Paula Bradshaw looks through the yellow door

Paula BradshawOne centre right door slammed shut, but another familiar middle of the road yellow door opened and Paula Bradshaw stepped from the remnant of UCUNF across to the Alliance.

If you had an overactive imagination you might wonder whether having resigned from the UUP a couple of weeks ago, Paula was tidying around the house and stopped to read some of Ian Parsley’s old Alliance literature piled up in the corner of the room.

But perhaps the reality is that Paula’s re-engagement with political structures may demonstrate to other UUP wobblers that Alliance is a potential space for progressive pro-union politicians to occupy. I wonder whether there’ll now be a steady stream of migration in the lead up to the UUP conference in December and the Alliance one in January.

The Belfast Telegraph quotes Paula’s explanation of her shift.

I was hoping that project, with the Conservative link up and the move toward more mainstream, non-sectarian politics was one I could continue work on, but that route was cut off for me.

I thought it was a great idea (the Conservative link up) just poorly delivered, the (UUP) grassroots think it was the wrong decision and want to go back down a traditional route. That is not something I want.

Unsurprisingly, the UUP’s Danny Kinahan was under-impressed with her move.

Paula’s actions clearly indicate that she has personal ambitions to stand for election and to become a professional politician, regardless of party alignment … She was happy to stand for selection as an MLA under the leadership of Tom Elliott – indeed it could be said that her failure to be selected may have spurred her change in political direction. I feel her decision sadly smacks of sour grapes.

But on her blog, Paula dismissed “the distinctly Ulster Unionist notion that someone leaving a political party must be doing so ‘for a seat’, rather than on the grounds of the ideas and principles parties are putting forward”.

Politics must in the end be a battle not of personalities, but of ideas. It must be not about the positions we hold, but about the people we serve. It must be focused not on conspiracies, but on competence. I will leave Danny Kinahan and co to speak exclusively about the former. I myself wish to deal with the latter – and to spend my spare time working for a cause other than candidates simply wishing to retain office for the sake of retaining it. That is why I have made my move.

What was most notable today was the reaction to my move in the marginalised, overwhelmingly Protestant communities in which I work. It was universally positive. They see the “Unionist Party” as serving only narrow, principally well-off interests. They see Anna Lo, Naomi Long and others as representing the whole community – not just in terms of religion, but also in terms of class, family background and everything else.

Alliance have one Assembly seat in South Belfast (Anna Lo) and one councillor elected in the Balmoral ward. They secured approximately one quota in the 2010 Westminster and 2007 Assembly elections. So unless they’re very certain of pinching the UUP vote, there isn’t room for Paula to run alongside Anna Lo for the Assembly in May 2011.

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  • fitzjameshorse1745

    he WAS an Alliance Lord.
    He is a member of the Liberal Democrat Party and co-ordinates the Lib Dems in the “House of Lords”. He sits on the Government benches.
    He was their Health spokesperson or some such.
    He is/was Chairman of Liberal International
    and on the International Monitoring Commission.
    Ms Naomi Long is a MP representing the Alliance Party. She sits on the Opposition benches.

  • DC

    David are you saying there isn’t one 😉

  • MMX

    Paula Bradshaw’s joining the Alliance Party intrigues me; is she acting as a Trojan Horse to facilitate Ian Parsley’s return . The problem here is that Alliance is neutral on the Union. Other contributors’ theories that there will be a grand exodus of UUP Moderates to the Alliance are totally unfounded. Paula has rightly worked out that Tom Elliott has moved the UUP to the right of the DUP and is attempting to Orangise the Party into a form of quasi Unionist Unity style operation on the DUP’s coat-tails. As usual the mixed messages coming out from the UUP leadership are all over the place. Tom’s meeting with David Cameron during the Conservative Party conference is a classic example; Imagine the scenario Tom says UCUNF has not worked and Cameron suggests a full merger, Tom who has been left totally in the dark about previous discussions twixt Conservatives and the UUP is completely taken off his guard. Then in a state of totally unjustified righteous indignation a call is made to the Impartial Reporter saying all elections will be fought under a single UUP banner and logo. Mean whilst the other part of the deadly duo Campbell issues a far more anodyne statement on the UUP website.
    The Prime Minister gave the UUP until the month end to come up with firm proposals for any future relationship between the two parties. It is understood that this deadline has been missed in spite of Nesbitt using his media skills. This is reminiscent of the totally mishandled pact with the Conservatives when procrastination and continually missing deadlines for over twelve months lost three good candidates and gave all the other candidates a celluloid cat in hell’s chance of winning having been given no chance or time to work in the constituency.
    Paula first came to prominence as a UUP Party Officer nearly three years ago. She came in as part of what at the time appeared to be dynamic young team intent on dragging the Party into the 21st century. Clashes started early on over the fiscal control of the party and where its funds were. This all lead to the suspension and ultimate departure of Will Corry the chief executive, one of several to come to an unfortunate termination of their employment. This new team soon found out that there were two grades of party officer the appointed ones who claimed to have more clout than the elected ones. The end result was a supine officer team under the boot of the cabal with all the thorny problems being swept under the carpet and conveniently forgotten about.
    The posting which mentions Joanna Dobson, Sandra Overend and Carol Black, who as soon as Paula had resigned from the party, came out to tell us what a woman friendly party the UUP was, a bit rich coming from three women, two of which are councillors and all three aspiring Assembly candidates, all three are employed in an office of profit either by the party or the taxpayers through working for an MLA or MEP. Overend presumably wants to inherit her father’s seat, a true act of nepotism.
    It would appear that the moderate wing has had enough of this drift to the right and the total rejection of the greater population as potential voters. No doubt Tom wishes to ignore the Garden Centre Unionists regardless of the fact they form a substantial part of the 42.5% non voting residents. Mr Elliot possibly through lack of intellectual rigour fails to see that this group involves the middle classes, i.e. the professional, mercantile, agricultural land owning, engineering, manufacturing, civil service and teaching sectors of the community. This block of people add upto double the present three unionist parties voters. However this philosophy fit in with the ludicrous claims that Ucunf and the moderates lost them the 2010 election.I am informed that Tom sees salvation coming from the Orange Order Members and members of the Security Forces past and present, a surreal hypothesis.
    If ever there was a group of people in denial the present UUP hierarchy is that very one; Alan MacFarland’s article in Fortnight made this quite clear. Anyone with any basic consumer goods marketing expertise would realise that anyone fighting for an ever diminishing share of a market with two other competitors should realise that they are embarked on the road to ruin.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Unclear if you are saying it is wrong to seek to step outside parochial politics at all, or that the first priority is to win elections whatever it takes.

