L’ (middle-aged) enfant terrible of the UUP given his cards by new party captain…

So the Joey Barton of Ulster politics has been shown a permanent Red Card by Captain Nesbitt, and David McNarry makes his way to the dressing room where (to mix my sporting metaphors for those of you who remember Mike Yarwood or Ed Waring) he’ll take an early bath.

It’s ironic, that this most ill-disciplined of team players finally got pinged for following the leader’s orders for once. Though it is undoubtedly for the insubordination of going to the media afterwards that gained him the expulsion from the team.

The days are long gone in the UUP of lodge business overtaking party business, but as Liam Clarke notes in the BelTel:

Mike Nesbitt is the first UUP leader not to be a member of the Order and disciplining Mr McNarry on this issue could put further strain on the UUP ties to the institution.

Mr McNarry and Mr Nesbitt are both MLAs for Strangford. In the last election the UUP gained a seat at the DUP’s expense.

If Mr McNarry joined the DUP or didn’t stand for election, the UUP could lose a seat, either to the DUP or the SDLP — who were just 44 votes short of a quota last time.

Nesbitt seems determined to turn the party from a rather quaint old hippy commune for men-in-suits-who-dabble-in-politics into a modern political party. Not a bad first step. But as Clarke’s analysis illustrates fourteen or fifteen years of drift and infighting has left them few favours out on the real field of battle.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty