Calling for your perspectives on the #EP14 and #LE14 Elections…

I confess, I love elections. I don’t particularly like how party activists on Slugger slightly lose the run of themselves in the run, but it is an urgent life and death struggle. And at the end of the day in some of them, the earth just seems to move a little. This was case in 2003 and 2005. This is probably the first time since then we’ve seen some genuinely interesting shifts.

Personally, I am going to wade patiently through each party one at a time and try to grade out a decent analysis in each one. But given the subject nature of all of this, I’m calling for contributions from our blogging team and the wider readership to cut the results up in any way you see as meaningful.

I’d say, try to keep it short, and to the point. Much over 600 words and people shut down. I’m pretty sure that given there is a lot of complexity in this, particularly on the northern Unionist side of the equation that we need as many eyes on this as we can recruit. Good tight contributions on Scotland, England, Wales, Europe and the Republic will be very welcome.

Lastly, I want thank everyone on the team who contributed to the wider debate. Nicholas Whyte in particular for keeping the rest of us sane, but also Alan in Belfast, Chris Donnelly and David McCann for flying the flag for the boul Slugger in the MSM.. And to the rest of the team not least Pete Baker for his timely and grounded analysis early in the cycle.

Don’t forget, if you have recovered in time for Slugger’s BIG Election Hangover with Simon Hamilton, (NILGA), Chief Executive, Derek McCallan and the great Tim McGarry…

Sadly, I won’t be able to make it. I’ll be sitting and home doing grumpy calculations figuring how to squeeze sufficient virtue from Stormont to justify running the next Slugger Awards…

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

  • Johnny Boy

    More of the same unfortunately.

  • keano10

    I am a Shinner, but I will leave my own party out of these comments and try to give an objective analysis of the other parties.


    I dont agree that the TUV pose the greatest threat to the DUP continued supremacy within Unionism. Mike Nesbitt has (to my surprise) revitalised the UUP and it has been amusing to see a number of DUP figures now cosying up to the UUP in a way that would’nt have been imaginable, even a year ago.


    They have a leader with the kind of personal profile that attracts a considerable number of votes but do they have sufficient and capable personnel throughout their ranks? I somehow doubt it…


    Held their own in light of a vicious campaign against them, but they appear to have become a little more fragmented with large support in a couple of isolated areas and an almost non-existent presence in others. There is still absolutely no valid reason why Alliance do not make any realistic effort to organise and fight for votes in working class Nationalist areas. If they want to disprove the notion they are just a soft-Unionist party, then they need to practice what they preach. Otherwise they will remain static for another entire generation.

    SDLP – They wont want or need any advice from a Shinner like myself. However, I will try (as far as possible) to give some sort of objective opinion. Their leader is a liability. He is old school by every conceivable yardstick. I honestly dont know where they go from here. My suggestion to them would be to turn a little ‘greener’. I spoke to one teenager last week who did’nt even realise that they were a Nationalist party. They are well-intentioned for the most part but where is the party’s vision?

  • Keano10 it’s amazing what the SDLP did in taking a wrong turning by voting for McDonnell. They should have learned from the two previous wrong turns in leader choosing. Alas, they couldn’t get McDevitt who, I’m sure they would have opted for but for his non declaration of expenses and resignation, but they need to go for fresh blood to compete with SF.With Alastair, the lights really have gone out.

  • Johnny Boy[12.28] Or is it RDN? Sadly it is the same old story with unionists trying to herd voters in to the traps even after FST and MidUlster no-shows by same voters and insulting their intelligence [well, some of them]doesn’t really cut it for appealing to them for votes.

  • stewart1

    Keano10 Hard to disagree with your comments on the SDLP. Stale & no vision going forward. Seem to be full of people only interested in collecting the wage at the end of each month.

    Ulster unionists did well considering reports of their demise. They certainly have an air of optimism about them & that’s important going forward.

    DUP did ok. No disasters and vote held up reasonably well considering the different unionist parties available.

    Alliance did ok

    TUV problem is that it’s a one man party even with the extra councillors.

    I’m sure Sinn Fein are happy. Vote held up and big gains in the south.

  • OneNI

    Truly disasterous Euro election for Nicholson. Without the Conservatives his share dropped by nearly 4% – with most of it seemingly going to UKIP and only a little to the Conservatives.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    TUV do need new fresh blood – with the exception of Allister who are the stars of this party?

  • OneNI

    Also ANOTHER bad election for nationalism. Away from the headline about SF topping the big story is the drop in the nationalist vote by over 3.5%

  • Joe_Hoggs


    Alliance which is a moderately pro Nationalist party also took some of the SDLP votes.

  • Harry Flashman

    Sinn Fein.

