Wednesday, May 05, 2010

General Election: Second Round

Following the first review of most of the candidates' election communications for the constituency of East Belfast in tomorrow's General Election, a second round of election communications have arrived. This time, though, we'll deal with them all in one fell swoop, with new things or heightened emphases as polling day quickly approaches.

Naomi Long: Alliance

Naomi's second communication (this time addressed to me) is much bigger, but seems to contain much of the same information, just in bigger text boxes and bigger photos. On the plus side, she answers the nagging question from the first leaflet of double or triple jobbing, with a pledge that 'if elected to Westminster, she has committed to stand down from the Assembly to ensure that East Belfast has full-time representation in Parliament.' On the down side, she is still perpetuating the 'spin' on election results from the 2007 Assembly election, presenting herself as just 52 votes behind Peter Robinson (while neglecting to admit the huge distance between Alliance and both the UUP and the DUP). She now has included Facebook information, so a plus one for social media!

Trevor Ringland: Conservatives and Unionists

We've received two further communications from the Unionists. The first had much the same material, with a few more photos from Trevor's day out in East Belfast, at some new locations - including the reconciliation statue in Stormont Estate. In this communication he also now comes out in favour of the public inquiry into the City Airport runway extension. Sadly, though, it's hard to look past a couple of clangers - what Mark Devenport has been calling the Spellection: on writing about the importance of tourism in East Belfast, Ringland says 'From the Titanic quarters to Parliament buildings...' (Have we more than one Titanic Quarter now? Maybe that's why it's all so expensive...); and the worst clanger, 'Nothen Ireland'.

His second election communication contained a personal message from Trevor Ringland, addressed to my wife. (Should I be worried?) Ringland is coming out fighting, mainly against the Alliance Party, as he says: 'Trevor Ringland is the only candidate who can win this seat from Robinson. The figures speak for themselves. Alliance has always trailed in third. Every vote counts in this election, and with your support, we can put an end to the neglect of East Belfast at Westminster. A vote for Alliance in a vote for Robinson.' At least he is arguing on the basis of fact on the election results. On the plus side, we actually see that he has a change of clothes, with photos of him wearing something other than the outfit he wore for every photo on the first two election leaflets!

Peter Robinson: Democratic Unionist Party

In his final election communication, Peter Robinson is firmly attacking his unionist opponents - perhaps this is where he sees the battle most fiercely fought, rather than against Alliance (sorry Naomi). There are lots of photos of Robinson in various places and situations - a DUP rally, a primary school, visiting a centenarian, with the Orange Order, with troops in Iraq (?) or Afghanistan (?), with Barack Obama, in Parliament, on a building site, and with Citizens' Advice.

There are sections against the UUP/Conservative link up, as well as against the TUV, appealing for unionist unity. However it is on the back page that Robinson becomes his most vitriolic, and perhaps even applies some double standards. He is trying to argue that he is the only local unionist worthy of being elected, and so he writes:

'Peter Robinson lives in the constituency - his unionist opponents live outside the area, one as far away as County Armagh... Peter Robinson knows East Belfast and its people - some of his opponents are tourists and would need Sat Nav to find their way about the area.'

There are several factors about what he has said here:

1. Peter Robinson has only just been moved back into the constituency - he couldn't have said that if Dundonald hadn't been shifted from Strangford to East Belfast again, which would indicate that prior to this election, he wasn't himself in the constituency.

2. There is no legal barrier on anyone living outside a constituency standing for election, nor no residency condition.

3. Is Peter Robinson and the DUP applying this standard for its other candidates? After all, Willie McCrea lives in the Mid-Ulster constituency but is standing in South Antrim, and, as a prime example of double standards, Nigel Dodds, standing in North Belfast, lives as far from that constituency in a provincial town as David Vance does from East Belfast. Should Nigel Dodds therefore not be standing in North Belfast and a local resident be up there instead? Or are the DUP exercising double standards in this attack on its opponents?

The election communications have now been printed and distributed. It's almost time for the x to be crossed and votes cast. This time round, Northern Ireland votes will be counted virtually as soon as polls close at 10pm, rather than the next day. I'm still debating whether I should sit up for a while to watch the results as they come in, or go on to my bed. Any ideas?

1 comment :

  1. Voting floaters go Lava-Tory...