Sammy Morse on, South Antrim…

Sammy does a panoramic analysis of this heterogeneous, largely suburban constituency, which last time out gave rise to a three way game of electoral musical chairs for the last two places of the ballot. On that occasion Sinn Fein was the loser. This time however, he reckons the scramble for seats could include a difficult rearguard battle for the UUP in defending its second seat against a surging DUP.

Last time, both the Ulster Unionists and DUP had two clear quotas each. However, in 2005, the DUP outpolled the UUP by 38.2% to 29.1% in the general election and by 37.3% to 24.1% in the locals. In contrast to many other places, the local elections were not better for the UUP here. In fact, they demonstrated that the UUP’s vote is softer than the DUP’s.

Although the general election indicated the DUP are inching towards three quotas, they aren’t quite there yet. There has been considerable change in their ticket from last time with none of the three 2003 candidates standing again. Willie McCrea is moving over from Mid Ulster, which is no problem given the strong base he has built up here in recent years. However, both sitting MLAs, Wilson Clyde and Paul Girvan, were deselected to be replaced by Antrim Councillors Mel Lucas and Trevor Clarke. While Clyde is probably not a fatal loss, as he was narrowly outpolled by Clarke in the Randalstown area in the last local elections, Girvan was a formidable votegetter who polled over 50% individually in Ballyclare in the last council elections, and was building up a formidable personal vote.

Neither Lucas nor Clarke have personal bases of anything like that size, and both are Free Presbyterians based in Antrim Borough. This means the DUP lose a personal vote and narrow their geographical and social base. There has been speculation that McCrea preferred Lucas and Clarke to Girvan because he perceived the latter as a threat. In any case, the net result is that the DUP’s long-range shot at a third seat here will almost certainly go begging, unless the Ulster Unionist vote really collapses.

That should be enough to see the Ulster Unionists return two candidates. David Burnside will once again head the UUP poll, and probably be elected on the first count.

Jim Wilson is standing down this time and with him the UUP will lose his strong Ballyclare base, but they have sensibly selected Templepatrick-based Danny Kinahan, from roughly the same geographical area. Kinahan is the sort of Ulster Unionist most of us thought had died out, a former army officer who lives in a castle. Whatever his background, he polled well for a first timer in difficult political circumstances in the last council elections in Antrim South East and beefs up the moderate end of the ticket in a constituency where Alliance are competitive.

In the three way fight between Sinn Fein, the SDLP and David Ford, leader of the Alliance Party, things may have subtly changed since last time out. This is almost certainly a seat that pre 2005 SF would have taken comfortably given their rising vote from 1998 to 2003. However, there have been some internal organisational problems (The Irish Times noted some absence on the ground here) that and the annus horribilus of that year means they have struggled to break out of the 11% zone. What Mitchel McLaughlin lacks in local roots (he is joined by those other ‘blow ins’: Bob McCartney and Willie McCrea) may be compensated for by a high media profile. It could be a gamble, but others now look more vulnerable, not least Ford:

…almost any increase in the Sinn Féin vote here would give them a seat. McLaughlin and his big profile must be able to pull off another few hundred votes from the SDLP, and with no dissident Republican candidate here, that would make him favourite to take a seat, although it can’t be guaranteed.

Does that mean Alliance leader David Ford is doomed? I don’t think so. The total nationalist vote here is still less than two quotas, and Ford showed last time that he has an unrivalled capacity to pull in transfers, gaining almost 1600 votes during the 2003 count while Meehan picked up less than 500. Additionally, South Antrim was the only constituency where Alliance increased its share of the vote in 2003, in what was an absolutely horrible election for them. If the NI-wide Alliance vote can even come up part of the way to its 2005 level, he will be safe. And Alliance are throwing the kitchen sink at this one.

One factor running against Ford this time is that the UUP are unlikely to have much, if any, surplus to pass on. He will be dependent on DUP transfers which are likely to be much less favourable.

Could it be the SDLP who are vulnerable then? It could well be. There has been bad blood between sitting SDLP MLA Thomas Burns and his predecessor, Donovan McClelland, since a controversial selection meeting in 1998. This time, Donovan McClelland’s wife, Noreen, is the other SDLP candidate, and the bad blood has become very public. There have been other issues within the local SDLP, and six term Antrim Councillor Oran Keenan has left the party to sit as an Independent.

