Chaos Theory and elections: TUV

Turning finally to my own lot. This is a critical election for the TUV, more so than for any of the other parties. Whilst defeat at the election would not deprive the UUP or DUP of their major political stage, it would for the TUV. As such a good showing is vital if the early momentum of the party is to be continued. This is an enormous task for a small organisation.
In Jim Allister the TUV have their single most potent weapon. He is in fairness not a hugely charismatic figure. However, few would pretend that he is anything other than a serious politician and has become a proper expert on European issues. In addition he has helped a significant number of businesses and is seen as the farmer’s friend. He has a capacity for hard work and is clearly utterly committed to criss crossing the country chasing down the votes. However, he has not received a vast amount of press coverage in the recent past and although it will undoubtedly increase in the run up to the election it is unlikely to match that of the other two unionist parties.

Recently with the resurgence of violence one might argue that the coming together shown would damage the TUV. That is, however by no means certain; I have previously suggested a possible multi phase response to what has happened. It may have weakened the TUV, alternatively it may actually have strengthened their position in the longer term. The sight of Robinson and McGuinness together and their improved body language makes an interesting contrast to the fact that McGuinness is off to Rosslea today to pay homage to the likes of the murderers of Douglas Deering. That and the fear that compromise is in the offing over policing and justice and even the Maze shrine may worry some unionists: not the liberals nor the fully signed up DUPers but they are not the ones who matter in this context.

The recent rows over expenses and the feeling that the executive is not achieving much over the economy may also play into the TUV’s hands. I said in the blog on the DUP that Northern Ireland does not have a big tradition of protest voting. However, in the past there was no government against which to protest vote and in addition the closest to protest voters were hard line unionists. As such Allister may be well positioned to pick up some protest votes: how many there will be I have no idea. There is also the fact that some even DUPers may feel that a shot across the DUP’s bows would be a useful way to ensure the DUP makes no further concessions and indeed that the government does not try to require more concessions of them. In that context there is of course no better shot across the bows than a vote for the TUV.

Of course there are major problems for the TUV. It is a small and new party and no matter how enthusiastic its members and how experienced in campaigning they are, they do not have the solid bedrock of a large cadre of councillors, advice centres, workers etc. Money is also a problem though without betraying too many confidences I believe that situation has improved greatly recently. Further problems are the lack of major elected leaders apart from Allister. This means that it is difficult to always provide a spokesperson on demand, a problem which will accentuate the relative lack of media attention.

The TUV need to try to pick up protest votes as I have suggested. They also need to repeatedly suggest that they have not changed position but the DUP have. There are dangers in that of seeming too hard line but those will be less serious as the DUP will almost certainly run a hard line campaign trying to suggest how little they have liberalised. As well as protest votes, however, Allister needs to demonstrate his hard work for the electorate. The most difficult task, however, is to put forward the positive alternative vision of the TUV. That will be especially difficult as all the other parties and the British government have a vested interest in not supporting an alternative. Allister needs to put forward the voluntary coalition model time after time and remind people that that is also the DUP’s stated long term goal. However, in addition he must be realistic and point up the potential advantages or at least non disadvantages of the collapse of Stormont. There are undoubtedly potential advantages to be suggested especially in a time of recessions and general cynicism about politicians. However, the easy counter from the DUP is always that the alternative would be a Hain like devolution. There are counters to that but they are complex and difficult to get across quickly. The only one which might be easily deployable and generally understood is to point out that the next administration is likely to be a Conservative one. However, again the counter to that is to recount the list of Tory sell outs of the unionist population.

More than anything the problem is that no one has any real idea about the level of TUV support in general or at this election. The conventional wisdom is that it is mainly outside the Pale which simply makes things more difficult to assess. Members of the media and the political classes are mainly Belfast based and as such have little idea of the support. Added to that is the notorious reticence of people to admit their support for harder line political groups; this is merely accentuated in the areas outside Belfast especially border areas. Two people I work with only admitted their support when I told them of my membership: prior to that I had no idea that they had pro TUV views.

