By elections Arlene Foster and HMS Warspite

The news that Arlene Foster would fight the Enniskillen council by election has been heavily trailed and as such comes as no surprise. This does, however, represent clever politics by the DUP.During the Battle of Narvik in the Second World War the German destroyers had done fairly well against the British. However, the British then brought up reinforcements in the overwhelming shape of the battleship HMS Warspite. She proceeded to sail down the fjord in which the Germans were by now hiding and promptly sank all the German ships. Her captain reportedly said it was like “shelling peas.” Without wishing to disparage Mrs. Foster, in this context she seems to be playing Warspite to the UUP’s German destroyers.

Arlene Foster is very definitely the biggest current name in Fermanagh unionism and should be able to attract a large personal vote as well as promoting loyalty and hard work from the party canvassers; I have little doubt a major effort will be put in by the DUP on this occasion. The DUP are very keen to avoid another Dromore and this is in some ways an easier situation for them than Dromore. There may not be a TUV candidate (I have not heard) and the DUP are very clearly putting up one of their biggest hitters and presenting this as a straight fight to stop republicans gaining another seat. In such a climate it is unlikely that the UUP will have a realistic chance of defeating the DUP.

If the DUP loose the seat to SF there will no doubt be some who wish to calculate that this implies a further erosion of unionist support in Fermanagh. That might distress the DUP but would also give further weight to Robinson’s appeals for unionist unity. The DUP will also be able to point out that this seat would never have been lost but for Bertie Kerr of the UUP objecting to a co-option. In such circumstances the DUP were never likely to accept and had relatively little to gain from a unity candidate.

For the UUP this by election is now beginning to look unwinnable. Against the might of Foster even Tom Elliott, Fermanagh’s most senior UUP representative, failed in the last Westminster election; ensuring in the process that Gildernew held the seat for SF. If the UUP run they are likely to suffer either a heavy defeat or hand the seat to SF. Humiliating as it is, since they forced the election; the best option for the UUP might now be to stand aside. Even that of course has major problems. To stand aside would show the inferiority of the UUP’s position which would further give the lie to Reg Empey’s claims that the UUP can become once again the largest unionist party. To stand aside might be especially galling for the Fermanagh UUP which is a large and successful local party whereas until relatively recently the Fermanagh DUP were much smaller. The reality of the situation is now, however, that in the overwhelming majority of Northern Ireland the DUP is the strongest unionist party and also has the most prominent and powerful politicians.

Victory for the DUP in Fermanagh would probably steady a few nerves after Dromore. However, the fact that they are forced to bring in the heavy artillery (or battleship) in the shape of Foster does show that they are far from hegemony within unionism. (Incidentally the admiralty’s decision to send Warspite was in part because of embarrassment regarding their initial failure to gain a convincing victory). It also, clever politics as it is, might show a degree of anxiety that the DUP fear negative momentum following Dromore and conceivably take the idea that the UUP are on the way back seriously (though I doubt they truly fear that).

  • Angel Delight

    Smart move by the DUP.

    Poor, poor Bertie Kerr must wish he had just sat on his hands and kept his mouth shut.

    Oh well, Fermanagh may still win the Ulster GAA title. Perhaps some consulation to Bertie at this understandably embarrassing time.

  • willowfield

    Is there a need for three threads on this topic?

  • Turgon

    willowfield,
    Fair comment but I think we all bring our own perspective to these things and as such it is reasonable. As you can see I am trying to analyse (and maybe even entertain) rather than simply report the events. That I may fail in both is likely but I enjoyed doing the blog.

  • truth and justice

    Turgon

    You must be very disappointed at the TUV policy document,it seems the TUV are prepared to speak to Sinn fein and to also go into a super council and share power under yet another new agreement, are you going to resign from the TUV or start a another new Unionist Party, how can you explain this ?????????????????????

  • runciter

    Fair comment but I think we all bring our own perspective to these things and as such it is reasonable.

    The appropriate thing to do would be to respond to the previous thread rather than starting a new one.

    Fragmenting the discussion in order to highlight your own opinion smacks of egotism.

  • Nemesis

    Turgon

    You’ve obviously started this thread cos you’re getting pasted on the previous one…

    what’s with the WWII analogy????….what age are you dude????…..it’s just weird.

