A preliminary thought on the implications of Thursday’s general election results in the North for the prospects of a Border poll producing a vote in favour of Irish unity.
First past the post elections suffer from the disadvantage that they tend to inflate the vote for parties in constituencies where they have a good chance of winning and deflate the vote for parties who really don’t have a chance of winning. This idea is based on the not unreasonable belief that more people come out to vote for a winner than for a loser.
Nonetheless, as guides go about where the voters are politically, they are as good as anything else.
So what do this week’s UK general election results in NI bode for the prospects of a Border poll returning a majority for Irish unity, which appears to be the fantasy du jour in some circles, not least the media.
Assuming that Alliance voters are pro-Union, which I think is hard to dispute, then a hypothetical Border poll that reflects this week’s general election result would put 60.6 per cent of the vote in favour of staying in the UK and 38.1 per cent opting for Irish unity.
That is a pretty big gap to fill, even if in practice the actual voting might not exactly reflect this week’s general election result in NI.
The pro-Union vote in my calculation is the sum of the DUP, OUP, Alliance and Conservative votes, while the pro-Irish unity is the total of SDLP, Sinn Fein and Aontu votes.
So, maybe it is time to set that idea aside for a while, maybe a good long while, and concentrate on more practical ambitions, like restoring some local say into the governing process.
And hey, you never know, maybe it will finally click with Unionism that the best way to permanently see off the goal of Irish unity would be to make NI a warmer place for all its people.