    I mean neither, but the important point is that you can’t divorce yourself from the political undercurrents back home. I think UCUNF alienated its electorate by trying to cleave onto a bunch of people that local people frankly see as largely uninterested and unconcerned with them. There is no benefit for any NI party taking the whip of a national party in Westminster.

    Seem to remember Charles Kennedy wandering around in support of Alliance at one time – or was that just something that suited the moment?

    No, he was over for Naomi’s inaugural Lord Mayor celebrations. I’d gladly have him over again. Alliance and the Lib Dems get on well but the two are not joined at the hip. I appreciate that the nuances are troubling for you.

  • Comrade Stalin

    FJ, I understand your logic there. A party full of people who left party X five years ago is indistinguishable from party X five years ago.

    I’m not worried about this. There are people who have crossed over from the SDLP as well.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Jim Allister – opposed to terrorist scum in Government 2009.

    Are we talking about the guy who refused to exclude a party member for campaigning for the release from prison of a convicted UVF killer ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    As I indicated above …and I think Comrade Stalin is in broad agreement, I’m not sure exactly what Ms Bradshaw brings to the (Alliance) Party except her skills portfolio.

    I don’t expect any new members to bring anything in particular to the party other than their enthusiasm for the party’s pluralist, non-sectarian vision. Of course, I think that the electorate as well as party workers and supporters much prefer to see examples of a skills portfolio in action, rather than merely accepting an assurance – true or otherwise – that it exists.

    They should have resisted Ms Bradshaws overtures

    I strongly disagree here. Anybody is welcome to join Alliance, “overtures” or not. It would be a different matter if there was a deal, but I don’t think there has been.

    ather than allow these people to clamber aboard the Alliance lifeboat it would be (long term) better to let their careers drown. and sink without trace.
    That way AP picks up the votes and doesnt have to deal with all that baggage and angst….and doesnt let the brand image be contaminated.

    And I don’t agree with that either. Parties shift around all the time. You can stay fixed steadfastly to principles determined long ago, and end up like Republican Sinn Fein. That’s all very well but I prefer a mix of principle and practicality. As an example of this working out well, refer to the DUP over the past ten years or so. I think people here appreciate pragmatism – within limits, and I don’t think there is a danger of those limits being pushed out too fire.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Talking about a unionist who is moderate is a bit like talking about someone being a little bit pregnant.

  • John East Belfast

    comrade

    nothing in your last post makes any sense

  • Progressive Unionist

    “However, Elliott seems to be aiming for a fairly broad church party”

    If you mean by ‘fairly broad church’ is ‘rough combination of DUP to TUV’ then fair enough.

    If you mean by ‘fairly broad church’ a party that can include progressive pro-Union voters then Elliott has done or said nothing whatsoever to keep pro-Union moderates on board his sinking ship.

    Elliott still hasn’t ruled out co-operation with the DUP in the Assembly elections last year – when will he once and for all rule out any notion of a ‘shared platform’ or joint candidate for First Minister with the DUP?

  • Progressive Unionist

    The Party has always been a broad church of Orange and secular, modernist and traditionalist, left and right and conservative and liberal. That is the party’s strength and its weakness

    They are all there and always have been.

    John – the problem is they are not all there any more. In no particular order Sylvia Hermon, Alan McFarland, Trevor Ringland, Paula Bradsaw, Roy Garland etc etc – and these are just the public personalities the public knows about.

    There’s a pattern here. I would love to think the UUP was a broad church party, and that used to be one of its most appealing features (while also rather curiously being both a political strength and weakness simultaneously)

    But it’s just no longer a broad church party. The number of identifiable moderates in the UUP is rapidly dwindling. They’ve lost most of their sensible moderate-minded people, including their only MP.

    Tom shows no interest in reaching out to moderates – he’s never refuted the disgraceful things he said about not attending a GAA game – and he seems intent on moving the UUP closer to some kind of sectarian-based co-operation with the DUP.

    The UUP are going off the cliff here. I’d like to think that after the next election people will wake up and smell the coffee, but that wasn’t the case after 2005 or 2007 or 2010 elections… and besides by the next election all the decent, talented moderates – Paula B had more potential than almost any younger politician I can think of – will be gone and lost for good.

    Tom’s been leader for months now – what’s he done? I mean these are his early days, the dawn of his leadership, the time when he should be most energetic! Instead he’s just like a 20 year younger version of Reg, asleep at the wheel while the Party heads over the cliff…

  • Progressive Unionist

    Comrade Stalin: Talking about a unionist who is moderate is a bit like talking about someone being a little bit pregnant.

    Definitely one of the more sectarian things I’ve read here on Slugger.

  • Progressive Unionist

    These are the usual attack lines trotted out by any party against any significant member who defects.

