Monday 9 November 2009

Allister's speech as a word-cloud

Wordle is a fun tool to play with, and though it makes no claims to profound analysis, it can throw up a few visual surprises.

Not so in the case of Jim Allister's speech to the TUV conference last Saturday, though. The Wordle (or 'word cloud') of his speech shows up his obsessions:
Anyone looking for real-world politics in Allister's speech will need good eyesight. Yes, the word 'education' is there, but only as part of a criticism of … you guessed it, Sinn Féin. The rest of the speech demonstrates his continuing obsession with the power-sharing governmental arrangements in Northern Ireland.

The words 'Sinn Féin' appear 38 times; DUP a mere 18 times; but the UUP (remember them?) is mentioned only once. The SDLP are entirely absent from Allister's thoughts. Peter (Robinson) is mentioned 13 times, and (Martin) McGuinness 10 times – though they seem to be quite chuckly about him, because three of his references are as 'Marty'.

A similar Wordle can be done with the other TUV conference speeches. Here, for example, is the Wordle of the speech of Party President William Ross:

It is more clearly focussed on political processes and structures, as a party president's speech should be, and clearly less obsessed with Jim Allister's obsessions – Sinn Féin and the DUP.

It will be interesting to see whether the TUV continues to dance to Allister's slightly obsessive tune, or if more mature and diverse voices start to be heard in the run-up to next year's election. At some stage, if they are serious about politics, the TUV might start to add actual policies to their speeches.

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