Splintered’s Constituency profiles ride again…

He’s at it again… Splintered Sunrise with his whistle stop tour of the 18 constituencies that make up the Assembly elections, done up in bite sized bundles… He’s started with Greater Belfast, and is working his way outwards from there.

We’ll be pinning them all to the side bar presently…

Update – in fact, follow this link to read them all – 12 of the 18 now completed.

  • pippakin

    Excellent posting but then his always are.

  • Very good analysis.

  • joeCanuck

    Agree; fantastic posting and analysis. Where is Sammy Morse, who was a great analyst too? Is he Splintered Sunrise?

  • Henry94

    Very little change appears to be the consensus everywhere which in the context of elections elsewhere and the economic situation is quite extraordinary. Surely the voters are going to spring a few surprises. Otherwise even the most dedicated election-watchers are going to be bored on Friday.

  • SDLP supporter

    Henry 94 is right. The ‘very little change’ consensus will be somewhat undermined come Friday. It’s inevitable, there will be unexpected victories/defeats that few, if any, saw coming.

    I don’t think anyone anticipated Naomi’s victory in East Belfast 2010 other than the much-missed Sammy Morse..

    The Splintered analysis is good, though there was a bit of egregious blather in it about Foyle being “just about the only place the SDLP still has substantial working-class support”. Just how relevant are labels like “working class and “middle class” and “upper class” any more? Rather than those 19th century labels, should ones like “wealth-creating” or “productive/non-productive” be considered?

    Have any of our underworked university politics departments undertaken an analysis of our local ‘political elites’, including candidates and activists who, in all parties, are a dwindling minority? For the vast, vast majority of the people of NI-say, 99%-representational politics is a type of spectator blood sport where they watch the 1% of activists working themselves to exhaustion for maybe months before election day and the couple of days after.

    Surely it wouldn’t be beyond our academics to undertake an occupational background analysis of the 2011 Assembly and council candidates? I would guess that it would throw up quite a few surprises which could undermine Splintered’s somewhat glib assumption. I would guess that the largest group involved would be “community workers” in all parties, but especially Sinn Fein and DUP. Are they ‘middle class’ or ‘working class’?

    There are far more people getting their living out of politics than just 3 MEPs, 18 MPs, 108 Assembly members and their respective staffers/support workers, often doubling as candidates. I estimate that the majority of the 51 Belfast City councillors are in politics full-time supplementing their £9,500 allowance with “wee board” appointments to Belfast Harbour Commissioners etc. and the same goes for other councils. The fact that being a councillor was supposed to be a part-time job has been eroded.

    God be with the days when Sinn Fein excoriated the SDLP for being run by“middle-class” teachers (teachers, for God’s sake!) or when Joe Hendron was excoriated weekly in the ‘Andersonstown News’ for living in supposed Pharaonic opulence in the “leafy suburbs” of South Belfast, less than a mile from Kennedy Way.

    A few nights ago in South Belfast I witnessed a Sinn Fein election team comprising, inter alia, a multi-millionaire candidate (not a resident in South Belfast), a mega-wealthy retired solicitor (thank God for legal aid) whose firm majored in defending “alleged” republican and loyalist paramilitary types and a Gaelscoil Priomh-Oide (Head Teacher), not a South Belfast resident, but probably on £60K a year.

    ‘Working class’, how are you?

  • The identity of Mr Morse is a secret known only to several hundred people.
    I agree with Henry 94. It is not a volatile election. Minor adjustments within the three tribes. And I suspect thats how it will be for some time.
    Essentially our Agreement has been set in stone….in proportions roughly of 50:40:10…..and ther will be some nibblng at the edges of that and within it. But thats how it is.

  • jthree

    I’d be fascinated to hear how SDLP Supporter would define people as: ‘wealth-creating” or “productive/non-productive”.

  • SDLP supporter

    Will be pleased to tell you, but give me a break, I’m fighting in an election. Raise it in a month or so. There’s a lot of blather talked about ‘social capital’ (community worker types) but at the end of the day wealth is generally created by those producing internationally-tradeable goods and services (often the more precarious employment). The wealth is then shared out and, of course, people like nurses and the like are highly likely to be productive. But, for example, the up to 20% (some say) of the NHS budget going to treat alcohol and drug dependency may not be particularly productive if the individual’s problems persists.

    I was in the Village part of South Belfast a few days ago, yes, leafleting, and noted quite well-appointed offices for at least three ‘community organisations’ which contrasted with the rows of bricked-up houses. I’m sure these organisations believe they are doing good work, and maybe they are, but it’s inevitable with European and IFI funding drying up that the added value will be scrutinised ever more closely.

    A society can not survive in taking in each other’s washing and it’s a stretch to say there is a Northern Ireland economy where there is a cargo-cult like dependence on the Westminster subvention.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    “Just how relevant are labels like “working class and “middle class” and “upper class” any more?”

    Pretty relevant, well according to your leader Margaret Ritchie. During the BBC debate on Tuesday night she stated on a few occasions that SF were anti ‘middle class’. By default indicating that she was not.

  • SDLP Supporter makes two seperate points. One could be interpretated as being “partisan” (which of course does not in itself make it right or wrong) but I think it has to be recognised that SDLP and Sinn Féin have both changed a lot, reflecting on the trajectory that the lives of many of the people they seek to represent have taken.
    It is a cliché to think that the catholic middle class vote SDLP and catholic working class vote SF . at best thats simplistic.
    By their nature political parties AND politicians are “aspirational”. They aspire to something better for themselves and their own and by extension the people they represent.
    Worldwide, there was certainly a time when parents aspired that their daughters be nurses. Now quite properly they would say “I want my daughter to be a doctor”.
    If there is a cliché that the SDLP of the early 1970s was the “political wing of the Irish National Teachers Organisation” its certainly true in many cases but almost inevitably those people had come from much more humble origins.
    People who became teachers, nurses, social workers wanted (in many cases) to give something back.
    For me…..a child of extremely poor (but Thank God I didnt realise it) going to University in 1970-73 was as much about their dream as my dream. Ideed I took some persuading on occasions to stick at it.
    And of course it was a gateway to a better life.
    And it meant the starting point for my own children was different. Where University Education was an assumption more than an Aspiration.
    And I am sure that experience is mirrored across many SDLP and SF or indeed Alliance “families”. SDLP Supporter put this in the context of SDLP/SF but it also stretches to DUP/UUP.
    To some extent the comfortable generation had gone to sleep in the 1990s and thats why I think that the young candidates in the 2011 Election are such a welcome sight.
    The Return of Aspiration gladdens my old Hippy Heart.

    But SDLP Supporter makes a far better point in relation to the 3 MEPs, 18 MPs, 108 MLAs, the staffers, Press people, semi professional councillors and support staff….there isa Political Industry.
    While Ive just said and firmly believe that most aspiring politicians are ….well……….aspirational, there is I think a danger of careerism.
    I get the impression that some people sit down aged 23 and plan a political career which is as much to do with Geography and Opportunity than Conviction.
    I am not much of a Facebooker or Twitterer but I dont quite understand that young professional and aspiring politicians seem to have more in common with eacgh other than fellow Party mebers.
    Is QUB School of Politics that influential? Or is it QUBSU Politics Society that “social”.
    Of course cross community friendships are great.
    Those of us with any kinda social life, sporting life or working life have them. But perhaps (a reflection of most of my adult life against the background of political turmoil)……..these friendships have endured with a tacit recognition that Politics is “taboo”.
    As a Political animal all my life, I have tended not to have “political” friendships as they would too easily become “sectarian” or at least “sectional” in nature. Nor have I ever really wanted to have “political” friendships outside my comfort zone.
    Of course Times have changed.
    But these young professional politicians dont necessarily go into PARTY politics. Campaigning groups, Media, Stormont Secretariat, and for older people Public Appointments.
    “SDLP Supporter” is essentially identifying a “political class” of about 1,500 people. Id go further and say there were 5,000.
    And they are being…….monitored.
    By Big Brother types of a “cross-community” mindset. Watching out for those to be promoted as “concilatory” and those to be ridiculed as “conviction politicians”.
    Or identify those who can be moulded….before they have left the School of Politics at QUB. To see if they have a common purpose. Part time jobs to ensure they stay on message.
    Meanwhile the mouthy awkward squad not buying into, “professionalism” or any other buzz word can be dismissed as elderly cranks whose heresy is to be monitored.