UUP wins Larne by election…

Interesting byelection result from East Antrim. Andy Wilson (a Slugger alumnis), has taken a council seat for the UUP. The turnout was very low, 19.28% as opposed to 59.38% last time. But the UUP emphasises that low turnouts in the past has hurt them. Their share of the vote was marginally up to 39.11% to the DUP’s 37%. The real difference came on the second count with the UUP 856 and the DUP at 678. They managed to soak up the lion’s share of transfers.

It’s a relatively small story (the seat is in a UUP heartland), but it comes at a good time for Trimble’s party. Roy Beggs, the sitting MP, is expected to face a critical fight to defend his Westminster seat next year against one the DUP’s strongest challengers, Sammy Wilson.

This result will not unduly worry Wilson’s campaigners, but the UUP will take some heart that they’ve been able to ‘stop the rot’ in their own core vote in Larne and they may have some local momentum to build upon.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Isn’t it weird the way that dumping seems to play such a key role in elections in Larne these days(!)

    ;o)

  • willowfield

    When you open the UUP site, the title bar says “Ulster Unionists Party”.

    I always thought the big “Ulster Unionists Party” sign on Michael McGimpsey’s office was a mistake, but perhaps not!

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Yeah, I wondered about that too.

    Even if the ‘s’ is supposed to be there and isn’t a mistake, the lack of an apostrophe means it is still incorrect.

  • Warm Storage

    I’m proud of you, Gonzo.

  • Butterknife

    I take pride in the fact that my own use (sic) of the English language is prompting all to take notice of grammar usage etc.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    :o)

  • Michael Shilliday

    Sammy Wilson’s sense of humor is brilliant. He reckons on the DUP site that losing a by election clearly equates to him being the next MP for East Antrim!

  • Davros

    UUP Wins Larne

    The Booby Prize ?

  • ulsterman

    This is a bad result for the DUP. The worry for us is that if Papists vote tactically the the DUP sweep at the General Election is at risk.

    The DUP must keep an eye on Papists and Vatican directives.

    Despite the loss we march forth to greatness,

    God Save The Queen.

  • Michael Shilliday

    You’re mad enough to be Paisley Jnr.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    19.28% turnout even for a by election is very depressing. Given that the register is likely to show another fall in those eligible to vote it seems that the ballot box is not as appealing as it should be.
    Given that it was a UUP victory the DUP election machine might not be as vaunted as once suspected.
    Most people would agree that if this was an SDLP / SF contest and it was a SF target seat then the turnout would not have been 19.28%

  • Michael Shilliday

    Unfortunatly people just aren’t as scared of a UUP election agent as a SF one. Very strange I think…

  • ulsterman

    Do not despair fellow Ulstermen,

    The UUP victory will be short-lived.

    Sammy Wilson will yet ride to victory.

    The by-election should be taken by Protestants as a warning.

    God Save The Queen.

  • Mick Fealty

    Michael, Pat’s was a serious point. It would make for better conversation if you could answer in kind? UM, any chance of cooling the purple prose?

  • Will

    Pat
    “Given that it was a UUP victory the DUP election machine might not be as vaunted as once suspected.”

    I cant imagine that people in the DUP didnt have other things on their mind at the minute.

    It was a UUP victory, but then again, it was a UUP seat, and in Roy Beggs back yard (if he hasnt converted that into a dump too). It wasnt one of the DUP strongest areas in East Antrim, and while i doubt they would be overly happy with the result, I dont think Sammy Wilson will be sticking his head into the gas cooker because of it either.

    I would imagine the DUP ‘election machine’ will be putting in a little more effort for the General Election than for a 6 month term by-election. But I’m happy for the UUP ‘election machine’ (now there’s a contradiction in terms) to claim this is a massive vindication of their stance.

    Isnt that Lemon (name and description) now their Director of Elections…. Enough said I think.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Michael,
    do the UUP even have election agents? Alex Kane stated that some election candidates will be lucky to have half a dozen canvassers next year.
    It’s all right trying to be smart with me, but will have any effect on Sammy Wilson?
    Funny that we have now moved on from SF stealing votes to SF election agents scaring voters to the polls. Strange time of the year for ostriches.

    Will,

    point taken, but it seems it looked like a lost opportunity for the DUP to test their election machine. Surely all their workers aren’t hanging around Downing St.

  • Will

    Pat,
    It possibly could count as an opportunity lost by the DUP rather than some huge victory by the UUP.

