Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

SDLP chooses Patsy McGlone to contest Mid Ulster…

Fri 25 January 2013, 3:23pm

This is worth noting since it’s a smart choice. And the SDLP have not been known for those in recent years. McGlone has a sound rural base of voters, and a decent local machine. You can almost certainly rule out a win against SF veteran Francie Molloy.

In the last Assembly elections Sinn Fein’s team scooped 50% to the SDLP’s 15%. That’s roughly in line with the last Westminster elections. McGlone may see a decent improvement in that relative performance, for three reasons:

- He’s not running against the single most popular politician in Northern Ireland today.

- Unlike Tony Quinn, the party’s candidate last time out, McGlone has been a public figure in the constituency for quite some time.

- Over the last two Assembly elections a sizeable chunk of Martin McGuinness’s surplus has made its way directly to McGlone rather than party colleagues.

Intriguingly last time out, with SF running four candidates, McGlone was the third man home after McGuinness and the DUP’s Ian McCrea, whilst Mr Molloy trailed the whole field on the final count.

Given that Sinn Fein cannot move the writ themselves, McGlone may be better placed to influence the timing of the by election itself.

Still, with a party base of such size and substance, the smart money’s got to be on the deputy Assembly speaker from Coalisland taking the seat. But it ought be a tougher contest than it at first looks on paper.

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Comments (53)

  1. Big Boss (profile) says:

    Molloy is from Loughgall, not coalisland mick :)

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  2. Unfortunately the story after the election

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  3. Barry the Blender (profile) says:

    The SDLP need to come in ahead of the DUP to begin spinning this as a success. I thought it would happen in 2010, but even with 3 unionist candidates McCrea retained 2nd place. Running Patsy ought to at least help their cause.

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  4. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    There’s also the matter of whether the Unionist parties for a unified candidate, or not.

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  5. Barry the Blender (profile) says:

    Running a unity candidate won’t change the final outcome of the result, it’ll just ensure that the SDLP get more squeezed than they otherwise would. At this stage I’d guess that TUV will sit this one out. Not sure about the other two at this stage, but personally I’d say it’s in both their interests to take part.

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  6. Oooops iPad gremlins….the story after the election is likely to be low turn out which will allow everyone to make a case in terms of votes cast for them being seemingly high…..or alternatively percentages high.
    The result will give something to everyone.
    A good spot in respect of McGuinness’ surplus vote. not checked the figures personally but I’m led to believe its around 966. a lot depends on nationalist independents.
    I’m too partisan to be academic about this but Patsy has clearly had a good couple of years. his profile is certainly higher. And in fairness to Francie Molloy, the demands of Deputy Speaker has lowered his political profile.
    There are other factors…….South Derry versus Tyrone ……Patsy is certainly suited to the constituency…..GAA, Gaelic speaker and few notice he went to Rainey Endowed. SDLP revival is ongoing but patchy and the Party will be in a position to put a lot of canvassers out.

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  7. JH (profile) says:

    Wasn’t Molloy supposed to graduate to Speaker at some point soon? So what happens there, if this is really about ending double jobbing?

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  8. Gopher (profile) says:

    What issues do Malloy and McGlone differ on?

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  9. Ulster Press Centre (profile) black spot says:

    Gopher:
    What issues do Malloy and McGlone differ on?

    I look forward to a heated debate between the two on the rights and wrongs of naming kiddies’ playparks after religious serial killers and calling for the release of self-admitted catholic fundamentalist attempted murderers…

    Oh wait – both the SDLP and Sinn Fein/IRA supported those proposals.

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  10. Drumlins Rock (profile) says:

    ok here are Nic’s great stats’ http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/amu.htm

    Marty has 52%, dropped only a fraction really for Stormont to 49, but that magic 50% looks good and is obviously the target. For Patsy to come into play will take a 17% swing straight from SF, which would also technically bring the joint Unionist into play, if their was one. Can anyone show me a 17% swing away from SF in the last 20 years?

