It’s been my view from the very start of this election campaign that it would be of very little consequence. The stop-start first nine years of Stormont have been little more than a throat-clearing exercise which its proudest boast is that it didn’t fall down.
In preparing my constituency report on East Londonderry, one of the UUP candidates Aaron Callan suggested that whilst this election would not be transformational, it would prove to be transitional.
Indeed whilst tribal politics is not likely to be eclipsed any time soon, there are signs that just showing up with the now proverbial #fleg at your back is no longer be enough to win seats or pull in votes.
And yet there’s still very little political money to be earned in policy alone. In part, that’s because of the solid state nature of the power-sharing settlement. If everyone’s in then everyone can claim a big chunk of the benefit, even if it was delivered by a rival minister.
But also identity still remains key. Yet all parties now know that they must roll up their sleeves and at least give the impression they can do the policy stuff, even if they can’t yet . The conversion process is inelegant and excruciating and will probably cost in a further lowering of turnout levels.
But, as I argue in the Report above, there is no future for any serious NI political party without taking policy a lot more seriously than any point heretofore.
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