    Put Gerry and Marty out to graze and put one of those telegenic, articulate, female southerners in charge and see your vote double over night and take senior-party status in the Republic’s ruling coalition for the centenary of the Rising.

    Nah, why do that? Gerry has done such a fantastic job getting us to 17% of the vote after getting our first TD elected a quarter of a century ago we couldn’t possibly do without him. And sure aren’t we the biggest party in, er, the Six Counties.

    All hail the Great Leader.

    Fianna Fail for government in 2016 it is then, you read it hear first.

  • Joe_Hoggs


    Who are these gorgeous Sinn Fein girls you like?

  • PaddyReilly

    Alliance which is a moderately pro Nationalist party also took some of the SDLP votes.

    Borrowed them, and politely returned them after Anna Lo’s elimination

  • Joe_Hoggs


    In a first past the post will Alliance get few votes?

  • Johnny Boy

    Are the Unionists parties going to look at the increased PUL turnout, and the strong showing for TUV and UKIP, and take more hard-line stances?

  • Joe_Hoggs

    TUV would have had an even bigger turnout had it not been for the scarmongering e.g. vote TUV and get Sinn Fein/SDLP.

    If TUV can put forward good candidates then there are 3-4 MLA seats up for grabs.

  • thesaint

    Unionism needs to realize that they have now no option but to work, constructively with their neighbours. The heads in the sand attitude is not going to fly anymore. It is on a collision course to oblivion if it fails to realize that a Unified Ireland is coming and that there is no way to stop that, however with co operation they may be able to get the best deal for their electorate.

    Unionisims best performance in years, fantastic. The more TUV do better the more will be alienated, and see that insular “Northern Ireland” is a total failure, it was designed to be at its inception.

    Does unionism think that the 4 MEPs are not going to be pushing an All Ireland agenda? Which is every EU bean counters dream, given how much is wasted administering an irrelevant border? The EU will be pushing an All Ireland agenda, and if Scotland has her way, does unionism really think the English will be bothered with Ireland? Id say consolidation would be Englands priority.

  • Zeno

    “If TUV can put forward good candidates then there are 3-4 MLA seats up for grabs.”

    Not sure what you mean by “good” but if they put Bunty up somewhere she should be a shoo in. Being sectarian is a huge asset when it comes to getting elected in NI.

  • thesaint

    The TUV, BNP and UKIP will only serve to do one thing and Alienate huge swathes of society, I for one support the total dissolution of the United Kingdom. I say tally ho Jim Allister your nothing but an “abomination” (if i might paraphrase him from last weeks spotlight) . This Republican is delighted you had a good day at your sectarian and biggoted office.

  • Zeno

    ” It is on a collision course to oblivion if it fails to realize that a Unified Ireland is coming and that there is no way to stop that”
    Yes indeed, as soon as the Nationalists double their vote and add 100,000 there will be a referendum. I don’t think the Unionists need be worried any time soon.

  • Morpheus
  • Johnny Boy

    The Saint

    I think you are overstating things more than a little!

    You are certainly right in one regard, co-operation to promote the social, economic, and cultural betterment of NI is the only way to progress. Both sides obsession with the UI question is a huge stumbling block.

  • thesaint

    Zeno, 100k votes is not whats needed, a critical mass at local level and national is all. So the DUP dislike sharing Government with Republicans. They will be sitting very uncomfortable beside them while in all likelyhood they will be facing an SF minister discussing cross border matters while (probably) 4 SF ministers are negotiating savings Europe can make by deleting the border. While my post may be read as a tad arrogant. Without a doubt working environment for those sympathetic to partition in Ireland has been significantly reduced in this election.

    As an example the SNP do not have critical mass, 50+1PC support, however the referendum for Scots is coming and win, loose or draw it will wound this “united kingdom”, with minimum Devo Max on the cards.

  • Joe_Hoggs


    I think she needs a chance, I codemn what she said but we all know idiots on FB and it was when she was a teenager. JA will not stand for any nonsense in the party and she has now closed down her FB page.

  • thesaint

    A federated union of Irish States within the EU and a “special relationship” with the UK is easily the best deal for Ulster Unionisim, my bets are 10 years till there is talk of this.

  • Zeno

    Zeno, 100k votes is not whats needed”


    No saint, it’s a hell of a lot more than that. You need over 300,000 and if SF think they are negotiating the “deletion” of the border they need their heads examined.
    The SNP situation is neither here nor there. The border issue can only be decided under the terms of the GFA.
    Best you read that before you take any more rope.

  • Zeno

    While my post may be read as a tad arrogant.

    It’s not arrogant, it is misguided. The numbers to win a referendum are simply not there. There is no evidence at all anywhere that Nationalists could win a referendum, and no sign there will ever be enough of them.

