Political fixes while we were down

Just as the site moved over and then fell down yesterday news was breaking of SF withdrawing Alex Maskey from the race in South Belfast. A decision the SDLP have declared was designed to damage Alasdair McDonnell chances of re-election.

Immediately after news broke that Jimmy Spratt had phoned Paula Bradshaw with an offer to gift her his assembly seat in return for her stepping aside. That offer was declined.

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  • Mack

    Is that a lego Che Guevara you’ve got there?

  • Neil

    Dammit where’s the preview button? Gonna end up italicising my posts and possibly everyone else’s. Anyhoo, here goes.

    A decision the SDLP have declared was designed to damage Alasdair McDonnell chances of re-election.

    This, to me, is just plain ridiculous. Anyone else? The ARK site shows that with manipulation to reflect the new electoral boundaries that if the Nationalist vote that went to SF last time now goes to the SDLP, (which I would largely imagine to be the case) they should poll around 39%. So in order for the DUP to take the seat they would need to take 50% of the UCUNF votes away, this at a time when the Ulster Unionists are looking at their strongest in a long time.

    In order for the UCUNF to win, Spratt would need to lose approximately 66% of his votes. Either way the chances are remote to say the least. McDonnell was simply getting his attack in first – he knows that some people at least will punish the SDLP for not retaliating to the Unionist pact in F&ST. SF can now sit quietly and ignore the SDLP, their attack is wordless. It doesn’t need articulated, it’s implicitly obvious. They stood aside for the encumbent to maximise Nationalist representation. The SDLP have not.

    The indgination at the SF stance of attacking the UCUNFs hypocrisy (non tribal politics, running in all 18 etc.) while responding in kind is just daft. If you go up and punch someone in the street, that’s a crime and it’s wrong. If someone punches you and you punch them back, that is not a crime, and it is not wrong. The point being (as some people will be sure to point out, there’s nothing illegal or implicitly wrong with a pact) that events are affected by prior events. Because something is wrong in one instance, if someone else does it first then, rightly or wrongly, it’s more likely that others will follow suit. It levels the playing field when we all play by the same rules.

    And some would say it’s SF’s job to attack the UUs and DUP, political parties do that to opponents. The fact that the UUs have demonstrably been hypocritical mean SF have a good reason to bring it up. the SDLP attacking SF for attacking the UCUNF doesn’t inspire much confidence from a Nationalist perspective in the SDLP.

  • Neil

    Double Damn. The italics don’t work.

  • Mark McGregor

    Its Stalin.

  • jim

    Maybe Jeffrey should withdraw in Lagan Valley, since it is now a fashionable thing tto do..

    It would leave him more time to watch his much loved videos, and he could watch them in the privacy of his own home, instead of all the hassle of travelling to London at our expense..

  • PrivateBob

    I don’t know why the SDLP think that Alex Maskey pulling out will cost Alasdair McDonnell his seat. Paula Bradshaw has turned down the offer of a free run and I imagine that most SF voters will support Allasdair, despite the SDLP foaming at the mouth over SF.

    All Margaret Ritchie has done here is alienate nationalist voters even further from the SDLP, partly because of her bile and partly because they’ll be seen as vote splitters in FST. Coupled with alienating part of her own party over her ‘not on my watch’ comment about a merger with FF, I don’t think things are going to well for the SDLP..

  • Neil

    Jim, is there any general direction one might go on the web to get the gossip about wee buns videos?

  • PaddyReilly

    I am more than a little put off by MR’s “Sinn Féin have offered nothing about jobs and the economy in this election.” Neither SF nor SDLP have any power in this matter. This is typical politician cant.

    Now I would agree with the proposition, “Find a niche and stick with it”. Those parties which try to be all things to all men will eventually be found out and lose all backing. The SDLP stands for Nationalism, as proposed by people with a responsible career path and reasonably friendly relations with their non-nationalist neighbours.

    But Margaret Ritchie seems determined to contract this niche even further. We are Labour, and not Fianna Fáil. We don’t want the oiks voting for us. I don’t think this is politics.

  • Any pact that stops the SDLP from at least aspiring to represent non-catholics is a non-starter, surely? That’s what the UUP had in mind before their mind-numbing moral weakness finally strangled them in FST.

