And the #belw11 winners were … Paul Maskey (26% of the electorate) and the EONI (165 minutes)

Paul Maskey blowing out candles on a muffin - it's his birthdayIt was going to be hard for either of them to trip up.

Paul Maskey’s coronation to continue Sinn Fein’s reign in West Belfast would have required some kind of enormous scandal to have brewed up earlier this week to spoil his chances – and even the ongoing, rumbling Mary McArdle story wasn’t enough to do that.

The Electoral Office wanted a slick, faster-than-expected result to cancel out some of the bad publicity surrounding the referendum and Assembly election counts five weeks ago. One constituency, ninety or so counting staff, first past the post, and a small turnout all worked for them on this occasion.

Each table (or ‘set’) of three people verified a ballot box and looked to be presorting the Maskey and non-Maskey votes to make the actual count that bit faster. With the numbers verified as matching the number of ballots issued in the polling station, the same table then counted the ballots. Repeat for a second box and it was all over bar the totting up and spreadsheets.

Two o’clock would have been a decent enough time for a declaration. But with what looked like every deputy returning officer east of the Bann in the Nugent Hall at Balmoral helping out, and no sign of hairdryers or lost ballot boxes, the declaration was made shortly before a quarter to one.

The 37.53% turnout was low. Unionist parties reckoned that areas like the Shankill were even lower at around 20% turnout. The Electoral Office website was updated overnight with the full results.

EONI website West Belfast result

In terms of an electoral mandate from the overall constituency, Paul Maskey’s birthday present of 16211 votes (70.31% share) is only just over a quarter (26.38%) of the potential voters.

Potential electorate results West Belfast

The SDLP were a little disappointed at their vote – a couple of percent more would have been a healthier result.

People Before Profit were the only party to increase their vote and promised to continue campaigning in the constituency.

The DUP were pleased with 6% – they needed 5% to retain their deposit. Brian Kingston claimed in his speech to have increased the DUP’s share of the unionist vote in West Belfast.

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  • Can it be surprising there was a low turn out…………Westminster isnt exactly a priority in West Belfast.
    And difficult to explain away 70% of voters (just about the normal SF vote share) as a defeat.
    If 26% of the available electorate votes for SF and 0.2% votes AP…..Id hate to hear how bad that defeat was.
    For every AP vote in West Belfast……..SF gets 133, Id call that impressive.

  • Crubeen

    And 63% couldn’t be arsed to turn out and vote … which signals massive apathy.

    Yawn!

  • joeCanuck

    Crubeen,

    Be careful. I got a yellow card for yawning.

  • Mick Fealty

    FJH has covered what else needs to be said. Pretty sound approval for Mr Maskey. Crisis, what crisis?

  • amateuranthropology

    Sticking to the facts – DUP vote is down (both number of votes and share), the SDLP vote fell sharply (both number of votes and share), and the Alliance share is a quarter of what it was only a year ago (both number of votes and share).

  • john

    Am I the only one who sees this result as an embarrassment for the SDLP. SF without Mr Adams and the recent controversy regarding McArdle still returned home with a massive majority.The rate at which the PBP are increasing their vote they will probably be a more serious contender than SDLP at the next election. Is it the SDLP party that has a problem in West Belfast or is It Mr Attwood himself??? Would a different candidate get a better result???

  • Henry94

    The usual clamour to speak for the non-voters so I might as well join in. Non-voters are the most contented section of the electorate. Politics doesn’t impinge to much on their happy lives and they have more pressing and interesting things to do than trudge to the pooling station.

    Major or revolutionary change is always proceeded by an upturn in political involvement not a downturn. A downturn in voting is always and everywhere a sign of contentment.

    If the incumbent party wins a by-election it makes more sense to put the non-voters in their pile than to count them against. Of course the most sensible thing to do is ignore them and that’s exactly what happens when every other party wins a by-election. Or even looses as in “The DUP were pleased with 6%”

  • PJ Maybe

    Shouldn’t that headline read “Dunny-on-the-Wold returns Baldrick”?

  • lamhdearg

    20% turnout on the shahkill, shame on them.