    If the defection is a ‘once every couple of years’ event then fine – these attack lines work.

    Problem is the lines grow a little stale when there’s been defection after defection after defection after defection after defection etc etc – and somewhere between lets say the 3rd or 4th defection in as many months, these attack lines seem nonsensical.

  • Progressive Unionist

    “East Antrim? Well like I say Sean Neeson is retiring possibly to be the only AP man in the Lords. And Gerry Lynch is a poor candidate who did badly in May.

    Sheesh – you seem to really have it in for Gerry Lynch! – this is the 3rd time you’ve mentioned him in this thread which has been going for less than 24 hours.

    Are you unofficial campaign manager for whoever the alternative APNI candidate in East Antrim or something?

    Okay, Lynch didn’t do great in May, but then it was a First Past The Post election, he was a newcomer running in an overwhelmingly unionist constituency with complicated TUV cross-currents etc…

    Don’t see any reason why Alliance should dump him as candidate for what should be a guaranteed seat next May though. From what I’ve heard of Gerry he’ll be a real asset to the new Northern Ireland Assembly elected next May.

    (and no, I’m not campaigning for him, just don’t like to see someone whacked and whacked and whacked again, in my view unfairly)

  • Coll Ciotach

    Do you rate McCamphill to beat McMullan ?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    ” is she acting as a Trojan Horse to facilitate Ian Parsley’s return ”
    To some extent Mr Parsley is the elephant in the room.
    A political couple like Mr Balls/Ms Cooper….the Keens, the Wintertons etc.
    But aside from the choreography none of us can quite get our heads round fiancés/spouses in two different parties.
    We have of course Liberal and Labour and Socialis Worker Foots in England……the Brothers Hendron in Belfast and no doubt others but Parsley/Bradshaw and their multitude of conflicting party loyalties seems …..odd.
    We did have the Clinton spin doctor who fell in love with his Republican opposite number.

    But possibly the fault lies with us the commenters….overwhelmingly male who would all claim to be much to sophisticated to expect our wives to vote as we do. But it is one of those things that just doesnt sit right with us. Deep down we expect our wives to vote the way we…….tell them……oops I mean advise just as we expect our sons to support our football team.
    A lot of us will feel familiar with that awkward moment in the walk to the polling station.
    HIM……we are voting for A
    HER……no I am voting for B
    HIM……..but we always vote for A
    HER……..I never have
    HIM……what?

    I am exaggerating of course. But there are probably people here who have come back from a hard nights canvass convincing entire neighbourhoods to vote a certain way…….but unable seemingly to convince hubby/wifey.
    Despite our sophistication it just doesnt sit right.
    In the case of Parsley/Bradshaw…….you couldnt make it up……well actually you could.
    Am i right in thinking that this was actually the plot of a sit com……”The Honourable Mrs” or perhaps “My Good Woman” in the 1970s/80s

  • John East Belfast

    PU

    For all those moderates you list I could give you about 10 hardliners each off the top of my head And dont forget Sylvia and McFarland left over UCUNF – ie you are quoting moderates leaving over what others are accusing Tom of distancing himself from – you cant have it both ways

    Tom’s comments about the GAA are hardly disgraceful – the GAA are not just a sporting body. It wouldnt be my position but at the same time we should nt be forcing unionists to GAA matches. Should we be forcing nationalists to Orange Parades ?
    Either wa I dont get excited about it.

    As I say there is plenty fo room for moderates within the UUP – I am one and I am not going anywhere.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Hardly the same analogy John East Belfast, if the SDLP, Sinn Féin or Fianna Fáil backed The Orange Order in order to appeal to the middle of the road Protestants, would the gesture be welcomed by those Orangemen in the UUP?

    Ringland simply believes the “Irish” North or South are as much affilated with the UK as those from Commonwealth countries or who are long term citizens from abroad, and only wishes diversity was welcomed as much in NI as it is in GB.

  • Kevin Breslin

    when I say middle of the road, I’m probably being literal here.

  • John East Belfast

    Kevin

    ” if the SDLP, Sinn Féin or Fianna Fáil backed The Orange Order in order to appeal to the middle of the road Protestants, would the gesture be welcomed by those Orangemen in the UUP?”

    Yes undoubtedly

  • Progressive Unionist

    John, I didn’t say the people I listed left over what Tom has said – just that the fact that all these substantive political people – Hermon, McFarland, Trevor Ringland, Bradshaw etc etc – have left – and that their departure makes it far less possible to claim the UUP is a ‘broad church’ of different views.

    “Tom’s comments about the GAA are hardly disgraceful – the GAA are not just a sporting body. It wouldnt be my position but at the same time we should nt be forcing unionists to GAA matches.”

    No we certainly shouldn’t be forcing anyone to sporting matches of any kind! But Tom’s not “anyone” – he’s the leader of Northern Ireland’s oldest and best Unionist party and if the UUP still has any confidence in itself – and rejects the idea of a sectarian pact with the DUP – Tom will be standing as the UUP’s candidate for First Minister – to represent all the people of Northern Ireland.

    Anyone who wants to stand as First Minister to speak for all the people of the Province must be held to the highest of non-sectarian standards – and Tom’s refusal to even do the basics like go along to a local GAA game down in Fermanagh – says loud and clear to Northern Ireland voters that Tom Elliott is quite simply not up to the job of representing all the people of Northern Ireland.

