#AE11 Open Thread: Fermanagh and South Tyrone (#fst11)

Okay, today we drift on from North Antrim to Fermanagh and South Tyrone. There’s a little something in this for the four main parties (it’s too far west for the Alliance and Greens to have any skin in this most westerly game).

How will the SDLP vote hold up after Sinn Fein’s successful big heave against the single Unionist candidate last May? Has Tom Elliot energised his local association to stem the turning tide of traditional UUers who’ve been steadily drifting to the DUP in Lord Brookeborough’s rather large and rural backyard (leave aside the last Duke of Westminster).

Sammy Morse’s 2007 profile

– And the ‘Dreary Steeples edition’ from Splintered Sunrise last year…

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  • john

    Compared to the drama of the last election in FST I think this one will be boring and there will be no change in the seats. SF2 DUP2 SDLP1 UUP1.I cant see the SDLP vote crashing anymore to allow SF to take a third seat.

  • son of sam

    Possibly there is something wrong with my computer.I cant see any Open Thread for North Antrim.The last one I have is South Down.

  • Mick Fealty

    That’s a tagging problem. Will fix.

  • ga11

    I agree with John on this one – no change here. The drop in the SDLP vote was due to two factors – Ferghal McKinney being the candidate instead of Gallagher and the two horse race between SF and Conor.

    I think it will go back up to around 12% which should be enough for them to get that seat.

    Prediction: 2 SF, 2 DUP 1 SDLP 1 UUP

  • Flow

    The only interesting factor in this one, I believe, is whether Alex Elliott (TUV) will take enough votes from DUP to see his cousin Tom Elliott top the unionist poll. For example, if he took 1,000 DUP votes, on a fairly even split between the DUP candidates, that would pretty much reduce Arlene Foster’s vote to the level of Tom Elliotts last time out.

    Or, will the presence of 2 Elliott’s on the ballot paper have a detrimental impact upon the UUP Leaders vote.
    Other than that, I see no change.

    Prediction: 2 SF, 2 DUP, 1 SDLP and 1 UUP

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    The party percentages in this constituency are perhaps the best reflection of the relative strengths of the parties in Ulster as a whole?

    Interesting to see if the UUP get some bounce from having Tommo at the helm and the if the SDLP have reverse bounce from the fiasco of the Westminsters or if it will simply be a continuation of the growth of SF and the DUP – could be emabarasing for the new UUP leader.

  • Obelisk

    I think the SDLP vote should hold up Sammy. As an example my Aunt, Uncle and Cousin live in the constituency and vote SDLP, but only voted Sinn Fein during the general election to stop Connors. I imagine they and most people like them will return to the SDLP for the Assembly.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally


    “As an example my Aunt, Uncle and Cousin live in the constituency and vote SDLP, but only voted Sinn Fein during the general election to stop Connors.”

    ..and wasnt there only 4 votes between the candidates?

    “I think the SDLP vote should hold up Sammy.”

    I’m sure they will pleased if they keep their seat with only minor slippage – the same fate for the UUP will be more problematic for them.

  • ulsterscotnua

    I can never understand why anyone would vote for SDLP especially in a clearly Republican Con.
    By voting SDLP in the assemble election especially an old pensioner who is becoming less and less relevent as the time goes on, it only gives the leaders an excuse to split the vote again in Westminster Election.
    This will either result in humiliation for SDLP or else will hand the seat to a back woods Unionist. In FST there is little difference between either Unionist Parties, both excercise extreme hatred of Catholics.

  • roadnottaken

    Is Gerry McHugh running again?

  • The gap between nationalist and unionist is widening….roughly 53 to 45….but probably not yet at tipping point.
    FST suffered a lot from the many years without Stormont…SDLP and DUP suffered. Deference paid to Unity candidates such as Frank McManus and Frank Maguire…..and Bobby Sands did not allow SDLP to develop beyond council chambers. Likewise undue respect was paid to “Coalition ” types like Harry West and Ken Maginniss.
    There is always a price to be paid for a tactical vote. And sometimes you pay for years.
    FST is not about 8 people chasing 6 seats.
    Its about 4 people chasing 3 seats. And another 4 chasing another 3 seats.
    To look at the unionists first. South Tyrone is DUP territory.
    Fermanagh marginally UUP.
    On 2005 figues (yes I know its six years ago) there were 9 DUP councillors and 8 UUP in FST and that suggests a more even spread than the Assembly level 2:1 split.
    But the DUP will be undermined by a TUV candidate….although his transfers might head to DUP. And Morrow ten years ago the top man in the FST DUP is now #2. Theres also the small matter of Morrow not being able to pick up Donaldson transfers.
    So what am I saying is Foster, Elliott and Id think a 50:50 chance for Donaldson. Ive revised my opinion of him, possibly prompted by Drumlins Rock. Theres a compelling case that he has an even chance.

    On the nationalist side, SF supporters will claim that SDLP is in meltdown. A charge that began as soon as Gildernew was elected. But on Polling Day, SF was pleading for SDLP voters to lend them their votes. And they did.
    Most will return to SDLP with a clear conscience. But thats the folly in lending votes…all parties have done it. Is there any gratitude? Not past the acceptance speech. Within 24 hours loan votes are forgotten and the winning candidate claims a ringing endorsement.
    Effectively there are 7 other elections taking place in FST on same day. These WILL feed into the overall result. But even allowing for SDLP to get only 80% of the 2005 votes, Gallagher is safe.
    So 2 SF, 1 SDLP.
    (there is a very outside chance of SF sneaking a third at Morrows expense.
    Mr Fealty mentions that AP or Green have a chance. But I think its worth pointing out that last year they fielded a Sri Lankan (?) born candidate from Enniskillen and this year field an ethnic Vietnamese from Dungannon.
    They deserve credit for that.

