Chaos Theory and elections: DUP

I used the analogy of Pandora’s Box and Chaos Theory nine months ago so I hope I am allowed to reuse it. In Greek mythology, Pandora’s Box was a box which contained all the bad things in the world which escaped when opened. Now it is often used for a dangerous and unpredictable set of events. Chaos theory is, I believe, somewhat similar essentially this is about the unpredictability of complex systems and manifests itself in such a way that the behaviour of chaotic systems appears to be random (well according to Wikipedia).

I would suggest that the up coming European election is one of the most complex we have seen in many years here and as such is pretty unpredictable. The DUP are quoting a European prediction which has already been mentioned on slugger. It may be correct: however, to be fair the Northern Ireland bit is only a very brief part of the document and I am unclear if the experts quoted are actually experts in NI politics. Finally even if the result is one seat each for DUP, SF and UUP / NF, the minutiae of the total votes will be picked over in withering detail. I do not make predictions so I will not comment but I would suggest that this will be a very difficult election to know how all the variables will play out.

I will do unionism and try to do nationalism / republicanism another time.

The DUP have a new candidate; maybe not their first choice but for all that, still a good choice. She is from the hard line wing of the party and has name recognition, yet she is far from being seen as on the nutter end of the spectrum. A fundamentalist yet not someone who has made any way out or ridiculous statements which might concern the new more liberal frequently urban middle class DUP support. Running Dodds is I would suggest a much better idea than say running William McCrea who at times seems in the political wilderness. It is also a better idea than resurrecting a name from the past like they did with Jim Allister last time. Dodds also has the respect of all unionists for taking a seat from SF in West Belfast, no mean feat. She seems to be working pretty hard, the DUP website has descriptions of her going all over the place, pressing the flesh and addressing people. She is never going to have the charisma of Dr. Paisley but to dismiss her as a light weight would be very foolish, she seems personable enough and she has a very efficient party machine behind her.

In addition to Dodds’s abilities the DUP can point to the achievements of Stormont. Many may be negatives in stopping SF’s agenda but they are still achievements: saving academic selection has been messy in the extreme but Ruane has taken almost all the damage and although I have never fully understood why it is an orange / green issue, the DUP have clearly won on it. The DUP have also destroyed the Maze stadium and are stalling the Shrine though personally I think there are dangers on that score. The complete absence of an Irish language act is a further gain for them.

However there are negatives for the DUP. This is the first full scale election since the DUP went into power sharing with Sinn Fein and no one can really know what unionists think: some may be pleased and may start voting DUP, some may be neutral, some hostile but willing to stick with the DUP, some will be spoiling for a chance to take revenge on the DUP. Opinion polls are notoriously inaccurate in Northern Ireland and the relative popularity of each of these positions is actually unknowable. Other negatives for the DUP must include the Swish family Robinson and the rest of the money making allegations. Whoever coined the Swish family was very clever: it will, I suspect, stick for quite some time. There are some within the unionist community who may think they have been clever and that it is laudable. However, I would suggest that the majority will be fairly unimpressed: unimpressed enough to punish Diane Dodds at the polls? Some no doubt but how many is unclear. Robinson certainly seemed rattled and his outburst at Martina Purdy looked very poor, especially as Purdy is very much the polite reasoned analyst (okay I am a big fan) but highly impressive as she is at what she does, she is not an attack journalist like Jeremy Paxman or John Humphries. As such Robinson’s attack was very ill judged. For him to then have to stand there seeming to roll his eyes in disgust at Purdy whilst his “friend” McGuinness supported him looked very poor. Again, however, it was a moment for politicos and not so interesting to real people. Also it and the Swish business are now a long time before the election.

Provided the DUP manage to avoid banana skins more successfully I doubt they will suffer that much long term harm. June is still a fair way away; however if they have some more mistakes in the near future then a pattern may develop and I have always maintained that momentum in politics is very important. The economy (the subject of Purdy’s question) is also a problem and that may yet come back to haunt the DUP. Although they are completely innocent on it, the major party of government may be the one blamed.

Another possible danger is protest votes. Northern Ireland has never really done protest votes but it is possible that now with a government which will inevitably do things which annoy some that a few disgruntled voters will decide to punish the DUP. The fact that for many years the DUP was in a way a party of protest makes the situation a bit more difficult for them: many of their voters especially their traditional ones probably tend towards protest voting.

The best strategy for the DUP is, however, fairly obvious. I would suggest that they need to accentuate the positives from their viewpoint of devolution, which of course includes things they have stopped. They should also point up the superiority for unionists (and for general competence) of their tenure of government as compared to Trimble’s. In this they are always helped by the now near legendary incompetence of Trimble led unionism. In the years since his fall the narrative that Trimble’s leadership and assembly were a disaster has become accepted by almost everyone within unionism. Indeed for UUP members to challenge that orthodoxy is to open themselves to the charge of being Trimblites which is simply an updated version of Lundies.

Answering Allister and the TUV’s challenge calls for the DUP to point to the Sinn Fein agenda and pronounce that if the TUV had their way, Stormont would fall and the British government would give Sinn Fein all that they desire. In this they are helped by the fact that Hain used exactly such threats to help force the DUP to accept power sharing.

Clearly the DUP need to conduct themselves in a suitably hard line unionist fashion between now and the election. No more talk of the devolution of policing and justice (unless it involves political life times). I would also suggest a minimum number of joint appearance between Robinson and McGuinness. As I have noted previously the body language is a lot less frosty than previously and people may pick up on that which would be potentially detrimental to the DUP cause. Wheeling out Nelson McCausland to lambaste Adams would be useful as would allowing others to have a go at favourite targets: David Simpson after Francie Molloy and various people after Francie Brolly would make good sense.

In addition pointing to the other two parties and suggesting that a vote for them will create a SF first past the post is a possible line. However, I may be incorrect but I have got the impression that recently the DUP have been talking less about topping the poll. That is probably a sensible strategy as it does look like a difficult ask: not impossible but possibly better not to talk it up too much as a failure to do so would hand a bigger PR victory to Sinn Fein. Another issue which is interesting is that if Diane Dodds does do badly the damage may by extension hurt Robinson’s only serious potential challenger: Nigel Dodds. Overall, however, I think Diane Dodds was a pretty good choice in the absence of any bigger names (of the sane variety) being willing to go forward. The DUP will no doubt run a very good on the ground campaign (they always tend to). However, the other variables make this in many ways the highest risk election they have fought in many years.

  • Mark McGregor

    Turgon,

    I thought I made it clear when I blogged that website that they don’t appear to have analysed the situation in the north of Ireland. If the DUP are quoting it, they are quoting irrelevant nonsense.

  • Silverline

    DUP Delivered the following looks good to me they have my vote

    A) Victims Commissioner
    B) Millions for deprived Unionist Areas
    D) De-rateing of Orange Halls
    E) Good redundancy package for RIR
    F) 4 DUP members on Policing Board a Unionist majority
    G) Decommissioning
    H) Funding for Orange Order £110,000
    I) Rates rebates for Orange Halls
    J) 50/50 recruitment stopped by 2010
    K) Sinn Fein signed up to Policing swearing an oath to the Police to take office
    L) North South bodies made accountable
    M) Ministers made accountable
    N) The DUP don’t have to vote for a Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister
    O) Irish Language Act stopped
    P) Maze Stadium stopped
    Q) Irish Language Act stopped
    R) Free Prescriptions
    S) Free Public Transport 60 over
    T) Fuel Payments £159 for most vulnerable
    U) Regional rates frozen for three years
    V) Academic Selection for Grammar School

  • Silverline,

    So pleased about stopping the Irish Language Act you’ve included it twice eh?!!

  • Turgon

    oneill,
    He is also rather happy about orange halls and rates so he mentioned that twice as well. He also claims credit for prescriptions (did McGimpsey not do that). Also N has not really got rid of McGuinness has it.

  • politico

    A) Victims Commissioner
    Actually 4 who haven’t yet worked out what they are doing and include the sister of a dead provo
    B) Millions for deprived Unionist Areas
    please detail
    D) De-rateing of Orange Halls
    in certain circumstances
    E) Good redundancy package for RIR
    good second considering they wanted them retained
    F) 4 DUP members on Policing Board a Unionist majority
    d’hondt system will give unionist majority no matter which party
    G) Decommissioning
    so you got the photos then want to share
    H) Funding for Orange Order £110,000
    orange order getting what its entitled too not in gift of DUP unless its a personal donation
    I) Rates rebates for Orange Halls
    as above
    J) 50/50 recruitment stopped by 2010
    good second place again
    K) Sinn Fein signed up to Policing swearing an oath to the Police to take office
    oath to the police???
    L) North South bodies made accountable
    you talked to seupb or intertrade ireland lately
    M) Ministers made accountable
    education !!!!!
    N) The DUP don’t have to vote for a Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister
    in return SF can be first minister
    O) Irish Language Act stopped
    will appear under different name
    P) Maze Stadium stopped
    shrine going ahead
    Q) Irish Language Act stopped
    different name
    R) Free Prescriptions
    nope not theirs
    S) Free Public Transport 60 over
    will it stay??
    T) Fuel Payments £159 for most vulnerable
    to pay for the symptoms not addressing the causes
    U) Regional rates frozen for three years
    yep wait for the bounce in year 4
    V) Academic Selection for Grammar School
    academic selections (what have we now for the kids is it 4 different exams?)

    so why are you voting for them??