    Betcha Peter Robinson goes along to a GAA game before Tom does.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I have nothing against Gerry Lynch. Ive never formally met the guy. I dont mention him gratuitously. I only mention him in the context of East Antrim. And as Im sure you will see I have not been gushing praise on Chris Lyttle. But I think I have heaped praise on several other AP figures. Its neither personal or political.
    As you say yourself he did not do well in May. I go further and say he did badly. And I dont think he would have suffered because of TUV.
    In electoral tems he is a “newcomer” although I suppose hes not exactly a newcomer in a broader sense. He is generally reckoned to be a good operator and would probably be the first to acknowledge his poor performance.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    He is 200 votes behind McMullan on 2010 figures but its statistically a dead heat. It depends if the natonalist vote comes out. If SDLP and or SF convince nationalists theres a seat to won it might take a percentage or two off AP (especially if declared pro union Bradshaw is the candidate).
    The key fact is that SF wont get transfers. But the most likely outcome is AP taking a seat and SDLP failing narrowly.

  • Progressive Unionist

    Ah Fitz come on now, there’ll be an Alliance seat in East Antrim next May even if they stood Paul the tragically deceased world cup predicting Octupus…..

    (far more foresight in Paul’s tentacles than in Tom Elliott’s high command and that’s for sure!)

  • Comrade Stalin

    I always prefer to be cautious, and the SDLP want their seat back. Alliance should retain the seat but not without a fight.

    I am not sure why FJH has it in for Gerry. Gerry did well considering it was his first time out, and in his day job he was directing the election campaign for the other 17 seats. Things would be rather different in an assembly election.

    If I was advising Paula Bradshaw I’d suggest she skip the selections this year and set her sights on the next time. And a jump to East Antrim would be fraught with challenges in any case given that most of her experience is around S Belfast.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The trojan horse argument does not hold water.

    Leave the party out of it for a second. Do you really think that Parsley would fancy his own chances on the doorsteps explaining to everyone how he switched teams twice within the space of a few years ? It would be impossible for people to place their trust in him, and for that reason it would be difficult for an association with an eye on winning a seat to select him. Unfortunately he has made his bed and now has to lie in it.

  • Seymour Major

    The problem here is that Alliance is neutral on the Union

    I do not recall a post on Slugger specifically discussing the Alliance Party. I appreciate this is about Paula Bradshaw and that I am going slightly off topic here.

    It should not be a problem for a unionist to join the Alliance Party just because it is neutral on the Union. The same point applies to Nationalists and I have already made this clear in my proposal for a new (neutral on the union) Northern Ireland Centre-Right party. There is a “but” though. The Alliance Party has to have another ideology or ideologies which are shared by its membership, otherwise it is just a pointless political party.

    The following is a link to the page on the Alliance Party website stating what it believes in

    http://www.allianceparty.org/pages/about.html

    The only identifiable ideology, which I can see the Alliance Party has, is anti-sectarianism. Some of the policies which have been generated from that ideology are commendable IMHO.
    However, anti-sectarianism is a closed ideology. It will only last as long as Northern Ireland suffers from social and political sectarianism.

    The Alliance Party is supposedly a Liberal Party (according to Wikipedia). It is true that some of the Alliance policies are consistent with liberalilsm. They also have links with the Lib Dems and Liberal international bodies. However, there is no evidence that they have adopted liberalism as an ideology. Indeed, I recall in the 2007 election that when questioned about this, David Ford would not commit his party to it. You would also have expected to find this written on the-above mentioned web page if they had.

    When Naomi Long became elected as the MP for East Belfast, she refused to take the Lib Dem whip almost certainly because she is a left-leaning politician who would have been concerned at being associated with the Conservative Party. The Conservative Party does, I have to admit, suffer from general ignorance and prejudice based upon pre-conceptions that it is a party to promote the interests of the better off and which does not care about the poor or the incapable. I hope that Ms. Long does not suffer from these preconceptions.

    Long’s decision not to take the whip was, in my opinion, an opportunity missed. Had she done that, she would have been providing Northern Irish people with a link not just to a UK – wide party but a link, as an MP, into an elected UK Government. That is something that Northern Ireland has not had for a very long time. She would have had a unique input into polilcy such as taxation, welfare reform and the proposed transfer of power to levy corporation tax.

    In conclusion, I have to ask what exactly does the Alliance Party Stand for? Maybe Paula Bradshaw knows something that I dont.

  • MMX

    Parsley has his own devils to conquer, he seems to consider he has a monopoly of political thought and what is more ability. He considers that being a councillor he is a full time politician,he might well be in his own time, but not the voters time. Mark Twain in the four years away at university was gobsmacked when he returned home and realised how much more his father had absorbed in those four years.
    Parsley in his quest for his own political advancement has blogged the views of those on the Conservative side who were fellow travellers of the Orange Order. Look at his postings around the time of Hatfield.Funniloy enough his obsequient devotion probably did harm to Paula’s cause in the General Election and she probably feels let down by the acquisence of the imported Conservative High Command to the UUP. Johnathan Caine has been mentioned elsewhere as the culprit. Ever since he came on the scene as chief of staff Campbell was allowed to procrastinate for a year in candidate selection. He reasoned that he had no leverage against the UUP the financial facts show differently. Englishmen who have not lived here full time for any period of time are all vulnerable to being sympathetic to either of the two sectarian camps. Caine in my opinion is no friend of local Northern Irish Conservatives.

  • Comrade Stalin

    However, anti-sectarianism is a closed ideology. It will only last as long as Northern Ireland suffers from social and political sectarianism.

    You’re right there, and my attitude to this is that we have to run before we can walk. I think it is silly for any local party to set out it’s plans for world domination before the obvious and significant barriers have been dealt with.

    The old cliche used to be that people wanted to do bread and butter politics. I think it’s more subtle than that; we need to have a plan to get to bread and butter politics. Devolution is part of that.

    I have often said on Slugger that if the parties properly resolved their differences and were able to agree and disagree like men, and if Northern Ireland became a properly peaceful (rather than permanently on-edge) pluralist society which fully embraced equality of opportunity then there wouldn’t be any need for the Alliance Party. It would likely morph into something else (as would the other parties). But it’s pointless to try to anticipate at this stage what the future will look like.

