After #AE17, the UUP…

“When the history of this election written the first word is going to be ‘transfers’…” said Mark Carruthers of Mike Nesbitt’s only real contribution to a tumultuous campaign. The real problem the UUs had was its lack of resonant messages on the government record.

However, once said, transferring cannot be unsaid.  It’s the clear logic of anyone going into government to power share. And it wasn’t universally unpopular. The party increased its vote like almost everyone else. But by nothing like enough.

Their leader’s too eager determination to decapitate the government in the party’s new found glory as lead in the official opposition was the root cause. To borrow from Machiavelli, if you claim you will kill the Queen, you’d better be sure you actually do.

Or as one southern observer put it, it was as though they thought they were playing a game of chess against a wall, that in dictating the first move they also imagined they could control how the second, third and fourth would go.

In fact, the truth is that in politics once you make an aggressive opening move (like calling for Arlene to resign) you then hand over the second move to your opponent(s). Instead of making a more conservative play, Mike threw everything he had, consequent to that opening move, at one already fated game.

One major disruption later and his party has paid a huge price when they found that Sinn Fein had (after many years of playing the dormant crocodile suddenly rose up from the murky depths and not only showed its teeth but bit off nearly a third of his party.

Neither themselves or the SDLP were ready for this. Given its weak seat position beforehand the UUs always had more to lose from such an election. The weakening of the one now has serious implications for the other.

With Nesbitt stepping down now the party could do with having something of a very open internal conversation. Can it provide a home again for those unionists who were mortified (yet again) at the adolescent (and profoundly shallow) antics of Paul Givan over Liofa for instance?

The DUP’s presentation of themselves as Unionism’s only champions has created a scorched earth environment for middle ground Unionists, in the process demotivating the sort of civic-minded voters for whom the Ulster Unionists traditionally provided a home.

They’ve been harshly schooled in real politics. If you are small, then recognise you’re small and build slowly from the base. And don’t attack until you are certain you can win something from it. Small parties rarely bridge that gap in one.

Unionist turnout was depressed this time, in part because many of their voters were demotivated and frankly embarrassed by Arlene’s rabbit in the headlights performance, and the lack of an alternative place to go. The question is now: is it too late?

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  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    We have to have some form of prevailing moral culture “foisted” on society in some manner or another in order for society and laws to function. I don’t see what is wrong with some people getting inspiration for this from religion.

  • Gaygael

    Sf did exceptionally well on a very motivated base turnout. They got 17.7% in South Belfast. The SDLP, and DUP were both well ahead of them. Alliance were just below. These 3 parties ran 2 each and only the DUP came close to second. Not that close actually.

    Greens will dig deep in that seat and I don’t expect anyone to unseat them barring a calamity.

    Alliance and the SDLP both thought they would prevent it in 2016. The Alliance second runner also believed his own hype this year, which saw him score LESS than Duncan Morrow the last time out.

    The Green MLA is exceptionally transfer friendly, starting at 4200 and ending at 6700 with a gain of over 2500 transfers and surplus.

    If the cards had fallen slightly differently, and the UUP runner eliminated, I expect that the UUP transfer would have seen her elected comfortably. It only would have taken a transfer rate of approximately 10%.

  • Granni Trixie

    Can you not see that you have to think differently to resist a dominant discourse framed by implicit acceptance of ‘two sides’. For example, post election the focus is already on the rallying call for a unionist coalition not on demands for MLAs to live up to their responsibilities in terms of probity,accountability,transparency etc.
    You seem to be saying that as long as you are a ‘unionist’ you can do no wrong. If that is so what’s the point of having a FM who has no intention of doing things for the common good?

  • Gaygael

    Have a look at opinion polling. Over 70% reform for equal marriage. And the number keeps on growing.

    As previously and repeatedly stated, civil partnership are not equal to marriages, and nobody wants to force any faith group to conduct marriages against their will. It would be as ridiculous as asking catholics to remarry divorcees. It will work exactly that way.
    No stop with your ill-informed scaremongering.

