No Unionist electoral pact

Despite the best efforts of the Orange Order, there is no prospect of an electoral pact between the two main Unionist parties. All eyes now roll west to Fermanagh South Tyrone. Is this effectly a bye for Michelle Gildernew to retain the seat for Sinn Fein? Or does the DUP think there’s a chance they can take it alone?

  • Will

    Michael,
    I’m not going to start going down the thread of ‘quality’ of council candidates when I dont know a thing about them – that wasnt and isnt the issue. I get the feeling that mysteriously to you all UUP candidates are going to be a cross between Edward Carson and Einstein and DUP candidates will all have been intellectual rejects who cant add 2+2.

    What I was saying was that you cant advocate a pact in unionist constituencies for Westminster because parties ‘tearing strips off each other’ would somehow affect the united candidate in another constituency when there will be equally bitterly fought campaigns between council candidates – often on exactly the same issues as the Westminster campaign.

    You have singularly failed to put forward an argument which shows that the UUP’s proposal to give all sitting MPs is anything more than self-preservation.

    As for Nigel Dodds and North Belfast – look at the figures, the UUP vote had dropped like a stone there. In North Belfast at the last Assembly election the UUP managed to get the sum total of just under 3,000 people to vote for them. Lets remember, this is a constituency where there is a unionist majority and a unionist MP yet the UUP can only get less than 3,000 votes. The DUP can manage to get 2,500 votes in West Belfast and there is a considerably smaller pool of people to pick from thre!!

    I’m more than happy for the UUP to run in North Belfast – I dont believe for a second that it raises the possibility of the seat going to Sinn Fein or any other nationalist. The SDLP vote may well drop further in that constituency, but it would have to reduce by another 50% or more before it would endanger Dodds, even if the UUP vote stayed the same (which is unlikely to happen as more people will probably vote for him now as the hard-working encumbent). Alban Maginnis isnt the world’s best politician, but even I dont think the SDLP vote is going to go to ground there yet.

    Obviously I cant put emphasis or tone of voice on typed words, but for some reason I get a sense of glee when you seem to think that Nigel Dodds could be beaten and the seat go to Sinn Fein.

    I do agree that all parties do have some level of ‘core vote’ that will stick to them through thick and thin. However, that isnt a perminent vote and if you give people enough reason to then they will eventually stay stay at home and vote for no-one and if you continue with that strategy then even some of that previously core vote will eventually switch to you opponents!

    A lot of previously core UUP votes left the UUP in 1998 because of the Agreement but at that stage they couldnt bring themselves to vote for the DUP – I believe though that a combination of the UUP persisting with the failures of Trimble and the DUP showing itself as a party which could sensibly govern and sensibly conduct itself in negotiations led more and more people to eventually move over to the DUP. Take Jeffery Donaldson as a prime example. Whatever people say about him and demonise him now, a few years ago there was no-one who emitomised the ‘core’ Ulster Unionist than Jeffrey Donaldson – he even persisted trying to change the UUP from within long after I and many others had given in and moved to the DUP (and I’m just a voter!). Even someone like him has moved to the DUP and I think he represents a lot of people like him who, a decade ago, never countenanced that they would even regularly vote for DUP candidates let alone join the party!

    That is not a criticism of the DUP however, it is praise and recognition that it managed to subsume what I believe is the vast majority of the centre ground within unionism. And that is now why the DUP is in the position where it can beat the UUP in somewhere like Fermanagh – the final move of Donaldson and Foster etc to the DUP gave the green light to even more people that the DUP were now the main party within unionism and were no longer the party of protest which they were, or at least appeared to be in the past. Instead they are a party which is capable of leading unionism, negotiating for unionism and governing for unionism.

  • Will

    Michael,
    I happen to agree with you that the DUP will never be the sole unionist party – it probably isnt healty either to have a party which faces no challenge.

    However, the likely continued advance of the DUP and further UUP demise will leave Northern Ireland a little like the unionist battle in North Belfast – the UUP can still fight the election, but the DUP are the de facto sole unionist candidate.

