“Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends
We’re so glad you could attend. Come inside! Come inside!
Well folks once again we have reached the silly season we know as election time. That time when politicians can be found cleaning back lanes /passages, opening gates and where there is a pothole, well you can be sure they’re looking into it, in full view of a camera of course.
I love the election time circus and I have to say I do admire the tenacity of those who claim to be working for our benefit when the evidence would suggest very differently. But hey why let the truth get in the way of party political propaganda
Before I begin my analysis of this election I think it only fair to declare my hand in terms of my support for Independent candidates. I know first-hand of the challenges Independents can face and of how the press is not exactly favourable to those with alternative viewpoints. That is those who are not fortunate enough to have multiple press contacts.
Now let me begin:
First up we have the SDLP who have been consistently losing ground and who have recently joined forces with Fianna Fail in a policy merger. This merger was far from smooth with their leader Colum Eastwood coming under fire from party members such as SDLP Veteran Brid Rogers and strong representatives like Clare Hanna who has since been relegated to classroom duties following her decision to step back within the party. At a local level the SDLP remain seated in their constituency offices and have never taken the bold step of leading the charge on any issue. This in my opinion is where they fall down and are perceived to be resting on their laurels. Will they gain in this election with a number of new faces on board? Time will tell. Good Luck.
In second we have the DUP whose efforts in this election as with others will involve ‘vote for us because if you don’t you’ll get them’. The DUP has been linked to a number of costly and corrupt Stormont scandals such as Nama and Red Sky,. However, in this election I believe the biggest obstacle they face will be having to explain why they accept a full wage in the absence of a power sharing assembly and executive. A question which I am confident will be asked of all Stormont party members when you consider that public services are operating at an all-time low including our schools, many of which today are reliant on the generosity of parents for the provision basic essentials.
Next up is Sinn Fein who I have to say are running full tilt in this election with loads of new faces smiling down from lamp posts and gable ends. Oddly enough when sticking their leaflets in doors they bypassed mine.This saddened me because they know I’m a keen collector of election literature. What I find especially interesting about Sinn Fein is their ability to adopt more positions than a veteran contortionist and still keep a straight face. Keeping in mind how these people continue to oppose welfare reform despite handing welfare powers to the Tory government in 2015. I suspect this issue may have been raised on quite a few doorsteps. Will they lose out in this election as result? Time will tell.
Now to those legends of the left. People Before Profit also have a couple of new faces in this council election and oddly they have an old hand looking for a council seat in a twist that I can only describe as the political equivalency of the curious case of Benjamin Button.
One of the key difficulties facing People Before Profit is they had a large section of their local membership walk away recently. Eamon McCann’s brief tenure as an MLA may help them, however losing his seat in Stomont in the snap election may be an indication that the ‘alternative’ wasn’t what it was cracked up to be. They do say we need more activists and not politicians and I’m inclined to agree to with that, however, I am just not aware of how active their prospective politician has been in the community where I live. That said, good luck tomorrow.
Moving on we have Aontu headed up by former Sinn Fein TD Peadar Toibin. Their Candidate in the Ballyarnett DEA is retired GP Anne McCloskey who stood as an Independent in the 2016 Stormont election polling over 3400 votes. Aontu, described by one person as the ‘political wing of the Legion of Mary’, will no doubt pick up votes for the pro-life stance alone. However, the big challenge isn’t so much the election but where they go next and if they have the stamina to build on any mandate given. We shall see. Good Luck Anne.
The Alliance Party
Well what can I say more paper candidates from the Alliance who have never built a base here and by the looks of it have no intention of doing so.
The UUP is standing the son of former Mayor Jim Guy who is seeking to replace Mary Hamilton who has stood down after 18 years. Little is known about Mr Guy but there is a school of thought that the UUP are relying on the mystery value of their candidate as a selling point. Of course I just made that bit up … or did I?
There are a number of independent candidates standing with some familiar faces. A new kid on the independent front is former Fianna Fail member and one time SDLP candidate Emmet Doyle. Oddly Emmet was with Fianna Fail when there was talk about them and the SDLP merging. As someone who stood as an independent candidate I do applaud Emmet who it would seem has finally seen the error of the party way. Emmet’s campaign started out like the old Nescafe advert, the will they or won’t they one. Emmet announced he was standing way back last year, then announced he wouldn’t be standing before again announcing he was standing. Try saying that with a mouthful of peanuts! The only advice I would give to Emmet going forward would be to steer clear of condemnation particularly when it comes to political expenses and accountability! Good Luck Emmet.
As stated above I have been a keen supporter of the Independent Councillors who in fairness to them have worked well and shown their worth. In this election I will be voting for Warren Robinson in the Ballyarnett DEA and would strongly recommend voting for Gary Donnelly in the Moor Ward, Sean Carr in Foyleside and last but by no means least Paul Gallagher in Strabane. These people have proven track records which don’t include empty promises.
One of the biggest factors facing all the candidates this time around is the number of candidates. This may fragment the vote for smaller parties and independents and allow the bigger parties to capitalise on the vote transfer system, but then again we’ve been surprised before.
This election does seem somewhat muted compared to previous elections and from chatting with people the uncertainty around Brexit coupled with the enduring farce that is Stormont lying dormant many are apathetic and disillusioned with politics and political parties and understandably so. What I would say though is people should use their vote or someone else may use it in your name.