themselves, in government is more important than the truth.

He said that the TUV had “brought a wind of change” to Stormont’s “polluted portals”.

This week was a case in point: the mighty DUP armed to the hilt with clever and secret devices consented at Hillsborough to reform of the prison service, but asleep at the wheel, never thought to query if name change and emblem change would form any part of that reform. It was only when this supposedly irrelevant MLA, to whom they say no one listens, unearthed the machinations that were afoot, that the DUP woke up and Peter Robinson was suddenly going to resign over something he should have known all about if he hadn’t taken his eye of the ball. TUV set the agenda this week, exposing the secret plans of the Justice Minister and the slumber of the DUP.

Some are asking how I knew to raise these issues. Had I inside information? I have ‘special advisers’ in surprising places. But, whether I was acting on information or reading between the lines of the report is for me to know and others to find out.

Allister mentioned the role of opposition.

We are only one voice, but through that voice we’ve demonstrated that Opposition can be effective, something other parties who flirt with opposition should note.

Later in the speech he returned to the subject:

Let me return to UUP & SDLP. They are in the Executive but intend not to be of it. The result is they are but fodder for DUP/SF, who when it suits uses them and when it suits abuses them. How long can they put up with the humiliation to which they are subjected.

So I say to the Ulster Unionists and the SDLP step out and take the first step essential to make Stormont work. You’ve nothing to lose but the shackles that bind you to the failures of the present arrangements. So long as you offer and practice the same failed system as the others you’ll never displace your larger counterparts.

He was scornful about the work of the Assembly.

Stormont as a meaningful, effective place of government is an unmitigated disaster. In 6 months we’ve done no government business, debated no bills, till Thursday hadn’t even a draft Programme for Government, though now we have a daft Programme for Government, and fill our half week by debating such weighty matters as weed control. How right, for once, just once, Ian Paisley Junior was when he belittled it as a county council.

It is a catastrophic waste of money, whose MLA coterie now seek a pay increase. Pay them by results, I say, and they’d owe you all a fortune.

On the Education and Skills Authority (ESA) he said:

Mervyn Storey previously told the Assembly it was “bureaucratic legislation” to satisfy “the control freakery” of the Sinn Fein Department and it “wasn’t coming back”. Now Climbdown Mervyn is chief salesman for the Sinn Fein legislation. As we’ve said, whatever it takes to keep SF happy.

Allister said that the upcoming “year of the centenary of the Ulster Covenant” was an opportunity to “remind ourselves of, and draw strength from, the stoic determination of our forefathers and of their vision”.

As the Covenant says their stand was to defend EQUAL CITIZENSHIP within the United Kingdom. They weren’t Ulster nationalists interested only in power for their own gratification. They were Unionists who knew their enemy. What a contrast with today’s generation of self-servers who will pay any price to cling to office, any office, even that with those who butchered our kith and kin.

After lunch, party members delivered five minute speeches on a variety of subjects: Councillor Sharon McKillop talked about the TUV work in Moyle council to derail the twinning plans with Gaza, Lagan Valley Westminster 2010 candidate Keith Harbinson spoke on the case for voluntary coalition, and Joel Jackson addressed the future.

Sammy Morrison, Jim Allister’s personal assistant and press officer spoke about the work of the TUV in the Assembly.

Well conference much to the relief of those who believe in British democracy for British Ulster and to the great annoyance of those who prop up and sustain Stormont’s scandalously undemocratic system – we’re still here! Not only that but for the first time in a Traditional Unionist conference I am able to report on the work of TUV inside the Northern Ireland Assembly …

Since coming to Stormont TUV has begun the process of bringing accountability. And don’t they know it. Fairly early on in the Assembly term Sammy Wilson evoked what both Jim and I thought to be a rather strange Biblical image to describe our party leader. He called him the Elijah of the Assembly.

Now there used to be a time when members of the DUP would regard being likened to Elijah as quite a compliment. Apart from anything else the thing about Old Testament prophets was that they tended to be right. But you see, friends, the DUP has changed and now when someone comes along championing the very policies which they a short time ago were so vocal in advocating the response is a very angry, “Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?”

