Get out your crystal balls, and take our 2015 predictions survey…

The survey is now closed. You can view the results here…

  • Tacapall

    Slowly but surely at long last we are moving forward in the direction of disengagement from Ireland by the British establishment. Corporate UK no longer has to worry about its flank, the pooling of sovereignty has now ensured that its up to every country in the EU, not only Britain to ensure that the parasites in inner city London who have wedged their empire in the heart of the country can for generations more use the ordinary people as cannon fodder in their lust for control of the worlds natural resources.

  • John Gorman

    Peter Robinson will be gone with Dodds coming in.
    Stormont to continue just about on life support.
    Ill be bold and say none of the Westminster MP’s will change.
    Ireland to win the rugby world cup
    Northern Ireland and the Republic to choke and not qualify for Euro 2016
    Rory to win another major
    UK and Ireland to have their usual no show in Eurovision

  • Bryan Magee

    UK Westminster: DUP to take East Belfast. Labour to be largest party but perhaps to require Lib Dem support. Miliband/Balls to continue with a fiscally disciplined approach. No EU referendum. No UKIP breakthrough, in terms of Westminster seats, though they will retain Clacton in the General Election.

    Possible problems in Eurozone as Greece elects a Euro-sceptical party. Specter of deflation will appear over Europe, with consequences for high debt periphery.

    South of Ireland: recovery slow, because of Eurozone woes.

    US: Hilary Clinton to put her name forward for Democratic Party.

    China overtakes US as largest economy in the world.

    Middle East: continued problems and possible major terrorist activity.

    NI: Executive will continue with no reshuffles. Corpo Tax powers to be devolved. Economic growth to continue at a slow pace.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    In four simple words, “everything gets even worse.”

  • Gaygael

    So ok, I’ll take a punt, even though some of this may be wishful thinking.
    DUP fail to retake east belfast. Other unionists standing siphon votes away from the dup and Naomi claws votes from everywhere. She squeaks home.
    A similar situation unfolds in north belfast as those 5/6 thousand alliance and SDLP votes decide they have had enough of dodds and just enough make the switch to push Gerry kelly ahead. Sinn Fein are confident here, and after the loss in Castle DEA to alliance in locals, they are focusing here. And feeling confident. I still think east belfast is more likely but if both happened, the dup fall into a tailspin. This couple with a loss in either upper bann or south antrim (more likely upper bann). Robbo retires in ignominy rather than sauntering through to 2016 and the dup falls into infighting and acrimony.

    The other unionist parties circle and make pitches to steal the constituent groups that currently make up the dup. It’s working class vote drifting to PUP, it’s moderates leeching to Alliance and UUP, it’s religious fundamentalists and never never brigade to TUV/UKIP. All other unionist parties are now delighted that they risked the ire of the DUP by standing in east and north belfast and refusing to cow tow to big house unionism. The can now only benefit as the dup behemoth fractures and votes come their way.
    The Doctor holds on in south belfast. Unionist unity candidate or not. I honestly don’t think Sinn Fein are serious with MOM this time round. The energy he expanded as mayor would be the same he would be applying if he seriously wanted the MP job. He isn’t doing that as of yet. And a timely withdrawal will help in north belfast and FST. I fully expect he will be a Minister in the next executive and then will make a serious punt at the seat next Westminster election. The second strategy is that SF hope he will take enough votes that the Doc will lose to a unionist unity or DUP candidate. This may seem counter intuitive to hand a seat to unionism, but it may be the death blow they hope against the SDLP, having failed to breakthrough in Foyle or South Down despite concerted efforts.
    I imagine SDLP will have trouble elsewhere. Namely west belfast, where People before profit will run them close if not outpoll them, and north, where there vote will be squeezed. Recent inter party rumbles in Foyle will not help matters and SF will continue to close the gap but not enough, never mind unionist tactical voting.
    The assembly will limp on until 2016.
    Alliance will avoid a longer term leadership push if Long holds east belfast. If she doesn’t, she will she will be looking a seat immediately or at next assembly and after that the leadership.
    Adams will announce his intention to retire as leader after the next Dail election. He will stay on as TD and Ieading the party for Easter 2016 and the dail campaign. He will hope SF are largest opposition and have his eye on presidential 2018.
    Oh and greens to continue to improve their votes, building from the ground up. Not enough anywhere just yet to make a difference but eyes on more councils and assembly as greensurge continues apace.

