Open Unionism


A forum to discuss new ideas and perspectives on Unionism…

That concludes the Tory-UUP link…

On Hearts & Minds this evening, Noel Thompson asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland:

“The election of Martin McGuinness as First Minister should mean no difference [to unionists] and is in no way a setback?”

The Secretary of State’s response:

“I think the election of Martin McGuinness would be an extraordinary endorsement of the progress that has been made here.”

This concludes the relationship between the Tories and the Ulster Unionist Party.

The hesitation he showed during the answer makes me feel that he immediately regretted his choice of words. This will no doubt damage his relationship with unionist politicians.

*UPDATE: Here’s the H&M programme from last night at the point from which I’ve quoted.

One UUP response is a demand for the SoS to step down. Here’s a BBC report which includes the TUV position.

Here’s O’Neill’s take on things, and here’s a local Tory response to the interview.


Filed under: Conservatives, UUP, ,

UUP won’t back NI budget

Only time to post the news item:

The Ulster Unionist Party has confirmed it won’t back the draft budget for Northern Ireland, which was unveiled in December and outlined £4bn in spending cuts.

“Due to the high level of unknown outcomes based on limited information and aspirational claims, the Ulster Unionist Party is unable to endorse the draft Budget proposal,” a spokesman said.

The decision has been condemned as “gross hypocrisy” by Finance Minister Sammy Wilson.

“I wish we had more money but the reality is that the UUP’s friends in the Tories have slashed our budget,” he said.

This is an opposition stance. It seems the UUP has chosen the battlefield, but do they have a battle plan? How far will sound management and credibility on finances determine the outcome of the election?

Filed under: DUP, economy, UUP

Are non-DUP unionists now Alliance voters?

(Image via niassembly's flickrstream)

That header would have beggared credulity prior to May. It might even have been provocative afterwards.

But since then, Harry Hamilton and Paul Bradshaw have signed up too. Whilst not a flood, it’s significant.

David McClarty is no fan of Alliance, and yet the chatter continues that he may run under the APNI banner. Even if the ideological combine isn’t there, the extra resources and support of an established party would be welcome. The colour of the rosette is not the first consideration for McClarty. He feels compelled to run – if Alliance can assist him, would he demur?

Alliance would say that they are attracting folks from all sides. That they are a cross-community vehicle for anti-sectarian politics etc… and yet, considering the balance of defections, it would seem that Alliance are becoming more progressively unionist in its personnel.

Yes, the UUP has enjoyed better times. But are moderate Unionists really going to back Alliance? Where are Alliance positioning themselves?

And sandwiched between a more progressive DUP and a progressively more Unionist Alliance Party, is the UUP in danger of a double envelopment?

UPDATE: Well, at least one part of this post has now been answered. David McClarty is to stand as an independent.

Filed under: DUP, UUP, , , ,

Elliott and the UUP Conference: positives and negatives

Having missed the UUP Conference, I posted a reaction to Tom Elliott’s speech and some of the media coverage over at Three Thousand Versts. There hasn’t been a lot of reaction to the event yet at Open Unionism, so I’m taking the liberty of reposting here. Owen Polley.

I spent the weekend in icy Fermanagh, and not at the Ulster Unionist conference.  Ironically, if the cliché rings true, half the County enjoyed subsidised transport in the other direction.

Still, reportedly 400 delegates heard Tom Elliott deliver his speech at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast, whereas just shy of 1,000 crowded into the Waterfront Hall to elect him leader, so perhaps the Enniskillen fleet wasn‘t quite so well-filled this time.

The speech is carried on the UUP website and it reads reasonably well, although the Belfast Telegraph reports that the delivery was stilted.  In contrast, Alan from Belfast thinks that Elliott is getting more assured.  Perhaps both are fair comment.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: UUP, UUP conference

Elliott’s speech @ UUP conference…

I’ve grabbed the audio of Tom Elliott’s speech from yesterday. You can access it via the player below.

[h/t Alan in Belfast & Slugger for this.]

The text of the speech can be found here – and I’ve also uploaded it to our widget.


Filed under: UUP, UUP conference, ,

UUP Party Conference Broadcast

UUP have launched their Party Conference Broadcast.

They are obviously focusing on the future but continue to bash Stormont branding the Government as the ‘DUP-Sinn Fein Axis’.

Andrew Charles

Filed under: conferences, UUP, UUP conference, ,

Mixed bag for the UUP as the party hopes to avoid lost seats.

Cross posted on Three Thousand Versts. By Owen Polley.

As promised, some reaction to the UUP Assembly candidates list, revealed yesterday. Like O’Neill, the first name which took my eye was Reg Empey, whose impending elevation to the Conservative benches at the House of Lords has not prevented his selection for East Belfast.

On ‘Unionist Lite’ Michael Shilliday notes that the Lords is neither an elected nor a salaried position and therefore the party treats it as exempt from strictures on double-jobbing. That will be considered, by most people, to be too convenient a get out.

Simply, if you can’t be a Lord and remain in the House of Commons, neither should you become a Lord and remain at the Assembly. If the UUP wants to wriggle out on a technicality then there will be criticism and, in my opinion, it will be justified.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Assembly elections, UUP

The Dissenter considers Basil’s defeat…

The Dissenter

Great analysis over at The Dissenter… the blog takes a look at the reasons why Basil McCrea lost the UUP leadership election and also considers the challenges ahead for Tom Elliott. Although focused on the UUP, there are many points relevant to all unionist Parties.

Filed under: UUP, UUP leadership election, , ,

Tributes paid to Captain Bill Henderson…

Captain Bill Henderson passed away this morning. He was an Ulster Unionist MP for Victoria, East Belfast, a well known businessman and a former captain in the Irish Guards.

Paying tribute to him Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party Tom Elliott said:

“Captain Henderson was a Patron of the Ulster Unionist Party and he has made a huge contribution to the Party and to unionism throughout Northern Ireland.  His achievements – his dedication and his vision helped shape the Unionism of today.  Through his work in the media and his military career he promoted the best for the people of Northern Ireland and I am honoured to lead the Party he was so involved in.”

Reg Empey said that Bill was “a gentleman and an honourable man who promoted positive Unionism throughout East Belfast and across Northern Ireland”.


Filed under: UUP, ,

‘The 2010 Group’: does NI really want a mini-UCUNF?

Image reproduced from Scriptshadow

A strange and unfortunate event occurred during the past week. It calls itself ’The 2010 group’, met ‘in secret’, and immediately let Mr Mallie of the press corps in on the ‘secret’.

Let it be said again – the UUP is the only show in town for the liberal core of unionism. Mr Mallie’s likely source is a well-known vendor of poison and piffle, but his politics is somewhat closer to my own than I am altogether comfortable with. As a result the author has a decent idea of who was present, what they discussed, and in what direction they wish to go. They are wrong.

Mr Elliott may not have been their choice of leader, but he is the leader that the party chose by a rather large margin, unswayed by any complaints of geographic bias. The period of drift and inaction since that evening has been notable and unfortunate, but comparatively short for a political leader. To summarise, give the guy a break, let him bed down, and let’s see what he does. Were we to find ourselves in the same position come Christmas, then start plotting, but perhaps allow some grown-ups in on the ‘secret’.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: UUP, , , ,

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