UUP could return to the Executive.

The UUP launched their alternative vision document today highlighting what they will do differently from the current DUP/Sinn Fein Executive. 

However, today Mike Nesbitt gave the clearest indication yet that his party could be returning to the Executive after May’s election.

Nesbitt said that the if the next Executive has a progressive programme for government and the will to deliver it then the UUP could re-join the Executive.


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  • Mister_Joe

    You know what Einstein said? “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of madness”. nuff said.

  • Ernekid

    Einstein didn’t say that. An actor in a film playing a fictional version of Einstein said that. It wouldnt have made any sense for a scientist like Einstein to say that as Trying things over and over again and expecting different results is a core part of the scientific method

  • Brendan Heading

    I just skimmed this document. For a “vision” it is strikingly bereft of anything in the way of specific proposals or pledges regarding what the UUP will do if elected to serve in government.

  • Brendan Heading

    I’d argue that repeating things over and over again and expecting the same results is a core part of scientific method 😉

  • Granni Trixie

    Is the Pope a Catholic?

  • Roy Reilly-Robertson

    Nesbitt has to watch himself here or he will be looking at being seen as too clever by half. What he seems to have done is give the UUP enough wriggle room to join, or not, the next Executive but if he does join there has to be REAL advantages to be seen for parties other than DUP and SF in being uncritical signed up members.

  • Brendan Heading

    I thought it was amusing that the Ulster Unionists would quote sections from the American Declaration of Independence, a republican document that was a manifesto for ending British colonial rule. I’m pretty sure, as supporters of the monarchy, that the UUP do not hold that “all men are created equal”.

    It’s welcome that the document notes that there is no appetite for constitutional change in Northern Ireland, although that is not what the UUP were saying when they entered into a pact with the DUP. And I’m not sure what unionists are hoping to do by complaining that republicans won’t use the term “Northern Ireland” except keep the tribal identity pot on the boil as usual.

    Aside from these bizarre inconsistencies, the document reads like a codification of Mike Nesbitt’s neural processes. It consists of a lot of talk – valid criticisms and rhetoric about “action plans”, “ending bureaucracy” and “being decisive”, but offers nothing in the way of concrete proposals to actually accomplish anything.

    For example, they note on page 5 that none of the SIF money was spent. As a solution they propose that they will “work tirelessly to ensure the funding and resources at our disposal as a devolved government are allocated in a timely and transparent manner“. Work tirelessly at what ?

    later :

    An Ulster Unionist led Executive will reverse that trend, with action over words. – this has got to be the most thoroughly worn out cliché there is. What action ?

    As stated, the Ulster Unionist vision is to Make Northern Ireland Work, with clearly articulated measures of success. – where are they “clearly articulated” ?

    When i asked about this on twitter the reply I got was that another 8 documents were coming out which will explain all of this. I’m not holding my breath.

  • Neil

    I recall many people talking of Nesbitt’s great tactical nous when he did his flouncing act with the DUP. Now with the issues causing their departure remaining unresolved and arguably worse, we shall see what kind of poll bounce the UUP get when the DUP pillories them when they decide to flounce back in again, as was always going to happen. That’s the problem when you leave and everyone shrugs *meh* and carries on without you.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    they did OK in May
    plus it did have an impact on the political mood at the time. One of the main unionist parties had to signal that the IRA scandal couldn’t be treated as just another episode to muddle through. UUP spoke for many there in wanting to draw the line.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    you’re surprised at unionist references to the American Declaration of Independence? Some history: https://www.ulsterscotsagency.com/fs/doc/new_range_of_ulster-scots_booklets/US_and_Dec_of_Ind_BK4_AW_4.pdf
    Ulster Scots history is hardly devoid of attachment to the idea of individual rights and kicking back against state power – and if you see unionists as sheep-like followers of whatever Westminster governments do, you may have missed a trick or two. And if you grasp the importance of a sense of autonomy to unionist sentiment and the deep mistrust of nabobs from across the water, you might end up liking unionists a bit more. The emergence and growth of Irish nationalism in the 19th Century pushed unionists, in various waves, away from a focus on the looseness of relationships with the rest of the country and more towards a focus on maintaining some solidity. Liberal Unionism was a big casualty of that. But it survives within the broad church of unionism, under the radar mainly. It is nice when unionists reference the radical and progressive tradition that many of our forbears championed, even if the dominance of nationalism in Ireland created a very hard environment for British-leaning progressive politics to survive. It would be great if more unionists now were able to take up again the progressive and radical cause – within the UK of course, as Isabella Tod would have wanted.

