General Election 2010 – the SDLP

The SDLP were defending a marginal in South Belfast and had a new leader attempting to follow a popular MP in South Down. Those seemed potential nightmare ingredients. However the election was a real triumph for Ritchie. Looking at their strongest seats you have:

South Down – 48% (that’s a significant personal triumph – I didn’t think a landslide was on the cards)
Foyle – 45% (If you haven’t seen it look at Durkan on Saville– just the right speech I thought.)
South Belfast – 41% (Higher than the combined Unionist vote)
2 absolute bastions and South Belfast looks safe in the medium term.
Next year (partly due to prior incompetence) it’s the SDLP who look like increasing the number of nationalist MLAs. There’s a few chances:
1) West Tyrone – a no brainer and could be at the DUPs expense.
2) Strangford – always close the GE was supposed to show a nationalist increase due to boundary changes. However both SDLP and SF share fell – lending votes to Nesbitt?
3) East Antrim – in the GE SF outpolled the SDLP by 45 votes. There does look like a possible last seat but the SDLP would need to beat SF on first preferences….
4) South Down – Could the SDLP get a third seat at the expense of SF?…Nic Whyte extrapolates a 5th nationalist seat here Perhaps not quite as the “cross community” GE support for Ritchie drifts away.

Anywhere else?

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  • slug

    Its amazing that a Welsh person should find this interesting.

  • Dewi

    ….and sad. My other hobby is trainspotting.

  • Dewi

    ….and btw:
    http://vtr.aec.gov.au/HouseSeatsWon-15508-NAT.htm
    They have almost finished counting in Australia.

  • Thanks for this series of posts, Dewi, and sorry not to have responded earlier.

    Just to defend my extrapolation of a fifth nationalist seat in South Down – this is of course based purely and entirely on the Westminster election results, and I entirely accept that Assembly votes will be different.

    Having said that, the chance of a Nationalist gain from Unionists here must be rated as credible. In the last Assembly election, McAllister (UUP) took the last seat by 3838 votes ahead of the third SDLP candidate with 507 Nationalist votes undistributed, thus a ‘real’ margin of approximately 3331; all else being equal, 1666 votes would have to shift to make a difference. By my calculation, 2703 Unionist and 1076 Nationalist voters from 2007 move out of the constituency on the new boundaries, a net gain for Nationalists of 1627. Tight but plausible!

  • dodrade

    Comparing the 2005 and 2010 results Ritchie was clearly helped by a very large unionist tactical vote, over 5,000. I suspect in the assembly election, like in 2007, Sinn Fein will run the SDLP much closer.

    Whilst I expect the SDLP will regain a seat in West Tyrone, it will almost certainly be at Deeney’s expense. However it does look likely that Ross Hussey could take one of the DUP’s seats.

  • Dewi

    Wonderful site Nicholas – I note you comment on the strange Strangford nationalist fall in the GE – very odd.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Dewi
    You’re omitting a couple of other factors which might suggest the election results won’t be quite so favourable for Ritchie’s party.

    Both North Antrim and South Antrim look like seats lost at this stage, though Burns in South Antrim could scrape through.

    The only guaranteed gain is West Tyrone at Deeney’s expense.

    Both Strangford and East Antrim have the numbers to elect a nationalist MLA but neither party is in a healthy enough state locally to challenge for one and won’t be by next year.

    In fact, with Sinn Fein losing the Lagan Valley seat due to boundary changes, I’d suggest nationalist numbers will be at a loss, with the Deeney gain offset by Nth Antrim for the SDLP and perhaps Sth Antrim.

    Sinn Fein’s solitary credible target seat, Upper Bann, was lost to them with the exiting of Dessie Ward from the party.

  • dodrade

    Correction, I failed to note the boundary changes which took some unionist voters out of South Down. So over 5,000 is probably a bit too high, but nevertheless there was still a large amount of unionist tactical voting for the SDLP which I would not expect to be repeated in an assembly STV election.

  • Dewi

    Not quite ready to write off last seat in North Antrim although obviously very tight….I’ll get round to SF but the electoral arithmetic is not favourable agreed.

