BBC Election 07 Blog…

Mark Devenport is leading from the front on the BBC NI Election Blog… Good performance from a standing start, and a good way to keep up to date with the considerable political output we are likely to have from the Beeb… Welcome to the blogosphere Mark, you got here eventually!! 😉

  • gerry & the peacemakers

    Interesting slant from Gareth Gordon re: SDLP in South ANtrim. I have heard from avery reliable source that Burns and McClelland hate each other. It dates back to Burns unseating Noreens husband last time.

    With McLaughlin entering the race the 2 SDLP runners know it is dog eat dog. They both know that there is only one seat and SF are likely to eat into their quota here as Mitchel is probably seen as a moderate in republican terms.

    My best guess is that Burns will stay far enough ahead of Noreen as he has the SDLP votes in ANtrim and Crumlin sown up and is work hard in the toome area.

    The 2nd pref will be the key. A lot of SDLP votes transfered to Ford the last time (much to Martin Meehans surprise you may recall). I think there were 2 reasons for this.

    1. The dislike between the SDLP condidates.
    2. A clever ploy by Alliance to tell nationalists to vote down the card to keep DUP out.

    As it turned out Alliance were telling DUP voters the opposite – which turned out to be the truth.

    As a nationalist living in SA I won’t be doing that this time and I know many others who won’t forget the APNI ploy. I think it worked a treat in 2003 but will ultimately cost them this time round.

    My prediction is Burns and McLaughlin to both get in. As for Unionism probably 2 each but not beyond the pssibility that the DUP will pick up 3.

  • Inspector Clouseau

    I am informed by an outgoing DUP MLA that the party is hopeful of adding a seat in SA, seems the response on the doors is better than expected. Extraordinary gains are not expected overall but adding a few seats by good vote management is the more than possible.

  • gerry & the peacemakers

    The DUP candidates are much stronger than the UUP in SA. Difficult to read the Bob factor but my hunch is it wont be much in SA.

  • Glen Taisie

    Interesting line from Sinn Fein 10 page Ballycastle Manifesto photocopied single sided A4.

    “promoting environmental renewal through investment in reduction, recycling and policies working towards a zero waste economy”


  • MÓG

    Hopefully Mitchell gets David Ford’s seat. The Alliance Party are a unionist party. The SDLP voters should transfer to SF and not the Alliance. Ford might scramble in with a few transfers like he did last time. Hardly the mandate of a leader. People vote for the tribes cause that’s what they want. The alliance are just a weak unionist tribe that wants to get nationalists on side so it can rob their vote.

  • Lá Nua, in fact, has the first all Ireland election blog with commentaries on both Irish elections this year – is where it’s at.

  • I see how the UUP are opposing what they term the “divisive Irish Language Act proposals’, so sayeth the party’s manifesto. That’s an interesting line given that there’s a period of consultation ongoing at present and there ARE NO proposals as yet, apart from a commitment by both governments at St Andrews to have an Irish Language Act.

    It seems to me that the UUP is trying to out DUP the DUP. And it also seems that Irish speakers need not count themselves in the UUP’s slogan ‘For All Of Us’. It says more about the UUP’s rather exclusive notion of inclusivity that they want to exclude the Irish language in Ireland. This language b*g*t*y is typical of a party that is portrayed in some quarters, insanely, as occupying the middle ground.

  • padraig


    “The SDLP voters should transfer to SF…”

    Dream on! Try and get it in to your head that some Irish Republicans see SF and the broader Provisional movement as the treasonous Irish and therefore could NEVER support SF. Your post might as well read that SDLP voters should just forget about the Disappeared! Dream on.

  • The only reason the SDLP remembered the Disappeared was to try and gain some electoral advantage over SF. For years and years, the relatives of the Disappeared were nobodies to the SDLP and only became important as the threat from Sinn Fein became an uncomfortable reality for the party.

  • realist

    Talking to a friend who was out canvassing for the DUP. Seems that there are more than a few doors geting closed in their face. Its not only about sitting down with Sinn Fein but also about their failure to deliver anything that means a fig to the average unionist voter. This election will either have the lowest turnout ever to produce the usual dull outcome or the silent and apathetic majority might just get off their backsides and deliver a few shock results. If the shinners are the top party this election will go down as the biggest own goal by the DUP in the history of Ulster politics. The rhetoric will switch to “never, never, never,!”

