THE ALLIANCE PARTY CONFERENCE was a low key event compared with last year when the party was buoyant after good results in the 2017 NI Assembly election and members were still unaware of the surprise General Election that was just weeks away from being announced. Without an election campaign and without a functioning Assembly with plenary sessions and committee hearings to create stories, Alliance’s impact in political discussions is muted, and their ability to build political capital constrained. Challenges to improve the accountability of local councils are worthwhile, but don’t excite their support-base or keep the party in the headlines.
Today’s Alliance Party conference came just days after Anna Lo’s perfectly valid – though politically thoughtless – comments about her personal views on Irish unification were reported as part of her interview with John Manley in the Irish News. It was hard to avoid the annual party member get-together being seen through an Anna Lo lens. It was the topic of conversation amongst delegates. I talked to no one who was upset by Anna’s aspiration. No matter whether accused of … Read more
Alliance’s party conference takes place in La Mon Hotel on Saturday. Expect to hear speeches from their Euro candidate Anna Lo, the Minister for Employment & Learning Stephen Farry (whose department failed to go away you know), as well as deputy leader and East Belfast MP Naomi Long. With the party conference so close to the May elections – though still outside the broadcasting “closed season” – expect to hear from budding council candidates wanting to make their mark on … Read more
A quick post to remind political conference followers about the start of the conference season. UUP are tempting metaphors and analogies with their conference on 21 (members only) and 22 (public sessions) September in Titan Belfast. Last year Secretary of State Owen Paterson popped into the conference and said a few words on his way past; Mike Nesbitt gave a Cameron-style speech on the economy without notes challenging the party to: … become net contributors to Her Majesty’s Treasury. We … Read more