Sinn Fein’s ‘Dead Cat Bouncette’…

That’s a quote from Radio Ulster (Tom Kelly, I think)… One of the things I think I did get right in my piece for the News Letter was the idea that there would be little in the way of a bounce from their phenominal success in the General Election in the Republic… For all the seat gains the party is going to make, a 0.8% rise in the party’s popular vote cannot be construed in any way as contagion….

It suggests that the ‘end to Union’ aspect of the party’s appeal is not in the forefront it’s voter’s minds…

  • Chris Donnelly

    Sinn Fein’s vote actually rose 0.8% on a figure largely believed to have been the party’s ceiling vote.

    In contrast, the DUP vote actually fell marginally.

    You can’t conclude that the DUP had a stunning election (which they did) without conceding the same for Sinn Fein on actual vote figures.

    Sinn Fein’s problem is the spread of their vote is not balanced, which has meant nationalists did not claim the Strangford seat, are going to lose one in South Antrim and failed in Upper Bann for the third.

    Those SDLP voters are either opting for Alliance following an election campaign where the SDLP foolishly used the leader debates to align with a UUP leader talking the redundant TUV language. That probably pushed many SDLP voters to Alliance in the Belfast suburban belt, or left many of them opting to stay at home on polling day as Sinn Fein proved an unattractive alternative in these areas.

    In contrast to Sinn Fein, the DUP have managed to build a Fianna Fail-esque pan unionist party by strategically targeting the respective social classes in turn. Thus former UDA man Douglas on the East Belfast ticket whilst a string of candidates elsewhere reflecting the broadly right of centre mainstream electorate.

    Sinn Fein’s often incoherent leftist rhetoric continues to harm the party in SDLP heartlands and majority unionist areas, as does very poor organisation in these areas.

    All in all, though, this is still likely to be a good election for Sinn Fein, with only Alliance amongst the major parties increasing their vote in larger percentage terms than Sinn Fein.

  • Mr Crumlin


    I hope that SF will now organise properly in Crumlin, now that Thomas Burns has lost his seat.

    I agree that SF must broaden its appeal into the middle classes – I was saying to a friend recently that I vote SF because I’m a republican but many of their other policies do not appeal to me at all. There will of course be cries from the left but that is how political strength is built.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Mr C

    Crumlin is a great example of Sinn Fein’s failings. A second nationalist seat in Sth Antrim should not have been lost, and would not have been lost had Sinn Fein put in place a much stronger organisational presence in the Sth East Antrim area.

    The poor nationalist turnout in Glenavy, Crumlin and Antrim indicate how many disillusioned former SDLP voters aren’t impressed by Sinn Fein and, therefore, simply aren’t bothering to vote.

    It’s the same in Strangford, where (incredibly) the boundary changes which brought in so many new nationalists to the constituency did not increase the nationalist vote at all.

    Organisationally, both SF and SDLP have many questions to address, but the former really aren’t interested due to success elsewhere encouraging complacency, whilst the latter appear utterly clueless and incompetent.

  • pippakin

    There were a couple of threads on Slugger showing why the party has not prospered as it could, and should, have done. John O’Dowd opinion on an all ‘Island’ referendum and the SF video are the two examples that immediately spring to mind.

    SF must broaden its appeal and to do that they must aim the sales pitch at moderates. It makes me wonder who ran the strategic side of the campaign because the DUP could not have done better if they had been running SFs campaign themselves. Speaking of the DUP it was noticeable that they were making all the right cooing noises to moderates…

  • Mr Crumlin

    Totally agree Chris.

    I have said that I am a SF voter and agree with the overall direction of the party.

    However I will be expecting a much greater presence in South Antrim and in particular Crumlin. As you know the Crumlin population has been swelled by young west Belfast families moving out in the last 10-15 years. In many ways SF gain in 2007 was down to that.

    There are quite a few republicans in Crumlin – surely it is not beyond the party to get its act together.

    There are many young nationalists in the Crumlin area and its time to galvanise this area.

  • nickyjg

    Unfortunately, Tom Kelly’s political contributions seem more and more to be the mirror image of the UUP’s Elliot wing, Slightly bitter. Factually wrong.

    Chris Donelly provides a pretty good reposte.

    Their growth in the percentage vote is by an incumbent coalition partner. This must be factored in also, as not to do so is disingenuous. In short, the SDLP, in theory, had plenty of circumstantial trump cards also, so we are not only dealing with Sinn Feins southern success in this argument.

    From what I can see, SF have acheved the following:

    – Increased their vote yet again, and as an “incumbent” in difficult times.
    -Brought into play North Belfast3, East Antrim, Upper Bann2, West Tyrone4, FST3, West Tyrone4, Mid Ulster4, Foyle3 and maybe East Derry for seats, following the pattern of many an election.
    -Foyle has finally been breached as an SDLP citadel, whilst also fighting a good rearguard in the same area against the dissident element.

