Harry Hamilton (Alliance)

The higher profile new members of the Alliance Party were today welcomed to the bosom of the conference at the Dunadry. David Ford named them in his speech, and seats had been reserved in the front row of the hall.

I caught up with Harry Hamilton during the lunch break. He explained why he was drawn to Alliance and confirmed that he was willing to serve the party in the future if he was required. The official line is that the candidate selection process is in the hands of the Upper Bann constituency association and the central party won’t be interfering in the democratic process. However, there is much talk at conference of the impact that Hamilton would make in the constituency for the party if he was to run in the May elections.

Update 4.50pm: Harry Hamilton gave his maiden conference speech (with Alliance) later on in the afternoon, seconding the Shared Future motion.

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  • cynic49

    Harry is as he says a saleman. I think the political product he is trying to sell is Harry Hamilton not the Alliance Party or whatever. I could take people seriously if they left a party and went into the wilderness for a while and then make a comeback but I have my doubts when these political conversions happen between elections and when they happen to obviously ambitious people. Harry more or less said he is seeking a full time political career and lets face it sales is a tough place to be at this time. Wonder would he like to be an allowance only councillor or is it bigs bucks and big expenses or nothing? A sort of justice would be done if he runs and misses out. Could be his first and only Alliance conference? On anyother note you have to admire Mr Parsley’s spunk, or is it cheek, by turning up at conference after the behind the scenes slating he took when he jumped ship from Alliance.

  • cynic49 – As one elected rep said, the party welcomes members’ partners attending Alliance events, so he’d every right to be there. And to be fair, he kept a pretty low profile and wasn’t sitting up front or looking for the limelight.

  • cynic49


    I take onboard your comments but it still took guts to go would you not agree? I know that there is a perception that the Allliance Party has a reputation of being pussy cats but there must be a few with nasty fangs and sharp claws! Still it will have broke the ice for the next stage of rehabilitation. Would they run him for Europe again?

  • granni trixie

    Guts or a brass neck. In cases such as this,the jury is out. The important point is that,so far, with the surge in ahem ‘newcomers’, APNI has stuck to the principal of inclusivity ie “open to everyone” and that local people select.

  • redhugh78

    cynic49 –’ As one elected rep said, the party welcomes members’ partners attending Alliance events, so he’d every right to be there. And to be fair, he kept a pretty low profile and wasn’t sitting up front or looking for the limelight.’

    Could have sworn that was him making a speech in FRONT of the whole conference.

  • Cue caption:

    Alliance and Nester.

  • redhugh78 – I was referring to Ian Parsley – who’s not (yet) a member of the Alliance again. Obviously Harry Hamilton has joined and was seconding a motion as a party member might.


    Can we expect Mike Nesbitt to follow suit? All we need now is a Kenny Everett look-a-like to join Alliance and we can have rerun sketches at conference.

    David Forde, I take off my hat to him, he is on the cusp of turning the Alliance in a power house of a party if he plays his new found Ace’s well.

  • unionist voter

    as the Alliance Party will discover Harry Hamilton is in political terms high maintenance. Should they decide to run him as a candidate they will find that his priority is himself. Like Paula, serving in local goverment is beneath him and he will require Alliance to deliver him an assembly seat to keep his interest. He certainly won’t extend Alliance policy thinking and will rank well down the list of talent the Alliance party have (unless they rounded of the conference with a few lines of we are the champions)

  • Greenflag

    Doesn’t Arry Amilton look a bit like Clement Attlee of whom Churchill once accused of ‘modesty’ adding the barb that he had much to be modest about 😉 Harry does not seem a modest man and that’s just as well if he’s heading for a political career. Good luck to him and all the rest who are heading down the yellow brick road .

    Surely the point is that political wannabees in NI are heading for the Alliance Party and not the SDLP or UUP .

