So, how was it for you? I’ll come back to a more thorough party by party analysis once we have all the European figures, and given this result they are not going be boring.
DUP – Bad, bad hair day. A tough finish for Diane Dodds rather than Jim Nicholson on the cards, after five years of workshopping EU funding opportunities around rural Northern Ireland. The UUP got the fleg bonus the DUP was looking for.
Essential lesson: When in government, leave street protests to people who aren’t.
UUP – Good hair day. I genuinely thought they might be dead in the water. But they are back in Belfast, and picking up bits and pieces across their strongholds in the south and west. Not every day Mike Nesbitt gets to toy with Ian Paisley Junior.
Essential lesson: Spilling an opponent’s political blood is good for party spirits.
Sinn Fein – A decent hold on a falling tide. SF’s local strategy is about the intensely slow picking of fruit. They are unrepresented in local seat with regard to their proportion of the vote because they pick their fights cautiously and carefully.
Essential lesson: When you have the ball just keep it and slow the game down.
SDLP – Second baddest hair day. Mostly through unforced errors. Vote management was poor, but they also failed to engage their own base and consequently suffered a proportionately bigger turnout drop than Sinn Fein.
Essential lesson: Spend less time on organisation and start looking for trouble.
Alliance – Stayed where they were in votes and seats. But that belies a subtle shift in the position of the party’s front door. Flags hit them hard, so they shifted a little to replace losses to Unionists with gains from Nationalists.
Essential lesson: Keep crunching the data and follow the voters.
TUV – Best day ever. 12 (29k first preferences) councillors may not sound like a lot, but these are big DEAs. Polling about the 1000 mark is now the entry level standard. TUV have gone to ten from nowhere. And seats get you seats.
Essential lesson: Opposition, focus and a drop of euroscepticism works.
Greens – Nice progress. They started by co-opting councillors from other parties, all the time deepening their tiny base. Three councillors in North Down, and nearly a first in Belfast. Big idea built on a shoestring.
Essential lesson: Know what you need to win, then beg, borrow, steal everything you don’t have.
Independents – Even though the overall proportion has not particularly changed it’s impressive in the sense the new DEAs are bigger than they were before, take more resources and longer campaigning than before.
Essential lesson – Anyone can play!!
NI21 – Whoops, nearly forgot. Sticking with the election, they proved a point. Catholics and Protestants will vote for a unionist party, even to the point of taking transfers from TUV and Sinn Fein. Recipe was right, but it foundered on rock of designation.
Essential lesson Heritage matters. Dealt with it early, and choose a proper name.
Sorry nothing on UKIP, there’s too little to go on yet…
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty