Leaving it tight in Lagan Valley…

Ciaran Barnes on the hole left by Patricia Lewsley’s resignation. He’s tipping Tim Attwood as a likely SDLP candidate (though Brian Heading’s name has also been touted). Although it remains subject to a constituency selection meeting in January. Sinn Fein has been targeting the recently built nationalist Lagmore Estate, where we understand that they have been working hard to make sure voter registration is high. The SDLP key to victory last time was transfers in from other parts of Lisburn. They may need a candidate with a significantly higher profile both there and across the constituency than either of the two so far mentioned, if they are to take that last seat again.

Update: Tonight the UUP chose three candidates: Billy Bell (sitting MLA), Basil McCrea (former Westminster candidate) and Ronnie Crawford. James Baird was the one successful candidate. The Association was persuaded that the geographic reach would help maximise the UU vote, and enable them to take an extra seat.

  • Terry Doherty

    Amazing vote of no confidence in the SDLP by Ms Lewsley. Would bode ill for the party if there were many more 75k jobs going.

  • JD

    Attack of the Attwoods. With Alec under pressure in West Belfast you never know, but seriously these charactors have been a disaster for the SDLP in terms of strategy and tactics. Maybe Patricia Lewsley can do more as Childrens Commissioner to get play parks into Twinbrook/Poleglass than she, and the SDLP, ever did as an MLA.

  • Paddy D

    Patricia Lewsley got most of her votes from the middle class catholic population in Lisburn itself who would vote for anyone to avoid voting for Sinn Fein. It’s academic anyway, the new boundaries will almost surely spell the end of nationalist / republican republican in Lagan Valley.

  • Stamper

    The Belfast Lord Mayor Pat McCarthy has also been mentioned as a possibility. If I remember right, the internal committee report leaked by Eddie the Eagle Espie had the number of members in Lagan Valley at 10 or something crazy, so I imagine it will come down to whoever the leadership wants.

    Smart money therefore would probably be on Attwood.

    Does anyone know if those membership figures were right?

  • Jane Smith

    I don’t think Tim Attwood stands a chance with being parachuted in. If they do send him in it says more about the SDLP’s lack of good candidates that they have to scrape the barrel. Also it will confirm the creation of a Attwood dyansty ? Anyway a local rep is better than a paratrooper.Butler must be laughing all the way to the assembly.

  • Really impartial and honest journalism there…

    Mr Butler told the Andersonstown News he is not bothered who the SDLP stand in Lagan Valley as Sinn Féin is the only nationalist party capable of winning a seat.

    If Mr Butler ‘told’ the AN that why does the journo not put it in quotes? Subtle, very subtle.

  • Valenciano

    Butler will easily outpoll the SDLP, but whether he can get enough transfers to get elected is another matter. Right now it looks like 3 DUP, 1 UUP, a fifth seat between the UUP and the DUP and the last seat between Alliance, SDLP and SF with the latter having a slight edge. It really all depends on the battle between Alliance and SDLP as whoever stays ahead of the other will have a chance of overtaking the Shinners on transfers.

  • elvis parker

    I thought the number of members in LV was 4 actually!
    Parachuting is never a good idea but suppose they have no alternative

  • jane smith

    Given the shinners may trouble on their hands over policing some of their support may drop out. The Allaince may have other problems with their vote on the slip which could also be the reason why close dropped out. Any way somw Alliance voters amy decide to lend their vote to the SDLP to keep Butler out. A lot depends on who gets selected.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Tim Atwood would lose the seat, probably saving the Alliance seat. Brian Heading is the SDLP candidate who seems most likley to attract enough tranfers to keep it. Unlike most of his SDLP colleagues in Lisburn and beyond, he comes across as competant, sensible and not anywhere as SF lite as either the Attwoods.

    I could be wrong, but I can’t see any other SDLP candidate keeping the seat.

  • PaddyReilly

    I’m afraid I suspect some Unionist wishful thinking has gone into the predictions here. The Unionists won 4 seats in the last Assembly: they will win 4 in the next. How the other 2 are distributed between Alliance, SDLP and Sinn Féin remains to be seen.

  • If selected maybe Tim Attwood could bring U2 to Dunmurry for a gig. Has the Black Swan been knocked down?

    I tend to think that even if Sinn Fein outpolls the SDLP again, the SDLP will probably pull ahead on transfers. In addition, it will hope to gain from Seamus Close’s departure. The forthcoming boundary changes, bad for nationalists as pointed out above, will probably be a greater hurdle.

