As indicated by several guest-bloggers on this site recently, the Alliance Party is getting more and more concerned as the core issue of a border poll is discussed more and more frequently. They always knew that one day, this dark-winged raven would fly in and roost in their living room; now that it has, they are suffering increasing tensions
If we consider the history of the Alliance Party, we’ll maybe see how it walked into its present parlous state.
Alliance is almost exactly the same age as The Troubles- it was formed in 1970, and the idea was that it would straddle and ultimately heal Protestant – Catholic divisions. Surprisingly (or maybe not) it explicitly embraced the existence of NEI as part of the UK, but justified this solely on economic grounds. Here’s its chairman, Jim Hendron in 1973 (yes, Virginia, brother of the more famous Joe): “Support for the position of Northern Ireland as an integral part of the UK is a fundamental principle of the Alliance Party…We firmly believe that a peaceful solution to our present tragic problems is only possible within a UK context.”
You might argue that Jim got it right – it was as an integral part of the UK that peace eventually came. But with it peace brought provision for a border poll, and Alliance want a border poll the way that asteroid wanted that spaceship to smash into it recently.
Because the sheep will have to separate from the goats if there’s a border poll. If the party was founded on an economic foundation, maybe it should have a look at what happened to the pound sterling the other day. It should also consider the prospect of being unable to trade freely with the EU and facing a US that will insist on the GFA being fulfilled in all its parts.
Will Alliance members get a free vote when the day of border polling dawns? Or will it vote as a party? My money is on everyone voting as they choose; and except they’ve lost their economic compass completely, they’re going to get as far away from the economic-disease-riddled UK as is possible.
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