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Northern Ireland, still a nightmare?

Pathetic. Who cares what the logo is?

Jeff Peel is entirely, absolutely and undeniably right about this; the UUP sees a chance to escape absolute annihilation as a result of its own catastrophic management, and couldn't run a political party for toffee. The tragedy is that the laughable 'New Force' brand has lost one of the few people who might have been able to sell it. If the UUP think this is a good thing, they're barking.

I love this Conservative party and what it (with Cameron in charge) stands for; the UUP have a quasi-pinko (lovely woman but call a spade a spade) who basically lives on the government bench. If the UUP were given KFC to market, they'd call it 'Warm Dead Bird'. It's a shame Jeff has gone from the committee, but the bigger shame is the botched demi-merger.

I'm glad that Jeff summarises with "I would encourage the Party to seek a mandate to govern every part of the United Kingdom without entering into deals with other political parties."

Hear hear!

Is a fight about branding really worth it? In N.I. the Conservative party is weak.Surely we should be looking to strengthen ourselves before throwing our weight around.


what it (with Cameron in charge) stands for

How did you find out, and could you get Tim to let you do an article explaining to the rest of us?

I'm delighted to see the back of him.

He's not what the UUP-Con link ever needed... he at every stage did what he could to undermine and poison things...

Good Riddance Jeffrey

@ john and Malcolm Dunn,

This is more than a squabble over a logo; there seems to be much more disingenuity going on here.

I've always thought the parties were irreconcilable; the spirit of the agreements entered into appears to have been abandoned by the UUP side, and the reasonable thing to do is find out why the UUP did that, if they did.

As for Jeff being a good riddance, I've seen up close how good he is at these details, how consistent his logic in these things can be, and how he has the interests of Conservatism, the Conservative Party and Northern Ireland at his heart. One of the people who might have been able to sell this mess of a misbranding has thrown his hands up.

The words 'toys' and 'pram' come to mind.

I have never met Jeff, but I admire and respect him. He comes across as an intelligent chap, so I don't think he would have resigned for no good reason. I wish the UUP-Conservative partnership well but, as Jeff says, many in the UUP are sectarian (and, probably, small-minded and socialist -or all 3!)

The issue here is that the UUP have broken key agreements. This doesn’t bode well for the future. They need us more than we need them - espcially if they're broke, as reports suggest.

These old style unionists haven't grown up with the new situation

The Tories must take a longer term view and seek other alliances and beat their own path in N.I.

The point is this: however right Mr Peel may be on the issues, his behaviour in going public is unforgiveable. Why create bad publicity and mayhem? If he found the tiresome process of dealing with the UUP's less progressive elements too much, why didn't he simply walk away quietly?

I'm afraid he is playing childish games and must now be disregarded.

Jeffrey Peel seems ignorant that the Tories polled miniscule in NI at the last elections eyt the branding of the `merged` party was simple the Tory party logo with `and Unionists` added. They had already caused a furore by being averse to the word `Ulster` and several comments about the Orange Order, neither of which were necessary - a case of where saying nothing was appropriate rather than burning unnecessary fires.

Personally, I would like to see this Jeffrey Peel resign or be removed as Vice Chairman of Northern Ireland Conservatives as well.

He has put in jeopardy a very worthwhile project by acting in the way that he has. The party needs to make absolutely clear right now that he does not speak for us. He has given a much needed line of attack to the DUP, and they are now milking the evidence of 'division' for all its worth.

I don't think many of us give a toss whether the alliance is called the Ulster Conservatives and Unionists-New Force (although I don't personally like the cheesy 'New Force' bit), the UCUNF or the Conservatives and Unionists. Neither do we care whether the logo is another bloody tree or something more sensible.

All we want is for Northern Ireland to be consolidated within the UK, for Unionism to be strengthened and for both parties to do well out of the deal. Mr Peel, you are a disgrace. Have the decency to resign.

If this doesn't work out, you should go it alone in NI, in my view, and put some real resources into campaigning there.

Regardless of my own views, 'politics as normal' is too good a potential prize to give up on....

To repeat what I've said as part of an acrimonious discussion elsewhere (Slugger O'Toole's genteel lounge and fisticuffs' parlour):

I know, I know. You’ve all been there before before me. It’s unfitting. It’s banal. I apologise.

