A weekend of political uncertainty

Strangely for a political anorak no sooner had the functions of the election finished on Friday, than I repaired to the Mournes for a long weekend with the family. It was a long standing committment but a zero connection to the Internet means I’ve been relieved of the obligation to speculate on the outcome of either the negotiations in Westminister, or the fate of political unionism in Northern Ireland.

In the case of the former I note that young Mr Cameron is developing Brown-like bags under his eyes, and he has engaged the talent of Mr Portillo to engage the Lib Dems in serious negotiations. The man appears to be serious about a deal, looks prepared to take on his own party over any deal he might strike on electoral reform. Mr Clegg will need something special if his party is not to be reduced to the kind of mudguard status which has so often befallen Fianna Fails partners in Irish government.

No deal? Then Labour (the SDLP and the DUP, Plaid and the SNP) come back into play. That may afford the DUP an opportunity to play the only hand left them in Westminster for now.

This coda to the electoral stalemate of last Thursday may go on for days or even weeks. But it cannot distract political unionism from the fact that in process of comprehensively defeating the TUV, the DUP’s own beggar-thy-neighbour tactics are no longer working. They must find a way to give their electorate a spring in their step other than denying ‘others’ a seat.

Despite what was at the heel of the hunt a very narrow defeat, I suspect Reg Empey’s instincts that unionism needs to be about more than the union, it needs to be about peoples own needs being met through representative democracy. That his brave try crashed and burned should not obscure the fact that in East Belfast unionist voters preferred a non unionist MP, and in FST, too few thought it worth their while to vote out an abstentionist MP for a big U unionist.

It is certainly not the end of unionism, but it may be the beginning of the end of laager unionism. Its political leaders can either acknowledge that shift and use its dynamic to bring about some form of renewal. Or not. But unionism’s survival depends on being about something more than just the fact of the Union.

  • sbelfastunionist

    Mick your points are actually fair but I actually think this election was a step towards a maturing of the unionist electorate and unionism moving forward. It was always going to be an incremental process so it is important to compare it to the Euro elections. In that campaign, the DUP were still uncomfortable and unsure of the support they had for powersharing and spent all their time looking over their shoulder. As a result, they reverted to familiar territory and fought Jim Allister on his turf – a strategy that was always going to lose them support. Let us all remember though the predictions that were made then about how the DUP would perform at this general election. This time they stood clearly on the hard decisions they have made and focused a lot more on bread and butter issues and had a strong performance retaining 8 seats. Yes the vote was down but in the circumstances and against the euro campaign I think most DUP members would be happy with 8 seats. TUV’s vote shows the arguments within unionism on powersharing are now dead. It was also remarkable that the party managed to largely isolate the impact of the recent scandals to East Belfast. I guess that Robinson will be given a few months to bow out gracefully and then the DUP can have a new broom in place in time for the Assembly elections. East Belfast shows that if the election is going to be about who is First Minister then Peter Robinson will be a liability. I also think it would be more merciful to let a broken man bow out rather than put him through another year of media scrutiny. If he goes, I think the DUP can still pull in over 30 seats next year. Some comments I have seen today from UCUNF saying that the prospect of David Cameron in government puts them in a strong position to take 4 of their target seats next time is great news for the DUP. It is exactly the same sort of complacency after the euro election and cloud cuckoo land talk which will put UCUNF more out of touch. The future now is for greater cooperation and a more civilised tone to debate within unionism from both sides.

  • Michaelhenry

    unionism will flourish in the dail, in the all IRELAND there will still be the assemply, a kind of two parliment solution instead of the 4 which is in the new IRELAND document or eire nua has it is known, i can not see the unionists abstaining from the dail.

  • Ha Ha Ha

    Niomi Long fought a campaign on beating peter robinson, she made that clear herself in her campaign.

    Peter Robinson lost because of the situtation regarding expenses, IRis and the land deal. It was an anti-robinson vote, not anti -dup

    and im confident next tiem the seat will revert to Unionists once more

  • Michaelhenry

    niomi worked hard in the assemply, now she will work hard at westminister, what ever the future holds i can not see niomi long being beat in east belfast, i will repeat that i think that east belfast will become a safe alliance seat, go figure.

  • union mack

    what planet you on?

  • Michaelhenry

    planet earth, why, what about you.

  • union mack

    is that because voters in unionist areas have a broader mind than those in nationalist areas? and don’t follow SF like sheep? and are prepared to question those who lead them?

