East Belfast at the next General Election?

Naomi Long - Lord MayorThere’s a bit of talk about “new politics” and people voting across traditional tribal lines in South and East Belfast. But will it be a sustained change?

Alliance are talking up Naomi Long’s positive campaign and pointing to UCUNF’s negative campaigning against Peter Robinson. They point to Naomi’s long record of working hard in the constituency. (The SDLP similarly point to Alasdair McDonnell’s labour in the south of the city.) However, there are a lot of issues external to the party and the candidate that will impact the next result.

How many people used their vote as a protest? A fair number of people may have switched their vote as a one-off protest, or stayed at home and not voted with their traditional candidate. Protest votes may be smaller at the next election. (The TUV proved this phenomenon at this election, losing much of Jim Allister’s Euro support.)

Will the TUV implode? In East Belfast, the lack of a TUV candidate at the next election would releases 1856 votes back into the pot.

Will UCUNF collapse? If there is a UUP candidate rather than a joint UUP/Tory candidate, then some of the 7305 votes that Trevor Ringland brought home for UCUNF may find other homes, and some voters they missed out on this time may return to the fold.

Will Peter Robinson stand again? He hasn’t gone away you know! http://sluggerotoole.com/2010/05/10/robinson-to-remain-ni-first-minister/ There are no big name DUP players other than Peter Robinson active in East Belfast at the moment. A lesser-known DUP candidate is unlikely to capture all of Peter Robinson’s personal vote, much of which will have been secured over his 31 year Westminster tenure. If the election is soon and the TUV are out of the game, he may feel he has a last chance to snatch back his seat? Particularly now that he has his party’s backing to remain as party leader and NI First Minister.

Unionist unity candidate? Unless unity turns out to be disaffecting, it would be a struggle for Alliance to defend their East Belfast seat against a tribal headcount candidate.

On the other hand, maybe the East Belfast electorate will decide to give their new MP a second chance? Perhaps the longer the delay before the next election – so if it’s in 18 to 24 month’s time rather than in early Autumn – the better chance Naomi Long has of proving effectiveness on the Westminster stage and significantly building on her swing. She could do with another 5000 votes to guarantee success at the next poll … and that’s a bigger swing than at this election.

So many unknowns. One thing is for sure, the DUP are unlikely to voluntarily throw in the towel and agree to give Naomi Long a clean run. Update – and contrary to Brian Walker’s post, she’s unlikely to be appointed First Minister in the NI Assembly any day soon!

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  • slug

    I suspect she will be popular, and people will swing behind her.

    She is progressive after all, and there is a progressive majority in this constituency.

    The DUP have announced – one working day after the results are out – a U turn on their pre-election pledge of double jobbing. They are so dishonest. They treat the electorate like dim wits.

    Naomi will show them up by resigning her MLA seat.

    Naomi is a person that progressives will unite behind. She will work hard , and retain her seat.

  • braniel unionist

    naomi’s vote consisted of core alliance support, nationalist ‘tactical voting’ plus virtually the entire pup vote and a percentage of liberal unionists who preferred her to the tory-liberal candidate, therefore, in my view, there is no earthly reason why a strong unionist candidate can’t regain the seat with a healthy majority

  • slug

    She may become another Sylvia – she seems to have a personality.

  • anne warren

    Sincerely hope Naomi Long maintains her seat whenever the time comes as she represents the first real step out of the sectarian stranglehold on the Unionist community. All best wishes to her in Westminster and all the best to East Belfast for its courage in choosing such an MP.

  • Alias

    She’ll have to make quite an impression within a much shorter period if she is to consolidate her fluke result, since the next governmment is likely to be highly unstable and highly unliely to last a full term. It’d put a wild bet on Peter being back in the seat within 18 months if I got tempting odds on it.

  • Driftwood

    She will be tested sooner, rather than later. I don’t know the constituency but the DUP and UUP candidates would have to be local (long serving councillors) and high profile. Any ‘Unionist unity’ candidate would backfire spectacularly and patronise the electorate.

