Whoever is successful it is clear that the DUPes’ campaign will assume an all too familiar pattern. In 2007 the party raised the spectre of a Sinn Féin First Minister, having first instigated the change which made that situation possible. It was a piece of disgraceful and barefaced cynicism.
Frightening the unionist electorate will once again comprise a central role in the DUP’s tactics. The inevitable party ‘spokesman’ (aka press office hack) apparently said (or perhaps more accurately e-mailed to local newspapers) the following,
“This election will be a clear battle between the DUP and Sinn Fein. It is crucial that Sinn Fein does not top the poll.”
No matter how much a voter might loathe Sinn Féin, he is also be entitled to ask, why is it so crucial that Bairbre de Bruin doesn’t top the poll?
There are three seats available. If one of them is inevitably going to go to the Shinners, surely the DUP’s priority must be to ensure two others stay with unionists? Especially with the party being so big on ‘unionist unity’ n all! It is certainly desirable the Provos don’t top the poll. Ideally they wouldn’t get a seat at all. But crucial?
A pedant, or someone with a passing interest in consistency, might also wonder why, if the DUPes are so focussed on sidelining Sinn Féin, they spend so much time at Stormont carving up power with the Provos and trooping into the same division lobby.
And, of course, we hear Robinson et al constantly extolling the virtues of the power sharing agreement the two parties are dominating! One would almost think that SF’s hegemony in the nationalist community suits the DUP!
Meanwhile the DUPes managed to acquire the services of one of the Conservatives’ remaining Neanderthal backbenchers as an after dinner speaker. True to form he has criticised his leader’s deal with Ulster Unionists on the grounds that it compromises ‘unionist unity’. (Yes, that predictable and inconsistently applied old chestnut).
Nicholas Winterton is perhaps best known for defending the right of MPs to retain many different undeclared interests alongside their political work. Doubtless he feels at home speaking to a party which has scarcely hidden its determination to extract ever more from the exchequer.
His remarks remain just as invalid as the entire ‘unity’ argument’s substance. Depriving unionists of the choice to vote for a candidate which best represents them does not strengthen the Union one iota. A 300 odd strong bloc of unionists in the UK parliament strengthens it substantially.