UUP must have courage of convictions, or good ideas will rebound

It’s surely an interesting aside that, had North Down a Conservative-aligned MP, there wouldn’t be the slighted chance of its coastguard station being closed by a Conservative-led government. Yet there is now no one in NI politics left to point that out. The party which should be doing so is the UUP – but they ran away from a good idea (direct linkage into UK politics) before time.

The same applies with its most recent pronouncements. They challenged Invest NI on relocation payments for a London-based legal firm’s on the grounds that the money isn’t for that – but then turned it into a highly questionable “NI jobs for NI workers” argument rather than raising the obvious queries about millions public money being handed out with no control as to exactly how it is spent.

Then, they came up with the idea of an Opposition at Stormont (as if this is a novel idea) but talked about creating one only for 2015. The idea has near unanimous public support (and, by the way, the support of the DUP and Alliance), so why wait? The UUP should be challenging Nationalists to support the idea right now (particularly as the SDLP wavers on the Budget), not allow for another four years of dysfunctional government.

The truth is the UUP frequently comes up with good ideas – but rarely has the coherence or discipline to follow up on them properly.

(As an aside, well done to John McCallister for following up on his Caravans Bill, and kudos to him for being one of the few on the Hill who has reflected on what the ‘L’ in MLA stands for!)


17 thoughts on “UUP must have courage of convictions, or good ideas will rebound

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Northern Ireland, Ian James Parsley. Ian James Parsley said: UUP must have courage of convictions, or good ideas will rebound http://wp.me/psfAD-rD […]

  2. NorthernIrishRanger says:


    Opposition for Elliott is little more than a cheap gimmick. He names 2015 as he knows he won’t be there to implement it.

    If we cut the number of MLAs that could fund an opposition. The real problem for Elliott is that by forming an opposition his Minister and supporters would lose status and money. The concern should be about making government work and be held accountable rather than worrying about their own selfish interests.

  3. Englise en Bois says:

    the new idea around this time and the one evidently missed by the pundits is those parties elected to the executive must agree a programme for gov before the running of d’hontd. The logic of this is that should there not be a programme for gov before the running of d’hontd then the UUP will by default have to go in to opposition. That means May 2011 not 2015. This is new!

    • Clive,

      I thought this was the most interesting proposal too.

      However, it was Elliott who referred to 2015; furthermore, it is not new (Alliance’s “voluntary coalition” would also, plainly, require negotiation before government formation).

      For all this, the real problem is a total lack of Nationalist support for changing the system. How does the UUP propose overcoming that?

      • If other parties don’t agree with you but you think the people might, then the answer is simple. Steal their voters. I don’t hold out any hope of the UUP doing so though.

    • Ed Simpson says:

      For me, I think that will come back to haunt Tom. After the election he will be judged on whether he follows through with his policy. He either has to get all parties to agree on the programme for government or he has to pull out. I think the former is highly unlikely. Unfortunately for the UUP I also think the latter is unlikely too.

  4. bob wilson says:

    Ian why are you so sure that UUP will go into Govt?
    One Minister just isnt worth it – politically or financially?

    • NIR says:


      The UUP currently have two Ministers and by forming an opposition they would in turn lose all committee heads and positions too and whatever funding goes with them.

      However the Bel Tel reports that the UUP are in secret negotiations to fund an opposition.

      • Why on earth would the Conservative Party do the UUP any favours at this stage?

        The UUP is fast backing itself into a corner where, logically, it’ll *have* to go into Opposition anyway. Of course, that’ll cause another division…

    • I can scarcely believe this comment. This would involve both logic and the UUP acting as a corporate. Neither is conceivable.

      In other words (and seriously), there will be enough Ulster Unionists who *want* to be Ministers that any attempt at Opposition would result in chaos. As I’ve noted elsewhere, they are fast getting to the point where any attempt at Government would result in chaos too, given all they’re perceived to have said about Opposition.

  5. Seymour Major says:

    “they came up with the idea of an Opposition at Stormont (as if this is a novel idea) but talked about creating one only for 2015”

    It seems that they are now bringing forward that idea. The UUP is asking for money to fund going into opposition. It is hard to remain circumspect on this one.


    • It remains, frankly, shocking that any party would seriously ask for more money for the political system currently. Let’s not forget Peter Hain doled out £25,000 extra expenses for each MLA to coax them back in 2007 – but in 2011, the financial position has changed somewhat!

      However, even in a boom, there would be no point. The UUP would not go into opposition without the SDLP; the system will not be changed without Nationalists; the only money available is that already in use by the Assembly.

      The UUP is guilty of the one thing I have always accused NI Conservatives of doing – talking to CCHQ in London when it should be talking to people in Northern Ireland. It’s the latter they need to persuade – don’t forget, the Alliance Party and DUP have already tried.

  6. What would many of us do devoid of the awesome concepts you share on this website? Who has got the perseverance to deal with vital topics just for common visitors like me? I actually and my pals are very happy to have your blog among the kinds we typically visit. It is hoped you know how significantly we love your effort! Best wishes from us all.

  7. Paul says:

    ian i know this is off topic so please dont give me a yellow card.could it be possible to start a thread on seat projections for the assembly elections and the parties numbers i think it would be good and a whole lot of fun.thanks ian

  8. […] has sparked controversy by challenging Invest NI on payments made to the law firm, Allen and Overy. According to Ian James Parsley, the UUP spokesman’s initial objection to grants being used to relocate workers from London was […]

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