Amongst Unionists, only AB voters were unambiguously in favour of Remain…


Great graphic from Steven McCaffrey which tells us two important things about the outcome of the Referendum in Northern Ireland. One

One, the DUP have performed a daring raid on the UUP’s support base exactly where it has been at its strongest after the wrecking ball of the St Andrews Agreement: which is out west and in the border areas.

Effectively Leave grabbed C1s as well as the C2s, Ds and Es, with the three outliers (in Yellow) being where there is a predominance of As and Bs in Northern Ireland. The UUP has only two MLAs in all three.

Two, it also blows the whistle on anyone within nationalism who thinks they can win a majority for a United Ireland with a ropey to non-existent business plan on the basis that they can hoodwink Unionist AB voters into a voting for a United Ireland.



  • kensei

    Your point only makes sense if the “other side” exists as some kind of homogeneous blob. It doesn’t. There is a spectrum of opinion. If you are serious, then you to partition the electorate and target the votes you think you can win loke any other marketer. You don’t need them all as the EU referendum amply demonstrated, and going for them all rarely works.

    If the Republic’s economy starts flying again – certainly not impossible, given last year’s growth figures – then the party of Government in the South will be appeal to make a strong appeal to economically focused Unionists. That is likely to be FF as not.

    Moreover, new parties have the advantage of being able to stake different positions. That I’d particularly true if say, one can come and grab the soft nationalist vote. And the competition between parties generates new ideas and more interest, which helps overall.

    You realise you”re the one saying that people are entirely defined by the constitutional question here.

  • jeep55

    I did a regression analysis of the 18 constituencies with % remain a function of the way the constituency voted at the May Assembly elections. But I divided the community not protestant and catholic but rather Unionist, Nationalist and Other. For what it is worth I included Conservative with Unionist but Workers Party and People Before Profit as ‘Other’. The result largely explains the apparent outliers in South Belfast, East Belfast and North Down because these are the constituencies with others placed at around 30% or greater. The result of the analysis?
    Remain = 0.3 * U + 0.8 * N + 0.9 * O
    So around 30% of Unionists voted Remain but ‘majority community’ Alliance and Green voters voted 90% to Remain. This vote has isolated unionism to a point where it is becoming the minority.

  • kensei

    It wasn’t just Nationalists that admired the boom time Republic economy. And it wasn’t just Unionists that have been down on it since the bust.

  • Reader

    OK, here it is then:
    I expect SF will have to change it beyond recognition, but just to be quite clear, I just googled it – I can’t grant you permission to copy it.

  • Reader

    eamoncorbett: how do you propose to prevent a Polish national from crossing the border from ROI/EU and getting on a ferry at Larne and going to Britain without as much as producing a passport ?
    1) Why bother? If they can’t use the NHS, the benefits system or the school system they would be better off stopping in Dublin.
    2) Why would they bother with that route when they can fly into Gatwick as a tourist?

  • Reader

    jeep55: This vote has isolated unionism to a point where it is becoming the minority.
    Wow – better hope that the next referendum is on a different topic entirely then.

  • Skibo

    No, I was more or less considering the response of the Unionists, Aliance and SDLP to a lesser extent, and the so-called republican parties of the ROI.
    Perhaps it is time for SF to lead the line and propose such a plan and show the economic viability of it.
    Interesting how SDLP have the same policy as SF in regards to a UI yet are never challenged on where their plan is.
    The parties in the ROI have an aspiration of a United Ireland, they too have no programme or plan.

  • Skibo

    Just a small quote from your piece,
    “I’m not an economist, so I’ll leave the technical aspects of the modelling to someone more qualified in that field”
    All in all this is probably the first report an the economic outcome of a UI.
    Tell me, who produces the economic outcomes of NI staying within the UK where it becomes a net contributor instead of a drain on resources or is that an economic fantasy also?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Unambiguous is a bit questionable … North Belfast, East Londonderry … hardly AB Unionist territories like North Down is.

    CDE unionists may need to contemplate the full consequences of enabling English nationalism as things are:

  • Jarl Ulfreksfjordr

    But are people also “entirely defined” by the state of the economy?

    Should the Republic’s economy start to ‘fly’ (I wish it well) and “economically focused Unionists” decide they want a piece of green pie, if then subsequently the economy tanks (again) can partition be returned?

