David McNarry resigns from UUP Assembly Group after Tom Elliott cuts him out of education committee role

The News Letter and UTV’s Ken Reid have been tweeting tonight what looks like being the latest episode in the UUP-DUP united unionist soap opera. David McNarry has resigned from the UUP Assembly group after Tom Elliott withdrew him as vice-chair of education committee, though stopped short of taking away the party whip.

Tweets about David McNarry resigning from UUP Assembly Group

The BBC add:

Mr McNarry said he spoke to the party leader on Friday evening by telephone. And Mr Elliott told him he was being disciplined as a result of an article that appeared in the Belfast Telegraph last Monday.

Although Mr Elliott said he would not be removing the party whip, Mr McNarry in response informed the leader he was resigning with immediate effect from the assembly group.

The article was an interview Mr McNarry gave, in which he revealed that he had been meeting the DUP to discuss closer co-operation and maximising the unionist vote. These talks had previously been secret and the article caused a backlash throughout the assembly group and the party.

Update – Martina Purdy has published some more details about tonight’s events.

Tom Eliott wielding scissors at the opening of David McNarry's Saintfield Advice Centre Opening

Picture of Tom Elliott and David McNarry on a happier occasion – the October opening of the UUP David McNarry Advice Centre in Saintfield.

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  • Obelisk

    Has David resigned because his leader has punished him under pressure from the rest of the Assembly group for taking part in talks David INSISTED Tom knew were going on?
    If I were David McNarry I’d be feeling mighty angry right now.

    In the longterm, resignation from the UUP and being welcomed with open arms into the DUP? That’s just mad speculation of course but you never know…

  • Obelisk – Liam Clarke suggests

    David McNarry seems to be getting punished for being open about what he was doing in his interveiw with me, not for what he did. Honesty and transparancy should be a political virtue.

  • FuturePhysicist

    If McNarry were to jump ship to the DUP, it would mean DUP get pick 8 and Sinn Féin pick 9 in D’Hondt rather than vice versa. Could possibly mean Sinn Féin with health again I suppose.

  • Obelisk

    Thanks for the clarification Alan. If what Liam Clarke suggests is true, if I were David McNarry I’d STILL feel very angry.

    I wonder if he still has a future with the UUP after this.

  • emanonon

    Private, confidential, secret what a load of rubbish my Tory contacts told me about them some months ago and said they had been going on since the summer when the UUP were trying to negotiate with them. Seems strange they would know and UUP MLA’s wouldn’t.

    Elliot is trying to bolt the door…

  • dwatch

    McNarry has always been a blabbermouth and a loose cannon were the media is concerned. He certainly wont be allowed to carry on with his antics if he joins the DUP. In fact I would be suprised if the DUP would want him.

  • cynic2

    The ship sinks ever lower and the Captain sees no iceberg

  • @News_Letter: A UUP spokesman has said “neither the Leader nor the Party have received formal notification from David of his resignation.” #McNarrygate

  • Comrade Stalin

    Obelisk,

    You can’t brief the media off your own bat and not expect consequences, this kind of conduct would not be tolerated in the DUP. McNarry has nothing to be angry about. If Elliott had any balls he’d have thrown him out of the party.

    FuturePhysicist:

    If McNarry were to jump ship to the DUP, it would mean DUP get pick 8 and Sinn Féin pick 9 in D’Hondt rather than vice versa. Could possibly mean Sinn Féin with health again I suppose.

    I assume you are referring to what would happen if d’Hondt were to be re-run.

    Under Section 18 clause 5 of the Northern Ireland Act ministers are appointed under d’Hondt according to “the number of seats in the Assembly which were held by members of the party on the day on which the Assembly first met following its election”.

    Therefore, the allocation of seats in the executive cannot be effected by MLAs switching parties. Which is quite sensible if you think about it, it stops parties trying to bribe each other’s members in order to change the d’Hondt weightings at the margins.

    If there’s an election, I wouldn’t say it is a sure thing that Independent McNarry would retain the seat. Last time, he scraped in with half a quota, well behind newcomer Mike Nesbitt, where the DUP won three and a half quotas. McNarry clearly does not have a personal vote and without the party machine (if the UUP’s lacklustre organization could be referred to as such) a sustained DUP push could see them obtain four seats in Strangford.

  • FuturePhysicist

    To be fair to the UUP, Strangford was the only place they gained ground. Though that was probably as much an open goal as the SDLP in West Tyrone.

    Thanks for clarifying about the election nominations … in theory that would’ve meant that independent David McClarty could not impact the decision with regards to D’Hondt if he were to rejoin the UUP.

    Then again, who’s to say Sinn Féin may take Health rather than get pushed onto it, I don’t know what they’d leave the DUP with that’s an even bigger poison chalice … Agriculture?

  • FuturePhysicist

    Also would the DUP put 4 candidates in if there’s the possibility that the SDLP may get the seat? A few more transfers from Sinn Féin to the SDLP probably would’ve secured Boyle the seat.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Assuming UUP put in 2, with Independent McNarry.

  • smcs

    Let’s get real here – what would Unionist unity do for the working class Unionist voter, or Unionist non voter, or non Unionist voter?
    Improved economy, reduced living costs, more jobs, better quality of life?
    What are the talks about, only self interest, self preservation, power and money!
    However, regardless of the current economic disaster we can still eat the ‘ flag ‘ and feel nourished.

  • its unlikely that seemingly unrelated speeches/comments are really made in isolation.
    presumably DUP people and UUP people actually talk to each other as well as making press statements and having ine on one interviews with journalists.
    And its not unknown for journalists to take trade off an exclusive for a steer on how the story should be handled. Or to assist in the “timing”.

    Things just dont happen.

    I wouldnt want to speculate on Strangford even if it stays the same…..there is simply too many DUP people in the area already.

