DUP-are they really the voice of Unionism?

This piece is a bit delayed but rounding off the party analyses of the four major parties I present to you the electoral performance of the DUP over the past 15 years.

Instead of focusing on gains that the party has made over the last number of years I thought I would take a look at the DUP’s constant charge that they are the true voice of Unionism. But before I go into the numbers I will briefly run through their rise since 1998.

In the 1998 assembly election, the DUP won a respectable 146,989 votes (18.1%), securing 20 seats. This put the party just 8 seats behind the UUP and confirmed them as the main ant-agreement force in the assembly.

The party has ever since continued its rise overtaking the UUP in 2003 and gradually in the two subsequent elections increased its number of seats and until 2011 its share of the vote. They have been much more successful than Sinn Fein in taking votes off their main rivals. Since 1998, the party has picked up around 61 per cent (51,447 votes) of the voters who have left the UUP.

But what about the party’s share of the combined Unionist vote? Now this was a bit tricky to figure out as there is some debate as to whether you can include Alliance in the Unionist fold. So doing a bit of research I have managed to track down most of the affiliations of some independent assembly candidates and will give figures including and excluding the Alliance party.

In 1998, the combined Unionist vote (excluding Alliance) was 409,964 votes. The DUP’s total share of this was 35.8%. A strong showing considering they were heavily defeated in the Good Friday Agreement referendum. Moreover, it highlights that the overwhelming majority of those who were against the agreement voted for the DUP.

Note-If you include the Alliance party (52,636 votes) in those figures the DUP’s share of the Unionist vote falls to 31.7%.

Fast forward to 2011, the party has nearly doubled its share of the Unionist vote. Although I must point out that it is a much smaller pie than it was in 1998. At the last election, the combined Unionist vote was 317,693 votes (excluding Alliance). The DUP’s share of this total vote was a staggering 62.4%.

Note-If you include Alliance (50,875) their share of the vote goes down to 53.8%. A great deal lower but still a solid majority of the Unionist vote.

The future

The DUP has had a charmed existence for the past 15 years. It has survived scandals, intrigue and the departure of its founder Ian Paisley.

What the party has always had going in its favour was its strong organisation and discipline. However, looking to the future, Peter Robinson is currently in the last few years of his career and there is no clear successor to him. The party will likely face a divisive leadership ballot as various factions within the party jockey for position.

At present there is no major threat to them. The UUP are still looking inward, the TUV are still a one man band and UKIP/PUP are too weak organisationally. All of this could change in the years ahead.

At the moment the DUP are the voice of Unionism, whether it stays that way for much longer is another matter.

 

 

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  • OneNI

    Interesting article. The most telling line being ‘I must point out that it is a much smaller pie’
    Truth is that while the DUP wins the struggle to beat the likes of the UUP for the old style Protestant unionist vote both fail completely and utterly to attract growing numbers of pro Union people from both sides of the community.
    In their insular ways and their determination to keep Northern Ireland at one step remove from UK politics they are both anti British and a great threat to the Union

  • Charles_Gould

    David

    Very interesting blog.

    Alliance are agnostic on the union – they do not believe in it one way or other – so cannot be described as unionist or pro-union.

    It’s worth noting that those voices claiming that Peter Robinson was planning to retire shortly seem to have gone quiet.

    You say there is no obvious successor. I would suggest that there is no *one* obvious successor. Arlene and Sammy seem the two most obvious.

    There are a number of future leaders looking forwad 5 or 10 years. Arlene Foster and Simon Hamilton spring to mind in generations X and Y.

  • Charles_Gould

    I should have said that Alliance say they are “agnostic on the union”. That expression comes from them, not me.

  • MrPMartin

    If we look at the major parties in turn:
    SDLP
    Their big beasts all stepped down almost at once leaving their party subject to being led by a succession of political pygmies with electoral results to match their decline in leadership and thus status
    Result : Decline

    UUP
    Trimble was routed of course but he was a big beast. I believe the electoral punishment meted out in 2001 could have been temporary and could have recovered had Trimble took it on the chin and stayed on. But he left. Like the SDLP, the UUP suffered all their big beasts leaving the jungle more or less at once
    Result : like the SDLP, decline

    DUP
    Paisley was the biggest beast of them all but Robinson wasn’t far behind. Paisley was replaced by Robinson thus had a crucial continuity of strong leadership that spans pre/post GFA
    Result : advancement and success

    Sinn Fein
    Almost a parallel development to the DUP
    Adams has left the northern theatre of war and McGuinness has assumed the de facto mantle of Northern leader
    Result : Success and Advancement

    Prognosis
    DUP will consolidate even when Robison retires. They have carefully nurtured the rising generation and they have many worthy possible successors (Arlene, Simon or even Gavin) I don’t see the old war horses of pre GFA times taking the reins ( Gregory, Nigel etc) Sammy could and having met him personally he is a man who hides his immense intellect under a bushel of electoral expediency.