  • davidbrew

    “Given a choise there are always those who will vote for us over you, theres circa 10,000 of them in North Antrim! Nigel is in trouble unless there is a pact there.” sayith Young Shilliday

    he certainly is, if he stands against Ian Paisley!!

    Of course the 10,000 UUP voters in North Antrim look like they too will be going to the garden centre on May 5th since North Antrim UUP aren’t able to find a candidate. Perhaps a pro-Agreement pact could have them voting for Sean Farren-or Philip McGuigan. :0)

  • Michael Shilliday

    DUP candidates will all have been intellectual rejects who cant add 2+2.

    Its a fair comment given that some of them can’t (and I can say that because I know some of them can’t read either).

    I will have no glee seeing Sinn Fein taking a seat of a Unionist (unlike some I could mention re 2001), but it is possible. And I have already offered a good reason to not have two unionists contest the same seat.

  • davidbrew

    oh BTW, Michael- look up the history of the Canadian Conservative Party if you want to see how a former party of Government can disappear because of its arrogant disregard for the electorate

  • Will

    Michael
    I dont necessarily disagree that there are a lot of muppet DUP councillors &/or candidates there – but probably no higher or lower a number/proportion than there are within the UUP, SDLP Sinn Fein or any other party out there. That is a fact of life – District Councils dont always attract the brightest and best, often its those who have been longest serving and attended most party meetings. A shame, and something which all parties should do to improve.

    However, it is a complete side issue to the topic in hand – handy for you as you cant give a good argument as to why Roy Beggs must be protected from the electorate.

  • Christopher Stalford

    Right enough:

    2,900 UUP votes in North Belfast in exchange for roughly 6,500 DUP votes in South Belfast. Seems fair.

  • Michael Shilliday

    I’m well aware of that. The Candian Liberals didn’t have Ian Paisley for a leader all the same.

  • Michael Shilliday

    One unsafe seat for another – thats right, it is fair.

  • Will

    Michael,
    Surely you have just highlighted how badly the UUP really are doing then if the DUP have managed to overtake them even with that nasty monster Ian Paisley as their leader.

    From your point of view then things can only get much much worse when eventually Ian Paisley isnt the leader of the DUP……

  • slug9987

    Serious question for the uninoist people here:

    How about tossing a coin on FST and competing on all the rest. South Belfast is not really at risk from a SF candidate.

  • davidbrew

    I’m well aware of that. The Candian Liberals didn’t have Ian Paisley for a leader all the same.

    …interestin. The UUP are now studying the fate of parties in meltdown. Belated recognition of their impending fate?

    BTW whatever you do, don’t have your leader pose nude like the hapless Kim Campbell ( tastefully done or not)…though come to think of it, the threat of Trimble au natural might be the only thing that could intimidate Unionist voters to vote for him. :0(

  • Will

    slug9987,
    Toss of a coin has some merits for Fermanagh- at least it would be an infinately more fair way to get a candidate than the UUP’s proposals.

    The S. Belfast thing highlights another issue – the UUP sell their proposals as an ‘anti Sinn Fein’ pact but as you point out, it is very unlikely that Sinn Fein can win South Belfast.

    What I believe it is and should be is a pact to increase unionist representation. Again the UUP are trying to put a misleading spin on something.

  • Michael Shilliday

    …interestin. The UUP are now studying the fate of parties in meltdown. Belated recognition of their impending fate?

    I’m a politics student, whats your excuse?

  • Indeed

    having just read this entire thread, there’s a few points i’d like to make on the subject:

    1. Anbody that reckons the UUP should run in both FST & SB is either naive to the situation in these constituencies, instilled with arrogance as a UUP member, or frnakly been too much on the wacky backy

    2. A poll in the Impartial Reporter wouldn’t work. It should really just be called Reporter!

    3. As someone who lives in FST, it is without doubt that the DUP is the largest party, with more and more people joining the party week by week. European election results show the party support quite evidently. How could the UUP run an election in FST – are the 90 year blue rinse brigade going to shuttle up poles putting posters up and tread the canvassing trail? I think not. Problem is there isn’t anybody else left….

