I love elections! I especially love going round the doors talking to people about issues which they find important and explaining my position on them.
I always get a good laugh as well. One constituent this week told me the main thing concerning her was climate change. She had watched a film about the ice melting at the Arctic (actually it isn’t) and she was afraid that in 10 years’ time we would all be flooded out.
I pointed out that she was living about 400ft above Larne and, as sea levels had risen about two inches in the last hundred years so, I thought she was pretty safe. Always like to bring comfort to my constituents!
This week however I haven’t really enjoyed my sally around the doors of East Antrim. It’s been like living through some diluvian age. Even Noah didn’t have it as bad as I and my canvassing team have had to endure. At leasthe was in the ark when it was raining - we have been tramping the streets braving rain, sleet, hail and worst of all, gale-force winds.
It was therefore with some relief that at one of the doors I was greeted by a man who announced he was a “fenian” but his was “a dolly mixture house” meaning he was married to a Protestant and he invited me in for a cup of tea.
I protested rather weakly and left the rest of the foot-soldiers to battle the elements whilst I had tea and chocolate biscuits, though I did insist that I did not drink green tea only the good English breakfast variety.
Just to show I am not totally heartless as they came back past the house I encouraged him to invite them in as well.
As we drank tea he came straight to the point. Why would a vote for me be any different to a vote for any other candidate? My answer was simple. My party was the only party with a plan designed to maximise Northern Ireland’s influence in the next parliament in which the common view was no major party would have an overall majority and would therefore have to reach agreements with some of the smaller parties.
Unlike the “cunning plans” put forward by Baldrick in the TV comedy Blackadder we had a plan which could work.
It embraces a sensible approach to the national issues of: dealing with the deficit in the nation’s finances; ensuring the safety of the country by building up the armed forces; reforming welfare while not hurting those who genuinely need support from the state; sensibly addressing immigration without cutting off much needed skilled labour from abroad. We believe it is important that Northern Ireland politicians play a constructive role in the national affairs of our country.
At the same time if there is an opportunity to maximise our influence then we should obtain whatever advantage we can to improve the quality of life for the people of Northern Ireland. We have scores of ideas which we want the Westminster administration to consider for improving our economy, public services and the efficiency of government in Northern Ireland.
Will we get all we want? Most unlikely, but we have set out a range of issues and policies by which we will judge who we would support in the event of our votes being required.
Furthermore the voting public can examine those ideas when making their decision at the ballot box.
It is one thing to have a plan, it is another to be able to execute it. There is no point in voting for Sinn Fein - they have no influence because they don’t even go to Westminster. There is no point in voting SDLP - they are already committed to supporting the Labour Party so have no bargaining power or plan.
There is no point in voting for some of the smaller parties because even if they did win a seat what do they have to offer but one vote, no bargaining power there. The real power comes from one large block of uncommitted votes which only my party can offer.
As it turned out he had decided to vote for me anyway because of “the nice girls in your office” hesaid, who had helped him out with some problems. However he also agreed “at least I might get some value out of a vote given to you Sammy.”
That is the issue - how can your vote purchase maximum value for Northern Ireland? The answer is give it to the party with the Plan.