    I take the point that McNarry is a “rent the quote” and a permenant “nearly man” but at this point in time its not about getting McNarry into the DUP as dividing the UUP.

  • iluvni

    More nonsense from the shower of non-entities at Stormont.

  • Pete Baker

    Alan

    I think it would be more pertinent to this story to link to Martina Purdy’s report

    Mr Elliott was away from Stormont when the Belfast Telegraph interview was published but aware that there was disquiet in his group as he had to face an emergency meeting of his party the following day. That was a meeting that was at times heated.

    The party leader has declined a broadcast interview. He has said little in public except what he briefly told the News Letter – that his party wasn’t for sale and this had been blown out of all proportion.

    Amid persistent questions about how closely involved he was in the McNarry initiative, Mr Elliott issued a statement to all party members this afternoon. In what appears to be a response to media speculation about his meetings with Peter Robinson in recent months, he said he had held meetings with other party leaders as well.

    In fact the BBC had reported the day before that he had met Mr Robinson – and there were conflicting claims about the nature of the talks. Mr Elliott told his assembly team they were to discuss issues such as justice.

    His latest statement sought to reassure the party about the UUP’s contact with the DUP. He said it was about exploring areas of cooperation to benefit unionism in general.

    He added that the talks were “without prejudice to the interests or integrity of the Ulster Unionist Party”.

    If Mr Elliott thought this statement would end the matter, he was wrong. Mr McNarry is unlikely to go quietly. Why would he if, as he claimed, he acted with the full knowledge of his party leader?

  • Comrade Stalin

    FuturePhysicist:

    Thanks for clarifying about the election nominations … in theory that would’ve meant that independent David McClarty could not impact the decision with regards to D’Hondt if he were to rejoin the UUP.

    That is correct yes, the only time McClarty could have done this would have been to rejoin the UUP before the new assembly sat, and there was speculation for a few days over whether or not this would occur.

  • ..to benefit unionism in general…

    What exactly would that be? Keeping themmuns in their place or preserving the union. The union is preserved for as far out as any of us can see. Religious demographics will simply not deliver a change to the current situation. So what is he blethering about?

  • McNarry is being punished for being open? Not what the UUP wants. Elliot didn’t see this coming. Leadership deficit exposed for all to see? Ulster Covenant management in the UUP now fragilised?

  • RyanAdams

    Sinking ship is right.

    Elliot had enough trouble with the two loose cannons on the liberal wing with out one on the right. Or should that be port and starboard?

  • NOT NOW JOHN

    “I wonder if he still has a future with the UUP after this.”

    I wonder has anyone a future with the UUP after this.

  • cynic2

    “neither the Leader nor the Party have received formal notification from David of his resignation.”

    …. because he now considers you irrelevant

  • cynic2

    “In fact I would be suprised if the DUP would want him.”

    …..now now Toim ….you should be more magnaminous

  • alex gray

    It is quite clear that McNarry was acting on Elliott’s instructions in having talks with the DUP. It is also quite clear that he briefed Elliott before his interview with Liam Clarke and after it. There appears to be a major contention within the UUP leadership here – McCallister, the Chief Whip and deputy leader, Nesbitt, McCrea all seem to want to go into opposition. I recall Nesbitt said so last September and was slapped down for it at the time. The talks McNarry had with the DUP on the orders of Elliott represent another direction for the UUP – most would say a more sensible direction – of becoming a party allied to the DUP, maximising the pro-union vote and helping to establish stability in Northern Ireland rather than going negative – which the public have already shown they do not like or want and certainly did not vote for in the last election – but is what McCallister, Nesbitt and McCrea seem to want. Elliott is weak and a ditherer. He has been found out secretly running a policy counter to what McCallister, Nesbitt and McCrea want so he has dumped on McNarry. It is an act of political cowardice and a gross betrayal of someone – McNarry – who appears only to have been carrying out his leader’s orders. People should take note of Elliott’s double-dealing. It is a sign of weakness that Elliott seems to want to obey McCallister and McCrea who unlike McNarry voted against him for the leadership. How long will it be before the McCallister-Nesbitt- McCrea faction drive the UUP into opposition ? Where is Danny Kennedy in all this? He is reported to be attending pre-executive briefing meetings already with DUP Ministers. Is Elliott going to stop this going on – after all, it is technically a lot more than what McNarry under Elliott’s orders has been doing? If the UUP go into opposition, Kennedy will lose his Ministerial job – so may we assume he is no supporter of the go into opposition faction?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Alex,

    What Elliott needs to do here is tell his MLAs what he is doing and ask them to back him or sack him.

    The man isn’t much of a leader, but there are signs that he has thought about the options here. People who think that walking out of the executive is a straightforward option are naive – likelihood is that this would work out very badly (McDonnell sensibly ruled the SDLP out of this idea).

    More importantly it is not clear to me how this talk of “unionist unity” benefits the UUP. They have nothing that the DUP want, other than votes, and the DUP has proven capable of extracting those already. Furthermore, while the DUP are toxic to UUP supporters, the same is not true in reverse – so it is easy for the DUP to talk up the idea without actually doing anything to support it.

  • alex gray

    I think the DUP have achieved their maximum possible vote and that anyone who voted UUP in the last election will probably never vote DUP. If we accept that premise, there is a logic to a two-party relationshhip in teh cintext of electing a first minister and in the context of a border referendum. Given the miserable performance of the UUP, then it is more likley that UUP voters will simply abstain the next time. The big problem is unionist abstention especially in the east of Northern Ireland. Elliott’s problem is that he leads the Fermanagh Unionist Party – his vision is small and what applies in Fermanagh does NOT apply in eastern Northern Ireland. The UUP will lose all Belfast seats the next time because of the reduction in the number of MLA’s and higher quotas.

