For a political party to lose one councillor in one DEA is unfortunate. For a political party to lose two councillors in the same DEA looks downright careless. The party is the Alliance Party.
These things happen of course. And it is the right tactic for the Leader of a Party …in this case the saintly Naomi Long….suffering not just one but two defections ……to express “disappointment” and to question the motives of the defectors. Ms Long says its about “disappointment”….specifically one of the councillors, Geraldine Rice “MBE” had aspired to be Mayor of Lisburn/Castlereagh as the office goes on rotation to the Alliance Party. Another Alliance councillor, Tim Morrow has been chosen.
Ms Rice “MBE” alleges that the decision was “ageist” and that she is “not the face of the Alliance Party”. Ms Kamble, her erstwhile colleague alleges racism and that the Allance Party was a “cold house” for her.
It is an odd parallel with the situation within SDLP in West Tyrone last year. Before the Assembly Election, the local SDLP was stung by the defections of some local councillors, disappointed that one was not chosen as a running mate for Daniel McCrossan. Ultimately it had no effect on the result.
I have of course a lot of time for SDLP. I have of course absolutely no time for the Alliance Party. Like I say, these things happen …even in the Alliance Party which likes to think of itself as superior to the rest of us.
Defection is never pleasant. We can only watch the mud fly.
It would have been nice for Geraldine Rice “MBE” (now 70) to have ended her political career as Mayor of Lisburn/Castlereagh, not least because before the merger of these councils, she played a leading role in fighting the DUP in their flagship Castlereagh stronghold.
Although the name will be unfamiliar to many younger political nerds, Ms Rice “MBE” is familiar to those of us of a certain vintage. She had the misfortune to be the leading light in the South Belfast Alliance Party when the Womens Coalition was at full strength. She was never elected as MLA.
She was eclipsed by Anna Lo “MBE” . And now that Ms Lo “MBE” has retired from politics, the leading Alliance person in South Belfast is Paula Bradshaw , who stood for UUP-Tory against Ms Lo “MBE” in 2010. Working for Ms Bradshaw is husband Ian Parsley (ex Alliance, ex UUP-Tory, ex Tory, Alliance again …..but not necessarily in that order) and Emmet McDonough-Brown.
Ms Rice “MBE” seems marginalised in Castlereagh South. It is a DEA which is actually in three constituencies, South Belfast, East Belfast and Strangford. I would suggest that Carryduff roundabout is the worst possible place to try and build a political base. And the demise of Castlereagh Council and its attachment as the tail on the Lisburn dog has not helped Ms Rice “MBE”.
Ms Rice “MBE” was the most vocal Alliance critic of Ms Lo “MBE” when her constituency colleague outed herself as a “nationalist”.
Becoming Mayor might be a fitting reward for decades of public service to voters and the Alliance Party but the Alliance Party does not take the “ageism” allegations seriously. After all three of the current Alliance MLAs are “blue bus pass age”….Lunn (70), Dickson (66) and Ford (65) and as far as I know they have not been de-selected ahead of the upcoming election. Likewise Lo “MBE” and McCarthy were in the “blue bus pass age” when they stood down last year.
Ms Kamble alleges racism in the Alliance Party. It is denied. She claims she has never felt comfortable and previously considered resigning from the Party.
Who knows? Ms Rice “MBE”, Ms Long, Ms Lo “MBE” and Ms Kamble know more about Alliance Party than I do. But Ms Kamble further alleges “snobbery” and a “tight clique of elitist individuals”.
Hmmm….”a tight clique of elitist individuals”. To be honest, I have always thought that.
Whatever….it might have some impact in South Belfast.