Time for unionists to display their faith in agreements

If you haven’t read it and you need some refreshment on how people felt the morning the Belfast, or Good Friday, Agreement was signed eleven years ago, get a copy of Rebel Columns by Danny Morrison and check out the first piece for a sustained controlled piece of writing on the euphoria of that day. Better still, get a hold of a recording of Radio Ulster’s output for warm cross community congratulations. The past is indeed a strange country. In today’s Irish Times Frank Millar has a sobering message for those unionists who still believe that this powersharing agreement was about re-instigating majority rule via the back door…

Even while they “share” power, too many on both sides appear in a state of denial about the nature of the enterprise, and the compromise, to which they have signed up. Robinson, naturally, won’t be raising a toast to the original deal negotiated by David Trimble and Séamus Mallon. DUP mythology requires us to see the St Andrews Agreement as the alternative to the Good Friday accord, rather than its natural offspring.

In the end Sinn Féin effectively killed off Trimble’s Ulster Unionist leadership, Gerry Adams concluding that the deal with Paisley was the one that would stick. Sinn Féin’s mythology, on the other hand, requires at least the party’s own supporters to believe that nothing about this settlement is intended to stick and that Northern Ireland remains in “transition” toward a united Ireland. This in turn fuels the arrogance of those in the DUP who behave as if the unionist majority has been restored at Stormont, their mission seemingly to deny Sinn Féin at every turn.

From the so-called “moderate” sidelines, likewise, comes only a succession of discordant, unhelpful and confusing noises. The SDLP might be up for a celebration of the Belfast Agreement, yet that party too seems in denial about the nature of the settlement, locked as it is in a presumably doomed struggle to out-green Sinn Féin.

Sourness and disillusion at finding itself supplanted informs the persistent SDLP charge that Sinn Féin is routinely out-negotiated by the DUP. Some displaced and unhappy Ulster Unionists, likewise, seem ready to carve a defeat from their previously claimed victory – questioning the sincerity of Sinn Féin’s commitment to the democratic path while contemplating, with their new Conservative allies, a “voluntary coalition” model to replace compulsory power-sharing.

He goes on to note that those keen to clip to a voluntary coalition are getting somewhat ahead of themselves, and are in danger of forgetting just why the Belfast Agreement and its ancillary antecedent’s were so necessary in the first place…

Peter Robinson made a powerful speech in the Assembly on taking his office as First Minister, when he hoped “that the sons and daughters of the Planter and Gael have found a way to share the land of their birth and live together in peace”.

As Millar goes on to note, the ownership the current framing of that settlement lies with unionists of all shades and none:

It is unclear whether unionists collectively are guilty of laziness or some dishonesty. What can be said of some is that there is a significant discrepancy between their demeanour and the position they have separately and collectively articulated, namely that – while rewriting the rules for its governance within the union – the Belfast and St Andrews agreements have secured Northern Ireland’s constitutional position.

The unionists should start behaving as if they believe it, and act accordingly in terms of their approach to the republican and nationalist communities. For what must also be said is that the onus for maintaining a settled and stable Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom rests with them. Nobody else is going to do their job for them.

That does not mean forcing nationalism back to a time when famously the only nationalist originating piece of legislation through the old Stormont was on bird conservation.

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  • kensei

    Sinn Féin’s mythology, on the other hand, requires at least the party’s own supporters to believe that nothing about this settlement is intended to stick and that Northern Ireland remains in “transition” toward a united Ireland. This in turn fuels the arrogance of those in the DUP who behave as if the unionist majority has been restored at Stormont, their mission seemingly to deny Sinn Féin at every turn.

  • Rory Carr

    Since the current political setup includes agreement that Northern Ireland may leave the Union when a majority of its voters so decide I would hope that all of it would stick, Kensei.

    In the meantime it would be encouraging to see the DUP act in accordance with the spirit of the Agreement especially since doing so could only but help maintain social and political stability and progress which surely could only but make the currently Nationalist citizenry less uneasy within the Union.

    I wouldn’t hold my breath though, Unionism has a most unfortunate habit of shooting itself in the foot at regular intervals.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Mick,

    “As Millar goes on to note, the ownership the current framing of that settlement lies with unionists of all shades and none:”

    Not sure that sentence actually makes sense. The agreement was designed to buy off militant republicanism – and in so far as someone can “own” it the title deeeds probably lie in John Hume’s personal safe.