  • dennis the menace

    either Elliott knew about, and authorised , the talks with the DUP or he didnt.
    He either knew about the Belfast Telegraph interview or he didnt.

    If he didnt then McNarry needed a slap down
    However if he did then Toms own position must be in question

  • Comrade Stalin

    Alex :

    I think the DUP have achieved their maximum possible vote and that anyone who voted UUP in the last election will probably never vote DUP. If we accept that premise ..

    I’d say it would be dangerous to accept that premise.

    I don’t think the DUP will continue to grow at the rate it has been, but provided it does not become complacent, and assuming no major upsets in the next couple of years, it will continue to pick off UUP MLAs and councillors. For example, I’d say the UUP have lost Strangford now that McNarry may well find himself deselected before the next assembly election. I’d also say there is a strong probability of at least one UUP->DUP defection in the assembly chamber between now and 2015, which if it happens will help make the DUP seem even more acceptable to UUP voters considering a change.

    The UUP is now so weak, particularly in the absence of Tory funding, that they don’t have the means to seriously challenge any DUP held seats. This means that the DUP do not have to run a defensive campaign in 2015, and can therefore focus instead on attacking the UUP’s marginal seats. I’d say it will take little to deprive the UUP of seats in places like North Down, West Tyrone and Upper Bann, and there are also opportunities in South and East Belfast and potentially East Antrim. The UUP are also clearly in fear of the possibility that the DUP will run two candidates in the next European election; Jim Nicholson’s 67th birthday is tomorrow, and once again without generous UCUNF funding the UUP may struggle to hold on to this seat.

    there is a logic to a two-party relationship in teh cintext of electing a first minister

    The probability of the DUP losing any seats is extremely low. They may lose two or three to the TUV if the party is able to translate Allister’s profile into a presence in other constituencies, but it is just as likely that they’ll be able to regain those from the UUP on the other side, especially if they are able to persuade UUP voters that supporting the DUP is essential to retaining a unionist first minister.

    and in the context of a border referendum.

    We are at least a good couple of decades away from a border referendum.

    The big problem is unionist abstention especially in the east of Northern Ireland.

    Yes, I have noted already that the “unionist unity” candidate in FST appeared, at the very least, to have done nothing to reverse that abstention.

    The UUP will lose all Belfast seats the next time because of the reduction in the number of MLA’s and higher quotas.

    Agreed, quite likely there will be no UUP in Belfast within a few years .. quite a reversal from the 1998 picture of two MPs and 5 MLAs.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Dennis,

    I think Elliott authorized the DUP talks, probably led by McNarry. He did not authorized McNarry’s media interview, he is embarassed by the story becoming public and has therefore decided to punish him for that.

  • cynic2

    Whatever the circumstances it shows the shambolic leadership in the party.

  • Comrade Stalin

    cynic2, yes, Elliott should have guessed that the thing would become public before long.

  • pauluk

    Once again the UU’s shoot themselves in the foot. Leaderless and sinking to the bottom. Time pack up and pick a new team, folks!

  • dwatch

    Elliott decision on David McNarry ‘should be respected’ – Danny Kennedy

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-16773486

  • dwatch

    Basil McCrea questions David McNarry’s future in the UUP

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-16776671

  • RyanAdams

    Comrade,

    I think your right about Strangford come 2015 with the DUP pushing at 4 – Boundary changes in the form of Dundonald, Belvoir and Carryduff/South Castlereagh will probably push them well towards 4 quotas of votes. I think Carryduff and Dundonald being taken out prior to May’s elections are the reason McNarry even has a seat.

  • Alan N/Ards

    The loose cannon is on his way out. Praise the Lord! I for one was sad to see this nasty piece of work scrape in at the last election. Strangford will be a better place when he loses his seat.

  • cynic2

    “Elliott should have guessed that the thing would become public before long”

    ….I admire your confidence in UUP foresight

  • Comrade Stalin

    cynic, I guess that was my point …

  • alex gray

    The fact that McCrea has now cast doubt on McNarry’s future in the UUP shows that my analysis that there is a deep split at the top of the UUP between going into opposition or getting closer to the DUP is right. Some see this as modernisers versus traditional unionists. The truth is that the moderniserslook more like a disparate band of ambitious people on the make rather than people with a message. Kennedy says the leader has the right to exercise discipline. Is the UUP some sort of primitive tribe where the chief’s word is law even if his subject was only carrying out his orders? As Liam Clarke has said – what did McNarry do to be punished in this way if he was acting on Elliott’s orders? Ths is true especially if Elliott was informed by McNarry as he says before and after the Liam Clarke interview. By meeting the DUP in a format ordered by Elliott McNarry did no more than what Danny Kennedy does every week – have a meeting with DUP Ministers ahead of the Executive meeting – again with Elliott’s approval. So should Big Chief Elliott now sack Kennedy – presumably replacing him with McCrea, Nesbitt or McCallister or maybe even take the job himself ? I find it hard to belive that the party leadership can be entirely happy with Elliott’s high handed behaviour. He never punished Basil McCrea or McCallister for things they have done – like the Nolan programme during the last election. But then he favours them. Just wait until they decide to go into opposition and Kennedy loses his Minister’s job. Will he be as happy then wiht the Big Chief ?

  • alan56

    The split in the UUP assembly group may also be related to the UUP reaction to the Conservatives recent ‘offer’. Could these fault lines lead to defections?

