Changes made

I haven’t seen it reported anywhere yet, but Northern Ireland’s constituencies were changed last week.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    I heard last week that the republican stronghold of Lagmore will join the likes of Twinbrook and Poleglass on the Stewartstown Road, not far from my Granda’s in Seymour Hill, in the West Belfast constituency boundary. That will strengthen the Nationalist vote in the West, probably putting the final nail into the coffin of the poor people of the Greater Shankill, who will have 6 nationalist/republican MLAs representing them for the forseeable future. These estates come under the wider name “Dunmurry”, but the Protestant/Unionist/Loyalist Dunmurry town and nearby Seymour Hill are still in the Lagan Valley constituency. Although there may no longer be a Unionist quota in West Belfast thanks to the changes, on the plus side Lagan Valley should be able to return 4 DUP MLAs in the next Stormont elections, rather than the 3 they have at present…

  • picador

    This was done very much on the QT it seems. The date of publication is the 11th June, the same day as the 42 day vote when the DUP met the PM 3 days. I look at North Belfast and I see that Doddsy got the most favorable outcome possible from the Original and Revised Proposals – Cloughfern, Glengormley, Ballyhenry and Highdown. (PLAY THE BALL – MOD)

  • picador

    I don’t mean to imply that Doddys sat down with Brown and haggled over individual wards simply, that the DUP knew that the Boundary Commissioners had been generous and wanted them the new boundaries as fact.

    The previous word on this subject was that the changes were on hold while the new council wards were being drawn up but as this has not happened and the Westminster constituency changes have now been enforced it seems that on June 11th that position changed.

    Why I am pissed about this is as follows: In the hypothetical situation where an election took place on the current boundaries in 2009 and the an agreed nationalist candidate stood in North Belfast Dodds would be toast. The Boundary Commission (DUPed on Cloghfern and Woodvale), the SDLP (crazy notions of Jordanstown) and SF (fixated on hegemony in West Belfast) have helped ensure that he will be with us for some time to come.

  • Half Pint

    Concerned Loyalist,
    “on the plus side Lagan Valley should be able to return 4 DUP MLAs in the next Stormont elections, rather than the 3 they have at present…”

    Afraid not. Harbinson will take a seat for TUV there easily.

  • Concerned Loyalist:

    I wouldn’t be too worried about the Shankill – they are likely to get better, more competent and fairer representation from SF/SDLP than they would ever get from the unionist parties.

  • Bigger Picture

    Picador

    Dry your eyes. There has never been a chance of an agreed nationalist candidate as McGuinness and Convery hate Gerry Kelly. As soon as boundaries are changed that helps a unionist there is some great conspiracy, next you are going to call the boundary commission sectarian and that the boundary commissioner is a DUP hack and an orangeman.

    Concerned Loyalist

    The lazy arsed people of the Shankill had a unionist MLA and then decided not to come out and vote again. Quite frankly they deserve the shinners.

    Half Pint

    Have you been doing the surveys?

  • Dewi

    Interesting effects. Nic Whyte hypothesises:

    1) Unionist Gains North Antrim and Lagan Valley.
    2) Nationalist Gains Strangford, East Antrim,maybe (with suppost of demographic change) South Down.

    From a mathematical point of view the transfer of wards from Foyle to Dery East has the interesting phenomena of making both seats more Catholic….get your head round that one!

  • Gerry Mandered

    Right so elections were ‘postponed’ to allow the institutions to settle in, now theres a bit of cloak and daggers going on…..?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Dewi,

    if you are going to pull me up over using the term football rather than soccerball (on Lord Mayor thread) – I think you should be use the term Nationalist rather than Catholic. With the exception of a the god squaders of the DUP the dispute in Non Iron is over national identity not doctrinal difference.

    re. Boundaries it would be interesting to know the actual voter numbers on the move.

    p.s. The Englezes took a good beating this morning – but with Cipriani, Ellis, Lewsey etc it could have been differnet as they competed well up fornt.

  • dodrade

    “The lazy arsed people of the Shankill had a unionist MLA and then decided not to come out and vote again.”

