After the election: A Unionist game that is shaken rather than stirred…

In a special article for Slugger O’Toole, David Gordon examines the General Election fall-out for unionism – with a couple of quotes from his newly-updated book, The Fall of the House of Paisley. Released over Easter, it has a new final chapter entitled The Fall of the House of Robinson?

Cometh the hour, here comes Arlene?

If Peter Robinson goes as DUP leader, the smart money seems to be on Nigel Dodds as party leader, with Arlene Foster as First Minister. That double act may also shorten the odds on “unionist realignment”, which is really code for the DUP and UUP blending together into a single bloc at Stormont.

Robinson is viewed as a more divisive figure by UUP people than Dodds or Foster – although resentment at her defection still runs deep among some Ulster Unionists.

Saying a single unionist bloc is now more likely is not to suggest it would help produce functional politics at Stormont.

There is not that much to divide the DUP and UUP in policy terms these days. The extent to which the DUP has cast off Paisleyism can be seen by the way Foster took on the role of its Acting First Minister this year with barely an eyebrow raised.

To quote the new edition of The Fall of the House of Paisley:

“She had started her political career in the Ulster Unionist Party. And she is a member of the Church of Ireland – a denomination long vilified by Ian Paisley as being in league with the Pope. Things aren’t what they used to be.”

Foster’s political journey in the last 15 years can be seen as mirroring the way general unionist opinion has shifted. Her deepening antagonism towards the Belfast Agreement led to her moving from the UUP to the DUP, but she would later reconcile herself to a power-sharing deal with Sinn Fein.

Rebuilding the House of Paisley?

Paisley Jnr was always favourite to retain North Antrim. The name alone on the ballot paper – without the Junior attached – was a bit of an advantage. However, the scale of his win over Jim Allister will have undoubtedly boosted his standing in the party.

For the record, The Fall of the House of Paisley was all about the swift collapse of Paisley rule at Stormont in 2008. It said of Junior:

“It may be that he will rebuild the fallen House of Paisley in some shape or form. But it will never stand as tall or as grand again.”

That conclusion still holds. There has been some speculation in recent days about Junior as a leadership contender. This seems highly unlikely, and not just because he has pledged to quit the Assembly for Westminster.

In truth, he is not that popular a figure in the party.

UCUNFed?

The UUP meanwhile has to decide whether to bury UCUNF along with Sir Reg’s leadership. There will be some who will cling to the concept, blaming the media for its drubbing at the polls. But the fact remains that there are deep contradictions and flaws in the entire UCUNF project.

It involved trying to graft a “national” party onto a localised party that is associated with one section of the community, while proclaiming it as new and non-partisan. It also depended on the illogical notion that all unionists are Tories.

A debate is now needed on how to develop middle-ground politics here. There will be different possible strategies to consider. But UCUNF is surely not one of them.

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  • pinni

    The Fall of the House of Paisley, ha! Turns out to be a ludicrously inaccurate title, now matter how you try to rationalize it now, eh?

    How about a book or even a chapter called The Fall of the House of Trimble. Now there’s a genuine fall considering Daphne’s recent result. No, didn’t think so. Probably not financially viable, anyway.

    However, it’s plain for all to see where your animosity lies.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Did you read the article or just the title?

  • Liberal Unionist

    I very much doubt Arlene is a figure that the UUP would be happy to allign behind given her history! In addition I don’t know of to many party members keen to reallign either given the history with the DUP.

  • Cushy Glenn

    if Arlene’s the best hope for Unionism I’m heading for the ferry. Perhaps in Iveagh House on the day of her election Dermot Aherne will stroke his white cat, pick up the phone, ring Stormont, and utter the immortal line “Agent Foster, return to base. Mission acomplished”

  • Liberal Unionist

    Couldn’t agree more, the woman makes my skin crawl. I would say shes has the personality of a plank of wood, but that would be an insult to trees everywhere!

  • Michaelhenry

    thers nothing left of the u.u.p to shake.

