UUP/PUP alliance delivers a IRA bomber Lord Mayor for Belfast?

A convicted IRA bomber mayor to lead the Belfast Centenary celebrations and meet the monarch could have been brought closer by the UUP/PUP union. The Alliance Party, who hold the balance of power, had been reluctant to support the nomination of Caral ni Chulin. However, the Sunday Life reports, the four Alliance councillors are reluctant to support the most likely alternative, an Ulster Unionist nominee because of the Ervine decision.

An Alliance Councillor said:
“The credibility of the Ulster Unionist Party has been shot to smithereens…the election of a member from that party would be difficult to support.”

  • missfitz

    FD
    What continues to amaze me is the ‘rabbit in the headlight’ demeanour of the UUP on this entire issue.

    They appear spectacularly not to have gotten the point, and this may represent one of the most serious crises in Ulster Unionism in many years. It would be worth sitting down at some point and charting their decline over the past 5 years, and see exactly where the party stand right now.

    I suspect that without some major intervention and re-direction, there will be further splintering. As a wise man said recently, their performance makes the DUP look positively statesmanlike!

  • Comrade Stalin

    FD, this whole thing really is total speculation dressed up as something else.

    SF are unlikely to want the job of having to meet the monarch, and rather than refuse to do so I’d have thought they’d be likely to pass up their turn in favour of the SDLP or Alliance this time.

  • Crataegus

    The UUP are dying, there is now no clear distinction between them and the DUP. If you behead a chicken it will continue to kick for a while before expiring.

    This place needs a credible political organisation that truly represents both sides and one that has much wider terms of reference than Alliance.

    The UUP isn’t worth the efford.

  • missfitz

    But surely the point comrade, is that by their recent actions, the UU have failed to demonstrate true leadership and have allowed all of these factors to become issues.

    It’s just further proof of the descent into chaos of the UUP by dint of its actions

  • missfitz

    Its becoming clear to me that the only answer is a new political party based on the broad slugger consensus.

    We now need to explore a name, a constitution and a few candidates.

    I’m nominating IJP as Presss Officer, he’s not too busy where he is, so could probably do both for a while

  • Out-toughed on law n’ order issues by the nonces of the Alliance . . .

    I can exclusively reveal that 9/10ths of the UUP are going to commit hari-kiri at Royal Portrush later this evening. Obviously, being decent people, we’ll be using Callaways – probably a Big Bertha Titanium 454 in my case, but the final decision clearly has to be a matter of individual choice.

  • fair_deal

    CS

    “SF are unlikely to want the job of having to meet the monarch,

    They did get their nominee sorted out very quickly (although that may have more to do with the internal wranglings within the SF group than desire for the post).

    Also under the position sharing approach of the council it is nominally their ‘turn’.

    “and rather than refuse to do”

    SF is going to have to bite that bullet especially with a DFM post possible on the horizon. Maybe allowing a councillor to do it first is a low level ice-breaker.

  • fair_deal

    “a new political party based on the broad slugger consensus.”

    Consensus on slugger?!?!?!

  • missfitz

    Its a broad church Fair Deal, and I believe firmly that we could light a candle in the darkness and lead our fellows into the brightness of a new Northern Ireland future.

    There have been several recent outbursts of agreement on Slugger, indeed, I think nearly everyone agreed that the Mournes are nice. Oh, and didnt we agree on entry to heaven recently as well?

    The future is indeed bright

  • The social climbers of Sinn Fein/IRA would love to meet the Queen. Unnles they want to do that an Irish version of the “Not now, Frank (Sinatra)” routine.
    I find it amazing that Alliance has so much support here. Surely thye are the real parasites,playing both sides off for their own base reasons.
    Who, the SDLP apart, can throw stones at the UUP/UVF? Give the Orangies a break.

  • missfitz,
    it was your phrase “that we could light a candle in the darkness and lead our fellows into the brightness of a new Northern Ireland future” that compels me to throw my hat into the ring 😉

  • missfitz

    Thank you S-L.

    You are now in the running for Party Chairman.

    We can venture into the darkness hand in hand…..

  • norn’iron

    Fairly blatant one-sided blogging FD – ah but of course its in the interests of Alliance and DUP to work together to bring down this deal so that they can go back to comfortably doing nothing about the loyalist problem!

    This week will be a real test of Empey’s character – if he keeps steadfast to the course he has set, he’s got this ‘garden centre’ prod vote – I know true leadership when I see it. (and its not exactly something you see around here too often!)

  • fair_deal

    norn’iron

    “Fairly blatant one-sided blogging FD”

    And?

    “I know true leadership when I see it.”

    If it was “leadership” why was it only done when there was a ministerial post in the offing? That is acting in self-interest

  • Crataegus

    Misfitz; light of Earendil

    only answer is a new political party based on the broad slugger consensus.

    Any thoughts on the name of this organisation, the slugs or perhaps the molluscs more uppers class. Slugs have lots of advantages as they are hermaphrodite so none of the division over gender. Its also hard to tell what age they are. There are the great greys and the large blacks and even the yellow slug, wonder if there is a green and orange? What’s more, as any gardener knows, they are survivors.

    Quite seriously I do wish that some grouping would emerge as I for one would support it. There must be many in the SDLP and UUP who are absolutely feed up with the confined pigeon hole they find themselves in. Then there are Labour types and all sorts of small groupings. Alliance will of course say that the party is there and people should join it and Greens will burry their head in the sand of Helen’s Bay. Such actions would be short sighted as what we need is something a lot wider, that could potentially take a serious number of seats. What is more important narrow party politics or reclaiming the centre.

    1st reaction
    With regard Caral ni Chulin I am utter fed up with parties putting forward people simply to prove some internal party point. If people here really want resolution they need to be a lot more considerate of the views and feelings of others. Diplomacy is an integral part of politics, and is often more productive than confrontation and poking people in the eyes. To take an extreme example would I send say a Johnny Adair to meet the people of Castlerock? Of course I wouldn’t. It would be unthinkable. So less childish games please.

