Thoughts on the Westminster Election

It is likely to be a few months until the next election but I thought a brief look at the constituencies and the prospects of the parties might be interesting. I do not like giving predictions, am bad at it, and do not pretend to understand nationalist voting habits so this blog will dwell mainly (though not exclusively on unionism). In addition I am no expert on exact voting numbers. However, I thought the following might be fun:
North Belfast:
There is relatively unlikely to be a change here. The UUP have been heavily beaten here in 2001 and 2005 and are unlikely to make a strong resurgence even with the help of the Conservatives. There remains a prospect that Sinn Fein could take the seat if the SDLP vote continues its downward trajectory. If the TUV did stand it would be considerably more likely that SF could win but of all the seats in the province this must be the least likely to be contested by the TUV.

South Belfast
Going by the simple arithmetic this is a unionist seat and it has become fractionally more so with the latest boundary changes. However, as we all know Alasdair McDonnell took the seat last time due to a split between the UUP and DUP. If an electoral pact could be agreed (and provided the TUV did not stand) there would be a very high chance of the seat reverting to unionist control. However, the UUP especially now with their link up with the Conservatives must regard this as the sort of seat they might win, largely (though by no means entirely) affluent and by NI standards highly cosmopolitan. In addition McDonnell has been a fairly effective MP and has avoided doing anything which might significantly antagonise the unionist population. As such there is a significant possibility that the SDLP will hold the seat and one might see a change in the unionist proportions within the seat.

East Belfast
The critical question here is whether or not Peter Robinson will stand again: if he does it would be a very major surprise if he lost. Recently he has suggested that he might not but I have heard very recently that he is willing to be persuaded by his constituency association to stand again. If he did not stand he seat might become surprisingly open. It is largely (though again not wholly) prosperous and might make a good place for the UUP / Conservatives. If they run Empey and the DUP fail to run Robinson, Reg might have a good chance. If neither Empey nor Robinson run it will be even more interesting as a good TUV candidate might stand a fair chance in what is a fairly hard line constituency and in a completely contrary possibility oi Alliance ran Naomi Long as the highest profile candidate it is possible that she could win.

West Belfast
A practically guaranteed TUV win. Okay seriously what is there for a unionist to analyse? I would not be at all surprised by an anti agreement republican being put up here but I would be astounded if they did SF any real damage in this election. More interesting would be, however, if they took enough votes to mount a credible challenge for one of the assembly seats next time round.

East Antrim
This will be an interesting seat to see the amount of damage the DUP have suffered since 2007. The CUs might fancy their chances of an upset here but to be honest if there was to be an upset it would be more likely to come from the TUV for whom this seat will be a secondary target after North Antrim. If they can find a high quality (preferably local) candidate they might have a significant chance.

North Antrim
After so many years of being the least exciting seat in Northern Ireland this will become one of the most interesting. I still find it difficult to believe that Dr. Paisley will stand again in view of his age. If he does or does not it will be a battle royal. I suspect if he does not that will somewhat increase Jim Allister’s chances but even with the Big Man on board the DUP will have a stern test here. They will, however, throw everything into this seat to defeat Allister. The other interesting factor is of course the CU vote. I doubt the CUs could take the seat but who they put up might make a significant difference: a strong hard line candidate with a good campaign would probably help the DUP. However, the CUs might run a fairly low profile candidate and a very quiet, soft campaign, hoping that some of their traditional support will defect to Allister in order to defeat the DUP. If the CUs make the calculation that a TUV win suits their purposes better than a DUP one and act on it, Allister might be the favourite to win.

South Antrim
This will be one of the major CU targets. The TUV will also of course have designs on the seat but I would have thought that of all the potential CU targets, they must feel that this is amongst the most winnable. Indeed if they cannot take seats like South Antrim against Willie McCrea then their ambitions will take a major knock. The CUs must also be hoping to eat into the Alliance vote to maximise their chances of election.

North Down
North Down deserves its own essay: it has always been a bit of an enigma. If Hermon runs as a CU or with some sort of CUish backing, I cannot see her being beaten. If, however, she runs as an independent all sorts of possibilities open up though then I still suspect she would be the one to beat. A good CU, however, might win it or open the door for Peter Weir of the DUP. Incidentally as one of the people who got me interested in politics and someone I still hold in high regard, I would like him to win (hi Peter).