Morrison pointed to “important issues, many of which never make the press”:

  • Did you know that GAA clubs got almost £18 million while clubs affiliated with the Irish Football Association have received under £8.5m in the last five years in government funding? …
  • What about the underrepresentation of Protestants in our universities? Again it was left to the Traditional Unionist Voice in the Assembly to highlight the issue and press for the situation to be addressed. What’s more, our MLA had the guts to vote against discriminating against students from other parts of the UK when it comes to fees.

He asked why “no one can say why a single one of [394 abortions carried out in our Province over the last five years] was performed”. He mentioned that “when Jim asked the [Enterprise] Minister how many of those 24,612 jobs [promoted by Invest NI over the last five years] actually came into existence and how many of them still exist the answer came back that she didn’t know”, quipping that “the only people Arlene Foster can prove she keeps in employment are photographers!”

Morrison finished saying:

We have only made a start and perhaps not as good a start in terms of electoral success as we would have wished but as the American founding father Samuel Adams said, “It does not take a majority to prevail but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.”

In all, heavy on pun, heavy on anti-DUP sentiment, and heavy on reverting to a previous status quo.

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  • michael-mcivor

    Another cross unionist political leader- but they all turn more moderate once they share power with Sinn Fein-
    Allister would be no different-

  • Banjaxed

    What is it they say again about ’empty vessels’?

    There’s no doubt at all about Allister’s effectiveness in disturbing the ‘cosy-but-hands-off-love-in’ that exists in Stormont. Unfortunately, for all his astuteness, coupled with his in-your-face attitude, he can still be marginalised by the Stormont regime.

    Of course, he’s got the DUP running scared – but what unionist party EVER led from the front? (Echoes of, ‘Where are my people, I will follow them?’). Hence the ‘over-my-dead-body’ attitude of Robinson on the prison insignia (non) issue.

    Sadly, Allister reminds me of the Paisley of yesteryear. Agin’, agin’, agin’! Now, if perhaps he could channel all of that negativity into a force for progression (and he has the intellectual capability of doing so) we all might be able to settle down and discuss our future in a rational manner.

    As for his ‘bête noire’, Sinn Fein – well, they’re not goin’ away, yeh know. So, get real, Jim, get real!

  • Comrade Stalin

    Unfortunately, for all his astuteness, coupled with his in-your-face attitude, he can still be marginalised by the Stormont regime.

    This is probably more true than you realize. There’s little to stop the Speaker from simply refusing to call him to speak other than convention. In the House of Commons (Jim is after asking for true democracy) the Speaker exercises absolute discretion over who to call.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The countdown to Jim Allister’s treachery has already begun, as we can see here where Big Jim seemed to allow himself to be photographed alongside Michelle Gildernew.

  • Indeed there is something about the TUV that is the same as DUP-PUP of the late 1960s early 1970s.
    But ultimately Jim Allister is little more than a lone voice……he needs an Eileen Paisley, Desmond Boal, Willie Beattie…..or even a Ronnie Bunting.
    Opinion about Jim seems divided.
    Some see him as a buffoon……I personally dont see that.
    Others say “affable” (that he enjoys good relations with surprising people).
    Others say he is “dangerous” and that it would be wrong to write him off.
    Frankly I cant see him leading the majority party in government in forty years time……..but then few would have said that about Ian Paisley circa 1967.

    History as Tragedy?. And History as Farce?

  • Rory Carr

    Do you have any extracts from David Brewster’s speech on “Culture”, Alan. I should like to see if TUV understanding of culture has advanced even a little from that of 2008 when, if we are to take DUP Secretary, Karen Boal’s conference speech as the benchmark (and that is the only reference I can find on the TUV website), then progress would not be difficult.

    A studied reading of that speech will reveal that Ms Boal, while unable to express exactly of what protestant or unionist culture consists, is able to define it only in relation to it (whatever “it” might be) in terms of “it” being threatened by equality legislation or any move to alleviate the effects of historical oppression of Gaelic culture.

    One might have thought that a culture so obscure and so gossamer-fragile (I know, I know, aural memory of the throbbing blast of the Lambeg drum and the term “gossamer-fragile” do sit uneasily beside each other in the mind) might feel more threatened by the X Factor,MTV and the anaemic modern faux-vampires of the Twilight than a subsidised performance of Cúirt An Mheán Oíche in a Tyrone village hall. But then I suppose one has take one’s paranoia where it can be found.