  • PaddyReilly

    Some professions, farmer, for example, are wedded to the soil, but others, like musician, result in the practitioner changing location on a nightly basis.

    NI Unionism is founded on drawing imaginary lines on the map and declaring that no-one on the other side has any interest in what is going on. However, Wales is surely in the UK, is it not?

    PS Dewi- A oes unrhyw cysylltiad rhyngot ti a teulu’r dynion hysbys enwog o Gwrt y Cadno? http://www.flint.umich.edu/~ellisjs/Allen.PDF

  • slug

    Dewi is to be admired – don’t get me wrong.

  • PaddyReilly

    If you do the mathematics (look at the counts) you will see that neither the North Antrim nor the South Antrim seat are really at risk. A SDLP gain in Strangford is predicated on gaining an extra 31 votes, and the boundary commissioners have kindly supplied these by moving the boundaries Southwards. No party organisation is needed.

    Equally East Antrim now has sufficient Nationalist votes to elect a SDLP member: the only problem now is that quite a few of the new arrivals are SF voters, and if the SDLP candidate is eliminated before SF half his transfers will go to Alliance, leading to neither Nationalist candidate being elected.

    Similarly, there are still almost enough Nationalist voters in Lagan Valley to elect a SDLP candidate, but not a SF one.

    It is very bad practise to predict the performance of a small party (i.e. Alliance, SDLP, TUV) at Stormont from their Westminster results, since it is easier to to get supporters to turn out to vote for a a candidate with a chance of winning something than for a candidate who is bound to lose.

    You are, I fear, falling into a fallacy normally confined to Unionist voters, which is to think that tomorrow’s election is going to be fought by yesterday’s electorate. Five years is sufficient to make small but significant inroads into the Unionist electorate (now below 50%), and these should be reflected in the final distribution of seats.

  • Ulick

    “Sinn Fein’s solitary credible target seat, Upper Bann, was lost to them with the exiting of Dessie Ward from the party.”

    Don’t know about that Chris, the numbers are still there even if Dessie isn’t. SF may also be assisted by the fact that the SDLP are practically non-existent in Upper Bann these days and they don’t have a creditable running mate for Dolores Kelly, even if she decides to stand again (doubtful). From what I hear Big John smells blood by the way in which the unionists were panicked at the last Westminster election. I’ll put my neck out now and say SF will take a second seat, whether the SDLP manage to hold onto theirs is another matter.

    I’d guess SF would also be targeting gains in Foyle, East Antrim and F&ST, with South Down & Mid Ulster not completely beyond the realms of possibility. Though of course if the unionists come up with some sort of ‘technical unity party’ for the election then all of these seats and more (N Belfast) would come into play for SF.

  • Ploitico68

    Hello all, this is my first post and i look forward to some interesting debate.

    The assembly election should see nationalists gains in Strangford and east Antrim, i am not convinced we will lose a seat in South Antrim due to the increasing nationalist demographic but i do think that STLP voters need to get their act together regarding transfers.