  • thesaint

    Zeno, I stand to my point your headcount is not relevant, a critical mass and shift in power is all thats required to make life VERY uncomfortable for Unionisim, and that shift is coming. These are the facts.

    You see it wont be just SFs plan, it will be pushed at EU level. Why would the EU not listen to such plans after all 4 MEPs plus Fianna Fail(if they return any MEPs) will be singing from the same hymnsheet as opposed to two?

    The SNP situation is hugely relevant as if the go solo where does that leave the “Ulster/Scottish”. I would say alot will start to look at the future. DUP and UUP have been bought so they can naturally be sold, the TUV, personally the more these damage these bible bashing fairy-tale believing knuckledraggers do before they are found out the better.

  • thesaint

    Zeno a referendum, using the current mechanism is not necessary to make live very uncomfortable for Unionism. Im not atall calling for a referendum. The scenario as its currently playing out is much more interesting.

  • Johnny Boy


    Pure fantasy I’m afraid. The more Republicans\Nationalists talk UI the further away it gets.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    I would say alot will start to look at the future. DUP and UUP have been bought so they can naturally be sold, the TUV, personally the more these damage these bible bashing fairy-tale believing knuckledraggers do before they are found out the better.

    What does this mean?

  • Zeno

    Zeno, I stand to my point your headcount is not relevant,


    There can not be a United Ireland without a referendum. That is what SF and everyone else signed up to. The numbers are the only thing that does matter.
    It’s bizarre to think the EU can just delete the border. The GFA settled the constitutional issue. You get the votes you can have one and if you don’t get the votes you can’t have one.
    I don’t care how uncomfortable the Unionist Politicians are and I would be surprised if any of the over 600,000 who are neither Nationalist nor Unionist care either.

  • thesaint

    Johnny Boy, I doubt it, look at whats happening around you. Local Councils divided a palty 5-6, UK flag not even flown at Belfast city hall 24/7 this would have been pie in the sky a mere 20 years ago, SF in government in NI and possibly in Ireland who’da thunk. Unionism needs to know that the project of decolonization is well in flow. A referendum may very well be the last piece of a very large puzzle, but until then the brick by brick method as initiated by the GFA, is much more interesting. There is less political air for unionisim and this is a fact. What is the next move, and I can guarantee you something, there will be some move for either side to play to their galleries before the stormont elections.

  • thesaint

    Zeno, your thinking so laterally perhaps you may even be a Unionist politician, didn’t you ever hear of the phrase “there is more than one way to skin a cat”?

    Every border council bar 1 is nationalist , Belfast nationalist, Derry nationalist and with better vote management Armagh would be alot closer. All these councils you think they wont make an impact at national lever? Are we that naive?

  • Zeno

    “Are we that naive?”

    You are saint. Basically SF thought they had a lot more support than they actually have. They overestimated it by several hundred thousand and thought they could win a referendum. They told us often enough that 2016 would be the year it would all happen.
    In the current council elections SF polled over 12.000 votes less than in 2009 even though the electorate increased by 147,000.
    That’s no exactly signalling a growing support, is it?

  • thesaint

    Cast your mind to the foundation of this b@stardised love child from the british rape of Ireland that is called Northern Ireland, i think in 1922, 4 of our 6 County Councils voted to not be involved in the partition project and would not be involved with its implementation. Britains solution, as it is to all opposition was to steam roll the people and dissolve the County Councils. What happens when another unionist council is lost?

    So many questions? northern Ireland politics has rarely been so interesting.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    The Saint, that’s a very backward outset you have – the reality is a UI is further away than ever.

  • Zeno

    “A referendum may very well be the last piece of a very large puzzle, ”

    saint, you really are hilarious. I assume we will only get a referendum if SF can’t persuade the EU to “delete” the Border.
    I can understand the people who want Ireland United. But I can’t understand those that continue to swallow the nonsense that SF is telling them. SF can’t deliver UI and they know it. They will tell their supporters about the long war and wink to keep them onside but the drop in votes means some people are starting to wake up.
    Don’t confuse me with a Unionist, the Unionist vote dropping gives me just as much pleasure.

  • thesaint

    Joe Hoggs, what is backward? I think most of you lads are missing my point, its not about plonking a flag atop a mountain, its about a gradual erosion of the errors of Unionism since 1922.

  • thesaint

    Zeno, if you think its so funny look at the long term picture from 40, 30 20 and 10 years ago. What would Craig and Carson think of SF running NI, no union flag on BCH, BCH and (London)Derry nationalist. Compare the condition for people in northern Ireland during the same eras. There is no doubt this place is moving one way and that is, if not UI without doubt closer and closer partnership which as a stepping stone is sufficient.

  • Johnny Boy


    SF are selling a fantasy to maintain support and cover the fact that there is no prospect of winning a UI referendum in the foreseeable future.

    Unionism is selling the same fantasy to frighten voters and maintain their support.

  • Zeno

    saint, my original reply was to this………..
    “It is on a collision course to oblivion if it fails to realize that a Unified Ireland is coming and that there is no way to stop that,”

    you have now moved to this……..
    “There is no doubt this place is moving one way and that is, if not UI without doubt closer and closer partnership which as a stepping stone is sufficient.”

    Those are two contrasting statements.

    In the old days poorer Catholics were living in ghettos with no investment and high unemployment.
    SF haven’t changed any of that.

  • thesaint

    Zeno you seem confused.

    Ultimately all politics is local, once the balance of the councils are hostile to Union, it is a tipping point.

    Is a UI inevitable, yes I believe so. Is it going to happen in the short term? Of course not. But what is going to happen in the medium term is a majority of local councils will aspire to Dublin as opposed to London. And yes in that scenario Unionism is on a colision course to oblivion, better to see these facts and negotiate a settled Ireland with british rights enshrined than to risk political wipeout.

  • Zeno

    “SF are selling a fantasy to maintain support and cover the fact that there is no prospect of winning a UI referendum in the foreseeable future.

    Unionism is selling the same fantasy to frighten voters and maintain their support.”
    That is 100% correct and the numbers buying it are dropping. That’s the good news.

  • thesaint

    I dont believe many politicaly minded Republicans want a referendum right now.

    This thread is on the Local and Euro elections, can we keep on topic please?

  • Zeno

    saint, you can have all the councils, you could take a majority in the Assembly, you could take even more MEP’s, BUT without the numbers to win a referendum there will still not be a UI. The majority of people here are just not interested in a United Ireland. The fall in votes for Nationalist parties is proof of that. The opinion pools is more proof. The minority of people describing themselves as Irish is yet more proof.

  • Zeno

    I dont believe many politicaly minded Republicans want a referendum right now.

    This thread is on the Local and Euro elections, can we keep on topic please?
    Jeez, it was only up the page in this topic you were explaining how it was inevitable and SF were negotiating with the EU to “delete” the Border.
    I give up.

  • PaddyReilly

    Jim Nicholson elected

  • thesaint

    Zeno, really? The EU and the MEPs elected are ideally placed to to influence the calamity of an Irish border.

    Good Job, Jim Nicolson, he spent last weeks spotlight laughing at that sub human Jim Allister.

  • thesaint

    Particularly if (hopefully) the Ukip rip the UK sans Scotia out of Europe. Europe’s view on the periphery will be very focused if one Island is hostile to the EU and one a full and committed partner.

  • Zeno

    Zeno, really? The EU and the MEPs elected are ideally placed to to influence the calamity of an Irish border.

    It almost looks like you have accepted you can’t win a Referendum but are consoling yourself with some vague idea that the EU can deliver a UI against the wishes of the majority.
    The rules are simple., A majority is required on both sides of the Border. No amount of MEP’s can magic that away.

  • Roy Walsh

    As I said on another thread Mick, same old same old.
    Nicholson, in my personal experience, is as useful as the proverbial chocolate fireguard.
    Sean Kelly and Deidre Clunes just returned in ‘South’, neither with a quota.

  • thesaint

    I dislike FGs recent policy of running “sports people” Kelly and that plank Egan

  • thesaint

    Not resigned to not winning a referendum, but the long game is being played here.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Was going to post a bit of analysis, but then I read the comments above. Be more productive watching BGT.

  • Zig70

    SF, be prepared for the swing back down again but a bounce to be gained from 2016. Take the time to manage the increased size of the party. I think they should careful of moving to centre left in case they lose support from eating up labour.
    SDLP – get rid of leader. Can hardly remember his name. If he is good at managing the party then let him do that but get someone with flair and visibility. Need to watch moving to far ahead on same-sex marriage and are losing support on grammar schools. Stop being so politically niave and thinking it’s about morals. It’s about power. A lesson from the eu14 is that there are a lot of transfers to be gained so avoid the constitutional question but stay gaelic. It’s parked anyway until SF realize they can’t do it alone.
    Don’t think anyone is has got to grips with the social data out there.

  • Charles_Gould

    Agree with Drumlin Rock.

  • Drumlins Rock

    BTW for those rejoicing in the SF vote, combined Nationalist vote in 1999 was 45.1% in 2014 it was 38.5%. It’s not a blip, the decline has been steady and consitant since.

  • Charles_Gould

    DR what do you see as UUP Westminster targets? Upper Bann?

