A lesson on vote splitting

I am aware that in my 15 offerings thus far, I am yet to criticise anyone other than the DUP and Alliance. I can defend this by saying that the Sinn Fein campaign has been very quiet in these fairly early days (as Brian Feeney pointed out at Slugger goes live earlier, they always do) and the only significant event in it has been so laughable that I felt confident to rely on Mick’s impartial reporting to illustrate that.

That said, I am not going to start into Sinn Fein or the SDLP just yet, mainly due to this drivel from the DUP press office.

The Ulster Unionist Party seems intent on splitting the vote in North Belfast as they have in Fermanagh & South Tyrone and South Belfast.

Jim Fitzpatrick on the Politics Show last Sunday used the term “unionist cannibalism” while interviewing Jeffrey Donaldson. This is a nice way of putting what Michael McGimpsey has called the DUP’s “scorched earth policy”, and in a way it is a better way of putting it, as it requires no knowledge of Russian history.

Let’s go through this for the benefit of the less intelligent amongst us. The Ulster Unionist Party holds South Belfast and has done for many years. The DUP tried to accuse Martin Smyth of vote splitting in South Belfast at the time of the 1982 by election (I’ve seen the literature) yet we held the seat, the DUP were roundly defeated into 3rd and haven’t emerged since. It is the DUP who are splitting the vote, yet I am sure that Michael will hold the seat for Unionism.

Fermanagh & South Tyrone was demonstrated quite clearly in 2001 and 2003 as being far from a DUP seat. We were a full 10% ahead in 2003 and 20% ahead in 2001. It is the DUP who are splitting the vote and I am sure that this will usher in another term of no representation for Fermanagh & South Tyrone.

The Ulster Unionist Party is not splitting the vote in North Belfast. On 2001 figures, it would require both Unionist parties to be on equal terms before a sufficient split is caused. This also holds on 2003 figures (with some tinkering given that the DUP vote was probably much more heavily fractured by the STV vote than the UUP’s).

Again from Slugger goes live (don’t remember which individual I’m quoting), the DUP don’t care if South Belfast falls to the SDLP, so long as the UUP doesn’t get it. They can live with McDonnell being the MP, but not McGimpsey. Is this leadership that’s working? Is this rejecting push over unionism? I think not.

Here endeth the lesson.

  • Intelligence Insider

    Well posted young man, the DUP are quite clearly the only party that are splitting Unionist seats and giving the pan-nationalist front a chance of winning . Fermanagh/South Tyrone and South Belfast clearly show that the DUP would rather have a provo as M.P than a Unionist.

  • Gum

    I think it works both ways – seems the Shinners would rather the DUP take South Belfast than McDonnell! A DUP/SF pact anyone?!

  • beano; EverythingUlster.com

    I can see why the DUP think they have a better chance, particularly in FST, but I don’t think they can claim to be the party to unite Unionism until they gain a larger share of the vote in either Local Government or Assembly elections and should not split the vote where this would cause the seat to be lost until this point.

    From all the electionerring so far, and the HUGE efforts put into attacking the Ulster Unionists and Trimble in particular, I agree that the DUP would rather see the seat go to a nationalist (even SF) than a UUP member, simply because they want to annihilate the UUP so that next time (or the time after) they will have all the Unionist votes be default.

    If I do vote for McGimpsey on the day, this will be a large part of my reason for doing so; that and the fact Spratt has hardly said a word since being announced as the candidate (until today where he criticised the SDLP for criticising Sinn Fein’s policy on policing – good work).

  • beano; EverythingUlster.com

    With an even split, I’ve reported tonight that I think a single candidate nationalist could have taken Upper Bann too, going by figures from previous elections. 2001 – seat was won with 33%. Total nationalist vote: 38%. Not a cert, but definitely possible with an even split.

    Not sure how this would sit with the SDLP though, since they actually have major policy differences with SF (eg policing).

  • Chris Gaskin

    I don’t support pacts, it stinks of gerrymandering

    Let the electorate decide or change the way we elect people eg PR

  • Young Fogey

    Ohmigod! I agree with Chris Gaskin 100%!

