About I week ago I started to notice that I had not seen much of David Ford, the Alliance Leader over the past few weeks. He turned up again on Monday at Stormont. and indeed performed credibly in the zoo that was the Nolan Show on wednesday night.
But where was he until Monday? Well quite simply, like a lot of people on a longish break, he might have decided to take a well-earned holiday. Or simply as Minister for Justice, he might simply have thought that it would be inappropriate to be visible as Minister when his own Party was under disgusting attack from the knuckle-dragging loyalists in East Belfast. East Antrim and North Down. Visibility as the Policing Minister might well have made the situation worse.
Or he might simply have been standing aside to let Naomi Long, MP for East Belfast to make the running. She grew in stature during the worst of the attacks. And it will do her no harm when she takes on Stephen Farry for the Leadership of the Party. Or maybe Naomi has already effectively her placed Ford as Leader.
Naomi and Stewart Dickson have had a good Flegs Riots Campaign. But frankly Farry,Trevor Lunn and Kieran McCarthy have been invisible. And Anna Lo rarely shy when a TV camera is within a mile has also been keeping a low profile.
If a goodly part of the Flegs Fiasco has been about taking Naomi Long’s seat…then we can make no criticism of her because she is certainly fighting tooth and nail to keep it.
But if Naomi was the Alliance success story of 2010, surely the success story of 2011 was Alliance taking two East Belfast seats in the Assembly Election. Chris Lyttle, actually co-opted to replace Naomi after her “promotion” has never impressed me. He still appears like a man who can’t believe his (good) luck. And Judith Cochrane…frankly I don’t even know what she sounds like. I don’t think I have ever seen her interviewed. She always strikes n me as a woman who can’t squire believe her (bad) luck.
It would be a mistake to think that Alliance and East Belfast is just about Naomi Long. It is also about defending two Assembly seats. Now of course it would be a mistake to think that being a MLA is all about being on the telly. a lot of good work is not done in public. But here’s a question? With all this happening in East Belfast…..have you actually seen Chris Lyttle or Judith Cochrane?