  • Rory – no. I’ve only what Sammy sent through or was on their website.

  • Cynic2

    Why does everything West of the Bann seem to have to be 20 years behind the rest of us.

  • Rory Carr

    It is hardly surprising that David Vance has not turned up for this year’s conference given the grilling he was given last year by Professor Billy McWilliams on the TUV’s deficiency in the provision of an Ulster-Scots translation of its manifesto.

    I reproduce some snippets from that interview below (the full interview may be found here: http://bit.ly/9yUmT0 ) :

    Billy – Davey, fur why hiv ye nat transtlated yer Manifesto intil the hamely tongue? The Shinners translated theirs intil the Free State Tongue.
    Davey – Nae answer
    Billy – Ah thunk ye were answerin’ the questions in the order they arrived Newsletter boys?
    Davey – Nae answer
    Billy – “Since Pork or Beef?” got through ah shall repeat ma question – Shud the TUV nat hiv translated its manifesto intil Ulster Scots given that the Shinn Fein did theirs intil Irish? Particularly since it is a requirement fur goverment departments til translate things.
    Davey – Nae Answer
    Billy – “Ulster Scots questions ignored by Newsletter” will make an interestin heidline.
    Davey – TUV manifesto is in English since everyone here speaks English. Had we resources to empower other languages we naturally would do so. Lots of questions here so sorry if you thinknI was ignoring you!!!
    Billy – Point tuk Davey, but a wudnae be tae sure thit everyone spakes English.
    Davey – OK Billy
    Billy – If ah cud come back til ye oan the Hamely Tongue Manifesto – goverment departments hiv til translate things at a great cost til themselves an’ the tax payers, surely it is oany richt thit the parties thit demand thy’on shud hiv til dae likewise, thus incurrin’ a cost, or dae ye nat agree with tax funded translations..
    Davey – Nae answer
    Billy – Cheers Davey, best o’ luck til whoever wins. At this moment in time yis are the biggest Unionist Party in ma poll anyhow. Though “cannae be arsed” is daein’ well along wi’ the Shinners. But they prabably cheat.
    Davey – Thanks Billy , best to you.

  • Nunoftheabove

    That unlampoonably reactionary old dimwit, bore and chancer Willie Ross has a mightily weighty pair of balls on him to be complaining about MLAs being deeply attached to their salary …it woud make some of us weep to know how much he’s shaken the public purse down for over the years and the scale of the pension he’s enjoying now on our dollar.

  • Mary Anna

    Looks like Jim Aillster -is more than a thorn in the bush – He may take over Stormont one man , one vote, he has proven that he got the balls it takes to stand up and be counted over dup and sin/f they are scared of the truth… He has guts not like the nuts who play games with peoples lives….

  • Rory

    You got me bang to rights. Thing is, since some seem to struggle with even basic English when it comes to TUV policy, I though Ulster-Scots might be a step too far. But it is clearly the big issue of these times.Good spot, you’re wasted here.

    Alan in Belfast

    My “non attendance” might have been linked to the fact I left TUV six months ago. Just an inspired guess.


    I would like TUV to be more than a thorn in the flesh or even a giant cactus inside their shirts”…more like a stake through the black heart of the corruptocrat Assembly.


    I’m thinking that not being in a photo with the panoramically challenged Gildernew might be a bit of a challenge.

  • lamhdearg

    David,can the pro union vote cope with being split 4 ways.

  • What is the fourth way? DUP. UUP, TUV,,and?
    In principle it should not matter so long as ALL unionists held to firm principles but experience shows how they are seduced by faux power, and the baubles of office. To my mind, the DUP are Ulster Nationalists and the UUP confused.com.

  • Rory Carr

    Good God ! A compliment from David Vance. That must surely put me in the frame, as a nominee at least, for a Nobel Peace Prize.

    I just hope I don’t have to split it like those before me.

  • lamhdearg

    Alliance,”In principle it should not matter” What that the vote is split?.
    “the DUP are Ulster Nationalists” i must get that,(subliminal) hense they got my vote.

  • lamhdearg

    ps, i have Alliance third.