  • Drumlin Rock

    But SF after getting “hit” have went to the next street and punched the first guys mate, is that right Neil?

  • Drumlin Rock

    Is there any such thing as opinion polls in South Belfast? to see what way the land is falling.

  • PaddyReilly

    Why bother with opinion polls? The results of the 2007 election are on line.

  • Neil

    No, they have replied exactly in kind. UCUNF and the DUP have come up with a Unionist unity candidate. So SF have approached the SDLP to arrange a Nationalist unity candidate.

    Care to explain how you came up with the absolute nonsense above? Also as an ardent support of the UCUNF project, how does the non-tribal politics thing sit with having one rep for the tribe in F&ST?

  • Neil

    You forget Paddy that according to DR the arrival of the UCUNF crowd has irriversibly changed politics in NO for the better. Their completely different now the UUs, (no not different people, they’re actually exactly the same people as before, but they’ve all changed their charcters thatnks to posh boy call me Dave.

  • Neil

    NO=NI btw

  • Neil

    In case you missed it first time round the analogy was to draw attention to the following, as stated first time round:

    Because something is wrong in one instance, if someone else does it first then, rightly or wrongly, it’s more likely that others will follow suit. It levels the playing field when we all play by the same rules.

  • Framer

    When Sinn Fein agrees to “maximise nationalist representation” and create a pan-nationalist front with the SDLP in South Belfast, BBC interviewers don’t even ask if that is sectarian. e.g. Seamus McKee’s non-question on Radio Ulster’s Evening Extra last night.

    So let’s get it straight, due to the Irish exception law, SF and SDLP are never to be called ‘sectarian’ by media commentators.


  • Neil

    Sinn Fein would have been quite happy with a fair democratic contest, were it that the other parties had decided to do that. Sinn Fein also didn’t shout from the rooftops about fixing Northern Ireland’s broken politics, standing in all 18 constituencies, bringing non tribal politics to NI. At the time of the UCUNF arrival I thought that particularly arrogant.

    Now those promises have proven as empty and worth less than the empty fag box they were scribbled on in the first place, the political oponents of UCUNF & the DUP have drawn attention to it. Basically Sinn Fein have acted as they always have. The UCUNF folks are new, made a pack of broken promises and now they’re being called on it.

  • Drumlin Rock

    Neil, a like for like would have been for SF to withdraw in Favour of McKinney in F&ST, but they have chosen to spread it to another area where the UCU have resisted pressure to do a deal with the DUP. I am a strong supporter of the pact the Torys, but even stronger I want to have an MP, I have been denied one for too long and am working hard to get Michelle out. Rodney Connor is an excellent candidate and will work hard to serve everyone.

  • Drumlin Rock

    Did I say that? let me know where! I think the arrival of the Conservatives on the scene has changed the scene to an extent, and some of those characters have had to change as there are certain opinions that our new partners would not tolerate! Nothing changes over night here its going to take years but “normal” politics is starting to creep in.

  • union mack

    Sinn Fein would have been quite happy with a fair democratic contest, were it that the other parties had decided to do that.

    What is undemocratic about an independent possibly winning FST? What is unfair? Is it unfair that a nationalist doesn’t win because its a nationalist seat? In that case do SF want a unionist to win in South Belfast? If the electorate choose to out a SF member, that is fair, that is democracy. Or are the electorate being unfair to SF by not electing them? SF and their supporters on this forum need to get over this, and make the case in FST for Gildernew. The ‘keep the tories out’ message reminds me of the futility of the DUP’s smash SF message. The voters decide, so deal with it

  • In one respect Sinn Fein are just like any other political party, there is no way they would give up the chance of winning a seat – if they thought they could…

    There are no ‘good guys’ in politics, there are only politicians.

  • kells

    The idea that most Sinn Fein supporters will vote for McDonnell is just not on.McDonnell is a hate figure for a lot of Republicans.

  • Drumlin Rock

    so how many extra votes do you think this will net McDonnell? It obiviously wont transfer over 100%, but even a 50% would leave the target alot harder for Unionists to hit, basically at this stage they will have to swing strongly behind one candidate or the other to win.

  • Neil

    Have to reply up here by the looks of things.

