Don’t you just love North Down

One of the biggest surprises of the European election in 2009 was just how well the Green’s Stephen Agnew and the then Alliance Ian Parsley did. Both polled so far beyond expectations they were in the running for the Slugger Awards ‘up and coming politician’ gong (is it a ‘gong’?).

A lot of water has passed under Parsley’s bridge since then – a jump to the Conservatives and subsequent failed run for Westminster beneath the UCUNF banner. With The UCUNF brand all but dead his political ambitions seem to be facing an early end and that frustration rings out in recent blogs.

The setting of Parsley’s star would seem to leave the field open for Agnew to easily retain Brian Wilson’s Assembly seat, something his European candidature was surely about profiling. Wilson’s vote was built on personal reputation that came to the Green’s with his defection from Alliance (I’ve heard his campaigning for years consisted of hundreds of hand written letters to supporters retained in the databank of his head – this could be myth but would be exceptional old school parish-pump politics) – unfortunately for Agnew he doesn’t have that background.

However, Mark Devenport notes developing rumours that Wilson’s wife, Anne, could join the fray as a 2nd Alliance candidate – with a constituency so strange could she pinch the Green seat and deliver the first Alliance two representative constituency? Or would she be a potential threat to Stephen Farry he would work to keep off the ticket? The undoing of Green ambitions via familial politics?

Don’t you just love North Down.

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  • Comrade Stalin

    I think Alliance should go for the second seat but it’s going to be hard-fought – I think most people would agree that Agnew would make a fine MLA. The scales are tipped somewhat in Alliance’s favour right now with the party benefitting a bit from a bit of a lift following the successful Westminster election and the justice ministry. It remains to be seen of course whether or not that lift can be sustained to the assembly elections.

    (while I am on the subject having done all those blogs on the prisoner protests, are you going to do a blog about how the thing was settled and went quietly away?)

    There have, admittedly, been Alliance representatives in the more distant past who have resisted having running mates in order to protect their own vote. East Belfast in the pre-Long days springs immediately to mind. I think the party is past such personalities and I cannot picture Stephen throwing away a seat if he thought there was a chance of winning it.

  • Granni Trixie

    In my book Anne Wilson has always been a star,quietly twinkling in the background, something I think voters see also. I would therefore love that she throw her hat int the ring. She and Steohen Farry would make a good team

    When weighing up her chances of garnering in some of her husbands vote, do not forget that he started off Alliance (can’t remember why he left to be an Independant before then joiningn Greens. Likely to be something quirky,as is his way). In most peoples eyes he was always Alliance.

  • Mark McGregor


    On your aside:

    While I was probably the lone voice on Slugger noting the protests as they took place, Pete found his voice and covered the resolution (why would I repeat his entry?) – I was the first to comment on that blog.

  • I guess North Down is the sort of place where Alliance will try to keep Naomi Long’s help and support for Dawn Purvis during her loyalist cheerleader days rather quiet.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I think theres a middle ground (AP/Green) quota in Hermons vote. Theres probably three middle ground quotas …of ex liberal unionists (McFarland), Green and Alliance plus a few SDLP votes to be transferred.
    With the caveat that predictions for UUP in January 2010 look rather silly now and the Assembly Election is still some time off (“events dear boy events”)..theres a reasonable chance that AP could gain a seat AND Agnew take one
    An open endorsement from Mrs Hermon would go a long way.

  • Mark McGregor


    The most likey return at present imo is the DUP and UUP fighting it out for a dropped Green seat – i can’t see Alliance making up the votes for a 2nd seat when they were under quota for their current one and I don’t think Agnew can retain.

  • North Down Voter

    It is nonsense to suggest that there is a threat to Steven Farry’s seat. His high profile in the Assembly and work over the past three years has firmly established him as Alliance no.1 in North Down.

    However North Down has traditionally had 2 non unionist seats and Alliance have a safe seat. Before Brian Wilson the Women’s Coalition held a seat. While Steven Agnew has been working hard in the constituency and must be favourite to retain the green seat, Anne Wilson as a high profile, long serving Alliance councillor and former mayor would be a serious threat.