  • Ploitico68

    i mean SDLP of course 😉

  • Politico68

    yep

  • SDLP

    Pace Paddy Reilly “no party organisation is needed”. As an SDLP activist who has made a bit of a speciality in helping run campaigns in marginal seats, I can definitely say you can’t win seats without some sort of a pre-existing organisation on the ground. East Antrim, Strangford, West Tyrone, even Lagan Valley, are all winnable seats but SDLP has to bite the bullet and ensure that the organisation is in place, and that means telling some people their time is up.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    The real story for SDLP on Slugger O’Toole was that the hysteria of Sinn Féin cheerleaders that the “Stoops” (a ridiculous and offensive term) were in meltdown was a load of nonsense but it wont stop the same cheerleaders doing the same in the run up to the Assembly.
    Ritchies landslide surprised me and yes there were a lot of loaned votes partiuarly from the UUP voters….and these will go back at Assembly time….and probably also a next Westminster because SDLP might well be far enough ahead of SF for unionists not to feel threatened by the prospect of a SF MP. And there are also some stay away unionist voters in South Down. Apart from needing to keep SF out, theres no real urgency for a unionist to get to the polls.
    South Belfast was by any measure a resounding success for SDLP. Helped by SF……not so much in actual votes ..but in terms of setting an agenda that the seat couldnt reasonably be taken by unionists. A nd with Spratt the front runner, it was never likely that the unionist university types would vote for him.
    Derry…Durkans personal support…..and quite a measure of unionist tactical voting would not be same in a PR vote. But while the 6th seat is likely to be more marginal between SF-SDLP, SDLP will hold on.
    West Tyrone..on the figures a clear gain for SDLP…but that invites speculation that another Deeney….maybe even himself…..will stand. Certainly the SDLP shot itself in foot last time with candidate selection and an Omagh-Strabane animosity.
    SF will prolly look at FST and the near derisory vote there for SDLP but those votes will return to SDLP in Assembly terms.
    East Derry, Mid Ulster, Newry-Armagh, Upper Bann, North Belfast and West Belfast all look safe “holds” and the only question surrounds the Antrim/Strangford seats.

    The boundary changes are supposed to marginally weaken nationalism/republicanism in North and South Antrim and marginally strengthen it in East Antrim and Strangford.
    Its tempting to think in terms of a straight trade off.
    The 2010 figures are not helpful as Nationalist/Republican strength is probably understated as there was no real incentive to vote in Westminster.
    A comparison between census and vote is probably more helpful.
    North Antrim …the combined nationalist/republican percentage of 21% (2010) would not be enough to hold two seats even with the transfer of most of APs derisory 3%……but the key factor is that Id estimate 28% of the population in North Antrim is “Catholic”…that should be enough.
    East Antrim….SDLP are actually behind SF with a combined vote of 13.5%. ..slightly short of Catholic demographic but AP got 11% which is a worrying development for them (the boundary change has brought in enough Catholic votes to at least encourage nationalist aspirations in long term) and for the first time its a challenge to the AP hold on Catholic votes thru transfers. SDLP would need to sneak ahead of SF here as transfers would get them ahead of AP. Close….but maybe not in 2011.
    South Antrim….only 31% of the 2010 vote went to SF (14%) SDLP (9%) and AP (8%)…..and as each of them holds a seat……its unlikely 31% can turn into three quotas…so a loss for one of them. With Fords ministerial profile (he was not a candidate in 2010) the lost 5% will return to him (probably loaned to Empey to some degree). Id be amazed if Catholics loaned a vote to Empey to beat McCrea..so there was more likely nationalist stay away voters as the Catholic demographic is not far short of a third. Whatever way its looked at……it looks like four parties will be competing for last three seats.
    Strangford….about 14% Catholic demographic and an AP tradition here hovering up SDLP transfers makes this a long shot for SDLP..the APs 10% in 2007 was enough to eventually win a seat when SDLP took 9%……..Ap possibly lost some votes to Nesbitt which will come back but there is a SDLP chance here.
    Overall…with West Tyrone probably safe……North, East, South Antrim and Strangford are all marginal for SDLP. At best they could gain three new seats which would be lucky. At worst they could lose two that they hold and that would be unlucky. The difference between SDLP having a good Assembly election and a bad one is small.
    There are by the way three ways of doing this……a simple look at 2010 percentages is one way but flawed….looking at the percentages AND demographic AND tactics is better ……and the third way ….simple cheerleading is the worst.

  • A gain in Foyle strikes me as wishful thining. SF’s vote seems stuck at 2.2 quotas in the Maiden City and its environs, and there’s no real reason to think it will improve drastically next year.

  • slug

    People were incredibly dismissive of Ritchie’s performance and strategy. But the SDLP played a very clear strategy and she stuck to her core message.

  • Perhaps, but there is always the SDLP propensity to f**k things up, particularly over who will replace Durkan now that he has shuffled off to his British retirement home – let’s face it Mark H is never going to set the Walls ablaze. If Durkan takes some of his personal vote with him and SF up their game it’s all possible.

