Ken Maginnis and the UUP leader’s problem with a party elder statesmen…

So, Ken Maginnis. I have to confess I like the guy. He once offered me a brandy in the City Airport (which because I was driving at the other end, I politely refused). His comments on homosexuality (rather than his views on Gay Marriage, which I’d say are pretty mainstream in his party), on Nolan yesterday were probably ill advised:

The first thing to say is that the issue of gay marriage is a Westminster matter which does not concern (at this stage) Stormont. Nonetheless this is starting to look like an unbidden nightmare for Mike Nesbitt.

It is customary for party leaders to allow an elder statesmen, particularly those like McGinnis who’ve been elevated to the Lords, some latitude to speak on their own behalf. It’s also customary to allow party members a free vote when it comes to matters of morals and sexuality.

Now an extraordinary general meeting has been called because as Mike Nesbitt says:

I have no desire to be a member of any organisation that equates homosexuality to bestiality.

Hmmmm… That won’t be easy… Northern Ireland differs from its union partner country England in lots of ways. One of them is its abiding social conservatism (see also Sinn Fein’s tight policy on abortion)… The party executive may itself have some trouble getting its head round what it was that Ken said that was wrong…

Now the action’s been formalised it’s hard to see how this ends well for the party… For Mike… Or, indeed, for Ken…

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