    The only downside (and this applies to the DUP). What’s with all this petty parochial little Ulster ‘No Cuts Here!’ approach? We are either part of the UK, with concurrent responsibilities, or we are not. If the former, then we share the burden, short term regional protectionism means long term detachment.

  • Driftwood

    Don’t think so Alias. Robinson is toxic waste. And while it may have been a surprise result. No-one seems too unhappy about it.

  • union mack

    An altogether more irritating one than Sylvia

  • Alias

    Actually, on mature reflection, I’d agree with you there.

  • lamhdearg

    On one hand i feel the longer she stays before a new election the better her chance of retaining the seat. This also gives her would be opponents a chance to corner her on her view on the union, if that issue is brought up.Or if her handling of a (spot of trouble) around the east belfast interface go’s down badly with the loyalist/nationlist voters Naomi managed to get to vote for her last week she would find it a hard fight.

  • Chris Donnelly

    One term wonder (though she did spectacularly well, and fair play to her and all that….)

    Long was in the right place at the right time.It doesn’t happen very often- ironically it could have happened in West Tyrone had all parties stood aside and let Deeny have a free run at Doherty in 2005. Republicans got lucky then, Deeny’s vote dissipated by 2007 and, this time around, Sinn Fein positioned itself to vacuum up even a considerable amount of the Hospital protest vote that had swept in behind Deeny, leaving the SDLP even more marginal in the constituency.

    I’d put the house on unionism reclaiming the seat the next time around simply because East Belfast ain’t no South Belfast.

  • > No-one seems too unhappy about it.

    That seems to be a common (though not universal) opinion – even amongst unionists.

  • RepublicanStones

    I fear Naomi would have to save all the animals from a burning pet shop, then pull Father Christmas from his burning sleigh in order to stand a chance of repeating the feat.

  • I wonder what odds Paddy Power will give?

  • slug

    Unionist unity is such a patronising idea, one whos time died with Rodney Connor’s election bid.

  • slug

    Actually there is and has been a progressive majority there for some time. It generally voted Pro-GFA and Alliance nearly won this one before. She could prove you wrong.

    Alliance growing is good in many ways – it challenges the sectarian consensus.

  • slug

    Naomi will grow her vote.

  • Khalekan

    I think the Alliance are here to stay.

    I am in South Belfast and voted Alliance for the first time ever.

    Anna Lo had a big increase in her vote.

    Now that the constitiutional issue is effectively out of our politics, even if certain politicians refuse to admit it, Alliance should start to progress further.

  • Diluted Orange

    Would there not need to be some nationalists in East Belfast for the tactical element to be true?

    East Belfast has always had a strong Alliance base – in fact the strongest of any NI constituency. However up until now it has never really got beyond the middle classes.

    I believe Naomi has tapped into the core DUP vote – something that the DUP left behind a long time ago when they went out full pelt for the Ulster Unionist voting middle class electorate.

    I think this is a scary prospect for the DUPers; up until now the working class Prod vote was always in the bag. When the loyalist electorate begin to see an MP that works for them – is not just content on lining their own pockets then they might decide that they quite like it. I honestly think that this is the end of the Robinsons – this generation anyway.

  • slug

    People who previously would have voted unionist now are not so worried about bogeymen such as SF topping polls.

    Uninoist confidence will lead to a growth of new ways of voting.

    The failure of Rodney Connor showed this trend.

    Unionist unity is dead – new politics is born.

  • RepublicanStones

    I wouldn’t be so sure slug. Ritchie’s refusal to agree a pact with SF in FST probably led some unionist voters to think it was in the bag and thus there was no need for them to darken a booth. I wonder what the weather was like in FST last Thursday?

  • lamhdearg

    lamhdearg says:10 May 2010 at 9:07 pmHow about this Uup disolve between Dup and Alliance. many nationlists turn from Sdlp to sf to counter larger Dup. Sdlp disolve between Sf and Alliance. Alliance renames its self Ulster alliance. slowly builds as people get sick of the incumbent Dup/Sf gov pact. And we all live together in peace.

