Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

Alliance Party launch huge manifesto

Wed 20 April 2011, 12:45am

The Alliance Party manifesto should come with a health warning. Dropping it on your toe could cause serious injury.

On Monday, the DUP’s director of elections Simon Hamilton described his party’s spiral bound book of promises as “probably one of the most detailed and most comprehensive manifestos that any party will do in this election or indeed any party in any election in Northern Ireland’s history will have put forward”.

A short-lived claim, as the very next day the Alliance manifesto weighed in – and I use that term deliberately – at 150 pages. I can’t yet give you a pithy summary of the document – I haven’t had time to get through very much of it. In fact, I may not get time to leaf through all of it until well after the election!

David Ford 2011 campaign launch speech wordle - wordle.net

So when even speed reading won’t be enough, the only thing left is Wordle.

Alliance manifesto stripFrom memory, that’s the 40 most repeated words in the document. You have to widen the constraint and map the top 50 before “shared” and “future” sneak in, which was surprising.

In his speech to accompany the manifest launch, Alliance leader David Ford paid tribute to the team of lumberjacks who had felled forests across all six counties as well as the courier who had nearly put his back out lifting the boxes of manifestos out of the van said that he had kept his promise “to deliver out most comprehensive policy manifest ever”.

It’s a detailed analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of our system of government, our public services, and the policies and operation of our Executive Departments.

It’s basically Alliance’s pitch to the electorate (as well as the media and other parties) that they’re serious about wanting to increase their number of MLAs to pick up a second ministry in the Executive. No matter which ministries are left whenever d’Hondt would reach Alliance, they’d have policies ready to make a difference in any ministry.

Water charges are not an “if”, but instead a question of “how and when”.

David Ford was keen to stress that “these policies don’t sit within departments, they stretch across them”.

There should be a Department for the Economy, and the overall number of departments should decrease from 12 to 8.

Instead of closing libraries, why don’t we integrate them with our schools estate, large parts of which are lying empty?

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Comments (8)

  1. Alan,

    Word clouds have some limited value at the best of times but with a long document, they are pretty well useless. Shared future does get a good mention as well as so many other matters. I have therefore taken the liberty of copying and pasting the manifesto bullet points

    Leading Change… for a Shared Future
    ✔ Achieve 20% of children in integrated schools and 40% in
    mixed schools by 2020
    ✔ Make it law that the Housing Executive encourages and
    facilitates mixed housing
    ✔ Require public bodies to promote shared space in new capital
    projects
    ✔ Cease tolerance of illegally-erected flags and emblems
    ✔ Work with communities to secure the removal of ‘peace walls’
    ✔ End the sectarian designation system for MLAs in the
    Assembly
    ✔ Require Departments to review Spending Plans to identify the
    costs of managing a divided society by the end of the 2011-12
    financial year
    ✔ Pass a Single Equality Bill by the end of 2012
    ✔ Deliver and implement a Sexual Orientation Strategy
    ✔ Strengthen the Community Relations Council as an
    independent watchdog
    ✔ Secure cross-party agreement on a mechanism for dealing
    with the past
    ✔ Introduce a Comprehensive Languages Act
    Leading Change… for Better Government
    ✔ Create an Executive formed through negotiation, that operates
    to an agreed Programme
    ✔ Reduce Government Departments from 12 to 8
    ✔ Reduce the number of MLAs to 80
    ✔ Place a duty to co-operate on all Departments
    ✔ Deliver on the Review of Public Administration – reducing the
    number of councils
    ✔ Convene talks between political and local government to
    develop consensus and a roadmap for the future structure of
    councils
    ✔ Create a partnership model between regional and local
    government.
    ✔ Introduce transparency around political donations

