Another one bites the dust … Harry Hamilton joins Alliance

As mentioned in the comments below yesterday’s post by Andrew about the number of members taking advantage of the UUP early leavers’ scheme, Harry Hamilton has joined the Alliance Party.

When he quit the UUP on the eve of their party conference, it was noted that he would “be open to an approach from the Alliance Party” that has already become home to fellow UCUNF Westminster Candidate Paula Bradshaw.

Having missed the UUP conference, he’s signed up in time for Alliance’s annual bash at the Dunadry next Saturday.

In a statement, Hamilton explained:

It’s time for people to stop choosing their politicians on the basis of historical differences and start looking to the future. I believe that Alliance holds the key to better, shared future in Northern Ireland.

Alliance reaches out to all sections of our community. It has shown itself able to listen and not preach, to lead and not simply follow, to deliver change and be unafraid of progress.

I believe in the need for politicians to show leadership and the need to build a united community. These are the principles I entered politics to promote and I believe they can be best achieved through the Alliance Party.

While it’s only a small trickle of councillors and ex-candidates shifting out of the UUP – half to the DUP, half turning to the Alliance – it is making it all the harder for them to be seen to stand still in May’s local governmnent elections. Will the TV pundits and fancy graphics judge UUP performance against the number of seats they won back in 2005, or against the number they held the day before the election?

In the meantime, Tom Elliott may put away his Queen records and instead start humming

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right
Here I am stuck in the middle with you

, , , , ,

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Can I just point out that I saw Mr Hamilton earlir this week in a shopping centre in the Upper Bann constituency. He bought a suit …now we know why.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Tis a wee bit funny to think if he had got even a few more votes from his association he would be a 100% committed UUP candidate now, but then maybe his lack of commitment was showing even then.

  • Cynic2

    Of course he had to be deselected:

    1 he isn’t from or living in Fermanagh

    2 he has some sense of colour and character and a life away from rubber chicken dinners and Lodge teas

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Its the story that keeps on giving. I could really just re-post anything Ive said on the topic of angst-ridden “liberal unionists/conservatives.”.
    But the reality is that they are all very different people.
    Mr Hamilton is a thoroughly decent person. And of course Mr Drumlins Rock is entirely right….for the want of a few votes he would be a committed UUP man. Indeed if he had actually been elected as a Westminster MP in May, he would be happily waving his order papers “Hear Hear” behind the Conservative led coalition and would be across the aisle from Ms Naomi Long…his new party colleague.
    Yet seemingly the road from May to January passes thru Damascus. Some get there quicker than Mr Hamilton (Ms Bradshaw who was rejected by UUP in South Belfast. Some will take longer to see the Alliance Promised Land (mixed Biblical references) but with all the usual ridiculing the UUP and complimenting AP figures and of course the defectors.
    Strategically its better for AP if some of these wannabees jump BEFORE the Assembly Election and better if some desert their sinking ship AFTER the Assembly Election.

    In the case of Mr Hamilton there IS an advantage. AP start from a low base in Upper Bann. ……and Mr Hamilton will certainly add to that. There is a significant “liberal” unionist vote in Upper Bann, largely people turned off by the unionism of Portadown Orangemen. Mr Hamilton could easily delivera AP seat. Conversely in (say) Lagan Valley or North Down it is unlikely any potential defector could actually add to the AP vote by jumping before May …..but defecting as an elected UUP or “other” MLA might be their better course. They know that as well as I do. But the choreography is always entertaining. They can deliver votes.
    In other places South Belfast for example they cant deliver anything.

    Some have a portfolio of skills but no votes. But others like Mr Hamilton for example have no obvious political skills……yet their very lack of skills is a decided advantage.
    The wreckage of liberal unionism re-alligning as a part of the Alliance Party of course weakens unionism AND UUP in particular and is of course to be welcomed by nationalists/republicans.

    Yet the defections pose problems for AP. The Party poses as agnostic unionist and nationalist….but the newcomers are more overtly unionist. The party will change. Likewise the newcomers are conservatives. Of course AP cheerleaders will choose to ignore this at Dunadry (Ill be there!!) but the wiser heads in AP will be aware of it.
    It will of course limit the opportunities of young AP loyalists……Heading, Curran, McGrellis, Muir and Bower (who was recently lauded in a liberal unionist blog). Keep your friends closer Michael. Nothing of course wrong with being careerist but it does mark a sea change for AP whose brand is service to the Community.

  • dwatch

    ‘Alliance reaches out to all sections of our community.’

    Indeed, were may I ask is there Alliance representation west of the Bann?

