Sylvia Hermon has said that she is just not a Tory. She has made it known that she would support Gordon Brown as the next Prime Minister. And the local Labour guys have been chasing her recently.
So that’s clear then… she’s a New Labourite. Ian Parsley reckons thinks so – he reckons it’s a straight choice between a Conservative candidate (himself) and a Labour candidate (Sylvia).
But I don’t think it’s that simple. How Labour-ish is Sylvia? How ideological is she? If she is ‘just not a Tory’, how does this exhibit itself?
The simplest thing to do is to check her voting record, and the Public Whip has some useful indicators. For example, what other MP did Sylvia most agree with in her voting? Alastair Darling? Shaun Woodward?
Nope. It was in fact Jeffrey Donaldson.
The Public Whip says Sylvia agreed with Jeffrey in 71.1% of Westminster votes they participated in. In fact of the 10 MPs she agreed with most in the 2005 parliament, four were DUP and six were Tories. (Of the top 20, four were DUP and 16 were Tory, and so on.)
Of course, these types of comparison are reasonably loose but it really does surprise me that statistically Sylvia had more in common with Peter Bottomley (65.2%) and Iris Robinson (66.1%) than she did with Gordon Brown (52.2%) and Tony Blair (52.2%).
I often hear people say ‘you know where you stand with Sylvia’. I don’t see that coming through in her voting record. I do wonder, if you back Sylvia, what voting behaviour are you rewarding, and what voting behaviour do you want see more of? I certainly feel like I know her less for having gone near The Public Whip.
PS. North Down is funny for other reasons too. The DUP’s bizarre decision not to run there will shave off a sizeable number of votes from their overall tally. Voluntarily removing thousands of votes from your tally makes it more likely that Sinn Fein will top the poll, right? The whole premise of their Euro campaign was that SF must be prevented from topping the poll, so we know this is important to the DUP. So surely withdrawing from North Down – done under the auspices of Unionist Unity – in fact has the unintended consequence of benefitting republicanism?
I wonder if the DUP’s Unionist Unity campaign isn’t destined to be the least successful campaign waged since Mussolini put on his biggest hat and asked for a map of Eritrea?