  • alex gray

    Not sure yet what way this will go. A lot depends on McNarry’s next move. Elliott has clearly lost the run of himself and is behaving in an increasingly arbitary way like a sort of dithering despot with occasional flashes of bad temper. He has not answered the key Liam Clarke point – why should McNarry be punished for acting on his orders? Elliott’s behaviour is a classic example of a weak man under the influence of a few advisers. He sends out a letter on Friday admitting the talks to party members and saying much the same thing that McNarry said earlier in the week – that there was no threat to the continued existence of the UUP. Then later on the same day, he sacks McNarry. Two different messages on one day points to someone pulling Elliot’s strings. The role of McCrea and McCallister in this needs more public scrutiny, epecially since McCrea has now pitched in with a comment that McNarry is no longer a UUP member in his opinion. We also need to know who are the people really advising Elliott? One thing is certain, the big rediuction in the number of MLA’s in the next election alreay announced by the DUP will wipe out most of the UUP in the next Assembly election. McCrea, McCallister and Nesbitt are all angling for position – especially with the departure of MEP Nicholson already speculated about in Slugger. They are jockeying after positions in a party which will no longer exist – or barely exist – in the Assembly and will probably have fewer MLA’s than Alliance in the next Assembly election. Its deckchairs on the Titanic time. The McNarry talks with the DUP offerd the UUP a viable future as a party within a wider unionist coalition. Coalitions like this exist in many countries. Why not here ? No matter what you think about our Minsietrs they are trying to do the best they can as devolved Ministers in a difficult situation. If the UUP were to go into opposition they would be opposing what exactly ? Would they be opposing our local Ministers efforts to avoid the cuts imposed by the Conservatives they wanted to merge with ? Not a popular electoral message I would have thought.

  • He is at best a low ranking UUP politician thrown by circumstance into the top rank of the UUP Party.
    Not exactly stellar for three decades, he has played his hand well…….with both Orange Order and UUP always looking a “hard man” cos thats the safest bet.
    Another man might well have looked at a humiliating 700 votes in the 1982 Assembly Election and quietly have folded his tent and gone away.
    But McNarry has always been there at those press things outside Stormont Bulidings.. behind Molyneaux or Trimble or Empey …….making sure he is nodding and going “hear hear” when the Leader says something profound.

    Sometimes politicians (any party) dont filfil their potential and there are people in any party where you have to shake your head and say “how did he/she do it?”.
    I cant imagine that there are many people who would put McNarry in the wrong group.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Alex,

    I don’t think McNarry is being punished for setting up the meetings and pushing the thing forward, that would be stupid. McNarry is being punished for blabbing to the press. I don’t see what is unreasonable about this; at the very least, running to a journalist is stupid; at the most, involving the media could be interpreted as an attempt to force the hand of the party leadership.

    That leaves the possibility that Elliott authorized McNarry to speak to the press. It makes no sense to do this and then issue a punishment, so unless there is some sort of evidence that this happened, I’m inclined to think that McNarry’s interview was his own idea. It is not, of course, the first time this has happened; McNarry appeared on the Nolan Show before the election to directly criticize the party leadership for some comments made by another election candidate (John McAllister if I recall correctly). I get the overall impression of someone who can’t control his outbursts when there is a journalist nearby with a dictaphone running.

    I find it hard to belive that the party leadership can be entirely happy with Elliott’s high handed behaviour.

    I’ll believe that when I see the leadership challenge, but I doubt it will be in the party’s best interests, there just aren’t any people at the top who are capable.

    He has not answered the key Liam Clarke point – why should McNarry be punished for acting on his orders?

    In defence of the UUP and Elliott, they are not required to answer questions on internal matters within their party, especially questions which appear to be derived from speculation concerning exactly what led Elliott to sack McNarry. It is up to them to weigh up public opinion on what they are doing with their internal policies and processes.

    Two different messages on one day points to someone pulling Elliot’s strings.

    I agree with you there, someone is whispering in Elliott’s ear and he is trying to please everyone.

    The McNarry talks with the DUP offerd the UUP a viable future as a party within a wider unionist coalition. Coalitions like this exist in many countries. Why not here ?

    If I was a UUP member I would be saying “beware of Greeks bearing gifts”. It unclear what exactly is in it for the DUP, especially as it is not clear what the “gifts” are.

    The debate right now is certainly benefiting the DUP by causing public splits in the UUP. But if the proposal ever becomes serious, what exactly are the two parties going to exchange ? The DUP aren’t simply going to hand over safe MP and MLA seats to the UUP, especially not if UUP incompetence causes them to be lost.

  • Comrade Stalin

    fitz,

    That’s a very good summary of the man.

    Looking back over the more recent years, you get the impression of someone who wants to be in the thick of things without really being the leader. It was McNarry who pushed the “Loyalist Commission” – this ridiculous idea of putting UVF and UDA hardmen in the same room as UUP politicians and the Secretary of State, in the expectation that something (it was never quite clear what) would happen. I am sure that McNarry was also behind the DUP-UCUNF talks which were supposedly convened by the Orange Order shortly before the Westminster elections two years ago.

    His assembly record is an inconsistent hodge-podge of speeches whose key elements change depending on the direction the wind is blowing in. His idea of how to complain about the budget a few years ago was to lodge an amendment seeking to remove a penny from the overall budgeted spend. I also remember crazed outbursts in the media, including a complaint about GAA coverage on the BBC.

    As I said above, my overall picture is of a person who craves attention. As you have said, he wants to be seen as a “fixer” for whoever the leadership of the day is. Sadly for him, he doesn’t have much in the way of wit.

  • Keithbelfast

    Ok Stal, you’re doing pretty good job of getting the digs in to McNarry, but nobody has clarified or really talked about this:

    “Despite Mr McNarry’s assertion that he briefed Mr Elliott both before and after the interview on Monday, he was disciplined by the leader on Friday.”

    So either McNarry is lying. Properly bare faced lying. Or Elliott has used this as an opportunity to cast him out of the party.

    So which is it?

  • What I cant exactly put my finger on is what his angle is. And with McNarry there is always an angle.
    I cant imagine that he actually has a power base in the UUP, notwithstanding the fact that he is a leading member of the Orange Order.
    And maybe this is as much or more to do with Orange politics than it is to do with UUP politics. Surely McNarry must have a power base within the Orange Order.
    Unionist “unity” is one of the Orange Orders key things.

    He is 63 (thank you Wikipedia) but UUP/DUP politics in Strangford/North Down is too crowded with ambitious people for this to benefit him in any way.
    He will clearly never be a Minister so is it about the Speakers Chair? Or just about Stupidity?

  • dwatch
  • Comrade Stalin

    Keith,

    Agreed, someone is lying, or the truth is half way between the two. Possibly McNarry went further than Elliott expected when he was explaining things to Liam Clarke.

    But I’m not sure. Apparently, when Elliott broke the bad news to him, he explained why it was being done. According to Elliott via the BBC, McNarry’s reply to Elliott was “unrepeatable”, which at a guess sounds as if McNarry told Elliott to go and fuck himself. Now, I find that a bit odd. It may well be normal for some people, but if someone placed an unexplained sanction on me, I’d want to have a meeting and find out what the hell was going on. I wouldn’t throw my toys out of the pram in a huff. That makes me suspect that McNarry knew he was out of order. It’s all very circumstantial of course, it’s not real proof .. but things don’t quite fit together to me.

    If McNarry has indeed been wronged I suspect we’re going to get a full exposure through the press during the course of the next week or so. Liam Clarke and other journalists will have been on the phone to him all weekend urging him to set the record straight and tell his story, and Elliott will be placed in a position where he is forced to respond. I’d say it’s going to get ugly.

    fitz,

    I think McNarry likes to think that he has a power base, but I doubt it amounts to very much. The OO does not wield the kind of power it once did, and the relationship between it and the UUP is much more arms-length, especially when you consider that there are Orangemen who are senior within the DUP as well. In many ways, McNarry is the OO personified – it likes to think it is more important than it really is.

  • alex gray

    I take the point about the Liam Clarke interview. McNarry did say however that he kept Elliott informed before and after the event. That looks like pretty close monitoring by the leader to me. I am reasonably satisfied that McNarry is the wronged party here becaue the initial reaction of many journalists was – why was McNarry punished for carryng out his leader’s orders? What I also don’t understand is why McCrea’s infringements of party discipline – and McCallister’s – never elicit a punishment from Elliott. They opposed Elliott in the leadership bid whereas McNarry was one of his biggest backers. Maybe its the sign of a weak man that he is prepared to kick his own supporters while not daring to cross his opponents like McCrea and McCallister? I also think the UUP Assembly group may be a bit detached from sentiment within the UUP party. Also McNarry said there was never any question of a merger with the DUP – just of the 2 parties working closer together – what is so wrong with that ? It really looks like what the Temple Priests said to Pilate – it is expedient that one man die for the people. In this case that one man die for the leader.

  • Comrade Stalin

    alex, trouble with that is that McNarry may well pull Elliott and a few other people down with them. Pissing into the tent, etc.

  • alex gray

    Thanks Uncle Joe
    Probably right – actually if you look at Elliott’s form he has favoured the so-called modernisers from the word go. McCallister as deputy leader then chief whip. How many jobs can one man do ? Basil as chair of DEL committee. Nesbitt on three committees – though this may be explained by the fact that Elliott wants to keep him busy to stop him plotting a leaderrship challenge. The point is that McNarry has no reason not to soak the tent since everyone inside it is of one type.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Alex, indeed.

    My perception is that Nesbitt is chomping at the bit to take over as leader. I’d say he would be quite charismatic and would appeal to a lot of people, but he lacks political experience which means that Robinson & co would make mincemeat out of him.

  • alex gray

    Uncle Joe,
    The way I see it is this. Nesbitt set out his stall last September with a call for the UUP to go into opposition. He was criticised nat the time. Then a fringe meeting at the UUP conference debated going into opposition accompanied by a rather dubious poll that said 85% of the party wanted to go into opposition. The stage was set. The policy has been chosen. The problem as it always is with the UUP is personalities. Their ambition is in inverse proportion to their talent. McCrea, McCallister, Nesbitt all want to be in charge. Will McCrea be paid off with a gravy train MEP job which would suit his temperament? Where is Danny Kennedy in all of this? The problem with all of this is that the are all unelectable and no match for the sure footed strategist that Peter Robinson always has been. People do not want cointention. They want peace and some order about the place. When the number of MLA’s is cut to 80 where then the UUP? .

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nesbitt set out his stall last September with a call for the UUP to go into opposition. He was criticised nat the time.

    To me, this is just an example of Nesbitt having ideas beyond his station. He’s barely elected as an MLA, hell he’s barely a party member. And yet there he is telling everyone else how it should be done. Clearly the idea here is that because he’s a TV journalist everyone else should just step aside. If I was in the UUP that would annoy the hell out of me.

    It also shows how naive he is, that he’d make his big announcement without checking first to see if it might get shot down. Which it was.

    I think you’re right that the UUP internally is being pulled in two different directions. People who are savvy know that going down the opposition route means oblivion. I think most of those same people agree that any sort of tieup with the DUP will shorten their own lifespan.

    Will McCrea be paid off with a gravy train MEP job which would suit his temperament?

    I don’t think most people in politics here are interested in being an MEP. With the DUP they had to first recruit someone to do it, and when they lost him they couldn’t persuade anyone more senior than Diane Dodds (who is a very nice person, I might add). Who ever hears about Jim Nicholson except when there’s an election on ? Or Bairbre de Bruin for that matter.