  • john,
    a reasonable enough performance by PBP but t no threat to SDLP (yet)

    SF 70.3% (Assembly 66.1%…2010 71.1%)
    SDLP 13.4% (Assembly 13.2% 2010 16.4%)
    PBP 7.6% (Assembly 4.8%….but combined PBP/Soc/WP vote 7.6%)
    DUP 6.1% (Assembly 7.5%…2010 7.6%)
    UUP 1.7% (Assembly 4.2% …2010 3.1%)
    AP 0.5% (Assembly 1.1% 2010 1.9%)

    Three elections in 13 months and nothing changes for SF.
    SDLPs vote has been around 12%-14% and again no change.
    No real point in unionists turning out so they didnt. The Assembly vote is a truer reflection.
    The Alliance vote is derisory.
    SFs detractors might cling to the low turnout for comfort but was there any real point in turning out. The people who stayed away couldnt care less who represented them and SF merely went a step further her and ensured nobody would (within the “Palace” of Westminster) and a reminder that nobody is bothered (enough) by any pre-1998 victim (Mary Travers, Jean McConville) to affect the SF vote.

  • Gopher

    I would be certain if the SDLP held a seat in a predominately nationalist constituency, SF would galvanise the campaign on some issue or other and create interest. Attwood is content to collect his assembly wage and that is the height of SDLP ambition in politics.
    The decline of the SDLP continues unabated that is the story of this election

  • sonofstrongbow

    So the ‘McArdle’ affair had no impact on the good people of West Belfast. The past is the past and all that. Will that be bad news for those folks up in Ballymurphy?

  • Cynic2

    A solid SF win but not inspiring.

    The King is dead. Mr 26% now has to establish himself with the electorate

  • Nope “son of strongbow”

    “So the ‘McArdle’ affair had no impact on the good people of West Belfast. The past is the past and all that. Will that be bad news for those folks up in Ballymurphy?”

    I think we can say with some degree of certainty, it had no impact at all. You have linked the McArdle case to the Ballymurphy case.
    But surely the difference is that Ms McArdle was actually imprisoned for a crime and nobody was imprisoned for Ballymurphy 1971.
    Unless of course you are suggesting that neither was a “crime” or that both were “crimes”.

  • Independent Ulster

    How can SF ask and expect the electorate to bother to turnout when they dont bother to take their seats?

    So what is the their logic in standing for election to boycott Westminster, to prevent someone else from having the seat?

  • sonofstrongbow

    ‘fitzjameshorse1745’

    Unless McArdle is a much more accomplished terrorist than she seems to have been in the past and had access to a teleporter device there appears to have been at least two other Irish Republican ‘soldiers’ deployed against the representatives of the ‘Crown Forces’ (aka the Travers family).

    McArdle was involved in a crime and was found to be so by a court. Please enlighten me as to the findings of the court in the Ballymurphy cases. And just to be clear should any evidence of a crime exist a court can even now be convened: for anyone using weapons illegally at that time

  • Dec

    ‘How can SF ask and expect the electorate to bother to turnout when they dont bother to take their seats?’

    They can and they did. Presumably if abstentionism was such a big issue, more than 20% of the Unionist electorate would have exercised their vote?

  • Speranza-II

    The Beard looks well flushed with himself.MEP babe Mary Lu can ‘afford a big smile-No need to worry about the murdering going on in her Ex-constituency in North Clondalkin.The local elected representative of sinn fein Mattew McDonagh has Rightly condemned the Killing.
    Political Killing is wrong afterall.Sad.

  • “The Electoral Office website was updated overnight with the full results.”

    EONI had to be prompted only last week to complete its very good set of Assembly results. All the transfers had been listed but only some of the successful candidates had ELECTED adjacent to their names!

