#AE11 Open thread: South Down (#sdo11)…

Okay, we’re going to run a series of open threads on a number of constituencies throughout the campaign. I’ve picked up South Down first partly because of John McCallister’s uncharacteristically undisciplined outburst last week.

When you consider there is a boundary change in the north of the constituency that could take 2k Unionist votes out of the equation, it must be a pretty tough hill climb for him  to get over the win line, not least because he was 2k short of the quota last time out.

If he doesn’t make it, it raises the question of who will benefit?

– See Sammy Morse’s profile from 2007

– And Splintered Sunrise’s from the Westminsters last year

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  • ga11

    This is a difficult one to call – there was a lot of tactical voting going on at the last election and TUV transfers to consider (have they announced a candidate for South Down?)

    There is a chance that both unionists could hold on, but it is likely that nationalists will gain one here from the unionists.

    John McCallister is on the liberal end of the party – not best suited to South Down and I would guess that he will lose out, and most probably to the SDLP.

    No change for Sinn Fein and Jim Wells to hold on.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Last time out, in 2010, McCallister was within spitting distance of Wells http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/asd.htm

    Take into account UUP tactical votes (on past performance probably at least one thousand), the leap of logic is not that great to say McCallister as near as makes no difference was the unionist winner. Given that McCallister will be more friendly than Wells (despite Wells being one of the few DUP types who is actually a nice enough human being), if there is only one Unionist seat, I reckon it’s John’s.

    That said, I think there are enough votes out there for both to squeeze back. A TUV candidate will draw out extra voters who might have sat on their hands, and providing that even a fraction of those transfer to Wells, or McCallister, or both, they should be ok. The Sinn Fein vote was stagnant despite the reduction in the Unionist vote, and the SDLP jump was probably in the most part down to Unionist tactical voting.

  • Michael Shilliday

    For clarity, John McCallister and Jim Wells are equally friendly chaps, but John will be more TRANSFER friendly.

  • I wil return to this later when I have number crunched and thought more deeply. I have started with west of the Bann (with seemingly a development in West Tyrone/Strabane today).
    John McCallisters seat is vulnerable but withouta proper analysis, I think it might only be vulnerable in the way that all sixth seats are vulnerable…..eighteen……and maybe only half of these will actually be lost. The question is whether McCallister is in the lucky half or the unlucky half.

    So the point of my post is only to point up some factors that need to be considered.
    First I dont think any analysis is complete without considering that the voters will be voting in local elections on the same day.
    Last time local elections were alongside Westminster which with FPTP creates a different dynamic. There will be knock on effects.
    Sinn Féin (Ive not seen their list yet) are handicapped by having a poor Minister and a poor back up in the maligned Willie Clarke. I heard they were shipping in someone from the Peninsula.
    The Green Factor. Cadogan Enright is actuallya councillor and his vote (2007) was three times that of the AP runner and he mopped up slightly more than the AP transfers.
    But effectively he was little more than an unofficial sweeper for the SDLP who got 49% of his eventual transfers and SF got 22%. This might be a reflection that their 2007 candidate was a I presume a member of a “WP” family.
    Likewise the UKIP and UKUP candidates acted as sweepers for the DUP & UUP.
    The Downpatrick flag and poppy issue. Has Margaret Ritchie “outreaching” actually worked against the SDLP. Last time terminal SF transfers went a staggering 97% to SDLP. That would need to be replicated if the SDLP is to stand a chance.
    And McCallister was elected on the DUP “sweeper” transfer 87% with only 2% going to SDLP.
    Will SDLP lose more in transfers than they gain?

  • and for clarity….the Green candidate in 2007 was Ciaran Mussen, who I presume is from the Musson/GAA family in Hilltown which has had connexions to a Workers Party incarnation.

