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.

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  • Perhaps. But what sort of leader does not give message face to face, but issues notice when individual out of the country. Does Nesbitt no favours in style. And the OO thing is overplayed, and always has been – the OO has always been an ecumenical bunch across all politics/denominations. Those more active in the community are naturally going to come forward in politics generally.

  • Mick Fealty

    I agree that the distance from the Orange is going to be a problem out west and in the countryside where it is likely one of the critical factors in where the party actually retains support.

    Even self even relatively secularists MPs like Sylvia used to pound the beat of Orange Halls to try to make sure they kept enough support. The trouble is it became more a crutch in latter years than a strong strategic advantage for them.

    But it was a complicating factor made worse by the lack of self discipline of some senior members (and I don’t just mean McNarry here) in the past in confusing where one began and the other ended.

  • A period of change is always confusing. The ones who gain are the adapters. That said, it has to be an adaptation that retains resonance. Otherwise change is shift, and shift against grassroots core values alienates. That was what David Trimble should have realised, and that the DUP now fear How far is too far too soon? Think the SDLP in same fuddle, but for different reasons.

  • williewombat

    oo links with one political party is long gone in all areas and to many its clear politicians used the oo not the other way round. Whilst it is natural an organisation like the oo has some members who are members of political parties most members have no party potitical membership and their votes are influenced by many things.Politicians find it more difficult to use the oo now as they are viewed with suspicion by many members who believe because politicians are paid they have often put party interests before the interests of their voluntary oo membership. UU have done what the oo should have done years ago to someone who put his personal agenda before all others at all times.

  • alex gray

    McNarry’s expulsion means there is no longer any room in the UUP for the more traditional unionists. McNarry’s treatment has been both discourteous – to a member of 49 years standing – and suggests an attempt to silence stories aboutthe UUP’s promises to Nesbitt when a candidate. There is most definitely a personal anhgle here. The Nesbitt UUP is a new party striving to occupy the same ground as the Alliance Party. The only problem is that the Alliance Party is occupying this ground and has no intention of giving it up. What is more, the Alliance Party appeals to both Protestants and Catholics so even on this narrow middle ground it scores significantly higher. The nasty treatment of McNarry – who is widely respected and trusted as an honest man in the UUP’s traditional circles no matter what some liberal commentators say about him – and the total lack of policies by the new UUP leadership means a significant number of UUP votes will now defect to the DUP or simply not turn out to vote. They arew geli ng wiht no segment of the potential unionist electorate. I would now revise my seat prediction for the UUP in the next Assembly markedly downawards. We are I think now looking at 5-6 max 7 in the widely predicted 80 seat Assembly.

  • Drumlins Rock

    “They arew geli ng wiht no segment ” Alex was that meant for one of Dewi’s Welsh language threads? 🙂

    Mick, I don’t think McNarry has that big a following in the OO in rural areas, he is seen more are “urban orange” and has rubbed up quite a few the wrong way within the order, while some think its is a bit rough after so many years, it is a very minor issue on the ground in this area.

  • PaulT

    Is he still Asst Grand Master, Wiki says yes, Newsletter says NO, think that prob makes a difference.

    The OO wesite says the current ones are Mr. Raymond Spiers and Mr David Mahon

    Still seems a bit harsh to expell him for an interview, esp compared to FF and O’Cuiv

  • The Raven

    “McNarry’s expulsion means there is no longer any room in the UUP for the more traditional unionists.”

    “Even self even relatively secularists MPs like Sylvia used to pound the beat of Orange Halls to try to make sure they kept enough support.”

    And I say let the DUP have both of them. I have no problem as a “Unionist-lite”, in seeing both cadres heading that direction. If it means that a more centre-ist unionist party emerging at a distant point, which is more acceptable to some of the unionist part of the 46% who no longer turn out to vote, then so be it.

  • dwatch

    “The nasty treatment of McNarry – who is widely respected and trusted as an honest man”

    Any respect Mr McNarry had within the higher echelons of the UUP has disappeared recently. Regards his honesty, were did these five UUP MLA’s go to, who were going to leave the executive and join him on the independents bench? Or was it his imagination or a porky pie he told to the media recently to annoy the other UUP MLA’s on the assembly?

  • Drumlins Rock

    He hasn’t been Assistant Grand Master for quite a while, I beleieve he was appointed to that role by the GM rather than elected. I am not sure what if any office he currently holds, to count as a “high ranking member” you should generally hold office in either Grand Lodge or a high office in a County Grand Lodge.

    PaulT, he was “demoted” for the interview, suspended for bad mouthing the leader, and expelled for trying to cause further divisions.

