Once again the constituency of North Down is almost certain to provide the best of entertainment in the forthcoming general election. What is it about this constituency that produces such mavericks? From the camp Unionism of James Kilfedder to the giant ego of Bob McCartney, North Down is the epicentre of Northern Ireland political eccentricity.
But soon we’re about to enter a whole new StarTrekian realm of oddness.
Incumbent MP Sylvia Hermon, a New Labour acolyte, who has very limited ability to disguise her abject loathing of her own Party’s leadership, is on the verge of going independent. By default the Conservative “nominee” for the seat should, therefore, be pushed forward as the agreed candidate. Unless, of course, the local UUP constituency association puts forward an alternative candidate against the Lady.
However, to make matters even more bizarre, barking almost, the Alliance Party, in a fit of Fordian craziness, is about to support her Ladyship rather than the Alliance Party’s former European candidate, Ian Parsley.
Now the question this raises in my mind is, why? Has Mr Parsley, in Alliance’s view, changed so fundamentally in his defection to the Conservatives to be unworthy of their support? Has his involvement with Ian Duncan Smith’s Centre for Social Justice turned him into a venom spitting, sectarian firebrand? Huh?
North Down, at its heart, is a decent constituency. Voters there are independent minded – but they also want a more politically mainstream society – they proved that when they almost elected Dr Laurence Kennedy, as the Conservative candidate, back in 1992.