Alliance launched their election campaign this morning but gave away little about the specific contents of their upcoming manifesto. The paper copy of David Ford’s speech this morning was titled: “Ford launches Alliance campaign saying the party is leading change”.
Certainly it seemed like the party leader was embarking on a record breaking attempt to overuse the word change. If his short speech was passed through Wordle, the word “change” would overshadow all other content. [Ed – by popular demand, now added at the end of the post.] And it pops up more than a few times in the quick interview with him afterwards.
Change is not a word that many people associated with elections in Northern Ireland … But we believe change is possible … Because this party has been in the business of change – the business of leading change – since the day and hour it was formed … We didn’t accept then [1970s] that change wasn’t possible, and we don’t accept it now … Real change that people want … Anyone who thought change wasn’t possible didn’t could on the people of that constituency [East Belfast]. People who imagined what change would look like, believed that it was possible, and voted to make it happen. People who decided that they wanted to join us in leading change … And so today we launch the next phase in our campaign for change.
Ford’s election goal is to return Alliance to the Assembly with a couple of extra seats that should be enough to guarantee them a ministry when d’Hondt process is run. Alliance’s success or failure in May will be judged on getting a ministry and moving up a league to become the fifth “main party”. By my calculations, they’d be likely to pick up 8th choice out of the 10 ministries allocated that way.
Indeed, we are ambitious enough to believe that we can increase both the number of Alliance Councillors and our number of MLAs. Enough Assembly Members to guarantee a seat on the Executive under the current system for appointing Ministers. If I am returned as Justice Minster that would mean two Alliance Ministers at the Executive table. Two Alliance Ministers, pledged to deliver change within their departments and to drive the Executive towards a new level of joined-up government. That’s not an ambition for our Party – that’s an ambition for our community.
However, Executive seats for Alliance could be short lived if agreement is reached to reduce the number of ministries down to 7/8, and if parties agree to appoint Justice by d’Hondt after May 2012.
Alliance’s whizzy animated Party Election Broadcast will be broadcast tonight. I’ll embed a copy here when it appears online next week.) Asked whether voters are swayed by PEBs, David Ford explained:
I think what is the key issue is the image your party has. And I think what we’ve got at the moment is the image of being genuinely about change, genuinely about reforms, genuinely about a shared future. And I think in that sense, doing a different kind of election broadcast will be interesting in terms of the amount it attracts. What’s quite clear is that most of the other parties seem to be back in the same tired old formula of talking heads, saying how great they are without actually confronting the issues behind it.