Will Ian Parsley re-join the Alliance Party?

SevenStars

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He has resigned from the UCUNF and said sorry to his old Party.

The thing about the Alliance besides having a very English/Norn Iron office view of political realities in Ulster/the occupied six counties how united are they on socio-economic issues?

Some of them would be Labour, some would be Lib Dems and Ian would be a Tory if they were living in Britain.

Ian James Parsley

This is for Antrim.
 


Antrim

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Cheers SevenStars,

Here’s what Ian Parsley said in his blog:

Resignation
20 November, 2010
I notified the North Down Conservative Association of my intention to resign as a member Saturday week ago, effective from midnight the following Thursday. I have long sought the most effective vehicle to pursue and deliver effective mainstream, non-sectarian and responsible politics in Northern Ireland. Despite best intentions, the Conservatives lack the political space and capacity to deliver this.
Despite the name, the UCUNF project offered a real opportunity to change NI politics for the good. That is why I tried to make it work even after the General Election, against my own better instincts and taking risks to do so. That opportunity has been squandered, primarily by inaction by some in each party’s leaderships. The Conservatives should long ago have been honest that they could not afford to take the serious political action required to seek an electoral mandate in NI given the current political and economic situation here; they should also have recognised months ago that the new Ulster Unionist Party lacks any commitment to the “mainstream, non-sectarian” politics to which the Secretary of State has rightly committed himself. Serious questions have to be asked about the advice received in senior party circles which still leaves them publicly committed to supporting the Ulster Unionists at the forthcoming elections into late November!
The Conservatives and Unionists project offered at least the hope that two large blocks (UCUNF and the Alliance Party) would in future compete with each other on the basis of common assumptions on the need for anti-sectarian, mainstream politics. As such, both would have promoted a type of politics more relevant to the electorate and to the issues which concern them (the economy, health, education etc), presenting a real choice and thus growing the centre ground and the number of people voting for parties which were not only defined as non-sectarian, but which rejected the sectarian spectrum altogether. Had UCUNF even won two seats in May, that would have been two MPs on the government benches and one on the opposition benches from NI who accepted and promoted the need for anti-sectarian, mainstream politics – a signficant and healthy change, and in fact the ultimate outworking of what the Alliance Party was founded to achieve.
In the current Secretary of State, NI has probably the most passionate advocate at the cabinet table it has ever had. However, over my time in the party, it was apparent to me that the Conservative Party centrally can neither prioritise NI electorally in such a way as to shape its politics away from sectarianism (despite, in fairness, a clear intention to do so), nor resist toying with the idea of short-term tactics rather than long-term strategy. What has been particularly frustrating is the inability of too many key players to separate fiction from fact with regard to NI politics – the post-election period, in particular, required Conservative intervention to maintain the values of UCUNF and support its candidates going forward (while improving the delivery of the project), but even those of us initially prepared publicly to attempt to justify the Conservatives’ inaction (at their request) found any kind of support unavailable. As such, all the demonstrable evidence is that any Conservative candidate in NI (at any level) will permanently be hamstrung by the potential for their campaigns to be poisoned by sectarianism and infighting locally, and by the requirement for “neutrality” with regard to NI on behalf of Conservative actors nationally. Having seen it with my own eyes, I cannot advise anyone to invest their own time and money into campaigning in such circumstances.
Specifically, I have found that senior Conservatives in London (not Owen Paterson in Hillsborough, who has always been most approachable) have always been keen to meet with donors, but less keen to meet with, or even speak to, potential candidates. Ultimately, it is the candidate who is selected who puts his/her name before the electorate; it is the candidate whose reputation was on the line; it is the candidate who takes the brickbats from anonymous blog commenters with nothing better to do. Thus, it is the candidate who needed to be convinced of the Conservatives’ good faith that they would enter the forthcoming elections with the clear intent of a 20-year strategy to build the party as a vehicle for mainstream, non-sectarian politics in NI come what may. Even though I suspect the funding will be made available for some kind of electoral attempt, I am not convinced the true political will exists to build something which will last into the long term as a true means of advocating and promoting effectively mainstream, non-sectarian politics. In fact, no one in the leadership has even spoken to me to attempt to convince me!
People will ask was it a political mistake for me to do what I did. I have explained above that, had the UCUNF project worked out the way I wanted it to (which was always a long shot I confess), I feel that both the Conservative and Alliance Parties would have gained from it – as would, more importantly, all those in NI who feel disconnected from politics and want something to vote for, rather than against. It has also been a great learning experience to work with the Centre for Social Justice (some aspects of which are ongoing), with the current Secretary of State who has demonstrated such a commitment to this part of the world, and with the great people in the North Down Conservative Association who, I write with great reluctance, have been badly let down by some in their own party and were extremely kind to me even when I discussed this disappointing move, from their point of view, with their senior representatives.
I can say that I was greatly sorry about the manner of my departure from the Alliance Party, which I mishandled, and for any hurt I caused those who had campaigned for me just months before. For this I can now unreservedly apologise. Those close to me will be aware of the great upset it caused me to leave the party, but particularly to do so in a manner which gave those within it any cause for anger or regret.
Certainly, I was always aware David Ford’s “blind alley” may prove prescient – and so it did! However, I would add as a note to my bona fides that I invested significant time and effort into setting the foundation for that party’s now flourishing youth organisation, point out that had I not stood for Europe the party may well not have stood at all (and the platform for future progress was the party’s, not mine), and add that never once did I offer any criticism of the party, whose representatives and members I still held in high regard and with which I have been proud to be associated.
Put simply, I regret not one second of my time spent in and with the Alliance Party, whereas I do regret wasting so much time and effort unproductively on the seriously flawed UCUNF project. It is no doubt partly on the basis of how highly I spoke about the Alliance Party, even after I had left it, that my own parents chose to remain members, and that my partner has just become one.
What I have learned most of all from this is that politics is not just about good intentions and policies, it is about competence and capacity to deliver. Many people I have worked with over the past year had the best intentions. Few, however, had the competence or capacity to deliver on any of it. I intend to spend some time as an independent actor to enable me to throw ideas out into the political arena without those being associated with any single party. I will continue, broadly, to support the Coalition Government (which needs all the support it can get in NI political circles) on UK-wide matters. However, on the grounds of a real commitment to ‘mainstream, non-sectarian politics’, and the competence and capacity to deliver on some of it, my first preference vote at the 2011 Assembly Election will go to the same party it went to in 1998, 2003 and 2007.
 

