#AE11 Open Thread: North Antrim (#nan11)

Okay, good start yesterday on South Down, now we shift to the very, very north, where a big chunk of the Glens of Antrim are being hived off to East Antrim (#ean11).  We’re looking for your thoughts in North Antrim.

One of the few things that seem almost certain here is that the SDLP’s Declan O’Loan will lose his seat because of that shift. The other is the possibility that Jim Allister will come back in from the cold…

– See Sammy Morse’s 2007 profile

– And Splintered Sunrise’s Westminster profile from last year…

  • Sean Og

    Declan O’Loan is gone. He simply can’t make a quota given the boundary changes. McKay’s seat is safe so you’ll have 5 unionists and 1 Sinn Fein.

    Who will the 5 unionists be?

    I’d say 3 DUP 1 UUP & Jim Allaster. Even without a Paisley on the ticket the DUP brand is strong enough to return 3. UUP are on the slide everywhere and there’s no reason I can think of why North Antrim will be different.

  • Glensman

    Not to de-rail the topic, but, people in the Glens are very heavily aggrieved by being placed in East Antrim.
    I know these things are judged on population demographics etc. But we have been separated from our natural hinterland and dropped in with the likes of Larne and Carrickfergus.
    Most people around the middle Glens would have known people like Daithi McKay and Declan personally, it leaves a feeling of being un-represented…

  • john

    I know what you mean glensman but the reality is the boundary commision have to keep to tight guidelines. Im sure there are many other areas throughout N.ireland that feel they are in the wrong constituency. At least with the new boundary East Antrim will pick up a nationalist seat and that might make you feel more represented

  • Mick Fealty

    Not off topic at all Glensman. It’s utterly bizarre that Cushendall is now in with Carrick.

  • Fair Deal

    The new boundary legislation means oddities will increase.

  • Glensman

    The thing is we work, hurl and socialise with people from Cushendun, Ballycastle, Dunloy, Loughuile, Glenravel etc etc.

    The issues that face us are one and the same with people from the areas mentioned. I have no idea what issues face people from ’round the coast. I have never even been to Carrick and I’m sure it’s 10 years since I was in Larne (not through anything intentional, I just never have cause to go!)

    We would have met our previous reps on your daily travels- the idea of us being in East Antrim is a disgrace. I know of a good few people that aren’t going to bother to vote this year; I wouldn’t like to speak for them all but I would put this down to the disconnect between this area and the East Antrim constituency.

  • Mick Fealty

    FD,

    Not to derail the constituency focus, but how so?

  • Sean Og

    Less flexibility around the % variation in voters.

  • I really wish Mr Fealty would do a western constituency. Then I could do the Blue Peter line about “heres one I prepared earlier”.
    North Antrim is not just about Declan O’Loan. The balance of probability is that he wont get re-elected. But a scenario can jbe constructed where he survives. But it has an element of wishful thinking.
    One of these scenarios is his addressing the “fair play” issue that some have hinted at. Alliance votes are vital here.
    This will be the first North Antrim election in 40 years without the name “Paisley” on the ballot and thats bound to impact. Mervyn Storey as “team leader” just isnt the same.
    TUV are running two candidates and that looks optimistic. And frankly the UUP runners look a bit second rate.
    For O’Loan name recognition and a lack of motivation to vote for unknowns might make the nationalist and unionist turnouts very different.

  • Drumlins Rock

    I live a long way away from NA so can only go by what I read, online mainly, whats fasinating with the Westminster figures is where will the Alliance and SDLP (and eventual SF surplus) votes go? there is about half a quota that in our political spectrum theory should trickle right down to the UUP, will it, and will it make a difference?

  • Drumlins Rock

    Also with regards Westminster, tactical voting possibly boosted the TUV, ie. UUP voters opting for who was most likely to unseat Juinor, with the UNCUNF candidate being a Tory such a vote was less problamatic than in other areas.

  • Mick Fealty

    Junior’s not standing as far as I know DR.

  • Junior is not standing.

  • Drumlins Rock

    “with regards Westminster”
    Please read the comment guys, I do believe Juinor stood for Westminster last year. I’m saying the TUV gained some UUP voters that time, which might drift back.

  • Sorry Drumlins Rock….in that context youre right. But its final seat syndrome as without looking at 2005 Councils and Wards (a very important aspect this year) Id tend to see it as 2DUP 1SF 1TUV 1UUP and one from the rest, depending on turn out and who is ahead of whom at the right point in the count.
    So youre really talking best case scenario.
    (btw Im looking forward to FST thread…..maybe better news for you there)

  • Drumlins Rock

    FJH, I hope so 🙂

    btw, two UUP seats in NA would not be easy, but as I said that unusual “nationalist” surplus could make a difference, normally it goes Alliance, but chances are they will drop out before it comes into play? If I was canvasing NA I would be courting the no.4 votes in nationalist areas!

  • …..and you wouldnt get them LOL

  • Mick Fealty

    It depends on the candidate. Some FFers survived because they even canvassed senior FG activists. Alliance get run off from every where because they canvass everywhere. To what extent do the UUP in #nan11?

  • Glensman

    It would be interesting to see how many #4 votes there are! Many just vote 1 & 2….

    As an aside, I heard Basil McCrea on Nolan this morning, if I was transferring down the ballot and he was on it I would give it to him. If the UUP had more reps like him then they would get a lot more Nationalist/Republican transfers…

  • Transfers are an interesting issue. Not just in terms of numbers but the reasons that people transfer, plump or play the field (in a manner of speaking).
    I think theres a vast difference between a Party Member, reasonably Committed Voter and Casual Voter…..which brings into play “political rivals” and “political enemies”.
    We can rest assured no Party Leader will call for #2s to go to a specific party….maybe in bland terms of the “the Party closest to us”.

    UUP transfers will go (in the main) to DUP or Alliance/Green.
    DUP transfers to UUP and TUV
    Alliance to Green, UUP or SDLP
    SDLP to SF, Alliance or Green.
    SF to SDLP.
    Obviously some people will furiously post that they dont fit the profile above. And of course they are right. Perhaps Slugger O’Toole voters are more “sophisticated”.
    But in a curious way this pattern of voting aids the “rivals” of a Party without punishing the “enemies”.

    Is there an ethical dimension to Transfers? Should there be?
    For example in North Antrim most nationalists will probably vote
    1 SF 2 SDLP ……and the most likely pattern thereafter would be 3 Green or Alliance…….ending up with 15 or whatever TUV.
    But an astute voter can take a less ethical approach for example he/she can calculate that only one nationalist seat is possible then why not transfer to the unionist most likely to damage unionism.
    eg 1 SF or SDLP 2 TUV. (Im not saying TUV damages unionism, merely saying that it might be perceived that way)
    It is a tactical vote of sorts and no less legitimate than any other tactical vote.

    Is it more ethical to say that nationalists have only a chance of one (maybe two) seat, therefore to vote 1 SDLP 2 SF and stop……allowing unionists to decide their own four or five.
    Is that misplaced sectarianism.
    But the accepted roposition is that you vote 1 for your party of choice and then 2, 3, 4 in order thats closest to your principles/interest.
    But when institutionalised sectarianism is written into governance then its actually logical that voting patterns are institutionally sectarian.
    A counsel of despair. Yes.
    But no point in Party Members of any party getting precious about it.
    For all parties….transfers is something you love to get and hate to give.
    Dont believe me? And I choose it an random (honestly)..well almost. The transfers between AP and Green are almost logical. Non sectarian. New Politics. But the last thing AP needs is transfers going to the Greens and building up that Party into a credible force…another Womens Coalition.

    The notion of people being transfer friendly. Too often but not always its a coded way of saying “he/she is ok……for one of themmuns”.
    I know its not a post many will agree with and I have no wish to know your first or second preferences next month……BUT I ask you to consider whether the pattern of your transfer is entirely “ethical” or “tactical”?
    There is a school of thought which suggests tactical voting…..voting AGAINST rather than FOR is not entirely honourable.

  • PaddyReilly

    Contrary to received wisdom, I do not believe that the SDLP seat is lost. With 3,738 votes in 2010, after the boundary changes, O’Loan’s vote was clearly holding up, because he only got 3,281 1st pref votes in 2007. We should bear in mind that the 2010 votes were for a General Election, and not as many people turn out to cast their votes on a predicted loser as do in Stormont elections where their candidate is capable of winning a seat.

    O’Loan was 2,400 odd votes ahead of the DUP candidate in 2007, and I calculate that less than or little more that number of Nationalist voters have been lost to East Antrim, the majority of them SF voters.

    So I suggest there will be no change here, apart from the likelihood of the TUV winning a seat, but SF, formerly in 2nd position, will move down to 5th or 6th and possibly be elected without achieving a quota.