  • Mick Fealty



  • Mr Shilliday and I seem to be agreed that smaller party and ex party members standing as Independents can influence a result by acting as a sweeper however unwittingly for another Party.
    But I think the point about the local elections should not be lost.
    I absolutely salute those Parties who will offer themselves for election in all 18 constituencies. I think it is the duty of a democratic party to do so. Especially in constituencies where there is no realistic hope of election and a drain on financial resources.
    Mr Griffin of the Alliance Party will naturally claim he can win. Most analysts will say otherwise. But I daresay that South Down might be an area where AP dont run a candidate in every DEA. It would certainly be expensive but I suspect not doing so would cost Mr Griffin Assembly votes.
    When a “local” voter in (say) Warrenpoint goes into the polling booth and finds no AP person on his/her ballot paper the voter might well not vote AP at Assembly.
    And frankly that scenario will play out for all parties in all constituencies because of the local election factor.

    This Election will be fought and won in marginals and on the margins.

  • Haven’t had time to look at ARK’s fugures, but Greens are talking up council gains across the constituency that could put Cadogan in contention … which interestingly if North Down doesn’t work out for the Greens, could make Cagogan leader of the Greens in NI – a position he missed out on recently.

  • Michael Shilliday

    David Griffin’s vote will be in no way effected by any external factors. Griffin voters will vote Griffin come what may. Saw him at a funeral week before last, forgot to ask if he was standing.

  • In fairness its Mr Enright who is talking up the potential gains. But of course they can talk up the gains because they actually have candidates at local level. Alliance probably wont. Necessarily that means they are conceding ground to Greens. Alliance did actually have a (small) tradition in the 1970s in South Down thru Tony Williamson a leading GAA figure.
    North Down is a matter for the North Down thread but again SDLP and (whisper it) Sinn Féin provide that proxy sweeper thing that usually hellps Alliance but my notes indicate that SDLP transfers narrowly went to Greens rather than AP in 2007. That is Agnews best bet.
    But there is a danger that the Greens will be the new “Womens Coalition” which damaged Alliance badly for a short period. Alliance needs to circle the wagons in some places….eg South Down.

  • Mr Shilliday,
    David Griffin is listed on APs website as a candidate. Only West Tyrone (which Im told selects this week) and West Belfast have no candidate.
    Undoubtedly Griffin and Alliance has a “core” vote but my point is that he would increase it if helped by “local” candidates.

  • I wonder whether McCallister really is more transfer-friendly than Wells. This election will make it clear whether the DUP have successfully become the mainstream Unionist party, and also whether the UUP’s attacks on the current settlement from the right have painted them as the more extreme of the two.

    It may not matter in this case. I think that the total Unionist vote is hovering around two quotas for an Assembly election – the Westminster result should be considered as including at least 2,000 tactical votes for Margaret Ritchie, maybe as many as 2,500, in which case there is no fifth Nationalist seat in South Down.

    To put equally speculative numbers on the 2007 results, I reckon that 2700 voters who voted for Unionist parties in that year, and 1000 who voted for Nationalist parties, have been moved into Strangford. McCallister’s final margin over the SDLP was 3800 votes, 3300 if you take an undistributed surplus into account. If I re-run the figures from 2007, I still get the SDLP falling about 300 votes short of the last seat.

  • South Down Stoop

    Any possibility of Willie Clarke losing his seat to O’Neill? Let me justify this:
    Ritchie will almost definitely top the poll due to a combination of increased profile and an increasing dis-satisfaction amongst the whole nationalist bloc. Similarly, Ruane will be hurt by Karen McKevitt; she’s new, but she topped the poll in her first council election in 2005 in the south of the constituency which is normally more conducive to the Shinners.

    So Ritchie and McKevitt sweep, Ruane does well, but not brilliantly, and I’m guessing that heads up in the same area, Eamonn O’Neill would seriously challenge Willie Clarke for first-prefs (he has the District Chairmanship, MLA in the first Assembly and is well known and liked even by unionists to some extent.) O’Neill and Clarke get within 100-200 votes of each other at first pref., and O’Neill gets Clarke’s seat from the transfers he will win from Ritchie, McKevitt, McCallister (a bit) and the profile he has from the Council Chairmanship.

    Meanwhile Wells gets elected (possibly on the first count?), his transfers go straight to McCallister, who then edges in on the back of Alliance-UKIP-(some)SDLP transfers. He’s well known and liked in Newcastle, if he can survive until he get’s Wells 2nd’s I think he’s in.