To bring this long and rather untidy series of blogs to a close. I mentioned Pandora’s box at the start. When all the evils had come out of the box: at the bottom was hope. That hope is what drives all the parties in this election. However, I honestly submit that although one can suggest what one thinks is the most likely scenario it is no more than a function of one’s own hope or pessimism. To begin to suggest numbers of votes for each of the parties is so impossibly difficult in the presence of so many factors, so many of which are new that in reality Chaos theory is a fairly good summary.

  • TK

    I don’t understand the full background of the TUV argument in terms of presentation but would guess that a visual representation of the TUV argument in the kind of historic and simplistic DUP ads of yester -year that don’t take much though but play on the irrational fears of unionists seems to be the best way forward – though without strong and recognisable personalities I have no idea how that plays out within a unionist audience. I personally think that TUV is dead in the water! But as a non unionist I am not the best guess of that – it all depends on what is a definition of failure!

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Turgon,

    what do you think is Jimbo’s best weapon to use in the election? Is there a particular area in which you, as an ‘anti-agreement-unionist’, think the DUP is most vulnerable – for example, Police and Justice, or more generally just being in government with SF?

    Possesing only a small amount of information about that recalcitrant species – the Ulster Prod – does not stop me from postulating that Jimbo will do badly (about 15,000 votes) based on my firm belief that the DUP will frighten Prods in to voting for them to avoid SF getting across the line in first place and even possibly gaining a 2nd seat for Nationalism.

    As argued elsewhere with ‘Frustrated Democrat’ the Overseas Unionists NF/Tory/whatsisnames will also, I again expertly claim, do badly with a decline since last time out.

    Good election for SF (who will narrowly top the poll) and reasonable for DUP ( who will lend some votes to the TUV) but continuing decline of UU/NF and SDLP with Unionism narrowly ahead in number of overall votes – probably for the last time in a Euro election.

  • TK

    Sammy I hae huge respect for your viewpoint – at times- but 15,000 for Jim seems low. As I said I am not best to guess that – but I would think its closer to 40k plus.

  • Scaramoosh

    Turgon

    Why don’t you try and stimulate some interest in the matter, and get a step ahead of the local media, by setting up some prediction markets on the matter, and blogging them here, so that people can vote on what they see as being the most likely outcome;

    http://www.hubdub.com/

  • Turgon

    Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit,
    I think Jim’s best line is probably the general one along with vote for us to ensure the concessions (like P&J stop). In terms of the vote I do not know. I said at the start I do not do predictions. I prefer to analyse. It is actually the coward’s strategy as you are less likely to be wrong.

    Scaramoosh,
    That is a good idea. However, you make a fatal mistake. you assume that I am computer literate enough to work that site. I will try but I doubt I will succeed.

  • Peter Fyfe

    Could you imagine a scenario where people in Northern Ireland look at how the the two largest parties have performed and how little progress has been made? They then choose to vote on that assesment and of course the abilities of the candidates. Instead we will get Dodds and Barbie. Sinn fein still suggest to us though much quieter so we wont hear, that they are opposed to the EU. Though we could get Jim Allister if people do that, I am torn on this one. I don’t like him having a voice as I do not like to hear it.

  • Saw a TUV propaganda sheet for the 2007 Election, it was a good laugh. Let’s hope they do a lot of damage to the DUP!

  • ben

    I think there have been 1,000 mind-numbing assaults on the English language by Turgon for every vote the TUV has ever gained in any election.

    The last I saw, the TUV consisted of a photocopied pamphlet ranting on and on and on about Unionism and how Unionist they were and that they were more Unionist and Union-loving than anyone else. Union. Oh, and they really hate gay people and would like to burn them.

    A more loathsome example of antediluvian, divisive stupidity and Bible-thumping clericalism it would be hard to imagine. What a contemptible group of malevolent fuckwits.

  • Turgon

    nineteensixtyseven,
    Not trying to be difficult but the TUV were formed in December 2007 and did not fight any elections until 2008.

    However, I have just visited your blog and I am genuinely impressed.

