Stormont facing a crisis of confidence.

Today’s Lucid Talk poll in the Belfast Telegraph should be a wake up call for all politicians in Northern Ireland to up their game.

When asked the question, compared to direct rule from Westminster, how would you rate the performance of the NI assembly? Just 9.4% said it was either excellent or good and that falls to 7.4% when you exclude undecideds. This compares badly to the 66.3% who rated the assembly’s performance as not very good or bad.

The disillusionment is evenly spread across both protestants (57.7%) and catholics (54%), as majorities in both camps registered a negative opinion of Stormont’s performance.

The overall trend is one of decline, as Lucid Talk reported from 2012 that Stormont’s net approval rating sank from -40% in May 2012, to -59.9% today.

Just to put this in context, the Fianna Fail government which was ejected from office after the IMF bailout in 2010/11 had a higher approval rating of 14% than Stormont does today. The Belfast Telegraph when they conducted their first poll on this subject last year noted that the Greek government at the time of their IMF bailout in May 2010 also enjoyed higher approval ratings. Furthermore, the US Congress which is generally disliked by voters, also beats out Stormont with a 19% approval rating.

Gerry Lynch, who is an analyst for Lucid Talk, has this excellent insight about the poll;


This is the sort of score which a politician could expect after being arrested on serious criminal charges.


I’m not sure if this is the standard that Stormont should be shooting for but the numbers speak for themselves.

Just six years into devolution and the current assembly are facing approval ratings that would make most politicians run for cover and stay in bed. Perhaps some of them with take the hint and actually start focusing on issues that the general public really cares about.



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  • Rory Carr

    I think, David, that I will await the posting of the link quite eagerly as I cannot decipher the figures which you have given above. For the life of me I cannot fathom how a figure of 66.3% which rates the assembly poorly can then translate into a minus net approval figure of -59.9%.

    If at least 9.4% rate the assembly as “good” to “excellent” then how is a minus approval rating calculated ? Indeed what does it mean ? That the dead and buried disapprove ? That might have mattered in days of yore when the deceased still had the vote but I understand that they have been somewhat summarily disenfranchised of late.

  • I’s say most nationalists would rather a return to direct rule than see the DUP swanning about with their 17th century notions of politics. They’re not even bothering to hide their total cynicism in doling out petitions of concern to protect McCausland et al.

  • David McCann

    Rory the 66.3% figure is for those who expressed an opinion. 20% registered don’t know and if you exclude the undecideds Stormont’s satisfaction rate drops to 7.4% of the total sample.

    You are right however that brings the approval rating to 58.9% and not 59.9%. That figure is in the Telegraph.

  • megatron

    How many people actually want to see a return to direct rule?

    That would have been a more informing question to ask.

    These polls are fairly worthless given the large and increasing (everywhere) number of people who dont vote, dont care and dont think.

  • OneNI

    I think it is wrong to suggest the Assembly is ‘facing’ a crisis of confidence. That suggests the situation is current and could be retreived.
    This ship has sailed. The Assembly as constituted has no credibility

  • RegisterForThisSite

    David, as LucidTalk is a one-man-band and it’s website is basically Bill Whites blogpage, not to mention the fact that Bill’s Bio is somewhat stretching the bounds of reality may I ask how many people where actually surveyed and where is the detail apart from the obvious of how many, when, don’t knows etc,

    Also do I recall him been an ex-member of the UUP, constituency chairman perhaps

    At this point I think the headline should be
    Ex-UUP bloke asks his mates how much do you dislike SF and DUP in power, mates say “We don’t Bill”

  • David McCann

    The sample was 1,222 people.

    Just because he was in the UUP I don’t think that discounts his opinion-he is a trained pollster. If you can point out a flaw in his modeling please do-otherwise, play the ball, not the man.

  • Barnshee

    The “assembly” is safe unless the paymaster runs out of patience.

    The donkeys will be dressed in the appropriate liveries at election time and the rigged race will have the same results.

    The ” politicians” at Stormont are (generally) a talentless bunch of party hacks – (if they were any use they would have a well paid career elsewhere ) A waste of space as they dole out the crumbs from the UK table

    The up and coming decisions on social security cuts will provide some interest as the vested interests flail about blaming those nasty” Brits” for- er not giving them more money.

