“The Undertaker Who Resurrected Unionism”

Just resurrected myself after the count last night, always an experience in itself.  Can I firstly congratulate Francie on his retirement elevation to the mother of Parliaments, he would pose quite a striking figure on the green bench if he chose to attend, and although not quite as good as the Lord’s the hospitality facilities are supposed to be quite good.  When he steps down from Stormont he can at least be assured his place in history as the very first Principle Deputy Speaker and I am sure he will be the first to congratulate Mitchel when he shortly takes his place as the first Republican Speaker at Stormont.

As for the resurrection man, congratulations to Nigel for achieving the almost impossible, getting three squabbling political parties to work together and carrying virtually all their voters with them,and achieving this in an incredibly short space of time with the pundits, commentators and media experts lined up against him.  Its a good job he listened to the voters and not the experts!  Which is where the call of an agreed candidate came from, on the ground voters, who also made clear the consequences if their views were ignored.  Do people really think this idea came from the top down?  The message was clear in Mid-Ulster, stand seperate candidate and your vote will plummet.  The votes will return to their respective camps next year, but should keep the 2 assembly seats safe and possibly make a difference in those final seats in the new council elections.  Maybe more of a case of life saving surgery than ressurection.

Congratations also to Patsy McGlone, someone who you could call a “Ronseal” politician, retaking some of the ground lost to SF, the best candidate in many ways, who knows if they had of pulled a South Down and kept up with SF over the years… but as it is he has just hit the Quota level for the assembly, good but hard slog ahead if they want to get another assembly seat back.

Finally Alliance breakthrough the 1% barrier ! showing they are more than a party for the suburban chattering class… to be serious, for a centreist party, with two executive seats, after a period of non-ending press coverage to poll less than 500 votes, shows just how little they understand or even care about whats goes on west of Hillborough never mind the Bann, well done to Eric for standing, he seemed to be a gentleman, but if you want to be taken seriously alot more than token candidates are needed.

The real winner last night?  Mike Nesbitt, the person with the most to lose on taking the gamble, a very pleased man at the count when it became clear that Nigel and team had exceed expectations, and further evidence that John and Basil made a complete dogs dinners of their long planned for mutiny.  But in the words of Churchill “It is not the end, nor… etc etc.” the Mid-Ulster result is already chip wrappers, and speculation on Europe and the next General Election is rife, everybody is good at saying where to draw the line on co-operation, it has held this time but I guess the pressure won’t be eased for long.

In the meantime there remains the small matter of the future of our childrens education, the shape of local government, dealing with past and present divisions, the fun is over, back to work folk!

  • Otto

    Finally Alliance breakthrough the 1% barrier !

    Excuse me. 1.3%.

    That’s twice the Sinn Fein vote in North Down you know.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Down_(UK_Parliament_constituency)#Elections_in_the_2010s

  • Mc Slaggart

    “The real winner last night? Mike Nesbitt”

    “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”

    Or as Mike has it.

    To lose two birds is better than one in the bush. (That being a shared bird in the bush which you still don’t get.)

  • FDM

    If this was a victory for Unionism I would pay for tickets to see a defeat.

  • Obelisk

    Drumlins Rock

    No matter how you dress it up, no matter how you spin it, no matter how much you want it to be so, this isn’t the beginning of some great fight back for the Ulster Unionist Party.

    Mike Nesbitt won nothing last night. While I personally enjoy seeing Unionist Parties rip themselves to pieces, from as objective a viewpoint as I can, the internal upheavels within the UUP his decision to pursue the route caused simply weren’t worth it.

    What has he gained beyond approval from Peter Robinson? Does he have new MP? No. Does he have an Independent MP he can at least go and have a word with, someone friendly to him? No.

    He IS down two MLAs because of his decision though and while it could be argued they were simply waiting for the right moment to jump, he just did go and have to provide it for them didn’t he.

    The UUP, the broad church that can fill only two pews these days, ever more narrow in outlook and ideas, slavishly falling behind the DUP in every major issue (and not the usual fluff of government where a minor difference is wheeled out every so often to show how distinctive the UUP is).