  • RepublicanStones

    Michael, Long’s election was as the result of a protest vote. Unionism will need some real doosie of a scandal to prevent them getting their hands on E.Belfast again. I can’t imagine another IrisFivepoundCafegate coming along.

  • union mack

    unionism will flourish in the Dail?

  • Michaelhenry

    and so they will, they will love the dail, like ducks to water, maybe unionists future is to become one all island party.

  • Republican Stones,
    I am inclined to agree but people need to be careful. Long is pretty annoying but she works hard and is extremely visible. Like the Lib Dems Alliance can be pretty tenacious when they get in: like certain weeds; difficult to kill off.

    However, I agree the DUP should be able to get the seat back. They need, however, to choose a good candidate early. There is a danger that assorted young bright yet lazy party apparatchiks will fancy the seat: they might well lose. Instead a steady and sensible type who can relate to real people should be chosen to get the seat back.

  • Michaelhenry

    i could not have imagined the scandals of the last six months, who knows what is around the corner, but i can not see that hard worker niomi letting this seat slip, by the way does any one know,guss who could be the next d.u.p canidade for east belfast.

  • slug

    Good points Mick.

    Sbelfastunionist: I’d agree that the defeat of TUV does make this a significant change for unionism. The DUP opted for a positive campaign and that was sensible.

    The end of the TIUV kills unionist unity arguments (not that I ever thought them compelling).. It was the worry about TUV shredding that led to these arguments.

    Communalist unity pacts are not the way forward – they are defensive and reactive.

    As for UCUNF I don’t think they will be complacent at all – but I think neither should they panic. There are elections to come and if this was a long term project last week so it still is. The electorate didn’t have much time to get to know UCUNF candidates. The bad parts of UCUNF can be dropped and the good kept. Unionsts who backed UCUNF must be constitent and confident but not complacent.

    As many of the good new andidates who stood should be engaged and kept in place for Assembly illustrating their commitment.

    As for a more civilised tone between unionists. The UUP must be more willing to criticise the DUP on policy-in a civilised way but in a clear and firm way. Politics is about opposition. There is no point in the UUP just treating DUP as part of the family The DUP will undoubtedly be taking the tough decisions in government, so that leaves them to be opposed on policy.
    The opposition must be consistent rather than just populist or opportunistic. That is where the Conservative link comes in – it provides a broader intellectual framework that the opposition can come from. As for going into opposition, I am not sure—if you are the minor unioist party you really are in opposition already–but it might be a logical thing to do given my arguments so far,

    I would argue that future campaigns , while being clear that UUP is part of a national political force, should go further than that. Its not enough to say we’re part of the UK mainstream. UUP have to say what they believe in. The Tory image can be a middle England one, so the arrangements that replace UCUNF must allow the UUP more flexibiility in its relationship with the Conseratives so that the essense and identity of the UUP is a broad cross community middle-NI one proud of NI and all its institutions. Attacking the DUP for being Ulster nationalist could backfire as it may suggest that UUP is not proud of NI.

    The UUP Conservative link should be maintained developed and improved. It should be stronger and more obvious than that between Alliance and Lib Dems, and between that between SDLP and Labour. But it should give the UUP a little more space than UCUNF.

  • slug

    Good points Mick.

    Sbelfastunionist: I’d agree that the defeat of TUV does make this a significant change for unionism. The DUP opted for a positive campaign and that was sensible.

    The end of the TIUV kills unionist unity arguments (not that I ever thought them compelling).. It was the worry about TUV shredding that led to these arguments.

    Communalist unity pacts are not the way forward – they are defensive and reactive.

    As for UCUNF I don’t think they will be complacent at all – but I think neither should they panic. There are elections to come and if this was a long term project last week so it still is. The electorate didn’t have much time to get to know UCUNF candidates. The bad parts of UCUNF can be dropped and the good kept. Unionsts who backed UCUNF must be constitent and confident but not complacent.

    As many of the new andidates who stood should be engaged and kept in place for Assembly illustrating their commitment.I thought the candidates were very good, and there were good candidates such as Deirdre Nelson and Robin Swann and oters who were noht selected. This is important.

    As for a more civilised tone between unionists. The UUP must be more willing to criticise the DUP on policy-in a civilised way but in a clear and firm way. Politics is about opposition. There is no point in the UUP just treating DUP as part of the family The DUP will undoubtedly be taking the tough decisions in government, so that leaves them to be opposed on policy.
    The opposition must be consistent rather than just populist or opportunistic. That is where the Conservative link comes in – it provides a broader intellectual framework that the opposition can come from. As for going into opposition, I am not sure—if you are the minor unioist party you really are in opposition already–but it might be a logical thing to do given my arguments so far,

    I would argue that future campaigns , while being clear that UUP is part of a national political force, should go further than that. Its not enough to say we’re part of the UK mainstream. UUP have to say what they believe in. The Tory image can be a middle England one, so the arrangements that replace UCUNF must allow the UUP more flexibiility in its relationship with the Conseratives so that the essense and identity of the UUP is a broad cross community middle-NI one proud of NI and all its institutions. Attacking the DUP for being Ulster nationalist could backfire as it may suggest that UUP is not proud of NI.

    The UUP Conservative link should be maintained developed and improved. It should be stronger and more obvious than that between Alliance and Lib Dems, and between that between SDLP and Labour. But it should give the UUP a little more space than UCUNF.

  • slug

    It could be hard for the DUP to get it back. Long could well become another Hermon. There is something authentic about her. She will know to play it so that she creates and alliance of working class and libearl East Belfast. I think that she will be hard to budge – and this provides a big boost for Alliance for many many years ahead.

    The growth of Alliance is something I am glad to see – I agree with much of their agenda. I would argue that they are really starting to challenge some of the assumptions made in NI politics. If they continue to grow they will have an influence on how decisions are taken in the assembly, the current rules are not fair to parties like Alliance and Greens.

  • Granni Trixie

    I think the most accurate explanation of Naomi’s success is that she was an appealing local candidate who had a party strategically supporting her.

    For whilst some circumstances may have favoured her, others did not: as usual journalists paid little attention to her (dog eats man being favoured) infact they underestrimated her ability to command votes.
    And opponents came up with the usual lines (vote for APNI a wasted vote, not unionist enough,too unionist,what not unionist or nationalist blah,blah blah,you know you’ve heard it all on Slugger).

    But I think that what is left out of analysis of EB result, is its cultural signifiance, it points to change from below which some political parties and others just didnt see coming.

    Turgon:I am in Alliance since 1972 so am in a position to say that we are indeed tenacious – but with the porviso that one person’s weed is another persons flower.

  • sbelfastunionist

    Slug

    I agree with you that we do not need to be talking about one big party but there will be a focus on better cooperation especially as the next election will divert attention to who should be first minister.

    I think tone is important. I think unionist voters are more mature than thinking unionist unity has to be complete agreement. That is where the UUP went wrong in continually counting how many statements the DUP had issued criticising them. I have no objection to constructive criticism of policies and giving the voters a choice. However too often it has been sneering at each other both ways. Unionism is not greatly served by those old party stagers who see their party brand being more important than all else and can’t see forward (in both DUP and UUP). I was canvassed by a veteran UUP councillor and the new Westminster candidate. When I raised various issues the new candidate was prepared to listen and engage. The councillor just went on the attack trotting out tired party lines. I then asked about unionist unity – an answer which outlined some areas of policy disagreement would have been fine. However, the candidate said there was too much personal animosity for it and the councillor said it couldn’t happen “because Paisley started it.” I told him I couldn’t vote for someone who was going to hold grudges from the sixties and couldn’t move forward with a vision.

    Grannie Trixie – I also agree that in East Belfast and other cases we are clealry seeing that the electorate is more fluid and less tribal than ever before. No party or candidate can take the vote for granted. They are happy to switch back and forth and will clearly do so when they don’t like the candidate.

  • Alias

    “It is certainly not the end of unionism, but it may be the beginning of the end of laager unionism.”

    And if it is, then I might miss the amusing spectacle of wagons circled around a camp wherein the enemy were roasting their marshmallows the same fire and wondering if they were supposed to be outside preparing for the imagined attack or if they should politely make the appropriate howling noises just to maintain the charade…

    They all share the same position on the constitutional status of Northern Ireland as it has existed since partition, i.e. that it has a separate right to self-determination, and it is for the people of Northern Ireland alone to agree to change their constitutional status. It may have taken them 12 years to understand that they are all now on the same constitutional side, but better late than never.