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m surprised DR, you could be gloating with some considerable justification…

    I’m going to try and chunk through this all slowly over the next week or so… but quickly…

    …the SDLP problem is not that people don’t know they are nationalist, its that they don’t what they stand for on anything that matters…

    The answer is not to look more like SF but to find some way to seriously differentiate themselves from them…

  • Dewi

    It’s just the counting time…..totally bizarre….is it just people get overtime on a bank holiday?

  • Dewi

    Sinn Fein not transferring…is that policy?

  • Zig70

    Gerry had a spat with Alban over transfers. Most nats have enough sense. The spad issue played badly though. The SDLP got suckered rather than see it as another antiSF swipe.

  • Mick Fealty

    It’s generally the core support, they don’t believe as a matter of faith that they should vote for anyone else…

  • Mick

    “The answer is not to look more like SF but to find some way to seriously differentiate themselves from them…”

    Exactly how would they do that?. Like SF, they are a party of the left. That is also written on their tin. In reality, they have nowhere to go.

  • PaddyReilly

    BTW for those rejoicing in the SF vote, combined Nationalist vote in 1999 was 45.1% in 2014 it was 38.5%. It’s not a blip, the decline has been steady and consitant since.

    Ah, the rhetorical trick here is to take the 1st preference vote and present it as the actual vote. The Nationalist side is augmented by the transfers from Green, Alliance, and now, curiously, UKIP. This is the beginning of a turnout war, which Unionists would like to present as the tide going out again.

  • Gopher

    Second Front. The Local and European Election Campaign 2014

    At dawn on the 22nd of May 2014 having laid down a barrage of census figures on opposing parties since 2010, Mono Cognitive Nationalism went over the top. Because of the intensity of bombardment by census figures the foot soldiers were assured by their leaders it would make it a simple walk to the polling station to reach the green fields of the 32 counties beyond. When the smoke cleared on the 27th the bodies of Mono Cognitive Nationalism lay limp upon the barbed wire entanglements of Proportional representation around counting centres all across the second front. It is rumoured during the slaughter out in no-man’s land the Alliance Party, People before Profit, UKIP, NI21 and Greens had a game of politics.

  • latcheeco

    In fairness they went over the top and became the largest party in Ireland with few casualties-so not quite their Somme then. But your discomfiture at their growth is understandable.

  • Politico68

    In every election for the past 15 years the nationalist vote has been on or above 40 % This is the first election it has dropped below 40 for quite some time so it can indeed be regarded as a ‘blip’ so long as it is not repeated. We wont know that until this time next year so maybe we should hold fire.

    The 45% it earned was an anomoly due to the excitement over the GFA and a poor Unionist turnout. This recent election saw an increased Unionist turnout, hence the downward pressure on the nationalist percentage, it really tells us nothing on its own, and to be honest lads, its pretty simple mathematics.

    SF in the Euro Elections-

    1999 -117,643
    2004 – 144,541
    2009 – 126,184
    2014 – 159,813

    The vote here reflects a similar situation with most parties not just in the statelet but everywhere. The numbers fluctuate and depending on turnout, even when the numbers look good as in (2014) the % can fall, or when the numbers look bad (2004) the % can rise.

    The combined Nationalist vote in 1999 (euro)was 308,000. Compared to 242,000 in 2014. A drop of 64,000.

    The Combined Unionist Vote in 1999 (euro) was 360,000. compared to 314,00 in 2014. A drop of 46,000.

    The combined Nationalist Vote in 1998 (assembly) was 320,000.
    Compared to 280,000 in 2011. A Drop of 40,000.

    The combined Unionist Vote in 1998 (assembly) was 390,000
    Compared to 310,000 in 2011. A Drop of 80,000.

    It shows that the decrease in votes affects both sides of the divide and fluctuates depending on the election. This election saw the fleg issue and UKIP mobilise Unionist Voters. Next time who knows what will be the mobilising factor, or will there be one?

  • Zeno

    Looks like Nationalist Political Parties and Unionist Political Parties are on the way to becoming even smaller minority groups. All of the declines in votes comes at a time when the electorate is increasing. That is shrinking.

  • Politico68

    All political parties in all democracies are pretty much minority groups Zeno. But its irrelevant given the fact that no matter how small the active electorate is the parties they vote for will still make-up the government.

  • Harry Flashman


    Who are these gorgeous Sinn Fein girls you like?”

    OK she’s not exactly my type (I’m not into red-heads myself I’m more into the Southeast Asian type; raven haired, caramel-coloured skin, black almond-shaped eyes, soft gentle smiles…..oh, dear, now where was I?) but surely Lynn Boylan presents a better frontperson for Sinn Fein than the West Belfast grave-digger?

    I dare say there must be a dozen or so more telegenic, youthful, and most importantly southern potential leaders than the ghastly Gerry.

