Nesbitt Landslide: a missed opportunity?

With Mike Nesbitt gaining an overwhelming backing from the UUP membership any immediate notions of the party going into Opposition have been put on ice; with the earlist such an eventuality materialising having to wait until the next Assembly elections. However has the party, by snubbing McCallister, missed out on a decisive opportunity to reinvigorate not only the party but also start the move towards the normalisation of NI politics?

  • OneNI

    OMG I have just watched that clip of Nesbitt saying that he must come down from his Campbell, Cambridge, TV live of culture and plenty and live (only for 24 hours mind) with the common and the poor!
    What can I say!

  • andnowwhat

    Is it right to say he got the backing of the overwhelming majority of the membership or just those who voted?

    I heard on the BBC that the numbers for the hustings were abysmal

  • Drumlins Rock

    Brian, the members, elected, senior, rank and file, looked at it, and rejected it, as have the SDLP, you can’t just make up an opposition, its a proper role that has to be worked out and legislated for.
    It would have grabbed the headlines on Monday, during an assembly recess btw. then what? the focus would switch to the other parties fighting over the now vacant DRD seat, with the UUP observing from the sidelines, and being told to shut up as they chose to walk away. It would not have worked, the party was invigorated as I have seen it on Saturday, and I see nothing normal about giving your opponents an even firmer grip on power.

  • andnowwhat

    Oh yeah. Did I not hear Mike say, earlier on the BBC radio, that he wanted a seat on the assembly?

    As was pointed out to him in the interview, he has enough on his hands to contend with.

  • This party seems to have an unerring capacity to pick the wrong one out of just two people. David Ford will be licking his lips in expectation.

  • NeedNoAlibi

    Could you imagine DUP/Sinn Fein/Fianna Fail/Conservatives etc electing(appointing?) a leader who was only a party member for two years and previously was a media personality without any experience in politics?

  • The Raven

    Could you imagine DUP/Sinn Fein/Fianna Fail/Conservatives etc electing(appointing?) a leader who was only a party member for two years and previously was a media personality without any experience in politics?

    No. But one of those parties has a leader who actions from the past seem to have been summarily dismissed from the public psyche. I don’t think it really matters what Mike’s experience is.

  • NeedNoAlibi

    Indeed Raven, my question was in no way an endorsement of the morality of the party leaders but an observation on how successful political parties conduct their business.

  • Comrade Stalin

    It’s the DUP who are licking their lips. The ink is barely dry on Nesbitt’s appointment and he’s already talking about obtaining his policy inspiration from a Channel 4 reality TV show, which segues nicely with his comment a few years back about how everyone should be able to go to Campbell. You literally could not make this up.

    Practically in the same breath he revealed his plans to sack Danny Alexander in the near future and appoint himself as Minister.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Alibi, give me someone who has lived in the real world for most of their lives anyday, yes another couple of years under his belt would have been great, Mike still has alot to learn, but has been learning fast. The incessant desire of many in the media to find fault and then destroy is ruining peoples faith in democracy, it is getting quite alarming.

    Mike was a political journalist, quite relevant experience, he owned and managed a small business, relevant too, he was a public servant and knows how inefficent much of government is from that side, and he was even a binman, useful for dealing with rubbish produced on the likes of here. He was a student at Cambridge and Queens, yes he prob got a better education because the family was better off, but it was no silver spoon job.

    Maybe we should look at the qualifications of the DUP & SF leadership? oh sorry I forgot that all is forgotten. I don’t like career politicians to be honest, with both the DUP & SF stuffed with them now its getting more and more like Attack of The Clones up on The Hill, but if you want a bit of colour and reality in politics you really need to give a little bit of slack at times.

  • NeedNoAlibi

    Speaking of Danny KENNEDY will he still attend pre-executive meetings with the other Unionist ministers?