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    The comical side of this is the way that Alliance people embrace him as a man of principle and UUP people dismiss him as a lightweight.
    A mere eight months ago, it was vice versa.
    I thought he had a vague resemblance to Clement Attlee also so I am glad that Im not alone in that thought.
    But there is probably more money and entertainment value in impersonating Freddie Mercury. 🙂

  • granni trixie

    Totally disagree with your assertion about “Alliance people”. Principled? Who knows yet . But enjoying the fun side of his profession does not necesarily mean that one must see him as lightweight either. Infact from his poltiical statements so far it is obvious that he wants to see change in NI and wants to play a part in that. What I see as the particular resource he offers is experience in a kind of ‘business’ world rarely found in the political arena.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The comical side of this is the way that Alliance people embrace him as a man of principle

    You’re making stuff up again and passing it off as fact, FJH.

    I thought he had a vague resemblance to Clement Attlee also so I am glad that Im not alone in that thought.

    Clem Attlee was one of the finest statesmen and leaders the UK ever produced. If I was Harry I’d certainly be flattered by that comparison.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Can we expect Mike Nesbitt to follow suit?

    Nesbitt personally managed Tom Elliott’s leadership campaign. It’s safe to say that Nesbitt, accordingly, is on the Lord Brookeborough wing of the UUP.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Well seemingly Sean Neeson knows names people about to leave UUP. But Id think Nesbitt is more likely (if he takes a seat in May) be in line to lead the rump of the UUP.
    It would of course be flattering for Harry Hamilton if he actually had the attributes of Clement Attlee. But merely having a slight resemblance physically is hardly flattery.
    I myself look like George Clooney but should I feel flattered? Hardly. I am not an actor.
    Certainly from what I saw yesterday……and it cost me £23 by the way was that Alliance have embraced the defectors. Thats the nature of political parties.
    Going back to say Reg Prentice who defected from Labour to the Tories and was hailed as a hero by the Tories and a villain by Labour.
    But ultimately its just phoney nonsense.

  • joeCanuck

    Clem Attlee was one of the finest statesmen and leaders the UK ever produced

    I find it hard to belive that you’re serious, Comrade. If he had had a pair the second world war would not have happened.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Joe, I suspect you are confusing Attlee with someone else. Under Attlee’s leadership, Labour opposed Chamberlain’s appeasement policy in opposition, and Labour left opposition to join a coalition government under Churchill when Chamberlain resigned. Either way, I don’t think WW2 was avoidable. I think following Versailles it was probably inevitable.

    FJH, I’d say you’re right on Nesbitt, he could restore credibility to the UUP. I’m not convinced the party would elect him though. And I’d say you should definitely feel flattered if someone told you you looked like George Clooney. Not being an actor hasn’t caused him many problems either.

    I might agree with you on the “embrace the defectors” thing when I find out what happens after the selection meeting in Upper Bann.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Ah the selection conference in Upper Bann.
    Youve consistently maintained that defectors would not be fast tracked. You might be right.
    Ive consistently said that they would be. I might be right.
    As I said the other night the AP would be idiots to fastrack Ms Bradshaw. She can deliver nothing.
    As I said the other night they would be idiots NOT to fastrack Harry Hmilton. He CAN deliver something. He would at least be close to a seat and might being in some councillors in Banbridge (currently one) and Craigavon (nil).

    The fact that he spoke in support of a conference motion just days after joining the Party and the reaction to him suggests he is being fast tracked and the Party see the logic of it.
    In May, the AP gave one of the young guns a run in Upper Bann and he did reasonably well.
    Clearly the defectors….including those busting a gut to charm and flatter their way into AP…have to be treated on an individual basis. Some would clearly be better off trying to get elected as independents first and then defect.
    But while any individual joining a party should be good news, not all are as useful as they think they are in electoral terms. Mr Hamilton IS the real deal.
    Of course high profile newcomers can have a positive effect on the party and still adversely affect the careers of “loyal young guns”. All of the young uns will say they put Party first…clearly the right thing to say ……but again Id caution that th defectors are not necessarily better candidates than a coterie of very able people already there.
    One of the better Conference speeches was Andrew Muir. For my taste he slightly overdid the “only gay in the village” In 2011 no AP member or potential voter is likely to be put off by it. From Holywood, I think he would have made a good Assembly candidate and hopefully has established himself as the “third” AP person in North Down behind Mr Farry and Mrs Wilson and the first choic “co-option” in the event of a resignation during the next few years. It would be a pity if he lost out to a defector.