    Those SDLP trump cards I spoke of were not insignificant:

    -Ruane, their bogeywoman in South Down, with the party leader there to face her. No real impact on SF there.
    -Conor Murphy, their bogeyman of sorts in former SDLP stronghold. No real fightback there, and in fact C McDevitt, who spoke strongly this past winter against him, struggling badly with his vote.

    The bounce is there, you just have to take away the desire not see it, and the factor in other circumstances also.

  • Kadfoomsa


    Seriously, you speak as if Sinn Féin are not doing very well.

    Up one percent isnt great but Sinn Féin are really pushing againist the boundaries.

    I think many of those boundaries can be overcome for sure aand Sinn Féin could go better but at the end of the day, Sinn Féin is not a minority party in the North, not a major party in the South but not a minor one either.

    Whatever people think of Sinn Féin, I think people have to take of the fantasy goggles, there is been no SDLP revival, Sinn Féin have not melted down.

  • pippakin


    Oh no! I did not intend to give that impression. The thing is SFs vote is assured among many nationalists and republicans. Its the moderates of all shades and the middle classes who want progress and choice not dictatorship that SF must appeal to.

    Its time SF stopped wailing like a banshee over the house of unionism and made a real effort to appeal to everyone. Its undeniable that there are some elements in SF that the average moderate would not touch, surely its not unreasonable to relegate those elements to a seat at the rear for the duration of an election campaign. All, or in this case most, campaigns are built around what will most appeal to the independent voter, not the core support which would not be going anywhere else anyway.

  • Chris Donnelly

    wailing like a banshee over the house of unionism

    You’re ignoring the work by McGuinness which has been recognised by many unionists, not to mention Maskey’s efforts in the Village area of South Belfast.

    But those efforts are not going to win votes even though they are important quite simply because unionists will remain unionists and nationalists will remain nationalists.

    Sinn Fein’s next step needs to be to make efforts to broaden their appeal within nationalism across the north, attracting a new breed of political representatives reflective of the nationalist electorate.

    That’ll mean, ironically, learning from the DUP in the same way that the vote management strategy so expertly brought to the north by Sinn Fein has been adopted even more impressively by the DUP this time.

  • Mr Crumlin

    But are SF willing to do that? Some of the coopts, like Pat Sheehan, points in the other direction.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Mr C
    You’re asking the right question.

  • antamadan

    Adding DUP UUP TUV PUP UKIP BNP Conservatives, mclarty mccord mdfarland etc., I still only get 48% for unionists, 41% SF & SDLP, 11% alliance green wp non-unionist independents etc. Am I missing something, or is this the first time all unionists are <50% and the narrowest unionist-nationalist margin ever?

  • Kadfoomsa


    Alliance have gone down a clear unionist road so no.

  • Kadfoomsa


    I think you misunderstand politics from an ideological stand point rather than the mere professional stand point.

    Surely, you see that for Sinn Féin, the challenge is to republicanise the moderates, not moderate the republicans.

  • Chris Donnelly

    That objective is not contradicted by the observation that you need good quality, effective, articulate and local representatives across each constituencies to achieve that objective.

    Sending in people to constituencies as paper candidates alone is not good enough, as continues to be the case in places like the upper Antrim Road, Glengormley, Carryduff, the whole of Strangford, Lagan Valley and North Down constituencies.

    Surely the successes achieved west of Bann in particular indicate that finding that balance could yield unparalleled advances?

  • Mr Crumlin

    In the north over the next ten years SF will grow in two ways – most young people (who bother to vote) will vote for the party.

    The other way is to eat into traditional sdlp votes – this they are less prepared to do.

  • pippakin

    Chris Donnelly Kadfoomsa

    You do not win moderate/independent voters by reminding them of why they never vote for you. Republican votes will increase across the board when young people look at them and see a party offering real prospects of peace and a United Ireland looks inviting. I believe many people already feel less threatened by the prospect.

    Martin McGuinness has indeed been doing excellent work, and some of it must have choked him! but it all goes to waste if major thrusts of the campaign are triumphalist republicans raving about ‘when we’…

    I thought there was a real if remote chance of MMcG becoming first minister but that died the death as the campaign got under way. I find that disappointing since imo it was republican error not unionist flair that took a remote chance and made it impossible.

  • Chris Donnelly

    McGuinness was never going to be First Minister for the simple reason that SF did not have enough realistic target seats to get them over the 30 mark. With the DUP having seen off the UCUNF and TUV threats at Westminster last year, there was little chance of the DUP losing 6 or 7 seats as would have been required for that eventuality.

    Nevertheless, if the figures end up around 37 DUP 29 SF, it keeps the issue burning nicely ahead of 2016, which both parties will (quietly) welcome; something that will make the job facing the UUP and the SDLP all the more difficult.

  • pippakin

    Chris Donnelly

    I did say I thought it was remote. I had hoped for a closer finish and a greater increase in the vote and even in voter turnout. I think SF have got to make the prospect look more inviting. To do that they must muzzle their more ‘enthusiastic’ members. I hope this result encourages SF to run a better campaign next time. Its theirs for the winning

  • Kadfoomsa

    “To do that they must muzzle their more ‘enthusiastic’ members”

    I have no idea what that means, and I think I am glad of that.

  • pippakin


    Oh I wouldn’t dream of leaving you in ignorance. I meant whoever thought it a good idea to talk about an all Ireland referendum would have done better to wait until after the election before saying something they knew wouldn’t happen but also knew would annoy people. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the annoyance got some unionists all the way to the voting booth.

  • Kadfoomsa

    Given that Sinn Féin’s vote is up and the seem to be doing very well, I think that they will surely forgoe your advice Pip!

  • pippakin


    Its not up enough and no they would never take my advice, which is their mistake.

  • New Yorker

    I’m surprised the overall vote is as high as it is. What has the Assembly really accomplished other than paying its members? I can see voting for someone you know and think highly of, but at the end of the day the constitutional issue is settled and the major decisions are made in Westminster. For someone not dependent on local politics, there are better ways to spend one’s time.

  • Mr Crumlin

    I think this has been a satisfactory result for SF – consolidated its position. Nothing more than that.

    It has been a stunning election for the DUP.

    It has been a bad election for SDLP and UUP – both can be thankful for STV.

    I think SF need to think hard and long how they take over from what looks an aging and tired SDLP. They have won the working classes – now time to broaden that appeal. The best way to do that is to work hand in hand with DUP and to make this assembly about delivering.

    BTW – overall this has been a bad result for nationalism – 41% of the electorate should have delivered more seats. Time for the SDLP to start actively encouraging its supporters to transfer to SF and not APNI – who are now breathing down the necks of SDLP and UUP.

  • Reader

    Mr Crumlin: Time for the SDLP to start actively encouraging its supporters to transfer to SF and not APNI
    Given that the constitutional issue is parked, and that the SDLP is starting to get tactical transfers from outside your 41%, why should the SDLP want to take any risks by going tribal?
    What next – voting pacts?

  • Mr Crumlin


    Is this post-nationalism before my eyes? Now where did I hear that before?

  • Reader

    Mr Crumlin: Is this post-nationalism before my eyes?
    I definitely can’t speak for the SDLP; but sometimes I think I might have a better handle on their concerns than a Sinn Fein voter would.
    At the very least you ought to assume that their primary concern at this point isn’t going to be arranging an orderly handover of their assets and supporters to SF.

  • Mr Crumlin

    As a SF voter who transfers to SDLP I cant understand why some SDLP supporters hate SF more than anyone else.

    As a resident of Crumlin I am gutted Thomas Burns lost his seat.

    The SDLP are either a nationalist or post nationalist party – you can’t be both. As far as I know their leader claims to be a nationalist – therefore why would they not wish to see other nationalists win a seat rather than a unionist?

    For example I made sure if Mitchel McLaughlin didnt get in in South Antrim that my vote transfered to the only other nationalist – did you do the same, Reader?

  • Reader

    Mr Crumlin: – therefore why would they not wish to see other nationalists win a seat rather than a unionist? For example I made sure if Mitchel McLaughlin didnt get in in South Antrim that my vote transfered to the only other nationalist
    But what difference does it make in the Assembly? Tribal headcount? Why? There may be other manifesto overlaps. That’s more worth looking for.
    Mr Crumlin:
    – did you do the same, Reader?
    No – my days of propping up pro-agreement unionism are over, and I am looking for more positive reasons to vote. Though I’m solidly unionist, my first 2 preferences weren’t even unionist. My vote stayed with Anne Wilson until she was knocked out in the final count in North Down. I admit my 3rd preference would have gone to a failing party with an inept new leader and ‘Unionist’ in the title. But the candidate is a neighbour of mine.

  • Reader

    Oops – I messed up the italics. The second paragraph was my response to Mr C, then I picked up another quote.

  • Comrade Stalin


    Alliance have gone down a clear unionist road so no.

    Eh ? What is a clear unionist road ?

    Mr Crumlin:

    As a SF voter who transfers to SDLP I cant understand why some SDLP supporters hate SF more than anyone else.

    Try to understand that not everyone thinks within the confines of an exclusively tribal box.