  • Charminator

    fitzjameshorse1745 sums it up, I think, with his assessment that:
    “The difference between SDLP having a good Assembly election and a bad one is small.”

    Each election, these days, for the SDLP is a knife-edge call. They’ve dropped so far from their heydey a decade or so ago, that if stabilisation and modest recovery cannot even be achieved, then the game is up.

    I would be very sceptical regarding the West Tyrone analysis, particularly the “Deeny factor”. He didn’t run this year at Wminster but he’s a charismatic and popular local politician. With threatened budgetary cuts, especially in healthy, he could well thrive in the coming election. Similarly in FST there’s a huge question mark over Gerry McHugh. If he runs, which I suspect is more likely than not, he could prove a halfway house between SDLP and SF votes, ie Gallagher may not see all of the ‘lost’ votes, due to the McKinney stunt, actually return to him.

    More generally, in all of this analysis, I think we’ve got to keep in perspective where the SDLP are right now. They’ve got one Minister, lost their MEP and another 3 Executive Ministers, and seen their Assembly representation slashed by a third in two outings. Internally, people like O’Loan are waffling about a single Nationalist party and there’ve been rumours even McGlone’s been in talks with FF. Meanwhile, you’ve got the Labour Party charm offensive on Margaret Ritchie, via Conall McDevitt, in full swing too. Unless there’s a Lazarus-like recovery, then expect some soul-searching questions for the party about whether it can ever aspire to sit at the top table again, representing Northern Nationalism.

    What many commentators have also ignored here is the presence of a number of big-hitters in the SDLP in terms of votes who could well soon be put out to graze. PJ Bradley in S Down is a huge vote winner. His possible replacement by Eamonn O’Neill will do precious little to retain the SDLP’s second seat, never mind capture a third. (Not to say SF have much wonder personalities in that constitutency either though). Up in Foyle Mary Bradley’s been a stalwart: is she running again? If not, there’ll be issues there. There’s a significant personal vote actually in quite a few constituencies, favourable towards the SDLP. If that vote doesn’t stay – and let’s face it, the SDLP’s talent at cultivating new candidates has been poor in recent years (eg N&A after Mallon’s departure…) – then I think we might see another dip in their seats.

    Also, Upper Bann: as an aside, is Dessie Ward going to run anyway? If he runs independent, he might just squeeze in, but either way, it’ll definitely cost SF a second seat there.

    All politics is local guys – and personalities dominate local politics! We forget this at our peril.

  • Dewi

    Nice! dim cysylltiad mae’n ddrwg gen i…

  • slug

    Surely Margaret Ritchie is a good example of the SDLP replacing itself?

  • billy

    Remember, very few Shinners will give the SDLP their 2nd preference vote in the Assembly election – especially not after the petty and snide introduction of McKinney into FST.

    traditionally, SDLP voters have been stingy in giving their 2nd preference votes to SF candidates in PR elections – thus exposing the shallowness of their nationalist credentials and their class snobbishness as well.

    Nevertheless, SF voters up to now have persisted in helping the SDLP in PR elections. Not any more methinks.

    McDonnell’s behaviour after the South Belfast vote and the disaster of McKinney’s attempt to help Arlene and her mates will
    put an end to Republican generosity.

    I certainly will not be helping any Stoop come the Assembly election.

  • slug

    Inside the mind of a SF supporter – interesting and thanks for your contribution.

  • fin

    “The real story for SDLP on Slugger O’Toole was that the hysteria of Sinn Féin cheerleaders that the “Stoops” (a ridiculous and offensive term)”

    It possibly is FitzJamesHorse but so is the term “Sinn Fein – IRA”

  • Charminator

    Replacing itself with what? It’s not just rebranding that’s need, it’s a wholescale review of the party’s direction and aims for the next decade. With cosy PR relationships with the likes of the Stakeholder Group, I’d have thought the SDLP, particularly, would be well-placed to avail of such expertise though.

