Today, July 4, 2024, is likely to go down as a historic day in these islands. Every date after all plays its own small part in the bigger picture of history. Some though have more significance than others.

This one could be as monumental as the election of Margaret Thatcher on May 3, 1979, or Tony Blair on May 1, 1997. Each of those ushered in periods of political dominance for more than the decade that followed.

Though Keir Starmer is probably not likely to hold power that long unless he defines himself as something more than a safe pair of hands for the establishment, he is likely to break a long period of Tory rule.

He’s likely to be the Prime Minister who has to decide on a border poll if the rise of Sinn Féin continues in this part of the island. Circumstances have stalled momentum in the southern mainland, it seems.

He’s also the man who has self-styled himself as rebranding the Union. Maybe he can and maybe he can’t, but he’s got a hell of a job on his hands convincing half the Irish and Scottish of the benefits.

There probably is a case for the Union of course. If Britain could move beyond militarism, class hierarchies and colonialism, recognising past injustices, it might be far attractive to far more people.

As it is, the attraction of the Union is rapidly shrinking. And if Kier Starmer is nailing his colours to the mast of Brexit-type Unionism, then he’s backing the wrong horse even if it wins him the Grand National.

One swallow doesn’t make a summer any more than one election victory makes something sustainable for the long term. I’ve said before that the Labour Party might win this one but lose the next one because of trying to claim victory with ambiguity this time around.

However, regardless of how many seats Labour win this election by, partly thanks to the intervention of that nationally minded, newly socialistic Nigel Farage, it might not matter that much locally.

Bread and butter issues, as the old cliché goes, are what matter to the people of Fermanagh and South Tyrone. And yet we are still divided along strictly green and orange lines in the sand of a county that ironically doesn’t have a beach, except for maybe Smith’s Strand.

Coming back home last week for a break, I noticed the amount of election posters lap-dancing their way up the telegraph poles of Fermanagh’s towns and villages. It’s probably the world capital of election posters in the last place on Earth where they’re needed.

Everybody knows it’s a straight orange and green vote here. It’s been that way since the old 1980s joke of Harry West having been stung by Sands in his eyes. And it’s always going to be that way so long as every election is centred around the constitutional question.

Whether it’s West v Sands or West v Frank McManus or Gildernew v Elliott or Anonymous Green Rosette v Anonymous Orange Rosette, it’s always going to be a straightforward sectarian head count.

That’s why I always find it fascinating to see the likes of Eddie Roofe and Gerry Cullen with smiles beaming down from the telegraph poles. They’re the equivalent of Fermanagh in the Ulster Championship but they never give up trying, never give up on the impossible dream.

That’s why we should all go out there and vote. Even if you’ve no interest in mainstream politics then just go out and vote for somebody who represents your non-interest in mainstream politics. It’s important that every voice is heard because it took a long time to get one person, one vote, and note not one man one vote, as was the slogan of the times.

I think in the final equation though, as we all know, it’s a straight battle here between Diana Armstrong and Pat Cullen. For me, looking in across the water, it’s like a fight between the old Labour and the old Tories.

Diana’s policies are probably true-blue Tory which isn’t surprising since the Unionist Party are historically linked to the Conservatives, whilst Pat Cullen would be right at home at the left-wing Durham Miners’ Gala, as British an event in its own way as cream tea down at Kensington Palace.

As said last week, anyone on the Left of politics, whether British or Irish, would vote for Pat Cullen, since she is the most likely of the left-wing candidates to get elected. This isn’t a recommendation or any kind of electoral advert though. It’s just analysis of how things are.

Why doesn’t Fermanagh Unionism put up a version of Pat Cullen? Apart from the linkage to the Tory party, why must Fermanagh’s Unionist candidates always appear to be part of a blue-blazer club?

I, of course, can’t answer that. It’s not up to me to answer it. I just want to ask the question. I see such a glaring disconnect in civic and political Unionism, as used to be highlighted so regularly and eloquently by Denzil McDaniel in his inimitable days of writing for this paper.

To put it bluntly, Pat Cullen has more in common with Irish, British or universal ordinary working people’s concerns than any Unionist candidate I have ever seen fielded in Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

The Achilles Heel of course is that it’s hard for Sinn Fein to find the right language for things that happened in the conflict, which they are endlessly asked about. And again, just as I can only offer an indirect opinion on Unionism, I don’t know how Sinn Fein can address that.

But until either one of these things gives, Unionism’s shift away from blue-blazer Tories or Sinn Fein’s ambiguity about the past, it’s always going to be a sectarian head count in Fermanagh and South Tyrone. And it’s likely that in such a scenario, the majority community will win.

However, even if you don’t agree with that kind of situation, that’s not a reason for abstaining from casting your hard-won vote. Don’t be that ‘Facebooky’ person who whines that they’re all the same and there’s no point in voting. Go out and exercise your vote and maybe in doing so, you might actually change something for the better.

At the very least you might help those who aren’t elected get their deposit back! The fact that they’re standing for election in such a two horse race shows that they deserve credit for such an investment.