General Election 2010 in Belfast

Trawling through the figures as you do it’s worth having a look at the combined votes of the 4 Belfast constituencies:
DUP 36,654 27%
SF 36,245 26%
SDLP 24,196 18%
All 20,358 15%
UCUNF 17,052 12%
TUV 1,856 1%
Green 1,036 1%
Ind 403 0%
Total 137,800

Unionist 40.3%, Nationalist 43.9%, Other 15.8%

A number of things are worth mentioning:
1) The Alliance advance was by no means confined to East Belfast: From 6% to 15% in Belfast South, 1% to 5% in Belfast North – Didn’t stand in West Belfast in 2005 so that’s 0 to 2%. It’s difficult to isolate with complete certainty but it looks like the advance in Belfast South came from the “Unionist” vote (Unionist vote fell 10% from 2005-10 whilst Nationalist vote fell 1%).
2) Turnout fell from 60.2% to 56.6% (not as big a fall as someother areas, although from a lower base to begin with.)
3) The Alliance performance and the Robinson fallout skews it’s historical significance but I reckon that’s the first General Election in World history in which more Belfast voters voted for Nationalist parties than for Unionist parties. Can anyone confirm?

, , ,

  • Drumlin Rock

    not sure if its world history….
    I’m guessing next year year will be the last election with 4 Belfast constituiencies, under the new proposals it will be very lucky to get 3! There may be some rational to keeping Lisburn, Carrick and Bangor out of Greater Belfast, but surely Newtownabbey, Hollywood, Carryduff etc are definately part of the city now?

  • Dewi, comparing different types of election here does produce some contextual variation (although obviously, the result is the result regardless of the tiresome whataboutery of who did or didn’t vote and whether they voted tactically, etcetcetc). Comparing numbers from different elections should always have a strong health warning attached due to some of the specific issues.
    I did a quick count in the 2007 Assembly election, the four Belfast constituencies returned 42.5% unionist, 44.8% nationalist, 12.7% others. The local government election in 2005 was pretty close as well 44.8% unionist, 44.1% nationalist and 11% other.
    In overall terms, since 2001 anyway (I haven’t gone back further), the higher the ‘other’ vote, the lower the unionist vote.

  • Johnny Boy

    Although different boundaries you might the council election to Belfast in 2005 quite interesting with reagrad to your “world history” remark:

    SF: 30,531 (30.6%),
    DUP: 25,722 (25.8%),
    SDLP: 17,058 (17.1%),
    UUP: 13,756 (13.8%),
    Alliance: 6,808 (6.8%),
    Green: 801 (0.8%)
    PUP: 2,713 (2.7%),
    WP: 698 (0.7%)
    Soc: 338 (0.3%)
    Cons: 243 (0.2%)
    Ind: 1007 (1%),

    As for constituencies: you heard it hear first but:

    Mid Ulster to disappear giving Coalisland back to FST where it belongs making it no longer marginal, cookstown to West Tyrone creating the old Mid Ulster, and Magherafelt going to East L’Derry creating the new FST in terms of closeness as McGuiness and Campbell go back to 1992 and duke it out once more for the new knife edge constituency. Foyle may take a few wards around artigarvan and donnemana depending on how quickly it continues to grow.

    In the east, East Antrim (and to a lesser extent S Antrim) still look way too small and so the newtownabbey wards of N. Belfast will be flung back to whence they came.

    This makes the pop. just under three seats worth so I forsee Hollywood being bolted onto a new East Belfasty seat and North Down done waya with altogether creating a new uber-Strangford and uberer Lagan Valley.

    Summary, Mid Ulster – gone
    North Down – gone
    One Belfast seat – gone

    more interestingly is this: with the new boundaries will come the AV system.

    Seeing as belfast lough is a pretty immovable bounday (awkward so and so), i can see a new North and WEstish (lower falls) seat being made – winner -Gerry Kelly/Adams

    And a new South west being set up : which will include most of S. Belfast (maybe excluding Hillfoot, Wynchurch, Ravenhill and Woodstock) and lower falls and Dunmurray wards of W. belfast. – winner -Sinn Fein to be leading SDLP at first count but maybe overtaken after considerable Alliance and tactical unionist transfering.

