Opinion: On Ken Maginnis Leaving UUP

UUP Party Conference October 2011 – Flickr – Alan in Belfast

BY NEAL BAKER

In dramatic fashion – if one can describe the child-like scurrying-off of a truly revolting and self-obsessed bigot after being feebly slapped on the wrist by his political superiors as ‘dramatic’ – the former UUP MP for Fermanagh South Tyrone, Lord Ken Maginnis, has resigned from the party that he literally seemed to call his own, after the unbearably slow frosting of relations between him and party leader Mike Nesbittt over recent weeks. This chill was caused by deplorable statements made in June by Maginnis, of which he did not seek prior party approval, in regards to the gay marriage debate, that were aired on live radio, and included little gems such as: “homosexuality is unnatural and deviant behaviour”, and that allowing for the legalisation of same-sex marriage would be a: “rung on the ladder [to] other deviant behaviour” such as bestiality and paedophilia.

If you happened to have listened to this performance I’m sure you will understand and agree with me when I say that I have never felt such a yearning to corporally punish vibrations of the air. What makes this expression of hatred all the more repulsive is that it was not an isolated occurrence, and that, after the story hit the headlines, we had to see Maginnis’s hideous face spewing his hideous words in defence of his hideous opinions. It was all, frankly, hideous.

Furthermore, in spite of these unashamed expressions of hateful intolerance, the party of which Maginnis had been a prominent representative for decades – having sat on numerous governmental committees in Stormont and both chambers in Westminster – seemed more than reluctant to do anything substantial about it. The succeeding weeks saw threats to begin disciplinary proceedings that never got off the ground, being replaced instead by meagre attempts by the UUP leadership to keep the hot-head of Maginnis under the radar for a while longer, until the public forgot about the whole commotion and he could be welcomed back into the party elite with open arms, fascistic views and all. But this wasn’t to Maginnis’s taste, and he chose instead to leave the party on Tuesday 28 August, claiming that: “there is no room for independent or logical thinking [within the party].” And, like a heart-broken lover, Nesbittt is pining after him, expressing his regret that the UUP “will not have access to his experience and expertise,” and that the fallout from “recent matters … could have been resolved at any time.”  Only an example such as this can prove that forgiveness isn’t always a virtue.

To conclude, I fear that the desire to express a gross analogy has proved impossible to quell. The UUP leadership has lost a wart from its face that it grew quite fond of. The source of this fondness for the wart, despite everyone else noting the fact that it was utterly revolting, was that at least it was large, and it allowed the party leadership to feel that it added character, regardless of the fact that, as I say, everyone else simply noted its repulsive nature. Need I explain this? I trust that I don’t.

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