  • I know it’s risky to opine without looking at Nick Whyte’s site, but if the Alliance vote crumbles with Seamus Close’s departure, the UUP may just pick up a second seat in its former bailiwick. There certainly isn’t more than 1 nationalist seat here.

  • jane smith

    True only one seat for the nationalists.
    so it will down to the candidate and if Alliance and SF supporters are prepared to back an SDLP candidate.Attwood name being in the ring is odd as he has no link with the area and must be hoping that his name at the top of the ballot paper is worth a few votes. How will the local SDLP organistion cope with Dim Tim being parachuted in?

  • southbelfastnewsman

    Well since there is very little local SDLP organisation i imagine that wont give them much of a problem.

    If Butler had had a more productive spell as a councillor maybe he would be favourite. but since he comes across as a lightweight within the party, and can only whine about “themmuns disrcimatin'” then SF are not maximising their chances.

  • Mick Fealty

    TW,

    I just had a look at Nick’s site… and nothing there that suggests you’re wrong. The first hurdle depends on the LV Association making a better strategic choice than South Belfast. Then it comes down to motivating your middle class base to get actually get out and vote.

    The more you look at this stuff the more your head spins.

    If there is only one nationalist quota, Sinn Fein would have to push the SDLP flat against the wall, and take everything that’s going to get the seat. Then would then probably depend on a lot of recycled votes from the SDLP. Given everything that’s happened in the last couple of years that’s not the most predicable choice.

    If the Alliance vote doesn’t stand up enough to get them fifth place, then you would imagine that they should take the sixth seat, if only on transfers.

    However, notwithstanding an impressive ringer from the SDLP to beef up confidence in the base and pull in transfers from across the constituency, Butler still has to be one of the best outside bets on offer.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Agree about Butler. Ferguson actually stood more of a chance of winning the nationalist seat. As it is I suspect that SF can’t win a seat in LV. Atwood could lose the nationalist seat to the Alliance.

  • Michael Shilliday

    agreeing with southbelfastnewsman, not Mick!

  • Valenciano

    “I’m afraid I suspect some Unionist wishful thinking has gone into the predictions here. The Unionists won 4 seats in the last Assembly: they will win 4 in the next. How the other 2 are distributed between Alliance, SDLP and Sinn Féin remains to be seen.”

    Paddy I’m afraid your suspicions would be better founded if you had actually bothered to check the detail of recent election results. To win a candidate needs about 14.2%, Unionist candidates polled 73.6% last Assembly election time – ie over five quotas. They were still over 72% in last years elections so five Unionist seats is a reasonable possibility.

    Alliance last time were elected with almost 6300 votes of which 1700 (ie over a quarter) had come from Unionist candidates. Take away Seamus Close and it’s been admitted even by Alliance posters that they face a battle to retain the seat.

    SF and the SDLP have hovered around the 8% mark in recent elections so you can dismiss any wishful thinking of your own about 2 Nationalist seats as it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that they fail to win any.

    Watchman – the boundary changes don’t kick in until the election after next so this will probably be Nationalists last hurrah in Lagan Valley.

  • southbelfastnewsman

    Yes – Ferguson probably would have won it. he was a genuine, in the community, positive worker. Butley simply aint.

    Attwood could hold the SDLP seat – better still if the SDLP thought hard about it they could run Alex in LV – his stance on police and the fact that ordinary law and order issues may figure highly in this election mean that he would probably attract the Lewsley vote and maybe a little more. His A’Town office probably services voters in Twinbrook / Poleglass too. Tim could then hold onto the west Belfast SDLP assembly seat by virtue of his not being Alex and the surity of at least one SDLP quota in the west.

    Better still for the SDLP would be if the earlier talk of Pat McCarthy running in LV had any substance. man of the people, current high profile, he could hold it too.

  • ohdear

    Well, the strategic geniuses of Lagan Valley UUP have now spoken, and in their wisdom decided to grace the ballot paper with no fewer than THREE candidates.

    So I guess that rules out a gain for them then.

  • William

    I could not help but notice that this article contained the words (i) tight (ii) valley (iii) hole and (iv) hard in the first four lines.

    Just thought I would mention it.

  • IJP

    Although it remains subject to a constituency selection meeting in January.

    By the way, it’s also subject to an election taking place in March!

    There’s a lot of e-ink being spilled here on something which is by no means certain!

