Musical Chairs In South Belfast

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.

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8 Responses to Musical Chairs In South Belfast

  1. Rory Carr says:

    “All politics is local,” you say. How would one be expected to apply this theory to the (successful) motion in the House of Commons sanctioning slaughter in Iraq and the (unsccessful) motion intending to sanction slaughter in Syria ?

  2. It will be interesting to see the electoral effects of Anna Lo’s interview. On one hand her low opinion of the rights of Irish-speaking citizens and communities in the north-east of the country leaves a bad taste in the mouth. On the other hand at least she has enough political nous to detect which way the (historical) wind is blowing even if most of her party is still ideologically oblivious. She may indeed get the “loan” of some votes from the SDLP and SF if her views curry favour with that electorate. However if the Alliance Party’s elected Unionist-lites continue to kick up a fuss it may backfire as Nationalist voters perceive an Orange Wizard behind the liberal curtain. And then she will have to rely on disgruntled Alliance, UUP and Tory votes. Interesting days ahead.

    • I feel that i should have warmed to Anna Long years ago…and yet I cant.
      I think she is a phoney.
      Which is partly why I think this is all nonsense.
      Liberal Unionism is no friend of nationalism and the hysterical reaction of some in LetSGetalongerism is interesting.

      • There is a certain desperation to the mantra-like repetition of the Unionist-lites that “The Union is safe because political Nationalists are actually economic Unionists!”. SO’T carried something along those lines recently from Gerry Lynch (ex-AP honcho. Would he be “a political Unionist who is a socially liberal Nationalist”?) while Paul Bew was spinning similar wishful thinking over on the New Statesman. It gets boring after a while.

        “Anna Long”? Is that a Freudian slip or some insightful political commentary? 😉

      • Dont start me on Paul Bew.
        Lo and Long….I just cant tell them apart.
        Easy mistake to make at my age.

  3. boondock says:

    After reading that Rice and Kamble stayed firmly seated during the standing ovations for Lo. I posted this on the BelTel site.

    OK so what exactly is kamble and Rice’s problem with lo. She did state that a United Ireland should only happen with the consent of the people of northern Ireland. Is their anger just a sign that they themselves might actually be in the wrong party. No big deal anyway. Lo has pretty much tripled rice’s vote in south Belfast in just a few years so draw your own conclusions about the quality of the 2 politicians. As for kamble she is only a councillor by being co-opted and when she stood in FST she got less than 1% of the vote so I don’t think either of these two should be taken seriously.

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