    It is however impossible to predict what North Down’s voters might do as they tend to vote on individuals rather than party.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    And you could well be right. Hence my qualification that it was a reasonable proposition.
    We have first to assume that Hermon wont be standing and her vote is up for grabs from all comers.
    Id start with the premise that the two DUP seats are safe.
    With a combined vote of about 20% for AP/Green plus the availability of SDLP around 3.5% and journo Rowans 4% and Conservative 3% .thats around 30% “in play” so Id say two middle ground seats are safe.
    There is certainly a UUP quota as Parsley took 20%. Of course Im not suggesting Parsley is necessarily the candidate.
    So Id say thats five of six accounted for.
    The last seat as it is in nearly every constituency is the hard one to call.
    Again Id suggest this is between UUP and “middle ground” (AP, or even Tory ..not that I consider Tories as middle ground).
    In the run up to the Election there might well be some UUP bloodletting…deselections, resignations, independent (ex UUP) candidates. But there is a moderate UUP vote within North Down. How taht breaks down will be crucial.
    Just like East Belfast had Belmont Bowling Club….the Bangor Bowling Club could swing it for AP.
    A good rule of thumb is that in every constituency the last seat to be filled is marginal.
    But way too early to say.

  • Dewi

    I wonder what Mrs Hermon will do or say – could be crucial to the outcome of the whole election.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Sorry Mark, I stand duly corrected.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I think you’re about right FJH.

    Parsley is ruling himself out as a UUP candidate of any kind. I reckon the Tory thing will be sorted out and he’ll run as their sole candidate.

    Hermon won’t stand but it’s probable that McFarland will.

  • Comrade Stalin

    That said though, Dawn doesn’t seem to have trouble distancing herself from paramilitaries these days. Which is more than can be said for your party.

  • “I wonder what Mrs Hermon will do or say – could be crucial to the outcome of the whole election.” ….. Dewi 4 October 2010 at 7:00 am

    Something decidedly demonstrative and novel would be a welcome return to independently minded and shared agenda politics, Dewi.

    Or would that be just the start of it with IT Control and Binary Manipulation of the Digital Picture and Virtual Message Space Place?

    Do you think Brian and Anne are au fait with such an Alienating Meme? It would with IT and media Control give them a significant advantage over those who would wish to remain ignorant of the facts and arrogant in their own limited opinions.

  • Anon

    Brian Wilson is an incredibly successful parish pump operator. I don’t know whether he keeps the addresses of supporters in his head or not, but he was very careful about his move to the Greens. He put out regular News Letters slowly raising green issues more and more to the fore of his contact with constituents and even at one stage asked them in one would they vote for him were he a Green. He starts with about 2000 personal votes. The failure of the Greens to make any significant progress in North Down reflects the fact that if Wilson retires, their seat is gone. Young Agnew is another hype-believer who got his fingers burnt in the recent General Election.

    The DUP have 2 seats here. Alliance 1. UUP 1. Last 2 will be a fight between 2nd UUP, 2nd Alliance, Green, 3rd DUP.

    Really hard to call.

  • Turgon

    One person in the TUV once supported the release of a paramilitary: something which was condemned by the party and indeed by myself. I seem to remember that your party supported releasing all the paramilitaries.

    Naomi Long’s support for a terrorist cheerleader, initially denied by yourself, has now been clearly revealed. Long was happy to help Purvis when she was still a mouth piece for murderers.

  • Granni Trixie


    You keep going on about NL ‘support for paramilitaries’.
    I would be extremely surprised if that were the case.
    People voted for her in EB across the board.

    But in view of your stong views on this where were you on this site when I got a yellow (or is it red, or green? I dont do football or any games) card from Mick for questioning why some people (himself included) seem to favour not to say admire the MLA to whom you refer. My reasoning was on grounds of apparent ambivalence to para violence for despite giving up on the PUP I wanted to know what took her so long. So I am trying to avoid further Mick-trouble by not saying the name plus YOU BROUGHT IT UP in the first place.

  • randomjoe

    1 independant ….. if hermon backs Mcfarland he could get the seat

  • slug

    It sounds as though Brian would not be – he uses old fashioned techniques of hand-written individual letters to supporters.

    What would be better than the old fashioned tried and tested methods?

