Nesbitt’s task is to discover a real purpose for the UUP. But will they let him?

Even the scale of Mike Nesbitt’s victory surprised some of his supporters. Slugger understands they were already confident of a 60-40 margin, but 81-19 was a resounding victory. He should not have any of the problems of his predecessor. Indeed, the major theme his acceptance speech was that party loyalty is a two way affair.

He avoided the cock up of Alasdair McDonnell’s SDLP leadership, though in that regard Tom Elliott’s hasty exit meant there was no big media occasion to fluff. In two years he has convinced his party that he is the safe pair of hands and gone from unsuccessful Westminster bid, Assembly seat to party leader.

That’s a pretty meteoric rise.

The consensus in the press pack was that John McCallister had the better speech on paper but that for once the big occasion got to him and his deliver did not live up to the standard of the content. Maybe it was the knowledge that despite running by far the better public campaign, he simply did not have the votes in the hall.

Which brings us to the real nub of the problem for the party going forward. What does the election of Mike Nesbitt mean for the future of the party. And why, despite consistently better performances on tv, did the party choose Mike over John in such overwhelming numbers?

This matters beyond the anorak’s typical obsession with inconsequential detail for the sake of it. And the answer may not actually be to either’s liking.

One idea got its outing more than any other, ie the idea of taking the party into opposition. John McCallister got his answer lound and clear from the party membership: NO THANKS! We might consider the Ulster Unionist horses well and truly frightened.

Nesbitt, in fact was one of the early figures associated with the idea of going into Opposition. It is still popular amongst some of the rising members of the party, and the suggestion that it is now off the agenda for the foreseeable future, let’s just say, is not exactly appreciated.

Disappointingly for the political press, the UUP’s flirtation with political sedition and the idea that they might have something resembling local politics to report is over. Nesbitt wants to stay around for a while. The next election is not until the Euros in 2014, and then there’s a whole flurry of them.

None of his rivals will be in any position to challenge him before then. He has time and space to build. But the question still remains, what exactly will he build? His answer will have to be good, not least not just because Peter Robinson has just raised the bar for all Unionist leaders.

For now, he has achieved what few of his predecessors have managed, ie to get near unanimous support within the party. At some point he will have to move… And as the political historian Christopher Farringdon has pointed out, consolidation in the UUP is relatively easy affair. Just so long as you don’t actually threaten to do anything.

, ,

  • lamhdearg2

    I would like to hear from people, who voted U.U.P. in the last few elections, folk who would like to see the U.U.P. rise to challange the dup, members yes but also the man in the street.

  • Will be interesting to note the Officer team elected today and also if the current Chairman keeps his spot.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I don’t really see the thing as a “meteoric rise”. There are no big hitters left in the UUP assembly front bench. The only thing Nesbitt has going for him is that he is a household name and he can handle himself in front of a camera – to some extent.

    The Euro election may not be until 2014 but it’s going to be far from plain sailing. Nesbitt’s first big headache is the question of what exactly he is going to do if the DUP run a second candidate, a scenario Elliott and McNarry had been working to avoid. If Nesbitt chooses to antagonize Robinson and the DUP this will be difficult.

    I have a suspicion, though, it won’t be long before we see Nesbitt at a GAA match.

  • NeedNoAlibi

    What real advantage has Nesbitt in attending a GAA match soon. The report would simply emphasise the fact that Peter Robinson had already been to one before him.

  • IJP

    I think Comrade‘s point is more symbolic, but the point still stands. Going to a GAA match would be following the DUP, not leading it.

    The European Election presents a real headache – given Conservative involvement also – and the muddled thinking on display during the campaign does not bode well.

  • Comrade Stalin

    IJP, it would certainly look like following the DUP’s lead, but it’s worse to look like a troglodyte. In the last European elections nationalist transfers may become important for the third seat, depending on how the TUV do. So if Nesbitt does this (I think he will, and quite soon) it’ll be to kill off that particular angle of the charge that the UUP aren’t modernizing.

    Can’t see how the Conservatives are even going to be relevant by then, although top of Nesbitt’s list surely has to be to properly define what exactly the relationship between the two parties actually is. It’s not clear whether or not UCUNF has finally been dissolved, and Nesbitt’s comments on sorting out the party rather than its relationships with other parties demand an answer there. NICUP may well run a candidate but there’s no reason to believe they’ll do any better than they did in 1994.

  • Comrade Stalin

    ” In the last European elections ” – I mean, the next European elections.