  • madraj55

    LU. Any one who thought Foster was a moderate should have seen her at the count last thursday. Her expression after Gildrnew was finally elected, in contrast to when Connor was thought elected, would be priceless to see. [i expect it will turn up on youtube]. The DUP is her natural home right enough. Anone who wasn’t a boigot, wouldn’t want to be thought of as one, ie would never join the DUP.
    Same for Jeffrey.

  • Jean Meslier

    If only Austin Currie was still about. Or Eddy McGrady 20 years younger

  • SammyMehaffey

    Interesting piece by Steven King in the Examiner yesterday. In commenting on the results in N ireland he mentioned the fact that some unionist candidates were smeared in the media but also that it was interesting that rumours about some dup members didn’t emerge – perhaps because they were not true? Could he be right?

  • pinni

    Just been reading an interesting Newsletter article on the election figures. A couple of choice quotes:

    …a massive 313,058 unionists have accepted the Stormont settlement.

    …pro-settlement unionists got 11 votes for every vote that went to anti-settlement unionists — an overwhelming defeat that has stunned the TUV

    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/Few-votes-separate-DUP-and.6285886.jp

  • smellybigoxteronye

    There is no need in NI for ‘Unionist’ parties any more. Time to stop being insecure and bring on normal politics similar to Scotland. i.e. Conservatives, Labour and possibly Lib Dems. Surely these (especially Labour) will get cross-community support and we could end the horribly tribal designation that is required in the assembly?!

  • Liberal Unionist

    Or perhaps the Labour government pressured a Law Lord into putting an injunction on a newspaper to prevent them publishing a story which in most peoples eyes would certainly be in the public interest.

  • Seymour Major

    Even if there was a majority of Ulster Unionists who would want another UCUNF, it is unlikely that many Conservatives will.

    With another 5 years to go before a general election, I suspect most conservatives will now want to use the time to continue to build up the party and recruit disaffected Ulster Unionists.

  • Jean Meslier

    smellybigoxteronye

    “….Surely these (especially Labour) will get cross-community support ….”

    Check the history books. It has been tried many times in various guises already.
    In the end the soverignity question raises its head and they have to choose.
    Tough, but thats partition for you.

  • drumlins rock

    So Seymour, what is the total party membership these days? maybe it has increased, but it will take 50 yrs never mind 5 at the current rate to make even minor impact.

  • Seymour Major

    Drumlin’s Rock,

    Total nonsense

  • drumlins rock

    Might as well put my election analysis here, good as any where (btw I was out of the country for the last 2 weeks so missed most of the fun)
    TUV- it just didnt happen, thankfully in many ways, but remember a strong TUV showing was vital to shave of enough DUP votes to let the UCUNF slip in.
    DUP- The vote dropped generally, but having a full set of “big hittters” certainly paid off, with the exception of Peter.
    All- Great show by Naomi, strong established candidate and seems to have soaked up the “anyone but peter” vote
    UCUNF- minor progress in areas but generally stagnation, should we be grateful? or dispair? Remember only a couple of yrs ago the party was about to be buried, but it still has some life about it, ironically its biggest weakness this time was the fact new faces were put forward, yup that I believe was the biggest factor in failing to breakthrough. To be blunt 90% of the electorate never heard of Hatfield, and were basically confused by the Tory link, and the ingrained tradition of voting for the “devil you know” won out this time, yes the slow selection played a part in that too, as did the Slyvia courtship, but with that wonderful thing called hindsight, the hysteria built up before hand was overegged.
    Finally, as for F&ST I think Rodney Connor suffered from the same problem, most voters hadnt a clue who he was and 3 weeks certainly wasnt long enough to get him know.

  • Greenflag

    On the BBC national turnout map Northern Ireland and in particular the East Antrim /South Antrim and Strangford constituencies stand out as having very low turnouts . The only constituency to come in even close to the UK average was FST and even there Mr Connor complained that too many of the unionist electorate opted to stay at home .

    Does anybody have any idea why so many in ‘unionist’ constituencies stayed home as compared to fewer numbers in predominantly nationalist areas ?

    None were worse than Hull in eastern England where only 49% bothered to cast their vote ?

  • drumlins rock

    so how many constituencies do the Conservatives have a functioning party in?
    When was the last time you had someone elected under a Conservative banner?
    What is there to show that you would achieve more than your 0.4% vote without the UUP?

