NI Conservatives AGM

My congratulations to Irwin Armstrong as new Area Chair of the Northern Ireland Conservatives.

However, it was a baffling meeting to attend. Two hours were taken up electing people to various positions and yet I recall nobody mentioning a plan for actually getting people elected. Some excellent people put their names forward, and told us all about how they were going to develop policy, set up new associations, get more influence in London, and attract new members. Yet the best point made (by one of the successful candidates as it happens) was that the Conservatives and Ulster Unionists are competing for votes (and thus members) in the same space. No one even sought to resolve the obvious problem with that, previously discussed on this blog, that if that is the case, the obvious option for anyone seeking influence in Northern Ireland is to join the Ulster Unionists rather than the Conservatives – they may be in electoral decline but, in the end, they can actually get people elected, meaning not only that they can get influence on local and devolved issues in Northern Ireland but also that they are more readily listened to by the new government in London.

Local Conservatives want national politics, a Unionism based on participating in the UK and not just defending it, and promotion of centre-right politics here. However, the conundrum remains that most politically active people sharing that view are members of the Ulster Unionist Party (including several new recruits from the Conservatives in recent weeks). It is alarming that an AGM passed without even contemplating that.

Thus the challenge for the local Conservatives in the coming year will not be getting people elected, but merely explaining why they should even be seeking elected office in Northern Ireland when they already have a sister party (and even a joint MEP) – their new coalition colleagues in the LibDems have long reckoned that the better option is to allow members in Northern Ireland but at elections simply to support that sister party.


16 thoughts on “NI Conservatives AGM

  1. […] Published June 20, 2010 Opinion Leave a Comment Ian Parsley over on his blog (a blog, incidentally, that now blocks any comments from your truly) has a bit of a go at his Party […]

  2. paul says:

    Ian I find it very puzzling that the NI conservatives who polled a mere 3000 votes right across NI and were in the political wilderness seem to want to go back there.Also at next years assembly and local elections having the NI Conservative and unionist party standing against Ulster unionist party candidates will just completely confuse the voters and will lead to electoral disaster.

  3. Tomagaddy says:

    Ian there is no evidence to suggest that ‘most politically active people’ wanting national politics are in the UUP. Who are these people? Have any of them spoken out callling for a merger of the two parties? Most want the kudos etc of being connected with the Conservatives but haven’t the courage to follow the argument to its logical conclusion.

    Also the idea that you can have more influence in the UUP than the Conservatives is laughable. I suppose you could argue that a UUP member might have influence on Dept of Health of DEL but as both Ministers have no indiscernable policies beyond populism ie abolishing prescription charges it is hard to believe there is much to influence. The UUP have no more influence than the man in the street on the rest of the Executive’s Depts.

    The UUP have NO influence over the Conservative Govt because they messed Cameron et al around so badly over the past year. In addition they have no MPs and no real prospect of getting any. Also we all know they have no money.

    Are we to take it that you will not be applying to be a candidate for the Conservatives in the Assembly election unless there is a deal with the UUP?

    • Tom,

      There are things in the blog which are open to challenge, but nothing you have challenged is!

      Values: the NI Conservatives could muster only eight NI residents prepared to put their name forward for “national politics” last time around, of whom two have subsequently left the Conservatives and sought to join the Ulster Unionist Party! The latter, meanwhile, put forward 15 candidates plus many others in the competition, plus an active grassroots including MLAs and Councillors all in favour of the link.
      Policy: As I stated in my fully endorsed Budget statement, we have no real influence at the top table of policy – again, the Conservative-Unionist link-up was a genuine attempt to do something about that which failed due to poor delivery, not because the idea itself was flawed. It would be helpful if local Conservatives spent longer supporting the government than moaning about the past, but I am glad to say I suspect the new Area Executive will take that point on board and run with it.
      Past: As for “messing Cameron about”, I think quite a few Conservatives did that too, with their leaking and so on, and you needn’t think that was missed either! That said, again I suspect the new Area Chair will take that very seriously so we should have less of that in future.

      I stood at the General Election with the endorsement of both the Conservative Party and the Ulster Unionist Party and, given both parties’ courage in entering into the link-up, I was proud to do so. The North Down Conservative Association was superb, but then so were a number of Ulster Unionist representatives (including the local MLA and a number of Councillors). We were a good team, and would have been even better had we had longer at it. I haven’t decided whether to stand at all next year, but if I do, ideally it would be with the same endorsement. I believe we are stronger together.