  • Silverline

    ) Victims Commissioner
    Actually 4 who haven’t yet worked out what they are doing (Bertha McDogoual Unionist sas veto over the other three) thousands of pounds of funding going to victims group ask willie frazer he has applied for it!
    B) Millions for deprived Unionist Areas
    please detail (dont need to look at Unionist housing areas they are being regenerated as we speak or are in the process)
    D) De-rateing of Orange Halls
    in certain circumstances (no all so get your facts right)
    E) Good redundancy package for RIR
    good second considering they wanted them retained (the soilders were consulted and they asked for this what did you do, it had already been agreed under the belfast Agreement so blame the UUP)
    F) 4 DUP members on Policing Board a Unionist majority
    d’hondt system will give unionist majority no matter which party (so we got an extra Unionsit seat and your complaining)
    G) Decommissioning
    so you got the photos then want to share(I dont see any arms dumps being found to prove other wise)
    H) Funding for Orange Order £110,000
    orange order getting what its entitled too not in gift of DUP unless its a personal donation (sorry but extra money was got such as money for community festivals and others)
    J) 50/50 recruitment stopped by 2010
    good second place again, (actually a first stopped 50/50 they can only ever reach 30% I think its a good result ask Jim he helped to negoiate it)
    K) Sinn Fein signed up to Policing swearing an oath to the Police to take office
    oath to the police??? ( it was on TV when the NI Assembly swore the first and deputy first Ministers in)ask Jim he helped to negoiate it)
    L) North South bodies made accountable
    you talked to seupb or intertrade ireland lately ( Unionist groups dont bother to apply need to get the finger out they cant complain if they dont the funding if they dont apply)
    M) Ministers made accountable
    education ( 11 plus done away with under direct rule accademic selection agreed at st andrews ask Jim he was there and helped to negoiate it)
    N) The DUP don’t have to vote for a Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister
    in return SF can be first minister (only if the entire NI Assembly agree to it in a cross community vote)
    O) Irish Language Act stopped
    will appear under different name ( lies)
    P) Maze Stadium stopped
    shrine going ahead (lies)
    R) Free Prescriptions
    nope not theirs ( sorry was discussed at executive DUP riased it the health Minister then brought it forward)
    S) Free Public Transport 60 over
    will it stay?? ( yes )
    T) Fuel Payments £159 for most vulnerable
    to pay for the symptoms not addressing the causes ( so you dont want anyone to get any help then????)
    U) Regional rates frozen for three years
    yep wait for the bounce in year 4 ( Rumours dont see you wanting to pay for more money in your pocket)

    so why are you voting for them?? well they beat Sinn Fein and won the Democratic way

  • ellie

    Actually Turgon, with regards to the mentioning of Orange Halls, it was DE-rating and rates REBATE which was mentioned i.e. two seperate points!

  • Neil

    well they beat Sinn Fein and won the Democratic way

    ROFL. The DUP were never that big on democracy.

    Do you remember Paisley senior’s most recent ‘never, never, never’ speech? He was referring to working with SF at the time, and it wasn’t so much never as aye, ok then he meant to say.

    So what it boils down to is that the DUP got their votes on the premise that they would keep SF from government. In that they failed, and all the prisoners were released. They then sell this failure/climbdown to the party faithful, pretending that they aren’t complete hypocrites.

    On the flip side Gerry tells his voters that we’re going to be in a united Ireland within fifteen years, and that the changes they’ve gotten to the cops (the change in name, and 50/50 recruitment which they wanted), were enough.

    Cue the thick on either side, believing the lies coming from both parties to try to make sure they don’t look like they’ve both been talking shite, have no principles, and in fact while pretending to want to destroy each other, are actually attempting to destroy the competition on their own side of the fence, with SF crucifying the SDLP and the DUP trying to finish of the UUP.

    But the idea that you believe ‘they beat SF’ is indicative of how you’ve swallowed the bullshit, hook line and sinker. You think they are beaten despite doing better in elections year on year? Increasing votes is a symptom of being ‘beat’? LOL. They’re in power (didn’t the DUP promise that would never happen?), they didn’t have to jump through the hoops that the DUP promised they would. Devolution of P&J round the corner, wasn’t that another thing that would take a ‘political lifetime’?

    The only other thing, pertinent to this is the massive errors in judgement that would have seen a british MP resigning. SF – Catriona Ruane, DUP – Sammy Wilson, the Swish family Robinson, Iris get’s a second mention for the homophobia, Ian Og is also homophobic, the rental of the DUP office in Ballymena for some 3 – 4 times the value of the property, paid to a company run by Ian Og’s da in law, and the prevailing idea that this is all a good old boys club designed to filter money into DUP pockets. These we can hope will impact votes, not too many homosexuals voting DUP now I’d say, and the working classes are getting a beating off them too. That’s nothing new of course, but these days they know they’re getting milked, and don’t buy the bullshit you’ve swallowed quite so quickly.

  • fin

    Meanwhile back in the real world the South seems to have come up with an interesting solution to it all,lets just buy the North,

    Perhaps this is Silverlines ‘B) Millions for deprived Unionist Areas’

    http://www.irishnews.com/articles/540/5860/2009/4/14/615120_378372613401Irishgove.html

  • McCrea is not in the state of widernes ‘at times’ rather i would say he is at it ‘most of the times’!
    and as far as DUP not talking about excelling in the poles is something very intelligent they are doing