Alliance and Anna Lo: if you are explaining, you are losing

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Political party conferences and the run up to them prior to an election always seek to promote the party’s candidates. This year’s Alliance conference and its lead up has, however, gone less than wholly according to plan. Anna Lo’s revelation that she would support a united Ireland in the longer term has been a major story as have her comments likening the situation here to one of colonialism.

There are of course explanations for these comments especially Lo’s support for a united Ireland: Alliance is agnostic on the union and both this and party leader David Ford’s personal unionism have been explained by him in the News Letter today. However, therein lie two problems. Firstly having people in a political party with diametrically opposed views on the constitutional future of the state is bizarre especially when the constitutional future of the state is the most central issue at election time. It would be sort of analogous to an SNP member being part of the Better Together campaign or a member of Plaid Cymru opposing Welsh devolution. Those analogies are a bit unfair because Alliance has no position on the union and as such it can all be explained. That leads to the second problem: if you are explaining, you are losing.

Jeffrey Donaldson has suggested that these comments from Lo are a deliberate attempt to garner nationalist votes. Sam McBride in the News Letter, however, dismisses that ascribing her comments to her honesty (he was too polite to say political naivety or stupidity) which seems more likely unless one wishes to construct a truly Machiavellian scenario whereby Lo hopes to attract so much grief from her remarks that she thereby gains a sympathy vote. That is too far fetched to be credible.

What this may demonstrate, however, is that Lo is not that great a politician on the constitutional issues. Only a few days prior to her pro united Ireland revelations she sponsored the suggestion that all the new councils fly the Union Flag on designated days. To many this looks utterly hypocritical in view of her later comments. It can be explained but again if you are explaining, you are losing. A more difficult charge of hypocrisy to shake off, however, is accepting the honour of Membership of the British Empire (as trumpeted on her website) and describing Northern Ireland as a colonial situation: here, there is no explaining, just losing.

Lo has made her name very successfully in the most politically liberal of the middle class seats in Northern Ireland. Unlike other seats within the Pale (such as North Down) South Belfast is both liberal and only small majority Protestant / unionist: a sufficiently small majority to elect an SDLP MP at the last two Westminster elections. In such a seat Lo can successfully ply her political trade as a highly effective local representative and cover issues of wider importance such as racist attacks on immigrants. She has managed this most successfully (and valuably to the whole of Northern Ireland society) but in so doing her position on the constitution and other orange / green issues has not been that important. A few other politicians have also had a successful assembly career on non sectarian issues such as Dr. Kieran Deeney in West Tyrone but they are few and far between.

A whole of NI election, however, is one where it becomes impossible for the constitutional issue not to become centre stage and as such Lo’s comments are likely to be problematic.

Alliance began life as a unionist party with a small ‘u’ but has gradually become union neutral. The simple fact remains, however, that it gains the vast majority of its support from unionist areas. Some of that vote will undoubtedly be nationalists trying to get a minimally unionist candidate elected (the folly of wasting a vote for a nationalist even at a council election in certain parts of NI is not lost on voters). However, despite these votes most Alliance politicians rely for their positions on some unionists giving them their first preferences and others their transfers. As such the progressive nationalist-wards drift of Alliance is potentially dangerous to them. It appears more prevalent in Alliance members than voters. Usually at election time Alliance canvasses as unionist-lite and indeed it is that type of strategy which gained Naomi Long her East Belfast Westminster seat. These attempts are now, however, beginning to break down. The flag decision may have been part of party policy but it clearly antagonised large numbers of people especially in East Belfast and not just working class unionists. Even if it had only antagonised working class unionists it is important to remember that working class parts of East Belfast such as Dee Street were solidly for Alliance at the last Westminster election.

Other parts of the traditional Alliance electorate are also likely to be antagonised both by this and other decisions. A significant part of Alliance’s support is from relatively liberal evangelical Christians with whom support for abortion and homosexual marriage will not play well. As an example Bloomfield Presbyterian Church (practically the East Belfast Alliance Party at prayer) had petitions against homosexual marriage. Not all such voters will desert Alliance over such an issue but each issue will hive off a few voters and Long’s majority is very small.

Alliance since their triumph at the last Westminster election are in danger of playing fast and loose with their political constituency. This is most apparent in East Belfast with the flag decision but is likely to have an impact elsewhere. One wonders if Naomi Long being away in Westminster has resulted in the influence of a politician with a natural understanding of soft unionist voters being reduced. Too many of Alliance’s leaders lack her fundamental intrinsic understanding of soft unionist, (in her case liberal evangelical) middle class unionism or her ability to reach out to working class voters. The alternative ultra Machiavellian option that the likes of Ford and Lo are trying to destroy Long: the best politician by far in Alliance is a fun one but presupposes a level of cunning in Ford which is inconceivable.