  • North Down dup

    Didn’t say that, a large portion of the evangelical wing would leave the dup and that’s fact

  • Bobbell

    It comes from you saying anyone “committed to eradicating your nation” is guilty of treason. The SNP are arguably dedicated to ‘eradicating’ the UK, as it currently exists.

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    Opinion polling is irrelevant to what is the right and wrong thing to do. You don’t just change a millenia old institution on a sudden fashionable whim and hysteria.

    Elaborate on what is wrong with civil partnerships – a different arrangement for a different situation. Go on, concrete reasons on how civil partnerships oppress.

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    Again, I’m not religious so don’t know what you are getting at. I simply don’t think religious people should have their opinions shut down. The whole point of religion is opinions on morality on how people should interact with society so such views can’t “be kept to theirself”.

    It’s actually quite a complex issue with complex knock-on effects which do not get equal air time in the media – a media who also rarely reports the fact we already recently have had civil partnerships introduced. DUP is supporting the millennia-old status quo on marriage. If anyone is trying to “force the issue” it is those who are trying to suddenly redefine marriage within the past 3 years without careful consideration for the knock-on effects, just because virtue signalling for the oh-so “oppressed gays” (not) happens to be fashionable and right-on as activists in support have too much time on their hands to make it the latest fad for The Guardian, BBC, BT and rest of lunatic liberal media.

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    Chunky ar la de da.

  • mac tire

    *Shakes head in disbelief but still grabs another box of popcorn*

  • Gaygael

    Same sex couples have featured in out history long before the bearded guy in the Middle East. We have always been around, right back to our most tribal of societies. The emergence and dominance of certain faith groups over the last millennia led directly to our discrimination and ostracisation. We are slowly winning tolerance back. 79 countries still criminalise same-sex activity. Let’s see how that changes over this century as we roll back your outdated privileges.

    The differences between civil partnerships and marriage are something you should be appraised of before entering into this discussion. here are some of the key differences, but maybe you could do your own reading? My role is not to educate those that choose to oppress me.

    1) There are differences in relation to survivor pension entitlements.
    2) There are nuanced differences in relation to immigration rights.
    3) Civil partnerships (In NI) are barred from any religious conniptions or to take place in religious institutions, even if said faith groups wish to conduct the. Guess who are the opponents of religious freedom in this case? Yup. You.
    4) Until Minster Boots repeatedly lost the court case on adoption (after an attempt by the attorney general to intervene in an Austrian case which was not his Perdue and he was rightly slapped down for) civil partners were not allowed to apply for adoption.

    As a separate point, having a distant and separate way for the state to recognise relationships with an inherent imbalance is discriminatory. It’s coming to an end.

  • Gaygael

    I actually think there is space for a right wing conservative nationalist party, rather than the fringes of Sf and a significant wing of the SDLP.

    I would rather an outright Conservative party and get over the redundant ethnographic nationalism.

  • North Down dup

    One of the Irish parties, coming up north

  • Gaygael

    Crotier – formerly and occasionally of this parish, always bemoaned a lack of an outright big C social Conservative nationalist party here.

    If FG or FF come north, neither fits that bill. They support equal marriage and/or allow a conscience vote on abortion. Essentially, he and a tiny minority of others want a Nationalist DUP.

    Nationalist communties, having an institutional memory of oppression are unlikely to jump at this.

  • Ryan A

    The flag protests were a direct result of political unionism stirring up loyalists in working class areas. Don’t even think of trying to drop that one at Alliance’s door.

  • North Down dup

    So really all you have is the conservative wing of the sdlp, the dup would be perfect for conservative catholics, but we know most won’t go near them for obvious reasons

  • JOHN TURLEY

    When history looks back on this election it will be on the success of Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein and how
    Arlene Foster and the D.U.P. failed so much losing so many of their leading figures.
    God only knows if the U.U.P will be in existance.Arlene is sure to mop up some of them anyway.if she survives.

