NI21 Launch

image image   Pretty big turnout. Nine rows of ten seats. A group of journos and cameras standing to the right.  Group of staffers and volunteers standing to the left in front of curtains which would be drawn apart to reveal the Logo. To me it had a slight suffragette feel to it. And I think I have seen Norn Iron tracksuits like it. A bit late in starting.Seemingly there was an over-spill audience in another room And that caused the delay. Oddly the Launch got underway when Mr Eamonn Mallie, even more bohemian than ever entered the room. For a brief moment I thought Mallie expected people to stand up and applaud. Few introductory remarks from the new Chair (?). John McCallister spoke sincerely and upbeat.

About seven people were invited to speak. It seemed to go down well, although it is not really my kinda thing. For the most part, these were people who had not voted before. Two maybe even three, had been or still are politics students. The amateur feel CAN be a strength but there are no “big names” and ultimately the Party may need a tier of local councillors and it will be interesting to see if they can do well in 2014. No mention of financial backers either. There were one or two lobbying “faces” there…but significant non-appearances.

There were several SDLP faces there. That should not be interpreted as “support”, except in the general sense of goodwill.

In his speech, Basil made a virtue out of the grassroots nature of the Party but to me it lacks muscle. No Alliance “faces” there (so far as I know). But really thats the battleground. This is a genuinely non-sectarian unionist Party and a worry to Alliance Party.

I wish NI21 well but my overall impression is that this new Party has in some way or other been on the cards for three years and the collapse of the UUP-Tory Coalition. That MIGHT have been the opportune time for a new liberal unionist Party and that ship may have sailed with Bradshaw and Hamilton in the Alliance Party and Ringland with the Conservatives and Ian Parsley (for now) with Alliance.

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25 Responses to NI21 Launch

  1. factual says:

    I think they should aim to being a socially-liberal home-grown version of the NI conservatives, a bit like the PDs in the south. A Northern Irish version of conservativism, without baggage of the past and “diverse” in support, maybe a place for those Catholic unionists we hear about.

    They can also be a “protest” party for people who don’t like the Executive parties but who won’t vote TUV.

    I agree that they have a hill to climb – on the whole I don’t expect them to do well but we will have to see.

    • The Pee Dees had no redeeming features whatsoever.
      They had a deep rooted selfishness and were a Party without any sense of WARMTH. They revelled in the fact that they were not NICE.
      If NI 21 has a defining characteristic, it is that they are NICE people.

      • factual says:

        The first test will I suppose be the next opinion poll which will include them as an option.

      • Opinion Polls are not a test.

      • Ah, nice people in political parties. Reminds me of Alliance party council meetings during election campaigns, from the audience: “We can’t respond to that attack ad because that wouldn’t be nice.” Argh! (Thankfully Mssrs Farry and Ford were more ruthless.)

        Let’s see what happens when UUP and others start attacking N21 in election contests.

      • Oh I dont think that the Alliance Party qualifies as ” nice people”. Quite the opposite.
        They purport to be one which is completely different.
        Clearly Empey on the View was in attack mode.
        And the Alliance have been unable to do so while there was a possibility that Basil and John would join Alliance. Fordy would have loved to have introduced them at an Alliance Conference. I was there at Dunadry when he pointed out Ms Bradshaw and Mr Hamilton and praised their vision etc etc etc. I cant recall any such public welcome for the return of Mr Parsley.
        Quite possibly, Alliance might hope for an electoral pact…but if that doesnt work out Forde will have to release the attack dogs in the Alliance kennels.
        Because NI 21 might actually be a threat.
        A crowded middle ground is not good for Alliance, Womens Coalition knocked them back a few years ago. NI21 could well have the capability to do the same. Especially with at least five of the dysfunctional Assembly Party over 60.
        Alliance is publicly agnostic.And has unionists and we are told nationalists in its ranks. It is of course a con trick. It is a coalition of liberal unionists and letsgetalongerists. And NI21 is more overtly the former.
        And of course theres finance.
        Rowntree has donated £98,000 to Alliance in the four years to 2011.
        Its ” innocent money….chocolate money….QUAKER money” as it was hysterically described on a Slugger O’Toole webcast.
        Im surprised that none of John and Basils friends …letsgetalongerist movers and shakers with connexions to the Alliance Party have not acted as an honest broker between them and Alliance.
        or maybe they have.
        Oddly there was little if any mention of Alliance except an off the cuff remark about spending forty years sitting on the fence.. Which went down well.

        The Alliance Party are not nice people. “Vote for me, I am your moral superior” is not a good slogan.

  2. factual says:

    Did they unveil any catholic supporters at the Launch?

    • As I recall, nobody specifically said ” I am Catholic” or ” I am Protestant”
      But there was certainly clues.
      In itself that would be welcome.
      This would be a big difference from Alliance Party who love to mention that ” I am from the Falls Road” so that they can repudiate their background. Or indeed ” my father was an Orangeman” so that they can repudiate their background.
      Alliance make a virtue out of treachery.
      ” now my children go to Lagan College. I am a much better person than you. Vote for me, I am better than you.”