    2nd thoughts the sadist surfacing
    Let her be Mayor. As for meeting the Queen, I can’t see that happening, but wonder if she will have the character to step up to the demands of the position. If she does good will be done if not there is the potential for damage to SF. At the very least the appointment will have the collective Unionists foaming and throwing mud in the direction of Alliance.

  • Shore Road Resident

    You’re missing the point. Caral ni Chulin can’t be mayor because she has a face on her like a badger’s ashtray.

    Wouldn’t touch her with yours mate.

  • missfitz

    edited link – moderator

    I dont know if that link will work, but it should bring you to a photo of the lady, who I think is unfairly depicted by SRR.

    SRR is not going to be a member of the new party, but Crat, you are in charge of the Think Tank

  • You can’t hope to be a proper Norn Iron party until you’ve had a.) splittists (to keep Unionists happy) & b.) explusions (to keep Republicans happy). I volunteer for the former; I will leave the latter, and the purge it requires, entirely in your hands.

  • abucs

    In this great time of reconciliation (wry smile) i think it is a good opportunity for a Republican mayor of Belfast to host the British Queen.

    I’d like to see QE2 learn a few words of Irish as well to mark the occasion.

    Everybody acting like grown ups might help politics progress, and be a disincentive to re-occurrences of the recent madness in Ballymena.

  • missfitz

    Having been present at the formation of the Progressive Democrats (well, I was in the pub after)…. I feel demonstrably well qualified for this monumental task. (I also have an exam on Tuesday)

    Karl, your points are well taken, but as you can see I already chucked out Shore Road Resident, so we have the requisite expulsion.

    Thank you kindly for your offer of being a Splittist, your function is duly noted. You can be a Continuity Action Slgger (CAS for short)

    Thanks again for your great interest and overwhelming support for this great movement of common good and purpose.

  • Old enough to have been in a pub when the PDs were founded (85 from memory), but still today having to sit exams, eh? I detect an inner sorrow, or, a mid/late life decision to retrain as social worker, which, of course, in my book amounts to pretty much the same thing.

    Anyway, on with business: sell outs! Deviationists! NIO puppets! &c

  • Rove Redux

    Mr. Rove

    You backed David Trimble—he put terrorists in government.

    You backed Reg Empey—he put terrorists in the UUP.

    Yet you still lecture the rest of us!

    On the subject of nonces (raised by you on post 6) I can only conclude you are of the Limehouse variety. One of the nicer varieties, Birrellism, is clearly way beyond your warped capabilities.

    RR

  • missfitz

    Close but no cigar Karl. Mature student fer shure, but nothing as sad as social work, indeed nothing sad at all.

    I used to laugh at mature students when I going round the first time, but I have to say its been an enlightening and thoroughly enjoyable experience.

    Always feels funny though when the events you recall as the ‘news’ are now written up as ‘history’. But, it brings a lot to classes to mingle with so many people who have been through so many things and can relate first hand experiences from both sides of our wonderful divide.

    I’ve chucked out Rove Redux as well. No place for Trolls in the Common Purpose Party

  • IJP

    missfitz

    You’re very kind, but I can’t be that good – I knew nothing of the above quote!

    Crat

    How do we develop such a ‘grouping’ other than by suggesting people who think that way join Alliance?

    Surely a party is what the people in it make it to be?

    I don’t see a whole pile of charismatic, popular non-geeks willing to reveal themselves to the populace as the great saviours of Northern Ireland…

    Can you see how such a grouping could really come about?

  • One can of course glean the obvious spiritual superiority of Direct Action Against A Tangled Web, sorry, Continuity Action Slugger (my bad – totally forgot what cover we were using this week), over the hated Slugger Party revisionists through the fact that we already have trolls, stalkers, and subhomoerotic-hread-hasers (cf. my friend Redux above). Manifestly the instruments of The Woman would not be trying to repress and harass us in this intimidating fashion if they weren’t already terrified of our message of demi-peace, maintained inequality, and golf clubs for the very few.

  • missfitz

    IJP
    Its a really good question, what is it that people wnat and why isnt it Alliance?

    And you’re right, we arent being over run by people who are willing to stick their necks out in their respective communities and bring a new message to the people.

    But why doesnt Alliance float my boat, or indeed the boats of many other people?

    That has to be the question for the party. As I said to you recently, I was really surprised by the website, seeing all the dynamic looking people with such a good gender balance.

    Why did I have to search for that? Why isnt the message out there every day.

    I mentioned Naomi Long recently. When she comes on the radio, she generally talks good sense and I always feel energised. Thats what I want from a party, energy, dynamism and purpose.

    Let the Alliance bring that to the people in a straight forward and honest way, and I will disband the Common Purpose Party.

  • Um, for anyone who’s interested, I’ll cheerfully and quickly explain why the Alliance float so few boats: because they’re such mendaciously dishonest*. Exhibit number one for the prosecution: their redesignation as ‘Unionists’ to save Trimble’s bacon. And this after the holier than thou Alliance being the twats who insisted on there being a wanky ‘neither’ designation in the first place.

    *And before the pedants get involved, that’s “mendacious dishonesty” (which is bad in the Rovian scheme of things) as compared to “cynical” or “neccessary dishonesty” (which, if not exactly good, is at least understandable because of its general unavoidability). In other words, what I loathe about APNI fibbing is the level of self-delusion involved ie while the rest us know whole full well that they’re telling porkers, they’re always so damned keen on telling one another that they’re whiter than white. In this they are, naturally, very like their Lib Dem sisters.

  • Conor Gillespie

    Missfitz,
    These are truly bizarre times for us here in NI. when looked at objectively, I feel almost embarrassed to tell my yankee friends that
    1)The UUP have crawled into bed with the PUP/UVF
    (I’m still disorientated by this event)
    2)Paisley has a good shot at the position of First Minister
    (I guess this means I won’t be much wanted ‘about the place’?)
    3)McGuinness could very well be his deputy
    (shudder)
    And in the midst of all of this I hear the constant tap tap of the Alliance party beckoning me to join their opportunistic ranks as a final alternative.
    the Common Purpose Sluggerites eh?
    You’ve certainly won me over! I nominate you for Public Relations Spokesperson!

  • Crataegus

    The think tank (me and moggy) has just had its first meeting over scones and cat biscuits.

