Liberals in Belfast

As well as the Balmoral show which I mentioned below, Belfast has also been hosting the 55th conference of Liberal International. Alliance party luminaries have been meeting assorted Liberal leaders including Morgan Tsvangirai for whom it is to be his last stop before going back to Zimbabwe to contest the run off of the presidential election against Robert Mugabe where incidentally the new $500 million bank note worth 2 US dollars (today, probably rather less tomorrow) has just been issued.David Ford had this to say on the Alliance Party website:

“Getting the chance to host this Congress is a massive boost for Belfast. It provides a great opportunity to show influential politicians from around the world that Northern Ireland is thriving.
“This is the first time that Northern Ireland has ever hosted the prestigious Liberal International Congress. This gives us the chance of a lifetime to showcase Northern Ireland to powerbrokers from across the globe. The Alliance Party’s global links within Liberal International are extremely important, and I only wish all other parties in Northern Ireland took such a broad world-view.
“The timing of this event is perfect as former Alliance Leader Lord Alderdice is currently President of the group.”

Whilst Lord Alderdice had this to say:

“I am delighted that Liberal International is coming to Belfast for this Congress. Liberal International is a substantial global network of about 100 political parties from all around the world. Its recent meetings have been in Taipei, Marrakech, Sofia, Manila, Cancun, Dakar, Budapest, Ottawa and Brussels, so you can see that the choice to come to Belfast means that our capital city now figures with some big names on the global conference circuit.
“There will be the whole range of motions on issues of concern from across the world, but we will focus on three main areas – dealing with violent political conflict, movement of people (migration, asylum and human trafficking) and the environment. There will be special sessions and papers on all three issues.”

I presume this conference is why Charles Kennedy was in town for Let’s Talk last night.

  • Rory

    A conference of Liberals from around the globe – God, that should be a bundle of laughs. But let’s not knock it – it is a start. If this conference proves to be a success it may allow Belfast the opportunity to pitch for the annual gatherings of even more influential bodies such as the International Association of Taxidermists or the Tarot Readers International.

    I am not so sure however about this “being the chance of a lifetime to showcase Northern Ireland to powerbrokers from across the globe”. I think we may have had our fill of “powerbrokers” when what is really needed, what with the deepening credit crunch, is an influx of pawnbrokers.

  • Greenflag

    We may yet see the printing of a 1,000 million dollar Zimbabwean banknote as the Government of that benighted State goes from the insane to the to the ridiculous and back again for another round . They must have found the foreign currency to buy the ‘ink’ – for the new banknotes that is !

    If the military rulers of Myanmar have their heads in the sand -one can only wonder where Zimbabwe’s rulers have their ‘heads’ .

    Where no light shines nor emanates 🙁

    Will Mugabe scrape through in the run off and show the western world that although the OPEC and the rising powers of Asia and South America may no longer value the American Dollar -Zimbabwe remains an ardent admirer of the USA currency so much so that the Zimbabwe Central Bank will exchange 1 billion dollars of their own currency for 1 American dollar ?

    Perhaps Tsangverai can pick up some ideas on power sharing while in Belfast :)? Nevertheless he may have some disquieting moments if he contemplates why a ‘nominally’ democratic country seems to have no real ‘opposition’ in Parliament:(?

  • If he takes a dander round south Armagh and can ignore the rain, Mr Tsangverai will feel right at home: aren’t ZANU PF the cousins of IRA/SF?

  • Greenflag


    ‘aren’t ZANU PF the cousins of IRA/SF?’

    No that would be ZAPU (the minority party) ZANU would be cousins of the UUP or DUP (the majority party) .

    Not too worry HMG is not delegating economic policy to the NI power sharing rivals . Letting that lot get their hands on the money printing presses and the Zimbabwe dollar could have serious competition in the race to turn the currency into toilet tissue paper:(

  • Rory

    See! even on a thread dedicated to them the poor old International Liberals are completely ignored. Everywhere they are the wallflowers at the ball, the “Johnny No-mates” in the political 4th form. Poor sods!

  • Everywhere they are the wallflowers at the ball

    Yup, Morgan Tsvangirai and the Burmese democracy movement are the wallflowers at the ball. People wristing off on Slugger are the real change agents in the 21st Century! I wish I could sneer as good as you Rory.

  • Gregory

    “aren’t ZANU PF the cousins of IRA/SF?”

    I think it was the UDI regime doing the tobacco smuggling.


  • darth rumsfeld

    “Getting the chance to host this Congress is a massive boost for Belfast”

    Yup, they’ve talked of little else in the bars on the Golden Mile since Christmas. It’s right up there with the US conference and Victoria Square

    And they wonder why noone votes Alliance??

  • Quizdaemon

    A recent Belfast Telegraph survey suggested that 10% of the country supported us, plus given our non-sectarian nature we are better equiped than most to recieve transfers from soft unionists and nationalists, hardly no-one. But when has a unionist ever let a good rant be blunted by facts.

    The fact is that out side this small country the conference recieved a huge amount of coverage. Are you perhaps worried that whole nations will look closer at Northern Ireland and wonder why the governmenr is forcing a sectarian carve up, ignoring the wishes of a sizeable portion of the population.