    The GFA signals that the Union can be hollowed out from the inside by the process of increasing North South institutional and commonsense cooperation which, subject to the improving Nationalist demographics, it will in all probablility actually do.

    The British have agreed in the GFA that Ireland North and South can now determine the future of Norn Iron therby changing both the constitional status of Norn Iron and its constitution at the same time. The people of Norn Iron can consider themselves British (as they could in Hong Kong) but just like as with China, the British now recognise the national claim of the mother country.

  • kensei

    Since the current political setup includes agreement that Northern Ireland may leave the Union when a majority of its voters so decide I would hope that all of it would stick, Kensei.

    No, taht simply means the current political setup has the capicity to untie itself.

    I have issues with artiles like this. The deal was never sold as final, though it may have been spun as such by some actors. And a final agreement was never what was negotiated. If that was what people were looking, then the positions people took in 1998 would likely have been substantially different, as would the outcome.

    In any case, such a final settlement cannot exist. Political structures exist in a state of dynamic and not static equilibrium. Nationalism has a solid base from which to try to build, and is well within its rights to believe these structures are a signpost towards its gretaer goal. Similarly with Unionism.

    This boils down to bemoaning the politics we have and hoping everyone would take positions closer to what you’d like. I consider that a pointless waste of breath, personally.

  • Brian Walker

    Frank as ever cuts a good slice of the analysis, particularly on Unionism. All parties seem obsessed with the politics of the situation, but in the real world, politics without policy is an empty exercise. At least the SDLP have come up with the outline of an alternative budget plan. The other parties as discussed in other threads, are in denial over the Programme for Government.
    Their next moment of truth will come after the UK Budget on 22 April. The daily grind of trying to govern is the best antidote to millenarian ( or 2016) fantasy. If the local politicians won’t do it, Westminster will, and leave budget cuts to their civil servants which the politicians will have no choice but to endorse. The best chance for the “centre” parties is to be identified as the parties of good government, to identify cross community initiatives for steering through the recession that at the same time show their voters they still have a purpose. Instead, I fear a deeply negative political battle, in the guise of promoting greater efficiency, following the announcement of the panel to review the workings of Stormont.

  • Fair Deal

    For once I am not buying a Frank Millar argument.

    Unionism too often slipped into seeing the status quo as the best arrangements became complacent/lazy and then took up a defensive position around it. It did not serve Unionsm well.

    Also the ‘voluntary coalition’ stuff is a bit of a misrepresentation/incorrect terminology. What people are more talking about at this stage is more the interim step of an end to mandatory all-party coalition replaced with a mandatory cross-community coalition (with some percentage basis of representation required). Part of getting to that step involves what Millar believes is needed, improving engagement with traditional republican and nationalist communities.

  • kensei

    Brian

    to identify cross community initiatives for steering through the recession that at the same time show their voters they still have a purpose.Also the ‘voluntary coalition’ stuff is a bit of a misrepresentation/incorrect terminology. What people are more talking about at this stage is more the interim step of an end to mandatory all-party coalition replaced with a mandatory cross-community coalition (with some percentage basis of representation required).

    No, they are taklking about “voluntary coalition”. The electoral maths just means anything other than what you are suggesting is impossible.

    It also doe snto matte rhow much you “engage” with traditional nationalist communities on the issue. Any nationalist party that does it is a turkey voting for Christmas. Even if somehow their electorate supported it, it is likely to be bad for them personally. 0 chance while SF holds the natiionalist veto.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Kensei

    If we can assume that a UI is not about to happen in the short term, we then need a Government that can actually work sensibly; not the farce we have today.

    If we have a voluntary coalition that represents both sides of the community for example one where they command 55 of the elected members (108) and which has at least 16 members of both sides in it.

    At the moment that would require SF and the DUP but in future if the other parties increase their seats by 11 they they could form the Government, which is possible as SF and the DUP coukld have peaked at the last election.

    So I don’t see a voluntary coalition as excluding any party or group just giving us an agreed Government program and an Opposition both of which we really need.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Frustrated Democrat

    what is the substantive difference between most of both communities (DUP and SF) agreeing to everyhing and most of one community( e.g. SF ) and a small percentage of another community (e.g. the UU/NF) agreeing to everything.