  • Fraggle

    Hmm, didn’t know this TUV party was still going.

  • ed

    is it just me or ist the TUV just the RIRA of unionism?

    Backwards looking with a used and busted flush strategy and vision

    Yeah sure things were much better for unionists in 1962 but thats the past no ones going back

    Get over it and get on with it

  • “nineteensixtyseven,
    Not trying to be difficult but the TUV were formed in December 2007 and did not fight any elections until 2008.

    However, I have just visited your blog and I am genuinely impressed.”

    Ah, my mistake, Turgon. It was amongst a lot of other literature at the time of the election so maybe it was more of an Allister thing. Was there a series of meetings or anything held before the party became formally established or anything? Could be something of that nature or maybe it was later and my mind is mixing it up with the earlier election stuff. To be honest, I disagree with everything Allister says but at least he is honest with his politics unlike a lot of people. He has something in common with dissident republicans in that sense although I am not sure he would appreciate that. And thank you very much! I have just started and am disciplining myself into making regular contributions. I enjoy your analysis of politics on here too, it’s helpful to get an insight into what traditional unionism is thinking. That’s the great thing about this site.

  • baileantuaigh

    I’m a north antrim republican and from what we’re hearing the TUV are going to do well in the Bushmills area down here, I’ve got no idea about the rest of the constituency. Ian Junior isn’t popular there at the minute and its primarily because hes been seen as ‘selling out’ moreso than anything else. I’m actually surprised at this but whether thats a unionist view across the constituency, i wouldn’t be sure.

  • jone

    Will Willie Wilkinson and Davy Tweed be on the campaign trail?

  • percy

    MMG outmaneuvered both Republican and TUV dissidents during the press conference after the army and police murders; expect abject electoral failure and dustbin of history, along the lines of Bob McCartney and David Vance.

    Party’s over Turgon, sorry.
    Have you considered the alliance party?

  • Silverline

    Turgon I find your arguments to be based on rumour; there was the claim about the Irish Language act it did not happen! There was the claim Sinn Fein would be in charge of policing and Justice did not happen! And the claim the new football stadium would be at the Maze it did not happen. I find the TUV hard to believe their leader has also stated he would share power with Sinn Fein in a council styled model and claimed that not all the St Andrews Agreement was bad, he really is contradicting himself. The TUV leader also helped to negotiate the St Andrews Agreement and his finger prints are all over it. I believe the TUV will get around the 20,000 – 30,000 mark, if he does he will be to blame for Sinn Fein topping the poll and the possibility of the SDLP taking the second seat.

  • Silverline

    Turgon I find your arguments to be based on rumour; there was the claim about the Irish Language act it did not happen! There was the claim Sinn Fein would be in charge of policing and Justice did not happen! And the claim the new football stadium would be at the Maze it did not happen. I find the TUV hard to believe their leader has also stated he would share power with Sinn Fein in a council styled model and claimed that not all the St Andrews Agreement was bad, he really is contradicting himself. The TUV leader also helped to negotiate the St Andrews Agreement and his finger prints are all over it. I believe the TUV will get around the 20,000 – 30,000 mark, if he does he will be to blame for Sinn Fein topping the poll and the possibility of the SDLP taking the second seat.

  • Silverline

    DUP delivered tthe following thye will get my vote they defeated Sinn Fein

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

  • Dave

    Silverline do you have to post that on every f**king blog? Aside from making it obvious who you are a cheerleader for, the lack of punctuation makes it look like the DUP have a 10 year-old PR man.

  • Silverline

    DUP delivered the following they will get my vote they defeated Sinn Fein

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

    Is that ok fat Dave

  • brendan,belfast

    TK – you are saying that you think that TUV are dead in the water, then predicting they will get 40k votes. Surely 40,000 1st preferences would indicate a political movement with a future?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Turgon,

    re. predictions. I agree it is trickey and the election predictions are often simply the predictor’s numerical wishlist BUT there has been a trend in Norn Iron politics for the last number of years – away from the middle and towards the extremes and with both SF and the DUP having seen a rise in their % votes in almost every seat in every election.

