Thursday, 1 April 2010

Deal? Or no deal?

WITH the North Down settling down to a straight shoot out between the Conservatives and Unionist candidate Ian Parsley and the independent unionist Lady Sylvia Hermon, attention has been turned to the other constituencies.

North Antrim looks like being a straight contest between the TUV’s Jim Allister and the DUP’s Ian Paisley Jnr. But elsewhere the DUP has dangled a particularly tasty carrot to the Conservatives and Unionists.

Said Carrot is that the DUP will step aside in either South Belfast, or Fermanagh/South Tyrone, thereby all but ensuring a unionist will occupy those seats.

On the face of it a sensible ‘unionist unity’ approach: but there are a few problems, the main one being that Sir Reg Empey and his bedfellow, Conservative Leader David Cameron have said ‘no way, Jose’!

Cameron has pledged that the Tories will fight every seat in the UK.

Also, who would be the ones to pick the constituency? Would there be a panel of arbitration?

“Tell you what we’re farmers so we’ll go with the sticks”. “Nah, we’re getting a wee bit of heat from the media and South Belfast contains some housing developments…so fresh country air seems a good idea.”

The more cynical of commentators could surmise that the DUP don’t want to be anywhere near South Belfast, but lest you assume we are cynical, it is much more rational to assume that trying to embarrass the Tories and Ulster Unionists was too much of a chance to pass up.

And therein lies the rub. For all the DUP, TUV, Tory/UUP and other assorted election battles, it is never really about battling republicanism or nationalism. It really has only ever been about who has unionist bragging rights.

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