Monday, 10 May 2010

Long shot

IN football the most spectacular goals are when a midfielder picks up the ball some 30 yards out from goal and with deft power and accuracy delivers it at pace to the one point in goal where the keeper can't reach.

The crowd rises in ecstatic joy etc etc.

But behind such glorious long distance goals is much hard work - the awareness to spot the opportunity, the vision to be in the right place for the pass, and the ability to see when defenders are backing off.

And, of course, it the defenders lack of ability to spot the threat, the fact that they are distracted by other players and the keeper being that crucial half yard out of position.

Okay, that's the football metaphor stretched to the limit to try and explain Naomi Long's defeat of Peter Robinson.

Amidst the Alliance Party euphoria it is easy to miss the fact that this was a 22.9% swing from the DUP.

While Ms Long has been at pains to point out that there was no negative campaign against Robinson from Alliance, the simple truth is that there did not need to be.

The other factor which must be taken into consideration is the perfect storm conditions. Robinson was on the defensive amid the media stories, and Naomi Long was just ending a year as Lord Mayor of Belfast.

Even the perfect favourable storm means nothing, if it cannot be capitalised on. And to return to the footballing metaphor hard work set up the chance. Long and her team - oft regarded as bit players in the bear pit of Stormont - worked hard at constituency level. And there is a lesson for all elected representatives - the harder the work, the greater the reward from the electorate.

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