Lagan Valley, being my home constituency, is probably the most important contest as far as I am concerned in the General Election campaign. Despite DUP claims that they will have a “five figure majority”, not only is Lagan Valley unpredictable given the defection of the incumbent, it is at this moment too close to call.
Basil McCrea in his interview on A Tangled Web said that Jeffrey Donaldson needs a personal vote of 10,001 to win, and I agree with him that “he will not achieve this”. The DUP are and always have been the third Party in Lagan Valley in General Elections. This will change at the forthcoming election; however their belief that they are now suddenly top dog by a margin is misguided. This is perhaps ironically best articulated in Daily Ireland:
How the defection of the now DUP man will impact on the general election remains to be seen. It is not clear whether previous election results were more politically motivated or reflective of Mr Donaldsons own popularity. At this stage, it cannot be said with any certainty whether or not the constituency will follow Mr Donaldson in changing parties
I can say in all honesty that I will be in no way surprised if Jeffrey Donaldson does not sit on the green benches in the next Parliament. The DUP brush it off as irrelevant, but the fact remains that every solitary one of the 14,000 votes cast for Jeffrey Donaldson in November 2003 was a vote for the Ulster Unionist Party – this is why the DUP urged the electorate in their manifesto not to vote for “so called anti-agreement Ulster Unionists”.
Lagan Valley cannot be predicted at this stage with any degree certainty. The electorate have not taken kindly to the actions of Mr Donaldson following the last time they entrusted him with their vote, they tell Ulster Unionist canvassers this day and daily. These people will I am sure vote Ulster Unionist again on 5th May 2005 and as a result make Lagan Valley one of the most exciting races in the UK.