SevenStars

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What are your own views on this Antrim?
 

Antrim

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It was a big loss to the Alliance party when he left and it will be good for them when he rejoins. (He will re-join). He is a good politician, I myself voted for him in the last European elections.

He should probably hold off on rejoining until the New year, it will be a good news story for them in the run up to the election.

I personally think that Alliance will poll well in the next election. They have been getting a lot of, high profile, good publicity lately. David Ford becoming Justice Minister, Naomi Long becoming an MP and unseating Peter Robinson, Paula Bradshaw defecting to them and soon Ian Parsley will re-join.
 

SevenStars

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What though does he mean do you think by "sectarianism" (a much thrown around word) within the Ulster Tories?
 

SevenStars

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This is the blog of a Roman Catholic supporter of the Tories in the six counties...He said he voted from the SDLP at the last election given that the Tories threw themselves in with the SDLP.

Tory Story NI
 

Antrim

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I think it would be fair to say that Ulster Conservatives are just another Unionist party, a protestant only party. No room for cross community support. The Conservatives only came here in the hope of a seat or two because the election was looking so close, they don’t care for the people of Northern Ireland.

The only hope for Northern Ireland is a shared future, only the Alliance party is promoting that.
 

SevenStars

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The only hope for Northern Ireland is a shared future, only the Alliance party is promoting that.
The thing is though at this stage everybody outside of the TUV and genuinely "green fascist" (mainly southern) mad fringe of the Republican movement (mainly in RSF) accepts that there must be a "shared future". Though sectarianism is a serious issue and the main reason why partition suceeded and is maintained the fact is that its not the only issue in Ulster/the six counties.