Running two candidates when you have a bare quota is an insane strategy. Last time, overnomination and poor internal transferring meant that the SDLP came within 200 votes of losing their seat despite starting with over a quota. Only 70% of Donovan McClelland’s transfers passed on to Thomas Burns, despite the fact the bad feeling between them was largely a private matter at that point. Last week’s front page headline of the Antrim Guardian was ‘SDLP At War’. In those circumstances, that already poor level could drop further. And then the SDLP, who may not even secure a quota this time, would be in real trouble.

It will come down to transfers, Sammy notes:

And transfers will be crucial here. My own suspicion is that none of Ford, Burns or McLaughlin will have a quota in the later stages of the count. If every voter voted down the ballot paper here, McLaughlin would probably be the loser. But many voters don’t, and this seat remains on a knife-edge.

  • Sean Og

    Excellent analyses from Sammy, again. I really can’t see Ford hanging on this time. He has little personal charm and is disliked by many in the area, DUP and SDLP alike. I just can’t see enough DUP voters caring enough about David’s job to vote right down the ticket. That sort of effort requires considerable motivation and I haven’t come across it yet in South Antrim. I reckon Ford’s elimination will elect Burns with Boysie in without a quota.

  • jeep55

    Ford not being elected is one thing. To be eliminated he has got to be doing incredibly badly. In a PR election there is always at least one candidate who stays in the count to the very end, is not elected and does not have votes transfered. So your scenario is rather unlikely. Add to this the SDLP now trying to be ‘greener’ than SF with this border poll nonsense, their running of waring candidates who will struggle to reach a quota between them and you come to the conclusion that Ford will win and the SDLP will in all likelihood be the loser.

  • darth rumsfeld

    …only real quibble is with the idea that Kinahan will outpoll Nicholl. The latter has a strong Orange & community work base even if he’s not a media figure.

    Big house Unionism may still impress the old dears in the selection meetings of the UUP but Kinahan is really too exotic a creature for most voters- and is arguably even wetter than Ford.

    I agree with Sean that Ford isn’t exactly revered by the locals, but any antipathy the DUP voters have will be outweighed by the site of the vulpine Mclaughlin tearing up hios victory speech a la Meehan in 2003, surely the highlight of that election. So I bet Ford limps in late and last

  • jeep55

    David Ford’s standing in SA is a great deal higher than you credit him. In the 2001 council elections, before he took on the mantle of leader, Alliance were wiped out of the council areas that make up SA. In 2003, against all odds, he held his MLA seat with the only increased Alliance vote over 1998. In 2005 3 of Alliance’s 5 council seat gains came on his patch – one in Glengormley, one in Antrim SE and his own personal gain in Antrim Town. And he held his vote in a squeezed Westminster election. Not bad for someone ‘not revered’ by the locals!


    Clarke is not a fp

  • jeep55


    I presume by the description here that Danny Kinahan is a relative of the late Charles Kinahan, who was a founder member of the Alliance party and represented the old South Antrim in the 1973 and 1975 Assembly elections?

  • Clarke is not a fp

    So I’ve been told. I stand corrected. So it’s only two out of three then? As opposed to what proportion of the population in South Antrim.

    I presume by the description here that Danny Kinahan is a relative of the late Charles Kinahan

    So I’ve been told.

  • darth rumsfeld

    jeep- he’s the son of Sir Robin Kinahan, which by a proces of elimination would make him yer man’s nephew.

  • jeep55

    Thanks. Might be the sort of UU who at ellimination would transfer a reasonable percentage of votes to David Ford.

  • Crataegus


    There are about 2 UUP quotas so I don’t think transfers from him to Ford will come into it. Family connections in Castle Upton bound to eat into Ford’s vote in Templepatrick.

    Ford would need to pray that the DUP’s dislike for SF will go as far as transferring in mass to him. on the numbers he will need seems a tall order to me especially as there is likely to be a DUP candidate still in the running and possibly with around 10% of the vote.

    Was through S Antrim yesterday and noticed Burn’s posters in Glengormley but seemed to me that there was an acute lack of SF posters. Maybe it is the weather or possibly all is not well in the SF camp either.

    This one all depends on who which goes out first. If SDLP then SF are in. If Ford is eliminated the SDLP are in with extra transfers also going to Unionists, but will Fords transfers go to a possible DUP candidate? If SF are out SDLP are in. If the 3rd DUP goes out then Ford is in with a narrow chance.

