The Westminster election is only days away and it has been a dog’s dinner of a campaign for all of the parties locally.

Not that Theresa May has covered herself in any glory either, running away from an open debate with the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, and sending in the clearly pressurised, Amber Rudd, (only days after her father died) to face a pack of lefties and liberal wolves during a live debate.

A seven-way TV debate is a farcical showpiece and it was laborious to watch. The UKIP leader, Paul Nuttall seems well named but he was also clearly out of his depth as were the leaders of the Greens and Plaid Cymru.

Corbyn is surprising people with the media exposure he is getting but I doubt if he is convincing or swaying many swing voters. However, May’s cowardly decision to duck one to one debates has left her looking far from ‘strong or stable’ when confronted by the media.

Whilst I hold no truck with Jeremy Corbyn’s world view, the gratuitous attacks made by the Tories over his support for Sinn Féin in the 1980s are completely crass. The Tories were secretly meeting the actual IRA (even if one of those at the meeting can’t recall if he was in the IRA) a full decade earlier in Cheyne Walk in London. Corbyn was wrong then but he has a right to say he has changed his mind.

And as for local unionists making hay out of Corbyn, Abbott and O’Donnell’s links to Sinn Féin, they have very short memories along with brass necks as some of them used to join platforms with various loyalist paramilitaries. Sinn Féin and the DUP have been gutting each other like two fishwives for the past six weeks and yet they must inhabit some parallel universe or have developed political amnesia, as both seem to have forgotten that they have been tango-ing around the north together like Torvill and Dean for the past ten years.

What was the point of the Good Friday Agreement if people refuse to move on?

Watching BBC Northern Ireland’s coverage of some of the debates and I wondered whether ‘Nolanism’ has infected all forms of questioning. This is a Westminster election but it felt like a re-run of the assembly elections, the issues were still largely about orange and green, legacy and institutions whereas the key issues should be about whether our MPs can blunt Tory austerity measures and mitigate against the worst aspects of any Brexit deal the British government bring back to Westminster for ratification.

If agreement can’t be reached by June 29 we are heading for direct rule and that’s the worst of all options when we are facing Brexit.

In the absence of the assembly the only public representatives we will have will be three MEPs and the eighteen MPs.

The two outgoing Ulster Unionist MPs are refusing to support special status for Northern Ireland – they would rather be disadvantaged than feel less British – and the eight outgoing DUP members are excitedly pro Brexit. That leaves the three SDLP and four Sinn Féin MPs. Sinn Féin’s claims on their posters that a vote for them is against a hard Brexit and hard border, the Tories and, weirdly, People before Profit, are more than a bit lame. Their main tactic has been fancy dress at the border but there’s only so many times you can have an enactment of a 1950’s customs post. They need to be the fly in the Tory ointment like Alex Salmond or Dennis Skinner.

The thought that the voice of Irish nationalism could be under-represented or even silent at Westminster at a time when Ireland north and south is under its greatest economic threat since partition is unthinkable and unpardonable.