Diane Dodds gets the DUP’s nomination for Europe…

And for balance’s sake, this evening the DUP nominated their sitting MEP, Diane Dodds. Here’s the FM’s pitch:

Diane hasn’t been one of those MEPs who lives in Strasbourg and Brussels but forgets about their constituents.

She has been a tireless advocate for citizens all across the Province, publishing three Funding Directories, highlighting funding opportunities for businesses and communities. These were supplemented with dozens of funding workshops and public meetings across every District Council.

The Party Officers have decided to give further detailed consideration to the selection of a second Democratic Unionist candidate. We will conclude this discussion in due course.”

That’ll be after the last narrow escape. [It really wasn’t that narrow, you know! – Ed]. Yeah, but it did look bad. The DUP’s solution has been take her off the air and get her in front of anyone who cares about EU subsidy or funding.

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  • Gopher

    I suppose it ‘s the price you have to pay to keep Nigel onboard

  • gaygael

    So I’m struggling to get my head around this. Additionally Sinn Fein have mooted a second candidate also!
    Last time out we had these first preferences and quota 121k.
    Sf. 126k
    Dup 88k
    Uup 82k
    SDLP 78
    Tuv 66k
    Alliance 26
    Green 15k

    I can’t understand a second candidate for either party, although the dup potentially makes more sense than sf.
    I see sf comfortably above the quota and even split amongst.2 candidates being less transfer friendly from centre, I can’t see their second staying in above a somewhat steadied SDLP. There are not yet 2 crn quotas, and the SDLP chance is only if the ‘unionist’ vote fractures and falls extremely well (and below quota) and they are left in at the end. Like dodds the last time. Living wage stuff may be interesting though.

    On the pul side, I can’t see tuv doing worse, unless jumbo himself doesn’t stand. But that would be madness. A substantial boost for him I imagine considering his performance in assembly and the potential for benefitting from the flags I see him shaving off dup votes in thousands. Dup should take a hit from tuv.
    88k for dup, even well balanced between two candidates is still only 40k odd each. Does anyone expect them to score better than this? Really in a fractured unionist field? They run the risk of tuv staying in above either their candidates! I can’t understand the logic and would love someone to explain it.
    The pup scored 3.3 in 1999. If they get this again, or around this figure as they have revitalised, and it really makes sense for them to do so and substantially raise a candidates profile, that’s 15k votes. Where are these coming from, even if it’s 10k or 5k? Tuv? Dup? Uup? Or new voters?

    I reckon uup are in serious trouble. Alliance and ni21 shaving off a liberal element, and dup trying to muscle in as mainstream unionism. If uup are elimated early, there votes seem to break more toward tuv than dup!
    What of Ni21? Can they creat a buzz from confernece next week and gain some traction? I don’t imagine they will be competitive for a seat but they should beat the greens and be competitive with alliance for soft unionist votes. Are they more transfer friendly also? It remains to be seen.
    The ‘centre’ parties will not be competitive fro seats, but they split slighlyt in favour of SDLP and May fracture amongst the unionist candidates.
    Alliance were doing well and may have scored higher but they will be competing with ni21 for growth from uup demise.
    Greens to score similar again.

    Should be most interesting european election yet. Let’s see what happens as candidates are finalised and conference ends.

  • mjh

    Interesting and meaty comment, gaygael

    The DUP announcement suggests that negotiations with the UUP on a non-competition pact for Westminster seats (and possibly even co-operation in Assembly elections) are underway. And the DUP are upping the pressure on the UUP.

    The less likely possibility is that they have already decided to run a second candidate but believe that delaying the announcement will give them a publicity advantage.

    If there is no agreement with the UUP it could make sense for the DUP to run a second candidate. There is an outside chance that they could take the UUP seat. And that would put the UUP into crisis.

    Certainly a second DUP candidate would damage the UUP share of 1st preference votes, which are likely to decline anyway from the last Euro elections when Nicholson was the joint Conservative and Unionist candidate and with the attrition of NI21 and a stronger Alliance Party.

    By the way I think that TUV peaked at the last Euros. I don’t see them doing near as well again, particularly with a UKIP candidate and a possible PUP or fleg candidate also in the field.

    I agree totally that it makes no sense for SF to run a second candidate. I missed the suggestions that they might. Where do they come from?

