The names of the candidates in the Castlereagh East by-election were published last week:
- Alliance – Jonathan Simpson
- DUP – Sharon Skillen
- Green Party – Martin Gregg
- TUV – Ann Cooper
- UUP – Hazel Legge
The candidates themselves are, to be kind to them, of very mediocre stature – two, the UUP's Hazel Legge and Alliance's Jonathan Simpson are both full-time workers for their parties, and two others are political virgins – the TUV's Ann Cooper and the DUP's Sharon Skillen. The fifth candidate is a Green, Martin Gregg, who stood as an independent – and in opposition to the Green party candidate – in Strangford in the 2007 Assembly election, but got barely 1.8% of the first-preference votes.
The result of the election will barely be noticed – it will be a mere footnote to the larger Westminster story. But while the result is an almost certain DUP win, the size of the TUV and UUP inroads into that victory will be interesting. With 59% in 2005, the DUP appears unassailable. The UUP in 2005 got less than a third of the DUP's total, and the TUV did not even exist. If the TUV take 40% of the combined DUP-TUV total (as they have done in the very few occasions when the two parties have gone head to head), then the DUP will still win handsomely. It will then have a young councillor with unexplained personal links to the UDA to explain.