Local Election 2014 in 10 Points

24 views

The 2014 Local Government election belongs in the past tense, with all of the 462 seats now occupied by councillors elected to the new eleven ‘super’ council framework. At this early stage, ten observations stand out from our latest electoral outing:

2014 LOCAL COUNCIL RESULTS

Party2014 SeatsEquivalent seat tally in 2014 (/462)+/- on Equivalent tally2011 Seats (/582)
SDLP6669-387
SF105109-4138
UUP8879+999
DUP130139-9175
ALL3235-344
OTH4131+1039

 

1. Sinn Fein’s status as the most popular party in Northern Ireland has been confirmed for the third time in the past five elections (it’ll be 4 of 6 after Monday), and that was just the icing on the cake on day one of a long weekend in which the republican party’s all-Ireland electoral and political strategy was comprehensively vindicated by a stunning showing at local government and Dail by-election level across the South. Gerry Adams has many detractors, but his political legacy will now include guiding Sinn Fein to a place where the party has not been since the Revolutionary period, on the cusp of gaining political office in the coming years across the island.

2. Northern Sinn Fein are well positioned to seize Foyle at Westminster following this election, a fact clearly appreciated by an SDLP party which is clearly in an ill state of health locally. With regard to that, the Carr debacle, the bizarre fracas involving John Hume’s brother and another party figure, and –most significantly- a fairly hard hitting TV interview by Foyle MP Mark Durkan which was critical in tone suggests a strained relationship between the once all powerful Derry wing and the Belfast leadership of Alasdair McDonnell. Worth watching in the coming days and weeks.

3. Every election will be marked by near misses where the crossbar was struck, as well as seats won which could just have easily been lost. But when the balance swings decisively in one direction, there are clearly underlying factors at play.Sinn Fein and the SDLP secured a combined % of the total vote which was not only down on 2011 (a bad year for both in that regard) but the lowest for the two main nationalist parties since before the 1994 IRA ceasefire.

At a glance it is possible to identify a dozen plus seats lost to the nationalist parties due to a combination of poor turnout, bad vote management and weak transfer rates (multiple DEAs in each of the new Antrim/Newtownabbey and ‘ABC’ Councils stand out in this regard.)

I alluded to the difficulties historically experienced by both nationalist parties with regard to maximizing votes and converting those into seats in a pre-election article here. The outcome of this election only serves to underline the negative impact upon nationalist turnout and representation resulting from the continuing failure of both nationalist parties to effectively organize across the North. Hence the anomalous situation of the largest political party in Northern Ireland being the only one of the four main parties to not even have a single seat on all 11 councils- in fact, SF will only be represented on 9 councils, failing to register at all in North Down/Ards or Castlereagh/Lisburn. Addressing this long-term problem in an effective and enduring way must be a priority for both parties.

4. Martin McGuinness was correct to welcome the election of Gary Donnelly in Derry. The prominent dissident republican secured an impressive poll topping vote, mopping up support from the disaffected and disillusioned republican base. Other non-mainstream candidates also returned decent votes in Belfast, Derry and elsewhere. McGuinness and Sinn Fein know only too well how the lure of electoral office brings with it increased public exposure and accountability for words and actions, which may in time contribute towards dissidents coming in from the cold and moving decisively to end armed actions.

5. The election of Gerry Carroll, the socialist People Before Profit candidate in west Belfast, is a noteworthy development as the elevation of an articulate and ideologically focused Independent has the potential to shake the Nationalist parties up in this constituency. Throw in Fianna Fail at the other end of the spectrum in 5 years time and there is the prospect of a healthy plurality of all-Ireland advocates seeking to attract and grow support for an island-wide vision, albeit with differing opinions on socio-economic and moral issues.

6. The DUP will wear a smile and adopt the usually brazen style associated with the party, but there is no denying that they’ve ceded ground in this election, and they know it. Their % vote loss was cushioned by a seat bonus resulting from the considerably more effective tribal vote transferring that defines unionism as opposed to nationalism. But the beginnings of an albeit limited pincer movement against the party (outlined below) can be identified which, although not posing a fatal threat to DUP domination within unionism, can nevertheless detrimentally impact upon their overall vote share and seat tallies at local and even Assembly level in the years to come, to the point where a Sinn Fein First Minister could be a real possibility.