    Lifted from sammy in overture post. As no one replied and i hurt.

  • slug

    The weather was good.

    Uninoists aren’t so scared of SF any more. That’s why the DUP didn’t win in the Europeans (they deplioyed the Top the Poll argument). Unionist unity is dead – and with it the sectarian consensus.

  • andnowwhat

    I haven’t seen anyone mention the fact that 2 of the Belfast seats now and how that will affect the next election.

    I wish I was wrong but I fear Naomi’s election was partly that she is genuinely held in high regard but also a protest vote.

    With the afore mentioned nationalist seats, I fear people will return another DUP candidate (so long as it’s not Peter of course) next time

  • braniel unionist

    well then, hold a referendum on the constitution and u will see that the union is our raison detre and unionist unity our lifeblood, noami long did not and cannot attract true unionist support , only the PUP brand which, in my view is off the wall!

  • John East Belfast

    When are we going to get the official response from the new East Belfast MP to the statement made by Robin Newton and reported in the Belfast Telegraph tonight that she voted against the MOD’s request to fly the armed forces flag at Belfast City Hall for 6 days in June in recognition of the bravery and scarifice for UK armed forces – many of whom will come from her constituency.

    The BT reported it “had contacted the Alliance Party but there was no response to the Statement”. It had to get one from SF instead who described the request as “mischief making politics” ?

    Do the AP not have clarity of thought on such issues that it is going to have to spend time anguishing about a form of words so as not to offend her constituents ?

  • Naomi Long went into the general election with a reputation as a hard worker who took the Assembly seriously.

    The vote was not just about distaste for the activities of the family Robinson. It was also a recognition of the change in the atmosphere in the north. I think if Mrs Long works in Westminster the way she has in the Assembly she will be reelected with an increased majority.

  • lamhdearg

    The dup would be better to hold fire on Naomi. it may be seen as sour grapes.

  • Comrade Stalin

    John EB,

    Naomi will be campaigning on her record of constituency work which we will see her build upon while she is in parliament. But if you think blowing your sectarian dog whistle will help you regain the seat – by all means keep it up.

  • John East Belfast

    “sour grapes” ?

    It is called democracy and holding your elected representatives to account for their actions – and that starts immediately

  • andnowwhat

    I’m just wondering, could anyone who lives in East Belfast tell me if Robinson was a good politician on the ground in the day to day sense

  • Diluted Orange

    Will they have flown the flag at other home coming ceremonies in the UK?

    Maybe Naomi doesn’t want a flag being flown over city hall but I’ll tell you what – I guarantee she’d have never voted for either of those stupid wars and the death, misery and waste that came with them in the first place. That’ll get my vote over what flag is flown over Belfast City Hall any day.

  • Mr Brightside

    Alliance’s stock is definitely on a continued upward trajectory. There is a strong desire out there for a secular, centre-left party that does not get all hot and bothered about the ‘constitutional question’. The SDLP should have grasped this opportunity, but have missed the boat. I expect further Alliance gains at assembly level, and Long to retain her seat.

  • John East Belfast

    Comrade

    Your nasty comments do you no justice – you are the one foaming at the mouth here.

    I am one of her constituents – and I think I am entitled to some courteous respect – what do you think ?

    If my MP takes a political action I think I am entitled to hear her reasons for doing it.

    Surely the AP arent hoping to hide behind SF & the SDLP to help them out when they take anti British and anti unionist decisions and dont have the courage of their own convictions to spell it out for themselves ?

    I look forward to Mrs Long’s justification for such an important decision

  • lamhdearg

    Hello pip have you recovered from you basting last night. I thought of jumping in (to defend you) but you where doing ok. As for Naomi i feel it was mainly a protest, But she is well thougth off i have not heard anyone say they are “very” unhappy with her win. Also please see my post at 8.20 and johns at 9.46, IT BEGINS.

  • John East Belfast

    Diluted

    It is not about the war – it is about the men and women serving in them on the orders of a democratically elected parliament – you dont blame the soldiers for the decisions of parliament.