  • Comrade Stalin makes a good point. Nesbitt is actually lightweight. He was unconvincing in fronting UTV News….much better as a sports presenter.
    But lacking the gravitas as a journalist he brings that lack of gravitas into politics. No doubt he is personable and even a poster boy for unionist matrons but there is no real substance.
    All political parties need people of substance…….theres not enough around and all parties need to be picking up substantial figures.

  • Comrade Stalin

    fitz, agreed. Can’t take it away that his presentation is good, though. But yeah, the substance lacks. Reading his contributions in Hansard he seems to fumble a lot.

  • Obelisk

    I know often here we put the boot into Tom Elliot, often viciously. But the last week has shown that it isn’t done half as often as it should be.

    Over the weekend UUP MLAs like Basil McCrea and Danny Kennedy gave public support to Tom for imposing discipline within the party.

    David McNarry certainly took it as an attempt to discipline him, though he termed it as betrayal.

    And Tom? Tom almost seems to be saying he barely did anything, just a slap on the wrist as quoted by the Newsletter.

    ‘Mr Elliott said that he was surprised by Mr McNarry’s reaction: “I by no means took him out of the group. I was changing his position from being deputy chair of the education committee.

    “There are a lot of people in the group who have no position at all.”

    Just how feeble a leader is he that he is talking down his own attempts to control the party, that he cannot own his decisions or the consequences they produce?

    Basil McCrea’s influence within the party seems to be growing. McNarry quotes McCrea as saying the following at the meeting last week…

    ‘ Mr McNarry said that at last week’s emergency meeting of the party’s Assembly members he had been told by Mr McCrea to “stop referring to the group as ‘us’ because you are not one of us”.

    And

    ‘On Saturday UUP assemblyman Basil McCrea said that as Mr McNarry had resigned from the UUP Assembly group he should now be considered to have resigned from the party.Mr McCrea told the BBC: “If you leave one, you have, in effect, left both.”

    And at Sinn Fein’s Uniting Ireland conference at the weekend, another dig…

    ‘He said that it was crucial to have trust and added: “When I was on Radio Foyle on Thursday with Gerry Adams, I kept wondering does he mean what he is saying?
    “Those honeyed tones that you are all so familiar with … are they a trap for naive and unsuspecting unionists?
    “Actually, I could ask a similar question of Peter Robinson, but in his case because I am familiar with the cultural background, I am pretty certain that he is indeed laying a trap for the unwary and the politically naive.”

    Is it just me, or is Basil McCrea exploiting this to drive McNarry out of the party? There is a consistent theme of isolating McNarry, even going so far as to force a weak leader to penalise him and the beginnings of a whispering campaign, with an anonymous MLA saying he will hardly be missed.

    If what McNarry said was true and he cleared the interview with Elliot and the Press Office before the interview took place, then the weak leader is being forced to penalise McNarry for following his instructions in doing something Basil McCrea didn’t like when he found out about it.

    My own personal guess is that David McNarrys’ days in the UUP are numbered. And based on his conduct, so are Elliot’s days running the UUP.

  • dwatch

    Lets all get our hankies out for poor Mr McNarry Come on David let it all hang out out, sure the dogs in the street knows you cannot wait to tell the whole world what went on in that secret meeting and how wrongly you were treated by this upstart farmer from the backwoods of Fermanagh.

    McNarry: I feel abused but I’ll defend myself

    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/local/mcnarry_i_feel_abused_but_i_ll_defend_myself_1_3467956

  • OneNI

    I’m personally unclear what McNarry has been disciplined for? Seems from press reports and his letter to members that Tom elliott knew and approved the ‘private but not secret’ talks with the DUP.
    Apparently the Conservative Party also knew about the talks which may put Lord Feldman’s letter to the UUP in a a different light?

  • OneNI – we’re all unclear what David McNarry has been disciplined for … but given that discipline is an internal party matter, we’ve no absolute reason to need to know. It’s only our nosiness – and McNarry’s ability to burn a bridge – that will expose the details.

  • dwatch

    David McNarry went too far in interview says Tom Elliott.

    “Mr Elliott said Mr McNarry spoke to the Belfast Telegraph of a vision which one day saw a DUP first minister and a UUP junior minister. He said he had had to discipline him.”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-16796034

  • Comrade Stalin

    dwatch,

    That suggests the half way house I suggested yesterday, ie Tom did indeed authorize the interview but did not expect McNarry to completely spill his guts.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nigel Dodds apparently said on Sunday that McNarry would be welcome in the DUP. It seems that his defection is probably now inevitable.

    I wonder how McNarry will cope as a DUP backbencher.

  • alex gray

    Nesbitt might be lightweight but that didn’t stop Elliott being elected leader. Nesbitt is a smoothie – so much smoother than Elliott – remember in the kingdom of the blind the one eyed man is king. McNarry was good on UTV tonight. Elliott came over as an idiot. Does he really think sacking McNarry is just a slap on the wrist ? It was public humiliation and the anti-McNarry comments of McCrea since show clearly who is giving Elliott his orders. McCrea’s another smoothie. What does Elliott think about McCrea’s comment last week that the DPP needs a body to supervise it? Is that UUP policy or will Elliott slap McCrea over the wrist ? Of course McCrea wants rid of McNarry. McCrea’s DFP committee which he chairs for 10K a year is being wound up and merged into the Education Committee. Guess who was vice chair of Education Committee. Why McNarry of course !! Remember McCrea’s proposed junket to San Diego. He must want McNarry’s job otherwise he’ll miss out on the opportunity to have a few junkets.

  • dwatch

    In reading this guote, by David McNarry’s actions he has already left the UUP to become an Independant.

    “Elliott defends McNarry punishment”

    An Assembly spokeswoman said: “The Speaker has received a letter from David McNarry, MLA, advising that with effect from 30 January 2012 he wishes to be regarded as an independent member of the Northern Ireland Assembly whilst retaining his designation as a ‘unionist’.”