    The trouble with those who are looking for change before the GFA/STA has even been implemented fully is that some of those who actually want change are AGAINST the full implemtation of GFA/STA e.g. Wee Reggie. This is either the shocking politics of opportunism or the embaraasing politics of sour grapes from the now marginalised UU party.

    And yes, I know that great days lie just around the next corner for the UU with their new pals from abroad in the National Front/Alliance or whatever the funny name is – but in the very unlikely event they become the largest Uninoist party I would be very suprised to hear them repeating their arguements of convenience that the current set up is farce.

  • Mack

    Voluntary coalition could work in the medium term, for now I suspect the big issue is SF’s bogeyman status among unionists.

    It would make impossible to form a cross-community pact based on a program for government prior to an election (any unionist party campaigning on a joint SF platform would be wiped out). The flipside would be that, especially if the unionist vote split relatively evenly, the SDLP could name their price.

  • kensei

    FD

    If we can assume that a UI is not about to happen in the short term, we then need a Government that can actually work sensibly; not the farce we have today.

    Define “short term”, “work sensibily” and “farce”. Your defintions will just so happen to suit your poltiical ends. The imperfection of the system here is overplayed, particularly on Slugger and voluntary coalition is no guarantee of better governance. We only have to look to either Dublin or England at the moment to attest to that.

    If we have a voluntary coalition that represents both sides of the community for example one where they command 55 of the elected members (108) and which has at least 16 members of both sides in it.

    Arbitrary figures and the aim of the game here is to remove the Nationalist veto. Let’s get it down to 16 nationalists: easier to presure and bully. In any case — why should either nationalist party vote themselves out of a system taht guarantees them a seat at the table? Turkey, christmas, vote.

    Your suggestion would also presumably leave designation in place, which is the other half of what we are told is wrong with thsi place.

    At the moment that would require SF and the DUP but in future if the other parties increase their seats by 11 they they could form the Government, which is possible as SF and the DUP coukld have peaked at the last election.

    Then again maybe they haven’t; maybe you’ve just set up the more or less permament governemnt here.

    So I don’t see a voluntary coalition as excluding any party or group just giving us an agreed Government program and an Opposition both of which we really need.

    Any Unionist party going into voluntary coalition with SF is signing a political detah note of surpassing speed. De facto the system will exclude SF. There is plenty of potential for political paralysis and instability down that route.

    Rather than moan about the system, how about just getting on with it?

  • PaddyReilly

    Northern Ireland is indeed in transition.

    The stages of this transition are:-

    1) Unionists cease to win a majority of the 1st preference votes;
    2) Unionists cease to win a majority of 1st prefs and transfers;
    3) Unionists no longer have a majority in Stormont: Alliance hold balance;
    4) Nationalist vote higher than Unionist vote: Alliance etc hold balance;
    5) Nationalist vote plus transfers over 50%;
    6) United Ireland

    In fact we are already well into this transition, stage one having been reached over five years ago. Stage two will presumably be achieved in eight weeks time in the Euro Elections. Stage three will happen at the next Stormont election in a couple of years time. Stage four will need a couple more years and stage five will presumably happen in 2014.

    Here of course we may, following Zeno’s paradox, run into 5a, 5b, 5c, etc. It is well known that if voting changed anything, they would abolish it.

    The Unionist style of electoral persuasion is the pogrom, as our Polish and Lithuanian friends have recently found out.

    But for me, stages 2-5 are the objective. Stage 6 would, if anything, be a disappointment, because there would be nothing to look forward to. It is the Odyssey and not Ithaca which is the purpose of our lives.

    Πάντα στον νου σου νάχεις την Ιθάκη.
    Το φθάσιμον εκεί είν’ ο προορισμός σου.
    Αλλά μη βιάζεις το ταξίδι διόλου.
    Καλλίτερα χρόνια πολλά να διαρκέσει.

    Their next moment of truth will come after the UK Budget on 22 April. The daily grind of trying to govern is the best antidote to millenarian ( or 2016) fantasy

    It’s funny how people can shut themselves off to the inevitable. The Labour party are going to lose their majority—in all probability at the next election—and if that is important for your fiscal etc plans then you should take this into consideration. Labour are not going to prolong their office by describing Conservative rule as a millennarian fantasy. The Unionist block are going to lose their majority, by the same process of change.

  • PaddyReilly

    De facto the system will exclude SF.

    This only follows if there is a Unionist majority. Even at present that is not quite the case, as the one Loyalist member who creates that majority was elected on a power sharing ticket.