    The last two seats are too close to call.

  • the numbers he will need seems a tall order to me

    Probably only a thousand or so.

    DUP candidate still in the running and possibly with around 10% of the vote

    That assumes they balance properly. They won’t.

  • questioner

    “Ford would need to pray that the DUP’s dislike for SF will go as far as transferring in mass to him. on the numbers he will need seems a tall order to me especially as there is likely to be a DUP candidate still in the running and possibly with around 10% of the vote”

    Thats quite amusingly ironic, it will take an extremely polarised community to get Ford elected!

    I can’t see Ford getting elected which will destroy his credibility. Will he be able to remain as Alliance leader if he is not elected?

  • Crataegus


    That assumes they (DUP) balance properly. They won’t.

    No its not they are sitting on 37-38% if they balance equally they are sitting on 12-13% each. Alliance vote is 8-9% and in a tight spot. Ford could easily be out first.

  • BonarLaw


    “Will he be able to remain as Alliance leader if he is not elected?”

    He should’ve gone to the Lords when he had the chance!

  • I remember hearing all this two years ago. And four years ago. And six years ago.

  • James

    I voted for Paul Girvan last time round but I won’t be voting for any of the three new DUP candidates who I know nothing about except that one said he supported burning the flag of the Irish Republic on bonfires.
    I will be voting for Ford and the UUP.

  • Crataegus


    Ford is in a dire spot. There won’t be a UUP surplus and he has to be ahead of the lowest DUP candidate. His best hope is if the SDLP plummet or the DUP stall.

  • John Farrell

    Ford will get another chance to get into the House of Lords …and another……and another.
    So will Eileen Bell.
    Indeed I think I fancy the idea of being in the HoL myself, so a good tactic would be to join the Alliance Party.
    If I pay my subscription by weekend, I should be chairing my first Quango by mid March. By the Queens Birthday honours, I should be getting myself measured up in Moss Bros for red ermine.
    I probably should be ordering new letterheads around Easter.
    If I ever see David Ford and Eileen Bell in the Castle Shopping Centre in Antrim or the Ring Road Shopping Centre in Bangor, putting several pound coins into those make your own business cards machines….I will know why.

  • John Farrell

    There are indeed three (possibly four) people chasing two seats.

    McLaughlin chasing the Republican/nationalist quota
    Ford chasing Moderate/unionist/nationalist quota
    2 SDLP candidates (ridiculously) chasing moderate/nationalist quota
    Kinahan chasing unionist/moderate quota..

    A lot dpends on who is ahead of whom at any given point in the counts….so I think the need to get close to a quota on first preferences is absolutely paramount.
    This makes it harder for SDLP where the animosity is obvious. Personally Id prefer Burns to McClelland but this is based on hearing the “Crumlin” side of the antipathy and not knowing any McClelland types.
    Seems people did not like the thought of a family dominating locally. Its as simple as that. Or so Im told.
    MClaughlin will I think increase his number of votes. He doesnt carry Meehans baggage and we are four years further along the peace process.

    For what its worth “conventional” wisdom on another web site, indicates that AP lose a seat and SF gain one.
    On balance I think thats about right.

  • John, sometimes people just talk such total and utter rubbish you have to take them to pieces.

    Ford will get another chance to get into the House of Lords

    Which is why he turned a peerage down when Trimble offered him one in 2001?

    Indeed I think I fancy the idea of being in the HoL myself, so a good tactic would be to join the Alliance Party.

    There’s a whole massive, er, one member of the House of Lords associated with Alliance. How many do the DUP have these days? And better yet, how long before the Shinners start taking them? It would only be the next logical step. Maybe Mitchel will get one if he loses next wekk.

    If I pay my subscription by weekend, I should be chairing my first Quango by mid March

    I’m afraid you’re about 20 years too late with that one. Being a PUP or a member of the Women’s Coalition might have helped, but I’m afriad you’ve missed those boats. The SDLP seems to be the place to be for wannabe quangocrats. Maybe you could join? Oh, you already… ah, I see.

    Ford is in a dire spot. There won’t be a UUP surplus and he has to be ahead of the lowest DUP candidate. His best hope is if the SDLP plummet or the DUP stall.