South Down
I will defer to almost anyone in the analysis of this one as it is not my area, my field etc. I would have thought the South Down and Londonderry Party should hold on here. Either McGrady or Ritchie (less likely Ritchie now) could hold the seat especially as both might get significant unionist support in order to keep Ruane out. If SF have any sense they will not run Ruane unless they want to run her, have her make a spectacular mess and use that as a lever to get rid of her. On the unionist side, apart from the guesses as to the level of unionist tactical voting for SDLP, the battle between TUV, UUP and DUP will be interesting. The TUV think that the DUP’s Jim Wells is very vulnerable in the next Stormont election and may try to make calculations about this from Westminster.

Fermanagh South Tyrone
This will be an interesting seat for a number of reasons. If the CUs and DUP had a joint candidate it would be likely (though by no means certain) to fall to unionism. Even in the absence of a pact in 2005 Foster came fairly close. Now, however, with the CUs supposedly determined to stand everywhere and seeming to have increased confidence (though that may be misplaced) they are likely to run here. If they run and more so if they run a good candidate (Tom Elliott is popular down here) SF should be safe. The CUs would no doubt like to eat into Foster’s lead over them. The TUV are unlikely to run but will be sad at that since they feel that judging by the European poll they would have a very good chance of an MLA at Stormont and running a good local candidate and campaign would help them for that election. However, they will probably sit it out here. Of course on the republican side unless the all anti agreement republicans are determined to boycott elections they have to run here: this is constituency with the highest anti agreement republican vote. Although they would be very unlikely to stop Gildernew taking the seat if the unionist vote is split, anti agreement republicans would surely find it very difficult not to mount a challenge here and would expect to do well.

Foyle
Another seat I have little insight into. With Durkan standing here it is again likely to be an SDLP hold. It will be interesting to see who SF put up here (Martina Anderson?) but I doubt she can beat the SDLP: then again on this one I have little constructive to say.

Lagan Valley
A major target for both the CUs and TUV. Donaldson once held the safest UUP seat in Northern Ireland and kept it just as safe for the DUP when he moved to them. He is a hard working constituency MP, will attract a good personal vote and will fight tooth and nail to hold the seat. Whom the UUP run will be interesting as Basil McCrea is an obvious choice but I believe is not especially popular. In addition the TUV will put a great deal into this seat and in Keith Harbinson have a good potential candidate.

East Londonderry
Again an interesting seat. Once a solid UUP hold with Willie Ross, it fell in 2001 to Gregory Campbell and David McClarty made little impact on winning it back in 2005. Campbell is a good MP but he has a few weaknesses. He is not local but from Londonderry itself. If the CUs run good candidate they might pick up a good number of middle class liberal Triangle types to go with traditional country UUP ones. In addition the TUV would dearly love to take this seat and it has some very hard line areas. A good local candidate should be able to take much of Garvagh, the Prod areas around Kilrea, Upperlands, Mascosquin etc. In addition Limavady Prods were a bastion of hard line UUP support and might flit to the TUV from DUP. Coleraine itself of course hold sthe key being the most populous area but could split several ways. In a three way unionist fight SF or the SDLP could theoretically take the seat but that would be a major surprise. Although Campbell is the most likely winner, of all the seats apart from North Antrim, this (with a good candidate) might be one of the TUV’s best chances.

Mid Ulster
Weigh McGuinness’s vote (not worth the bother of counting). The interesting issue here will be the prospect of an anti agreement republican and their support, I suspect considerably less than Fermanagh South Tyrone. On the unionist side, I would have thought the TUV will run a strong campaign: they have a large well motivated party and would be very keen to eat into McCrea’s vote. South Londonderry and the adjoining parts of Tyrone also have very hard line unionists so a major loss in DUP support is quite possible. A major CU gain is also unlikely.

Newry and Armagh
Another very safe SF seat. I get the impression that the anti agreement republicans will not make as much headway here (maybe that is completely wrong?). On the unionist side again like Mid Ulster the percentages will be interesting but the TUV are not as strong there and as such the UUP DUP split will be more interesting

Strangford
Probably the safest DUP seat. Iris Robinson is likely to run again and is likely to hold the seat. I doubt the CUs have someone to beat her and the TUV is a small party there. They have recently gained new councillors and will undoubtedly run but if anyone can beat Iris it would be the CUs and I would be surprised.

