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.

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