Turning the UUP around. Maybe.

Lord Maginnis was wrong. I’ve no intention of condemning the man, he’s a personal friend and doesn’t deserve it. But he was just downright wrong. The substance of his comments was not good. There is a logic to the argument that homosexuality is on the ladder to bestiality, but only if your starting point is that homosexuality is an illegitimate lifestyle choice and/or inherently some sort of public health risk. Morality is a question that can be debated, but the … Read more

UUP leadership election – the final triumph of civic Unionism?

UPDATE 2 So, I royally called this wrong with magical timing. However I stand by the analysis as reasons why Kennedy isn’t the front runner he is touted as, and why McCallister might now be tempted to cut a deal with Nesbitt. Why is Kennedy weakened? What HAS changed in the last 18 months – don’t forget it was Kennedy ruling himself out that pushed Elliott into the job he never wanted. What precisely was this all about? How will … Read more

New Tories, old Tories, what’s the difference?

Everyone seems to be talking about the headline of Lord Feldman’s press release today, and no one is talking about what he actually said. Let’s be clear, there is to be no “new party” in Northern Ireland. They are not farming off their existing branch, they are attempting to tart it up a bit. And what are these momentous changes? They MIGHT get a seat on the Conservative Party board (hardly a sign of a new party is it?), they … Read more

Can we get some things straight?

I’m getting a bit sick of reading nonsense about Loughgall. Firstly, all that is new in the Belfast Telegraph is that the HET report is due out soon. If that report states that the IRA fired the first shot, that will simply be a regurgitation of the facts as detailed in the European Court of Human Rights judgment more than ten years ago. It is also clear that some people have not read that judgment, and have no idea why … Read more

Opposition or bust

A couple of weeks ago a few of us put on a fringe event at the Ulster Unionist Party conference, where the prospect of going into opposition was discussed. On the same day, the coverage of Tom Elliot’s speech mostly focused on the same issue. Since then the matter has gained traction and comment, with Alex Kane producing a set of thoughts not dissimilar to my own contribution at the fringe. While Alasdair McDonnell (apparently) ruled out SDLP involvement in … Read more

The rubber stamp gets smaller?

Mark McGregor is of course right. At the very least the disclosure of the d’Hondt private run by the Executive Twitter account was a violation of the Assembly’s right to be first to know. It was like that in 2007, and is now. However there probably is some justification for it, given that such an important series of events almost certainly benefits from being run free from the procedural constraints of the Assembly floor. That said, it is of course … Read more

At least now, the UUP’s blinkers will probably come off

The last time a major Unionist party was lead by anyone from west of Portadown it was Harry West in in 1970’s. That was not a happy period of the UUP’s history. The sense of ‘otherness’ that exists amongst border Unionists is well known, researched and documented. It is not a fictional notion dreamed up to further an argument, it is fair to say they are a different sort of Unionist. It is for that reason that the queston “does … Read more

Should unionists be entitled to vote?

That is the logical question arising from what the UUP candidate claims SF have said in their literature in West Belfast. Mr Manwaring said; “Gerry Adams says that moves to secure a Unionist Assembly seat “represents the old unionist agenda of resisting equality and denying nationalists’ representation.” The message in this is that “old unionism” equates to anything so bold as seeking to put a nationalist out of the Assembly through legitimate electioneering.  To me, that is an outrageous statement. … Read more

Is David Ford safe this time?

I don’t think we’ve had an open thread on South Antrim yet, but here’s a thought.  A lot of the talk in 2003 and 2007 in South Antrim was over David Ford’s safety, at both elections he was the most vulnerable Alliance sitting MLA.  Indeed a couple of weeks out from 2007 when asked I told him he would lose his seat (which be seemed to think was possible, but my other assertion that both the SDLP and SF would … Read more

A thought on the Alliance Party Manifesto

The Alliance Manifesto is certainly the longest of any produced.  In the summary on page five they commit to: Introduce transparency around political donations What interests me is, has anyone gotten around to asking Alliance if any part of their manifesto is brought to us courtesy of money changing hands? Seems a fair question in the circumstances. Michael ShillidayI used to write and get paid, now I read and don’t. Former UUP staffer, currently living in London. @mjshilliday