    Leading Change… for an Economic Revolution
    ✔ Create a Department for the Economy
    ✔ Introduce a lower rate of corporation tax
    ✔ Develop a targeted approach to inward investment
    ✔ Rationalise and better target business support
    ✔ Re-direct resources from revenue budgets to capital to
    support the construction sector
    ✔ Explore the possibility of creating a commercially orientated
    research organisation
    ✔ Develop incubation centres to support high growth indigenous
    business
    ✔ Ensure a range of finance opportunities for small business
    ✔ Protect and enhance our town centres
    ✔ Invest in the Green New Deal
    ✔ Grow our key sectors: agri-foods, creative industries, ICT and
    tourism
    ✔ Promote our culture, heritage and environment and designate
    the Mournes a National Park

    Leading Change… for Modern Public Services
    ✔ Redirect funding and service delivery to early intervention and
    prevention measures
    ✔ Benchmark and market-test public services to ensure value for
    money
    ✔ Reduce administration costs and waste to ensure that
    resources are directed to the frontline
    ✔ Promote greater provision of shared services on a north-south
    basis
    ✔ Work for the Mutualisation of Northern Ireland Water
    ✔ Provide a joined up approach to planning and urban
    regeneration
    ✔ Introduce a cross departmental approach to community
    transport needs
    Leading Change… for a Safer Community
    ✔ Ensure adequate resources and an Executive wide focus on
    addressing paramilitarism
    ✔ Tackle organised crime
    ✔ Reduce offending and re-offending via an inter agency
    approach
    ✔ Make communities safer, through a new Community Safety
    Strategy
    ✔ Develop a more consistent approach to sentencing
    ✔ Improve access to justice, through a reform of legal aid
    ✔ Recognise and address the needs of victims and survivors
    ✔ Reform the prison system
    Leading Change… for Health and Well-being
    ✔ Promote a cross-party working group to discuss and agree
    major reforms with the health service
    ✔ Ensure a better focus on public health, prevention and early
    intervention to improve health outcomes, address health
    inequalities and to save money
    ✔ Provide a greater emphasis upon better home and community
    services
    ✔ Increase funding for mental health services and deliver
    integrated mental health and mental capacity legislation
    ✔ Tackle bureaucracy and develop cross border co-operation to
    save money to protect vital services
    ✔ Introduce minimum pricing of alcohol
    Leading Change… for a Safer Community
    ✔ Ensure adequate resources and an Executive wide focus on
    addressing paramilitarism
    ✔ Tackle organised crime
    ✔ Reduce offending and re-offending via an inter agency
    approach
    ✔ Make communities safer, through a new Community Safety
    Strategy
    ✔ Develop a more consistent approach to sentencing
    ✔ Improve access to justice, through a reform of legal aid
    ✔ Recognise and address the needs of victims and survivors
    ✔ Reform the prison system
    Leading Change… for a Fairer Society
    ✔ Target spending toward need
    ✔ Ensure that taxes and charges are fair and progressive
    ✔ Support a welfare system that enables people to fulfil their
    potential
    ✔ Develop an inter-agency ‘total place’ approach to inactivity
    and unemployment
    ✔ Invest in early years’ education and childcare to support child
    development
    ✔ Support early intervention and prevention for families and
    young people at risk
    ✔ Reduce the number of looked after children
    ✔ Provide social housing
    ✔ Support access to services for rural communities
    ✔ Introduce social clauses in public sector capital projects
    Leading Change… for a Greener Future
    ✔ Create green clean energy sources
    ✔ Work to reduce energy use in homes, businesses and
    government
    ✔ Develop a Climate Change Act for Northern Ireland, supported
    by a clear ‘road map’
    ✔ Create an independent Environment Protection Agency
    ✔ Commit to a carbon neutral public sector estate
    ✔ Protect the marine environment
    ✔ Development a comprehensive animal and plant disease
    management strategy
    ✔ Protect and enhance our built and natural environment
    ✔ Introduce third party right to appeal
    ✔ Develop a sustainable approach to urban planning
    ✔ Provide a more sustainable public transport
    Leading Change… for Education and Skills
    ✔ Encourage ‘wrap around’ full-time nursery provision
    ✔ Rebalance the education budget, toward early and primary
    education
    ✔ Promote local area planning and sustainable schools
    ✔ Address inefficiencies in school estate to direct funding toward
    pupils
    ✔ Provide an education system that reflects the individual
    learning needs of pupils
    ✔ Retain legal statementing for special needs students
    ✔ Work to address poor levels of literacy and numeracy
    ✔ Retain government as the primary funder of higher education
    teaching
    ✔ No unfair rises in tuition fees
    ✔ Reduce the number of year one drop outs from university
    ✔ Develop stronger routes of progression between our
    universities and colleges
    ✔ Designate STEM subjects as priority skills areas and improve
    provision in schools
    ✔ Create a more flexible and responsive training and education
    system
    ✔ Stimulate employer investment in the skills of the workforce
    ✔ Develop strong links between employers and our education
    and skills providers
    ✔ Provide accessible, informed and independent careers advice
    ✔ Implement an early intervention and prevention strategy to
    reduce the number of young people not in education,
    employment or training