  • Delta Omega

    Hi Turgon

    It is worth pointing out that even the largest battleship can be sunk when holed below the waterline. Arlene’s victory here might not be the foregone conclusion that everyone thinks.

    By the way, as someone who has been on the outside of the TUV watching to see what they are going to do, I would be grateful for your thoughts on the latest policy if T&J;has protrayed it correctly on the other thread.

  • Turgon

    I do not usually respond to all criticism but here goes

    Truth and justice: I have repeatedly stated my views on the way forward. I may be even more sceptical on power sharing with SF but I am fairly comfortable with the TUV position. I have repeatedly advocated power sharing.

    runciter: I am interested in analysing this and in fairness I do have the luxury of starting a thread and as such having more space. I have a particular interest in Fermanagh poliotics. By all means continue on the other thread: I do not mind if no one comments on mine. In terms of egotism: I supopose we are all a bit egotistical, it is quite nice to see one’s own views put on the internet. Remember most slugger readers do not comment.

    Nemesis: The WWII analogy is simply because I try to brighten the otherwise rather dry analytsis of politics with historical or literary things. I know some like it and some do not but let us be honest it is the silly season in politics and not much is happening politically so we need something to talk about. By all means ignore the offending bit and talk about my analysis or indeed ignore the thread as you choose.

  • truth and justice

    Turgon

    As much as I respect your views you will have to do better than that, The TUV Policy Document advocates sharing power with Sinn fein also Jack Mckee and Mel Lucas have resigned over the issue would it not be clearer for you to come out in an open way and say this is a TRUE FACT and that the hopes of the few about bringing down share powerign with Jim Allaister are a myth and a false dawn!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Fragmenting the discussion in order to highlight your own opinion smacks of egotism.

    No, it is just standard unionist operating procedure these days.

    … Robinson’s appeals for unionist unity.

    You guys can’t even ‘unite’ on this blog, ffs, so how can your various parties unite in the real world?

  • Turgon

    delta omega,

    Sorry posts crossed. I am not in a sufficiently leadership position to comment exactly on the TUV position. I think it is that power sharing with SF would require much more movement from them. One could hypothetically construct a scenario in which in 20 years there are no terrorists left in the leadership if SF. Then one can hardly hold the sins of the fathers against their political sons and as such I would then feel that power sharing with SF would probably be appriopriate.

    In terms of the current situation, I am pretty certain that Jim Allister and the TUV would not share power at the moment.

  • Blackmouth

    Turgon

    You alluded to WWII simply so you could call Arlene a battleship! Tell the truth!!!

  • truth and justice

    Turgon

    The TUV Policy Document states they will share power under a super council with Sinn fein so the TUV would share power its a fact its in black and white!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Turgon

    Blackmouth,

    Not fair except that HMS Warspite and her sister ships were considered very elegant battleships and were the most powerful and important ships of their time. At Jutland four of them held the whole German fleet at bay for an hour. As such not really an insult: maybe even a eulogy.

    Truth and justice, Jim Allister’s poisition has been set out here and also in the flyer distributed at the 12th (I did not get any in time to hand them out).

    I would like to outline my own views, not that I have any importance. However, at one time there was a plan for all slugger commenters to outline their views in a set of blogs. Sadly it has thus far come to nothing but I have mine ready if and when Mick gives the go ahead.

  • lorraine

    seven years later hms warspite was scrapped; and after twenty years we are sufficiently decomtaminated to speak with. get real Turgon, we all started from entrenched positions but the dynamics of history have changed and short of us annihilating each other the only other way forward is to engage with each other. incidently, i am not a sinn feiner, just an ordinary republican trying to understand.

  • Dewi

    Risky by Ms Foster – she might lose this which would make her proposed run for Westminster a little discredited. I’ll check the demographic.

  • truth and justice

    Turgon

    You are not playing fair this is not the TUV policy document and also you have failed to comment on two councillor resignations its time to come clean?????????????????????????????????? let us all know what is going on in the TUV all hell seems to have broken out!