7. The Ulster Unionist Party, both in terms of vote share increase and seats returned, stands apart as the primary victor in this election of the major players, though its advances were modest. The party improved its vote share by 0.9%, but its seat tally of 87 is up on the equivalent seat tally figure of 79 which marked its return from the 2011 local government election outing. The party’s strategic shift to the right resulted in the UUP being successfully positioned to attract some support from the ranks of the disgruntled DUP voters, arresting the UUP’s decline and finally providing some hope for the party faithful.

8. The TUV are cock-a-hoop, and rightly so. Jim Allister has every right to be delighted with a return of 13 seats (up from 6 in the old council format) across 6 councils, including a very impressive 5 seats on the Mid/East Antrim Council. This sets the party up nicely for an Assembly election run in which they must be targeting multiple seat gains at the expense primarily of the DUP, whose 38 seat return in the 2011 Assembly election included 3 seats in South Antrim, East Derry and East Antrim, all of which must be target seats for a rejuvenated Traditional Unionist Voice.

9. For all the noise they’ve been making, the PUP have still only managed to return with four councillors, matching their 2001 tally but less than the 7 councillors elected in the heady days of 1997. The party’s new Coleraine councillor was the only candidate to get elected outside of the same three inner city loyalist Belfast areas to which the party has been getting elected on and off since the 1990s.

Nevertheless, the election of Julie Corr (Oldpark) and impressive vote tally secured by Billy Hutchinson (Court) will incentivize loyalists to continue on the electoral path, bringing with it potential benefits for the rest of society for the same reason Martin McGuinness identified when commenting on the fortunes of dissident republican candidates.

Furthermore, the loyalist victory in Oldpark was a significant advance in its own right, knocking out the DUP Council leader in Belfast, Lee Reynolds, sending the message out to the DUP that their efforts to counter the PUP’s machinations by seeking co-ownership of Twaddell and the associated flag/parade movement were ultimately unsuccessful.

Expect the DUP to face trouble from the PUP in the time ahead as the loyalists seek to broaden their reach and strengthen their prospects in other areas by mimicking the strategy of using flute bands, parades and other protests to further embed and grow the party across working class loyalist Belfast. In their own right, the PUP will not seriously challenge DUP dominance within working class loyalism, but anticipated losses at the margins, coupled with similar small scale losses to the TUV and UUP, will have the effect of further consolidating Sinn Fein’s status as the most popular party in the state.

10. The Alliance Party have returned with 32 seats, down from the seat equivalent of 35 on the basis of the 44 seats secured in 2011. The party vote is also down by 0.7%. But this modest decline must be a source of comfort and relief for the party, given the dire predictions of vote meltdown following the loyalist flag movement’s targeting of the party over the City Council flag flying policy. A resolute performance across Belfast- returning 8 councillors- firmly establishes the party in its kingmaker role, whilst it has also been able to celebrate getting two councillors elected in the new Newry, Mourne and Down council.

The other ‘Other’ performance of note was that of the Greens, claiming four seats across two councils, including a very impressive return of 3 seats to the new North Down and Ards Council.

 

  • WindsorRocker

    Point 6. Would it not happen in every democratic political system using PR that transfers go to the parties that are closest to your own first choice, bar some personality votes? I’m sure if you looked at the transfers of unionists FPVs versus nationalist FPVs they would transfer at the same rate to available candidates of the same broad constitutional viewpoint.

    Where things are different for unionism is the sheer multiplicity of candidates and parties that are broadly unionist. So there is more to transfer to before non unionist transfers are considered.

    I don’t think you can say themmuns stick together, we don’t.

  • SK

    “Where things are different for unionism is the sheer multiplicity of candidates and parties that are broadly unionist. So there is more to transfer to before non unionist transfers are considered.”

    “I don’t think you can say themmuns stick together, we don’t.”
    ———

    When was the last tribal voting pact arranged amongst nationalists? When was the last, Nigel Lutton style campaign where the message was essentially “vote for him, he’s one of ours”?

    The cries of “vote unionist, any unionist” emanate from Peter Robinson and echo down the pecking order all the way to Jamie Bryson. They’re all part of the “PUL family”, don’t you know.

    It’s a level of tribalism that would make even the staunchest Shinner blush.

  • Charles_Gould

    Fact number 11.

    *The first LG election since 1989 where SF fell in vote share.

    Fact number 12:

    *The first LG election since 1989 where UUP rose in vote share.