  4. Tomagaddy says:

    Factually wrong Ian there were more than eight NI based candidates and remember these were all people – including yourself who based the Conservative Party’s Parliamentary Assessment Board. The UUP list was not an assessment based process originally. A number of those on their list – and I dont just mean Cllr Watson – would not have based a PAB type assesssment.

    ‘NI Conservatives have zero influence’ so who do you think piloted the whole Conservatives and Unionists experiment – you surely dont think the UUP leadership planned it or that it was Owen Paterson?

    Re Cameron. He is quite clear on where the blame lies – the UUP leadership for in decision and Owen Paterson and Jonathan Caine for their weak leadership and failure to alert him to the problems earlier.

    Meetings do not necessarily mean influence! Also the SoS does not decide Conservative policy in isolation I assure you!

    So without joint endorsement you wont stand?

  5. paul says:

    I am gobsmacked by the sheer nastiness of the blogging of former NI Tory Jeffery peel who was quite rightly booted out of his job.Peel by the way blocks me from posting on his site because I exposed the negative blogging of NI tory seymour major everybody knows that not just these two who were stirring the pot because they wanted the link to fail but other NI tories were also causing mischief.I simply cannot understand why these people want to stay in the political wilderness.

  6. Tom: I would want joint endorsement to stand, yes. That does not mean I would not consider standing as a Conservative, but I am realistic about my prospects in that guise.

    Paul: Hear hear. It is also the upmost hypocrisy to complain about others blocking you when you do it yourself. Jeff and co have delivered year after year of total electoral failure, and the accompanying lack of influence that comes with it. It is time for change.

  7. paul says:

    I am sorry and saddened to have to say this Ian but its only a matter of time before CCHQ on the mainland decide that the NI Tories are more trouble than they are worth and move to officially disband them. ie the NI Tories and quite frankly who could blame CCHQ for doing it.

  8. Tomagaddy says:

    Paul you are simply stirring. The NI Tories are not two individuals any more than the UUP are represented by Adrian Watson and Sylvia Hermon.
    As stated above CCHQ and Cameron know the NI Tories – including Ian played a straight bat over past year so and it was elements in the UU leadership that messed things up.
    Hence the fact that CCHQ are considering that the UUP (under current ‘leadership’) are ‘more trouble than they are worth’

    • paul says:

      I am sorry I am not stirring I am a realist the fact is there have being problems on both sides.The NI tories have failed politically with people like peel seymour major and co being part of that failure.If you think CCHQ will put up with the NI tories antics then you are not living in the real world. I think you are really naive.CCHQ will pull the plug on the NI tories because they think you are not worth the time and effort and are more trouble than you are worth and who could blame them mark my word.Then what are the likes of you going to do.???

  9. paul says:

    Ian I very much welcome your comments regarding the way forward.I think in the next few months things will move at pace those that want real change will move on and leave the ones that are in the political wilderness will be left behind.And they will remain sadly in the political wilderness.

  10. paul says:

    Ian I dont know why you are in the NI tories I have just read a few comments from a couple of them on a blog regarding a certain UUP member and its appalling.Do prey tell me Ian what you hope to achieve with the likes of seymour major and co with peel putting the boot in no point trying to educate those two and there followers no point knocking if theres nobody there ian.The NI tories are finished they have failed politically and major peel and co presided over that political failure.

    • Paul – I really don’t know who Jeff Peel and Seymour Major are. That the former chooses to spout such vitriol about someone he has met only once says more about him than about anyone else, but it’s no concern of mine.

      They are not, however, representative. Thankfully there are many excellent and hard-working members of the NI Conservatives, not least in the North Down Association, with whom it is a joy to work. What we must now do is put them in a position to secure electoral success and real political influence at every level.

      • paul says:

        Ian I am glad that the north down branch are not representative of the likes of seymour major and peel and co who presided over the woeful political failures of the NI conservatives and I am sorry but thats the truth.

  11. paul says:

    I should also add seymour major and co not only did everything to undermine the UUP/tory link up they are publicly undermining things even more by causing further unrest by demands for the NI conservatives to enter a new party and ditch its UK roots no doubt such attempts if this party ever got off the ground with peel major and co at the helm will go the same way the NI tories did which these two peel major and co presided over which is political failure.The progressive forward thinking NI conservatives need to be made aware of following such people.

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