  • JH

    “I’m thinking that not being in a photo with the panoramically challenged Gildernew might be a bit of a challenge.”

    What are the rules here on being out and out sizeist? Not to mention directly insulting another person. Surely this deserves a card at least.

  • separatesix

    Jim Allister is without doubt the only real elected unionist left.

  • separatesix

    Comrade Stalin tell blatant lies, Allister was not knowingly photographed with Gildernew.

  • David – famous sentences in blog posts I forgot to fin….. Hadn’t realised you’d left the party. PS: Welcome back to Slugger!

  • Rory Carr

    Jim Allister is without doubt the only real elected unionist left – Separate Six

    All together now, “Hip, hip…”.

  • Alan

    No worries and thanks for the coverage of the Party Conference!

  • Greenflag

    Now that Mr Robinson has admitted that he may be the last ‘unionist’ First Minister of Northern Ireland I guess we can all look forward to Mr Allister becoming the first TUV Prime Minister of Northern Ireland in that alternate universe known as the unionist twilight zone .

    For those into future political prognostications as to the constitutional future of Northern Ireland and who may at this stage be ‘nervous’ unionists I urge you to seek out the Wall St Journal Review Section Nov19th/20 where that infamous historian Niall Ferguson of Harvard and formerly of Cambridge or Oxford is predicting the bad news of a new United States of Europe i.e (Even Greater Germania ) .

    For Unionists alone there is excellent news .Apparently Ferguson is predicting that in a 2013 referendum the people of the Irish Republic will reclaim their British heritage by voting in a referendum to join the Reunited Kingdom under the slogan ‘Better Brits than Brussels’.

    What is it about academic historians who once exposed to the fame of celebrity suddenly go ‘bananas’ and appear destined for a second career in stand up comedy ;? And we rely on these folks for eh ‘objectivity’

    Ferguson pisses on everyone’s cheerios as the Yanks would say well everybody from Greek gardeners to German sunbathers to Herman Von Rompuy via Nigel Farcage.

    The Wholly German Empire Reborn at


  • Greenflag

    ‘In all, heavy on pun, heavy on anti-DUP sentiment, and heavy on reverting to a previous status quo.’

    Would that be the status quo that delivered 4,000 deaths and more that a generation of political instability and almost 30 years of no talks about no talks while the province lost it’s traditional industries and anyone with more than half a brain left it for greener pastures ?

    I imagine there must be a huge number of unionist and non unionist voters in Northern Ireland who simply can’t wait to go back to the good old days . And why not sure was’nt that a time when God was a protestant and the atmosphere even in Fermanagh was unionist . There was no Fenian oxygen or nitrogen back in them days not even a molecule . Sure it was great gas and the taigs were so much better behaved and not as bolshie as they are now 😉 /

  • foyle observer

    A whole twenty five comments on the TUV conference!

    Says it all really.

    Where’s Turgon?

  • Greenflag

    Lets give the TUV the benefit of a future and fast forward 25 years to the TUV conference of 2036 AD now being held an Orange Hall somewhere west of the Bann . As a token of their recent decision in the summer of 2036 to take the momentous step of sitting down in the same room as SF politicians the TUV invited the NI Justice Minister Mr Doherty to their conference .

    Even so there are always those in Ni who can’t resist a dig at themuns so a couple of TUV lads got together and borrowed a picture of the former NI First Minister Martin McGuinness and hung on the toilet wall of the Orange Hall .
    After the tea and biscuits Doherty excused himself and went to the toilet . When he returned he disappointed the TUV men by remaining silent .

    ‘Minister Doherty ‘ dd’nt you see Martin McGuinness’es picture hanging on the toilet wall .

    ‘Yes ‘ replied Doherty indifferently .

    ‘Well what did ye think of it ‘ the TUV lads baited .

    ‘I thought it was very appropriate ‘ replied Doherty . That’s an excellent place for a Martin McGuinness’s picture . If ever a man lived who could scare the s**te out of the Orangemen that man was Martin McGuinness ‘!

  • Greenflag

    ‘My “non attendance” might have been linked to the fact I left TUV six months ago.’

    Well done Vance -always knew you had it in you . Not since Enoch Powell has unionism had such an intellectual champion as David Vance . Unionism as you should have learned by now doesn’t respond to intellectualism .