There are also economic questions aswell as the national/consitutional question, and on the latter as much as it is opposed to Paisleyite psycho-drama and the UDA, etc the Alliance is definitely Unionist.
 

Antrim

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The idea of the shared future for most of the parties is a future where we live in peace but separate. That’s no future, we need to be one people. Nationalist parties will never get votes form ‘Protestants’ and Unionists will never get votes from ‘Catholics’.

The only future for NI is a future where a parties can represent all the electorate. Alliance is the only party that can do that.

As far as the national/constitutional question goes, Alliance wants a shared future, they make no comment on a United Ireland or staying within the UK. I would say though that they are defiantly not Unionists.
 
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Mickeymac

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The idea of the shared future for most of the parties is a future where we live in peace but separate. That’s no future, we need to be one people. Nationalist parties will never get votes form ‘Protestants’ and Unionists will never get votes from ‘Catholics’.

The only future for NI is a future where a parties can represent all the electorate. Alliance is the only party that can do that.

As far as the national/constitutional question goes, Alliance wants a shared future, they make no comment on a United Ireland or staying within the commonwealth. I would say though that they are defiantly not Unionists.





Peace sir, was the big prize, Alliance had nothing to do with it, Hume/Adams started the ball rolling whilst the other parties in the sick counties (particularly all onionist parties including Alliance) poured scorn on these talks.....facts sir.
 

Antrim

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Peace sir, was the big prize, Alliance had nothing to do with it, Hume/Adams started the ball rolling whilst the other parties in the sick counties (particularly all onionist parties including Alliance) poured scorn on these talks.....facts sir.
Peace still is the big prize. There has been long periods of stability throughout our history but the divisions were always there, simmering away beneath the surface, waiting to flare up again. All we have at the minute is stability, we need to come together to remove the divisions and build a lasting peaceful future.
 

SevenStars

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Didnt the Alliance come from the O'Neill/modernizing wing of the Ulster Unionist Party...Were its founders kicked out of the UUP or did they decide to leave on their own?
 

Antrim

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It evolved from a political pressure group called the New Ulster Movement. Members of the Ulster Liberal Party and of the UUP broke away and formed the Alliance party. It originally represented moderate and non-sectarian Unionism but has moved towards neutrality on the Union and now represents wider liberal and non-sectarian concerns.
 

SevenStars

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I accept that nearly all of my criticisms of Unionism dont hold true for the Alliance party...and I also accept that its members probably dont think of no-warning bombs in the 26 counties at the very mention of a united Ireland...However it supports the partition of Ireland as long as an artificial majiority within the six counties occupied openly by the UK state wish it (six counties which in many ways are the jewel in Ireland's crown)....And that makes it unionist if not Unionist.
 

Antrim

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There will never be a United Ireland while we have Nationalist/Unionist politics. These two types of politics polarize two communities against each other. How can we become United while we are divided.

To me the fist step in a potential United Ireland has been taken. The end to armed conflict.
The second step has also been taken. The devolved assembly.
The third step will be the hardest. The population of Northern Ireland becoming one people. This would mean a shared education and no fear of GAA/Irish Language/Orange order.
The fourth step would be for Northern Ireland to become an independent Nation.
The final step would be for the two half’s of Ireland to come together.

So, in this theory, Alliance are the most likely party to lead to a United Ireland.
 

SevenStars

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I see where you are coming from and in a way it does make a lot of sense.
 

Antrim

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Asked on his blog if he would join the Alliance Party again, Ian Parsley gave the answer:

“If I were to join any party in the future, in all likelihood it would be the Alliance Party.”

I would predict a return just before the election next year. Good publicity and free air-time in the run up to the election.
 

physicist

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Asked on his blog if he would join the Alliance Party again, Ian Parsley gave the answer:

“If I were to join any party in the future, in all likelihood it would be the Alliance Party.”

I would predict a return just before the election next year. Good publicity and free air-time in the run up to the election.
But he's so comfortable now as a Non-UNF C.
 


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