Why Paula Bradshaw must be elected

Fancy that, not only does this Alliance member want a member of the same party elected, but even a member of the same household…

Yet it is just as important that Paula Bradshaw be elected in South Belfast as it is that Naomi Long be elected in East. Naomi herself has been consistent in reminding people…

Naomi

It is essential, when the incumbents have let us down, that we replace them. Let us recall that, in the case of the South Belfast, the incumbent has suggested that failure to give them pay rises would “see MLAs living in poverty”; has committed is party to opposing abortion even in cases of rape and incest; and has condemned an entire profession by saying GPs never get cases of foetal abnormality right. He is a double-jobbing embarrassment, and he absolutely must not be maintained in office just because we fear someone else may get in!

But let us not be negative. It is also vital that we enable new entries to the political scene to be elected. If we always do what we’ve always done…

Remember, unlike incumbents and other challengers in the political scene, candidates like Paula are full-time mothers and full-time workers. They cannot be expected to knock every door (although Paula has given it a go), attend every hustings (although she has) or be seen at every envelope opening (she hasn’t done that; nor should she, as it’s so obviously insincere when candidates do).

Of course, we should not change for change’s sake. However, when a candidate comes forward who has worked in the constituency for a quarter of a century including as a Charity Chief Executive for half that period; who has worked and got to know people in all sectors (traders, community, agencies, etc); who has a detailed knowledge of how people can work with politicians to deliver change because she has done it herself… well, the case makes itself.

The hustings have offered a clear example. We all know the type of candidate who offers merely vague generalisations about how good things are good, bad things are bad, and therefore we should have more good things and fewer bad things. We have seen it on all the panels. Yet Paula is the precise opposite of such a candidate – offering, from her position, instant advice on how people can work with her to deliver a new cultural centre, or changes to procurement, or new funding channels for their voluntary group.

To make an obvious point, if enough people vote for her, Paula will be elected. She is not the favourite because it is assumed people will vote tactically, out of fear of another candidate winning. In fact, there is no reason for them to do so! In 2011, Anna Lo topped the polls (although, to be fair, the total Alliance vote ended up marginally behind the DUP and SDLP); in 2014, that gap had been closed and the three parties were almost even with each other according to tallies.

After all that has gone on, think of the message which would be sent out from Northern Ireland if two Alliance women were elected in South and East Belfast even in the face of a Unionist pact.

Vote for what you want! And remember, if you vote for it tomorrow, it happens…

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