    So in order of 1st pref. votes, the 6 MLAs will be: Ritchie, Ruane, McKevitt, Wells, O’Neill, McCallister.

    Or is this just a young SDLP member’s naiveté?

  • Michael Shilliday

    In 2007, with the exception of UKUP (and Burns, obviously) exclusion, McCallister was either equally or significantly more transfer friendly than Wells at each stage. I really don’t see that changing in South Down in 2011.

  • Sean Og

    No change in South Down seats. Perhaps a change of personel though?
    Willie Clarke has a lower profile than a Larne Catholic on the 12th and could lose out to his running mate.

  • Mr Whyte, I think that the number of unionist votes for Ms Ritchie have been overstated, not least by the SDLP themselves. There was never much doubt that Ms Ritchie would beat Ms Ruane last year so no real reason why there would be a tactical vote. Im sure that many unionists could not have been bothered last year.
    Proportional Representaion and a seat (UUP) under threat the unionists will be motivated.
    While I agree that Jim Wells is one of the nicer DUP types (I declare an interest here) the bottom line is that the sheer ineffective nature of liberal unionism is a bigger issue than whether the DUP are less extreme than the UUP.
    That might be an issue if David McNarry was the South Down candidate.
    But they are both nice guys (Ive never met McCallister) but frankly to many nationalist voters it is not relevant.
    John McCallister is a party colleague of David McNarry (next door) and Jim Wells is a party colleague of Jonathan Bell (next door).
    And next door in Strangford IS an issue…as Mr Whyte points out the boundary change. But that will effect Strangford more than South Down as those 1,000 votes will help the SDLP there more than the loss of more unionist votes will help the SDLP in South Down.
    Yet in 2010 Strangford (as in East Derry) that expected increase in nationalist votes did not actually happen, in part I believe at the resentment of losing a MP.

  • A Pluralist Elitist

    The Unionist vote for Ritchie was understated if anything. Among my 18/19 year old unionist friends, most voted for her along with their parents. Admittedly they were mainly rural Grammer school students which may be a biased sample.

    Jim Wells is under more danger that John McCallister for his seat; as John is well liked in the nationalist community. A reason the APNI party is not stronger in South Down is that in McGrady/Ritchie/McCallister/Nesbitt there has always bee a strong moderate voice

  • Flow

    Firstly, I have based my quotas calculations on the stats provided on ark.ac.uk.

    On the basis of the Westminster results last year, Sinn Fein have 2.01 quotas, while SDLP have 3.39 quotas. Even giving back some of that SDLP vote to other parties, the gap has still widened since the 2007 election when Sinn Fein had 2.25 quotas and SDLP had 2.3 quotas (based on projections). There is still approximately 0.85 of a quota which could go elsewhere on this occasion. That is a sizeable number of votes, and how they transfer will determine how many Unionists are returned. In 2007 between the two main Unionist parties there were 1.69 quotas, in 2010 this was 1.11 quotas. In my opinion there would have to be a return to the 2007 figure to see 2 Unionists returned. With regard to the Green Party candidate, at least another half a quota is required to make it feasible to win a seat. This is likely to be in the region of another 3,000 votes. Is that achievable, I don’t think so. My opinion is that there will be no change in the make up of the constituency, as long as Sinn Fein gets it’s vote management right. and the Unionist vote transfers are as high as in the past.

  • I fully take the point that South Down has always been a rather moderate place. And I of course accept the point that people voted for Ms Ritchie on the schools issue as it is obviously the experience of the commenter.
    But I think he overstates John MCCallisters popularity. I like him and Ive never even met him but Im not sure that this actually will make any difference in an Election.
    But the point about unionist votes for Ms Ritchie will be tested to all our satisfaction on polling day. Lets see where the transfers go.
    The notion of cross community voting is for the most part (sadly) an urban myth of the “I know a priest who votes for Paisley” kind.