  • “Paul Maskey’s coronation to continue Sinn Fein’s reign in West Belfast”

    I thought Paul was a republican, Alan 😉

  • Jimmy

    Quoting John (no offence)

    ”Am I the only one who sees this result as an embarrassment for the SDLP. SF without Mr Adams and the recent controversy regarding McArdle still returned home with a massive majority”

    It’s nothing to do with the SDLP or Personalities or Policies for that matter or any aversion of Sinn Fiens dirty laundry so to speak. Basically what you have is an electorate that are Just Stupid; I can’t put it any other way. The people are stuck in a perpetual groundhog day. If one can remember the old adage if you put a Union Jack or a Tri-Colour or on a Donkey people will vote for it. People just vote for their allegiances. I mean what has Sinn Fien actually achieved? People in WB just can’t be morally turned off by SF because they still haven’t reached political maturity. Remember Connor Murphy’s infamous ‘There will not be water charges’ before an assembly election a few years ago? Then he conveniently reneged on it. So the populace are incapable of giving an objective decision at Elections and the Politicians know it.
    It certainly was not a ringing endorsement for SF or Maskey but it was the monotonous result we expected.

  • Drumlins Rock

    This could be an historic election, with Paul being the Last MP for West Belfast, and this being the last vote under the old constituencies, ( unless for some unknown reason one or more of our MP’s decide to stand down in the next couple of years ) with yer mans suggestion of a North East Belfast reducing most people to laughter, the likely hood of a South West or North West seat being created is most likely.
    As for there being a fall of in the vote due to Gerry’s name not being on the ticket, look at the vote management for the 2007 assembly election, keeping the spread equal with such a bit name was amazing, showing that it is the machine of SF that wins in West Belfast, not the personality.

  • Nevin – glad you enjoyed the language.

  • Mr Crumlin

    Well done Paul – a very solid performance – maintained the SF vote share in a contest that us westies really couldnt give a flying fiddlers about – how many Irish MPs do you see on the TV everyday – Stormont is where the action is.

    Also if anyone is silly enough to call Paul Mr 26%, what should we call Alex Attwood then – Mr 4%????

    Once again the people of West Belfast have shown they wholeheartedly support SF – end of story…nothing to see here, move on please.

  • Cynic2

    Mr Crumlin

    Yes Alex is Mr 4%. I said it was a solid performable but not an inspiring one. I think that’s a fair assessment

  • keano10

    Never mind all of the usual sniping and jealousy about another resounding Sinn Fein triumph.

    The real and unreported story here is

    ALLIANCE PARTY -122 VOTES

    What this demonstrates unequivocally is that if you take Alliance away from the plush suburbs of Cherryvalley, North Down etc.. they have absolutely nothing to offer whatsoever to the normal working classes. They may have picked up protest votes from working class Unionists in East Belfast when Naomi Long was elected, but that Westminster seat will return safely to DUP hands next time around.

    If the Alliance Party was truly and sincerely a party representative of “both communities” they would be absolutely horrified at the abysmal turnout yesterday in a huge mainly Catholic Urban constituency, But do you know something. Alliance wont give a single jot about this result because they dont care. There will be no inquests at Leadership level. No self-examination, No anything…

    Because they are ultimately a Unionist Party. Nothing more and nothing less…

  • RyanAdams

    Just hit the nail on the head there keano10.

    I believe David Ford when he speaks the words “Alliance is not a unionist party” as much as I believe Beard everytime he reminds us “I was not in the IRA”.

  • Valenciano

    “the likely hood of a South West or North West seat being created is most likely.”

    Is it really so likely that they’ll get away with arguing that the Upper Falls and Andytown have more in common with the Malone Road than they do with the Lower Falls? Can’t see that one flying particularly since it gives Sinn Fein a sixth MP despite the reduction in seats.

    Far more likely they’ll keep the existing seat intact, adding Crumlin, Woodvale, Finaghy, Musgrave and Derriaghy South to create a logical enough seat, with North Belfast gaining urban Newtownabbey and South and East Belfast merged without the Castlereagh bits. All that’s far more practical and defensible than any North West Belfast or South West Belfast seats which were already rejected during the review in the mid 1990s.

    On the by-election, pretty impressive win for SF and the only change on those figures would be PBP challenging the SDLP for the sixth seat.

  • carl marks

    delighted with people before profits result hopefully a start of realpolitic in this place they didnt win but at least the voters got a chance to vote along class lines instead of peace lines

  • Comrade Stalin

    keano:

    The real and unreported story here is

    ALLIANCE PARTY -122 VOTES

    It’s an unreported story because Alliance in W Belfast are not a news item. The party did not run a campaign there, it put up a token candidate. And got a derisory vote. I mean who was expecting the party would do well ? Not me.