    The First Minister launched an attack on the impartiality of the Police this week. Where was Mike Nesbitt? I don’t know if he responded on it. If he didn’t, does he agree with Peter? If he did, does he agree with Peter? If he didn’t agree with Peter why wasn’t it broadcast more widely?

    You look ahead to the European and General Election all you like, but unless this decayed and decrepit parasite of a party comes up with some new ideas and some new talent and really sticks it to the DUP I don’t see why they deserve to survive.

  • I tend to agree with Drumlins Rock. It wasn’t about Mid Ulster.
    It’s about Euro Elections, Fermanagh-South Tyrone, East Belfast and a few others.
    Certainly west of the Bann, MacUnionists and Alliance can’t get elected.
    Yes it was a good day for pan-unionism with possibly more to come.
    Congratulations to them.
    And indeed all those who took part in the process.

  • Drumlins Rock

    FJH, setting aside the personal issues between the two main candidates it was quite a civilised event on the whole, and while not all pally yet the count centre was extremely relaxed last night. Certainly not a precursor the bad old days returning that some seem to predict, for all that things look the same the changes are real.

  • USA

    FDM,
    LOL… 🙂

  • SK

    A resounding success alright; Nigel Lutton lost against an empty chair.

    That said, I’m sure Mike Nesbitt feels vindicated about going down the tribal route. Soon unionists will be able to replace all their annoying, “U”-laden acronyms with a name that more truly reflects who they are and what they stand for:

    “The Prod Party”.

  • sherdy

    Was there a clearance sale of rose coloured glasses in Mid Ulster?
    The undertaker resurrecting the unionist vote! By getting less votes than three divided unionist parties got last time out, that’s some resurrection.
    Mike Nesbitt pleased with the outcome! I suppose the way he has been losing members, he counts himself lucky that Nigel wasn’t actually one of his members.
    FDM – Don’t think you’ll have to buy tickets for this event. It’ll be on the telly for all to see. Can you wait for a year?

  • Framer

    Obelisk – you overdo things about the UUP “slavishly falling behind the DUP in every major issue.”
    How about the party’s opposition to RPA and the local government restructuring, and again on the Education Bill which will set up a CCMS writ large to control all education.
    In both instances the DUP serves the Protestant or their own interest, the UUP, the Unionist interest.
    And the Welfare Reform Bill could produce fireworks with the D party if SF vote against it.
    None of this concerns the McUnionists who are now talking in an empty room, as media interest and nationalist/Alliance enthusiasm palpably recede.

  • 6crealist

    “t’s about Euro Elections, Fermanagh-South Tyrone, East Belfast and a few others.”

    The only seat that DUP/UUP can gain by an electoral pact in the near future is east Belfast. Even in south Belfast – assuming that McDonnell stands in 2015 – it seems far-fethed that DUP/UUP can take the seat.

    They have a unionist in place in east Belfast as it stands, so they shouldn’t get so cranky.

    In any case, if Drumlins wants to call a 1% increase in the unionist vote a victory in a constituency where the nationalist turnout was down quite a bit then all the best to him.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I expect party hacks to spin things a bit but this contribution by DR takes it a bit far.

    Mr Lutton is described as having “resurrected” unionism. Does that mean that unionism was dead ? Despite my pessimism over unionism’s long-term viability I had not quite written it off.

    Furthermore, I am not quite sure what the idea is behind trying to lionize someone is, forgive me for being rude, an empty suit. This is a candidate who never canvassed, was never seen in the constituency and who ran away from an agreed TV debate.

    It was not Lutton who managed to rally the three parties behind one candidate – the person responsible for that is Peter Robinson. Robinson’s plan to create a single unionist party has been given a significant boost as we now have clear evidence that unionist voters are prepared to vote for a single candidate who is closely identified with the DUP. Mike Nesbitt has granted a permanent veto to Peter Robinson over whether or not the Ulster Unionists will run a candidate in a Westminster constituency ever again – given that they conceded an unwinnable seat how can they concede a winnable one ?