    Actually Diane Dodds got over 1,100 more first preference votes in 2007 than 2003, it was SF vote management and Nationalist tactical voting (many SF voters put Atwood as their second choice) that lost her her seat.

    But will the next assembly elections have six MLA’s per constituency? Surely the review will recommend a reduction to 72 MLA’s, four per seat, which would leave no chance of Unionist representation in West Belfast regardless of boundary changes.

    It would also make it much harder for TUV to make significant gains at Stormont.

  • Dewi

    “…think you should be use the term Nationalist rather than Catholic.”

    Being a little pedantic the only information I have easily available is the census – which doesn’t ask for Politics but religion. Synonomous I know.

  • aquifer

    Alastair McDonnell of the South Belfast SDLP will not stand down for an abstentionist, so will an absentionist give a nationalist a fighting chance in a constituency that is now more unionist?

  • Valenciano

    “the poor people of the Greater Shankill, who will have 6 nationalist/republican MLAs representing them for the forseeable future. These estates come under the wider name “Dunmurry”, but the Protestant/Unionist/Loyalist Dunmurry town and nearby Seymour Hill are still in the Lagan Valley constituency.”

    Well you can thank Jeffrey Donaldson MP for that as he was the one who campaigned to have Seymour Hill and the protestant bits of Dunmurry in his own fiefdom – the shinners actually supported their tranfer to West Belfast. Special mention must also go to Doddsy who absolutely refused to accept that anyone considers the Shankill part of West Belfast and argued against Woodvale and the Upper Shankill going into the West, thus dooming his missus to oblivion.

    Picador: “The previous word on this subject was that the changes were on hold while the new council wards were being drawn up but as this has not happened and the Westminster constituency changes have now been enforced it seems that on June 11th that position changed.”

    Well no it didn’t. The boundary commission submitted final recommendations on 14th September 2007 and they were laid before parliament on 31st March http://www.boundarycommission.org.uk/pubs/finalrecommendations.pdf so all that’s happened is that they were given the necessary rubber stamp.

  • Valenciano

    Aquifer, debatable if South Belfast is more Unionist. The combined unionist vote was only 3% ahead of the combined nationalist in 2007 and there’s been no sign of the demographics changing. In a four way fight my money would still be on McDonnell – incumbency, tactical voting, a better SDLP machine than elsewhere and the DUP struggling in historically weak territory to gain a big advantage over the UUP.

  • observer

    Afraid not. Harbinson will take a seat for TUV there easily.

    Posted by Half Pint on Jun 21, 2008 @ 09:55 AM

    Come 2011 the TUV will have gone the way of the UKUP/NIUP and Jim will have lost his Euro seat to poor old Jim Nicholson.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Dewi,

    fair point – I withdraw my remark. Perhaps the census should ask the question everyone actually wants the answer to – are you Nationalist or Unionist – as per the assembly designation.

  • Reader

    It was Sammy… Perhaps the census should ask the question everyone actually wants the answer to – are you Nationalist or Unionist – as per the assembly designation.
    Wouldn’t this classification only apply to adults? That would spoil the fun of all the amateur psephologists around the place who persist in making voting predictions based on the religious breakdown in the census, which seems to go all the way down to 0 years of age.

  • Insider

    By the next Assembly election the TUV will be toast. They missed their best chance when Paisley was in charge. The Chuckle Brother tag has gone and so will the Army Council by the time voting takes place. Allister will have nothing of substance to scare people with.

  • InsiderMan

    To: Aquifer, & Valenciano.
    Analysis by the various parties shows that South Belfast will gain about 700 extra Unionist Voters with the new boundaries. This isn’t enough for the Unionist parties to feel comfortable about taking the seat from McDonnell.

  • Valenciano is right about the timing. The political decision was taken before 31 March, so it is probably coincidence that the rubber stamp came on 11 June; no other decision was possible, and it hardly matters whether it happened that day or the day before the next election is called.

    Valenciano and Insiderman, I think the DUP win South Belfast next time round. I make the net gain of voters about 1000 for the DUP even before you allow for tactical shifts (which will help them) or demographic shifts (which probably won’t). That is already a fair way into McDonnell’s 1235 majority. Sure, the SDLP are great at the tactical squeeze, and will certainly pull in the maximum possible support from people who vote for both SF and Alliance at other elections. But the DUP are now clearly the stronger Unionist party in the constituency, and Unionist voters have always been more adept at tactical voting in the past.

