Should Unionism do a Salmond in South Belfast?

The SNP has achieved significant advances in the Scottish elections (* more below the fold). Part of the SNP’s electoral strategy was the party leadership standing in target not safe seats. Alex Salmond took the greatest risk running in Gordon, eighteenth on the SNP’s target list, and it paid off. The seat was won with almost twice the national swing to the SNP.
Unionism will be targeting South Belfast and Fermanagh and South Tyrone in the forthcoming Westminster elections. The recent Assembly result in South Belfast has given Unionism cause to think with between 2000-4000 regular Unionist voters sitting at home and neither nominal Westminster candidates (Spratt and McGimpsey) appearing to have caught the electorate’s imagination. Besides the electoral pact to be sorted out, should Unionism look about moving in a big name to run? In 2005 the Unionist vote was over 16,000 and greater than 50% and even with a poor performance in 2007 Unionism outpolled Nationalism so it is a winnable and holdable seat. PLUS nearly all existing seats are safe making a change of candidate unlikely to threaten a seat. A big name would also communicate how serious Unionism was about creating the positive story of winning back a seat from Nationalism.

* The SNP advance seems to have been achieved primarily by mopping up the pro-independence SSP vote and a few percentage points off Labour. However, the advances are not as great as predicted with the SNP and Labour almost tied in the popular vote and so far Labour have a clearer lead over the SNP in the regional vote although a bigger SNP lead in the regional vote.

  • Jeremy

    129 seats of 129 declared

    SNP 47
    LAB 46
    CON 17
    LD 16
    Others 3

  • Are you thinking of anyone in particular FD?

  • fair_deal

    SM

    I have an open mind on the who

  • smcgiff

    For the SNP to increase their seats by 74% is amazing.

    Even though the polls have been predicting it, it is amazing to see it come to pass.

    Even with the polls the way they were I thought coming a handful of seats behind Labour would be a massive result.

    Now, they should stay clear of government (are you listening Reg) and sweep up even more seats next time around.

    Not only are the SNP and Labour separated by only the smallest of margins, so are the Lib Dems and the Cons. Surely, the Cons will not go into government with either the SNP or Labour. So that leaves the Lib dems to be king maker.

    But, this is the fascinating thing. If they choose Labour, they’ll need to include the two Greens to get an overall majority. But if they go with the SNP they only need the independent (of whom I know nothing).

    Fascinating – Absolutely fascinating!!!

  • jocky

    smcgiff, I think the one independent is Margo MacDonald, ardent nationalist and until not too long ago SNP member. Could get very interesting.

  • SuperSoupy

    Jocky,

    That’s right she is a former SNP MP and senior member of the party. She’d have no trouble supporting them.

  • smcgiff

    Very interesting, Jocky.

    I would imagine the Lib Dems would be more inclined to go with Labour. But, they would then need the greens, which would probably mean less “jobs” for the Lib Dems.

    As you say, a very interesting few days of horse trading ahead!

  • That’s right she is a former SNP MP and senior member of the party. She’d have no trouble supporting them.

    So you’d think if it were just about policy. But she left the SNP in an amazingly bitter way. I’m not sure how she’d react to be honest. The Greens 2 seats aren’t really enough to make Robin Harper a minister so I suppose some form of minority administration is most likely.

  • Jocky

    The big problem the Lib Dems have is that the last pact with Labour they were very much the junior partner, why vote for Labour-lite?

    considering their core principles, or at least policies, are in opposition ot labour on the iraq war, on nuclear, on trident, etc, SNP would be a much closer fit. Apart form the national question.

    So do they sell their principles even more chepaly for a pact with Labour. have they no self respect?

    Why folk get soo hung up on borders is beyond me.

  • Prince Eoghan

    YA BEAUTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    What a great day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • smcgiff

    ‘Why folk get soo hung up on borders is beyond me.’

    Sure, tis only a line on the map! 😉

  • dodrade

    “Now, they should stay clear of government (are you listening Reg) and sweep up even more seats next time around.”

    Not a chance, Alex Salmond makes Bob McCartney look modest. He can’t wait to get into the First Minister’s chair.

    “But, this is the fascinating thing. If they choose Labour, they’ll need to include the two Greens to get an overall majority. But if they go with the SNP they only need the independent (of whom I know nothing).”

    Your sums are slightly wrong. SNP+Lib Dems+Greens equals the magic number of 65, and they could probably rely on Margo McDonald’s support as well.

    Labour+Lib Dems+Greens=only 64.

    I actually think the best result for Labour would be an SNP minority government. Had they clung on they would have got a bigger hammering next time.

    Should the Lib Dems switch horses without the SNP dropping the independence referendum they will also be punished next time round. best thing for them to do is to sit it out this time.

