BBC: Two, rather than four, main parties…

The BBC’s line is that there are now only two big parties, rather than four. Without doubt, some history was made on Wednesday, not least the collapse of Ulster Unionists. At 30% percent of the vote going to the DUP: it looks like three in the last UUP stronghold of North Down. On the Nationalist side, with a smart, focused and clever deployment of its considerable manpower Sinn Fein achieved what it arguably could not do through the media in the wake of the party’s annus horribilus of 2005: a significant victory (primarily though not exclusively) over the SDLP on an overall 2 percent shift of the vote from 2003.The SDLP’s Alban Maguinness struck a worrying note for party stalwarts, when he suggested that the campaign was good, that Durkan had provided good leadership and the campaign had been professional. Worrying, mostly because he was strangely silent on why his own performance had been so poor in North Belfast: 2,212 (7.4%) down from 3186 (13.26%). If Mitchel McLaughlin got egg on his face for calling Foyle badly wrong in 2005, the SDLP’s claims of having a good shout in Strangford and Newry and Armagh, leave serious questions over how well the party keeps its eye on the ball.

  • moyle rover

    While the SDLP have had a poor election it could have been much worse due to their own incompetence. Two candidates in North and South Antrim, and upper Bann where they did not even have enough votes for one quota??? And then west tyrone 3 candidates for less than a quota?? What were they on. They got back in N antrim and upper Bann, the other two remain to be seen. Poor party management at play.

  • J_K

    Have to say that in a funny sort of way two big parties with a loose amalgamation of the 3 or 4 smaller parties is no bad thing Рindeed it even generally also reflects something stranger Рa broad nationalist/republican/left Sinn F̩in, a broad unionist/right wing/fundamentalist/neo-conservative DUP and then an amalgamation of liberals, greens, working class loyalists, middle class unionists

  • Yokel

    Not so Teflon Tony didnt mention the 26th March dealione in an interview. Might be worth noting.

    Tom Elliott is also suggesting the UUP looks at going into opposition. Reg could be in for a rough ride on this issue.

  • John Farrell

    “If Mitchel McLaughlin got egg on his face for calling Foyle badly wrong in 2005, the SDLP’s claims of having a good shout in Strangford and Newry and Armagh, leave serious questions over how well the party keeps its eye on the ball”

    Hate to be pedantic but “Slugger O’Tooles” semi official prediction in the form of Sammys 40 nationalist/republican seats seems in retrospect to be rather innaccurate also.

  • Yokel

    Semi official my arse, it was someones considered opinion.

    Wrong but considered.

  • Mick Fealty


    Remind me (with a link if possible)?

    If you check out Nicholas Whyte’s prediction competition you will find I have not participated (and never have), precisely because I don’t trust my own judgement on such things.

  • Orla Supporter

    Moyle Rover – the SDLP got it spot on in North Antrim by running two candidates – they would have lost the seat if they had not.

    Orla Black raised the vote in the area that she was given by 200 + and got significant transfers from SF. Declan O Loan’s vote was down 400 at least despite his high profile and experience as Councillor in Ballymena for 15 years.

    If Declan had run on his own the seat would have almost certainly been lost.

    Orla has proved to be much more popular than the SDLP party label in her area and had she been given the opportunity to canvass for more than 33% of the N Antrim area she would have gained alot more for the SDLP, taken one or two off SF and become the first woman MLA.

    If the party had given her a chance and given all candidates an equal crack at the whip she would have been a success story. SF know she has prevented them from making even further gains in the Moyle area.

    It is fair that Declan won the seat given his time with the party but there is no way he would have got it on his own had he not had such a popular running mate.

  • Crataegus

    Let us face it the BBC like simplicity. Complicated messages are not their game, difficult in a 30 second slot.

    We have been getting the message that only two parties matter for some time now from Hain and the Beeb and well what do you know the election follows suit.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    I would encourage the likes of tired old Alban to comtinue to trot out the line that they fought a good camapign. In much the same way that I hope the Attwoods continue their role as party strategists.

    As for North Belfast it is an open secret that Albam and Pat hate each other. The SDLP in North Belfast are withering on the vine the problem being as Martin Morgan and previously Brian Feeney can confirm is Alban himself.

  • páid

    It can help to have ‘surplus’ candidates that appeal to different geographical or other groups in the constituencies, as long as they transfer loyally.

  • A Better Way to a Better Ireland

    Moyle Rover

    In North Antrim the SDLP employed a two candidate strategy. For the following reasons.

    The SDLP vote in the constituency divides itself almost naturally with 50% picked up in Ballymena council area and the other 50% in the council areas of Moyle (concentrated in Ballycastle, Cushendall and the Glens)and Ballymoney (concentrated in Loughgiel, Dunloy and Rasharkin).
    The two candidates selected had a strong appeal in their own areas and made vote management easier.

    It is likely that the Glens and Ballycastle may form part of a new East Antrim Constituency and it made sense to promote a candidate from that base.
    The party locally wanted to be seen to be promoting its younger candidates

    A candidate from a Glens of Antrim base helped enthuse and revitalise party organisation and improved turnout via a vigourous and energetic campaign

    Cllr. Orla Black brought a whole new set of young voters to the SDLP from her Glens of Antrim base.

    A two candidate strategy raised Cllr. Orla Black’s profile, and make the retention of the SDLP seat secure.