    Don’t you think we knew this four years ago? Don’t you think we’ve been working on it since? We had a reasonable set of elections here in 2005, more than enough to save the seat. And we’ve been working it hard since. Of course this is going to be tight, it always was going to be, but of the three non-unionist candidates we have by far the strongest campaign.

    The SDLP are having an open civil war, and the Shinners have in one way and another lost most of their more experienced activists here; and the brains behind their 2005 campaign, drafted in after the fiasco in 2003, is no longer of this world.

    PS – the transfers won’t be a problem from my canvassing experience. Half of the punters already know it, and it’s an easy sell to the others.

  • Crataegus


    We had a reasonable set of elections here in 2005, more than enough to save the seat.

    Bravado and everyone is entitled to a bit of that.

    Let us see 8 & 9% in the 2005 elections so what did Alliance get in the Assembly election of 2003 oh yes 9%.

    Stasis if you ask me.

    In 2003 the UUP had 30% and last year 25 & 29% The DUP in 2003 were 31% and last year 37 & 38%. A quota is 14.3%. So the UUP will have just about 2 quotas and no surplus and the DUP even if they get two in with full quotas they will leave a third on 9-10 % If one goes in on full quota and the other two are sitting fairly even Ford is gone.

    SF unfortunately on about 12% and even if the SDLP split evenly and transfer at 70% between themselves they are likely to be there at the end at over 10%. Also the number of Nationalists and Republicans in this constituency is increasing.

    These movements do not suit Ford at all.

  • Anti-Tribal voter

    Did you hear Ford playing the orange ticket last night on the TV and radio? He was canvassing a DUP memebr when he said something along the lines of ” Could you give me a preference to keep you know who out”. Encouraging tribal voting or what. Shame on Ford to push his middle ground status out of the window with a clearly anti-shinner statement. How can he mediate now after that blatant slur towards the shinners? Northern Ireland has enough politicians playing the orange ticket without the fence sitters starting it. Must be careful that my tongue doesn’t pop through my cheek!

  • John Farrell

    Im not actually a SDLP member but good try.
    Secondly I like to wind up Alliance types……mainly cos its like shooting fish in a barrel.
    thirdly….its only a comment on a blog. No fatalaties.

  • forlong

    Will be very tight for Ford, How McCrea shares the vote will be the key.

  • Im not actually a SDLP member but good try.

    Pity. It’s the quickest route to that quango job you want.

    Could you give me a preference to keep you know who out

    So, he’s saying exactly what Sinn Féin are saying to SDLP voters in Lagan Valley? Politician in Election Time Asking for Votes Shocka! Whatever will these evil Alliance orange bigots do next?

  • elsiemount

    Earlier blogger didn’t know who the new candidates were for the DUP. Surely you have heard of “our wee willie”. Everyone knows our wee willie. He also sings, preaches and makes a odd DVD or so. I believe the next one is to do with the Welsh Revival, or so his web site says.

    He is also your MP, because that dim wit Burnside couldn’t represent the corner of a paper bag, never mind the constituency of South Antrim.

    As one who had Mr McCrea as their MP for over 14 years, he works tirelessly for everyone. I feel that he will work well for South Antrim, in the absence of any other “decent” unionist.

    Prediction is:

    McCrea 1st Count
    Burnside 1st Count
    Clarke 2nd Count
    Lucas 5th Count
    Ford 9th Count
    McLaughlin 99th Count

  • jeep55


    Better to look at the size of the combined U vote because when the DUP go up the UUP tend to go down. In this constituency that is about 63% or 4.4 quotas. The combined Nationalist vote is about 25% or 1.8 quotas. Others take about 12% – mostly Alliance at 9%. Suppose DUP get 2.6 quotas and UU 1.8 and towards the later stages of the election they are on a combined 4.4 with Alliance picking up some UU and other non-aligned votes and sitting at just above 10% or 0.7 quotas. SDLP and Sinn Fein are still sitting on just over 0.9 quotas each. So 0.4 quotas of DUP votes are transferred and most of them go UU electing UU2 with a surplus. But only half the votes are needed to elect UU2 and so this surplus is further transferred. If all these voters give Ford the next preference then each vote transfers with a value = 0.5. But if only half the voters transfer the transfer value of each vote transferring is marked up to a maximum of 1.00 In other words the non-transferring votes are used to elect UU2 and the transferring votes are used to select the next preference. This is precisely the scenario that gave David Ford his get-out-of jail card the last time and I have no doubt that it can work again. So with 4 assorted Unionists elected DF inherits another 0.2 of a quota and is sitting with about 13% of the vote on a par with SDLP and SF. But SDLP have two runners and when SDLP2 folds 200 odd votes go to DF (now just short of a quota) and maybe 300+ go to MM (now just over the quota). Net result is that SDLP lose because they have dropped back to 0.8-0.9 quotas. If against all odds SDLP poll well (and hence SF do not) then you get a repeat of last time and MM loses.