    An SNP minority government will find it very hard to deliver and could resemble Ramsay mcDonald’s first short lived administation.

    Labour might not think it now, but this isn’t the worst of results for them.

  • smcgiff

    dodrade,

    Sorry, I’d the Lib Dems on 17 and not the Cons.

    SNP must be favourite to take the reins so. Either as minority or with the Lib Dems and greens.

    Yip with only 47 (48?) they would have too small a minority to govern well or for long. Which may not be a bad thing. If it is seen that the other parties bring down an SNP government it might bode well for the subsequent election.

  • George

    Fair_Deal,
    are you suggesting Peter Robinson run in South Belfast by any chance?

  • pondersomething

    I agree – not a bad result at all for Labour in Scotland & Wales given some of the poll predictions against them.

    Looks like SNP will have to form a minority government with a majority, including LD+GP of just one seat – nothing like a good recipe for an independence referendum campaign.

    The Tories meanwhile will have to reflect long and hard on their failure to make their much-trumpeted breakthrough in Northern England; even under Cameron they still too much resemble a southern England provincial party.

    All in all, not the worst place for Brown to start from, given the expectations.

  • PaddyReilly

    They’re having a great day of it over in BBC Alba Radio nan Gaidheal:-

    “Se latha mor an eachdraidh ar tir a tha ann” they say. “Oh, ’s’ann, ’s’ann.” Scirl of pipes, sound of clinking of glasses.

    What a great country, where the Presbyterians speak Gaelic and vote Nationalist!

    Hopefully some compromise will emerge with Socialist policies being enacted in a Nationalist framework. It makes for a much more democratic feel when each of the parties needs to compromise with the others.

    As for the subject of this thread. No hope. Next election, Unionists in minority, Alliance hold balance of power.

  • fair_deal

    George

    As I said I have an open mind on the who

  • dodrade

    Labour’s result in Wales was very good, a loss of only three seats. indeed Labour only lost four in Scotland, the SNP’s gains came largely at the expense of the Greens and the SSP.

    “All in all, not the worst place for Brown to start from, given the expectations.”

    The Scottish result will hurt Brown in the short term but it could, perhaps should have been worse. Hopefully it will give him the spur he needs to get British Troops out of Iraq by the end of the year and to scrap ID cards. I still think the odds favour Brown more than Cameron, though a hung parliament still looks most likely.

  • Prince Eoghan

    >>What a great country, where the Presbyterians speak Gaelic and vote Nationalist!<< Quote of the day Paddy! LOL BTW what are they saying?

  • james orr

    Like all parties in power, the SNP position will moderate over the coming months – particularly if they need to strike a deal with the LibDems. A UDI referendum may be on the SNP wishlist but it is hardly likely for some time.

    The North/South divide on the Scottish map on the BBC website is interesting – the majority below the central belt voted for GB parties, whilst the majority above the central belt voted SNP.

    (The Lowlanders aye had mair sense than the ither yins)

  • PaddyReilly

    PE

    What are they saying, you daft sasunnach chiel?

    “This is a great day in the history of our county.””Oh, it is, it is.”

    Sound of drams being drunk, teuchtars throwing up, etc.

  • primed

    the reason salmond and sturgeon could afford to fight marginal seats is due to the ‘additional member’ system of pr used…….if they had lost they would have been elected through their position on the party list…..

    great result for the snp considering the media coverage was totally negative……..they have bucked the accepted wisdom that an election cannot be won without the support of at least one tabloid…..on the contrary, the two main tabloids carried rabidly anti-nationalist headlines yesterday……the sun had a picture of a noose with the headline ‘don’t hang scotland, don’t vote snp’……..

  • Teach

    Personally even though I’m not an SNP supporter.I think Alex Salmond should be the First Minister,his party is the biggest even though it’s only by one seat.The one good thing to come out of this will hopefully be that because no one party has an overall majority,even with coalitions it will be difficult to get policies passed without general support from most of the different parties.So more people will feel the party they support,whoever they are,will at least have a say and contribution in how Scotland is run !

  • Jocky

    OK, crazy idea time, but why not have a SNP + CON coallition, they have 64 + either Margo or the greens. Bobs your Uncle.

    the reasons why;
    1) To get one over Labour in Scotland
    2) To really put the firghteners on Labour in England, if Soctland became independent the conservatives would stroll it. Also Scotland was traditionally a conservative country, until Thatcher obliterated them. If they dropped the unionist schtick they benefit in scotland and in england
    Real Politik at it’s finest.

    Labour aren’t left with a pot to piss in, SNP get Scotland, Conservatives regain credibility in scotland and as a bonus get to govern England, Wales and NI (OK the Wales and NI bit probably aint a bonus).