  • Greenflag

    ‘ and we could end the horribly tribal designation that is required in the assembly?!’

    As much as most rational people would like to see that eventually come to pass -it can’t . Yes there is room for a moderate middle of the road party e.g AP but probably only in the more urban east of the province and in Belfast . Outside of 50/50 territory it’s one tribe or the other not 100% of course but enough to make any political progress difficult if not impossible for the non tribals .

    That situation can only ever end with the ending of partition or post a repartition of the present NI.

  • Alan N/Ards

    Unionists have been crying out for real leadership for years. Maybe Sylvia Hermon could be the person unionists have been waiting for to lead us out of the wilderness. I personally would like to see real left / right politics instead of the unionist vs nationlist politics we have here. Will this ever happen – who knows.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    pinni,

    the UUP were (are?) anti-agreement as evidenced by how they voted on the STA implementation. If they had had their wish the agreement worked out between SF and the DUP over the transfer of Police and Justice would not have gone through.

  • smellybigoxteronye

    zzzzzzzzzzzz again we hear your same old “re-partition” argument. Agreed that some parts of south Armagh should probably be in the Republic and some parts of Donegal in NI, but I think even if you were to re-partition NI it would not solve our problems and the divisions would still be apparent. The only future is to recognise each other as neighbours and embrace non-tribal politics.. It’s not impossible as how often does the border issue really affect people in NI on a day-to-day basis?

  • smellybigoxteronye

    Yes, I am aware of the past, but the effect of violence during “The Troubles” has understandably made a huge impact upon the politics here. Of course normal left-right politics is going to get polluted because of the violence. In this so-called “post-Troubles” era isn’t it time though that out politics reflected the situation?

    It can be tried again. The NI Labour party has already set up here last year – if only Sylvia Hermon had taken up their offer of representing them! I’m sure many existing UUP/DUP members could be persuaded to join and even a merger with the SDLP could be on the cards. They would have relations with Labour in the UK and Labour in the Republic and could brand and promote themselves as a “non-tribal” party – I think it is something that could really take off, given the NI electorate’s general opinion of the Tories. As for the “sovereignty question”, I don’t see why that should affect the party policy – if we all grow up a bit and realise that the sovereignty issue has almost ZERO influence on our day-to-day lives and day-to-day-issues. Most of us get along fine in workplaces across NI, so why can we not vote together for political party that stands for real normal issues (unlike wishy-washy Alliance)? They wouldn’t have “to choose” about the sovereignty – if there were ever such a question then the party could abstain from comment or let individual members campaign as they wish, but let’s face it – the border isn’t going to change for a long time – in the mean time such an initiative would do wonders for community relations.

  • smellybigoxteronye

    I think it’s probably because a ‘Unionist’ party means little to many people as we already have the union and don’t need to campaign for its maintenance unless there would be a border poll. People here need normal left/right politics debating normal issues, so that there is something to get them interested as much as people in the rest of the UK.

    The nationalist vote is higher due to the zeal in which they desire their unachieved “united Ireland”.

  • Greenflag

    Will this ever happen – who knows.?

    I do;) . It won’t -it can’t . And it probably should’nt . Not only because it can’t, given the current format of the NI State but also because what you call real left /right politics never mind unionist v nationalist politics, won’t address much less resolve current economic and social problems within not just NI but in ROI, UK , USA .

    The UK (excluding NI) has had ‘real ‘ left /right politics since 1945 . Evidence is emerging that the very nature of diametrically opposed right v left politics has been instrumental in expediting the UK’s relative economic and political decline ?

  • smellybigoxteronye

    HERMON – JOIN LABOUR NI NOW!!!

  • smellybigoxteronye

    maybe left/right politics won’t solve the current economic situation (cf uk coalition government), but voting together on left/right issues is a hell of a lot more constructive and better for community relations than the continuous wrangling that we do about on the Irish border.

  • The Raven

    I’m still waiting for someone to have a guesstimate at how many from the P/U/L community simply didn’t turn out.

  • Greenflag

    smellybigoxteronye,

    I’m sure what you say above is partly true but it can’t be the whole explanation . In the last two Westminster elections 2005 and 2001 the average turnout for the UK was 61% and 59% respectively . Nobody would argue that those two elections were not based on the centre/left v right divide . I’m sure there were many constituencies in NI and not just predominantly nationalist constituencies who had turn outs higher than the UK average.

    One would have thought that with UCUNF and backing by the Conservative party that the overall unionist vote would be up in terms of turnout as compared to the nationalist vote ?

    Perhaps many more unionists than we think, are not as unionist as we are led to believe ? Some may have come around to the belief that the ‘union’ is no longer a life or death matter and that one way or the other it won’t put any extra or less bread on the table ? Those who could not vote for the DUP or TUV and who could not stomach the Tories simply put their feet up and gave the FST seat to Mrs Gildernew .

  • madraj55

    JEAN MESLIER If the NI entity had been democratic at any point since the partition, i would say these modifications like the voluntary coalition one, or the change from biggest grouping to biggest party in stormont, would be worth doing, but since the statelet never was a normal democratic entity, so all these changes and agreements amount to nothing more than band aids piled on one another over an unstable wound. they should have left it with direct rule and spent the millions on something more useful.

  • smellybigoxteronye

    Greenflag,

    could also be the DUP/UUP/TUV 3-way split was too much for many to have to decide between.

    They may have also got complacent in FST because it was almost sure that a unionist would take the seat due to the pact. Many unionists also side more with Labour than the Conservatives.

    people’s old ways here are hard to change, and they also tend to be cynical – ideas like the UCUNF one will probably take more time before it would give real interest to the NI electorate.

  • Greenflag

    smellybigoxteronye,

    ‘but voting together on left/right issues is a hell of a lot more constructive and better for community relations than the continuous wrangling that we do about on the Irish border.’

    I agree . But there is the practical issue of how you get to that point from where NI is now politically in terms of it’s political party representation ? AP have made some progress but the UCUNF’s recent effort seems to have fallen flat on it’s face .

    Would it be safe to surmise that given that Conservative Party direct involvement by proxy in the election in NI did nothing to increase the overall ‘unionist’ vote and may indeed have contributed to it’s diminuition would the same not be true of direct Labour Party particpation ?

    Crudely put how many Prod votes are there for British Labour in NI . We know there are at least 100,000 (SDLP) mainly RC votes ? Would the effect of such an insertion just divide up the overall Unionist vote even more and hand another two or three seats to SF anyway ?

  • Drumlin Rock

    umm, 40%?
    Apathy definately won out this time, mainly to do with “scandal” which reduced the DUP vote mainly, confusion, which hit the UCUNF vote, and reality, which hit the TUV vote.

  • smellybigoxteronye

    I think it just needs time. If the voting system is changed to AV then the UCUs would probably have got at least one seat. Such a voting change to AV would also help such transitions and prevent the “handing two or three seats to Sinn Fein” as you put it.

    I think if people see that a Conservative/Labour candidate has a decent chance of getting elected then they’ll vote for them – if they are seen as having no chance then people won’t – actually, in this respect the UCUs did rather well. If a conservative leaning unionists see that the DUP are just going to win the seat then why bother voting? Again, this is something that AV will help with over time.

    I think there are quite a few “prod” – labour votes in NI – some I know who voted DUP constantly are ranting on about Thatcher etc. I think one catalyst for this is if Lady Sylvia could think a bit more long-term and stand for Labour.

  • smellybigoxteronye

    Labour support in NI would probably be similar to that in Scotland – an area which many of the “prod” vote has quite an affinity to.

  • smellybigoxteronye

    … an additional point is that the DUP were gloating pre-election about how they could influence a hung parliament. Now that they have been snubbed will the UCU link-up not have more potential in the future?

  • Greenflag

    Labour’s vote in Scotland was 42% . Both the DUP and UCUNF together added up to 40.2% on a turnout of 57% for NI . GIven that SF and SDLP voters stay put then the British Labour Party could only hope to get votes from either the DUP or from voters who previously haven’t voted because of the non presence of a British labour alternative ?

