Fermanagh South Tyrone: one day a unionist will stand on that stage as victor.

As a number of people have noted 5 years ago I did a blog in the aftermath of Rodney Connor’s defeat in Fermanagh South Tyrone. Many unionists (like myself) were disconsolate. Many unionists and nationalists regarded FST as lost to unionism forever. It had in Gildernew a relatively young MP who had just been re elected for the second time; a unionist pact had failed to defeat her and the greening of the west had almost completed, threatening to bring … Read more

Elliott launches his Private Members Bill to prevent the naming of public facilities after “terrorists”‏

Tom Elliott, UUP

Well this is always going to be controversial but the UUP MLA, Tom Elliott is launching a Private Members Bill to prevent the naming of public facilities after those convicted of terrorist offences. Speaking about his bill he says; Today I am commencing a consultation process which is the first step to introducing legislation which prohibits publicly funded facilities or entities being named after anyone who has been convicted of a terrorist related offence or membership of a proscribed organisation. … Read more

The fear of ‘them’: “They start a process of neutralisation” and then “they start imposing their Irish language [and] their Sinn Fein republican agenda onto everyone”

The UUP suffer from the same problem as their larger rival: there’s a tension between the leader’s more moderate language and the more traditional and hard line rhetoric of other elected representatives. Here’s a portion from Mike Nesbitt’s speech as party leader: [Mike Nesbitt] I say this to the pro-Union community: It is time to get on the front foot. Be confident. But be generous too. I am not the sort of Unionist who feels threatened by an Irish Tricolour. … Read more

McCann meets… Phil Flanagan MLA

Many of you know that I put out a call on twitter for suggestions on which politicians they would like to see interviewed for Slugger. Today I bring you the first interview with Stormont’s No.1 tweeter, Sinn Fein MLA, Phil Flanagan. This was aired earlier on Lisburns 98FM. I met Phil on Tuesday in Stormont and we conducted this 40 minute interview. We covered a broad range of subjects from his background to his recent twitter war with Tom Elliott. … Read more

Kennedy’s out; will McCallister stay in the race to fight a confident Nesbitt?

When I bumped into Mike Nesbitt at an event last night, he looked very confident when he said “I’m going to be leader”. This morning, Danny Kennedy has withdrawn from the race and not submitted his papers, leaving John McCallister and Mike Nesbitt as the two declared candidates. During Tom Elliott’s own leadership campaign, Mike Nesbitt was at Tom’s side and remained fiercely loyal throughout Tom’s reign. That should work to his favour in the event of a leadership vote … Read more

Can the new UUP leader put an end to the party’s inexorable drift?

Liam Clarke in the BelTel, frames the leadership contest within the UUP: In its heyday the UUP was the party of the Union. Later it became, with the SDLP, a party of the peace process. Since then it has struggled to define a new role for itself and support has drifted away. It has flirted with the Tories, the DUP, and the SDLP and before that the PUP as it sought allies to halt its decline. At each stage it … Read more

John McCallister joins the UUP leadership race

This morning, John McCallister – UUP Deputy Leader of the Assembly Group – has thrown his farmer’s cap into the ring to replace Tom Elliott as leader of the UUP. In a statement McCallister calls himself an “unashamed liberal progressive unionist” and makes a couple of his policies clear: UUP shouldn’t be allowed to float into the orbit of the DUP. If elected, the UUP would go into opposition at Stormont. The question now is whether Mike Nesbitt (who managed … Read more

Tom Elliott’s first post resignation interview…

Tom Elliott, who resigned as Ulster Unionist leader last night, says he quit because of growing tensions within the party. He also says there has been an “uneasy atmosphere” in the Ulster Unionist Party in recent days and claimed that some of his colleagues have been making life difficult for him by briefing journalists “lies”. In an exclusive interview with The Impartial Reporter, Mr. Elliott says he has “no regrets” about his time in charge, adding: “I would have liked … Read more

Elliott off – what next for the UUP?

Tom Elliott has obviously had enough. (from UTV) Mr Elliott has said he will not seek re-election to the position at the annual general meeting, in just over three weeks time. In a statement outlining his decision and the reasons behind it, he said some “obstruction and hostility” began immediately following his election as leader and has been “relentless” since then. The party’s AGM is scheduled to take place on Saturday 31 March. “It has been a great privilege for … Read more

UUP: Confused boxer without a decent right or left?