    There is nothing to suggest that this trend will alter except that trhe TUV will swipe some of the DUP votes in this this pretty unimportant election and the DUP could be knocked into 2nd place. The impact of this if it happens will be to put massive pressure on the UU/Tory/NF to compromise (or get wiped out) at the Westminster election- which is slightly more important – but still some way behind the main elections of the assembly.

    This election is only really important fot the career of Jimbo, the credibility of the Tories and as a measure of the strength of Nationalist demogrpahics – which may be offset by the mythical GardenCentreProd being tempted out by the whiff of ‘respectable’ Torism.

    So great fun and excitement here on Slugger but the Euro election probably just edge the Eurovision for relevance to daily lives in Norn Iron.

    ps … there is a third great euro event coming up with Munster(probably) lifitng the European Cup in Edinburgh at the end of May

  • Turgon

    Silverline,
    Much as some may be delighted by stopping the Irish language act do you need to mention it twice? Derating Orange Halls and rates rebates for Orange Halls seem to be the same thing as well.

    I also find the fact that the DUP do not have to vote for a SF deputy first minister interesting; it does not seem to be preventing McGuinness from being deputy first minister does it? and I think you are sharing power with him.

    Overall I do not doubt the DUP have achieved much more than the UUP. It is all on my blog on the DUP which would have been a better place for it.

    I am afraid I have to agree with Dave that your spin is a little shall we say simpistic. I do not mind it at all, this site is for free expression. However, personally I prefer a slightly more subtle form of spinning.

    Incidentally I am delighted that your usual single transferable post (no.16 and 17) is actually relevant here: that is the first time it has been.

  • TK

    Brendan
    I think politically speaking TUV is dead in the water – in that it has no where to go. It may put in a credible turnout but not enough to win and therefore it makes a statement but thats it.

  • Paul

    Silverline

    the 50/50 recruiting policy is as far as I know still in full effect!

    Do you believe everything you are told?

  • Silverline

    50/50 ends next year, its in the St Andrews Agreement if you read it you will see. I see Turgon that when you loose an arguements you start to make bitchey remarks, get your claws out girl.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Silverline,

    My understanding is that it’s 2011 or 2012, not next year. I don’t think that’s a concession specifically fought for by the DUP.

  • fin

    someone mentioned garden centre Prods, if they read Silverlines list of DUP ‘victories’ they will I suspect either stay in the garden centre or vote tory/uup, is there actually much on this list that will cheer a normal workaday unionist, cashback for the OO, cash for redundant squaddies, no new rugby/soccer stadium, accountability for N-S bodies, no ILA (at the moment) its a similar list to Ian Ogs, and similarily its embarassing for the DUP if they go for election on this, it may have appealed to their kind of voters a decade ago, today this is Jimbo type ‘smash republicans’ type twaddle. I really do hope that Silverlines parents let him to continue using the PC so he can post this in as many forums as possible.

    Speaking of Jimbo’s ‘smash republicanism’ line, I think it could be his undoing, especially with the emergence of a mirror extreme in republicanism who are happy to run around shooting people. Unionists will think hard about a return to the bad old days of all or nothing unionism and militant republicanism and hopefully Jimbo will disappear.

    It might all be down to Orde, I wonder how guilty the people arrest over the killings actually are, a convincing chargesheet before the elections might win Jimbo a few votes, as borderline unionists might feel comfortable that the bad guys can be caught so quickly, if the charges fall apart before the elections I don’t think normal unionists will vote Jimbo

  • you

    [i]It might all be down to Orde, I wonder how guilty the people arrest over the killings actually are, a convincing chargesheet before the elections might win Jimbo a few votes, as borderline unionists might feel comfortable that the bad guys can be caught so quickly, if the charges fall apart before the elections I don’t think normal unionists will vote Jimbo [/i]

    The “reasoning” displayed above makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Surely [i]if[/i] the charges fall apart before the election, which is unlikely but could well happen during the trials because of some technicality or other (not to mention the severe doubts I have as to Mr. Duffy’s guilt) unionists will be more inclined threatened by republicanism, whether of the mainstream or dissident flavour, and would, therefore, be more likely to vote TUV than DUP or Tory?