  • granni trixie

    Have to disagree with CS as regards Nesbitt – “he dont impress me much” (to quote the song) and I suspect not true unionist supporters either. I always have the feeling that he is guessing what is the right thing to say due to lack of experience. Its a sign of lack of talent or commitment by the big hitters in the UUP that he is even being considered as leader material at this point.
    Why does Kennedy,McGimpsey etc not come to the aid of their ailing party? Have they given up?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Mr Nesbitt might well have joined UUP/UFCPP whatever….in the hope that he might be MP for Strangford, a nice little sinecure. But all good comedy is about Timing ..and he got it wrong. Likewise he called that whole failed project wrong.
    Oddly he seems like a man who would naturally be in the more sophisticated Basil McCrea camp rather than the west of the Bann camp of Elliott…..which begs the question why is he so attached to Elliott or “mainstream” unionism. A disasterous election campaign would surely mean Elliott resigns……McGimpsey has given up. Kennedy is biding his time. McCrea and McCallister might jump ship. Nesbitt could be hero of the hour…he knows his unionist history well enough to know that Nobody gets elected from the “left” of the Party.

  • Greenflag

    CS ,

    ‘Clem Attlee was one of the finest statesmen and leaders the UK ever produced’

    Somewhat eclipsed by Churchill understandably by the WW2 factor but Attlee has been rated as the ‘best ‘ British PM in the 20th century in respect of ‘improvement’ in living standards for the majority of British people (including those in NI )

    Attlee’s doggerel 😉

    Few thought he was even a starter.
    There were many who thought themselves smarter.
    But he ended PM, CH and OM,
    An earl and a Knight of the Garter.

    Clement Attlee (on his own political career).

    I should be a sad subject for any publicity expert. I have none of the qualities which create publicity.


  • Ceist

    I gather there were only two motions? What was the process behind these? i.e who wrote them? how were the speakers decided? And indeed who spoke?

    Did Paula Bradshaw speak on anything?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    In fairness the Alliance Party would not have wanted to spoil a good Conference by introducing politics into the procedings. My impression was that it was more a “rally” than a “conference”.

  • granni trixie

    I am not on the inside track of the people who saw to the organising (themes in messages,. logistical arrangements etc.) so am only observing from experience that this year’s format was different than usual. AM was given over to key speakers whereas usually motions are proposed on topical issues giving scope for input from the floor and leading up to the big event of the Leaders speach. An educated guess is that Edna Kenny longish speach had to be accomodated plus everybody was keen to have space for Naomi in view of her new position. In view of the imminent election it seems also to have been decided to leave a slot in the morning to hear 5 new prospective MLAs who spoke for 5 minutes each. In the afternoon there was space around 2 topics for input from the floor as there was at fringe meetings at lunchtime. Its always a trade off:professionals politicans and staff ‘ and (sometimes) more lively supporters.

    Although I prefer the format of Leaders key note speach and motions and responses from floor to structure the day, I think that the decisions this year suited and worked out well.

    Bear in mind that every 2 months APNI has a Council meeting where policy is discussed and issues aired, it is appropriate that an annual conference is a chance to put your best foot forward to the world and encourage internal morale. Ofcourse one should not underestimate the ‘hidden’ aspect of conference – its role in social cohesion. Or an arena for political anoraks.

  • Comrade Stalin


    As I said the other night the AP would be idiots to fastrack Ms Bradshaw. She can deliver nothing.
    As I said the other night they would be idiots NOT to fastrack Harry Hmilton.