    •It would be easy enough to set up a website in preparation for the launch. Given our Mournes experience I would suggest emphasising the Natural beauty of NI. If it works on Slugger should work anywhere.

    •To set up the party all you will need are a few well known people to front it and they don’t necessarily need to be politicians. In NI context may be better if they are not. The Hole in the Wall Gang need alternative employment and it would have the added advantage of perhaps ending Give our Heads Peace that’s bound to be worth a few votes in itself.

    •Once you have the public face then a few months agreeing positions, shouldn’t be too difficult as most policy is there for the copying all it needs is the distinctive slant and the right emphasis. What we simply do is put all the policy on various subjects into a hat and pull it out in random order and string it together, should be as coherent as the policy of most parties and it will face all ways so excellent for those tough interviews. Also by including everyone’s ideas the exercise should build up our network of contacts and supporters.

    •You would need people to front up the various main sections of policy. But why pick people who know what they are talking about it is so limiting for their personal development. Let’s follow the example of Government Ministers and ensure the people don’t know a thing about their brief this should ensure a fresh outlook.

    •You would also need to contact existing councillors, MPs and MLAs who may just be interested. Aim high. I can think of a few who are not entirely happy where they are. The people who have been overlooked by their party in the selection process, there are lots of them about with an axe to grind.

    •Then there is the party constitution, this is bound to cause a split so best to delegate to a committee of one, preferably a person who is fluent in Mandarin. Having written it in the world’s leading language why bother translating to English?

    •Fundraising also important about £4000 an Assembly constituency I reckon, but as we don’t have any peerages to offer we have to be creative. I would suggest candidates by lottery. Say £50 a ticket. Good income if picked and elected so should be worth the gamble. From the party point of view should give us the type of candidate we need.

    •Then building a momentum towards the next election and where to target. Door to door canvassing and leafleting. Need a good or rather bad Press officer. Again perhaps we should look at selling the rights and the exclusive storey to a newspaper.

    Shouldn’t be too difficult and may even make a profit if we market it all correctly. I was wondering could we franchise the business model?

    Difficult to tell with any of these things but we may just hit a cord with a significant section of the electorate. I think the message should be with the population divided 40-45% on both camps the ones that really matter are the 10 – 20% in the middle. So let’s unite.

  • GWB

    Karl, what IJP said on the previous page of this thread seemed to me to be “disaffected with the UUP? Come and join Alliance – if enough of you do you can help me make it a proper Unionist party instead of the embarassing neither nor that it is now.”

    Fancy that Karl? Me neither – I’ll stick with the UUP.

  • The UUP I don’t mind – the UVF on the other hand, I quite seriously do. Break that link [it still staggers me that I need to type this – a link with David Ervine], and sure, lots of unhappy anti-Agreement (but still Paisley-despising) Ulster Unionists will stay put. Keep the UUP/UVF in being, and see the end of the UUP. Remember twenty, indeed, even just 10 years ago, “1 UUP MP” would have been an unthinkable election result. Now it’s looking like being an implausibly good one.

  • Crataegus

    Karl

    I agree, and if I could add they are as driven by self interest as any other party, and perhaps more than some as they exist on the edge of oblivion.

    IJP

    Every so often all political organisations need to take stock and change. Sometimes the change has to be drastic Sometimes the Party has to be wound up. The Alliance Party has been in slow decline for decades and no one seems to have the wit to see that change is necessary. In the last Assembly election you were very lucky to hold the 6 seats, in the next you are more likely to loose than gain. How far down do you have to go before you realise that there must be something fundamentally wrong? From my perspective the Alliance Party is an obstacle a liability. It occupies territory and is of little real benefit for it is a threat to no one.

    This of course you will deny. (and nothing changes)

  • Conor Gillespie

    Crataegus,
    “In the last Assembly election you were very lucky to hold the 6 seats, in the next you are more likely to loose than gain.”

    I don’t now Crat, as politically useless and unthreatening as the AP are, I see them doing better this time around as a result of Empey’s last little maneuver.

  • Crataegus

    Conor

    I take your point, but firstly I can’t see where they can expect to gain. South Belfast I suppose but it would take major effort.

    Two of the seats, Lagan Valley and East Antrim are safe the others are marginal though I would expect East Belfast to hold.

    The way I read it is that Alliance transfers are more likely to propel a UUP candidate ahead of the last DUP. If Alliance don’t transfer to UUP the gain is to the DUP. Also if fewer middle Unionists turn out to vote the relative position of the DUP SDLP and SF are likely to be enhanced. I think the DUP will be the biggest benefactors. (after the stay at home party)

    For Alliance to solidly capitalise on UUP disaffection would require a fundamental shift and that would endanger other support. The problem with Alliance is rigor mortis has set in. It hasn’t got what it takes to gain from the events that are unfolding.

    Why do most people vote Alliance, simple because they have no one else they can vote for? Hardly a ringing endorsement is it?

  • missfitz

    Good work Crat, this is an impressive piece of work from you and your pussy.

    Not only are the politicians, MLAs and councillors dissatisfied, I believe that an MP in North Down didnt sound too thrilled last week either. There is definitely potential for moving forward on the poaching side of this scheme.

    The key to any party is the message. Most people have tried honesty, but it never works. Personally, I’d like to stay away from things like partition and the border, they can get messy. We’ll just stick with the consent principle, it keeps everyone happy.

    What are the real issues for people? The price of bread! Real issues that face people every day and that dont get caught up in party political mires. But are there are common features among the people of NI?

    I told this recently, so apologies for repeating, but it fits what I need to say. I was talking to a woman on the Newtownards road one day and we stood and watched children with their bottles of bucky staggering up the road. I turned to her and said ‘look, we have common issues as women, as mothers, as people in this community who want the best for it. we should all be working together and trying to have a solution that fits us all’

    She stood back, took the cigarette out of her mouth and exhaled long and hard.

    Thats all right, says she, but yer still a fenian and youse have yours and we have ours.

    End of story. Who or how can ghettoisation be bridged?