    There is no chance of them taking a second seat. Certainly a second candidate would maximise the SF 1st preference share – and minimise the SDLP. That would be the rational of whoever is pushing the idea.

    But up to 20% of the second candidate’s votes could be lost when they were eliminated. Which could leave SF short of a quota and elected only with the aid of SDLP transfers. Not at all what SF would want.

  • If all is to plan (big if) there may be ‘shadow’ council elections at the same time. Both SF and DUP may offer ‘alternatives’ to main candidate to spread appeal to factions/interests, and to maximise vote at *both* elections. 2 candidates for either though in an uncertain political environment does have risks in undermining vote topping candidates and risking diffusion of second preferences – probably greater risk for DUP than SF, but in current climate who really knows.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I wonder, though, given that SF have now confirmed they are running two candidates; will the DUP be able to resist the opportunity to run one candidate who could top the poll ? We all know how unionists like to come top of the list.

    mjh – I believe the Conservatives (“who ?”, everyone asks) are also running their own candidate.

  • roadnottaken

    Comrade Stalin, I cannot seem to find where SF say they are running two candidates? Can you confirm that?

  • Charles_Gould

    TUV have said that they are not standing

  • Charles_Gould

    If TUV *were* to stand again (which they are not) I would expect them to do quite well. I expect they can attain growth in their vote, as they have generally been impressive in terms of record since last time.

    NI21 are standing John McCallister. He is a well liked candidate but needs to find a good reason for people to vote for him.

    UKIP could surprise. They’ve got a clear narrative that could attract votes. Unlike NI21, its clear why you would vote UKIP.

    I expect SDLP to increase vote share at expense of SF share, following recent trends. SF candidate is very weak.

  • gaygael

    https://twitter.com/sinnfeinelectio/status/398859866191958016

    Martina Anderson saying clearly on agenda. But surely it makes little sense for either to moot two candidates, then not do it. Surely getter sense to spring it? And generat a buzz. Rather than tease then back out, showing some fear.

    Thanks mjh. I would disagree on the tuv peak. I think Jim can do better thus time. 2009 was before he rejoined assembly and was hectoring from Brussels. He has been in assembly since 2011, and flags, travers and piercing observations (I loath his politics but must credit him) and being a thorn in dup side I can only see him doing better. He is only the most Electrabel on extreme right wing unionism and can clearly articulate that. A fleg candidate will transfer exclusively yo him as would most ukip I believe. Also nicholsons transfers are more favourable to Jim than dup so he just needs to be ahead really.

    It baffles me. I hope dup put up two and get the well deserved bloody nose. I also loath their politics.

    I sense it to pressure uup, but it’s all out war if they go for two, and could back fire.

    Interesting times ahead.
    I also think ni21 should run their chair, Tina. Good build on her profile beyond the jasil combo, and positions her for eventual assembly! South belfast – ahem.

  • gaygael

    Can you confirm where tuv have said not standing. If not it’s madness unless they are backing a fleg or ukip candidate.

    Ni21 are not yet confirmed either Charles and won’t till conference surely?

    I don’t rate ukip. Yet. And tuv should be snapping those potential votes.
    I disagree re SDLP. They may steady, and get lucky if unionism fractures all over. Nice to see them squirm again in Europe being an anti choice pes party.

  • RyanAdams

    I think this European election will have a very different feel to it if locals are running the same day. Euros typically have an abysmal turnout, with the highest figures being amongst rural constituencies – rural constituencies typically turnout better in any election, but it seems to be more pronounced in Europe, probably down to the issues Europe has governance over. I expect that to help out Alliance, NI21, Greens and the SDLP at the expense of DUP, SF and UUP.

  • Charles_Gould

    Sorry, GayG, I think it was that TUV would not stand Jim, but may stand someone else under TUV banner. Anyhow, I can’t link to anything on that, sorry.

  • Framer

    Are Alliance going to pick Parsley again now that he has returned to the fold with a venom?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Charles,

    SF said on Twitter : “Just leaving 6 county EU election planning day in Armagh – 2 SF EU candidate strategy now clearly on the agenda for 6 counties”

    It makes no sense for the TUV not to run, or for them not to stand Allister as the candidate. They are clearly the most credible voice for disaffected unionists and Allister knows what he is at. As it stands, Bryson is claiming that he will stand, UKIP are talking of running, and the Protestant Coalition may also try to put up a candidate. Fruitcake unionism’s fragmentation should provide some much needed comedy at the count centre.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I don’t know anything about Alliance’s European candidate selection plans, but one can speculate.

