Tomorrow is polling day. It is decision time for Northern Ireland people, including me. My mind was made up, a long time ago, to vote for Jim Nicholson No. 1. What about second and further preference votes?
At the outset, I want to make it clear that I am not interested in a party’s constitutional preference for Northern Ireland. As a Conservative, I preach normal politics. As far as I possibly can, I want to practice it too.
When looking at a party’s policy, it is worth bearing in mind that what they say on certain things, has got nothing to do with the job of the euro MP. For example, keeping the pound is a matter for the Westminster Government. So also is whether or not to have a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. When our MP is elected, they will all be expected to bat for Northern Ireland. In practice and in most respects, that is what our existing three MPs have done. Most of the policies which are concerned with looking after Northern Ireland’s interest are similar across all the parties. That said, heads of policy are worth looking at to get a sense of the political direction of those parties.
It is also worth bearing in mind that in terms of influencing politics in Europe, individual parties do not get seats on committees. It is voting blocks which do. The conservatives are cutting themselves off from the centre-right group (the EPP) after many years. The reason for this is simple and it has to do with history. The UK has no memory of being invaded. Nearly all of the rest of Europe has. Those countries are therefore emotionally driven towards greater union. That is why the Conservatives are keen to form a new block – to act as a counterweight against federalism.
The two parties with the nearest policies to the Conservatives are the DUP and the TUV. The DUP say “Oppose the Lisbon Treaty, keep the pound.” Similar things are said by Jim Allister, which I totally agree with. As parties of the centre right, the DUP and the TUV would join the new group being formed by the Conservatives.
The other parties are much further away from the Conservatives. The starting point of both Sinn Fein and the SDLP is that they are both socialist with left-leaning politics. The SDLP support the Lisbon treaty. Sinn Fein, for reasons which I will not discuss here, opposes it. Both of those parties would like to see the UK give up sterling for the euro. So also would the Alliance Party.
I have looked at the Green Party manifesto. There are a couple of “whacky” things in their manifesto such as lowering the voting age. I would also be concerned about some of the cost aspects in their policies but overall, their manifesto is reasonably pleasant and not inconsistent with many conservative policies. The Northern Ireland Green manifesto says nothing about the Lisbon treaty. I have looked at the manifesto of their British Counterparts and they do oppose the current Lisbon treaty. They are silent on the question of sterling.
The Alliance parties and the Green party preach vociferously against sectarianism. That is obvious both from their manifestoes and what their candidates have said.
The DUP, the TUV and Sinn Fein all fall down heavily in relation to sectarianism. The DUP and Sinn Fein thrive upon the “sectarian headcount.” Neither of these parties show a desire to tackle sectarianism. The TUV and DUP differ over the St. Andrews agreement but are no different in nature from each other. During the campaign, I have noticed from the remarks made both Jim Allister and Diane Dodds that their sectarian mindset is obvious and gross.
The SDLP’s website pays “lip service” to being a party which is against sectarianism. If you go back to some of the things John Hume used to say about Northern Ireland, he passionately wanted the two communities to be brought together. When I have listened to other SDLP leaders like Mallon and Durkan I could not hear this being said from the heart. During the campaign, Alban Maginnis has said that he wants to bring the two communities together. It is hard for me to explain this but I felt that he did say it from the heart. He said enough to convince me that he regards tackling sectarianism as more important than a united Ireland.
Of the other candidates seeking election as Northern Ireland’s Euro MPs, only the DUP, TUV, Sinn Fein and the SDLP have any chance of being elected. With respect to the Greens and the Alliance, their potential to attract No. 1 votes is not great enough this time around to influence me into giving them my second preference vote. I will look at these parties again in future PR elections.
That leaves me with a choice of 4 candidates for my No. 2 vote. Sinn Fein has nothing to offer, as far as I am concerned. I am therefore left with a choice between two sectarian candidates who are conservatives and a socialist candidate who is not.
On the matter of sectarianism, I wish to say this. It is Northern Ireland’s biggest political and social problem. It is such a big problem that if you asked me what my choice would be – keep Northern Ireland in the union or eliminate sectarianism from Northern Ireland, I would chose the latter. Unless politicians start making effective efforts to tackle sectarianism, it will be a perpetual curse on our society.
Given all the circumstances, Alban McGinnis gets my No. 2 vote.
Filed under: Conservative Party, Diane Dodds, Euro, European constitution, Jim Allister, Jim Nicholson, Lisbon Treaty, SDLP, socialism | Tagged: Alban Maginnis, Alban Maguiness, Conservative Party, Diane Dodds, EU elections, Euro, European constitution, European Elections, Jim Allister, Jim Nicholson, Lisbon Treaty, Normal Politics, Northern Ireland politics, SDLP, Sinn Fein, socialism, TUV | Leave a Comment »