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SDLP and UUP can find a new role in Opposition

Alex Kane's recent article (Comment, August 4) is absolutely spot-on in analytical terms and both the SDLP and UUP ignore his advice at their peril.

A government without a recognised and effective Opposition may be described as many things, but democratic is not one of them.

If an Opposition is one of the central planks of a democratic government, then choice is one of the central planks of an election. What is the point of an election if it's the same parties, in the same numbers, returned to sit around the same table time after time?

It looks like our Assembly and Executive is going to be forever dominated by a big-two coalition, with two or three smaller parties taking what's left.

So, if the SDLP and UUP want back in the big time again, they have to work together to become the big two in the Executive.

But, as Alex Kane says, that means that they 'must first prove that they can work comfortably and effectively together as the government-in-waiting'.

That, in turn, means that they must jointly quit the Executive to be the official Opposition.

They have 30 MLAs between them, which gives them the chance to form a front bench team, so, if they can do that it means, if nothing else, the electorate will have more choice.

If they prove they have a joint vision, they might, as Alex Kane puts it, 'be genuinely surprised by the numbers of people who come to it'.

JOHN MASON

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