    Sinn Fein however will feel the strain of straddling two jurisdictions and speaking contradictions from both corners of their mouths. Pro austerity in Ni, anti austerity in Eire. Will the real Sinn Fein please stand up?
    Who would succeed Adams? McGuinness perhaps but he would need to make a choice between being a TD and DFM (or even FM)
    Could Mary Lou or Pearse? Both excellent choices for Eire but the lack of a total leader in the north especially if McGuinness retires would expose the cracks between SF on both sides of the border and would result in SF taking divergent paths unconsciously against their will. This may have consequences for their future. Unless a UI is secured quick, their party may stagnate or even implode as time advances and the memory of the armed struggle recedes into myth and legend as it will

    UUP
    I honestly can see a future for them. I forsee them winding up like the National Party of South Africa and its members dispersing to DUP/Alliance/ UKIP/NI21
    It is worth pointing out that in no other party can one seriously envisage its members being members of so many other parties in existence. Parties are broad churches indeed but UUP take this beyond the bounds

    SDLP
    The loss of Conal was a blow to the solar plexus. He was the stellar performer and understood the new media age like an expert. Without a Conal clone, the party is in endanger of of becoming an irrevelence unless it radically changes its approach and methods. Where is it on the ground? Where is its fervour. For a supposed Labour Party it has morphed into trying to out green SF and failing as we expect abjectly miserably. They are like paddington bear in a leather jacket.

    NI21
    The dark horses. People have scoffed at Basil and he has been seen as a Don Quixote but Basil is man of vision , pragmatism and the ability to reach down into and extract electoral oil from the deep dormant ample wells of disinterest amongst people who support their aims and principles in spirit. If they keep their nerve and nurture the sapling, a great oak will grow

    Alliance
    Steady as she goes. For a small party they have ample beasts. Farry , Ford and Long but Long’s exile to Westminster I beleive has backfired. She is needed in Ni and her decline in media exposure since 2005 has been to the party’s detriment. Also ni21 will steal a march from Alliance. I forsee electoral pact or even merger at some point when NI21 reach a critical mass

    TUV
    Allister is a one man band. His party will vanish just as UKUP did when McCartney left the stage. Sinn Fein can take more risks than DUP as there is really no republican electoral equivalent in terms of strength as the TUV. When the TUV vanish as they will, the DUP will be freer to move into more central ground. I predict that the death of the TUV will be the death of the UUP for this very reason

  • Charles_Gould

    P Martin

    SF

    Sinn Féin will almost certainly have Mary Lou as leader, and sooner rather than later. The leader in the north will be whoever the DFM is. I don’t find it so hard to see that working as you do.

    SDLP

    I agree the loss of Conall was a massive setback. He was a very talented person and had a vision that made a lot of sense.

    You ask “Where is it on the ground? Where is its fervour. For a supposed Labour Party it has morphed into trying to out green SF ”

    I actually don’t agree with this. They are strong in Derry, South Down, and South Belfast. They could do better in West Belfast. SF are not invincible – they are in government so should experience popularity issues as all governing parties do from time to time.

    Alliance

    Long is not very good in Westminster. While the SDLP’s MPs – Durkan, McDonnell, and Ritchie – are all good parliamentarians in the commons, and the same can be said of many DUP MPs – I have hardly ever heard Long making an effective speech. I may be wrong on this but she could be more participative.

    I don’t see NI21 and Alliance doing pacts. They are too rivalrous and their histories suggest an aversion to electoral pacts.

    TUV

    I think you are too dismissive. Allister took some councillors with him when he left – he speaks to a constituency that is there and is not going away. He is also Allister gaining support among those who like his intellect and willingness to rock the boat. I see him adding an MLA next time in a unionist constituency where he stands a strong candidate. A lot of his candidates were not that strong last time, but others do seem to be strong. He could even bring in a second seat in North Antrim. I agree that they would stay small. In fact they perform very strongly as a one-man band.

