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Showing posts from May, 2016

Northern Ireland's Euro 2016 squad

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On Saturday, Michael O’Neill announced his Northern Ireland squad for the finals of a major football tournament.  Not a sentence I thought I’d ever have reason to write, which makes it even pettier that I’m going to have a (very minor) gripe at his selection.
While I have the utmost faith in O’Neill to organise and motivate his team at Euro 2016, in my opinion he has a slightly lop-sided panel from which to choose.  Northern Ireland aren’t taking with them a recognised left full-back and the midfield looks rather threadbare too.
Throughout most of the qualifying matches, O’Neill deployed a conventional back four in defence, with re-purposed midfielder, Chris Brunt, on the left side.  Unfortunately, the West Brom regular picked up a serious knee injury in March, which ruled him out of the finals tournament.
When Northern Ireland played Slovenia in a friendly, the manager picked Michael Smith, from Peterborough United, who can play in either full-back slot.  The former Ballyclare Comra…

UUP opposition will work better if it's joined by the SDLP

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Ulster Unionist leader, Mike Nesbitt, made the first significant tactical gamble of the new Northern Ireland Assembly, this afternoon.  The UUP declined an Executive ministry, to which it is entitled under Stormont’s d’Hondt system, and became the first party to enter ‘official opposition’.
The idea of recognising a voluntary opposition was included in the Stormont House Agreement of 2014, concocted by the two governments, Sinn Fein and the DUP, and restated at the Fresh Start Agreement of 2015. However, legislation to finally make it possible was introduced and guided through the Assembly by John McCallister, an independent MLA who lost his seat at last Thursday’s election.
It’s deliciously ironic that Mr McCallister fought an Ulster Unionist leadership election campaign against Mr Nesbitt on the platform of taking the party into opposition, back in 2012.   
The UUP leader has taken a while to get to this point, but pressure to stay out of devolved government has intensified.  The party…

'The 2015 Election one year on; reflections & predictions (Part 2)' by Phil Larkin

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In part 2 of his post, guest blogger Dr Phil Larkin reflects upon the prospects of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party and he predicts that the SNP has reached the peak of its powers.
THE 2015 ELECTION ONE YEAR ON: REFLECTIONS AND PREDICTIONS (Part 2)
Corbyn and the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn was made Labour Party leader in September 2015, after being nominated for the ballot by a number of Labour MPs, some of whom, like Sadiq Khan and Margaret Beckett, are kicking themselves for being so foolish. Corbyn was elected leader by over 60 per cent of the Labour Party membership, despite the reality that his views run counter to the vast majority of the Parliamentary Party on most key issues. During Ed Miliband’s time the rules on Party leadership were altered to give the membership a bigger say in the decision, and it was possible to join up online prior to the election for a fee of £3. I suspect that many who voted for him were younger members of the population with little or no memories of L…

'The 2015 Election one year on; reflections & predictions' by Phil Larkin

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The following is part 1 of a 2 part guest post by regular guest blogger Dr Phil Larkin. In part 1, Phil looks at the Conservative Party, its leader and the likely effects of an EU Referendum.  Tomorrow, part 2 will reflect on Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of the Labour Party and the prospects of Nicola Sturgeon's SNP, in Scotland.  

THE 2015 ELECTION ONE YEAR ON: REFLECTIONS AND PREDICTIONS
Introduction It is hard to believe that it is almost a year on since the General Election of May 2015. The results themselves were surprising in a number of ways, and there have been unforeseen developments on the UK political stage. The purpose of this article is to make a number of reflections on the events of this past year, and make some predictions about upcoming events on the political horizon.
Cameron, the Tories, and the EU Referendum The Conservatives’ victory in last year’s election with a small but workable overall majority of 12 was perhaps the biggest surprise of 2015. The feeling of s…