Since Naomi Long’s is the only hat in the Alliance party leadership ring…

And as she does so it becomes clear there are no other candidates. No long damaging and divisive leadership race, and an opportunity to reset the tone and the politics of the party which traded off the competent tenure of David Ford as Justice Minister. But whither now for NI’s middle ground party?

In East Belfast she has displaced and relegated the UUPs from second rank to almost nowhere. But where does the middle ground prepare for seat crunch and times when larger parties are likely to hold the Opposition ground? How do they avoid getting too easily played?

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  • chrisjones2

    Ok…but Leadership Contests offer parties the chance to refresh and refine what they are for – what their core values are. This clearly anchors public perception of the Party and Leader

    Anyone know what Alliance’s are? Naomi impresses as a competent nice person but beyond that?

  • Jim M

    Er, reducing social divisions and unnecessary duplication of services? Promoting integrated education?

  • Slater

    Alliance support is reputedly divided into three parts: Catholic Catholics, Protestant Protestants and liberal seculars.
    Naomi’s problem is that the first group has been sidelined, most recently over gay marriage, the second will not squawk over very much unless she showed signs of unionism but the third which now predominates does not resonate with more than a small fraction of the electorate, almost entirely in greater Belfast.

  • chrisjones2

    ….all just enablers ….whats the vision? How do we sort the economy?

    What is the vision?

  • Brian Walker

    Good luck to Naomi. She will be a leader of character looking for a niche. Alliance made a bad mistake to give up the option of returning to the Justice department. It was their best chance to differentiate in favour of social reform. They should keep specialising on education and try to build a broader Base and improve contacts with the south. The others will give them lots of openings. They are still far too insular.

  • Brendan Heading

    Brian, the problem is that it’s difficult to ignore the message that was sent by the electorate last May.

    Had the electorate seen fit to deliver a bloody nose to the big parties, they may have realised the need to build consensus. Instead the electorate voted to consolidate the big parties, they therefore see no need to build consensus, and no need to pander to the whims of any of the minor parties. To accept the position without any movement on the modest concessions requested by Alliance would have been to willingly accept a position as a placeholder, something quite different from what was on offer before.

  • Jim M

    Enablers for what?? Fair point re the economy though. As for vision – increased getalongerism? A less tribal society?

  • Brian Walker

    They still could have taken it and manoeuvred in office from a position of greater strength than they have now

  • chrisjones2

    That’s the point …. they dont deliver anything in themselves. Whats the overall long term plan. and ‘promoting integrated education ‘ is just waffle

  • mac tire

    “whats the vision? How do we sort the economy?”
    ” Whats the overall long term plan?”

    You are just trolling us now, Chris.

  • chrisjones2

    No. Alliance are not articulating any vision. What is their economic plan beyond spend more? What is their vision of NI in 20 years?

    I haven’t a clue. Do they?

  • mac tire

    Decent questions, Chris. Unfortunately you are the wrong one to ask them at the moment.
    Similar questions were asked of you re: Brexit. You had (nor have) no answers, apart from a “Just believe” mantra. I expect Alliance to give you similar replies that you give us.

  • Reader

    mac tire: Decent questions, Chris. Unfortunately you are the wrong one to ask them at the moment.
    Supposing that the questions were being asked by someone suitable (yourself for instance) aren’t they the sort of questions that Alliance should be answering?
    It’s because they aren’t answering those questions that I am an Alliance voter but not an Alliance supporter. There is a risk that if they answered those questions I might end up as neither.

  • Brendan Heading

    How Brian ? Could you outline a couple of scenarios ?

    (before you reply – bear in mind that OFMDFM can sack any minister, including the Justice Minister, at a moment’s notice. Alliance might have had a negotiating position had Claire Sugden ruled herself out of the job – but as soon as she agreed to become OFMDFM’s patsy, the game was up.)

  • Brendan Heading

    It only seems to be Alliance who get asked these questions. People don’t seem to ask them of the other main parties.

    The party arguably has a stronger claim to an economic plan (put NI public spending on a sustainable footing by eliminating duplication and raising revenue) than anyone else; it also arguably has a greater claim to a vision of NI in 20 years (a plural society based on the rule of law and equality of opportunity with an end to sectarian division). Anyone can find the detail on the party’s website.

  • tmitch57

    So are there Catholic Protestants and Protestant Catholics? Or do you mean practicing Catholics and practicing Protestants?

  • tmitch57

    Alliance’s vision is of a province that is well run with policies adapted from the best practices of other advanced Western democracies. This vision involves setting aside the constitutional question and voting for parties based upon the policies they advocate and their performance in office rather than on their position on the constitutional question. In economic terms they are more in alignment with the Lib Dems in Britain or the Democrats in the U.S. than with either the Tories or Labour or the Republicans in the U.S.

    Unfortunately this vision is complicated by the convoluted government system in the province, which Alliance did not support. Alliance at the time of the final negotiations was advocating for a vote pooling scheme that would reward parties with moderate policies. It was mainly the SDLP that advocated the consociational model, and they have paid the price for it. This is a model that encourages ethnic outbidding and the SDLP has been outbid by the Shinners and the UUP by the DUP.