Yesterday, we had the second of our two General Election NI Leaders’ debates.
I’ve already made my views on these debates pretty clear in yesterday’s article. There are too many voices, with too little time to drill down into proper politics – so the debates tend to be broad-brush, and focus on a few big issues.
However, a couple of interesting points emerged.
Sam McBride made the interesting point (he’s doing that a lot at the moment) that viewer figures were significantly down on their levels from the 2017 Assembly Election. However, they were more-or-less the same as the figures set by the last General Election debate in Northern Ireland, in 2015.
This suggests that, while the issues to be discussed during this election (Brexit, terrorism etc) are doubtless important, they haven’t quite captured the public’s imagination like the issue of whether we should have an Assembly did.
Sinn Féin came up with an effective riposte to the SDLP’s arguments against their abstentionism, pointing out that two of the SDLP MPs are among those with the worst attendance records at Westminster.
Meanwhile, the DUP “unequivocally divorced” itself from the endorsement of the party by the Loyalist Communities Council.
The LCC’s endorsement on Tuesday of four DUP candidates had been a point of contention in the previous debate. The group is backed by the three main loyalist paramilitary organisations.
Away from the debate, LucidTalk’s latest tracker poll (released yesterday) shows that Sinn Féin and the DUP look set once more to be nearly neck-and-neck in vote share. 28.1% of respondents to the survey said they intended to vote for Sinn Féin (up 0.2% from the Assembly Election)
This is bad news for the UUP and SDLP. Both parties know that if these poll results play out tomorrow, they will face a drop in vote share compared to the 2015 General Election of 0.6% and 0.1% respectively.
This isn’t what either party needs, considering each party is in dogfights to hold two seats.
Meanwhile, the Alliance vote share is up 1.3% on its 2015 level – which should make the East Belfast fight a little closer.
The poll is just a taster of what might happen on election day. As a politics junkie, it’s not enough for me – I just can’t wait for tomorrow!
This article was originally published as part of the Chambré Public Affairs General Election 2017 Bulletin – your free guide to the 2017 General Election in Northern Ireland. To subscribe, please click here and fill out the short form.