    And if there isn’t a Unionist majority, as there won’t be after the next election, then SF is not excludable. The SDLP are not going to commit political suicide by going into coalition with an exclusively Unionist régime, neither are the Greens, and I don’t think Alliance will try that one either.

    In any case this would merely lead to the extinction of SF and the rise of RSF, after an appropriately sanguinary campaign of attrition.

    We have to look on Northern Ireland plc as a company with four owners. Each of these needs to be represented on the board: none can be excluded, though decisions have to be made and a majority vote is the inevitable way of doing so, if a consensus or compromise cannot be achieved.

  • PaddyReilly

    De facto the system will exclude SF.

    This only follows if there is a Unionist majority. Even at present that is not quite the case, as the one Loyalist member who creates that majority was elected on a power sharing ticket.

    And if there isn’t a Unionist majority, as there won’t be after the next election, then SF is not excludable. The SDLP are not going to commit political suicide by going into coalition with an exclusively Unionist régime, neither are the Greens, and I don’t think Alliance will try that one either.

    In any case this would merely lead to the extinction of SF and the rise of RSF, after an appropriately sanguinary campaign of attrition.

    We have to look on Northern Ireland plc as a company with four owners. Each of these needs to be represented on the board: none can be excluded, though decisions have to be made and a majority vote is the inevitable way of doing so, if a consensus or compromise cannot be achieved.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Paddy Reilly,

    the turnout in the garden-centre-prod-heartlands notably North Down was very low in the last Euro elections and coupled with the presence of the Tory NF Alliance and the TUV (still with some spring in their step) and the fact that the DUP wil play the “if you dont vote for us SF will be the biggest party” line – there may be some bounce in the Unionist vote and I think you may a little over optimistic in your prediction of the good guys getting most votes in the Euro elections – although I sincerly hope you are right.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    PR

    There is over optimism and there is fantasy I think you veer towards the latter.

    Kensei

    You can put whatever slant you want on the terms you mention the current Government in NI will still be a shambles, medium term is 10 years and the country needs to be run for that period.

    We need a funded opposition in Stormont not in the Daily Mail or Belfast Telegraph. The present system will not bring that.

    I don’t care if it is the DUP or SF or any other combination as long as it is not a supposedly happy clappy executive who pretend to agree on everything, with only the Alliance in opposition and now not even them for long.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Frustrated Democrat

    and talking of fantasy…were you not predicting great success for the funny NF alliance of the foreign tories and local unionists on another thread recently?

    Was that you? and if so is that still your position or has there been an outbreak of realism in your thinking?

  • PaddyReilly

    There is over optimism and there is fantasy I think you veer towards the latter.

    In the last Euro election Unionists, after the counting of all the available transfers, got two quotas (i.e. 50%) plus 9,738 votes.

    I do not think I am sticking my neck out too far in saying that they will be more than 9,738 down this time. (Note that I did not say that they will win less votes than the Nationalist block).

    But yes, if by good guys is signified Nationalists plus Alliance plus Greens plus Natural Law, then the good guys will win more votes than the Unionists.

    In the last Stormont election Unionists plus Loyalist achieved a majority of one seat thanks to 31 votes in Strangford.

    I do not think I am showing over optimism by imagining that those 31 votes will have gone the next time round. Paddy Reilly, like Paddy Power, does not make rash predictions. A Unionist loss of two seats does seem a reasonable prediction, and that will bring them down to 50% -1 in Stormont.

    Generally the views expressed here are like thinking that you can jump out of a skyscraper, fall for one minute, and then hover permanently five feet above the ground.

    The rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain. The Garden Centre vote stays mainly in the garden Centre.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Sammy

    You asked a question on thread below did you read the answer or reply to it?

    I said if the CU’s don’t get 110,000 then I am guilty of being overly optimistic.

    http://sluggerotoole.com/index.php/weblog/comments/tories-and-uus-score-a-palpable-double-whammy/

  • Frustrated Democrat

    PR

    My forecast is on the thread above – what is yours?

  • kensei

    FD

    You can put whatever slant you want on the terms you mention the current Government in NI will still be a shambles, medium term is 10 years and the country needs to be run for that period.

    If a UI was likely in 10 years I would be doing everything I could to prepare for it, because it is a short time scale to make all the necessary preparations.

