Dromore by-election – a well placed kick Part II

Questions, broader issues the by-election result raises and suggestions.Disconnections
1. With voters – The core concern for the DUP should be how a significant chunk of voters become significantly disaffected with the party but they didn’t seem to notice or pick up/respond to warning signs? This indicates a disconnection with a section of voters. There was no indication from the local branch or constituency association of issues. The canvas reports didn’t pick it up either. Neither does it appear Party headquarters radar was picking up movement.
2. Within the party – The fact that the symbols issue popped up in the midst of the by-election shows another disconnection. Did no one check if anything that could have an impact on the by-election was coming before the Council? Belfast City Council, a hung council, has the Union flag flying 365 days a year and plenty of British symbolry around the building and it is not being hauled before the Equality Commission because it has developed an appropriate policy response. Why did no one think to proactively inform councillors across Northern Ireland of this answer to the issue? Why in such a situation did councillors not seek help and guidance?
The Paisley Problem
1. The Chuckle Brothers – This has not gone down well. No it is not an argument for permanent misery. St Andrews was sold to many as a difficult but necessary decision. If that is the narrative then it should look as if you are living with that difficult decision not revelling in it. The discomfort with it has been conveyed but dismissed. A dismissive attitude repeated today in press comments.
2. Paisley Jnr – With Snr comes Jnr and the allegations and claims show no sign of going away and they have reached such a level that regardless of how many official bodies clear him the damage in public opinion terms has been done.
Some will be tempted to try and put all the blame the Paisleys and the result has probably hastened his departure. However, it is important to note that all the big guns campaigned in Dromore.
The Party
1. The responsibilities of power – All parties have a limited pool of talent. In the previous executive the DUP had two ministers. The suspension of Stormont meant MLAs had no or few Assembly duties and as a result people had become used to that situation and the level of access they enjoyed to MLAs. This time the DUP has much more executive and committee responsibilities. Also a conscientious MLA will be spending about 3 of the 5 working days in Stormont between sittings, votes and committee meetings (the DUP also monitors and fines representatives on their record of attendance on such issues). It is impossibile for the top ranks of the party to keep the same degree of focus on party matters they previously had nor for MLAs to be out and about as they have been before. However, the party structures have not adapted to this. Also it shines a clear focus on how sustainable the multiple mandates many hold is.
2. Complacency – Often there was a sense of unassailability of the DUP’s position. Basic issues started getting overlooked i.e. electoral registers (Work has now commenced on this). The election campaigns were somewhat punched in. Some signs of positive developments in the UUP simply dismissed.
3. Lack of follow –up – In the St Andrews dealings and after, a number of issues were put in “We can’t sort it out by the deadline but we’ll address it after devolution.” category, for example the compensation issue over Orange hall attacks. These tended to get forgotten about in the transition to and operation of devolution. This lack of follow-up on issues of delivery has had consequences.
The Dromore result can bring into focus a number of issues the DUP has ignored or been distracted from. The silver lining is that they got an electoral lesson in a by-election and not a province-wide one. The European election will be next year and quite possibly a Westminster one too. 15 months or so is enough of a timeframe to address the issues. However, it needs to ensure:
It accepts concerns have not disappeared and adopts a non-defensive response to criticism.
It focuses on achieving and demonstrating delivery.
It cannot rely on the mainstream media to get its messages out to its constituency and grassroots.
It changes party structures to adapt to a devolutionary situation.
It spread the workload across a broader pool of people and puts the development programmes, support and constituency work that will enable that.

  • The photographer

    Imagery is a key element in modern day politics.

    Just like the “released prisoners” was such an emotive image back in GFA days. So now is this permanently etched image of I & M.

    This i believe far out weighs arguments about voting systems up at Stormont.

    The Chuckle Brothers
    DUP strategists should never have allowed this to happen – or perhaps they couldn’t prevent it.

