Misprints and corrections…

So has Councillor Paul Butler got an early promotion to MLA status..? Slugger thinks not… The SDLP may not fancy their chances of retaining Patricia Lewsley’s seat in Lagan Valley, but it is hardly a sure run thing for Sinn Fein’s candidate either…

  • Sammy Morse

    See arguments passim between Chris Donnelly and I. I don’t doubt Butler can outpoll the SDLP but I don’t see how he gets the transfers he needs from them to actually get elected.

    Although, with hindsight it might have been a smart move for SF to nominate him to Michael Ferguson’s seat. A little bit of incumbency never hurt anyone.

  • Inspector Clouseau


    How do you think the DUP will do in Lagan Valley?

  • The SDLP will be entering the election confident of retaining its Lagan Valley seat. The incumbent Marietta Farrell has been selected to run, having been Patricia Lewsley’s campaign manager for the 2003 win. Add to that the fact that Séamus Close isn’t running, in addition to the SDLP’s greater ability to attract transfers than SF, and there is no reason to suggest that they will not hold onto the seat.

  • Observer

    SDLP’s vote will fall even more in Lagan Valley with the selection of Marietta Farrell.

    However I wonder how Butler’s comments, as reported, will go down in the constituency. He will not attract many transfers.

    Many SDLP swing voters will be tempted to vote for Sinn Fein now, a vote against the DUP and for powersharing.

    The same will happen within Unionism, a vote for the DUP is a vote against Sinn Fein, and to clarify, not against powersharing.

    The Shinners have planned this one out well. They haven’t accepted the police until they get a fresh mandate, whilst retaining their core vote against opposition and gaining more votes from the SDLP.

    I expect the Ulster Unionists, SDLP and Alliance to be the losers in this election.

  • Dougal

    Are you doing a bit of SDLP bashing Mick or do you know something we don’t? Who said the SDLP don’t not fancy their chances of retaining Patricia Lewsley’s seat?

    With some of the shamefull Shinners still coming out with 70s styled rubbish like “To endorse the police service is to endorse British occupation in Ireland”, they are sure to find any progress in Lagan Valley difficult.

  • Rubicon

    El Mat – not an unreasonable analysis – but far from a certainty. It’s an elimination round battle to get the transfers. APNI may hold on but they’ll not be getting the 1st prefs Seamus got. Seamus got local activity votes and RC conservative votes. It’s difficult to judge where these will go but it’s not unreasonable to expect some (perhaps many) will go to SF. I know Patricia was far from at ease with holding the seat.

    However, a conservative analysis would give the SDLP an edge. Nationalist votes in this area may not be accurately estimated by conservative ‘shift speculations’. SF have a realistic prospect here – but it’s a 3-way battle.

    The other interest (from my point of view) is whether UUP criticism of Donaldson’s defection was valid. The DUP are unlikely to get the vote they took through Donaldson’s move – but nor are the UUP going to get the vote he took. The DUP need to ego manage in this constituency more than most. Doing so will play to the UUP gripe (if anyone is still listening).

  • Sammy Morse

    How do you think the DUP will do in Lagan Valley?

    Chris Donnelly and I teased out some of the Lagan Valley issues here a few weeks ago, but for what it’s worth…

    Based on the Westminster election, Donaldson would carry three running mates in with him; based on the local government election the Ulster Unionists would have a good chance of holding the second seat. Whether the DUP can actually win four here depends on a number of factors:

    * National drift since 2003
    * Managing Donaldson’s huge personal vote down to stop too many of his transfers leaking off to the UUP
    * Overnomination by the Ulster Unionsts – I understand they’re running three candidates here when they have significantly less than two quotas. Stupid.
    * Lack of transfers
    * Impact of anti-agreement Unionists; William Beattie might run here and might be a bit too nuts to make much headway. However, Paddy Roche won here on a McCartney ticket in 1998.
    * Impact of having three Free Ps out of four on your ticket. Not exactly any secular Sammy Wilson types running for the DUP here. Probably minor but if I were the UUP I would try and subtly bring it to the voting public’s attention.
    * Potential transfers. If Alliance hold their seat or stay in to the last count there are few potential transfers for the Ulster Unionists. If Trevor Lunn goes early (which I do not expect to happen as I expect him to be ahead of Butler and Farrell on the first count) this will be like manna from heaven for the second Ulster Unionist.

    Personally, I don’t think it’s anything like as good a bet for 4 DUP seats as North Antrim or Strangford, but it’s probably better than East Antrim.

    The incumbent Marietta Farrell has been selected to run

    Incumbent for a whole four weeeks? I don’t want to knock Marietta because I know and like her, but she doesn’t exactly have local roots here, living in Warrenpoint and standing in North Down in recent elections. Marietta is in deep difficulties here. While it’s true that Butler will struggle to gain transfers, she will only benefit from a significant number of transfers if she can outpoll Alliance’s Trevor Lunn. Recent election results would tend to contraindicate that.

  • I don’t suppose it matters to a lot of people these days, but while Butler’s past career involved ending a man’s life, Farrell’s has involved improving people’s lives. In most democracies that would count for something, but then this place isn’t like most democracies.

  • mickhall

    but then this place isn’t like most democracies.

