Will Anna Lo ‘return’ to politics to fight for South Belfast next year?

Brian asked the question of what the last elections added up to. Having done a lot of detailed analysis I’m still teasing that out. Two thing major things strike me about East and South Belfast though that seem to run counter to pre election expectations.

One is the underperformance of Gavin Robinson, someone who was being talked of as the DUP candidate in the next Westminster election, the above expectations of the UUP neither of which necessarily help the sitting MP Naomi Long keep her seat there.

Last time out with a perfect storm in the wake of the Iris Robinson crisis she was able to avoid that circular liberal firing squad by taking votes from everywhere, including the UUP and PUP. One corollary of the flags crisis that those votes are drifting away from them, and Naomi could be the major casualty.

But what demographic politics takes away with one hand it may return with the other.

Where the Alliance is threatening for another Westminster seat just next door in South Belfast where as much as the flags crisis has cooled liberal unionists on the idea of voting Alliance it has warmed liberal nationalists.

Brian Feeney flagged this well before the election, and rightly in my view, pinned much of the progress in the European and Local Elections on Anna Lo’s personal brand rather than the party alone…

Which sets up an interesting question – and one well worth posing long before any decision is taken over who is to run in South Belfast next year.

Ms Lo has made it clear she is leaving politics at the next Assembly elections. And yet everything suggests that if Anna Lo were to run in the next Westminster election she could take the SDLP leader’s Westminster seat and land a major coup for her party.

Her exit makes sense if she is really as disillusioned with the place as she told John Manley she was. And yet she knows that without the headway she’s personally made in courting nationalist voters her party will struggle there next year.

So much is at stake it’s very hard not to foresee a ‘sudden’ change of heart. If so the SDLP leader should maybe dig out an old prayer to St Jude, not least because Ms Lo’s reasons for leaving politics have rather handily shipped her a lot of sympathy in his backyard.

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  • IJP

    I don’t think it’s fair to say the Alliance Party would “struggle” without her – it retained both City Council seats with rookies against well established incumbents from both Nationalist parties, was the lead party in the Castlereagh South DEA, and Michael Long topped the poll in the Lisnasharragh DEA (part of which is in Belfast South)!

    Of course, having a well-known popular incumbent on the ballot paper would raise the chances of nicking the Westminster seat next year, but they are not at zero without her (nor are they odds-on with her, to be fair).

    It is of course a personal decision.

  • A Morris

    Is it not more likely that SF will run their south Belfast secret weapon Máirtín Ó Muilleoir who in the local government elections appeared to get votes from middle class nationalists, and arguably former Alliance voters. He even picked up a few moderate unionists if the second preferences are anything to go by. That could cause a serious headache for the SDLP.

  • Mick Fealty

    It would Allison, and Adams’s statement on his party’s attitude towards the SDLP on BBCNI would indicate a flip to Alliance would suit them well enough. He doesn’t need to do much damage to chew up the difference between Big Al and Anna

    Ian, I’m struggling to think who else could do it from inside the party.

  • A Morris

    Unionists may manage to negotiate a south Belfast/ east Belfast unity pact before next year but I wouldn’t expect that to be reciprocated by SF / SDLP

  • Mick Fealty

    Oh ho, definitely not! Not *sure* south is still gettable for even a combined candidate.

  • A Morris

    I agree the demographic of the area has changed considerably since Martin Smyth held the seat

  • IJP

    I think there will be a combined Unionist candidate who will be odds-on (but not certain) to win.

    The question then becomes which candidate is: a) capable of securing the huge majority of the non-Unionist vote; or (and it is an “or”) b) can take enough moderate Unionists combined with the broad Progressive and non-McDonnell-faction SDLP-lite vote to block a “Spratt”-like candidate.

    It strikes me that Anna *could* do a).