    For the record, I’d say Michael Shilliday, Mick and TW aren’t far off. I have to say if the SDLP is relying on “pro-Close Nationalists” to boost it to victory, it’s not going far.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Close retireing has eliminated one of the non Unionist seats. Who the SDLP select will dictate who wins the remaining seat, them or the Alliance. Focusing on SF voters is futile, and unless they’re totally daft they know it. Running Atwood is an attempt to attract SF voters which will lose the seat. LV for the SDLP is all about transfers. Uber nationalism will eliminate what transfers are coming to them. They have a fairly large head start on the Alliance for the seat but will eliminate that with a green candidate.

    You’re wrong IJP, Seamus has Alliance carried for that seat and its difficult to see him handing it over to a party colleague.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Seamus has carried Alliance for……..

  • CS Parnell

    See the SF blogging committee pounced yesterday to spin out their rehearsed lines about the demise of the SDLP – come on boyes, give it a rest.

    The bottom line is that there probably isn’t a nationalist quota in the seat if the boundary changes go through.

    And, Patricia got a fair few of her votes in places like Lagmore before you all get back on the SDLP are “the party of priests and doctors malraky.”

    As for “parachuted in” – do any of you shinners spouting this crap know where the nationalists of LV come from? They’ve all been “parachuted in” from West Belfast.

  • Percival

    Typical UUP genius – we hold one seat, are aiming for two, so lets run three candidates!

    Bravo the Cunningham House Kamikaze Squad!!

  • middle-class taig

    At least 5 unionists a certainty here. I’ll be backing that, or laying any other result, as soon as I can find a bookie/exchange that’ll offer a market on it. As for the race between APNI, SDLP and SF – anyone’s guess! I don’t think SDLP can hold the seat without a female candidate, and yet I’m unsure if Butler is quite strong enough yet (or Lagmore big enough). The Force is telling me 6 unionists, but it’ll depend it APNI run a strong enough candidate.

  • middle-class taig

    is there any chance of a fight between McCrae and Bell which might force voters to support one or t’other, increasing the overall turnout? Fine Gael invented a scrap between Avril Doyle and Mairead McGuinness in 2004 to take two out of three euroseats in Leinster. I guess the problem for the UUP is that people only watch the fights at or near the top of the bill.

  • darth rumsfeld

    no chance of that mct-The UUP dare not create a sham fight when there are so many recent real fights in the party still simmering.
    And the fixation with Donaldson means their entire campaign will be focussed on him, though they could possibly take Norah Beare’s seat in the fallout. Plug Poots is safe with the core DUP vote, and JD’s personal vote would have to fall – combined with a hitherto well-concealed lurch of frenzied activity from Bell, and poor DUP vote management to make that likely. Close’s vote is the big imponderable here- could more of it go SDLP or give Basil a bounce?

  • Percival

    darth

    Just because your embittered with the DUP of late doesn’t mean your analysis has to fly out the window. The DUP will win 3 at least in this seat. I doubt that Donaldson is so stupid as to run 1 all over the constituency this time out (even if he wanted to I doubt if DUP High Command would allow it).

  • middle-class taig

    DR

    Are there really enough ponderous farmers in North Down for Poots to be safe?

    Surely Donaldson will take a hit for his lining up to dance with the Shinners after destroying the UUP over exactly the same thing. Do Lisburn unionists not have hypocrisy sensors?

    I have to be honest and say I’ve no idea how the Close cookie is likely to crumble. I’ve never met anyone who would admit to voting for him. Nor have I ever understood what would make anyone vote for him. What demographic did he appeal to? With his every re-election I found myself marvelling at how weird Lisburn people are. Any insights on his following?

  • IJP

    Michael

    Try reading what I write and you’ll get a lot further.

    Try again: if the SDLP is relying on “pro-Close Nationalists” to boost it to victory, it’s not going far.

  • Who are the LV UUP lambs to the slaughter … sorry, I meant candidates? Is Billy Bell still running at nearly 72? Seems a bit of bed-blocking.

    Yes, Valenciano, I did know that these Assembly election will be the last fought on the 97. Any SDLP seat here will likely be lost then.

    For 2007, my best bet is 3 DUP, 1 UUP, 1 SDLP and the last a close (excuse pun) fight between the UUP and Alliance.

  • The Clockwoman

    Apart from Bell ther other two lambs are sitting councillors so it appears there may be a vaccancy soon.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Ian, I read what you said as saying the SDLP aren;t going to win a seat relyng on pro-Close nationalists, I can’t see how you ment anything else.