    The Provos never gave the DUP the photos they wanted.
    Though the DUP have now ended up with one photo they could well do without….

    Whiter that white also needs to be the order of the day for DUP elected reps i.r.o. allowances / salaries / employees / investments / financials. Clean by the rule book is no longer sufficient.

  • aquifer

    SFDUP politics on the never never faces a credit crunch. Adjustment overdue. By a generation.

    I want my teens and twenties back, you miserable impossibilist gravedigging zealots.

  • cut the bull

    I watched Jim Allister on Hearts and minds he had Edwin Poots on the ropes and he looked happy as a pig in shite.

    I think Jim may have been singing a song something like this last night,

    Don’t Stop Me Now

    Tonight I’m gonna have myself a real good time
    I feel alive and I’m turning the DUP inside out Yeah!
    I’m floating around in ecstasy
    So don’t stop me now don’t stop me
    ‘Cause I’m having a good time having a good time

    I’m a shooting star leaping through the skies
    Like a traditional Unionist defying the laws of the DUP
    I’m a racing car passing by Ian Paisley
    I’m gonna go go go
    There’s no stopping me

    I’m burning through the skies Yeah!
    With my law degrees
    That’s why they call me Mister Always Right
    I’m trav’ling all round Ulster, not talking shite
    I wanna make a sad old man out of you

    Don’t stop me now I’m having such a good time
    I’m having a ball don’t stop me now
    If you wanna have a good time just give me a call
    Don’t stop me now (‘Cause I’m having a good time)
    Don’t stop me now (Yes I’m having a good time)
    I don’t want to stop at all

    Paisley’s like a rocket ship on his way to Mars
    On a collision course
    Unlike the DUP’ers, I’m in control
    I am not waiting on the Army Council to reload
    with more home made bombs about to
    Oh oh oh oh oh explode

    I’m burning through the skies Yeah!
    With my law degrees
    That’s why they call me Mister Always Right
    I’m trav’ling round Ulster not talking shite
    I wanna make a sad old man out of you

    Don’t stop me don’t stop me don’t stop me
    Hey hey hey!
    Don’t stop me don’t stop me
    Ooh ooh ooh (I like it)
    Don’t stop me have a good time good time
    Don’t stop me don’t stop me
    Ooh ooh Alright
    I’m burning through the skies Yeah!
    With my law degrees
    That’s why they call me Mister Always Right
    I’m trav’ling round Ulster, not talking shite
    I wanna make a sad pld man of you

    Don’t stop me now I’m having such a good time
    I’m having a ball don’t stop me now
    If you wanna have a good time
    Just give me a call
    Don’t stop me now (‘Cause I’m having a good time)
    Don’t stop me now (Yes I’m having a good time)
    I don’t wanna stop at all

    La la la la laaaa
    La la la la
    La la laa laa laa laaa
    La la laa la la la la la laaa hey!!….

  • cut the bull

    Ian Paisley will not be taking this result too lightly. He may be starting to ask himself is this the unravelling of Unionist discontent at his party and at his politicalleadership of Unionism.

    He may be humming this to himself as he comes to terms with the TUV’s, latest encroachment on the DUP vote.

    Political Mugs Ball

    A lonely Jimmy Allister sat and cried
    To sympathetic cronies by his side
    I’ve got nobody to hug
    I’m such a political mug

    Then a splitter and a few fly men replied
    If you’re serious and want to win don’t cry
    Come along with us, to the glorious annual political mug’s ball

    Come on let’s crawl (gotta crawl gotta crawl)
    To the cities, towns and Orange halls (to the halls to the halls)
    And a happy time we’ll have there, one and all at the cities, towns and Orange hall’s

    While you formed your idiotic TUV, Ulster remained loyal to the DUP
    I pray your pants end up full of fleas, and you grow weak at the knees
    And up from under the ground
    The worms came squirming around
    Oh they danced until their legs were nearly lame
    Every little crawling creature, trying to blacken my name
    Every vote splitter was glad
    What a time they had
    You were so happy they came