Alliance may calculate that they will gain new soft nationalist voters but I am doubtful as the SDLP has social workers, doctors and lawyers pretty well sewn up. They may also calculate that their core soft unionist and new vote will stay loyal. Again that is a dangerous position. Jim Molyneaux declared that in Northern Ireland politicians must not get so far ahead of the electorate they are leading that no one is following: a recipe for inaction but equally a valid warning. Tony Blair famously had an epiphany when he saw a man washing his Mondeo and realised that Labour could not get such people’s support where they were politically. If one wanders around East Belfast one could think the same about Lo’s comments.

Alliance may well weather this storm: their councillors are often well entrenched. However, quite a number of the older councillors are not standing again and this nationalist-wards drift may catch up with them all of a sudden in a similar way to the meteorite which struck the UUP at the end of the Trimble-osaurs era. That level of disaster is unlikely but Lo has personally managed to prove wrong Alex Kane (the best analyst of broader unionism) who proclaimed her their best ever Euro candidate. Lo herself will also no doubt survive (she is one of the least dependent on unionists Alliance candidates – itself an illustration of her problems connecting with wider Alliance voters) but she needs to be careful. When exposed to the media spotlight previously apparently brilliant politicians have been shown up as serial disasters. East Belfast last time and Trevor Ringland’s meteoric fall from perfect Westminster candidate to regional political joke should provide a sobering lesson: one from which Alliance was the major beneficiary.

As a final thought since I have introduced the improbable concept of the Machiavellian mastermind David Ford. Maybe the flags decision was to defeat Long (Ford’s biggest rival) and now Ford has helped ensure Lo got herself into hot water to destroy her as well. Ford as a latter day Francis Urquhart is a concept too amusing not to be shared.

More realistically as I said at the start Alliance’s positions can all be explained: if you are explaining, you are losing.

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  • Morpheus

    In one fell swoop the Alliance have proven that they are the only genuinely cross-community party who are 100% committed to the GFA. How they handled the disgusting cowardly tactics of the DUUP, the fire bombs, the death threats shows strength and integrity…

    …things just got interesting folks! I’m impressed

  • Floreat Ultonia

    Good article Turgon. Time to rejoin the Macchiavellian Alliance ;)

  • Gopher

    I think Lo’s timing is impeccable. The SDLP are running the worst candidate one could imagine for Europe and with new areas (some very middle class) joining Belfast Alliance are making a play for any soft nationalists that come with them. (13.6% SDLP v 12.6% Alliance) whilst the SDLP bottom feed around West Belfast. Alliance overtake the SDLP in Belfast they regain traction go on the offensive in South Belfast and save East Antrim, South Antrim and Strangford.

  • Granni Trixie

    Turgon

    I simply do not accept your premise ( “if u r explaining,you’re losing”) as it’s rather insulting to the public. To be honest I think people make more lasting judgements about a party by how they deal with difficulties which arise from time to time.

    I also disagree with the implication that TR was a good choice of candidate for EB and that it was his performance which led to a current lack of credibility. No, I thought from the beginning he was not a serious rival for votes as he did not have connection to the area,had no track record of working for people in EB plus his presentational skills left much to be desired. Being a big name in limited sports circles simply is not enough.

    And thanks for the LOL moment . This image of this plotting behind the scenes makes politics sound interesting even if bears no relationship to the reality.

  • SDLP supporter

    Gopher, I know you are bigging up Alliance, and I’m not gain-saying Alex Attwood’s organisational deficiencies in West Belfast, but he was a very effective Minister and not even his worst enemy would deny that he has a considerable intellect.

    You get nowhere by gratuitously character-assassinating your political opponents (“worst candidate one could imagine for Europe”). Grow up.

  • David Crookes

    Many thanks, Turgon. A truly powerful piece of work, and your title says a great deal on its own. The mythical Janus manages to face in two directions, but you never hear of anyone voting for the Janus party

    When people have to point out how incredibly clever and sophisticated their little party is, and when they go on to attack bemused commentators as stupid malevolent bigots, they’re on the way out.

    Remember Tashlan? Not a great success in the long run.