    Anyhow It wouldnt have mattered what war it had been and how justified it was or was not in hindsight.
    SF would have opposed a flag it no matter – and of course we know their reasons why.

    I would like to hear Mrs Long’s reasons

  • RepublicanStones

    I look forward to Mrs Long’s justification for such an important decision

    Yep john, the flying of a flag is right up their with the block grant, education and frontline services.

  • Lamhdearg

    Yeah, there I was challenging all comers! I regret I allowed myself to get angry. Silly and pointless.

    However I have seen Naomi Long at work and she is good! If the ‘protest’ vote had been just that, there were other directions it could have gone in.

    Thanks for your comment.

  • dundonald voter

    John East Belfast says:10 May 2010 at 9:46 pmWhen are we going to get the official response from the new East Belfast MP to the statement made by Robin Newton and reported in the Belfast Telegraph tonight that she voted against the MOD’s request to fly the armed forces flag at Belfast City Hall for 6 days in June in recognition of the bravery and scarifice for UK armed forces – many of whom will come from her constituency.

    The BT reported it “had contacted the Alliance Party but there was no response to the Statement”. It had to get one from SF instead who described the request as “mischief making politics” ?

    Do the AP not have clarity of thought on such issues that it is going to have to spend time anguishing about a form of words so as not to offend her constituents ?
    john im all for the troops getting the recognition they deserve and salute every one of them the bravest of the brave. but i wont take it from newton and i am glad naimo long has not fallen for their rhetoric. (wonder who the senior dup man from east belfast was who told eamon mailie to fuck off on thurday night? or when asked by sunday paper for reaction from a senior east belfast dupe about the loss of the punt replied that when they come round to dundela ave for help they will be asked who they voted for and if the answer is long then they will be sent round to her. great way to get the people back!!)

  • dundonald voter

    i would like robin newton to ask his party founder why when he was the eleigible age to fight in the world war (2nd) that he didnt

  • dundonald voter

    also ask him why one of the safest unionist seats in ulster has been lost and probaly lost for a long time to unionism, because the dup in east belfast were unelectable. by this time next year the dupes will be unelectable. enjoy your 5 years left dupes because you wont get any longer.

  • Lamhdearg

    With typical efficiency I have just read the two comments, and I see what you mean. Its a fading argument thank goodness but the poor girl, its walking on egg shells, again…

  • PaddyReilly

    plus the small Green vote.

    She seems to attracts a lot of female voters as well: a modern equivalent of the NIWC?

  • John East Belfast

    RS

    “Yep john, the flying of a flag is right up their with the block grant, education and frontline services”

    In all honesty would you be on here seeking clarification if the SDLP Councillors had voted for this flag to be flown ??

  • andnowwhat

    My partner is a community nurse in East Belfast and I’ve heard her mention PUP, SF and the Alliance being very good at sorting things out for her patients.

    It only occurred to me, I’ve never heard her mention DUP

  • fin

    belated congrats to Naomi Long MP, you must be chuffed Comrade, I wonder how many people actually know what the Alliance policies are? its good to see their even handedness in dealing with the past not to mention their support for getting rid of the 11+, is it possible that working class unionists want the blame shared fairly for the troubles and is it possible they want the best possible chances in education for their kids. Maybe its a protest vote or maybe its time for the traditional unionist politicans to catch up with the 21st century,

  • The Raven

    Couple of people on here have touched on an aspect of this. I was looking at the constituency in which I live – the one “represented” by Gregory “Who?” Campbell.

    35,000 turned out, and if I read that correctly, that was 55% of the potential vote. With some boxes in very “Protestant” parts of Coleraine as low as 38-40%, would it be correct to assume:

    there are large swathes of so-called unionist voters completely turned off from the political process?
    there’s going to have to be nothing short of a border poll to get them out?
    there is some serious political gain for the right party who can find out what will get them re-engaged?