West Tyrone
Weigh SF vote again except that almost everyone agrees that Pat Doherty is not the most dynamic MP. Another stunning split which gave the UUP’s Willaim Thompson the seat is extremely unlikely but an anti agreement republican might do well as a protest against Doherty. Provided SF replace him with a more active candidate SF should avoid any significant problems here.

Upper Bann
One of the most interesting seats. The CUs apparently are set to run a big name and that would significantly increase their chances of taking the seat. There are also rumours that David Simpson might not run again. Whether or not he does it would still be a major fight and one the UUP would have to hope to do well in or even win if their claims to be growing are to be taken seriously. In addition the TUV are very keen to run here. If they do Simpson is very likely to lose to the CUs but it could open the door to the danger of SF taking the seat on a unionist split. Although the TUV have always been very keen to avoid the charge of vote splitting, there is considerable antipathy towards Simpson as many who are now in the TUV were dismayed by his supporting the DUP going into government with SF. As such I think the TUV will be likely to take the risk and stand here which would in turn make a CU gain the most likely outcome.

There are my brief thoughts on each constituency. In terms of the parties:

SDLP. Need to hope to hold what they have. Little prospect of gaining much. They could lose one without much trouble, especially South Belfast but any more loses would be a problem.

Sinn Fein. Little to worry about. They are relatively unlikely to gain any seats. They would be delighted to pick something up from unionist vote splitting but even in Upper Bann it is unlikely. They might lose FST (unlikely) but could cope with that. Their only concerns must be the size of the size of the dissident vote and any (realistically only likely to be modest) rise in the SDLP vote.

CUs. Need to gain something. They could theoretically lose their only MP which would be an abject disaster. They need to gain at least 2 seats to proclaim any major victory and do have a fair chance of that.

DUP. Any gains would be a major success. 2005 was them at high tide and holding what they have would be a significant achievement. Losing 1-2 seats would not be a disaster but any more would be a problem. In addition everyone will calculate their likely Assembly numbers and that could pose problems.

TUV. Really want and I suggest need to do well. That probably means taking North Antrim. Failure to do so would be a set back. Not disastrous if they run the DUP close and if they do well elsewhere but a win would gain them major momentum whereas no wins would lose some of the European momentum. If they could get 2-3 seats they would be delighted.

  • DR

    So which seat are you gonna stand in Turgon?
    The three way split certainly opens up risks for Unionists, we really need opinion polls here to give us an idea before hand, for example in F&ST; if Unionist had of know the DUP was so far ahead of the UUP last time then then they prob would have swiched to her and made a won the seat. The TUV need to win North Antrim, almost wins dont count in the long run, and the European vote wont necessarily carry over as the sitting MEP & Expenses scandals made up a large part of their vote on a very low poll.
    Let the battle begin!

  • And so the election season starts – thanks for whetting our appetites as to the battlegrounds!

  • UUP selection meeting tonight in North Antrim. Read one of the candidates speech and it is exemplary.

  • frustrated democrat

    Turgon

    I think that if you believe the CU’s will run weak candidates to give the TUV votes your are far mistaken. They will be running to get the maximum % of the votes in NI that they can. I would have thought that if they poll over 20% of the votes in the general election it will be seen as progress and anything above that will very good for them.

    It is likely that the DUP will fall to the low 20%’s with the TUV around maybe 10% so if the the CU’s can get close then it is all to play for at Stormont.

    I wouldn’t bet the farm on the TUV winning in North Antrim or anywhere else however.

  • elvis parker

    So thats SF 5 SDLP 3 TUV 1 DUP 6? C&U 350 plus?
    Labour 200ish, Libs 40, UKIP 1
    Any before anyway gets upset the thread was about the GENERAL election which is em UK wide.
    What’s the betting Jim Allister joins UKIP (after the election) so that Farage and he can be a ‘party’ at Westminster?
    You heard it here first!

  • Skipper the Eye Child

    For UCUNF it all depends on candidates. European Election itself is misleading as Diane Dodds was an atrocious candidate, but still topped the poll in 1st prefs on the unionists side. Now the TUV and UCUNF have to deal with Robinsons, Paisleys, Deputy Dodds, Foster, Donaldson etc etc. The TUV have at least 2 good runners in Allister and Harbinson. Who do UCUNF have? A few party officers that no-one could recognise – some of whom could not even win a council seat, let alone a Westminster seat.

