David McNarry MLA (UKIP)

Todays news that David McNarry MLA for Strangford, thrown out of the UUP some months ago has joined UKIP (the British-based United Kingdom Independence Party) comes as a surprise…and yet it shouldnt.

McNarry now well into his 60s is a UUP veteran who has always been in and around the top of Unionism (his senior position in Orange Order was certainly a help) yet he always looked over-promoted, not least by himself.

UUP have two seats in Strangford…..but veteran McNarry has been playing second fiddle to newcomer Mike Nesbitt, who earlier this year became Party Leader. Earlier this year Nesbitt sacked traditionalist McNarry for advocating a form of unity with DUP. Last week Nesbitt sacked his Deputy Leader for advocating the exact opposite. In other words Party Leader Mike Nesbitt is the weakest link in the UUP. And is single-handedly tearing his own Party apart.

He has managed to get rid of Party veteran “Lord” Ken Magennis….for clearly homophobic remarks. Entirely understandable but having the effect of alienating “traditionalists”.

Nesbitt is a curiousity. Identifiably an “English”-type Conservative, he briefly seemed likely to take the Westminster Strangford seat in May 2010. This was on the basis of the Tory-UUP coalition briefly riding high and the scandal involving Iris Robinson DUP MP for Strangford. And of course Nesbitt, well known as a TV News anchor seemed media savvy and personable.

Actually he has proved a media disaster and comes across as controlling and tetchy. His meteoric rise within UUP was complete when he became Leader in March 2012. And his destruction of that Party began right away.

UKIP…..as the name United Kingdom Independence Party suggests….is essentially a Party rooted in the 1960s……a party which believes Britain is under threat from the whole European Project. Actually they are right about that……but come across as ex-Tory golf club bores with a mixed record on Race. In other words an ideal Party for disgruntled UUP people who think that things were much better for them in the 1960s. An English version of the Tea Party.

UKIP has two or three seats in the European Parliament where their brand of Europhobia resonates with Middle England and they are helped by proportional representation, multi-seat constituencies and low turn outs in European elections. They have two or three members of the “House of Lords”, surprisingly few councillors and no Members of Parliament, although they are perhaps a more natural home for disaffected right wing Tories.

So in UKIP terms, David McNarry MLA…….a member of the Stormont ASsembly is quite a catch. So much so that Party Leader Nigel Farage…..a golf club, right-winger straight from Central Casting is making an appearance at Stormont tomorrow to welcome his new recruit. I have to confess that I actually like Nigel Farage. He is a right wing version of ……me.

So the UUP membership, support and vote wil actually split even more than was thought. The UUP in terminal decline but clearly the DUP, Alliance, Conservatives and UKIP wont be the only beneficiaries. Clearly UUP members are jumping ship to their favourite lifeboat.

Which makes the Alliance defectors Hamilton, Parsley and Bradshaw just a little uncomfortable. Ideologically they are “Conservatives” but the clear market leader in the so-called middle ground is the Alliance Party and they are more electable in that Party…….but Alliance traditionalists should be looking at them with some suspicion.

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21 Responses to David McNarry MLA (UKIP)

  1. sammymcnally says:

    Dangerous for UKIP to have a recruit from the Orange Orderc – if Nige is not comfortable with the parading activities and attitudes of the Loyal Orders he should not have this Prod about the place – helps his opponents to dismiss UKIP as crazy right wingers when he has the boy Davy on board.

    Probably just a delayed DUP gain in next Stomo elections.

    Are the DUP more anti-european than UKIP anyway?

    • I think the final seat in Strangford will be interesting. It always is.
      Assuming the boundaries stay the same, then the current DUP 3, UUP 2 and AP 1 looks unlikely.
      And Im not convinced it would go back to DUP 4, UUP1, AP 1 (2007).
      Four looks beyond DUP without a real star name like Iris Robinson (Bell is hardly a big name)
      One UUP looks safe unless they are in meltdown
      If Kieran McCarthy steps down at the Election, or before it to allow a co-option to get comfortable…..hmmm
      So really only four can be safely called.
      SDLP failed by 50 votes in 2007 but by about 450 in 2011. So if they have a general rally they SHOULD do better. Its a prime target.
      But I think it leaves the fifth and sixth seat between DUP, AP and SDLP.
      The strange thing about this seat is that even on the day before the next election, I will probably say the same thing.

