Been away. And what do I find when I come back? The UUP, not content with allowing the DUP to disembowel it at the polls, is now doing what it can to take any of its bowels left and send them through the shredder.
If this had been a movie, there’d have been a darkening shadow and the music would at this point have gone all screechy and ominous. I mean, it’s not every day Ken Magennis resigns. He wasn’t pleased with the leadership qualities that Mike Nesbit has been showing, so he sent him an email calling on him to resign his role as party leader. Nesbit backed a few paces, said he’d restore the whip to the naughty lord, but it was too late. With a contemptuous grunt, the Fermanagh veteran stomped off into the gathering darkness.
There’s a kind of mass irrationality comes over parties that once were powerful. I suppose the same kind of thing happens when a lift-cable snaps on the sixty-seventh floor. People who until the plunge started were balanced, dynamic, thoughtful individuals suddenly go totally ape-shit and start clawing the air and each other in a hopeless bid to stop the unstoppable. It’s as if the UUP is trying to mimic the SDLP’s leadership transition: first Alastair is the heir-presumptive, then Maggie’s men seize top spot for their woman, then their woman turns into a walking disaster area, then Alastair comes back from the wilderness… Likewise the UUP – under Reg the party ratings plummet, under Big Tom the rate of descent beomes a blur, then Mike looms from nowhere and seizes the ontrols, then Ken indicates he’s a waste of space – Mike, that is, not Ken – then Mike says Ken is a fine UUP man after all, then Ken takes his ball, leaves the lift and goes home. With each move designed to improve things, each party’s pace of descent is increased.
If there’s a purgatory, it’ll contain few UUPers or SDLPers. They’ve done their suffering here on earth.