“The trouble with the UUP is that it doesn’t really want a leader that makes decisions….”

Alex Kane on emotional blocks in a political party still licking its wounds over the risks its previously adventurous leaders, O’Neill, Faulkner and Trimble… It was recorded before Danny Kennedy stood back… but most it is as relevant now… Highly recommended…

In the meantime, it is not as though there is nothing for them to disrupt, if they were ever able to get their act together…

  • Drumlins Rock


    I think Alex has only got it partly right, the idea members fear the O’Neill and Falkner eras but hark back to Carson and Craig is rubbish, that generation is gone merely a shadow at the edges, the Trimble era is a different matter, with the wounds still there, that is the history that has to be dealt with the rest is merely a footnote. I think the strong support for Mike shows a willingness to take a risk but the willingness to back him publically afterwards is what is crucial.

  • Alex Kane

    Hi DR. Long time no see: hope all well.

    1) I didn’t argue that members hark back to Carson and Craig. Indeed, at the end of the piece I said they need to stop focussing on the past.

    2) You say “I think the strong support for Mike shows a willingness to take a risk…” What sort of risk, precisely? Mike seems to be the champion of steady-as-she-goes. And that does surprise me.

    Anyway, we’ll know in less than a fortnight what the party thinks, although I do agree with you that, irresspective of who wins, the members have to bottle the bile,bite their tongues and row in behind him.



  • Mick Fealty

    There is a related theme to this and I think Alex is closer to expressing this than this than anyone writing intelligently about the two minor parties, which is the debilitating lack of ambition. its as though they are content to moan about SF and Dup but not to take any actionthat might mean they would have to make the tough decisions themselves.

    And I think think voters ‘smell’ that lack of seriousness and vote for parties that express some tangible appetite for power, whatever the nine voting members of age conservatory party might think of their respectability.r

  • If potential UUP voters were watching the UTV interviews with Nesbitt and McCallister they will surely conclude Nesbitt sees no future for his party and agrees with Kennedy that it should fold it’s tent and get under DUP skirts as soon as possible. Kennedy andd MN might as well go the whole hog and join the DUP and be done with it.

  • dwatch

    McCallister has threatened to expel the recently rebelious McNarry if elected. Mr McNarry is not all that pleased.


  • 2 frys 2 teas

    Why would McCallister do this whilst McNarry remains in the Party and under review??? Surely that disciplinary procedure must run its course before anyone could be expelled…
    This to me epitomises everything that is wrong with the UUP as an organisation – there is a total lack of discipline (even when it concerns an issue of discipline!!)
    Further stoking the McNarry fire won’t bring anything positive for the UUP and one would have thought McCallister as a leadership contender should have known this.

  • alan56

    Mabe it would be a good idea if the men in grey suits were ‘outed’ so the public could see who they are. Neither candidates for leadership are saying anything about the position of party Chairman. Bit of straight talking needed

  • DR, like Alex I am wondering what the ‘risk’ is in electing Nesbitt. The names backing him at the launch point of his campaign were mostly Trimblistas and what has he said that would indicate anything other than more of the same. Worse his style has a resemblance to Trimble which will ultimately only remind people why they stopped trusting (and voting) for the UUP.

    His complete non-starter of a referendum idea has only allowed diversion from him expressing an opinion on whether or not he would support going into opposition – though we might presume he would not. His ‘currency of politics is power’ pitch is absurd – the currency of politics is votes and he has given no clue as to how he is going to win them back. If politics is about power then surely the electorate will continue to back the winners in this regard, and that is not the UUP.

    To be fair, McCallister hasn’t got an idea past ‘oppostion’ as his only idea; which might distinguish but does not differentiate the Party from the DUP. Needs some more work on that one. His outburst about sacking McNarry falls immediately foul of due process – so much for Party cohesion.

    In the end the choice isn’t great.

  • Progressive Unionist

    I think you just have to watch the extended BBC Sunday Politics interviews with both Mike and John to see that both candidates have a lot of promise and, for the UUP, they both represent a real break from the past.

    Each have upsides and downsides but they both come across as having a progressive, inclusive, forward-looking concept of unionism, and both of them have the potential to bring back the swathes of moderate pro-Union voters the UUP has lost in droves in recent years.

    That said, the key issue is building an effective opposition to hold the DUP-Sinn Fein government accountable – and on this key issue John McCallister has by far the most realistic and effective strategy.

    Realistic because there isn’t a hope in hell of Robinson, McGuinness or HMG agreeing to a referendum – because, realpolitik, they have no political upside in doing so.

    John’s right – the only way to create an opposition is just to go ahead and do it. John, if elected, will unequivocally lead the UUP MLAs on to the opposition benches at Stormont on Monday 2nd April.

    It’s impossible for the UUP to hold the DUP and SF accountable while being part of a DUP/SF-led Executive – the voters just won’t buy that, and rightly so.

    Northern Ireland needs a democratic opposition, it’s a basic democratic right – just like with every other democratic devolved institution in the UK and the Commonwealth.

    Creating an opposition is the logical next step to build on the Good Friday and St Andrews Agreements, it will consolidate power-sharing and it’s bottom-line the only democratic thing to do.

    What have the UUP got to lose? – just a single, fairly minor, low-profile ministry. In return, the UUP will be freed up to hold the DUP-SF led executive to account on each and every issue – co-operating where they’re doing the right thing, and holding them accountable in the Assembly when they aren’t.

    The people of Northern Ireland deserve no less.

  • dwatch

    “John, if elected, will unequivocally lead the UUP MLAs on to the opposition benches at Stormont on Monday 2nd April.”

    Were is the opposition benches, is it between the TUV and the Independants?

  • alex gray

    McCallister’s outburst saying he would throw McNarry out of the party says a lot about where the original action against McNarry came from – from the party’s deputy leader and chief whip. Clearly McCallister was behind dismissing McNarry from the Education Committee Vice-chair and starting the disciplinary action against him – and Tom Elliott just caved in to McCallister. McCallister is emerging as the playground bully in this.

  • Comrade Stalin

    McCallister is emerging as the playground bully in this.

    Meanwhile, Mike Nesbitt proposes that there should be a referendum on McNarry’s party membership.

  • dwatch

    McNarry is hitting back. Wonder who is supporting McNarry or McCallister in this tit for tat nonsense.

    David McNarry hits out at John McCallister

  • alex gray

    To be fair McNarry is only defending himself from attack by McCallister. Journalists probebly rang McNarry for comment after McCallister’s outburst. The fact remains McNarry was only doing what the leader Elliott told him to do in the first place. Why after dismissal from Education Committee should be be punished twice for the same offence by being expelled from party ? Mainstream UUP members have no-one to vote for in this leadership election. Was McNarry manouvered out of the way by this manufactured attack so that he could not stand for leadership with cloud of disciplinary action hanging over him and thus when Kennedy ran away mainstraem UUP members had no cnadidate left who reprsented their views to vote for ? This is all beginning to look very Machiavellian indeed.

  • toker

    Can somebody tell me does the opposition startegy that Mccallister is proposing have a power sharing dimension to it to ensure there is always a unionist nationlist balance?