  • Reader

    SK : When was the last, Nigel Lutton style campaign where the message was essentially “vote for him, he’s one of ours”?
    And what was the response of the nationalist electorate? Tactical voting against one of them!
    The usual issue with a multiplicity of unionist parties is “vote shredding”, where people don’t transfer far enough down the ballot, and the vote ends up in the bin without finding a home. There were comments from nationalists on Slugger celebrating this ahead of the election. And it probably happened, but with so many of the “Others” being unionists, what happened was that many “Other” votes became “DUP” councillors.
    If you break the stats up along tribal lines, instead of just looking at big parties and Others, you may *still* find that unionism suffered from vote shredding. Or you may find that SDLP voters prefer Alliance as their second preference over SF.
    As I said on another thread, maybe SF needs to make more friends.

  • Zig70

    McDonnell has had his chance, steady decline especially when you align it with census figures. He hasn’t cut it as a leader. Next. Maybe time to give the Derry lot a chance to lead and stop the rot there. If they don’t do something then it will be an open door for FF.

  • Tir Chonaill Gael

    Chris,

    on point 2., unless Strabane suddenly gets lumped into Foyle, there’s absolutely no chance that SF will take Durkan’s seat.

    Who would they even run?

  • SK

    “And what was the response of the nationalist electorate? Tactical voting against one of them”

    Nationalists were faced with a tribal “let’s gang up on that lot” campaign and responded accordingly. I’d ask again, how many joint electoral candidates have the nationalist parties put forward? I think you have to go back to 1981 for the last one.

    DUP, TUV, PUP, UUP all encouraged the electorate to vote for them first, and then any other unionist second. It’s the donkey wrapped in a union flag approach to politics and the unionist electorate duly obliged.

  • Morpheus

    Interesting graphic over on bangordub showing the election results in some context by displaying results over the last 4 local elections:

    http://bangordub.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/councils-2014.jpg?w=529

    It shows the UUP gains were more about marginally bouncing up again after hitting rock bottom. Looks like trying to out-DUP the DUP stopped the rot at least.

    The DUP must be concerned that they have dropped by close on 7% since 2005.

    The SDLP need a complete overhaul in leadership and direction if they want to stop the free-fall. They provide nothing that SF can’t offer but at least they are successfully doing it in an all-Ireland basis.

    Again, chuffed to bits for Alliance in Belfast – well done to the electorate for seeing through all the BS. Shame on the DUP/UUP for what they tried to pull.

    The rise in the more extremist elements on both the loyalist and republican sides is a good indicator that they are coming in from the extremes.

    Bangordub shows an overall steady decrease in both the nationalist and unionist percentages but the difference between the 2 is narrowing, from 9% in 2005 to just 3.5% in 2014.

    The most damming story in the whole election has to the low voter turnout but they are stuck with the councils that other people voted for.

  • Zeno

    When was the last tribal voting pact arranged amongst nationalists?

    SK

    I don’t believe there has been one, but that is only because every time SF try to organise a pact with the SDLP they get turned down.

  • Reader

    SK: Nationalists were faced with a tribal “let’s gang up on that lot” campaign and responded accordingly. I’d ask again, how many joint electoral candidates have the nationalist parties put forward?
    If you’re complaining about the electorate, you have defended the nationalist electorate playing the tribal game, not denied it.
    If you are complaining about supporters, then surely you remember the abuse heaped upon the SDLP by Shinner supporters during the last general election because the SDLP would not step aside in Fermanagh-South Tyrone? Slugger was boiling over with the hate.
    And if you are complaining about the parties, then remember that SF were only saved from your angry condemnation (I suppose) by the fact that the SDLP refused to step aside.
    Only the SDLP can claim the high ground here. And some of their voters are a bit iffy.

  • SK

    Neither SF nor the SDLP have called for their voters to keep it in the tribe during this election. The only time we have heard such calls in the past is when tribal Unionist raises it’s ugly, atavistic head.

    There is not a day that goes by without some high profile unionist advocating greater tribal solidarity, and there is not an election that goes by when the unionist voters fail to oblige. The message is going to be clear from all strands of political unionism: Vote Prod.

    Meanwhile NI21 gets its only councillor elected on the back of SF transfers.

  • SK

    Zeno,

    SF propose election pacts only after Unionist pacts have already been established. It is unionist tribalism that poisons to the water in the likes of Fermanagh-South Tyrone.

    Maybe it’s time nationalists got more pro-active on that front though.

  • Morpheus

    Peter Robinson showing his class yet again with his talk of Naomi Long being ‘on notice’.

    Joke of a man

  • SK

    “Peter Robinson showing his class yet again with his talk of Naomi Long being ‘on notice’.”