  • redhugh78

    On W.Tyrone,
    judging on the result there is a quota there for the SDLP but you can bet SF will go all out to try and win that extra seat, it is not an immpossibility although an outside chance and one that would become even more likely if Deeney or as I’m hearing former sdlp man Paddy Mc Gowan decides to run.

  • Charminator

    redhugh78 – I assume you’re referring to the recent Wminster result. But, as I emphasised, Deeny didn’t run this time. That’s the really crucial point. If he had (like the Wminster election before this), the SDLP vote would look a lot different.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    There is a difference between party members,activists, the passionate committed voter……and the voter……in this case the nationalist/ republican voters.
    SDLP see Sinn Féin (and AP) as a rival…….looking for the same vote. And Im quite sure some SDLP might regard SF as the “enemy”.
    Likewise SF see the SDLP as a rival…..looking for the same votes. And Im quite sure many SF see SDLP as the enemy.

    The difference between an enemy and rival is at the heart of “Norn Iron” politics and most voters are ahead of the Partys.
    The SDLP and SF are not enemies.
    Regardless of how they see each other, thats not how Nationalist/Republican voter see them.
    Of course to suggest to a SDLP member or committed voter that the SF-IRA played at least a part in the place nationalist/republicans are today……is to induce a heart attack.
    Likewise to suggest to a SF activist or committed voter that SDLP political wisdom played a part in where nationalism/republicanism is today and they go boogaloo.
    Which is slightly bizarre because the most iconic republican mural quotes SF-IRAs most iconic figure as saying everyone “republican and otherwise” has a part to play.

    On the substance of voter transfer well of course the evidence is there over 18 constituencies over 37 years (or 1981 specifically).And its a mixed bag.
    But as FST has been specifically mentioned….
    7,000 plus voted SDLP in 2005
    6,500 in 2007 (lower turnout)
    3,500 in 2010.
    so around half of SDLP voters responded to SFs call to rally to them.
    Will SDLPs decision to stand have impact on SDLPs vote that you assert. Well lets look on the evidence.
    On the very same day that SF was in danger of losing FST thru SDLPs intervention……..in the neighbouring constituencies how did those SDLP voters respond….well in West Tyrone 5% MORE voted SDLP than had done so in 2005. In Mid Ulster 2% less.
    Where exactly did voters desert SDLP?
    If they couldnt even be concerned about FST on the same day……they wont be holding grudges in 2011.
    Your decision not to help the Stoops as you describe them is of course youre own choice but your terminology suggests that you are a pretty committed SF voter…or member.

  • PaddyReilly

    Fortunately this attitude, which is formed by confusing politics with human relations, is not prevalent among SF voters.

    SF can achieve nothing, except the acquisition of a couple of ministries, if the majority of seats in Stormont are held by people whose prime objective is to thwart them in every way. If it achieves nothing, then eventually people will stop voting for it.

    Therefore, SF’s strategy must be to facilitate the loss by the Unionist obstructionists of sufficient seats to take away their virtual monopoly of decision-making. Fortunately the number of seats required to do so is tiny: just two. It is not necessary for SF to take these seats; if they are taken by the SDLP or Alliance it will have the same effect: to turn Unionism into a minority faction for the first time in the history of the state.

    In the General Election SF worked towards this objective by unilaterally abstaining in South Belfast, despite the considerable provocation sustained in F&ST. In the Assembly election, a Sinn Féin abstention in Lagan Valley, East Antrim and Strangford would also be very helpful.

    As for voting preferences, a canny SF voter votes 1 SF, 2 SDLP, 3 Green and 4 Alliance. Otherwise, you are potentially wasting your vote. There may be some reason for preferring one Unionist party to another, but I cannot think what it is.

  • Chris Donnelly

    As an SDLP activist who has made a bit of a speciality in helping run campaigns in marginal seats,

    SDLP
    Sorry but that one bowled me over…..

    Ulick
    Sinn Fein won’t make the gain in Up Bann precisely because Ward is gone and he alone worked at trying to develop the party in the Banbridge council end of the constituency.

    Without him Sinn Fein will run two Lurgan republicans, losing the key votes required to win the seat.