  2. bangordub says:

    Nesbitt has now managed to alienate just about every wing of the UUP, the answer to what he is actually for remains unanswered.
    Still, seeing Unionism with yet another splinter group, well, I’m not one to gloat. (Much) šŸ˜‰

  3. sammymcnally says:


    re. “Iā€™m not one to gloat. (Much)

    I’m with you interms of sentiment but slplintering ironically (and unfortunately) is actually good for Unionist political unity – ie just more mopping up by the DUP.

    McNarry will probably not survive the next Stormo elections. As mentioned above interesting to see if UKIP get difficulty from including an unrepentant Orange Orderer in their ranks.

    • I think there will always be a second unionist Party (unionism needs two) but there will be a lot of jostling between Consrvatives/TUV/UUP rump to establish a pecking order which could take a decade to sort out. UKIP a bit of a sideshow.

      • sammymcnally says:


        re. “unionism needs two”. I disagree, they actually ‘need’ none, they have a right wing party that supports the Union waiting to receive them ie the Tories. They have two – but in reality it is the DUP plus a rump – with no Westminster seats.

        I think the only people who ‘need’ themmuns to have 2 parties are ussuns.

  4. bangordub says:

    McNarry is a loose cannon methinks, what I am really curious about is whether he made overtures to others, DUP or even TUV, and was rebuffed?

    • Loose cannon in the sense that he is in his mid 60s and has nothing to lose and wont resign so that he will be defeated in the next Assembly Elections. He has been climbing the greasy pole of Orange and Unionist politics for four decades and has probably made a few friends and a few enemies along the way……both at senior level and “on the ground” in the Strangford/North Down/Castlereagh/Ards/East Belfast area. And that means his relations with the Robinsons and their supporters would be pretty crucial. As well as relations with councillors, and various DUP/UUP “committee men”. Always struck me as on the fringes of things. Never genuinely “top table” just the sort of guy who stands behind whatever Party Leader with other UUP people at the bottom of the Stormont stairs. Basically DUP dont need him. They have three safe seats in Strangford and McNarry wont deliver a fourth but some up and coming person there might.
      Not so much loose cannon as rusty cannon. They can be dangerous.
      And I know a few years ago I was in Newtownards and his office was in Regent Street (he would have been the only UUP MLA in Strangford). But I think I read his office is now in Comber. And there might be a story in that.

  5. sammymcnally says:

    …and talking of canons I googled Carrick Hill last night (looking for something recent)and came across the extract from a book about the history of sectarianism and orange parades in Belfast – I’m not sure what period it is from but I think it challenges the idea that Ulster is not on the road to improvement.

    “They found a man in Carrick Hill with an ancient cannon, loaded and ready for action”

    Parades commission if had been around in them days might have issued a determination that any protest by the residents must be “less that 150 people and not include the use of loaded canons”.

    Was wondering if the descendants of this daring chap are still in the area – presumably they might be inclined to issue reminders to passing loyal orders marchers, such as ‘my grandpa took a canon to youse f*****s’.

    • My fathers family had been ordered out of a house in a street off the Grosvenor Road in Belfast circa 1920. And they were refugees and found a place over a pub in Carrick Hill. I remember my father pointing it out to me in the 1960s.
      My Auntie Sheila was born there during either a riot or gun battle in 1922. As always its a case of I should have got all the family stuff written down. Deeply regret that I did not delve more.
      Might someday consult the Irish News to see what exactly happened at Carrick Hill that day.

      • sammymcnally says:

        Fitz, that sounds like a good idea – let me know how it goes.

        I am going to do a bit more digging about yer man with the canon – quite an image in a little terraced house – perhaps even tourist potential?