  • NeedNoAlibi

    The only space I see for Nesbitt to go searching for new unionist voters, which is not occupied by the DUP is on moral issues. Is there an anti-homophobic or a right-to-die campaign that Nesbitt might tepidly endorse? Robinson couldn’t and wouldn’t go there. Nesbitt was given carte-blanche from his own membership today.

  • alex gray

    dissenter – Mike Nesbitt announced very publicly during his speech that he would not be asking David Campbell to serve again. Likely he will elevate newly elected vice chair Roy McCune to post. Fred Cobain and the two ladies standing were returned as party officers. Departure of Campbell is the end of the DUP project whch was a legacy project for Peter Robinson. It was a project that could have delivered two or three Westminster seats to the UUP and possibly 4 more MLA’s. The DUP will almost certainly run 2 candidates for Europe now. Within the UUP, I predict a scramble for Nicholson’s MEP seat. Probably Basil McCrea will want it though he will need to watch Jo-Anne Dobson, a farmer’s wife. Either way Nicholson will be binned by Nesbitt.

  • London_Irish

    Pardon my naivety, but has Jim Nicholson said he isn’t standing for Europe again? He would surely be the safe vote winner that the party need in order to secure the seat from a DUP onslaught, should he put his name forward for the nomination.

    On the point of the DUP running a second candidate, those of you who seem certain they will, would you kindly elaborate your reasoning? I would have thought that to do so might be bad for internal morale and could get quite decisive as the numbers would suggest that they’d only get one elected (the numbers from 2009, that is).

    Either way, I cant see the TUV repeating their performance last time round – Jim made quite a big deal about double jobbing so he can’t stand, and the party really does seem to be a one man band, a la Bob McCartney and UKUP.

    However, is there room to argue that should the DUP run two, UUP and TUV are all there, then without extremely disciplined vote transferring, the SDLP might squeeze through the middle?

  • andnowwhat

    Nesbitt’s task, should he choose to accept it, is to self destruct (the party) by the next election.

    Dum dum..da, da, da… dum, dum, dum

  • NeedNoAlibi

    Tom Elliott has the profile of a Euro MP.

  • Drumlins Rock

    few things-
    from thursdays Tele “Mike Nesbitt, the other candidate to replace Mr Elliott, has also attended GAA matches and, in his former role in public relations, organised publicity for the Belfast Gay Pride march” so what is the issue?

    as for the Euros, http://www.niconservatives.com/person/jim-nicholson-mep

    NICUP and the UUP have a joint representative atm. if he re-stands will they de-select him and stand another candidate? and there-by likely to loose there one and only electoral success and a party seat in Brussles.

    Alex, I don’t think he can elevate Roy McCune to chairman, as the vice chair is a directly elected role in itself. I was impressed that Mike was up-front with the decision to replace the Chaitman, it shall be interesting who he chooses.

  • RyanAdams

    The only reason I can think of the DUP standing two candidates for the Euros is so that the master strategist that is PR can depose the Banbridge Banshee in such a way Deputy Doddsy doesn’t blow a switchboard out never mind a fuse.

    “However, is there room to argue that should the DUP run two, UUP and TUV are all there, then without extremely disciplined vote transferring, the SDLP might squeeze through the middle?”

    Would very much doubt that. Squeezing through the middle and ‘putting one over on themmuns’ was the bloody cornerstone of their last Euro election campaign, and even that didn’t drag the SDLP vote up anywhere near the level where they needed to be to actually have a chance. 90% of the eliminated TUV votes made it back to the unionist fold last time, Its unlikely not to happen in 2014, if the TUV even bother with it that is.

  • Comrade Stalin

    alex,

    It was a project that could have delivered two or three Westminster seats to the UUP and possibly 4 more MLA’s.

    That sounds utterly delusional to me. The DUP would simply grant 2-3 Westminster seats to the UUP with nothing in return ?

    Why on earth should the DUP grant seats to the UUP when the electorate won’t ? This harks back to UUPers having an overinflated sense of their own importance.

    London_Irish:

    Pardon my naivety, but has Jim Nicholson said he isn’t standing for Europe again?

    He may have, but then again Cecil Walker said he wouldn’t stand again and yet they wheeled him out to embarrass himself in 2001.

    On the point of the DUP running a second candidate, those of you who seem certain they will, would you kindly elaborate your reasoning?

    The UUP has been haemorrhaging votes and there is now an opportunity for the DUP to take another seat. That’s what political parties are supposed to do – win seats.

