“the Ulster Unionist Party is the Fianna Fáil of Northern Ireland”

Nice piece from Anne Marie Hourihan on Mike Nesbitt’s victory (albeit in a vastly shrinking party electorate) and the more general trend towards the replacement of politics by Television…

Nesbitt was only elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2011. In 2010 he tried unsuccessfully to replace the sitting MLA whom the Belfast Telegraph at that time charmingly referred to as “love cheat Iris Robinson”. (MLA stands for Member of the Legislative Assembly). Nesbitt’s is a meteoric rise by anybody’s standards, and it is not altogether explained by the fact that the career ladder in the Ulster Unionist Party has shortened so dramatically.

And she finishes…

Television is moulding our lives; it fills a lot of vacuums. It encourages us to stay the same. It keeps us passive. It is the dominant force in Ireland now that the ideas have died.

I go with Anne Marie some of the way, but it strikes me this is not a move from a position of strength. And as we’ve seen from the George Lees versus Fine Gael case, politics does not always work out the way the TV personality would like it to.

And it’s alway useful to remember, as Joe Trippi once marvellously riffed on Gil Scott Heron’s classic theme, the Revolution will not be Televised

  • salgado

    “the Ulster Unionist Party is the Fianna Fáil of Northern Ireland”

    They’re don’t seem quite that similar – FF seem to be hated by their former voters, whereas the UUP just seems irrelevant. I’m not sure which will be easier to recover from.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Mick, had to read the article three times to find the quote, speed read too quick. It was just a throw away statement hardly worthy of a thread, all political parties have similarities, is the UUP the Conservative Party of NI? is FF the Conservative Party down South? All three enjoyed long periods of power “the Party of Government” and all three have a broad complex often rural support base that is highly resiliant, but I think that is where the similarities end.

  • keano10

    Salgado is correct. There is generally complete apathy towards the UUP among the wider electorate.

    Nesbitt’s post-victory television and radio interviews were very poor and surprsingly anti-climatic. There may be a lot less substance to him than was hoped for.

    All in all, his election smacks of desperation from the meembership of the UUP. There is no way that someone of Nesbitt’s limited calibre would have been elected to teh leadership of the UUP 20 or 30 years ago.

  • For me, the whole article is fairly dire, a right hotch-potch.

    “Today’s anchorman is tomorrow’s parliamentarian” .. “Ulster Unionist Party is the Fianna Fáil”

    So when was Enda Kenny a news anchorman? I must say I struggled to remember the name of Feargall McKinney, the UTV anchorman of the SDLP ship. Perhaps that’s because I get so little of the news from TV – more likely to pick it up on the radio or on the internet.

    FF leadership has been in the news re. the fate of Bertie Ahern and FF’s association with planning problems. Up North the DUP is more readily linked to such problems but it has suffered only to a fairly small degree on that front.

    “It’s the recognition factor really.”

    Perhaps this is the more relevant observation. As I’ve already noted on Slugger, John McCallister was on Basil McCrea’s coat-tails as Basil worked the room during the course of the previous leadership campaign. If Basil is not well liked by UUP folks why would his ‘deputy’ fare any better? Perhaps anyone but the Basil clique was a factor.

    In the UUP v DUP beauty contest the DUP has a lot more constituency offices, it appears to have a lot more photo opportunities and press releases in the regional and local press. These all play into the reconition factor. [cf SDLP v SF]

    The UUP and SDLP also have to contend with the fear factor in local government, including the presence of paramilitary types in the council chamber to ensure they vote the right way. Considering the support given by Labour leaders in London and FF leaders in Dublin to the hard men of NI society it’s surprising that the UUP and SDLP are doing as well as they are.

    As for Anne Marie’s ‘The Titanic Centre is based on a couple of films and a television series.’, I thought all three and much much more were based on real events. Perhaps she should read Beth Harpaz’s “Titanic tourism goes global with museums, replica ships, tours