  • Charles_Gould

    I also maintain that the SDLP are a Labour party. Their contributions to debate in the House of Commons is of a standard that is very high, higher *on average* than the other MPs from any party on the Commons, and the ideological position of those contributions is definitely Labour as opposed to Conservative.

  • MrPMartin

    Hi Charles

    Yes, SDLP maybe electorally strong in those areas you mention but that’s more the strength of a stone that is speeding down a slope from the great height as opposed to strength being borne from actually imagination-capturing and street level work

    Sinn Fein
    The twin-leader paradigm has only worked courtesy of the cult of personality and presence of both Adam/McGuinness. I can see this model running into trouble when both are replaced by politicians who have no pre GFA history

    Alliance
    Perhaps you are correct. I agree with your assessment of Long

    TUV
    I recognise McAllisters strengths as ample as they are
    A formidable politician no doubt and maybe you are right that he may carry a second MLA with him but their USP is no sell out to Sinn Fein. While this does have a constituency, its a USP that will wane with time when SF’s bogey man status amongst PUL diminishes, something that would be accelerated by the departure of SFs former IRA leaders from the stage. Lets put it like this, fast forward to 2040, what would the TUV be for? They would become an anachronistic irrevelence. Their objection to Stormont structures would be as silly as objecting to the spoils of the Glorious Revolution. They are a party still fighting the 1998 GFA referendum. Hardly the stuff of future development

  • cynic2

    The DUP are the voice of a section of Unionism

    – the old, poor, leaderless dispossessed, unnecessarily fearful and not very bright (and seek to keep em that way)

    – the benefit claimants who wont work and see them as their protectors so long as they support the party and lodge

    – the paramilitaries who leech off the grant system

    – the property developers, shysters and those who seek after Government contracts and aren’t above pulling a few ‘favours’ to get them

    Indeed most of those whose parents, a generation back, would have despised themus for the very same alleged traits

  • Charles_Gould

    MrPMartin

    On the TUV I think their strength is that there is an obvious role for them: they are free to oppose the DUP on standard unionist concerns. That does give them a role the UUP can’t adopt while they are in an all-inclusive executive.

    As for opposing Stormont structures: (i) they do a lot more than that, they oppose the things the DUP and the other parties do in practice with their power and are actually very effective at that scrutiny role and (ii) the Stormont structures are hardly ideal.

    They are an opposition party and are good at that.

    So I think that gives them a constituency of support for the next 5 years. Not saying they will grow much, but I think they are not going away soon.

    Your original post envisages a DUP moving to the centre – in givernment – and with nothing to oppose them on traditional unionist territory. I just don’t think that sort of vacuum would happen, in a STV electoral system. The history of NI over the last 50 years suggests that if the DUP move to the centre there would be a traditional party (however small) to oppose it.

  • Charles_Gould

    cynic2

    The DUP get most unionist votes so their support must be more widespread in middle class communities than you suggest.

  • MrPMartin

    Hi Charles

    TUV
    again, I give way. You have a point but it will be always be a rump and never be more than that at best but I do think it will vanish.

    However
    I am confused over their oppositional positions on matters than are not rooted in DUPs relationship with SF or GFA.

    Imagine if SF didn’t exist and powersharing was between DUP/SDLP etc without SF

    Under this alternative history scenario, McAllister et al would still be members of the DUP. would they have still broken away over issues such as housing executive policy, economy etc?

    I rather suspect not. I suspect their opposition within ‘bread and butter’ matters is really opposition for its own sake. Right now, if the DUP said Dec25th was Christmas Day, the TUV would probably cry oh no it’s not just for the sake of it

    When you fall out with someone, you tend to oppose all they stand for even if you don’t really

    SDLP
    yes, to paraphrase and steal from Owen Jones, they are Tony Benns in Westminster and mere Blairites in Stormont

  • MrPMartin

    The TUV will never do the DUP what the DUP did to the UUP.
    TUV had their moments to strike the fatal blow during several perfect storms in the past few years but failed.

    If they haven’t done so by now, they never will

  • MrPMartin

    Cynic

    In other words, a unionist version of Fianna Fail

  • Charles_Gould

    MrPMartin

    By the way it’s Allister, not McAllister.