    Chekov – I hope you are not referring to Mrs Nelson, cos it would be a hoot for all involved!

  • andrew white

    If they run Empey and the DUP fail to run Robinson, Reg might have a good chance.

    Sorry had to laugh at this REg was beaten by the allaince at the last stormont election.

    Also First Past the Post suits the DUP, in dromore, fermangh adn Europe the DUP got more first prefs votes than the other unionist parties.

    if the TUV or CUs dont take at least one new seat both will be in trouble.

    It also sounds as if sylvia will stand as an independent with alliance considering to step aside, especially if parsley runs for the CU

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    elvis

    How many seats for the SNP or Plaid, oh and prediction for the tic the moora?

    In summation this is election is all about the changing dynamics within Unionism, if in fact these changes are going to be dynamic.

  • Skipper the Eye Child

    Elvis P Sir,

    The UCUNF could therefore get no-one elected in Northern Ireland and it wouldn’t make a difference as “350 plus” would already be in Westminster from the rest of the UK. Good selling point!! F**k you electorate, we’re there whether you vote for us or not!

  • danielmoran

    turgon…. at least some of these calculations might be skewed slightly, depending on allister’s real motives for setting up his party. he may be content to see dup lose seats, without necessarily winning them himself [or a candidate for TUV.] he seemed happy enough with dromore just letting UUP sneak in there thru the middle.
    if, on the other hand, he aims to take seats directly from his old adversaries just to spite them. he might do better in assembly election than westminster. i think campbell is the most likely of the duppers to lose a commons seat. but i admit that might be wishful thinking on my part.

  • elvis parker

    ‘The UCUNF could therefore get no-one elected in Northern Ireland and it wouldn’t make a difference as “350 plus” would already be in Westminster from the rest of the UK. Good selling point!! F**k you electorate, we’re there whether you vote for us or not!’

    Lets follow Skipper’s logic – because it is likely the Conservatives will have a majority and form the next Govt it is best not to vote for them but rather better to vote for another party? perhaps the DUP who will be sitting in splendid isolation on the Opposition benches with assorted nationalists. Better to remain ‘ourselves alone’ than have anything to do with UK politics!

    Skipper I bet you even think you are a unionist LOL. Gerry Adams depends on people like you!

  • Chekov – I hope you are not referring to Mrs Nelson, cos it would be a hoot for all involved!

    Mrs Nelson is a Conservative. This is a meeting to put forward UUP contenders. Anyway, if Nelson is standing I doubt it will be in N Antrim.

  • Turgon,

    You “do not pretend to understand nationalist voting habits”; you ask “what is there for a unionist to analyse?” in West Belfast; Foyle is “another seat [you] have little insight into”. Nationalists are not aliens, they are human beings who respond to events as such.

    Once you were able to offer this:

    “Martina Anderson is a highly intelligent woman who plays her role quite brilliantly. She articulates the grievances of a particular segment of society namely the hardline republican, economically disadvantaged, urban, predominantly young; who may be in danger of seeing Sinn Fein, now in government, as no longer being interested in their cause. Her status as an ex prisoner helps her credibility and no matter what derision the idea may attract her good looks and apparently friendliness can do her no harm. Laughable as her antics may be to the chattering classes they have an important function within Sinn Fein; they help hold onto an important segment of voters in urban areas who thus far have remained very loyal to Sinn Fein.”

    It is pathetic that the vague possibility of standing for an election causes you to entrench yourself in sectarianism the way you are doing.

    Btw, the opening line of your analysis is “there is relatively unlikely to be a change here.” A flair for writing matched by your flair for analysis.

  • Personally, I think the big story will be the further shrink in turnout, probably most noticeably in working class Protestant areas. When you factor in the cuts it is unlikely any party will do as good as they hope or bluster.

  • fin

    who the party is and who the candidate is has a major significance on where a vote goes, but other factors are in play.

    Do nationalists believe what unionists say about SF, no, does the fact that dissidents and unionists sound similar when talking about SF register with nationalists yes, will the SF vote be affected, can’t see it unless the SDLP pull a big thing out of the bag.

