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Animated Alliance

Mark Devenport | 13:01 UK time, Tuesday, 5 April 2011

I went to the Waterfront Hall this morning, where Alliance held their first formal election event. They previewed an animated Party Election Broadcast narrated by Naomi Long. The mood seemed upbeat - Alliance believes that the UUP's difficulties and apparent swing to the right will present them with an opportunity.

David Ford talked as if two seats in East Belfast were almost in the bag. After Naomi Long's Westminster victory, he argued, Alliance was the lead party in the east of the city. But what about Peter Robinson's renaissance? A resurgence by the DUP could put paid to Alliance's ambitions - one seat looks assured, but a second could be a scramble.

Alliance have been seen to be signing off the same hymn sheet as the DUP and Sinn Fein in recent times - not just in the show of solidarity at Stormont Castle, but in their votes on the budget. However David Ford seemed keen to put some clear "yellow water" between the two parties, describing Peter Robinson's recent comments on integrated education as "partly an opportunity to knock the maintained sector".

Mr Ford believes Alliance can gain 2 or 3 seats which would put them in position to take a Stormont department under the D'Hondt system. Conversely he is also backing a reduction in the number of thosde departments, down to 7 or 8. My colleague Martina Purdy will assess how the Stormont system might be reformed on BBC Newsline tonight.

Earlier in the day I tweeted about the makers of the Alliance broadcast having had a hand in the "Mad Men" series titles - an admission, I took a joke rather too seriously, so put that down as a belated April Fool. But it's not only Alliance which have been experimenting with new formats - last night's DUP broadcast featuring a couple decorating their house was a novel change to the usual procession of politicians holding forth to camera. The TUV's David Vance isn't the only one who has noticed the resemblance to an episode of "Changing Rooms".

Of course the DUP would prefer the "Groundhog Day" analogy - don't vote for us and get stuck in the past. But the digital clock reading 2003 felt like a clever wheeze too far - I missed half the commentary that followed after puzzling over why this couple were lying in until 8 pm. Does Mr and Mrs Average NI work the night shift?


  • Comment number 1.

    They weren't working a night shift. They are DUP MLA/MP/Councilor/Painter decorators, who were just catching 40 winks in between jobs. Oh and a husband and wife team to boot, keeping all the cash in the family, in the DUP style.

    The Sinn Fein election broadcast is even better, there is some oul'fella with a beard from Louth, talking in tongues. And both are claiming that they are responsible for free prescriptions. Which I suppose is true enough.

    The DUP seem to be worried about the Unionist vote being split, while Sinn Fein don't seem to have a worry at all, their broadcast is just a big boast.

    If I had to choose on the basis of the broadcasts, I'd go for the DUP. Simply on the basis that they didn't make me look at their ridiculous MLAs in their broadcast and SF/IRA did.

    I've heard of Naomi Long but not this 'Alliance' Party, are they new? :) Wait, do they have anything to do with that English geography teacher fella, who keeps trying to stand next to the First Ministers at photo ops? They should merge with that other 'stalking donkey/square wheel' the SDLP. They could be the SAD party.

  • Comment number 2.

    In the run up to the election in 2005 David Trimble brought a double decker bus to the Stormont hotel and pointed at what people thought was the sign on the bus which read Westminister. What people didn,t know was that in fact he was pointing toward the hills in the background as a make of where the party was heading.
    In the latest contribution from unionism we have an add that some even within staunch loyalism will find strange. I say that because there is a lot of strange within staunch loyalism.

    At the start of the new election advert for the DUP we are told "Theres no fear of what,s around the corner, only to be told when the background music changes that "If you don,t vote or vote for another unionist party-we would be right back where we started". Confused? it gets stranger!

    So folks when the couple got up in the middle of the night maybe when they finished their tea they read the tea leafs and found out something that we don,t know.
    To make matters worse for the DUP if you look closely at the toast the couple make you can see clearly the face of Gerry Adams. (44 Secs) Is someone having a laugh?
    The red white and blue toothbrushes were a good plant though.

    Maybe the advert is in its entirety a subliminal message to unionism of sleepless nights ahead.

    Eyes wide open......... (Ps when the DUP,s finished with the toast can sinn fein have it for a lamp post in Dundalk next election)?

  • Comment number 3.

    "Alliance have been seen to be signing off"

    Neat little typo there, Mark. I take it you intended 'singing'. I'm sure APNI would like another opportunity to sink into the Executive upholstery :L

  • Comment number 4.

    "The mood seemed upbeat"

    The little local difficulty at the Police Ombudsman's office is bound to create a degree of pessimism in party ranks; it couldn't have come at a worse time. The electorate, by now, can have very little confidence in the so called independence of these, essentially, in-house investigations.

    Nothing seems to have been learned from the shenanigans associated with the Rathlin ferry saga and the NI Water fiasco. It's a nonsense for a Minister or a Permanent Secretary to act as judge and jury where they or their departmental associates are parties to the dispute.

    By the way, why hasn't the Shortridge report seen the light of day? His investigation was commissioned around the beginning of September 2010. Surely it shouldn't have taken any more than a week to get to grips with a handful of correspondence. Rumours of the reports completion were circulating towards the end of November but since then not a cheep.


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