NI21 issue open call for council candidates: fresh politics or desperate measures?

Relatively few people seem to wake up in the morning and decide to be a politician. Existing party activists recognise the gifts and passion in people they see and invite them to join, and invite them to run.

Time and after time at the Alliance conference, and again at the Green Party conference, speakers recounted who had approached them and got them involved.

The power of the personal invitation.


ni21 needs youNI21’s approach somehow flies in the face of this with its open call for candidate volunteers.

The difficulty in starting up a new party could hardly be overestimated. Growing sustainably, creating structures, defining a culture, deciding on policies that won’t suit everyone who chose to join, dealing with discipline. And that’s before you have to persuade people to climb ladders, trudge through the rain to deliver leaflets and lose weight on the campaign trail.

But an open invitation to apply to stand for council smacks of desperation rather than strategy.

There may be some method in NI21’s madness in delaying announcement of their Euro and Council candidates to maximise the slim media publicity they can hope to achieve. However, it points to a party that’s struggling to overcome the inertia to reach the start line of the May race.

Converting support for the notion of moderate politics into the reality of a thriving moderate party is proving even harder than John or Basil imagined. While a party insider once commented to me that NI21 may not be the vehicle that eventually has success and grows, the first election does feel like it could be the beginning of the end rather than the end of the beginning. It would be sad to see NI21 implode so soon.

But if you’re fresh faced and wanting to put yourself forward as an NI21 candidate, it sounds like they’d be delighted to hear from you.

Alan Meban. Normally to be found blogging over at Alan in Belfast where you’ll find an irregular set of postings, weaving an intricate pattern around a diverse set of subjects. Comment on cinema, books, technology and the occasional rant about life. On Slugger, the posts will mainly be about political events and processes. Tweets as @alaninbelfast.