    I think not.

    Voting in a border poll is surely a significant thing, it should require something fundamentally stronger than a decision based on a (at the time) view of contemporary economic circumstances. Should it not?

    People are indeed not “entirely defined by the constitutional question”. However that question is surrounded by a panoply of other important matters (political/cultural/emotional) that will impact the future of those voting in a ways that make the state of the economy, any economy, at any given time relatively less central than it would be in, for example, voting for a change of government (a vote than can be reviewed in five or so years).

  • Ciaran74

    Very right Ciaran. NI is unaware of the unique turbulence ahead, with much of it cloaked in Brexit, and any skilful Whitehall commercial opportunism bypassing us whilst Unionism’s leadership waits on crumbs and then argues further austerity through on the back of the dossers and the hopeless parasites.

    I work in the private retail sector but also have a share in a nursing facility for young adults with learning difficulties. It would shock any reader what cuts have been implemented and how. Austerity targets the vulnerable and the lower paid. The NHS has been ring fenced but there’s not much left to take from other areas so it’s now up for a long term and severe ‘modification’. The smoke to hide Europes largest deficit bar Greece will be Europe. The ideal Tory society is now in full planning.

    Unfortunately NI just cannot benefit from the distinct commercial set of skills GB has built up over centuries, unless you move there, as they rightly look for the most advantageous way out of Brexit. The expanded plans to reduce CT has just nailed that down. Why locate to the north when youve got a better version down in the UK?

    The 6 counties geography and mass are against it. The brain drain will continue, the big ROI investments will pause or end, we’ll be fed stories about the big bad EU, with the odd 100 and 200 job creation every year or two to mask the tightening.

    But hey, we’ll still have the chance to curtsy…….

  • kensei

    I don’t disagree – I’d be the first to argue that the long run economic argument is the really important one even if Brexit or Scottish Independence or a United Ireland entailed a recession in the short run. But people rarely work like, unfortunately. There is quite a lot of research in the states that shows that the direction the economy is heading in an election year (up or down, as opposed to absolute level) is a surprisingly good predictor of the election result.

    There’d be a medium and long run case that needs presented too. Perhaps the best way of thinking about it is that that case is much easier to make if present circumstances support them rather than undermine them. Similarly, if you are making claims for growth and the like, it helps if you have an historical example to call upon. Is the bust a blip in a longer run trend, or the current reality.

    Any referendum campaign would also obviously cover a range of issues. And there are a bunch of things that are probably necessary but not sufficient. But it’s about how you build your coalition to win, what is most likely to sway them and where you focus your time. The economy is obviously a big one.

  • NMS

    Because there will be a very hard border. The UKNI/Ireland border will be no different than the border between Poland & Ukraine. The lands on the Ukrainian side were of course all part of Poland pre 1939-45!

    The Irish position outside Schengen will not be tenable with the UK outside the EU. Ireland will be the only member of the EU or EEA not a member of Schengen. Joining Schengen will be the natural step to cutting the final frayed remains of the umbilical cord. The last drops of semi-coagulated blood spilling out will be the ignored screams of northern nationalists.

  • Robert ian Wiliams

    Yes those of us comfortably off have nothing to fear….except a Union, grown fat and undemocratic. Many of us care for those left on zero hours contracts, undercut by cheap foreign labour and infinitely worse off than their parents generation.

  • dcomplex

    Lol should we have given it to Stormont? Dublin? Yer havin a laff bud.

  • dcomplex

    Unlikely, unless NI joins the Eurozone.

  • dcomplex

    Being strongly Europhile will attract people who elected Enoch Powell (UUP) and who elected Ian Paisley (“EU is a popish plot” DUP)?

  • dcomplex

    Unionists aren’t so mercenary as to give up their nationality for money. Shouldn’t the RoI rejoin the UK on that measure?

  • kensei

    Who are ‘Unionists’? There is no such species. There are just people who hold varying strength of Unionist views. Line up everyone in the 6 counties from the most Unionist to the most Nationalist. Somewhere along thay one people will weigh economic factors, or liberal politics or something else above their Unionism.