  • Turgon

    lorraine,

    HMS Warspite was scrapped after she had helped successfuly defeat her country’s enemies in two different wars and many battles. Her enemies (the Germans and in the Second World War the Italians) had been defeated and had renounced, repudiated and apologised for their previous actions.

    I await SF’s leaders doing likewise.

  • Delta Omega

    Turgon

    Don’t hold your breath.

    Thanks for the earlier response too.

  • joeCanuck

    The WWII analogy is simply because I try to brighten the otherwise rather dry analytsis of politics with historical or literary things.

    I, for one, quite enjoy your digressions and analogies, Turgon. Keep them coming.

  • TheBig Man

    T&J;Has Mel fallen on his sword?

    Tell me more

  • Dewi

    2001 Census: 10,222 “Catholic” (54.67%); 8,130 “Protestant” (43.49%); 91 Other (0.49%); 253 None (1.35%)

    That (from Nic Whyte) the census returns from 2001 – A “Catholic” DEA – 2005 results distorted by a strong (surprisingly so) Socialist candidate. I assme his tranfers would mostly have gone to SF / SDLP (although I can’t find the facts on this.)

  • willowfield

    The Provos will win the seat. That’s a fairly safe bet, I reckon.

  • willowfield

    Well, on reflection, not necessarily. All depends how the Prod votes are divided between the Dupes and the UUP, and how the RC votes divide between the Stoops and the Provies.

    If I were betting, though, I’d still have my money on the Bon Jovis.

  • culligan

    Turgon,

    you think you can walk around sniffily for twenty years until SF are fit to share power with you.

    You’re some joker.

    Try and prepare yourself for some absolutely shocking news over the next few years.

    I’d recommend building an annex to Turgon Towers – soundproofed, heavy curtains, comfortable leather couch, a wide range of recreational drugs at hand.

  • Dewi

    Detail

    Socialist transfers 296 nationalist, 42 unionist. Adding those to first preferences gives a 2005 outcome of Nationalist 50.5%, Unionist 49.5% – very close.

  • nisew

    You are not playing fair this is not the TUV policy document and also you have failed to comment on two councillor resignations its time to come clean?????????????????????????????????? let us all know what is going on in the TUV all hell seems to have broken out!
    Posted by truth and justice on Jul 22, 2008 @ 03:04 PM

    Truth and justice

    Where did you get the information that McKee and Lucas have resigned from the TUV?

  • culligan

    so not so much ‘election’, more ‘headcount’

  • Turgon

    nisew,

    My understanding (having checked it) is that neither of these people have resigned and are apparently in full support of party policy.

  • cynic

    Oh well…she will need something when the Executive collapses

  • The original Sam Maguire

    It’s a risky move by the DUP top brass, and to be honest, from my perspective as a Nationalist, there’s more to be lost than can be gained from Arlene running here. To coin a colourful terminology from my part of the country “it’s a die dog or shite the licence” scenario.

    If Arlene was to lose to an ordinary rank and file Shinner candidate then surely the DUP would lose any leverage and indeed credibility they would have re: an agreed candidate in FST. And while it wouldn’t make her position as a minister untenable, her golden girl of the DUP image would certainly be tarnished.

  • billieJoe_Remarkable

    Self-indulgent crap! Just add to the previous threads you pompous munter. Your views are no more worthy or perceptive than anyone else’s.

  • Dewi,

    2001 Census: 10,222 “Catholic” (54.67%); 8,130 “Protestant” (43.49%); 91 Other (0.49%); 253 None (1.35%)

    There are two things that need to be born in mind:

    (1) the census figures include all ages, thus also the under-18s who cannot vote. As the Catholic community tends to have a lower age profile that the Protestant community there is a higher proportion of Catholics who cannot vote than of Protestants. So the split of the voting age population (aka electorate) is not so favourable towards Catholics (aka nationalists ;-)).

    (2) It all depends on turnout. As you will also notice from Nicholas Whyte’s stats, the proportion of both Catholics and Protestants who vote in local elections is pretty low. A small increase or decrease in either could swing it.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “her golden girl of the DUP image”

    not difficult when the only serious competition is Iris or Michele Mcilveen

    Turgon is right of course- this is a move to shore up the DUP which is nervous about TUV inroads in its vote. It reminds me of their equally cunning plan to put Donaldson on Lisburn council to finish off the UUP- or worse, the longstanding joke of Roy Beggs Sr as MP and councillor, because they had no other heavy hitters. Still, at least she’s found her level….