    Is there really a common purpose, or are we too far gone as a people?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Fairly blatant one-sided blogging FD – ah but of course its in the interests of Alliance and DUP to work together to bring down this deal so that they can go back to comfortably doing nothing about the loyalist problem!

    norn’iron, can you explain what the solution to the loyalist problem is and what anyone, UUP or otherwise, is doing about it ?

    Loyalists receive very few votes. So what is there to talk to them about ? David Ervine admitted recently that he’d failed to influence the UVF over commitment to a peaceful path. So what’s the point ?

    The solution is to apply the law, and arrest/prosecute people who run paramilitary organizations. The trouble is that the DUP quite openly discourage law enforcement activity against loyalists. They associate themselves in public with paramilitaries and they complain when the police take action against them.

    Karl Rove, I was more concerned with the contents of my handkerchief the last time I blew my nose, than I was concerned about David Rance’s website.

    missfitz writes:

    But why doesnt Alliance float my boat, or indeed the boats of many other people? That has to be the question for the party.

    No, it’s a question for you. Why don’t you list the things that Alliance would have to do in order to get your vote.

    I mentioned Naomi Long recently. When she comes on the radio, she generally talks good sense and I always feel energised. Thats what I want from a party, energy, dynamism and purpose.

    Naomi is brilliant, but surely the fact that she has chosen the party that she’s in tells you something about which people she feels the most comfortable among politically.

    Rove writes :

    Exhibit number one for the prosecution: their redesignation as ‘Unionists’ to save Trimble’s bacon. And this after the holier than thou Alliance being the twats who insisted on there being a wanky ‘neither’ designation in the first place.

    Two points :

    1. Dave’s bacon didn’t get saved. His party got it’s ass kicked and he lost his seat and the UUP leadership. You could argue about what might have happened to his political career had the assembly collapsed earlier.

    Compare this situation with the DUP, who said they would refuse to take part in government with Sinn Fein, and then did it anyway – for several years. Can you name a single party in NI which doesn’t bend it’s principles slightly from time to time ?

    2. Alliance voters are pragmatists and would not have forgiven the party if it had brought down the assembly over a matter of principle. You, are not a pragmatist, and I guess you’re anti-agreement, so you wouldn’t understand this concept. That’s fine, the Alliance Party isn’t out looking for your votes.

    Alliance does totally oppose the designation system and in return for redesignating they extracted an agreement to review it from the other parties. Unfortunately the other parties welshed on the deal.

    Keep the UUP/UVF in being, and see the end of the UUP.

    Why ? The UUP/UVF came into existence years ago, as did the DUP/LVF. Despite the Wright/McCrea thing, the DUP’s vote has grown.

    Cratageus:

    How far down do you have to go before you realise that there must be something fundamentally wrong? From my perspective the Alliance Party is an obstacle a liability. It occupies territory and is of little real benefit for it is a threat to no one.

    I am not sure I am convinced about your argument about change. Sinn Fein and the DUP have had the same leader since time immemorial, and it doesn’t seem to have hurt them.

    Back in the mid-1980s the Alliance vote was up around 15%. Would you like to speculate about what has changed since those days (I’ll give you a clue – the party’s broad policies haven’t)? I’d remind you that back then, Alliance were subjected to just as much talk about being wishy washy and useless as they are now.

  • Crataegus

    Comrade

    Back in the mid-1980s the Alliance vote was up around 15%. Would you like to speculate about what has changed since those days (I’ll give you a clue – the party’s broad policies haven’t)? I’d remind you that back then, Alliance were subjected to just as much talk about being wishy washy and useless as they are now.

    In the last Westminster election the vote was 3.9% I assume that is the change you are referring to. As you say 20 years stuck in the groove, no one paid any notice then and no one will now. Where will it be in 20 years from now? Down with the Greens possibly?

    If I don’t like coco pops it is not my problem it a problem for the manufacturer because I don’t buy them. The voter is the consumer. If this was a business there would be changes or the business would die and what we are witnessing is slow death.

    As for Alliance voters being pragmatic, I would add pragmatic but with no choice!!

    With regards leadership David Ford is a decent and capable fellow but is he a leader?

    Misfitz

    You need to identify your market and then ruthlessly target it. You will not convince a DUP or SF supporter to vote for you. Go for the middle ground and I agree about the principle of consent but think you need to have wider connections beyond NI and take great care that they are balanced.

    I think there is a growing body utterly brassed of with the local politicians. They are viewed with odium in most households.

  • Garibaldy

    Comrade,

    The decline in the Alliance vote is baffling in some ways and not in others, as you hint. Around 15% if our population is increasingly integrated, and ‘should’ be Alliance voters. But they probably don’t vote as much as in the past, a decline seen elsewhere. In the mid-1980s, Alliance also had more creditable prominent figures, not to put too fine a point on it. I’m sorry, but Sean Neeson, David Ford et al are not of the quality of Napier, Cushnihan, or even Alderdice. It has been the victim of retirements, and opportunism, amongst senior members.

    On the other hand, there has been a framgentation of the centre vote, with the emergence of the Women’s Coalition, the Conservatives, various labour groups, Greens, and even the PUP. This has affected not just Alliance but also The Workers’ Party. In the 1980s, they were the sole two alternative parties. But now there are many, and a new generation of voters has emerged that has no culture of voting for either. The emergence of temprorary groups like the Women’s and Labour Coalitions have harmed the centre in the long term. Organisational decline has contributed to this as well. Alliance as far as I can see has effectively ceased to function as a political party outside of a number of its Asembly members.
    Partly this may be due to the media focusing increasingly on the two big players, with even the SDLP complaining about lack of media coverage.

    And of course, as you hint, voters vote much more for the big four sectarian parties, squeezing out Alliance and others. The challenge is to re-establish the centre ground. I’m not sure Alliance is in the best position to do this, but any new party will be even more hamstrung. The relative success of the European elections does suggest coalitions can be effective, but any political party formed of Alliance, WP, and the rememnants of the other groups would be too divided on other issues to function effectively.

  • DCB

    Garibaldy

    Napier and Cushnihan were good leaders and Ford does make even Aldernice look half decent

    Still the UUP/UVF link should be the perfect opportunity for an Alliance come back. But with Ford, the only man with less chrisma than Ian Duncan Smith, I fear the chance will go wanting

  • IJP

    Thanks missfitz and Crat.