  • Neil

    They did very well in May, and at that time Mike was playing a bit of a blinder, then the walkout in August or so? Everyone thought he was playing a blinder at that stage too, though a few commentors suggested walking out in principle was the easy part; walking back in while nonchalantly ignoring the principle that led to the walkout is the difficult part. The drew the line, and are now going to walk over it willingly and I suspect the DUP won’t be giving them a particularly easy ride, but we’ll see.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    true that was always going to be the awkward part; but better that than sitting on their hands over the IRA “control” revelations. On that, do we know btw what has been done to sever SF’s links with the IRA? I’m not following it every day but I haven’t heard much.

  • Neil

    As I understand it, it suits everyone to ignore the issue and move on, so this has duly been done. If anyone bothered reading the most recent agreement they could tell you more…

  • MainlandUlsterman

    must admit I haven’t read it yet … will do at some point.

  • chrisjones2

    Copying the DUP again ……………………..in ………….out

  • Lord Coleraine

    My favourite bit is shaking it all about.

  • Brendan Heading

    This was a bit of a strange reply.

    The UUP document is evoking the values of the US constitution – a republican document, which itself inspired other republican revolutions, not least the French Revolution, and the failed attempts of the United Irishmen – not the identities of those who wrote it.

    I don’t see unionists as sheep-like followers of a Westminster government, if only they were things would be a hell of a lot easier. Unionist politicans are uniformly pro-monarchy, though. Anyone who is pro-monarchy cannot possibly regard all men as having been made equal.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Unionists would argue that the UK is a state with similar modern, liberal democratic values to the US. And with our forebears so intimately bound up with the formation of the US, some unionists feel a strong connection with the Declaration. Remember many modern unionists also have forbears involved in 1798 – something that ended in a horrific sectarian genocide that dwarfs our Troubles – whose subsequent rejection of that experiment and embracing of the Union made unionism into the near universal creed of Ulster Protestant people thereafter.

    On the monarchy, I am myself a unionist who is anti-monarchy but I accept unionist politicians largely are pro-monarchy. But surely it is quite possible to regard all people as having been made equal and also favour constitutional monarchy? We’re not talking the Divine Right of Kings here. A list of modern liberal democracies who have pragmatically retained their monarchies includes Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Sweden as well as Commonwealth countries like Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The SNP favours retaining the Queen as head of state for an independent Scotland. I’m not seeing those places as any more benighted than republics in which there are massive inequalities such as the US, India, Brazil, South Africa and so on. And I say that as a British republican myself. Royal deference is irritating but it’s a small side-issue really in terms of how society works and how fair a country it is.

  • Brendan Heading

    I’m quite a big fan of the UK and I wouldn’t question for one second its modern liberal/democratic values. It’s extremely inconvenient that a lot of unionist politicians (not all, but a lot) find a lot of these values abhorrent.

    IMHO, unionism as we now know it is very much a 20th century phenomenon. The local tribal aspect of those with long standing unionist traditions stretches back quite some time before the 1798 rebellion.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I thought the joint RTE/BBC poll on social attitudes back in the autumn was interesting there – showed most ordinary Protestants are much more socially liberal than you would ever guess from listening just to unionist politicians.

    But unionism isn’t really a political creed or ideology, it’s really just an expression of the fact that nationalism needs to be countered to keep N Ireland from leaving the UK. That’s it really. As long as there’s a chance of that happening, there will be a need for some form of unionism. What I hope is that it becomes a less overt unionism, the kind of unionism of many in say the Lib Dems, Labour or Conservatives – not a big point for debate most of the time but an underpinning assumption, for parties that get on with normal politics. British national identity in Northern Ireland is not going away, if that’s what you mean – it can’t be written off as a 20th Century thing any more than Irishness can. The forms political unionism takes are more subject to change, but they’ll need to cover the pro-UK feelings of most people in some way or other, you can’t avoid that.