Tuesday, 16 September 2008

You know it's going to happen

Without wishing either to stretch a metaphor or put literal minded readers off dinner, Northern Ireland’s politics comprise a cramped, crowded, sweaty, incestuous hothouse. This week the hothouse is being strapped to the back of a media lorry and transported down the road to Enniskillen. The council by election which is to take place there will no doubt by minutely dissected and its significance projected endlessly (and speculatively) unto a bigger stage by those parties which feel they have done well. That is the nature of the, frankly vaguely ridiculous, hothouse.

The truth is that this by election will be influenced by a series of peculiarities, local or otherwise, and the significance accorded to its result should not be overstated. The News Letter’s Stephen Dempster is correct when he states that this is not Dromore and that extrapolating the state of unionism from the election is not a possibility. This election is of unfortunate provenance, it features a pressurised battle between Sinn Féin and unionist parties, Arlene Foster (DUP) is a preternaturally well known candidate in comparison to the rest, the TUV have decided not to stand.

I have been reading with interest the arguments and counter arguments pertaining to this election. I find Basil Johnston’s (UUP) argument, that Arlene Foster’s u-turn on double jobbing makes her a poor candidate, compelling. However, I don’t believe that the result will tell us an awful lot about political trends one way or another. The by election is significant for Fermanagh, but will provide little idea how the electorate are thinking elsewhere.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Checkov - I've never seen political parties and blogs anywhere devote so much attention to a Council by-election!

Of course, you are right. It will tell us nothing, not least because the TUV aren't standing and, more importantly, Basil Johnston will probably be the last candidate ever to stand under the UUP banner (pending the marriage).

The next by-election or election will be much more interesting. Of course, the election is vitally important for the candidates themselves and their local branches, but I find the volume of news / web coverage a bit OTT.

Ignited said...

Anon,

OTT - hell yea!

In my opinion, like Chekov, nothing can be read too much into the result. It would be different if we were talking about Stormont or Westminster - but we're not.

Plus its Fermanagh, where the 'hurt' runs deep and the divisions are personified.

Chekov said...

"Checkov - I've never seen political parties and blogs anywhere devote so much attention to a Council by-election!"

Lol. Other than Dromore!