  • John Farrell

    Mick as you seem to have missed the point of my original post, I have repeated it below.
    Hate to be pedantic but “Slugger O’Tooles” semi official prediction in the form of Sammys 40 nationalist/republican seats seems in retrospect to be rather innaccurate also.

    You will note that “Slugger O’Toole” is in quotation marks and refers to this site.
    You will note that I describe the predictions as “semi-official”
    You will note that I attribute authorship to Sammy and not to you.

    Links to Sammys reports are along the side of this page. I have clicked on them.
    On my recount which may or may not be more accurate than my first effort I get Sammy predicting 39 nationalist/republican seats.
    Either way 39 or 40 seems a long way short of the way things will actually turn out.

    For the record Sammys nationalist seats are
    North Belfast 3
    South Belfast 2 (actual 3)
    West Belfast 5 (actual 6)
    East Derry 2
    Foyle 5
    FST 3
    Mid Ulster 4
    Newry Armagh 4 (where he made the same prediction as SDLP)
    North Antrim 2
    South Down 4
    Upper Bann 2 (still possibly 3)
    West Tyrone 3 (still possibly 4)

    Sammy did not predict any nationalists in Lagan Valley (1) or South Antrim (at least 1)

    The point of my post was to merely point out that if we seek to criticise other predictions (and the SDLP was understandably partisan) and fairly accurate (they had a good shout in at least Newry Armagh)then we must expect criticism if we make predictions as “Sammy” did.

    For the record I predicted 42 or 43 seats …I wont worry too much about criticism. What can I say? Mea culpa mea culpa mea maxima culpa

  • irishman

    Pat’ mclarnon’s back with his predictable Shinner shite!

    Apart from playing the man Pat, where is the proof of Alban being “tired” and “old”? Do you have any? Of course you don’t ‘cos you’re back talking shite again – Shiner shite. Same old predictable SDLP bashing…

    It’s an “ open secret that Albam and Pat hate each other”. Is it really? And you would know this, how eactly? Once again, any proof? Of course you don’t ‘cos you’re shit sturring again.

    Go get a shovel Pat and start looking for the Disappeared instead of trying to have your predicatble pop at he SDLP. “Dead men in a ditch” left by the Provos your party treasonously excuses and you can STILL support them! Sure what does a few fellow coutrymen left dead in a ditch matter eh? Pathetic. Just pathetic! Nationalists have sold their sould because they’re not such great Irish Republicans after all.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Ha Ha Ha.

  • lexicon

    On to one of the lesser parties – now to be extinct…

    If you want a definition of the word HUBRIS – please, please go to the NI news page on BBC news online and check out the photograph and the headline on the top story.


  • irishman

    Dead men in a ditch, Pat

  • nmc

    Pat put his money where his mouth is, and as much as it may pain some here, he was right.

  • Mick Fealty


    Whilst I would love to have Sammy on the Slugger team, it may have escaped your notice that he is not. So what, in your view, makes him ‘semi official’?

    Pat and irishman,

    Another sordid bout of mutual character assassination? Well done boys!

    Seriously though. I am sure there is something to your thinking Pat, but we have no inkling of what you mean beyond an ad hominem reference to the man himself. It just looks like you don’t like him. He clearly didn’t lose so much of the vote because of that, surely?

    You reference Feeney and Morgan. What was they actually said?


    some attempt to stick to the subject in hand would be appreciated.

  • Pat Mc Larnon


    it was at a public meeting to discuss the building of houses on the old Milk Marketing Board site on the Antrim Road. Alban and Pat adopted completely different and opposite views on the provision of public housing and the exchanges were nasty.

    The SDLP organisation in N Belfast is polarised between the grouping based in the Castle Ward and the remnants of the organisation based in Oldpark. The organisation in Oldpark is merely a paper organisation such was the emphasis and control exerted by the Castle organisation.

    Both Feeney and Morgan were based in the Oldpark part of N Belfast organisation and were overlooked and sidelined by the larger group.

  • Hmm…

    Isn’t it just true that (for better or worse) only two parties matter? The Beeb only serve this up to us simply because the two govts. rightly believe it to be the case and act accordingly. Negotiating with Alliance and the Greens would hardly make much sense (no disrespect to either intended!).

  • John Farrell


    “Whilst I would love to have Sammy on the Slugger team, it may have escaped your notice that he is not. So what, in your view, makes him ‘semi official’?”

    I am much too new on this site to know or even care who is who. Sammy’s posts seem to be treated with a degree of awe that may or may not be deserved.
    As his 39 Nationalist seats was er nowhere near accurate, may I offer myself 42/43 seats as a useful addition to the Slugger team or better still the guy DCMM? who suggested 28 for SF.

    I may not be entirely the most obvious addition to the Slugger team (I’m a bit off message I think).

  • Irishman

    I accept the yellow card Mick though I think in fairness, Pat meits a similar warning. Playing the man, in this case Alban, is uncalled for as my post attempted to highlight.

    I hoped my post portrayed a view that exist in the Nationalist community, (currently around 30%), that SF do not represent the entire Nationalist/Republican voice and this should and needs to be heard (not stifled or belittled by the likes of Pat et al)

    Mick I take the warning.

    Pat, it’s a sick mind that mocks and laughs at the treasonous murder of those who have become know as The Disappeared.

  • Crataegus


    They could at least make it seem that the SDLP and UUP were relevant. 60% or less vote and of that what percent vote SF and DUP? 30% matter the rest of us don’t?

    It wouldn’t be that difficult to include all parties that had MLAs It would simply be good form and respecting everyone’s mandate.