  • PaddyReilly

    Clarification: the boundary changes made N Antrim 2.7% less Catholic and 2.6% more Protestant.

    In 2007 44,331 valid votes were cast: 2.7% of this would be 1,197.

    In 2007 Declan O’Loan finished with 6498 votes after all transfers were counted: Nelson of the DUP with 4091. Allowing for a thousand extra Unionist votes and slightly more than a thousand less Nationalist votes, there is still enough for O’Loan to win a seat, by a nose.

  • Thats an optimistic reading.
    3378 votes for SDLP in 2010 but actually approx 5,500 First preferences in 2007. Youre forgetting the Orla Black vote and its most of that vote which has gone into East antrim.
    Therefore Declan O’Loan starts from a much worse position than in 2007.

  • Cannon Fodder

    Yes good point by FJH, SDLP required a running mate for O`Loan to help bring in the Moyle votes as he had no profile there. Will they use the same tactics this time around, as there is still a SDLP vote in Moyle (Ballycastle Town, Carey & Armoy).
    How will his falling out with the new boss last year be perceived. His foot soldiers weren`t too happy.

  • PaddyReilly

    There is still a SDLP vote in Moyle (Ballycastle Town, Carey & Armoy).

    This is true but these are not the parts of Moyle which have been transferred to East Antrim. I was aware of Orla Black’s transfers, and my original assertion holds good. The surge in the SF vote in East Antrim indicates that the transfers (of Cushendall and Cushendun) took more votes from SF than from the SDLP. The SDLP vote in the General Election was not as high as it will be in the Stormont one: more people will turn out when their candidate has a chance of winning.

  • I dont think you can have it both ways Mr Reilly. There is a drop in first preference votes of 2,000 and thats difficult but not impossible for a man who took the last seat in 2007. Crucially he DID make the quota.
    There an element of swings and roundabouts here as will be more clear when East Antrim is discussed here (but hopefully not until middle of next week…….Mr Fealty). The Cushendall votes will benefit a nationalist in East Antrim and while I take the point a considerable number might be SF votes, Justin McCamphill is……as they say transfer-friendly.
    The people in Cushendall MIGHT have a SDLP MLA in May.
    The people in Ballymoney MIGHT NOT.
    But in the right conditions they might both have one.

  • John Ó Néill

    FJH – Justin is from Dunloy. I think he may not be that transfer friendly in Cushendall …

  • PaddyReilly

    I don’t see how I’m attempting to have it both ways.

    Declan O’Loan was 2,407 votes ahead of the DUP man in 2007 at the last count.

    Boundary changes mean that in 2011 there may be 1,000 extra Unionist votes this time.

    Boundary changes mean there may be 1,200 less Nationalist ones.

    The majority of these are SF first prefs.

    I assume the SDLP will not be running a 2nd candidate this time. By doing so last time they lost 400 in transfers.

    The Nationalist population increases slightly with time, and people retire from West Belfast to Ballycastle. Add another 300 Nationalist votes to the total.

    This leaves the SDLP almost where it was, but SF will be elected 5th or 6th instead of 2nd. That is the only difference.

  • John O’Neill ……….Justin McCamphill is indeed from Dunloy……hes not from Mars. 🙂
    Dunloy, Cushendall, Ballycastle…….all he needs is a good proprtion of the hurling vote and he will get it.
    Cos those NORTH Antrim hurling folk stick to their own especially the referees and clubs. Dont get me started on themmuns.

  • John Ó Néill

    FJH – at least once upon a time he was involved with Cuchullains in Dunloy – if he follows the general Antrim GAA methodology, he will no doubt have fallen out with every other GAA club in Antrim, underperform, then get sent out of the count. On the plus side, he will make a virtue of it.

  • Mick Fealty

    John,

    I think his folks are from there, and I also think that’s where he’s based now.

    Paddy,

    Interesting amount of detail. It will be fun to see how all this works out.

    All,

    What about the Unionist side?

  • Chris Donnelly

    The sdlp could still claim the final seat here, but they will have alliance transfers to thank if they pip the last viable unionist candidate here. The fact that McKay won’t have as much spare capacity given boundary changes makes o’loan’s pitch for the republican vote a la the single nationalist party call all the more puzzling

  • Yes its that last seat syndrome. O’Loan will narrowly miss out or narrowly win. And next month there will be 18 lucky people and 18 not so lucky.