  • dwatch

    ‘Alliance reaches out to all sections of our community.’

    Indeed, were may I ask is there Alliance representation west of the Bann?

    Alliance have no MLA’s how may local councillors is there West of the Bann anyone know?

  • “The party will change.”

    When can we expect to see an AP leadership heave? Naomi Long stands head and shoulders above the rest. Could there be a better time than now?

    It’s been my understanding that AP accepts the constitutional position whatever that may be ie it promotes neither form of nationalism.

    fjh, I note your reference about service to the community but up on the Causeway Coast the AP profile is very low; the DUP and SF are streets ahead of the other parties when it comes to the provision of visible constituency support. AP has one councillor in Coleraine (by-election win) but no offices in Coleraine, Ballymoney and Moyle. It once had three councillors in Coleraine.

  • dwatch, there are very AP elected representatives outside a 20 mile radius of Belfast.

  • Cynic2

    The problem with Alliance is …its Alliance. Soft wet unworkable economic policies tied to sensible social democratic polices.

    I would be in half a mind to vote for it ….. but then the rational half says no.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    FJH,

    “The wreckage of liberal unionism re-alligning as a part of the Alliance Party of course weakens unionism AND UUP in particular and is of course to be welcomed by nationalists/republicans.”

    Better for Nats if there are 2 more equally sized Unionist parties kicking the red white and blue out of each other.

    Lets hope Tommo Elliott gets up off the canvas, forms a fist, and tries to land a few before its too late.

  • Sammy, haven’t the SF ministerial gNats done enough damage to the country and to ‘good relations’ without adding to their number?

  • dwatch

    Nevin : ‘AP has one councillor in Coleraine (by-election win) but no offices in Coleraine, Ballymoney and Moyle. It once had three councillors in Coleraine.’

    Here is the poll results for Alliance in the 2007 MLA election for six constituencies WOTB. I doubt if they will achieve better in May 2011.

    FST: Allan Leonard (Alliance) 521 (1.1%)
    WT: NIL
    FOYLE: Yvonne Boyle (Alliance) 224 (0.5%)
    EL: Barney Fitzpatrick (Alliance) 1401 (4.1%)
    MU: Margaret Marshall (Alliance) 221 (0.5%)
    N&A Máire Hendron (Alliance) 278 (0.6%)

  • cynic49

    Call a spade a spade! Some comments have hinted at the reality of this situation. None of this is about the UUP, the DUP or Alliance. Its purely and simply about the Hamilton’s and the Bradshaw’s, and a few others, of this world and where they want to carve out a lucrative career. Why in politics does it seem to be acceptable to have a brass neck? Sorry, maybe its part of the criteria for the job! I am willing to bet that Mr Hamilton will get the normal Alliance vote if he stands in his own area. He is kidding himself if he thinks very many of his 10,000 Westminster votes were for him personally. Its called believing your own propaganda.

  • Rocketeer

    This is a great coup for David Long and the Alliance Party. How the UUP could let a candidate like Harry Hamilton – whom polled so strongly in May – to leave the party is simply mind-boggling, or perhaps not given the current state of the UUP.

    On another note, people keep mentioning Naomi Long (and I do think that she is an excellent thinker and a great young politician) but I would like to ask where she is and what she has done for East Belfast since May? So many people from East Belfast have told me that they are very dissapointed in Long’s performance and irregular appearances in the constituency thus far, and given the fact also that she has not performed all that brilliantly in Parliament I think she needs to start getting out and about in the constituency. Robinson’s recent coup in helping to secure the future of Glentoran Football Club, many fans of whom suggested prior to May 7th that they would not vote for Robinson on the basis that the club was in danger, shows that the former MP is out and about, and Naomi needs to be careful that she does not become complacent.

  • dwatch, Yvonne Boyle usually stands as an AP council candidate in that part of EL which is east of the Bann. It’s likely also that about 60% of Barney Fitzpatrick’s vote will have been from east of the river.

  • granni trixie

    I just want to enjoy the moment: the prospect of someone with “ordinary-bloke-who-is-fed-up-with-the-usual-kind-of politics-in-NI” appeal and who can sing for Queen and country! This is a “portfolio of skills” I appreciate – fun ahead as well as challenges to be managed. y.

    Noone,repeat,noone within APNI talks about a Leadership challenge. Outsiders may not appreciate it, but insiders know that DF lead Alliance through one of the most difficult but successful periods in our history.

  • dwatch

    cynic49: ‘He is kidding himself if he thinks very many of his 10,000 Westminster votes were for him personally. Its called believing your own propaganda.’