    And an East Belfast with the remainder plus hollywood. –
    Winner – want to say DUP but can’t really after this year.

    Also of note: FST – winner Sinn Fein for as long as they want it.

    East L’Derry – winner probably Campbell to shade it with a margin tighter than a Max Mosley costume party.

    Thoughts?

  • Dewi

    Yeah John – that’s why I just referred to General Elections. However even there boundary chances and hmmm “realative demographic turnout” have an effect….fascinating stuff and why pretty important is will a three seat Belfast be 2:1 or 1:2…?

  • Johnny Boy

    I really need to proof read stuff when I’m typing this fast.

  • Dewi

    Yeah on Council results – I deliberately referred to General elections…your 15 seats (if we assume a return to “normal” in Belfast East) would give Unionist 8, Nationalist 7? Have I counted right?

  • militant mike

    It’s Holywood not Hollywood

  • Johnny Boy

    Haha, I wrote ‘Holywood’ and saw Rory McIlroy reported in the media recently as the ‘Hollywood man’ and thought I was wrong.

    Thank God you’re here Captain Spellcheck!

  • It will very much depend on what defines the new constituencies.

    For the optics, it may be more likely that four Belfast seats will be kept, in name, with a chunk of South and East Antrim (particularly the north shore of Belfast Lough) going into North Belfast and two seats being carved from North Antrim and the much reduced East and South Antrim constituencies. The New Lodge, Ardoyne etc may then be moved into the West Belfast constituency. The other alternative may be that there will be just North/West and East/South Belfast (i.e. divided by the Lagan). The redistribution would mean portions going to the adjoining constituencies (i.e. ramping up East and South Antrim etc).

  • Johnny Boy

    yeah that’s right which is why I’m quite fascinated by East L’derry.

    Not too mention, if it keeps hold of Claudy and Banagher wards (again depends on the size of Foyle in a few years) it could become an absolute coin toss.

  • Drumlin Rock

    depends on the lines and if it is FPTP or AV system in place.
    The strong Alliance vote in East Belfast has always been interesting, and is nothing new, next year shall tell how much of it was personalities that made the difference this time.

  • Johnny Boy

    Hmm interesting one. Crossed my mind about the North-West/ South-east axis but thought that there’s enough kerfuffle being created by the thought of one going that two would be unacceptable to the Belfast political elite. (Heard both big Al and Deputy Dodds moaning at the prospect of even one going.)

  • Dewi

    “Not too mention, if it keeps hold of Claudy and Banagher wards (again depends on the size of Foyle in a few years) it could become an absolute coin toss.”

    Except, strangely enough, East (L)Derry is the only constituency in NI where the % of people of a Protestant background is increasing…movement from Derry City?

  • I know – but I thought I’d check out the others, too. Due to fptp, Westminister elections trend towards low turn out for smaller parties in a constituency, higher turnouts in close battles and lower turnouts for safe seats, so they typically don’t fit the contours of the local government and assembly elections.
    A lot will hang on the particular form of AV applied (i.e. single seaters or a multi-seater). If it is the latter, a quota would be 25%+1, on the basis of the 2010 results and transfers, there would probably be 1 DUP, 1 SF and 1 Alliance since the UUP (or whatever their business name is in the election) will be probably be eliminated before the Alliance and their vote tends to heavily transfer first to DUP or other unionists, then Alliance, who would be close enough to the SDLP to pass them out. If it is the former (AV in a single seater), it will all come down to boundaries, but it would be unlikely that the re-drawing of the boudaries wouldn’t mean that there would be one SF seat between North and West Belfast, beyond that, its hard to call.

  • Drumlin Rock

    Johnny, are the new super councils dead and buried? or merely on hold? if just on hold it would make sense to closer reflect their boundaries, ie. the new Mid Ulster equally split in 3? did a quick workout once of what the new splits would be, must hoke it out tomorrow, presume you going for 16 seats evenly split?

  • Are we taking 15 as read in terms of Westminister seats (and is there any steer on what form of election will take place)?

  • I forgot to add that it did occur to me that Tories might have the last laugh over the Lib Dems by introducing a ‘national’ top-up system for parties – you could shave off a chunk of the seats from NI, Scotland and Wales and re-allocate them on the basis of UK-wide percentages. There may only be as little as 12 NI seats in play.