  • Theres nothing wrong with the maths Flow.
    But theres other factors.
    The Assembly (2007) was proportional representation and gives everyone a chance.
    The Westminster (2010) was FPTP and frankly no unionist could have won.
    They had a choice.
    1 Vote DUP or UUP regardless….quite properly on principle.
    2 Vote Ritchie to keep out Ruane (some clearly did .as is stated above by someone on the ground) but seemingly this was on schooling (as the poster) acknowledges. My own gut feeling is that there wasnt as many as SDLP claim
    3 Stay at home or go to the garde centre.

    They did one of those things. There is an outside chance of SDLP taking a seat there. There could well for example be a situation where nationalists are more likely to vote…..say by 3% or so.
    But Id still think that this time…….2, 2, 1, 1 is the most likely outcome.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘Or is this just a young SDLP member’s naiveté?’


  • South Down Stoop


    How so? Seriously, I’m not just saying this to start a row.

    Which SDLP nominee would be considered the weakest?

  • Sean Og

    “Which SDLP nominee would be considered the weakest?”

    McKevitt without a doubt. Have you ever met her?

    O’Neill and Ritchie are close geographically but O’Neill has the form and will out poll McKevitt who is a very poor candidate. She will pick up PJ’s old vote in Burren/Warrenpoint but has no appeal beyond.

    Surely they have someone better in the south of the constituency? Sean Rodgers in Kilkeel or Michael Carr in Warrenpoint would have been far stronger IMO and would have given the SDLP a real chance of 3 seats.

  • Well no its not naive. Its a scenario but one the best possible scenario from a SDLP perspective.
    I would imagine that when the SDLP were sitting down to allocate the constituency to its candidates, they would have allocated the “Newry & Mourne” wards to Ms McKevitt, ie the southern end of the constituency.
    Is that end more conducive to Sinn Féin. Perhaps in relative terms.
    But if we look at her own Crotlieve DEA, SDLP got 4 votes for every 3 that SF got. She topped the poll certainly but the SDLP lost over 10% of its vote.
    In the Mournes DEA which might also be allocated to her, SDLP got 2 votes for every 1 that SF got. In 2005 both SDLP and SF vote share went down because of an Independent.
    Its possible she might have been allocated the “Banbridge” South Down wards but Id assume that Mr O’Neill in Castlewellan would have them.
    So she should (on 2005 figures) have about 5,800 first preferences which gives her a good shout at Election. But of course Margaret Ritchies higher profile will take some of those.

    That leaves Margaret Ritchie secure in the Down Council area (even if some of her traditional votes are now in Saintfield) There might be some residual annoyance at double jobbing at Westminster.
    They are three good candidates but if pressed on a weakest link in terms of who will lose out, Id have to say O’Neill. Having lost out……extremely narrowly…to Ritchie in 2003, it looks like a backward step choosing him.

  • Sean Og

    O’Neill has a higher profile around the whole constituency than McKevitt. She is vertually unknown outside Warrenpoint.

    O’Neill will finish above her and take a seat probably with transfers from the last Shinner (Clarke or McConvery) who are both based close to him.

    McKevitt won’t eat into Ruane’s vote but a higher profile candidate in the area may have. She also won’t benefit from SF transfers as Ruane’s surplus will go to her running mates and when Clarke or McConvery go out O’Neill will benefit more.

  • South Down Stoop

    I wouldn’t call O’Neill a weak link. A little old, certainly, but he has the ground strength, both within the party and in his allocation of the constituency to poll a good 4.5-5k. Not a lot, considering McCallister just survived 2007 with 4.5; I’m guessing it will come down to the effectiveness of Ritchie’s and McKevitt’s transfers, against SF’s traditionally excellent vote management. Which doesn’t bode well for the SDLP.

    Sean Og, I think you underestimate McKevitt a bit. I personally am not that keen on her, but she is well-liked by her voters.

    Incidentally, has anyone ever heard of Naomi Davidson before? She’s SF’s third, from the Ards Peninsula so presumably will have the same ground as Ritchie, but she has almost literally no profile in the constituency. Seems an odd choice, when Mickey Coogan is being dispatched to a suicide mission in Strangford. . .

