Political anoraks are beginning to think about the European elections. The SDLP lost its seat last time and would dearly love to win one of the three seats on offer on 4 June 2009. The suggestion that they might be considering running party stalwart Alban Maginnis seems to suggest that they do not really believe winning a seat is possible. Moreover, given that Maginnis is well qualified and often suggested as a possible Policing and Justice Minister, it would seem to migitate against such a candidacy. Or perhaps it suggests that the SDLP believe that the devolution of policing and justice is highly unlikely to happen this side of 4 June 2009?
Should Maginnis become Justice Minister (before or after the Euros and regardless of whether he is the SDLP candidate) few will have served a longer political apprenticeship.
The UUP/Conservatives appear to be lining up sitting MEP Jim Nicholson as their candidate - although there are also rumours of an alternative.
Jim Allister the former DUP member and sitting MEP is determined to run again. As well as attacking the DUP for going into government with Sinn Féin, he will attempt to paint any prospective DUP candidate as a ‘vote-splitter’.
The DUP certainly seem worried about Allister and his Traditional Unionist Vote party. Apparently, Sammy Wilson and Edwin Poots have turned down the idea of running – the later in no uncertain terms – when approached privately by their party leader. Arlene Foster has publicly said she has no wish to fight the election. Nigel Dodds and Jeffrey Donaldson have also been suggested and Dodds appear to be a serious possibility. He would, of course, have to stand down from Westminster if elected.