  • Dewi

    If anything is certain in this life (and nothing is of course) then the AV referendum will fail.

    1) It’s the disputed policy of the party that got beat.
    2) THe Prime Minister and Tory party opposed.
    3) The Lib dems not enthusiastic.
    4) It’s a daft system. (Greens got 1 seat out of 150 in Australia with 11.55% of the vote – hardly proportional that…)

  • Dewi

    http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons/lib/research/briefings/snpc-05570.pdf

    House of Commons briefing note – but no absolute numbers.

  • Johnny Boy

    Hmm really? I didn’t know this. Do you have a source?

    Because, if you’ve done some East L’Derry sums off ARK NI elections website, then yeah it fluctuates a lot but I think its simply unique in that it has the West of the Bann “keep ’em out” mentality, but is the only one in the west to have a unionist majority and a higher turnout than say Strangford or East Antrim.

    Plus you have a hardline DUPer, a former UUP TUV hardliner and the lovely witty Lesley MacCauley who satisfies the yummy mummy Prods in Portrush and Coleraine.

    not to mention a former RUC Alliance candidate.

    Whether you’re a mega or moderate unionist, East L’Derry has it all!

    if UUp ever need an arguement against Unionist unity its here and not FST

  • See below (from the report):

    There would be very limited separate arrangements in Northern Ireland, the smallest part of the UK, to allow more variation around the quota…but there are no plans to decouple its Assembly seats which would presumably be reduced in number to around 90, as they are also based on Westminster constituencies.

    650 to 600 means 16 or 17 seats in NI, with maybe the quote above suggesting the latter (which may mean one Belfast seat). I still think the Tories could well see scope for more fun and introduce a proportional top-up system as part of AV (which would suit the LibDems as well) since a yes vote would mean complete changes to boundaries anyway. Given that a majority in England could swing an AV referendum, that might make it more acceptable but I’ve not seen anyone float that kind of idea yet.

  • Dewi

    Census:

    Age Of Cath Trad Of Prod Trad
    10 to 14 41% 54%
    15 to 19 46% 51%
    20 to 24 47% 50%
    25 to 29 42% 55%

    Not a clear pattern.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    “Dewi” I think youd need to factor in that in South Belfast as a circumstance as “special as East Belfast in its own way.
    SF-IRA did not stand. Fair bet that most of their 13% went as requested to fellow nationalist. The AP increase to 15% was in part due to not lending votes to SDLP as McDonnell had a reasonable chance with SF not running.
    APs 7% in South Belfast in 2005 was a bad performance. And the 2010 performance only brought them back to the same level as their 2007 assembly performance (15%-13%..being an increase of 2%). A better comparison.

    With special circumstances applying in South AND East Belfast both of which benefitted AP, I dont think we can make especial conclusions about Belfast as a whole.
    I would not draw the conclusion that Belfast is any different from what it has been for years.
    A Nationalist (rising) and Unionist population (declining) but much in balance..with a significant and perhaps rising group of “agnostics” on the Border issue.

  • Johnny Boy

    On hold.

    Its too politically unpalatable for the DUP to spend the money they’ve spent and invest the time they’ve invested to wind up with nout to show for it. I reckon it won’t even extend again. Supercouncils in 2015. Westminster elections on new boundaries in 2015. New assembly in 2015.

    Sure we can’t have a border poll, EU expansion referendum and Lisbon treaty 2 while we’re at it?

  • Anyone SEEN the new East Belfast MP since she got elected ????

    NOOOOOO

  • Drumlin Rock

    johnny, if it was a case of 2 unionist and 1 nationalist, or one of each for Belfast, I would be tempted to go with the latter just to spite them, but don’t dare quote me on this if it happens!

  • PaddyReilly

    Can’t do that- dependent on Lib Dems for majority.

  • aquifer

    ‘Didn’t stand in West Belfast in 2005 so that’s 0 to 2%.’

    Or more given the right candidates. The Glendinnings worked hard and held council seats there for years.