    It seems to me that with a turnout as low as it was, that it came down to who was best able to mobilise their close family and friends. Maybe the UUP candidate had more cousins in the area or something.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Sinn Fein are the best party in NI at getting their vote out. If fear isn’t a factor at all, I’d be very surprised.

  • Michael Shilliday

    And as for Alex’s comments, I think he may be better employed getting canvassers out rather than publically critising their numbers.

  • Snazzy

    I think that there a few things that makes this result more significant than a 20% turnout in a local byelection.

    Firstly the profile of the succesful candidate. In his 30s (Not an old man in a grey suit). Secondly and even more significantly the fact that it occurred in Larne.

    At the recent assembly and previous by elections it was the East Newtownabbey (Jordanstown) end of East Antrim that proved decisive for Mr Beggs.

    For the DUP to lose a straight fight with the UUP in Larne will have suprised a lot of people as shown by Sammy Wilson’s comments on the DUP web site. With the DUP seemingly about to rubber stamp the GFA it really is interesting times in which we live.

    A wing of the UUP proved that you cannot out DUP the DUP. Maybe the DUP are going to find to their equal electoral cost that they cannot out UUP the UUP.

    If you build a moderate power sharing consensus are the electrate likely to trust the 5 minute moderate over the proven ones.

  • Sherlock

    At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter how you try and cut this particular cookie—the UUP beat the DUP. That is the media version of events and that is what the 99% who don’t give a stuff about nuances and excuses will believe.

    The low turnout would suggest an almost total indifference as to which of the unionist parties was going to win. That said, it should concern the DUP that, on this occasion at least, it couldn’t deliver a victory.

    I like Andy Wilson. He is exactly the sort of candidate and public representative that the UUP needs at this stage.

    I wouldn’t get too excited because I don’t believe that there is anything like enough information to make predictions about what may happen in six-eight months time. At best, it’s a warning bell for the DUP to tone down the triumphalist expectations, and a wake up call for the UUP to select good, young, articulate candidates.

    Best wishes,

    Alex. Kane

  • willowfield

    The low turnout would suggest an almost total indifference as to which of the unionist parties was going to win.

    Or – more likely, in my opinion – an almost total indifference towards a tinpot council like Larne.

  • Peter Brown

    It is somewhat ironic to me as an elected representative that Michael is on this website hailing this victory as the turning point for the UUP and death knell for the DUP (undeniably a good result – wait for 20% turnout next May though!)while using the term councillor as a term of abuse in the Newsletter letters column today and apparently calling for the previously perfect and unrenegotiable Belfast Agreement to be renegotiated. Apparently he is no longer happy with the UUPs results of 108 Assembly members and 11 departments – what has brought about this Damascus Road conversion?

  • Butterknife

    A party in opposition may have everything to achieve but the party in power has everything to prove: the DUP are not fulfilling their often lamented promises and covenants to the Protestant people: e.g. Smash Sinn Fein?

  • davidbrew

    Even if the ‘s’ is supposed to be there and isn’t a mistake, the lack of an apostrophe means it is still incorrect.

    particularly if the apostrophe is after the ‘s’!
    After next year Ulster Unionist’s party might be closer to the truth

    BTW congrats to Andy who is a decent bloke but hopefully doesn’t think he has kickstarted a revival-it hardly even equates to a dead cat bounce

  • unionist_observer

    “It is somewhat ironic to me as an elected representative that Michael is on this website hailing this victory as the turning point for the UUP and death knell for the DUP”

    I don’t know how you are getting that out of what Mr Shilliday was saying, is that perhaps what you want to hear rather than what you are hearing?

  • George

    An electoral victory is a victory, no matter how small. It is often said the UUP voter is the most apathetic so the win gains in significance by the fact it was such a low turnout.

    “Sinn Fein are the best party in NI at getting their vote out. If fear isn’t a factor at all, I’d be very surprised.”

    Michael, SF aren’t with them in the polling booth when they cast their so your fear factor doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

  • George

    should read “when they cast their vote”

  • PS

    Michael, you really should stop embarrassing yourself. Even if SF did ‘scare’ people to the polls (perhaps their clipboards are larger than other party’s) then surely if people had gone to the polls because of intimidation, they wouldn’t vote for the party that had intimidated them in the secrecy of the polling booth.

    Manners and good grace are espicially emphasised to SF election agents when canvassing.