    The other interesting detail here is Jim Allister’s decision to support the joint candidate, a candidate who was clearly under DUP control. While it is noticeable that Allister did not get involved in any photo ops with Robinson, it’s very notable that he has now set the precedent that he won’t put up candidates in a Westminster election to challenge the DUP’s support for powersharing. The TUV’s presence in East Belfast in 2010 may have contributed to the splitting of Robinson’s vote and the ensuing Alliance victory.

  • Occasional Commentator

    ” The TUV’s presence in East Belfast in 2010 may have contributed to the splitting of Robinson’s vote and the ensuing Alliance victory.”

    That only strengthened my existing opinion that the likes of the TUV was more of a liability than an asset to Unionism, be it the short,medium or long term.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Framer:

    How about the party’s opposition to RPA and the local government restructuring, and again on the Education Bill which will set up a CCMS writ large to control all education.
    In both instances the DUP serves the Protestant or their own interest, the UUP, the Unionist interest.

    Yeah. But Mike Nesbitt says that people don’t care about any of that stuff, they only care about Orange and Green. So why bother mentioning any of that ?

  • Charles_Gould

    Mike Nesbitt does suffer from foot in mouth, but he has had a good week in terms of media.

  • Comrade Stalin

    That only strengthened my existing opinion that the likes of the TUV was more of a liability than an asset to Unionism, be it the short,medium or long term.

    If we define “unionism” as the headlong rush to get a Prod elected irrespective of policies or principles (which is the mentality that led to the joint candidate in Mid Ulster and F&ST), then yes, having more than one unionist party damages unionism.

  • Ulster Press Centre

    Comrade Stalin: If we define “unionism” as the headlong rush to get a Prod elected irrespective of policies or principles (which is the mentality that led to the joint candidate in Mid Ulster and F&ST), then yes, having more than one unionist party damages unionism.

    Or maybe they think the constituency should have representation in the country’s parliament?

    Strange I know….

  • Occasional Commentator

    “If we define “unionism” as the headlong rush to get a Prod elected irrespective of policies or principles (which is the mentality that led to the joint candidate in Mid Ulster and F&ST), then yes, having more than one unionist party damages unionism.”

    The problem with the TUV is that they’d probably prefer reversion to direct rule over the current representative bodies in N. Ireland….

  • Charles_Gould

    I think the election points to a new model for unionist choice:

    *when there is not room for multiple unionist candidates, a single unionist is stood
    *this is most likely in Westminster elections where the unionist vote in recent elections was relatively low

    The difficulty would be in agreeing which party’s candidate, because I don’t think this idea of plucking a non-politician out of the air is necessarily a great idea, you need people who have experience.

    I would imagine a deal involving FST and NB could be obvious enough – a UUP candidate (such as T Elliot) in FST and the DUP incumbent in NB.

  • aquifer

    The IRA pointed Unionists towards the corner, Paisley walked into it with his big feet, and now Nesbitt is finishing painting the floor, standing in the corner and looking pleased with himself.

    With PRSTV there is no inbuilt opportunity to vote for ‘least worst’ candidates, so our electoral chambers will fill in from the extremes unless somebody changes tack.

    Protestant Unionism has ceased recruitment, so can only decline as secular diversity takes over.

    It looks like game over for the flags rotting on lamposts brigades.

  • Charles_Gould

    I think acquifier that politics is getting cultural and unionism is no longer about the union but all about what type of union. And therin lies a difficulty because that will mean unionism becomes cultural. Not protestant but cultural, and protestantism is in the culture.

  • Gopher

    This election was “the curious incident of the dog in the night time”

    Which is bad news for any party that was seeking signs of change or revolution

  • Framer

    Comrade, you argue “Mike Nesbitt says that people don’t care about any of that stuff” (i.e. local govt reform/education etc). Not so.
    I mentioned it because Mike Nesbitt spent Thursday night holding a public meeting on the Education Bill in Newtownards where a number of head teachers (Friends, Botanic Primary, Dundonald High) amongst others, came out and spoke of their concerns. And he is down for a number more such meetings around the province.
    I didn’t see you there that night. You approve of the vainglorious ESA then?

  • ThomasMourne

    Another great victory for sectarianism.
    Anyone elected to a government body who does not take their place should be permanently disqualified.
    It is past time for SF voters to expect their representatives to embrace democracy.