    Naomi Long and Anna Lo would poll very well but I suspect both will want to focus on their respective Westminster and Assembly mandates.

    If the choice were mine I’d select Andrew Muir, the current Mayor of North Down Borough Council. He’s doing a fine job as Mayor, keeping the message positive and in line with Alliance’s values.

  • mjh

    Thanks for that link, gaygael.

    So not a confirmation that SF are actually running 2 candidates – but that they are seriously thinking about it.

    Like you I find it hard to understand. They appear to be flying a kite – to see what the voters are likely to think about the idea. But it is unusual to fly one with such a senior person publicly holding the string.

    It would only make sense if they were fairly confident that they could get more than double the SDLP first preference vote, and that they could balance their two candidates so well that they both remained ahead of the SDLP, and that the SDLP would be knocked out before it started to receive significant numbers of transfers. This last condition would require Alliance to poll ahead of the SDLP.

    And if SF surmounted those three hurdles they still would not win a second seat.

  • mjh

    Sorry gaygael, I should have added that you make a good case for Allister getting a strong personal vote. You could be right, but there is also the danger for Allister that he could be damaged by a disappointing performance. That could undermine his credibility if he chooses to run again for the Assembly in 2015.

    NI21 did say they would contest the Euros when they launched. Your idea of running Tina McKenzie is a good one – although she has said she is not keen to be a candidate. McAllister should not stand – it will only expose his weakness in South Down. Indeed NI21 would have been more sensible to have avoided this contest altogether.

  • mjh

    McCallister – apologies

  • Comrade Stalin

    mjh,

    SF probably want to create exposure for another candidate and have two candidates outpolling the SDLP.

    NI21 have to run in the Euros. If they didn’t their opponents would attack them as irrelevant. The same is true of everyone claiming to have support in NI, including the fruitcake loyalists.

  • Charles_Gould

    SF are trying to rally the troops with a bullish tweet after weeks of damaging discussion of their leader.

    SF have lost vote share in recent elections.

  • sherdy

    Has Peter just damned Diane with faint praise? It certainly didn’t sound like fulsome support for his MEP.
    And possibly when the second DUP candidate is announced they will turn out to be a strong contender who then gets unqualified support from the leadership.
    Machiavelli Robinson at his best!

  • roadnottaken

    A strong Belfast/Eastern based candidate would be a direct challenger to Alex Attwood’s vote base and distract his attention away from Martina Anderson. It would add pressure to the already fragile SDLP machine. Attwood’s strategy of aiming for a third seat and taking votes from a Derry-based Anderson would become unworkable.

    SF adding a second candidate could add pressure to the DUP to add a second aswell? I mean they are supposed to be ‘the largest party’ despite their crushing 88k last time.

    It would also remove the incessant ‘SF can’t top the poll’ bs that goes on at election time, as Anderson poll topping wouldn’t be an imminent threat (however, it would still be theoretically possible that she could)

  • Comrade Stalin

    Charles,

    SF have lost vote share in recent elections.

    Which ones ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    roadnottaken,

    As I said above I think SF running two candidates might rally the DUP behind the idea of running only one. Two SF candidates might deliver a good overall result for them, but a single DUP candidate would then top the poll due to SF’s vote being split. The DUP love to go around saying they topped the poll, to the extent that they take risks – for example in East Belfast in 2011 Peter Robinson polled two quotas, and I’m pretty sure that was intentional.

    There is no prospect of two nationalists winning. There is even less prospect of the SDLP beating SF. Accordingly I’m not sure why the SDLP are running a senior figure, and potential future party leader, in an election he is guaranteed to lose (Alliance do not run senior figures in European elections for this reason).

  • Charles_Gould

    CS when SDLP ran a young figure in the Euro election, people from Alliance complained about SDLP sending out a lamb to slaughter.

    Alex Attwood is the best of the candidates formally announced so far. The difference in ability levels between him and the SF candidate is cavernous.

  • mac tire

    Charles, I’m sure your predictions are merely wishful thinking on your part. Prepare to be disappointed because you will be.

  • Comrade Stalin

    CS when SDLP ran a young figure in the Euro election, people from Alliance complained about SDLP sending out a lamb to slaughter.

