The small matter of a Belfast West by-election #belw11 … and two questions

It’s difficult to get excited about the Westminster by-election. Polling stations have been open again across West Belfast for the second time in five weeks. This time, it’s a simple one-ballot first past the post election to see who will replace Gerry Adams TD in Westminster. The count will start soon after 10pm in the Kings Hall, with boxes verified as they start to arrive from across the constituency.

It struck me this morning that where else in the UK could the Prime Minster visit a city on the day it was holding a by-election today? If UCUNF hadn’t fallen apart it would be electioneering! But in this case, it’s not.

Some predictions …

  • The turnout will be lower than May 2011 (57.90%) or May 2010 (54.91%).
  • The winner will be a man (six out of six chance) … called Paul Maskey.

Selected candidates:

  • SDLP stuck to Alex Atwood who has consistently appeared on the ballot paper since the 2005 Westminster election.
  • People Before Profit stuck with Gerry Carroll who polled 1661 votes for the party in the 2011 Assembly election.
  • Brian Kingston was on the DUP’s Assembly ticket in May 2011, but William Humphrey stood for Westminster in May 2010, and before that Diane Dodds was their candidate.
  • The UUP have been fielding Bill Manwaring since 2010 Westminster’s election, but before that used Chris McGimpsey in 2005 Westminster and Louis West in 2007 Assembly elections.
  • Alliance are quite inconsistent, not running anyone in 2005 (Westminster), running Dan McGuinness in 2007 and 2011 (Assembly) and Maire Hendron in 2010 Westminster. This time, they’ve plunked for Aaron McIntyre.
  • (Paul Maskey replaced long-standing Sinn Fein candidate Gerry Adams at the 2011 Assembly election.)

Disappointingly – for me – no party found someone with the surname of Adams to run! In fact, if two or more parties had fielded ‘Adams’ candidates, the count would have been cripplingly slow … something EONI would be keen to avoid.

So Slugger readers – two questions to answer before the result is announced later tonight …

  • What’s the turnout going to be?
  • At what time will the result be declared?

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