  • Also Scotland was traditionally a conservative country, until Thatcher obliterated them.

    Actually if you look at the long term fall in the Conservative vote in Scotland the biggest drop came under Ted Heath.

  • Spratt and McGimpsey “appearing to have caught the electorate’s imagination”. Surely not!

  • Prince Eoghan

    For the foreseeable the Tories are persona non grata amongst the majority of Scots Jocky. A new Scottish party of the centre right has been floated as an idea, but no bites so far.

    I’m not a hundred percent sure (can’t find details) but I think the SNP won the popular vote, thus this adds legitimacy of a kind. The so called democrats in the Lib-Dem’s have stated that they do not wish to let the people choose for themselves in a referendum on independence, which in my opinion cost them votes. I wonder if these ‘democrats’ would dare snub the SNP and set up a govt. with Labour

  • The Third Policeman

    Anyway, enough of this nonsense about West Minster and South Belfast and all that, lets talk about the real election that’s on everyone’s lips. The vote that’s got the whole country in a tissle. I’m talking of course of monopoly.ie! That’s right, they’re making a new Irish monolopy. Trouble is, there’s only 26 places. 32 counties. You do the math.

    Derry was 5th there a while ago but I see we’ve very cleverly decided on a tactical drop back to 10th to let the other counties catch up. But I feel the time is right to make the leap back up again. So all true Derry men on Slugger, as Sinn Fein would say, Vote Early and Vote Often!

    Any chance of a thread on this very important election?

  • Munsterman

    On Finnish National State news, the FIRST item on the news is SNP’s result.
    (www.yle.fi)

    Perhaps the Finns have a hunch that there will soon be another new independent European Republic.
    The Finns may not be the only ones with that hunch, I’d say.

  • BP1078

    So, SNP 47 seats, Labour 46, Tories 17, Liberal Democrats 16, Greens 2.

    Correct me if I’m wrong here, discounting the political prostitutes of the LDs…pro Union parties 63 seats, those arguing for an *independent* (or alternatively, pissed off with a corrupt and incompetent Scottish Labour Party) Scotland 47.

    Bring on the referendum asap.

  • BP1078

    Re the S Belfast question, forget Robinson (too East Belfast to pull in the golf club unionists). Donaldson is a much better bet, big name and the orange connection should guarantee the w/c unionist vote in Belvoir,Annadale, Sandy row, Taughmonagh, Donegal Pass etc. Also the m/c will be impressed with his little ventures into the W. belfast festival, RTE etc- the acceptable face of DUPism for the snobs.

  • Teach

    I agree we should do the referendum as so as ! I actually think it’s a political mistake for the SNP not to hold it just now.Plus it would get it out of the way,whatever way it goes.So we can then focus on our economy , education , health etc,etc

  • response

    Not sure what the current thinking is after Trimbles mess up on what I seen as a most reasonable offer from the DUP re: SB & F&ST last time around

    Haven’t really studied the figures of voting patterns etc. but I imagine the DUP would take the free run in F&ST with Arlene Foster. So It would likely be a candidate from the UU camp.

    Reg or Basil McCrea

  • Dewi

    hey Prince – Had a word wirh Rhodri and we have agreed to sell u Strachclyde for 14.3% of oil revenues for the next 300 years … deal ? – kidding – brilliant result !!!!

  • Unionist observer

    Just been watching the election reaction on Newsnight and the parallels between the SNP/ Labour battle and the DUP/ UUP battle here over the last five years. Labour tried to paint the SNP as a dangerous and distasteful (confrontational is the word Labour are now using) option and some of the language was very similar to the UUP attitude that the DUP were really beneath them without the breeding for government that Ulster Unionists have. Also the reaction to the result also triggers deja vu. Labour are banging on about how they avoided the meltdown commentators predicted (sound familiar)and how the SNP’s small margin over them was unconvincing. They clearly are in the early stages of the mistaken UUP mindset that the result was a blip and the people will soon come round. Anyone prepared to put money on Labour not learning the lessons or recognising the need to change leading to a bigger SNP team the next time and at least two terms of nationalist rule in Scotland?

  • Bob Wilson

    The insular thinking of those who post on this site as ‘unionists’ is shocking.
    If there is a lesson from Scotland to NI or South Belfast it is that those who believe in the Union should not dance to nationalist tunes.
    Have you heard today any talk of the Lib, Con and Lab thowing their lot in together in one party in order for unionism to win back their ‘south Belfasts’?
    No – they are confident of their overall position and realise that to do so would only play into the SNP hands.
    So called unionists in NI do precisely that – they deliberately keep themselves isolated from the politcs of the Union and work to the ‘nationalist framework of reference’
    The extent of this warped virtually anti British feeling is seen in a UUP which admits to has no influence at Westminster and seems to not to care and a DUP which pushes a separtist agenda by seeking to break up the unified tax system of the UK
    (True unionists who believe NI needs tax cuts would argue for UK tax cuts not NI only ones)

    It is becoming increasingly clear that Sinn Fein’s strategy is to ‘play the government’ game and maintain their vote and wait until unionism – foolishly continues down the Prot Unionist/Six county party agenda – which fails to inspire increasing numbers of unionist voters. This will eventually lead to the ironic position that while a united ireland is no more popular than it has ever been the Assembly will have a nationalist majority.

