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Can Northern Ireland's collective boredom be lifted in the last weeks of General Election battle?

Published 21/04/2015

DUP candidate Jonathan Bell on the campaign trail in South Belfast
DUP candidate Jonathan Bell on the campaign trail in South Belfast

A week ago it would have been fair to say that there was more heat around the battle royal in England with Labour and the Conservatives enjoined in bitter – and ongoing – exchanges, than the Westminster poll battles in Northern Ireland.

Even the appearance of party political broadcasts failed to lift the collective ennui afflicting the electorate here.

But, in a sure sign that things are ramping up the self-proclaimed ‘Biggest Show in the Country’ is now putting parties under the microscope. If broadcaster Stephen Nolan has noticed there is an election in Norn Iron, then things are really moving into high gear.

And, that is as it should be with less than three weeks till the polling stations open...

And the DUP and Sinn Féin are involved in a war of words. Well we would be really disappointed/delighted (delete as applicable to you) if they went into an election saying they agreed on something!

The row over welfare reform continues unabated: never mind the collective concern over the potential collapse of the Stormont House timetable, there’s an election on.

Party manifestos are being brandished, leaflets are clogging up letter boxes across the land, and DUP south Belfast candidate Jonathan Bell leads the selfie count....

There is a distinct feeling that many of the incumbents are feeling a mixture of confidence and trepidation.

Of course party bosses are only concerned over what position of influence they will hold in a hung parliament (except for Sinn Féin, who will be sitting outside the seats, if you know what we mean).

Will the DUP be able to lord it over the Conservatives? Will they stare down the SNP for the Labour party’s favour? Or will the SDLP be able to smile sweetly at potential courters from Labour?

Can Naomi Long retain her east Belfast seat, thus boosting a potentially dwindling Lib Dem block in the Commons? If she does triumph, she might consider cosying up to Ed’s party. An audience poll at the recent Slugger #EBDebate, revealed that 29% of Alliance supporters would give their vote to Labour, if they lived in England, compared to only 9% for the Lib Dems.

No doubt over the coming days pollsters will be poring over stats, shifts, swings, focus groups and other arcane counting tools (not the Ouija board  -  Gregory Campbell MP MLA wants them banned) to predict the unpredictable.

As a self-confessed political anorak, I will be sniffing around all this information, but in the end it’s only May 7th that counts.

Online Editors

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