  • Truth and Justice

    Interesting in North Down, Bob McCartney has not started canvassing as yet and according to alliance sources he is not even geting a mention on the doors, even more interesting if to be belived a UUP poll in North Down shows he is on 2% for voting intentions, this is not suprising if true he has not been doing any work on the ground for years,

  • slug

    I think realist does point to a potential worry, the turnout. Its hard to say at this point but people are not exactly very happy with the Assembly of 2003 which was a waste of money.

  • Gerry

    A lot of SDLP votes transfered to Ford the last time (much to Martin Meehans surprise you may recall).

    Sorry, have to disagree here Gerry. A lot more of McClelland’s votes transferred to the Meehan last time (of 2802 or so, 1987 to Burns, 467 to Meehan, 269 to Ford). There goes that theory.

    Ford had already taken the lead over Meehan two stages before, and if Meehan was expecting much healthier a transfer than that, he really was living in a fantasy world of his own creation.

    The DUP candidates are much stronger than the UUP in SA. Difficult to read the Bob factor but my hunch is it wont be much in SA.

    I really have to disagree here. The DUP shot themselves in the foot by not selecting Paul Girvan and replacing them with two Free Ps (all done because McCrea perceived Girvan as a threat and wanted a couple of patsies).

    This leaves the DUP very thin in the Newtownabbey side of the constituency. And while McCrea and Burnside are to some degree birds of a feather, Kinahan and Nicholl are a vastly stronger pair than Clarke and Lucas. And selecting three Free Ps makes it difficult for the DUP to sell themselves as ‘Nu DUP’ rather than a crowd of religious wackos who want to chain the swings on Sunday.

    Not, given the UUP’s electoral freefall, that this might stop the DUP winning three, but the DUP have not helped their cause.


    The alliance are just a weak unionist tribe that wants to get nationalists on side so it can rob their vote.

    What you actually mean, MÓG, is that it guts you that many SDLP voters transfer to Alliance because they see themselves as being closer to Alliance than Sinn Féin (thereby neatly destroying your theory that ‘people’ vote for the tribes because that’s what they want – well, some do, some don’t).

    You might not like it, but in my experience, telling the electorate that they’re wrong is rarely conducive to changing their minds.

  • slug

    One factor which may work in Alliance’s favour this time is that there is no Women Coalition candiate standing. Now I am not too sure but I suspect that meny of those votes will go to Ford. Set against that there are Conservatives and Greens standing who might attract some away.

  • slug

    This constituency is one of the UUP’s possible gains in the next general election. I think its safe to say that McCrea does not have a broad appeal.

  • observer


    Wake up and smell the coffee! Possible UUP gain? The UUP will be doing well not to lose a few more seats. Remember that they are the founding fathers off the slippery slope that the DUP now find themselves on.

  • slug

    Observer, I was talking about the next general election, not the Assembly Election. I believe that McCrea is vulnerable in a way that other DUP candidates aren’t.

  • slug

    In terms of the Assembly Election I agree with Sammy Morse that the DUP have not selected the best candidates in terms of eroding the UUP’s vote. I agree with him for the reasons he gives.

    (Sammy’s constituency profiles have been very worth reading by the way).

  • Thanks slug. There’s still one coming up a day – East Derry went up before I put the spuds on!

  • Irishman

    “The only reason the SDLP remembered the Disappeared was to try and gain some electoral advantage over SF.”

    Do you know this for a fact Oilibhear? Of course not, it’s just more of the same old tired and sycophantic Shiner shite talk. It’s what you do best. It does however serve as a useful reminder to the rest of us that Irish Republicanism doesn’t begin and end with SF, (no matter how much they delude themselves into thinking that it does!)

    SF only represents the slow-learning arse-end of Irish Republicanism. The type of which is unmandated; the type of which forces people to drive cars with bombs, abducts, murders and buries people in unmarked graves for years on end. Votail SF!

    Then there’s the type of Irish Republicanism that has never seen the need to use deadly force on it’s own countrymen. The type that is confident about it’s national and cultural identity and seeks to convince others using only the strength of an argument because it believes in itself! That’s an SDLP tradition.

