Why Holywood Matters
So, I spent last autumn living in Holywood in Northern Ireland. With a lady. Now she is living with me, here in Sunny Presteigne. This morning, we awoke to the horrifying news that the ‘Real’ IRA had set off a car bomb outside the Palace Barracks, which is on the way from Holywood into Belfast.
People from Northern Ireland worry about these things in a different way from people from other parts of the UK. ‘Aren’t you going to phone your Mum,’ I asked of my Beloved. ‘Nah,’ she said. ‘They live on the other side of town.’
The BBC’s Ireland correspondent Mark Simpson lives in Holywood, and, as it goes, he used to walk out with my Beloved’s sister when they were at school. It’s a place where everyone really does know everyone. Recently I heard a report by him on the election in Holywood. It’s quite posh; I always describe it as a kind of Belfast East Dulwich, all yummy mummys (though the yummiest mummy of all no longer lives there, of course) and Steiner Schools. The last MP for the area was Lady Sylvia Hermon, who was the Ulster Unionist’s only Member in Westminster. Now she has resigned from the Ulster Unionists, because of their electoral pact with the Real Tories. They have even changed their name to ‘The Ulster Conservative and Unionists – New Force’, or UCUNF. Slightly pinkish, is our Sylv, and her voting record shows that she has tended to go into the lobbies with the New Party. The Ulster Unionist Candidate is the unfortunately named Ian Parsley (sic), while Sylvia is standing as an Independent.
Now, as of today, all the polls are pointing to a hung parliament. I’m old enough to remember Ted Heath trying to woo the Ulster Unionists in 1974, in order to form a government. Lady Sylvia is well liked locally, and stands a good chance of being re-elected. And My Little David or Poor Gordon might find themselves scrabbling around for every available body to form a government, including Lady Sylvia, who clearly isn’t a big Cameron fan. If I was Broon, I’d be cranking up my charm offensive already.