Dolores Kelly is running for the SDLP in Trimble’s Upper Bann constituency. Last time out she came in fourth place with 7,607 or 14.9% of the vote – some way behind Sinn Fein’s Dara O’Hagan. O’Hagan is not running this time. Locally at least she sees some signs of improvement.In previous years they couldn’t get anyone from the Garvaghy Road to run for them. This year they have Elaine Sterrit, a 23 year old newly qualified nurse running. Initially she took some verbal abuse, which stopped after Dolores took it up with Gerry Adams. This accords with a lightening of attitudes, with the UUP going into hardline Loyalist areas like Mourneview estate.
But that hasn’t improved Unionist chances of borrowing nationalist votes. She told Slugger:
In the last election our voters have told us that they have voted for David Trimble – well not for him, but as one woman told me during the week ‘we voted for the lesser of two evils’. I don’t think the same argument prevails in people’s minds to vote for David Trimble to save the Good Friday Agreement.
On thing she reckons has really gotten the goat of local moderate Catholics was the It’s Not Fair document Trimble’s party published some time back. In particular she noted the section: It’s not fair to tax people more because they are unionists. That’s the section which refers to the linking of rates and water charges to the value of your home.
Dolorous: “They’re saying it’s not fair because protestants live in bigger houses and better areas. It seemed like the kind of piece that the DUP might have put out. They should blush at putting that out.”
She reckons her party could have lost up to 2000 votes to Trimble last time out. But it’s likely that that figure is also made up of defections to Sinn Fein and people who stayed at home. On the other side of the argument Trimble told Slugger today that he believed he hadn’t pulled in any significant numbers of Catholics last time out.
Hmmm. Whatever about Seamus Mallon’s statement the other day, it looks like Trimble is relying on getting his core vote out!
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty