More internal plots inside the UUP?

Well, Jim Nicholson the UUP’s veteran MEP is feeling a little got at

Last night, Mr Nicholson told the News Letter: “I’m extremely saddened by this whole type of briefing which smacks of the same type of underhand comment from people who are not prepared to come out and identify themselves, as happened against Tom Elliott.

“As far as I am concerned, I am not prepared to put up with this. I’m not going to stand for it and these people can either stand up, put up or shut up.

“As far as I’m concerned, I’ve made my position clear on the Inside Politics show a number of weeks ago, before the whole campaign took place, that I’m enjoying my job, I’m enjoying it more than ever, I’ve got tremendous responsibility in terms of the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, I want to continue to work and help on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, and those are my priorities.

“But the one thing that I’m certainly not going to be is put off track on doing my job by these faceless, gutless people who reporters call ‘important people’ or ‘informed sources within the Ulster Unionist Party’.

“Mike Nesbitt said very clearly when he was elected leader that the past was over. As far as I’m concerned, the past is over and if these people want to really come out and challenge me, let them go up there.

“I have stood for election after election since 1975 and if they have the guts to stand there and put their name up against me, I’ll take them on and I’ll take them out. It’s as simple as that.”

The former MP, who has been an MEP for a quarter of a century, said that he would not stand for the off-the-record briefings against him.

“This is the sort of thing that has bedevilled the UUP for years and it’s got to be buried and buried right away,” he said.

“I am prepared to take it on, whatever the outcome. I’m not prepared to sit back and if I’m going to go down, I will go down fighting. I am not going to sit back and have people briefing against me.”

[Alan adds …]

May also be worth noting in the same thread the other UUP story in the News Letter this week.

Rebel Ulster Unionist David McNarry last night claimed that five UUP MLAs have told him they are considering quitting the Ulster Unionist Assembly Group and joining him on the independents’ bench. The Strangford MLA — who will remain suspended from the UUP for another eight months for his public attack on former leader Tom Elliott — claimed that a third of the party’s MLAs were thinking of leaving because “they don’t feel valued”.

Within a few weeks of the leadershop election, I talked to one UUP MLA who was asking why (s)he would stay in the party, and questioning (s)he what the purpose of the party now was. David McNarry’s number ‘five’ is a surprise, but at least three is quite believable. Though I imagine they would see the possibility of being able to go independent without ‘joining’ David McNarry!

  • OneNI

    Apparently ‘steely’ Mike Nesbitt is determined to push him out.

  • dwatch

    Maybe Jim will join the conservatives after he is elected MEP once again under a UUP banner in 2014. I think a lot might happen within the UUP before the next MEP, MP, MLA & local council elections, if the electoral boundaries are changed by then.

  • john
  • dwatch

    Personally I think Jim Nicholson was indeed foolish even answering any journalists questions or giving a statement here:
    He should have said no comment when approached by the media, all he did was play along with McNarry’s mischievous little game.

  • Drumlins Rock

    dwatch, to change candidates it would be best co-opting them into the role in the next year, however as Jim was elected on a joint ticket, would such a co-option have to be joint too? Unlikely to happen I would think so thats a an advantage to him for starters. So do the Consetvative then ditch the only winner they have? central office might not be happy with that, as they cant win, but risk losing them a valuable member in Europe, yes Jim is a very respected and quite infuencial member, far above his two companions. It is to the UUPs advantage to keep the NICons from fielding their own candidate probably, although of little real importance, most of the factors stack in Jim’s favour. However it is still right for any party to look at all the options, have internal discussion etc. it not right to go running to the media with them half baked however.
    As for the boundaries, I think they won’t create that many problems for them, most MLAs will be safe enough in a new seat, McGimpsey is probably in the trickiest situation.

  • OneNI

    I see Tom elliott has strongly endorsed Nicholson.
    I see joanne dobson has strongly endorsed Nicholson
    I see mike Nesbitt.. oh no actually I dont.
    No wonder jim has gone to the media – he smells treachery

  • dwatch

    DR, Jim has no need to change his position holding the conservative whip in the EU parliament now. To do so would only end up with him being a lone UUP wolf like the DUP & SF representatives. Of course he could go back and join the EPP Furthermore I think Jim has enought following within the rural farming Unionist community plus being a member of the European Agriculture Select Committee, if the UUP decided to side step him he would win the seat as an independent, and they would be the losers.

    However, had Jim Nicholson decided to step down without all this nonsense coming from McNarry, I do think Tom Elliott (with his Fermanagh farming background) would make an excellent choice as a replacement for Jim.

