The Democratic Unionist Party, Largest Party of in the Northern Irish Assembly and Largest Northern Irish Party in Westminster.
The DUP should have been going into this election with 9 incumbents however with the entire Iris Robinson Saga they are already down a seat.
The DUP will have problems from both sides of the Community in Northern Ireland but it is a strong possibility they will remain as the top Northern Irish dog in Westminster
1) The Best Offence is a Strong Defence - The DUP don't necessarily need to gain any more seats in this election merely hold onto what they already have. As with Lady Hermon in Down North and Rodney Connor in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Sinn Fein and the UUP are already under threat. The main threat the DUP face is the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) as Jim Allister is considered a Heavyweight in terms on Unionist Politics and with Ian Paisley retiring and Peter Robinson embattled by his personal life, the TUV looks set to take possibly one seat from the DUP whose big guns are silenced.
2) Keep Calm - With the UUP tied to the Tories and the TUV viewed as Hardline the DUP have a chance now to renew their image by presenting themselves as a true Northern Irish Party which is working to fix the problems of Northern Ireland, to do this they must not fall back into old habits of Sectarian driven politics, if they can achieve this it will make them a more appealing ally to Lab/Con if they lack an overall majority by 9 or less seats (lacking a majority by 10 or more seats makes LibDems or the Celtic Bloc Kingmakers)
3) Avoid the two big dogs - If the DUP can avoid being overly critical of Labour and the Conservatives it again makes them a more appealing.
4) Build a Bridge - Before the current assembly it was the UUP and SDLP who were the big players, now its the DUP and Sinn Fein, if the DUP want to be kingmaker for Labour they need to be able to work with the SDLP more, this would benefit the SDLP by making them seem like the people who can look past the traditional divide and in the Assembly election in 2011 the SDLP could make gains against Sinn Fein by either forcing Sinn Fein to lessen their stances in some areas or more into the Hardline fringe with the TUV.
5) Annoy the Celtic bloc - Alex Salmond and Ieuan Wyn Jones made a huge fuss about being excluded from the Leaders Debates, the DUP have more seats then either of the parties (DUP 8, SNP 6, Plaid 3) Robinson should push to challenge both of them on screen. This would serve many purposes; Reminder that it could be Northern Ireland not Scotland/Wales who have the keys to number 10, Bring Northern Irish Politics further into the UK mainstream, Humiliate the Celtic Bloc after their threats to sue over the Leader's Debates (Robinson didn't say much about them which makes Salmond and Jones look a bit stupid since they have less seats) and Give Robinson chance to be seen outside typical battle with Sinn Fein and increase his profile in the UK-wide Political scene
I feel if the DUP play this election right they could be in a great position not just in Westminster but in the Lead up to the Assembly election next year, your thoughts?