  • Politico68

    Harry, political candidates are not presented to give u a sexual thrill, try keeping ur sexist comments to yourself eh?

  • BarneyT

    I am certainly not a political heavyweight and in many ways I would be outwitted by many on this site if I were to exchange. Despite the off-piste blogs and slagging matches, many of which I enjoy, most on here are knowledgeable and impressive.

    I do think about how this Irish issue is going to be solved. For many there is no issue, on both sides of the border, happy with their lot and for the partition to continue. For many others, they are focused on dissolving the border or strengthening it further.

    I will therefore look at developments in Britain, NI and ROI part by party, as best I can. Scotland for me is off limited until October. I will concentrate on the prominent parties and those perhaps conspicuous for other reasons.

    UKIP and Tories

    This party could perhaps have the greatest influence on the future of both islands in the next 10 years. The vote for UKIP, this time around, can not be brushed off as a protest vote. Some say they have tapped into something, but they have simple persisted with voicing what many in England think and have thought for years. They touch on subjects that the Tory party shy away from, for fear of losing the middle ground – those that turned to Blair in their masses.

    The Tories can try to follow, but its too late. They as a party are no long custodians of such rhetoric and as a result are out of touch with much of their electorate. Occasionally someone strays to the right and lets the cat out of the bag, but the Tory Party has tended to distance itself from such outbursts. The myth that working class labourites side with socialism has been debunked and the UKIP has confirmed that there are as many ignorant bigots on the left as there are on the right. Its not too long ago that voting intentions were influenced by social status. “We’re doing well now Marg, lets Vote Tory”. The UKIP will swell and providing they introduce more charismatic figures who are and able as Le Farage, they will become a force in England.

    The UKIP will do better at the next general election as a result of their EU performance. However, most likely they will dilute the Tory vote through direct capture and pushing the moderate “Business” tory perhaps towards Labour if not liberal (which for now is not likely). Voting in Britain is “better the devil you know” based and I suspect most votes will head towards labour and the tories with the Liberals being pushed into 4th.

    The UKIP don’t really stand out in NI. There are plenty of extreme unionist parties in place to withstand the growth of UKIP so they will mostly likely never make a real dent over here.

    Sinn Fein and Unionism

    SF has two different party’s within a party, old and new, northern and southern, but success will lesson this. SF will make inroads in Dublin similar to UKIP in Westminster, but exceed the ground gained by the UKIP. In short, I go along with many who suggest a FF\SF government. Watch out for the fireworks. I cant imagine a FF\SF pact would last much more than 18 months however.

    Gains in the ROI for SF will only embolden republicanism in the north. Stronger relationships between the local authorities in the north will emerge, driven from Dublin. There will be closer economic union between the ROI state and NI region, but at a struggle. Chances are that success for SF in the south will foster a new Unionist siege mentality in the north and perhaps they will return to the two party system with heavier emphasis on joint candidates. Despite a recent recovery in the UUP, TUV, UKIP and the odd PUP member will be drawn back or into the DUP. Robinson is banging the extremist band drum. He now trusts Muslims to go down to the shops for him but that’s about it. Interesting to see how that develops in the coming weeks.


    I agreed that FF will be largely forgiven and the austerity measures taken by FG\L will cloud the memories. FF will perhaps return as the largest party in the ROI. I can see them perhaps becoming more radical with regard to uniting Ireland, but only in an attempt to hold on to those that are caught in the SF headlights. This move however will make it easier for FF and SF to form a partnership, but will Gerry Adams serve as Martins junior? Not sure about that one.

    FG – returned to main opposition, absorbing some labour members and independents on the way. FG will be out for a term, but chances are they will be sufficient own goals in the FF\SF coalition to allow their return, perhaps again with Labour. The growth of SF will ensure that no single party will have an outright majority for a while in the ROI


    Their thinking has a place at the table. Shame there’ll be no one to hold the knife and fork


    Ms Lo’s comment scared the horses. Moderate unionists are far from contemplating a united republican Ireland, as are the “Catholics” whose vote they have enjoyed. Just a step too far

    Despite the moderatism within the Alliance support base, they are still quite close to being an old style UUP, who themselves have taken a lurch to the right. The UUP incidentally has an opportunity to steal “moderate” ground now that the DUP are exporting their extremism. Islam is now under attack.. Dont go writing any verses soon Mr Robinson. With this and Annas “outburst”, the Alliance will continue to slide away.

    UK Liberals

    They need to install a stronger leader if they are to emerge intact after this coalition. Failure to do this will hasten their demise. They may recover in the 2019/20 election, particularly if the Torys establish a partnership with the UKIP. Tradition plays a big part in the UK and this may be too much for moderate Torys to stomach, so they can expect some gains here.