    They may have picked up protest votes from working class Unionists in East Belfast when Naomi Long was elected, but that Westminster seat will return safely to DUP hands next time around.

    Given that the East Belfast seat is set to be abolished next time around, I think it’s pretty safe to say that your psephology is not likely to get you a job as political editor on the BBC any time soon.

    If the Alliance Party was truly and sincerely a party representative of “both communities” they would be absolutely horrified at the abysmal turnout yesterday in a huge mainly Catholic Urban constituency,

    Alliance has no base in West Belfast (although it did years ago, even though the IRA kneecapped the party’s main representative there) so you can be pretty safely assured that nobody is “absolutely horrified”.

    Alliance wont give a single jot about this result because they dont care. There will be no inquests at Leadership level. No self-examination, No anything…

    Quite right too. Properly run political parties don’t target seats they cannot win. That is why SF does not target E Belfast, N Down, N Antrim etc. No inquests or self-examination there.

    Because they are ultimately a Unionist Party. Nothing more and nothing less…

    It’s hardly evidence is it ? Alliance does badly in hardline unionist seats as well. North Antrim being a case in point. East Belfast is not historically a hardline unionist seat; Oliver Napier lost it in 1979 by a whisker.

    Ryan:

    I believe David Ford when he speaks the words “Alliance is not a unionist party” as much as I believe Beard everytime he reminds us “I was not in the IRA”.

    What you don’t know is that Ford is in the Illuminati as well. And the Masons. Probably. If you add up the ASCII codes for the characters “DAVID FORD JUSTICE MINISTER” in upper case and apply a secret formula thought to have been devised by Phelim O’Neill you get “SECRET UNIONIST LOVES MONARCHY F.T.P.”. God knows what other dirty lies he has been telling in his bid for world domination. If the secret ever gets out the beast that is David Ford will be revealed.

  • lamhdearg

    “SECRET UNIONIST LOVES MONARCHY F.T.P.”. God knows what other dirty lies he has been telling in his bid for world domination. If the secret ever gets out the beast that is David Ford will be revealed”

    All very clever comrade, but do YOU think david (or more importantly the vast majority of his partys voters) would vote for the union with Britain in a border poll?.
    What west belfast shows us is that alliance is a liberal unionist based party, with a tiny liberal irish nat %, and that there are very few liberal irish nats in west belfast.

  • Gopher

    I would imagine even Repulican voters would vote for the union in a border poll now. What West Belfast shows us like East Belfast and like North Down there is a swathe of voters waiting to be galvanised. Niaomi did it in East Belfast and Sylvia did it in North Down , Alex sat on his backside in West Belfast that is the difference.

  • Comrade Stalin

    lamhdearg,

    All very clever comrade

    I get a bit sick of having to repeat the same points so I find myself having to introduce humour or sarcasm in the hope that it may find a greater effect.

    I mean if you say to someone “I am not a unionist” (as Ford did during the leader’s debate) and they reply “you’re lying, you are a unionist” where is there to go ? It is as if Ford is a secret unionist and is covering it up as some sort of dirty secret to win votes. Which is patently untrue.

    It’s as if people who want to find a middle way out of the tired old binary “if you’re not one of us you’re one of them” politics are not entitled to define their own politics. And the other thing that really bothers me is that for some people, and I read this between the lines in keano’s contribution up there, whenever they say “unionist” they really mean “prod”. So we are dealing with sectarian politics here.

    but do YOU think david (or more importantly the vast majority of his partys voters) would vote for the union with Britain in a border poll?.

    He has never expressed an opinion on the matter that I am aware of. And I hope he never does, because if he does then he is allowing those who wish to frame politics around the constitutional position to define the debate. We need to get away from caring about what people’s views on the political status of NI are.

    The other thing to add here is – what is your definition of a unionist ? If you think a unionist is simply someone who would vote to keep the union in a border poll, I would argue that you’re wrong. What makes someone a unionist (or not a unionist) is the reason why you vote for the union. If you vote “yes” in the border poll because someone has a gun to your head, are you a unionist ?