  • you

    *will be more inclined [i]to feel[/i] threatened by..

  • Scaramoosh,

    Why don’t you try and stimulate some interest in the matter, and get a step ahead of the local media, by setting up some prediction markets on the matter, and blogging them here, so that people can vote on what they see as being the most likely outcome;

    Just set one up, you can “bet” on how many votes Jim will pull in here:

    http://tinyurl.com/clxeh5

    It’s virtual money folks, so don’t worry about losing your shirt on the TUV!!!

  • fin

    You (or is it me), we seem to be likeminded on the charges, however, I’m interested to see how Orde plays it following the RIRA information from the weekend, namely the weapons haven’t been recovered and the car was set on fire, it was the 1st time I’d seen it mentioned that the car had been torched (could be wrong) and the cops never said the weapon (which every republican in the north seems to have handled) was or wasn’t involved, but yes the crunchpoint is the courtcase, but I’d expect Orde to set the seen beforehand.

    Our thinking differs on unionist reaction, if they believe the cops can catch the nasty republicans quite easy than I think a % would swing to Jimbos politics of hate, afterall the DUP built their base on the promise of how they would smash republicanism, and that mindset still exists. However a failure to prove that these people are catchable will make that catagory of unionist think if they wish to have an enemy much more elusive than PIRA and its support base.

    The current situation is quite different for unionists, in the good bad old days, they could point their guns at any nationalist, Sinn Feinner, GAA member, etc and justify it (in a twisted fashion) (obviously with unionist politicans and ‘decent folk’ standing just a little bit apart from the gunmen, tut tutting) however, today they are faced by a smaller organisation, but more elusive in been pinned down and their support base a lot harder to see. Basically they have no idea where to point their guns, and that I believe is causing a major issue within unionism.

  • you

    Fin, firstly apologies for the harshness of my previous comments. Nevertheless, I still disagree with your predictions on the potential rammifications of these charges for the Unionist vote – the brand of militant republicanism on offer at the moment enjoys little support in the Catholic community and, therefore, I don’t believe Unionists feel in any way threatened by it. It’s not like they have a Grissly Adams or Bogside Boy to continually menace and threaten them on the TV – political support for dissidents seems to take the form of a lunatic from Longford and that bearded wonder who arranged that press conference a weeks ago at RSF HQ. This makes Jimbo’s rantings even more irrelevant – if the three people charged with murder and convicted, Unionists feel safer and they’re then less inclined to run to the political extremes.

    I agree with you completely with regard to the dodgy evidence that forms the basis of charging Duffy in particular (I think the Craigavon investigation makes sense at least on the surface- notwithstanding the difficulties I have with holding a 17 year old chap from weeks on end). After Maserrene Mr. Orde (who I have a lot of generally have a lot of respect for) told us that this was the work of experienced killers, people who were more likely than not involved in Provo operations – yet these people couldn’t set a car on fire? Aye, right then.

  • fin

    You, no need to apol I in noway considered your response harsh. Guess we need to agree to disagree, to be honest its just a shot in the dark (no pun intended) and I don’t think its something that could even be filtered out post election anyway as there are too many factors in play, I guess its more down to individual perceptions of unionist mindsets.

    But I do think the lack of known individuals to howl at is awkward for unionists, Martys comments were probably very unsettling for unionists and they would have much preferred a old school SF comment where they could then direct their anger

    We do differ on Mr Orde, although I’m nor sure if there is a better person for the job out there, he’s a little to political for my liking, and the Stormont raid posioned my opinion of him.

    Regarding the car, that was the biggy for me, I surmised they were professional gunmen from their actions but was surprised by the abandoned car, one idea of mine was it was actually a red herring and they had continued elsewhere in the original car, but their descriptions of everything at the weekend was fairly detailed and if the car was doused in petrol and burnt for even a few seconds I’m guessing that would have destroyed 99.9% of evidence