    The Unionist side.
    If we accept the fact that the 6th seat is always marginal, then theres four safe unionist seats.
    There are 4 DUP candidates, 2 UUP, 2 TUV.
    And perhaps the best known candidate is Jim Allister, the only name that could actually get billing above the name of the movie. He would have a bigger task if a paisley was involved so I would call a seat for TUV (not necessarily the first one)
    so……Allister TUV

    On the DUP side Mervyn Storey steps up from the #3 position on DUP ticket to #1. He has big shoes to fill but arguably his profile will be enough.
    so ….Storey DUP
    But theres certainly a second seat likely.
    Id rule out Evelyne Robinson (in much the same way I ruled out Dr Deeney) but I think she is disadvantaged by being a councillor in Ballymoney…..Storeys patch.
    That leaves Paul Frew (a copted MLA) or Rev McIlveen.
    Frew is Ballymena based but (is McIlveen still in East Belfast at Knock) McIlveen is a holy man and they like electing holy men (Paisley & Coulter) so thats a difficult call. Frew has the advantage of Ballymena and Stormont and McIlveen has the advantage of a clerical collar, a network of churches and paisleys blessing ? (no pun intended)
    so……McIlveen
    Unless the UUP suffer total meltdown theres a quota there for them. I know little …or more accurately nothing at all about Robin Swann or Bill Kennedy but the former is UUP Chairman in the constituency and Id guess front runner from Ballymena and Kennedy is a Ballymoney man and the Ballymoney end looks over-subscribed already
    so……Swann

    So that leaves
    McKay (SF)
    Allister (TUV)
    Storey (DUP)
    Swann (UUP)
    McIlveen or Frew (DUP)
    and 6th seat……
    McIlveen or Frew (DUP), O’Loan (SDLP) and to make Drumlins Rock happy 🙂 Kennedy (UUP) (but I dont actually believe that)

  • John Ó Néill

    @Mick 12.49am

    When he was at Queens I’m pretty sure he was still lining out for Dunloy. The GAA connection may give him a bump in East Antrim – but speculating on that is for a different thread, I know.

  • I feel that I’m intruding on someone else’s conversation but I would like to correct one point.

    I certainly was obsessed by hurling when I was at Queen’s but I was not lining out for Dunloy – I was not that good a hurler.

  • troubleshooter

    Just to comment on a point from fitzjameshorse1745.

    The David McIlveen running in North Antrim is not the the holy man from knock we know from the media.
    I believe it’s his son who lives in the N.A. constituency and works in a secular job there also.

    Stand to be corrected.

  • Flow

    FJH – David McIlveen is the son of Rev. McIlveen. (purely for accuracy). Apart from that, I’m not so sure you can discount Evelyn Robinson for the DUP runners. She has potentially a bit more profile that the others (with the exception of Storey) on the basis that she is president of NILGA this year. Interesting point is that Storey might be the DUP’s big hitter this time round, but last time, even with relatively good vote management, he didn’t get elected until the 8th count.
    On the nationalist side, I would tend to agree with Paddy Reilly, that SDLP still have a chance to retain its seat. At the Westminster election last year, there was a combined 1.59 nationalist quotas, SDLP had 0.62 of a quota.

    I am going to stick my neck out and say that the only change will be TUV taking a seat from DUP. Spreading under 3.5 quotas across four candidates requires excellent vote management even to be successful with 3 candidates. Last time out, even with 2 Paisleys in after 2 counts, Storey took his time to get across the line, and that was without Jim Allister in the field. 2 DUP (Storey & Frew), 1 UUP 1 TUV, 1 SF and 1 SDLP

  • Sorry folks re McIlveen. This confusion would cease if people only had the imagination to call their son something completely different as I said only yesterday to my first born er ……..ok not a good example. 🙂

  • Justin……not good enough to play for Dunloy? EVERYBODY is good enough to play for Dunloy.

  • Barry the Blender

    I don’t see how I’m attempting to have it both ways.

    Declan O’Loan was 2,407 votes ahead of the DUP man in 2007 at the last count.

    Boundary changes mean that in 2011 there may be 1,000 extra Unionist votes this time.

    Boundary changes mean there may be 1,200 less Nationalist ones.

    The majority of these are SF first prefs.

    I assume the SDLP will not be running a 2nd candidate this time. By doing so last time they lost 400 in transfers.

    The Nationalist population increases slightly with time, and people retire from West Belfast to Ballycastle. Add another 300 Nationalist votes to the total.

    This leaves the SDLP almost where it was, but SF will be elected 5th or 6th instead of 2nd. That is the only difference.