  • The biggest mistake is not “Division” or “Discussion”.
    The biggest mistake is making it all so public.
    With 15 MLAs and obvious disagreement on loads of issues, the UUP clearly needs to be talking……talking to each other is a much better option than talking to journalists.
    Jim Nicholson will be 69 when the Euro Elections are held. In itself that might be a liability in electoral terms. And hes hardly the new image of an Orange-free UUP.
    The sensible option would be that he goes to the “House of Lords” and lets a new guy stand. Possibly another person that has a broad appeal and one that Nesbitt would rather see go somewhere distant.
    All is not lost for UUP. Far from it.
    They have a valuable contribution to make, despite McNarry (64 next month) isolation and defections to Alliance.
    But quite a lot WILL be lost if they continue to have their (properly internal) debate in the News Letter.
    It is an amusing piece of political gossip for political anoraks like myself. But UUP members in the Assembly and beyond should really learn to say nothing.
    Least said…soonest mended.

  • Ben Cochrane

    I thought this sort of nonsense was supposed to have ended with the election of the ‘media savvy’ Nesbitt?

    He promised ‘new blood and new life’ to his officer team.

    * Empey (a former leader and officer). Second choice for the job.

    * McCune (Brought in by Elliott at last election and been at Nesbitt’s side ever since. Ha been working out of Assembly in unpaid role.) He is the father of Rodney McCune, widely tipped to replace Philip Robinson as a SpAd.

    * Elliott. (A former leader and officer)

    * Cosgrove (A former officer) Put in as Treasurer because the existing rules wouldn’t have allowed him to be r-elected at the AGM

    * Smyth (A former officer) And also a member of Nesbitt’s own association.

    * Cobain (A former officer)

    Plus two token women that no-one has ever heard of,but who won’t present any challenge to the old boy reunion around Nesbitt.

    It seems we are not to confuse this team of bright new thinkers—average age late 50s—with an semblance of a cabal.

    It’s also interesting that Nesbitt has yet to deny McNarry’s allegation (in the Bel Tel and News Letter) that he was made aware of the DUP-UUP ‘talks’ last September and made no objection to them.

    Nesbitt’s interview with Gareth Gordon on Monday was a classic example of how bad he really is at this sort of stuff. James Cooper was already on record saying that he had turned down the offer of Chair, yet Nesbitt kept saying ‘I talked to him….” I wonder if Reg knew he was second choice.

    The Nicholson stuff was doing the rounds during the election campaign with some of Mike’s younger supporters—no doubt carried away with the prospect of careers under his GREAT leadership—openly talking about ‘dumping the old duffers.’

    It’s all pretty pisspoor stuff from Nesbitt. Surrounding himself with mo of the same people and ballsing up the media stuff for the past three weeks.

    I wonder when all his businessmen friends (te ones he said would come on board if he won) will start handing over their dosh?

    But thank goodness—Mike can always rely on DR to fly the flag and rally to his side.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Dwatch, if Allister didn’t pull it off I can’t Jim doing so as an independant, although DUP transfers could make it just about plausable. Its not like McClarity where a local presence made it work, you cant be local across NI, espically when working in Brusslles.
    FJH, as usual hits quite a few nails on the head, on the issue of age, unlike Westminster co-option is available, so you aren’t automatically electing a 74 year old down the line, not that age should matter, his experience far outweighs that factor. Jim has avoided most the squabbles quite well over the years, and is just the right shade of orange for most! But his fight back has did him more harm than good, keep the fighting behind closed doors.

  • alex gray

    The purge going on inside the UUP has been in progress since before the time of the last Assembly elections. There was a major effort then to deselect some of the sitting traditional UUP MLA’s. The irony is that some of those selected to replace them have departed from the UUP now themselves after they failed to get elected – McCauley, Bradshaw, Ringland, Hamilton and so on. So Jim Nicholson was the obvious next target and despite their denials the MLA’s named in the Dublin newspaper – Jo-Anne Dobson and Basil McCrea are firmly in the frame to replace Nicholson. My money would be on Dobson because of her farming links and because she links directly to Nesbitt. She came out in support of Nesbitt very quickly. He has already appointed her as Assembly Private Sec to Danny Kennedy who in increasingly looking like a prisoner of Nesbitt. It’s cat and mouse. Nesbitt will toy with Kennedy like a cat with a mouse until the moment to get rid of him comes. Probably that will be this October. Nesbitt would probably consider Basil McCrea too much of a loose canon for MEP in any case. It would give him control of £150k a year of expenses – too much patronage. The buddies McCrea and McCallister have failed in leadership bids twice now.It is only a matter of time until Nesbitt dumps them both. They are a spent force.