    Its a different story for unionist. Whats the DUPs slogan going to be ‘smash Sinn Fein’ will unionists buy it? do unionists really uunderstand UCUNF, I don’t think so are they UUP or Tories? it depends on the election, but the faces are very familar.

    I think the big issue is can unionist parties get unionists out to vote anymore, what are they voting for these days, its no longer to keep the croppies down, the taigs are running wild all over the place, SF topped the EU poll, theirs a SF deputy/co FM, and the world hasn’t ended.

    The TUV, DUP and UUP sound very similar, unionists don’t have much of a choice, has anyone factored a further drop in non-voters into their predictions?

  • Skipper the Eye Child

    Elvis, getting back to the point I first raised, for UCUNF succeeding it is all about selecting the right candidates. I feel that the UUP are devoid of the candidates needed to succeed. If UCUNF return no-one from NI, then no matter how many they return to Westminster, then do not represent NI. The logical extension of some of the musings put forward by UCUNF supporters is that it does not matter if this is the case, as “350+” will be returned from the rest of the UK.

    Then we get to the final point “Skipper I bet you even think you are a unionist”. That sentiment is reminiscent of nationalist politicians “perceived” Britishness of the unionist population. It is derogatory and fails to recognise the reality. For all the focus on the inclusive nature of the UCUNF project the exclusive view of unionism you espouse is not only arrogant, but very damaging. I know that UCUNF are unionists, as are the DUP and the TUV. Compete over the best way forward, but the UCUNF focus on other parties being akin to nationalists is sickening to watch.

    BTW I’m a floating voter, I distrust political parties and will vote on the best candidate put forward. Simples

  • neil

    From a Nationalist perspective, I’d be extremely interested to see what an anti agreement (dissident) Republican candidate could achieve in terms of votes.

    It seems obvious to me that we are being subjected to two different types of propoganda, the dissidents claim to be strong in numbers and that may well be so, while SF constantly trot out the line that they are representative of Nationalist opinion here and the dissers are weak and on their way out. This could also be true.

    I reckon in WB, SF will lose a section of their voters. Not necessarily to the dissidents, but to apathy from a population under siege from anti social behaviour, who see that their representatives are getting wealthier and moving towards the ground popular with non Belfast middle class Republicans, i.e. SDLP.

    However to balance that I feel that non Belfast middle class Republicans may start to consider voting for them, and may help to offset the losses in more working class areas.

  • DR

    just had to post again as the submit word is British,
    the point about apathy is valid, but it is happening just as much in Nationalist areas, remember how low the poll was for europe, but that was across the board and the SF and SDLP percentange didnt change much, so the question is is it jsut apathy and a protest stay at home over expenses etc. or was there more to it?

  • Turgon

    Damian O’Loan,
    Thank you for your input. I tend to feel I can understand unionism a bit. Yes I could do more analysis of Foyle etc. but firstly I am not an expert on it and secondly the blog was already four pages long. You might remember that I have a reputation for long blogs: I was trying to keep this one acceptably short.

    You quote me on Martina Anderson and I stand by what I said. That was about one person whom I have seen on TV etc. I do not presume to know and did not have the space to comment in detail on nationalist voting intentions.

    Tell me what was poorly worded about my comments on Anderson? Tell us how would you improve my writing style so as to make it even approach to your brillance?

    Maybe as a supposedly serious person you might do me the courtesy of not presuming to know my motives. As to my standing: wait and see; that is not my decision alone.

  • “there is relatively unlikely to be a change here” – work it out. I never said I was ‘brillant’, but I don’t resort to false modesty.

    You made a clear and repeated point that nationalist motives were incomprehensible to your mindset, and I showed you that not so long ago you seemed quite happy to tackle that subject, and did so well too. Yyou do understand motivations when you accept you and nationalists have a lot more in common than not, as once you appeared to.

    You admit I’m not wrong about your intentions, but maybe the retreat into sectarianism has another source. I don’t presume to know for sure, so if I’m wrong then do tell. Or better yet, give it a second thought.

  • Turgon

    Damain,
    Okay fair enough but the comments about not knowing are because I get fed up with endless grief. When I try to analyse nationalist motives I get endless abuse from many nationalists (It was Sammy McNally what done it and a few others being honourable exceptions) and get told I do not know and am a Nethandertal bigot. Then when I say I do not really know I am accused of false modesty. I cannot win.