    It also has little effect on the assembly, the SDLP seat is safe, but no-where near a second one. I guessing its gonna be a non-story with a slight swing to SDLP…. unless there is a joint Unionist candidate and the repercussions on the other corner of the lough.

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  11. I would say that if the SDLP can register an increase in vote share from the rather poor 14.3% they got in Westminster 2010 they have some basis for spinning it as a success. Obviously even more so if they can beat the DUP. If they don’t get either an increase in vote share or second place, it is a bad result.

    For the Shinners, I think any win will do. Turnout will be poor, Molloy will retain the seat anyway and a decline in vote share can be (quite reasonably) explained as a result of low participation in a race with a foregone conclusion.

    For the Unionists, it depends on whether there is a joint UUP/DUP candidate. If so, then they are almost in the position of the Shinners, that any second place will do to claim a moral victory. But the vote share would need to be significantly over a third of the total for it to be a meaningful result. (Such a joint candidacy would put into question the point of the UUP being a separate party, but its leader’s own actions have already done that pretty effectively.)

    If there is no joint UUP-DUP candidate, then the significant questions are whether the DUP can retain second place, and whether the UUP can rise above fourth. The party pecking order here has been 1) SF, 2) DUP, 3) SDLP and 4) UUP in every Westminster and Assembly election since 2001. But the margins between second and fourth place have never been huge, and a good campaign (or a bad one) could shift the dynamics decisively.

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  12. Gopher (profile) says:

    With turnout now down to 63% at the last election from the heady days of 86% the election will be a non event. How the unionists ends up is of no interest unless they run a single candidate and then only in passing The only question in this election is the SDLP prepared to try to land a glove on SF. Ive been trying to find out on which issues the candidates differ since the election began (McGlone was always going to stand) and no one seems prepared to answer. Not much of a campaign in prospect.

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  13. Lionel Hutz (profile) says:

    Surely the big thing would be for the SDLP to get close enough to SF to make it realistic in the next elections to get Unionist tactical votes.

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  14. GoldenFleece (profile) says:

    There will be a joint unionist candiate. I have heard.

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  15. A single unionist candidate would certainly help Francie Molloy.
    But surely that would be a step too far for Basil McCrea and John McCallister. Who would they support?
    Alliance should run a candidate (esp if UUP dont stand). They would certainly get a multiple of the 400 votes they got in 2010 and 2011 and the “spin value” would be good if not very credible.
    But could there be two McCreas on the ballot paper?
    Would this be the point where Basil says he cant stand idly by and watch the party he loves…
    It would at least give him the chance with McClarty and McCallister to hit the ground running.

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  16. Drumlins Rock (profile) says:

    FJH, from a personal point of view I wasn’t keen on a joint candidate this time, until last week…
    As for Alliance, a 50% increase on the 400 would be a big ask, more likely to come from liberal nationalists as well, Pastsy is no moderate in SDLP terms.
    Lionel has a point, if I had a vote there and Patsy a realistic chance I would consider it, could do a deal for FST?

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  17. Ulster Press Centre (profile) black spot says:

    Lionel Hutz: Surely the big thing would be for the SDLP to get close enough to SF to make it realistic in the next elections to get Unionist tactical votes.

    Why would Unionists do that?

    SDLP are just as sectarian and pro-terrorism as Sinn Fein these days.

    Release of Gerry McGeough, Raymond McCreesh adventure playground, INLA funerals, campaign for improved comfort for dissident prisoners, etc, etc…

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  18. Nevin (profile) says:

    Will Gerry McGeough run for the Mid-Ulster seat? He’s scheduled for release in a few days time and he’s received support in recent times from both the SF and SDLP camps.