  • Scath Sheamais

    Comparing the 2005 and 2010 results, the SDLP’s vote was actually slightly down this year (around 900 votes). There was a lower turnout overall, and that could easily explain where the unionist votes went.

  • Drumlin Rock

    Paddy I dont know where this idea is coming from, the DUP has a monopoly on decision making because they hold a majority of unionist seats, and SF also hold one having a majority of nationalist ones. And for voter preference, I tend go right down the full list, usually excluding the last one.

  • Drumlin Rock

    Chris, I always thought you were a shinner lol

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Yes there are some internal divisions and Im not entirely happy with what Ive termed “New SDLP”. McDevitt from the PR world is not an encouraging sign…..he is of course unelected and there does not seem to be any function in the Long Gallery with a TV camera nearby that he does not seem to attend.
    And the professional politician that for example Claire Hanna and McKinney will become ..the new professionalism of SDLP politics is in contrast to its slightly shambolic but good hearted (mostly!) past.
    Yet in the past few weeks it has been old stagers like Dallat and McGlone who have proved their worth.
    Yes Mary Bradley, PJ Bradley and others are nearing retirement. The prospect of Joe Byrne or worse McMenamin in West Tyrone……theres a very personable young doctor (Deehan???) in Omagh who would be a better bet.
    Theyve blooded “new” people in East Derry, Mid Ulster and South Antrim….probably a good sign …and Im kinda impressed with Dominic Bradley.
    But Eamonn O’Neill? A lot depends on whether Ritchie herself stands. It might look just too greedy. Isnt Marietta Farrell still active?
    And yes..rather like a football team who has played a couple of seasons too long together, the SDLP paid a heavy price for not promoting the Youth team sooner……but Haughey in Newry-Armagh and Farrell in Lagan Valley blew it themselves.
    Dessie Ward?
    He might bring some voters (Id call them Republican Unity types rather than dissident types) out….who would otherwise sit at home….and most of these votes would filter back to SF…..there wouldnt be enough to have Ward elected.
    A second SF seat? Not on the 2010 vote.
    But if I was a SF strategist Id work on their Portadown vote.
    Not of course because of support for any local lunacy but they lost too many feet on the ground.

  • Drumlin Rock

    do you think Cllr. McGoldrick will run in upper Bann for the SDLP?

  • slug

    Replacing in this case McGraddy with Ritchie.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I agree on Upper Bann…as you will note from my similar comment above.
    The O’Hagan-O’Dowd ticket did not work well, partly because Dara was too generous about dividing up the area.
    And Lurch himself was surprised he got the one seat.
    I wonder is O’Hagan still available. Her family name resonates in parts of North Armagh.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Oh fin…….I think Im the only person on Slugger who still uses the term “SF-IRA” on a fairly reglarly basis.

    Clearly “Stoop” “Stoop Down Low Party” is nothing other than a childish insult….and based on interpretation and subjectivity.
    But I think “Sinn Féin-IRA” is a more objective term.

    I do it ……first of all to highlight unionist hypocrisy that in the 1980s and 1990s this term tripped off the UUP and DUP tongues so easily.
    Then it was just the DUP.
    Its a commentary NOT on the unchanging nature of SF but on the changing nature of unionism……its hypocrisy.that it has deserted its own buzz words.
    And while they would sake to make the point that the IRA is not in government….thru their insistence on decommissioning or whatever……I like to make the point that the IRA is very much in government.

    After all thats how the system is designed to work. It would work if the IRA was outside the system.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    oops bad editing……should read “the system would NOT work if the IRA was outside it”

  • PaddyReilly

    Paddy I dont know where this idea is coming from, the DUP has a monopoly on decision making because they hold a majority of unionist seats, and SF also hold one having a majority of nationalist ones

    Eh? I think you are confusing the word monopoly with veto. Basically, if SF want anything to happen, say Irish language road signs in certain areas, or Republican shrines at Long Kesh, it will not happen because they are outvoted.

    If Unionists did not hold the majority of seats on all committees and the majority of seats in the Assembly the first of these would at least be given serious consideration.