  • alex gray

    Sorry for my descent ?? into Welsh. I was tight on time. what I meant to say in the Queen’s ?? English was “They are gelling with no segment of the potential unionist electorate.” By the way, I still think the ned of the UUP as a broad church is effectively the end of the party. It will become one of those tiny little parties in the middle somewhere, all vying for the same votes. Don’t underestimate McNarry’s standing. That could be a lethal mistake.

  • McNarry is a tragic character. He has been remarkably consistent in following a kinda line that is somewhere between DUP and UUP…hankering after a single unionist party. But while he has remained consistent, that strange “no mans land” has disappeared.
    The UUP and DUP seem firmly to be different Parties.
    I am no longer sure that the Orange Order is a single entity but rather a series of local lodges with different aspirations. And I think that goes back to the mid 1990s and Drumcree. The extent to which the Orange Order was used by unionism…….the extent that unionism was used by the Orange Order is a legacy which will echo for a long time.
    But clearly there were winners and losers.
    And maybe not entirely an East-West thing or even Town versus Country.
    Rather more Respectability versus Boorishness (at best).
    Essentially McNarry is one of the casualties.

  • Harryaswell

    Poor auld McNarry, the Unionist everyone loves to hate! NO he is NOT popular, even in his own constituency. He is a proven loose cannon the UUP can well do without. I fail to see why, or how, his removal can do anything but good for the UUP. Nesbitt was perfectly correct in disciplining him, and since he has become so intransigent he is an embarrassment to the party. He still can, of course, appeal the decision. The fact that he was on holiday is surely neither here nor there? It was going to happen anyway! As for Alliance? Well! The LibDems are hardly popular anywhere they go. and Alliance is joined at the hip with the LibDems. Wooly thinkers with no positive thoughts unable to make decisions constructively. I am sure most people would congratulate the UUP and be more likey to vote for a properly organised and disciplined party. A good start, with a long way still to go!

  • Ben Cochrane

    In many ways McNarry is an irrelevance. Most of the UUP members and voters who share his worldview left the party a long time ago—and haven’t been replaced. Of greater concern to the UUP should be the fact that most of the coverage they get still seems to be about internal difficulties.

    The other thing is that the Nesbitt victory doesn’t appear to have resulted in a media or public ‘bounce’ for the party. According to the UUP website Nesbitt has just completed (up in Derry) the first of his ‘Grounded Day’ exercises. He’s going to listen to people on the ground, don’t ya know! But isn’t ‘grounded’ a very starnge word to use, given that grounded is often used to mean slowed dwn or stopped completely? Odd that the accompanying photograhs indicate little evidence of large or enthusiastic crowds of supporters.

    It may be early days, yet there is still little evidence of what Nesbitt is offering the party. He wasn’t able to convince Lady Hermon (and a number of other former members he has met) that it was worth returning to the fold. The total UUP membership in the four Belfast constituencies continues to fall. There is no clear policy agenda on display at the Assembly, although it seems that Fred Cobain—the token socialist—has been tasked with organising a conference about working class concerns. Mind you, I think the SDLP may get theirs out of the way first. Why keep up the attacks on the Executive when he built his leadership campaign on the importance of staying inside?

    Sorry,this is a very long-winded way of saying that th attempts by Nesbitt’s supporters to sell the McNarry expulsion as a success story only demonstartes that they have nothing else to sell as a success. His going won’t make a blind bit of difference.

    Forthe pure fun of it—for there is nothing else of interest in the UUP—it will be worth seeing if Mcnarry decides to give us all the full details of what went on behind the scenes in the past few months!


  • Mick Fealty


    “Of greater concern to the UUP should be the fact that most of the coverage they get still seems to be about internal difficulties.”

    This is where I think there is a strong overlap with the SDLP who seems to think 1, the Press will only be interested in internal stories, and 2, it will help the party somehow.

  • Ben Cochrane


    Or it may just be the case that the UUP, like the SDLP, doesn’t have an external story worth picking up at the moment. The problem with having no big ideas or quick fixes is that it doesn’t really give your press team much to do. Nesbitt may think that inviting party members to submit their own policy ideas; or taking himself off for occasional days out with the grassroots (both of which Trimble, Empey and Elliott did) is worthwhile (and maybe it is) but it isn’t interesting to anyone outside the UUP. And probably not that interrsting tothose inside the party! So thank goodness for McNarry.

    Slight tangent: Billy Armstrong’s daughter Sandra Overend has resurrected his Private Member’s Bill about redesinating the horse as something else. Armstrong’s Bill firstsaw the light of day a decade ago, sowhy didn’t he finish the job before he stood down last year?


  • Shibboleth

    I never have really understood why politicians feel the need to holiday in the middle of the Parliamentary session. Is it Mike Nesbitt’s fault that McNarry was on holiday or was it deliberately planned by McNarry to be out of the country?

  • dwatch

    Had McNarry been at home he still would not have attended the meeting, just like he refused to attend the previous meeting when he was suspended for 9 months.