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  19. Bangordub (profile) says:

    Alex Kane tweeting that definitely a single DUP/UUP candidate being selected.
    That’s goodnight for the UUP then, last man out etc etc…

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  20. Granni Trixie (profile) says:

    UPC

    Now hold on there. An error of judgement in supporting the naming of a play park nor policy as regards political prisoners does not make a party pro-terrorism. infact during the heat of the troubles and though campaigning for reforms, the SDLP did not advocate physical force.

    And I’m Alliance through and through.

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  21. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    GT and UPC

    Granni has it right. But you raise a point in itself worth repeating, and that’s the inertia of NI politics.

    It doesn’t matter what Patsy’s ground war is like, he needs to bring some real politics with him, something that makes it worth people’s while considering voting for him rather than Francie.

    A unionist unity candidate will only have the effect of squeezing his vote back. It’s a reflection of the same lack of politics on the Unionist side as there is on the nationalist side.

    For all the talk of a realignment, there’s no tangible sign of it yet.

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  22. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    Mick

    “It’s a reflection of the same lack of politics on the Unionist side as there is on the nationalist side.”

    Sorry Mick but you need to clarify why you claim that their is a lack of politics on the Nationalists side? For example SF running candidate for the Irish president and candidates in most counties in Ireland. FF are now gearing up to address sf politically in the north east.

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  23. Reader (profile) says:

    Granni Trixie: …policy as regards political prisoners…
    Political Prisoners? Quick – Alliance should get in touch with the justice minister to *do* something!

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  24. michael-mcivor (profile) black spot says:

    GoldenFleece-

    ” There will be a joint unionist candidate.i have heard ”

    Wee Willie Frazer is / was a unionist the last i heard and he is also looking to take the mid ulster seat in the by election- are we at the point where some are to embarrassed to think of frazer as a unionist-

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  25. SDLP supporter (profile) says:

    Grannie is right. UPC is just trolling and trying to provoke a reaction. The only parties with a principled stance against the use of violence throughout the troubles were Alliance and SDLP. ‘Politically motivated’ some prisoners may have been but they were in jail for their criminal actions (excepting miscarriages) and not for holding political beliefs.

    As for the stupidity and worse of the four SDLP Newry councillors, I believe that you will see moves there to undo the damage they did. A kick in the arse, which they deserve at the very least, is not good enough.

    Mick is also right. SDLP needs to get distinctive policy positions. A favourite of mine is that a cap of £100k or less be placed on anyone paid out of the public purse here and the upcoming Euro referendum offers a golden opportunity to reinforce its European credentials. Sinn Fein’s position is no different from UKIP’s, indeed they have spoken from the same platform against Europe.

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  26. tacapall (profile) says:

    SDLP supporter so does Pat Ramsey need a kick in the arse for his support of Marian Price and Gerry McGeough ?

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  27. Neil (profile) says:

    Willie on the horse meat thing.

    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/headlines/ira-involved-in-horse-burgers-willie-frazer-1-4725860

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  28. magherafelt red (profile) says:

    This an ideally chance for the UUP to finish above the DUP. After all they have the UUP economy spokeswoman to fall back on. Sandra will therefore prove to be more than capable of wiping the DUP’s face in this election. While McCrea has the family name to fall back on Sandra has the higher profile in the area. She has an excellent office in the heart of Mid Ulster (Moneymore) and according to herself and her family they are “flat out” with people using this office. Hence there being no need to open other offices in either Cookstown or Magherafelt.The only way the UUP will agree to a “unity “candidate is if Nesbitt feels Sandra will be exposed but according to her family that will not happen. It will be interesting to see were the TUV votes go this time. My money is they will go to Frazier. New prediction(based on chats with the Armstrong family) is 1st -SF,2nd- Overend, 3rd McGlone and 4th McCrea

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  29. SDLP supporter (profile) says:

    Tacapall,yes probably, though there are potential miscarriage of justice issues in both the McGeough and Price cases, no matter how obnoxious the individuals may be. Still getting over your ‘anti-immigrant’ hissy fit?