    The East Belfast example indicates that the unionist electorate, unlike the misguided nationalist electorate, does not see every election in Northern Ireland as being a poll on its constitutional status – or, rather, that this recognition is emerging from the grassroots. Hence they can vote for a candidate who is not explicitly pro-union in preference to others that are. In other words, they will vote on non-constitutional issues that the relevant election is actually about, e.g. whichever candidate will deliver results for their constituency and issues related to probity.

    This emergent stability on that formerly preeminent constitutional issue allows other issues to emerge and come to the fore. I think they call that normal politics in other societies.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The question I keep coming back to is – what is the point in the Ulster Unionist Party ?

    Obviously UUP members have their own good reasons not to quit and join the DUP. What are they ?

  • madraj55

    CS. The answer to that, comrade, is the long history of animosity between the two unionist parties. Some UUP voters would eat lead rather than go out to vote for DUP.
    This is probably why in the end, their voters didn’t rouse themselves in FST even to unseat Gildernew. I can’t see unionist bloc getting back either FST or SB especially as another hole or even to might open up elsewhere in the dam, such as NB or even Upper Bann. The flipover from unionist majority to nationalist can’t be that far off if SF get biggest share of vote two elections running.

  • slug

    “but there will be a focus on better cooperation especially as the next election will divert attention to who should be first minister.”

    I would argue very strongly that fhe DUP and UUP should not form a pact to define themselves as a single one electoral alliance so as to keep SF out of the FM job.

    That would be a massive mistake for UUP.

    Anyway the demise of the TUV and the continuing strength of the SDLP does mean its unlikely to be an issue..

    In my opinion the UUP should do what SDLP and Alliance are doing. Setting out a and sticking to it and not entering alliances other than with the Conservatives..The Conservative link provides a coherent framwork to come to the job of opposing the DUP and the other parties in the executive.

  • “and im confident next tiem the seat will revert to Unionists once more” …. Ha Ha Ha says: 9 May 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Alliance is the New Reality for Post Modern Virtual Unionists, Ha Ha Ha. And it is a Quantum Leap in AI Programming too ….. and a Holywood Special for Sovereign CyberIntelAIgent Security Systems.

    “Obviously UUP members have their own good reasons not to quit and join the DUP. What are they ?” …. Comrade Stalin says: 9 May 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Are not DUP UUP Commando Units?

    Who leads the Show and where’s the Big Picture Scripted Synopsis and Teaser Trailer Film Previews?

  • TheHorse

    Dont get ahead of yourself Trixie it can be argued that Naomi’s success was indeed down to a protest vote by DUP supporters at the greed of Robinson and people who would normally vote Unionism and support the agreement, but are put off by the UUP’s negitive type of politics in the assembly. Or that they remember the fact that the Tories when in power give the most concessions to Nationalism.

  • Alias

    And yet “the long history of animosity between the two unionist parties” didn’t prevent them from finding common cause in the attempted defeat of parties that are outside of their sectarian block so that animosity is clearly not an insurmountable obstacle in the pursuit of their common cause.

    Given that the fragmentation of unionism looks likely to see the Shinners emerge as the largest party in NI at the next assembly election and leave unionism with the ‘deputy’ tag, perhaps they’ll find common cause for a merger there…

    At any rate, even if the traditional catholic parties held the majority of Assembly seats at some future point, it wouldn’t follow that a majority of Catholics would vote to change the constitutional status of NI simply because they vote for parties that proffer such a change. Many of them vote as an ethnic group within the British state and are quite content with that status and to vote for parties that promote their particular sectarian interests within that state; and those that might consider altering it would then have to consider whether or not it serves their particular interests at that particular time.

  • Michaelhenry

    do you mean when the prisoners got the five demands in 1981 horse, i can not think of any other time that the torys give in.

  • QUOTE “But unionism’s survival depends on being about something more than just the fact of the Union.” QUOTE

    Reminiscent of that famous heckle to the following boast;

    I was born a Unionist, raised a Unionist and will die a Unionist”.

    Have ye no ambition in ye at all?

