When Sooma MP Nicola Allman announced she had received enough signatures from her parliamentary colleagues to allow her to stand for leadership of the Democratic Left Party, the first question that left the mouths of most political journalists was “who?”; the second question was how did she convince over 1/3 of the DLP parliamentary party to sign her nomination forms, when most of them probably know very little about her. Right out of the gates, though, Allman has proved that there is plenty of talent on the backbenches, of both parties, being ignored by the more well-known party elites.
A native of the township of Sooma in Galvium, Allman spent all of her childhood in the tight knit, semi-rural community. The daughter of a farmer and a housewife, Allman was born in July 1978 as the only daughter; she has two older brothers. She attended the National University of Sanctaria, Nicene to study chemistry in 1996 and when she graduated in 1999, she immediately registered with the Sanctarian Defence Forces, and joined their officer training scheme as an Officer Cadet. Her interest in defence had been there for a long time; her older brother Thomas had previously joined the SDF, and two of her maternal uncles were also members of the military. She passed out as a midshipman in 2001 and spent the next 12 years in the navy, leaving the service as a Captain in 2015 at the age of 37.
After spending some time working in her local community, and on her family farm, Allman was approached by the local DLP chapter asking if she’d like to be short-listed as their candidate for Sooma in the 2018 general election. Allman’s mother had been a longtime member of the local DLP organisation, and the chapter felt that Nicola’s relative youth, her time spent in the community, and her previous active service in the SDF would reach a broad audience, and see her elected. Their guess was correct, and Allman was returned as Sooma’s MP in the general election of 2018, with a very healthy majority of 15,000 votes.
Her time in parliament, though, has left her feeling very frustrated, according to sources close to her. A brand new, backbench MP, Allman was mostly ignored by party insiders and old guard. She had requested to be put on House committees like foreign affairs, or homeland security, or even agriculture, but instead was posted to the House committee on World Assembly Affairs; a committee tasked with scrutinising all manner of legislation passed by the World Assembly and translating it to domestic law. Not an exciting committee for a young, ambitious MP.
Allman, though, has clearly bided her time. By all accounts friendly, outgoing, and having a “wicked sense of humour”, according to those in the know, Allman might have been a nobody to political journalists, and to the public at-large, but most in the parliamentary party had an encounter, or two, with her. Whether it was drinks, lunch, or work meetings, Allman has spent the last five years fruitfully establishing relationships with MPs from across the political divide within the DLP, and across the seniority divide too; one of her closest friends within the DLP parliamentary party is said to be fellow moderate, and Secretary for Homeland Security, Kathryn Stewart.
Her time on the media rounds, her first ever foray into the sphere in her close to five years in parliament, have also proven a surprise to journalists. Articulate, clever, and some have said slightly arrogant, Allman has deftly deflected questions she has no interest in answering, or no ability to, and pivoted back to topics she has a depth of knowledge on. Interviewers have noted very little sign of nerves, and some point to her navy background for helping her exude nerves of steel.
A lack of experience at the cabinet table, however, is a serious hindrance. Her aforementioned ability to pivot to favoured topics may prove to be a detriment at party hustings. The next leader of the DLP will be expected by the party to become Chancellor after the next election, and a Chancellor cannot afford to just care about a few topics. Allman’s knowledge on economic and fiscal matters has not yet been tested, and she has avoided pointed questions on these matters when they have come up. Some commentators are arguing her focus on national security, foreign affairs, and agricultural and energy matters are simply public displays of her true intention in this race – she knows she won’t be the next Chancellor, but she wants to be the next Chancellor’s Homeland Security Secretary or Foreign Secretary.
JOEY SESSIONS, Political Editor