Unionist moderates are total extremists… (and other random bollocks)

25 01 2010

Well, Brian Walker’s post on Slugger is annoying.

I remember hearing about Mick et al being really pleased to have secured his services. But the post he served up today is, well, piping-hot bollocks!

Writing should be provocative and challenging – but needlessly, lazily, stupidly, blindly offensive?

His line is that the UUP don’t want a fenian about the place and holds up the McCann and Davidson departures as examples of this. But, in my view, these departures had little enough to do with the UUP and more to do with NI Tories themselves and their relationships with London.

As I say in this post, the McCann situation was much more complex than Walker describes. Set aside this Hatfield House meeting for one second, Peter’s impolitic gaffe on election finances caused him real damage. Where there were certainties last week about Peter (his ability etc), this week there were questions and a sense of disappointment, anger etc – all caused largely by Peter himself.

And consider Sheila Davidson. She is a selected NI Tory candidate and as such should have better information about Tory party meetings that anyone else (including Gareth Gordon). Sheila Davidson told Talkback on Wednesday (listen from about 5 mins in) that she didn’t know about the talks. In her view it was entirely normal for Owen Paterson (as the next SoS) to have talks with various parties. She then said she did not worry about any political discussions held with any political party.

Sheila clearly wasn’t in the loop. Her credibility as a spokesperson was compromised, not by the UUP but by the Tory Party. IMHO – it seemed to me like her desire to kill the story extended beyond her knowledge on the detail of it. Perhaps being so embarrassed and exposed feeds into resignation as candidates and the unrealistic demands for Cameron to sack Owen Paterson.

All of this suggests to me that the major problem here (is not UUP sectarianism) but internal Tory politics. Brian Walker ignores all of this and reproduces the spin / grievous bollocks that it’s all down to those evil, centre-ground moderates hating their co-religionists and the opposite sex.

In truth Sheila and Peter’s stock was held v high within the UUP. Everyone I discussed this with thought they were good candidates. There were plenty of people in the UUP ready to concede that Peter was a shoe-in as a UCUNF candidate. Their religion was never an issue for anyone I have ever spoken to inside the UUP.

So to recap, Brian’s headline read:

Reg Empey in move to shaft Catholic candidates

Nope. That’s a red herring – self-justification for an almighty screw up emanating from within the NI Tory Party. And I don’t know why undiluted spin gets reproduced as insight. Whatever his motives for posting like this, Walker’s primary achievement has been to cheapen his reputation.

PS. There’s another reason why I’m not so convinced about the spin about principled resignations. Sheila told Talkback the following:

  • a) UCUNF will run in all 18 constituencies
  • b) she understands Unionists will want maximum representation in Westminster
  • c) various Party’s should meet to discuss policy
  • d) she would “welcome it” if the DUP withdraws to maximise unionist representation.

The UUP would agree with that. But if that’s the NI Tory position, why is so appalling to meet with one of those various Parties with a view to maximising Unionist representation? Whty not discuss whether there might be withdrawals from certain seats to deliver the objective of maximised represtation? Wouldn’t that tie in with Sheila’s position?

So the NI Tories believe the outcome is okay (withdrawals and maximised Unionist reps) but that it’s completely wrong to mention that to the DUP? Hardly the kind of rock solid principle you’d sacrifice your political career for.

(And for the sake of balance, shouldn’t Brian now attack Sheila for welcoming a form of carve up?)

PPS. I hear that there was meeting of local Tories on Friday with Owen Paterson and that the previous weekend’s talks were not referred to. The meeting was dominated by the selection process, so I hear. Were the NI Tory nominees demanding to be imposed as UCUNF candidates? And with resignations imminent, why not address one’s point of principle? Would be interested for a Tory view on that – offer is there for a bylined post as a right to reply etc… UPDATE: Thanks to Alan in Belfast for spotting Ian Parsley’s blog. Ian has an account of the Friday meeting and what I’d been hearing seems to tie in with this.

PPPS.  There are four Tory candidates left who did not resign. I would be willing to bet that next to no one inside the UUP knows what religion they are, or even cares.

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4 responses

25 01 2010
Editor

I must say I tend to agree with most of what you say here. Although I’ve been critical of the UUP – and continue to be – I really don’t believe that it has shown any sectarianism in relation to Peter or Sheila. I believe the delay in agreeing candidates – the main cause of the 3 nominees throwing in the towel – was because of Reg’s determination that Sylvia is on board with the process. She isn’t and I don’t think she will be. Therefore the UUP needs to move on. I do agree that most of what Brian Walker writes on Slugger is utter drivel at best or piffle at worst.

Jeff Peel
http://jeffpeel.net

26 01 2010
bobballs

thanks jeff – yes, i think sylvia has got to be considered gonners. time to tie up ND and get on with things there. think we’re less than 15 weeks away now ?

It is a real shame about Peter – met him at the UUP conference and seems like a good guy and quite capable. Also McDonnell’s response to the pact has been so aggressive / misjudged that he’s bound to be turning off the soft vote he needs to survive. And if, as it seems, the DUP will unilaterally withdraw from SB then UCUNF will likely produce a winning candidate there. It could have been McCann, but i think paula bradshaw at the moment.

26 01 2010
slug

I also agree that Brian Walker writes piffle. Best avoided to keep brain rot away.

26 01 2010
bobballs

agreed. Lorryload of balls.

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