    Anyone who remains in the UUP or DUP is complicit in faciliating this agenda.

  • wesley

    “Re the S Belfast question, forget Robinson (too East Belfast to pull in the golf club unionists). Donaldson is a much better bet, big name and the orange connection should guarantee the w/c unionist vote in Belvoir,Annadale, Sandy row, Taughmonagh, Donegal Pass etc.2

    I presume the Belvoir uda, Annadale uff, Sandy row uvf, Taughmonagh( I’m the man, jackie mcdonald)uda/uff, Donegall Pass uvf will all be consulted on the possible selection of an agreed unionist candidate ?

  • Crow

    A DUP/UUP pact on FST and SB might prompt a SDLP/SF pact on SB and NB.

  • darth rumsfeld

    >>What a great country, where the Presbyterians speak Gaelic and vote Nationalist!<< ..ah but the Gaelic speaking Nationalist voting Presbyterians are..er most likely to be anti-RC-(outside of those at a southwest Glasgow sporting venue at noon today- quite a few of whom will be Asian)-confused? well you should be if you make simple Irish-based generalisations

  • darth rumsfeld

    “So called unionists in NI do precisely that – they deliberately keep themselves isolated from the politcs of the Union and work to the ‘nationalist framework of reference’”

    Hmmm-unlike the Scots Tories who spent years pretending they were nothing to do with Major or Thatcher post-poll tax, and then embraced devolution after years of opposing it to the point of electoral oblivion at Westminster.Who until Dave (“Hello Dave-can my wife use your toilet?”) came along,were steadfastly proud of their independence from Smith Square etc.

    Sorry Bob, you gravitate to the politics of where you can get power. That’s why Lib Dems can’t decide whether they’re anti-Labour in the cities or anti-Tory in the shires.

  • Bp1078

    I presume the Belvoir uda, Annadale uff, Sandy row uvf, Taughmonagh( I’m the man, jackie mcdonald)uda/uff, Donegall Pass uvf will all be consulted on the possible selection of an agreed unionist candidate ?

    “wesley”
    I’d like to think that wouldn’t be the case, but since both Unionist parties seem to have no scruples with going into government with ex(?)-terrorists, it wouldn’t surprise me unfortunately.

  • Prince Eoghan

    Darth.

    Thanks for your concern but we have been doing quite well in Scotland providing anti-RC bigots with education. As a result they have been totally marginalised and no longer represent a significant portion of Scottish society. Also the times when some Asians (minute amount) would have gone to ibrox has long gone. The general availability of right-wing, racist and BNP paraphernalia. Oh that and the fact that racist parties feel comfortable leafleting and canvassing Ibrox on match days whilst the SNP don’t.

    Dewi.

    Considering that we are all original Britons then you can have a loan of it for two weeks in the summer. It was a fantastic feeling yesterday, lots of hugging, phone calls and texts. There is (hopefully) no going back now!

    Salmond and co have a strategy that has worked magnificently well so far. They believe that allowing the people to judge them in government will help overcome all the propaganda that is waged by an anti-Scottish local media. It is no surprise to me that some on here are calling for a referendum straight away, sure they would save money by not having to pay double for all their negative campaigning. The SNP will trust the people to do the right thing, we are well on the right road.

  • wee P

    Eoghan,
    What’s it got to do with you? Are you not Irish?
    Internal Scottish affairs is a matter for that people only.
    Isn’t the SNP Voter-base traditionally hostile to the Roman Catholic Church?

  • Phil

    PE,

    Congratulations, a fine result for yourselves and for all English patriots (although an SNP landslide would have been nice but there you go!) but I personally think that patience is needed regarding a referendum as by 2010 England will have had three years of government led by a man with no mandate to govern us. I believe that the English will be so disgruntled by then that when Scotland gets her referendum, the cry for one in England too will be so loud that even prudence Brown himself will not be able to ignore it. I predict that England would vote overwhelmingly for independence which would of course mean Scotland would also get independence whether she voted for it or not.

  • Correct me if I’m wrong here, discounting the political prostitutes of the LDs…pro Union parties 63 seats, those arguing for an *independent* (or alternatively, pissed off with a corrupt and incompetent Scottish Labour Party) Scotland 47.