  • My 10 predictions for 2015:
    1) No change in Jurassic Park (DUP/ SF both do moderately well in Westminster Election).
    2) GA to carry on getting mud slung by press. He survives & SF grow in the south.
    3) Cameron to somehow stay in power in no. 10. Ed gets the red boot.
    4) A royal lass is born. Possibly called Diana (or Shakira).
    5) Global equity markets collapse, led by euro fears and china slowdown.
    6) Greece begins process of exit from Euro.
    7) Oil wars heat up with Saudis happy to keep pumping. Price to stay below $60 p/b
    8) Angry Russia gets really angry – don’t poke a bear. Perhaps takes more of Ukraine.
    9) Ireland get to the final of rugby world cup and bottle it…
    10) Chelsea win everything bar CL. Jose reminds us how special he is.

  • banana man

    what makes you think Sinn Fein will lose Fermangh/South Tyrone?

  • mjh

    NI Westminster seats – no change. Although East Belfast will be a nail-biter. Dodds back in NB by at least 1000. With benefit of incumbency Gildernew holds FST by more than 500. McDonnell keeps South Belfast probably with reduced majority- only Anna Lo could have stood any chance of beating him.

    Party leaders – no change apart from SDLP. If McDonnell loses SB he goes. But if he wins he will either go because of double jobbing or because of fears of continued slippage in SDLP vote in 2016.

    If Long loses EB she will probably chose to fight EB at Assembly in 2016 and Ford would stay leader until early 2016.

    No change to FM or DFM.

    Predicting the result of the UK General Election at this stage is a mugs game. However…… UKIP pile up votes but win fewer than a taxi-full of MPs; SNP take at least another 10 seats; Greens win a lot more votes but no more seats – could lose the one they have; Lib Dem vote halves – but they still win around 30 seats. Neither Tories nor Labour win an outright majority.

    And as for the outcome of the second UK General Election in October????

  • Bryan Magee

    I would only quibble about Long. Surely she would go for South Belfast in the Assembly, because (i) there’s a vacancy with the departure of Anna Lo and (ii) there are two young Alliance incumbents in East Belfast (i.e. no vacancy for her candidature).

  • chrisjones2

    2015 is a year of great change

    Gerry Adams sadly dies. Among the greatest mourners are HM Government who posthumously award him a Knighthood for his contribution the stability of the UK and British Irish Relations

    Gerry is buried in a new mausoleum in the basement at Stormont alongside a disinterred Ian Paisley. Opened to Tourists (and Party Members) at £5 a visit this generates sufficient money to cover MLAs coffee and biscuits expenses for almost 3 months of the year as well as extra supplies of polish for the Stormont Benches and Ministerial Car seats

    Given the advance in robotics, however, Gerry’s personality is downloaded into a new SF App on the Internet from where he issues sage advice, homilies and daily poems to the faithful and tells the Party Leadership how he wouldn’t have done it that way. He is then Elected President for Death by the SF Membership and seems destined to preside over the party in perpetuity.

    Mary Lou enters the Priory Clinic for ‘a period of personal reflection’ after being found disheveled wandering O’Connell St at 3am searching for the ‘off’ switch for the internet

    The UK leaves the EU but Ireland does not leading to a huge boost for border smugglers. Gallagher’s abandoned factory is taken over by the UVF in memorium to the historic Marlboro Light Division (1914) and in Ireland ex -IRA members are recruited as part of an new EU Border Force to keep the Nordies out of Europe.

    Unemployment drops to zero and everyone is employed to watch everyone else

    More cases of SF/PIRA cover up of murder, robbery,rape and child abuse emerge. Polls show their support up by another 10%

    Peter Robinson is ousted by party coup. They then realise that none of them is up to it so he is reinstalled as Party Leader Emeritus.

    A SF Policy paper proposing an extra 10c a pint tax on beer to fund healthcare is leaked.SF vote collapses by 22% as people realize this will cost more a year than the water tax.

    The DUP finally get approval for fracking to start in Fermanagh but sadly all the farms that fall down the resulting cracks are protestant owned and the OO realize too late that this time it really WAS all a Poplish plot

    A Stormont Think Tank recommends that Elections be Abolished to save money and because we all know the results anyway. in a referendum the population agrees and decides that the best solution would be to appoint Joint Kings to rule in perpetuity for the benefit of all. Sadly on the day this plan falls apart in a dispute on transubstantiation of the communion beer and host fish supper at the coronation ceremony in Wetherspoons pub on Bedford St.