  • MrPMartin

    I stand corrected

  • David,
    Thanks for the figures. The center of unionism after the GFA was with the anti-agreement skeptics within the UUP. Donaldson, Foster, and Weir represented the default unionist position: skeptical about the IRA ever decommissioning, suspicious of London, but wary of the Paisley wing of the DUP. When they went to the DUP in 2001 the center moved with them. By 2003 the DUP had replaced the UUP as the main unionist party and utterly devastated it in the 2005 general election. Foster is now competing with Sammy Wilson to be Robinson’s successor as party leader. I’m surprised that Donaldson hasn’t done better for himself than he has since defecting, but maybe he is not as ambitious as he seemed when he was hectoring Trimble about the GFA from 1998 to 2001.

    By the way what happened to Peter Weir? I don’t believe that he defected to the DUP and he seems to have just dropped out of politics.

  • Red Lion

    Mr P Martin,
    Love your description of NI21! Namely-

    NI21
    “”The dark horses. People have scoffed at Basil and he has been seen as a Don Quixote but Basil is man of vision , pragmatism and the ability to reach down into and extract electoral oil from the deep dormant ample wells of disinterest amongst people who support their aims and principles in spirit. If they keep their nerve and nurture the sapling, a great oak will grow””

    I very much concur. I would add that I think it completely possible that NI21 can take even 10,000 votes directly off DUP next time out, quite possibly more. This brings the DUP’s 198,000 votes down closer to SF’s 178,000.

    I believe a NI21 which gains traction can help ensure an expansion of the middle ground and hopefully mean the DUP-SF carve up politic has reached its high water mark. It has to gain traction though and this is where the question remains can they invigorate non-voters, but solid firm foundations seem to be being laid.

    As NI21 get more and more organised and more and more assertive and articulate with a confident, civic, pluralist, modern, secular, reformed pro-union ideal, I expect DUP to lash out and cry ‘lundy’. As you say they must hold their nerve.

  • Since this discusssion has widened to include non-unionist parties, what about the other successful opposition party, the NI Green Party.

  • Charles_Gould

    tmich57

    Peter Wier did defect to the DUP. He is now a DUP MLA and the DUP’s Chief Whip in the Assembly. He is a regular speaker in the Assembly in debates, particlarly on legal and justice issues. He is one of the Assembly’s more fluent speakers, able to think on his feet.

  • Red Lion

    BTW I think the DUP have a ready made leader-in-waiting, Arlene Foster.

    She ticks a lot of boxes, has ‘acted-up’ before, suits the DUP pro-business outlook with her experience as Entreprise Minister, ex-UUP could be an asset in taking UUP votes or any pact or merger with UUP, was a victim of the Troubles her schoolbus being bombed as a schoolgirl, and as a woman might encourage and represent the female half of the population.

    However, wouldn’t be like the DUP to miss a trick or anything

  • MrPMartin

    Arlene could be the Angela Merkel of Ulster

  • MrPMartin

    Davenewman

    Good point re Green Party

    As worthy as they are, our fledgling democracy here is not the fertile soil for such a party to grow as it has in other democracies. Societies just like individuals also align to Maslow’s Heirarchies of Need. Greens do well in otherwise largely contented non fractious societies. I bet there’s not a green movement worth speaking off in Bosnia or Kosovo for example

    Yes there’s North Down & SBelfast of course but this points to the higher political engagement of the middle classes in those constituencies than others. I bet there’s little Green Party activism in west Tyrone or West Belfast

  • cynic2

    “their support must be more widespread ”

    There’s a lot of fearful middle-class prods who see themuns getting in down the golf club, rising through the ranks at work and seeming almost human.

    Next thing they will be sleeping with their daughters and seducing their sons,. The world has gone mad old chap.

    Even saw a black man in church last week and the sermon was on love thy neighbour.

    For many nPresbyterians and Methodists when the Minister talked about fostering good relations among the churches they thought that meeting with the Church of Ireland was even going a bit too close to Rome for their tastes. Now they quiver in the pews hoping desperately that any bells or smells are just tinnitus and the man in front’s aftershave

  • ThomasPaine

    If Arlene does become DUP leader and thus FM, then it will be a terrible day for the prospects of society moving on. Any hope of the shared peaceful future always talked about (but actually only really strived for by a minority) will go down the pan. Unfortunately this is what I see happening.

    Arlene is like Sammy. Very intelligent but a coward. She knows that given her gender and the history of her party and its voters, she will have to become Thatcheresqe in her behaviour and her decisions. The Iron Lady Mark II. She will have to prove that she’ll be no push over, and that she’s not some wee girl for SF to bully. Nobody with a modicum of intelligence actually thinks this would ever be the case, but unfortunately grass roots unionist voters are thick as pig shite (like their republican counterparts of course).

