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A forum to discuss new ideas and perspectives on Unionism…

A question about UCUNF…

A quick thought on the UCUNF election…

The UUP’s mission goal is ‘strengthen and maintain the union’. The public clearly wants the DUP to do that (8 MPs, to UCUNFs 0 MPs).

What should the UUP’s mission goal be now?

What do the public want the UUP to do next?

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8 Responses

  1. st etienne says:

    A fearful reaction to the coming cutbacks?

    Bottom line is I don’t think the electorate wish to face up to economic realities.

    • bobballs says:

      Perhaps St Etienne, but i would be really cautious about blaming the electorate on this one!

      Of course, a pretty honest review must take place. But i don’t think the UUP that emerges from that review can look, think, sound or sell like it has done in the past.

      For the UUP, a better scenario would be for dynamism to arise from within the membership, as opposed to the Party awaiting another top-down consultation process (invitation to navel gaze).

      The UUP don’t have time to waste consulting endlessly. They must transform, and quickly.

      so if you could it out right now, what would you suggest as a new ‘mission goal’ St Etienne?

      • st etienne says:

        I guess I’m a numbers type of guy so I’ll admit to not seeing the mixed messages sent out to grass roots – Turgon I think got it right on Slugger when he identifies what was the average UUP (NI?) voter as somewhere to the left of the Tories economically yet to the right socially.

        Personally I thought this election (in broad terms) was all about the economy. The Conservative manifesto while not ideal was a reasonable response to the difficulties we faced, certainly when compared to Brown’s incessant plans for more spending to remain in power. It was never discussed here in NI bar the pie in the sky economics we heard from other local parties aided and abetted by equally aloof local hacks.

        When you’re the only party here wedded to a potential government you must make more of that fact – go beyond simply saying “we can be in government” and tell the electorate what they’d be doing if they got there. No other party could do so. But that requires a leadership that sets the agenda. The CU campaign never had that.

        So when the Cameron comments on cuts were picked up it was like a bolt from the blue to the parties, the press & the public here. It shouldn’t have been – the CUs should have been shouting about greater private sector involvement from the word go. In this light state spending cuts in certain areas could be seen as a logical accompaniment to a concerted effort at private enterprise.

        While this isn’t a mission goal, it is an important differential that any new UUP/new party/new Conservatives NI should be jumping all over well before any polling date next time round.

        I think in any review there is a danger of two misconceptions:

        1) We interpret Long’s win in East Belfast as a triumph of ‘bread and butter’ issues. Alliance don’t have a broad agenda on turning round the country at Westminster. They’ll be using the same begging bowl that the DUP and SDLP will pass around. Similarly bread and butter issues are about more than getting a response from your MP when you ask them when the potholes outside your house will get filled in (not that unionists don’t need to work on this too).

        2) We assume all of the unionist electorate wants a united unionist party. That may well be the broadest view right now but people have got to be more far sighted and give a voice to those who would defect, likely permanently, to the Alliance or just not vote at all. Unionism cannot afford to bleed like this. Despite an overwhelming predilection with the unionist ‘community’ it’s time unionist politics proper was given a consistent platform untainted by voices from the past. It is a wider message than the political wing of orangeism.

  2. elvis parker says:

    Pressing on with ‘Conservatives and Unionists’ still represents best way forward for UUP.
    What is the alternative? A ‘DUP lite’ that seeks to be a more liberal ‘ulster only’ and ‘ulster first’ party.
    The candidates were selected too late and the leadership of the UUP carries the full blame for that.
    Most of the C & U candidates were good – just mainly inexperienced and unknown

  3. slug says:

    Yes. I agree. Press on with Conservative and Unionist general idea.

    But make it work better and make it more locally based and locally proud – make its character middle-NI rather than Tory-middle-england. So the branding might go back to UUP. Or UUCP. Give it a name that’s not so explicitly Tory. And give it more flexibility – it seemed there was too much need to get everything agreed twice which slowed things down.

    I’ve posted some of these thoughts on a thread at 3000 versts.

    Basically the CU project should be given more time – its a long term project and the growth of voter numbers will require signs that its born of commitment rather than of convenience or desperation.

  4. Turgon says:

    I think slug makes a very good point and without wishing to play the man I think St. Etienne sometimes when you want us to be part of mainstream UK politically you sound as if you are saying we should be politically identical to the Home Counties: a gross simplification and I am sure you do not mean that but sometimes it looks that way. Furthermore I think at times the CU message looked that way.

    Ulster is a place apart and is not the same as England. Neither is Scotland or Wales and the Tories do very badly in Scotland and fairly badly in Wales. In spite of that and the nonsense from the SNP there is a very limited appetite for independence in Scotland and effectively none in Wales.

    Of course England itself is extremely far from homogeneous: the North East and North West have their own diversity and are utterly dissimilar to the Home Counties which in their own turn are different from the Midlands or the West Country which is different from anywhere (apart maybe from Mars: though much prettier than Mars).

    I have no problem with the concept that we should be politically more like the rest of the UK and indeed I have major sympathy for the idea of mainland parties being here. However, at times the CU project looked like trying to parachute the Home Counties onto Northern Ireland and it failed disastrously at that. Essentially I do think many NI unionists are economically more liberal and socially more conservative than the current Tory leadership. I think they share that position with huge areas of the country: possibly even the Home Counties. I would submit that is in part why the Tories failed to win despite Labour being in such a dreadful position.

    I am not sure what that means the CUs should do now. In addition the CUs need to look at the fact that it was expected they would do well within the Greater Belfast Pale and less well outside. They did badly in most places. Whilst the new politics might have been expected to do well in the Pale they did not. Outside it the communal politics still matters: and maybe inside as well.

    Finally your candidates were shockingly bad: that is a problem you need to address but I honestly do not know how you do so in the short term. You will need your shiny non sectarian politicians to begin as councillors and work their way up. I do not know if you have that much time.

    • st etienne says:

      Agree completely re ground up. To me that and ‘home counties lite’ are the same issue. If these people had a track record then people would listen to the national agenda being brought forward with a great degree more trust than simply some directive from a foreign land.

      But isn’t that just it? The Westminster-only pact means these candidates may well be competing against eachother locally – hardly a measure that bodes well for long term commitment, and the agenda for change was never articulated locally – even though it was an open goal given no other party here had anything approaching the same level of detail.

      The candidates while from promising backgrounds – I don’t think you could genuinely describe anyone of them as aloof in the Cecil Walker/Willie Thompson mould – I fear did not possess the drive required to fight the dirty fights seasoned local parties would inevitably throw up. But then, when has the UUP ever risen to that challenge either?

  5. st etienne says:

    Willie Thompson? Ross I meant. Thompson didn’t quite have the same amount of time to stagnate so gracefully on the opposition bench.

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