  • Sean Og

    Never heard of Naomi Davidson. I thought Eamon McConvery would run, especailly after his St Patrick’s Day stunt.

  • South Down Stoop

    McConvey’d definitely be good at getting the SF base out, which is about all that can be done against the leader of the main opposition party. Strange. What makes you think McKevitt is such a weak south-end candidate? As i’ve said, if I wasn’t aligned with the party I wouldn’t vote for her, but she’s well liked by pretty much everyone else, and has a big branch team behind her.

  • Sean Og

    Not popular in council. Well liked around the Point but no where else.

  • Drumlins Rock

    2005 probably give us the best glimpse of tactical voting as two election were held on one day, Westminister & Council. Using the percentages they were as follows, SDLP 44 & 34, SF 26 & 24, DUP 18 & 15, UUP 10 & 16, totaling 98 & 89%, the difference probably being independant councillors, so probably add a percentage or two onto the council vote, you cant say the whole 6% drop in UUP votes went to SDLP, but probably not far off, which equates to roughly 2,500 votes.

    The final factor would possibly be a lower unionist turnout for last years Westminister due to little chance of winning the seat.

  • Lionel Hutz

    I wonder if all this number crunching is pointless. Fun but pointless. The turnout is going to be down significantly and there’s nontelling how that is going to affect things.

  • Drumlins Rock

    agree 100% on first two points, but not necessarily the third!

  • Lionel Hutz

    If say the turnout went down 5% (which would be underestimating the drop IMO), who do you would suffer the most?

    I suppose conventional thinking is that middle-class voters will still turn-out. Will it hurt SF more?

  • South Down Stoop,
    Naomi Davidson? The name is unfamiliar but I posted this yesterday and she might well be the person to whom I referred. I saw a pic on a website and she appeared to be in early 20s. Not that theres anything wrong with being in early 20s……but its a hell of a discovery when you realise that Prime Ministers and Taoisigh are younger than me. And very annoying when candidates are younger than your children 😉

    “Sinn Féin (Ive not seen their list yet) are handicapped by having a poor Minister and a poor back up in the maligned Willie Clarke. I heard they were shipping in someone from the Peninsula”.

  • Drumlins Rock, when you consider councils in relation to South Down, you have to factor in that it is most of Down Council, some of Newry/Mourne and a part of Banbridge.

    But I think……have I mentioned this before …..the council elections on same day are a BIG factor.
    Turn out …I am not yet convinced of the big drop that people are predicting and whether this will be more affect one side more than the other.
    South Down
    Westminster 2005…..65%
    Assembly 2007………65%
    Westminster 2010…..61%
    …so I think we are talking 61% again.
    Actually the actual register IS possibly an issue.
    Received five polling cards this week but only two folks live here. In one case its recent but in case of #1 son/DIL they have not lived here for five years.
    No big deal……they are only about two miles away.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Its stale now. In 2007, there was alot to vote for. The StAA etc.

    But in 2011, all you can see is a pointless election to carve up the winnings. Why would people be energised by that?

    I also think that SF vote has fallen. When you consider that they got the same % vote in 2010 as in 2007 (in spite of a lower unionist turnout) you have to assume that their vote has fallen. Not by much though. I think its very hard to read the SDLP vote.

  • For the record, it’s Naomi Bailie, not Davidson, who is the third SF candidate.

    For a review of some of the issues and debate in South Down, rather than poll predictions, readers might want to check out this extensive report of a hustings event held in Newcastle last night, courtesy of Michael Donnelly on Newcastle Rocks.

  • Sheesh that name is familiar. Im following her on Twitter. I thought she would be interesting.

  • Sam Maguire

    I would have thought that the ‘lost’ wards would hit the SDLP and DUP slightly harder than SF and the UUP. The SDLP should still have enough for the 3rd seat in the constituency even in spite of the loss of PJ Bradley but Jim Wells will be under serious pressure I’d imagine. I’d say that the Unionist seat will come down to Reilly’s and TUV (if they’re standing) transfers.

    Another interesting question will be if the SF voters ignore their vote management instructions and subsequently snub Ruane.