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5jHbUAkygTBl6LsFG0CEkFXBTegEA?docId=N0224451327944109204A

  • Mark

    Just listened to David McNarrry on today at Stormont and the man has a point on how he was treated . Tom Elliott or the people who are advising him showed a real lack of class .

  • dwatch

    This reply (below) appeared in the comments section of the News Letter. If true, his recent run in with leader and other UUP MLA’s was only a straw that broke the camel’s back.

    “David was once suspended by the LOL for speaking to the press. He had aspirations far beyond his ability. His proper place is as an independent and the UUP will be a better party after his defection.”

  • David McNarry is one of those ploiticians who plays “hard ball” and its not easy to feel sorry for him.
    But on yesterday evenings UTV News he appeared genuinely stunned. He ususually does synthetic anger very well……….but this was the real thing. There was even a touch of sadness, he has after all been a member of the UUP “since I was fifteen”.
    The feeling of sadness/quiet anger was under-scored by the fact that after his interview, there were two shots of him listening to Ken Reids views on what happened over the past few days.

    So in an odd way, McNarry came close to convincing me…….helped by the interview in which Tom Elliott referred to himself in the third person.
    I think “alex gray” has made some good points in this thread but is too over-eager to blame McCrea and others.

    Usually the reports of discord in UUP are over-stated but it would be hard to imagine a more damaging dispute ……..and has an odd echo of deValera and Michael Collins about it.

  • Comrade Stalin

    helped by the interview in which Tom Elliott referred to himself in the third person.

    I winced when I heard that.

  • IJP

    To be fair to Mike Nesbitt – and I have personal reason not to be – he is the MLA who seems to be most intent on actually “legislating”, and he learns from mistakes. He would unquestionably be a better Leader than Elliott in terms of skills and vision.

    That said, he is unlikely to become Leader for two reasons.

    Firstly, as Comrade says, nothing unsettles the existing political class than people who have been successful in another field and who are obviously capable transferring across.

    Secondly, and more importantly, his relatively moderate version of Unionism is not the one supported by most of his UUP colleagues. The UUP elected Elliott Leader by a significant margin precisely because, incredible though this seems to the South Belfast-based media, he actually represents the broad views of most of the membership.

    Underlying all of this is the re-establishment of the view that the UUP is fundamentally incompetent. With competence increasingly becoming the marker of electoral strength, that will become increasingly decisive.

  • Mike Nesbitt has certainly had a successful career. Nobody who remembers Nesbitt reading the Ladies Hockey results on a Saturday evening at the BBC could have thought that he would end up as anchor at UTVs flagship news programme.
    Taking his portfolio of skills to politics doesnt work. He is lightweight and merely gamekeeper turned poacher. He has heard enough drivel from politicians explaining away their party incompetence……and effectively
    every TV appearance with old journo colleagues he is doing this for the UUPand not even making the effort not to smile at the nonsense of it all.

    Yes he will never be UUP for two reasons.
    One …he is not mainstream enough within the party.
    Two…..he has some baggage which doesnt play well.
    But the notion that he is resented for being a success just doesnt wash.

  • IJP

    FJH

    Well, he’s Oxbridge-educated (academically successful), well known in the media (professionally successful), and he stuffed McNarry in May (electorally successful). He’s successful. And politicians who have never been successful at anything other than getting elected fear that (not entirely without justification, by the way – just because someone is successful in one walk of life does not mean they will be in another).

    That is not to say the additional reasons you give are not valid. They’re very valid. Indeed, they are the crux of the UUP’s problem. Constantly – at Leadership elections, candidate selections and even during McNarrygate – they look for people who self-identify as “good Ulster Unionists” (McNarry is basing his whole defence on membership of that club).

    Yet this is an ever declining number – what they actually need is someone who can make the UUP appeal to people who would not self-identify necessarily as “good Ulster Unionists” – in other words, people who are not mainstream (well, not UUP-mainstream anyway).

    Despite this, of course, they consistently pick those they know. Those they know are a declining number. The logic is obvious. Fundamentally, that is the reason for the party’s ongoing decline.

  • Well of course Nesbitt is Oxbridge educated. He was also Campbell College educated.
    ‘Nuff said.
    Obviously a successful journalist.
    And a man rather like myself…..a youthful man in his late 50s (albeit QUB educated which in some books would not make me less academically successful than Mr Nesbitt). And a man who took to politics rather late in life.
    Mr Nesbitt joined the UUP and its a career change.
    I joined the SDLP and Mrs FitzjamesHorse calls it a mid life crisis.

    Obviously in a few years when Dr Al retires, I will go head to head with Conall for the Leadership. While I might rely on my “success” in other fields, the SDLP electorate might well look at my previous record of non committment and disloyalty and rather acrimonious things Ive said about the SDLP in the past (Slugger O’Toole passim).

    For this reason I will never lead the SDLP and for much the same reason Mike Nesbitt will never lead the UUP.

    “Success” is over-rated.
    Obviously a political party wants to put a good raft of candidates before an electorate which has all kinds of skills……..community work, medicine, law, trades unions, Jacobite history, farming……..even there is a case to be made for “business”. But a political party should also bear in mind committment and loyalty.

    Its chicken and egg.
    Committed people……unionist, nationalist, socialist, conservative, “lets get alongerist” who are successful will always trump successful people who use political parties as a vehicle for their own ambitions.

  • dwatch

    Mr McNarry will be none to pleased at this recent news.

    “Nesbitt to replace McNarry on Stormont committee

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-16808459

  • IJP

    FJH

    Sorry but that last point is thinly veiled nonsense.