    Just watched Gregory Campbell attack her on Sunday Politics before promptly demanding an apology when she gave as good as she got. She’s well able for them.

  • cynic2

    Chris

    Nice try to cover up the fact that SF has peaked in NI and slid back ever so slightly. All the waffle wont hide that

  • Zeno

    Bangordub shows an overall steady decrease in both the nationalist and unionist percentages.

    Morph.
    Maybe it’s something to do with the electorate moving away from them as predicted by NILT Survey on Identity?
    23% Nationalist and falling.
    28% Unionist and falling.
    49% Neither and rising.
    The only interesting part is the rate of decline.

  • Reader

    SK: There is not a day that goes by without some high profile unionist advocating greater tribal solidarity, and there is not an election that goes by when the unionist voters fail to oblige. The message is going to be clear from all strands of political unionism: Vote Prod.
    Maybe unionism should take a leaf out of nationalism’s book, then, and consolidate on two well disciplined parties, separated by mutual loathing. Then we could have an effective First Past The Post system and get rid of both vote shredding and the vile depravity of transfers.
    Or maybe what nationalism needs is more parties with smaller gulfs between them. Wouldn’t that be a more healthy way to go?

  • Zeno

    SK
    Neither SF nor the SDLP have called for their voters to keep it in the tribe during this election.”

    That is only because SF eventually got the message after several attempts to form pacts with the SDLP. If you want to blame Unionists for trying to form pacts then to be fair SF are in the same boat.They only difference is they failed in their attempts.

  • Reader

    SK : Meanwhile NI21 gets its only councillor elected on the back of SF transfers.
    With every other party already eliminated the only working transfers left were transfer to NI21, transfer to DUP, or not at all. Most didn’t transfer at all. But actually, I think it is highly likely that most of the SF transfers to NI21 had come from the 129 votes from the SDLP elimination in the previous round. What do you think?
    With only 2 nationalists plus one Alliance on the ballot paper, the great majority of the Sinn Fein voters voted 1,2,3 (at most) and stopped.
    So there you have it. In a unionist dominated DEA with SF doomed to defeat, the vast majority of SF voters didn’t bring themselves to cross the line even so far as to pick the least worst option.
    Margaret Ritchie (MP for South Down) is surely pleased that unionist voters aren’t so thran.

  • Morpheus

    Ah,the NILT…you know what I am going to ask don’t you Zeno?

    How many councillors did this “49% and rising” get? How many MLAs do they have? MEPs? MPs? Any positions of power?

  • Ulidian

    Alliance’s vote actually slumped in Ormiston/Victoria – Long is in big trouble on these figures.

  • Jagdip

    @Chris, I disagree with your maths!

    SF previously held 138 seats out of 582.

    (138/582*462)=109.546 (or conventionally rounded, 110)

    Both the DUP and SDLP did worse than SF, but SF has modestly fallen back.There are now 33 SF councillors without a job (138-105), there should have been just 28 and indeed with the expanding Catholic population and better education standards in that community, you might have hoped for 115 seats rather than 105. Not a great day for SF in the North, not disastrous by any stretch, good not good and a step backwards.

    Down South, they’re presently on 15.5% of 1st preferences which is below the lowest opinion poll estimates, and SF itself is predicting 11% (108 “a doubling of the 54 in 2009″ elected out of 949). That said, the votes are still being counted, just over half declared and SF has 104.

    Dublin West and Longford were creditable performances, and most importantly, indicate there will be a SF deputy in both after GE2016.

    Euro results will be riveting. They have good 1st preferences (esp in Dublin and South), but will transfers get them over the line in South and MNW?

  • Morpheus

    Listen Zeno, I don’t argue that in and around 50% of the population don’t want to get involved in the political process, that is obvious, but what I do argue is that come election day there is no box for polite indignation.

    Look at Croatia, it has been reported on the BBC this morning that voter turnout for these Euro elections is a low as 20% but guess what? Those who get the highest proportion of that 20% will still take their seats. It doesn’t matter a jot the size of the electorate or how many took part in the political process, only actual votes matter. Sooner or later this 50% will have to get involved in the game otherwise silence = consent

  • Zig70

    Morph. I’d strongly disagree the SF can bring anything to the table. There is a nationalist rump that won’t vote SF. They deserve political representation. SF are strongly left and I hope they stay true to that, but not everyone is. What is the OP? united Ireland or political ideal? Both together is fantasy land.

