Alliance And Nelson McCausland

At some point today, I hope to blog about the general Bastardy of the Alliance Party.

But just a thought on the issue of Nelson McCausland and the motion of censure which the SDLP has tabled. Love them or hate them, it has to be said that this looks like a good move by the SDLP. They are taking the lead and have forced Sinn Féin into making a decision….to support them.

But what will the Alliance Party do? The “principle” would be to support the motion. But Politics and general Bastardy play a part. David Ford will of course make a speech……a pious one……bemoaning the sectarianism in Norn Iron Politics but rather than supporting the SDLP motion he will claim that it is another piece of sectarian point scoring and his Party will have none of it. On principle. They will abstain.

And I cant help feeling that Sinn Féin will be relieved…….even though they vote for the motion.

But its Politics…….whats in it for Alliance?

Most reasonable people think that eleven “ministries” in the Executive is too many. The threshold for having a Ministry (as of right) is just eight seats……..and it has cost Alliance …or rather it has cost Rowntree £97,000 in “Quaker Money”, “Innocent Money”, “Chocolate Money” (thanks to Quintin Oliver of Stratagem for this reference) since 2007 just to get that one extra Assembly seat.

But thru the good offices of DUP and Sinn Féin, Alliance have a second Ministry…Justice (Minister Ford).

So look on this example of total Bastardy. UUP 16 Assembly seats…..88,000 votes and one Executive seat. SDLP 14 Assembly seats ….95,000 votes and one Executive seat…….and Alliance 8 Assembly seats (52,000 votes) and TWO Executive seats. Curiously the wonderfully fair-minded Alliance Party think this is just peachy.

So limiting the number of Ministries would raise the threshold for getting an Executive seats to around ten Assembly seats and confined to the Belfast suburbs, the Alliance Party and probably Ford’s leadership would be screwed. Of course they cant exactly rely on boundary changes or a lowering of the number of constituencies and MLAs helping them.

What they MAY be able to rely on is a re-think by the DUP and Sinn Féin……and no changes in the current system until after the next Assembly Election.


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32 Responses to Alliance And Nelson McCausland

  1. Charlie says:

    I think your analysis of how the alliance will play this is spot on. It’s usually what happens in Belfast city council when they have a casting vote. In the irish language sign, they voted for it though but mitigated it by saying well the sign is free and it’s Christmas. Rather than saying, “there is no earthly reason to oppose this, of course we’ll vote for it.”

    The other example that I can think when they voted with nationalists was when it was in their interests when the unionists planned to form the all n’ sundry unionist group on Belfast city council to get more turns at being Lord Mayor. If they got 8, and the SDLP got 6, it would be they who missed their entitlement to a mayorship.

    Apart from the rank hyprocrisy you mention about more executive seats than they’re entitled to (for which I equally criticise the DUP and SF), it’s the fact they can slyly put on a sectarian hat when it suits. Like listening to Ford on a loyalist doorstep in south antrim asking them to make sure they give him a preference to help keep “you-know-who out”. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Anna Lo’s supporters in 2007 probably said vote for me and we’ll take a UUP seat on nationalist doorsteps or vote for me, I’ll take a SF or SDLP seat on unionist doorsteps.

    It’s the inability to call a spade a spade. In 2011 Lo was being interviewed at a count after topping the poll and said that a large chunk of her supports went Lo 1, SDLP 2 & 3 (which is true). Then she realised she’d need a bit of sectarian balance and corrected herself by adding “or they also voted Lo 1, and DUP 2 & 3” (untrue). She got most votes from nationalist minded people in South Belfast and wanted to acknowledge it but couldn’t. I think it’s time the SDLP do what’s necessary to win those votes back from them in S. Belfast and from them in places like Hollywood in North Down.

    • I note that Ian Parsley (curiously described as a politician on Wikipedia…..who wrote that entry? LOL) who is back in the Alliance Party …..has noted how badly the DUP have behaved in North Belfast. Presumably the logic of his Blog is that the Alliance Party vote to support the SDLP motion.
      The alternative view is that Parsley is just being pious and the Alliance Party will abstain.
      Might also add that Gerry Lynch a former Alliance candidate and party official thought Alliance should have been more forthright a few weeks ago.
      The Alliance Party is well worth watching over next few days and weeks.

  2. sammymcnally says:

    I really dont get this thing about the Alliance – if they hadnt filled the justice post then we probably wouldnt have Stormo at all – I’m sure the SDLP realise this and it pretty silly for them to whinge on about it as ‘gerrymandering’.

    As for them keeping both sides happy – fair enough – its a good idea to have a wobbly centre that is flexible enough to keep the political train on the tracks – they deserve credit for that.

    I dont think we need a motion in Stormo to help form an opinion on Nelse – he is a bigot and we know that because he failed the BeachBoysTest.

    • Thats certainly true. But my point is that they stabbed UUP and SDLP in the back. Thats where they got the #2s. That extra Assembly seat was in East Belfast where the SDLP council vote for basically the same candidate was higher than the Assembly vote. And a lot of it went to Alliance and that did SDLP no favours.
      Alliance are the fifth largest Party and the third largest at Executive level.

  3. hoboroad says:

    The Alliance Party were shafted by the DUP and UUP ganging up on them on Castlereagh Council. Maybe it’s payback time for that.