  • Turgon

    Granni Trixie,
    Long helped and supported Dawn Purvis before she left the PUP.

    As to Purvis, I agree entirely. I have had a number of blogs on her including this one.

    The media sycophancy to this supporter of murderers has been loathsome (even more loathsome than Longs support for her which though disgusting was relatively limited: hypocritical, disgusting but limited).

    The simple fact is that Purvis joined the PUP in 1994 the same year as Loughinisland and long before the UVF stopped murdering people which was actually only a few weeks ago: except of course they have not stopped murdering people; merely have not done it for a few weeks.

    One of the best examples of Purvis’s views is provided from her website. Jay qouyted that and put it perfectly in the comments section of the blog I linked to above. Here are his/her comments.

  • Granni Trixie

    Thanks for the links Turgon – I do not tend to source what I said before on Slugger so it is pleasing that I seem to be so consistent. I note also that you and seem to see through the media hype of ‘certain people’ they favour.

    You also are consistent in having a bee in your bonnet about Naomi. Although you probably can come up with some “facts” to back this up nothing you come up with would convince me tht NL has a case to answer.
    She has the utmost integrity.
    What I would surmise is likely is that she co-operated with the people you mention and with many MLAs with pasts and who mix with people with dubious backgrounds.
    Its what a professional politican in NI has to do.

    Whatever you think, for me saying YES to a morally ambiguous package was difficult but it saved lives and heralded in an opportunity for change.

  • Granni Trixie

    OOPs..should have reade “you and I…”

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Yes as I said above her endorsement (for AP or Green or perhaps a UUP-lite candidate) could be worth a quota.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Its a simple fact that if you have a reputation for getting up early……you can lie in bed all day.
    This is the case with Dawn Purvis …a mantle she inherited from David Ervine. The local media loved Ervine in a way that they didnt warm to Billy Hutchison.or indeed Gerry Adams.
    With many Workers Party types in the local media, it is natural they will promote authentic working class Protestant voices……as long as they are THEIR sort of authentic working class Protestant voices.
    Im also tempted to say (and you may not like this bit) that Purvis gets a bye ball on account of having a degree in “Womens Studies” and therefore being a new woman.

    While Purvis is now out of the PUP and may or may not be in the Assembly her future is prolly assured even in the diminishing number of Quangos (or House of Lords??).
    Yet it is disconcerting that Ive seen blogs from eminent journos who claim “we” must support the efforts of her PUP successor Dr John Kyle.
    It beggars belief that journos can “big up” the PUP AND ridicule Elliotts “old style sectarian” UUP.

  • Observe

    Its very difficult to predict North Down and with the Lady Hermon factor i think it is almost impossible.

    One thing that immediately comes to mind is do the Alliance party have 2 quotas in North Down? I do notthink so and so standing a second candidate could potentially split the Alliance vote. Anne Wilson due to her popularity would eat into Farrys vote no matter how carefully they balance each candidates areas. And if Brian Wilsons vote is split between Agnew and Anne Wilson then Agnew might actually see himself doing ok whilst both Alliance candidates struggle.

    I couldnt see Anne Wilson standing though. Farry wont want any threat to his seat!

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    There may or may not be two AP quotas but there is certainly two “middle ground”. Mrs Wilsons candicacy might well eat into the Green vote as much as eating into Farrys. For the AP, its a risk worth taking.
    Worst case scenario, they lose Farry and gain Wilson. And Agnew winning a seat.
    Possible scenario, AP takes two seats at expense of the Greens.
    Best case scenario, two AP and one Green.
    Nothing really to lose for AP.

  • Observe

    If Alan McFarland stands as a ‘Lady Silvia Hermon’ candidate then I think the Alliance vote would suffer more making your first prediction of 1 alliance and 1 green most likely. I think it all depends on whether McFarland stands which will decide on whether Alliance stand two candidates.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    yes Observe…..absolutely right. And Im not actually making a prediction, Im making an analysis.
    There is an Alliance seat and one other middle ground seat (most likely Green). But a Hermon endorsed candidate (McFarland the best known) would probably make it three “moderate seats”.
    To avoid any confusion Im stating theres two and possibly three moderate seats there.