  • Gaygael

    So regrading North Belfast.
    In WM10, SF were 2224 behind. In Assembly. 2011, they were 1741. On Bangor Dubs blog there is a suggestion that local council results projected onto this would have the gap at 1000. They have narrowed. And living in the constiuency and knowing some of the local Sinn Fein people, they are confident. I know they have previously been confident about Foyle and South Down, but I believe this confidence. They were focused on a few other things at council and lost the seat in Castle here. Bad transferring from SDLP doesn’t bode well for them and I still think dodds will hold but by the slightest ôf margins.
    To me, what will decide this is what other unionist parties intend to stand. The Uup have nominated mark cosgrove who topped poll in Glengromely urban and brought in a running mate. They were only 50 votes behind the dup. TUV will not run. They have been clear that they will not run when there is a risk of a nationalist benefitting. UKIP have pledged a full slate of candidates but they are not likely to do something here and they have been making moves with Dodds and Robbo recently. I fully imagine that UKIP will just be another sectarian unionist party in Northern Ireland, playing pacts to keep ‘them uns’ out.
    Will the PUPs run? I think they should and it should be Julie Anne Corr Johnston. She is already making profile, seems to be putting good ground work in and that’s before she takes her council seat in April. She has form also, having scalped the DUP council leader, lee Reynolds by taking his seat in Oldpark DEA. If PUP are serious about re entering the assembly, it’s east belfast and North belfast where they have a chance. Standing aside for big house unionsim helped spell their decline in the noughties.

  • mjh

    You could be right Bryan, and as John points out another option could be Strangford if McCarthy does not stand again.

    There could even be other options – South Antrim if Ford were to retire in 2016. Or, if you want a real wild card, West Belfast if she fancied trying to emulate Bob Cooper.

    However I’m guessing that if she did lose Westminster, and it was by a narrow margin, the party may wish her to stay local to permit her to fight it again. Especially if it looked like the next Parliament might not run full term.

  • Paula Bradshaw is Alliance’s South Belfast candidate for Westminster.

  • salmonofdata

    I reckon that the DUP will win back East Belfast, and pick up South Belfast as well. Sinn Féin will retain F&ST, and I think they might sneak through and win Upper Bann from the DUP. No change in North Belfast or anywhere else.

    In the Westminster election, the magic 8-ball is coming up “Reply hazy try again”, but if pressed I think that there may be another Conservative – Lib Dem coalition, possibly with the support of the DUP. Labour face almost complete annihilation in Scotland at the hands of SNP, whilst UKIP will win more than people think (double figures). The Greens will pick up at least one of Hove, Bristol East and Norwich South. Plaid Cymru will pick up a few seats as well.

  • the keep

    Here goes:

    The Dup will win back East Belfast easily and then N Long will concentrate in getting Re elected to the assembly at the expense of their existing female candidate

    North Belfast will just about be held by the Dup now if Sf had a candidate that didnt polarise peoples opinions….

    Fermangh and South Tyrone will be retained by Sf.

    I suspect Foyle will be won by SF

    All the other seats will remain the same the UUP will make no headway but since there are no serious alternatives to Nesbitt as leader he will remain.The Sdlp will struggle on until they have a death rattle

    Northern Ireland will qualify directly if they can get 4 points out of Finland and 10 points from their other remaining games.

    ROI will certainly get into the playoffs and hopefully get a easy game.

    The Northern Ireland Assembly will carry on being ineffective and if possible sink lower in peoples opinions

  • mjh

    Gaygael
    Totally agree that if the PUP are really serious they absolutely have to fight East and North Belfast. If they do they could build the momentum and candidate profile to be in contention for the Assembly. But. But. Can they take the heat of splitting the vote? Do they even want to?

    I can’t see good reason for local SF people being confident about winning North Belfast, and I note you reckon Dodds will hold it. The figures they are quoting are not as impressive when you look more closely at them. Firstly the turnout in 2010 was 56.8%. In 2011 it was 50.3%. That alone accounts for half of the apparent closure of the gap between them and SF.

    The extrapolation by Faha on Bangordub’s website of this year’s council elections is not all good reading for SF. There is a margin of error in these extrapolations, so the gap of about 1000 between the SF vote and the DUP vote could be a few hundred more or a few hundred less.

    Also in council elections there tend to be more parties standing. Not surprisingly Faha’s figures show that as a consequence both the SF and DUP vote have been considerably reduced compared to their last Westminster score. In 2010 the DUP had 40.0% and SF 34.0%. Faha shows the 2014 council figures as DUP 28.4% and SF 25.8%. But SF appear to have far fewer votes readily available to squeeze than do the DUP.