    I think this is the problem, both Harry Hamilton and Paula Bradshaw received 10,639,& 5910 votes respectively in the May 2010 Westminster election. They must be naive and indeed pretentious to think these votes were gained by their so called personalities and not for the UUP at the time.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Sammy McNally Etc Etc.
    It is certainly better for unionism to have two unionist parties….as an alternative to DUP and UUP can be provided without going outside the tribe.
    Likewise its good for nationalists to have alternaives (SDLP/SF) without going outside the tribe.
    Likewise “moderate” nationalists and “unionists” have an AP alternative.
    Likewise “moderate moderates” (sic) in AP have a choice in voting SDLP or UUP.

    But the object of unionism is not to facilitate nationalism/republicanism. The object is to destroy it.
    Nor is it the object of republicans/nationalists to facilitate unionism. The object is to destroy it.
    Of course I am deliberately using the word “destroy” rather than the more acceptable “eliminate the need for people to be unionist or nationalist.”
    Weaning “liberal unionism” (always an unlikely concept……I remember Basil McIvor) away from the UUP and forcing it towards the “centre ground” is obviously a step in the right direction.
    Nationalism goes into Assembly 2011 with 44 seats.
    The balance of probability is that they emerge from the Election with the same or more. It seems unlikely there will be less (the Antrim constituencies are problematic).
    The “unionist” bloc….is unlikely to gain seats. The more likely scenario is that they lose some.
    And the “moderate” bloc is likely to gain.
    All of which is good news to non unionists.

    Of course the dream result would be a single unionist Party emerging. As Granni Trixie has observed it is a win win win situation.

  • dwatch

    Nevin : ‘dwatch, Yvonne Boyle usually stands as an AP council candidate in that part of EL which is east of the Bann. It’s likely also that about 60% of Barney Fitzpatrick’s vote will have been from east of the river.’

    Point taken, this would be the reason why Fitzpatrick’s vote 1401 was not only highest between all six constituencies WOTB. But nearly topped all of the other five added together 1444. I included EL as geographically most of it is WOTB.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Great to see Harry aboard.

    cynic49 : the decision of Paula and Harry to join Alliance is, among other things, sending a signal to unionists who believe in moderate politics showing that voting Alliance is a safer bet than trying to prop up an imploding, non-moderate and rudderless Ulster Unionist Party. Tom Elliot is a Unionist leader in the mould of Brookeborough and Craigavon. I don’t think many Ulster Unionist supporters want that.

    dwatch : Alliance historically has not done well west of the Bann, and I think that probably reflects the party’s middle class/urban focus until recently, more than it reflects a failure to attract cross community votes. I am expecting that this trend will change, starting with the party broadening its class appeal. There have been a few new members in the past 12 months or so in FST and WT. A lot of this is the “Naomi effect”.

    I certainly would not argue that all of those UUP votes will simply translate across to Alliance. However, a certain proportion of those voters will come across if they are persuaded that Alliance is safe. Other votes will come across if the party runs a good, clean and positive campaign, like the one it ran in East Belfast.

    I’m bemused by the idea that there may be a leadership contest. There is zero prospect of this happening. Why fix something that isn’t broken ? Why throw out a leader who has consolidated and expanded the party’s position and appeal ? Sounds like someone is making mischief to me.

    Rocketeer, I don’t know where you’ve been looking but Naomi has been out and about with her crew (and the Assembly team as well) in the constituency, most notably lately during the crisis over water. The statistics over on theyworkforyou.com are easy to fiddle – all you need to do is show up, speak, vote and then quickly leave again – and are a somewhat crude way to measure the performance of an MP. My prediction would be that anyone who tries to run a negative campaign against Naomi along those lines will almost certainly find that it will backfire. I don’t think the DUP are that stupid – and anyway, we’ve another four and a half years to go.

    As for the thing about Glentoran, I was surprised that Robinson was so eager to be so public about the fact that he’s willing to enlist the assistance of anonymous people with lots of money for selected “causes”. I am sure that everything was completely above board, and Robinson will have been meticulous about the details, but it’s natural for people to be suspicious of benefactors throwing around larges sums of money and supposedly expecting nothing in return – surely this is a big part of what cost Robinson his seat ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Lets hope Tommo Elliott gets up off the canvas, forms a fist, and tries to land a few before its too late.

    You crack me up.

  • edgeoftheunion

    I’m shocked.

    Alan offers the golden opportunity to include Queen song titles, not entirely alien to our demographic, into posts and no-one has taken the Sun-sub gauntlet.

    Tom whatshisname – Under Pressure?

    I want to break free.

    I want it all.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Give me one vision ..

  • dwatch, some folks will be surprised that the East Londonderry constituency extends as far east as Portballintrae!

  • edgeoftheunion

    Correct again Comrade.

    You would be a lot better than me on the demographics, but the fact that Naomi and Dawn got 2 out of the 3 noms for POTY. is no coincidence.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Edge, must have been several East Belfast women at that table 🙂

    FJH, will get the head bit of me by Granni and Stalin for saying this, but what if the defections gradually turn the Alliance into a softy softy Unionist party? (which many people suspect it is already ) for example would an unsuccessful SDLP candidate move to the Alliance just as quick?

  • Comrade Stalin

    DR, it’s not an unreasonable point so there will be no head-biting. My response to that is that one (or now two) swallows does not a summer make. Alliance isn’t going to change colour just because two ex-unionists have joined. FJH has commented that if this keeps happening you may well end with an Abraham Lincoln’s axe situation. That’s not impossible but I think we’re some way away from that being an issue.

    The dynamics in nationalism are completely different. I’m surprised that the SDLP have been able to hang on. I’m not impressed by any of their front line contenders really – I find Conall McDevitt to be intensely irritating, Ritchie likewise, McDonnell dour and patronizing, and Attwood to be plain old nasty (although he’s coming over well in his new Minister role). I miss Mark Durkan a lot. But all that aside they seem to be rather better at campaigning than the UUP are, even if they’re nothing compared with SF.

  • dennis the menace

    does anyone know if Harry pledged to support whoever was selected by the UUP at his selection meeting???

  • cynic49

    I wouldn’t hold my breath for an army of Unionists rushing out to vote Alliance. Unionists have a perception of what Alliance stands for and they don’t like them thus the shortage of transfers. The Alliance Party was the only fall back for Bradshaw and Hamilton, certainly not the first ship of choice as they both knew they had no chance of success with Alliance. If Alliance starts to move towards being a natural home for Unionist’s then watch the Catholic vote disappear like snow off a ditch. (Thats if Murphy’s Dept got round to gritting it.lol)

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Drumlins Rock
    Non Selection and Deselection will always be an issue but its often “personal” rather than “politically motivated”.
    For example the controversial non selection of Helen Quigley (SDLP) in Foyle was dealt with on Slugger before. But as far as I know she has not decided to go “Independent” and remains inside SDLP but not actively involved. Certainly thats an understandable reaction in a SDLP heartland where they have more able candidates than nominations available.
    Its not realistic that any ambitious non selected SDLP person in Foyle would opt to join Alliance which had less than 300 votes last time.
    David McClartys UUP non selection in East Derry was not because of his “liberalism”. So hes not gonna join AP.. He would be a very unlikely candidate.
    As Ive been pointing out although there is a political dimension to liberal unionist defectors, each case is quite different. Ms Bradshaw is no electoral asset to AP in South Belfast. Anna Lo, Geraldine Rice and (as Granni Trixie would point out) Cathy Curran are higher in the pecking order. We have been assured that there will be fast tracking. And AP have no need to fast track Ms Bradshaw. Her future probably lies in a Quango appointment.
    The assurance that there will be no fast tracking will hardly be the case with Harry Hamilton. There is no meaningful AP presence in Upper Bann and the AP would be crazy not to use Mr Hamiltons popularity, vote base and decency in Upper Bann.
    Will he win a seat in Assembly 2011? I dont know.
    Can he win a seat? Certainly.
    And crucially it would expand the AP area of influence. Lets not forget Council Elections.
    So thats certainly an advantage for Hamilton.

    Others? Clearly there are two seats for AP in East Belfast? But Trevor Ringland (if fast tracked) would not make it a third seat. His nomination would only exclude a AP loyalist.
    North Down? No defection would add to the AP vote. Two able AP candidates already selected there and they might both win (if Agnew fails to hold Wilsons Green seat). Any prospective defector in North Down has probably come to realise that he/she would be better elected as UUP or Independent and then jump ship. Likewise in Lagan Valley. Whatever happens some AP “up and comers” will be elbowed out. All of course in the most civilised moderate way.

