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Holier than thou Alliance Party caught with their trousers down and it's hilarious

By Eilis O'Hanlon

There are few more satisfying sights than that of self-righteous paragons of virtue being hoist by their own petard.

So do feel free to revel in the delicious spectacle of the Alliance Party's plaster saints wriggling on the hook after being caught out trying to hijack Radio Ulster's Talkback show in the run-up to next month's Assembly election by urging members to phone in en masse and pitch the softest of soft questions to the party's representatives whenever they're on air. Surely there must be some mistake?

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This can't be the same Alliance that has loitered on the political sidelines for years, arms crossed prissily, shaking heads and tut-tutting disapprovingly at those awful people in the other parties who don't have the same gloriously, upstanding moral principles?

Yes, the very same one; and it's not just a few over-enthusiastic grassroots activists either.

The supposedly secret Facebook group where these messages originated includes some of the party's biggest names, among them leader Naomi Long and her predecessor David Ford.

This is a man who was once highly critical of former First Minister Peter Robinson's assertion that Alliance is "holier than thou", declaring bluntly: "We're not."

You can say that again, David, and the party must allow others who've spent their lives failing to live up to Alliance's high standards a small chuckle at how the high and mighty have fallen.

Everything Alliance does is normally so bland that it might as well change the party's colours from yellow to beige.

Now it's been caught red-handedly trying to manage the media with a brazen indecency that would have shamed Tony Blair's former spin doctor Alastair Campbell.

It's like seeing one of those headlines in the old News Of The World about a crossdressing vicar.

It's shocking for a moment, then you can't help but laugh.

The whited sepulchres in politics are invariably undone by the very thing they profess to be fighting against.

The Tory "family values" man will be uncovered with his pants down in a seaside hotel with his secretary.

The scrupulous socialist who rails against greed will be nabbed with his hand in the till.

For Alliance, its big crusade has always been for probity, transparency, openness - so obviously it was going to be found out doing the exact opposite one day.

The only eye-opener is that it took so long for the mask to slip.

The party's head of communications, Scott Jamison, even told members to "feel free to use a fake name and location if you're so inclined" and be sure not to mention that they're Alliance supporters.

That will be worth remembering next time politicians complain about fake news.

No wonder they know so much about it, when they're the ones doing the faking.

It certainly doesn't suggest that the party's movers and shakers have much confidence in their own candidates' ability to field hard questions, either from journalists or ordinary voters, if they think they should only be allowed out in public behind a human shield of the party faithful, all lobbing tame questions to their heroes along the lines of: "Why can't everyone be as nice as us... er, I mean you... in the Alliance Party?"

But if you're going to do it, at least obey the golden rule of politics - don't be stupid enough to get caught.

And definitely don't get caught by blabbing about it online.

How many times must it be repeated?

Social media is not a private place however secret you imagine your interactions to be.

The internet has more holes than Alliance's plan to boost the local economy by planting more trees, or whatever the heck it happens to be.

Jamison admitted as much himself only days ago, warning candidates of the dangers of blurting out something foolish on social media.

And if that isn't the icing on an already delicious cake, I really don't know what is.

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