Thursday, 20 March 2014

Alliance Party at an all-time low!

David Ford MLA, Anna Lo MLA  and Naomi Long MP - standing together, side by side
Today there has been a real media focus on the explosive views expressed by Alliance MLA for South Belfast, Anna Lo.
The founders of the Alliance Party were pro-union, the party campaigned for the Union in the 1973 border poll and Alliance gets its votes and seats in the predominantly unionist areas in the east of Northern Ireland.  Yet Anna Lo has come out very clearly and strongly in favour of Northern Ireland leaving the United Kingdom and joining a United Ireland.
Yes the Alliance Party holds to the principle of consent but Anna Lo has nailed her colours firmly to the mast of constitutional nationalism

She branded Northern Ireland an 'artificial' state and said that if Northern Ireland left the United Kingdom and joined a United Ireland it would be 'better placed economically, socially and politically.'   She even described unionists as colonists!
Moreover these were no accidental words and this was no slip of the tongue.  In her interview with the Irish News, she set out clearly and coherently her position as a constitutional nationalist and explained why that was her position.  This was Anna Lo speaking from the heart and saying what she really thinks.
Of course, if she believes Northern Ireland should join the Irish Republic, if she believes that we would be better off under Dublin rule, then she should be advocating for a United Ireland and arguing for a United Ireland!  Moreover if ever a referendum or border poll were to be held she would obviously be campaigning against the Union!
If this is how Anna Lo starts her European election campaign it is going to be downhill all the way.  As regards Alliance, this may well be a total train-wreck of a campaign.  This was only an interview with a newspaper - how will she perform in the cut and thrust of pre-election debates on television?
I watched David Ford on The View tonight and he tried valiantly to play down the issue but it was an impossible task.  Meanwhile Anna Lo had gone into hiding.  The party were obviously afraid to let her out on her own.
Naomi Long must be howling into her Horlicks tonight in East Belfast and she will be crying into her Corn Flakes in the morning.  Her vote comes from soft unionists not from nationalists, constitutional or otherwise.
Yesterday in the Assembly Anna Lo's East Belfast colleague Chris Lyttle ducked the border issue when my party colleague William Humphrey put it to him but Anna was certainly more forthright!
This presents a real quandary for other members of the Alliance Party.  Alliance councillors, Alliance MLAs and of course the sole Alliance MP will certainly be challenged as to where they stand.  Alliance candidates in the council elections will no doubt be challenged as well.  This is an issue that is not going to go away.
Anna Lo is not just any ordinary party member.  She is an MLA and is the Alliance candidate for Europe.  So will her party colleagues stand by her and with her on the ground of constitutional nationalism or will any of them peel off to save their own skins?  Time will tell.

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