Vote tomorrow for unionist candidates across the Province

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

Tomorrow voters across Northern Ireland will join the rest of the UK in going to the polls.

All general elections are important, but this one is particularly so.

Everyone agrees that the outcome will be close. The main uncertainty is over whether it will be so close that no one party is able to form a majority without cobbling together an unwieldy, precarious coalition.

If ever the phrase ‘every vote will count’ had meaning, it had it this year.

Northern Ireland MPs are set to form a crucial part of the arithmetic.

It is likely that some of those MPs will be decided by very narrow margins.

There are two aspects to this election that are of massive consequence to the United Kingdom.

The first is the possibility of Scottish nationalism sweeping the board in Scotland. Some polls have concluded that the SNP might win all the seats there.

The second is the question of Europe.

Ukip has pushed David Cameron into promising a referendum on Europe. Mr Cameron might be dependent on Northern Ireland unionists and a small number of Ukip MPs to get back into Downing Street, in which case such a plebiscite will have to be held.

That could result in a ‘Brexit’.

But while Ukip is not expected to win many seats, it could deprive the Tories of enough seats to let David Miliband into Number 10, in which case such a vote will not happen.

In other words, a lot is at stake in this election.

This newspaper is emphatically and unapologetically unionist, but open-minded within that commitment.

We strongly support the unionist pact and wish indeed that there had been agreement in some other constituencies.

There is very little between the UUP and DUP and it is madness for them to be fighting each other in areas where nationalists could win, amid a shrinking unionist electorate.

In seats where there is no such threat, a diverse pro-Union field including TUV, Conservative, Ukip and members of other parties (including some in the Alliance who are enthusiastic about the Union) is welcome. It is a pity that the Labour Party, which has a long tradition of Northern Ireland supporters who are both socialist and proudly British, urges its members to vote for an Irish nationalist party, the SDLP.

One of the gravest threats to unionism is the re-writing of history to justify IRA terror. Slowly a British state that prevented civil war is being painted as the villains of the conflict.

Unionist candidates who reject such distortion, and who will vote at Westminster to prevent the break-up of the UK at a time when such a prospect is alarmingly real, need to receive support in large numbers tomorrow.