UUP conference – a party in love with their new leader #UUP21

Doug Beattie is in a good place. His party’s one minister in the NI Executive has a level of trust and reliability second only to Father Christmas. This gives the party leader some space to manoeuvrer, reaching out in different directions, exploring which messages resonate amongst UUP voters, potential switchers from Alliance and the DUP, and perhaps most valuably from non-voters. Party members praise his chairing of internal meetings. They say he uses his ears as much as his mouth. …

Read more…

UUP Conference: “in a battle to save the Union from the DUP” – speeches & audio #UUP18

Listen back to and read key speeches. The UUP’s annual conference was dominated by messaging aimed at differentiating the party from its larger competitor in the run up to the local government elections. If the UUP are to arrest their general decline, it must be with a strong performance in May’s council elections at the expense of the DUP. That is the only test that the UUP will be measured against.

Swann calls for a ‘new unionism’ of ‘radical moderates’ at strident conference #UUP17

Sustained anti-Irish Language Act rhetoric was an effective smokescreen that diverted attention from any focus on the UUP’s disappointing election results. Robin Swann confidently delivered his first speech to conference as party leader with a call a new unionism and the desire for radical moderates (though he was light on detail).

UUP Conference: Mike and Colum address the party faithful; opposition policies still sketchy #UUP16

FAMILIAR VENUE BUT SOME NEW FACES at the UUP conference today. SDLP leader Colum Eastwood’s was received with a standing ovation, while Mike Nesbitt set out his stall to convince critics why his chosen path was the correct one. Confident performances, but still lacking the detail of Opposition policies that will be developed.

Mike Nesbitt, the UUP’s resurgence and sea battles

I began thinking about this blog a few weeks ago just when the UUP first left Stormont but never go round to finishing it. As time has gone on though its accuracy seems to be to be increasing especially in view of Nesbitt’s speech which Alan has covered below. Five years ago I did a blog about the UUP and the Battle of the Nile. In brief at the Battle of the Nile Admiral Nelson divided his forces and attacked …

Read more…

#UUP2014 conference review & audio: “We want Fermanagh South Tyrone … we can win the Westminster seat”

Around 300 people filled the Ramada Hotel venue, marginally younger than previous years, and during the morning extra chairs had to be brought in to add a couple more back rows. It’s clear that the UUP have internally stabilised and while they emphasised their growth in the local government election, it’s not clear yet that their “shrink to grow” policy has come to fruition. Westminster candidates Jo-Anne Dobson (Upper Bann) and Danny Kinahan (South Antrim) were showcased. Both spoke confidently, …

Read more…

#UUP2013 Legacy proposals for mental health hub, education and the economy along with attacks on DUP and SF

UUP members seemed on a high at Saturday’s conference. They were relaxed and not on edge. They’d put the party’s internal troubles (“shrinking to grow”) behind them. Not a single mention of Basil, John, NI21, David McNarry or even Lord Maginnis. No major slip-ups. No longer any talk about Mike Nesbitt taking over as Minister for Regional Development. Though under the calm water, there was evidence of some thrashing over council candidate selection and some older councillors changing their minds …

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…

Lord Empey attacks Alliance Party for flags, participation in Irish Constitutional Convention and issues warning to Dublin government

Listening back to Lord Empey’s opening statement at today’s UUP conference, his comments seemed worthy of a post on their own. In his nine minute address he predictably attacked the Alliance Party’s role in the Belfast City Council Union flag vote, explained why they shouldn’t be viewed as Unionist, and questioned their role in the Irish Constitutional Convention. He also laid down a white line over allowing Northerners to vote in Irish elections that the Irish Government shouldn’t cross if …

Read more…

UUP Conference: Mike Nesbitt’s leader speech

UUP gavel

In his first speech as leader to the UUP Conference, Mike Nesbitt outlined his vision to end sectarianism, claimed to understand social justice, and spoke frequently about ‘lost opportunities’. The UUP was a party for everyone who was pro-Union. In a very long speech (45 minutes) he called for “a road map for the way ahead for the next generation … that shows where we want to go, and identifies the best route to get there”. He characterised the 10-20 …

Read more…

Party conferences dates, venues and a thought for exhibitors who want to wrestle control back from the parties

UUP gavel

A quick post to remind political conference followers about the start of the conference season. UUP are tempting metaphors and analogies with their conference on 21 (members only) and 22 (public sessions) September in Titan Belfast. Last year Secretary of State Owen Paterson popped into the conference and said a few words on his way past; Mike Nesbitt gave a Cameron-style speech on the economy without notes challenging the party to: … become net contributors to Her Majesty’s Treasury. We …

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…

UUP Conference … short, sweet, Secretary of State spoke, an Orange Lodge scolded

UUP gavel

Any UUP delegates scanning Saturday morning’s papers over breakfast might have choked on their cornflakes when they realised that the Irish News had devoted the best part of a page to UUP conference news, while there was absolutely no mention in the Newsletter! And the date wasn’t 1st April. The UUP Conference kicked off about 10.15am in Armagh City Hotel. In the absence of the (Anglican) Archbishop of Armagh, Rev Andrew Forster opened in prayer. The local constituency chairman, Councillor …

Read more…

Suddenly everyone wants to be an Ulster Unionist!

Fearghal McKinney chairing a panel at the UUP conference

First it was the Secretary of State Owen Paterson … … and then SDLP vice-chair Fearghal McKinney. Everyone wants to be branded as an Ulster Unionist at their conference this morning in Armagh! Alan Meban (Alan in Belfast)Alan Meban. Tweets as @alaninbelfast. Blogs about cinema and theatre over at Alan in Belfast. A freelancer who writes about and reports from civic, academic and political events, reviews cultural performances, chairs discussions, and live-tweets, streams and records lectures and conferences. He delivers …

Read more…

UUP conference preview – #uupconf (and a preview of what Tom won’t say in his speech!)

2011 UUP logo

What do you think Tom Elliott should say in his UUP conference speech on Saturday? I began last year’s UUP conference preview post with a fantastical vision of a Barcamp-style UUP ‘un-conference’, complete with delegate-suggested sessions. I also imagined the delegates writing Tom Elliott’s speech by scribbling suggested sentences on post-it notes and then knitting the fragments together in a “sensible and compelling order” to produce his address. This year I tried to go further and asked attendees and panellists …

Read more…