      • You know the strange thing about getting old is the Time Factor. Ive always found it a strange thing that I am passionate about History and although I have managed (mostly) to succesfully grow a family tree from unpromising beginnings……I missed out on asking key questions. My father had two siblings (an older brother and younger sister). My uncle and father died within six weeks of each other either side of Christmas 1985. And I never really got to sit down with a caseette recorder and say….”just talk….” Of course then I was barely married three years and our second child was born on the same day my uncle was buried.
        Someday I must get around to going into Central Library to look at the Irish News for April 1922. The peculiar thing is that I have spent entire weeks in that archive to look at things that had absolutely nothing to do with me directly.
        Now at 60…..the number of times I say “I must DO this”, “I must GO there” multiplies and the time that I have (realistically) to do it lessens.
        “I wasted Time and now doth Time waste me” (Shakespeare Richard II).
        All you younger folks….you will get to this stage.

  6. sammymcnally says:

    …and now back to the Unionist canon.

    Having just heard on NI news that UKIP will stand in the Euro elections that will mean 5 Unionist parties (DUP, UUP, UKIP, TUV and Alliance in that election) – the boy Nige may be of some use to ussuns if it lets the SDLP slip into the 3rd seat.

    C’mon Nige get those ulster Unionist voters mobilised.

    • bangordub says:

      Ah the old divide and conquer routine, šŸ˜‰
      Just blogged on it Sammy
      Excuse the plug !

    • I note on Slugger that Nicolas Whyte has already dismissed the notion of two nationalist seats.
      He is right that it is still the balance of probability.
      But I further note he is talking about DUP Sinn Fein and Alliance consolidating their vote and SDLP and UUP in slow decline.
      With the exception of opinion polls….and maybe Nicolas Whyte trusts the most recent one more than other commentators there is no evidence that the SDLP is STILL in decline from Assembly 2011 and there is plenty of evidence to suggest that UUP is in decline.
      Put simply, I cant agree that if both parties are in decline, the rate of decline is the same.
      Id be surprised if any analyst thought that.
      So who could possibly gain from saying that SDLP and UUP are in decline? If enough people say the same thing it gets to be believed.

      Which brings me to Nicolas Whytes statement that UKIP could take the second unionist seat in Europe. That seems far fetched.
      UUP will not have imploded before 2014 but will be losing votes to UKIP, Alliance, DUP and Conservative.

      I think Conall McDevitt will be the most likely Euro candidate but I know that “Physicist” who is a very good analyst who contributes on Politics.ie, Slugger and here….has suggested that Claire Hanna has a chance. I think thats a good call.

      And could Nicolas Whyte be nominated as Alliance candidate. He has Alliance credentials although he may not be a member at the moment. And he is based in Belgium. Of course Alliance would not actually win a seat but he might be a good compromise choice for a Party with the dubious distinction of attracting too many “liberal unionists”.
      Im surprised nobody on Slugger has pointed this out.

  7. bangordub says:

    A new one day museum trip for you and your pass Mr Fitz,
    27th October in Dublin ļŠ
    War of independence exhibition for one day only

  8. bangordub says:

    Interesting stuff! I think Conall is a perfect Euro candidate to be honest

  9. Charlie says:

    I received an email today from the boundary commission telling me that they will alter their proposed 16 westminster seat boundaries and they will be published Tuesday 16th October at 9:00am. Whilst the Lib Dems said they will vote against it, I checked the numbers and it still very close. 307 conservatives for it. 57 Lib Dems and 258 Labour (315) against. That leaves the 28 or so others holding the balance. A lot could depend on how substantial the redrawing is. Whilst I think my proposals were sensible, I included a suggestion to make north Belfast shed the entire Greater Shankill and gobble up most of Newtownabbey. If a proposal like that gets accepted and creates a competitive 50:50 SF/DUP seat, as well as the new Glenshane, would SF be likely to turn up and support it?

    Similarly, if the DUP decide they like it and Doddsy seat is made safe, they could support it. I think in all likelyhood they both oppose it as it will cost them representatives at every level.

    What about SNP? They had a good 2011 on FPTP boundaries in Scotland, so maybe they fancy fewer consitituencies?

    All that said I see it falling and a massive waste of time, money and effort.

    • I cant see any situation where SF would go into Westminster.

      • Charlie says:

        yes, I’m playing fantasy politics at the moment. Seriously though, does it mean that the DUP decides which way this falls? Or alternatively, it might even be the SDLP who have the final say. Given that there is no realistic way of them not losing S. Belfast I think they’ll be voting it down. On the other hand, they hit the bar in so many places last time that nay change will likely boost their numbers.

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