    Funnily, I have walking round for the past few days going “who the fuck voted for that twat?” only to be met by people looking me in the eye saying “I didn’t vote, mucker”.

    I wonder how much this is replicated elsewhere, and can anyone hazard a guess at how far this disaffection reaches, if it IS disaffection, and I haven’t just read the numbers wrong.

  • dundonald voter

    braniel unionist says:10 May 2010 at 9:39 pmwell then, hold a referendum on the constitution and u will see that the union is our raison detre and unionist unity our lifeblood, noami long did not and cannot attract true unionist support , only the PUP brand which, in my view is off the wall

    braniel i was checking the english part of the election and it is a resounding victory for the tories. now if you were english and your government had to rely on the wee celts 9scotland wales northern ireland) and what they could extract from the government, ie no cuts, would you be happy as an englishman that you had the foot the bill for this? the union as we know it is fading fast. ripped apart by those who profess to love it. unionism as a relevance for scotland wales northern ireland is fast becomming a noose aroung englands neck. would you be happy if 10 million people could say to you (if you were english and 56 million) what can and cannot be done? its only a matter of time before the english tell the rest of us to feck off

  • I have said on another thread that what the UK needs is PR it would rejuvenate the voters.

    It is a bit different in the north but not so much, people have become used and apathetic to the politician whose only apparent function is to be for or against the union.

    Perhaps the UK is realising they are not so much represented by their politicians as bled dry.

  • dundonald voter

    raven gregory campbell is a total embarasment. and totally agree with everything you say

  • braniel unionist

    just watched newsnight, there could be another general election soon, bye bye naomi!

  • The Raven

    12,000, DV. TWELVE THOUSAND! And they haven’t seen him between one election and the last!!! ARGH!!!!

  • dundonald voter

    raven just a few wee thoughts. in east belfast the seat has gone for a generation from unionism. (if there is another election looming you will get a lot of uu’s vote voting for long as they now know she can win the seat.) like south belfast at the last election it was predicted that it wouuld only be away for a term. but the dupes have made unionism unelectable in this part of the world hence the protestant vote for mcdonnell. (its now a case of anybody but the dup) now as i have said all night the dupes at the up and comming local elections at this stage will be unelectable. campbell and his announcement on the double jobbing is the beginning of the end and now the peole will see what they elected. double dealers and total liars. (for those who dont know the dupes said they were phasing out double jobbing and only the punt would be allowed such power) check their manifesto launch. but enough is enough

  • dundonald voter

    if this is the case braniel naomi long will increase her vote as the uu vote will go to her now that they are aware that she can win the seat. look at south belfast that was to be away for a term yet now you have protestant voters voting for mcdonnell because they want anybody but the dup to represent them. this will now be the case for east belfast and her majority will go up if there is another election soon

  • braniel unionist

    ……… there were up to 5000 former david ervine votes that hav’nt disappeared ,and this time went alliance, not a big surprise as the PUP were never maintream, traditional or regular unionists!

  • dundonald voter

    by the way braniel your beginning to sound like another poster on here. are you harry in disguise

  • AR

    If she keeps her profile and plays her cards right with it then I can see her being returned. One reason being that she finished just below Robinson in the 07 Assembly elections – i.e. she didn’t just pop out of the clear blue sky and use robbo’s misfortune to reach success – there was an actual base for her to build on that had manifested itself before, a base that might all the more be hers to expand now that she’s MP. The caveat is that it was robbo’s misfortune that actually tipped the scales, of course.

  • braniel unionist

    the so-called trend towards the centre will only succeed if it happens on the nationalist side as well, hav’nt detected any sign of it dv, have u?

  • dundonald voter

    she will be there for a few years yet ar

  • braniel unionist

    oh………and there are approx 6000 potential ‘nationalist’ votes in belfast east

  • andnowwhat

    Speaking of Gregory…..

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00sb1h5/The_Nolan_Show_10_05_2010/

    Some mighty fine denial by the man

  • braniel unionist

    point taken DV re cuts, but i’ve just checked the size of the english democrats vote and i don’t think we need worry about that one!

