The DUP is a creature of habit. That’s why I was not at all surprised recently, when Arlene Foster suggested the arrival of new candidates in this year’s European election, could ‘shred’ the unionist vote.
As reported in Belfast Telegraph last week, she claimed too, the DUP’s decision to field only a single European candidate was to ‘strengthen unionism’. Arlene however, knows just as well as I do, that the forthcoming European and Council elections are proportional representation (PR) elections. In PR elections, transfers from pro-union candidates strengthen the total unionist vote, rather than diminish it.
At this election, Ukip is bringing people out to vote who in some instances have not voted for a generation. Like the rest of us, they’ve had enough of the politics of the past. They are sick, sore and tired of the politics at Stormont.
They’ve had enough of some politicians who dismiss the electorate as ‘nutters’.
Such discontent is not confined to those from a unionist background. Indeed, I’m finding more and more people who today have outgrown Irish nationalism and republicanism. They recognise their future is best served within the United Kingdom. And like those of us from a Unionist tradition, they too want a future for Northern Ireland, which is better than our past.
Arlene’s decision to attack other unionists is a recognition that Diane Dodds’ seat is vulnerable and is likely to fall to another pro-union party. Therefore, there will undoubtedly be similar salvos fired by the DUP over the coming weeks, as the party begins to play the blame game, before the first ballot has been cast.