  • Gaygael

    Essentially its the DUP asking Catholics to forgot about the bile directed at their community by the Dup as they now direct that bile at another minority group.
    I don’t think it will work for any significant number of people.

  • North Down dup

    So no voice for the conservative RC

  • Skibo

    Mark would that be where the unicorns live?
    I too as a teenager argued with my dad that we were British as we were ruled by Britain and we paid our taxes there. I grew up and realised that I was in fact Northern Irish and not British. I believed I was different to British and the Southern Irish. Quite a number of the electorate are there now.
    I went and lived and worked in England only to find out that there is no difference in Northern and Southern Irish and we are all Paddies. The electorate are on this journey as we speak.
    I came home a different person, proud of my Irish history, culture and language. I am still working on the language issue.
    Funny thing happened this week, my daughter studying inn England who said the very same things to me as a teenager has actually completed the same journey as me but reached the end while she is still 21!
    Nationalism is full of confidence and proud. A massive change from when I was a young fella.
    Things look good.

  • Gaygael

    Oh I wholeheartedly support them having a voice for a political ideology that is opposed to equality. I hope if it ever happens, it gets a farcical return. I just think its terribly disingenuous that the DUP try to position themselves as that.

  • North Down dup

    You think there is space for a conservative nationalist party, then if it happens you hope it gets a farcical return, I love the way you used equality to suit your stance ,

  • Tochais Siorai

    And there’s an MLA down in Fermanagh who comes from a long line of UUP members. Think she was a member of the party herself for a good while.

    I’ll get me coat.

  • Tochais Siorai

    There doesn’t seem to be a big enough number of potential supporters for a socially conservative nationalist party, ND. Gerry Mc Geogh tried it in Fermanagh and got nowhere and a few attempts in the Republic have got derisory vote numbers.

  • Mark Petticrew

    Indeed, my granda – born in the 1930’s, growing up as a Catholic in the Glens through the days of the old unionist state – remarks the change from what he once knew, and what we have now. And so no doubt, the nationalist tradition is certainly a more confident one with reason to be so.

    However, regards people realising whether they’re truly Irish or not, I just take a more ‘each to their own’ approach to the identities of northerners. I prefer to think of identity as something you discover yourself to be, rather than what is implicitly compelled upon you.

    I went to an integrated school, and I can remember one unionist who took it almost personally that I saw myself as Irish; being ever quick to remind me that “Ulster is British”. Just as I didn’t like their dogmatic tone, I’d be a hypocrite to take a similar tack towards others to say: “You’re Irish, you just don’t know it yet”.

    I think, given the sensitivity surrounding identity in the north, this is the best way to play it. After all, is this not what the GFA was supposed to be all about?

  • North Down dup

    It’s a pity, there is a lot of conservative RC , writing in the papers looking for a voice, so now Ireland is not RC anymore yust Catholic

  • Katyusha

    Elections in the south are by PR and all-but-guaranteed to result in coalition or minority government, By contrast, the Westminster system locks parties like the SNP out of power.

    And you can be sure of one thing. The two main powers would much prefer to sign a coalition agreement with unionists than ever share power with Sinn Fein… or each other.

  • Gaygael

    Social conservatism (on the issues of abortion reform and equality for LGBT people) has an ever decreasing audience.
    I support the concept of plurality in politics.
    I’m on the left. It would hardly surprise you that I don’t wish well for an ideologically opposed political stance.

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    Blame lies firmly and squarely with Alliance leadership, and if you think the loyalist on the street needs “political unionism” to tell him what to do and think then you have little understanding of the community. You are though after all, are an Alliance supporter, so having little understanding of anything goes with the territory.