  • ArdoyneUnionist

    A bit left of field and not sure if it has been done before???

    But can the Unionist constituents of mid Ulster take the shinners to court for a judicial review on equality issues.

    As they are not fully represented by the shinner abstentionist policy. As it is obviously discriminatory to the PUL community who’s elected representative take there seats???

  • Hopping The Border

    Can I ask how politicians expect ordinary (and particularly Young) citizens to begin to get along with one another if the politicians themselves are still engaging childish “I’ll not talk to him/shake his hand” histrionics?

  • eyes wide open

    ThomasMourne “It is past time for SF voters to expect their representatives to embrace democracy”.

    Did another democratic vote just pass you by? First we had the vote at BCH on “flegs” and now we have another election which I would suggest SF representatives fully embraced. The fact is they embraced them to the extent that they won the democratic debate at both.

    Eyes open wider than ever.

  • Drumlins Rock

    HtB, his father was murdered in cold blood by SF/IRA how dare you call that childish.

    EWO, the democratic process is more that the election, it involves taking your seat and representing your constituents, and arguing your case, protesting against decisions made is also part of the process, but should be peaceful and respect the law.

  • Barry the Blender

    Part of me has to wonder if Lutton would have been a better unionist candidate than Singin’ Willie in 1997

  • Hopping The Border

    I don’t for one second doubt the grief he and his family suffered but I find it hard to see how NI as a whole will ever move on if people continue to harbour ill will against organisations for incidents that occurred in a very dark period of the jurisdiction’s history.

    And if politicians can’t take the lead who will?

    And don’t “how dare” me.

  • Hopping The Border

    *visible ill-will to the extent they refuse to interact with representatives of that organisation.

    I would imagine that it would be difficult to forget all ill-will but if you keep looking backwards moving forward will be challenging.

  • Well if the undertaker has not come to bury the UUP, he shouldn’t worry about it since Nesbitt is doing a grand job of it regardless.
    “The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones; ” – hisself.

  • ayeYerMa

    It’s a bit rich for Sinn Fein and their drones to say that “double jobbing” is the utmost no-no (even if the electorate has no problem with their MP doing it e.g. I have no problem with Sammy Wilson as Stormont Finance Minister but also liaising within Westminster), hence triggering this by-election, but then claim that abstentionism must be accepted because it is what the electorate voted for!

    The only party who this end to “double jobbing” benefits is Sinn Fein, precisely because they don’t intend to do one of the jobs in the first place and so can concentrate their efforts elsewhere. We are a small region with limited talent pool that doesn’t need spread any thinner, and I therefore don’t see it as a problem. This rule change is also detrimental to the opportunities for an independent candidate to stand in more than one jurisdiction e.g. on a particular single issue ticket.

  • aquifer

    The Union as a living breathing political creature has failed to evolve and it is destined for extinction.

    Its greatness was recalled to an aging congregation by a booming preacher.

    And now It to be buried by a speechless undertaker.

    A decent enough interment.

    RIP

  • keano10

    As Mike Nesbitt and Peter Robinson exaggerate their “success” in Mid Ulster, hundreds of the loyalists that they left behind caused mayhem and destruction in Carnmoney, wrecking the offices of a family business which they had mistaken for the office of The Alliance Party.

    Unionism @ 2013 really is a bit of a mess is’nt it…?

  • NOT NOW JOHN

    “The real winner last night? Mike Nesbitt, the person with the most to lose on taking the gamble, a very pleased man at the count when it became clear that Nigel and team had exceed expectations, and further evidence that John and Basil made a complete dogs dinners of their long planned for mutiny”

    Mike Nesbitt was indeed the real winner. Rather than having to put up a UUP candidate against a DUP candidate and risk losing heavily and therefore have to deal with the further negative publicity that would have on his leadership, he was able to hide under the umberella of an agreed candidate. Any wonder he was smiling. But for how long?

    What did ‘unionism’ gain from getting 34% of the vote and losing the election that it wouldn’t have gained from a DUP candidate with 16%, a UUP candidate with 11% and a TUV candidate with 7% and still losing the election? What did ‘unionism’ gain from gaining less votes this time around with an agreed candidate that it didn’t gain from having more votes from three unionists candidates last time around?