  • oops gremlins….”neither AP or Green has a chance”

  • Barry the Blender

    I’m going to go against the grain here. Nationalists will not forgive the SDLP for having the tenacity to stand a candidate in the General Election.

    SF to sweep three.
    DUP 2, UUP 1*

    *(they conceivably could get 2 if there was perfect balancing (say 5000 and 4500 combined with poor DUP balancing, of the order of 7,000 to 3000 with 1,000 votes for Alex Elliott which would favour the UUP roughly 60:40).

  • ItwasSammyMcNally


    “The gap between nationalist and unionist is widening….roughly 53 to 45….but probably not yet at tipping point”

    Surely the tipping point is the mid sixties? If you mean the 4th seat (for the good guys).

  • PaddyReilly

    The tipping point is 57.2% to 42.9%. Less is you are very lucky.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Was looking forwards to arguing our case here, but with the news from Omagh I’m not really in the mood atm. to go into much depth.

    Firstly can I just mention the Alliance candidate, Hannah Su, don’t know her personally but the family are well respected in Dungannon and are part of the community, I hope her ethic background makes little difference and she is treated like any other candidate.
    I think the SDLP will hold their seat, but they so need to get young blood in soon, btw was just talking to Tommy Gallagher in the street 20 minutes ago!
    As for the Unionist vote! yous won’t believe me anyway, but I am more than hopeful, Kenny is an excellent candidate and has been working hard over the 4yrs since he first stood, we all know not to believe what people tell you on the doorsteps, but they can’t all be spoofing us surely?

  • I totally believe you Drumlins Rock. Morrow increasingly looks like a relic from the past. Thats not necessarily an “age” thing. More about attitude.
    SDLP DO need to get new blood. In some ways the election is in the middle of a rebuilding process. The problem is not too many old men (and its a Council as much as an Assembly thing)….its not enough say in their 40s. There is an excellent young candidate in Dungannon….I believe his name is Quinn.
    In football parlance, its a bit like having a good first team and a good youth team but no reserve team.

    But Barry the Blender is wrong about an unforgiving natioanlist electorate. Lets say 7,000 votes is needed to win. The 3,500 who refused to vote for Gildnernew and Id reckon at least as many were loaned.
    While the core SF voters might be unforgiving of SDLP, there is no reason to think that the 3,500 or so who did will be unorgiving. It was Mission Accomplished. Connor was defeated. Gin and tonics all round. After all Gildernew won by 4 votes….and lets face it those 4 votes were loaned votes.
    Had Gildernew lost by 4 votes….well thats different.

  • Barry the Blender

    But Barry the Blender is wrong about an unforgiving natioanlist electorate. Lets say 7,000 votes is needed to win. The 3,500 who refused to vote for Gildnernew and Id reckon at least as many were loaned.

    Mmmm ….it’s just a hunch,but I think the Sinn Fein machine can sweep up three here. IMO Sinn Fein are only really in the running for 2 or 3 more seats. This is one of them, and perhaps one of the more likely.

  • Drumlins Rock

    FJH, he is Malachy Quinn, I know nothing about him but think he has a fair enough chance, but at the expense of his colleague, he looks so out of place in the group photo too.
    Assembly wise remember the SDLP just has to keep ahead of the third Shinner, and with a 3,500 hardcore base that should be easy enough, some will come back earlier even, with local drift from SF possibly.
    Do you think winning Westminster will cause some nationalist complacency?

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Paddy Reilly,

    “The tipping point is 57.2% to 42.9%.”

    How do you arrive at 57.2?

  • PaddyReilly

    A quota is one 7th of the vote, i.e. 14.2857%.

    Four sevenths of the vote is 57.1428%.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally



  • Drumlins Rock,
    No. They will know that losing by 4 votes galvinises unionism. The worst case for republicanism is still three seats.

  • Charminator

    Is McHugh running here? I would have thought that could prove a danger to Gallagher assuming that SF voters may transfer to McHugh to keep Gallagher out – especially given the SDLP stunt in last year’s Westminster?
    If McHugh runs, would imagine it’ll be neck and neck between him and Gallagher?
    Any other former disaffected Shinners running as Independents? That could certainly create a stir though one would think the transfer will still work their way through to Gildernew and Hughes.

  • FuturePhysicist

    I wonder if McHugh standing will have an effect on Sinn Féin’s polling, his transfers could even boost up Gallagher to a seat, if somehow the SDLP fall short.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Charminator …

    Ferghal ‘standing for an election’ is a stunt and Maskey ‘not standing for an election” is not a stunt.

    Gerry McHugh is standing as an Independent, I’m not sure if Pat Cox will. Transfers I’d imagine would be split.

  • I think that, which the conventional wisdom of no change from 2007 is probably right, there are a couple of points of interest. SF of all parties have been particularly good at getting tactical voters to stay with the programme; their support has been pretty sticky (in the sense of agglutinative) over the years. I think it is a tough defence for the SDLP because of the squeeze last year.

    The other factor is Elliott’s leadership of the party and what that may mean. Across the water it is normal for party leaders to find their constituency profile and vote enhanced by their leadership. It’s less the norm in Northern Ireland, but the DUP/UUP margin is indeed slimmer here than in most other constituencies However, against this one must set the UUP’s chronic problems with balancing candidates; the DUP are much more ruthlessly successful in this regard.

  • FuturePhysicist

    It’s funny how “tactical voters” manage to stay with the program when so many Sinn Féin councillors from the region have defected. To me it may be a tough defence for Sinn Féin’s 3 seats.

    @ Nicholas are you doing an election contest this year?