  • Dewi

    Nicholas Whyte

    “I make the net gain of voters about 1000 for the DUP even before you allow for tactical shifts (which will help them) or demographic shifts (which probably won’t).”

    Demographic shift probably more than 1000 the other way but Sinn Fein probably can’t get squeezed much more.

    (As I came last but 2 in your prediction competition in 2005…..I obviously know what I’m talking about….)

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Dewi, Nicholas,

    has anyone actually projected the demographic shift by constituencies for 2009/2010 – an old chestnut I know – bur every time it is discussed here there is always more heat than light and without a clear reference to the last census.

  • Well, I’ve noted the effect of the boundary changes on each constituency, going by the 2001 census, on each page of my website; but I don’t think anyone can be sure about the effects of further population change and movement between 2001 and 2009, if that’s what you mean.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    “but I don’t think anyone can be sure about the effects of further population change and movement between 2001 and 2009”

    Niholas,

    this puzzles me – the 2001 census gave the population breakdown by religion/community backround in each age group – as someone with a limited knowledge of statistics it would seem relatively ‘straighforward’ to take those figures to work out how many extra/less voters there would be over a 10 year period – those aged 8 (in 2001) for example would now be able to vote and those aged 75 and over may no longer be with us.

    All other variables assumed to remain the same ( such as movement between constituencies, cross community voting )would that not yield a reasonable picture?

  • Dewi

    That’s possible Sammy – fr’instance in Belfast South there were about 3500 more P/U than C/Ns over 75 in 2001 and neutral betwwen the communities between 10 and 19 years old. So all being equal that’s an extra 3000 odd nationalist voters in the decade in question.

    …However people move, emigrate and immigrate. Housing estates are bulit and in South Belfast especially there’s a large transient (or not…) student population.

  • Dewi
  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Dewi,

    thanks for that – migration to/from South Belfast would obviously be major factor – less ‘cosmopolitan’ constituencies would have far less. The base demogrpahic figures have to be adjusted for a variety of factors (such as the above) but surely some lazy feckers in one of the colleges could work them out by constituency and for Non Iron as a whole.

  • Dewi

    “That’s possible Sammy – fr’instance in Belfast South there were about 3500 more P/U than C/Ns over 75 in 2001.” Error make that 4000 sorry…missed out the over 90s….

  • Concerned Loyalist

    From a mathematical point of view the transfer of wards from Foyle to Dery East has the interesting phenomena of making both seats more Catholic….get your head round that one!

    Posted by Dewi on Jun 21, 2008 @ 10:27 AM

    Dewi,
    The constituency in which I live is called “East Londonderry” or “Londonderry East”, not “Dery East”. I don’t give a flying **** what name you give to The Maiden City, but you should refer to the constituency by it’s correct name.

    I don’t think there will be too much change in it’s make-up for the forseeable future. It should stay:
    3 DUP, 1 UUP, 1 SDLP and 1 SF MLA.

  • Dewi

    The constituency in which I live is called “East Londonderry” or “Londonderry East”,

    Which one?

  • Concerned Loyalist

    It’s officially name on voting papers is “Londonderry East”, but the press, media, politicians and voters alike, including myself and everyone I know, call it “East Londonderry”…

  • Dewi

    Call it what you wish then and so will I.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Incorrect, it is East Londonderry on the ballot paper, in the legislation and in the lexicon. County Constituencies put the compass point first. City Constituencies put the city name first, so East Londonderry and Belfast East.

  • InsiderMan

    Nicholas Whyte & Valenciano

    I can’t see where you get a thousand extra DUP voters from? The DUP will never win South Belfast – it’s far too liberal a Constituency, i.e. a bit like North Down, and the DUP will never win there either.

    Remember the most recent election i.e. the Assembly election 2007: The results for South Belfast were: Unionist – 43%, Nationalist – 40%, Alliance/GreenP – 15%, Others – 2%.

