Belfast Telegraph

Our politicians should watch and learn from Nicola Sturgeon's power

By Malachi O'Doherty

I hope when Martin McGuinness and his Assembly colleagues met Nicola Sturgeon the new leader of the Scottish Nationalist party, they noticed what a phenomenon she represents.

For, unlike any personality or movement in politics here, Nicola is hugely popular, her party is backed by a surge of enthusiasm that was nearly strong enough to break the Union. And she is going places.

Peter Robinson may hope to have the balance of power in Westminster at the next election but Nicola is in a much stronger position, and it is Labour that she'll be siding with.

All of this is very important in how it might change the character of the Union and the direction of political evolution.

For instance, Scottish nationalism lending a shove to Labour might be the thing that would keep us in the European Union by checking Ukip and the Tory sceptics in their rush to get out of it.

But what our boys should notice is that they can only dream of having so much influence.

Even if they do get to tilt the balance after the May election, they will only do so as deal makers and hopefuls. What they will not have is a million people back home cheering them; they will not be received through the streets of Belfast in an open-top bus, though it would be no surprise if Nicola was feted like that in Glasgow.

It is good that some of them went to the Isle of Man yesterday to see what is happening in the rest of the Union.

Because it is only in a wider political context, where practical issues are discussed by parties that can make a change and who understand that democracy is representing people who urge you on; it is only by savouring the prospect they have destroyed here by their pettiness and their incompetence that they will be reminded that they have the support, let alone the respect and love, of the people they are supposed to be working for.

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