    As usual I find myself entirely in agreemwnt with Comrade Stalin in response.

    However, I would say to Crat that this is now twice you have said something to me about ‘this is something you (i.e. I) will deny’ – upon what do you base that?

    I am on record as having stated that my decision to join the Alliance Party was based upon the farcical decision to withdraw its candidate from the North Down constituency’s Westminster election in 2001, and that in itself is based upon what I see as the Party’s over-keen support for an Agreement which set terrorists on the streets and institutionalized sectarianism. But I still accepted the basis principles. So I felt I had to join the party, rather than just moan from chatrooms on the sidelines – but I did so to make a difference, not for a continuation of same!

    In short, it is quite open that I would be on the ‘reformist’ side of the party.

    Now, you talk of coco pops. So you can take it that I’m here as the coco pops salesman asking what I can do to make them more attractive to me. Only you seem to have decided you don’t like cereal at all…

  • GWB

    Reform? So accepting that New Ulster were wrong to leave the UUP in the 60’s by turning it into a Unionist party again is “reform”? Reality for slow learners methings IJP.

  • IJP

    Crat

    So let’s consider the ‘toast for breakfast’ option…:)

    •Alliance already has a website, why set up a whole new one?

    •Why not try to get the ‘Hole in the Wall’ gang to back Alliance? (I know two at least are Alliance voters because I canvassed them!)

    •Alliance already has a raft of agreed policies. If you don’t like them, a) what makes you think a new party would be any closer to what you like; and b) why not get involved and try to change them? (It can be done!)

    •Alliance already appoints party spokespeople, generally outside their area of professional interest (to ensure no clash of interest, in fact, but with the added benefit of what you suggest).

    •Alliance already has 30 Cllrs and 6 MLAs, why not contact other Cllrs on Alliance’s behalf? It’s been done before (Alliance got its only ever MP this way).

    •Alliance already has a Party Constitution, why waste time quibbling over a new one? Or alternatively, join and try to change it.

    •Alliance already has fundraising mechanisms, Cllrs levies, constituency offices and so on, why start afresh?

    •Alliance already has all the means of printing, a press team, a policy officer and so on.

    In short, you have suggested nothing that is not already offered by the Alliance Party. It’s like you’re setting up ‘coco pops’ in opposition to ‘coco pops’ but without the Kelloggs marketing department behind you, and expecting more people will buy them than buy the existing brand!

    So the question, as Comrade suggests, is why you’re not buying into the current party and why you think a new one is necessarily going to attract more people? I’m not assuming or denying anything, just interested in an answer!

    GWB

    If you want to support terrorism on a sectarian basis, that’s fine. The sad reality of NI is it’ll probably get you more votes than a principle stand in favour of the rule of law!

  • Comrade Stalin

    Crataegus:

    In the last Westminster election the vote was 3.9% I assume that is the change you are referring to. As you say 20 years stuck in the groove, no one paid any notice then and no one will now. Where will it be in 20 years from now? Down with the Greens possibly?

    No, the point I was making was that the party’s vote has changed, but the policies are basically the same. Garibaldy has already picked up on my point, and quite eloquently too. I wouldn’t say that Alliance has ceased to function though. The trouble is that “ordinary” politics is too damn boring. The party’s ultimate policy is “let’s all try to get along” – it is very hard to get people to actually get up and vote for that.

    What has changed has been the political situation that surrounds all of us here, and the political dynamic. The media, the two governments and anyone else who effects public opinion is saying that the voters need to get together into two sides and share power at a safe distance from each other. The designation system in the Assembly has reinforced this doctrine and enshrined it in law; now if you refuse to call yourself a Prod or a Taig, your opinion officially does not count. It’s all about Superprod and Supertaig.

    Any party which rejects this – whether it’s the Alliance Party, Worker’s Party, or anyone else – is inherently going to suffer. Any centre party that anyone chooses to set up, similarly, is screwed. While obviously it’s pretty miserable to use the old “blame the media” argument, the truth is that unless you’ve got a paramilitary wing, or you’re a loudmouth b1got, the newspapers here aren’t interested. Worse – the media here refuse to even question the big players. Only recently we’ve seen the BBC run with the Ervine story (which is the only reason why it hit the news) even though the UUP and DUP have had close relationships with loyalists for years.

    I support Alliance because I think it has established the best concept of the liberal political framework which we need to take the country forward – the concept of a united community, rather than two co-operating halves. The Women’s Coalition never understood this, setting up shop as soft feminists from the start (their support of Mo Mowlam when she entered the Maze to negotiate with thugs threatening to kill people was telling; their silly debates in the assembly about making the Euro legal tender in NI resemble the latest musings from Rainbow George); the Worker’s Party’s language of socialism just turns people off these days; the Conservatives never had a hope in hell outside North Down and Lagan Valley.

    To paraphrase an old saying, people who do not understand the Alliance Party are doomed to reinvent it. The Alliance Party’s problems are not so much internal difficulties as they are problems which characterize the difficulty in trying to set up a broad-based centre coalition in this country. If you reckon you can do a better job, you might be better spending your energy joining Alliance and trying to fix what you believe to be wrong, rather than trying to set up your own.

  • missfitz

    I think this debate is going in an important direction.

    There is a sense of ennui with politics in general, establishing a new party can have insurmountable problems.

    Make Alliance come alive. Make it dynamic and important.

    Without being political about it, look at David Cameron, and how WIlliam Hague has re-invented himself.

    Fishes rot from the head down, and for a fish to be alive, the head has to be vibrant.

    (that might be an analogy too far, but lets see)

  • TAFKABO

    The problem is that at the end of the day, people are still essentialy looking for a party to vote for, not because they are particulalrly enamoured by their policies, but because they’re the least worst option.

    Wouldn’t it be great to be able to cast your vote because you wanted to see somebody in government,and not just to keep someone out?

  • heck

    TAFKABO

    quite right. Is there anyone who doesn’t believe that the arms/spy ring/ni bank robbery /robert mccartney killing/ he called us nazis/ controversies were anything more than excuses to keep fenians out of government?