  • Morpheus

    If this summer has taught us one thing is that Belfast is not representative of Northern Ireland so it would be really interesting if Lucid held their polls on a county-by-county basis.

    I know the theory that for a population of 1.8m a sample of group of just over 1000 should be sufficient but I can’t help but wonder if, for example, a 18 year old Catholic, female, SDLP voter from Fermanagh or a 72 year old, Protestant, male, UUP voter from Armagh (or enough of them to form a conclusion on how this group think) are adequately represented the sample group.

  • BluesJazz

    Just about anything that relates to most areas of peoples lives is legislated for at the National parliament-Westminster.
    If Stormont ceased to exist, no-one would notice.
    it’s purpose, as a placebo, is to create an illusion of local accountability when it has less power than English councils

  • RegisterForThisSite – be careful of making unsubstantiated allegations.

    In a previous poll for BelTel – this one will play out all week – I seem to remember LucidTalk have published a summary of the stats afterwards for all to see.

  • David McCann

    How can politicians here raise their approval ratings?

  • David McCann,

    ‘How can politicians here raise their approval ratings?’

    Throw money at the electorate, it’s always that simple.

  • Barnshee

    ‘How can politicians here raise their approval ratings?”

    Attach heavy weight to each leg and take the proverbial long walk off a short pier

  • weidm7

    The anti-assembly media and maybe the media in general seem to like to pretend that NI is the same as any other place with normal functioning politics. In the south, Britain or most other places, a 9% approval rating would indeed be a serious issue and would most likely mean a change in government at the next election. However, NI is a post-conflict zone where two parties with diametrically opposed views are forced to share power. It’s absolutely no surprise that they can’t get anything done. To answer your question, they can’t get higher approval ratings, because they can’t do anything because they’re forced to share power with their polar opposites. These kind of articles ignore this reality.

    It’s fair enough to want the two governments to force the NI assembly to do more, but it’s unrealistic to expect the current executive to function like the coalition governments in the south or across the water.

  • Rory Carr

    Gracious me, Weidm 7 ! Do you not realise we have standards to to which to aspire on topics such as this, indeed on this in particular and it will just not do to go introducing blasts of fresh air and patent sanity into these discussions. Northern Ireland with its Assembly is indeed unique and so unique indeed that those who live there must be allowed the privilege of dwelling in happy ignorance of political reality lest the shock to the system be too great for them to bear.

  • RegisterForThisSite

    “be careful of making unsubstantiated allegations”

    Whats unsubstantiated Alan, I stand by everything I wrote and I will happily back it up, suggest you pop onto LinkedIn, google and Bills blog/website and then get back to me with something specific rather than a vague threat which could be construed as playing the man on your part.

    Now then apart from distracting from the OP did you actually have something to say?

  • RegisterForThisSite

    “..for a population of 1.8m a sample of group of just over 1000 should be sufficient ….”

    Yes and no, proper polls are carried out over 2-3 days, this one was over 2-3 WEEKS, as they say a week is a long time in politics, the period allows for too much to happen between the start and end dates that would influence answers.

    Also there seems to be a huge number of ‘don’t knows’ or ‘no opinions’ so the sample size is greatly reduced.

    And also, it’s a bizarre question to poll

    “When asked the question, compared to direct rule from Westminster, how would you rate the performance of the NI assembly?”

    What does it mean? is it things like badger culls? (Westminster Yes, Assembly No) is it a preference for P&J to be returned to Westminster? Is it disliking nationalists in positions of power? IS it wanting joint authority? what is it?

  • Rory Carr

    Gotta admit – Mr Register is cruelly correct when he explains the relative uselessness of the question posed whatever of the other deficiencies in sampling and time span of survey – the poll does strike one as pretty meaningless when we consider the generality of the question. May as well ask people if they enjoy weather.

  • David McCann

    I think any poll is just a snap shot in time-I don’t think anybody is arguing that this is the next election. Yet 1,222 people asked and just 9% give a positive response is very alarming.