    Leading change
    on legislation…

    for a Shared Future
    ✔ Shared Housing Bill
    ✔ Comprehensive Languages Bill
    ✔ Shared Future Policy Proofing
    ✔ Single Equality Bill
    for an Economic Revolution
    ✔ Enabling Bill for Corporation Tax
    ✔ National Park Bill
    ✔ Renewable Energy Support Bill
    for Education and Skills
    ✔ Early Education and Care Bill
    ✔ Shared and Integrated Education Bill
    ✔ Education and Skills Authority Bill
    for Modern Public Services
    ✔ NI Water Governance Bill
    ✔ A Bill to Create an Independent Environment Protection Agency
    ✔ Winter Gritting Bill
    for Health and Well-being
    ✔ Minimum Pricing of Alcohol
    ✔ Single Mental Health and Mental Capacity Bill
    for Better Government
    ✔ Governance Bill
    ✔ Local Government Review of Public Administration Bill
    for a Safer Community
    ✔ Faster, Fairer Justice Bill
    ✔ Justice Miscellaneous Provision Bill
    ✔ Biometric Data Retention Reform Bill
    for a Fairer Society
    ✔ Adoption Bill
    ✔ Apartment Developments’ Management Reform Bill
    for a Greener Future
    ✔ NI Climate Change Bill
    ✔ Northern Ireland Marine Bill
    ✔ An Economic Revolution

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  2. Very true, and I may well return to take a longer (proper) look at their manifesto!

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  3. Barry the Blender (profile) says:

    Where does one obtain one of these huge dossiers? I’ve been having a little problem with insomnia these days.

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  4. just sayin (profile) says:

    Lengthy manifestos don’t always have a great track record.

    1983 ….. Labour ….. “Longest suicide note in history”?

    At least the effort has been put in and there is some interesting stuff there (from a quick scan!).

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  5. Barry – from here

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  6. otto (profile) says:

    A touch of the done deal and maybe the politburo about these massive five year plans. The idea seems to be to include everything that’s sounded sensible in committee so you can claim X% of your manifesto delivered next time. Is this how coalitions are managed on the continent?

    Notable that the DUP and Alliance argue for the same number of MLA’s and the same number of departments post reform (although Robinson seems to have tucked finance into the “Executive Office” and kept an extra Communities dept instead).

    It’s like a kind of democratic USSR. You can’t really change the government but you can choose the balance of its factions – which might affect the next five year plan.

    I quite like It – worth trying out anyway. We don’t really set the rules of the game here and as Japanese manufacturing shows us a protracted run of continuous improvement is a more revolutionary change than the heat and light of endless (two steps forward one step back) new beginnings.

    My beautiful copy of the modern edition of The Communist Manifesto with an introduction by Eric Hobsbawm’s only runs to 87 pages.

    Everyone’s promising to double our forestry cover which is nice. I imagine the forestry commission must already be working away on that.

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  7. [...] Establish a single Department of the Economy was included in Alliance’s magnum opus. [...]

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  8. [...] their last election Manifesto, the Alliance Party’s “blueprint for an Executive strategy to build a shared and better [...]

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