“Poor Edwin”

So says Jim Allister on last night’s H&M.Many will say that one cannot draw too many conclusions from a local government by-election. And they’re right. I worked a bit on the Larne Lough DEA by-election in 2004, occasional Slugger commenter Andy Wilson won the election, yet Roy Beggs still lost the following Westminster election heavily. Yet there are significant differences here (one being that Andy had the good forethought to become a father during the campaign). The preceding council election in Larne Lough had the UUP well ahead of the DUP, the following council election UUP and DUP were roughly equal. In Dromore we overturned a significant DUP lead from 2005 to be neck and neck in 2008. DUP strategists were telling UUP canvassers they would be amazed if we failed to win in Larne. In Dromore, the media wrote us off as an afterthought, and to an extent, they have been embarrassed every bit as acutely as the DUP.

I wont go into any where as much detail as fair deal and Turgon have, I think that in particular Turgon’s analysis covers the bases that I would have, had I been quicker off the mark. My only further thought is that we could meander into a position where those who believe that power sharing is in the medium term best interests of Northern Ireland vote UUP, those who don’t vote TUV, and the question of “what are they for again?” turns from my party, to the DUP. And wow but don’t they deserve it.

The next major election is Europe 2009. The DUP’s fox of standing two candidates has probably been shot by a small by-election in Co Down, and the broader Euro election looks now like it could be a three way fight for two Unionist seats. People will cry Unionism will lose a seat as a result, I don’t believe that it will. I reckon the next Euro election will be a much more exciting affair following yesterday, and all because the DUP aren’t today the invincible electoral machine they were thought to be at the start of the week.

I used to write and get paid, now I read and don’t.

Former UUP staffer, currently living in London. @mjshilliday

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