    Would the defections of liberal unionists affect the AP brand? To his credit Comrade Stalin acknowledges the possibility and he might be right that I over-state it. But Id argue that Democratic Left merging with Irish Labour meant a sea change…..and different personnel in high office. Did SDP joining with Liberals change the ethos of that Party? Again Id say yes. Has the Tea Party people changed the direction of the US Republican Party? Yes.
    So there is a danger there. Or conversely an opportunity.
    Id argue that the danger is borne by the Alliance Party and the opportunity is all “liberal unionist”.
    The young guns in the Alliance Party can work this out for themselves anyway.
    But Drumlins Rock asks the question about whether a non selected SDLP person could end up in the Alliance Party.
    An academic question.
    Well I think the honest answer is…..possibly.
    Arguably the AP would deny that SDLP is “moderate”. Perhaps others would argue that there is a “nationalist” faction and a “moderate” faction. While not endorsing the analysis, the hypothetical SDLP person would have to be in the “moderate” wing to consider AP as an alternative.
    I think I recall a SDLP person in North Belfast (Tom Donnelly) as the highest profile SDLP defection to AP. No doubt there are others.
    Likewise John Turnley left SDLP to join the Irish Independece Party and murdered later by unionists.

    But aside from limiting the aspirations of Alliance young guns…..the danger of the AP becoming more “unionist” might well be secondary to it moving away from the centre left as it was labelled by a defector from AP to the Tories. More recently the same defector who has since left the Tories has indicated that such labels are meaningless……clearly an olive branch to one of his former parties.
    Yet if the analysis of a moderate/nationalist coalition is accepted, the ease with which Margaret Ritchie talks about “Northern Ireland” or wears a poppy indicates the “moderate wing” is not a marginalised faction with limited opportunity within the Party…..as “liberal unionists” feel they are.
    Theredore the question of SDLP defection to Alliance looks very academic.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I would add that Margaret Ritchies “moderate statements” are not designed to boost the Alliance Party, even when she talks about strengthening the middle ground.
    The object of the exercise is to make the SDLP more attractive to moderate Catholics likely to be unnerved by AP appearing more overtly unionist.
    Of course the SDLP overtures to “civic society” unions, campaign groups etc is all part of the same process.

  • Margaret Ritchies “moderate statements”

    The quotation marks are apposite, fjh; on the SDLP front page 6 points tribalism scores 3 against a shared society 1 with 2 others.

  • Erasmus

    Maybe I’m a bit of a literalist but to my mind conversion from the UUP to Alliance necessarily means converting from being pro-union to being neutral re the union. Is this what happened to Mr. Hamilton?

  • Comrade Stalin

    cynic:

    I wouldn’t hold my breath for an army of Unionists rushing out to vote Alliance.

    It would be stupid, and incredibly naive, for any party to claim (as the UCUNF entity did) that the voters will simply be forced to come out for a different party by default due to a few changes on the masthead. Harry switching to Alliance won’t automatically lead to Alliance election victories in Upper Bann or anywhere else. Elections are won by campaigning and constituency work, not by these little frissons that go on from time to time.

    What defections like this do help to accomplish is to show people that Alliance is a safe place for their vote. Some voters may have already been gravitating this way, having seen Alliance politicians punch above their weight in East Belfast and in the Executive. This is all part of a bigger package.

    Unionists have a perception of what Alliance stands for and they don’t like them thus the shortage of transfers.

    This is demonstrably false, given the awful lot of “transfers” in East Belfast last May. Alliance won because Naomi gained votes from former UUP and DUP voters.

    The Alliance Party was the only fall back for Bradshaw and Hamilton, certainly not the first ship of choice as they both knew they had no chance of success with Alliance.

    Well, I have made my opinions on that one pretty clear. UCUNF was a misguided effort and, given that the Ulster Unionist Party never really adopted non-tribal politics, it was doomed to failure from the very start. But I can see why people might have thought that it would work.

    If Alliance starts to move towards being a natural home for Unionist’s then watch the Catholic vote disappear like snow off a ditch. (Thats if Murphy’s Dept got round to gritting it.lol)

    I don’t see the thing as being a zero-sum game, and as I said, two swallows do not a summer make.

    Erasmus:

    Maybe I’m a bit of a literalist but to my mind conversion from the UUP to Alliance necessarily means converting from being pro-union to being neutral re the union.

    No, it doesn’t. That’s the cool part, you can be unionist, nationalist, none of the above, or whatever combination you fancy. Alliance doesn’t care. In general terms, political parties should not be homogenous entities where every member is rigidly committed to exactly the same ideals. Political parties in NI ultimately have little influence or say over NI’s constitutional position; that lies with the people in a referendum.

  • Comrade Stalin

    FJH:

    Has the Tea Party people changed the direction of the US Republican Party? Yes.

    I think that part is a very simplistic analysis. The Tea Party thing is a kind of a bastard creation of the hard right in US politics which the Republicans have latched onto for their own purposes, much like the “moral majority” back in the 80s. It may well have been a mistake given the high profile failures of a number of Tea Party candidates eg. Angle, O’Donnell etc, and noting how Scott Brown quickly dropped the right-wingery as soon as he got into office.