    And if that is what you’re saying you’re wrong. Just under half of Seamus’s personal vote is an SDLP vote, nearly but not quite all of the rest UUP. If the SDLP play their selection right they can keep their seat. If not APNI will keep theirs, its one or t’other as far as I can see.

  • The Clockwoman

    Is it true that Michael Shilliday is standing for South Down?

  • Percival

    The Clockwoman

    Please G-d yes, Jim Wells will be laughing all the way to the bank!

  • Michael Shilliday

    Somehow I doubt that! No, not true.

  • Percival

    Ahh Michael, my hopes are raised only to be dashed! Drat!!

  • Looking at the UUP’s Lagan Valley candidates, Ronnie Crawford was Bob McCartney’s election agent in his 1995 by-election. He was out of the UUP in the 1990s after clashes with the council group over junketing. He was also anti-Agreement in 1998, which makes him an unusual candidate for the present party.

    Billy Bell is over 70 now and Ronnie Crawford is in his 60s, so the UUP is hardly presenting the most youthful of slates. But I’d be interested to see if Basil McCrea, with his profile from 2005, can squeeze ahead of his 2 council colleagues in first preferences. There is one safe UU seat, with another one possible if the Alliance vote collapses or if Jeffrey does so well in first preferences that his running mates end up eliminated warly on. But there will be no great revival for the UUP here – Jeffrey has it sewn up for the time being.

  • PaddyReilly

    Paddy I’m afraid your suspicions would be better founded if you had actually bothered to check the detail of recent election results. To win a candidate needs about 14.2%, Unionist candidates polled 73.6% last Assembly election time – ie over five quotas. They were still over 72% in last years elections so five Unionist seats is a reasonable possibility.

    You may be surprised to hear that I did check recent election results. What you need to check is the peculiarities of the PR system. You will observe that Unionists, though you think they had 5 quotas, actually only won 4 seats for the 2003 elections. The results weren’t even close. Alliance and the SDLP won the 4th and 5th seats, respectively.

    The fallacy in your reasoning is that you think that there is such a thing as a homogenous Unionist vote, with total uptake of transfers. One contributor to this site pointed out that at most only 80% of voters manage to transfer to the second candidate of the party of their first choice. Transfers from DUP to UUP will be down on that, and transfers from UUP to DUP lower still. The 2003 transfers for Donaldson (UUP) were as follows:-

    Of Donaldson’s 14104 votes, 3375 went to Bell, 3127 to Beare and 2212 to Kirkpatrick, thus 8714 (61.8%) to the other UUP candidates; 2654 to Poots and 1354 to Hunter, thus 4008 (28.4%) to the DUP; 545 (3.9%) to Ivan Davis; 448 (3.2%) to Seamus Close (Alliance); 117 (0.8%) to Johnston (Con); 77 (0.5%) to Park (PUP); 36 (0.3%) to Lewsley (SDLP); 16 (0.1%) to Butler (SF); and 11 (0.1%) to McCarthy (WP) with 132 (0.9%) non-transferable. (Nicholas Whyte)

    The 14.2% = one quota rule (14.2857143% plus one vote, to be pedantic) thus only works when you have that many votes for a single candidate. It is not susceptible of multiplication. What actually happens is that many voters fail to nominate a second etc choice, or a choice outside their own party, and so the transfer does not take place. Many UUP voters will not transfer to the DUP: some will transfer to Alliance.

    This system favours Centrist parties and not those which represent the extremes. The likely outcome is that Sinn Féin will do better than before, but fail to make a quota, attract absolutely no transfers, and be eliminated. This will leave the way clear for the SDLP candidate.

    The Alliance candidate will attract transfers from all sides, and thus be elected as usual.

    Unionists may have convinced themselves that Lagan Valley Alliance voters are really just Seamus Close groupies, and will not transfer to the new candidate, but I do not buy this argument, and neither, I suspect, will the Lagan Valley Alliance voters.

    No change, no story.

  • IJP

    Michael

    Actually I’d be a little more confident if I were you!

    However, most of Seamus’ vote, funnily enough, was an Alliance vote.

  • Valenciano

    MCT: “I have to be honest and say I’ve no idea how the Close cookie is likely to crumble.”

    I’ve been trying to figure that out too but past elections give no clue as none of his first prefs transferred in 1998 or 2003 and Lisburn council elections aren’t much use due to lack of Nationalist candidates.