    “complained” you say ? Why would anyone other than SDLP supporters complain about the candidates the party chooses to field ? That doesn’t make sense.

    Alex Attwood is the best of the candidates formally announced so far. The difference in ability levels between him and the SF candidate is cavernous.

    West Belfast 2011 Westminster election result (courtesy http://www.ark.ac.uk):

    Paul Maskey 16,211/70.6%
    Alex Attwood 3088/13.5%

    The only thing which is cavernous is the vast gap in the vote between a senior SDLP figure and government minister, and a Sinn Féin councillor of no particular note pulled out of nowhere.

  • Charles_Gould

    Comrade Stalin

    Those figures are part of the reason there is low hanging fruit in West Belfast that a well organised SDLP that dares to believe can pluck from the electoral tree.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Those figures are part of the reason there is low hanging fruit in West Belfast that a well organised SDLP that dares to believe can pluck from the electoral tree.

    The levels of delusion here are unfathomable. Did you come up the Lagan in a bubble ?

  • FuturePhysicist

    Accordingly I’m not sure why the SDLP are running a senior figure, and potential future party leader, in an election he is guaranteed to lose

    Sinn Féin have ran Mitchell McLaughlin , Francie Molloy and Danny Morrison against John Hume in Europe. Please don’t say in their time, these individuals did not have at least the same profile within Sinn Féin as Alex Atwoood has in the SDLP today?

  • Charles_Gould

    The Alliance party does seem to run senior figures.

    The Alliance Party ran Séan Neeson, the party leader in 1998, the PUP ran their leader David Ervine, and UKUP ran their leader Robert McCartney. In 2009 Alliance ran Ian Parsley, a senior elected figure who was poached by the Conservatives. In 1989 John Alderdice, who was party leader, ran for Alliance. In 1984 David Cook and in 1979 Oliver Napier, both high profile senior figures.

  • Gopher

    Attwood has the scent of failure all round him. McDevitt was the man they should have been running. The whiff of manure and personality are what people tend to vote for (except cultists) in Euro elections. Diane unfortunately has neither and also demonstrated a lack of intelligence above and beyond the norm in NI politics. Outside Naomi and Anna, Alliance have no personality and Agnew might poll more than the stiff Alliance put up. If it is Callister that NI21 put up it will be an interesting contest between him and Nicolson.

  • Charles_Gould

    Dr David Alderdice might make for a good choice. The former Lord Mayor of Belfast has a good charismatic personality and with a PPE degree from Oxford as well as being a Medical Doctor by profession, he has the intellectual gravitas that comes with being an intelligent and well educated person, with a responsible caring profession. A people person.

  • quality

    Yep. Stormont and European elections frequently return people with intellectual gravitas..

    Poor Esmond Birnie.

  • gaygael

    Jamie Bryson has said this weekend that he will be running. Willie frazer will also be running for council. I presume that jamie will be representing flegs/fruitcake unionism, maybe Protestant coalition.
    Dodds is confirmed with the dup mooting a second.
    Uup have Nicholson.
    So in terms of other unionist candidates, we still have to hear from the following.
    Pup – who could use the profile boost.
    Ni21 – conference this weekend so expect a confirmation. Money on john but think they should go with Tina.
    Alliance – (who I consider unionist lite) have yet to nominate. Surely Anna Lo looks good for them to help that attempted build for two in south belfast?
    Ukip – waiting to hear but it could only be Henry or mcnarry.
    Tuv – no word yet, but they can’t afford to be squeezed by ukip unless they can arrange some for of electoral deal.

  • Charles_Gould

    Gay:

    The Conservatives are also running a candidate: McB.

    Regarding Alliance, they have pointed out they are not pro-union, rather they are agnostic on the issue.

  • paulG

    A touch condescending there Charles. GG only offered his opinion and anyway, we are not obliged to take Alliance’s claim to be agnostic on the Union as we cannot properly test them on it.

  • BarneyT

    Am I naive or would you run in Europe in the hope of participating in Europe. There are many parties here that have little interest in Europe or than it’s disintegration , more so than those who campaign here in the hope they can dissolve NI. Then again if you’re not in…..ye know its as if there party political cash to be made ….

  • JH

    Is there really no hope of a substantial drop in the DUP vote?

    Is it really so elastic that it can weather default from all but the flat-earth whackjob demographic?