    The reason for no detailed analysis was to keep the blog a bit shorter. I also wanted people to give their views as I would like to find out. Also I am on here as a supposed expert on unionist thinking especially hard line unionist thinking: to proclaim brillance at nationalist thinking is arrogance and I am not actually that arrogant.

    I also get heartily fed up about criticisms of my writing style: I actually think it is fairly good (no not brillant, I am not trained in writing at all) but I do not know. I would be pleased by prasie of it buit also by constructive criticism but never get either. Your last comment on my style was to criticise my use of semi colons. I did try to change my use after that and do have Fowlers Modern English usage but still find it difficult.

    As to unionists and nationalists being similar of course they are and do not pretend that I think or act otherwise: that is beneath you.

    On my standing I was partly teasing you. Now if you want an honest detalied discussion email me but I am afraid I am not going to go into such detail on a public website.

  • unionist

    Turgon,

    Thanks for starting a good debate!

    On Strangford though I’ll differ with you.

    My understanding is that the Euro tallies showed UCUNF, DUP, TUV in that order and that the TUV vote was substantial, being one of the best after North Antrim. Indeed I have heard it on good authority that Strangford was the best result for UCUNF too.

    The TUV vote isn’t surprising as it has always been a hardline seat (remember Taylor in his pomp?), the UCUNF neither as until the recent unpleasantness it was a rock solid UUP seat and do not underestimate the local revulsion to the Robinson family greed.

    I would stick my neck out and say the data suggests a narrow UCUNF win largely because the TUV will siphon off a huge amont of DUP votes.

  • Turgon,

    It was in the light of yesterday’s post that I commented. I think you are now keeping in mind the idea of a party line, and I wanted to point out where that seems to be taking you.

    Your writing style really doesn’t matter, that was a bit of a cheap shot. But if you have some very free time, I really think you should have a look over your posts and see if you think the tone has hardened or the scope has narrowed, and what any change would represent.

    And don’t take the criticism to heart, you’re clearly no Neanderthal and buying into an idea of segretated analysis would be selling yourself short.

  • Turgon

    Damian,
    Fiar enough. I know my line may seem to have hardened and in part that is because the more liberal and other things I have said I have already said. Take say my blogs on the inappropriateness and immorality of the old Stormont. I would like to do them again but recycling old material is problematic.

    I hope soon you will all have forgotten them and I can do them again.

    In addition I have a lot less time now to blog than I used to have. Hence, I guess the more thoughtful slightly more cross community blogs which take more time get done less.

    Another problem is that if I do a more open blog assorted republicans come out with some line like Turgon is an evil bigot and is now pretending to be nice.

    When all is said and done I actually think your criticisms are valid and I must do more open blogs.

    Like a number of nationalists you have an irritating tendency of pointing out the truth and I cannot label you a bigoted half wit.

    In all seriousness do email some time.

    Regards

  • phelim

    Some different predictions

    NB DUP to hold against SF in simple sectarian headcount

    SB McDonnell to squeeze smaller parties, inc some UCUNF votes to beat DUP

    EB Robinson to hold easily, but any other DUP candidate to struggle against Naomi Long and UCUNF

    WB Adams a shoe-in

    EA DUP to hold, contest for 2nd place

    NA DUP to hold, whoever stands, TUV 2nd

    SA DUP to hold, UCUNF to just pip SF for 2nd

    ND Sylvia Hermon to hold, DUP 2nd

    SD SDLP hold, either McGrady or Margaret Ritchie, SF poor 2nd

    FST SF hold from DUP

    Fy SDLP to hold unless McGuinness stands

    LV DUP hold

    EL DUP hold from SF

    MU SF landslide

    NyAr ditto

    Sfd DUP hold, UCUNF to just hold 2nd

    WT SF landslide

    UB DUP hold from SF

  • exile

    If Deeny were once again to stand in West Tyrone then he could pose a considerable problem for Doherty. The man is invisible and many who have voted for him over the past two elections now feel let down and frustrated in light of his considerable failings.

    Furthermore, the SDLP vote has collapsed in the constituency, unionists could be persuaded to lend Deeny their vote in bigger numbers than last time and the ‘independent’ republican vote is bound to hurt the Shinners more than it did in 2007.