    I estimate that in 2010 47.7% of the votes went to unionist leaning candidates, 47.4% to nationalist leaning and 4.9% to non-designated (Alliance). On Faha’s figures in 2014 unionist leaning candidates gained 49.5%, nationalist leaning 40.0% and non-designated (Alliance and NI21) 10.5%.

    Time will show if their confidence is well founded, or whether it is the product of their psychological warfare with the SDLP, or simple wishful thinking.

  • Bryan Magee

    Does anyone know who the SDLP’s candidate will be?

    Are SF still running G Kelly?

    Mark Cosgrove a well known councillor could attract more votes to UUP than their candidate last time.

  • Bryan Magee

    Do you know if SF are going to change their candidate in NB? Martin O Mulloir might be a good fit.

  • Bryan Magee

    Thank you. I was not sure whether Alban or Nichola would be standing for the SDLP.

  • Ian James Parsley

    There’s a perfectly good Alliance candidate in South Belfast, thank you all very much! (One who works in the inner city, has worked in the constituency all her life, and represents part of it in Belfast City Council.)

  • the keep

    He would be an excellant candidate for them however i suspect it will be either Gerry Kelly or the Culture Minister neither of them to be honest are top class.

  • the keep

    If Nichola gets the right to run i still suspect she will get come very much second to Alban in the right to run for the sdlp in North Belfast at the Assembly election

  • Ian James Parsley

    The year will likely get off to a stumbling start once people realise the “Stormont House Agreement” does not give the Executive a single penny extra of its own to spend (while Belfast Harbour is grossly overvalued).

    Only a fool predicts precise constituencies, but clearly you’ve missed a very interesting one – Upper Bann. This is the UUP’s best chance, and they’re working hard at it. Will they get it? Like I say, only a fool predicts precise constituencies…

    After May, things will go from bad to worse as people continue to realise there wasn’t a single extra penny in there. Only Alliance can survive that because they predicted there wouldn’t be from the start. Alistair McDonnell won’t be able to capitalise, however, as the factions will remove him and put in Alex Attwood, in a move which solves precisely nothing.

    New Zealand will win the Rugby World Cup, Chelsea the Premier League, Kerry the Sam, and no one will recall who won the Cricket World Cup (though they’ll note it wasn’t England) because it goes on so long that even the players themselves have lost interest before the semis.

    The UK General Election will produce a Parliament surprisingly similar to the current one in make-up. Government formation will be trickier – a relatively unstable Conservative minority government is probably the likeliest outcome.

  • Bryan Magee

    I agree about Upper Bann. The UUP have a strength there, and a team that works together very constructively.

  • the keep

    Only a fool predicts precise constituencies, but clearly you’ve missed a very interesting one – Upper Bann. This is the UUP’s best chance, and they’re working hard at it. Will they get it? Like I say, only a fool predicts precise constituencies…
    I would be very doubtful of this happening still it will be interesting to see if this becomes the UUP`s Stalingrad

  • John Gorman

    A good showing for the UUP in Upper Bann may even allow SF to sneak through the middle. UUP might also be hoping for some turnaround in South Antrim but other than that they have no chance elsewhere unless a Unity deal happens which at this stage seems unlikely.

  • the keep

    The big problem is if they split the vote…….

  • John Gorman

    As noted earlier it is Gerry Kelly, MOM is standing in South Belfast unless he his pulled at the last minute

  • the keep

    Who is the UUP`s candidate in South Antrim?

  • Bryan Magee

    It is Danny Kinahan.

  • the keep

    A really nice fella hope he can shrug off the mantle of being a big house unionist he would do a good job in Westminster

  • Bryan Magee

    It will be interesting to see. He is quite popular locally and seems a sincere person. He should be able to attract some of David Ford’s voters as well as some (either marginal UUP=DUP voters or alternatively strategic voters) who don’t like Willie McCrea’s approach to politics..

  • the keep

    The days of alliance voters helping the uup are long gone

  • Bryan Magee

    Perhaps, though I know people in this constituency who are “floating voters” as between Ford and Kinahan. There are always floating voters who do not see themselves as “party x voters”.

  • Ian James Parsley

    Doubtful too, but they were out in force (by their standards) even today.

  • Ian James Parsley

    There are a lot more floating voters than people think. My own polling suggests close to 30%. They vote along a spectrum, but not necessarily for a particular party.

    The other thing about South Antrim is the DUP MP is one of the more obvious nutcases.

    But if they couldn’t beat him with their Leader, I’m dubious they can best him at all.