    4. Arlene Foster may be criticised by some for switching party, but Tom Elliott isn’t Mr Popular in the constituency for switching from being anti to pro agreement. Tom seemed to try to woo both crowds depending who he was talking to – now it’s quite clear and he should be ready for a backlash. A perception held by many that becoming Agriculture Spokesman for his beloved UUP overcame his principles hasn’t endeared him to many unionists in FST.

    5. Shilliday brings in the matter of candidate ability. FST….need i say more

    6. While answering (5), Shilliday, please do answer the question we’ve all been waiting to be answered – why a pact in U. Bann, E Antrim etc?

  • Michael Shilliday

    I’ve answered that twice, read the thread again.

    Tom is the most popular unionist in FST, that is electoral fact, Arelen coldn’t beat him when she was in the same party, she wont now that shes not.

  • davidbrew

    what did your studies tell you about why the Progressive Conservatives collapsed Michael?

  • Indeed

    Ah but you fail to take into account that this is a new Tom Elliott the electorate see before them.

    Yes folks may i introduce the new Tom Elliott.
    Previously a leading figure in FSt anti-agreement circles, Tom encountered a road to damascus coversion ( or else he was just offered the Agriculture Spokesman post by JC*) and WHAM BAM…he’s a pro-agreement man.
    Those that voted for Tom as an anti-agreement candidate are eager to tell Me Elliott what they think of his conversion.
    Arelene Foster has always made her principles the most important thing in her poltical career, the electorate see that and they will reward her in May with the biggest Unionist vote in FST.

    So now the people decide – vote for the politician who put principle over party, or vice versa.

    * After using a biblical analogy i should point out the JC i refer to is James Cooper

  • Michael Shilliday

    Tells me that the Liberals didn’t have Ian Paisley as a leader. Tell me David, why didn’t you join the DUP in the first place? After all, whats changed in the DUP?

  • Christopher Stalford

    Nothing then Michael. Thats good to know.

  • alex s

    In the past Ken Maguiness’s electoral strength lay in the fact that though nationalist voters didn’t support his politics they liked him as a person, he was to put it simply ‘good company’ in an area of the province where such things count, also you knew were you stood with him, he spoke his mind, another quality that was popular, the same cannot be said of the ‘Ice Queen’

  • Will

    Michael
    Yes, indeed you have told us twice that the UUP proposals were ‘anti-Sinn Fein’ proposals.

    Ok, that’s your answer. So maybe then you could explain how a pact in East Antrim stops or even hinders slightly Sinn Fein – and saying that you cant fight in one constituency if you are uniting in another just doesnt wash.

    As for the Foster vs Elliott popularity contest, I feel we are moving closer and closer to actually finding out that result on May 5th – and if it takes that result so that we can actually prove it then so be it.

    Indeed
    “* After using a biblical analogy i should point out the JC i refer to is James Cooper”

    Aye, but has anyone told James Cooper? 😉

  • Will

    Michael
    “After all, whats changed in the DUP?”

    But I thought the DUP had backtracked on every single policy they ever supported? We can either be unchanging dinosaurs or we can be u-turners who have backtracked but we cannot be both. At least sort out one line of attack and stick to it!

  • Michael Shilliday

    We Will? We? I thought you were a DUP voter, not member………

  • alex s

    It would be silly to suggest the DUP backtrack on everything, but they have done on the Good Friday Agreement

  • slug9987

    Any comments on my idea of tossing a coin for FST and competing for the rest?

  • Will

    Michael,
    Well, as I am arguing the DUP’s point on this I use ‘we’ in that context.

    Nice try though – not that I have anything against joining the DUP, just never got down to it….. Now that you mention it though I might just try to get my hands on an application form.

    Alex,
    One might be tempted to take lectures on u-turns from many people, but certainly not an ulster unionist.