  • Nicholson has always been the first to endorse the ‘likely next leader’. He has moved to largely keep himself in a job, and fair play on that one. He moved into the Trimble camp, among the first to support the ‘next leader’. But his age etc makes him dispensible. The last Euro election showed a core vote that has little to do with Nicholson himself, so easy enough to change. If he were to go, Alistair would be back in with a shout. That is the danger for the UUP.

  • I would not assume that the third seat in Euro Elections is unionist. A lot will happen over the next few years.
    But essentially “alex gray” reads this one right.
    McCallister who could only manage 19% of the Leadership votes is semi-detached. McCrea even more detached.
    There are people who probably wont stand in next Assembly Election (Cree, Gardiner, McGimpsey,…….Copeland?) and maybe Kennedy in House of Lords.
    There will be some jockeying for position by back room “advisors” eyeing up a seat.
    I wont pretend that I know anything about the UUP specifically.
    But alex gray is right. The defectors effectively sabotaged the UUP before leaving it.

  • OneNI

    All this talk of Nicholson or Kennedy going to the Lords – you have to be represented in the commons to have a chance of a political peerage.

  • Drumlins Rock

    FJH, bit early for predictions I know, but last time round the total Nat v total Uni had a gap of 24k on the last count, the centre parties split half and half roughly, the biggest challenge would be a second DUP, but if Allister stands again they prob wouldn’t risk it.
    McCallister’s standing has been enhanced I believe much more than the 19% displayed in the vote, but you are right he has stolen Basil’s matel in the process.
    There always jockeying going on, but the openings will be limited I think, with a few more established candidates waiting in the wings, Westminster choices are probably less predictable. There will be a reluctance to parachute in faces at local level, we shall see. The defectors are over played I think, to be honest Jeffrey & Arelene’s defection still remains more relevant over a decade alter than those more recent ones.

  • RyanAdams

    I agree with DR. Most of the defectors left after their first electoral outing, some after being members for a matter of months. They really hadn’t been there for long enough to have made an impact or even become a recogniseable name to anyone who didn’t have an interest in politics or the ordinary voter.

    On your note about Donaldson, I think the UUP probably could have held up well in Lagan Valley had it not been for the defection. As for his accomplice Beare, I would imagine some in the Lagan Valley association would have had a smirk at the Dromore Count last year.

  • Drumlins Rock

    oneNI, peerage is a gift of Downing Street, Bannside is the only DUP peer out of their 4 to ever sit in the commons.
    I think personally Nicholson has more than earned a seat there as MEP is at least equal to a commons seat, ( which incidentally he did hold for a year in 1985,) 23 years to date is good service, including five yrs as one of six Quaestors elected by the 750 strong parliment. Someone of his experience at the heart of Europe would be more than useful in the Lords. It is however at the gift of the PM, and of course subject to Jim accepting the title.

  • sherdy

    ‘A house divided against itself cannot stand’

  • I take that point. But Nicholson has served in Euro Parliament. He has colleagues in the House of Lords already.
    I dont see that as much different from the Leader of an English County Council or City Council going into the Lords.
    Bottom line is that if Nesbitt asked Patterson to have a word in somebodys ear for Kennedy and Nicholson or McGimpsey for that matter …….it would happen.
    But just how much of the current problems are real problems caused by feuding UUP politicians or engineered by an invisible second tier of wannabee politicians is probably the real issue.

  • dwatch. What ARE the chances of the proposed boundary changes going through at all?. I know the DUP are protesting but don’t hear from the other unionists. Obviously Campbell would be agin it since his constituency is to hacked about so that he hasn’t a hope in the new glenshane seat.

  • dwatch

    ardmajel55, I agree all seems to have gone quiet over boundary changes. With 2 MP’s,12 MLA’s and a number of local council seats disappearing I am not sure how many parties are out flying the flags to welcome this happening. Both Campbell DUP and McDonnell SDLP will no doubt lose their seats unless their parties stand them in other constituencies.

  • RyanAdams


    We will know soon enough. Minor adjustments maybe made but they’ll probably not be big enough to affect any of the projected Westminister results, but may affect some peoples calculations of how Assembly seats might fall.

    But I think the Bill will more than likely go through parliment.


    I would imagine Willie McCrea may retire – and the runners and riders between him and Campbell will shift accordingly – ie Wilson going South Antrim, Junior Mid Antrim and Campbell going for Causeway. The SDLP are up sh*t creek either way but I would imagine Alasdair will run in South East Belfast with the aim of building the foundations for an assembly seat there. In fact, if the conservatives get back in after 2015 I would say it will be a bumper year for peerages … If you were a Tory who fell on his/her sword solely for these boundary changes …

  • Drumlins Rock

    Ryan, Cameron has already been generous with peerages, they are running out of space.

