Adams, SF, West Belfast and a missing 10%?

Gerry Adams was always guaranteed to take West Belfast and he did at a canter – 71% of the vote.

I will attempt to delve into the numbers and forgive me if this gets confusing and correct me if I am wrong..

In 2005 he took 24K votes from 34.5K on a 64% turnout.

With the boundary changes he should have expected 27K (+3K) votes from 39.5K (+5K).

Turnout was down 10% so to tread water Adams should have received 25K from 36K votes.

That didn’t happen, both those figures are around 3K short in the final return. (23K and 32K)

Some voters seem to have disappeared in West Belfast – circa 2,000 or around 10%.

Over 2,000 people look to have disengaged (along with the highest number of spoiled ballots) unless my sums are really out.

note: I’ve rounded to make this confused numberfest a little more intelligible

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55 thoughts on “Adams, SF, West Belfast and a missing 10%?”

  1. I’d guess it’s a combination of voter apathy as the seat is ultra-safe, general lack of canvassing as major resources were thrown into FST and a possible disgruntlement at the various stories swirling around GA. Either way it’s hardly a worry for him.

    Meanwhile Robinson lost a majority of 6k and his seat due largely to various media reports, none remotely of the seriousness of those levelled at Adams.

    It’s doubtful that anything, other than perhaps being unmasked as an MI5 agent, could lose GA this seat, and the figures above, whilst mildly interesting, are ultimately irrelevant.

  2. Figures are spot on Mark, at least someone has done a proper analysis of this constituency. BBC didnt delve deep enough.

  3. Does this mean that 7500 voters didn’t this time round. Don’t they factor in boundary changes into turnout figures

  4. LH,

    Yes, boundary changes are included. I’m sure about three people that read Slugger see my point. The rest will think I’m a sad fecker or anti-SF spinner.

  5. Oh I think you are wrong there. I think there are at least four who will have been counting as carefully. It may be all smiles, but GA will know and he will be perturbed at this result.

  6. I believe it’s the missing SF votes from Lagan Valley that is the concern.

    In 2007 there were 5,098 first preferences for SF in the Assembly elections (3,197 in the 2005 General Election).

    In 2010, with the boundary changes, that had dropped to 1465.

    Those votes don’t seem to have re-appeared in West Belfast.

  7. Pete,

    You get it.

    2-3K votes SF should have expected even on a reduced turnout just disappeared.

    They are off the register not just missing LV votes.

    Those voters, 10%, have gone walkabouts.

  8. Why would anyone vote in West Belfast when their member considers himself too important to go to parliament?? Seems to have happened in other S/F seats as well.

    Also the small drop in turnout in South Belfast, could that be Shinners staying at home? If so it make a lie of the Shin spin about them doing the tribal thing for Dr Mc

  9. Mark,

    Forgive my ignorance but I’m confused about one thing. If, with boundary changes, the notional turnout in 2005 would have been 39500 but is in 2010 was 32000, then surely turnout would have dropped by more than 10%. Maybe my figures are out.

    I get your point though. However Sinn Fein’s vote has still proportionally went up so if SF supporters have gone walkabout, then proportionally more supporters of other parties have.

  10. There were also 549 spoiled votes in West Belfast, there was a fair few spoils in republican constituencies, suggesting a small protest vote.

    But I do think there’s a degree of general apathy/disgruntlement from some trad SF voters.

    This isn’t a major worry for SF considering the level of new first timers they’re attracting, plus some of the SDLP vote they’ve taken in areas.

  11. lamhdearg says:8 May 2010 at 8:00 pmEast Belfast vote out someone accused of lining his pockets. West Belfast returned someone who campaigned for a child rapist. Moral victory?

  12. Anecdotally, having observed a number of West Belfast polling stations at the Euros and then again last Thursday for the General Election, I was surprised that turnout in was only 10% down. Polling stations that had been busy the year before at the same time in the day had no one in them when I called in this year. Get the vote out efforts seemed more sporadic, less black taxis on the roads …

  13. The constituency was 76.3% catholic and, with the boundary commission changes, actually only became 0.1% more so (Dunmurry’s mixed residential areas balancing the inclusion of Lagmore in this regard.)

    In 2005, SF took 70.5% of the vote to the SDLP’s 14.6%;

    In 2007, SF took 69.9% of the vote to the SDLP’s 12.2%- the ‘loss’ of a 0.6% share of the vote no doubt offset by the delight at winning 5 of 6 Assembly seats…

    In 2010, SF took 71.1% of the vote to the SDLP’s 16.4%

    A repeat of this result in next year’s Assembly election would probably be enough for Sinn Fein to hold their five seats.