    The system is imperfect but there is not the trust to go anywhere else and the last thing we need is an endless cycle of tweaking the formula of government. Everyone knew the rules. The system hangs together, more or less and we need to get on with things. There will always be poor minsters and poor decisions,a nd limited chances of getting rid of either if backed stroingly by the Executive. I wager you’d be less concerned if the UUP was in the lead.

  • PaddyReilly

    FD

    While the order of the various parties you supply may be correct, I would say that the idea that the total 1st pref Unionist vote will be 290,000 votes to Nationalists’ 240,000 is founded on wishful thinking, given that this is more than 15,000 up on 2004.

    I would expect the 1st preference Unionist vote to be much the same as the Nationalist, with their (Unionists’) best chance of winning two seats coming from a higher percentage of transfers from Alliance.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Frustrated Democrat,

    Apologies I missed your reply on the other thread.

    I expect the UU/NF to come fourth and neck and neck between SDLP and UU/NF for thied seat.

    DUP 165,000
    SF 170,000
    UUP 80,000
    SDLP 85,000
    TUV 15,000
    Others 40,000

    Unionists block about 5,000 votes ahead of Nationalist block.

  • PaddyReilly

    FD

    On reflection, I would say that your assessment of all the other parties’ chances is fairly accurate, but with the CUs you are blinded by wishful thinking. They will gain circa 90,000 votes, as last time, probably much the same vote as the SDLP.

    Proportions are thus:-

    DUP + TUV = SF
    CU = SDLP

  • PaddyReilly

    Sammy

    Broadly I think your prediction is more accurate than FD’s, but I would have expected TUV to win many more votes: 32,000 probably.

    But, not being a Unionist, I cannot say that I have any real idea of how deep the Unionist disaffection and disgust with the Lundyite DUP is.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    PR and Sammy

    I think you missed the fact Gilliland is not in the field this time and about 22,000 of his votes went to the UUP, so were obviously Unionist votes in the first place.

    Nicholson in an entirely different position now representing the CU’s so even if Gilliland was in the field the vote from last time would probably increase with some previous disillusioned UUP voters from the last time returning to the CU’s from the DUP; especially since Dodds is a weak candidate.

    I think it is reasonable to say that the TUV will be in the 35,000 area at about 20% of the total DUP vote.

    The interesting vote to see will be if the SDLP can contiue to gel with the voters in the way they have been doing recently, if so that will be at the expense of SF.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Frustrated Democrat,

    The distribution as outlined on election website http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/fe04.htm below looks fairly even to me.

    “At this point de Brun’s 7,221 surplus, even if added to Gilliland, Whitcroft and McCann’s votes combined, could not have made a difference, so for the third and final count the bottom three candidates were eliminated and their votes redistributed as follows:
    Jim Nicholson (UUP) +22,412 to new total of 147,058.
    Martin Morgan (SDLP) +20,522 to new total of 108,531. “

  • PaddyReilly

    But last time Alliance were not running. So I would expect Alliance to take the bulk of Gillisland’s (Unionist leaning) votes this time. Particularly as they know that Alliance are not going to get a seat and their effective vote will be their transfers to a Unionist party (CUs in the main). The 1999 Alliance vote was a bit low.

    So yes, the CU 1st pref vote will be circa 90,000 as before: but they will then gain transfers from Alliance and TUV, with a nail-biting competition between DUP, SDLP and CU for enough transfers to win the last two seats.

    So your prediction for the CU 1st pref vote is way too high, but it might correspond to the CU’s cumulative vote after all transfers are counted.

    Whoever gets the third seat will do so without gaining a quota.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    PR Sammy

    I see the DUP losing 40,000 – 35,000 to TUV and at least 5,000 to the CU’s, could be more.

    The De Bruin Gilliland Whitcroft McCann total was 57,000 so 42,000 of that transferred, I can only assume that McCann and Debruin did not transfer to UUP so the 57,000 becomes 40,000 available to the UUP, less say 50% of Whitcroft = 38,000 at 73% transfer or about 28,000, so a split of Gillilands vote 80/20 to the UUP. So if the Alliance portion est. 15,000 splits 50/50 then 22,500 – 7,500 = 15,000, however the Alliance vote may not have transferred to the UUP so the 7,500 to be deducted from the UUP could be less.

    So 92,000 + 5,000 + 15,000 (ex Gilland) = 112,000

    I think however, being maybe overly optimistic, with a professional campaign that the CU’s can attract 15,000 votes from the SDLP, Alliance and the DUP.