    I would have thought that to do so might be bad for internal morale and could get quite decisive as the numbers would suggest that they’d only get one elected (the numbers from 2009, that is).

    Look at the numbers in 2010 and 2011, and consider how over the intervening period the DUP are slowly, very slowly, becoming more transfer friendly for nationalists. Martin McGuinness talking about how well he gets on with Peter and how much good work they do together will have some kind of impact. Increasingly, SF and the DUP need each other.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Ryan, the more I see of STV the more I realise splitting the vote does little harm, if the transfer message is clear, only when there is confusion or doubt does it fail to deliver. But normally the vote is divided geographically if there are two candidates, not sure if Mrs Dodd’s would like that!

  • pauluk

    Comrade: …‘the DUP are slowly, very slowly, becoming more transfer friendly for nationalists. …Increasingly, SF and the DUP need each other.’

    Talk about being delusional. A Shinner will never vote DUP, and vice versa!

  • Mick Fealty

    Robinson’s leadership is *slowly* redefining Unionist politics, viz a viz community relations. Ironically, whilst this means to a large extent this is not really a territory that the UUP can compete on, it does give them licence to begin opening up new territory and start competing for cross community votes.

  • emanonon

    It is entirely possible that his first problem will be the loss of up to 3 MLA’s. Will McNarry stay, will McCrae stay, will even McCallister stay. Nesbitt wants to silence everyone will those 3 be silenced? I think they will not, so where do they go, DUP for McNarry? Independence for the other 2 or maybe Alliance or Tories.

    If they all become independents along with Allister they will be a strong voice of opposition and a real problem for Nesbitt if they prove he was wrong to oppose opposition. Will be interesting to follow from without.

  • Mick Fealty

    Is that likely?

  • Drumlins Rock

    no.

  • There is zero chance of two Nationalists winning in the next European elections. Last time round Alban Maginness was more than 18,000 votes adrift of Diane Dodds, and taking the undistributed surpluses into account the real difference was probably 24,000 (Nicholson ended with a 11,000 surplus, de Brún with 5,000) and the 7,500 non-transferables from Allister are probably a high-water mark for hardline plumpers. The total Nationalist vote is consistently 5-10% behind the total Unionist vote, and Unionists are better at internal transfers; there is absolutely no reason to expect 2014 to be any different.

    There is also zero chance of Nationalist transfers deciding which Unionist candidates get elected. This would require the total Nationalist vote (impossibly) to fall below 37.5%. At every election since SF came into the system, the trailing Nationalist party has survived to the last count without being eliminated.

    Even in the (impossible) Nationalist meltdown scenario, while pauluk is wrong to say that no Shinner will ever vote DUP or vice versa, the numbers that do are likely to be too few to make the difference. The one occasion when something like this happened at a European election was in 1979, when Bernadette McAliskey was eliminated, and 81% of her votes did not transfer, failing to help Oliver Napier close the gap with Jim Kilfedder (let alone with Harry West or John Taylor).

    If I were the DUP I would run two candidates in the hope of squeezing out the UUP. Jim Nicholson will be 69 by the time of the 2014 election and will have served five terms, so I would not count on his running again, and it’s difficult to see who the replacement would be (but then again few of us predicted either Allister or Dodds as a DUP candidate for Europe). The DUP have comfortably outpolled the UUP in every election in the last ten years except the last Euro-election. In both Assembly elections they got more than twice the UUP total.

    But I am not the DUP, and I think they will run only one candidate. The fact that the one election where the UUP finished ahead of them (after transfers) was the last European election will certainly play into their preparations for the next one. Also the DUP have shown a commendable caution about over-nominating in recent years, even where their candidate might have had a good chance on the numbers. My impression is that internal discipline is strong enough that running two candidates would not be a big issue, but the party’s political aims are served more effectively by winning one seat safely than by scraping (or worse possibly failing) to win a second.

  • iluvni

    Talking of Mrs Dodds MEP, why has the link detailing her quarterly expenses been removed from her website?
    I thought the DUP were all for transparency.
    http://www.dianedodds.co.uk/

  • Comrade Stalin

    Talk about being delusional. A Shinner will never vote DUP, and vice versa!

    pauluk, I did not say that Shinners would vote DUP.

    But increasingly, it stands to reason that nationalists are likely to transfer to the DUP ahead of the UUP. As time goes on the coalition in Stormont seems more and more natural.

    As a not-unionist I don’t vote DUP #1 but I transfer to them ahead of the UUP on the basis that the DUP are competent ministers, I get consistently good representation from my local MP and MLAs, and because (perhaps most importantly) I want to support people who are taking real risks to sell the deal to their own supporters. I don’t see why at least some nationalists would not make the same connection.

    When I made my guess about nationalist transfers I was looking at the simple numbers, I failed to take into account what Nick pointed out, which is that the nationalist candidate is not likely to be eliminated before the three other candidates are elected and hence transfers out of the nationalist camp will not count. It would be foolish to try to claim that any number of SF supporters are likely to transfer to the DUP ahead of the SDLP.

    During McNarrygate a few weeks ago there was talk of how the UUP had secured a “concession” that the DUP would not run two candidates. At the time I thought it was an easy concession for the DUP to make since they would probably not badly want to run two candidates anyway, and that in any case they would have trouble finding someone willing to run (noting how when Paisley stepped down they had to recruit outside of the party). I could see the DUP running two candidates to spite Nesbitt, especially if they calculate that there’s no way they can lose.

  • Will the DUP put two candidates up for Europe. Given the split last time (and given that Euro votes are unlike others) would they risk having two candidates polling below Jim Allister or anyone the UUP puts up, on the first count? And then perhaps not transferring quick enough? If not Nicholson it would be the first time he has backed the wrong horse.

    Have heard of McCune being mentioned as a Nesbitt favourite being backed for VC – hardly a surprised with win on coat-tails.

  • Framer

    Mike Nesbitt has set himself the target of Westminster seats and three are within his grasp on a good day with big-hitter candidates – Upper Bann (Danny Kennedy), Strangford (Nesbitt himself) and South Antrim (?) – all constituencies where the DUP MP has not achieved much nor has broad appeal.
    His strongest card is that his discreetly sturdy unionism, good presentation and modern outlook will appeal to those thousands of voters who rarely turn out.
    Policies are irrelevant. He just has to convince electors that he can cope with issues as they arise.

  • London_Irish

    Framer,

    It will be interesting to see the DUP reaction come election time to the UUP tanks on their lawn. It won’t matter in Strangford or South Antrim – the two of them can slug it out all day long, but in Upper Bann, it should be remembered that the party numbers last May were:

    SF 11,528
    DUP 11,499
    UUP 10,426
    SDLP 4,846

    Numbers from a PR election aren’t always great indicators because people are less tactical, but if Nesbitt is out to make a point and keep those 10,400 votes in his camp, Sinn Féin will be rubbing their hands with glee!

  • Comrade Stalin

    Framer,

    Mike Nesbitt has set himself the target of Westminster seats and three are within his grasp on a good day with big-hitter candidates – Upper Bann (Danny Kennedy), Strangford (Nesbitt himself) and South Antrim (?) – all constituencies where the DUP MP has not achieved much nor has broad appeal.

    I think the first thing Nesbitt needs to do is sort out the crack habit of certain UUP supporters.

    His strongest card is that his discreetly sturdy unionism, good presentation and modern outlook will appeal to those thousands of voters who rarely turn out.

    So you’re pinning this victory against the DUP on badly-defined concepts such as “outlook” and presentation.

    Policies are irrelevant.

    Oh dear.

    LondonIrish:

    It will be interesting to see the DUP reaction come election time to the UUP tanks on their lawn.

    The UUP don’t have any tanks. They’ve elected a leader who hasn’t even seen out a full term as an elected representative which shows that their talent pool has run dry. They couldn’t beat the DUP when they were at their weakest – during the two Robinson scandals. How are they going to beat the DUP when they are at their strongest ?

    Numbers from a PR election aren’t always great indicators because people are less tactical, but if Nesbitt is out to make a point and keep those 10,400 votes in his camp, Sinn Féin will be rubbing their hands with glee!

    It’s nothing to do with the PR election numbers, it’s the fact that the UUP don’t have a candidate. Danny Kennedy didn’t want to run last time, why would he run in 2015 ?

  • The Shinners got 27.2% in Upper Bann in 2011. I can think of one case of someone winning a Westminster seat with a similar vote share – Johnny McQuade for the DUP in North Belfast in 1979, with 27.6%. But it takes a rare alignment of the stars for that to happen, and I will note that SF have been consistently underperforming their own predictions in Upper Bann for many years.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Nic, losing Aghagallon & gaining Tandragee, if they go through, will also leave it further out of their reach. The turnout differentials could also be interesting.

  • London_Irish

    Comrade,

    The UUP don’t have a candidate at the moment, but we are some 3 years off of the election so I’m not sure that is particularly important right now. I agree with you re Danny Kennedy – personally I think its a joke that you can be an MLA for one constituency and canvass to be MP in another (then again Singing Willie did it, and I’d be interested to know how Sinn Féin spun moving the draft dodger to South Antrim from Foyle, if anyone can recall?).

    My references to ‘tanks on their lawn’ was in relation to the three arguably winnable (or at worst, ‘target’) seats identified by Framer, should Mr Nesbitt choose to throw the UUP kitchen sink at them. My point remains that only in one of those constituencies can the DUP resort (if needs be, but I accept that it is unlikely) to ‘vote for us’uns to keep them’uns out’.

    Nicholas,

    I agree with you about Sinn Féin underperforming in Upper Bann – they were annoyed not to return 2 MLAs in ’07, let alone ’11. When you talk about getting elected on a similar vote share to SF’s 27.2% in 2011, how big is the margin that you’re allowing there? Alasdair McDonnell was elected in ’05 with 32.3% due to a split bloc vote, and similarly so was Willie Thompson for the UUP in ’97 (albeit on a higher % of the vote).

  • London_Irish

    On another note, any danger of Nesbitt chamring Sylvia Hermon back into the UUP fold? Instant boost in elected representatives if he can! Will have done more for the party than Tom Elliott over night…

  • IJP

    The point about Upper Bann is that, again, the DUP will pin its campaign on “Vote DUP to make sure SF doesn’t win”.

    The UUP has no answer to that. That’s genuinely unfortunate from its point of view, because a fair competition between, say, Simpson and Dobson would be close.

  • iluvni

    aaah, Lady Hermon…I see she is up to a stunning 26.7% voting record now in the Commons.

    http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/mp.php?mpn=Lady_Hermon&mpc=North_Down&house=commons

  • London_Irish

    iluvni,

    And what proportion of votes in the House of Commons effect the North these days? If she was on a 95% vote record we’d be here debating the North Down Question – which is very similar to the West Lothian Question 😉

  • NeedNoAlibi

    The circumstances of Mike Nesbitt joining the UUP in the first instance are very reavealing. He became a member in order to be their candidate in Strangford for the Westminster election. And the context of that was Iris Robinson’s dramatic fall out of favour (to say the least). I well remember Nolan speaking to Nesbitt after the announcement of his candidacy. It was clear that this was an opportunistic tactic on the part of the UUP/Nesbitt to capitailise on the weakness of others. Almost Robisonesque you could say but without any substance to build on.

  • Comrade Stalin

    London_Irish:

    The UUP don’t have a candidate at the moment, but we are some 3 years off of the election so I’m not sure that is particularly important right now.

    That’s the kind of thinking that leads to electoral failure. A candidate needs to be built up. Take a look down the list of the DUP MPs who were elected within the past 10-15 years. Most of them fought and lost several times before they were victorious, particularly folks like Sammy Wilson and David Simpson. You can’t just drop someone in at the last minute.

    I agree with you re Danny Kennedy – personally I think its a joke that you can be an MLA for one constituency and canvass to be MP in another

    Danny would be a good candidate but I don’t think he really wants the job. I think he likes being a Minister, and all that talk of double jobbing would mean that he’d have to resign if he won.

    My references to ‘tanks on their lawn’ was in relation to the three arguably winnable (or at worst, ‘target’) seats identified by Framer

    Framer is a person who thinks that elections are won and lost around here on presentation. I mean, basically the plan here seems to be that the candidates (those who are still in the UUP) who didn’t win Westminster elections last time will go back to the doorsteps and say, well, now you can vote for me because we’ve elected Nesbitt as the leader. It’s not going to work.

    should Mr Nesbitt choose to throw the UUP kitchen sink at them.

    Parties are there to win elections, so when they identify a seat they think is winnable it is an automatic decision to throw the kitchen sink. Alliance did so in East Belfast in 2010 for example.

    Trouble is, the UUP don’t have a kitchen sink, they have more of a small pantry with a rusty water tap in the corner. That was part of the plan with UCUNF – they’d acquire all the infrastructure to fight elections. Turns out that without even the considerable financial and PR resources of the Conservative Party in their favour, they still couldn’t win elections. They don’t have membership or volunteers to put on the ground.

    The UUP don’t know the first thing about how to win elections, as they keep demonstrating. And now they have elected a leader who has only ever fought one. Peter Robinson, on the other hand, has been running elections for 30 years and the DUP electoral machine is a formidable force.

    As for Lady Hermon – she’s doing just fine being her own boss. Why should she come in and submit to Nesbitt ? What could he provide in return ?

    The sooner you boys calm down with the silly pipe dreams and start focussing on what is actually needed to win elections, the sooner you might start actually winning them. Thankfully for most of us, though, that isn’t especially likely.

  • andnowwhat

    Nesbitt should tackle the big social issues.

    I think absent fathers would be a great place to start. Terrible that

  • IJP

    Comrade

    100% spot on.

    There seems to be an assumption that there are 300,000 default Ulster Unionist voters out there who have just gone AWOL briefly.

    andnowwhat

    Quite seriously, the issue of absent fathers and children growing up without a male role model is up there with educational underachievement and the culture of worklessness as the single most serious issue in our marginalised communities.

  • Framer

    Naomi won East Belfast because Robbo lost. Obviously she caught something of the mood, which she partially created but Oliver Napier nearly won the seat in 1979 without a financial scandal.
    The DUP machine is not that brilliant especially as they have fewer and fewer members on the ground. And their MPs are not all long time constituency grafters. Sammy Wilson was parachuted into East Antrim while William McCrea has wandered round at least three seats.
    True the UUP doesn’t do electoral work well but that doesn’t mean you don’t win by creating the right mood; and a rising tide raises all your ships.
    Naomi should get re-elected but it won’t be on her achievements at Westminster where she has chosen to be a member of the Ulster Party.(Gurning tendency).

  • Comrade Stalin

    Naomi won East Belfast because Robbo lost. Obviously she caught something of the mood, which she partially created but Oliver Napier nearly won the seat in 1979 without a financial scandal.

    The seat didn’t just happen by accident (which is how you seem to think elections are won), a lot of hard work went into it. Of course, it is true to say that the controversy around Robinson changed a safe DUP seat into a risky seat. But that Naomi didn’t just walk in there.

    The DUP machine is not that brilliant especially as they have fewer and fewer members on the ground.

    Keep dreaming your pipe dreams. For the rest of us, observation shows that the DUP keep winning elections and increasing their majority. Like I said, 2010 should have seen the DUP beaten decisively, racked as they were by scandal. Instead the UUP found itself without a single seat.

    And their MPs are not all long time constituency grafters. Sammy Wilson was parachuted into East Antrim

    Why do you think he topped the poll by a massive margin then ?

    while William McCrea has wandered round at least three seats.

    It didn’t do him any harm against the parachuted UCUNF candidate.

    True the UUP doesn’t do electoral work well but that doesn’t mean you don’t win by creating the right mood; and a rising tide raises all your ships.

    What rising tide ?

  • andnowwhat

    IJP

    You may have missed the point of my absent fathers/Nesbitt remark. It seems to have escaped the notice of the normally conservative people who voted for Nesbitt.

    I’m a very liberal minded bloke (pretty much a leftie, in fact) but not when it comes to family responsibility.

  • alan56

    Nesbitt certainly has to answer the charge of being ‘policy lite’ as that is what the focus is on. His leadership is only just over 1 day old so its a bit early to make judgement. Much will depend on the developments in the next few weeks.

  • andnowwhat

    Mikes offer to liove like common people, to do whatever common people do, has gone down badly in the twittersphere.

    David Vance had the best lines.

    But then again Mike;

    You’ll never live like common people,
    you’ll never do what common people do,
    you’ll never fail like common people,
    you’ll never watch your life slide out of view,
    and dance and drink and screw,
    because there’s nothing else to do.

  • FuturePhysicist

    A lot of what’s been throwing at Mike could be thrown at the PfC ideals that sponsor this blog. As Eammon McCann put it …

    “When it comes to turning ideals into material reality, too many in Platform for Change are to be found on the wrong side of the barricades.

    They are guilty of the age-old Irish sin – the expectation of salvation without adopting the necessary means to attain it.

    It’s a class thing.”

    Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/columnists/eamon-mccann/time-to-get-off-the-platform-and-agitate-for-real-change-14993129.html#ixzz1qp66KkhN

  • alan56

    You know not many MLAs or MPs really live like the common people… except of course SF who just take a ‘working wage’.

  • magherafelt red

    I cant help but think that Nesbitt will not be able to change the fortunes of the UUP. I have heard that he has promised a number of people posts for their support and these might be Joanne Dobson(deputy leader) and Danny Kinahan(chief whip). Nesbitt will get rid of Campbell and after a short period remove Danny Kennedy and replace him with himself. The only person I am not sure were they will go is Sandra Overend who has caused Arlene Foster many sleepless nights since she became UUP Economy spokesperson!!! After reading the Mid Ulster Mail this week Sandra has shown us all how to save money. I will not be surprised if Nesbitt has a cull amongst the old guard including Jim Nicholson.

  • IJP

    andnowwhat

    Didn’t miss the point at all, trust me…

  • andnowwhat

    Mike just said that Galloway’s victory is a sign that people are turned off “career politicians”.

    George Galloway, he was talking about.

  • Framer

    Stalin you said : “Most of them [DUP] fought and lost several times before they were victorious, particularly folks like Sammy Wilson and David Simpson. You can’t just drop someone in at the last minute.”
    And I pointed out Wilson and McCrea were parachuted in and won. You can’t answer criticism nor do you deal with the comment on Naomi at Westminster where she chose to isolate herself in the Ulster Party.
    The result is little or no influence, just windbagging – like Alasdair McDonnell.
    The LibDems are in government for the first time ever and she ran from participation because being in government is not always popular or career enhancing.
    Anyway where has east Belfast benefited since 2010?

  • Barry the Blender

    Parachuting or switching seats only ever appears to be important when discussing someone who we dislike regardless.

    For example:

    Comerade Stalin hates the UUP: Reg’s South Antrim Candidacy was disgraceful.

    Framer doesn’t like DUP: Sammy Wilson’s move to East Antrim was disgraceful.

    Hope this clears things up.

  • IJP

    Framer

    Naomi had no mandate to enter the governing coalition.

    Trevor Ringland would have had.

    Of course, I supported Trevor Ringland on that one, since I too wanted rid of Gordon Brown above all else in that particular election. But the electorate had the choice and decided what it decided – that’s democracy.

    Having attained that mandate, Naomi has proved a superb MP, maintaining her reputation for wide-ranging constituency work while also appearing regularly at Westminster on issues ranging from animal welfare to international development.

    The nature of non-English MPs is difficult post-devolution, but Naomi’s work has been exemplary.

    I’ll put on record now that I fully expect her to be returned in 2015.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Just a little foot note, David Simpson DUP MP for Upper Bann actually lives in Fermanagh South Tyrone.

  • Framer

    IJP – Clegg wasn’t mandated to join a coalition but did, the only chance Naomi Long or any Ulster MP at Westminster will have for years to get close to decision making,
    As to her parliamentary activity this year to date (first quarter) she has asked 15 written questions, none of them particularly probing, and intervened about the same number of times orally. Probably above average for MPs in general but only a handful were substantive like her budget speech, the debate she initiated on Turquoise Resort (UK Property Owners) – presumably at the behest of a constituent – and over Pat Finucane where she heroically called for “a comprehensive process” to address the issue.
    I don’t howver doubt she will get re-elected. Voters like to give a winning MP a second term to see if they can achieve.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Barry :

    Comerade Stalin hates the UUP: Reg’s South Antrim Candidacy was disgraceful.

    Framer doesn’t like DUP: Sammy Wilson’s move to East Antrim was disgraceful.

    Bit of a misrepresentation there. I am not the one complaining about “parachuting”. I pointed out that the NI electorate do not have a problem with it. In the same way that they don’t have a problem with double jobbing.

    But if people are going to complain about parachuting then they should at least be consistent.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Stalin you said : “Most of them [DUP] fought and lost several times before they were victorious, particularly folks like Sammy Wilson and David Simpson. You can’t just drop someone in at the last minute.”And I pointed out Wilson and McCrea were parachuted in and won. You can’t answer criticism

    They weren’t “parachuted in at the last minute”. Sammy Wilson in particular spent some time focussing on E Antrim.

    nor do you deal with the comment on Naomi at Westminster where she chose to isolate herself in the Ulster Party.

    I don’t have an especially good reason to deal with a question I have dealt with at length here over the two years – count ’em – that this decision was taken. You need to get past it.

    To the point .. Naomi did the right thing, and I think most people will agree. The Conservative/Lib Dem coalition has no mandate in Northern Ireland, as IJP said.

    The people who went to the polls with the argument you just tried to use lost. They didn’t win a single seat. It follows that the electorate aren’t convinced by your ideas of how the government in Westminster might be influenced.

    The result is little or no influence

    Collectively, our NI MPs have won a number of concessions, APD is a recent example, in concert with representations from the NI Assembly and Executive.

    I don’t accept your narrative that taking the government whip delivers unique benefits. Indeed there is something mildly corrupt about that. NI MPs sit on the Northern Ireland Select Committee which holds the Secretary of State to account, and the government is duty-bound to listen to regional MPs when it is taking decisions.

    just windbagging – like Alasdair McDonnell.

    I’m glad you mentioned Alastair as it brings me to a salient point. You’re the guy arguing that taking the Government whip creates influence. Can you explain some scenarios where the SDLP’s Labour whip granted them concessions or benefits they might otherwise not have had, during the 13 years of Labour government ?

    The LibDems are in government for the first time ever and she ran from participation because being in government is not always popular or career enhancing.

    No, it’s because there’s no evidence that taking any such whip can deliver benefits to constituents.

    Anyway where has east Belfast benefited since 2010?

    Loads. Have you seen the development down at Titanic Quarter lately ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    DR,

    Nigel Dodds lives in Banbridge, or did the last time I checked. Sammy Wilson moved to Larne shortly after he won his seat.

    I don’t know if Paisley lives in North Antrim, his father certainly didn’t. Robinson lives bang on the border between E Belfast and Strangford if I recall correctly.

    NI voters don’t care about parachuting (and indeed parachuting is very common elsewhere in the UK). It looks bad as part of the overall profile of a bad candidate, but if the voters like whoever it is they won’t care what his/her postcode is.

  • IJP

    Framer

    No, Naomi specifically said she would not enter a governing coalition before she was elected.

    The people who elected her knew that.

    To have entered the coalition would have been “running away” from what she said she would do beforehand.

    The LibDems, on the other hand, did not (and could not) expressly say they would not enter a coalition. On the contrary, the clear inference from their argument was that they wanted as big a mandate as possible to hold the balance of power (i.e. enter government).

    I happened to share your view – and not Comrade’s – that we would be better participating as close to in line with the UK as we can. But the electorate didn’t take that view. Your party and I, separately, both accepted that and moved on – essentially back to where we came from!

    East Belfast is pretty good of course. In fact, it’s so good, your esteemed party leader lives there even though he represents Strangford!

  • Comrade Stalin

    I don’t mind the idea of participating more closely with the UK, not my cup of tea but not objectionable.

    I do have a problem with the notion that in order to influence the government you have to take a government whip. The logical outworking of this idea is that today, the UK government doesn’t account for Scotland, most of Wales, NI, and most of the northern parts of England. That isn’t the case and the UK wouldn’t have much of a shelf life if it was.

  • Framer

    Cde. St. says “I do have a problem with the notion that in order to influence the government you have to take a government whip,” but that’s looking at it the wrong way round.
    You can have influence if you do take the whip i.e. be fully involved in the relevant party, not like the SDLP which is nominally Labour but used that fact to exclusively retain the Labour franchise here.
    If you play your cards well, you can then have significant influence on NATIONAL matters that affect your constituency, and even your country as a whole. Not yet a crime.

  • IJP

    With the decline of “mainstream” parties even in England, in fact it will become more common for MPs to have a marked influence on government policy without taking the whip.

    This may well be a healthy thing for politics.

  • Drumlins Rock

    not if they are like George Galloway.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Framer:

    You can have influence if you do take the whip i.e. be fully involved in the relevant party, not like the SDLP which is nominally Labour but used that fact to exclusively retain the Labour franchise here.

    Ah, now you’re moving the goalposts. So it’s not simply a matter of taking the whip, it’s a matter of being “fully involved”. I don’t see how you can do that unless you campaign specifically with that on your manifesto. I remind you once again that the party that campaigned for this LOST.

    If you play your cards well, you can then have significant influence on NATIONAL matters that affect your constituency, and even your country as a whole. Not yet a crime.

    Like what ? Give me an example.

    Your line of argument doesn’t stand up. You seem to be suggesting that the government acts not on the national interest but in favour of constituency issues raised by its own MPs to the detriment of opposition MPs. This is demonstrably untrue; I can think of specific examples where the government acted against the local interests of one of its own MPs. I can also show examples where the government has listened to our own MPs – aviation taxes and corporation tax for example – without their taking the government whip. Which is only proper.

    You might find governments parking a decision that could cause it to lose seats (something like the Heathrow runway decision for example) but to use this kind of justification for taking the government whip sounds to me a bit like an invitation to bring Jackie Healey Rae-style politics into Westminster, something I think we do quite well without.