    As a result Arlene would cause an awful lot of problems for any possibility of moving on together. Any future must involve a lot of give and take (ethical and sensible give and take, not the sort of sectarian carve up SF & the DUP are producing). She knows that she would be in no position to give anything, lest Allister and possible rivals within the DUP would jump all over her for being weak.

    Mary Lou will be SF leader, north and south. Too smart and talented not to be. Consistently impressed with her.

    Regardless, heres hoping Alliance, NI21, SDLP and the liberal wing of the UUP get their act together and smash the DUP/TUV/SF. Then we might get some progress. Alas, this is but a dream. Continued SF/DUP domination with or without two female leaders is what will happen because the electorate are too stupid and/or bitter to deliver anything else.

  • Granni Trixie

    On what evidence do you talk up the chances of NI21 to prosper?

    I would genuinely like to know your reasoning especially in a week where basil made the headlines for bad judgment.

  • Charles_Gould

    I am not that optimistic about NI21 Granni. They are very untested and I think they have pitched their tent on Lib-Dem type politics, that has relatively limited appeal. They may win their two MLAs, through a personal vote as much as a political one but I don’t see much beyond that.

  • Red Lion

    ThomasP I think the liberal wing of the current UUP is almost not worth talking about – they have already jumped ship to NI21 or will do so, or remain denial in a withering party that has abandoned progressive values.

    I would say it is the SDLP that needs to sort itself out in the so called moderate end of things – do they keep trying to be as republican as SF on certain issues, or do they follow a moderate path?

    GrannieTrixie, of course in one sense you are right, evidence of NI21 success at this stage is speculative, it is very early days.

    However, at this stage I personally remain hopeful and optimistic, we will get more of a feel for things after their conference on 16 Nov.

    NI21 have 2 MLA’s so not starting from scratch, a better than negligible survey result (4.7% I think), and a membership of what I understand to be several hundred (drawn from all constituencies though don’t know numbers in each), not bad foundations. They have also established student bodies, have a decent social media set-up, a launch event that was a full house and are going into next months conference ready to set up local constituency associations at that event. All after just 4 or 5 months, my glass is half full.

    They have also set their stall out assertively on certain issues like Flags, Parades, Gay rights etc, very differenT from DUP/UUP – such stances from a pro-union party is certainly different and appealing I remain hopeful

  • Red Lion

    Getting back to the question posed in the title of the thread, I think OneNI sums it up very well in the first post-

    “”Truth is that while the DUP wins the struggle to beat the likes of the UUP for the old style Protestant unionist vote both fail completely and utterly to attract growing numbers of pro Union people from both sides of the community.
    In their insular ways and their determination to keep Northern Ireland at one step remove from UK politics they are both anti British and a great threat to the Union””

    DUP are not the voice of the pro-union people.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Also ni21 will steal a march from Alliance. I forsee electoral pact or even merger at some point when NI21 reach a critical mass

    That’s a brave prediction given that NI21 doesn’t have any policies. NI21 are not a serious threat to anyone as yet. I see no evidence that NI21 have progressed beyond being a letterhead on top of Basil McCrea’s press statements. They’re a decent bunch of people but they’re not set up to do politics. My prediction is that they’ll fold after the next Assembly election when NI21 come back with only one MLA.

    If anyone is going to nick seats off Alliance it will be the Greens who will probably target East Belfast where theoretically they could win a seat (if they did it right). The East Belfast vote is liberal and Judith Cochrane is, frankly, not a liberal. Had there been no Green candidate in 2011 Alliance would have taken a second assembly seat in North Down.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Red Lion,

    I’ll save you the trouble.

    The NI21 conference will consist of a lot of bright young things (and a few models for good measure) making great speeches about NI’s potential for a wonderful future, and a big set-piece speech by Basil where he echoes these wonderful ideas and takes a dig at all the existing parties.

  • Red Lion

    Gosh Comrade, sounds like Alliance minus the models and the pro-union bit, and with no flag waving or gospel singing either, might just prove popular.

    East Belfast is only a liberal vote in part. As far as I can tell Little and Cochrane have been seen as not up to much, really shuda had Long as an East MLA Alliance missed a trick there.