    I put it to you that an agreed candidate didn’t make a blind bit of difference to the unionist vote and that no DUP supporter who voted for Lutton would have stayed at home instead had there been a DUP candidate on the list, that no UUP supporter who voted for Lutton would have stayed at home instead had there been a UUP candidate on the list and that no TUV supporter who voted for Lutton would have stayed at home instead had there been a TUV candidate on the list.

    The smiles from Mike and Pete may have been genuine but they are not because of any benefit gained by unionist voters. Mid Ulster has served its purpose. Francie Molloy still got elected. Peter Robinson got his way. The fleg still flies at BCH on designated days. And Mike Nesbitt survives to fail to win another seat on another not far off day.

  • FDM

    @keano10 (profile)

    9 March 2013 at 8:23 am

    As Mike Nesbitt and Peter Robinson exaggerate their “success” in Mid Ulster, hundreds of the loyalists that they left behind caused mayhem and destruction in Carnmoney, wrecking the offices of a family business which they had mistaken for the office of The Alliance Party.

    Unionism @ 2013 really is a bit of a mess is’nt it…?
    ———————–

    Spot on keano.

    The DUP this week gave the PUL community the green flag [pardon the pun] to go out and wreck the place again and they have trooped along to do so.

    The vacant, decadent and degenerate politics of “Unionism” [Read:protestant nationalism] has demonstrably nothing positive to offer this society.

    Is there anyone with a shred of integrity left within “Unionism”?

  • JR

    As a nationalist it is hard to see why the Unionists are getting so excited about this measly 1% rise in their vote until you look and see how rare it is for the combined unionist vote to go up. It has fallen in nearly every election everywhere for decades and this increase has happened in a constituency which has seen a 3%.fall in the no of Protestants and a 1% rise in the no of Catholics between 2001 and 2011.

    Despite the meaninglessness of this bi election result there is probably just enough bait for the Unionist unity trap. Mike Nesbitt is not used to good news and there is just enough in this for him to grab it with both hands. If unionists peruse this single candidate route it can only weaken Unionism and that can only be good for Nationalists.

    PS It does look bad when he wont shake Francies hand.

  • Viridiplantae

    JR

    The point of unionist unity is that the grassroots see no difference worth a damn between the present DUP and the present UUP. With Robinson’s outreach to Catholics and Tom Elliott’s “scum” election speech and so forth the idea that the DUP is “extreme” and the UUP “moderate” doesn’t even make much sense any more. The SDP and the Liberal Party or the tories and UKIP look as far apart as the BNP and SWP in comparison.

    I have no objection to there being two unionist parties if one is Basil McCrea’s and the other is a DUP/UUP combo or one is the TUV and the other is a DUP/UUP combo, and then let the voters decide where they have something to decide about other than a brand name, but I grasp for a point in there being a choice between the present DUP and the present UUP and I find nothing. It’s like choosing between Daz and Persil but where the powder inside was made in the same factory on the same machine, on the same day.

  • 241934 john brennan

    Apathy won hans down zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • Comrade Stalin

    UPC

    Or maybe they think the constituency should have representation in the country’s parliament?

    If that was the priority then the DUP/UUP/TUV would have told their supporters to vote for the SDLP in order to get Sinn Féin out. But of course they wouldn’t, because voting for fenians just isn’t an option.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Framer,

    In my role as the Vozhd I prefer to invoke the instantsiya rather than trouble myself with issues such as the ESA.

    But we’re talking about the UUP. The issue of the ESA cannot possibly be important to you, otherwise you’d have stood a candidate against the DUP and put it on the manifesto. Nah, I think Mike Nesbitt made the strategy very clear – the priority is to get a Prod elected, all other concerns are secondary.

  • Coll Ciotach

    So the resurrectionist has snatched the UUP body? – it looks as if it has been bought by Peter and the cost was 2 MLA’s

  • JR,
    The combined unionist vote actually fell in real terms.