  • Barry the Blender

    The idea that outpolling McCallister by 600 votes last May makes Jim Wells’ seat safer than David Cameron in Witney is frankly, a load of balderdash.

    SF 2, SDLP 2 UUP DUP and SDLP fighting it out for the last seat.

    I think McCallister can close the gap between himself and the DUP and I have a sneaking suspicion that in the event of there only being one unionist returned, he’d be favourite.(remember that TUV transfers, seemingly favour the UUP)

    The quality of SDLP runner Karen McKevitt has been discussed above. I’m not sure I can take anyone seriously when they can’t distinguish between a motorway and a dual carriageway.

    And can anyone please tell me…Did PJ Bradley actually have a first name?

  • Yes he does.

  • Behans Ghost

    Patrick, cheers for sorting that name issue out there, for all the intelligent and well informed comments on this board, one would like to think that the posters would have the decorum to get the names right of those they are discussing.

    Anyway, some fair points made in relation to the chances of those running. The unionist camp will be interesting to watch as McCallister is much more popular among both communities, so may get more transfers, although he is still dining out on the Caravans Bill, so who knows how that will go for him. Came across well at the Newcastle event too, the same cannot be said however about Cllr O’Neill, he spent the evening stumblingin the dark on many answers. All in all it was a good night of political debate.

    In relation to SF, Naomi Bailie seems to be a grafter, seems pretty popular both within the party and with the electorate and has had a highly visible on the ground presence of late in the area trying to raise her profile, must be tough in established Stoop territory. Fair play to her!

  • Sean Og

    Naomi Bailie seems to be a grafter, seems pretty popular both within the party and with the electorate

    We will know how popular she is with the electorate when the votes are counted. As she hasn’t been nominated before she’s an unknown quantity.

    The fact that contributers on this site were getting her name wrongs says something about her profile locally.

  • Behans Ghost

    Yes you’re 100% right, her popularity will be judged on 5th May.

    As many of the posters were evidently aware of her running as a candidate, it would suggest that her profile is healthy enough at present, this can be quantified by looking at local press over the last number of months where she has featured frequently.

    I can only comment on what i have seen myself on the ground and for a first-timer she is certainly giving it a fair go! The youth and determination shown by younger candidates such as her in both assembly and council elections should be taken note of by the older, comfortable politicians seeking re-election.

    The fact that posters got her name wrong would suggest a lack of proof-reading their posts pre-submission or indeed just a lapse of attention to detail when doing their research, this is not a dig at any of the posters on a personal level, just a mere observation.

  • Behans Ghost,
    In fairness most websites have not listed SFs runners and riders. And I was more or less waiting to see the full list. With respect to Ms Bailie, I am one of 13 followers that she has on Twitter. Now admittedly I am not a big fan of Twitter (and Twitter is even less a fan of me…..21 followers) but I added her a couple of weeks ago because I thought she might be interesting.
    She has made 4 Tweets …now thats not a problem in itself as I dont think its a great source of informed debate.
    Now earlier in this thread I said that “SF had imported a person from the Peninsula” and as I couldnt remember her name and couldnt be bothered to look it up on Twitter, I happily accepted it when someone else got her name wrong.
    Now Im personally glad that Ms Bailie is fighting this election locally and knocking on doors in South Down in the traditional way. I wish her well.
    But frankly Behans Ghost youve done more to publicise her outside South Down than she has.

  • Behans Ghost


    I take your point re the websites not publicising candidates, as I previously mentioned, I hope no offence was taken with my intitial post as it was a mere observation.

    I must sympathise with you concerning twitter, I myself have quite the difficulty in understanding why its so popular/how it works, and for the life of me i cant quite work out the hashtag thing. Sounds as if Ms Bailie thinks that just by having social media it will work for her, 4 posts, not exactly Obama in the media stakes lol.

    I didnt realise how pro-Bailie i seemed! Perhaps she needs a publicity officer, Im free for the next 5 weeks!

