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DUP's Nigel Dodds 'the kingmaker'

Published 13/04/2015

The DUP's Nigel Dodds could hold the balance of power in Westminster
The DUP's Nigel Dodds could hold the balance of power in Westminster

Only three in 10 British adults outside Northern Ireland have heard of a political kingmaker who could be crucial in determining who walks into Number 10 next month.

Nigel Dodds was the Westminster leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, the largest in Northern Ireland and fourth largest in the House of Commons, and his party's expected eight to 10 votes could be much sought during a hung parliament.

The poll, conducted before the recent seven-way TV debate, also showed that Leanne Wood - the Plaid Cymru leader - is only recognised by 39% of the electorate and only half of Britons have heard of Green Party leader Natalie Bennett.

It suggested Mr Dodds was largely unknown in the rest of the UK.

Elin Twigge, deputy managing director of Political Lobbying and Media Relations (PLMR) - which arranged the survey, said: "It says a lot about the fractured nature of British politics at the moment that someone who is largely unknown to the British public may hold the keys to Downing Street for either David Cameron or Ed Miliband.

"Nigel Dodds is a name we should all get used to and fast; in less than a month he could be the most important person in Westminster."

The DUP has outlined its demands for supporting a coalition government during a hung parliament, including scrapping the so-called bedroom tax on housing benefit claims.

This poll suggested 69% of British adults in Great Britain had never heard of Mr Dodds. A further fifth had heard of him, but knew nothing about him.

In Northern Ireland, he is a prominent Orangeman who has been deeply involved in the Ardoyne parades dispute for many years and a former finance minister in the Northern Ireland Assembly who is campaigning for re-election in North Belfast.

Quintin Oliver, a political researcher who ordered the survey, said: "It's unusual for our MPs to enjoy the balance of power in this way. 'Our Nigel' rather than the 'other Nigel' (Farage) will negotiate robustly and hard with his eight to 10 votes.

"The UK people and media had better get to know his policies pretty fast!"

The survey was carried out earlier this month by Mr Oliver's Belfast-based Stratagem organisation, PLMR and the ComRes polling company. The research canvassed 2,057 British adults online between 31 March and 1 April. Data was weighted to be representative of all Great Britain adults aged 18 and over.

In anticipation of the important role his party may play in May, Mr Dodds has already outlined his party's demands from a government partner and hasn't ruled out working with Labour or the Conservatives.

In an interview last month, he said he would want Ed Miliband to offer a referendum on Europe and David Cameron to reverse the bedroom tax should they wish to go into partnership to lead the country. He has also stated any future government needs to commit spending a minimum of 2% of GDP on defence.

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