    Because of the transfer rule not every DUP voter has to vote down the ticket to benefit Ford – just as long as a good proportion of them do he is in with more than a fighting chance.

  • John Farrell

    Sammy ..we actually seem to be saying the same things here.
    Twenty nay thirty years ago
    In an attempt to boost the centre, reward its favourite party and seek a common ground in our divided society….Alliance Party stalwarts were rewarded with Quango positions out of all proportion with their political clout. No harm in that. Fact of life.
    As Norn Iron is still likely to be governed in three ways… element of Westminster rule, a power sharing executive and the perennial quangos………it strikes me that the Government has a genuine dilemna in choosing the people involved.

    Our upcoming elections… your “analysis” so expertly shows is likely to result in a swing to the extremes of the spectrum.
    As you point out…rather acidly I think….SDLP is now regarded as centrist (you seem to have a frisson of chagrin about that).

    But the dilemna is……..does the Govt choose centrist types (AP SDLP and UUP types) in an attempt to spread the acceptability of the appointees (a common denominator) or alternatively choose SF and DUP types to properly reflect the views of the electorate.
    A dilemna.

  • BonarLaw

    John Farrell

    “But the dilemna is……..does the Govt choose centrist types (AP SDLP and UUP types) in an attempt to spread the acceptability of the appointees (a common denominator) or alternatively choose SF and DUP types to properly reflect the views of the electorate”

    See the recent Parades Commission appointment as a case in point.

  • Patrique

    The DUP candidates are not good. Willie McCrea yes, a nice moderate man who will do his best for everyone. But Lucas and Clarke are just spouting “super bigotry” in an effort to win votes.

    In last weeks local paper Lucas defends a monument in Antrim Town erected in memory of policemen who lost their lives in the troubles. He also says that the proposed new GAA pitch is “a training ground for IRA membership”, being built in a protestant area. Now the pitch is on a site where no-one lives, unless the fields are protestant. Lucas hints that all GAA members are IRA members. So could the new pitch be a training ground for the PSNI who have a thriving GAA team, the same PSNI that he defends on another page?
    So Mr Lucas is either very stupid, or believes that goiod old fashioned bigotry will be enough to win votes. Maybe this time, but not in the future as real politics gradually takes over.
    Now I said in 1994 that we would end up with a DUP/SinnFein government. The leaders now accept this, some of the foot soldiers and non thinkers and bigots do not.

  • Crataegus


    The mistake in your analysis is combining the DUP and UUP vote. McCrea and Burnside will be elected with surplus. Those surpluses will go to the party colleagues. There will then be two DUP candidates with around 24% of the vote and a UUP candidate with say 12-13% of the vote. SF will be around 12%

    If we assume the SDLP vote splits evenly (I think Burns will be ahead) they will both be on about 6% one of them goes out first. Assume 70% transfer rate and remaining SDLP candidate goes up to 10-11%

    In this situation Ford is possibly sitting on 9% and no prospect of Unionist transfers as the three or two of them are still in play and probably ahead of him. For Ford to stay in he needs to improve his vote by about 15 – 20% He needs to be around 11-12%

    As I said the shifting balance does not favour Ford at all. I have a feeling that this time the cards just won’t fall right for him.
    The question is where will Fords transfers go? Will any of them go to the UUP or DUP?

  • greystone lad

    One thing that everyone except Jeep seems to think is that all votes will transfer solidly within the party. But it’s not just the SDLP with difficulties.

    It’s well known that the Jim Wilson camp didn’t get on with the Burnside camp and Kinahan is clearly part of the Wilson camp. Even in 1998, a fair share of Wilson’s vote transferred to Ford and other candidates like Mrs Cosgrove of NIWC, rather than the other two UU candidates. Burnside is no longer the darling, with people wondering where he has been for months. This might bring down the Burnside vote, so that the three are more closely balanced.