  • Charminator

    Not quite sure how this constituency will shake up, but I wouldn’t expect any wildly surprising changes.
    O’Neill likely has a legacy profile… after all he was an MLA nearly a decade ago. On that point – where on these islands are candidates wheeled out of a nursing home after nearly 10 years to contest a high-profile election. Surely a retrograde step, but one would have thought that some of their younger profile candidates in the constituency could have stood up and been counted.
    Being honest, I’ve never heard of McKevitt… first term councillor it seems… SDLP must be in buoyant mood if they think she can grab a third seat though.
    From SF perspective, they’ve surely got one of their weakest teams in the North running in what is one of the most competitive constituencies for them. At this stage, they need to clean out the shop. Ruane’s surely been an unmitigated disaster for them and Clarke has such a low profile, it’s hard to believe he ever sits in Stormont at all.
    The Unionists may struggle to retain both seats, but remember that fear will only serve to get every last Unionist vote out.

    Call me conservative, but I’m going to call it no change.

  • ThomasMourne

    This sectarian head-counting is very depressing.

    Where are the new politicians and the new political parties of the ‘new’ Northern Ireland?

    I don’t want any more of SFSDLPUUPDUPTUVETC

  • South Down Stoop

    Behans Ghost,

    Quite right. Have no idea where I got Davidson from! The truth is when SF opponents in the non-northern cut of the constituency such as myself) hear someone being “parachuted in from the Peninsula”, it’s quite easy to make little of them, and to be quite honest I’d no idea who she was.

    On second thoughts though, it could be seen as a canny move. Ritchie has ruled Downpatrick et. al. on her own and as McGrady’s sidekick for the best part of 20 years; if Bailie (nearly wrote Davidson there) plays up her youth and energy against Ritchie’s age and double-jobbing, she may just do some damage to the Ritchie 1s and consequently the transfers that McKevitt and O’Neill will need. Which, as I’ve said, is about all she can hope to do. Simultaneously it gives her profile. Willie Clarke has already said he’s stepping down from either Council/Assembly after the election: any prospect of Bailie acting as a northern “sweeper” and being co-opted into Clarke’s seat?

  • Sean Og

    Charminator – “O’Neill likely has a legacy profile… after all he was an MLA nearly a decade ago. On that point – where on these islands are candidates wheeled out of a nursing home after nearly 10 years to contest a high-profile election.”

    O’Neill is very active in local politics and isn’t that old. Current chairman of Down council and Castlewellan Regeneration Ltd. He has a high profile in East Down and will poll well.

    I was in South Down yesterday and I have to say the SDLP posters are very badly designed for a team of 3 candidates. The writting on O’Neill’s posters say “Vote O’Neill No 1” but the rest is so small I couldn’t make it out while driving past. This could cost them transfers.

  • The SDLP can only win a third seat if they balance their candidates ruthlessly, and if they are fortunate in the way the Unionist votes break.

    Michael Shilliday: actually quite a lot has changed since 2007 which could potentially improve Wells’ transfer friendliness vis-a-vis McCallister. The DUP are now the party of joint government with Sinn Fein; the UUP voted against devolution of policing and justice, and are whining about Martin McGuinness as First Minister (though McCallister claims this doesn’t bother him as much as his leader) and about setting up a ‘normal’ government and opposition (which many Catholics, not only Nationalists, will interpret as a wish for a return to the good old days when the UUP were the government and everyone else was the opposition). In the not quite so old days, the UUP were clearly the favoured destination for non-Unionist transfers. It is no longer clear to me that this is the case.

    (Sorry for cut-and-paste from the North Antrim thread, but I thought the point worth making again.)

  • Charminator

    Isn’t that old? Is he not in his mid-60s Sean Og? In fact, is he not a Senior Citizen, free bus pass? I’d have thought that, by any standards, was fairly old. Common for the SDLP though, Mary Bradley, PJ Bradley, the likes. In PJ’s case, was still knocking around Stormont in his 70s. All a bit sad really. And retrograde. And if it’s not the oldies, it’s hoovering up young nobodys. The young lad running in south South Down for example, McGreevy – a former Green, if I’m not mistaken, before he realised it was the long road to nowhere and decided to have another try with the dice.