  • Zig70

    Vote for ussuns cus themuns killed my da. Not sure if unionism backed into a christian fundamentalist corner defined by what/who they are against is better than a split vote. Either way part of me would have liked to see Mr Lutton win to see how the whip was handled. Slightly aside, Nesbitt was so patronising on radio ulster on abortion, yesterday. The jist was that people who have abortions are generally a bit thick and need his support. The man’s a star. The story for me was that the SDLP haven’t regrouped and found a way to connect to their potential vote. Brid’s outburst was a sign of the frustration. With a leader avoiding the media, they look like an incoherent bunch.

  • Pia_Lugum

    Drumlins Rock
    You are on record in your piece where you start off by congratulating Francie Molloy on his elevation to the House of Commons.
    It is hard to square this with your persistant defence of all things UUP – as I perceive it through your threads.
    Are you some sort of schitzophrenic MLA by any chance? Maybe an undercover friend of Basil and John! Just wondered!

  • Morpheus

    “Or maybe they think the constituency should have representation in the country’s parliament?”

    Do you honestly think that SF won’t go to Westminster? They are not stupid, they will take full advantage of having direct access to the corridors of power to have a word in the ear of those with the real power. I would say that at every opportunity they will be reminding the MPs of the regions which pays for Northern Ireland just how much NI costs.

    That’s where the real chippin’ away will be done.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I think SF are softening their approach on abstentionism and I wonder if they are preparing the ground to bring it to an end. The only serious issue preventing this is the matter of the oath. I doubt that David Cameron will be inclined to modify the oath – but a future Labour government might.

  • GEF
  • Drumlins Rock

    Pia, it is political practice to congratulate your opponent when they get elected, although for many it understandably would still remain difficult to extend this common practice to SF. I think you may notice it is rather tongue in cheek praise however I used on this occasion.

    CS, I thought the amendment to the oath was touted, its probably a matter of time more than anything, did Paul Maskey appear at some committee recently?

  • mjh

    Quite right DR. These courtesies may often be more ritualistic rather than heartfelt, but they make a contribution towards creating or maintaining a more civilised political climate.

    Such small politenesses are hardly noticed when they are present, but their absence screams.

    As you say, often missing in Northern Ireland, for understandable reasons on all sides. Which is why it gave me great pleasure to read your opening paragraph.

  • Neil

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/northern_ireland/

    A BBC Spotlight programme reveals that the DUP and leading figures from the UUP held talks about combining to form a single party.

    The talks failed, but helped fuel a continuing internal debate about co-operation between the parties.

    Seems to me the clock’s ticking towards the UUP’s demise. Or maybe it’s just wishful thinking.

  • Pia_Lugum

    Surely the UUP slipped into terminal demise after the GFA. The present face of this party is a tribute to the embalming skills of Nigel and others who have preserved the image, etc. without any sign of visible life being detectable. RIP.

  • magherafelt red

    Can anyone from the UUP confirm or deny the rumours that have been circulating in Magherafelt that during the election campaign the DUP and Nigel Lutton were banished from the UUP office in Moneymore.

  • Comrade Stalin

    DR,

    Yeah Maskey showed up at a committee somewhere, and I’m sure this wasn’t some sort of a slip or a one-off. It’s as if they are warming their supporters up to their presence at Westminster so that if the oath is ever liberalized SF will present sitting in the chamber as a small technicality.

    Throw into the mix the whole thing about double jobbing and MPs/MLAs resigning one of their jobs. It is very unlikely that the British would have implemented this in the forthcoming miscellaneous provisions legislation if SF had resisted it. Part of me wonders if Gerry is clearing the senior Shinners out of the assembly so that he can more easily control the assembly party there, but I wonder if it is part of a move to eventually end abstentionism as well.

    BTW I’d add my voice to your congratulating the winner of the seat. It’s heart warming to see people being civilized once in a while.

  • Pia_Lugum

    mr,
    I heard about this particular UUP office being the centre for much publicised police and farming operations lately but find it difficult to understand or even believe that the MLA would eject the scarce as hen’s teeth unity candidate in the mouth of an important by election!
    Did the man perhaps say something out of place? Maybe Nigel will break his silence on this soon!

  • Drumlins Rock

    Came across this old article, the unionist turnout and results in Mid-Ulster have proved the risk was talking, with the added bonus of losing Jasil.