    Hence my 120,000 +/- 5,000 forecast with the +5,000 being very optimistic the -5,000 realistic and the 110,000 the bottom line.

    Of course we don’t know all the runners at this stage so it may need to be relooked at if a substantial independent runs.

    I am fascinated Sammy where your CU’s 80,000 comes from can you do the maths.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done

    FD,

    Re. Transfers

    In simple terms, the transfers of the ‘funny’ (ie non tribal parties) parties was split roughly 50/50 between the 2 tribal blocks last time out – I am assuming the same thing again.

    In relation to the big tribal parties – I am assuming that the UU even with the addition of the OU (overseas unionists) /Tories will continue their decline and the same will happen with the Republican lite SDLP.

    The DUP will however lose a small amount to the TUV – I think the “SF will top the poll” line will play well and minimize the Lunidification of Robbo attempt by the TUV.

    Although I think the introduction of the OU will tempt the garden-centre-prods out of their potting sheds and into the polling booths the increase in the good guys demographic will partly off-set this. The tribal vote will be won by Prods with the Fenians about 5,000 behind.

    re. “I am fascinated Sammy where your CU’s 80,000 comes from can you do the maths. ”

    I base these figures on a secret mathematical formula devised in the Vatican by You know who/the dark lord/God’s represenative on Earth/the antichrist/He who must be obeyed/the Nazi boyscout

  • PaddyReilly

    FD

    Alliance got 5.2% of the vote at the Assembly elections in 2007 compared with 6.6% for Gillisland in 2004. So the Gillisland factor counts for about 1.4% of the vote, it would seem. OK that might be 8,000 votes.

    I think your calculations are based on the common misapprehension that the composition of the electorate does not change, and so it’s just a matter of endlessly shuffling the same cards. In fact it has a tendency to become less Unionist at every successive election, due to the alteration in the sectarian balance as elderly Unionist voters die off. So, all things being equal, you can deduct at least 10,000 from the vote of each major Unionist party. Which is what Sammy does. But if the CU wins back the Conservative vote plus others which previously went to Gillisland, then you can cancel that deduction.

    However, as with swings and roundabouts, if the CU take 1st preference votes from Gillisland then these votes won’t be around on transfer to bring them up to a quota.

    Someone is going to be elected to the third seat without achieving a quota. I cannot say whether that will be DUP, SDLP or CU.

    I think however, being maybe overly optimistic, with a professional campaign that the CU’s can attract 15,000 votes from the SDLP, Alliance and the DUP.

    Hopelessly deluded. The best the CUNF can hope for is that the DUP will lose votes to TUV, and that these voters will transfer to CU ahead of of the DUP.

  • PaddyReilly

    FD

    I just looked at your calculations and discovered the error in them. De Brún did indeed get a surplus and this could have been transferred, but never was.

    http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/fe04.htm

    So you have miscounted her votes as part of the transfers on the last count. And therefore miscalculated.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    PR

    As far as I can see it was transferred as part of the Gilliland etc. block, you just can’t ignore votes – can you imagine the reaction of the SDLP to discounting nationalist votes from their transfers. What it said was that her votes would not have made any difference to the others so they were were all transferred together.

    Sammy

    Obviously didn’t follow your math, but what you say has no logic, where do you think the 15,000 votes ex Gilliland are going? You also way underestimate the TUV following, if you know any fundamental unionists ask them e.g. Turgon. Ex SDLP voters and ex DUP voters will be voting CU of that I am certain, the only question is how many.

    I also see in today’s Daily Tele that the Conservatives have the best Election Machine around and apparently many of the team have regularly been seen over here in recent months.

    So watch out!

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Frustrated Democrat

    re. UU/OU(Overseas Tories)/NF

    what works in Britain is one thing – but this is Ireland and PoshBoyDavidCameron(PBDC) hasn’t realised the difference yet. The irony of the Unionist position is that they cannot trust the British to protect their British heritage and given the recent British support for Nationalism via the GFA, parades commission etc they are probably right not to do so.

    re. the TUV vote – I think distaste for SF toppting the poll will overcome distaste for the compromises made by the DUP – I respect Turgon’s and Allister’s views which are based on principle, but I think the vast majority of Unionists will reward Robbo’s pragmatism.

    re. The non tribal vote – it seemed to split 50/50 last time I am assuming it will do so again – not sure what you or me is missing on that one.

    re. “I also see in today’s Daily Tele that the Conservatives have the best Election Machine around ” You cann ot be seriously quoting the Torygraph regarding Tory capabilities – its a great newspaper for Sport, Business and general reporting but anything to do with National British politics is pure right-wing ideology.