    Indeed, I recall in the 2007 election that when questioned about this, David Ford would not commit his party to it. You would also have expected to find this written on the-above mentioned web page if they had.

    I would not want to misrepresent David but to my knowledge he is a keen supporter of the links with the Lib Dems and would be more than happy to describe himself as a Liberal. But yes, I don’t expect you’ll see this as a tagline anywhere soon.

    I hope that Ms. Long does not suffer from these preconceptions.

    I haven’t asked about this decision but I suspect you’re right, that it’s to do with not wanting to be too closely associated with the Conservative/Liberal coalition and the oncoming cuts. It’s also about plain old politics as well .. why set yourself up as a lightning rod for the inevitable (and – yes – justified) criticism of the coalition’s policies as they effect Northern Ireland ? What are the gains ? It’s all very well rowing in behind high-minded principle but people don’t vote for that.

    Had she done that, she would have been providing Northern Irish people with a link not just to a UK – wide party but a link, as an MP, into an elected UK Government.

    I’m amazed that the defeated UCUNF election plank is still being wheeled out. Most of the MPs in Northern Ireland were elected having said in very stark terms that they would take no whip and would use whatever leverage they got to put local interests first. I see no evidence for the contention that having a couple of MPs close to the bosom of a party in London can provide any meaningful influence there. Having the whip is nothing more than a formality. Alliance already has good links and friendships with the Lib Dems, we send people over to help out in their by-elections (and they reciprocate) and that was all without even having MPs.

    She would have had a unique input into polilcy such as taxation, welfare reform and the proposed transfer of power to levy corporation tax.

    An NI MP holding the whip has about as much chance of influencing government as buying a lottery ticket makes me likely to win the jackpot. It may be greater than zero, but it’s so small that it barely registers. In exchange for holding the whip you get the “benefit” of being the punch bag for policies designed in London and imposed on us here. No thanks.

  • Seymour Major

    MMX,

    Both in this last comment and your previous one, you are implying that Ian Parsley is directing Paula Bradshaw’s movements for his own political ends.

    There is no evidence of that. I think we ought to respect Paula Bradshaw as being her own person unless and until hard evidence emerges to the contrary.

    The other point you make when you say “the acquisence of the imported Conservative High Command to the UUP is that the Conservative Party is not acting properly because it is under the influence of Conservative UUP sympathisers who would like to protect the UUP at the expense of the interests of Northen Ireland Conservatives. The consequence of this is that the Local Conservatives might still not be able to contest elections Assembly in 6 months time. There is now a clear onus on CCHQ to provide clarity on where the Conservative Party Stands in relation to contesting elections, as a matter of urgency.

  • cynic47

    Heard it all! Stephen Farry of the Alliance Party says the door is open for Ian Parsley to rejoin the party. Surely the Euro election is sometime in the future?

  • Seymour Major

    I’m amazed that the defeated UCUNF election plank is still being wheeled out

    You are effectively saying that “equal citizenship” is doomed to failure in Northern Ireland. The UCUNF project did not fail for that reason.

    “It’s all very well rowing in behind high-minded principle but people don’t vote for that.

    “In exchange for holding the whip you get the “benefit” of being the punch bag for policies designed in London and imposed on us here.”

    I dont know of you are a spokesperson for the Alliance. If you are, I appreciate the candour. At the same time, I find it depressing that Northern Irish politicians are happy with the limited bit of power they have but dont want any association or responsibility for revenue raising, allocating of money for public spending or the management of the economy.

    Of course, if politicians here were actaully “punchbags” that would imply a degree of voter sophistication and understanding about what actually happens at Westminster which, at the moment, hardly exists.

    Northern Ireland needs politicians who have the guts to set themselves up as “punchbags”. Until that happens, voters here will remain unlikely to think more broadly and we will never have the complete package of politics in Northern Ireland.

    Naomi Long may not realise it yet but she is one of a very few people with genuine political talent in Northern Ireland. She is one of a very few people who could take on those challenges with the result that her reputation would become enhanced, rather than being dented or tainted by association.

  • Big Bad Bob

    MMX,

    Parsley runs a business, he is not a full-time politican at all. Nor is Bradshaw, who runs a charity.

    I would have thought these were the type of people we want in politics. but if you prefer some wee twerp who learned all he knows about life in a Unuversity of Ulster politics programme, so b it – just ry to inform yourself before commenting.

  • MMX

    Apparently the evacuation plan has been launched. IJP is alleged to have issued an ultimatum saying he will resign from the Conservative Party unless Owen Patterson meets his demands.
    This is yet another of a tiny carbuncle on the Tory parties posterior. A Fleet Commissioned Warrant Officer once told me”Beware of timpy toed little men.”.
    Caveat Emptor David Ford.
    .

  • MMX

    Big Bad Bob,
    I did not say he was a full time politician I said he tried to behave with the gravitas of one– subtle difference. As far as I know he was employed by the IDS Campaign For Social Justice. I am aware that Paula has a full time job. Personally I think she is the cerebral and more mature member of the couple.

  • Comrade Stalin

    You are effectively saying that “equal citizenship” is doomed to failure in Northern Ireland. The UCUNF project did not fail for that reason.

    But it was a central plank of the UCUNF case, and it failed to reinvigorate the electorate.

    I dont know of you are a spokesperson for the Alliance.

    Nope, just a shameless stooge supporter 🙂

    If you are, I appreciate the candour.

    I don’t see any point in trying to bullshit people.

