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So-called Opposition parties need to be reminded they have been firmly rejected by the electorate

Published 26/05/2016

Belfast Telegraph letters to the Editor
Belfast Telegraph letters to the Editor

While everyone is billing and cooing at the UUP, SDLP and Alliance for stepping out into so-called Opposition, I have to register my dismay at the failure of these parties properly to respond to the recent election mandate.

Can I ask just what "Opposition" means when none of these parties have any chance at any stage, barring a miracle, of providing any viable alternative to government?

Sitting on Opposition benches making gestures and grumbling is not what Opposition is.

It is meant to be the provision of a genuine electable alternative. None of these parties constitute that, either singly or in the highly unlikely event of doing it together.

The reality is that the electorate in bulk delivered a massive mandate to the two main parties in Northern Ireland. That mandate was also, yet again, a flat rejection of the posturing antics of the so-called Opposition parties.

How do those parties react to that rejection? Guess. By intensifying their antics.

Moreover, someone should remind these parties that invisibility is no recommendation to the voter. I am keen to see how Colin McGrath, for instance, newly-elected SDLP MLA for South Down, will manage to counter the impact of his Sinn Fein rival Chris Hazzard MLA in 2021.

Having polled just half his predecessor's vote in 2016, Mr McGrath may find that Mr Hazzard's visibility will be a telling factor.

After the electorate asks: "Who are you?". They will then ask: "What will you do differently?" To which he will only be able to respond: "Nothing, because we will be in Opposition."

Yet another step taken by the SDLP in the erosion of their Westminster majority in South Down.


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