Election Diary: First Minister’s website proclaims ‘I’m voting Ukip’

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The DUP has built its campaign around leader Arlene Foster to the point that she has almost become the personification of the DUP.

The DUP campaign has relentlessly urged voters to support DUP candidates rather than run the risk of Martin McGuinness becoming First Minister if they vote for other unionists.

But an oversight by someone in the party means that the First Minister’s own website proclaims ‘I’m voting Ukip’.

Mrs Foster’s personal website includes a video – the only posting in the ‘First Minister’ section – of her first speech after taking over from Peter Robinson as First Minister. However, the video has been embedded from a YouTube account and it appears that whoever uploaded the video did not watch it until the end.

Just as Mrs Foster finishes speaking, Ukip leader Nigel Farage’s voice is heard saying loudly: “You didn’t frankly have the b**** to put country before party” and the words ‘I’m voting Ukip’ appear on the screen.

The website blunder emerges as the DUP is ramping up its message that voters must vote for Mrs Foster

Last week posters to that effect began appearing, earlier this week voters in at least some areas received a ‘letter from Arlene’ urging them that if they don’t vote DUP there is a chance “for Martin McGuinness to become First Minister”.

Yesterday a new billboard campaign on that theme – with the words ‘Make the right choice for First Minister’ – was launched.

Shortly after this morning’s News Letter report was published, Mrs Foster’s website was updated to remove the video and replace it with one which does not have any endorsement of Ukip.

Skewed Alliance chart

Alliance has grown significantly in South Belfast over recent years.

However, an Alliance leaflet being distributed in South Belfast uses a skewed bar chart to exaggerate the rate of growth since the 2010 Westminster election.

The bar representing Alliance’s 31 per cent increase between 2010 and 2015 is 34mm high.

But, rather deceivingly, the bar which shows a larger 32 per cent fall in the SDLP vote is just 25mm long.

Jump in women candidates

The number of female candidates in Northern Ireland has jumped 10 per cent since the 2011 Assembly election, according to research by the London School of Economics.

More than 27 per cent of candidates are female, up from 17 per cent five years ago, but less than the 40 per cent in London.

Colum Eastwood

Yesterday’s News Letter reported that SDLP leader Colum Eastwood had been due to appear on the Nolan Show but had pulled out and Gerard Diver was sent in his place on Wednesday morning.

An SDLP spokesman yesterday said: “At no point was Colum Eastwood due to appear on the Nolan show. The programme’s organisers were informed that the SDLP spokesperson would be Gerard Diver.”