    Nope. Pro-independence – SNP, Green and Margot – 50. Pro-union – Lab, LD and Con – 79.

    The so called democrats in the Lib-Dem’s have stated that they do not wish to let the people choose for themselves in a referendum on independence, which in my opinion cost them votes.

    What’s undemocratic? Parties/candidates in favour of an Independence referendum in the next four years – 50. Parties against an independence referendum in the next four years – 79. You might not agree with the result but all the parties were refreshingly clear about their position in the campaign and there is no majority for holding a referendum. It would be much more undemocratic if the LibDems agreed to a referendum to keep their Ministerial seats. I’m all in favour of a SNP-LD coalition personally, but the SNP can’t win a parliamentary vote on holding a referendum so they ought to ditch that particular shibboleth now and negotiate for a Programme for Government which can command a workable parliamentary majority.

    ..ah but the Gaelic speaking Nationalist voting Presbyterians are..er most likely to be anti-RC-(outside of those at a southwest Glasgow sporting venue at noon today- quite a few of whom will be Asian)-confused? well you should be if you make simple Irish-based generalisations

    I think Darth’s point is that Ibrox is in a strongly Asian part of Glasgow, where SNP support has grown dramatically among Scots-Pakistanis in recent years. And that the SNP were traditionally perceived by many Scottish Catholics as a Protestant party intent on creating a Scottish Stormont in Edinburgh. And you still find plenty of elderly Scottish Catholics who are vehemently Unionist, as well as being vehement Celtic supporters, precisely because they believe an independent Scotland would see Catholics as an excluded minority. Rubbish in my view and that of most Scottish Catholics below the age of 60, but it still persists among the elderly. Why do you think the East End of Glasgow is still relatively weak territory for the SNP? This isn’t the SNP’s fault, but historical prejudices can still persist in the absence of real reasons for holding them, as we know only too well in NI.

    And the really important point is that the independence debate in Scotland is much less a tribal one than in Northern Ireland. A much better comparator is Quebec, and even that has more of a tribal element to it.

    but historical prejudices can still persist in the absence of real reasons for holding them, as we know only too well in NI.

    The decline of the Tories in the West of Scotland mirrored that in metropolitan parts of Northern England. Protestantism declined steeply as both a religious force and a means of political identification in the decades after the Second World War and along with it the traditional working-class Tory vote. Add to that a dramatic generational change in self-perception among Scots from every class and region and Scots Tories were always going to be caught in a difficult pincer movement.

    You can blame in on the poll tax if it suits your agenda, but remember that the Tories gained Scottish votes and seats in the 1992 General Election that took place in the shadow of the poll tax fiasco. Much as I hate the old bitch, saying Thatcher destroyed the Scottish Tories is just unhistorical.

  • Dewi

    “What’s undemocratic? Parties/candidates in favour of an Independence referendum in the next four years – 50. Parties against an independence referendum in the next four years – 79. You might not agree with the result but all the parties were refreshingly clear about their position in the campaign and there is no majority for holding a referendum. It would be much more undemocratic if the LibDems agreed to a referendum to keep their Ministerial seats. I’m all in favour of a SNP-LD coalition personally, but the SNP can’t win a parliamentary vote on holding a referendum so they ought to ditch that particular shibboleth now and negotiate for a Programme for Government which can command a workable parliamentary majority.”

    Why on earth should the SNP play Sammy ? Raison d’etre is freedom – the referendum is what they campaigned on – why on earth should they bother with the difficulties of governing without the prospect of constitutional advance ?

    Salmond, if anything, is a strategist, and he’s in a hurry. I forsee some compromise on wording of the question with the LIB Dems (who have a history of neo-nationalism. Honestly can’t see SNP forming an administration without that commitment.

  • Dewi

    On a technical point we have a stupid electoral system in Wales and Scotland which only produces proportionality if people vote the same way on first and second ballots. Where (as is the case in many parts of both countries)one party dominates a region, the second vote for that party is a complete waste. What the SNP and Plaid should do is form another nationalist party in both countries which only puts up list candidates – like put up “original” nationalists for the constituencies and “continuity” nationalists on the list – I reckon that’s what Sinn Fein would do !!!

  • Prince Eoghan

    Sammy

    I disagree with your stance on just what is democracy, especially when you consider that upto 40% of Labour supporters would be in favour of independence. What is clear from this election is that the labour die-hards rallied to try to keep them in power. This was a political party election not as Labour desperately tried to portray it as a vote on independence.

    However labour supporters posed with the question of Scotland giving England her independence…watch this space!