But, quite frankly, anyone who can perpetrate that appalling acronym UCUNF-NF is capable of anything.

Except street politics.

Which, superficially, makes the doings of Jeffrey Peel very small beer.

So, let’s look again, keeping eyes firmly on the 8-ball, and sorry about the repetition:

What Peel is wingeing about, with some justification, is:

—the UUP does not have the interests of Conservatism at heart but is using them to get out of a financial crisis.
—the use of that name [UCUNF] and the way in which the new alliance was being branded. He claimed it had been agreed that only a shortened form of the name was to be used - Conservatives and Unionists.
—the only from of branding which was to be used was a version of official Conservative ‘tree’ logo, which he described as reflecting the “non-sectarian and national nature of our joint initiative”.


—[Peel] alleges the Ulster Unionists went back on these agreements prompting him to resign.

For the absolute ball-breaker, there's the humdinger:

—“the [UUP] party’s only MP is simply not a Conservative.”

Which all implies to me that he’s taking direction from 30 Millbank. And the UUP is being given a very firm, and long-overdue lesson in which dog wags the rump/tail.

To this pinko at least, that's no bad thing.

I like Jeff. I like (most of) what he stands for. I even tweet with him occasionally. He even dislikes the DUP as much as me! But he is completely wrong here.

If he didn't like the name (I personally don't, but recognise the need for compromise) he should have discussed this in the committee. Even if he thought the UUP had agreed with him, as soon is it appeared they hadn't, he should have sorted it out privately. He is acting like a child over this, and is damaging the relationship set up by people like Neil Johnston and Owen Paterson with the UUP.

It is quite ironic, that by being so uncompromisingly for normal politics, he may have damaged the progress made for now.

I was jubilant when the pact was announced. I thought being part - even a tiny cog - of the process might be worth staying in NI for. I hope Jeff hasn't damaged this.

"Which all implies to me that he’s taking direction from 30 Millbank."

I doubt that highly. He is being portrayed as a maverick, and CCHQ are removing responsibility for the NI web presence from him.

As an active member of the Alliance Party, I can hardly contain by glee at the UCUNF fiasco! One did try to warn one's Tory friends that:

* the UUP have an inverse midas touch that turns everything they touch into rust;
* the UUP were primarily interested in getting Tory cash to rescue them from the farcical mismanagement which left them half a million in debt (a lot of money in NI political terms) despite being showered with money from outside during the Trimble era to remarkably little political effect;
* many UUP members are not particularly Tory leaning and were not going to be enthusiastic about a project pushed by a small number of UUP activists.

But, oh no, you didn't listen! We were just worried about how the New Force were going to rip apart what remained of our rotten Alliance corpse. Not only were you going to wipe us out, you were going to take lots of middle-class votes from the SDLP!

Northern Ireland is a parallel political universe and cannot be forced to be anything else from above. The UUP in Tory drag is still the UUP, and the Tory activists realising that now are bolting after the stable door has closed. Enthusiastic Tory activists in NI would have been better employed trying to actually win a couple of council seats somewhere or telecanvassing in GB marginals, but you couldn't resist the big bang theory.

The only danger UCUNF poses to anyone is if they decide to hold a fireworks display or a fundraising barbeque!

Without being too silly, the point about Ulster in the title is a salient one. Unless we're going to be fielding candidates in Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan that is.

Surely there needs now to be clarity on what was actually agreed at the steering meeting which apparently established a change in the name. If that can be cleared up, this mess can be. For now, I trust Jeff's word on this.

I was against this idea from the very start but I didn't expect it to go off the rails so soon.

For the Conservative Party to team up with the UUP is like going to a dance with a corpse as your partner, it is defunct with only the relic Reg Empey left and the DUP is now the big player on the Unionist side of Ulster Politics.

I will say, "I told you so" and pour myself a large scotch.

As an Ulster Unionist, I am delighted to see that not only is Jeff Peel off the Joint Committee, CCHQ has dealt decisively with him. Well done!

As one who was sceptical about the UUP-Cons link up, J. Peel and his political nievety was a major stumbling block for me. Thank you CCHQ for filling myself and many UU's will faith in this project - now we know we're at one on this.