    At the same time, I find it depressing that Northern Irish politicians are happy with the limited bit of power they have but dont want any association or responsibility for revenue raising, allocating of money for public spending or the management of the economy.

    I am not sure if I am misreading you but you seem to be implying that it is fiscally irresponsible not to take the government whip. I don’t think it’s right to take up the whip and become part of a government with whose policies you do not agree. I think that is in line with UK democratic traditions.

    Secondly, I don’t think the “we don’t like stuff imposed from London” thing is so much a denial of responsibility as a matter of one of the fundamental schisms within the UK, being such that it is – a country largely run in the interests of London and the south of England. The same problem exists everywhere. We have a regional identity here and failing to join the government doesn’t inherently mean we are refusing to take responsibility for things.

    Northern Ireland needs politicians who have the guts to set themselves up as “punchbags”.

    I agree with you to the extent where politicians have that power. I don’t agree that this applies in London. You can’t take responsibility for a policy you have no say in. I’m reminded of that Labour cabinet minister a while back who campaigned against her own government’s decision to reduce services at a local hospital. This is where you get the old cliche about all politics being local.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Alliance is open to all comers. A completely different matter is Parsley having a political career in Alliance.

  • Comrade Stalin

    parsley has been building up to this in his blog for the past several months, and openly said he would be voting Alliance if the Tories did not get their act together.

  • Seymour Major

    It is odds on that he has been thinking about it.

    Yesterday’s Newsletter sheds some light

    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/Alliance-39open-door39-if-Parsley.6614733.jp

  • Seymour Major

    If he does defect back to the Alliance, I will not be surprised and nor will I blame him. If he wants to keep that Council seat, that now looks like his best option.

    CCHQ’s posturing since the General Election has undermined the Northern Ireland Conservatives. Ian’s loyalty has been tested to destruction. In a sense, I welcome this ultimatum. At least it will be treated with respect and we should then have some idea of what senior Conservatives are actually thinking.

  • Granni Trixie

    Some of us in APNI have Labour/leftish leanings, probably many more have LIb Dem leanings. But I know very few who profess to have Conservative leanings. (thats not to say that this element is not part of the mix). Having close working relations with the LIb dems is ofcourse mutally beneficial. But the reality of the mix is that Alliance Leaders are right not to fully embrace a mainland identity. (I know that that terminology will get some of you going).

    Most Alliance people seem to have a social conscience,with value for “the greater good”. I suppose this is how we attract a certain stereotypical image.

    And FJH,youre right – who would have thought to make current development up ! Life is just soooo interesting (but only if you see the humour).

  • Framer

    Having the whip is more just a formality if you want it to be. For the SDLP it is, or was, just that. You got the piece of paper in the post with the votes duly underlined once, twice or thrice and then you ignored it. For them the whip was just a way to ensure the Labour Party recognised the SDLP had and would keep the Labour franchise in Northern Ireland.

    For Naomi had she taken the whip in its fullest sense it would have meant full involvement in the Lib Dems parliamentary party with daily events, consultations and meetings into which she could have put her unique insights, knowledge and local needs.

    But she chose another way – to be an Ulster MP and a hurler from the ditch. That way lies irrelevance for a one-woman party.

  • Seymour Major

    I am not sure if I am misreading you but you seem to be implying that it is fiscally irresponsible not to take the government whip.

    No I am not saying that. If you are opposed to Government policy, fair enough but then you are effectively saying that it was wrong for the Lib Dems to go into Government with the Conservatives in the National Interest. It would be interesting to hear the view of Lord Alderdice on that one. He is now a Lib Dem Lord. Of course, he does not have to worry about being elected! That makes me wonder if Naomi Long’s actions are based primarily on electoral calculation rather than actually being opposed. Perhaps Jim Fitzpatrick will get the chance to ask her a question about that.

    The Lib Dems are taking a huge hit in the opinion polls at the moment. The UK needed strong Government at a time of exceptional National Crisis. The Lib dems may have calculated that they were damned if they went into coalition and damned if they stayed out of it. Nevertheless, I salute them for the decision that they made.

    You can’t take responsibility for a policy you have no say in

    There should be a say. “No taxation without representation” was a slogan coined by the 18th Century colonists in America. The lack of a relationship between people’s UK Parliamentary vote and the decisions that Government is still a problem to be addressed.

    You can either sit back and say, well, that is because the UK is being run for the benefit of London (I dont agree with you btw) or you can try and do something about it. Sectariansim is a problem which your party tries to do something about. Well this is another problem I want something done about and just like the problem of sectarianism much of the solution lies in raising people’s awareness.

  • Seymour Major

    Granni,

    Thank you for that insightful comment re APNI.

    But the reality of the mix is that Alliance Leaders are right not to fully embrace a mainland identity

    The conversation that I have been having earlier is not so much about identity. It is about alliances. If Ian Parsley was to rejoin APNI, he would, I imagine he would push for more equal citizenship.

    We would have much better democracy if we had 3 Union-neutral political parties in Northern Ireland allied to the main political parties in the UK. There is no reason why APNI should not take up a formal alliance with the Lib Dems.

  • Granni Trixie

    Seymour M.

    I thought it was clear from what I said above – whilst some members little care as to whom we are affiliated, if APNI was unambiguously Lib Dems (taking the whip say) then someone such as myself is likely to feel they must leave (being Labour in normal circs). You could therefore lose as much support as you gain by such a move. As importantly, I agree if you play no part in decisionmaking why tie yourselves to LIb Dems decision. Naomi called it right.

  • Seymour Major

    You have confirmed my belief that only ideology which APNI has is anti-sectarianism.

    That might satisfy some but it is not a basis for medium, let alone, long term survival. Comrade has suggested that in the future, it might “morph” into something else, but what?