    Paddy I think we’re thinking along the same lines but coming to totally different conclusions. My thinking goes along these lines

    1) The DUP will poll on or near 4 quotas. Wee Jeff will get the lions share and a fair whack of this will transfer back to his old party the UUP. This together with lousy balancing by the DUP will result in 3 seats.

    2) The UUP will have over one and a half quotas – chuck in Jeffs transfers alluded to above and they’re near two quotas.

    3) There are clearly not two Nationalist quotas so it’s either/or between SDLP and SF.

    4) Both Alliance and the SDLP’s votes will be down as a result of the resignation of their lead candidates.

    So when you say “The likely outcome is that Sinn Féin will do better than before, but fail to make a quota, attract absolutely no transfers, and be eliminated. This will leave the way clear for the SDLP candidate.”

    The problem here is that there’s a fair possibility that in Lewsley’s absence SF will be way ahead of the SDLP. Where are the transfers going to come from to push the SDLP above SF? Not from Unionists so they only could only come from Alliance, but that would only happen when Alliance are eliminated. ie only one non-Unionist.

    “This system favours Centrist parties and not those which represent the extremes.”

    Well you’d think so wouldn’t you but in recent elections there’s actually been little of a representation boost for the centre parties at the expense of the extremes. Alliance last year took 5.0% of the vote in the locals and won 5.15% of the seats. Not much of a boost is it? Compare that with the DUP in the same election 29.6% of the vote, 31.2% of the seats. Exactly the same thing happened in the two previous council elections as well.

    The point is Paddy that candidates need to stay in the race long enough to benefit from transfers so if Alliance are eliminated early on your theory falls with them.

    Secondary point is that the SDLP were only 67 votes ahead of SF two counts before Butler was eliminated last time before an Alliance transfer widened the gap. The SDLP won’t have those transfers this time add to that a wider gap and so Butler will stay well ahead.

    I’ll readily admit that I could see Alliance *and* Sinn Fein elected or the SDLP alone elected but combos of the SDLP with a.n.other non-Unionist are n’t going to happen and so I’ll stick to my 3 DUP, 2 UUP, 1 SF tip.

    [[my anti-spam code word is analysis71 – appropriate huh?]]

  • darth rumsfeld

    Agree with most of valenciano’s analysis, but I just wonder whether the UUP’s hatred of JD means that there is some semi-formal arrangement to transfer down to Alliance or even stoop instead of across to DUP.
    Also, is Ronnie Crawford a selection to take DUP transfers, recognising the ..er anti-one-but-not-another-version-of-the Agreement politics of the pretend city? And will that mean he stays in longer than the BillyBellasaurus?

  • Jane Smith

    The question will be if the Unionist parties are prepared to give eary preferences to the Alliance candidate in order to keep him sweet fpr the last seat. That would require some of little Jeffs 2nd preference vote going to Trevor lunn to keep ahead of the shinners and SDLP.
    Prediction of 3 DUP 2 Unionist one Alliance can stand up.
    Although things will be tight for the SF SDLP and Alliance its more likely that unionist of what ever shade will go to the alliance rather than SDLP. The LV seat was lost in 2005 when Butler passed lewsley although both the parties suffered a slight drop in votes. The SDLP did not insist on Lewsley delivering to the electorate by building a strong organistion. It makes you wonder what she was doing from 1998 and what the SDLP allowed her to get up to or not up to is the case. It may be the case that LV is a posion chalice which Tim Attwood will be smart enough not to take up. The question is will Heading be loyal enough or stupid enough to take it instead? Perhaps the party will have to look around for a women candidate but one who knows how to look after a seat and knows about politics.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘The SDLP did not insist on Lewsley delivering to the electorate by building a strong organistion.’

    To be fair to Lewsley she was a very active and visible member of their Assembly team. Building a strong local organisation is a multi faceted approach involving the local representatives and the central organisation.

    The leaked details on SDLP membership crisis by DI and the collapse of the party in certain areas indicates central falures rather than individual responsibility.

  • Jane Smith

    “the party in certain areas indicates central falures rather than individual responsibility”.
    Pat,
    Yes your right, but spreading the blame does not explain how the seat will be lost and whose head will roll at party head office now that Lewsley has gone to a quango.The leadership, of which lewsley was part of, needs to either take responsibilty for the pending defeat or find someone to blame. The only option for the SDLP is to encourage their vote to get out and hope that enough Alliance voters move over to the SDLP and if your right Pat saving someones bacon at headoffice.