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  30. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Mickey, see Gopher, 7.26pm last night.

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  31. iluvni (profile) says:

    Wonder if the sdlp would still join the euro tomorrow…

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  32. michael-mcivor (profile) black spot says:

    Mick-

    Seen Gophers post-

    Believe it or not but both are hard working politicians who do a lot of work on the ground not just in the Assembly-i have an opinion that Francie Molloy does not sleep as he seems to be at each task that needs worked at-both would be at westminister if elected-Francie in the Sinn Fein offices there-patsy on the green seats -
    Molloy was around homes in Bellaghy yesterday where he got a great response-there were very few bored with politics -we will hear more of the political differences between Francie and Patsy and the others as the campaign picks up-

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  33. 6crealist (profile) says:

    Do they not teach the use of full-stops at the Keyboard Warrior School of Revisionism?

    This is a dead rubber election, though I do live in hope that Patsy can beat his 2005 vote share and get up to 20% or so.

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  34. RyanAdams (profile) says:

    “Now hold on there. An error of judgement in supporting the naming of a play park nor policy as regards political prisoners does not make a party pro-terrorism. infact during the heat of the troubles and though campaigning for reforms, the SDLP did not advocate physical force”

    Haha. ‘Error of Judgement’ The equality commission had already made a judgement. This constituency contains a town home to a prison officer who was recently murdered by republican terrorists. Trying to vindicate them via early release, or recognize dead ones as if their actions were something to be proud of won’t cut ice with Prods west of the Bann who generally aren’t as forgiving of that shit as their Eastern counterparts.

    Closer to Newry and Armagh, the SDLP have also shot themselves in the foot come the next assembly election. Protestant’s voting down the paper was key to them gaining a second seat here – they got quite close in 2011, and Conor Murphy’s recent recruitment demeanor could have potentially been a catalyst for such a drive – all up in smoke now …

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  35. Gopher (profile) says:

    @michael-mcivor

    No offence but so what, Willie Frazer is a hard working politician. So basically what you are saying is Molloy is McGlone with a beard. Personally I think we should save the public purse and just give the seat to Molloy.

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  36. keano10 (profile) says:

    Are we going to get a lead thread on the latest Red C Poll in The Sunday Business Post which has seen Sinn Fein rise to 19% and Labour slump by 3% to just 11%?

    Or do we still just get lead threads when Sinn Fein’s vote drops…?

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  37. Drumlins Rock (profile) says:

    An interesting aside, Removing Francie from the assembly reduces the old guard once again, trying to think how many are left from the first assembly? Even the draft dodger will essential be neutralised as Speaker.

    With Michelle being Torrent based I’m guessing the replacement MLA will be more cookstown/magerafelt based, I wonder will the go for young blood or reward a comrade in this instance.

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  38. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    keano10

    You bring in the issue of the “Irish” politics and how it impacts “Northern Ireland” politics. Some comment as though these things are unrelated (1). I would contend that it of course is highly important and makes Nationalist politics much more complex. As a simple example Martin Mc Guiness putting up his Presidential posters in Tyrone would have given him few votes in the election he was running in but highlighted the difference between his party and sdlp for this election.

    1 Mick

    “It’s a reflection of the same lack of politics on the Unionist side as there is on the nationalist side.”

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  39. seosamh (profile) says:

    @ Mc Slaggart. “FF are now gearing up to address sf politically in the north east.”

    In the north east of where? Donegal; Dublin; Kerry; Cavan? Certainly not in any of the six counties. The Fianna Fáil attempts to launch the northern Forums have been a complete disaster. The university Ógra groups are waning with no activity on the ground. The attempt to sign up northern members to the new “One Member One Vote” system has yet to reach double figures. The appearance of Micheál Martin on television screens in the six counties does not a six counties organisation make.

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  40. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    seosamh

    “The appearance of Micheál Martin on television screens in the six counties does not a six counties organisation make.”