    The DUP has now got an ideological split too, with McCrea joined by two even harder line rejectionists and a lot of resentment at the deselection of Girvan especially, but also Clyde. Plus the new pair are totally unknown in Newtownabbey, but are being pushed for No 1 by the posters in Glengormley and Carnmoney. I hear of DUP activists who are not too keen on working for Clarke and Lucas. Since everyone knows William McCrea, there is a fair chance that he will be well at the top of the poll, with transfers leaking all over the place, or at least as far as Ford. Burnside can expect to do well, ensuring the second UUP quota.

    SDLP infighting is well known and not decreasing. It may push up the vote of each of them, but it will damage transfers, which were poor enough last time.

  • tomorrows people

    Shinners are busy canvassing here, don’t be surprised if McLaughlin gets in.

  • SuperSoupy

    My moment of the election so far:

    The Green candidate in South Antrim during a candidate meeting in Crumlin answering a planning question/property developer question with “I must confess I’m a property developer…….”


    Almost as bad as the SDLP’s Tommy Burns criticising youth workers when addressing a questions from a youth worker and one of twenty young people who turned up. (luckily for him his inability to actually deliver a sentence in a comprehensible manner may mean he gets away with it)


    Ford and McLaughlin were the only two that seemed electable. The DUP didn’t bother sending any of their three candidates to Crumlin but are happy enough to cover the place with their posters.

    Three idiots.

  • Crataegus


    The Green candidate in South Antrim during a candidate meeting in Crumlin answering a planning question/property developer question with “I must confess I’m a property developer…….”


    I would say honest. Better that than the pack of lies that was the SF PEB. Now that really was an affront.

    By the way what is wrong with being a developer? Someone has to rebuild after the bombings, and who builds the houses we all need? Perhaps the tooth fairy?

    Unfortunately highly probable that both the blow ins will take a seat.

  • SuperSoupy

    He wasn’t claiming to provide new housing or affordable housing or Green housing.

    He makes his money exploiting a property bubble and invited boos when he said it – he got them.

    And he is a ‘blow-in’ too.

  • Crataegus


    A developer is someone who builds houses, offices shops etc. A speculator is someone who buys land and sits on it and sells it off at profit.

    In the context of NI it is not the role of developers to provide affordable housing, it is virtually impossible because the land is so expensive. It can cost over £100,000 for the land to build a house, and by the time you build and provide the roads and services you are sitting around £200,000. The problem is land is too expensive.

    I am a developer and on many a thread I have said we could do more to make houses greener but it requires legislation because the customers are not willing to pay for solar panels but are willing to spend a fortune on kitchen fittings. It is not the developers responsibility to build greener houses, we build for the market within the legislation if we don’t we risk going bust.

    I don’t know Mr Whitcroft, never heard of him outside politics, he is not a well known player in property and I would imagine he is a small developer. Probably builds a few houses a year.

    As for him being a blow in I looked up his post code on Google maps and it would seem he lives between Antrim and Templepatrick. Now from a Crumlin point of view that may constitute blow in, but at least he does live in the constituency unlike our gentlemen from Derry and Magherafelt.

  • SuperSoupy


    Not that it’s important as he will be an also ran but I have a feeling he meant speculator rather than developer. Like you I’ve never heard of him.

    When I was searching for a house I would have jumped at a ‘Green’ alternative – none exist in the area so I have to assume he is playing the game for profit and/or ignoring ‘Green’ decisions over taking the cash.

    As for ‘blow-in’ he admitted he wasn’t a local, as did the English UUP man (who I liked despite his weakness on policy and local issues)

  • SuperSoupy


    Maybe a point Sluggers could clarify? Does the ‘Green’ candidate make money from exploiting a housing shortage or not? Speculator or not?

    I’d be interested to hear of these eco-friendly homes he is building in S.Antrim.

  • Crataegus


    Glad to hear you would jump at an environmentally friendly house. There are two problems with them firstly they are more expensive to construct if you aim to do it properly, and the second is the attitude of the planning service to houses that do not ‘follow the form of the existing urban texture’ or ‘are at variance with the rural design guide’ etc etc.