  • With a fairly safe Alliance seat in both Balmoral and Botanic, I dont see it as a surprise that the Party held seats.
    In Botanic a rookie did indeed beat a fellow rookie, Duncan Morrow, but Duncan is so high profile, especially in that area, that he hardly fits the definition.
    In Botanic, the winning Alliance candidate is also high profile and hardly a rookie, having stood as a UNCUF candidate at Westminster in 2010.
    South Belfast will always be interesting.
    Six MLAs from five parties…with that sixth seat a genuine battle (and I wouldnt discount the Greens -and Clare Bailey, who will have done herself no harm at all
    As to Westminster, whoever is elected will be very much under 50 per cent and that depends on pacts, standing asides, unity candidates or good old tactical voting.
    id certainly see a Unionist Unity candidate doing well…a quid pro pro in East Belfast.
    Modertates might go for McDonnell or Lo (or Morrow, still clearly the leading alternative to Lo).
    nationalists might stay with SDLP or drift to SF.

    its clearly a blow to Alliance that Morrow lost out.
    Clearly he would have been a bit over-qualified to be a councillor so I would still see him on the ticket in 2016. Id assume that he was selected for Botanic to increase his profile with ordinary punters.
    By the way, I wonder who SDLP candidate might be. Is Dr Al, their best vote-winner in South Belfast.

    Personally I am extremely glad that Anna Lo is staying in Norn Iron,
    but standing in 2015 might be one U-Turn too many.
    I marched at the weekend in support of Anti Racism such as that suffered by Anna Lo….as indeed did many people from, Greens, SDLP, Alliance and SInn Fein.
    But …as with Flegs….it would be a pity if Alliance tried to campaign on the issue of their victimisation as a Party (flags) or individuals (Ms Lo) rather than a manifesto.
    It should be possible to be bi-partisan about the anti democratic tactics of loyalists without actually voting Alliance.

  • Larne man

    Disagree with Mick South is most definitely gettable, demographics or not there is still a large protestant population in this constituency- activating the working class loyalist base in the Village and Sandy Row will be key.
    In many ways Martin Smyth was the perfect unionist candidate. He was born and bred in the heart of protestant South Belfast, this along with his Orange Order creditentials always got the loyalist vote out. He was also a trinity educated clergyman, well spoken and respected which won him the considerable middle class prod vote to add to the loyalist base.
    Repeating this will be no mean feat.

  • gaygael

    I have been suggesting this for a while and emailed Anna Lo during the start of this racist targeting of her, back in march when the fascists tried to boo her off the stage at international women’s day. I suggested she stand then. From a purely personal perspective for her, it would put her closer to her sons in England, as she has publicly spoken about. And that would form the perfect reasoning for her change of heart.
    I think she is the perfect candidate to take this seat. Of course, it all depends on
    A) unionist pacts. Can dup uup do a deal, and will pup, ukip and tuv, feature in these discussions? I can’t see why tuv and ukip are not already preparing the ground for a deal. Tested at Westminster and coming to fruition in assembly 2016. I can’t however see unionist pact paying off here. There are enough non unionists, and like the nationalists and others and many liberal unionists, they will identify the most likely candidate to beat a unionist unity candidate and solidly plump for her.
    On a personal and anecdotal note, I know many traditional nats that put her number one the recent euro elections, before tribally returning home. I also know many other progressives that gave her number one for her unequivocal stances on same sex marriage and a women’s right to choose. The transfers to SDLP certainly reinforced this, and I think it would be interesting to see what element would have gone to SF had Anderson not already reached quota. Any help?
    B) sf candidate. has to be Mo’M, if they stand, but they could choose not to stand for the sake of a nationalist seat. However, the opportunity to decapitate a señor member/ leader of their weakened but primary opposition in the north may just be too tempting. They know they can’t take the seat, but they know they can scare the shit of the doctor, assembly member and member of parliament, and possibly lose him his seat. I think SF would be contented with an alliance MP, but maybe less so if a unionist unity candidate took the seat. Decisions for them to make.
    C) alliance candidacy? It’s Anna Lo if they are serous. I can’t see anyone else breaking through. IF, big if, she was succesful it could solve the need for long to return to the assembly through co-option if she loses in east belfast. If long wins in east, it’s morrow or Bradshaw to replace Anna Lo.

    Trying to project council results may be difficult. Lisnasharrag is partially in south Belfast as stated above. Any body able to help out how to project these wards?
    Alliance significantly ahead here of dup on 2586 vs 1896 and uup on 1362 with SF and SDLP and other Us under 1k.

    But the reading of just botanic and balmoral gives us this in first prefs.
    SDLP-3514 DUP-3186 SF-2851 ALL-2838 UUP-1644 Other U- 1467

    I think it’s gota be Anna, and if she wins, alliance can finally change the discourse that says they cant win/do well/ take seats, in Nat areas.
    They technically took a seat in castle dea but I projected that at expense of uup rather than sf. Tierna Cunningham is a loss to council.