    • Yes………and again I look to Ian Parsley who might be on or off message to slag off the DUP. The logic of his position is that Alliance have to vote with SDLP on this.
      If Alliance lose that Executive seat, then I think David Ford is toast.
      The Alliance Party are not exactly happy campers at the moment. The entryism of so called liberal unionists singing the praises of Stephen Farry is working thru the system.

  4. bangordub says:

    The point remains. Why do Alliance appear to get a free ride in the MSM and why do the the other parties, all of them, let them away with it?

    • Basically accepted by the letsgetalongerist media and for forty years the favourite party of the Northern Ireland Office who were always anxious to give them a boost hoping they would become more electorally successful.
      Attacking them WAS a bit like attacking Santa Claus as they were perceived as being (at worst) harmless.

  5. hoboroad says:

    Considering the control of the MSM is in the hands of former and current members of the Workers Party and the cosy relationship between the WP and Alliance Party going way back its not surprising at all.

    • To some extent that is true. The Workers Party detest SDLP and of course Sinn Féin…..but the journos who are not Ned Stapletons” are often lets getalongersist and the BBC, UTV and of course our old friends in the Belfast Telegraph are liberal unionists going back to Terence O’Neills day. And Catholics like G B Newe, Oliver Napier, John Cushnahan, Seamus Close and Sean Neeson are the acceptable face of Northern Catholicism.

  6. sammymcnally says:


    “The point remains. Why do Alliance appear to get a free ride in the MSM and why do the the other parties, all of them, let them away with it?”

    Because unike the 4 ‘big’ parties they dont try to promote ‘their’ community, they deserve credit for trying to plough the middle course.

    They have clealry been a positive force in Ulster and they are largely respected for that.

    I really dont see what the problem is.

  7. bangordub says:

    Are you trying to upset Mr Fitz 🙂
    Serious answer, a few questions: what is the middle course? Socially, politically, economically? And who are “their” community?

  8. sammymcnally says:

    Upsetting Mr Fitz? – moi?

    I think people forget how close Ulster remains to a re-ignition and the St Pats malarkey today is a remider of that.

    Alliance generally take a sensible political line when either of the 2 rival camps threaten to upset the delicate balance that keeps things largely non violent.

    They are convinivcingly enough able to claim ‘their’ community inlcludes both sides.

  9. hoboroad says:

    I remember someone telling me the Alliance Party election leaflets in West Belfast are somewhat different from the ones handed out in North Down. If that is true they are much like the Liberal Democrats in England more Tory than the Tories in the Shires and to the left of the Labour party in the North of England.

  10. sammymcnally says:


    Fitz doesnt like the letsgetalongists – that includes Alliance.

    They hold the Justice ministry, hold the balance of power in Belfast city council, got a Chinese female elected and mopped up Unionist votes in EB when the DUP rep. (Robbo) became unelectable.

    That is a lot of CURRENT very useful and successful getalongery and a very impresive CURRENT list of achievments – deserving of credit.

  11. hoboroad says:

    I’m surprised Bangordub all the parties get a free mail drop at election time. I can’t see any reason why you didn’t receive at least one leaflet.

  12. It’s civil disobedience to rebel against the authority, logically the real protest should’ve been aimed at the Parade’s Commision not at the Catholic Church and not bringing down what reasonable people are in the Orange Order with them.

    The big question is will Nelson fool the vast majority of people in the Assembly … Nationalists, Unionist (including the compus mentus ones in his own party) and others that “breaking the law” to insult Catholics and disgrace themselves, while distasteful, is still a fundamental civil liberty.

    Then to what extent is civil disobedience tolerable? Would he justify his own faith being attacked with the same Voltarian spirit?

    Those who have in the Royal Black engaging in the Windup merchantism are lucky to have avoided prosecution, why should more grace be offered to them?

  13. @sammymcnally

    Robinson was electable, he just wasn’t elected. You have to give the credit to Long and her supporters who beat him, otherwise Robinson would’ve been elected, and quite easily too ahead of Ringland, if Long was out of the contest and her votes went out with her.

  14. sammymcnally says:


    Yes, I take your correction. Alliance offered a credible alternative to a struggling Robbo and illustrated perhaps for the first time in recent history that in an Ulster election ‘normal’ politics (ie a sex scandal) can out.

    Not sure what the betting is but obvioulsy DUP will be hot favourites to retake the seat. (I undoubtedly wouldnt be so happy if the Alliance took a ‘Nationalist’ seat but that says just something about my own ideology.)

    I find the anti-Aliance stuff a bit unecessary – it’s bit a like finding offence at the scene of punchup with one of the observers rather than with the main protagonists.

    ps Are you an oldsluggeronian, your name looks familiar?

  15. sammymcnally says:

    Leaving aside our little green focus group here – I think the vast majority of mainlanders would judge Nelse to be a bigot over his failing to pass the BeachBoysTest and the Unionist ‘family’ (inside and outsiide the assembly) will row in behind Nelse and the OOs because they see (rightly) their community losing out in tems of morale if they back down now.

    It was clealry the wrong fight to pick on the wrong issue – but Unionism doesnt tend to do direction changes until they become mandatory.

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