    Regarding boundaries, Nic Whyte as usual has did excellent number crunching, predicted 2 lost seats for the UUP, which could actually be 3 or 1 depending how you look at it as two of those are McClarity & McNarry, with McGimpsey being the third in SW Belfast, saying that maybe a jump to North could work? Holding 2 in Strangford would depend on McNarry not standing and a Nesbbitt bounce, North Antrim would depend on McClarity out polling Allister and picking up transfers. two or 3 other seats are at risk, two or 3 others are within reach, in theory if an election was tomorrow on the new boundaries the only missing face would be McGimpsey.

  • Drumlins Rock

    SW isn’t even a foregone loss, stay in longer than Alliance and enough of their transfers on a good day could just edge the right candidate in front of the DUP, with the SDLP surplus deciding it even, but would have to be a bad balance.

  • dwatch

    DR, McGimpsey may not be the only Belfast UUP MLA seat that goes if the new boundaries are in place by 1914/15. Copeland could go with him.

    The 3 new Belfast constituencies results may be as follows:

    N Belfast: DUP 3, SF 2 & SDLP 1
    SE Belfast DUP 3 Alliance 2 & SDLP 1
    SW Belfast SF 4 Alliance 1 & SDLP 1

    Furthermore the UUP are down to only 3 City Councillors. Browne, Rodgers & Stoker who could all lose their seats next election. Belfast may finally see the end of any UUP representation for the first time since 1905.

  • Drumlins Rock

    dwatch, going by Nic’s figure Copeland is marginally safer, up 1.1%, and DUP down to 2.6 quotas, encumbancy hopefully would give him a boost, seems to put the work in on the ground, on facebook anyways. It could come down to what was PUP/Purvis transfers again.

    Should be a seat in North with a wee bit of work and the right candidate, but they really need to get their act together in the city.

  • RyanAdams

    If the Westminister poll comes first, I actually think Alliance will put Anna Lo in SW Belfast just to see how it goes. I think she is high enough profile now throughout Belfast to the extent I think she may actually do well enough to carve out a quota for the assembly there, and damage the SDLP in parts of old West Belfast where they think their vote has stableised. I think unionists might actually be ruled out altogether in SW Belfast, by my estimates anyway there are about 4,500 unionist votes there, and with the quota about to rise that might not be enough. I can imagine a scenario where the unionist quota will be one that lands in the bin at the end. I think SF will lose one out here, but to who is even odds. SF losing two here is unlikely.
    4 SF, 1 SDLP, Last between All, UUP, DUP, SDLP in that order I think.

    As for North Belfast, Is Manwaring still on the scene in the UUP? Didn’t do too shabily at all on the Shankill last time out, so he obviously has some appeal to the area. Never understood why he didn’t fight the Court DEA. His assembly vote would have seen him take a quota easily. I can’t see McGimpsey having a chance in North Belfast, not when his own votes in decline in South. Probably would have been better for the UUP if the boundaries went North into Jordanstown, rather than south into Shankill.

    Probably 2 DUP, 2 SF, Last two between DUP, SDLP and UUP

    As for South East, Nationalists will be hard pushed to hold on to a single seat, and with everything having an equal and opposite reaction if a Unionist doesn’t get in SW, I don’t believe a nationalist will in SE, Not in a seat in which Alliance will be competitive and be looking to edge up to two quotas. SF have no chance and I await with interest to see whether Maskey gets left behind here, or dropped into SW. The SDLP would be needing a leader bounce from McDonnell and would be looking to consolidate around Ormeau, Rosetta and Newtownbreda. UUP will depend on how well other unionists do.

    Probably 2 DUP, 2 All and a DUP, SDLP and UUP in that order again.

    Alot of work to be done in Belfast between now and then DR!

  • alex gray

    Sorry Ryan – Bill Manwaring has already defected to Conservatives. By the way, has anyone heard what happened to the other two UUP people being charged with indiscipline alongside McNarry? Have they been punished ? Who are they ? Is teh assumption that this referes to Basil McCrea and McCallister ?

  • Drumlins Rock

    Ryan, here are nic’s figures on his blog

    Remember a qutoa is roughly 14%, SF sit almost exactly on 4 quotas, there won’t be any surplus to play with there or leakage. So you will have 1 DUP, 1 UUP, 1 AP, 2 SDLP, prob a Leftie and possibly a Loyalist chasing the last 2 seats. The Leftie & Loyalist will drop out, not making alot of difference.