  • Jagdip

    Can I congratulate you Nordies on your charity and generosity towards politicians
    You have 1 local councilor per 3,926 head of population; in the South they have 1 per 4847. If the same ratio applied in the North, you would have 373 local councilors, down from 461.
    You have 108 MLAs which roughly correspond to the 226 TDs and Senators down here. In other words, you have 1 MLA per 16759 head of population; in the South we make do with 1 per 20353. If the same ratio applied in the North, you would have 89 MLAs, down from 108.
    And of course, you have 18 MPs in Westminister; we don’t have the equivalent of that.
    Any, congrats again for paying for all that governance; yours must surely be a well-governed Utopia.

  • Framer

    SK denies Sinn Fein pacts previously:
    However SF voluntarily and needlessly stood down in South Belfast in 2010 to ensure all the the Catholic vote went to SDLP – in a non-sectarian Republican tradition.

  • Zeno

    How many councillors did this “49% and rising” get? How many MLAs do they have? MEPs? MPs? Any positions of power?

    Morph,
    They don’t have any and they don’t want any. They have deserted a failing political system and it doesn’t look like they will be coming back.

  • Zeno

    Sooner or later this 50% will have to get involved in the game otherwise silence = consent

    Morph.
    So your premise is that if you don’t vote for any of them you must therefore be contented. It couldn’t possibly be that you are disgusted with all of them? It couldn’t possibly be that you have realised that your vote means nothing? It couldn’t be that you realise the whole thing is a sham. It couldn’t be that you realise that the MP/MLA you voted for will be told how he votes by the Party Whip. It couldn’t be that you realised that when something important comes along your MP doesn’t even get a vote?

  • Zig70

    So what is the alternative? Compulsory voting? Something I’d like to see but not pay for the enforcement. If you don’t vote your complaints are worthless.

  • boondock

    Zeno only the other day Morph got into a debate with a number of Republicans who wouldnt take part in ‘British’ elections, somehow I dont see them falling into this other category and they are making the same mistake as you by thinking if enough people dont vote then the results are not legitimate er nonsense if only 5 % vote well then those 5% decide our future. People need to stop moaning as there is zero alternative. If you dont like any of the politicians either vote for the least bad one or get involved in politics yourself.

  • tacapall

    “So what is the alternative? Compulsory voting? Something I’d like to see but not pay for the enforcement”

    Zeb can you really imagine the British government attempting to make it compulsory for Irish citizens to vote in British elections ?

  • tacapall

    Boondock politicians in some CIA/MI6 controlled oil or diamond rich third world country could claim to be duly elected even if only 5% voted but not even perfidious albion would stand by such a farce. In this part of Ireland anyone with a brain would know the days of the minority controlling the future of the majority are well and truly gone, if the total number of registered voters drops below 49% of the total population, Britain would have to justify its position in Ireland.

  • Morpheus

    Zeno

    I didn’t say they were content, I said that by remaining silent they are giving their consent – “Qui tacet consentire videtur” is the term apparently. By choosing not to get involved they are giving their consent for those that do to choose who gets the positions of power.

    Even if the 49% increases to 60% it doesn’t matter one little bit because the positions of power will be given depending on the votes cast for the other 40%. As I said, Croatia are reporting that 80% of the electorate didn’t turn out for their elections but the seats will be taken based on the votes counted.

    Tac, can you give name one single country who gave up their constitutional claim because the electorate didn’t take part in the electoral process?

    You say “if the total number of registered voters drops below 49% of the total population” but do you realise that 88% registered to vote, right?

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/88-register-to-vote-in-elections-29800642.html

    In fact not being on the electoral role hampers your chances of getting a mortgage:

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/88-register-to-vote-in-elections-29800642.html

    So waiting for 88% to drop to your made up 49% is unlikely

  • Morpheus
  • Morpheus

    Tac, as a rough guess what percentage of the 50% that don’t vote do you think do so because, ideologically, they don’t agree with taking part in British elections?

  • FuturePhysicist

    Sinn Féin don’t really have a high profile candidate with Martina and Martin gone, SDLP have Durkan, M H Durkan and Eastwood.

    The 500 lead on the low turnout could be lost if the SDLP get a few independent votes.

  • SK

    Framer:

    For the second time: SF have only ever proposed electoral pacts in constituencies where unionists have already arranged one. This includes South Belfast in 2010.

