Belfast Telegraph

Outcome of election on knife-edge

By Will Chambre

With all the jockeying and posturing over welfare reform you would almost think that there was an election in May.

And, with an electorate not exactly eager to engage with the political classes, parties have been desperately trying to maximise their vote.

The 'unionist pact' in four constituencies has been robustly defended by all concerned, not least by Ulster Unionist chief Mike Nesbitt, who will stand down his party's candidates in North and East Belfast in return for a clear run in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, and Newry and Armagh. 

That the two parties couldn't agree on more constituencies is because of a variety of reasons. After all, come May 8, political anoraks and punters from across the land will be going through the successful candidates' votes and share of vote with the proverbial fine-tooth comb. 

Before then, the DUP has been feeling rather put out for being left off the TV debates. Whether it would have helped them to garner more votes in a GB-focused debate is questionable, but the publicity they have received for making such a song and dance about their exclusion has more than made up for any slight they may feel.

With the outcome of the general election on a pollster's knife-edge, the importance of snagging a few MPs here and there gives added significance for all the parties - apart from Sinn Fein, who won't be taking their seats in the House of Commons.

Peter Robinson has a five-point plan that outlines what Norn Iron wants, claiming it's not just a plan for the party. More money, no bedroom tax, etc. These sorts of demands are aimed at catching the eye of voters no doubt, but how many voters will turn out after so many have been turned off politics over the last year or so?

One would have to have a ouija board to figure that out, but East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell wants them banned. As if things weren't hot and heavy enough it has emerged that the Assembly committee for regional development has referred the Minister for Regional Development to the Public Prosecution Service over the Coleraine to Derry-Londonderry railway project. Now that's taking the scrutiny role of committees seriously!

  • Will Chambre is a political commentator

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