    SDLP have 1.25 quotas roughly, but I will guess unlikely to balance it enough to keep both in the running, so their second, the AP & UUP would fight to keep their heads up, DUP safe at that stage.

    If UUP is lowest it will get DUP up to just under the the quota, 12.5%, and even if SDLP or AP drop out next there will be enough votes wasted there to ensure they take it.

    If AP is lowest (without Lo and former EB soft Unionists taking fright possible) it will split both ways prob, bringing SDLP & UUP up to almost level with DUP. If UUP Drops out next then its is the DUPs, if it is SDLP there is a chance it could just give enough to put the UUP in front, and take the seat.

    If it is SDLP lowest, most will be wasted getting their other candidate over and topping up SF piles, but enough left to push AP well in front of UUP. leaving to UUP out next and DUP in under Quota.

    AP would have to poll very well to stay in, I can’t see them gaining much ground in West Belfast, it would have to be at SF expense, probably too much of a leap there! SDLP have a little bit more if they ballanced perfectly. So more than likely DUP, but the other 3 have a long shot, and on a bad day the 4th SF could be at risk.

  • RyanAdams

    Have to say I would largely agree with that DR.

    Will be interesting to see if SF field four or five. and who they will be.

    Especially with Alex Maskey and Mairtin O’Muiller who might be looking in here too. I make that seven shinners chasing four seats.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Ryan, the UUP ironically should have the least worries regarding candidates losing seats due to the changes, Anna Lo has a tough call to make, SF have to loose 2 of their 6 in this area prob. never mind make room for a new commer, although they could just pull of 5 in a good year, speaking of which, the turn-out in West Belfast has almost halved from Gerry got Elected to the election after his resignation, true bi-elections are exceptional but even assembly wise it is way, way down. There are quite a few unknows there.

  • Dwatch and Ryan, thanks for that. It is as I thought.

  • Harryaswell

    It is quite easy to see why McNarry is being his usual sanctimonious conceited self here. Sour Grapes!! Interesting to see him so much on TV now, whereas one hardly ever saw him being interviewed prior to his disgrace! Doesn’t say very much for the News Media for encouraging such behaviour either. It is not hard to see who the members are of the “discontented Cabal” who McNarry says are about to leave. Good reddance to them. As for Nesbitt not saying very much, he is perfectly correct not to do so, of course.

  • dwatch

    Herryaswell, the point is who are these five mysterious UUP MLA’s supposed to be going to join McNarry on the independent bench? Do they really exist or are they all in Mr blabbermouth’s head? Until one or some of these disgruntled Unionist MLAs make their names known and leave the UUP executive in the assembly in the near future, and become independent will we know the truth.

  • Harryaswell

    The whole point is, these persons are obviously those responsible for trying to sabotage everything the UUP tries to do! One surely has to suspect some disenchanted elderly members of the OO. I have NO idea as to who these may be, but surely, an in-depth search of all UUP members who are also OO members, and probably chums of the dreadfull McNarry, will give a positive clue? These people do have to be rooted out and severly disciplined. If they leave the party, well, so what? It has to be to the benefit of the party per se.

  • New Blue

    Ryan Adams / DR

    One of the big concerns for the next Assembly elections is the possibility that DUP / SF have agreed to lower the number of MLA’s to 80 (ie. 5 in each of the 16 constituencies). If you run the numbers on that basis, UUP and SDLP are in serious trouble. This would allow DUP/SF to also give in to calls for structured opposition with possibly as few as 11 MLA’s from 3 or 4 parties forming that opposition grouping.

    This would complete what I believe both DUP and SF hold as their primary political objective – the removal of any trace of their competition.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Harry, even what your saying is giving McNarry too much credibility, at best a few were winding him up, more likely he imagined most of it.

    New Blue, the idea has been floated, but I think too many of their own will lose seats to risk pushing it through, Morrow in FST to start, Wells has McAllister breathing down his neck, Spratt in the new SW Belfast without a hope, just for starters, using Nics figures again, Hussey is prob most at risk, most of the rest are sitting close enough to scrape through, SDLP will suffer a bit more but the big two will actually pay the highest price if it goes to 5 seats.

  • emanonon

    The UUP is not a political party any longer, it’s leadership is a collection of over inflated egos.

    Only when their focus is on the future of people in Northern Ireland and not their own can they hope to succeed.

  • Ben Cochrane


    The UUP don’t have a good track record when it comes to caculating seats and votes.

    Over the last 15 years or so we kept being told that the UUP ‘couldn’t lose’ over a certain amount. Well, their vote has collpsed and their seat numbers keep spiralling downwards.