    Two different topics. F&ST and SB. It was an exact replica of the move made by the Unionist contingent in F&ST. They create a pact, so SF try to create a pact, going down the route of the sectarian headcount which was initiated by the Unionist pact. Why do you think it is only like for like if SF pull out of the seat where they are the encumbent? Surely it would have been like for like if put simply ‘one Nationalist candidate runs’ and in that event most likely the Nationalist that holds the seat currently. Hence Maskey pulling out for the Nationalist encumbent in SB.

    They have decided to carry this to another seat. Would they have done so without the UCUNF hypocrisy? We shall never know, it makes no odds. SF have pulled out of SB now to maximise the Nationalist vote there, and I know they haven’t done that out of the goodness of their hearts, in my opinon, it would have damaged the UCUNF crowd and the SDLP – the Unionists because the DUP will make hay, and the SDLP because nationalist voters in F&ST and further afield will be disappointed that the SDLP will run a no hoper in order to provide a seat for a Unionist Tory.

    But your earlier statement ‘But SF after getting “hit” have went to the next street and punched the first guys mate, is that right Neil?’ is clearly, to me at least, BS. There are very clear comparisons to be made between the Unionist moves and the subsequent Nationalist moves in F&ST: both have tried to arrange a pact in order to maximise their communities representation. How you expand my analogy to ‘go to the next street and punch the first guy’s mate’ makes no sense.

    As for the UCUNF resistance to do the same in SB: it was more or less the only avenue open to Reg and co. If they had have gone with the urge and made the most of the Unionist SB vote the whole Tory pact would have been sunk or damn near to it (IMO). As it is he’ll only have to put up with the DUP attacking them for not doing a pact for Unionism (5er the word Lundy/Lundyism is mentioned between now and the election), instead of withdrawing and being attacked by the DUP repeating each and every little broken promise.

    I understand totally that you want to have representation, hell let’s make that redundant and say you want your party to win every seat and that’s fair enough. I also feel that come election time it’s SF’s job to do damage to their opponents. And if they can do it without really doing anything so much the better. Shrewd move by Maskey IMO.

  • Neil

    Personally I’d say it will help him plenty. The informed SF voter might not be a big fan of McDonnell, but many will do what they believe the party wants of them (vote for McDonnell) and many won’t have much of a clue but will vote Nationalist over Protestant.

    Given that the SDLP won the election without SF capitulation in ’05 one would imagine if 50% of the SF vote went his way then the DUP would need to take about 20% of the vote from the UUs to win. For the UUs to win they’d need over a third of the DUP’s vote. I’d say 50% is a low estimate though for SF voters who vote for SDLP in the absence of a candidate.

  • Neil

    Some people might argue that democracy is undermined when the largest community is not represented due to a backroom deal between two other parties. There is nothing wrong with pacts either per se, simply that the UCUNF have left themselves open to hypocrisy charges by selling the whole ‘new, non tribal’ line, then going for the tribal vote to prevent a Republican being elected.

    The keep the Tories out message won’t apply to F&ST I wouldn’t think, there’s little point. The Tories should walk into a seat there. However the ‘keep the Tories out’ message may well work for Nationalists elsewhere. I certainly know it motivates me.

  • Neil

    *largest community in a given constituency* that should be.

  • dwatch

    Behind the scenes McDonnell is jumping for joy.
    William Hill has re-set the odds for South Belfast now at:
    SDLP 1/5, DUP 9/2, & UCUNF 8/1.
    What better can the SDLP ask for. Gerry & Alex played a blinder against both UCUNF & DUP in South Belfast, and at the same time have taken the high moral ground in Fermanagh S Tyrone. If SF lose the seat it will be the SDLP who will take the flak for letting the Rep/Nat side down.

  • Drumlins Rock

    “but will vote Nationalist over Protestant.” did you not mean Unionist there Neil?

  • Neil

    Yes, that’s what I meant DR. Though as you know it really amounts to the same thing.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    As I have said in previous posts, I I feel that political parties have a duty of sorts to stand in every constituency. They on the other hand will feel that it is their duty to maximise their own position.
    This is what all five parties (and TUV!) believe they are doing. But nevertheless respect to SDLP and Alliance who are offering themselves in ALL constituencies. It would be more appropriate if SF turned its ire on the refusal of UUP/DUP & TUV to stand in FST rather than “blame” the SDLP.
    Yet faced with the decision that the SDLP made, its a good tactical move from SF to withdraw Maskey and again I emphasise its not a decision I like.
    There are actually THREE aspects of the decision. Not just FST & South Belfast. The other 16 are the “third” factor.