  • aquifer

    “having people in a political party with diametrically opposed views on the constitutional future of the state is bizarre ”

    Not at all, that particular vote is out of their hands, and they can have a hand in running a state before and after the vote, without promoting division and disorder.

    The protestant unionist political construct IS a colonial one, designed to exclude a nativist minority from power.

    But it is junk when support for a UI, combined with a strong view on other issues including good public order, come close to 50%.

    Orange Unionism is a contradiction in terms. By making the Union a matter of religious affiliation it becomes unsustainable.

    The genius of the Provos was to polarise, and the Paisleyites thought it was a great electoral idea too.

    Nobody believes that Lo’s views risk disorder, Ford is the security minister after all, so she can safely triangulate between either or the two nationalist positions, undermining them both.

    Now. How can she make being a woman the issue when murder is more of a male thing?

  • Gopher

    I’m not “bigging” up Alliance I am suggesting that the SDLP jibe sure “you dont do anything west of the Bann” might have the perfect riposte if Alliance bigger party in Belfast. I am suggesting that Alliance’s new position will secure seats that the SDLP would have hoped to win, the Alliance is just another unionist party jibe is looking slightly obsolete.

    As for character assassinating you actually have to first possess character to assassinate, that is the problem with Alex and the SDLP a complete lack of personality (not quite true in Alexs case but I was meaning charisma in a positive sense) have and Lo does not (and im not voting alliance btw). As for intellect and effectiveness these powers only seem apparent to those in the SDLP, voters who actually elect people have been oblivious to Alex’s qualities for quite a few elections now.

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    Explaining iis always back-tracking…so yes its a bad sign.
    Alliance is actually a setries of coalitions…some left-leaning, others (especially recent defections) lean to the right.
    There is (usually) an older churchy element…
    And a secular usually younger lot.
    A coalition of Catholics and Protestant (middle class)”…certainly but surely it was never really a coalition of nationalists and unionists.
    With the possible exception of a former Alliance staffer/candidate I cant think of any Alliance person who has ever said “I am a nationalist”.
    Yet Ford among others…happily declare their unionism.
    A genuine coalition would arguably have more nationalists.
    But presumably a good question to ask Alliance candidates at the Council Elections.
    Surely the Irish News, News Letter, Belfast Telegraph could phone around the 70 or so candidates in May.
    Id expect most would trot out the Press Office line that “ALliance is agnostic…this is about local councils”….few would have the honesty to publicly state their own belief.
    But surely Anna Lo has made the question valid.
    But surely all of us know that Alliance is at heart…true to its beginning…a liberal unionist party and with real and faux letsgetalongerism attached.

    The mantra of “being agnostic” is little more than a smokescreen. Alliance have traditionally been under the radar and dont look too comfortable when the spotlight.
    Journalists dont put them under the same scrutiny as the other parties.
    A coalition. On a lot of levels….what actually does unite them?
    My own answer to that question would not be flattering.
    But in basic terms a Party which is a coalition is better not saying too much about issues along the faultlines.
    “Whatever you say….say nothing”
    But thanks to Anna Lo…we are led to believe Alliance has a fault line that we didnt even know it had.

    I daresay that Alliance will have a manifesto launch.
    But I cant see seventy candidates standing up and saying “I am Spartacus and I am a nationalist/unionist”

    Dont ask…dont tell.
    Alliance HQ will have them well drilled with acceptable responses….unionist and the always useful waffle about “I have multiple identities”…. Of course it wasnt actually about IDENTITY it was about a United Ireland.
    Id be amazed if a single other Alliance candidate in a winnable seat proclaimed himself/herself to be a nationalist.

  • Gopher

    I would also suggest having to write a lengthy blog attacking Alliance is also a bad sign. I would suggest that Alliance’s positioning however genuine has spooked the SDLP

  • aquifer

    Hume Adams and intra-bloc competition with the Shinners, also the eclipse of secular socialism, leave the SDLP vulnerable to a secular party clearly aligned with the Northern Ireland state while showing no antipathy to a UI.

    How are the SDLP on womens’ rights? Split?

    Go Lo

  • SDLP supporter

    Are the Alliance posters suggesting that they will get more votes in Belfast on May 22 in the council elections?

  • http://www.tomgriffin.org Tom Griffin

    “The simple fact remains, however, that it gains the vast majority of its support from unionist areas.”

    The figures for the 2009 Euro elections from Nicholas Whyte’s website are interesting:

    “The vote from the centre [Alliance and Green] parties split fairly evenly, 37% to the remaining Nationalist candidate, 42% to the three Unionists (and 17% to nobody). This was not enough to get anyone over the quota; Allister was eliminated and his votes redistributed.”