    With respect to Upper Bann, it’s not a total dearth of Alliance talent (Frank McQuaid held a council seat for a long time and has some profile there, as does his wife Sheila) but it’s not South Belfast. It’s not in the gift – mainly for political reasons – of the party leadership to impose a candidate on a constituency, so accordingly I doubt that a deal has been done between Harry and Alliance HQ; but I’d not be shocked out of my wits if Hamilton were selected.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    FJH,

    You have indicated that you feel it is better for Unionism to have 2 parties (they have about 7 including Alliance, Tories, TUV and PUP and the Lady Hermon North Down independent Unionist anti Tory Party ) – but it is not better for Unionism if the 2 main Unionist parties (UUP and DUP) are large enough to compete with each other splitting the Unionist vote when SF are the dominant force in Nationalism.

    You also indicated it is good for Nationalism when the UUP is weakened to the benefit of the Alliance party – but for the same reasons as above I have to disagree – it is better for Nationalism that Tommo (the Orangeman) Elliott wakens up and has a good healthy family feud with the DUP and that he both keeps moderate Unionists on board and also poaches some not so moderate form the DUP.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Comrade Stalin…..I take your point on the Tea Party and Republican Party. A question largely of emphasis so I wont disagree. But I think you take my point in respect of Dem Left/Labour and SDP/Liberals. In a broader sense, the ethos of any Party is determined by membership. Change the membership…the Party changes. Of course the numbers are small but possibly growing……and arguably influential.
    Upper Bann……one councillor in Banbridge and currently none in Craigavon (although Sean Hagan is well remembered)………one councillor in about 45. No thats not a presence.
    Upper Bann 2010. Brendan Heading (a good candidate but imported and destined for better things if not blocked like Bower, McGrellis, Curran and Muir by angst ridden liberal unionists on the make) got 1,200 (3%) bettering Sheila McQuaids 2007 effort……..so my point that AP should fast track Hamilton is very valid ……Id certainly see him within the range of getting a seat (maybe 8%) and even if he failed, it would benefit council candidates.
    As you say Upper Bann is not South Belfast.
    In Upper Bann Hamilton is an electoral asset. Which would probably be accepted as an analysis by long standing AP members in the area.
    Fast tracking (say) Ms Bradshaw would have no electoral advantage in South Belfast.
    But crucially and indeed naturally …….there is a lot of AP talent in its heartland. I am on record as saying that Muir, Bower, McGrellis and Heading have a future. And prompted by Granni Trixie, I have added Ms Curran(coincidently? in South Belfast) to the list. I calls it as I sees it …Lyttle has not impressed me. And you will recall I thought Gerry Lynch was over-hyped.
    Maybe David Ford will pull a Ringland or other rabbit out of the hat at Dunadry. And the faithful will be on their feet as all the newcomers are introduced.
    But if I could have a quiet word with Muir, McGrellis, Heading, Bower, Ms Curran or Ms Cochrane, Id be urging them not to be shy about fighting for their rightful places on the AP ticket. But they probably know that anyway.

  • Fair Deal

    So if he gets the nod for the assembly election and Savage runs there could be 5 UUers (3 official and 2 non-selected) fighing over 2 UU quotas.

  • cynic49

    Stalin. I have to challenge your comments regarding transfers in East Belfast last May. It was a first past the post election with an X being the only choice voters had. The transfers I refer to are those in a STV election. The norm there is the fact that Alliance votes don’t as a rule transfer and very few Unionist votes transfer to Alliance. With their wishy washy view of the Union I don’t think many Unionists see Alliance as being “safe”. That may only be a perception but is something Alliance have to learn to live with as this has been the situation they have always painted of their position on the Union. There comes a time in every situation where it becomes difficult to remain everything to everyone. Alliance are approaching that point and not by choice but by being the only lifeboat available for the political careerists adrift from the ballot paper. Alliance don’t need the Bradshaw’s and Hamiliton’s of this world climbing onboard their second choice ships of convenience. I suspect that history many well judge current happenings as negative turning points for Alliance in the grand scheme of things. Still if it gives Mr Ford and co a few photo ops and a chance to crow thats fine. I hope he doesn’t live to regret any of this but I have my doubts on that score. Time will tell. Unless Mr Hamilton and Ms Bradshaw get a meaningful role in Politics handed to them by Allliance, and soon, don’t pencil in either to speak at annual conference in 2014.

  • Frame

    Wait and see at the elections. If the UUP represents anything it is ordinary unionists particularly from a farming and business background of whom there remain many.