    The aim of the game is to build a coalition that pulls you one vote past 50% up that line. The EU referendum at least showed that it was theoretically possible to build that coalition. I don’t doubt the difficulty of that task, in a UI ref context. But if you are going to do you need to think about people rather than ists.

  • kensei

    Nope, but I’m not going for those votes. I’m going for the Europhile voters of around Greater Belfast and other urban ornafflient areas. Nationalism is already very, very strongly Europhile.

    We don’t need every Unionist. We just need 50%+1. The EU referendum also demonstrated the extreme difficulty of going against that sort of democratic mandate.

    By the by, if I wanted to go for the conservative Unionist vote, I’d hammer the point that a UI is basically the only mechanism for keeping abortion off the island for the foreseeable future, and then repeatedly ask how many dead babies the Union is worth. They’d still not vote for a UI, but they’d feel guilty about it.

  • dcomplex

    I vote for a united British Isles, and if the Irish don’t like it, too bad.

  • dcomplex

    Good luck mate, you’re gonna need it.

  • Skibo

    Well at least when it was in the hands of the EU, we had a fair idea what would happen the agriculture payments and the working agreements. I wouldn’t trust the Tories with either.

  • dcomplex

    You are just mad because SF was using the EU handouts to buy weapons.

  • Brendan Heading

    Declan, saying “look how many reports we wrote” doesn’t really cut it against the backdrop that existed as of the assembly election – namely the nationalist vote dropping to 37%.

    Sinn Féin have had a solid 10-15 years as the largest nationalist party in NI; what have they actually accomplished beyond rhetoric and paperwork ? We’ve entered a situation where people from unionist backgrounds start to openly question their allegience to the UK, and nationalists are at a loss to actually harness this and channel it into support for reunification.

  • Declan Doyle

    That’s all a bit vague to be honest and in fairness I think it is perfectly clear now what PBP feel about the border and where their voters are coming from so looking at the election results recently that nationalist shrinkage is not as bad as first thought.

    You are asking SF deliver in a forced marriage which is difficult for all parties involved. 15 years is no more than a blub in time when you consider the journey nationalism embarked on over 150 years ago.

    Unionism is in a strong place but as others have pointed out it is very much the last hefty gasp of a dying man. Time waits for no man as the saying goes and time has delivered huge positives in terms of the Irish dimensions of the North, the destruction of the Unionist state, the despatchment of the RUC, UDR and British Army, the improvements in education and standards of living for nationalists, and the very peace itself. Not bad going. With a cunning plan in your pocket and the patience of Job; the prize is worth the sweat.

  • Brendan Heading

    I don’t see a plan to get a united Ireland closer anywhere there Declan.

  • Declan Doyle

    The point I am trying to make is that we as a nation have never won anything easily. It has always been a struggle to move forward be it the penal laws, land reform, home rule, independence, the destruction of the Unionist state, Irish involvement in northern affairs…. everything has been a battle lasting years, decades of pushing.

    Now, SF is a very lonely voice in the cause of Irish Unity. The SDLP are willing but unable while the southern political establishment terrified of SF growth in the South are struggling to Isolate the party.

    FF is hiding in the bushes for sure but FG are lost in the woods. FF have the ability to come good if popular support for unity grows. But triggering that growth is tricky when only the Shinners are doing the shouting. That is why nationalists need to jump at the opportunity presented by Brexit and the possible succession of Scotland. Together these two events could be the spark needed to ignite a real discussion and force everybody to take Irish Unity as a proposal seriously.

  • Brendan Heading

    I understand your responses just fine Declan. You think it’s everyone else’s fault for not joining with SF.

    I still don’t see a plan to reunite Ireland and win a referendum.

  • Declan Doyle

    Lol, ok fair enough.

  • Skibo

    What a completely stupid comment. Is this the level of political thinking from within the Unionist community. My God we are all DOOMED!

  • dcomplex

    You are just mad I am exposing the truth of low nationalist malice.

  • Skibo

    No, not mad, I just have sympathy for you. I assume you cannot think for yourself, have never met too many Nationalists, probably believes the world is only 6000 years old and homosexuality can be cured by a few evenings on a professors sofa!

  • dcomplex

    Not one of those things is true.

  • Keith

    There are a lot of daft people around, but it’s a bit of a stretch to suggest that any comment from any individual is representative of a whole community.