    Still good luck in whatever new venture you pursue . You can always rely on Greenflag to give you a fair crack of the whip on slugger .

  • Greenflag

    ‘In fact you are a great big cactus inside their shirts and inside their minds.

    A good job Ross said inside their minds and not anywhere else . I note Mr Ross failed to mention the colour of said cactus . usually or mostly they are of a green hue and in some cultures the very form of the cactus can be suggestive of activities which would be frowned on by the god fearing orange folk west of the Bann .

    When I read of Mr Allister being compared to a cactus I was immediatley reminded of this comedian singer one of whose hall mark songs is about his little green cactus a perennial favourite I believe and originally composed by the pre WW2 Comedian Harmonists who were forced to disband because a couple of their members happened to be German Jews .

    Anyway enjoy the My Little Green Cactus -sorry no Orange ones available

    Otto is hilarious

  • JH

    The TUV are great. I love the TUV. They’re a cookie cutter for the extreme Unionist vote that keeps it well away from influencing any party that might actually get a whiff of power.

  • JH

    I am always impressed with those who castigate the TUV for being “extreme” simply because they oppose facilitating terrorists in government, gangsters in power. It speaks volumes for the decayed moral mindset of the appeasing classes, so well represented in these pages.


    Whether Unionism responds to intellectualism, as you put it, is a moot point. Might do better to ask why republicanism responds so favourably to terrorism. Thanks for the kind wishes.

  • Greenflag

    @ David Vance ,

    ‘Might do better to ask why republicanism responds so favourably to terrorism’

    A question which would require several essays to answer for which I don’t have time as I’m off slugger until end November after today. . I don’t know if you meant specifically Irish republicanism or include French and American or even the British variety snuffed out circa 1800 in England and Scotland ?

    And then ‘terrorism ‘ is a loaded term for there are now varieties of the phenomenon from the Islamic ‘jihad ‘ to the financial terrorism of Wall St and world’s banksters to the current state terrorism extant in Myanmar , Syria and indeed the stateless ‘terrorism’ that rules /governs places such as Somalia and the DR Congo . In comparison NI is a relative backwater of peace and stability at least for now and hopefully for as long as it takes for a more ‘democratic ‘ consciousness to emerge .

    At it’s simplest ‘republicanism ‘ is the war of the have nots v the haves – the enlightened versus the status quo of stagnant absolute monarchy – and goes back to the founding of democracy in the USA and France in the late 18th century at the end of the ‘enlightenment ‘ era . It was originally anti monarchy in particular anti absolute monarchy. Like any successful ‘politik ‘ it has been adapted and fitted to the politics of the nations /countries which adopted ‘republicanism ‘ as a form of government or as an idealised political objective .

    As time is short I leave you and others interested with an example – from the capital of democracy Washington DC albeit in a different age which I think shows the difficulties involved in the simplistic ‘terrorists bad everybody else by default good ‘ thesis .

    When Admiral Cockburn the leader of the British Expeditionary force took Washington DC in 1812 he took the Speakers Chair in the House of Representatives and polled the assembled officers and men.

    ‘Gentlemen ‘ he said ” The question is .Shall this harbour of Yankee Democracy be burned ? All in favour of burning will say Aye !”

    The vote was unanimous . ‘Light up.” ordered Cockburn and the Capital of Democracy was burned to the ground .

    Now who was the terrorist Admiral Cockburn and his fellow arsonists ? or the members of the House of Representatives. Thirty years earlier of course George Washington and all those who revolted against the Crown were terrorists or in the language of the time traitors and thus only avoided hanging by winning their revolutionary war which would not have been possible without the military and naval support of the French Bourbon aristocracy who of course would lose their degenerate heads to their very own republicans a few years later .

    If you are serious about finding a full answer to your question in so far as there can ever be a ‘full answer ‘ I’d recommend a read of Robert Kee’s ‘Greenflag ‘ and Marcus Tanner’s ‘Ireland’s Holy Wars ‘

    You are welcome to the kind wishes .Despite my occasional rants against corrupt and self serving politicians i maintain a residual respect for all regardless of party politics who find themselves facing the democratic process with all it’s attendant inefficencies and that ever fickle finger of public opinion .