Eamonn McCann, MLA?

…When Chekhov saw the long winter, it was a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope; and yet, we know winter’s only one more step in the cycle.

Before Mick loses interest – I think this is one to watch for the upcoming Assembly election (or #ae11 as you will come to know it). If you take the trajectory of Eamonn McCann’s vote in Foyle (I’m guessing #fyle) over the last three elections, it has risen from 3.6% (2005) to 5% (2007) to 7.8% (2010).

While there is the usual waiver over the different electoral systems, at the time of McCann’s elimination in 2007 the highest of the second- and third-placed SDLP candidates had barely achieved 0.6 of a quota (McCann’s 2010 vote would amount to about 0.55 of a quota if he received it in an Assembly election). The last distribution of votes separated the three remaining candidates, all from the SDLP, electing Mary Bradley and Pat Ramsey (those same second- and third-placed SDLP candidates). On McCann’s elimination his vote distributed fairly evenly between the SDLP and SF candidates left in the field (with obvious implications if he could stay in).

Pat Ramsey is the only SDLP MLA elected in 2007 among the four candidates expected to stand in May. With one definite unionist quota and Sinn Féin holding steady well above two quotas, the pressure is on the SDLP to hold their third seat. If McCann, standing for People Before Profit, polls as he did in 2010, he may have enough behind him to stay in play until the elimination of the third Sinn Féin candidate (assuming there is a third). If he can out-poll, or out-transfer, that third Sinn Féin candidate that may leave him and two SDLP candidates in play for the last two seats with the lowest-placed eliminated.

Given McCann’s visibility against the backdrop of Saville, and noting the retirements of Durkan and Bradley from the SDLP ticket, there is every chance that the third SDLP seat may be in play in May. While Sinn Féin obviously will have designs on that seat, too, locally, McCann’s final reward for his efforts on behalf of the families of those who died on Bloody Sunday may well be his election as an MLA.

On a related note, I’m reckoning on #fyle as the Foyle hashtag in the absence of an agreed list (Mick?), although that may be a safer bet than putting Eamonn on the Hill as the, eh, crowning achievement of his political career (or will that thought be enough for him to reconsider his candidacy)…