Just resurrected myself after the count last night, always an experience in itself. Can I firstly congratulate Francie on his
retirement elevation to the mother of Parliaments, he would pose quite a striking figure on the green bench if he chose to attend, and although not quite as good as the Lord’s the hospitality facilities are supposed to be quite good. When he steps down from Stormont he can at least be assured his place in history as the very first Principle Deputy Speaker and I am sure he will be the first to congratulate Mitchel when he shortly takes his place as the first Republican Speaker at Stormont.
As for the resurrection man, congratulations to Nigel for achieving the almost impossible, getting three squabbling political parties to work together and carrying virtually all their voters with them,and achieving this in an incredibly short space of time with the pundits, commentators and media experts lined up against him. Its a good job he listened to the voters and not the experts! Which is where the call of an agreed candidate came from, on the ground voters, who also made clear the consequences if their views were ignored. Do people really think this idea came from the top down? The message was clear in Mid-Ulster, stand seperate candidate and your vote will plummet. The votes will return to their respective camps next year, but should keep the 2 assembly seats safe and possibly make a difference in those final seats in the new council elections. Maybe more of a case of life saving surgery than ressurection.
Congratations also to Patsy McGlone, someone who you could call a “Ronseal” politician, retaking some of the ground lost to SF, the best candidate in many ways, who knows if they had of pulled a South Down and kept up with SF over the years… but as it is he has just hit the Quota level for the assembly, good but hard slog ahead if they want to get another assembly seat back.
Finally Alliance breakthrough the 1% barrier ! showing they are more than a party for the suburban chattering class… to be serious, for a centreist party, with two executive seats, after a period of non-ending press coverage to poll less than 500 votes, shows just how little they understand or even care about whats goes on west of Hillborough never mind the Bann, well done to Eric for standing, he seemed to be a gentleman, but if you want to be taken seriously alot more than token candidates are needed.
The real winner last night? Mike Nesbitt, the person with the most to lose on taking the gamble, a very pleased man at the count when it became clear that Nigel and team had exceed expectations, and further evidence that John and Basil made a complete dogs dinners of their long planned for mutiny. But in the words of Churchill “It is not the end, nor… etc etc.” the Mid-Ulster result is already chip wrappers, and speculation on Europe and the next General Election is rife, everybody is good at saying where to draw the line on co-operation, it has held this time but I guess the pressure won’t be eased for long.
In the meantime there remains the small matter of the future of our childrens education, the shape of local government, dealing with past and present divisions, the fun is over, back to work folk!