    You always cite some mass exodus from West Belfast to North Antrim and seem to prefer to believe it in preference to any sort of electoral evidence grounded in reality.

    Unionists got 5.18 quotas at Westminster….Unionists will get 4 seats. (3 DUP 1 TUV 1 UUP)

    If there’s going to be a shocker then the DUP will get 4 to the UUP’s 3.

    Either way Declan O’Loan will not be able to put MLA after his name any more that he’ll be able sets up his rebel superparty and top the poll in North Down with a surplus of over 9,000

  • PaddyReilly

    300 votes, only some of which come from Belfast migration, does not count as a mass exodus, even in Ballycastle.

    If there are only 2 Nationalist candidates, then they each stand a good chance of winning, if only in last place. The Unionist side, currently holding four seats, but with aspirations to raise that to five, can only sensibly field five candidates: if they field seven or eight they will not make gains. They will be punished for hubris. This is exactly what happened in South Belfast in 2007.

    Westminster results cannot be used as a predictive for Stormont, there are different forces at work, the former is a winner takes all system, in the latter there are prizes for everyone.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Big question, is a TUV seat a cert? could splitting the vote lead to too much leakage? did some UUP voters previously back Jimbo instead of a Tory?

    Remember at the extremes 90% of a quota might not be enough, whereas 40% can get a centre candidate in, and if not is it DUP 4 or UUP 2?

  • Barry the Blender

    Westminster results cannot be used as a predictive for Stormont, there are different forces at work, the former is a winner takes all system, in the latter there are prizes for everyone.

    I suppose the made up figures are more dependable than real numbers after all.

    TUV seat a cert?

    yes.

    It’s is the UUP seat a cert? That’s the question

  • Cannon Fodder

    Would think that a TUV seat for Jim Allister is as near a cert in North Antrim as you could get and his surplus transfers trying to bring in a running mate.There is still a large grouping out there would still don`t want to share power with any Nationalist and he ticks all there boxes.

  • PaddyReilly

    The Westminster figures are real, but for a different type of election. The SDLP candidate did not win a quota in the 2005 Westminster elections, but he got one with transfers in the 2007 Stormont election. Ergo, Westminster elections cannot be used as a predictive for Stormont ones.

    The 2007 Stormont figures are also real. The SDLP and SF both won a seat. On the final count, both had achieved a quota. The question is, will the loss to another constituency of one village and one hamlet, Cushendall and Cushendun, render this impossible this year?

    The final count in 2007 left O’Loan 2,407 votes ahead of the DUP man. The population of Cushendall is 1,241 and of Cushendun, 138. Only three quarters of these are eligible to vote.

    Thus, it would be folly for O’Loan to throw in the towel at this moment just because some folk are trying to talk him down.

  • PaddyReilly

    BTB seems to have left the Italics on.

  • PaddyReilly

    Put it another way. What have the boundary changes taken away from North Antrim?

    Answer: that section of the Moyle district known as the Glens.

    The electoral returns from the Glens can be seen here:

    http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/lgmoyle.htm

    The total electorate of this area is 4,069. In 2005, 2,580 voted. 1,218 for SF, 758 for the SDLP.

    Can the SDLP survive the loss of 758 votes? Yes, it was 2,400 votes ahead of the DUP in 2007.

    No change here.

  • PaddyReilly

    In fact, not all of the Glens have been transferred.

    Glenshesk and Armoy remain in North Antrim.

    So the figures are even more favourable to the SDLP and SF.

  • I make the partisan loss of votes 900 SF and 700 SDLP, more or less.

    I agree that that on its own isn’t enough to dislodge O’Loan, judging from 2007 figures. (Which, incidentally, point to a tactical vote of 1600-2000 Nationalists supporting Ian Paisley jr in last year’s Westminster election.) There are a couple of other factors, though, which I think will make O’Loan’s seat more marginal. First off, the DUP will balance their candidates better with no Paisley on the ballot paper. Of course, one can argue that the Paisley factor itself may mean fewer votes for the party, but it’s not obvious where else those votes will go.

    Second, I query the received wisdom about the political spectrum. The DUP are now the party of joint government with Sinn Fein; the UUP are the party which voted against devolution of policing and justice, and are whining about Martin McGuinness as First Minister 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.

    I have no information about how avidly Jim Allister has been working the constituency. If he has been doing his homework on the ground, he should get a seat. If not, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the DUP sneak a fourth at the expense of the SDLP.