    Given the backdrop to the campaign I’d say you’d have a pretty hard argument suggesting this result was anything other than a resounding success for Sinn Fein in the area.

    The lower turnout could reflect many things- nobody for the dissidents/ disaffected to support (remember, People Before Profit and RSF collectively garnered 3.6% in 2007) as well as the fact that, alone amongst the urban seats, West Belfast wasn’t a competitive race.

  14. Compared to the almighty cock up that happened in England the election in the north was a resounding success. There is always the possibility of incompetence but I can see no reason for even attempting to rig the vote in W Belfast. SF support there is rock solid and corruption would have to be enormous.

    I prefer to think some of the people in the constituency decided to withdraw their support until outstanding allegations are cleared up.

  15. Mark,

    If I understand your argument correctly, I am afraid you have made an elementary mistake.

    Turnout is down by 10% – but that is not 10% of 39,000 voters, but of 60,000 electors. That’s where your missing votes are; they simply stayed at home.

    It’s mainly explicable by the fact that nobody was campaigning terribly hard in West Belfast; SF knew Adams was safe, and only UCUNF’s Bill Manwaring was really trying to prove anything.

    NB also that West Belfast (as usual) had the highest number of spoilt votes (549, 1.7%).

  16. Mark,

    analysing WB in isolation without regard to the general fall in turnout epsecially in Nationlaist constituencies is misleading. Most Natilonalists dont want those elected to take their seats there has this time there has been a general levelling out between the differential turnout between fenians and Prods.

    Why no has analysed this differential and compared it to 2005 is a bit of a mystery and a disappointment given the number of political anoraks crawling all over the figures.

    When has EB (58%) ever previously has a higher turnout than WB (54%) for example?

  17. Lol gotta laugh at the anorak-navel gazing on this site.

    Look, geeks, if Adams can return a vote like that despite the months of jealous anti-republican bile spewed out to the media by the likes of some of this site’s contributors then, seriously, enough with the worrying about some ‘missing’ 10%, yeah?

    Give it up, you irrelevant nerds.

    Hey, Mick, the ‘new media’ blogosphere proved to be utterly useless, you’d agree? Adams untouched, Robbo gone, Gildernew victorious. This site got em all wrong. Oh dear.

  18. Johnno has a point. The only interesting aspect of this exercise lies in discerning the real motivation behind it – and that, despite Mark’s protests to the contrary, appears to be little more than a desperate scrabbling attempt to find some crumbs of comfort, however small, that might mitigate the pain of Sinn Féin’s electoral triumph for those who had hoped for other.

    But I suppose it might also be seen as an an exercise in charity to keep the likes of Pippakin happy and in that it seems to have succeeded.

  19. Rory Call

    The likes of Pippakin have been very happy since the early hours of Thursday morning thank you!

    However do you not agree that GA is mired in some of the worst allegations of the troubles, and in that case it is a good thing that there may be some shinners, unwilling to give their support while the allegations are unanswered and the trial is pending.

    I think MPs who break the law, whilst serving, cannot be sacked, they are ‘transferred’ to a non existent constituency called the Chiltern Hundreds? Interesting if he, abstentionist and republican, is so transferred…

  20. To be fair Johnno, Sinn Fein didn’t see the EB result coming either, according to Adams, and most of the SF activists in FST had already been preparing themselves for defeat as well until the realisation as the count got underway that McKinney’s vote had fallen to pieces.

    I don’t think SF would agree with you either that the ‘new media’ blogosphere (as you call it) was utterly useless, was put to good use by SF in West Tyrone.

    And speaking of bile….

  21. Sorry, that should of course have been ‘the early hours of Friday morning!’

    Michael Henry.

    Im straying into whataboutery. So I won’t go into details, but if GA is implicated and relying on the Brits to cover his arse, it will only work if its kept private. A public not guilty trial would make that impossible, especially if that trial takes place in the south.

  22. Chris Donnelly

    What absolute bollocks you are trying to get away with, you stated the following

    “The constituency was 76.3% catholic and, with the boundary commission changes, actually only became 0.1% more so (Dunmurry’s mixed residential areas balancing the inclusion of Lagmore in this regard.)”

    Dunmurry is mainly Nationalist now the full length of the upper lane including the estates left and right, the full length of the lower lane with all the new housing estates on the left hand side.
    The right hand side of the lower Dunmurry lane is still mixed however this is only a few hundred strong and as you said is mixed although I would give a Unionist majority for these few hundred votes.
    From Dunmurry cross to the South Belfast wards is 99.9% Nationalist, where’s the mix there Chris?