    Long holding the east is a whole other thread. I think they gota trumpet the line that the dup are afraid to take her on in a ‘fair dig’ Plays up to her ballsy working class girl from dee street image. And I imagine that alliance and other turnout will be high in her favour.

  • JR

    South Belfast is too much of a stretch for a unionist candidate even a unity one. with such a strong nationalist vote, to win the unionist would have to pull in every single unionist vote from the PUP and Tuv supporters right across to the borderline alliance supporters who have no truck with the loyal orders. That is too many horses for any candidate to ride. Anna Low will find it difficult attracting major nationalist support if there is a unity unionist candidate because too many nationalists will be worried about splitting the vote three ways and allowing a unionist back in.

  • Larne man

    Don’t forget Castlereagh Souh which is entirely within the constituency too.
    Based on tallies I saw, at least two thirds of the Alliance vote in Lisnasharragh is in Bel S wards ie Wynchurch, Rosetta, Ravenhill and Hillfoot. Over 90% of the two nationalist parties’ votes came from these wards too.
    The Woodstock ward of Titanic is also in Bel S, maybe 250 Alliance votes, a handful SDLP/SF and over 1000 unionist votes of various flavours.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I think it’s very unlikely that Anna will stand for election again. She indicated in a recent interview that she’d like to have time to pursue more of her own causes. Bear in mind that she’ll be just shy of 65 by the time of the election.

    It’s more likely that Alliance will run Duncan Morrow, if anything because it’s a good opportunity to build his profile further.

    It would certainly be logical from the perspective of the Unionists to run a unified candidate – probably Nesbitt – as part of a deal where the UUP would stand aside from East Belfast (notwithstanding the fact that pacts in marginal seats don’t appear to actually encourage unionists to vote).

    Alisdair McDonnell is in trouble as SDLP leader and he may well not be in position by this time next year, which may have an impact on whether or not he is the SDLP South Belfast candidate. In those circumstances there is every probability that nationalists could switch to O’Muilleoir especially if SF present him as the only person who can beat a joint Unionist candidate. In those circumstances it probably doesn’t matter who Alliance run.

  • Larne man

    Absolutely right. Mairtin is far too good a candidate not to run from a Sinn Fein perspective. However for him to win the Westminster seat would be an astonishing result- fantastical almost. I suppose stranger things have happened as we saw in Belfast East…

  • Comrade Stalin


    South Belfast is too much of a stretch for a unionist candidate even a unity one. with such a strong nationalist vote, to win the unionist would have to pull in every single unionist vote from the PUP and Tuv supporters right across to the borderline alliance supporters who have no truck with the loyal orders.

    In 2010 the combined nationalist candidate in South Belfast (McDonnell) won 41% of the vote last time, against a total unionist vote of 44%. So purely in terms of the numbers, a combined unionist candidate would win the seat, especially if SF decide to stand.

    In the 2011 Assembly election nationalists took 36.4% vs a 37.9% unionist vote – but the DUP vote in both elections was almost identical, suggesting that many of Alliance’s votes in 2011 had crossed over from the UUP to a much greater extent than from the SDLP.

  • JR


    You need to check your figures. Unionist candidates got 41% of the vote, 14,010 votes close but still behind the stlp’s 14,026. So still would have lost. Also there is the fall in the unionist vote of almost 11% to consider.

    Also as you know you cannot compare assembly with Westminster elections. different altogether. Nationalists always poll better in Westminster elections. in 2005 combined nationalist vote at local elections was 37% but they polled 42% in the same years Westminster election.

  • Mick Fealty

    I’d see more interest in East for some kind of composite deal with FST…

  • RyanAdams

    Quite right Mick.

    As already alluded to, the unionist church is too broad in SB to row in behind any particular candidate, and in my opinion second maverick constituency (albeit distant) to North Down. The misrepresented posters “They’ve united; so have we” run by the DUP and Spratt did not go down well in mixed areas in 2010.

  • Mairtin is a great candidate but there’s a number of reasons I don’t think he’ll throw his hat in the ring.

    MPs are largely anonymous in the north even more so for SF MPs. Someone like Mairtin with significant business interests on both sides of the Atlantic is unlikely to trade that in for English ambassadorial role, especially when there’s already 17 others there doing the same thing. I’ve a feeling he would see it as a step backwards after being Mayor of his home city.

