Unionist working class vote to be the most decisive shift of #LE14?

Well, we have lots of snapshot figures from yesterday but few comprehensive enough to draw clear conclusions from. The most comprehensive area we have figures for is Ormiston which is a roughly the old VIctoria DEA. It is also the heart of the East Belfast vote which replaced Peter Robinson with Naomi Long.

The pattern seems to be a levelling up between middle class and working class turnout in Protestant areas. Three years ago, Alliance took a third seat from the UUP (who ran three candidates and got one). I suspect that that seat is in some difficulty for them.

Turnout is up in other Unionist parts of the city too, with other places like Tonagh turning out as little as 30% at 9pm last night. If it was Belfast only, you’d think it might be a micro climate Belfast effect. But we’re seeing a movement up in and around Coleraine too.

My guess is that the flag issue has finally radicalised the protestant working class and brought more of them into vote. The PUP may benefit, keep an eye on John Kyle’s total for instance to gauge that), but the overall benefit of drawing in even in marginal numbers of first time voters should also filter up to the DUP.

That’s worrying for Alliance. I suspect they are going to be facing a lot of last seat dogfights today and tomorrow. It may not be helped by the party’s Euro candidate’s eccentric pitch for nationalist voters.

So what effect on the third Euro seat? I suspect (though I’m speculating wildly here) it will serve to hold up Jim Allister’s vote, depress Lo’s and power a near retirement Jim Nicholson over the line on other Unionist transfers.

Alex Attwood is getting good pull in south Belfast (70% in St Brides). But as our resident curmudgeon FJH notes, what south Belfast wants is not necessarily what wider nationalism wants. Turnout in more traditional SDLP areas like South Down are closer to 50%, close to the average but not near the top end.

Add to that that SF has been looking for revenge over the SpAd bill so that there may be limited help in some areas with regard to transfers from the much larger Sinn Fein vote (26% last time). Poor candidate selection too may mean they ship some embarrassing losses or second places to SF.

In particular keep an eye out for Mairtin O’Muilleoir’s performance in Balmoral. Timing is everything in politics. After a superlatively played year as Lord Mayor, he should reap the benefits today!!

But on the big set piece culture war play over flegs (triggered by the SDLP and Alliance), the bigger picture story is likely to be that the middle gets squeezed just a little bit more, and unionism consolidates a little bit more.

We’ll have to wait though to see how it actually plays out.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Does anyone have any idea on what would be considered a holding number of seats for each of the parties?

    Someone has to be losing out. The Sdlp are having a mixed picture, losing out in Derry but by the sounds of it, making gains rlsewhere. Seems to be bad for Alliance but not a meltdown. As you were for the rest?

  • DC

    Nope my sources were correct, Alliance has tanked in Castle Ward, Sean Neeson’s old ward if I am correct, didn’t see that coming given the low turnout I thought it would be as you were, perhaps UKIP intervening and coming third and getting elected probably knocked everything off course for Alliance?

  • Comrade Stalin


    I suppose I probably sound very lofty, arrogant and dismissive but that isn’t the way I intend to come across. There are threats, and there are people who merely claim to be threats, and there is no point in spending time worrying about the people who you know are all talk and no action, which is what UCUNF were and NI21 are – to the extend that NI21 repeated many of UCUNF’s mistakes.

    The definition of a “threat” to Alliance is not, and never was, a bunch of guys who specialize in PR stunts presenting re-heated Alliance policies and passing them off as new politics, which is what UCUNF and NI21 have both tried to do. Policy is important, but Alliance wins seats much the same way as the DUP and SF do, through constituency work and building a presence by being visible and solving problems for people. Where the party puts in the effort, it is rewarded with seats, and this is no more evident than in places like Castle where the Alliance seat has been lost and re-won over the years in direct correlation to the level of effort the candidate/councillor was willing to put in. Billy Webb almost topped the poll in Macedon, which includes the sprawling Rathcoole estate, and he told me that he wins votes from loyalists in Rathcoole – no doubt benefiting from the secrecy of the polling both – because he goes in there and sorts out all their issues.

    The people who do understand how to get this combination of policy and constituency work are the Greens. They already deprived Alliance of the last MLA seat in North Down in 2011. The European election is Ross Brown’s springboard before he throws his hat in the ring for the assembly in East Belfast. The Greens are not a bunch of bluster and silly PR stunts – they’ve been working away quietly, not drawing too much attention to themselves, yet have proven themselves able and capable of running a solid election campaign and getting themselves voted in – topping the poll in North Down and adding a councillor in Belfast. You have to respect your rivals and I have a huge amount of respect for Agnew and Brown.

    The point about the Women’s Coalition is well made. They nicked Alliance seats, but did so during a period when Alliance was still trying to grapple with the circumstances surrounding the Agreement’s implementation. It took the near death experience of 2003 for it to pull itself together and start fighting again, at which point it saw the WC off into oblivion. The party now is a much sharper and better run machine than it was back then, and the guy who is singly most responsible for this is David Ford.

    sorry for the long rant!

  • Politico68

    Alliance have done well, but its a testament to how divided NI society is that the party is always around the 6/7 %

  • Mick Fealty

    Flag storm curtailed any possible growth, plus it’s natural difficulty in intiatiating anything. Actually I’d say flags just sucked a little more air out of the chamber…

  • DC

    Alliance are on course for losing two you would have thought very safe Councillor seats in Carrickfergus.

    Interesting that UUP topped the poll over DUP – two quality UUP candidates doing the business add in the drag then from UUP transfers not going to Alliance as easily as they used to and the UKIP challenge and its Unionist only transfers?

  • DC

    What has helped Alliance elsewhere are sympathy votes and SDLP non-message on anything of importance, pretty much boring people into the arms of the Alliance, who look a bit zesty in the eyes of Nats after eating loads of UVF petrol bombs.

    @politico Alliance are a catch all party not grounded in any political philosophy or ideology and will remain weak till they structure themselves.

    NI21 reminded me of the Alliance party on speed especially after redesignating as Other and going into no mans land, perhaps NI21 is actually Allliance’s logical conclusion.

  • David Crookes

    DC: “…..perhaps NI21 is actually Allliance’s logical conclusion.”

    I feel very sorry for the hardworking candidates of NI21. Here were small-u unionists who set their faces against flegs, marches, and the unelected Mervyn Gibson. The other unionist parties, including the TUV, have taken great care not to offend rioters, trouble-making marchers, and committers of hate crimes. Today these unionist parties have been rewarded for their cowardice.

    “More of the same,” they can say. “That’s what the people want. Flegs, marches, Ruth Patterson, and Mervyn Gibson.”

    More of the same. The dog is returned to its vomit, and the sow to her wallowing in the mire.

  • Valenciano

    Oldpark looks like 3SF, 1 DUP for sure. Last two seats see SDLP in a scrap with the Independent Republican Dee Fennell and Lee Reynolds of DUP in a dogfight with the PUP. With spare Sinn Fein votes, Fennell looks favourite.

    Botanic looks likely to be 1 SF, 1 DUP, 1 SDLP, 1 Alliance with the last seat between the Greens, UUP and second Alliance candidate.

  • DC

    The two sitting Alliance councillors in Carrick lose their seats with one new Alliance candidate making it across the line.

    Lee Reynolds losing out to PUP’s Julia Corr would be #freshpolitics