    It is not able to display a liberal side which does not mean it cannot host liberal candidates as it has done over the years knowing however their tendency to defect.

    It is also not the DUP which brings it no credit among the circling chatterati on Slugger who prefer Robbo’s firm touch. He is FM as well which thrills some and brings hope of preferment to others.

    Saying Tom Elliott is in the mould of Brookeborough and Craigavon, who were merchant and landed aristocrats, raised two centuries ago, is a nonsense but not unkind to Tom who is positively 21st century, if still an Orangeman and a Fermanagh farmer.

  • Comrade Stalin

    cynic:

    Stalin. I have to challenge your comments regarding transfers in East Belfast last May. It was a first past the post election with an X being the only choice voters had. The transfers I refer to are those in a STV election.

    I’m aware of what you meant. My point must have been a bit too subtle for you. The strongest kind of “transfer” that you can make is when you switch your vote completely. Which is what former UUP and DUP voters did in East Belfast last May. So how can you argue that Alliance is unpalatable to unionist voters when the election result there shows otherwise ?

    With their wishy washy view of the Union I don’t think many Unionists see Alliance as being “safe”.

    So why did they vote Alliance in East Belfast then ? Do you think they believed that voting for Naomi Long endangered the union ?

    That may only be a perception

    It’s not a perception, it’s just plain old made-up bollocks. Look at the election results.

    Alliance don’t need the Bradshaw’s and Hamiliton’s of this world climbing onboard their second choice ships of convenience.

    I don’t see it in terms of what Alliance need or do not need. The party is welcome to all comers provided they accept the aims and objectives. They are just as welcome as anyone else to stand for selection and put themselves forward for election.

  • “That’s the cool part”

    CS, that’s the part that probably explains AP’s low share of the vote. AP is unlikely to do well in areas where and at times when the constitutional question is to the fore.

    Naomi Long is a moderate with attitude whereas some of the others come across as limp lettuces. Some of the electorate in East Belfast will have opted for anyone but Peter Robinson.

  • cynic49

    Stalin.
    I agree with Nevin. Ms Long was a reasonable vehicle to get PR out. My East Belfast Unionists friends and family who voted for MS Long did it with their fingers crossed. I hope the Alliance Party enjoy haviing had at least one MP in their lifetime, even if only for one session. Ms Long is a nice East Belfast girl and that made the sacrifice of voting for her a little less painful. It is a result that will never have the same row of ducks stacked up to enable it to be replicated. In the meantime enjoy it Stalin, it was nice to see PR go.

  • cynic49, do you imagine that if Reg Empey had ran in EB he rather than Naomi Long would have got the seat?

  • cynic49

    I’ not convinced that Reg would have had enough going for him to win the seat. Strange decision to run Ringland. Maybe the promise of the Lords did it for Reg.

  • Comrade Stalin

    CS, that’s the part that probably explains AP’s low share of the vote. AP is unlikely to do well in areas where and at times when the constitutional question is to the fore.

    I think we’re moving into a period where the constitutional question is increasingly not to the fore.

    Naomi Long is a moderate with attitude whereas some of the others come across as limp lettuces. Some of the electorate in East Belfast will have opted for anyone but Peter Robinson.

    The argument here is that Alliance are not trusted by unionists. So why didn’t they vote for Ringland if it was a simple case of selecting an alternative to Robinson ?

    cynic:

    Ms Long was a reasonable vehicle to get PR out. My East Belfast Unionists friends and family who voted for MS Long did it with their fingers crossed.

    If the union is so important, and Alliance aren’t trusted by unionists, then why didn’t they vote for Ringland ? They would not have had to cross their fingers then ?

    Ms Long is a nice East Belfast girl and that made the sacrifice of voting for her a little less painful.

    That patronizing little comment gives me a flavour of your personality.

    I’ not convinced that Reg would have had enough going for him to win the seat.

    But you’re contradicting yourself. Reg – or Ringland, it wouldn’t have mattered – are both pro-union and would surely have been a safe way to kick out Robinson while retaining an unstintingly unionist voice in the Commons. So why did unionists go for Long instead ?

  • cynic49

    Stalin. I have a shit personality but I wasn’t trying to patronise Ms Long. You seem easily upset! She is a nice girl and it is hardly a crime to say so. She is also well steeped in the spirit of the East. Both votable qualities. Ringland was struggling with his parachute strings and didn’t prove his East Belfast credentials very well. Reg is dull but he is a safe pair of Unionist hands. I was pleased for Ms Long and I hope she gets a lot of satisfaction out of her one term in London. She will never be out of work as I am sure that Alliance will secure her a nice Quango post at the pleasure of the NIO.