Onwards and upwards friends, lets leave Jeff Peel to fade into insignificance (where he came from and where he belongs) and let us focus on the task at hand Europe and getting Jim Nicholson elected.

Keep The Faith

They need us more than we need them - espcially if they're broke, as reports suggest.
The UUP have been in long term decline, their only remaining MP someone who really holds views more suited to the Alliance Party, abandoned by former supporters who feel that they were used by an elite and who are looking for Unionist leaders more like them and found that more in the DUP.

Jim Nicholson can hold his EU seat, but if he does it will be despite the UUP and Conservative Party and not because of it, he is a long serving politician who is quite capable of fighting his own battles.

How long before Sylvia Hermon declares she is defecting to the Alliance Party.

Rather than trying to merge with a decaying party, the Conservative Party would have been better to work with elected representatives of the Unionist community and/or to continue to organise seperately, to accept people abandoning the UUP, even so this would never be likely to yield more than some extra councillors and a slightly enhanced role in the Northern Ireland Executive. By trying to form an Alliance with the UUP, the Conservative Party has associated itself with a dying element in Ulster politics, maybe has brought on a crisis that may accelerate the disintegration of the UUP, but also threatens the Northern Ireland Conservative Party as well.

I hear Labour are now organising in Ulster, I doubt they will even come close to winning a single election - unlike the now defunct UK Unionist Party the Labour Party is favourable towards union with the Irish Republic, but it is not out and out Nationalist like the SDLP, a hiding to nothing is the phrase that comes to mind when describing their prospects.

In effect the Alliance Party is much the same party as the Liberal Democrats so it seems unlikely that they would organise there.

In the past the Conservative Party used to include many elements who did not sit as Conservatives but took the Conservative whip - the UUC, the Scottish Unionist Party, the National Liberals. Rather than re-establishing what was, surely what is happening is that it is trying to be a single group with one identity throughout the UK, the UUP hope to restore their position as it was before the closure of the Stormont Parliament when the UUP were affiliated but Independent of the national Conservative Party.

As a Conservative voter in NI (yes there are one or two), my assiduous avoidance of Ulster unionism grew out of a distaste for overt sectarianism and its inseparability from the Orange Order.

The political naivity in this whole debacle stems from anyone who believed that a partnership with an unreformed Ulster Unionist Party was not going to diminish the non-sectarian appeal of the Conservatives and in assuming the UUP would suddenly discover a smidgen of presentational savvy for the new arrangement.

If this was supposed to be the moment Sir Reg and his grandees positioned the UUP as the modern, non-sectarian, forward looking face of unionism, in partnership with the next party of national government, it looks like it's about to crash on take-off.

There's an urgent need for strong leadership to take the controls and pilot this thing off the ground successfully.

Plainly speaking, your ignorance does not help your argument. The UUP has not been associated with the Orange Institution any more than it is with an amataur dramatic society (ie, that some people are members of both - not I it should be said) for around five years.

Your insinuation that the UUP and therefore logicaly it's members are sectarian is simply laughable. Was attendance at a GAA game by two MLAs last year evidence of overt sectarianism?

Rather, as the UUP is facing a severe financial crisis, it sees the Conservatives as a means out of its financial and electoral woes. Many UUP members (although by no means all) still adopt a little Ulster mentality when it comes to politics, and the Party’s only MP is simply not a Conservative.

Firstly, if that is what Jeffrey sincerely believes, then all of those "facts" were "true" and known to him on the day that he agreed to serve on the Joint Committee. Which of those "facts" did he believe he could change by being on the committee?

Secondly, his actions over the last fortnight have displayed both an astonishing lack of political nous and a wanton disregard for the rules and public image of his own party.

Well Ben, you'd have far more credibility if it weren't for fact that the catastrophic mismanagement of NI Conservatives by the likes of Mr Peel ensured you only garnered one vote for every 30 the UUP did. And considering the Aegean stables the UUP currently reside in, that must have taken some application of logic on his part to plummet that low.

And lets face it, he didn't resign over some great issue of principle. I could understand if he thought the UUP were unsuitable for the type of politics he wishes to pursue. But really, resigning because of the word "Ulster" and the Union flag? Really shows the depth of the paddling pool he is waddling in.

