This is the first time I have been unable to vote in a UK general election since I turned 18, having moved to Galway a few years ago. Of course, not being able to vote in NI is not so much of an inconvenience as it sounds on paper, there generally being nobody worth voting for. I have been known to vote Alliance in the past for want of a better option, but in my old constituency of Upper Bann that was just shouting into the wind. The only real contest there is DUP vs UUP, and I did once vote tactically for Trimble to keep Simpson out (I failed miserably). Such is the depressing futility of NI politics.
Since moving to the Republic I have found a political home in Fine Gael that I am comfortable with. That’s not to say I agree with everything the party says and does – they haven’t turned me into a sheep quite yet – but it’s a party I’m not ashamed to be a member of, and don’t feel I have to make excuses for supporting. I’ve said in other posts online and in party meetings that I wished there was a party like FG in NI (preferably FG itself, but I’ll not hold my breath). Were the LibDems to organise properly in NI instead of their amateurish allies in the Alliance party, it would be something at least.
So, disclaimers aside, how would I vote were I back home today? In Upper Bann, I’d hold my nose and vote for Harry Hamilton. I’ve never been a big fan of the UUP, and am not a natural Tory, but the DUP are much, much worse and Harry seems a decent sort. If nothing else, I doubt he will be wasting any time trying to “cure” gays (unlike some NI politicians I could mention). I will be pleasantly surprised if he wins.
I never registered to vote in North Down, despite living there for several years. But if I was there today I’d vote for Sylvia Hermon despite disagreeing with her support for the increasingly authoritarian Labour government. At one point I might have given Parsley the benefit of the doubt, but no longer. Elsewhere, I’d go for whoever is most likely to beat SF/DUP (delete as appropriate).
The current DUP/Sinn Féin carve-up is the NI equivalent of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, and had I the vote I’d do whatever I could to destroy it, even though the days of UUP/SDLP dominance weren’t anything to write home about. I’ve spent most of my adult life voting against these two parties, rather than for their rivals, and most of the people I know do the same (or at least say that they do). But without a genuine cross-community political movement worth voting for, I don’t hold out much hope of change.
I’m depressed again. Time for another cup of tea.