    And then there’s Lagmore thousands of Nationalist votes… but you left out the Mount Eagles estate Chris didn’t you…..again 100% Nationalist

    Mark the best way to expose this is for the posting of the wards box numbers and votes for same because there is a huge discrepancy in numbers being offered for West Belfast by the media in general.
    I’d like to see the old electorate figures for the constituency and the new total electorate for this election, then that will nail the cobblers about not much of a fall in vote.

    As for the following bollocks “West Belfast wasn’t a competitive race.” Well neither was Newry and Armagh or Mid-Ulster or West Tyrone all Sinn Fein formalities

    Pat Docherty up 1,100 votes even after all the Sinn Fein walk-aways in Tyrone
    Martin McGuinness held his with the same walk-away’s and his Traitor comment
    Conor Murphy held his vote even though hundreds of core voters have been switching to South down addresses to try and create a momentum in South Down.

    So how has Adams lost thousands upon thousands?

  23. Why don’t Sinn Fein register a few thousand of Gerry A’s electorate from West Belfast in North Belfast and help Gerry K over the line? Now, that is a puzzle.

  24. Am I missing something? Where was the Unionist vote…surely it’s utterly pointless turning out to vote when there has been no credible alternative to GA since Gerry Fitt last stood?

    I do find it hard to believe he’s picking up more than a handful of prod votes (whilst Gerry Fitt had substantial support from the other side). Anyone confirm the veracity in this?

  25. Does it matter where the vote went? Cause Gerry only shows up to get his expenses. He, like all the other wasters in S/F don’t vote on anything or represent anyone..

    How can the Catholic working class keep falling in behind such chancers??

    When you think how hard fought the right to vote was for working people and these idiots wont even take their seats. What hope for the people of the north??

  26. My eyes are dry mate, I am lucky I don’t have to put up withy such backward thinking anymore. Hope yours remain dry if the Tories take away your dole

  27. So the problem isn’t that SF has lost 2-3k votes, but rather that those people just weren’t registered to vote..? Or is it that they just didn’t vote?

    As worrying as this is, SF have a pretty good track record (in my experience) of getting people to register and at this election, they probably had bigger problems than 2-3k votes in one of the safest seats in the UK..

    While your analysis and figures are accurate and interesting, I think you’re making mountains out of molehills here.

  28. Anyone else enjoy Adams’ jeans on election night? lol, I loved the casual contempt he displayed for the whole process.

  29. Rory, I think they’re raging because they thought this site was actually changing and moulding opinion.


    What a spectacular irrelevance Slugger has proven to be.

    Barometer of the prevailing mood, my arse.

  30. As the effects of the various scandals take effect, I think Adams will become increasingly vulnerable to challenge.

  31. johnno

    How did your lot do in Foyle, South down and South Belfast?
    Oh that’s right…. you got the bajesus thumped out of you. lol

  32. Johnno

    It is possible to support a united Ireland without supporting SF. It is not a question of the ‘prevailing mood’ with or without a barometer/ Nor is it a question of sartorial style, indeed some might say GAs jeans were both hypocritical in that he has more than enough suits to be seen in, and contemptuous of his own electorate: fine to wear the suits to be interviewed on channel 4 or anywhere else, but not when he is in the company of his own…Does he think they dont know he owns enough suits to stock Saville Row Tailers. No one else gives a shite.

  33. Oracle, you might want to do a bit of editing there lol

    ‘you got the bajesus thumped out of you’ lol

    Seems you suffer from Lionel Clutz’s definitional deficiencies.

  34. “I dealt with the accusations of the time. It is not political”

    Those accusations are not over – Have you heard about any government minister thats been charged. Any court cases where anyone has been charged.

  35. There you are, patience. And I thought I was the only one pissed off with your continual mewing, your pompous piety and your arbitrary trials and convictions of the Great Leader. Will you shut up now? And stuff your link where the sun don’t shine.

  36. patience, I am not spiteful and your bandwagon comes around so often that it’s either jump on or be run over. It is time you were pulled up about your meandering airy fairy accusations which you deny as soon as anybody takes you to task. A whole blog – all to yourself?

  37. socaire!

    I have no band wagon, just a little voice that seems to have created quite a noise!

    I am not sorry about that. Far from meandering The response this evening suggests my comments have been very specific. noticed – and resented, by of course exactly the people anyone would have expected.

    You look at the comments this evening and see who is ganging up on who, and dont bother to correct my grammar Im not interested in the self important, pompous remarks of those who know the grammar but not the meaning.

  38. This thread is the most fun I’ve watched since 12,000 people voted for an absentee MP in East Londonderry!

  39. Not quite Gerry Filtt. Joe Hendron took the seat in 1992, but you are right there there is no credible alternative to GA. I thought that it was very telling that Alex Atwood was the only other candidate who was at the count for any significant length of time.

Comments are closed.