    I fully agree but it does show their need/wish to drag what goes on in Northern Ireland into “southern” politics. It will be intresting to see how many “southern” politicians turn up to support the sdlp in the campaign.

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  41. Drumlins Roack,
    Id assume that in the event of a co-option, SF would choose a South Derry person. …and Id assume it would be Ian Milne.
    They have a mixed record on co-options.
    I believe in a co-option system. If for example a DUP person in a place where thay had just one MLA had to stand down then Id fully support the co-option of another DUP person.
    It seems only right and proper that the make up in multi-seat constituencies should reflect the Assembly Election.

    Of course Sinn Féin and DUP have stretched the rules with the sheer number involved.
    Cant really speak for DUP but in the case of SF, they have weakened their team with third tier people like Boylan and Lynch now in the second tier…and others from the second tier like Sue Ramsey (who has done well) and Barry McElduff getting promoted.
    But ultimately the new third tier look a mixed bunch. Of course some will flourish and be re-elected. Some have been exposed as lightweight and wont be on the ticket next time round.

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  42. FJH,

    I agree with you, both on co-option and on the slim pickings.

    Magherafelt Red,

    they are “flat out” with people using this office. Hence there being no need to open other offices in either Cookstown or Magherafelt.

    You do realise that this makes no sense? If the work is getting too much for one office, opening a second or a third is a rather obvious step.

    Lionel Hutz,

    Surely the big thing would be for the SDLP to get close enough to SF to make it realistic in the next elections to get Unionist tactical votes.

    I don’t think that is possible. Unionists still have a third of the votes in Mid Ulster. If the SDLP manage to pull ahead of the combined Unionist total they will have already won the seat anyway, because necessarily that will mean getting more Nationalist votes than Sinn Fein.

    If McGlone pulls ahead of the lead Unionist candidate in this election, that will make the tactical voting argument slightly less unrealistic in future elections, but it is an exceptionally weak argument as things stand and will not be a lot stronger even if McGlone manages to finish in second place.

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  43. Mr Whyte,
    I assumed that Magherafelt Red was not being serious.
    About two years ago, I passed the UUP constituency office in Mid Ulster. Although well signposted, it appeared to be a farm yard and a few miles from Moneymore.
    Turnout will be such that people will have reasonable grounds for spinning just about any result.
    I can’t see any prospect of tactical voting…until/if the nationalists parties were seen to be much closer.

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  44. Gopher (profile) says:

    43 Posts and I still dont have a clue what is the difference MCGlone and Molloy except the beard. Is this the “wrong question”? There is a lot of voyeurism towards unionism but little talk of what each nationalist candidate will do for the constituency or the country.

    I’m not really convinced that where a candidate was born will influence attracting jobs to West of the Bann. Getting to Cookstown is an absolute pain , any candidate campaigning on a better link from the M1 or a Magherafelt by-pass? If the A5 ever gets finished the Cookstown area will be an even bigger backwater.

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  45. FJH,

    You’re right of course. Looking back through our Magherafelt friend’s previous posts, it becomes clear that he is not exactly a fan of Sandra Overend and that the post I responded to was intended as irony. He (or she) was therefore perfectly aware that the statement which I highlighted makes no sense.

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  46. Framer (profile) says:

    Why does Alliance so badly in strongly nationalist areas when it is not a unionist party?
    Only asking.

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  47. Pia_Lugum (profile) says:

    The UUP have begun backing out of Westminster Politics in Mid-Ulster under the cloak of trying to do a deal with the DUP. it would appear to me that they have not any longer got the stomach for a fight under their own banner! They are vacating the stage to other bit players such as Frazer, Greer, etc.
    I feel sorry for the present UUP MLA whose candidature has obviously been literally dumped by the local mid-ulster association at their recent meeting. Her under-the-radar profile has virtually submarined and it will be difficult for her to pretend any longer that she has local party respect. McCrea’s work ethic also seems to be pretty hard to detect around the constituency and it is no real surprise that the UUP could not consider him as a realistic alternative either.
    Does anyone know if the mid-ulster UUP is now officially out of its depth both in terms of its internal management and its public duty?