    Figures from prvious elections might allow you to hazard guesses but they dont allow you to calculate how many more seats will be lost because peoplle just couldn’t be bothered to vote for them again.

    Nesbitt pulled in around 9000 in 2010 and about a third of that in 2011—where the combined UUP was still considerably less than the 2010 figure. For all of his supposed celebrity he didn’t prove a big hitter.

    As for McNarry!!!! Maybe he is nuts but he can still do a lot of damage and both the News letter and Bel tel continue to be fed by him. Why pick a fight with Nicholson?

    The in-fighting will go on and on. Nesbitt doesn’t control the party and he has enemies in lots of places. The members will tire of the ‘performamce.’ OK,he can walk aroud and speak at the same time—so what, if he isn’t actually saying anything!

    His obsession with Fermanagh/South Tyrone continues—forcing him to make Elliott an officer when Cooper turned it down or did he originally plan two officers from that neck of the wood. PhilipSmith was rejected by the members at the AGM when he stood to be an officer but Nesbitt just ignores that and appoints him anyway.

    The vanity is still there. Somebody mentioned that one of the two photos of him on the website showed ‘a few double chins.’ The photo has now gone!!

    UUP made a huge mistake with this man. Mind you, McCallister may have beeen a suicide leap—so a lose-lose result no matter what the members did when they chose the leader.

  • alex gray

    I’m no apologist for McNarry but he deserved better after 40 years service to the UUP. His treatment is meant to inspire fear in all who oppose the clique aroud Nesbitt. The UUP is now a cold house for traditional unionists. In all of this they forget one thing. Without traditional unionists the UUP is nothing. It is just another Alliance Party. At least the Alliance Party can attract both Catholic and Proestant votes. When the 80 seat Assembly comes, it will be the end for the UUP. They will have on my claculation about half a dozen seats left. The prospectMcNarry offered of a close wotking relationship with the DUP was the ONLY way forward for the UUP. As has been said McCallister’s vision was a shot in the dark and Nesbitt’s vision is only of himself.

  • Ben Cochrane

    alex gray—further to what you say

    1) It has been confirmed (by Elliott) that he, McNarry, Kennedy and UUP Chairman David Campbell were involved in ‘talks’ with the DUP stretching back to the early summer of 2011. That would, at the very least, suggest that ‘something’ was being discussed!

    2) McNarry claims that an internal cabal—the Lough Erne Group—was informed of these talks in Septemebr 2010 and that no-one raised any objections. That group included Nesbitt and Danny Kinahan. Neither man has denied the allegation.

    3) The Lough Erne Group did not include McCallister (chief whip and deputy leader) or Basil McCrea—both of whom were known to oppose talks with the DUP. Nor did it include other key figures within the UUP known to have reservations.

    4) Nesbitt, often described by McNarry as a lberal actually sided with the traditional wing of the UUP at that point.

    5) Nesbitt, who talks lots about loyalty showed no loyalty o the rest of his Assembly collegues when he joined a cabal and kept information back from his colleagues.

    6) At start of leadership campign Nesbitt said he had nobasic difficulties with talking to UUP. Within days that position had become much more anti DUP. But almost the first decision he made as leader was that the UUP would ‘fully support’ the DUP on the tricolour issue–even though it was the DUP’s stupidity that allowed he tricolur to become an issue.

    7) Nesbitt said UUP would stand alone. He appoints Empey as chairman—a man who takes the Tory whip in the Lords and says he would like o see a better version of UCUNF.

    8) If you listen to Elliott’s interview on Mallies site you will relise that Tom’s accusations against unnamed internal opponents don’t stack up against the likes of McCrea and McCallisetr r even Ringland and a grou of others who actually left shortly after Tom was elected. The people who shafted Elliott—and they are now after Nichlson and others—are now runnig the UUP.

    9) As others have siad the UUP is dysfunctional to the point of being beyond recovery. One cabal has tken over from another and the bttles continue.

    Don’t worry abot whether Nesbitt is a liberal or a traditional. He will be whatever you need him to be or wherever the latest focus group opinion says he eeds to be. He has cited Blair as a role model—and now you know why.

    The media has been vry hstile to him since he declared as a candidate. He flipfloped on just about every issue during that campaign.

    McNarry’s ultimate role in all of this is clear. Elliott was ‘advised’ to mov against him even though the people who gave that advice knew that McNarry would go balistic. When the whole thing blew sk high as those advisers knew it would Tom was further advised to stand aside and point the finger of blame at unnanmed sources. Who were the ultimate beneficiaries of all of this? Make your own conclusion.