    What west belfast shows us is that alliance is a liberal unionist based party

    Why ? The SDLP also did very badly, especially given that they are an established candidate against a less well known one – are they unionists as well ? Or when they call themselves “nationalists” are they entitled to be respected for their beliefs where Alliance are not ?

    with a tiny liberal irish nat %, and that there are very few liberal irish nats in west belfast.

    What on earth is a “liberal Irish nationalist” ?

  • Wasted Ballot

    lol I love how this always break down into an Alliance bitch fest.

    Given that West Belfast is one of the most deprived areas in Europe, I look forward to the newly elected MP working hard to bring jobs and… wait, who am I kidding.

    WB votes for no change, and no change is what it will get.

  • Valenciano

    “Given that West Belfast is one of the most deprived areas in Europe”

    Having lived in Valencia, where a substantial proportion of the population survive on 1,000 euro a month, or Latvia, where the average take home wage is £450-£500 a month, I’d seriously doubt that the denizens of West Belfast are doing that badly in comparison to other EU countries and that’s before we even consider non-EU countries like Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro or Moldova. That’s not to say that SF have done a dismal job of improving things there but did the SDLP do any better in their time?

  • lamhdearg

    comrade
    i have just typed a long (for me) reply to your reply to me, then i pressed the wrong button and it went away, please forgive me if i do not get back to you on this subject tonight, as because of this (going away) i have a desire to smash something, so i will shut down my computer and go to bed, good night.

  • Crubeen

    Alliance is the only true Good Friday Agreement party – crosses embedded in their asses from decades of fence sitting.

  • Crubeen

    Joe,

    “Be careful. I got a yellow card for yawning.”

    Oh dear! At whom was your yawning directed?

    I infer from house rules that one is entitled to yawn at what passes for politicians without risk of censure … and that being the case and their visages being uppermost in my vision ……ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

  • Comrade Stalin is of course quite right to point out that Alliance had a base in West Belfast.
    Starting off with councillors in both parts of West Belfast in 1973.
    Bob Cooper was at Stormont…..and went on to head a quango. (Fair Employment)
    Will Glendinning also got to Stormont…..and funnily enough also got to head a quango. (Community Relations).
    Although Dan McGuinness has not been elected to any office for many years (about 25 I reckon) he has given service on Eastern Health Board, Housing Executive, Probation Board.
    If I have ommitted any I apologise.
    But Id be surprised if the disgusting kneecapping of the main representative of the AP in West Belfast…….indeed I have mentioned this before (naming the individual) on Slugger and pointing out my personal admiration for him…….Id be surprised if this was a major factor in the non-election of any AP person in West Belfast for decades.
    After all Alex Maskey and Gerry Adams both survived being shot.
    The SDLP was not intimidated out of politics in North Belfast by the murder of my fathers friend Paddy Wilson.
    Nor was UUP hounded out of politics in South Belfast by the murders of Robert Bradford and Edgar Graham.

    Comrade Stalin makes a comparison (AP in West Belfast and SF in North Down).
    I suspect if I walked from Castle Street to Twinbrook, shouting “Vote Alliance” nobody would attack me. If I walked from Holywood to Donaghadee shouting “Vote Sinn Féin”……hmm which carries the greater risk.

    Rather Id point out that standing aside in an Election.
    Frankly I believe that standing aside in elections to boost Joe Hendron SDLP against Gerry Adams was a very significant factor in Alliances demise. No doubt done for the best of motives but long term harm to AP.

    But as Comrade Stalin points out …they need not be concerned about 122 votes in West Belfast. Advancement for AP people is not via the democratic route.

  • “Advancement for AP people is not via the democratic route.”

    fjh, I suspect the Northern Ireland Office has now changed the parameters for its ‘political wing‘.

  • Alliance tend to justify their undue influence on the grounds that they are fairer.
    Some defend 51,000 votes and eight Assembly seats begetting two Executive seats (while 94,000 (14) begets one and 88,000 16) begets one) on the same basis.
    Alliance are “fair” but not necessarily great believers in Domocracy so they must be given a hand up.
    Incidently I am grateful to the Alliance person who sent me the Alliance Party link which tells me that Dan McGuinness was only a councillor from 1977 to 1981……but has been in his time….
    a member of the NI Housing Executive
    non executive director of Eastern Health & Social Services Board, the Consumer Council and the Probation Board for Norn Iron.
    The link also includes Belfast Education and Library Board but he might well have got that thru being a Councillor.

