McCallister promises to clear out the old guard…

Well, if nothing else, John McCallister knows how to grab a headline in a leadership contest… This time he is promising to axe the UUP’s long term chairman, David Campbell who was an integral and widely perceived to be a powerful part of David Trimble’s kitchen cabinet…

“I think some people are actually very unfair about David Campbell. He has served the party for a long time and I think even our party rules would suggest that we would be looking at a change. When you would be changing leader, yes you would have changes across the board.”

Mike Nesbitt was rather more equivocal:

A lot of people come to me and ask me: What are your views about this policy, that person, the other structure? This is an election campaign for the leader and until it is over — and it will be over very shortly — I’m not thinking about that.

What I would say to you is that if you look at my history, I’m a team player. Most people know me from my days at UTV where you’ve got a lovely privileged front-of-camera position where you’re the guy.

But if the assistant sound engineer doesn’t clip the microphone onto your tie, if the senior sound engineer doesn’t fade up the right channel, if the camera man doesn’t focus, if the vision mixer presses the wrong button, if the director calls the wrong shot or the producer has the wrong stories a lot of people can make you look very foolish.

If you don’t respect them for their jobs, you can’t expect them to mind your back. I’ve learnt that even though you might think, ‘Oh, he’s the superstar of the outfit’, if you’re not a team player it won’t work. I will lead that team and will ultimately make the calls if I am elected leader.

, ,

  • dwatch

    Its obvious Nesbitt is not aware of the chairman’s manipulative behaviour (behind the scenes) over a number of years prior to the ex TV announcer’s decision to join the UUP.

    McCallister on the other hand has been around long enough to know was going on. Was it last year or 2010 Tim Lemon stood against David Campbell at the UUP AGM and lost?

  • carnmoney.guy


    MIke used to work for UTV, who knew?

    He should mention that more, every time he is interviewed perhaps 😉

  • andnowwhat

    Surprised Nesbitt didn’t come off with “there’s no ‘I’ in ‘UTV’ “.

    I used to waffle like that at job interviews when I was much younger. I (rightly) didn’t get the jobs.

  • andnowwhat

    I think Mc Callister hit the nail on the head when he said he (aslo) wanted to go after that large group of people who donot go out and vote.

    As a CNR, I don’t believe I have the right or insight to go in to what is happening in unionism but it looked like Elliot drove the party in to a full car park where young (even lower middle aged), confident,inter-mingling unionists would not want to park.

    A party has to adopt for the circumstances of the time and the time for the Ulster Unionist politics that served them for decades is past.

    Tonight, throughout NI, thousands of young unionists will be drinking, dancing and lord knows what else with their CNR friends old and new.

  • salgado

    “it looked like Elliot drove the party in to a full car park where young (even lower middle aged), confident,inter-mingling unionists would not want to park.”

    I think it was already at that stage, but Elliot certainly made even worse.

  • alex gray

    Has anyone seen the News Letter oiece that UUP is STILL in talks with the Tories ? Who knows about this ? Who is running this show ? Is it Mike Nesbitt ? Is it John McCallister ? By the way, McNarry position of closer ties to DUP is not a backward step for the UUP – at least the DUP can get elected. I know a lot of pensioners who will never vote Tory again – even though they have all their lives, after the last budget. So to ally with Tories here is another form of suicide. Older voters will tuen on UUP if they have a Tory link. UUP should author a book – 100 ways to kill yourself.

  • salgado

    alex – but what would be the point of voting UUP if you’re just going to get something DUP-ish? Surely you may as well vote DUP in that case and cut out the middle step.

  • andnowwhat


    To labour my point, the DUP have a 60 tonner parked diagonally across the car park and Allister has his mini-van parked across the entrance.

  • South Belfast Hack

    Compare the two quotes in this article and decide for yourself which candidate has substance and which one is a load of waffle.

  • sherdy

    If John wins and clears out the ‘old guard’, who will be left? Next AGM in a phone booth!

  • RyanAdams

    “To labour my point, the DUP have a 60 tonner parked diagonally across the car park and Allister has his mini-van parked across the entrance.”

    And row by row that car park is being sold to Alliance!

  • Progressive Unionist

    Don’t know why the powers-that-be in the UUP hierarchy are preventing a face-to-face debate between John and Mike – I think the UUP as a whole would greatly benefit from it.

    It would help generate public excitement and interest (which the SDLP failed to do with their leadership campaign)

    – and also, while there are very real policy differences (on opposition etc), there’s no personal animosity between the two, both are appealing candidates – and a head to head debate between the two of them wouldn’t come across as at all divisive – but could well turn out to be a very interesting exchange of ideas on the future of Northern Ireland.

    The BBC website said that both candidates said they want a face-to-face debate and it was just the party hierarchy stopping it from happening – they really need to reconsider.

    A leadership campaign offers a rare opportunity for a political party to reintroduce itself to the public – and the UUP needs to make the most of it.

    Bring on a face-to-face debate!

  • dwatch

    Progressive Unionist The two candidates are already traveling around northern Ireland meeting different UUP associations having face to face debates with UUP members ( Those who are intitled to vote). For instance next week they will be at the BELFRAY COUNTRY INN, GLENSHANE ROAD to meet members from the Co Londonderry associations.

  • Great news tonight for the SNP. Trimble is now ‘advising’ [and I use the word advisedly], Scotttish voters what to do in the referendum. This non deserving Nobel Prizewinner who used the Drumcree crisis to launch his leadership bid for the UUP in ’95. Salmond must be deeply amused at this turn of events.

  • Sherdy. There’s an article in today’s News Letter by Alex Kane about the events of this day in 1972 when Heath pulled the plug on 50 years of untrammelled power at Stormont. The paper in it’s ‘Morning View manages to get through the whole column with mentioning why they lost it.
    The ‘Tele, naturally not going near that. Too painful for them i expect.

  • dwatch
  • dwatch. UUP seem determined not to learn any lessons from Elliot fiasco. I advised road blocks on route from Fermanagh in an earlier post but…….

  • Drumlins Rock


    buses are better for the environment, i’m sure you know that. The idea of supporters bussed in is a bit OTT, there usually is at least one bus of members going up to the AGM, they are fully paid up long term members, the idea they be denied a vote just because they are from the west is offensive to say the least.

    I know for sure that not all will back Mike although I think it is likely to be a very small number who don’t, one or two like the opposition idea enough to back John.