Alliance must prepare for confrontation

The Alliance Party’s proposals for a Shared Future, launched a fortnight ago, were an excellent starting point. But what has happened to them?

I have spoken to a lot of people over the past three months, and it is clear political affiliations are more fluid than at any stage post-Agreement. As identified last week, the Alliance Party in fact enjoys 44% support for its flags stance – essentially, 44% who endorse its objectives, at least symbolically. But this will only happen at the polling booths in practice if the party is prepared to fight for them.

The Alliance Party has to realise that it is no good demanding others deliver a “Shared Future” – it alone is responsible for its delivery. It is fundamentally not what Unionists and Nationalists stand for; and given the largesse that derives from the DUP/SF carve-up in a society unhealthily dependent on public funding, even people in business and civic society who are sympathetic to a “Shared Future” privately are scarcely going to say so publicly!

The Alliance Party also has to realise that delivery of its objectives is going to require confrontation every step of the way. The DUP and Sinn Fein have built their power bases by suggesting to their own side that the maxim of “Separate But Equal” – again, fundamentally the complete opposite of a “Shared Future” – is as far as they need to go. From those power bases stem influence, funds and control. They are not just going to give all that up!

Instantly, you can see the flow of misinformation being put out by the DUP, again in the Assembly chamber on Monday. The Alliance Party’s response? There wasn’t one. Immediately, there should have been a press statement, a demand for media appearances, social media activism and a word in a few journalists’ ears – a confrontation, in other words.

The Alliance Party also has to realise that it needs to get out more – into Loyalist Estates, Republican Heartlands and Rural Community Halls – to tell its story. It has something to say on flags, parades and so on – and it needs to say it.

However worthy the party’s proposals are, no one is actually going to read them. However worthy its argument about this or that commission or committee is, no one is actually going to pay attention. However worthy its various speeches in the Assembly are, no one is actually going to notice. It is through effective communications and proactive community work that the case will be won.

In short, this isn’t a job for a political party driven to seek consensus; it is a job for a political movement prepared for confrontation. If it hasn’t worked that out after what has happened to its representatives and workers over the past three months, it never will. It’s called “leading change” – no one said it would be easy!

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8 thoughts on “Alliance must prepare for confrontation

  1. harryaswell says:

    The main problem seems to be fairly simple. Alliance “still” has not declared it’s policies regarding the Border and a United Ireland. Does it want a UI? If not, how does it prevent those scheming blighters of the Republican Movement from infiltrating their ranks and corrupting their votes in order to force a UI vote? Or, as happened in the flags contretemps, stir the pot deliberately to cast Unionism in calculated disarray? There was no reason why the flag vote could not have been held “after” Christmas and so avoid all this loss of business. Alliance simply refuse to think things through properly and so fall into every Sinn Fein trap that is set.

    • Its main problem is people like you failing to realise NI’s place in the UK is secure and SF can do nothing at all about it.

      This constant banging on about a redundant constitutional question is what the DUP and SF *want*. There is, after all, no need for them once everyone twigs the reality.

      • harryaswell says:

        No, it’s main problem is people like you who are overly secure about the Union. The fact remains that as soon as there is a majority of Nationalists they will pester and bully for a UI. Alliance does nothing at all to show us how or where we are secure. As such, true Unionists will not vote for them, especially after the latest bungled politics. I see you have not responded properly to my original post. Why not?

  2. otto247 says:

    “The Alliance Party has to realise that it is no good demanding others deliver a “Shared Future” – it alone is responsible for its delivery”

    I was wondering on BangorDub’s blog whether inter-marriage gives Alliance its own demographic. Instead of piously calling on others to expand their prejudice/identities Alliance could start by representing people who already have a foot in both camps.

    Maybe there’s a lesson in the way in which the SNP which made anti-sectarianism part and parcel with its own nation building. How about “Together we can make Northern Ireland better.” I also don’t like “the non-sectarian party”. Sounds a bit passive. The Anti-Sectarian Party, or even “The United Northern Ireland Party” (a bit Fine Gael that) sounds more like it, if a bit piss-takey.

    How about Alliance’s own “Yes declaration”

    http://www.yesscotland.net/declaration

    Here’s the SNP one. Why not write your own?

    “I believe it is fundamentally better for us all, if decisions about Scotland’s future are taken by the people who care most about Scotland, that is, by the people of Scotland.

    “Being independent means Scotland’s future will be in Scotland’s hands.

    “There is no doubt that Scotland has great potential. We are blessed with talent, resources and creativity. We have the opportunity to make our nation a better place to live, for this and future generations. We can build a greener, fairer and more prosperous society that is stronger and more successful than it is today.

    “I want a Scotland that speaks with her own voice and makes her own unique contribution to the world: a Scotland that stands alongside the other nations on these isles, as an independent nation.”

    • harryaswell says:

      I hardly think that what the SNP does or doesn’t do is relevant when speaking about Northern Ireland’s position within the Union. Northern Ireland is not large enough to stand on it’s own two feet. It is highly debateable whether or not Scotland also is large enough. It would appear from polls that two thirds of Scotlands voters wish to remain British, it therefor remains a foolish whim to suggest it.

      • otto247 says:

        “I hardly think that what the SNP does or doesn’t do is relevant when speaking about Northern Ireland’s position within the Union. Northern Ireland is not large enough to stand on it’s own two feet”

        I was talking about the positioning Harry, not the nationalism. Traditionally Scotland’s sectarian divide voted Tory (Unionist/Prod) and Labour (Catholic) – partly influenced by those party’s behaviour here. The SNP partly built their credibility as a party of government on tackling that head-on.

        NI may not be a viable independent state but wouldn’t you like it to be a viable part of the UK. Some so-called Unionists seem too happy to keep boiling up the next crisis at the expense of the economy – or are Alliance to blame for Drumcree and Holy Cross as well?

    • Good thought. Never liked “non-sectarian”.

  3. Harry Merrick says:

    The sectarianism within Scotland is somewhat watered down when compared with that in NI, it does have to be said. Scotland is happily NOT governed by unreconstructed terrorists and murderous villains. We within NI are. Sectarianism is “bound” to thrive for many a long year and is just beneath the skin on both sides. To say it is not is just being unrealistic. Drumcree and Holy Cross was a prime example of that actually. As for NI being a viable part of the UK? Why, I had thought that it already “was” a viable part of the UK. For Alliance to promote itself as a non-sectarian party is incredibily naieve and unrealistic, particularly when it “doesn’t” declare itself as being in favour of the Union per se. What “does” Alliance declare itself as? Do tell!

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