    ROI labour

    What are they playing at. They have been hi-jacked by the Workers Party, politicians who seem to be unsure of themselves. How you can go from WP to work in a coalition with a right of centre Christian democratic party I do not know. The WP, particularly in the north have always had delusions of grandeur so this journey is of no surprise in many ways. They need a new leader who can take the party back towards a socialist agenda. There is an appetite in the ROI for a true socialist labour party. They need to re badge. A labour recovery will most likely impact SF more than the others.


    Again they are rudderless. There was talk of FF absorbing them, but given their “marriage” to Labour in the south and social democrats in the EU, this does not make sense. The SDLP are becoming a meaningless liberal party, and like the ROI labour are no longer clearly defined. I dont think the SDLP were ever really regarded as a socialist party, however I agree with an
    earlier comment that they need to perhaps enhance their “greeness” and along with this, develop a less wishy washy liberal agenda. For me they are a kick in the arse away from becoming a christian democratic party.

    UK Labour

    Ed is no Tony. He needs to work harder to claw back the UKIP exodus. Local elections in Britain nearly always serve as a protest vote against the incumbents. As labour are in opposition they should worry about this.


    We are on the cusp of a short term sea change in the ROI and UK. In both regions, a 4th party to take note of has emerged, however SF do stand a chance of becoming a number 2 party at least. NI will continue as it is for some time, but will not be immune from events south of the border in particular. SF in government with FF will impact the SDLP nationalist element.

    They may turn towards SF, making them the largest party (in terms of seats) in NI. There will be increase polarisation in NI. Britain may get used to the coalition format as this pattern will persist now for a few terms. Inevitable when theres hardly a hairs breath between tory/Labour/Liberal. UKIP are different however!!

  • Gopher

    @ Latcheeco

    I did call my little piece “Second front”. There now being two distinct electoral “fronts” for SF. I welcome the success of SF in the South the wider the audience realize they are quite humourless and monolithic bores the better. Hopefully they will become the government in the Republic and give us a practical demonstration of economics. No discomfiture, just getting in the popcorn to watch a nation wreck itself. Barbarossa was amazingly successful initially on the “first front” if I recall

  • mjh

    Not sure I shall complete this exercise in time. So here’s my first two.

    Electoral Context:
    • LG vote share halved in 22 years to 2011. Lost all Westminster MP’s by 2010. Lost 3 MLA’s through defection since 2011.
    • LG14 – first increase in share of vote for 25 years.
    • Euro – retained seat with vote share lower than ever.

    Prospects: Regain at least 2 defected Assembly seats virtually certain. On basis of LG results 3rd likely. Realistic possibility of further gains. Return to Westminster possible subject to agreement on seat deal with DUP.

    Strategy to date: 1) Stick close to DUP giving no excuse to be attacked for being weak or unwilling ‘defenders of unionism’. 2) Opportunistically attack DUP when latter’s lead role in Executive requires business with SF e.g. Maze. 3) Seek seat deal with DUP.

    Consequences of election results:
    • Strategy unlikely to change strategy this side of 2016 Assembly Election.
    • UUP now need a seat deal less than DUP – particularly Robinson. Interesting negotiations.
    • Replace Nicholson as MEP in 2016/17?
    • Nesbitt – leadership secure.

    Electoral Context:
    • Peaked 10 years ago. Euro 04 32.0%. LG05 29.6%. Assembly 05 30.1%
    • Held Assembly share in 2011 (30.0%)
    • Drop in LG11 to 27.2% overshadowed by Assembly result
    • Drop in Euro 09 to 18.2% put down to “special circumstances”.
    • Drop in LG14 to 23.1% means they have lost between a fifth and a quarter of their peak vote share in nine years.
    • Euro 14 at 20.9% shows drop of a third in ten years.

    Currently on a downward slope leading to Assembly losses. Westminster – still chance for 1 or more gains (EB and ND), but concern for NA added to NB. Seat pact would help.

    Strategy to date: 1) Keep target voters’ minds focused on dangers to unionism – most recently flags and First Minister. 2) Present themselves as its most committed, reliable and effective defenders. 3) Grow by feeding on decline of UUP. 4) Swat off smaller unionist parties (including TUV) as irrelevant.