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  48. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    “Framer (profile) 27 January 2013 at 6:10 pm
    Why does Alliance so badly in strongly nationalist areas when it is not a unionist party?
    Only asking.”

    Einstein theory of relativity

    The more nationalist an area the more Unionist Alliance are.

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  49. hfmccloy (profile) says:

    Difference between Molloy and McGlone, McGlone will take his seat and represent the other wont. McGlone is a people person, Molloy is only seen at election time.

    I see the Pr already being drummed up by Francie,

    “more health services to be brought back to Mid Ulster Hospital”

    Thats a no brainer, bit odd though considering a SF led Magherafelt Council has agreed to remove more services and basically allowing the hospital to be rented out, I wonder if that the rates related? plus as health is devolved matter it will hardly matter what a MP says countless letters to the health departments on the mainland has shown me they dont care how health is run here, as long as the current theme of privatization is carried out. It will be interesting to see what Magherafelt Council have asked for in the Transforming Your Care consultation, an outstanding FOI will show that, that is if they responded this time around rather than making deals with health trusts during public consultation.

    None of the selected so far have anything new to offer, and I doubt whoever else in put in the race will have much either.

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  50. Lionel Hutz (profile) says:

    Nicholas,

    I don’t think that is possible. Unionists still have a third of the votes in Mid Ulster. If the SDLP manage to pull ahead of the combined Unionist total they will have already won the seat anyway, because necessarily that will mean getting more Nationalist votes than Sinn Fein.

    If McGlone pulls ahead of the lead Unionist candidate in this election, that will make the tactical voting argument slightly less unrealistic in future elections, but it is an exceptionally weak argument as things stand and will not be a lot stronger even if McGlone manages to finish in second place.

    I would not doubt that you are correct but would it not also be true of other constituencies. I can think of South Down where a DUP and UUP candidate are returned in the Assembly elections. They have around a third of the vote too would they not yet it is well known that in the Westminster elections, some Unionists vote for SDLP.

    I think the SDLP could do the same in Westminster with a popular candidate. They also have that potential in Newry & Armagh.

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  51. Lionel Hutz (profile) says:

    Nicholas,

    I don’t think that is possible. Unionists still have a third of the votes in Mid Ulster. If the SDLP manage to pull ahead of the combined Unionist total they will have already won the seat anyway, because necessarily that will mean getting more Nationalist votes than Sinn Fein.

    If McGlone pulls ahead of the lead Unionist candidate in this election, that will make the tactical voting argument slightly less unrealistic in future elections, but it is an exceptionally weak argument as things stand and will not be a lot stronger even if McGlone manages to finish in second place.

    I would not doubt that you are correct but would it not also be true of other constituencies. I can think of South Down where a DUP and UUP candidate are returned in the Assembly elections. They have around a third of the vote too would they not yet it is well known that in the Westminster elections, some Unionists vote for SDLP.

    I think the SDLP could do the same in the Mid-Ulster Westminster elections with a popular candidate. They also have that potential in Newry & Armagh.

    What do you think?
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  52. GEF (profile) says:

    Leader of the UUP M Nesbitt has suggested Ian Paisley (sen) stand for this seat. It couldn’t get better.

    Ulster Unionists back unity move
    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/headlines/ulster-unionists-back-unity-move-1-4727276

    What do you think?
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  53. SK (profile) says:

    “Leader of the UUP M Nesbitt has suggested Ian Paisley (sen) stand for this seat. It couldn’t get better.”

    _______

    Nesbitt is either completely incompetent, or he’s positioning himself for a senior position within some newly merged Unionist Party.

    Either way he’s a gift to nationalism.

    What do you think?
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