I caught up with David Trimble this afternoon after a couple of scouting expeditions up and down Lurgan main street. Just before I met up with one DUP man standing with his daughter outside Stephen Moutray’s constitutency office told me I should shake his hand for the last time as an MP. When Trimble drew level with him again, the man called over, “I hope you enjoy your final days as MP for Upper Bann”. Trimble, quipped back – “I ceased to be a Member of Parliament here three weeks ago – but I’ll become one again tomorrow!” He turned to me by way of explanation, “Just being my usual pettyfogging self!”Shortly afterwards, a man came up to him and announced he would not be voting for the DUP or Sinn Fein but for Trimble himself and introduced himself as a ‘Roman Catholic’. He insists that tactical voting has not been a factor in this constituency before, but is hopeful that it will this time round. “As of late on Friday afternoon I will return to status”.
If does pull off his best possible outcome he’ll need more than just the odd stray Catholic vote. In his own heartland, he’s convinced by the cordial welcome he’s getting on the streets and on the doorsteps that he’s in with a chance. He was only heckled twice in Mourneview a large loyalist estate that’s previously been out of bounds.
But he’s clearly not naive enough not to recognise he’s in a tight corner.
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