  • Dewi

    Horesman – I know – but the 2005 results results coupled with a couple of years of demographic change mean that the Nationalists have the numbers – just. Turnout and efficient tranfers critical – Ms Foster is pretty famous so might get more Unionists out. Will be interesting.

  • Maximus

    It could be worse, she could be a dead end parish pump solicitor

  • George

    Humiliating as it is, since they forced the election; the best option for the UUP might now be to stand aside. Even that of course has major problems. To stand aside would show the inferiority of the UUP’s position which would further give the lie to Reg Empey’s claims that the UUP can become once again the largest unionist party.

    Au contraire. The UUP should be cock a hoop about this. The DUP are so scared of a poor result that they send in their heaviest hitter.

    So the DUP is saying that a measly seat on Enniskillen council can only be won if Top Gun Foster runs.

    Looks like a damning indictment of the weakness of unionism in Fermanagh to me.

    It’s the political equivalent of using paratroopers to police civil rights marches – full of fear, loathing, paranoia and confusion.

    Sinn Féin must be laughing all the way to the next Westminster election.

  • Blackmouth

    Maximus

    Well said! A man whose name funnily enough has never actually appeared on a ballot ripping the back out of former colleagues is quite sad.

  • willowfield

    Do we know who else is standing?

    Dupes
    Bon Jovis
    Stoops

    UUP? TUV?

  • joeCanuck

    Just shows the lack of talent when a minister in a devolved administration has to also be part of parish pump politics.

  • willowfield

    Very true, Joe

    How can she possibly serve as an effective councillor if she is also an MLA and minister?

  • The Raven

    “Arlene Foster is very definitely the biggest current name in Fermanagh unionism and should be able to attract a large personal vote as well as promoting loyalty and hard work from the party canvassers”

    I’m coming 40 comments into this, and have to be elsewhere, but for what my tuppence is worth – which is around 2p:

    Someone else said: “The UUP should be cock a hoop about this. The DUP are so scared of a poor result that they send in their heaviest hitter.” Personally I agree with this. It’s like buying Park Lane and Mayfair on the Monopoly Board when everyone else is sitting around Marlborough Street and Trafalgar Square. Problem is, Park Lane and Mayfair rarely get landed on.

    I dunno where I came up with a Monopoly analogy, and I need obviously to get out more.

    Someone has also noted the potential triple role that Arlene could have. If she wins it, I will be very interested to see what her attendance record is like. Anyway. If the best we can do when we refer to heavy hitters is come up with Arlene’s name, I think we’re more sunk than we previously thought. I suppose it’s all relative.

    Best case scenario? The good people of that area give her an electoral spanking and send her back to Stormont. It’s about time the DUP had a little of that arrogance thrown back at them. As to the UUP becoming the largest party again? There are those who scoff, but then, I remember several commentators saying that the Conservatives were never likely to take power again after their thrashing at Tony’s hands.

    All great empires pass away.

  • 19 county Prod

    Arlene Foster is showing up her weakness as a negotiator, this is a total DUP failure.

  • outsidegawkingin

    Well just to put all your minds at rest, Mel Lucas has def has not resigned from the TUV. Just more lies from the DUP head office, maybe Blackmouth could find out who started this. One day they are on the radio proclaiming they are standing up for the word of God at all costs, next day they are spinning lies from their head office.

  • Danny O’Connor

    It seems the DUP are wanting to up the ante,could prove a smart move,alternatively it will highly motivate anyone wanting to give them a bloody nose.Jim Allister’s comments after Dromore suggest that many people just might be up for it.
    Is the DUP cancelling executive meetings to make it look as if they are not cosying up to the shinners any more.

  • picador

    It could be a smart move if she wins but if she doesn’t (and the demographics are tilted against her) it could prove to be a really stupid move.

    Will there be a Socialist candidate this time round?
    I assume that would be Davy Kettles, right?