    Consequences of election results:
    • Trend of electoral decline cannot be ignored. UUP no longer in decline – currently more likely to sap votes than provide them. Swatting Allister has not worked and, with DUP tied to SF in Executive, TUV could be better placed to run the current DUP strategy than the DUP itself.
    • There will be a great reluctance to change a strategy that has worked well for nearly 50 years. Many likely to call for “redoubling off efforts”. Sticking plaster solutions more likely than radical ones: Change leader? Westminster seat pact?
    • Boldest course could be safest (but who would have the authority to carry it through?). Forget flags (didn’t work) and co-opt UUP (p***ing out not p***ing in). Hail decline in nat vote share. Declare victory. “Union now safe – provided we maintain vigilance. Greatest threat now would be political instability – so don’t risk that with TUV. We are entering into a close formal arrangement with UUP which will win and defend Westminster seats for unionism, guarantee a unionist FM, and provide the stability in which the union can flourish.” Option for future merger if desired.

  • Zeno

    “All political parties in all democracies are pretty much minority groups Zeno. But its irrelevant given the fact that no matter how small the active electorate is the parties they vote for will still make-up the government.”

    Yes I know that and since it makes no difference locally who is in government I don’t really care. What happens when the decline in popular support starts to impact on seats as it did in the Council Elections.

  • mjh

    Electoral context:
    • Peaked 1990’s. LG93 21.8%. Euro94 28.9%. Assembly 98 22.0%
    • Uninterrupted decline (apart from 0.3% rally in Euro09) in every election since.
    • LG14 13.6% . Several months ago McDonnell said the party was aiming for 80 seats and that 70 or fewer would represent failure. The party won 66.
    • Euro14 13.0% – Lowest share ever recorded.

    Prospects: Two of its three Westminster seats threatened, SB and (less so) Foyle. Assembly losses more likely than before.

    Strategy to date. Originally, it was to present nationalist voters with a strong, united voice which could achieve change through international influence, and provide an alternative to violence. That strategy is obsolete in a context where northern nationalism is no longer represented by one united party, the SDLP’s voice is much the weaker part, and there is no IRA campaign. But it appears not to have been updated.

    Consequences of election result:
    • Possible pressure on McDonnell to resign. But there may be reluctance to do so before he defends SB next year.
    • Probable pressure from party members for change. But equally likely that there will be more than one recipe put forward. Agreement being very difficult most likely outcome will be to soldier on. More emphasis on party organisation, communications, tactics etc. The key problem – the party strategy – is just too difficult. It may be genuinely unsolvable.

  • Gopher

    The no brainier for the SDLP is go constitutionally neutral and merge with Alliance and become the biggest party. Successful parties attract votes and workers as it stand there is no career in politics with the SDLP.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Are the SDLP really Nationalist any longer? They have within their ranks economic Unionists who respect the flag of the UK.

  • Gopher

    Those perfidious Brits were very clever giving councillors an “industrial wage” now elections will start to be swamped and since the nationalism is behind the curve the SDLP will be the first to drown when the more parties from that section emerge. Simple logistics dictate that merger is required never mind common sense

  • latcheeco

    If we are going for over the top analogies I was thinking more of Chancellorsville. Of course that was in May- just before a very bad July.

  • Gopher

    I am imagine the inquest of the election by SF will find they did not inflate the big orange bogeyman frenetically enough so I expect there to be trouble as ever in July. I expect turnout will continue to fall as such unimaginative electioneering is getting harder to sell outside the enthusiasts.

    As for Chancellorsville I see no analogy, the chances of someone accidentally shooting Marty like Stonewall are negligible and Adams does not have Lee’s eloquence

  • mjh

    Electoral context:
    • After hovering between 10% and 12% in the ‘80’s and early ‘90’s, it grew rapidly from the 1995 Forum (15.5%) for ten years. Since then it has plateaued again – this time around 26%.
    • Highest vote share ever: Assembly 11 at 26.9%.
    • LG14 (24.1%) and Euro14 (25.5%) are only 0.7% and 0.8% respectively below their peak in each type of contest.
    • Despite their minor drop in overall vote share this year, they again increased their share of the nationalist vote v SDLP.

    Prospects: Slightly (but not dramatically) improved prospects of taking Foyle at Westminster.

    Northern strategy to date: First the armalite. Then the armalite and the ballot box – which was always a staging post. Now just the ballot box. 1) Become as respectable as the SDLP .2) Offer northern nationalists a potential route to unity via prospect of presence in government north and south. 3) Position themselves as principal guarantor of wider CRN community by intent and size. 4) Grow share of nationalist vote from declining SDLP. 6) Hold share in north. Focus on exploiting greater growth opportunities in south.

    Consequences of election result:
    • Nothing in northern election outcome challenges current strategy – which is bearing significant fruit in south.
    • Strategy could lead to replacement of McGuinness as candidate for FM in 2016 with someone from the post-conflict generation. This could speed absorption of SDLP support and slightly reduce potency of DUP argument that unionists must vote for them to avoid SF FM. An Adams retirement on the centenary of the Dublin uprising could also help?

  • HopefulPessimist

    Just a quick thanks to MJH for his very informative analysis.