  • NeedNoAlibi

    I take your point about the benefit of politicians having experience in the “real world”, although Mike just admitted on BBC1 he wants to be adopted by disadvantaged family for 24 hours in order to experience that “real world”, but I’d be very suspicious of someone who had a rather belated interest in real politics. Especially when their entry into politics was in order to be a candidate in an election.

  • radex

    The election was confined to members who could afford to waste a day at the Ramada Inn. It appears that the usual busloads were brought in from Fermanagh, again. Less than half the members voted because of the Party’s refusal to allow a postal ballot. The majority were disfranchised, again.

  • Neednoalibi. You’ve cut to the chase there. Only elected for a matter of hours and in spite of being in the ‘real world’ up until he joined the UUP, he feels he needs a taste of reality. Nesbitt needs an alibi himself already after that SP interview.

  • BluesJazz

    ardmajel, maybe Mike can accompany George Osborne on a tour here. Maybe visit the SDLP’s Joe Boyle in Portaferry (mike’s strangford constituency) for a view on pasties, and hot food in general.
    Then to Campbell College*tickbox* and on to witness the sandpit assembly in inaction, pretending they have any real power over the (large amount of) money he gives them.
    They might want to discuss Mike’s opinion that we become a net contributor to the treasury before movng on to prescripton charges, free travel at 60 , no water rates etc

  • Drumlins Rock

    radex, HE GOT 81 BLOOMIN PERCENT !!!!

    and why should Fermanagh not bus up its members? are they second class citizens? they are as entitled to a vote as anyone else. Postal votes have advantages, but it kills the debate on the day, is open to some abuse, and more complicated/expensive. Maybe we should do caucuses!

    ard, i’m not sure about the estate idea, I think he needs a few good advisors to bounce thes ideas off before telling the media, but the intent was genuine.

  • Bluesjazz. I watched Nesbitt die a thousand deaths politically already on Sunday Politics only hours in the job, where Liam Clarke was summarily dismissive of him to his face. I see he’s repeating the same mistake as O’Neill 45 years on in calling on catholics to give up nationalism and become closet unionists then he’ll listen to them. As for Stormont, well the best thing for them to do is move to the new titanic colossus and let the white elephant on the hill be handed to the Japs as it was supposed to before paisley’s fit of the head staggers back in ’07.

  • DR. Yes, I believe the intent was genuine from Nesbitt but that in itself should be worrying for UUP, the fact he’s flying this kite now sans advice. Not a good start. BTW, We seem to have shared other forums by the look of it.

  • The number of people actually voting would have been more if it had been a close contest. It wasnt close….81% is an overwhelming endorsemment and from the UUP perspective …..that kind of endorsement (81-19) is much better than 55-45.
    Nesbitt has a mandate.
    The first nonOrange Leader. Traditionalists obviously either voted for him or were not enthused. But seemingly ok with his election.
    The loudest advocates for John McCallister were people not in (or no longer in) the UUP………and members of political parties should not choose a Laeder based on the preferences of its enemies.

    I still think Nesbitt is lightweight. I thought the same as a news anchor. But his steady advancement from sports reporter to news anchor to Victims Commissioner to MLA and Leader of UUP (within a year of election) indicate a man who is a bit “lucky”………and probably one thing the UUP actually need is a bit of luck.

    The living for a day as a poor person is frankly a gimmick. But Mike Video Diary could just work as a means of re-inventing himself. It worked for Michael Portillo (but he spent a week in Liverpool).
    Nesbitt spending a day in Ballysally in Coleraine….or outreaching to Catholics in Poleglas will hardly have the same effect. But it would at least be newsworthy.

    It is surprising however that he seemingly paid little attention to his colleagues reports (often on poverty in Norn Iron) and surprising that while campaigning in 2010 or 2011, he never met poor people.
    And surprising none have visited his constituency office. My understanding is that most MLAs of all parties have heard harrowing tales which have moved them all.

    But perhaps Mike Nesbitt would be more credible if he had found out what it was like to be poor BEFORE he voted for welfare cuts a few weeks ago.

