Transferring fully within unionist candidates is vital in today’s Stormont election

Today, election day, is of course the last of our editorials about the importance of a large unionist vote for Stormont politicians.

By Editorial
Thursday, 5th May 2022, 1:44 am
Updated Thursday, 5th May 2022, 12:15 pm
News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

See links below to other editorials

We focus here on the importance of transfers within unionism.

But before doing so, it is important to register alarm at comments by the secretary of state for Northern Ireland in a TV interview with Robert Peston last evening.

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Brandon Lewis appeared to cast doubt on the growing understanding in political circles that the government will move to mitigate the worst aspects of the Northern Ireland Protocol in next week’s Queen’s speech. Ministers were expected to commit to legislation to protect the integrity of the UK.

While Mr Lewis might have been trying in his answer to deflect criticism of the government, rather than signalling a retreat on this issue, it is extraordinary that he failed to give greater reassurance to unionists on the eve of an election which will be so central to the future of the Irish Sea border.

Such mixed messaging from London starkly illustrates the importance of turnout among unionists today, however frustrated they are at events, and at the seemingly perpetual determination of the UK to placate Irish nationalism.

A high turnout for avowedly pro Union candidates is the most important thing that anyone who cares about the Union needs to do. But after that, unionists need to transfer fully to other unionist candidates.

Then, after doing that, there is great value in voting on down the ballot paper so that any candidate who wants Northern Ireland to fail — as republicans openly do — is at or close to the bottom of the list.

There seems to be confusion on this point. Some people think that giving lower preferences to parties such as Alliance after unionists indicates support for them. It doesn’t.

It means that in a late count between such a candidate and, for example, Sinn Fein, you want the former to prevail.

As Gerry Lynch wrote yesterday, see link below, if unionists do this on a large scale they could reduce the total number of SF seats.

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