    How much is nationalism past its sell-by date? The whiff of cordite is not hiding the stale smell of sectarian gangsterism, whether blowing civilians to bits or blowing public finances to bejesus.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    As a matter of interest, on current Belfast Westmister boundaries, the 4 Belfast constituencies are overall 50.4 per cent Protestant and 45.5 per cent Catholic (East 85% Prod, North 52%, South 52%, West 16%). Seems Prods in (this definition of) Belfast are not bothering to vote as much as Catholics. But can we blame them? I see a gap for a new party to inspire my bored and switched-off co-religionists …
    Although, if you count Alliance as small u unionist, the 2010 unionist vote was actually 55 per cent in Belfast overall! So maybe that gap just closed … bah!

  • drumlins rock

    MU, your forgetting about the “others” which is mainly the Alliance party, and who tend to gain more votes from prods than catholics, ie compare East to West Belfast!

  • PaddyReilly

    No, those are the 2001 figures and areas, particularly urban ones, change.

  • Dewi

    Yep – I reckon at least 70% of the Alliance vote came from people from a “Unionist” backgrouund. As nationalist plurality less than 5000 votes – ceteris paribus a small Unionist plurality…

  • Paddy Matthews

    Mid Ulster to disappear giving Coalisland back to FST where it belongs making it no longer marginal, cookstown to West Tyrone creating the old Mid Ulster, and Magherafelt going to East L’Derry creating the new FST in terms of closeness as McGuiness and Campbell go back to 1992 and duke it out once more for the new knife edge constituency. Foyle may take a few wards around artigarvan and donnemana depending on how quickly it continues to grow.

    Foyle will probably need to take back Claudy and Banagher, and possibly a couple of wards from the west of Limavady.

    East Derry/Londonderry(delete according to taste) may need to lose a few voters around Portrush to stay within the quota. They could be added to North Antrim – perhaps along with the Glens wards it lost to East Antrim last time – and still be within quota.

    In the east, East Antrim (and to a lesser extent S Antrim) still look way too small and so the newtownabbey wards of N. Belfast will be flung back to whence they came.

    If you add Ballyclare and the “University” wards currently in S Antrim to East Antrim you reach quota for that seat.

    Adding the Burnthill ward and the Shankill wards currently in West Belfast takes care of North Belfast.

    This makes the pop. just under three seats worth so I forsee Hollywood being bolted onto a new East Belfasty seat and North Down done waya with altogether creating a new uber-Strangford and uberer Lagan Valley.

    You can add a ward or two onto Newry/Armagh and Upper Bann from their eastern neighbours if you really need to bring them very close to the quota.

    Adding the northern part of Down district to South Down brings it to full quota.

    North Down as is can have the Ards peninsula and the eastern edge of N’ards (but not the town itself) added to reach quota.

    South Belfast on the Antrim side of the Lagan (or nearly all of it) can be added to West Belfast, with the city part east of the Lagan and a couple of nearby Castlereagh wards making up East Belfast.

    That leaves you with:

    Antrim district,
    Mallusk from Newtownabbey,
    all of Lisburn except the west Belfast fringe,
    Dromore from Banbridge,
    Carryduff and Newtownbreda from Castlereagh, and
    N’ards town, Comber and points south from Strangford.

    This will make up two seats if you split it roughly along the Antrim-Down border (South Antrim/Lisburn and Mid Down for want of better names).

    Politically:

    west of the Bann would be as you describe it,
    North Belfast would be safer for the DUP (at least for a while),
    West Belfast would still be SF but less monolithically so,
    East Belfast might elect Alliance if they were able to squeeze the SDLP vote,
    North Down would still probably elect Lady Sylvia if she stood but would probably be DUP otherwise,
    and wee Jeffrey would be placed on the horns of a dilemma – fight Boxcar Willie for South Antrim or Jim Shannon for Mid Down.

    If Boxcar Willie was to stand in South Antrim, it might, just might, give the UUP a shot at a Westminster seat.

    On 2010 figures: DUP 6 (-1), SF 4 (-1), SDLP 2 (-1), Alliance 1, Lady Sylvia 1, and E Derry too close to call between DUP and SF.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Yes, those are the census figures. Do we have anything better to go on though?

  • PaddyReilly

    Yes. Election figures.