Kate Hoey: For the Pro-Union community, voting can make the difference

Kate Hoey
Kate Hoey
  • Never before so much uncertainty among MPs at the result
  • If debates take place, DUP should be included
  • The only poll that matters is on May 7

Just eight weeks from today News Letter readers will waken to hear the results of the general election.

Some may well have sat up most of the night to watch the television coverage of the declarations.

I could never accept coalition with SNP

Kate Hoey

Candidates will have spent long hours in Town Halls watching the votes being counted waiting for their fate to be determined.

However the chances are that even 12 hours after the polls have closed at 10pm on May 7 there will be no certainty as to which party or parties are going to be in government and who will be prime minister.

All the polls are showing a very close result — certainly closer than 2010.

The five days that it took in 2010 for the coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats to be agreed could well be surpassed before HM the Queen kisses hands with a prime minister.

This will be my sixth general election but never before have I seen so many of my colleagues in Westminster express genuine doubts about the result. Traditional loyalties to the old, mainstream parties have clearly eroded, and the rise of alternative parties across the political spectrum makes the outcome truly unknown.

Of course the programmed spin from both Labour and Conservative leaderships is that nothing is considered other than a majority government.

In truth every scenario is being discussed on the back benches.

The fact that it has been suggested that Labour might form a coalition with the Scottish nationalists shows how desperate some people are to be in government. I could never accept coalition or even a ‘confidence and supply agreement’ as it is called with the SNP.

No party whose prime intention is to break up the UK can be a partner and be trusted with the future of our country.

The recent Westminster and media hullabaloo focusing on leaders’ debates has meant that the real issues have been submerged: The entire Cameron/Miliband section of PMQ’s this week was about this issue.

So vital questions around our economy, public services and defence as well as the health service and education have been off the agenda, squeezed out by debates about debates.

Why do we need televised Leader debates anyway?

When voting we choose between the candidates standing in our constituency, not between party leaders – we are not a Presidency yet!

In most constituencies candidates already hold hustings.

I have already got a few pencilled in my own election diary in Vauxhall. The electorate question us and judge us personally as well as our party label.

This is surely better than Leaders being held to account by rival television celebrity journalists.

However if debates do take place, Northern Ireland is being treated unfairly. Ukip, Conservatives and the Greens all stand here (Labour shamefully does not) and they will have their opportunity to be in the spotlight.

How can it be right that the largest minority party in the Commons, the DUP with eight MPs be excluded whilst the Welsh Nationalists are included?

So Nigel Dodds has been quite right to challenge that they too should be entitled to a place on our screens.

Sinn Fein boycott the House of Commons so it would be ridiculous for them to participate as they will have no input into who forms the government in a hung parliament.

Another factor influencing the outcome will be turnout which is crucial in very marginal seats.

The general cynicism about politics and politicians does make it more likely that fewer people will vote than five years ago.

Democracy depends on credible elections and credible elections need mass participation.

Your vote matters and for the Pro-Union community here voting really can make the difference.

Ignore the numerous polls — the only poll that counts is the real one on May 7.

• Kate Hoey is Labour MP for Vauxhall