Monday, 8 June 2009

Tories win in Wales as eyes turn to Belfast

I spent the weekend in Fermanagh, which led to a brief cessation of blogging. Nevertheless, I had intended to cobble together some preliminary thoughts on the European Election results, as they came in last night. Unfortunately my laptop had other ideas. So if anyone with technical expertise has any notion why a Dell Inspiron 1525 would be hanging irrecoverably after several minutes use, please do not be shy sharing your knowledge below. Diagnostics threw up something rather alarming about the Hard Disk, but I fail to see how the computer could boot at all if it had a profound hardware issue, rather than suffering some manner of software compatibility problem. I rather hope that it might be a hiccup due to Vista or Google Chrome, although the machine does remain within its warranty period at least.

Setting aside that thrilling topic (computers are a tool, not an end in themselves) the implosion of Labour at the polls continued in Europe, after woeful local election results in England on Friday. Although the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives managed to maintain, largely intact, their share of the vote, neither party has made significant gains in terms of seats. Lamentably Labour’s weakness led directly, in two areas, to gains by the neo-fascist BNP. As Britons we remain justifiably proud of our country’s stout resistance to Nazism in the Second World War, it is particularly disturbing that an organisation containing known Nazi sympathisers should be returned to represent our country in the European Parliament. Nationalists also topped the poll in Scotland, which will send two SNP members to sit alongside other separatists and aspirant state dismemberers in their chosen parliamentary group.

The best news, as O’Neill intimates, comes from Wales, where pan-UK unionism has topped the poll. The Conservatives enjoyed their first win in the principality, which belies the notion that they have only a nominal presence outside England. Should Jim Nicholson take a seat later today, David Cameron will have returned representatives to the European Parliament from all four corners of the United Kingdom. With the Northern Ireland candidate running the DUP close, Welsh Conservatives becoming the biggest party in that region and a seat claimed in Scotland with 16.8% of the vote, the ‘English Tories’ jibes are beginning to look rather silly.

Extreme nationalism will, by all accounts, add to its success in the north of England by topping the poll in Northern Ireland, courtesy of Sinn Féin. It is indicative of the dysfunctional nature of our politics, that an organisation unrepentantly connected to a recent campaign of sectarian murder can command something approaching a quarter of the vote here. We will have a good idea by late afternoon and early evening which two candidates will join Bairbre de Bruin as representatives of this part of the United Kingdom. By all accounts the three pro-Union candidates are likely to be extremely close after the first count. Some tallies have Nicholson leading the chasing pack, with just over 100,000 votes, although privately Conservative and Unionist sources are sceptical about their accuracy.

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