“the game for the UUP is virtually up unless it is able to come to terms with … the unpalatable reality”

Tom Eliott wielding scissors at the opening of David McNarry's Saintfield Advice Centre OpeningThe king of the UUP-scourging quote is back. David McNarry, the man who gave us the line “the party will close ranks and anybody who wants to be a hypocrite will get their photograph taken” has given up his early Lenten abstinence from the media.

The UUP member and independent MLA at the centre of the party’s most recent fracas has emerged and spoken once again to the News Letter, despite the ongoing disciplinary process and the instruction to all party members from the UUP chairman David Campbell to refrain from public comment on the matter.

In Saturday’s edition, the Strangford MLA urged that the talks between the DUP and UUP should continue.

“the project of unity itself cannot be allowed to fail simply because some have panicked over news of talks either embarrassing them or finding them wanting when push was coming to shove”.

The News Letter suggests that “some” refers to the party leader, Tom Elliott.

This kind of comment is not going to help McNarry’s disciplinary hearing.

However, McNarry’s public explanation of the electoral decline facing the party is what will probably annoy and damage the UUP the most. McNarry comments on recent polling that looks at the UUP’s electoral chances once Westminster and Assembly constituencies are reduced (from 18 to 16) and RPA shrinks the number of local councils (from 26 to 11).

Within the unionist camps the statistics I have seen bandied about make for alarming reading from an Ulster Unionist perspective. They are not brilliant either for the DUP, although they can be satisfied about remaining the single largest party.

In summary, the polling figures suggest:

the game for the UUP is virtually up unless it is able to come to terms with what I appreciate is the unpalatable reality.

They show little or no opportunities to win a Westminster seat, a fair chance of retaining a seat in Europe depending on the candidate, and a dramatic collapse of councillor representation followed through to a serious decline in MLAs at Stormont.

The Letters page of the Irish News is sometimes used to contest differing policy positions within the Green Party on issues around Irish language and Irish medium schools. This public agitation and airing of personality politics is neither seemly nor good for the image of that party.

David McNarry may be telling the truth about the bleak future that faces the UUP if they continue on their current course. But lobbying UUP members and Party Executive via the pages of the News Letter is a brave move if he expects to be able to keep his UUP membership in his wallet for much longer, never mind retake the party whip in the Assembly.

Anyone else catch the smell of more bridges burning?

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  • Comrade Stalin

    I went to burn a couple of bridges for the crack but got stuck when the webserver complained “503 Gateway Unavailable”.

  • alex gray

    Well McNarry’s right about bleak. By my reckoning basing it on the last Assembly election and factoring in a reduction in the number of Assembly seats to 80 which is 5 per constiuency for 16 constituencies and is I think the number the DUP and Sinn Fein have spoken of, and allowing for redrawing of constituency boundaries, and assuming continued UUP political collapse – this should see the UUP down to 7 seats (down 9), 32 for the DUP (down 6), 23 seats for Sinn Fein (down 6), 10 seats for the SDLP (down 4), 7 seats for Alliance (down 1), and 1 independent unionist. There will be no UUP MLA’s left in Belfast. The only UUP MLA’s will be in 1 each in Lagan Valley, South Down, South Antrim, Fermanagh, Newry and Armagh, Mid Antrim and Upper Bann. That should worry prospective UUP Councillors and MLA’s. They have no chance of Westminster seats either. Who will the UUP run for Europe? Dangerous to switch horses I would think. I also reckon that there will be 40 unionists versus 33 nationalists and 7 others in the Assembly. If the UUP did a deal with the DUP those figures could be significantly increased to the benefit of unionism with a small u. The UUP should be glad to forge a relationship with the DUP as McNarry suggests because there is no political reason for the DUP to do anything. Next time, the UUP MLA’s could all fit in one car – and it wouldn’t be a ministerial car either.

  • john

    I think McNarry is trying to justify his unionist unity ideas with talk of doom if no deal is made, The UUP are in decline we all know this but now McNarry is trying to make us believe that Unionism itself is about to collapse unless there is unity – a bit dramatic to say the least. Alex you have obviously looked at the figures so I trust your figures are reasonable. If we look at Westminster at the last election the UUP only came close in South Antrim probabaly with a little help from Nationalist votes to stop McCrea so no suprise that any boundary changes have not helped. In Stormont you have Unionists on 40 seats ie 50% whilst currently they have 56 seats ie 52% – hardly a drastic drop considering Unionism has a slightly higher seat to vote ratio than Nationalism. The UUP suprised many at the last Assembly elections as it could have been a lot worse. Closer analysis of the results shows a number of UUP members squeezing in in last place McNarry included so any reduction in the seats/constituency will hit the UUP. I disagree that doing a deal will make much of an impact in a STV election infact quite the opposite the more Unionist parties available the more likely people of various shades of Unionism will bother to vote. In FPTP elections obviously unity helps but looking at the new constituencies only the new Glenshane is in play and even then its weaker for Unionism than FST at the moment and we all know how the unity candidate did there. Not too sure how the councils will look but overall I cant imagine it being any different ie not much change. To sum up McNarry is talking a load of **** and just trying to scare Unionism. Any loss in Unionist seats will be because of demographics and not because unionist unity hasnt been achieved. As for Mc Narrys membership of the UUP I think we all know its finished.

  • aquifer

    A party that respects itself enough to expel people like McNarry is a party reborn. Expect a fudge and continued decline.

  • Comrade Stalin

    McNarry has changed his personal website to remove references to the UUP and emphasise his independent status.

  • OneNI

    McNarry could be burning bridges as some suggest. Alternatively he could be banking on the inquiry into the “McNarry affair” will substantiate his version of events….

  • Michael Shilliday

    What does it matter if the disciplinary committee substantiate his version? Why would they when the truth of the matter is not what he is under investigation for, rather his conduct after the Liam Clarke interview?

    But on top of all that, what does it matter when he is on the wrong side of the unionist unity argument as far as UUP members are concerned?

  • cynic2

    Why do we need 80 MLAs? What not around 50 – lets have some real change

  • alex gray

    80 is 74% of 108 and proposed cut to 8 out of 12 departments is 66% so roughly the same proportional reduction in over government and bureaucracy. Over regulation and too much legislation is another thing which needs tackling by the way.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Here’s a thought … what if ordinary people voted for their politicians they wanted rather than everyone assuming the power-base here will be a self-fufilling prophecy that can never shift ad infinitum.

    Oh if only there was a way where people could choose their elected representatives without politicians playing games or manoevering about the place like cattle.

    Maybe people could select the politicians they want, rather than some game or a perspective or the elected representitives themselves doing it for them. I mean the alternative is that actually people went out to vote in DUP and Sinn Féin as the largest parties without any games … and that just doesn’t make any sense. That would mean the rest … basically everyone from SDLP, UUP, Alliance all the way down to Pro-Capitalism, NI Tories and Ulster Fianna Fáil… don’t need games to win elections just votes.

    Alas, me and my idealism.