  • Alias

    The population of NI is no more than the size of a small city in the UK. In reality, it is just region of another state and the only issue that differentiates it is that it can change its constitutional status. It is not a country and does not need a plethora of political parties. All it needs is competent people to oversee the internal administrative functions that have been devolved to it by its central government. Since it has two tribes, one party from each tribe is ample. The rest is just self-indulgent excess…

  • madraj55

    Alias, I know that the nats majority when it comes probably won’t mean any change in NI status, but that will be no consolation to unionist parties since they gerrymandered the border in 1922 so as to contrive their majority. The NI they’re in now is nothing like the one they had only 40 years ago. They’re having to deal with the receding control of the statelet, and Marty becoming first minister is the least of their worries.If SF is the biggest party in the Assembly next year, unionists are still going to look a bit foolish explaining to the govt. how they have been able to live with mcGuiness up till now and not then, since there will be no change in his status or powers. I look forward to their getting past that one if MmcG is FM. Should be entertaining.

  • Alias

    Its survival actually depends on the generosity of its subvention from the rest of the UK. The fact that the Shinners and the Stoops are protesting any cuts that might undermine that survival should tell you something about the actual strength of their anti-union ambitions…

  • Alias

    If Marty as First Minister is too much for unionists, then Marty’s handlers will tell him to step aside. It’s all about keeping the bicycle on the road…

  • RepublicanStones

    Fair point Turgon. And you raise an interesting issue, possible DUP hopefuls for the seat next time. You think an old hand best placed to steady the ship as opposed to some new blood?

  • Mrazik

    “The NI they’re in now is nothing like the one they had only 40 years ago”

    Tell me where is? The problem for NI is that it is still in large part the land that time forgot.

  • TheHorse

    What makes you believe Martin McGuinness will be first minister, Gerry Adams is the leader of Sinn Fein – His deputy does deputy.

  • Accept the GB model; pretty well every LibDem gain has been a “protest vote” in some way. What was then necessary to “seal the deal’ was a patently-honest, constituency-based, busy MP.

    What’s different here?

    Plus, Naomi Long (I’d be more impressed if people got the name right) is not so closely linked to the shabby deals being struck in Whitehall.

  • Alias

    TheHorse, I don’t believe he will be First Minister proper if unionist politicians cannot accept this outcome. They have a few options to avoid it (a) merge with the UUP, (b) scaremonger the unionist electorate into voting for the DUP and not the UUP (or the TUV should they campaign for Assembly seats) to avoid this outcome, and (c) make bloody fools of themselves by declaring that a PIRA godfather is fit to be Deputy First Minister but not fit to be First Minister.

    I think it most likely that unionist politicians can accept this outcome but are worried about whether or not a section of their voters can accept it (the section that might be tempted to vote TUV). At any rate, if they can’t accept it then the problem will not be allowed to derail the process. It was important in the early stages for the British state to install a ‘strongman’ to allow for the successful reintegration of the disenfranchised in to the UK but Marty’s importance in that role is largely diminished due to his ‘traitors’ comment and other factors. He now only appeals to those Catholics who accept British rule, and that is simply selling to those who will buy your product without the pitch.

    Gerry’s handlers had him stand aside for Marty, and Marty too will have to stand aside if that is what is required to keep the show on the road.

  • I have not grasped the intricacies of that serpentine logic yet. It’s all too Machiavellian for my poor old brain. Let me work on it.

    Meanwhile is that the immediate issue?

    There is a semi-unemployed First Minister, now happily released from double-jobbing. With one bound our hero was free.

    There are numerous public-relations problems for both sides to conceal under floor coverings.

    There is a festering undercurrent none of us really want to admit.

    There is a distinct threat that Westminster “cuts” threaten the block grant, and so provide a unifying adhesive. Watch out for water soon to re-emerge as a pressing issue.

    There is a long way (and a lot of intra-party infighting) to go to the next Assembly election.

    In short, it’s paddling swan time. However hard the submarine effort, on the surface all will be sweetness and light. Nobody will be looking for big public spats.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    The big untold story of this election is the turnout and particulalry the differential turnout between Fenians and Prods where East Belfast had a higher turnout than West Belfast and yet it is suggested by Mick that ” in FST, too few thought it worth their while to vote out an abstentionist MP for a big U unionist”.

    As the usual suspects Mark Mc Gregor and Pete Baker try to talk up SF’s difficulties we will surely have to wait until the Assembly elections to find out if the fall off in the SF vote in a number of constituencies has really gone away you know or simply reflects that the Westminsters means much less to a party who (correctly) dont take their seats.

    This election may also have been the last where Unionism get a chance to play power broker as the Nationalist block of SDLP Scot and Plaid will always be a larger group and it will be sobering moment for Unionism if a ‘progressive alliance’ of Libs and Labs and the 3 the Nat groups form a government without them.

  • Alias

    In regard to Marty being more acceptable to unionists than Gerry: folks forget that Gerry was Public Enemy No1, a real bogeyman figure for the unionists. Their handlers decided that Gerry should stand aside and let Marty become Deputy First Minister (with the Shinners spinning the concession as Gerry deciding to take on a non-executive ‘presidential’ role. So the precedent is there, and will come back into play if progress cannot be made without another concession on the issue.

  • madraj55

    Alias. This has been unionist way in the past. They don’t
    getworked up about these mtters themselves but if they think they might lose votes , they’re ultra careful to pander to the worst bigots in their voting base. This explains also turning up at Catholic funerals but staying out of the chapel just in case.

  • CatinHat

    Let’s not forget that Robinson actually nearly still won and would have won had about 80% of the TUV’s vote gone to the DUP. Couple this with the fact that the DUP held their ground in the 15 other constituencies and Naomi does not look safe at all.

  • The big untold story of this election is the turnout and particulalry the differential turnout between Fenians and Prods…

    That one’s worth testing. Let’s see about turn-out, in order:

    FST: 68.9%
    Mid Ulster: 63.2%
    West Tyrone: 61%
    Newry & Armagh: 60.4%
    South Down: 60.2%
    East Belfast: 58.5%
    North Antrim: 57.8%
    Foyle: 57.5%
    South Belfast: 57.4%
    North Belfast: 56.8%
    Lagan Valley: 56%
    Upper Bann: 55.4%
    East Derry: 55.3%
    North Down: 55.2%
    West Belfast: 54%
    South Antrim: 53.9%
    Strangford: 53.7%
    East Antrim: 50.7%

    E&OE excepted.

    Hmm … doesn’t quite work for me. What is instructive is the disparity between NI turn-our and the rest of the UK.

  • Comrade Stalin

    This election may also have been the last where Unionism get a chance to play power broker as the Nationalist block of SDLP Scot and Plaid will always be a larger group and it will be sobering moment for Unionism if a ‘progressive alliance’ of Libs and Labs and the 3 the Nat groups form a government without them.

    I don’t see there being a chance of this in the near future. In a tricky vote, party discipline won’t be 100% uniform and the larger parties will have backbench rebellions to contend with. They’ll need every vote they can get irrespective of whom it comes from.

  • union mack

    If my figures are correct, they won’t have a majority in this parliament. If they did, they would be changing the electoral system, which would rule out forever the possibility of the nationalist groupings or unionists being needed to form a government. It would always be a Labour or Conservative government, propped up by the Lib Dems. So its an end to any small party being a power broker full stop.

    Interesting that the SNP brand of xenophobia be considered part of a ‘progressive’ alliance

  • Michaelhenry

    SINN FEIN made sure to get rid of the anti catholic oath to the crown at the assemply, those who took the oath, M.I.5, M.I.6, could not prevent the two 1 tonne peace attacks in england in 1996, M.I.5, M.I.6 were seen by there masters as imbeciles, SINN FEIN got there way, no oath here.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Malcolm,

    the differntial turnout between Prods and Fenians has narrowed with the biggest falls in turnout compared to 2005 in the Nationalist areas – with West Tyrone down 14 and Newry and Armagh down 13 and Mid Ulster down 12.

  • Sorry, Sam, with the greatest respect, I still don’t get your point. I haven’t done the full analysis yet, but try it this way:

    SF FST: 68.9%
    SF Mid Ulster: 63.2%
    SF West Tyrone: 61%
    SF Newry & Armagh: 60.4%
    SDLP South Down: 60.2%
    All East Belfast: 58.5%
    DUP North Antrim: 57.8%
    SDLP Foyle: 57.5%
    SDLP South Belfast: 57.4%
    DUP North Belfast: 56.8%
    DUP Lagan Valley: 56%
    DUP Upper Bann: 55.4%
    DUP East Derry: 55.3%
    Ind North Down: 55.2%
    SF West Belfast: 54%
    DUP South Antrim: 53.9%
    DUP Strangford: 53.7%
    DUP East Antrim: 50.7%

    And it was who staying at home?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Malcolm,

    the biggest falls in % turnout compared to the Westminsters in 2005 was in Nationalist areas.

