Wednesday, April 28, 2010

General Election: DUP2Win?

In the third of my reviews of the General Election literature in the East Belfast constituency, we turn our attention to the sitting MP, Peter Robinson, who on top of his Westminster job continues to be an MLA and First Minister of Northern Ireland.

Three jobs would seem to be a lot for anyone, but there's no signs that Peter Robinson will step down from one or other of his seats if elected to Parliament again. This despite the recent scandals, and ongoing questions surrounding the transfer of some land in our village of Dundonald. Robinson has been under pressure recently, and perhaps it's being worked out in the way his campaign team are failing to engage with the electorate.

On Monday night I was sitting in the house, with one ear listening for the doorbell announcing some canvassers visiting. Instead, the DUP team were very quickly slipping the election communication through the letterbox and moving on - without ringing doorbells or knocking the doors. No attempt at all to speak with potential voters. I even went out to the door, and the guys say me, but hurried on their way. Not exactly a positive sign, unless they presumptively imagine that my part of Dundonald is either going to automatically vote for him, or is a lost cause so they just want to get their information out without causing a scene.

So as to the information itself, there's quite a bit of it, contained in an 8 page A5 booklet (which also contained an A5 4 page flyer for the local council candidate in the by-election caused by Iris Robinson's resignation). 7 pictures of Peter, so I think Trevor Ringland is still winning for most pictures of himself. Despite being the sitting MP, Robinson seems to be under pressure in the booklet, coming out fighting with material on the expenses scandal in page 2, quoting Sir Thomas Legge who gave him a clean bill of health.

The fight continues on pages 3, 6 and 7, where Peter the fighter is presented positively compared to 'a novice' given his personal experience in those multi-tasking jobs we've mentioned previously, as well as comparing the DUP to other unionist parties in the areas of unionist unity, strong positive leadership, representing unionism and with long-term strategy. Having seen campaign leaflets from other constituencies, these sections are the same across the board, with just some special East Belfast and Peter Robinson sections where the local candidate is introduced in each constituency.

However it's interesting that unionist unity is now presented as a key concern, whenever the DUP are the largest unionist party. If memory serves correctly, they were less keen on unionist unity when they were the smaller unionist party, on the hardline fringe of things. However now that there's a possibility of a Sinn Fein First Minister in the next Assembly they're very concerned to protect their position, especially since the TUV has comfortably moved into the gap left when when DUP shifted into government with the Shinners.

As with some of the other candidates in East Belfast, there does appear to be some confusion as to what the election is all about, with the issues discussed in the Assembly being referred to as if they are the main thing, rather than the particular issues concerning Westminster.

Again, there are no references to Twitter or Facebook or such things, and the only website link is to which has been on the go for many years, and didn't seem to have individual pages for each of the candidates standing in the election.

Time will tell if Peter Robinson will still be MP for East Belfast come the 7th May. It's hard to tell at this stage how the unionist vote will split, and how many votes will be lost to the Conservatives and Unionists, and the TUV. Alliance are also talking up their chances, but as I've said before, I can't seem Naomi Long winning through.

DUP2win? We'll see.

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