  • BluesJazz

    Nesbitt , media savvy ,apparently, is not of the calibre of Captain O’ Neill, who does sound a bit patronising nowadays, but that was then. He was genuinely trying to reform.
    Westminster governs all our main concerns (in NI, Dublin has an advisory role).
    I agree Stormont (and lots of so called recent tourist attractions) are white elephants. A visit to Downpatrick’s ‘|St Patrick’s Centre’ is proof of that.

  • BluesJazz

    Maybe our *real* First minister , Owen Paterson should live a week in Poleglass, Rathcoole or wherever.
    He spent last summer in Mongolia, maybe this would be a bigger eyeopener.
    Do they have horses in Rathcoole?

  • IJP


    You have that completely the wrong way around.

    Elsewhere, UUP members have essentially asked the same question: he’s their leader, so why should they listen to anyone else.

    Here’s why: because it is people outside the party who need to start voting for it for it to survive; thus people outside the party who will determine its future.

    The fact it refuses to listen to those people (the ones who, you suggest, would have preferred McCallister) tells its own story.

  • Drumlins Rock

    remember the several times over the last year or so you said the UUP would never vote for Nesbitt as leader? I usually quietly said otherwise but usually bit my tounge for obvious reasons. If all 2,000 members turned up the result would have been no different.

    I don’t think Mike is lightweight, he has a 1:1 degree from Cambridge to start with, and apart from help with his early education has worked his way up on his own strengths. In his short time in the party he has been observing how it works, there was no “smarm” offensive believe me, it would have been counter productive, I have been impressed by the very low key manner he won the party over, you know how tough a group they are.

    I wasn’t sure about the deprived area overnight visit at first, but listening to Nolan I am starting to see its merits, if it is part of a more substancial process, yes you see people in constituency offices, but that is usually focused on a single issue, getting the big picture isn’t as easy.

    IJP, it is poor quality political hacks, and former members with grudges who become “experts” in the eyes of those same hacks, they called this one completely wrong, deciding the opposition idea was a headline grabber but never I am aware of working through its implications. It was not the big idea with members, it is certainly not the big issue with any voters, existing or potential, it was merely a major issue within the presspack and the goldfish bowl of “experts” they socalise with.

  • Harryaswell

    As I said in a previous comment, well really! You lot are SO negative, always with your glasses half empty! Mike will be a strong breath of fresh air, and will be a welcome change from the long string of Grey Men in Grey suits. He has done extra well as the MLA for Strangford, and is probably the hardest working MLA of any of them! I am in the Strangford constituency, so am entitled to judge. His refreshing ideas and the support that he gets form bright young Unionists can only be a great change from the dullards we have to normally listen to. Good luck to Nesbitt. He has a very tough job to do and it will not be helped by the usual snidery from the DUP/Republican camp. Look out! That is all I will say.

  • andnowwhat

    Should Eamonn Mc Cann make a reciprocal commitment to stay in Cultra for 24 hours?

  • Bigger Picture

    We have more established politicians in NI with Oxbridge degrees I can think of Nigel Dodds (double first in Law, Cambridge) and Nelson McCausland (Oxford) off the top of my head. If one of his assets is a degree from Oxbridge he’s certainly not unique.

  • Drumlins Rock

    I never said unique, I wouldn’t call either of those lightweight, ( although Nelson makes you wonder at times ) but a good degree from one of, if not the, best University in the world has to count for something. It is just one, probably minor, factor in many supporting him for leader.

  • NeedNoAlibi

    Come on he was elected leader because he looks good on TV.

  • Drumlins Rock

    If that was the only qualification JoAnne Dobson would be the new leader now. 🙂

  • NeedNoAlibi

    Fair enough DR if that’s what floats your boat.

  • NeedNoAlibi

    Fair play to Mike Nesbitt for talking himself out of his faux pas on Sunday Politics about being “adopted by a family for 24 hours” he’s very good at talking.