There isn’t really an upside to the UUP’s problems at the moment. Although they were never what you might even remotely call political friends, Mr McNarry’s exit bears a lot of resemblance to the early departure of Trevor Ringland. Already the consequences are closing in. So early in his career as leader to have lost allies or potential allies from both the right and the left, is a little more than careless. His problem is – not dissimilar to the … Read more

McNarry: “the party will close ranks and anybody who wants to be a hypocrite will get their photograph taken”

Tom Eliott wielding scissors at the opening of David McNarry's Saintfield Advice Centre Opening

It’s the story that keeps on giving. And that looks to be David McNarry’s intention. Now free of having to notify the UUP press office about media interviews and statements – something that Tom Elliott has adhered to as Party Leader – David McNarry is everywhere. This morning’s News Letter. The Belfast Telegraph. Though nothing fully authored by him in the Irish News. [Ed: Maybe he’s saving that as a treat for Thursday?] In recent days he has appeared on … Read more

David McNarry resigns from UUP Assembly Group after Tom Elliott cuts him out of education committee role

Tom Eliott wielding scissors at the opening of David McNarry's Saintfield Advice Centre Opening

The News Letter and UTV’s Ken Reid have been tweeting tonight what looks like being the latest episode in the UUP-DUP united unionist soap opera. David McNarry has resigned from the UUP Assembly group after Tom Elliott withdrew him as vice-chair of education committee, though stopped short of taking away the party whip. The BBC add: Mr McNarry said he spoke to the party leader on Friday evening by telephone. And Mr Elliott told him he was being disciplined as … Read more

Tom Elliott’s speech to #uupconf and a quick interview

UUP gavel

Tom Elliott walked into the hall to begin his leader’s speech to strains of Arcade Fire’s Ready to Start. A fine sentiment, though the song’s first line may not be UUP policy! Businessmen drink my blood / Like the kids in art school said they would / And I guess I’ll just begin again / You say can we still be friends … All the kids have always known / That the emperor wears no clothes / But to bow … Read more

Elliot and Kennedy facing Loyal Orders disciplinary proceedings

Danny Kennedy, the Minister for Regional Development and Tom Elliot the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party are to go before a Loyal Orders disciplinary hearing due to their attendance at the funeral of Constable Ronan Kerr.   Few things to get clear first… I’m not a member of the Loyal Orders I support the Loyal Orders and would attend both the main 12th demonstration every year and also go to Scarva to see the Black Men on the 13th. … Read more

The UUP’s election: the past is another country

In the almost a month since the elections a number of attempts (Alex Kane’s is usually the best) have been made to analyse the UUP’s fortunes. The clear message from most (less so from Alex) has been that the UUP did badly and is in decline: quite possibly terminal decline. A number of reasons have been proffered for this state of affairs, most of them relating to the perceived rightward move of the UUP (again I point out that the … Read more

Positive/negative campaigning

Political parties have choices in the run up to elections. They have to balance the mix of different sets of messages: celebrating past successes; selling their vision; denigrating their opponents. While local parties often start off election season talking about running positive campaigns, it feels inevitable that they’ll all be provoked into name calling and angry exchanges with their nearest competitors as the weeks go by. And with 48 hours to go before polling, they may even resort to dirty … Read more

Tom Elliott kicks off campaign with UUP ideas on how to reform Stormont by 2015

Gathered for breakfast in The Mount conference centre in East Belfast, the local business representatives, UUP candidates and Young Unionists were nearly all decked out in dark pin-striped suits and dresses. Tom Elliott looked confident and relaxed as he arrived in the room and got up following Danny Kennedy’s introduction. It was clear that the UUP were launching their election campaign as Tom Elliott stood at the perspex podium and delivered an end of term report on the past four … Read more

The UUP: Tom Elliott, defectors, rats and Porsches

Tom Elliott has had very little of a honeymoon as leader of the UUP. Despite being elected by an enormous margin (still very large even if Fermanagh’s votes had been excluded): he has had multiple problems since being elected. Whilst the alternative leader (Basil McCrea) might well have resulted in an implosion it seems that even with Elliott the UUP may gradually atrophy and die: eighteen months ago, I described their better showing in the European election as possibly a … Read more

Looking back at the UUP

UUP Assembly candidates

Tom Elliott is evolving. He’s more confident speaking than three months ago during the leadership campaign. He has a sense of timing, and avoids forced humour. When interviewed he gives brief answers that avoid waffle. Lots of people at conference described him as honest and genuine. And from within the party, there wasn’t a word said against him yesterday. At times, he appeared a lonely, shy figure, wandering around the emptying conference hall rather than forcing himself out into the … Read more

Tom Elliott’s non U turn

I took HMS Vanguard to work for the first time today (normally Elenwe drives what is now referred to as new Gordon). I managed to turn off the sat nav and the automated heater. However, I was completely unable to change the tuning on the radio: as such I was stuck with Radio Ulster rather than Radio 4. As such I heard the interview between Mark Carruthers and Tom Elliott. This came after the News Letter ran an article detailing … Read more