    Let me ask you a question. How does the Alliance Party decide on those of its policies which are not connected with non-sectarianism?

  • Comrade Stalin

    The conversation that I have been having earlier is not so much about identity. It is about alliances. If Ian Parsley was to rejoin APNI, he would, I imagine he would push for more equal citizenship.

    What do you mean by “more equal citizenship” ?

    There is no reason why APNI should not take up a formal alliance with the Lib Dems.

    There is a very good reason – the party would be destroyed at the polls.

    But the absence of a good reason not to do something, does not mean by default the party should do it. You have to come up with a good reason. I remain unconvinced. About the only thing I am convinced about is that this is a poorly disguised rehash of the UCUNF plank.

    There are all sorts of holes in the arguments you’ve used. Firstly you’ve argued about people taking responsibility for finance and how it is raised. This is not an argument that we should join up with mainland parties – it is an argument that we should all join the government (which is why I hear the word “UCUNF” loudly in my ear – UCUNF’s plank could only work in 2010 because people could be attracted to voting for the government, given the Tory chances of victory, rather than the opposition). Shouldn’t people be able to oppose the government ? And if so why should they be required to do so within an established party ?

    It sounds like what you’re basically trying to do is homogenize politics in this part of the UK by trying to retrofit the three major political strains that are represented in London on top. It is as if what is present in London represents what is intrinsically right or correct, and what is present over here is fundamentally broken. There is a lot wrong with politics here but the fact that it doesn’t fall into line with London isn’t what the problem is.

    An interesting aside to this, especially for those of us in the centre believe quite strongly is that the electoral system in the UK is unrepresentative; the three parties you see are a distortion of the state of politics in the UK wrought by the unfair FPTP voting system. If we were under PR there would be a few more than three major political parties in the UK and the chances are they would be rather more evenly balanced in size. So what would you be saying then – that we should have five or six major parties here that are a reflection of the parties that are represented in Westminster throughout the UK as a whole ?

    Gerry Lynch summed this up here a while back; political parties are born out of cleavages of political, social and economic currents running through a society. The idea that you can come down from high and try to say that “this is wrong – you must conform to the party system over in London” is an attempt to overrule this, and frankly for me it echoes with the USSR and how it imposed political front parties and the structure of the Russian communist party on its soviets and satellite states.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Comrade has suggested that in the future, it might “morph” into something else, but what?

    Nobody knows. Nobody can say for sure what parties will still be here in 40 years. Look back (just over) 40 years – the DUP, SDLP and Alliance did not exist and the UUP (as then was) dominated everything.

    How does the Alliance Party decide on those of its policies which are not connected with non-sectarianism?

    I’m not sure how exactly to answer this question. The party has a policy handbook and a constitution, these are drafted by the leadership with the help/consultation of interested members and then approved by the party council. It’s pretty much the same as in any other party.

  • Granni Trixie

    Where would one start? Anti-sectarianism (‘non’ is inadequate) reflects our anylsis concerning a key change necesasary for a healed community. We want to be an antidote to those in denial that we are a deeply sectarian society. This cultural analysis I think distinguishes us from those who solidly stick with an analysis whcih points to structural failures in NI.

    This is not suggest we are either single issue or unfocused but that we have a holistic approach, driven to find solutions on most fronts. This is why we took a risk with devolution of policing,taking up the Ministry. We have also worked hard to garner in ideas to address economics problems. We focus on fairness in cutts or paying water charges rather than having a faux polition that economic measures can be opposed. We develop policy through subcommittees (education,arts etc). Sometimes our policy evolves from responses to gov. consultation exercises also – Victims/survivors and dealing with the Past is one of those.
    But all the work we do is driven by the goal of building a united community.
    Not sure if this is what you were asking?

  • Seymour Major

    Granni,

    That is quite a good answer Fair play to you.

    I still think the lack of an opportunity to vote for a Government party or a party in alliance with one is still a defect in democracy which needs to be addressed.
    I have spent the evening knocking the APNI for not being in a formal alliance with a UK national party. Im not saying any more on this subject so I may as well now balance what I have said.

    I agree with more than 90% of APNI’s local and regional policies and I might even vote for them next time (there will not be a Conservative in Fermanagh – that is for sure).

    The Alliance Party may only have 6% of Northern Ireland’s share of the vote at the moment but one of its strengths is the amount of thought, effort, brainpower and detail which goes into writing its political manifestos. In that respect, it has to be acknowledged, that they are way ahead of all of the other regional parties.

    If this party significantly increases its share of the vote at the Assembly elections, it will certainly be a very good thing for Northern Ireland.

  • Granni Trixie

    Thanks for that encouragement.

    LIke many in the 70s I thought we aere going to change the worId (end the violence at least) but had to learn what it is to be effect even though small in number. On line we always had to deal with was that a vote for APNI is a wasted vote. Also, the media deal in the extremes so promoting the message was curtailed. However since Anna came on board, naomi and DF position we get more media attention. Plus I hope we have laid to rest that a vote for APNI is not wasted. You must join! Even if you are are more wholeheartedly Unionist than some of us, we are a broad church of opinion.

  • Granni Trixie

    Sorry, meant “laid to rest the fallacy that a vote for Alliance …etc etc..”

  • Seymour Major

    You must join! Even if you are are more wholeheartedly Unionist than some of us, we are a broad church of opinion

    The fact that AP is neutral on the Union would not put me off joining your party at all. I said that I agreed with 90% of your regional and local policies. In the 10% that I don’t agree with is your policy on abolishing academic selection and grammar schools. That is a big issue for me. At National level, I do not agree with your policy to bring down the voting age to 16. I do not agree with your policy on abolition of the first past the post system for the Westminster Parliament. I do not agree with your policy to join the Euro at the earliest opportunity. I don’t agree with your policy on more open Immigration. Those are very big issues that would potentially turn me off joining your party.