  • Ulick

    The remains to be seen Chris, but I would also suggest that there was a strong latent republican vote there before Dessie came along. Granted he spent a good three or four years solidifying the vote, but most of it is a republican vote not a Ward vote. Also, don’t forget that end of the constituency is O’Dowd’s home turf and they’ve already been putting a big effort into it. John could easily hoover up Dessies vote over there so long as they get a good candidate for Lurgan and Portadown.

    FJH, you are way behind the times. Yes O’Hagan still works for the Party but I don’t see her standing at this stage. At the moment the second candidate is probably between McGibbon, Mackle and Magill. There are another couple of O’Dowds who would make good candidates but their name and perceptions of nepotism would probably prevent them putting their names forward.

  • Chris Donnelly

    DR
    Am happy to be so described- facing electoral realities doesn’t make me less of a SF supporter

  • Chris Donnelly

    Ulick
    The key to securing the potential SF vote in Up Bann, as in E Antrim and Strangford, is for SF to somehow manage to secure the nomination of credible, local candidates in these areas.

    O’Dowd has it for Lurgan; need to get a Banbridge area replacement; Strangford and E Antrim require not only credible local candidates but also a party profile across the constituencies (which has never been the case in either constituency.)

    Boundary changes have brought an electoral base and credible candidate in E Antrim- Oliver McMullan- but without the party rowing behind him to develop a constituency wide profile some time soon that’ll only be enough to knock out the SDLP on 1st preferences and falter due to failure to secure enough transfers.

    It’s a similar story for the party in Foyle, S Down and S Belfast if it is to reach the next level.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Ulick…..I dont doubt that John O’Dowd would hoover up most of Wards vote.., but would prolly have a better chance thru transfers. Ward not standing would make too many stay at home.
    McGibbon would get the school kid vote……but unfortunately schoolkids dont have votes and hes about five years too early. And hes Lurgan based (Loughside)not Portadown based. Magill……also Lurgan based.
    I get the McGeowns/McKeowns mixed up but one is Portadown based (possible) and the other Lurgan based (not good)

    It is something of a pity that the next two best candidates are also called O’Dowd ……obviously Lurgan/Loughside based.
    They need to avoid a ticket that is too Lurgan orientated.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Frankly easier to get a Portadown replacement. Ward was the only SF councillor on the Banbridge District Council. If Ward runs he keeps his own personal vote, gets a few independent republican votes but his sole purpose really would be as a proxy SF candidate….holding maybe 1,000 transferrable vote which would be vital for the sixth seat.

    John O’Dowds profile has of course grown (mostly positively) and he would attract votes in Banbridge, Lurgan and Portadown.
    But ultimately the second SF representative has to come from Portadown. After the lunatics left, they lost a lot of their public profile. They need to build someone up there…even if only for an eye to 2015.

  • Ulick

    FJH, the Portadown boxes from the last election don’t bear that out. SF remain strong there and the vote is coming out as much as Lurgan. There is room for improvement across the board for SF in Upper Bann, something I’m pretty sure they are all very aware off.

  • Reader

    PaddyReilly: Eh? I think you are confusing the word monopoly with veto. Basically, if SF want anything to happen, say Irish language road signs in certain areas, or Republican shrines at Long Kesh, it will not happen because they are outvoted. If Unionists did not hold the majority of seats on all committees and the majority of seats in the Assembly the first of these would at least be given serious consideration.
    That isn’t the way voting goes in the Assembly. Both tribes have a veto for the foreseeable future, so the status-quo wins every time if the tribes disagree. That won’t change if SF outpolls the DUP, though SF may see some electoral mileage in pretending it might!
    The only prospect for any actual change is a bit of horse trading in the Assembly.

  • Mark McGregor

    Ulick,

    Could be interesting if eirigi bite the bullet and run for the council elections at least (can only think of 3 or 4 wards they could consider). If both elections are on same day I’d think Breandan running for eirigi in the locals but not Stormont would actually benefit SF. If people are going out to vote who might not otherwise they may just give SF the tick in the other race.

