Trouble at Alliance’s (Lisburn and) Castlereagh mill…

Oh dear. Going to war election is causing all manner of ruckles inside various political parties, even Alliance. Two councillors Geraldine Rice and Vasundhara Kamble have left the party over allegations of racism and ageism.

Rice goes back a long way with Alliance. It’s true, as she says, she played a rearguard action in Peter Robinson’s small state model of a local council in Castlereagh from her first election in 1989 as a local champion for Carryduff (when John D Taylor topped the poll).

Vasundhara Kamble replaced Judith Cochrane in Castlereagh East when the latter was elected to the NI Assembly in 2011.

Not a great start, but in absence of more concrete evidence, I’m inclined to chalk it up to an “issue-we-didn’t-think-we’d-have-to-deal-with-for-four-more-years-after-waiting-five-years-for-the-last-election-this-one-happened-in-just-eight-months”.

Neither woman is now mentioned on the Alliance party website. By my reckoning that knocks Alliance down from six to four councillors on Lisburn and Castlereagh Council (ie, about the same as the SDLP).

Not a great start to the campaign, but since they are both down the Castlereagh end of the Council area, it’s hard to see it tipping anything in Upper Bann (the Lisburn end), where SDLP man Pat Catney entertains the hope of easing ahead of Alliance vet Trevor Lunn.

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  • Nevin

    Mick, the hiatus would appear to have a very recent straw and camel origin:

    Alderman Geraldine Rice said, “We are looking forward to growing our team on Castlereagh Borough Council this year following on from the election of Naomi Long as MP in East Belfast last year and the excellent result for Alliance in the Castlereagh East by-election where we more than doubled our vote. Based on that result, we are very hopeful of making a gain in Castlereagh East and bringing the Morrow name back onto the Council after the years of service given by Addie Morrow. .. April 26, 2011

    and

    The 70-year-old said the decision by the local Alliance group to nominate councillor Tim Morrow as the next mayor was “the straw that broke the camel’s back”. …

    She accused Alliance of reneging on a promise that she would be mayor when the position became available .. January 26, 2017

    This reduces the number of Alliance councillors from seven to five.

  • Gopher

    I think Long and nouveau Alliance which pushes the SDLP lite line now will be glad to be shot of Rice. Rice had the temerity to criticize Lo and increase her vote without shouting which made her somewhat of reactionary within the high volume “All mouth and no trousers” policies pursued by Long and the “bright young things” . If Kamble was close to Rice I imagine it was more collateral damage than origin that was held against her. To put it another way Vasundhara, white coffee shop liberals with a couple of thousand votes feel they are superior to Presidents, Prime Ministers and everyone else not just you. Its not racism its an extreme hubris disorder. Leaving the EU could not happen and Trump was never going to be President because they just had a Latte and read it in the Guardian. Whilst I admire Longs combatative streak and every party needs an attack dog or two, there does seem to be no off switch and there generally has to have a point! And she is the Leader! Alliance with Long are becoming more Spinal Tap by the day “these speakers go up to eleven”

  • Dan

    My thoughts and prayers are with Alliance at this difficult time…

    https://mobile.twitter.com/stewartcdickson/status/787639655596429312

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Not a great week for the Yellow Submarine Brigade The Paula Bradshaw (Backfired) Leaflet and now this ? When is the Fair Employment Agency getting involved ? “The Nasty Nazi Alliance Party” You Say ?

  • notimetoshine

    The Alliance party are not fit for purpose. They lack the organisational skills and wherewithal to really make a go of the centre ground. The reasonable, sensible centre ground needs an aggressive insurgent political party to challenge the sectarian establishment on their many failures, but alas alliance aren’t the people to do it.

    I thought they were at one stage. But they simply don’t have the aggression to do so. And as one of these councillors mentioned maybe you do have to be the right sort of person or from the right background to be of any use to alliance.

  • SDLP supporter

    Just a corrective, not to the main story. The hard-working Pat Catney is the SDLP candidate in Lagan Valley, and Dolores Kelly is the SDLP candidate in Upper Bann,

  • Liggy85

    What are you basing this on?

  • notimetoshine

    Well think about it, we have had several years of government from Stormont, constantly overshadowed and sidelined by the sectarian merry-go-round of the main parties. Alliance is the only middle road party to have gained and maintained a significant electoral position in NI. Yet where is the vociferous assault on the DUP SF axis? Where is the call out? The aggressive language and forthright assault in the manner of Jim Allister or even Basil McCrea and his waste of space speech? Indeed until last year they were happy to collaborate with them in their sectarian omnishambles executive, taking scraps from the table, and getting damn all in return.

    Their leaders have none of the political skill of Foster, McGuiness et al, even when they have oh so much to work with. Where is the challenge to the electorate on health and on education, on infrastructure and the economy. Pointing out to them that their continued vote for the orange and green status quo is responsible for the shocking lack of effective policy and governance from the executive?