    Is there any reason to believe that Agnew’s vote skewed disproportionately nationalist? If not then it begins to look like a case of swings and roundabouts.

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    “Alliance is actually a setries [sic] of coalitions…some left-leaning, others (especially recent defections) lean to the right.”

    @fjh,

    In an ethnic conflict situation a party that is non-ethnic or non-sectarian will by definition have many different economic or social viewpoints. In South Africa the liberal Progressive Federal Party had Helen Suzman as a prominent MP–she was an admirer of Margaret Thatcher’s economic ideas, social democrats, and some who joined the ANC as soon as majority rule arrived. In Israel the liberal dovish Meretz party was a union of three smaller parties: one was a social democratic party, one was a civil rights party of the left, and one was a liberal capitalist party.

    I was told once that some member of the SDLP, possibly Atwood, said that Alliance was a luxury that NI couldn’t afford. Your comments on Alliance always reek of this attitude.

    @CS,

    Notice that Turgon basically agreed with what I said previously that most of the nationalist vote for Alliance is tactical voting.

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    All Politics is local.
    So I wonder if this controversy is closer to home than the. Border at Strabane or Criossmaglen.
    I wouldnt really go beyond South Belfast …if I was looking for a conspiracy theory, I wouldnt go far beyond University Street.
    As far asI know the only Party colleague who has expressed any kind of public shock is Geraldine Rice….in South Belfast.
    South Belfast is an Alliance stronghold and they are certainly taregetting a second seat there at the 2016 Elections….Duncan Morrow (Alliance nobility) is already standing in Botanic at this years Council.
    having said that Alliance are strong in South Beflfast, they did of course lose ground a decade or so ago when the Womens Coalition was going strong.
    At that stage, the same Geraldine Rice was the leading Alliance candidate…standing at both Assembly and Westminster.

    The demise of the Womens Coalition and the rise of Anna Lo, has given Alliance a very safe seat in South Belfast. And they are quite properly targetting the second SDLP seat there.
    Six months ago they had a very promising young candidate there…Cathy Curran. Indeed I have often noted her skills here on Slugger.
    I understand Ms Curran is not seeking re-election to the City Hall. Morrow has been chosen.
    The fall out may be as much about internal Alliance disputes….probably not as much as Alliance detractors would claim but maybe just a little more than Alliance members would say.

  • David Crookes

    Chief impression of the AP mighty ones who have deigned to address us all in recent days.

    Insufferable conceit.

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    Not so much “conceit”…..Entitlement.

  • Comrade Stalin

    fjh,

    Strangely enough I didn’t think to ask Cathy about this when I chatted with her after the conference yesterday, briefly.

    To comment (in a way that could understandably be filed under “well, he would say that anyway wouldn’t he?”), there are no internal rows in South Belfast that I know about and Cathy’s decision not to run for council again is a purely personal one. If I were asked to hazard a guess, I’d say that attempts were probably made to persuade Cathy not to step down, and she’d have been told that the seat was hers as long as she wanted it. All of which stands to reason as she is popular inside and outside of the party. You will already know that Cathy runs Anna’s constituency office and as far as I know she intends to continue doing so.

    I’m perplexed at Gerry Rice’s intervention. I don’t give a damn about what people think about the union or a united Ireland and I think that party representatives stepping forward to put their own views on record in a way that encourages further media speculation and general mischief on this matter is pretty stupid. But some people just like talking to the press.

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    I think youre right.
    You know that I generally think highly of Ms Curran.
    There is limited room for careers in Alliance…a limit on the number of full time politicians, MLAs SpAds, constituency advisors etc.
    maybe she is better suited to the back room than the cut and thrust of politics in the City Hall.
    If so…I think its a pity.
    Certainly there was every reason to think that Cathy might have reason to think of herself as the #2 Alliance person at least potentially in South Belfast in 2016.

    Clearly this is no longer the case and she has fallen behind Duncan Morrow, clearly being groomed to make a reasonable attempt at election in 2016…possibly alongside Anna Lo …possibly instead of a retired Anna Lo.
    The #3 Alliance person in South Belfast is probably Ms Bradshaw (certainly ambitious enough and on the Party Executive) although she might be thinking East Antrim.
    We have in some ways had the discussion about “fast tracking” over a space of three years…and probably wrong of me to think of Bradshaw, Parsley and Hamilton as exactly the same circumshtances….and indeed we might well say that three years is no longer “fast tracking”

    Nevertheless I cant see it can be anything but disappointing if any potential Alliance MLA is being asked to “take one for the team”.
    Duncan is onviously talented and his standing is hardly a surprise.
    The great problem that Alliance has…is that it has more talent than can get elected.
    There is a relevance here.
    If Ms Bradshaw stood up and said “Im a unionist”….then its hardly a surprise.
    And this makes Geraldine Rices hostility to Anna Lo….hard to understand.