    Remains to be seen if eirigi have the nuts to put anyone up though – at the minute I’m assuming the nads won’t descend.

  • kells

    Sinking Dirty Large Pints would be more apt. A party with the highest rate of alcoholics.

  • O Grady in South Down was not popular he was in the SDLP if Bob the builder was standing he would have got elected That how it works. Prods elect Prods, Taigs elect Taigs..Some sneak through without be either

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    O’Grady probably sneaked past McGrady….who was so unpopular he got 21,500 votes in 2005.

  • Munsterview

    Kells….below the F’ing belt….. unless you SDLP.

  • Munsterview

    correction

    Kells….below the F’ing belt….. unless you are SDLP.

  • PaddyReilly

    Horse trading is easier if you have something to trade to start with.

  • Ulick

    I agree totally Mark. Breandan would walk a council seat but most likely would bring out SF transfers for the Assembly. I think I’ve been a lone voice thinking FF standing would be benefit to nationalism in general and SF in particular because they would bring out those who might otherwise stay at home. Likewise with eirigi. The only problem with them though is that they have two very different demographics north and south of the border. Short term I know many people would come out for them but their image is tarnished in the north, at the moment I don’t see where they are going, esp as Breandan is based in Dundalk these days.

  • Sure Down men would believe anything, even stories about two-headed fish.

  • Charminator

    Wouldn’t it be more reasonable to explain this as a South Down isolated issue. But the most telling stat isn’t at MP or even MLA level, it’s at council level. I suggest you check the average age. From only a glance at the South Down councillors, I’d reckon it’s 60+.

  • Charminator

    Thanks fitzjameshorse1745.

    Re S Down: I think Ritchie has to stand, assuming PJ’s put out to graze. The idea of both big vote pullers not standing would present an open goal to SF to take a run at them. Word I’ve heard is that Eamonn O’Neill (pushing 70!!!) is going to take another go at the Assembly. He lost his seat first time around to Ritchie, remember. Don’t know about Marietta Farrell – perhaps if we have a South Down constituency they might give us the rundown??

    Agree entirely with you re the heavy price paid for not promoting the youth team. Average age of councillors alone in a number of constituencies bears that out.

    I think Upper Bann could prove very interesting. Ward seems to be popular locally, still maintains a profile. Will he run as an MLA? Possibly. Tend to agree it’s a long bet, but there are all sorts of undercurrents elsewhere across the North with the likes of independent Nationalists/Republicans in the guise of Deeny and McHugh west of the Bann.

    I agree Dominic Bradley’s proving a competent politician. Didn’t rate him initially, came across as a harmless waffler but he’s maintaining a high profile (no doubt helped by joining the Police Board), but I still can’t see him bringing in a second MLA there. It seems to be well and truly lost with SF having rotated MLA personalities a couple of times in the constituency and still not taking any hit.

    FST will definitely be interesting. I’d expect McHugh and Gallagher to take the last seat down to the wire and if SF transfers go McHugh’s way (and let’s face it, he’s former SF), he could just nail it. Again, open question, but given the McKinney fallout, I wouldn’t at all predict a return of the SDLP’s vote in massive numbers, especially with McHugh in the fray.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    In presuming you mean McKinney (not Gallagher) to take the last seat to the wire.
    Geography plays a part in Fermanagh-South Tyrone. And local candidates.
    SDLP scored about 3% higher in 2005 local elections (PR) than they scored at Westminster election (FPTP) on same day.
    Gildernew is safe and will probably be designated the South Tyrone area but should get enough surplus to help a Fermanagh running mate. There are enough votes in County Fermanagh to elect a SF candidate (or like McHugh SF orientated) but Id think within Fermanagh a SF candidate would at least equal McHughs vote and Gildnernews surplus would tip the balance in his/her favour.
    McKinney has to get votes in Fermanagh (where he has brought up) and motivate the Dungannon area vote. He might need a running mate in Tyrone to motivate the local voters.
    But on balance……with the caveat that its a long way off…..Id say theres enough committed and “soft” SDLP votes there.