    While Arlene Foster’s candidacy might motivate the unionist community it will probably have the effect of rallying the Catholic vote around the best placed nationalist candidate as well. Given the insignificant spoils at stake, might anti-DUP unionists (either UUP or TUV) take the opportunity to give the DUP a very bloody nose by not transferring their votes to Arlene Foster?

    The DUP did not pick this fight but they have have just upped the ante considerably when they did not have to do it. It is a high risk strategy.

  • willowfield

    I’ll ask again.

    Who else is standing?

  • I’ll ask again.

    Why don’t you wait till they decide? The closing date for nominations is still some time away.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “Well said! A man whose name funnily enough has never actually appeared on a ballot ripping the back out of former colleagues is quite sad. ”

    Eh????
    Shome mishtake lads. But if ad (wrong) hominem attacks avoids the issue then perhaps it suits you.

    But the only person ripping the back out of anything is Foster, ripping the backbone out of Unionism by the 180 degrees turnaround from her UUP days. There is no difference whatever between the Trimble position she vehemently opposed and the Punt position she is happy with. Plus it’s farce at new level to see her attempts to hokey cokey Fermanagh council because Bertie Kerr cynically opened the door to another challenge to the Punt pushover party

  • willowfield

    I don’t know what parties have decided – hence I’m asking. Is this your way of saying that the DUP is the only party which has decided to stand?

    Is the UUP not standing, given that they forced the by-election?

    Surely the Bon Jovis are standing?

  • willowfield

    WHat about the TUV? Have they said whether they’re going to stand?

  • Dewi [re your Jul 22, 2008 @ 04:28 PM post],

    I have done a little ‘back-of-the-envelope’ calculation based on the detailed Census returns for the seven wards in the Enniskillen DEA (Tempo, Lisbellaw, Erne, Devenish, Portora, Rossory and Castlecoole). My figures are estimates, of course, because we cannot know what effect migration might have played, but by ‘aging’ the population structure found in 2001, I come to the following ‘community’ breakdown:

    Catholic – 53.9%
    Protestant – 44.5%
    Others/None – 1.7%

    (due to rounding these don’t add to exactly 100%)

    So it seems that the DUP, with or without Arlene Foster, might have a battle to retain this seat. In 2005, when Arlene also stood, the DUP got a smaller proportion of the unionist vote than Sinn Féin got of the nationalist vote. So for her to win again, she would have to really swing over a lot of the UUP voters in the DEA. Of course, Sinn Féin has had its difficulties in Fermanagh too, so the whole by-election remains quite open. On paper, though, a nationalist candidate, if well chosen, should gain this seat.

  • Delta Omega

    Come on T&J;- what about an apology?

    Typical DUPer – all punctuation and no substance. Needless to say that given their usual flexibility with the truth we should expect little else.

  • I should add: the ‘community breakdown’ above relates to the electorate, not the whole population of Enniskillen DEA.

  • Ally

    Willowfield – It is in the local press in Fermanagh today that the UUP and SF will be picking candidates soon.

    No mention of the SDLP or TUV.

  • jon

    “The reality of the situation is now, however, that in the overwhelming majority of Northern Ireland the DUP is the strongest unionist party and also has the most prominent and powerful politicians.”

    Turgon – I’m glad you made a new topic, that sort of insight can’t be bought.

  • Traditional_Unionist

    So it seems yet more lies has been coming from DUP headoffice regarding the apparant resignations from TUV

    The DUP are making a real habbit of lieing to the people of Northern Ireland.

    As was mentioned earlier, one minute they speak on behalf of God and the next they are lieing through their teeth

    Lets hope they get what they deserve at this by election

  • What do they deserve Traditional Unionist?

    and by the way in this day and age what exactly is a ‘traditional’ unionist? not poking fun just interested in the definition..

  • It is in the local press in Fermanagh today that the UUP and SF will be picking candidates soon.

    What are the odds that they’ll be Raymond Ferguson for the UUP, and Paddy Gilgunn for SF (basically the two who lost out closest in 2005 – both ex-councillors who presumably would like to get back in).

    The Irish Times is rreporting that “the TUV is unlikely to stand in Fermanagh”:

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2008/0723/1216740957174.html

  • DK

    Other wild-card is the cathlo-nationalist extremist canditate, whether continuity/real/eirigi