  • Granni Trixie

    This is mainly a male blog. If you can’t see that ‘launching’ with “lovely Girls” and then compounding that with “judging lovely girls” is not a good start I think we may all give up. As a member of APNI I do not fear ni21.o

  • Comrade Stalin

    Being popular and winning votes are not quite the same thing. According to the usual Belfast Telegraph polls, NI21 and Alliance should sweep the board. But they never do. Translating popularity into votes is hard.

    I don’t live in East Belfast so I can’t say who has been seen or not seen but I don’t think your characterization is true – but we’ll see at election time. I think it was important for Alliance to show that its values could beat the DUP in an election.

  • “Peter Wier did defect to the DUP.”

    @charles_gould,

    So he was the third member of the defector trio. But there was one prominent member of the UUP dissidents from 1998 to 2001, an attorney, who did not defect and either just remained in the party or dropped out of political activity all together. Can you think of whom I mean?

  • Charles_Gould

    “So he was the third member of the defector trio.”

    Well he defected well before the others in 2002; after being deselected for the North Down constituency. Donaldson/Arlene defected 2004.

    Yes I know the person you mean who has moved out of politics and is now in the legal profession.

  • Charles_Gould

    You are talking about Peter King I believe.

  • Red Lion

    lol Granni yes getting mixed up in the model thing is probably not the best thing but I don’t think it will harm NI21’s chances, I think all the other promising stuff I mentioned will not be offset by it.

    If NI21 have a decent enough candidate in East Belfast they will take votes there, remains to be see who from but I’d expect some Alliance votes to be some of them. All remains to be seen. A good old sham fight between NI21 AND APNI in East might do wonders.

    Word is Ms Hendron and city councillor Laura McNamee are better thought of than the 2 Alliance MLA’s. Just my impression. Niomi Long very well thought of.

  • DC

    Get – the underrated – Mervyn Jones in as an MLA, man you can trust.

    http://victorpatterson.photoshelter.com/image/I0000cTdKwuUZPHQ

  • Charles_Gould

    Fascinating documentary by John Simpson on the BBC on the uptake of the Northern Irish identity among young people, the growth of mixed neighbourhoods, and how history is losing its power in Northern Ireland. The last steps now is for the peace walls to come down and integrated education to be brought in: these two should go hand in hand. Are the DUP up for that process?

  • Pete Rock

    What documentary was this Charles?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Charles,

    I don’t recall an MLA called Peter King at all.

    There was a Steven King who was Trimble’s advisor.

    Red Lion,

    A good old sham fight between NI21 AND APNI in East might do wonders.

    It might do if NI21 had a candidate there.

  • Morpheus

    Are the DUP the voice of unionism?

    They get the lion’s share of pro-Union Protestant votes but that’s the easy part – they just bang on the Orange tom-toms and whip out the ‘if you don’t vote for us then Sinn Fein will [insert rhetoric and cliches here]’ card

    According to the 2012 NILT survey 1% of Catholic would vote DUP – interestingly 0% would vote UUP -which in a soon-to-be-Catholic-majority Northern Ireland has got to be a worrying prospect for the future of the party.

  • Charles_Gould

    CS

    You are getting your Kings confused, while tmich is getting his Peters confused.

    Stephen King was as you say DT’s advisor.

    Peter King (as opposed to Peter Weir) was never an MLA but was one of those promising young UUP types who was anti-GFA in 1998 decided to go into law rater than be a MLA. If you wiki him, you will see he is now very successful in the legal profession. His subsequent success in law shows that the view (at the time) that he was a big loss of talent to the UUP may have been quite accurate.

  • Charles_Gould

    I hope that Stephen KIng is well – he has now disappeared from public life. I always found him an interesting and thoughtful advocate of Trimbleism.

  • @Charles_Gould,

    No, it wasn’t Peter King I was thinking of. It was an MLA, possibly from Co. Londonderry or Coleraine. His first name might have been Mitchell. I wouldn’t have known any of the student Unionists from QUB or UU–not that I knew any of the UUP first hand.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Steven King was in poor health a while back but I hadn’t heard any more.

    There certainly wasn’t an MLA called Peter King, that may be where the confusing is coming from.

    tmitch, I went down through the East L’Derry and North Antrim results from 1998 onwards. No Mitchell or anyone sounding like Mitchell.

  • Barry the Blender

    Judith Cochrane is, frankly, not a liberal.

    Surely being a member of the Alliance party automatically makes her liberal intelligentsia.

  • Charles_Gould

    tmitch

    Peter King was elected to the Forum in 1996 for South Antrim.

    No idea who you mean in East Londonderry.