    In case you are not already aware, I have been campaigning, for some time, for a centre-right party for Northern Ireland which is neutral on the union. I will not completely rule out joining APNI (obviously, I would be doing it “holding my nose” if I did). Ian Parsley’s actions and what he has said recently on his blog have given me a different perspective on how you measure yourself in terms of making a difference. However, I would not join APNI unless I had come to accept that my project had no chance of reaching fruition.

    Thank you for that invitation anyway.

  • DC

    The Alliance Party is certainly becoming more Unionist in its composition – will probably serve it well electorally speaking.

    If Parsley joins up again – it will not be an alien environment to you that’s for sure – in terms of centre right neutral on the union party.

  • Granni Trixie

    My understanding is that voting at 16 is a Lib Den thing, was not aware Alliance had a position.
    I think that the general public perceives Alliance as more homogeneous than is the case. Education issues are hotly debated for instance – as a former teacher I am opposed to academic selection on moral grounds and regret the politization of the field, not every mmbers view. There is internal consensus however that pragmatism (perhaps in the short term) is the only way out of the impasse. Come to think of it compromise is probably one of our key values. All within a framework of our vision of shared schooling ofcourse.
    I trust/respect APNIs leaders so on occasion have to hold my own nose when decisions emerge with which I do not agree (standing aside for Lady Herman being one).
    I suppose what I am trying to illustrate is that if you or anyone is waiting for a Party which fits the bill 100% they could wait forever – isn’t this common sense? For me the bottom line is that I know I would not endure in a party in the context of NI which did not reflect diversity in its culture. As a Catholic within WB for instance I never felt drawn to the SDLP for that reason (as far as I know – it was so long ago, 1972!).

    I didn’t know you had a website, will certainly follow up and see what you’re up to. Trust I will not be too shocked.

  • Georgia

    Naomi’s election was EB giving Peter a kick in the proverbials, Naomi reaping the fruits of years of work, although circumstances were in her favour. AP is left as such a broad church – left, right, centre; it mirrors moves normally seen on Strictly! Ford has to spend the time sortying his shed out, when he should be bedding down in his Ministerial role. Any one know how her Westminster attendance stats look?

  • Seymour Major

    Granni,

    I am very much obliged.

    Here is a link to the APNI General Election manifesto which sets out your party’s policy on National issues.

    http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/issues/politics/docs/apni/apni060510man.pdf

  • Progressive Unionist

    Where would one start? Anti-sectarianism (‘non’ is inadequate) reflects our anylsis concerning a key change necesasary for a healed community.

    Well said – especially as re Anti-sectarianism not just “non-sectarianism” – the Anti implies a vigorous, pro-active attack on what is holding Northern Ireland back.

    The Alliance Party may only have 6% of Northern Ireland’s share of the vote at the moment but one of its strengths is the amount of thought, effort, brainpower and detail which goes into writing its political manifestos. In that respect, it has to be acknowledged, that they are way ahead of all of the other regional parties.

    If this party significantly increases its share of the vote at the Assembly elections, it will certainly be a very good thing for Northern Ireland.

    Agree with Seymour on all this – I wish the UUP could have been the anti-sectarian party of choice for pro-Union moderates, but Tom Elliott has put paid to that and shows no sign of changing his spots.

    If anything Tom’s UUP is moving to the right of the DUP, while Robinson’s highly skilled political team seem slowly and carefully moving the DUP to a more moderate position than the UUP is in. (Robinson’s team know where the votes are)

    But the DUP still don’t embrace anti-sectarianism and at this point, I think the more resounding the mandate given to Alliance at next year’s Assembly elections, the better for all of us.

  • Progressive Unionist

    I will not completely rule out joining APNI (obviously, I would be doing it “holding my nose” if I did).

    I think it’s unwise to join any party with a sense of ‘holding my nose’. Vote for a party while holding your nose by all means, if it’s the best of the available alternatives.

    But to join a party implies a deeper commitment – not necessarily a need to agree 100% with 100% of what that party stands for – but you’d need to be in agreement with most of what the party stands for I think, in order to be able to offer a decent contribution as a member.

    This is why I think many moderate unionists would happily vote for Alliance (and I wouldn’t be holding my nose either) – but going the whole way and joining, probably not. I’m still a unionist, I really believe in the Union and so on – I just want a shared society within the Union and none of the unionist parties are offering that.

    It’s all very complicated, to my mind anyways…

  • Seymour Major

    PU

    It is complicated all right. You have just said that none of the unionist parties are offering a shared society. Now let me put that into the context of a recent event.

    At the end of last week, Tom Elliott attended a meeting which included Protestant and Catholic Church leaders to discuss the Cohesion, Sharing and Integration strategy. Elliott said

    “Northern Ireland must be enabled to move forward towards a genuinely shared future.”

    http://www.uup.org/news/all-news/all-news-archive/uup-leader-meets-with-church-leaders.php

    So there you have it. We have already heard Margaret Ritchie talk up a shared future on many occasions. Now Tom Elliott has done it.

    What exactly does a shared society or shared future mean? Most of us envisage a society where there is no longer any intercommunal distrust. Therein lies the problem. If you vote for a community-aligned party, you are contributing to a re-inforcement of mutual distrust, whether consciously or not.

    The best and surest way to achieve a shared society is to actually vote for a party which also shares its politics between two communities. The Alliance Party is such a party but I certainly dont want it to be the only non-designated party. The Alliance Party needs competition from another cross-community party which offers a different choice of poliicies. It is estimated that 38% of Catholics support the retention of academic selection and grammar schools. Who exactly represents them?