    If anyone believes these were based on unionist principles then I have some Iraqi WMD to sell them

    Until the governments are prepared to face down unionist bigotry there will be no devolved government in nor Iron.

  • missfitz

    Oh Taf, does that mean you agree in principle with a new party?

    I’m still canvassing for members, but have a Chairman, a Think Tank, a Press Officer and a dissident already.

    Yes, wouldnt it be great if we had a realistic shared goal instead of the whataboutery that masquerades for politics

  • Moderate Unionist

    missfitz
    Why worry about policies. Apart from the constitutional issue which we agree is covered by the principle of consent, all the parties more or less agree on everything. Better pay, more jobs, shorter waiting lists…..

    So ditch the policies and just go with the personalities. Considering all available politicians who would be in your dream team?

    If you want a non politician that would be ok too, but I guess they haven’t thrown their hat in the ring for a reason, but maybe we could approach them. Bob Geldoff, Tim Collins, George Quigley?

  • missfitz

    Heck
    Yours is a perfect example of that kind of negative ‘what about’ politickery.

    The problem has been about sectarian politics in the distant past, but we could get over that if we tried.

    Conflict transformation is not an easy process for all the reasons we see in NI. However, at some particular point in time, someone has to stand up to be counted and do the courageous thing. We’ve had examples of that here, but the time has come for that to happen again.

    And soon

  • missfitz

    MU
    I was doing pretty well here on the site, but I suppose as I’ve said, its a broad church!

    The first tempatation is to go for good looking middle aged men for all of the positions, but I need to focus here and be serious.

    Yes, I like Tim Collins. Good ideas and genuine interest in getting things sorted. And he has the old military background, so he would keep the place tidy. He would have to stand as an MP.

    Next, I would poach Sylvia Herman. I feel sorry for her with that lot in the UUP and think she would work well with the team. It has been reported that she is scatty at times, but Tim will keep her in check.

    Thats 2 MPs, so we are cooking. Twice as big as UUP already.

    Right, lets see. Belfast. Well, wouldnt it be great to have Van Morrison as the MP for Belfast. He could sing when he felt like it and we wouldnt get annoyed cos its not that often.

    If not Van, poor wee Brian Kennedy must be feeling sore after Athens, but I wouldnt have him as an MP. He could compose our party Anthem “Every song is a vote for us”

    All the women in NI scare me, like Nuala O’Loan and Monica McWilliams, so we can give them a by ball. But, I would DEFINITELY poach Naomi Long as another Belfast MP.

    Sadly, I would step aside and allow her to be party leader. She would be great.

    God this is coming together brilliant.

    Mick Fealty would get a paying job with us as full time researcher. No more of this donation crap.

    I would need someone strong for economics and inward investment. Probably Lord Rana, but I know nothing about the man. Someone who has been succesful and could generate some excitement here.

    OK Moderate Unionist, theres a start. Who would you add?

  • Conor Gillespie

    MissFitz,

    Ok, so lets just say election time roles around, we present this party and the majority of NI suddenly realize what a silly little game of hide-and-go-seek they’ve been playing with each other and the Common Purpose party win by a land slide, the CPs dominate the assembly, and a fresh executive comes into being that that is willing to help solve the day-to-day problems of all the folks here in NI. Who would you like to see from your team fill the following portfolios in the executive:

    1) First Minister
    2) Deputy-First Minister
    3) Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Investment
    4) Minister for Finance & Personnel
    5) Minister for Regional Development
    6) Minister for Education
    7 Minister for the Environment
    8) Minister for Employment & Learning
    9) Minister for Social Development
    10) Minister for Culture, Arts & Leisure
    11) Minister for Health, Social Services & Public Safety
    12) Minister for Agriculture & Rural Development

    Have fun! slan(:

  • missfitz

    Oh hang on.

    I’m not a dictator, this is a democratic party.

    The CP’s stand for fairness, equality and opportunity. (Our logo is a shining light)

    So, I would welcome any suggestions on these positions and will bring forth a preliminary list in time for the next Assembly sitting.

    Come on, some help needed here.

  • Pete Baker

    “I’m not a dictator, this is a democratic party”

    and I was just about to sign up.. 😉

  • Conor Gillespie

    missfitz,
    Well if just on the basis of an all-sluggerite cast I would definitely like to nominate Pete Baker for the position of Minister for Culture, Arts & Leisure. by the way, great blog on heaney and those two for Beckett Pete!

  • missfitz

    Dont laugh. I am struggling here trying to find a dozen good people for these jobs. I am almost there……

  • missfitz

    Thanks Conor, I had given that to Sylvia but will shift her out to somewhere else.

    Do you fancy a job yourself?

  • bertie

    missfitz

    to totally change the subject – you’re looking very fetching in that outfit. 🙂

  • Pete Baker

    Thanks, Conor, glad you enjoyed them.

    Missfitz, while the open door policy for membership of the CPs is admirable, I tend to adhere to the Groucho Marx rule of thumb for clubs [as well as political parties].

  • missfitz

    Oh the all slugger list would be easy. I was trying to do it for real, but will whip up a cabinet here in a tic. Then go back to the real job of a proper cabinet.

    1) First Minister
    The Beech Tree

    I suspect he is a legal eagle and is always spot on the money if a little pedantic at times.(Maybe he’s Mark Durkin in disguise)

    We need someone with a sound legal mind to protect us from the opposition benches. They will be pissed as hell at us for this.

    2) Deputy-First Minister
    Conor Gillespie

    Good, sound thinker, rational in his arguments and non provocative. A solid choice.

    3) Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Investment
    Busty Brenda.
    She would have them all up and out of bed by 7 in the morning and woe betide anyone not seen working their asses off all day long. Yes, Brenda would get this country moving.

    4) Minister for Finance & Personnel
    Mick Fealty.
    His background in Governance will help him here, and God knows he’s run Slugger on little or nothing for years so would be good with the few bob we’d have.

    5) Minister for Regional Development
    I like Fair Deal for this. We may not see eye to eye all the time, but he would make a great Minister for the country ones and I’d love to see him in wellies. (Orange wellies?)

