And they’re off. Reports that Sammy Wilson, owing to a misunderstanding, was seen dancing in the streets en déshabillé, causing several horses in East Antrim to throw their riders, are, of course, false. But you can see why the lie might have been propagated. Sammy is known to favour the life natural, and the DUP must reckon, after their last electoral outing, things can only get better.
Maybe. Certainly the UUP, which only last month was indignantly rejecting any suggestion of an electoral pact with the DUP are now about to fall over themselves to get just that. Fermanagh and South Tyrone, and South Down, will be particular targets for them. And the call “Defend the Union!” has generally worked in the past. The words “donkeys” and “union jacks” come to mind. (And no, Virginia, I was not thinking of Tom Elliott. How dare you imply such a slur on a fine human being.)
But while the two unionist parties are about to become one flesh, so to say, the same cannot be said for those on the ‘nationalist’/republican side. Former SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie was out of the blocks like Usain Bolt this morning, making it clear that her party “doesn’t do electoral pacts’. Except, of course, with the UUP. So if Sinn Féin are to win that seat in Fermanagh/South Tyrone, or in South Down, or in Foyle, they’re going to have to do it on their own.
Will they pull it off? The answer is no. But the electorate in those constituencies may. If the Sinn Féin vote comes out the way it did last March, they probably will. And if Sinn Féin chooses the kind of young, fresh candidates that have been so successful in the south, they certainly will.
Final point. It’s customary, when elections come hot on each other’s heels like this, for people to be interviewed on telly saying “Another election! My God – it’s too much! I’m going to vote for none of them.” To which the only rational response must be “So you find half an hour at home in front of the telly scratching your rear to be more important than doing your democratic duty?”
Besides, if you have even a threadbare sense of humour (No, Virginia, that was NOT a dig at Sammy), election campaigns are huge fun. It’s the one time when the mighty can be cast down from their thrones and more worthwhile replacements exalted. And people come on telly and say the stupidest things.
Bring. It. On.