  • Quizdaemon,

    The only political ‘survey’ that counts (i.e. an election) gave you 5.2% last time out (2007 Assembly elections).

    Nonetheless, you think you have 10% support? Sheesh!

  • Quizdaemon

    Assembly elections are peachy we did poll 5.2% but you fail to notice that was an increase of 1.5% from 3.7% in 2003. Each of our MLA’s strengthened their position and indeed we gained a seat in Belfast South, but the more recent Dromore byelection certainly backed up the figure of 10%.

  • Quizdaemon,

    Your increase from 2003 to 2007 most certainly cannot be extrapolated to a near-100% increase from 2007 to 2008! Your belief in your party is not shared by the voters.

    The 9.5% you got in Dromore is actually an enormous increase on the previous election in that area … because you didn’t stand then! Dromore is east of the Bann, and thus quite likely to show support for Alliance higher than the NI average. But there is no evidence whatsoever of any real increase since 2007, especially west of the Bann.

    At the end of the day it is only elections that count, and Alliance has no chance of getting 10% or anywhere close to it. Those days are long gone. Your best hope is a break-up of the UUP, with Alliance picking up some ‘liberal’ ex-UUP members. Other than that, you will remain very marginal.

  • Quizdaemon

    Explain to me then why our vote is increasing while the UUP and SDLP vote is dropping, I think you find we’re attracting traditional SDLP support also, case in point the Andrew Muir defection. When Fianna Fail gobble up the SDLP where do you think the left leaning votes will go, when the UUP colapse under Basil McCrea’s inevitible inept leadership where do you think soft UUP votes will go?

    People like you keep telling Alliance we’re irrelevant, if we are so irrelevant why do you keep talking about us, and trying to bully us in to silence.

  • Quizdaemon,

    … why do you keep talking about us, and trying to bully us in to silence.

    Wipe those tears off your face. No-one is trying to bully you into silence. Are you going for the mopery awards this year or what?

    The simple fact is that Alliance has dropped from its early high point to a fairly stable 5% of the electorate (not 10% as you try to imply). That 5% is disproportionately found in the middle class outer Belfast area, which serves two purposes; (1) it gets you more people elected than an even 5% over the whole of NI, which would probazbly see you disappear in terms of elected representatives, and (2) it means that most Alliance voters live in areas where the Alliance vote is over 5% – sometimes over 10% or even 15%. So you get a skewed idea of your own importance. Look west, young man – there the Alliance Party gets derisory scores.

    Alliance is not a broadly based party. It is a ginger group of the middle class urban ‘elite’. Its attempts to become more than that (if they were ever serious) have failed. Alliance has not, in all its years, successfully connected with a wider electorate, and I see no signs of it ever doing so. If the next election sees a dip in Alliance support, you run a real risk of total irrelevance and then extinction (think of the WC).

  • Turgon

    I hate joining in a ganging up session on Alliance but I have just gone through your list of councillors. You have a nice alphabetical list of the councils. You have councillors as far west as Banbridge, Craigavon and Coleraine. There is only one problem (well more than one).

    After Ards but before Banbridge comes Ballymoney
    After C comes the letter D: Derry City council except in your list of councils, then there is Dungannon. Then there is the helpful letter F (for let us say Fermanagh?)

    Alliance is a relevant and important (albeit small) party East of the Bann. West of the Bann (except Craigavon and Coleraine), there be dragons.

  • Quizdaemon

    Nice of you to miss my point, so once again I’ll ask, If The Alliance Party are such an irrelevance why do you and other unionist posters on this forum keep attacking us, especially in this thread? Do you feel threatened that while no-one except English Conservatives associate with your parties we’ve recently been rubbing shoulders with the likes of Morgan Tsvangirai and Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade. You can tell a lot about someone by the company they keep.

    We can argue all day about how electoral trends will go, the proof is on polling day, in Dromore we pulled 9.5% which isn’t bad for a proddy wee town, in other areas we outpoll prominant unionist leaders for example Belfast East where Naomi Long burried the UUP leader in the polls.

    It seems that you are unaware of the concept of Election Strategy, strategy goes beyond one election. We may be a smaller party with seven MLA’s, nine if you count the United COmmunity Grouping with Brian Wilson and Kieran Deeny, however look at the results of last election. Each of our MLA’s won their seat comfortably. This is called gaining a power base, now that we have that we can look to expansion.

    If you want to see total irrelevance and forthcoming extinction look to Cunningham House before you look to University Street.

  • Turgon

    I am unclear if that last remark was directed at me. If is was I have very rarely attacked the Alliance party. I also may not find the demise of the UUP excessively distressing.

    I do remember the last time I was canvassed by an Alliance type at my door. I explained I was from South Londonderry and the wife from South Fermanagh. He seemed to loose interest in our vote at that point. As I said there be dragons, or can you guarantee that if / when we move to Fermanagh I will have hordes of Alliance canvassers descending on me.

  • Quizdaemon,
    I am unclear if that last remark was directed at me.

    Well it certainly wasn’t aimed at me. A unionist I am not.

  • Turgon,

    … can you guarantee that if / when we move to Fermanagh I will have hordes of Alliance canvassers descending on me.

    They can’t even get local people as candidates, so I guess you’d be safe in Fermanagh. Their 2007 candidate was drafted in from Newtownards!