Richard, your points are nonsense. Mr Peel has only been involved in the Party for the last 2-3 years and he has worked tirelessly to put the Party on the map in NI. He is a wonderful communicator, and highly articulate individual. He is also a very committed Conservative. In what other part of the UK would a loyal and hard working Conservative be fired as an Area Officer for saying in public that he doesn't want to enter into a partnership with another political party? The UUP's sole MP is a New Labour supporter who consistently votes against us and hasn't spoken in the House of Commons in the last 2 years. Mr Peel acted on principle. The UUP has told lies and everyone - including Owen Paterson - knows this. It's about time that the Conservatives treated Northern Ireland like every other part of the UK and contested every seat on its own - without "help" from a sectarian Party of the past.

The UUP's sole MP is a New Labour supporter who consistently votes against us and hasn't spoken in the House of Commons in the last 2 years.

This is/was a fresh revelation for Mr Peel?
If it wasn't, why then did he agree to join the Jt Committee?

Well Conservative in Ulster, we know the fruits of Mr Peel's "tireless" work. And that is to get one vote for every thirty a party, in Ben Archibald's words, is on the verge of "absolute annihilation". It would appear he has been marketing the Conservatives as "Warm Dead Bird" with maggots as the side.

And drop the sophistry. Peel didn't walk because he believed the Conservatives can stand on their own two feet in Ulster. He didn't walk because he believes the UUP is a sectarian party. He resigned because he objected to a "sectarian" symbol, the Union flag, appearing instead of a tree.

Michael, your denial of the UUP's links with the loyal Orange institutions will astound most people used to your more intelligent utterances. The deep and extensive cross membership of both the UUP and Orange Order is undeniable and to equate it with something as innocuous as amateur dramatics, misses entirely the point that am-dram at least welcomes Catholics to its collective luvvy bosom.

And perhaps, you haven't properly observed an Orange parade for the last five years - have a look this marching season if you want to see a large percentage of UUP MLA's and councillors and notice how prominently placed they are at the head of their lodges - it's almost a form of political campaigning!

The Conservatives have stretched out the hand of cooperation with the UUP; it is to be hoped that this will infuse the UUP with non-sectarian zeal and convince their elected representatives that membership of an overtly sectarian organisation does more harm than good.

Well plainly speaking, let us be frank. The Orange Order has 70,000 members, approximately one in five Protestant males belong to it. Are they bigots? Now these people all have friends, wives, children. Are they bigots for being associated with Orange Order members? So to whom does the Conservative party appeal to in NI as you've made it clearly you want no truck with the vast majority of pro-Union people that you imagine to be sectarian?

Richard, you misunderstand me. I have the utmost respect for Orange Order members, who for the most part, are unbigoted, decent, salt of the earth types.

Regrettably, the organisation to which they belong is avowedly anti-Catholic and in the context of the Conservatives attempt to woo the pro-union Catholic vote in Northern Ireland, together with 'the vast majority of pro-union people', it will be difficult to promote non-sectarian candidates with Orange affiliations.

If you don't think most Orange Order members are bigots then why give credance to Nationalist smears by treating them as persona non grata? And as attacks on the Orange Order are often fronts for portraying the entire Unionist community as bigots I cannot see you winning many votes by adopting the Nationalist narrative at a time when Unionists are crying out for an effective champion.

Now if you believe in indulging Nationalist myths rather than challenging them then what will you do about the claim that Conservative governmets directed Loyalist terrorism? Surely that'd be a bigger impediment attracting Catholic votes than the Orange bogeymen of the UUP?

Believe me, Richard, I give no creedence to Nationalist myths; but you are quite right - there's a Conservative legacy to address in Northern Ireland which casts a shadow over both sides of the community.

By the same token, there's a UUP/Orange Order legacy which casts a shadow; by perpetuating one of its causes, seems to me to be not the best way of attracting Catholic votes and should be no business of any party with non-sectarian credentials.

Plainly speaking, presumably you believe then that the NI Conservatives are utterly incapable of attracting Catholic votes? As they are unique in Northern Ireland in the sense all of their elected representatives are Orangemen :o)

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