    The Labour Party achieved its electoral successes with a gene-pool Tory at the helm (and a gene-pool Liberal in the NIO for three years); the DUP has appointed as Ministers gene-pool Ulster Unionists and has expanded in the process; Irish Labour is essentially an amalgamation of people who started off in other parties.

    Much more to the point, the idea that McNarry would make a better leader than Nesbitt is ludicrous – but it is the logic of your position. And, of course, you will have to stand against McDevitt, who by your logic ran away from the SDLP in its time of need. How dare he choose to have a real life in between, eh?!

  • Drumlins Rock

    FJH, have taken your previous advice and avoided commenting on my own party issues, but might just clear up one misconception, the “rural” UUP or those more than half an hour from Belfast are a bit more switched on than they are given credit for, the election results in most areas bear that out. So if we had of run a hyperthetical contest for honoury Olympic Torch Bearer or the like between “liberal blow’in” Nesbitt and “Traditional Loyal Orange” McNarry I think Nesbitt would have won hands down as the more capable and reliable candidate.

  • OneNI

    Isnt the crux of McNarrygate the fact that Elliott, McNarry and Kennedy were carrying out secret negotiations with the DUP precisely because they knew their party would be against it.
    Elliot is unhappy because McNarry let the cat out of the bag before it was a fait au complait?
    All the other MLAs are furious because David Campbell knew while they were kept in the dark.
    Of course it was Campbell’s machinations that many blame for the collapse of UCUNF

  • Comrade Stalin

    Of course it was Campbell’s machinations that many blame for the collapse of UCUNF

    ROTFL, I love it. Please keep the delusions coming.

    Don’t let anyone ever tell you that a workable political idea should be durable enough to survive the efforts of one person sabotaging it. And above all, ignore the doomsayers who predicted UCUNF’s failure from the start on the basis that you cannot build a successful political entity by joining together two failed ones.

  • IJP,
    My view is not that McNarry would make a better leader of UUP….merely that Nesbitt will never lead it.

    Im not sure what you mean about Conall but in any case I have decided that I will not stand against him in five or ten years years time….I have consulted colleagues who have convinced me that I cannot hope to win.
    My point remains that people who are deemed less than loyal to one party are unlikely to be forgiven by that party…..and any other party would be wary of a politician who has been disloyal to another party whatever his skills.

  • Indeed as Comrade Stalin points out, there was only ever going to be one outcome to the UFCNN experiment.

    I readily accept that Drumlins Rock knows more about UUP than I do. A direct contest between McNarry and Nesbitt would always have been unlikely…….but on balance my view would be that Nesbitt will never lead the UUP and would lose a contest to a mainstream candidate such as Danny Kennedy.
    Although it has to be said that options are running out.

    Nesbitt strikes me as a person who just doesnt take it all seriously.

  • alex gray

    The appointment of Nesbitt is another calculated insult to McNarry from Elliott and the coterie of advisers around him. They want to rub his nose in it. Elliott referring to himself in the third person shows how delusional and pompous he really is. Wasn’t it Julius Caesar who did this ? Then came the Ides of March. So 3rd person Elliott should beware the Ides of March. At the end of the day when the Assembly is reduced to 80 members the UUP will be down to about half its present strength because so many of them were elected in the last counts. The logic of unionist unity is overwhelming on a numbers basis alone.

  • GoldenFleece

    Well that was…..ahem…. interesting from McNarry on The Nolan Show this morning.

  • Its too easy to dismiss David McNarry as a dinosaur.
    If he joined the UUP at age 15, then he clearly has given nearly 50 years service to that Party. No doubt he was politically ambitious but thats not a fault.

    Rather McNarry joined a Party with Lord Brookeborough at its head and a unionist God in his heaven.
    He has probably sat in halls and applauded Robin Bailey and Phelim O’Neill who defected to the Alliance Party. And Desmond Boal who defected to Paisley politics.
    And Anne Dickson who defected to UPNI.
    And Bill Craig who formed Vanguard
    And David Trimble who went home to the Mother Country and became a Conservative.

    Not to mention Arlene Foster and Jeffrey Donaldson.
    Or Harry Hamilton
    Even today another escape to the local Tories.

    To his credit McNarry has been consistent and an adherent of mainstream unionism. He has chosen a stance which is at least as honourable as the defectors to right and left of him.
    Only he can answer whether it was all worth it.
    But at least he deserves a bit of respect.

  • FJH,

    It’s true that “dinosaur” is often thrown around as a cheap epithet. But this is to do dinosaurs a disservice. They were extremely successful and dominated the land for a hundred million years. They had an efficient respiratory system that allowed them to thrive in the low-oxygen environment following the PT catastrophe, and their descendants to take flight. That’s a tremendous achievement.

    But they’re still extinct.

  • alex gray

    On Friday Danny Kennedy pitched for leadership with genocide comments – attractive to Tom Elliott’s former supporters in Fermanagh. On Sat Mike Nesbitt pitches for leadership in Belfast Telegraph piece on not washing dirty party linen in public, Why pitch for leadership if Elliott is not alread doomed ? Party Chairman David Campbells announcement looks like more of an investigation into the events of Mcnarrygate than a disciplinary process – an investigation that might make Elliott’s continuance as leader untenable. By the way, who are the others apart from David McNarry to be investigated by the party as implied in the wording of Campbell’s statement ?

  • dwatch

    I suppose we will have another 25/30 busloads of Tom’s Fermanagh supporters (organised by chief supporter Ken Maginnis) at the March AGM if there is to be a leadership challenge. Any guesses who Mike Nesbitt will vote for?

    ‘Hurt and abused ‘ Elliott says unionist unity a ‘pipe dream’

    http://www.impartialreporter.com/news/roundup/articles/2012/02/02/395662-hurt-and-abused–elliott-says-unionist-unity-a-pipe-dream/