    6) Minister for Education
    Only Belfast Gonzo could hope to follow Martin McGuinness in such an important posting. Sensitive and knowledgeable, Gonzo would have us all reading and writing in no time.

    7 Minister for the Environment
    MissFitz
    This would be my Ministry. In my opinion it is the only one that will count in the future, as all of our lives and those of our children depend on it. Pro active work is needed to reduce, reuse and recycle, both industrially and domestically. I would trust this one to no one else.

    8) Minister for Employment & Learning
    Resolve
    Young, but great mind and very balanced in his approach. Easily distracted, but Brenda can keep an eye on him

    9) Minister for Social Development
    Jo
    She seems well connected you know, and it would take her mind off her troubles. She’s a sharp cookie and would sort out a lot of the worries in Tax Credit and CSA.

    10) Minister for Culture, Arts & Leisure
    Pete Baker

    Pete, that was cheeky about Groucho Marx, but I forgive you as you were probably worried I’d leave you out. You keep your finger on the pulse and we are all grateful for it, so it can be your job.

    11) Minister for Health, Social Services & Public Safety

    Karl Rove
    Controversial, annoying and a bit of a pain at times, but would do a smashing job in this area where commitment and vision is required.

    12) Joint Minister for Agriculture & Rural Development Smiling Jim and the Barbary Duck Coast Travelling Circus thingy and David Michael

    I would stick Tourism in here for Jim as he is so commmitted to it. David can hold the fort when Jims on the Barbary coast, as David is an accidental tourist as well and we live in ROstrevor so he knows all about farms

    To all of the rest of you who were left out, please dont fret, there will be loads of opportunities to contribute to the CPP.

    Thank you

  • missfitz

    Bertie
    What on earth are you talking about?

  • Moderate Unionist

    missfitz
    Maybe we could talk Alan Sugar into the role of economic development and inward investment.

    For security minister, I favour Arnold Schwarzenegger, useful experience as governor of California.

    Closer to home, Culture has to be May McFettridge

    Maybe I am getting carried away.

  • Crataegus

    Misfitz

    I sit down and watch K-Pak and next thing I know you have the shadow cabinet organised. You’re some mover.

    IJP

    I merely anticipated your loyal defence.

    So the question, as Comrade suggests, is why you’re not buying into the current party and why you think a new one is necessarily going to attract more people?

    There are times when brand names are a liability; something happens to change perception and they cease to be an asset. It can happen suddenly like Ratners or the decline can be slow like Woolworths. Sometimes it can be turned around and sometimes it can’t. My perception of the Alliance Party is that there is so much inertia that it would be like trying to move heaven and Earth to turn it around. Putting together a web site and writing a constitution would be easy by comparison.

    You say that people should join and change from within, but you and I know that you need more than one or two people to join to fundamentally change your fortunes. You need to appeal to a wider base and as things are I don’t see that happening.

    Comrade

    I am fully aware of the points you were raising, but your reply highlights the nub of the Alliance problem. You blame everyone but yourselves for your own decline. It is the press, the structures of the Assembly, the electorate; everybody but yourselves. The Party has failed to change and revitalise itself. It is about as appetising as 20 year old Christmas Pud. It is not that the points that you raise are not valid, I agree with them, the problem is Alliance has not addressed them effectively. It is stuck in a deepening rut.

    With regards the Women’s Coalition and the Workers Party inclined to agree. The first was based on a flawed concept and the second adheres to an out of date ideology. But can you not see that the decline of Alliance is at least in part due to its own actions or lack of them.

    I don’t buy into the counsel of despair.

    I support Alliance because I think it has established the best concept of the liberal political framework which we need to take the country forward – the concept of a united community, rather than two co-operating halves.

    This on face value is fine, but we both know that the perception is different in many quarters. I remember threads that claimed that Alliance were Unionist Lite. Denied by its supporters, but still that perception is out there. Again we have those who would say that it doesn’t stand for anything other than, we are nice people in the middle, and that its patronising, and again supporters would disagree but ….. When I look at the coverage Allaince representatives get much of it is second rate, dog crap on the pavement stuff. The Party really does need to raise its game, and it needs people other than just David Ford as its public face. Ask most people to name the 6 Alliance MLA’s and I doubt if many could name more than three.

    It would be understating the problem to say the party needs a new leader, any leader of that party would have problems. The Alliance has to fundamentally change. It needs to do it publicly and it needs to attract activists as part of that process. How it does this would need very careful consideration, but ignore the problem and on 3-4% it won’t be long before it expires.

  • fair_deal

    “but he would make a great Minister for the country ones”

    I’d certainly deal with all those ones gurning about the end of single housing developments in rural areas (nothing to do with the GAA supporting them of course ;)).

  • IJP

    TAFKABO

    But there is a party that stands for real politics – and only gets 3.9% of the Westminster vote!

    Again, if real politics is what people want, they have to get out and campaign for it!

    Comrade

    The Alliance Party’s problems are not so much internal difficulties as they are problems which characterize the difficulty in trying to set up a broad-based centre coalition in this country.

    Spot on.

    Crat

    This on face value is fine, but we both know that the perception is different in many quarters. I remember threads that claimed that Alliance were Unionist Lite. Denied by its supporters, but still that perception is out there.

    No, as Comrade suggests, the truth is any political party established along Alliance’s lines would be seen to be ‘Unionist Lite’ (or, less frequently, ‘Nationalist Lite’).

    Once you think objectively and ruin all the myths, at least one ‘side’ whose myths you’ve ruined is going to get upset and resort to accusing you of ‘bias’!

    That’s the nature of NI politics, and indeed of NI society. That’s what we’re trying to change.

    As for coverage, Comrade has again explained why. ‘Alliance man calls for people to be reasonable’ just isn’t a headline!

    As for the comment that most people could name only 3 out of 6 MLAs, are you suggesting they could name 16 out of the DUP’s 32? Or 12 out of SF’s 24?

    Finally, the image, perhaps even the name, needs changed. Will that make any difference? Since most people around here who vote Ulster Unionist describe this as ‘voting Conservative’, I still wouldn’t bet on it…

  • Young Fogey

    Exhibit number one for the prosecution: their redesignation as ‘Unionists’ to save Trimble’s bacon.