Nominations published

The Electoral Office have published the list of those seeking office at the Assembly elections. Having a quick scan two things stick out. The TUV are standing two candidates in North Antrim. Given that their ability to pick up transfers from anyone but eachother is going to be reasonably low, I don’t see why they would want to do this. Second, long time leader of the UUP on Lisburn City Council, Ivan Davis, appears to have nominated both Basil McCrea … Read more

Belfast and lost constituencies

The Belfast Telegraph also has a story on the boundary review. The revamp could mean — for example — that Belfast will be represented by two MPs rather than the current four, with south and east, and north and west constituencies in the city being amalgamated. Very little factual basis for this claim, Sunderland and Leicester both have roughly the same population (although Belfast has a much larger urban area) and are both three seat cities. It would seem highly … Read more

“On appointment, the Speaker relinquishes all connections with his Party.”

The Northern Ireland Assembly advises that: “Members must be confident of the impartiality of the Speaker and this is achieved through the operation of a number of conventions. On appointment, the Speaker relinquishes all connections with his Party.” As we know, Willie Hay never did that, and his party never stopped claiming him (PDF). Now we learn that he “will have to” be a DUP candidate in the forthcoming election.  This of course is simply not true, he has chosen … Read more

UKIP announce candidates. World shakes.

UKIP have announced, apparently only some, of their 2011 Assembly Candidates.  Yet more spurned UUP members show up.  Trotter was Harry Hamilton’s campaign manager for UCUNF and was rejected for Assembly selection by both East Belfast and Upper Bann, while Reilly went to UKIP in 2007 after losing out to John McCallister in South Down.  He ran then as the only UKIP candidate and picked up a respectable 1200 votes, or put another way, exactly what he always gets at … Read more

One last go at the Gerry thing

The Gerry Adams “resignation” is probably one of the most pointless but nerdishly interesting things I’ve ever seen. Pete has already brought us the BBC’s report of the exchange between Sir George Young and Hiliary Benn earlier today, but it is worth exploring a little. Sir George said: During the subsequent exchanges, Members raised the hypothetical possibility of a future Chancellor appointing a Member without a firm application for a relevant post from that Member. I find it inconceivable that … Read more

How do you solve a problem like Gerry?

Gerry Adams’s chicken run (a term admittedly used quite loosely) seems to have presented him with a bit of a problem.  He is perfectly prepared to follow the niceties of the British Constitution to become a Member of the national Parliament, but not to cease to be so at a time of his choosing in order to become a member of another national Parliament.  To me it seems a little intellectually dishonest to accept thousands of pounds in expenses by virtue of being an elected … Read more

Strong words

The DUP have taken a somewhat populist line on water charging, jumping on comments by John McCallister . Calling charging proposals a poll tax, is indeed strong stuff: targeting struggling householders who are trying to keep up mortgage payments, meet the expectations of their children at Christmas and also hold on to their jobs…Rather than tax people more we’re in the business of making government more efficient. However does this attack have all that much credibility, given that less than … Read more

Can’t pay? Won’t understand.

What angers me most about the opposition to raising the cap on student fees probably isn’t the rioting and vandalism that the protesters get up to. It’s the ignorance, stupidity and ill-informed manner with which the opposition is presented and articulated. “I can’t afford nine grand”, “it will put poor kids off university”, “we shouldn’t have to pay because Clegg and Cameron didn’t”. Wrong, dangerous, and cobblers. Of course in some ways it’s very easy for me to comment, my … Read more

How can Gerry Adams be an MP and a TD at the same time? – Updated

The answer is that the Labour Party (specifically Peter Mandleson who was Secretary of State at the time, and George Howarth who was Junior Minister) made it so. The House of Commons Disqualification Act provided that a person could be an MP and a member of a legislature in any other Commonwelth country. Why is another question. The Disqualifications Act 2000 added the Republic of Ireland to that provision. Why is an interesting question. Here is the debate when the … Read more

Compare and contrast

The SDLP on Patten: “At present only 29 per cent of the PSNI is made up of Catholics – that is far from being broadly representative of the community. The SDLP believes that the percentage of Catholics in the PSNI should be between 40 and 44 per cent. “Such a figure would be broadly representative of the composition of the community here. Without 50:50 recruitment it would take around 30 years to achieve that percentage. “Contrary to the belief of … Read more