    For example in 2005 the turnout in Newry and Armagh was 73% and in 2010 it was 60%, a league table of falls in turnout will also have the Nationalist constituencies at the top.

  • Heart of the Empire

    Lets not forget that East Belfast has always been the largest Unionist Westminster constituency in Northern Ireland and Naomi Long’s successs could be short lived as grass roots Unionists/Loyalists recover from the shock. There is certainly a feeling locally that Robinson deserved a bloody nose but nobody (including Alliance Party) really believed that a non Unionist would be the MP for Belfast East. If a fair minded, well respected Unionist candidate emerges it will help to galvanise the broader Unionist family and should wrestle back the seat from Alliance – and with talk of a potential Westminster election in six months time there could be egg on the face of those Sluggerites who have literally interpreted the Belfast East result as ‘natives having seen the light’ – Catch yerselves on!

  • Sammy: I’m not totally dissing your point. I am one of your professed admirers.

    Take a longer perspective. I’m here comparing (and quickly) the top and bottom turn-outs in that list, over a sequence since 1983.

    Over that period, the drop-off in turn-out for those two extremes is within a spit: both are about an eighth (I get them both with a correlation of 0.78/0.77). Similarly West Belfast is 0.76. Admittedly, the vote this time round in East Belfast (remember: the correlation of 1983/2010) is 0.83. Allowing for local circumstances, I just do not see that voter-fatigue is denominational.

    That’s my lot for tonight. You have the floor, Mr whatdoneit!

  • CatinHat

    “The flipover from unionist majority to nationalist can’t be that far off if SF get biggest share of vote two elections running.”

    That ain’t logical Captain.

    Nationalist vote / Unionist vote / gap
    1982 28.9% 58.3% 29.4%
    1983 31.3% 57.1% 25.8%
    1984 35.4% 58.0% 22.6%
    1987 32.5% 54.2% 21.7%
    1989 34.6% 52.1% 17.5%
    1992 33.5% 50.4% 16.9%
    1993 34.1% 50.6% 16.5%
    1994 38.8% 53.0% 14.2%
    1996 36.9% 52.4% 15.5%
    1997 40.2% 49.3% 9.1%
    1998 39.7% 50.4% 10.7%
    1999 45.4% 52.3% 6.9%
    2001 42.7% 51.8% 9.1%
    2003 40.5% 50.8% 10.3%
    2004 42.2% 48.6% 6.4%
    2005 41.8% 51.4% 9.6%
    2007 39.8% 47.6% 7.8%
    2009 42.2% 49.0% 6.8%
    2010 42.0% 50.5% 8.5%

    For whatever reason there hasn’t been any discernable upward trend in the total nationalist vote for the past decade, nor downward trend in the unionist vote other than slight. I dare anyone to produce a trend line from the most recent figures there, but just taking the closing of the gap in the last two westminsters of 1.1 in 5 years the nationalist vote should exceed the unionist vote some time in the year 2048!

    Some sectarian headcounter really should try and explain how the above figures can be true.

  • CatinHat
  • JoeJoe

    Catinhat
    Great stats & you are probably a lot closer to the truth than SF’s 2016 when you say 2048 is the tipping point.

    I think we agree on the long-term trend, but what caused the circa 1999+ exceptionally high nationalist vote.
    The spike could perhaps have been cause by
    * Nationalist (long-since-gone) perception that at last since partition the Peace process/Good Friday/Belfast Agreement was going to give them parity of esteem & everything; and subsequent drew an emotianally high vote turnout.

    * Nationalist turnout in the west needed to be exceptionally high back then to beat single unionist candidates, with SF & SDLP neck and neck back then (e.g. Tyrone). This need has declined as the nationalist vote reached 2/3 and leaving the West Tyrone, Mid Ulster, South Down etc seats safe and the high turnouts no longer needed.
    * Impersonation probably higher amongst SF activists (previously more alienated from ‘law and order’ than unionists Personation tightened up since then.
    *Trickery with postal votes. As the last point, but now tightened up (I think 44% less postal votes in FST this time for example; but nat vote still up .1 or .2% through demographic movements more than cancelling this).

    *Intimidation: Seems unlikely to me, but was certainly given by unionists as one of the reasons for the high nationalist vote post Belfast agreement.

    What do you think? If I’m right, the above nationist advantage has been pretty much wiped out, but the long-term trend seems solid, though at a snail’s pace.