    In posting a similar “lost” post yesterday I quoted figures drawn from 2005 Westminster & 2007 Assembly elections. I dont have them in front of me right now so this is done from memory.
    Looking at South Belfast first.
    In 2005 Maskey got 3,000 votes. In 2007 he got 4,000.
    There is POTENTIALLY 4,000 SF votes available but theres a hardcore who wont ever vote for SDLP.
    At most he will get 2,500 to add to his 10,000 votes giving him 12,500.
    In 2005 the Alliance got 2,000 votes and 4,000 in 2007. But 4,000 is a very true reflection on AP strength there (the NIWC bit heavily into their and SDLP & UUP vote to a lesser extent in 2003).
    It therefore looks like in 2005, some 2,000 core AP voters gave their X to SDLP. SFs very public intervention in 2010 is likely to cost the SDLP at least some of them.
    This brings the SDLP back to about 11,500 maximum always assuming the same turnout (and it will be lower.
    I doubt that is enough to win the seat with no TUV person standing and being the clear front runner against a novice and given a “boost” by SFs decision, it will be enough to take 3,000 votes from UUP to give Spratt the seat.
    In Fermanagh South Tyrone the SF vote is about 4,300 ahead of the combined UUP/DUP vote and Gildernews tactic revolves persuading more than 50% of SDLP voters to vote for her. Many will ..but not enough.
    The most likely outcome is that both “nationalist seats” will be lost. And SF is positioning itself to get its retaliation in first. Thats clever.
    oo much has been made here about the sectarian nature of the decision but I suspect that the SDLP & SF VOTERS dont see it as Sectarian. Rather like their unionist VOTER counterparts in South Belfast, FST they care more about keeping the other lot out than the actual Parties.

    Which brings me to the third factor. In Mid Ulster, Wes Tyrone, West Belfast, Newry-Armagh, unionist voters dont really have the clout to influence the result. They do have that power in South Down and Foyle and SDLP are safe there.
    The battle ground therefore switches to the relelevant strengths of SDLP & SF in the unionist held “safe” seats. They wont of course win any but this South Belfast and indeed the earlier FST decision WILL be factors in determining who edges further away or closer to their rivals…with the Assembly in mind …and those precious percentage points that will be agonised over on Slugger O’Toole on 7th May.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    oops…should read that Gildnernew is 4,300 votes BEHIND combined UUP/DUP vote.

  • PaddyReilly

    You reckon without the effect of a tendency which Mick Fealty called ‘greening’. Basically, when a Nationalist wins a constituency, all sorts of people who had never voted before suddenly take an interest. Plus there is the oft forgotten fact that a 2010 election is not fought with a 2005 electorate. Things have change: there has been a small but significant growth in the Nationalist voters. This phenomenon one could, for want of a better word, call ‘greening’.

    When did SF last lose a seat? And how long before they won it back again?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Paddy Reilly,
    You could well be right.
    I could well be wrong.
    I guess we are all like football supporters/pundits talking up our teams chances.
    Possibly it would be a good idea if someone on Slugger collated all these predictions and embarrassed us all in early May with the real results. Could be fun

  • PaddyReilly

    I was impressed by the words of a young man commenting here who said he didn’t know anyone younger than 40 who voted SDLP. A revelation to me, but then I’m over 40. Presumably this means that in any 5 year period there will be a growth in the SF vote and decline in the SDLP.

    So with regards to F&ST, for Gildernew to lose we have to assume that she will be unable to find an extra 4,000 votes beyond what she got in 2005, and that the pan-Unionist candidate will win all the DUP and UUP’s votes without losing any to the independent. What the outcome will be I do not know, but it is by no means the foregone conclusion you seem to think it is.

    As for SB, preceding from an Assembly election in which the SDLP won two seats and SF, Alliance, DUP and UUP one apiece, in the current election the SDLP can look forward to gaining two quotas plus the bulk of SF’s. After all, Gerry Adams has given his blessing to SF voters going for the SDLP in this case.

    For the DUP to win, they would need to gain all the UUP’s votes plus Alliance’s as well: a totally impossible scenario. Think we can safely follow the bookies in gifting this one to the SDLP.