    Is it ok to be officially “agnostic” but not ok for a party member to say that that personally they are nationalist. But ok to say that youre unionist.
    I really dont know what shes playing at.
    Part of her statement suggested that she had no problem witn Anna Lo …and that she had gone thru the Partys selection procedutre but it was far short of a ringing endorsement.
    Was there a selection conference?
    Who were the other candidates?
    Who did Geraldine Rice back?

    As you say some people like talking to the Press…which begs the question of the circumstances in which the original interview tok place.
    Did Manley approach Lo?
    Did Lo (or Alliance) aproach Manley.
    Was it all a throwaway remark.?
    Indeed did Geraldine Rice seek out the journos at yesterdays Conference?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Being an Alliance councillor is quite tough. Since you can’t trade on the votes of people who inexplicably insist that their councillors wave either a union jack (even a faded one) or a tricolour, you have to make a name for yourself in other ways, and that requires time and energy on top of whatever full time job you have. And then you have to deal with the death threats and intimidation.

    I think Alliance should be thinking seriously about running two candidates in 2016. But for a thing like that you can’t have a pecking order; you want both candidates to win and to do that you need to carefully manage the campaign and what sections of the constituency get allocated for each candidate to work, and to ensure that the vote splits optimally. It is not a case of having a second candidate as an also-ran. If you’re going to do that you may as well not bother.

    I know you think there is fast-tracking going on of Paula Bradshaw, but I can’t see how. I’m not in a position to deny it, since any such deal would be privy to only a handful of senior types, but I do know about the practical realities. Firstly, getting oneself elected to Party Executive isn’t necessarily that difficult. If I put on a suit and made an appropriately ambitious speech I could do so myself. I am not saying that to diminish Paula’s talents, just to say that there is seldom serious competition for seats on the executive. There are responsibilities associated with being on the executive and its various committees, and doing a good job there is a way to raise your profile and earn respect within the party. A good place to start if you have ambitions.

    In addition, candidates have to be selected by the association. Theoretically, party HQ could do a deal and then force the association to accept the candidate by refusing to approve whoever their selection was. That would cause civil war in almost any party other than the DUP or SF and the party leadership are sensible to leave well alone, especially in one of the party’s strongest seats. It is one thing to impose a candidate; another to get constituency volunteers to give up their free time canvassing for a person who they didn’t get to vote for in the selection process. As far as I know, Paula has been duly selected by the association as a council candidate.

    I don’t know who you think is “taking one for the team”.

    Regarding Anna’s selection, that’s a good question. European candidates are going to be selected centrally and I’d have to go and look up who would get to vote. I’m not sure that anyone else stood for nomination other than Anna so the issue of who voted for which candidate doesn’t arise. You’d need to find someone who knows what’s going on inside to answer that question ;)

    I’ve never heard any of the current batch of Alliance leaders or senior reps say “I’m a unionist”.

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    No they have never said “Im a unionist” but its ,pretty much taken for granted by those of us looking at Alliance from the outside.
    If the public stance is that the party is agnostic and that individuals lean both ways….then its certainly understandable if people are shocked that Anna Lo has broken a “dont ask, dont say” convention.
    It draws attention to a usually invisible fault line.
    But I think the practicality is that a public declaration of unionism is more “acceptable” (within the Alliance Party and their broader electorate).
    Put simply Alliance is the brand leader in legsgetalongerism (and SDLP cant compete and in making overtutres ro the LGA vote weaken their own brand). Likewise there is no evidence that NI21 can compete with Alliance on liberal unionism…
    As Ive often said the priority for SDLP is to reconnect with itsown voters.
    And frankly SDLP has little to fear from a single rogue statement, vaguely supportive of a United Ireland.
    Nobody will be deserting Alliance in droves over that either.
    But maximising the core vote had to be what Anna Lo must do…there is after all a trickle down vote from Europe to the Councils.