  • alex s

    Will, in the December talks with Sinn Fein how many changes were made to the Good Friday Agreement, remember this is the same agreement your party promised to SMASH

  • alex s

    Will to save you the trouble of answering this is the package of concessions the DUP agreed to in the talks before Christmas, talks that to quote Ian Paisley on the 8th Dec “have resolved issues in relation to all aspects of the comprehensive agreement”.

    British MEPs and MPs being allowed to sit in the Irish Parliament with speaking rights, and no doubt voting rights in the future. Agreement to devolve Policing and Justice and opening the way for a Sinn Fein Minister to take charge.

    The acceptance of two new all Ireland bodies, with the possibility of even more, and finally not one change in any of the Good Friday Agreements thirty pages, so much for the DUP’s ‘Fair Deal’!

    This is what Gerry Adams had to say on the 7th December, “I believe that Sinn Fein can say yes to the political package…In addition to defending the Good Friday Agreement, we have made significant progress across a range of other important issues.”

  • Will

    alex
    yawn yawn…. you have tried these before and no one believed you.

    Speaking rights in the Dail (such as they are) were proposed something like 3 years ago and were of so little consequence that neither the UUP or DUP raised a fuss about them then, dont see why now – especially given that they wernt actually part of the talks and were never raised – which has been confirmed!

    Alex, nice to see that you prefer to divert this conversations down side-streets instead of discussing why David Trimble and Roy Beggs should be protected from the unionist electorate!!

  • alex s

    Will, firstly, when speaking rights were proposed by Sinn Fein the UUP agreed to look at them, they subsquently did and said no, the DUP said yes.

    Secondly, how many ‘root and branch’ changes to the Good Friday Agreement did the DUP achieve in the recent talks with Sinn Fein

  • amarillo

    Prediction: Arlene Foster will beat Tom Elliott in the election.

    Naive Ulster Unionists need to address these points:

    1/ How long are you going to let grudges and personal animosity dictate decisions. Everyone but Trimble Ulster Unionists can see that Arlene is a talented and articulate representative, much more so than Tom Elliott.

    2/ Why do you think it is acceptable for a lot of traditional unionists to grit their teeth and vote for Ken Maginnis for years despite how offenive he was to their views but pro-Agreement UUP supporters should not undergo any discomfort?

    3/ Everyone but Trimblite UUP members acknowledge that Arlene would have won last time. Why can they not see what the rest of Fermanagh and South Tyrone can – Michael Shilliday is naive to think that the vote in 2003 predict a result – Arlene and Tom will go head to head and the votes of the other three unionist candidates will come into play.

    4/ How can a party with 16% in the latest poll (even less than their paltry European showing)dictate to the biggest party and want to run everywhere?

    5/ The UUP propose supporting Kieran Deeny in West Tyrone. Leaving aside his ambiguous position on the Union, the UUP will therefore be supportng Kieran Deeny in West Tyrone, a one issue candidate in favour of retaining a hospital in Tyrone, whilst supporting Tom Elliott in F&S Tyrone who is favour of closing the hospital in Omagh and retaining the one in Enniskillen. Typicl Ulster Unionist consistency then.

  • davidbrew

    David, why didn’t you join the DUP in the first place? After all, whats changed in the DUP?

    Well young Shilliday-I’m flattered by your interest, particularly as a student of politics. I am a right wing Unionist,as for many years was the Ulster Unionoist party, wiiht leaders such as Ross, Powell,Molyneaux and before them Brookeborough etc. But it was also the party which appealed to the centre, and accommodated people like Ken Maginnis and John Taylor, because the right wing didn’t ever purge or ram its views down the throats of the others

    Now the UUP cannot accommodate such views as mine, because it is objectively more Liberal than the UPNI or even Alliance in the 1970s. And the puges show that the least liberal thing in the world is a Liberal in power.

    For many years the DUP too was actually a more liberal party, despite the hype. Now, it has moved to centre stage of Unionism drawing in those diplaced Ulster Unionists, including people from the centre who simply cannot stand the clique running your party. My view is that Unionism should be as broad as possible in composition but led sensibly from the right, and the DUP, for all its limitations, is the only party able to do that