    On my reading of the locals the next SDLP seat to fall will be Derry not South Belfast. Mairtin would need to be convinced he’s in with a good chance before wasting his time. I don’t see it… yet.

    I’ve no inside knowledge on it but past experience would tell us SF will want to consolidate marginals like FST before gambling for South Belfast and risk ending up with neither. Lets also face it, FST is also a much more glittering prize than South Belfast. Unionists would dearly like to have it back but if SF also take Derry then that’ll be hard green along whole northern side of the border. Add that to increased influence along the southern side which is also going to increase significantly then there is potential for all sorts of ‘northsouthery’. In fact I’d be very surprised if SF aren’t already working on a plan for closer ties between border councils and between all four of our main cities Dublin, Belfast, Cork and Derry. This to me is saying the Party would be happy enough to leave South Belfast on the back burner and not field anyone to ensure the 5 or 6 vote cushion becomes 2 or 3 thousand.

    To be honest I could only see him sacrificing his business interests for something that’s going to allow him the space to enact change such as Education or Trade & Investment Minister.

  • Education or Trade & Investment Minister… and he ain’t going to get that in any foreign Parliament.

  • Comrade Stalin


    Every time I do a late night post that involves numbers I manage to screw it up. Thanks for the correction.

    I know you cannot directly compare Assembly and Westminster elections but they provide a basis upon which to analyze voter behaviour. If Alliance win nearly 20% of the vote in the Assembly, but only 15% in Westminster, you know there is tactical voting going on.

    I still think the unionists are in with a chance if they run a combined candidate in an election where there are two major nationalist candidates. Not a huge chance, but it’s there.


    I doubt that Mairtin went to all the trouble to be one of the best Lord Mayors in the city’s history (and with a capacity to attract cross community support that is unique for a Sinn Féin representative) for nothing. He clearly has his eye on a political career.

    I agree with you, albeit for slightly different reasons, that Westminster might suit him. At the moment it seems to be where Sinn Féin MPs get sent to keep them out of trouble. For SF Westminster seats offer little more than prestige. The Assembly is where the action is at the moment.

  • Larne man

    The SDLP’s base in this seat is being gobbled up on both wings- the good doctor will not survive a unity candidate.
    There’s a reason those people are voting Alliance or Sinn Fein or staying at home- those who think they will just ‘return home’ in a Westminster election are in for a shock.

  • GEF

    Anna said she was thinking of leaving Northern Ireland and returning to Hong Kong were they have real democracy. Maybe she will think again when she reads this CNN news.

    “A warning to democrats?
    Many analysts view the release of the paper, the first official document since the 1997 handover to set out Beijing’s authority over the territory, as a warning to campaigners pushing for the introduction of universal suffrage by 2017, when the city will choose its next chief executive.”

    “Alarm in Hong Kong at Chinese white paper affirming Beijing control”


    Hong Kong protesters march ahead of Tiananmen anniversary


  • mark7694

    I don’t think Anna Lo will be Alliance’s general election candidate.

    I reckon they will use the election in the South Belfast constituency as a springboard for the Assembly election the following year for who is to replace Lo as the party’s MLA in the south of the city.

    I suspect Duncan Morrow will be that person.

  • boondock

    In South Belfast a Unity candidate will likely see a fair drop from the 2010 unionist combined vote. Plenty of progressive unionists here who wont take part in such a blatant sectarian headcount. If Lo stands then Alliance might have a chance but anyone else then forget it even Lo’s vote would be lent en masse to the SDLP if there was a unity candidate. SF are unlikely to stand to try and gain some leverage among nationalists in FST. Its difficult to actually see where the DUP are likely to give the UUP a free run in payment for all these pacts. The at risk seats Upper Bann, North Belfast are DUP seats, East Belfast the DUP vote is way ahead of the UUP. People in the past have mentioned Strangford but why in hell would Shannon step aside for Nesbitt seeing as he outpolled him by 5000 last time. One option would be North Down if Sylvia doesnt stand but again at the last assembly election the DUP outpolled the UUP 4 to 1. Am I missing something here? Maybe the UUP will get FST but again do you really think Tom Elliot is going to attract as many votes as an actual good candidate like Conor er no.

