All Politics is local. And sometimes even a bit personal.
There are times when the “moderate” Alliance Party has had a reputation for in-fighting and shafting each other.
Thats an interesting dimension to the fall-out from Lo-Gate.
BBC News is reporting that Geraldine Rice, their second most prominent member in South Belfast has gone public expressing her shock that Anna Lo, MLA for South Belfast has expressed a desire however nuanced for a United Ireland.
I am inclined to think that this is more to do with Alliance in and around their South Belfast Constituency office in University Avenue, than it has to do with “big” politics.
Lets just consider that for a moment.
South Belfast is home territory for Alliance. They had two MLAs there in the 1970s, before local nationalists found the strength and organisation to vote SDLP.
But in years around the Good Friday Agreement, they could not get a MLA elected. They lost ground…a rising nationalist vote and the short-lived Womens Coalition…saw them without a MLA.
On more than one occasion, their flagbearer was …Geraldine Rice.
Ms Rice has never made it at Stormont level.
The Alliance revival in South Belfast is largely due to Anna Lo.
They have a safe seat.
And can legitimately target a second.
Former Quangocrat and Conflict Resoution enthusiast Duncan Morrow is Alliance Royalty. His family have served that party well…including his Uncle Addie, a former Deputy Leader.
I have to declare a slight interest here…Duncans parents (Rev John Morrow and his wife) were guests at our wedding and a few years ago, he was a mourner at my mother-in-laws funeral.
But it is clear that Duncan, now showing as an Alliance “representative” on the Alliance web site and a highly visible presence (not just because he is about 6ft 6inches tall) at yesterdays Conference, is being groomed to take a Stormont seat in 2016.
Even when heading the Community. Relations Council, it was pretty obvious that Big Duncan was “close to the thinking” of the Alliance Party.
He actually took part in a panel discussion at the SDLP Party Conference in 2010. As I wrote then, I found it difficult that SDLP had an almost suicidal obsession with promoting every voice but their own.
After a short time in Academia, Duncan has opted for politics. While an almost certain election to Belfast City Council only pays £14,000 per year, it is pretty obvious that Duncan has his eyes firmly set on the Big Prize.
He will be transfer-friendly. And could not be a better fit for the South Belfast constituency.
He is a big prize for Alliance.
In 2016, Alliance Party will be in the position of seriously challenging for two Assembly seats in South Belfast.
It is unlikely that Geraldine Rice will be on the ticket.
Yet it has always been assumed that Cathy Curran, who is Anna Lo’s constituency worker and (since 2011) a Belfast City Councillor, was being groomed to take over from Lo, who is now in her sixties.
Surprisingly Cathy Curran is not seeking re-election to the City Council. It looks like her political career is over.
Elsewhere in South Belfast, Alliance Party will be running Paula Bradshaw (Mrs Parsley) for the City.
Paula Bradshaw is ambitious but I have seen no evidence that her portfolio of skills matches her ambition. Bradshaw stood for the ill-fated Tory-UUP coalition at the 2010 Westminster Election, a few months before defecting to Alliance. Its hard to know just what Alliance foot-soldiers make of Bradshaw.
They might well be tolerant…even welcoming.
She is already on the Alliance Party Executive…not bad for a new girl.
But what Alliance think of Bradshaw might be influenced by what they think of hubby, Ian.
Ian Parsley is a former councillor in North Down. A one term councillor elected on the final count.
Oddly, he was Alliance Party candidate in the 2009 European Elections, before defecting to be Tory-UUP man in 2010 Westminster Election (Nortb Down) …his wife was standing in South Belfast.
Bradshaw joined Alliance in late 2010.
Parsley re-joined them in 2011.
The problem is that when you get Bradshaw, you also get Parsley, a man who has said (on his Blog) that the real currency of politics is not votes…its influence.
So from my perspective, the Anna Lo story and how its played out is actually more about South Belfast than it is about the Border.
Its “musical chairs”, jockeying for position as Anna Lo enters her mid 60s.
Duncan Morrow and Paula Bradshaw…winners.
Geraldine Rice and Cathy Curran…losers.