  • Chris Gaskin

    Don’t be shocked YF, it’s the first step towards becoming a shinner 😉

  • Young Fogey

    NEVER!

  • Davros

    Don’t be shocked YF, it’s the first step towards becoming a shinner 😉

    Hold on a mo – we agreed a couple of days ago that YOU were heading towards a bowler 😉

  • Chris Gaskin

    “Hold on a mo – we agreed a couple of days ago that YOU were heading towards a bowler ;)”

    No we didn’t, on Balrog I discussed the possibility that I would turn Protestant but never a Bowler 😉

  • Davros

    Hmmm- I’ll have to go back and study what was said !

    Oíche mhaith 😉

  • Chris Gaskin

    Davros

    “Hmmm- I’ll have to go back and study what was said !”

    Ná nocht d’fhiacla go bhféadair an greim do bhreith 😉

    Oíche mhaith

  • ctron

    Getting the people associated with campaigns to blog was, on the face of it, a good idea. I think this post shows why it has failed. I have never read more bitterness in my life than the posts of Mr Shilliday, well apart from Michael McGimpsey that is.

    At least the other political bloggers show semblance of balance – maybe these posts are a symptom of the increasing UUP desperation?

  • vespasian

    I have to say from what I have seen the DUP campaign is not against SF and Republicans it is a personal attack on the UUP leadership and seems from my memory of events to be full of lies.

    Their is barely a cigarette paper between the policies of the UUP and the DUP on the major NI issues I think that that shows the DUP’s true motivation in politics, it is first and foremost about the promotion of the DUP not about the representation of the Unionist people.

    Stormont is but a dream for anyone unless the parties here are all lying about what they will do after the election but then would that really be news?

  • yerman

    Michael
    So you really believe that the successor to Cecil the Terrible is going to wow the voters of North Belfast.

    At least the DUP havent been putting out ‘anonymous’ leaflets having a pop at other parties. Any attacks being run by the DUP are quite up front and open.

    Desperate doesnt quite sum up the UUP campaign. If they’ve resorted to attacking absolutely anything the DUP say and going behindbacks to have a go at the Alliance Party then it seems the policy is just one of scattergun desperation.

    Its all so decent isnt it!

  • Peter the Goat

    If you want bitterness then i refer to Ian Paisley’s comments about seeing David Trimble in an electric chair etc in the Newsletter a few days back. This same man has assaulted a reporter live on TV and told all that any member of his party who talked to Sinn Fein would be thrown out of the DUP – thats 90% of the DUP wiped out then:) *Horay*

    Its been said that God takes the best young – if so it explains his old age.

  • yerman

    Peter,
    We have the Liberal Democrats talking of ‘decapitation’ – is there a significant difference?

    I personally thought Ian Paisley’s language was a little on the colourful side. But at least he didnt put it all in an anonymous leaflet is some attempt to have a semi-detached attack on his opponents!

  • fair_deal

    Michael

    “Let’s go through this for the benefit of the less intelligent amongst us.”

    1. Thank you for such positivity to the bloggers on here. The level of debate is duly lowered.

    “The Ulster Unionist Party holds South Belfast and has done for many years.”

    1. The same could have been said of a number of constituencies in Northern Ireland in the recent past – East Londonderry, Strangford – does that ring any bells- or has the Ministry of Information aka Cunningham House not mention that in their history of election results.
    2. Let me explain Michael winning the last election does not mean you will win the present one. As you are a newcomer to politics you maybe haven’t realised the reason we hold these things called elections is so the electorate has the opportunity to change their mind about who represents them.
    3. ‘Has done for many years’ – Nice phraseology to overcome the fact it was not always a UUP seat. Bradford won it as Vanguard.

    The DUP tried to accuse Martin Smyth of vote splitting in South Belfast at the time of the 1982 by election (I’ve seen the literature) yet we held the seat, the DUP were roundly defeated into 3rd and haven’t emerged since.

    1. Thank you for the ancient history lesson. This is the 2005 general election not the 1982 by-election. In 23 years things can change. The boundaries of the constituency certainly have.
    2. Both parties have accused one another of this down through the years. Let he who is without sin throw the first stone.
    3. In 2005 Martin Smyth is confident in the ability of Jimmy Spratt, the DUP candidate, to be a superb MP. Has he made a similar comment about McGimpsey?