    Incidentally, when I said that not a day goes by without a senior unionist demanding closer sectarian links with other members of the tribe, I meant it quite literally. Here’s today’s contribution:

    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/video/News/dup-and-sf-react-to-election-results-3586448174001

    And on a Sunday too!

  • Morpheus

    We are on the slippery slopes towards complete consolidation on both sides of the divide in Northern Ireland – it’s inevitable. The difference of course being that they won’t need pacts on the nationalist side unless the SDLP can stop the rot.

    We have seen unionist consolidation in these elections and we will see the usual triumphalist behaviour from political unionism – I see our illustrious ‘leader’ is at it already – which will in turn result in more ammo for SF in the next elections. Coincidentally enough the ones which ensure the party leaders get their salaries/pensions/expenses, imagine that.

    As I said before a vote was counted, these relatively low-impact elections have been used to give a kick up the arse to electorate who will be out in droves for the next assembly elections for fear of what will happen if they don’t because ‘themuns are working together’

  • Morpheus

    Apart from pacts, I dread to think what the DUP are going to pull to get East Belfast back. The tactics have been characteristically disgusting and cowardly to this point so God knows what depths they will sink to.

  • Mike the First

    SK

    Care to explain to the class exactly what you think this “unionist pact” in South Belfast in 2010 was?

  • SK

    UCUNF.

    If you recall, there was a tribal three-way between UUP/Tories/DUP in Fermanagh South Tyrone using Rodney Connor as the sectarian talisman that year. It blew up in their big, red, rosacea-laden faces.

    The DUP wanted to repeat the stunt in South Belfast, but the Conservatives and the UUP turned them down, opting for a two-way pact instead- damage limitation by the Tories after the charges of tribalism were levelled against them. That’s when Sinn Fein made made the decision to sit that one out.

  • tacapall

    “Tac, can you give name one single country who gave up their constitutional claim because the electorate didn’t take part in the electoral process”

    Im not even going to bother checking, what difference does it make. People thought the world was flat until it was proved otherwise.

    “In fact not being on the electoral role hampers your chances of getting a mortgage”

    Like I care, Im happy to live like a parasite off the British exchequer just like Mrs Windsor.

  • Mike the First

    Are you seriously attempting to paint UCUNF as a unionist pact aimed at electing a unionist rather than a nationalist in South Belfast?

    Blimey, would it not be easier to admit that your claim that “SF have only ever proposed electoral pacts in constituencies where unionists have already arranged one” was simply wrong?

  • SK

    You asked me what the unionist pact in South Belfast was, Mike, and I provided a fairly conclusive answer.

    Any other questions?

  • Mike the First

    No, I’m satisfied that I’ve completely dismantled your “point”.

    You’ve claimed that unlike “tribal”, “ugly”, “atavistic” unionism, SF has only ever proposed a nationalist pact in constituencies where there’s been a unionist pact.

    The South Belfast election of 2010 where SF stood down to make sue a nationalist was elected gives the lie to that.

    So instead of admitting you were wrong, you claim that UCUNF (a UUP-Conservative link-up which had nothing whatsoever in Its founding motivations to do with trying to win unionist v nationalist headcounts) actually standing against the DUP somehow helps your ‘point’.

    So no, no further questions. You were wrong, plain and simple.

  • boondock

    Mike the first you are wrong you must have the memory of a gold fish. Talks of pacts in South Belfast and FST were ongoing and the media were reporting it a whole year before the election at which point David Cameron boasted that the Conseravtive party would be standing in every constituency through out the UK and there will be no pacts.

    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/regional/no-unionist-pact-cameron-1-1885051

    Obviously when Connnor was selected for FST Cameron seemed to go awfully quiet. In the mean time in South Belfast many high profile Catholic Tory members quit over the prospect of a pact, One source told the Observer that McCann and others had “wanted to vomit” when they were given details of talks between Paterson and senior Ulster Unionists and Democratic Unionists in south-west England last weekend.

    http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2010/jan/24/conservatives-unionists-northern-ireland-owen-paterson-david-cameron

    http://sluggerotoole.com/2010/01/24/reg-empey-in-move-to-shaft-catholic-candidates/comment-page-1/#comments

    At the end of the day the Tories pulled the plug on South Belfast and tried to excuse FST by claiming the difference was FST had no attending MP.

    McDonnell ended up out polling the combined Unionist vote and also received very few votes in the SF areas of Markets and lower Ormeau. A pact was not needed and SF withdrew only to try and pressure the SDLP to reciprocate in FST which at the end of the day was also not needed all be it by the slimmest of margins.