    There should be a tax on the windfall gains made on speculation and the increased value of land when it receives planning permission. May help to pay for the water infrastructure, but unfortunately won’t bring down the price of land and until that happens only houses that are subsidised are affordable. In theory expensive land benefits the likes of myself for I plan well ahead. So land I bought say 5 years ago is worth more, but the problem is when I go to buy more the gain is wiped out. Those that gain are mainly the Banks and Government or in my case by deciding the market here is getting a bit over heated and deciding to build elsewhere. The problem is the Banks risk over exposure so when there is a down turn they are first to react calling in all unsecured loans and ensuring that the downturn happens.

    If Whitcroft is a developer why should he be building eco friendly houses? It is like saying a Republican shop keeper should only source goods in Ireland or a ‘Green’ who is a Grocer should stock only organic food. It is an unreal expectation. To carry it further is he expected to travel round S Antrim by foot or bike, or rely totally on public transport, can’t be done. But what you can do is stand for what you believe should happen and seek to enable change.

    Strange that he should say he is not local for his nominations has his abode as in the Templepatrick-Antrim area? Maybe he meant not local to Crumlin? On another threat he appeared to have an offhand manner in his replies, but he struck me as totally up front and honest; a there it is, like it or not, I am not going to go out of my way to mislead sort of person.

    Anyway up to him to defend himself. By the way when is the SF candidate buying a house in South Antrim? Will he then own more than one house? Does he only wear clothes that are made by workers that receive a fair wage? I hope he is not thinking of receiving the Queen’s shilling?

  • zardoz

    Can anyone explain the cause of the antipathy between the two SDLP candidates?

  • Alliance to play the Orange card? Reminds me of the last 72 hours in North Down in 1995.

  • Observer


    What was that about?

  • Crataegus

    The Watchman

    Alliance to play the Orange card? Reminds me of the last 72 hours in North Down in 1995.

    They seem to play on the divide frequently and when it suits them. It is something that I find distasteful and hypocritical from a party that is supposed to be neither this nor that.

    I take it you are referring to the Holywood council vote. It was discussed on another thread and apparently a UUP candidate was actively canvassing for the Alliance candidate (with or without Alliance knowledge) to keep the Green out. Certainly the transfer pattern was very odd. It wasn’t the Alliance transfers that got a second Alliance councillor elected but UUP transfers. I would give them the benefit of the doubt on that one but Ford’s recent on camera perhaps shows a dark side to Alliance.


    I think it goes back to the selection of the candidate in the previous Assembly election but I am not sure if foul deeds were done or simply someone did not accept the outcome. Hence two candidates.

  • jeep55


    I think you are talking about 2005 and not 1995. Firstly Alliance were just short of 2 quotas and needed very little help from anyone to gain the second seat. Secondly the comments by the UUP (already successful) candidate were ill-advised and Alliance visibly and soundly distanced themselves from these. But please don’t take my word for this because a certain regular contributor to these blogs can enlighten you – he was much closer to the action than I!

  • I think they’re talking about the “McCartney Drops Poll Shock” eve of poll leaflet in 1995 after McCartney announced he was going to take the Labour Whip.

    The reason why they’re still annoyed about it 12 years later was because it actually did impact Bob, although it probably helped McFarlane more than it helped us. In fact it was an object lesson in why playing the ‘orange card’ doesn’t work for us any more than playing the referendum card will work for the SDLP. People just don’t believe it. Clever tactics are worse than useless if they don’t dovetail with your strategy and beliefs.

    Still, it was worth it to see the look on their faces and to be threatened by one of McCartney’s supporters at the count. Sometimes engagement in politics is about so much more than the narrow pursuit of votes.

  • Crataegus


    Sorry 1995 time flies. On the Holywood incident I said I would give Alliance the benefit of the doubt on that one and elsewhere said that the whole event must have been appalling for both the Green and the Alliance candidate. But you did need the UUP transfers from what I can remember as many of Adlerdice’s transfers went to the Greens. The UUP councilor in question has a lot to answer for if the accusations are true.

  • Oh yes, I remember the 1995 days so well. And I also seem to remember Sir Oliver apologising for it when pressed about it. And McCartney didn’t say that he was going to take anybody’s whip (can you imagine him obeying anyone but Maureen?), rather it was Vincent Hanna putting words into his mouth and facilitating an unnecessary gaffe.

    Oh no, I wasn’t bitter then or now, but when Alliance or its self-declared horse’s ass of a leader comes out with holier-than-thou stuff, well …