  • South Belfast … it has become fractionally more so with the latest boundary changes

    It hasn’t. It is tribally virtually identical to the previous seat. The notional figures are calculated on the basis of the wards in each DEA being indentical. In reality they aren’t. Hillfoot isn’t much different to the Castlereagh West average in tribal terms, but is weaker for the DUP, with the best DUP bits of that DEA already being in South Belfast; Wynchurch is massively more Catholic than the very low average for Castlereagh Central; the two Carryduff wards are a bit more Catholic than the average for Castlereagh South and Moneyreagh, the real DUP stronghold, is staying in Strangford.

    There has also been continuing demographic change in favour of the SDLP in South Belfast – perhaps as much as 1% per year.

    I’ve been through this in Slugger multiple times since the boundary changes were announced some years ago, and on other sites like UK Polling Report.

    I think you’re generally optimistic on TUV prospects (natural own party bias – we all have it) and massively optimistic in East Belfast. If TUV run in Upper Bann, it opens up an unlikely but very real prospect of O’Dowd slipping through the middle, and a much smaller but not impossible chance of the same exists for Brolly or Leonard in East Derry/Londonderry. But otherwise I don’t disagree with a lot of what you are saying.

  • The Original Sam Maguire

    exile,

    I hate to put it so crudely, but there is only 3 scenarios where SF will lose West Tyrone.

    1. SF v SDLP v Deeney (Deeney win possibly – every previously Deeney taig would desert him)

    2.SF v SDLP v Deeney v combined unionist ( Unionist win)

    3. SF v Everybody else. (Everybody else win)

    As regards to the dissent vote (if it stands) – guaranteed it doesn’t top a 1300. Handful from each of Derg/Aghyaran, Clady, Head of the town/Ballycolman/Springhill/Carlton Drive. It will be very limited in the Omagh DC area. Indeed, if they can get a single seat in the super council elections in 2011, I’d say the IRSP / Dissent vote would rip your arm off.

  • “and a much smaller but not impossible chance of the same exists for Brolly or Leonard in East Derry/Londonderry.”

    Especially given the fact that John Dallat beat Leonard at the last general election.

    East Derry/Londonderry will be interesting. If the TUV stand (and if they are a serious political party they will) they could do quite a lot of damage to the DUP on account of the strong anti-Agreement voting patterns in the area in the past. Plus, new boundaries will mean the inclusion of areas around Claudy and Park (mainly nationalist). If Campbell wins it won’t be by much.

  • The original Sam Maguire

    1967, I’d still be pretty adamant that Claudy will remain mainly SDLP oriented despite the move – old habits die hard and all that. Park has always been pretty much SF country for the past 20+ years, but to be fair, it’s unlikely to make much of a dent in the grand scheme of things.

    Does anyone else other than Gregory even have a punchers chance? In a perfect storm, the Unionist vote splitting nearly identically 3 ways against Francie, then possibly as a 33/1 shot, SF do have a chance, but otherwise I can’t seeing the TUV decimating the DUP vote enough to let them or the new UUP through the middle. Safe hold for the namesake of several popes.

  • dewi

    Not a single change then Phelim? What a bore.

  • Janny

    Hi Sammy Morse,

    What are your predictions for North Belfast? Also future elections in your constituency?

  • Drumlins Rock

    Should we not have independant opinion polls here like everywhere else? means its less a guessing game on the day, in theory I say vote for the least worst candidate who has a chance to win or keep the worst candidate out, therfore I could vote SF to keep a dissident out if they were the only likely winners, in theory anyways lol.
    But some sort of indication of the way things are swinging before hand would be useful, particularly when you have new kids on the block such as TUV.

  • Dewi
  • Erasmus

    (Deeney win possibly – every previously Deeney taig would desert him)
    This seems a bit of a contradiction. Could you elaborate?

  • LabourNIman

    Hmm
    South Belfast is probably the seat to watch.. I’d hope Labour would put a candidate forward to mix it up, but they don’t seem to have much of a back bone yet.

    Being from North Belfast I would love to see Dodds take a beating but narrowly hold the seat (I hate safe seats, esp when the MP is turning into a fictional character around here). I’ll probably end up spoiling my vote.. again