    Sounds a bit like “all things to all people” to me.

    The danger with selecting HH so soon after defection would still apply; it looks too much like desperation to embrace a defector.

    On the other hand, talking to some folks outside the political circles, it appears that Harry is well known and well liked in the Upper Bann area, and his family goes back a long way in the Lurgan vicinity. There is a lot of merit in what you’re saying. But politics is a funny thing.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Oh its not all things to all people. Its simply a matter of treating the defectors as individual cases rather than as a group.
    Indeed.in fairness.this is close to your frequently made point that they can join as individuals.
    We have in effect been jousting about this for months.
    You kindly felt that I had analysed it right in early stages by saying that there would be defections to AP. You were I think skeptical about that.
    You assured me that there would be no fast tracking. And indeed in the case of Ms Bradshaw, you are thankfully right.
    While I dont want to pinpoint the exact constituency in which I live, I think I can reasonably say that Harry Hamilton is a much liked and admired person in the general area in which he lives and seeks to represent. His declared Unionism (even if it was a “nicer” unionism than most possibly damaged him a little but he has a groundswell of goodwill that the Alliance Party would be foolish to ignore at its selection convention.
    The best case scenario is that he wins a seat (with a knock on effect of a couple of council seats).
    The worst case scenario is that he makes AP very credible in the area and possibly two council seats.

    You are essentially right that anybody can join the Alliance Party as an individual. And while your Leader made a point of saying that there are many new people joining the party……they were not all sitting in the front row of Conference and being singled out for mention. Thus some individuals bring or seem to bring slightly more than the annual membership fee.
    Harry Hamilton is a case in point.
    But I emphasise……and I think you take on board…..the reservation that newcomers from a previous well established political viewpoint….such as so called liberal unionism need to be looked at very closely.

  • joeCanuck

    Of course Comrade. Early dementia perhaps. I was indeed thinking of the supreme appeaser, Chamberlain.
    Apologies to descendants of Mr. Atlee who was a fine man indeed.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    To some extent my admiration for Harry Hamilton is related to the fact that he is one of the few “celebrities” who have put a toe into the world of politics.
    I suppose its not entirely surprising that Ferghal McKinney and Mike Nesbitt have turned their attention to Politics but I think its noticeable that not many of our sportspeople, entertainers, business people, trade unionists, journalists etc have made their politics public.
    Credit therefore to those…..Trevor Ringland, Davey Tweed…who have actually taken a stance. Any stance. But its rare. Clearly the previous violence played a part. Clearly it was considered divisive. Clearly there might be financial consequences.
    As I suggested above, some did not like a much loved entertainer openly declare his unionism. But surely it was hardly a surprise. I dont think Id be surprised that an Ulster/Ireland rugby player was a unionist. I dont think Id be surprised if a GAA county player was nationalist.
    But it has often intrigued me that in a comparatively small community with probably less than 100 so called celebs (ie people who we turn our heads in Bedford Street and Ormeau Road) and say things like “isnt that yer man from the Blame Game” or “isnt that yer woman who does the weather?”.

    They seem to live in a bubble.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Julian Simmons for first minister!

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Well certainly Julian is one of 100 Top Celebs. And it would be interesting to speculate who are the closet republican dissidents (not many) or TUV dissidents (almost as few).
    But its rather like those conversations in the office where everyone tells us that they have no interest in politics or that they vote Alliance (which is much the same thing as not having an interest in politics). 🙂 only kidding

    Yet clearly the journalists are political folk. In retirement they come out in truer colours…..but likewise the entertainers/sportspeople etc at the fringe of political events and close to the action whether being the entertainment at a Party Conference or always “being there” when there is a charideeee footy match at Stormont.

  • Seymour Duncan

    Interesting to see that Mr Hamilton’s band mate John Cleland is standing for Alliance party in the Craigavon Council elections. It seems that being in Flash Harry is something of a stepping stone into a political career. Freddie must be spinning in his grave. 🙂