    Assuming that such a presence i.e British Labour took part in NI Westminster elections then it could be assumed that the turnout rate in NI would increase from the present 57% to say 65% (the average UK in this election ) . That increased turnout would be an 8% increase on last weeks election and an extra 93,590 voters . That increase would be spread across both tribal divisions so using 60% for the prods that would be 56, 155 votes spread over 18 constituencies or 3120 per constituency . Without winning over huge numbers from the DUP the British Labour Party would find itself in not a dissimilar position from the Conservatives . They might like Reg Empey almost manage to win a seat if the other main parties are evenly divided . Any seats they could win would have to be in the east of the province where they would be ‘unseating ‘ DUP candidates in the main .

    In England there are three main parties contesting each seat . In NI there would be if we included British Labour there would be 6 (DUP/UCUNF/SF/SDLP/AP/British Labour . Faced with that number of choices the number of non voters now 43% might even increase as confused voters damn them all and visit the garden centre instead . And I would’nt blame them .

    Despite cultural and religious affinities Northern Ireland is NOT Scotland politically . Neither is it England as the UCUNFer’s have discovered and neither is it Wales .

    I don’t believe the votes are there for any British Labour Party presence in NI . 40,000 or 50,000 perhaps but not enough to change the game significantly or at all . If they tagged themselves onto the SDLP I suspect that they would help secure the SDLP vote or add a little to it _but the cost would be to drive the “prod ” labour vote back to the garden centre ?

    Thats how I see it anyway .

  • FSTCiaran

    Potentially five years. Could be five months.

  • FSTCiaran

    @smellybigoxteronye. Labour NI? Don’t you mean the stoops?

  • alan56

    A major thrust for unionist unity will have precisely the opposite effect. There is a market out there for liberal secular unionism which is not ‘ulster nationalist’ focussed. Why was turnout so relatively low in parts of FST which would be considered unionist. Could it be that many did not like the idea of the’pact’ and indeed knew relatively little of Rodney Connor. There are unionists who do not believe that the OO should be a back seat driver and who are concerned at the Elliot/McNarry moves. If the UUP move towards ‘protestant unionism’ then there will be many of their supporters who will not make that journey. It should be noted that 100,000 plus voted for the UCUNF (what a horrible name) brand and in fact Danny Kennedy standing as a Conservative and Unionist out-polled his DUP rival. Talk of ‘unionist unity’ although attractive to some, mainly DUP, is over simplistic

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    alan56,

    “There is a market out there for liberal secular unionism which is not ‘ulster nationalist’ focussed”

    And there is a party there ready and waiting for Unionists to vote for it – that would be the Alliance party – they are unionist, they are Liberal and the are secular.

  • alan56

    Sammy,

    You might be right but I think David Forde’s neutrality on the union and Niaomi’s refusal to declare as unionist will be a barrier. Definately an opportunity for Alliance if the UUP call it wrong. We already have the Liberal Conservatives so I suppose a ‘Liberal Conservative and Unionist Alliance’ would be in keeping with the times!!!

  • Reader

    It was Sammy: And there is a party there ready and waiting for Unionists to vote for it – that would be the Alliance party – they are unionist, they are Liberal and the are secular.
    During the troubles I voted fairly consistently for Alliance without regarding them as unionist. So are you just following the ‘if you aren’t with us you’re against us’ line?

  • Reader

    FSTCiaran: Labour NI? Don’t you mean the stoops?
    He probably means this lot
    http://www.labourpartyni.org/
    The SDLP are Nationalist and Hermon is a unionist.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    I understood the Alliance party position was support of the current link with Britain, are you suggesting that is not the case?

  • John East Belfast

    Sammy

    “And there is a party there ready and waiting for Unionists to vote for it – that would be the Alliance party – they are unionist, they are Liberal and the are secular”.

    The AP are not unionist – indeed they would regard that as an insult

  • Reader

    It was Sammy: I understood the Alliance party position was support of the current link with Britain, are you suggesting that is not the case?
    I haven’t seen any such claim from them. On the other hand, neither have I seen them waving ‘Brits out’ banners. So I am prepared to view them as institutionally neutral on the issue, though individual members (like Comrade Stalin, for instance) will have more specific positions. I really don’t have a problem with that.

