Slugger O’Toole at its worst.
Organising a “General Election” Debate in East Belfast…which only features two of the candidaes standing. Sitting MP, Naomi Long of the Alliance Party and Gavin Robinson of DUP.
The Election itself is effectively a head-to-head between two Parties…Alliance and DUP. They put up a deposit and they are entitledto stand at Election. The Green Party, SDLP and Sinn Féin will also be standing. They put up a deposit also and at least as entitled to have their voice heard.
Not in the view of Slugger O’Toole.
Slugger wants a “focussed debate” with serious challengers. The criteria is that a Party must have 10 per cent of votes cast in the previous election. This qualifies Alliance, DUP and UUP. But UUP are in a shameful pact with DUP.
It is shamefully a Pact that Slugger O’Toole has entered into with Alliance and DUP. The point can and will be made by Slugger that the Greens, SDLP and Sinn Féin cannot win the seat.
Absolutely true. But votes cast for them can influence the result. Certainly the votes for Greens, SDLP and Sinn Féin will be squeezed but as two of the Parties are anti-unionist and one allegedly neutral, it seems more likely that the squeezed votes would benefit Naomi Long than a representative of an Orange supporting and homophobic Party.
Part of the calculation in East Belfast has to be that a DUP candidate benefits from the decision of the UUP to stand aside. The decision of UUP to enter into an electoral pact with DUP has been criticised. I agree. It is shameful.
Part of the calculation in East Belfast has to be that Naomi Long and Alliance would be efit from any decision of “progressive parties” to stand aside. The Greens, SDLP and Sinn Féin are not standing aside but Slugger has oblidged their Alliance friends by making them more irrelevant.
The perceived wisdom is that the Election will be close. It might hinge on the decision of usual Green, SDLP or Sinn Féin voters to vote against the DUP. Slugger has facilitated that by emphasising that it is a straight choice.
Part of the duty of any democratic party is to seek to represent its most marginalised voters…and clearly in East Belfast, nationalists and left-leaning parties are marginalised. It is a credit to Greens, SDLP and Sinn Féin that they put up a candidate. It is a credit to Alliance that they will give their supporters a voice in (say) Mid Ulster.
Little credit then to Slugger O’Toole. We do not know who within the Slugger team dreamed up this formula. And with the lack of transparency that Slugger condemns in others…we wont know.
What we DO know is that on Facebook, Alan Meban promotes the event by pointing out that supporters of other parties are “welcome”. Perhaps in a segregated part of the audience. Rather like black, coloured and mixed race people were allowed to attend rugby matches and cricket matches in South Africa.
Shame on Slugger O’Toole …again.