  • CS, someone else made the argument about Unionist trust, I didn’t. I was drawing attention to Naomi’s strength as a candidate as well as to Peter’s difficulties.

    If you look at the Gladys Ganiel thread you’ll see that the constitutional question will feature strongly during the course of the coming decade. It will take a few deft political manoeuvres to navigate the rapids ahead.

  • edgeoftheunion – I’m shocked. Alan offers the golden opportunity to include Queen song titles, not entirely alien to our demographic, into posts and no-one has taken the Sun-sub gauntlet.

    I was quite amazed too … the post title alternated between a couple of different apt song titles found in the Queen discography page on Wiki!

  • andnowwhat

    A l;eak from UUP HQ has just been revealed which exposes why Mr Hamilton was de-selected.

    Mr Hamilton wroye a letter to his mother in which he admitted to a crime.

    Apparently the letter went, “Mama (quaint), just killled a man”.

    He then went on to describe the meathod he emplyed. “Mama (again with the quaint), put a gun upto his head. Pulled the trigger, now he’s dead”.

    When confronted with this information, Mr Ford of the Alliance party said, “well, the DUP are putting a murderer up as a counciller, SF are apparently full of them. Why not us too?”

    FAO Jim Mc Dowelland the Sunday World “journalists”, I’m only kidding

  • Comrade Stalin

    cynic:

    So let’s tease this out :

    Ringland was struggling with his parachute strings and didn’t prove his East Belfast credentials very well.

    So it’s more important to have what you call “East Belfast credentials” than it is to be overtly pro-union ?

    Nevin :

    What you said was :

    Some of the electorate in East Belfast will have opted for anyone but Peter Robinson.

    The salient detail is that they opted for the person with less overtly unionist credentials; in other words, the fact that Ringland was running on an outwardly pro-union ticket, indeed seeking a mandate to tighten the union, wasn’t enough to get him elected. This is why I’m arguing that the constitutional question is reducing in significance. The days when unionist voters would have elected a random sheep dressed in a union jack are rapidly disappearing.

  • Barry the Blender

    This is a rather interesting thread so I thought I might like to throw my tuppence in.

    A sweeping statement like “unionists don’t trust the alliance” is obviously not true, and has easily been disproven by CS when he points to the fact that there were many unionists willing to vote Long X.

    However, I wouldn’t agree that it’s wholly untrue either. I would add the qualification that in an area where unionists feel they are under threat they remain unlikely to vote or trust the alliance. Ergo, in counties Tyrone and Fermanagh, with a sizeable unionist minority (many of which would seem voting junkies) the Alliance poll poorly (except relatively speaking in Omagh).
    In unionist constituencies with sizeable nationalist populations I suppose unionists feel somewhat safer, but not entirely secure, and so the Alliance do significantly better, but not well (North Antrim, East Londonderry, Upper Bann, Belfast North).
    In highly unionist areas (North Down, Strangford, East Antrim, Belfast East and Lagan Valley) I suppose unionists feel quite reassured that their way of life isn’t under siege, and are both less likely to vote (in contrast to the rural west) and more likely to entertain the prospect of voting APNI.
    Foyle or West Belfast would be urban heavily nationalist areas with a unionist minority which is unlikely to vote, and unlikely to vote Alliance.
    South Antrim is somewhere between group 2 and 3 and perhaps unsurprisingly the Alliance presence seems rather marginal(ish).
    South Belfast is perhaps the only significantly nationalist area with a good solid Alliance party base. I would attribute that to the urbain, middle classness of the area, with an electorate striving to demonstrate its tolerance and lack of sectarianism.

    The next section requires a health warning: I am not a fan of Naomi Long.

    East Belfast was won by the Alliance because of 2 main factors: 1. A desire to punish the incumbent (greed, £5 land deals and multiple jobbing)
    2. Naomi had built herself up as a credible, hard working, positive, realistic alternative.

    Factor in the political newbie Ringland, who was not a realistic alternative, it went her way.

    Also, I disagree with whichever cynic thinks she’s a one hit wonder. Anyone who goes from near oblivion in 2003 to more than quadrupling their vote only seven years later in 2010 is obviously extremely politically astute. Naomi and the local party clearly know how to get the votes, and expect this skill to be ever more fine tuned in the future.

  • CS, the secrecy of the ballot box obscures salient details. Do many folks read the electoral bumph? Naomi has a high profile, apparently does a lot of constituency work and doesn’t appear to be agin the Union so it was hardly surprising that many folks would opt for her rather than Nigel Who.