  • PaddyReilly

    Greenflag

    I think if you look in Slugger you will find somewhere the latest figures on turnout which show that while once there was a higher turnout in the West of the province and lower in the East, that in the West has fallen and that in the East has risen, to the extent that they now are broadly similar. The Garden Centre Prod, if he ever existed, now appears to be a voter. Moreover, if we look at the figures for say, Strangford, in the General Election, we find a rather dismal showing for Alliance, SDLP and SF compared to the last Assembly election (due, probably, to the fact that none of these parties stood to profit in the GE), so it is probably the case that the absentees were disproportionately likelier to be Nationalist or Catholic.

    The 2001 Census calculated that 43.05% of the population of FST were Community Protestant, yet 45.5% of the vote in 2010 went to Rodney Connor. This would indicate not that swathes of Unionist were staying home, but rather that they threw everything they had into the campaign and still did not succeed.

    If a Unionist voter fails to turn out on such an occasion, the usual reason is that he is dead. After each Unionist loss there is usually a chorus of blame against the imagined Unionist voters who betrayed the cause through laziness, but the truth is that they just weren’t there.

  • WindsorRocker

    The irony is that designation could actually facilitate the introduction of “normal” politics.

    People could be free to vote for their right/left candidate safe in the knowledge that if a unionist/nationalist issue came up that the designations would kick in and only issues that got a cross community majority would pass. Socio-economic issues that didn’t have constitutional implications could be dealt with normally.

  • smellybigoxteronye

    That is indeed who I was referring to, but I think the arrangement can go further than that.

    SDLP , while having informal arrangements with Labour, are not the same as Labour and concentrate too much on being Irish nationalists – the SDLP’s initial labour roots put a lot less focus on the nationalist bit and maybe is something that can be restored. We need a labour party in NI with formal links to both British and Irish Labour with the SDLP merged in there too.

  • alan56

    GF,
    But your analysis does not explain tallys from Lisbellaw or indeed Ballinamallard. Many of those who did not vote were certainly not ‘community catholic’?

  • WindsorRocker

    Greenflag.

    The 2001 and 05 elections saw a big unionist turnout because the future direction of unionism was still up for grabs.

    The garden centre prods only come out for a border poll or when they feel that pro-agreement unionism is under threat and needs their votes to see off the hardliners.

    As the DUP are now pro-agreement and even at the last Euro election it was 2/3 of unionists in favour of StAA etc then people didn’t need to come out.

    Had Allister taken his Euro seat and got 40% of the unionist vote last year, more moderates would have come out and voted this time to beat him back.

    To get these type of garden centre votes, a unionist party not only has to be moderate but that moderation also has to actually serve a purpose. Currently with the UUP and the DUP both on board the powersharing train and with the support of over 2/3 of unionists, then no purpose is served in voting in the eyes of the garden centre prod.

  • smellybigoxteronye

    I didn’t mean for you to take the Scottish numbers literally, just that in NI we have a similar mindset to many real issues as those in Scotland do, so I don’t see how NI Labour support couldn’t be widespread.

    And no, I’m not envisioning here just ‘British Labour’ as you put it; I am thinking longer term. In the long term I would envision a Northern Ireland Labour party with formal links to both Britsh and Irish Labour, and would take the British Labour whip in Westminster. We would get the unionist support if someone like Hermon were to get involved with the current NI British labour startup. Nationalist support if it were to merge with the SDLP, and then cross-community support if it were to be marketed as cross-community party thereafter.

  • oneill

    “The 2001 Census calculated that 43.05% of the population of FST were Community Protestant, yet 45.5% of the vote in 2010 went to Rodney Connor”

    That 43.05 % is total population or only over 18s?

  • Cushy Glenn

    what- both of them?

    and does Seymour Minor agree with you?

  • Greenflag

    smellybigoxteronye.

    A lot of ‘ifs’ in your favoured outcome . As you say above the change to AV might enable such a move over time . Would it be worth it ? I can’t see either the DUP or SF or the SDLP giving up easily on Westminster ambitions even with SF’s abstentionism.
    How many seats could such an NI Labour combination hope to win ? Looking at the present 18 constituencies the present three SDLP plus North Down (if the Lady S took the Labour whip) but where else ? East Belfast and North Belfast ?