  • joeCanuck

    Mick,
    Just for info. Solved the speed problem last week with Paul’s help. Today I installed the “Gears” program. Now superfast.

  • johnno

    Hi Mick,

    Given that the election demonstrated the spectacular irrelevance of this site in terms of capturing the ‘public mood’ was that a trip to the Mournes – or a retreat?

  • johnno

    Mick, on other thing…

    At your Europa breakfast (at which someone fell asleep) did any of the confused politicos ask you why SF did so well…you know, given that your site has been a standard bearer for Adams-bashing for yonks now?

    Blogospheres = the new media? My arse.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Malcolm,

    Fair enough, I will hold fire until I see stats that fully calculate/estimate the ‘community background’ differential tunout for 2005 and 2010.

    Are there stats that go below constituency level to reveal what actually happened in ‘community background’ turnout in FST for example?

  • Scamallach

    I think the DUP and UUP should merge. Can anyone explain to me any differences between their policies? They basically swap positions of opposition, i.e. whoever is not the biggest party cries foul over the other one playing ball with republicans until they get themselves into a position of power, and they then play ball with the republicans themselves. The only discernible difference between them is that the DUP has a fundamentalist Christian wing but even that lot aren’t too far from a lot of the old school Ulster prods who vote UUP. And to be honest even the crispo wing have somewhat liberalised themselves throughout the peace process.

    As I say, they are basically the same party so they may as well come together. It’s inevitable anyway as the nationalist vote continues to rise. And once they do it, it should be seen as the start of the endgame for nationalists, in that it is essentially a rearguard strategy.

  • “given that your site has been a standard bearer for Adams-bashing for yonks now?” …. johnno says: 10 May 2010 at 8:35 am

    Wow, a Whopping Misdirect. Is Peter Robinson doing the Gordon Brown Mole/Vole Shuffle ….. a Cuckoo HQ with no Novel Feed?

  • johnno

    Scamallach, you’re right.

    The phrase ‘unionist unity’ is music to republican ears. Nothing guarantees a rise in the SF vote like a unity Orange candidate.

    The scale of Gildernew’s achievement will never be acknowledged by any of this site’s sad sacks, but it’s an interesting glimpse for the future.

    The SDLP shudder when they hear unionists discussing unity.

  • DC

    Naomi has a recently established core vote of around 5k max, so she likely got an additional 3.5k from PUP (David Ervine’s old core), plus 2k from UUP off Reg going (deserting?) – and around 1.5k via tactical nationalists – plus a mobilised 1k+ from other discontents over Robinson’s behaviours. I’m thinking also a small section of Robinson’s voters stayed at home mainly, plus close to 2k to TUV.

    Overall then, an absolutely fully utilised protest vote, but only able to happen due to a degree of representative competency from Naomi Long herself via Mayorship and MLA constituency work.

    Not a safe seat for her all the same. Nevertheless, tatty bye Robbo (his money is likely well-made – goodness knows the untold deals etc done over his 30 years).

  • DC

    If Arlene Foster takes over the DUP and the UUP floatsam forge with her unifying DUP, East Belfast will be toast, so too much of the other constituencies if first past the post remains for Westminster.

  • percy

    had to look up “laager”, as it looked like an amusing spelling mistake.
    It will be interesting to see if DUP and UCUNF come together.
    However it must be noted that the Tories are an English Party, and one has to ask:
    What’s in it for them to keep the Union.. nothing.?
    They’ve no MP in Scotland, or the North of Ireland, which means no support.
    In these times of economic difficulty, why pay from the treasury all that cash to Stormont and Holyrood. Why?
    Can anyone answer that beyond empty rhetoric, and nostalgia for the old days of Empire.. ?

  • percy

    We have to live with bakerism on slugger, every dog has its fleas !

  • JoeJoe

    Percy:
    The London Times agrees with you http://www.nuzhound.com. An English journalist called for Scotland to be dumped out of the UK. She says that as the Tories came 4th in Scotland they have no right to rule Scotland. AND, England gave a clear overall majority to the Tories, so why should England be forced to have a coalition Govt.?

  • Seán

    Granni Trixie, having been in Alliance for so long can you tell me what they offer me as an Irish Republican and in the case of a referendum on Irish Unity are Alliance still commited to campaigning to stay within the Union??

  • percy

    thanks,
    does anyone know the deficit in how many billions NI and Scots cost?