    And as for the last part, well as Vasundhara Kamble said of Alliance “a tight clique of elitist individuals” who have “no time for people who aren’t from a certain professional, educational and financial background”. Now of course there maybe more to that, but its something of a meme really Alliance people being from the right social background or from influential families within the Alliance Party. On that I concede I could be wrong and it’s of less importance than their incompetence.

  • Granni Trixie

    This is of course upsetting. As it will be for the individual complainants.
    Whilst One could dispute aspects ( such as motivation) what one cannot argue with are that the Councillors believe that they have not been treated fairly particularly in respect of non selection. Which has to be taken seriously,

    As I don’t know much except what I have read about this case I am not sure what lessons if any are to be learnt. From general experience I think however that the case points to the importance of finding ways to ensure that people know how to follow grievance procedures – the work is not done when you have them written down in a handbook (which is already the case).

  • Granni Trixie

    It actually made me smile – I needed that!

  • Dan

    an opportunity for a bit of virtue signalling, and he was in there like a shot.

  • Granni Trixie

    Please tell me he meant it as a joke?

  • Neil

    The lesson I would suggest is that the DUP are feeling the pinch and starting to focus on the competition for votes, so the DUP’s Pravda are doing their best to put some pressure on. For two reasons I would be optimistic about that: the first being that from the running order it seems like it’s possible the DUP see you as more of a danger than the UUP; and the second being that they think accusations of racism and ageism are gonna actually put DUP voters off voting Alliance. Naomi has been everywhere lately and the twitter vibe seems to be almost universally approving so I wouldn’t be too surprised if you do well this time out. If I were Mike Nesbitt I would be expecting a BT spread on some contrived UUP controversy soon.

  • Granni Trixie

    Although I appreciate your optimism I think that this particular election is especially difficult to predict. It could be a game changer in that people have reason to break out of their voting silos …or that the sectarian card trumps considerations such as good governance.

  • Dan

    ‘fraid not..

  • Gingray

    I am not the biggest fan of the Alliance Party, but I have my doubts that the party as a whole are either racist or ageist. The vast majority of canvassers, supporters and elected officials encountered have been anything but, so it doesn’t stack up considering the party nominated Lo and many older candidates as MLAs.

    I would agree with Kambles quote about the party being full of people who are a tight clique of elitist, snobby people, but then which party isn’t?

  • Ryan A

    ‘SDLP lite’… Is that a diet version of ‘Vote Mike, get Colum’?

    A former Slugger regular picked up on this tension a while ago. Seems Rice nor Kamble got on well with the wider South Belfast association never mind LCCC.

    https://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/5441/

  • Ryan A

    Would explain the motivations for Pengelly’s foolish attempt at a headline grab given Castlereagh South is ‘her area’.

  • T.E.Lawrence
  • T.E.Lawrence

    Be weary of “that twitter vibe” ? NI21 was going to do all sorts of things with that vibe …………….. (NOT !) An early grave more like !

  • T.E.Lawrence

    I agree with you as this incident proves ! If this incident was to happen in the DUP/SF Axis it would not be a 12 hour news story but “Full Monty” The Media Hawks tells you the real relevance of the Alliance Party ? (Going Nowhere Fast Party) !

  • Madra Uisce

    Granni the sectarian card will win out The DUPknow their voter base well. Hell even one poster on Slugger was honest enough to admit what some of usage been saying repeatedly themmuns is in the DNA of the majority of Unionist voters.

  • Granni Trixie

    We’ll agree to differ ..it’s too easy to stereotype besides some of the new generation has to have moved on even if some act like old foggies (oops, hope that this isn’t ‘ageist’?).

  • Madra Uisce

    We will see who is right come the election. By right the DUP should be in for an electoral kicking but because they will play the themmuns card sectarianism will again come to their rescue

  • Fidellum

    I think he did. He’s not short of a sense of humour.

  • Fidellum

    Is Dolores not hard-working?

  • Gopher

    Nope The SDLP and UUP are running scared of that tag line. You can see the number of candiadates in each constiuency everyone is parking the bus. The only risk taking I see is in South Belfast by Alliance funnily enough running 2 at just under one quota. SDLP lite is basically doing everything the same as the SDLP but admiting your not working class and avoiding looking like you should be in a vocation. The dead give away is preaching at volume without actually producing or delivering on policy. Just in case your not familair with nouveau Alliance.

  • Ryan A

    Can’t really deliver on policy when not in the executive; but Alliance have nonetheless been most active on PMBs.

    It crossed my mind the other day the likely reason for the LCCC situation has come from the Lisburn contingent likely wanting to use the mayoral position to plan for a successor for Lunn within the next assembly term. Most likely Stephen Martin.

  • Gopher

    Ford was never a minister?

  • Ryan A

    Yes he was – and reduced crime while in office as well as reducing the number of delapidated court houses in service (having been called as a witness; I can assure you if there’s a place worse than hell it’s Lisburn court house) which the incumbnent took the bizarre decision to reverse. Pretty sure he didn’t mis-place anyone on bail for terrorist offences either.