  • boondock

    One other point someone mentioned SF taking Foyle. I cant see it at the moment as the SF potential candidates are terrible not to mention the fact that there would be a large amount of tactical voting by Unionists.

  • Gopher

    I’m not really sure there will be the same level of tactical voting from those of a unionist bent at Westminster as in previous elections. The SDLP is seen as a horse that is no longer worth backing. Depending on how many unionist candidates stand in South Belfast I believe there will be tactical voting for Alliance if people believe their candidate has a chance to unseat the encumbent.

  • GEF,

    She did not say that. In fact she has called for more democracy in Hong Kong.

  • boondock

    Given only 2 options ie SF or SDLP Im pretty sure there will still be a fair bit of tactical voting by Unionists. There will only be a large number tactically voting for Alliance if a) Lo is standing and b) there is no unity candidate

  • Boondock,

    I agree with you. It’s very difficult to see what the DUP could reasonably offer the UUP as part of a pact. In return for seeing the return of a Robinson in East Belfast, they would have to sacrifice the ambitions of party activists in Fermanagh-South Tyrone and/or South Belfast. Is it really worth it, with an Assembly election twelve months later

  • Gopher

    Not so sure Boondock turnout is falling and if you don’t have a dog in the fight Im not sure there is any motivation especially when the SDLP cant defend itself

    Well the elephant in the room if Lo don’t stand is Long’s husband. Everyone likes a story and you could not buy that one. So I dont think Lo will be that much of a factor in tactical voting from unionism she might even be a hindrance. No unity candidate, Alasdair is in trouble, Unity candidate Alasdair is in trouble, Mayor stands Alasdair is in trouble.

  • Gopher


    North Down wont elect a DUP MP simple as that. So the whole landscape for deals changes if Sylvia steps down.

    I believe Robinson can carry East Belfast without any deal so there is not an unduly large pressure on the DUP to compromise

  • Duncan Morrow – the foppish university lecturer who couldn’t get a council seat our only university area? Have run into him a few times recently and undoubtedly he’s a really nice man but each time it stuck me that he is greatly ignorant and at times (inadvertently) offensive when commenting on Irish history and culture especially the GAA. He’s not going to get the required nationalist transfers with that outlook.

  • boondock

    We cant keep looking at council elections and try and compare them to FPTP they are completely different beasts.
    In Foyle Durkan in 2010 had 5000 votes more than Andersen and a similar cushion over McLoughlin 5 years earlier. I cant see that lead evaporating especially when you consider the potential SF candidates are poor and dont even come close to their predecessors who were at best mediocre.

    North Down wont elect a DUP MP?
    Difficult to say seeing as they have only stood for a Westminster election here about twice and never against just the UUP so if Sylvia isnt standing and there is no other Bob McCartney wannabe standing then I would say DUP would have a pretty easy win here.

    East Belfast
    I agree that the DUP should win on their own here but they may not want to run the risk and if multiple pacts are in place then why not here just to make sure

    South Belfast.
    The massive improvement of the Alliance party here is because of Anna Lo full stop. In Assembly elections Anna Lo has doubled if not more the Alliance vote hence why Rice was maybe so eager to give her a kick over the United Ireland comment. It is quite obvious though that in the FPTP election a fair chunk of her vote switched back to the SDLP. Now maybe if she stayed on she might keep this pale green vote but Longs husband isnt going to just pick up her personel vote so what he may gain from soft unionists he will lose from soft nationalists.I agree that there are a number of factors that will put a squeeze on Alasdair but lets not forget he has a very healthy lead of some 18%. He had a bigger vote than the combined unionist vote a number which I have already suggested earlier will drop in the event of a unity candidate. SF stepped aside last time and it did help but not loads as turnout in places like the markets and lower ormeau was very very low. Martin the mayor no doubt about is a popular guy but I think he would struggle to get beyond the usual 4000 SF votes and if a Unity candidate was in place he may actually poll quite poorly as a result.

    Interesting year ahead certainly looking forward to see where Mike Nesbitt is crow barrred/parachuted into

  • GEF

    Nicholas Whyte GEF, “She did not say that. In fact she has called for more democracy in Hong Kong.”

    What comes up to Anna’s expectation as a proper democracy?
    She has made it known her view of Northern Ireland. I wonder does she agree with all these HG Chinese who want to fly British flags in the former colony?