    “Never let your sense of morals stop you from doing what is right.” – Isaac Asimov

  • Loyalist

    I predicted this, when this story first broke. Alliance will be entirely justified in withdrawing their support from the UUP. I hope now that we end up with an SDLP Mayor and not a Provo as a reuslt of Reggie’s stupidity.

  • Jo

    “9) Minister for Social Development

    Jo

    She seems well connected you know, and it would take her mind off her troubles. She’s a sharp cookie and would sort out a lot of the worries in Tax Credit and CSA. ”

    MY troubles? What, pray are they? 😉

    I am more than happy to take on the portfolio as, after having completely failed to udnerstanding all aspects of social policy, housing, the NI voluntary sector etc, the last incumbent went on to become Lord Vanity of Mirrormirrorland. Lady Jo of Greenpark, next, perhaps?

    I aim for elevation before I’m 40. 🙂 (Thats elevation to he Lords – I appreciate some male Sluggerites may have problems with other forms of elevation.)

  • malo

    This is the same Alliance party who put Mr Maskey into the Lord Mayor’s chair, so i would say that they are using the UUP/PUP as cover to a decision that has already been taken.

  • Loyalist

    malo

    Completely incorrect. APNI were veering towards the UU’s, they are now veering towards the SDLP as a result ofthis decision. The UUP is a total joke.

  • missfitz
    I’d like to nominate myself as Minister for Fun, running the silly dept.
    My first policy is to have 2 tickle days per week/month/year * ( circle as appropriate )

    To demonstrate a non-sectarian approach,
    these tickle days would change order.

    The 1st ‘tickle day’, would be for republicans to catch unionists (at Work)and tickle them on the soles of their feet with a tri-coloured feather, till they scream.

    The 2nd ‘tickle day’ would be for unionists to catch republicans (at Dole Office) and tickle them on the soles of their feet with a PSNI coloured feather, till they scream.

  • Crataegus

    Spirit Level

    May I also suggest that all people on demonstrations and parades should have to dress up carnival style in future? We should learn from the success of Rio. Guarantee that Nationalists and Unionist would turn up to watch their fellow citizens and it wouldn’t be to throw stones.

  • Garibaldy

    Crataegus,

    Not really sure that I want to see the average millie in a bikini shaking that ass.

  • Crataegus
    Very happy to submit your suggestions.
    Perhaps I could appropriate some funds for my dept. to fly down to Rio, to investigate further 😉

  • Tony Clifton

    Again in a thread about the Alliance Party there is very little about them however I will bring us back on topic……

    So what! How does this even make sense, they wont vote for a UUP candidate because they have ‘links to terrorism’ but they will vote in a Sinn fein Lord Mayor…..strange.

    Anyway they have already voted in a terrorist aligned SF Lord Mayor at two far more controversial points in our history.

  • Loyalist

    Tony

    They will go for the SDLP. Thanks a bunch Reg you tw*t.

  • Garibaldy

    Tony,

    Their vote is under much more threat than it was in the past, particualrly with the UUP now chasing it in key areas like east Belfast and north Down. This is where all this is coming from I’d say, a chance to hold on to some voters who might have gone UUP.

  • Crataegus

    IJP

    Perhaps in an attempt to turn this on its head, at around 4% do you think that is the full potential of Alliance in current the climate?

    Is the middle ground only 4%?

    If the answer to either is NO then what can Alliance do to improve its performance? For some of us think it is under performing and that under performance is what gives rise to Women’s Coalition etc. Indeed one of these days I would not be surprised if some grouping replaces it as the party of the centre. If we look back on the last 10 – 15 years at the fortunes of the UUP or the SDLP relative fortunes can change.

    I am continually bumping into former Alliance members and to me that is not a healthy sign.

    I am not trying to run your party down, but I do believe you need to address some serious short comings, for to my eyes you are clearly under performing.

    Alan

  • Crataegus

    Sorry confusing referencce to Alan above, nothing to do with this thread but another. Copied header over to this.

  • IJP

    Crat

    No one thinks you’re trying to run us down! Your comments are helpful and welcome.

    Is the middle ground only 4%?

    In the strictest sense of the term, I think it is, actually, yes.

    But in the strictest sense of the term, I’m not ‘middle ground’.

    So the task is to appeal to people like me who are British Protestants, and say ‘Unionism isn’t making progress for you’. And at the same time, it is to say to people who are Irish Catholics, to say ‘Nationalism isn’t making progress for you’.

    Comrade makes a legitimate point that it is largely the Agreement which saved the ball game, and moved people towards the tribal extremes (including from Alliance to UU and SDLP).

    Our task, in my view, is to create the ‘third extreme’, people who reject and even resent the idea that politicians should represent ‘religious tribes’, but who would rather see a political system where, as TAFKABO suggests, we can replace one lot with another lot. There is some evidence this is beginning to appeal at Queen’s, in schools (ND Association now has a 16-year-old on its Executive), and so on.

    But my query is really this: do you think a change of image would really achieve what we want? Is it not more that we should be seen out more – on doorsteps, at events, and so on?

    Speaking of which, I have an event to go to…

  • Crataegus

    IJP

    But my query is really this: do you think a change of image would really achieve what we want? Is it not more that we should be seen out more – on doorsteps, at events, and so on?

    Door stepping and events are essential but you need to build up a critical mass of activists in target areas to be credible come election time. It’s about being open to people, and being accessible and having ways that people can easily contribute, get involved and help. I think that this is very much about image and simple practical good management. It’s wrong to criticise David Ford, on its own replacing him would make little difference.

  • boshank

    loyalist, call reg a tw*t again and i’ll get the boys on you lmfao…

  • malo

    I will say this again the Alliance party our using the UUP/PUP situation to cover up there decision to put S/F in as Lord Mayor. After speaking to a member of the Alliance party a few weeks before the UUP/PUP situation came about, it seemed they had already decided that S/F would be getting there vote. So its about time the Alliance party took responsibilty for the decisions to vote for S/F and stop trying to land the blame at someone else’s door.