    Many high profile Tories are coming round to the cause of independence also, they view Holyrood as a wasteful half-way house. They would rather all or nothing. Thus we may assume even some of the Tory vote may go for independence. Indeed the idea of a Scottish centre-right party independent of London may grow as time goes on.

    The Lib-Dem’s are so wishy washy that who knows what portion would do what. The SNP have won the popular vote and seats, I dare these bastards to deny the stated will of a massive section of the public.

    I may have mis-read part of Darth’s post.

    Phil

    We added over 10% onto the vote increased by 20 seats. Considering the dark forces in the media ranged against us, imagine what we could have done. We are over the moon 🙂 I have noticed you guys are picking up more and more support as well. Word of advice though, time to ditch the bad guys better now than never, less bloody!

  • Jonathan

    I would think that Unionist pacts, if agreed would claw back BS and FST.
    The issue of which unionist party takes which seat would interest me. Although both seats’ unionists seem to prefer the DUP there are still a UUP loyal vote in each that won’t wane, meaning the DUP can’t manage either without a pact.
    I imagine the DUP would choose FST as they’re grooming Arlene as a minister (who ever hears of Spratt), and the satisfaction of beating Sinn Fein (and fellow Minister Michelle Gildernew) would be some delightful battle honours. That said they’ve been trying to crack BS for a while (with Willie McCrea believing he’d win the 1982 by-election). It does have more unionists, however in 2007 I must say the SDLP pulled off a divide and rule strategy so impressive, it made them the largest party in SB with barelty 26% of the vote. Whilst unionists hold half the FST seats.
    I expect it to be the DUP’s decision (if it comes to pass). The UUP will (& should) stand where they’re sent- face it they could use the extra MP. I’ll add in here that if FST 2007 was compared to FST 2005 all parties lost votes- except the UUP who managed to add about 500 to their 2005 tally. Not a springboard for electoral success granted, but a small mercy for which the party should now be grateful.

    Then the matter of nationalist pacts arises. Hmmm… they’ve been resistant in the past, with the two parties historically splitting the nationalist vote in FST, Mid Ulster, Newry & Armagh, South Down and West Tyrone: sometimes to unionists’ advantage and other times less so. Why should they start pacts now? Well the old policing issue is gone, making the 2 nationalist parties indistinguishable, at least in policy terms. However I think that Sinn Fein are out to destroy the SDLP in Foyle and South Down, which hardly puts them in the mood for doing much to help Sinn Fein.

    I suppose in these 2 races everything is to play for.

    Sorry I avoided the Scottish election question and only addressed the actual NI topic.

  • Why on earth should the SNP play Sammy ?

    Because Alex Salmond wants to be First Minister. Really, really, really wants to be First Minister. You can smell that hunger from Belfast!

    If Salmond is such a great strategist, he’ll realise that a successful period of SNP government is probably a prerequisite to winning a referendum (one of many in my book). And he’ll realise that losing a referendum narrowly, especially if it has been bitter, can be the worst result of all. He’ll be well aware of what happened in Quebec during and after 1995.

    And he’ll certainly realise that any referendum involving the Scottish Labour Party will be bitterness and nastiness made flesh.

    Raison d’etre is freedom

    Ah, such a narrow concept of freedom!!! Wittgenstein, where are you now?

  • Dewi

    Funny I don’t get the same aroma in Cardiff… Alex not particularly personally ambitious (I know you’ll find that hard to believe !!) – Quebec case is relevant of course but you have to go when the zeitgeist is with u…….don’t get many chances…best Wittengstein quote “I don’t know the meaning of life but I’m sure it’s more than just having fun”…or summat like that (not at all relevant sorry….and even less to Fermanagh South Tyrone or Belfast South.

  • Peter

    How can Salmond be taken seriously as an independent candidate? I mean, he’s only going to come out of one Union and into another (Europe).

    Dig a bit deeper and it simply seems like good old British phobia in Scotland.

  • Phil

    PE,

    You’re right about the “Scottish” press. I’ve read plenty of words written about this election in the last few weeks that could have been written by Gordie himself and for the SNP to win more seats than any other party with the full force of a biased media ranged against them is some achievment indeed.

    As for the nasty side of English nationalism I have to say that I am mightily relieved that the Nazi appologists made no great inroads in our council elections, besides which those types are in the main British nationalists rather than English who despite having utter contempt for anyone who isn’t white, Anglo-Saxon or protestant are quite happy to impose their idea of “Britishness” upon everybody on these islands (including the people of the Irish Republic).

    There is indeed a stirring in England but it has little to do with right-wing nationalism and everything to do with fairness and being treated with equality. Don’t believe what you hear when you hear nationalism in England described as sinister or dangerous. They are just the words of carpet baggers who are afraid that their gravy train might become de-railed. Salmond recognises that England is being treated unfairly but the leaders of the Con/Lab/LibDem establishment will not defend the rights of the English because they are desperate for votes in Scotland and Wales and believe that to be pro-English is somehow anti-Scottish/Welsh.