  • dwatch

    Thanks BC for your post. It seems to me there are three opposing groups within the UUP of today. No 1 is the liberal group, No2 is for forming relationships with the DUP and NO 3 is for the same with the Conservatives.

    Former chairman David Campbell seems to have been the “nigger in the woodpile” regards all these acrimonious mysterious goings on behind the scenes. Most politicians wear two or more hats and have Chameleon like personalities when it comes to trying to find out who supports who, unless you are a fly on the wall.

  • Drumlins Rock

    1) The talks with the DUP were primarily concerning the Justice position, boundary proposals and reforms of Stormont.

    2) Why would anyone object to talks on such issues?

    3) There are lots of groups looking at different issues, whats the big deal?

    4) Nesbitt is liberal on some issues, and traditional on others, just like the rest of us, seem about the right balance to me.

    5) Nesbitt showed loyalty to the party leader in undertaking some discussions at his request, that does not count as a cabal, its normal life.

    6) It is possible, and right, to work with the DUP on issues of mutual benefit, but that dosn’t mean you want to join up with them.

    7) The UUP will stand alone in NI, but retains a good relationship with the Conservatives in Westminister & Europe.

    8) So they did Tom in but then made him a party officer? I don’t know who they are, but I doubt they are anywhere near the officer team or main members.

    9) There are still issues to be sorted, I Tom started to tighten things up, I think Mike will get the party back into shape.

    And McNarry did the moving against himself, there were ltos of members removed and resuffled laste week, did any of them slagg of the leader huff and leave?

    Finally, for the UUP to be such a dysfunctional party, how come you believe there are so many conspiracies? its either one or the other. Make you own conclusions.


  • Ben Cochrane

    A very upbeat and loyal response DR.

    I think you will have reason to reassess your opinion of Nesbitt ov the next few weeks, when the real story of Elliott’s removal emerges

    Just some very brief points:

    Nesbitt claimed not to have known about ‘any’ ongoing talks with the DUP. That now seems not to be true.

    Elliott only became an officer when Cooper turne down the Chair.

    I didn’t say there were ‘so many conspiracies’ I just said that one cabal had taken over from another.

    They should move you to the press office and I mean that as a compliment. Seems there will be at least one vacancy there pretty soon


  • OneNI

    ‘The UUP will stand alone in NI, but retains a good relationship with the Conservatives in Westminister & Europe’

    A completely contradictory and inaccurate statement.
    The UUP betrayed Cameron and the Conservatives leadership over NI and UUP have rejected merger.

    There is no UUP at Westminster (there is no UUP party in the Lords) and the UUP do not have a good relationship with Paterson or others senior figures.

    There is no UUP Conservative relationship at europe. Nicholson has a good personal relationship with the Conservatives but the Conservatives MEPs have no time for the UUP as a party. Indeed quite feasible that some of them have never heard of it!

  • Drumlins Rock


    Hope mike is reading, I shall wait for the call !

  • Harryaswell

    DR. I like your style. All, or most, of the posts herein reek of conspiratorial theories, self opinions and bad basic judgement. Mike still hasn’t been in the post long enough for any differences to show, nor has he been there long enough for the formation of new and more practical policies and also the appointment of loyal followers he can trust. He has only started. It is my belief that, regardless of what the Doubting Thomases say and think, that Nesbitt will prove himself a strong and very effective Leader. If there realy is a cabal trying to destroy him and/or the UUP, then I am certain that he is the man to expose them for what they are. Obviously the likes of McNarry cannot be ignored. However, from what one hears, he is not at all popular and regarded as a loose cannon by his constituents. We shall see how Nesbitt does, but I am certain that huge success will rule eventually.

  • alex gray

    Spot on Ben – a good analysis. The esbitt backers worked out how McNarry would react and he played right into their hands. Another thing I would say is – always follow the money. Who gains most in this reshuffle ? Could it be the new Special Adviser to Danny Kennedy who will be paid about £80k- £90 K per year ? Even more than the Minister. Kennedy is a dead man walking. He has now had Joanne Dobson foisted on him. Only a matter of time until Nesbitt puts in Kinahan or takes the Ministerial job himself. No question now but that Nicholson is also a dead man walking. My other comments that Nesbitt’s UUP now seeks to occupy Alliance ground though there is no evidence that there is any ground there to occupy. This will drive traditional unionists to either bstain or vote DUP next time. Anoter thing In think would be profitable would be to examine the links between Nesbitt and his backers and the Tory party – not locally but in England. That might turn up some surprises. We shoud also be examining exactly who is who the new UUP leadership and who they connect with.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Alex, it always has to be a grand conspiracy dosn’t it?