  • Michael Shilliday

    The Alliance are in no way sure of the 6th seat. Their vote will likley collapse without Seamus. I reckon they’ll fight it out with the SDLP for transfers as SF will continue to be transfer repellant, but they need to be well ahead of Heading for Butler’s transfers not to pull him in like they did Lewsley. Their ability to do that will be very much reduced from the days when Seamus was poll topping. One non unionist seat on LV is probably gone without Seamus, I don’t think that the Alliance can keep far enough ahead to keep the remaining one.

  • Valenciano

    “I just wonder whether the UUP’s hatred of JD means that there is some semi-formal arrangement to transfer down to Alliance or even stoop instead of across to DUP.”

    It won’t matter – the DUP will easily take three seats regardless of transfers. They’ll miss the fourth due to transfers and balancing issues.

    Interesting that many have alluded to the fact that the Nationalist seat in Lagan Valley will be gone the election after this. That’s entirely the SDLPs fault as the proposal to move Glenavy to South Antrim came from an Antrim SDLP councillor!

  • Crataegus

    If I were in the SDLP in Lagan Valley I would be canvassing hard with the message that only the SDLP can take a seat and a vote for SF is a wasted vote.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘If I were in the SDLP in Lagan Valley I would be canvassing hard with the message that only the SDLP can take a seat and a vote for SF is a wasted vote.’

    People can do the maths, try not to insult them. I bet every nationalist home in the area will be getting the figures for the Westminster 2005 electon through their letter box from SF. The SDLP are gone in this constituency.

  • Smithsonian

    There is a real challenge for Alliance to hold this seat. Seamus Close had a personal vote and an enviable track record in the constituency (Even people who didn’t vote for him went to him with constituency matters). Trevor Lunn has the benefit of being the mayor but lacks the base in the grass roots of Tonagh and Manor. The nationalist vote from these areas will go to the SDLP.

  • Crataegus

    Pat

    Paul Butler’s vote dropped slightly in the Westminster election compared to 2003, though the SDLP vote dropped by more.

    I agree with others there will be 5 Unionist seats next time. The question is by how much will either the SDLP or the Alliance vote drop? My inclination would be that Alliance may be under more pressure, but they are starting well ahead and will benefit from Unionist transfers. If the SDLP decline by much I would give the seat to Alliance. If Alliance drop the SDLP have a good chance on transfers. If both Alliance and the SDLP go down considerably one has to start to ask where is the next Unionist? Although highly unlikely, with good vote management and transfer patterns Unionist could take all seats. (Highly unlikely)

    SF are on about 8%. Last Assembly election the SDLP were on 7.6% and Alliance 10.7%. It is difficult to turn 8% into a seat in a constituency that will not transfer to you. What percentage of the SDLP will transfer to SF and how many to Alliance? Alliance must be favourite for the last seat.

  • Jane Smith

    Pat,
    Your right! The SDLP have allowed SF to be first out with their meesage of only they can win. The truth might be closer to either the SDLP win based on Alliance transfers or the Alliance win based on SDLP transfers. I hear part of the problem for the SDLP is having diffculty picking a candidate. Brian Heading has expressed an interest as has one of the subtitute nominations and a nobody called John Drake (????) an also ran for the 2005 LG elections in Lisburn.
    Just what are the SDLP playing at?

  • Valenciano

    Jane, I think that Lagan Valley is very much a poisoned chalice for SDLP hopefuls since, even if they win in March 2007, they are almost certain to lose the seat once boundary changes are finalised late next year. Thus if you are an ambitious SDLP member, even with their decline, there are better options out there. People just don’t jump onto a sinking ship.

  • Jane Smith

    Valenciano,
    I know what you are saying but do you not think it is interesting that with the announcement last night and SF and all the rest of the parties making their selection why has the SDLP taken so long? maybe the have resigned from politics or perhaps now that SF have taken their place they are looking for an early retirement.

  • furry mountain

    Had a conversation with “someone in the know” recently. I too thought that Heading or O’Hagan would be in the frame but it seems that the party are keen that big Pat’s replacement should be a woman. Therefore keep an eye out for Yvonne Byrne, who ran in the last couple of council contests ….

  • darth rumsfeld

    meanwhile the thrusting go-ahead UUP in North Antrim has reselected 77 year old Rev Bob Coulter to take on ..er sprightly octogenarian Paisley. I can see it now-“Clash of the zimmerframes”