  • Guilty of Wrongthink

    Yes, you should be campaigning for those other countries, but in this one you aren’t “oppressed” in any meaningful sense of the word (locally, our bullsh1t detector on that word is very finely tuned), rather you are trying to push an agenda to warp the institution to cater for the heteronormal nuclear family with mother, father and children in your distorted image — stop being so selfish, accept that you are different and already an arrangement for you and move on. Heteronormal people have a right to defend their own institution too and there may be cases where things need to be different for children, and all this petty aggressive campaigning against marriage is doing is creating resentment towards you.

    All decisions are “discriminatory”. It’s a different situation requiring a different arrangement. If you have a problem with a particular differences with civil partnerships then campaign on those. I also strongly object to same-sex adoption — that a court passed it shows how destructive the influence of distorted partisan judges have become, and how they need weeded out.

  • Gaygael

    You are losing sweetie!

  • Gaygael

    I’m unsure of whether to give this nonsense any more of a response…….

  • NotNowJohnny

    Indeed. Except the discussion was about unionist parties so I’m not sure why the need to point this out.

  • Gaygael

    I do and have campaigned in solidarity with others across the world for liberation.

    Go and check out the hate crime statistics, health and social inequalities experienced by LGBT people in Northern Ireland as a barometer for oppression.

    We and our relationships have been around since before your Victorian concept of marriage. We were around before all the world major faiths. I will not accept inequality and the great news is that more and more people support my worldview.

    This ‘petty agressive campaigning’ has seem attitudes shift by a huge margin over the last fifty years. Liberation and equality are winning. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like, or its intractably slow, but we are winning.

    Post your strident regressive rhetoric from behind an anonymous troll account all day. It won’t change any minds to your side. ?

  • Jollyraj

    Oh, sorry – I hadn’t realized we were only allowed to criticize the unionist parties.

  • Skibo

    I agree Mark. We as Nationalists have to be very careful of our language. We are entering a very delicate phase of change.
    Unionism will find their hold on everything is slackening. Nationalism cannot be seen to be triumphalist or there could be a backlash.
    I would not go out of my way to say to anyone that they are of an Irish culture but if born on the island of Ireland, they should be aware that they are Irish of birth but it has been chosen for them to be raised in the British culture.
    I think Nationalism is going to bide it’s time with what happened last week. For one thing it needs to be secured with a second election
    They (we) will sit back and see how Unionism actually reacts. If they accept they are in a minority as we will be also, then things could ramble along for another ten to twenty years as is. and we will learn to accommodate each other. I believe Nationalism is further down that road.
    A substantial amount of Unionists have not been prepared to take that journey.
    The game changer is Brexit. If Theresa May does not achieve special status for NI then we are banjaxed. I think this should be explained to all the people in pounds , shillings and pence and the people should be given the chance to decide on the constitutional situation.
    The Nationalist community should take this time to decide what type of Ireland we want and what we can afford and be prepared to sell it to the electorate. Dublin and Westminster should take the lead in this.

  • NotNowJohnny

    There’s probable a good reason that you hadn’t realised that.

  • Alaister

    Unless you bang a drum,wave a flag and shout plenty of obscenities at the other side you won’t get the majority vote in Northern Ireland.UUP needs to learn this fact.We are just to far north of Hadrian’s wall to be civilised.Sad but it’s true.The shouters once again got the most votes on both sides.People then wonder why there is no progress.Einstein once said,doing the same thing everyday and expecting a different result was insane (stupid).A blind man should have been sick at this stage by the corruption associated with some of our politicians.Red Sky,£5 land deals,Nama and now the RHI scheme literally burning working men’s taxes.
    Yet working men still voted for the people in charge of these things.Who in there right minds can vote for such dishonesty.Its a real education in the stupidity of mankind.Sadly I currently live here,however thankfully that can be changed.

  • Alaister

    Interesting observation

  • Jimmy

    Alliance came just above Sinn Fein. Alliance = 17.8% of the vote, Sinn Fein = 17.7%.

  • Gaygael

    Alliance were just below the two bigger scoring parties.. Sorry, should have been clearer love.

  • Jimmy

    Ahaha I understand what you meant now.. Thanks