  • PaddyReilly

    Wrong.

    As the text says “for the third and final count the bottom three candidates were eliminated and their votes redistributed”.

    De Brún’s surplus was not redistributed because it was insufficient to make a difference, and as the UUP candidate had already gained a surplus, there was no need to proceed to a fourth stage, the redistribution of De Brún’s surplus.

    So your calculations are erroneous.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Sammy

    Crewe and Nantwich, London Mayor – ring any bells actions speak louder than words. I am sure they are doing their homework here as I gather they have appointed a very experienced Campaign Director and drafted in experienced campaigners.

    Gilliland isn’t running this time and most of his votes came from the UUP last time out and remember the Conservatives also backed him 5 years ago.

    Do the research and numbers before you do the forecast.

  • PaddyReilly

    Gilliland isn’t running this time and most of his votes came from the UUP last time out

    No, as I already pointed out, Alliance got 5.2% of the (1st pref) vote in 2007 and Gilliland got 6.6% (of the same) in 2004. So most of Gilliland’s votes came from Alliance.

    and remember the Conservatives also backed him 5 years ago.

    Yes, and the Conservatives are good for how many votes in NI? About 2,000 wasn’t it? Labour also backed Gilliland, where do you think their votes are going to go? So basically, your premise is 91,000 + 2,000 + Tory spin = 120,000?

    they have appointed a very experienced Campaign Director and drafted in experienced campaigners.

    But this would hardly win them any votes in Paris, which is much closer to London than Belfast is. And they were just as experienced two elections ago, and they lost hands down.

    Conservatives win in London because people have got bored/disillusioned with Labour. That doesn’t apply in NI. NI results have never followed the systole and diastole of English politics. They are a thing apart. Campaign directors are there to take the credit when things go right, but really they have no or little effect on the outcome.

    Ex SDLP voters and ex DUP voters will be voting CU of that I am certain, the only question is how many.

    For the first category, I would estimate 2. But that may be too generous, as you can never actually know how a person votes in a secret ballot, and your SDLP informants may be just humouring you. My parents always promised their votes to everyone who asked them, which I thought was hypocritical of them at the time, but now I’m getting older I find myself doing the same.

    The DUP may be a more promising source, but I imagine that if you deserted the UUP for the DUP, if you are now dissatisfied with the DUP you would go for the TUV, but might give your second prefs to CUs.

    For this reason, I am inclined to agree with you about the TUV. I would be surprised is they win less than 30,000 votes or more than 40,000.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    PR

    I have set out how I got to my numbers why don’t you do the same.

    I have accounted for Alliance.

  • PaddyReilly

    Sammy

    re. The non tribal vote

    As I just said, in 2004 for the third and final count the bottom three candidates were eliminated and their votes redistributed.

    These three were Gilliland (Independent), Whitcroft (Greens) and Éamon Mc Cann (SEA).

    Now I’m sure McCann regards himself as a completely non-tribal non-sectarian entity, but others might think that he is just another Nationalist politician. It would be interesting to know how his transfers went, but we were not told, so people will go on imagining they went to the Nationalist side.

    The Green transfers, we can tell from elections elsewhere, go to both Nationalist and Unionist, but I think you will find Nationalists end up with the bulk of them.

    Alliance transfers go to both sides, but here it is the reverse: the UUP gets more than the SDLP. Someone else suggested a figure of 60% UUP and 40% SDLP, and I don’t think that’s far wrong, but there are actually quite a few who don’t transfer at all.

    All in all though, I am quite pleased that there seems to be a fair amount of consensus in our three predictions. The major differences seem to be that you are more inclined to think that all Unionists are terrified that SF will top the poll, and Frust has picked up the wrong end of the stick with regard to redistributions and added on a vast vote to his preferred candidate, without subtracting it from its only possible sources.

    But having said that, the UUP 1st pref in 2004 was 91,164, while the cumulative total after transfers was 147,058.

    So really it’s six of one and half a dozen of the other: they might win more 1st prefs and gain less transfers.

    But this time round there will be less than 2 Unionist transfers.