    It is the DUP who are splitting the vote, yet I am sure that Michael will hold the seat for Unionism.

    1. If you are so confident then why waste the time on a rambling self-justifying blog like this.

  • beano; EverythingUlster.com

    I still maintain that Spratt has been far too quiet, and the opinion of Martin Smyth (came to a debate with Malachai O’Doherty when I was still in school, and was not very convincing even in front of an audience of school children) won’t change my mind.

  • JohnBoy

    Michael
    The air must be very thin up there on that high horse of yours.

    “”for the benefit of the less intelligent amongst us”

    Do you know how condescending that sounds?

    Surely no-one could accuse the UUP of arrogance?

    “Here endeth the lesson”

    If only it was ended for good!

  • Rebecca Black

    Gaskin

    Fermanagh/South Tyrone has been the scene of electoral pacts by not just unionists. Remember 1981 when the SDLP were “asked” to stand down to allow Bobby Sands a free run at it?

    pot, kettle, black.

  • Peter the goat

    I can understand why Micheal may come across as so arrogant for listening to bigotry and the kind of abuse that is common withing the DUP it would make anyone develop a think skin and develop a unique style.

  • Peter the goat

    I can understand why Micheal may come across as so arrogant for listening to bigotry and the kind of abuse that is common within the DUP it would make anyone develop a think skin and develop a unique style.

  • True Blue`

    well i didnt hear the gimp on the radio on sunday, but i did hear spratt!! so who is being quiet?

  • Keith M

    As has been point oout the DUP offered a pact to the UUP for South Belfast and Fermanagh South Tyrone. Showing his normal level of political astuteness Trimble chose not to accept it.

    As for who is splitting the vots, that is up to the electorate to decide. If the DUP are ahead of the UUP in both constituencies, then it is clearly the UUP who are the splitters.

  • beano; EverythingUlster.com

    The problem is who is ahead of who in either constituency in this year’s race has more than a hint of subjectiveness about it. The only hard evidence is the result of previous elections.

  • True Blue

    beano you cant go by the past. as pointed out there are a few seats that were uup that are now dup. we can only go by the last election and on 6th may then we can judge. if spratt beats the gimp will that mean that the uup will not stand against them the next time? as in your theory that would mean that they shouldnt.

  • Traditional Unionist

    the point is the spratt will lose and lose badly.

  • beano; EverythingUlster.com

    Possibly True Blue, if it looked like the seat might be lost to a nationalist. That said, the DUP weren’t prepared to stand aside for the greater good this time so I wouldn’t see the UUP doing it next.

  • Roger

    Another Anti DUP thread surprise surprise its now getting a little borring.

    Did the DUP not offer the UUP the chance of either running in FST or SB and the UUP refused.

    Didnt the UUP offer the DUP unwinnable seats in west Belfast and Mid Ulster and didnt the UUP say all unionists shouldnt run in nationlist controlled areas.

    The DUP have given the UUP a free run in FST for far too long leaving many DUP voters disenfranchised. And many DUP members and supporters put the good of the union 1st and voted for Cooper in the last election.

    Rebecca your right about the SDLP and its grubby little pact but nobody ever mentions it.

  • Comrade Stalin

    “I don’t support pacts, it stinks of gerrymandering”

    It’s funny how things turn around. Until relatively recently pacts were a major plank for Sinn Fein. During previous Westminster elections – certainly 1997 if not 2001 – Sinn Fein would call upon the SDLP to set up a pact. The DUP for years and years had an unspoken pact, they did not touch seats where the UUP were strong, eg North Belfast who had a diabolical and useless MP for years in the form of Cecil Walker.

    DUP and SF supporters who are giving the “electorate should decide” line (quite correctlh IMO) should cast an eye back on their own recent history.

  • Roger

    James Cooper said that there was clear and irrefutable evidence of electorial malpractice and that he was confident sinn feins victory would be short lived.

    Now the official line is BLAME THE DUP