  3. Glenn S says:

    They should really ….

    The text has been removed by FitzjamesHorse. The person making the comment is supportive of the Alliance Party and might even be a member.
    As FJH views Alliance as undemocratic and that its views are already over -represented in Government, Politics and a compliant Norn Iron media, it would be inappropriate to publish the views of Alliance supporters and members on this Blog.

    • Its quite possible that they will not be able to compete against Alliance in the Alliance heartlands.
      on the other hand NI21 are democrats and the Alliance Party are not.
      What UUP can do is inhibit Alliance potential.
      And maybe crucially take a few votes from Alliance.
      That for many , who look on Alliance as little more than undemocratic opportunist scumbags….is more than enough

      • Tim says:

        Aliance is

        Tim in Comber.

        The Text has been removed as the person making the comment is seemingly supportive of the Alliance Party. FitzjamesHorse views the Alliance Party as undemocratic and its views are already over-represented in Government, Politics and the Norn Iron media.

      • The capacity for Alliance to be “strongly growing” (Im assuming English is not your first language) is thankfully limited.
        They could of course pick up a seat in South Belfast but its unlikely.
        No chance of a second in North Down.
        And likely to lose one of two seats in East Belfast where the two MLAs are completely useless.
        And of course theres the certainty of St Naomi losing her seat.
        The Alliance Party luck wil run out in Strangford.

        And of course the Alliance Party vote was not “strongly growing” (sic) in Mid Ulster…1.3% wasnt it?
        Not that anybody in the so called cross community Alliance Party knows where Mid Ulster is.

  4. factual says:

    The political commentator Ian Parsley has been tweeting that Alliance are needed for sensitive posts like the Justice Minister as they are the only party capable of commanding cross-community support and that NI21 UUP and SDLP have no mlas who are capable of this.

    • Yes….that would be Ian Parsley,the political commentator who happens to be for the SECOND time a member of the Alliance Party.
      If you have serious intentions of being published on my blog….DONT QUOTE PARSLEY.

  5. factual says:

    According to NI21 Alliance have just voted to amend ‘Assembly Speaking Rights’ to prevent #NI21 speaking in first round of debates at Stormont. (See NI21official twitter).

    If true it does make it seem that Alliance don’t want voices of opposition.

    • factual says:

      Here is the BBC story confirming Alliance’s move:

    • Factual…sometimes I get things right and sometimes I get things wrong.
      But it is clear that Alliance have a lot to fear from NI21.
      Having failed to woo Basil and John, the only course left for the “nice” Alliance Party is to strangle NI21.
      Logically Alliance is a coalition of liberal unionists and letsgetalongerists.
      People who vote Aliance BECAUSE of the liberal unionism now have an alternative.
      Genuine letsgetalongerists who are uncomfortable with a middle of the road Party being too close to DUP and Sinn Fein now have an alternative.
      Make no mistake Alliance are scared.
      Their entire strategy is based on breaking the threshold of eight Assembly seats to claim two Executive seats and NI21 threatens this undemocratic position.
      Alliances position is based solely on them being nice guys.
      Simply put…they are unprincipled bastards….and they will do everything that they can to deny NI21 a meaningful voice.
      Their cheerleaders in the media and on websites have a problem.

      • factual says:

        Don’t you find it outrageously self serving to raise the bar at 5 – and to do so the very week that NI21 have been formed with 2. It shows exactly what the game is; these things should be determined by some rule of reason rather than just high enough to keep Alliance in and NI21 out.

      • You know my feelings on the Alliance Party.
        They have got away for too long with being the cuddly kitten in Norn Iron politics.
        A lot of their younger attack dogs now enjoy the position that they have a certain amount of power and enjoy the fact that they are ruthless. They are completefly unapologetic about it
        I dont know if Alliance has any political friends but they certainly stabbed UUP and SDLP in the back in 2011 and those parties owe Alliance nothing.
        But…what can I say…I told ya so.

  6. tenniselbow says:

    At this moment in time, FitzJamesH, how do you feel NI21 might do at the next assembly elections?
    I know that there are a lot of things we don’t know about them yet, like detailed policy positions and representatives, so obviously you can change your view of them as we go along.
    But where we stand in June 2013 given that NI21 are a month or so old, how many seats will they get?

    • Too early to say.
      I hope they do well becuse it means Alliance do badly.
      Clearly Alliance are taking them as a serious threat.
      The negative thing for NI21 is that they really jumped too late.
      Hamilton, Bradshaw and Parsley would be better fitted to NI21 but they have made their choice to go with Alliance and would lose credibility (again) if they defected (again).
      They is karma about. Alliance being so close to SF and DUP is not universally popular with their own supporters.
      NI21s call for Opposition might be attractive.

      The Euro Elections are a big clue. NI21 has to stand.
      And the choice of Alliance candidate will be interesting.
      Long is their biggest asset but still at Westminster. Ford and Farry might not like to see her increase her prestige at their expense.
      I think Alliance will have a new Leader in 2016.
      Anna Lo is their only other asset.