    If as you suggest, the final Unionist vote is no more than 5,000 votes higher than the final Nationalist vote, which strangely enough is almost exactly what I estimated as well, then it remains to be seen what the effect of giving n votes to two candidates and n + 5,000 to three will be.

    Nails will be bitten, of that I am sure.

  • PaddyReilly

    You have accounted for Alliance by giving then 2.67% of your total predicted vote, when they won 5.2% in 2007. Why the drop?

  • PaddyReilly

    I have set out how I got to my numbers why don’t you do the same.

    Easy, same as last time except

    1) small predictable drop in Unionist vote. Take off approximately 12,000 votes from both major Unionist candidates because of this.

    2) TUV factor. Will capture UKUP vote and some of PUP vote as in 1999 election. Take 35,000 votes and give it to TUV, subtracting it from DUP total.

    3) Conservatives join UUP. Take 2000 votes from Gillisland’s total and give then to CU.

    4) Rest of Gilliland’s vote to Alliance candidate.

    Um, that’s it.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Guys

    Gilliland got 36,000 Alliance got 15,000 in 1999 where are the other 21,000 coming from?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    If the excellent Overseas Unionist electoral machine is worth its money it will take one look round the place and conclude the following: Time to spin the dreadful result we are about to suffer – so here are some suggestions for the very embarassing post-election press conference statements.

    1) As the outstaanding party of the middle ground we were caught between the shocking tribal politics of Norn Iron.

    2) We are a new electoral force in Norn Iron and although we have the bestest candidates in whole wide world we will need time to merge our two outstanding parties together.

    3) This result will make us all the more determined to convey our message to the natives who seemed to have some difficulty understanding what the feck we were saying to them.

    4) This is a god forsaken place where the people who swear allegiance to our country treat us as if we had just sold their grannies and we are getting to feck out of the place.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Sammy

    Dream on…. I suspect the CU’s will be happy after the election a few more gaffs from the DUP and they could be very happy…

    By the way the look at these turnouts, all the higher ones are in nationalist areas with ND at only 38% Sa at 44% and STR at 40% we might see a little improvement there.

    http://www.eoni.org.uk/percentagepollbyconstituency_002.pdf

    I hope you will be around after the poll in June to discuss the results in particular the CU’s vote.

    PR

    My apologies you are indeed correct.

    However I only used the first preferences and not the accumulated votes after transfers which would increase the totals to 55,000, the transfers then have to be discounted in value so it is not an exact science.

    Have you found the missing 21,000 votes?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    FD

    “I hope you will be around after the poll in June to discuss the results in particular the CU’s vote.”

    Ditto. I will be very suprised if some elements of the spin list above will not be in evidence.
    I do love an election – particualry one when there are 3 unionists parties against the good guys.

    re. North Down – these are the figrues I was referring to in the other post – even I expect to see a considerable increase in that constituency.
    As I mentioned above I expect the improved turnout by garder-centre-prods to be partly offset by the improved Nationlaist demographic.

  • PaddyReilly

    Alliance got 28,291 votes in the 2005 Westminster elections. 28,291 non-transferrable votes. And 35,149 votes in the local government elections in the same year. So 15,000 is ten years out of date and a bit low for them.

    But in the long run, Alliance is only borrowing these votes. They cannot use them for a Euro election, they have to be divided up and given to the SDLP and UUP/CUs.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    PR

    If you look at the votes in the 2 elections before 1999 they got 40 & 50,000 so they don’t get many votes in elections where they can’t win. They only got 2.1% in 1999

    Sammy

    No need for spin when the results are good.

    BTW I see the DFM is back to 2014 for a UI, is there something in the Stormont water that leads to delusions or is it just SF?
    http://www.irishnews.com/articles/540/5860/2009/4/10/614847_3780368324102014821.html

  • Brian MacAodh

    I think you guys are gonna be surprised when RSF picks up about 50,000 votes

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Brian

    We 3 may not agree on the votes but we will agree that RSF will not get 50,000 votes.

  • PaddyReilly

    I think you guys are gonna be surprised when RSF picks up about 50,000 votes

    Are they standing? Has it been announced?

  • PaddyReilly

    I will be suprised if they pick up 50,000 votes if they’re not standing.

  • out foreigner

    Does anyone know why the nationalist share of the recent Enniskillen by-election fell by so much (unionist easily won the seat). Are nationalists less likely to bother voting now that they are getting close to equal treatment?