You report Arlene Foster as saying (April 19th) that every first preference vote for a unionist party other than the DUP “.. runs the risk of dividing unionism .. [and] returning fewer unionist councillors. Mrs Foster suggests that this will bolster Sinn Fein demands for a border poll.
This is DUP Project Fear Mark 3 following their principal platform in two previous Assembly elections which urged voters to stop Martin McGuinness or later Michelle O’Neill becoming First Minister in the dysfunctional Assembly Executive. Now their tune seems to be if voters don’t vote DUP they will get something even more undesirable in the form of a border poll.
The DUP seem to be totally fixated with Sinn Fein. I recall one of their MPs recently telling me that, unless there was a return to Stormont, Sinn Fein would be able to say that Northern Ireland is ungovernable. There is no doubt that, given half the chance, the DUP would rush back into Stormont with yet another unstable “power sharing” agreement which would be susceptible to being scuppered by Sinn Fein over any issue where they foresaw democratic defeat. The other locally bred parties would quickly swarm back in after them.
The elections on May 2nd are for our 11 Local Councils which, due to the demise of the DUP/Sinn Fein coalition at Stormont, have been bearing the brunt of local representation for the last 2 years. Far from restoring Legislative Devolution at Stormont, the Northern Ireland electorate, whether unionist or not, would be much better served by the termination of the failed experiment and the wide expansion of local council responsibilities to fill the democratic void. Any remnant devolved powers could then be returned to our Parliament at Westminster. Only UKIP, the only UK wide truly unionist party contesting these elections, proposes this radical but essential reform of our constitution.
A first preference vote for the DUP would also be taken as an endorsement of their Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds’s recent assertion that their party would sacrifice Brexit for the Union. Does Mr Dodds not realise that if the majority of voters across the UK saw their ambitions for Brexit thwarted with the connivance of a majority of Northern Ireland MPs the Union would be placed a vastly greater risk than that of Sinn Fein’s ephemeral border poll threat?
By all means give DUP preferences at this election but lower than First Preferences for UKIP candidates.