  • GEF

    “It’s very difficult to see what the DUP could reasonably offer the UUP as part of a pact. In return for seeing the return of a Robinson in East Belfast”

    Simple that one, the DUP can offer not to stand in S Belfast in return for the UUP not putting up a candidate in E Belfast.

  • GEF

    “In fact she has called for more democracy in Hong Kong.”

    Called to who, the Chinese Communist party in Beijing?

    “Hong Kong must accept Beijing’s control, China’s Communist Party warns”


  • Roy Walsh

    I would be inclined to agree with Alison above, the rumors have been circulating for some months of an OUP/DUP pact in South and East Belfast giving young Gavin a clear route for East while poor old South Belfast might, again, be lumped with McGimpsey who, if nothing else, has the free prescriptions to appeal to voters.
    The prospect of a renewed Sinn Féin standing aside to permit McDonnell a clear run, is though a possibility if SDLP were to reciprocate in FST where Gildernew held by only four votes last time, even Sinn Féin are worried this might return to Unionism next year by an equally small amount, where again a ‘unity’ candidate is a distinct possibility.
    Equally the incumbent has nothing to show voters, he’s wandering back and forth like the emperor in his new, no, clothes.
    I suspect Anna Lo will run again here, as I pointed out before, as a public rep. she has a strong effect and she will attend mundane meetings in draughty halls to fight for constituent interests; the bohemian liberal vote found in the University quarter, Catholic as well as Protestant will come out again and support her so, even in the face of OUP/DUP alliance her vote will probably rise giving that party hope for the future, as well as hours of BBC airtime.
    South Belfast could be interesting too in that, from OUP standing, do they run McGimpsey or bring in newer blood, perhaps from outside Belfast, like so many of the South Belfast residents, or might Paula Bradshaw be returning to her old home?

  • The rather grand Anna is more likely to be eyeing a space on the red benches.

  • Gopher

    Boondock I am aware elections are different types of beasts.

    North Down will simply not have a DUP MP period, the electorate Greens,Indies and even SDLP voters will lump onto the whichever the liberal unionist is standing.

    Anna Lo takes credit for the South Belfast performance but pro choice, liberal, constitutionally neutral voters are not going to abandon Alliance to go back to the SDLP the tide is flowing only one way there. The Mayor would pose a big threat but he is stuck in the wrong party, even so he would comfortably exceed any total Maskey put on the board.

    I believe Anna will stand if she fails she retires in 2016 and as the dissenter states she will end up in the Lords. If she succeeds Alliance have a very defendable seat in future elections.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Roy, its UUP not OUP. As for most of the rumours, they are little more than that, its a fun one to speculate over. Interestingly Mid-Ulster probably showed how an agreed candidate can bring out a stronger overall vote, and it seemed to have helped Unionist turnout in the local elections. But generally 1+1+1=2.5 or similar. As mentioned previously the UUP has not that much to gain, the question is how much is at stake, “vote splitting” accusations still hold some influence and could knock on elsewhere as well as in the Assembly the following year, on the other hand “sectarian carve-ups” and deals also have their price, it depends on which is greater. Mid-Ulster was the right call at the time, I think it will come down to a case by case look at things and above all listen to the voters on the ground.

  • gaygael

    I still think those within Alliance must be pushing Ann Lo hard to get her to stand for Westminster. As I said, it ticks all the boxes for reshuffles should she be successful, and if she is not, it sets them up will for the battle for a second seat (this may be more difficult without Anna on the ticket)
    Someone said it earlier but the growth here in alliances vote is primarily due to her. She has held off a good and organised green insurgency and managed to grow the vote in an SDLP power house. Contrast and compare with Geraldine Rice as prime Alliance candidate versus Women’s Coalition and Alex Maskey gaining a seat. Unionism has remained divided here – and I cant see a joint unionist candidate that would stretch across the appeal from TUV and PUP and Orange Ruth, right through to small u unionists of the leafy suburbs and the recent electors of Jeff Dudgeon.
    Regarding Unionist deals, I think before we guage what shape this may be there must be a consensus on which seats Unionism considers under threat of lose or failure to gain due to competing unionism.

    The definite ones are; FST Belfast – North/South/East. So the UUP get a free run at FST and South Belfast and the DUP get North and East Belfast. I still dont see UUP gaining so I think they would be foolish to agree a unity candidate unless it was for a constiuency where they are a shoe in.
    It seems that suddenly, in the discussion of unionist pacts, Nesbitt may have the upper hand.