    It doesn’t take a great mathematician to work out were the balance of power lies: In a Westminster I would suggest a large chunk of that assembly election Alliance vote will drift towards A. McDonnell (SDLP), + a chunk of Alex Maskeys SF vote will go towards Alasdair as well, because he’s the sitting MP. Being the sitting MP in a constituency like South Belfast is a huge advantage – It will be tough for any Unionist to win this seat back.

  • Insiderman,

    The boundaries will have changed for the next election. I make the equivalent votes from the last Assembly election subtly different – total U 44%, total N 39%.

    We already know the ability of the SDLP to squeeze SF and Alliance votes, because it will be pretty much the same as in previous elections. McDonnell will therefore get 31%-35% of the vote.

    For the DUP to win therefore requires either a clear field (unlikely) or a UUP collapse to below 15%, perhaps below 10%. A UUP collapse is entirely possible; we saw it happen a decade ago in North Belfast. The DUP vote has doubled in South Belfast in the last decade; I think it has room for further growth.

  • InsiderMan

    Nicholas

    I’ve checked the figures and I still make it Unionist – 43%, Nationalist – 40%, but you’re suggesting only 1% difference so it has no affect on the point I was making.

    You don’t mention my point about the South Belfast Unionist electorate being a mainly liberal type constituency – it’s entirely different to North Belfast, and as I suggested South Belfast is closer to North Down in terms of the make-up of the Unionist electorate. Compare the performance of the Alliance party in North Belfast compared with South Belfast, and you’ll see that there is no comparison between the two constituencies. In South Belfast there is a strong liberal type Unionist vote who switch between the Alliance and Ulster Unionists depending on the type of election – You need a chunk of these type of voters to win the Westminster seat from McDonnell, and this section of voters will not vote DUP no matter who the candidate is.

    In addition, there is no strong DUP candidate in South Belfast (unlike Nigel Dodds in North Belfast when he challenged for the seat), and no strong DUP organisation on the ground, plus Alasdair is/has been a local South Belfast GP for decades and has enormous roots in the constituency. Indeed, I would predict that there are 1-2,000 unionist type votes who will vote for McDonnell because of the respect he commands on the ground, and the work he does in the constituency.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Insiderman,

    as someone who speak with little local knowledge -as ever – do you not think that the changed political situation with the DUP now in the centre ground coupled with a ‘Stop the Nationalists’ election campaign will sway quite a few Unioinsts – after all if people see that they can ‘run’ the country then they why not let them ‘run’ the constituency?

  • Valenciano

    Insiderman, I’d largely agree with what you say. While the DUP has a good chance in South, the electorate there does have more soft Unionist types.

    Nicholas, I don’t think we can make analogies with North Belfast as there are big differences. It’s true that the UUP vote did collapse in North but they were never as strong there as they appeared and the reasons for their collapse were twofold. Firstly the lack of inter-unionist competition : the DUP left it uncontested from 1983-1996 and given that they’d won it in 1979, there was always a latent DUP vote there. Secondly Walker was virtually invisible and when people had a better choice in the more active and articulate Dodds they switched in droves. The fact that even a nutter like Seawright could poll 15% there should show just how pliable the UUP vote really was and they were ripe for eclipse by the UUP.

    As for South, demographics will favour the SDLP more than the DUP and the tactical voting can work in their favour as well as Alliance voters are more likely to go for McDonnell than someone like Spratt. It looks like a toss up to me.

  • InsiderMan

    To Sammy McNally

    You’re assuming again that South Belfast is like other Unionist type constituencies were a ‘Stop the Nationalists’ campaign will work. However, as I said South Belfast is more like North Down, in that a ‘Stop the Nationalists’ campaign will not work effectively.

    A lot of Unionists with a small ‘u’ (of which there are a lot in South Belfast, like North Down) don’t really mind having Alasdair McDonnell as their MP. A lot of these Unionist type voters will not vote DUP, and will probably stay at home.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Insiderman,

    fair enough – I admit to not knowing the locality but what is it in your opinion that puts small u Unionists off the DUP? Is it their anti-gay or anti-catholic or general anti-liberal stance? given that their their constitutional politics (pro agreeement) are now the same the UUP?