Saturday, 7 February 2009
Welcome to my blog on the upcoming European elections. I plan this to be a collection of all the news and my analysis relating to the elections, primarily here in Northern Ireland, but also in the rest of the UK and in the Republic of Ireland.
For those who don’t know me, my name is David Cather, I joined the DUP when I went to Queens in 2002, going on to become chairman of the University Association in my final year. I graduated in Chemical Engineering in 2007 and I now work for a local plastics company.
Regarding my views; I am a Christian, what would be termed an evangelical Christian, I am a free market capitalist; a unionist and somewhere in between a conservative and a classical liberal.
Clearly, my views and comments will be shaped by my party which is why I highlight it now. I hope, however, to avoid the worst excesses of sycophantism and that as a result the blog will be of general use to everyone following the election.
Northern Ireland Elections
The primary focus of this blog will be the European elections here in the Northern Ireland. These will see Jim Allister trying to retain his seat under the TUV banner; we now know that he will be facing the DUP’s former West Belfast MLA, Diane Dodds. Also joining the fray will be the veteran Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson, although just to make things interesting he will be fighting under the banner of the new Conservative / UUP alliance. (Exact wording of banner subject to agreement, reference to Ulster – yet to be determined.)
Sitting Sinn Fein MEP Bairbre de Brun will be defending her seat, the SDLP have selected North Belfast MLA, Alban Maginness to run. We also know that the Green Party are running former East Belfast assembly candidate Steven Agnew. I plan to blog on each of these candidates individually over the coming weeks; I will also feature candidates for other parties as I become aware of them. I regret that we have, as of yet, received no reassurances that Eamon McCann will not be throwing his hat into the ring. Until he says something official on the subject I will continue to fear the worst.
Briefly, I expect there to be 2 main areas of interest in this election. Firstly, how will the new Conservative / UUP pact perform? Will Jim Nicholson be able to reach out to significant numbers of the supposed “Garden Centre Unionists,” who support the Union, but have been turned off by the traditional parties? Or are Garden Centre Unionists mythical creatures, like pixies, and merely figments of Alex Kane’s imagination? More than this, will Nicholson be able to reach out to significant numbers of catholic voters or will attempts to reach beyond the parties core end up costing votes?
Secondly, there is the battle between Jim Allister and the DUP. The Dromore by-election showed the DUP that many voters were angry with the decision to share power with Sinn Fein. Has the DUP performance, since Dromore persuaded voters that the party can best resist Sinn Fein’s agenda by being in power with them, or will voters use the European election as an opportunity to register their protest?
On the nationalist side of the house I foresee less interest, sorry guys, the main questions are will Sinn Fein top the poll and can Alban Maginnis hold up the SDLP vote. It is possible that the 11 Plus debacle might push middle class nationalists back into the SDLP camp, but how likely is this? I do suspect that Caitriona Ruane will be kept out of sight as much as is possible in coming months, to general relief.