    Sadly for too many in SF “An Ireland of Equals” is nothing more than jingoistic spin. Instead of trying to belittle the hard work done by the SDLP with their fallacious diversery tactics, they should remember what the Provisional Movement did in the name of Ireland. If Oilibhear’s attitude is, in any way, symptomatic of the general SF viewpoint, his time would be better spent with a spade on a beach somewhere helping the families of the Disappeared; not looking for the bodies but trying to find somewhere else he can bury his head in the sand!

    Their vision of a UI is as empty as Mark Davenport’s blog!

    Shame on SF on all those who support them!

  • Southern Observer

    The Alliance Party would themselves deny that they are a unionist party.

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    Me thinks the Irishman doth protest too much….

  • gerry & the peacemakers


    You seem to have the facts so I am not going to argue with you. I also greatly enjoy your breakdown of the constituencies.

    But I do not see your esteemed leader getting in this time. Where I am coming from is here.

    I am a pretty typical nationalist voter. I would have always given alliance something, not no1 but perhaps 2 and definitely 3. I can tell you I will, and many like me, will never do that again. At least I know what I will get from the DUP and UUP. I will now give the Greens my 2nd or 3rd.

  • gerry & the peacemakers


    Just had a conversation with a friend of mine who has just turned 65. He joined the Civil rights in the 60s and helped John Hume set up credit unions in Belfast. An absolute SDLP stalwart ever since the party was formed.

    He told me today that he will be voting SF for the first time on 7 March. I asked why, he told me that their lack of strong leadership was deeply concerning.

    If the SDLP are losing this type of voter then they are in serious trouble in the next 5 years. They will probably pick up 16 -18 seats this time but the future looks very bleak.

  • BonarLaw

    Gerry & the peacemakers

    “They will probably pick up 16 -18 seats this time but the future looks very bleak.”

    Coming home with half the number of DUP MLAs indicates a pretty bleak present, although most unionists think “slap it up ’em”.

  • Mick Fealty


    “If the SDLP are losing this type of voter then they are in serious trouble in the next 5 years.”

    That could be right. Or it could be an individual one off case – the party is notorious for petty fights and squabbles. Obviously we will have the theory tested on 7th March. But they don’t look the bunch of patsies they undoubtedly did in November 03. They have a focus that was not evident before.

    This election is going to be tight, and I don’t see much ground being won or lost in nationalism. Given past poll positions, SDLP do not have the beating of Sinn Fein. But I’ll be looking very closely at local vote percentages to see how things pan out for them in the future.

    Any significant closing of the gap will be worrying for Sinn Fein, especially if the SDLP can get some younger faces into their Assembly team. On the other hand, if positions remain static or continue to tip towards SF again, the SDLP are the ones with problems.

  • Irishman

    gerry & the peacemakers

    I fully recognize that in the political world of spin and sound-bite, SF is leading the way in terms of media representation. However I am actually less concerned about having to defend the SDLP and more worried at the bastardization of Irish Republicanism by SF.

    Assuming that your mystery SDLP stalwart really does exist, then it remains a personal matter for him how he votes. If, (on the assumption that he is an Irish nationalist/Republican) he can ignore the atrocities carried out in by the Provisional Movement in his name then clearly SF would be the party for him. However, there are huge numbers of Irish Republicans, living in the North who have never and could never support what the Provos, arrogantly, in their name. Indeed, the Provisional Movement is a complete anathema to Irish Republicanism. It is repulsive and stomach churning in the extreme. True Irish Republicans could never condone what they did. SF have tried, with a great deal of success, to give the image that SF and Irish Republicanism is one and the same thing. It isn’t. You can be an Irish Republican and be sickened and sadded at the thought that an innocent man would be abducted and forced to drive a bomb-packed van into a police station simply because he had sold cigarettes to a soldier!

    Oiliy is wrong to say a protest too much. I don’t think I, or others, protest enough but come 7 march I WILL have a protest vote. Votail SF my arse!


    I agree fully with what you have written above. I don’t think we’ll see much of a change within the Nationalist camp with SF remaining just a stones throw away from 30% of the vote and the SDLP just a stones throw away from 20% of the vote. We’ll watch and wait!