  • Michael Shilliday

    It is somewhat ironic to me as an elected representative that Michael is on this website hailing this victory as the turning point for the UUP and death knell for the DUP (undeniably a good result – wait for 20% turnout next May though!)

    I said no such thing – I pointed out that a by election loss hardly makes Sammy a cert now does it?

    while using the term councillor as a term of abuse

    Again you are mistaken, I said that MLAs are glorified councillors, not abusive at all to councillors, or indeed MLAs, it is an obversation of their role.

    in the Newsletter letters column today and apparently calling for the previously perfect and unrenegotiable Belfast Agreement to be renegotiated. Apparently he is no longer happy with the UUPs results of 108 Assembly members and 11 departments – what has brought about this Damascus Road conversion?

    I have never once said the Belfast Agreement is perfect or unrenegotiable, I have never been happpy with an Assembly larger than the United States Senate.

  • fair_deal

    As much as I enjoy election results and analysis I don’t think local government by-elections have been a good indicator of future performance.

    Since this process began both prior and post agreement there have been conflicting results at a local level – the DUP winning and losing in by-elections but there overall vote in local government and on a consituency basis going up.

    UUP domination of local government will be the hardest nut for the DUP to crack. You need a very high percentage swing to get a seat to move in a PR election on a constituency basis – to repeat such a swing in every DEA is a tougher task. Also as far as I can see the DUP lack enough good candidates.

    Furthermore, some of the DUP’s statements on future electoral performance are becoming over-complacent. The electorate should never be taken for granted – an important lesson the DUP should learn from the UUP.

  • willowfield

    Can’t believe a by-election to Larne council has generated so much interest!

  • Christopher Stalford

    The losers in this election are the Alliance Party. Both the DUP and the Ulster Unionists can take heart from the result.

    One observation: in 1999/2000, I think, the DUP won a by-election in the heart of Lagan Valley by a very convincing margin. People claimed that it showed the UUP i.e. Jeffrey was going to face a tough time come Westminster. What happened? Donaldson increased his majority. The lesson is that council by-elections don’t provide the best indicator of how things are going to go at a Westminster poll.

    Having said that, if Sam Wilson came within 70 votes of defeating Beggs in 2001, the DUP has captured three seats in 2003 and the political tide still seems to be going the way of the DUP, I think its hard to see the UUP holding on to this seat in May.

    Then again….

    Michael

    “And as for Alex’s comments, I think he may be better employed getting canvassers out rather than publically critising their numbers.”

    I always laugh when Ulster Unionists lecture DUP people about not having minds of their own. Clearly diversity of opinion and free-thinking are not welcome concepts in the modern Ulster Unionist Party.

    Why not go the whole hog and just through Alex out for not be pro-Trimble enough?

  • Christopher Stalford

    through – throw D’oh!

  • Belfast Gonzo

    I thought Alex was now trying to throw Trimble out!

  • Christopher Stalford

    Gonzo

    The position as I understand is that he was Trimble to stay as leader, but a cull of the inner circle of advisors. Whatever his view, Michael’s complete refusal to countenance the state that his party is in and to vilify Alex for pointing out the obvious demonstrates a loyalty to Trimble that is both illogical and detrimental to the interests of his own party.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Chris, you are very good at completly ignoring very important words in sentences. Opinion and its expression is fine, in the correct forum.

  • Nicholas Whyte

    Hmm. My take on it: UUP vote up; DUP vote up by slightly more. A sufficient swing between the two parties to get the DUP the Westminster seat (I think). UUP glad to get 39% where they got 55% in 1997 and 66% in 1993.

    It does lend some support to the Trimble-ite view that their borrowing of Alliance votes in 2001 and more so 2003 may stick a bit more than might have been expected. The UUP therefore may not lose all their seats at next year’s Westminster election.

  • Peter Brown

    I have never once said the Belfast Agreement is perfect or unrenegotiable, I have never been happpy with an Assembly larger than the United States Senate.

    Now now no publically criticising party policy or I’ll have to ask yu to resign and joijn the DUP or have you never done that either ;-p

  • davidbrew

    The UUP therefore may not lose all their seats at next year’s Westminster election.

    But then again they may
    As our resident expert, Nicholas is that scenario a possibility? or perhaps you believe Mr Trimble’s claim at their conference that they’ll win 10!

  • unionist_observer

    why not David? Dear knows what will have happened between now and May.

  • Peter Brown

    A sufficient swing between the two parties to get the DUP the Westminster seat (I think).

    So Michael an objective observer disagrees with you – what about resigning for this reason as well?