    El Mat

    That is because it is not a democracy which would be recognized as such by true democrats any where in the world, if we are talking about the Stormont assembly that is. Which is a flim flam sectarian set up brought into being by turncoats, bigots and the dregs of an ex imperialist state. In other words the whole thing is built on sand, thus no one has been surprised at the number of times it has collapsed so far and when it occurs yet again we will all go ahh and get on with our lives like sensible people.

    If there is one certainty to have come out of all this GFA nonsense, it is that SF and the DUP deserve each other.

  • Mick

    Will you be bothering to vote this time (assuming you did before)?

    You sound like a very angry young man. Maybe you should toss yer hat in the ring.

  • Rubicon

    El Mat, it matters to me but I’m sure you also recognise that it doesn’t matter to many – particularly new voters. What’s happening here is a BIG ASK that couldn’t happen in GB or the south.

    We’re being asked to forget the past – not for the 1st time. The SDLP had a lot to do with starting that process. I’m not saying that the SDLP were wrong – but if you want accreditation it beggars belief that the party was so badly prepared for that transition.

    I wish the SDLP well but I’ve yet to have a SDLP candidate knock on my door – or even one of their election workers. I’ve had no feedback from SDLP representatives as to what they believe they achieved for the constituency. All I get is a job lot of election fliers when my vote is asked for.

    The decline in the SDLP I find deeply saddening – it occurred when the “green” was made more important than “social democracy”. Rotten boroughs in NI have gone. Start writing your epitaph as martyrs for the green cause or return to social democracy and become relevant on the ground.

    The SDLP have achieved a great deal in affording progress. – but others are deciding how its delivered. Every time Durkan opens his mouth about SF he reminds people of his 2nd position. Can he not move to prioritise social democracy? Hume shafted Fitt for the green agenda. Hume won – the SDLP have been loosing since.

    The SDLP has a lot of work to do, little time to do it and no excuse for being caught by surprise – save that of the costs of selfish egotism and a relative absence of local presence. With the older generation concerned about local services and a new batch of voters not concerned by Butler’s history (I doubt there’ll be much media interest in it) the SDLP are challenged.

    It has just passed midnight – it’s election time! Can you tell me how the SDLP are planning to attract votes – or are you just relying on getting those of the past? Is the manifesto borrowed from the UUP, “Decent people …”.

    I hope not!

  • rj

    Re Michael Ferguson replacement

    The list of possible subs was submitted by Michael at the time of nomination. It can’t be changed. Even if you fall out with first on list, you can’t tell Electoral Office to ignore him and go to second.

    The story was that two of Michael’s subs were already elected and others didn’t want the job. But the party couldn’t decide after Michael died.

    But I do agree with you that transfers to Butler cannot be relied on. Even if (big if) he is ahead of both Farrell and Lunn, it is still doubtful whether he can win. Less than a Nationalist quota in 2005, with fairly narrow SF lead over SDLP, does not suggest SF victory.

  • Lamaria

    Sammy Morse: “Managing Donaldson’s huge personal vote” Is this possible? He overshot the quota by more than 8000 votes in 2003 and he isn’t they type of figure to say vote for my running mate as 1st prefernce not me!!

    “Over-nomination by Ulster Unionists”: This is a terrible strategy by the UUP in running 3, however calculating their quota isnt easy. Ivan Davis ran as an Independent last time and got over 2000 1st preferences (although a lot of his transfers went to Close. From Westminster results UUP still only have 1.5 quotas. So yes Sammy your analysis seems correct on this point, but it is still not impossible for UUP to get 2 seats.

    The key to Lagan Valley is who will be eliminated first out of All, SF, SDLP and 2nd UUP. Will Donaldson’s surplus and transfers from 3rd UUP and “other Unionists” lift UUP number 2 above the others? Much of this will depend on good vote management of UUP 1 and UUP 2’s 1st preference votes. An even split will help them.

    Will Trevor Lunn of Alliance get enough 1st preference votes? There is a strong alliance vote in Lagan Valley, and remember some Alliance voters may have switched to “Yes Unionists” last time to help Trimble. Lunn’s profile as Mayor of Lisburn should see him through in my opinion. This of course is not good news for the UUP.

    I think the SDLP are in trouble. Lewsley (an excellent councillor and MLA) did poorly in Westminster falling to 0.43 quotas, with Butler on 0.53 quotas. Butler is certain it seems to get more 1st prefs than Farrell (a candidate people no little about in Lagan Valley)

    So it seems the contest to avoid early elimination is between Farrell and UUP 2. Why does this matter? Because if we can work out who will go first out of these 2 we can perhaps tell who will be elected. If it is Farrell, then Butler will receive SOME transfers. However it would be better for Butler if Farrell went out after Lunn of Alliance has been elected. Why? A lot of SDLP transfers will go to Lunn, but Lunn surplus will not readily go to SF.

    If it is UUP 2 then a consdierable amount of transfers may go to SDLP in an attempt to keep Butler out. However for Farrell to succeed she will need to get above Butler at this point.

    Very intersting and complex dynamics – havent even mentioned UKUP runners, speaking of which has any1 heard anything from McCartney? Can he manage to find any people who will run for him??