    Go on and crawl (gotta crawl gotta crawl)
    To the (to the halls to the halls)
    And a happy time you’ll have there, one and all in the cities, towns and Orange halls

    You’re saying that I’m trying to change our queen
    to make her dress in orange white and green
    You say I’m leading a merry dance
    which will end in a Sinn Féin romance
    I remember when you sat upon my knee
    And now I’d love to give your throat a squeeze
    We’re finished and there’s no honeymoon
    You tried to make look like a big balloon
    Thanks to your meetings in the Orange halls

    Go on and crawl (gotta crawl gotta crawl)
    To the cities, towns and Orange halls (to the halls to the halls)
    And a happy time you’ll have there, one and all in the cities, towns and Orange halls

  • The__Raven

    Freddie Mercury would be turning in his grave, if he had one….

  • Paul P

    Robinson needs Fairdeal on the payroll!

  • kensei

    FD

    Belfast City Council, a hung council, has the Union flag flying 365 days a year and plenty of British symbolry around the building and it is not being hauled before the Equality Commission because it has developed an appropriate policy response.

    What is the “appropriate policy response”? You mentioned before about a working group on symbols, but that was a long time ago. I’ve seen no evidence of any movement since then.

  • Chuckle Vision

    Good analysis, FD. Oh to be a fly on the wall at the Lisbon summit this weekend!

  • Dessertspoon

    How could you ruin one of the finest songs ever written – The Ugly Bug Ball!!!

  • Interested Observer

    A most surprising aspect of this election was the percentage of TUV votes that failed to transfer to the DUP. Over 50% of TUV transfer votes did not go to the DUP -suggests a large number of ex DUP voters that are now completely alienated from the party – to the point they prefer the UUP. No enemy so great as those that have been betrayed.

  • Kinallen reader

    Before we get carried away with everyone’s hype, let’s try checking the figures. Sorry about the endless … but needed to get columns.

    …Stage.1….Stage.2….Stage.3….Stage.4….Stage.5
    DUP..1069..+5.1074…+53.1127..+51.1178..+330.1508
    UUP….912.+25..937.+182.1119..+75.1194..+384.1578
    TUV….739…+3..742..+59..801….+27..828…-828…..0
    All…..357.+122..479.-479….0………..0…………0
    SF…..350.+157..507….60..567…-567….0……….0
    SDLP.290.-290….0………..0………..0…………0
    Grn…..59…-59…..0………0………..0…………..0
    Non-trans…+37..37..+125..162..+414..576..+114…690

    DUP – topped the poll, but were extremely transfer-unfriendly. In crude terms, they lost just over 20% since 2005 vote (all to TUV, but only got 40% of it back on transfers – and UUP got more. Clearly some people wanted to punish them. Trimble lite or Trimble heavy?

    UUP – won, but only because of transfers from all over the place, with first preference vote down 5%. Hardly a ringing endorsement for team Cunning Plan, though good local news for Basil McCrea. Most unlikely that this vote would win more than one seat out of five.

    TUV – good first outing as this wouldn’t be a core area, but seems less than they hoped/expected, especially given a presentable candidate and the row about symbols in the Council offices. How would an inferior candidate fare?

    Alliance – good party recovery with the other good candidate. Clearly took votes from both UUP and SDLP, which may hearten the leadership, though a couple of dozen votes more to last longer than Sinn Fein would have given real comfort.

    Sinn Fein – continuing advance against the SDLP, apparently heavily concentrated around Leitrim and the South Down part of the ward. Good news for Catriona Ruane but bad news for Paul Butler?

    SDLP – must be disappointing to be overtaken by both SF and Alliance. Green – no sign of any momentum.

  • Alex

    The only reason the dup topped the pole in stage one was because there hard line voters were out to suport them after that it was only sf that give them transfares worth talken about.