[This column first published in the News Letter on Friday May 14.]
So much has happened since this column last appeared. No10 has bid farewell to Gordon Brown, and the Commons has finally bid farewell to both Peter Robinson and the UUP. So much for the newspapers to write about.
But if you’re getting cheesed off with the superfluity of election verbiage and are completely swamped by analysis then I recommend a visit to 1690 an’ all thon. Professor Billy McWilliams is the strongest antidote I can find to the chin-scratching commentariat.
“As ah’m sure ye are aware, the election is over. That is all that shud be said oan the matter.”
I respect you Billy, but I’m just going to do this column anyway.
Negotiations to form a government elicited high seriousness from journalists – but hi-jinks from twitterers. As time dragged on, one wag tweeted: “Bet the Queen wishes she could have 50:50 or phone a friend. Asking the audience was a complete disaster.” Just so.
On a more serious note, @EamonnMallie noted that Gordon’s departure was an end of the era moment for the peace process: “Northern Ireland is indebted to the efforts of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. From day one both men drove the peace and political processes.”
Eamonn now has his guns trained on an unsuspecting Owen Paterson. He tweeted: “Apart from bringing in the coal, and putting out the cat, before going to bed, what will a new SOS do here now?” Good question. In your own time, Owen.
On to East Belfast, and yes it was bad for the DUP – but great for Alliance. East Belfast Diary reckons Alliance are now a “serious political player”. Otherwise, the DUP had a good election. Things are less certain for UCUNF / UUP.
“I’m beginning to wonder if the UUP will simply fade away, with some members going to the DUP and others to Alliance,” the blog concluded.
There’s much introspection on Ian Parsley’s blog. “Elections in Northern Ireland can no longer be won in six weeks on ideas alone or just by putting the correct designation after your name; a track record of service to constituents is a pre-requisite to success,” he observed.
Daphne Trimble concurs. Explaining her result in Lagan Valley she said. “My selection process was only completed in February. I was a new candidate, up against an incumbent who had been there for years.”
There’s now a lot of talk about Unionist unity. The debate has kicked off at Open Unionism where contributor WB Maginess wrote: “It is perhaps true that realignment is an inevitable consequence of the 2010 election. However any claim that this will involve meaningful and long lasting unity within Unionism is simply untrue.”
Also on that blog, Burke’s Corner puts the opposite view: “While the difficulties and obstacles associated with realignment should not be underestimated, the electoral and ideological potential for a realigned unionism, sharing modern centre-right values, is too great to squander.”
That debate will roll on for some time to come. Sorry Billy.