    I think you under-estimate Alliance strength in South Belfast. I think a SDLP seat is vulnerable there, especially if Alasdair loses in 2015 and Lo (granted there is an age factor) and Morrow would be the Dream Ticket.
    Id rather see Cathy on the ticket….I like her and shes capable….but I dont think AP would take a second seat with her on the ticket.
    If there was just one AP candidate, then she would of course win.
    Its in that context that I speculate…..not entirely idly that in standing aside, there is a “take one for the team” dimension..

    From a strictly SDLP point of view Morrow-Long is a much more formidable combination than Morrow-Bradshaw.

  • sherdy

    I think possibly the old political maxim is appropriate here: ‘Say anything you like about me as long as you spell my name right’.

    The name is Anna Lo, and no-one is ignoring it or her. She couldn’t buy that amount of publicity!

  • Comrade Stalin

    I’d rather see Cathy as an MLA too, she’d kick ass. But for whatever reason she appears to have decided, for the time being at least, that she does not want to pursue this.

    I think Anna’s comment was aimed at placating SDLP voters. It won’t cause SDLP voters to switch en masse but a few might, especially if they are moderating their views on the usual bag of “Catholic” social issues, and it makes Alliance more transfer-friendly.

    I’m still confused by the “take one for the team” thing. Life would obviously be a lot easier for the party if an existing and well-known activist was a candidate for the assembly, rather than having to build up another person who has no profile in politics rather quickly.

  • DC

    Maybe we are being too hard on Anna Lo, perhaps she was just talking justin cartwright.

  • Greenflag

    ‘More realistically as I said at the start Alliance’s positions can all be explained: if you are explaining, you are losing.’

    True if you inhabit a black and white world or for local context a purely green or orange one . Anna Lo seems more nuanced than that . No matter her explanation or explanations the unionist wolves will want their lamb anyway so it’s probably best for her to ignore these voices of a dying political past and to listen instead to the call of a more inclusive future .

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    Is Alliance a coalition of cultural Catholics and cultural Protestants?
    Yes I think it can reasonably claim to be so.
    Is Alliance a coalition of Nationalists and unionists…Absolutely not.
    To some extent Anna Lo has opened the door for something Alliance and arguably no political party wants…scrutiny.

    She has opened the door for her colleagues to be asked a simple question.
    “”Are you in favour of a United Ireland?”
    Clearly Anna Lo says that she is.
    Ford and Long are not.
    Cant a newspaper such as the News Letter or Irish News phone around and get an answer from Lyttle, Lunn, Cochrane, Dickson, McCarthy, Farry.
    I dont think we can rely on the Belfast Telegraph to do anything that would embarass Alliance.

    But what kinda answer would you get to a straightforward question.
    Well probably youd get a wishy washy answer such as “I cannot be defined by just one identity”
    “I am British and irish and Norn Irish and Im a man or woman, straight, gay”… All the usual evasion.
    Great stock answer of course but that wasnt the question.
    Its not about Identity.
    For those political researchers and the like, it seems there will never be a more opportune time to guage any feelings of “nationalism” within Alliance.
    And I dare say the same question could be asked of all the Partys candidates at Council Level.
    Indeed the Alliance Party might even welcome it.
    Three weeks ago, their candidates put a leaflet thru my door and are apparently anxious to answer any question I have about Alliance.
    Now all of a sudden I have a question Id like to ask these guys.
    “Do you believe in a United Ireland”?
    They even gave me a Freepost envelope.
    Of course they might refuse to answer or do the “men of multiple identities spiel”.
    It would hardly be scientific but I guess the unionist and nationalist readers of Slugger might also want to know if the friendly Alliance person at their front door is in favour of a United Ireland.
    Write to the candidate and use Freepost.
    It would be a service surely to transparency if we were able to collate the answers and publicise the results within our own council areas.

  • Reader

    These days you can’t be entirely certain about SDLP candidates either, can you? Don’t forget to ask them too.

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    Indeed.
    I wont be voting for any kinda unionist.

  • Greenflag

    ‘To some extent Anna Lo has opened the door for something Alliance and arguably no political party wants…scrutiny.’

    Another excellent reason for giving Anna your vote . Get down off your high horse Fitzer and for once in your life don’t be begrudging of the wee weemen !

    Lo and Long -the gutsiest and more honest pair of politicians Northern Ireland has produced in generations .
    Still keep voting for the no change here shitehawks of orange or green if it suits yer principles :( !

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    Yes thank you it does suit my principles.

  • Son of Strongbow

    I hope Alliance are feeling the love from our nationalist brethren. Naomi must be a cert for Westminster, simply move across town from East to West .

  • David Crookes

    Cracker, SoS.