    The English want politicians to treat England as a nation, not as a bunch or regions of the UK (or of Europe) and we don’t like being told by people who were not elected by anybody living in England what we can or can’t have or that “there is no such nationality as English” as one leading Labour figure was once quoted as saying. At the moment the consensus is for an English parliament within the UK but the longer the will of the English people is ignored by our political representatives the more likely our seccesion from the UK becomes.

  • kensei

    “Then the matter of nationalist pacts arises. Hmmm… they’ve been resistant in the past, with the two parties historically splitting the nationalist vote in FST, Mid Ulster, Newry & Armagh, South Down and West Tyrone: sometimes to unionists’ advantage and other times less so. Why should they start pacts now? Well the old policing issue is gone, making the 2 nationalist parties indistinguishable, at least in policy terms. However I think that Sinn Fein are out to destroy the SDLP in Foyle and South Down, which hardly puts them in the mood for doing much to help Sinn Fein.”

    If you attempt a Unionist pact in FST, you will hand a victory to SF. It is, by numbers, now a Nationalist seat. If the SDLP refuses to agree a pact, I’d still reckon SF could run it close on as it Unionism attempting to manipulate the process would piss people off, and even if they do lose the seat, the SDLP would take the wrap and strengthen SF more in the long run.

    This to me, is still Unionist fantasy land.

  • dodrade

    There will be no electoral pacts on either side at the next election. The DUP and Sinn Fein will certainly not throw the floundering UUP and SDLP a life saver, even if it costs them a seat.

    If Foster gets a clear run in FST, she will win. Sure some SDLP voters might back Gildernew as a result, and not all UUP voters will back Foster, but I would expect a narrow win for Foster.

    As for South Belfast, parachuting Donaldson would probably swing it for the DUP, but he would be loathe to leave Lagan Valley. I expect Jimmy Spratt will run again, he’ll probably do better than last time, but SF and Alliance tactical voting, plus an increased nationalist population will probably give McDonnell an increased majority.

  • dodrade

    As for Scotland, I don’t believe a Referendum will take place. Even if it was, its timing would be irrelevant. In Quebec the PQ tried the gradualist approach first, after being elected in 1976 they waited until 1980 before holding a referendum on a very ambigious question and lost 60-40%.

    When they got in again in 1994 they went for the fast approach, holding another referendum in 1995 with a slightly clearer question. They lost again narrowly, 51-49% though probably because the federalist campaign was rather inept.

    At the most recent Quebec election the PQ finished third. I’m not going to break sweat about Scotland leaving the union anytime soon.

  • And the ADQ (centre-right, moderately-sovereigntist) did exceptionally well, in part because they sold themselves as the party for people who were bored with sovereignty issue after 30 years.

    But don’t underestimate how much damage the bitterness of ’95 did to the Quebec sovereignty movement, in a way that wasn’t necessarily apparent at the time.

  • DK

    “OK, crazy idea time, but why not have a SNP + CON coallition”

    Weren’t the SNP once called the “Tartan Tories”. Also, I seem to remember that the SNP were considered anti-catholic: In the 1930s it had advocated Home Rule within the Empire and its supporters had attacked the Irish as ‘a foreign element’. Are the SNP really like the DUP then – much as the DUP are being increasingly called “Ulster Nationalists” rather than “Unionists”?

  • Aquifer

    A ‘big name’ unionist could get all those student votes registered to south belfast and then Sinn Fein takes it.

    I like politics, its works like a sort of tax on stupidity.

  • Prince Eoghan

    DK

    Sammy has covered your questions pretty well in an earlier post. Whatever way they were seen is now no longer the case, despite some in the Catholic community (not just the older ones) still having reservations.

    The Catholic church has came out pretty much full swing behind the SNP. They won’t say as much, but at mass a fortnight ago priests all over Scotland read out an open letter from the Bishop’s. It railed against gay adoption and stem cell tampering to create children. What the letter done in actual fact was scream from the rooftops don’t vote Labour. Last week our priest spoke for ages in support of the SNP, mainly because the week before he had spoke to many older parishioners who were adamant that they would not vote SNP. Speaking to a friend yesterday who told me that her parents voted Labour, whilst her, her partner and all their siblings bar one voted SNP.

    Labour called the SNP the tartan tories because in the past they probably were a right of centre party. They are now to the left of Labour, but that wouldn’t be hard. There is absolutely no chance of a coalition with the Tories, their legacy in Scotland ensures that it would be political suicide. I think that the precarious balance of power in the new Parliament ensures that the parties (including the tories) will co-operate with each other at some time. Although don’t hold your breath on Labour and the SNP co-existing amicably. There has been real animosity, even hatred built up over the past months that I suspect will get worse.

