Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Tank commander McFarland defers to his superior officer.

The Belfast Telegraph might express its shock at Alan McFarland’s resignation from the Ulster Unionist party, but let’s be honest, it would have been more surprising had he remained a member. The former tank major has long been a patsy for General Sylvia in North Down.

Indeed, in 2005, he stood for the party leadership as Hermon’s cipher. The writing was on the wall as soon as McFarland’s commander in chief deserted the UUP to ally herself with the DUP.

The North Down MLA, who, like his boss, now styles himself an ‘Independent Unionist’, was elected on an Ulster Unionist ticket. The honourable course of action would be for McFarland to resign in order to allow the UUP to co-opt a representative for its seat.

Instead he has decided to retain a seat which he won under the false pretences that he would remain an Ulster Unionist throughout the lifetime of the Assembly. It is an unprincipled action, but a lack of principle is not surprising from an acolyte of Sylvia Herman.

Here we have self-styled ’liberals’ in hock to an authoritarian Labour party, which removed 10p tax for the poorest in society and conducted a loathsome attack on British civil liberties. We have ’non-sectarian’ politicians who find alliance with the Conservative party unpalatable, but are unashamed of their arrangement with the DUP.


Timothy Belmont said...

The eyebrows raised when I heard the news about him. Always struck me as being quite conservative in outlook. Merely shows how wrong one can be...

Chekov said...

He's not really an autonomous individual anymore Tim. He imbibes his opinions from Sylvia's teet.

Orangeman said...

I remember his North Down by-election campaign when he nearly got himself sued for saying that some academic Friends of Bob wanted "Ulster's Final Solution".

Less a Tank Commander, more an empty vessel.

Anonymous said...

The UUP has been in a cleft stick for nearly thirty years (indeed ninety years) over going for a policy of devolution or integration. It seems an insoluble problem.

Devolution is less than Unionist yet attractively Ulsterist. It provides political jobs and keeps people’s minds off the real politics of Westminster.

Since 1921, both London parties have operated devolution to keep Ireland out of their hair. It worked for fifty years but they paid a terrible for the following forty as a result.

The 1921 policy remains the Foreign Office policy, with Labour’s Hain and Woodward becoming virtuosos at playing the Ulsterists off against the UUP.

The UUP meanwhile makes a hybrid attempt (UCUNF) to get round the problem which on past experience is not a winner unless it becomes a rerun of the 1950s when Westminster MPs disappeared to London. Anyway the Ulsterists (DUP) are currently the lead party of unionism.

Devolution for Unionists is doomed to become or remain political localism and self-regarding ambition (or greed) because Unionism is a policy-free single issue movement. Westminster offers a way out but London if ceasing to be the referee is frightened of Dublin. Perhaps Cameron can show a little early freedom from the fear of nationalism.

North Down (the nearest to an Ulster Home County) has been the stage where this drama is played out with a peculiar cast of actors.

Some are ideological and integrationist like Bob McCartney; others their own wo/man like Tory Jim Kilfedder or Nulabourite Sylvia Hermon and now tactician and moderate Alan McFarland.

All the MPs required silent DUP support to get re-elected although that party could now take the seat itself except in order to rub Reg Empey's nose in it they won't.

Reg has given the UUP a new policy so no one can say he has not provided leadership. The problem is that the UUP’s officer class remains localist or unknown while the candidate list is unideological and moderate like McFarland and thus has no stamina.

The result is that the UUP although an exceptionally strong membership party has not got the drive or discipline of the DUP. It will do very well in the next Assembly and council elections due to PR but without a DUP deal or arrangement will not do well in May.

Jim Molyneaux successfully played both policies (devolution and integration)and hid behind masterly inactivity. David Trimble, then, and more so now also ran with both. But neither saved the party or frightened nationalism.

UCUNF by becoming too rigid has curbed the UUP's ability to manoeuvre. Inappropriate Cameron-like candidate imposition doesn’t work and leaves the party open to ridicule.

And when the Tories become unpopular again, as they must, the UUP will have an albatross around its neck.

In this insoluble dilemma, a strong dose of pragmatism is the only way forward for Unionism and a lot less personal politics and wrangling.

There is still a chance to regain FST and SB. Let's all work toward it.

Gonzo said...

No matter what you think of him, it's hardly "unprincipled" if the UUP wasn't linked to the Tories at the time of McFarland's election.

Anyway, enjoy today's front page. You'll crack up.

Chekov said...

The UUP isn't linked to the Conservatives at the Stormont Assembly. It has been linked to the party in other forms since 2008.

Ulster Liberal said...

You are too tribal: as far as I remember you were disappointed McFarland didn't get the main gig after Trimble departed the scene.

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