  • OneNI

    Re Going into Opposition
    ‘It was not the big idea with members’
    It was overwhelmingly popular with members last November when a large poll of members was carried out at the UUP conference.
    However they were swayed by the idea that Mike Nesbitt is ‘good on tv’.
    Some are already beginning to revise that opinion

  • quality

    The DUP must be loving this.

    He’s a featherweight. I look forward to the UTV special on Mike’s 24 hours in the Village.

    He’s a bit Partridge-esque. It’d be hilarious if he wasn’t so utterly convinced by himself.

  • Harryaswell

    Well “quality”, Mike’s quite obviously rattled “your” cage very successfully by just getting himself elected! It is SO very easy to be snide and unpleasant when the object of criticism is not there to respond.! Some call that Bullying! I said earlier, wait and see! I will put money on it he will be a great success. Far too early to judge after just one day! I presume you are DUP? Or a Republican. One or the other!! LOL!

  • Drumlins Rock,
    Clearly Nesbitt is an intelligent man. More importantly he is a lucky man.
    Perhaps had he been a more general reporter rather than sports based, I might not think of him as a lightweight. Certainly I dont think he ever really threw off the legacy of a sports reporter when he became a news anchor. Idont think that he had the same degree of gravitas as (say) Noel Thompson.
    Too much banter with weather and sports people for my personal taste.
    And I dont think he ever really set that tone of seriousness when he conducted a big interview.

    He seemed discontent as Victims Commissioner. Discovered Party Politics late in life (no harm in that) but is essentially the only remaining Tory from the over-hyped Westminster election in 2010. Indeed he is the only success from that period.
    In a way its odd that McCallisters “liberal” base was weakened and Nesbitts “Tory” base was weakened……and while Id think that Nesbitts “Government” stance makes more sense than McCallisters “opposition” stance so therefore the UUP elected the right man. But the missing candidate was a “traditional” unionist. The choice seemed to me to be between people who were not at the very heart of the Party, and did not tic as many boxes as Danny Kennedy.

    In a three way contest, would Nesbitt have won? I wasnt there of course but Id at least think that it would have been much closer. As it is 81-19 is a pretty overwhelming mandate.

    Other voices? Clearly Nesbitt has set himself on a course of listening to other voices. But he would be foolish to listen to the voices that obviously do not wish his and your Party well.

  • Drumlins Rock

    FJH, if Danny stood would have put it 45% mike, 35% Danny, and 20% John, with Mike walking it the second round 65% -35% and I think I am being generous at that.

    I never thought of him as the sport reporter, dont follow sports and being much younger he was always a news reader in my day lol

    As for listening to other voices, look at the campaign, Mike has been preparing the ground for this since joining, and targeted the aras he needed support from, I hope he is just as good at targeting the potential voters we need in the areas we need them, I think that just might be possible.

  • Harryaswell

    Drumlins Rock , as you so rightly say, Mike is NO fool! A 1/1 degree from any Uni is great, but from Cambridge or Oxford? You cannot get any better credentials. Not only is he quite evidently very clever and of high intelligence, he also has a great deal of common sense. One sees very little of that in the House On The Hill! – I am perfectly certain that he will indeed target all the areas he needs to in order to increase the UUP vote. That is very obvious form the reactions from his competitors to his initial election.

  • Comrade Stalin

    He seemed discontent as Victims Commissioner.

    I doubt Nesbitt gave a stuff about victims, he decided he wanted to become a politician and that was his route in.

  • Harryaswell

    A pity you think that way, CS! I am not at all surprised that he may have been discontented as a Victims Commissioner. Wasn’t it “they” who misguidedly wanted to give the IRA and UVF terrorists large sums of money in compensation for their illegal acts? I do believe that I too would be discontented at that!

  • Drumlins Rock

    “doubt Nesbitt gave a stuff about victims”

    You want to stand over that statement CS?
    Would you publish it under you own name?
    Is that the Alliance party line on Mike?
    Would you like to meet with Mike and say that to his face?

    I’m disgust that you would say such a thing, Might have disagreed with you viewpoint often, but respected your opinion, not any more.

  • IJP

    Comrade isn’t a member of the Alliance Party. 

    The phrasing is certainly somewhat harsh, but given what we continue to hear about Mr Nesbitt’s actions in the recent past, I suspect such “doubts” will continue to surface. 

  • Comrade Stalin


    Your feigned indignation is silly. Nesbitt’s decision to act as a victims commissioner has to be seen in the context of his subsequent political career, particularly given the comments attributed to David McNarry in the Belfast Telegraph over the past week.

    I don’t know how many zillion times I’ve said that I don’t speak for Alliance, never have, and that anyone who wanted the official line on anything should phone up HQ and ask them.

  • NeedNoAlibi

    Mike Nesbitt needs the UUP and the UUP needs Mike Nesbitt (at least they the members think they do) but that’s chiefly what they have in common. A perceived need of each other to get what they want.

  • Harryaswell

    NeedNoAlibi, surely, that remark equally applies to all and every political party?The important thing is to have a really good leader. I believe that Nesbitt could be that person. The UUP has sadly failed badly in it’s choice of Leader since Trimble left. Let us hope those times are behind us.

  • andnowwhat


    The whole of NI is literally laughing at Nesbitt’s election to the leadership and his pronouncements.

  • Harryaswell

    andnowwhat, if you think that you speak for the whole of Northern Ireland, then you obviously have a well known physcological problem! I doubt your veracity!! LOL!

  • andnowwhat

    Harry, I’ve followed the responses to Nesbitt on website, Twitter and on the media. The man is taking a party, which has some great politicians with real ideas, in to oblivion. As someone cruelly commented, a bad winter would wipe half the UUP electorate out.

    In all probability, the UUP was the best of the traditional parties that could have made it in to proper politics and John Mc Callister had a vision to do that. I’m not a unionist, so it is not for me to say but it looks from here like the UUP (the minority that turned up and voted) have handed the DUP a few seats it would be healthier they did not have.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The man is taking a party, which has some great politicians with real ideas,

    Huh ? We’re talking about the UUP here ?

    In all probability, the UUP was the best of the traditional parties that could have made it in to proper politics and John Mc Callister had a vision to do that.

    “let’s go into opposition” isn’t a vision, unless you believe that entering opposition will by itself magically start to change things. If you do, I suggest you return the stolen crack pipe to its rightful UUP owners.

  • andnowwhat


    How can you criticise tge actions of parties in the executive when you are part of it? The only thing you can do is what we have, squabbling.

  • Harryaswell

    Harry, I’ve followed the responses to Nesbitt on website, Twitter and on the media.

    I have followed some of your responses. The best I can do is to say your are welcome to your own opinion, for that is all it is.

    The man is taking a party, which has some great politicians with real ideas, in to oblivion.


    As someone cruelly commented, a bad winter would wipe half the UUP electorate out.

    Your own opinion again. I see you are determined to be negative and a trouble maker. well, so be it! I guess you are far too early to make such assumptions as you are doing. I suspect your motives as spurious. Perhaps you are DUP, or, worse, Sinn Fein?

    In all probability, the UUP was the best of the traditional parties that could have made it in to proper politics and John Mc Callister had a vision to do that. I’m not a unionist,


    so it is not for me to say but it looks from here

    Where is “here” I wonder? You hide your profile so all your opinions are highly suspect IMO. In any case, I disagree whole heartedly with your opinions, such as they are. The UUP has lacked any positive leadership since Trimble left. Opposition is not yet the answer, although once the system is in place at the Assembly, then it might be. The job now is to re-juvenate the UUP as quickly as possible, get their policies in place for all to see as a viable alternative to the tribal rubbish we have at present and go on from there.

    like the UUP (the minority that turned up and voted) have handed the DUP a few seats it would be healthier they did not have.

    Sneering again? The best you can do? LOL!