    Phil

    The reason I mentioned it was because I chanced upon one of these right wing blogs and it had links to all kind of racist shite. The English democrats were linked also. I reckon as you grow stronger these guys will have to be told in no uncertain terms where to go ;¬)

    I wish you guys all the luck in the world.

    Sammy

    Alex Salmond has stated clearly that he plans to give the Scottish public a chance to judge the SNP in government. The strategy hinges on good policies and building confidence. It might just serve to expose the propaganda fed to us that the SNP would be a disaster. Too many it seems have believed this, then again if you are fed this in almost blanket coverage in the media it is inevitable.

  • Phil

    PE,

    They are and will continue to be told where to go!

  • Dewi

    spent a wonderful day bunging election results in spreadsheets (Geek is good !) – Scottish constituencies have wonderful names – “Carrick, Cumnock & Doon Valley” – that’s from Tolkien surely ! are the 14,350 Labour voters hobbits, elks or orcs ???

  • Roger

    Fair Deal

    Do you seriously believe that any Unionist at present can win FST or SB, if so then you are very much mistake.

    The DUP can no longer use the slogan of keep Sinn Fein out, the next election will see a drop in the Unionist vote due to the UUP’s ineptitude and due to the DUP’s complete deception.

  • Briso

    “Gaelic speaking Nationalist voting Presbyterians are..er most likely to be anti-RC-(outside of those at a southwest Glasgow sporting venue at noon today- quite a few of whom will be Asian”

    There will be Gaelic speaking Nationalist voting pro-RC Asian Presbyterians at a southwest Glasgow sporting venue at noon today? Shurely shome mishtake????

  • Jonathan

    Dodrade

    The DUP haven’t a mission of taking FST without an electoral pact. They tried & failed in 2005, and in 2007 Sinn Fein outpolled them once again. The UUP have fallen into a sorry 3rd but the 8-9000 votes they have there are quite solid, and I imagine there is a lot of nostalgia amongst these people for the days of Ken Maginnis and his majorities of 13000 or so. Expect Gildernew to add a few more votes to her tally. Therefore Foster would need around 5000 votes, which is well over half the UUP’s current vote share. I very much doubt they can do that, but if they want the seat they’ll deal. Why do you think they won’t – Unionist parties have had a long history of electoral pacts, and now they’ve seen the danger of going it alone it would seem sensible to do so once again. All the nationalists need is for one party to be pig headed and uncompromising (like the UUP in 2005) and they’ve done it! So we’ll have to wait and see.

    As for South Belfast, perhaps the DUP could overturn Alisdair’s majority of 1000 or so, the UUP aren’t holding up quite so well here. Will the Alliance waste everyone’s time by standing here? Or endorse the SDLP/UUP? I expect Maskey’s vote to take a dip too, maybe between 500-1000 in favour of the SDLP. All this would become much less relevent if a pact was reached. But it will be interesting to see what happens McDonnell – some splittlers are short lived such as Willie Thompson or Jim Nicholson, others like Ken Maginnis and Willie McCrea can go on for years and years and years.

    Re Rodger
    “The DUP can no longer use the slogan of keep Sinn Fein out, the next election will see a drop in the Unionist vote due to the UUP’s ineptitude and due to the DUP’s complete deception.”

    Well it’s been a fun 200 years but I suppose now unionists are ready to throw their beliefs for no good reason

  • dodrade

    “Why do you think they won’t – Unionist parties have had a long history of electoral pacts, and now they’ve seen the danger of going it alone it would seem sensible to do so once again.”

    Because the number one aim of the DUP is to destroy the UUP. They have them by the throat and are not going to relax their grip now even if it means a potential unionist seat being retained by nationalists.

    The most likely way for Unionism to win back FST and South Belfast would be the pact offered by Peter Robinson before 2005, dividing the two seats betwen them and giving the other a clear run, but the UUP turned it down and the DUP would never repeat the offer since the DUP is now the largest Unionist party in both those seats, and will be looking to wipe out Lady Sylvia next time. They probably still fancy their chances of winning South Belfast even with McGimpsey still in the race, though I suspect otherwise.

    I’m not sure you read my post carefully enough, I never suggested Foster could win without a UUP withdrawal. The DUP as the largest unionist party in FST will put enormous pressure on the UUP to withdraw, saying a vote for Elliot is a vote for Gildernew, and ensure the UUP get the blame if he stands and SF retain the seat. It will be a no win situation for them, damned if they stand, doomed if they don’t. I suspect they will cave in and step aside.