      McCarthy, Lunn, Dickson are too old.
      And Lyttle and Cochrane are …well Lyttle and Cochrane.
      last time they picked Parsley who got 300 votes and was elected to North Down council…a non entity.
      if they go for someone outside the Assembly or Westminster….who is it?
      Younger “loyal” AP people like Heading, McGrellis have slipped down the pecking order, replaced by defectors like Hamilton, Bradshaw and Parsley (surely not!). Alliance wont win a seat in Europe but profiles can be enhanced.
      GlynnRoberts, the Party Chair?
      Duncan Morrow from the Golden Halo and from a well known Lliance family?

  7. tenniselbow says:

    I think Bradshaw and Hamilton would have credibility jumping to NI21 as a better fit party, they’d have their petty pisstakers but their moves would be all reasonable at the time. Bradshaw I think would do well in S.Belfast. Its says a lot for the uup and the mess they are in that they did not reselect Hamilton.
    I think though that NI21 should not put so much effort in attacking Alliance but should favourably contrast themselves against DUP/UUP as a lot more votes on offer here.
    Go on, at this point in time can you see them getting over 10 MLA’s or under?

    • In one of the Sunday papers about three weeks ago Harry Hamilton said that he was happy as Chair of Alliance in Upper Bann but thought that Basil and John should have gone to Alliance.
      If you look at Upper Bann…DUP 2, UUP 2 SDLP 1, SF1…a neural would say that there are four safe seats but that SDLP and UUP are vulnerable. With Hamilton doing reasonably well in 2011, there is prolly a chance that there is a NI21 or AP seat there at expense of UUP.
      Id say that NI21 could run well in North Down and South Belfast.
      Lets see….Id say that the battleground between them is in Alliance “heartlands”

      South Antrim….Alliance will hold.
      Lagan Valley….Alliance will hold. McCrea holds seat.
      East Antrim….Alliance holds.
      South Belfast….Alliance holds.
      East Belfast….Alliance loses one seat. NI21 or Tory gain.
      North Down……Alliance holds. NI21 or Tory gain.
      Strangford……UKIP loses seat. DUP gain. Alliance loses seat to SDLP.
      South Down……McCallister holds.

      Alliance 7 seats. NI21 2 …maximum 4.

  8. tenniselbow says:

    Good Stuff! Interesting you believe McCallister will hold in South Down for the NI21’s as most seem to think he’ll lose out. Do you think moderate people from other parties will see his vulnerability and lend him a vote as well as transfers. I’m taking a punt and saying that Mccallister will scape in also. I agree there is a seat for them in East Belfast and North Down if they play their cards right, and hopefully Basil won’t have a collapse in Lagan Valley.
    I think there is a vote for them in East Derry but McClarty will probably scoop some of this up.
    I think there may also be the makings of a vote in Strangford which has a fair number of young people about it. I’ll defer to you on Upper Bann and believe there could be a vote here also.
    Optimistically I’m going to go 5-6 NI21’s.
    Could this see enough of a decline in the DUP vote to open up the possibility of SF 1st Minister?

    • Well at this point, July 2013 this is about the most optimistic look possible for NI21.
      the reason I am talking up John McCallister in South Down is primarily that I like him. I have heard him speak on three occasions in 15 months and on each occasion he has had a go at the Alliance Party. Remember this is a guy that as a UUP man nhas spoken at both SDLP and SF meetings.
      He has genuinely reached out inn South Down.
      if there is ever to be a solution here ..whether within Norn Iron or on an all-Ireland basis, unionists have to play a part. LetsGetAlongerists CAN and often ARE obstructions to Reconciliation.
      So I think that McCallister will pick up votes from nationalists.
      Whether all NI21 people can do that…thats a different question.
      You mention East Derry and I think its a bit like Upper Bann. Indeed they are both ON the Bann. Theres a decent Alliance vote there which cant win and a small liberal unionist vote around Coleraine but the main players in liberal unionism seem to have gone Tory.
      McClarty got SOME of that but essentially he is only Independent because of an internal UUP dispute. He is I think a member of the Flegs Forum so Im not convinced about his liberal credentials.
      With Alliance, Tory, NI21, Ind Unionist all in the field too much would depend on transfers, especially with nationalists having more than two quotas but still short of three.
      Maybe I am making too much of potential Alliance voters being unhappy with Alliance Party propping up a system that is not in accord with Alliance values.
      Alliance CAN drive away voters who are still wary of DUP and SF.
      Alliance CAN drive away liberal voters who think that there should be an Opposiion (NI21 policy).
      Alliance CAN drive away traditional unionists over the Flegs dispute.
      Alliance CAN drive away nationalists because the defection of UUP people makes Alliance less agnostic and more unionist.

      Obviously thats a lot of DUCKS that need to be lined up.
      But I think Alliance Party is primarily a liberal unionist-letsgetalongerist coalition and when alternatives in the middle ground are offered, Alliance doesnt do well.

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