Local look at the Westminster Election

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On Thursday June 8th we go to the polls for the second time this year.

This time we will elect eighteen MPs to Westminster and the main parties have spelt out what they believe the central themes of the election could be.

The DUP are calling on voters to 'Unite for the Union.'

Sinn Fein have adopted the slogan 'Standing up for Equality, Rights and Irish Unity.'

The Ulster Unionists are campaigning for 'A Stronger, better union for everyone.'

The SDLP have said it’s an opportunity to endorse the fifty-six percent remain vote from last June’s EU referendum and 'Take on the Tories.'

Alliance are saying its 'Our chance to change direction.'

Sustaining the interest of a public who have already had two elections and a referendum in the last year is difficult and as such, it has been a relatively low profile campaign to date but things will change in the period immediately leading up to polling day.

There are four seats up for grabs in Belfast but only three of them present any type of competition.

Paul Maskey in the west of the city will be confident in what is a Sinn Fein heartland. The challenge of Gerry Carroll’s People Before Profit has receded and with Sinn Fein on the ascendancy, there is only going to be one winner here.

East Belfast, whilst traditionally a safe Unionist seat, fell into the hands of the Alliance Party in 2010 before being recaptured by the DUP’s Gavin Robinson in 2015. This election will represent a test for Robinson to hold on to the seat with a very real challenge coming from a resurgent Alliance Party who have just had their best ever election in the recent Assembly poll. 

South Belfast is being billed as a four way split with the SDLP, DUP, Sinn Féin and Alliance all in with a shout. These four parties were within 3.1% of each other in the Assembly election in March and this seat is certainly all to play for. 

North Belfast could be the one to watch. Sinn Féin will be confident that newcomer John Finucane can present a real challenge to DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds. The gap between the two parties in the 2015 Westminster election was over 5,000 but that is expected to be much narrower this time with the broad appeal of John Finucane.

The parties will be working non-stop to get their message across and sway the remaining undecided voters. 

It's going to be an interesting fortnight ahead!

Edward Gray