  • braniel unionist

    if i were a gambler i’d bet u 50 quid she will be a one term wonder!

  • braniel unionist

    he wud have won but for stevenson!

  • braniel unionist

    have u any thoughts a.w.on the even stronger sectarian stranglehold on a certain community on the other side of town? oooh i almost forgot, sectarian is a code word for ‘protestant’ silly me!

  • The Raven

    I wonder where he was being driven in that interview, andnowwhat….certainly wasn’t to any town in his consitutency….

  • andnowwhat

    I never realised he was being driven Raven.

    I have no idea what’s going on in the DUP but tey’re playing this seriously badly.

    Nolan made a very good point re. how they treated IPJ when he had dirt flying around (which he was cleared of). They haven’t been this reluctant to sensure or reject any of their politicans before.

  • RepublicanStones

    You see John, the SDLP are declared nationalists. Alliance’s selling point is what….remind me?

  • O’Merta

    Typical N.Ireland – having spent the last 80 years living in the past, as soon as a seismic event occurs we project into the future. Let’s live in the moment.

  • lol

  • John East Belfast

    RS

    So are you saying on issues where Nationalists and Unionists differ she takes the nationalist line as opposed to abstaining ?

    I am simply looking for an explanation from her on why she thought this was the appropriate way to vote

  • Quincey

    Ok, Naomi might well be a great girl. She might well be a good constituency worker. But where will Naomi be when the really emotive issues in East Belfast start cropping up??

    What side will Naomi be on when Cluan Place is gets its next big attack (it always under some sort of attack)?
    What side will she be on when the poor under priviledged Short Strand residents feel offended by children playing instruments and men wearing swathes of coloured cloth around their neck? She has been moderate on supporting the troops, but what happens when its proposed for more homecoming celebrations (from the constituency that has more serving Soldiers than any other)?
    What happens when the PUP party and voters who elected her want pay back in the form of more openly being able to commemorate and acknowledge their Ulster Volunteers who died over the apast 40 years?

    Only a fool would underestimate the emotive nature and motivational ability of these issues. They have been temporarily set aside/ forgotten in the focus to oust Robinson. But they will be back. And Naomi wont be on the side of ‘Loyalist’ East Beflast. Theres too many people who are casting aside the importance of that particular ‘constituency’ within the constituency.

  • Re-engaged

    Bit quick on that one – Sammy Wilson has announced he will leave finance!

  • I never saw him ‘on the ground’, andnowwhat, though I wrote to him a couple of times about certain issues and he replied courteously and diligently, saying in one case that he would vote in accordance with my request if he was in Parliament for a particular vote. I don’t know if that makes him a ‘good constituency MP’ but it’s the only direct experience I have of him.

  • Neil McNickle

    Naomi will be tested sooner rather than later and I very much suspect the darling of the liberal media will be found wanting! She and her cronies in Alliance will find its much easier to dither and chirp the right noises outside the room than to be in it making the tough decisions.
    I wonder how the Loyal people of East Belfast will feel when they relise there MP supports the United Kingdom’s entry into the Euro (We should bail out Greece) and doesn’t actually have a position on the Union.
    The DUP vote is on the slide and when Robbo eventually gives up to spend more time with the family Civil War will break out among whats left of the rank and file.
    A moderate Unionist will take the seat back next time round so ‘Super Naomi’ should enjoy her moment in the sun!

  • Driftwood

    Well, it looks like it will be AV next time, so that will make it interesting, South Belfast also becomes Unionist again. Probably within 18 months.

  • The Raven

    “….doesn’t actually have a position on the Union….”

    Not every one exists to pander to that.

  • Comrade Stalin

    fin:

    belated congrats to Naomi Long MP, you must be chuffed Comrade, I wonder how many people actually know what the Alliance policies are?

    Alliance policies were outlined in the election address and the party’s manifesto, although it’s interesting that people genuinely believe that the voters historically make their decision – especially in Northern Ireland – following a detailed appraisal of the various policies on offer.