Tuesday, 14 October 2008

More care needed from UUP

I’d imagine that someone in the UUP press office received quite a bollocking yesterday after a press release was issued which appeared to announce an electoral pact between the party and Jim Allister’s Traditional Unionist Voice. Danny Kennedy had the initial task of disclaiming such an arrangement on Radio Ulster and Sir Reg Empey has issued denials in this morning’s newspapers.

The mistake really was rather serious. Meeting with any party to discuss the ramifications of particular elections, or the issues surrounding those elections, is part of normal constructive party work. Issuing a joint statement with one particular unionist party leader, emphasising the desirability of unionists transferring their votes appropriately, and agreeing to campaign accordingly, has all the appearances of a pact. On Evening Extra, Mark Carruthers insisted, surely with some justification, that if it looked like a pact and it barked like a pact then it was a pact.

To its credit, the UUP leadership have been quick to recognise the error and firmly insist that there is no UUP-TUV voting pact for the European election and that, actually, nothing other than existing Ulster Unionist policy on suggested transfers, was contained in the statement. Certainly swift clarification was required. Beyond its putative adherence to the Union, the TUV stands for little which UUP members could subscribe to. It would be difficult for many Ulster Unionist representatives and canvassers to recommend a no.2 vote cast for Allister. As an Ulster Unionist voter, I certainly will not be including him near the top of my ballot paper. The TUV represent much of the type of politics that I deplore and which I want unionism to move beyond.

It is cheering that, as he moved to distance himself from the TUV, Sir Reg Empey also continues to brief party members on the proposed Conservative deal. That alignment represents modern, forward thinking unionism, whilst Allister’s party represent the past.


Sammy Morse said...

I'm glad you deplore the TUV as much as any civilised person, but much in this post does not hold water.

The statement referenced on Slugger was a joint statement put out in Empey and Allister's names. I refuse to believe that Empey allows press statements to be put out in his name without reading them.

Secondly, existing UUP transfer advice would imply transferring to Allister at No. 3 at the worst, ahead of Alliance, the SDLP or the Greens. I suppose I should thank the UUP for making this fact public.

Anonymous said...


Empey did not approve it nor would he have as there is no pact. The person responsible acted in error and without party authority - total cock up not conspiracy.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous @ 14.01

I find it absolutely incredulous that the UUP allows people to issue/clear statements without authority.

A joint statement from two 'leaders' would obviously have to be cleared by the individuals whose names are in it.

Why didn't Reg make it clear that this statement was issued without his approval? Frankly, either Reg did agree the statement which shows that the UUP are utterly without strategy, or it was issued without his knowledge which shows what an utter shambles the UUP is in.

Hardly a great choice.

Chekov does admirably trying to row back from this nonsense. However, he just lacks that bit of credibility. Presumably Reg didn't know that he was posing for that joint picture either then.........

Can't imagine that Dave's new cuddly image-friendly Tories will be too thrilled at the UUP getting into bed with NI's answer to Robert Kilroy-Silk!

Anonymous said...

The bigger question is whether Sir Reg, once he has got over this fiasco has the guts to loss Sylvia, Lady Hermon cos lose her he must.
She has made the position untenable through her comments to Liam Clarke

Anonymous said...

Word is that the Tories considered pulling the pull today.
Is anyone of stature in UUP going to publicly speak out in favour of a deal?