    They would at best imo be in a position to win 4 to 6 seats . Not insignificant in a very close result but hardly enough to make a difference other than once every 40 years ?

    If the DUP and SF and the other NI parties were to take a collective decision between themselves that for the purposes of Westminster elections they would ‘allow ‘ the three main parties to select candidates in NI who would take the party whip then presumably at candidate ‘conventions’ e.g for the Lib Dems -AP types (cross community) might predominate , and the same for UCUNF at a Tory convention and ditto for Labour . Under such a system it would be possible for a ‘Prod’ unionist Labour candidate to emerge and presumably there would be a better chance of a ‘Catholic ‘conservative also .

    On second thoughts my innate skepticism tells me that before the above would be possible the political world in NI would need to turn upside down . I won’t say never but the odds would be long -very long .

  • Greenflag

    paddy reilly,

    I looked at the turnout figures and I see if you exclude the 4 Belfast seats the turnout in the the green western and southern constituencies averaged 61% with turnout in the orange constituencies averaging 54 % . Perhaps the orange constituencies are still more confident of their local built in majorities whereas the green constituencies are now just getting used to ‘permanence’ FST for obvious reasons had the highest turnout at 69% with East Antrim the lowest at 50% .
    The 4 Belfast constituencies were very similar with EB 58% , SB 57% , WB 54% and NB 56%

    ‘ but the truth is that they just weren’t there.’

    You are not suggesting that the 31% of the FST electorate who chose not to vote were all of community catholic background are you ? At least a third of that electorate must have been ‘potential ‘ unionist voters ?

    The stay at home non voters in FST numbered 21,125 of whom at a minimum at least 7,000 would have had to be of a unionist community background . Just 5 of those turning out to vote would have changed the result . On the other hand the other 14,000 of catholic community background had they been more motivated could have trumped that 5 by another 10 or 20 . I think FST despite SDLP and UCUNF/DUP wishes is now permanent Green for the duration as much as East Belfast is orange .

    I believe the voters were there but for many reasons they either did’nt bother or gave up or were disenchanted with the obvious carve up or are not all that excited about Westminster representation anyway ?

  • PaddyReilly

    In the 2007 Assembly elections the total DUP + UUP + UKUP vote was 11,838 + 9,134 + 388 = 21,360.

    For the General Election Rodney Connor got 21,300 votes. That seems like getting out the entire vote to me, but then I don’t know Unionist tallymen. Where are the missing 60 votes?

    My theory is that they are dead, or terminally ill, or have moved out of the constituency. Possibly the missing 60 never existed in the first place and were the fruit of lax registration. Others posit an outbreak of Protestant Lundyism or a Fenian conspiracy which has reassigned 32 of them as SF votes. What went wrong in Lisbellaw and Ballinamallard? Perhaps a search party is needed.

    As for the Community Catholic/Protestant figures, these are of course from a religious census and only for use in comparisons, not predictions. Some of the Catholics might not be Irish, some of the Protestants might be married to Catholics, etc. One might get a more accurate picture by excluding the 0-18 year olds from the picure, but as these are figures from the 2001 census, it would only be 0-9 year olds. It wouldn’t make any difference as far as I can see, but then I obviously lack the thoroughness of a Unionist tallyman.

  • Greenflag

    paddy reilly ,

    Surely during the interim 2007 -2010 more than 60 ‘unionists were added to the register ? You don’t seem to be giving any consideration to the 21,000 voters who simply did’nt turn up among whom there must have been at least a few thousand ‘unionist ‘ votes and even more ‘nationalist ‘ votes ?

  • anti-which agreement now?

  • One wonders what magic wand would be weaved that any hypothetical non-partition based scenario would suddenly make sectarianism run off with the fairies.

    But only for a quick second, as fortunately such weighty questions are relegated to the comments sections of promo-articles 😉

  • Is this book you’re flogging a compendium of the last 6 months of Sunday Life ‘exclusives’?