    Very outside is Upper Bann – but what makes this interesting is continual residual strength in the UUP (where even in the disastrous assembly 2011 elections they increased their vote share and comfortably held 2 seats and ran 3 candidates, 1 more than the DUP) I fully expect them to put forward Dobson, and the battle is on.

  • Roy Walsh

    DR, if you’re right then, if a split Unionist vote permits Nationalist retention of South Belfast, and Fermanagh South Tyrone, where there is a good chance SDLP will again run Fearghal McKinney with his, one time, high profile but Gildernew would then retain the seat, they can hardly whinge about loosing seats in other places, like perhaps North Belfast, although expect a strong contention here from the present Mayoral incumbent for this city.
    I would have to say, the Official Unionist Party have most to gain, in particular in the next, next Westminster in Upper Bann where I’d expect TUV to greatly increase their vote at expense of both Unionist parties, in particular Simpson.
    Yes, rumors are rumors but, if the real threat is nine nationalist v. nine unionists holding Westminster seats then expect rumors to become populist policy.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I think the DUP will be willing to pay a price to get a free run in East Belfast and if that requires them to agree a UUP candidate in South Belfast they’ll take the option.

  • Comrade Stalin


    In Upper Bann, if the TUV run and take votes from both the UUP and the DUP in any significant numbers it is possible that Sinn Féin could gain the seat.

    The TUV have already said that they will stand aside in any Westminster seat where there their candidacy could result in the seat being won by a nationalist. That rules them out of most unionist seats.


    It seems that suddenly, in the discussion of unionist pacts, Nesbitt may have the upper hand.

    This is not clear to me at this point. Nesbitt accidentally won a few council seats but that doesn’t mean he suddenly has negotiating leverage. The DUP are not going to give up any seats they are currently holding, so at best Mike will get a free run at taking a seat from a nationalist in exchange for stepping aside elsewhere. A pact involving South and East Belfast seems the most likely.

    Mike will be under pressure to step aside in East Belfast anyway as the DUP will make it clear that they will hold him responsible if Alliance hold the seat. If Nesbitt agrees to some sort of pact at least he will have something to show for it.

  • Roy Walsh

    Comrade, Alister did say that, and did not run in Upper Bann in 2010, so yes, they’re unlikely to run in 2015, although they made a poor showing there in 2011, coming between two Alliance candidates, surprising in this constituency.
    Would you say then the biggest threat to Simpson would come from your own party running and undermining the incumbent there?

  • Comrade Stalin


    It’s a safe DUP seat in Westminster as long as the DUP vote doesn’t split off to the TUV. Doesn’t matter what any of the other parties do.

  • gaygael

    FAir enough comrade. I concur with your analysis of mikes election result, but it may emboldened him.

    For mike, he doesn’t necessarily need to do any pacts. Tmike says no to pacts and this is how I see it.
    There is a chance for the uup to potentially get seats directly from the dup. Yes. I know. But, even in the dismal 2010 result, there was some hope. They only need some marginally swings from the dup. And if tuv, ukip and pup eat in the other side?
    At last west minister, in 2010, they were competitive with the dup in 2 places. South antrim, there was only a difference of just under 1200 and in upper bann they were just under 3.5k behind. As has been said, tuv won’t play a role in upper bann and the risk of a sf gain, but they will in south antrim, where they just hauled in councillors in Macedon and ballyclare deas.
    They will surely impact on the dup and allows tuv to build for assembly here. They have another 2 councillors not far off, admittedly in antrim and three mile water deas. Antrim is in this assembly area but I think three mile water is in east antrim?
    In upper bann, although it is difficult to base on assembly and locals they seem to have narrowed that gap. Dobson in upper bann and mike pitched at south antrim?
    Strangford gap may be too much to close unless uup really get some momentum, and Nesbitt risks another defeat here. This time he is leader though.
    North belfast is the other one to watch. And mike can threaten a candidate there.

    So to me that is mikes rasoning for not doing pacts and his potential benefits. If, and big, if, they were to take 2 dup seats that would suggest momentum for mike in the run up to the assembly.

    If he does pacts, for south belfast, east belfast, north belfast and fst, the best outcome is he gets 2 extra seats as does the dup.
    Would mike rather have more unionists at west minister, or a bloody nosed dup?