    But Nevin raises an interesting question.
    There are now three power blocks in Norn Iron.
    Constitutional Nationalism
    Constitutional Unionism
    and
    lets get alongerism
    Alliance no longer has the fig leaf of being the only party acceptable to all in a post conflict situation and the clamour for quango positions in chastened economic times is likely to be intense. DUP and Sinn Féin being anxious to reward their own.
    Which is why I tend to look on Platform For Change as people signing on for (quango-esque) employment without actually getting Job Seekers Allowance. Now that I my own little contract has run out, Im thinking of signing up to Platform for Change. Cant do any harm.

    We live in different times. We can no onger stand around the office water cooler pretending we all vote Alliance (or SDLP and UUP).
    Being a “moderate” is of course still acceptable but it is no longer the only form of social acceptability.
    Public appointments can now reflect the true nature of Society.
    Will BBC and UTV newsrooms follow suit.

  • lamhdearg

    Will BBC and UTV newsrooms follow suit.
    You have f****** no chance.

  • “Public appointments can now reflect the true nature of Society.”

    Nothing like a bit of good old-fashioned cronyism, fjh!

    I wonder whether or not Felicity Huston has now got a team of independent assessors in place. This from the 2009/10 OCPANI annual report:

    “The contracts for the team of Assessors officially finished at the end of September 2009. .. Whilst I managed and trained this group and allocated them to competitions the departments paid them directly. The Assessors completed a report on the department and the department completed a report on the Assessor. This is all very confusing. I also recently became aware that under this arrangement the Assessors “belong to the Departments”. This is clearly unacceptable if they are to be independent. I have offered a solution to this. .. I am still awaiting a response from our First and the deputy First Minister on this matter.”

    Can we expect a ‘carve-up’ by the OFMDFM when it comes to future public appointments?

  • Oh I think so.
    The number of quangos at every level will be smaller. And the power of patronage of the three blocks will be proportionately greater. Id expect Ms Huston to be marginalised.
    Of course we cant actually see whats happening in OFM/DFM but we can amuse ourselves watching the antics of people trying to climb the networking ladder, talking up their various skills portfolios.
    We could all compose a spreadsheet of “most likely to succeed” unelected people and watch their rise.
    Surprisingly Im not very good at networking and I am on the bottom rung of the ladder. Apparently I alienate people.

  • Nevin,
    Consumer Council? Why not? Im a People Person
    I note that the link shows that the Metropolitan College actually has a course for people who want to be on a public body.
    I suppose I should cover all the bases and sign up to it (fee refundable if no job I assume) and decide which power block should back me. I can fake sincerity very well. 😉

  • “And the #belw11 winners were …”

    .. and the losers were the residents 🙁

  • keano10

    And the #belw11 winners were …”
    .. and the losers were the residents

    Nevin,

    You are entitled to express your deep hatred of Sinn Fein as you continually and persisitently do, however to denigrate and belittle the electorate who choose to vote for them is an entirely diffrent manner.

    It may be not what you want to hear Nevin, but the electorate who vote for this particular party are as intelligent, politically aware and dare I say, as normal, as those who vote for any other political party here.

    Sinn Fein are no longer just a party of the working classes. They draw substantial support from all sections and classes within the broader Nationalist community.

    The residents of West Belfast did not lose anything last Thursday. They democraticaly cast their votes and the winning candidate secured a landslide victory receiving almost 71% of the total votes cast. The winning candidate did not receive those votes for nothing Nevin, nor were those votes cast for no reason either…

    Let the electorate of West Belfast decide whether they winners or losers. They are more than capable and intelligent enough to do so…

  • “Sinn Fein are no longer just a party of the working classes.”

    keano10, SF is the political wing of a Mafia-style organisation, the PRM. It would appear that some of its members continue to be immune from prosecution, including for recent breaches of the law. I don’t see how you can argue that that is good for democracy. I feel no hatred, just a love for justice and decency. All manner of folks have been successful at the ballot box. So what?