  • alex gray

    Sure it is. How else can someone who has been a party member for less than 2 years become its leader ? It certaintly ain’t logical.

  • dwatch

    Alex, Mike Nesbitt may be a blow in, but he has a long way to go to match the present North Down MP. Lady Hermon only joined the UUP in 1998 and shortly afterwards was elected to the UUP executive which lead to winning the North Down Westminister seat for the UUP in 2001. She still holds the seat 11 years later as an independent, and is expected to win the next election and hold it longer than one of her predecessors James Kilfedder 1970 -1995.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Edward Carson became an MP in 1892, leader of the Unionist party by 1910, but spent much of the time inbetween outside Ireland and active politics. It took Craig from 1906-1921.

    Yes two years isn’t really long enough, 3 or 4 would have been preferable if I was conspiring, far too many risks at this stage. All the pundits were giving it to Danny and you would really have to be down in the grass roots to know otherwise.

    But the really big thing, if there was any hint whatsoever that Mike undermined Tom wave goodbye to 1/3 of the party vote in FST, that most certainly was not the case.

  • dwatch

    DR, surely from among all those members (350/400) from FST who travelled up to Belfast to vote Tom Elliott in a UUP leader, many must be shocked at his recent resignation.

    The amount of hundreds of loyal UUP members from FST put the remainder in NI (especially Belfast) to shame by their loyalty & support for the party. Compared to South Belfast, (once a large UUP stronghold) has more population than the whole of Fermanagh the UUP is now reduced to 29 paid up members.

    Regards Danny Kennedy, (compared to McNarry) I was always under the impression he was a very respected long standing UUP member since 1974. Kennedy (52) is younger than Nesbitt (54) so it surprised me and others when he withdrew his nomination for leadership recently.

  • Harryaswell

    Nesbitt may be a beginner to politics, but he certainly has done well in his constituency, and his experiences outside politics are very much to his advantage. Logical or not, he is a far stronger man than any we have seen recently as Leaders of the UUP, Tom Elliott is not the least of them. It obviously takes somebody with a very thick skin indeed. Tom was far too nice. Nesbitt will do very well, that I am sure of! The sooner the Doubting Thomases and biased journalism are brought to heel, the better. Lack of discipline within the party and weak reaction to it just has to be put right asap.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Dwatch, Danny is and will always be very well respected, the leadership was his for the taking 2 years ago when Empey stood down, he back out of it, some wanted to see him fight Upper Bann to Westminster, and some wanted to run a second candidate in N&A, many think he played too safe there too. He has spoken of Unionist Unity a little bit too favourable shall we say, certainly not like McNarry but enough to concern some. There was also the A5 issue in the immediate past was seen rightly or wrongly to undermine the leader, finally the whole issue of media presentation. He did the figures and knew he couldn’t win.

  • alex gray

    What will happen to Nadine Dorries MP after her remarks about PM Cameron and Chancellor Osborne describing them as two arrogant posh boys who wouldn’t know the price of a pint of milk. Will she be exiled from the Conservative Party for 9 months as David McNarry has been fro the Ulster Unionist Party ?

  • Harryaswell

    Nadine Dorries MP is a UUP member then? I hadn’t heard that. As for her very silly remark, she deserves all she gets. McNarry certainly deserves all he gets, for sure. Trouble makers we can all do without.

  • alex gray

    Harryaswell – Irony obviously escapes you but as you appear to be a loyal Cameron voter I suppose I can expect no more. I was merely comparing the situation in the Tory Party and UUP. We are clearly not all in this together. The UUP is usually supposed to be more relaxed on discipline than the Tories, who are traditionally supposed to be tight in that area. It would appear that the UUP is now more draconian – all rules and no policies. Soon it will be all Chiefs and no Indians.

  • dwatch

    Looks like the UUP is not going to shake itself free from McNarry all that easy after all. He is determined to hang in there if only to give Nesbitt & co bad

  • Harryaswell

    alex gray , irony is a complete failure in communication. I speak what I mean, not hide behind obstruse contrivances of ill conceived whit. Where you get the idea that I am a loyal “Cameron” voter I fail to see. More “irony” perhaps! – In any case, what could possibly be wrong if I was? The whole problem with the UUP IS exactly what you say, far too relaxed on discipline. It is interesting that since nesbitts election we now see far more about the UUP and are getting far more discussions about them than ever before! PR is as PR does. If the UUP are to increase public awareness, then this is the way to do it. Just because you, amongst others, do not like it, means the UUP are succeeding! Irony and all!