  • Ian James Parsley

    Agree – Upper Bann is a genuine three-way.

  • mjh

    I can’t see a reason for it happening either, the keep. Despite facing the intervention of the TUV, PUP and UKIP in this year’s council elections, the DUP appear to have largely held the share of the vote they gained in 2010. While the UUP have dropped back considerably.

    Although a precise extrapolation from the council results is not possible, a reasonable estimate is that the DUP took about 33% of the vote in Upper Bann, compared to 33.8% in 2010. While the UUP dropped from 25.7% to around 18%. Other unionist leaning candidates took around 8% this year.

    For SF to ‘come through the middle’ it would have to take almost every single SDLP vote. The SDLP took 12.8% in 2010, and appear to have consolidated in 2104. Meanwhile SF slipped back from 24.7% to around 22%. A nationalist leaning independent accounted for a bit over 1% this year. So there is no realistic possibility of an SF win.

    For the record Alliance went from 3.0% to about 4%, while NI21 took a little over 1%.

  • Tacapall

    “One who works in the inner city”

    Wow, we have an inner city, Where is this ?

  • salmonofdata

    SF did get the highest number of first preference votes in Upper Bann in the 2011 Assembly Election, though, by 29 votes ahead of the DUP (11,528 to 11,499). The UUP were about 1,000 further behind, the SDLP polled 4,846, whilst the TUV and UKIP got 1,298 between them. It could be tight.

  • tmitch57

    “This couple with a loss in either upper bann or south antrim (more
    likely upper bann). Robbo retires in ignominy rather than sauntering
    through to 2016 and the dup falls into infighting and acrimony.The
    other unionist parties circle and make pitches to steal the constituent
    groups that currently make up the dup. It’s working class vote drifting
    to PUP, it’s moderates leeching to Alliance and UUP, it’s religious
    fundamentalists and never never brigade to TUV/UKIP.”

    Gaygael,
    This is wishful fantasy rather than analysis or forecasting. If any unionist party collapses in the next couple of years, it is much more likely to be the UUP or possibly the PUP (NI21 has already collapsed and is no longer unionist). The DUP pulled the difficult trick of moderating its ideology without losing much of its core base, thus drastically cutting into its rival UUP’s electorate. The PUP tried an ideological retrenchment in the mid-2000s but couldn’t quite pull it off. It is now a paramilitary party contesting among an electorate that does not–unlike nationalists–vote for paramilitaries who are considered to be simply terrorists. Robinson will probably go as DUP leader simply because the Assembly caucus has decided that he has served his time and it is time for a new face. Nesbitt might well go as well simply because he was unable to pull a miracle out of his ass–who could in his position. McDonnell might well go for the same reason.

  • Mister_Joe

    More of the same paralysis. No progress on anything, especially marching, flag waving, and the lack of understanding that things have changed and the bully boys can no longer get their own way, regardless of others. I’m glad I left the social madness of the really small number of idiots that the politicians believe they need to pander to, in order to ensure their relative high degree of good living..

  • Morpheus

    The DUP moderated it’s ideology? Moderated? Seriously? When did this happen because from where I am standing there’s a sea of recent evidence to the contrary accumulated as they blindly bumble from disaster to disaster

    Peter Robinson will fake another ‘resigning matter’ very soon as I am sure the OO have already withdrawn their support…what’s the point having him there if he can’t deliver everything they want? Hopefully Deputy Dawds takes over, that will be hilarious.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Is a sincere person, and a very pleasant change from the usual run of politician, but when has that ever got anyone elected here?

    I’ve had dealings with him over some time, on the advice of a SF councillor, interestingly, and found Danny one of the most genuine and concerned persons I’ve met anywhere in NI politics, and I think that anyone who regularly reads my comments on Slugger will have agood idea about what I think of politicians in general. As Bryan says, its a pity that the inverse class hatreds that convince most of us to elect quite untrustworthy persons presenting as “men of the people” may tell badly against him, it would be good to have someone decent for a change.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you chrisjones2 for one of the most convincing and perceptive pieces I’ve seen on Slugger in some time. However, with regard to “A Stormont Think Tank recommends that Elections be Abolished to save money and because we all know the results anyway.” I must remind you that I have both initiated and sustained this campaign over an extended period to cut public expenditure by ending these entirely pointless elections, and its attribution to a Stormont think tank is likely to link my name with the flock of advisors to the OFMdFM, something I would be compelled to consider as a potentially libelious accusation.

  • Bryan Magee

    Most obviously they are in a powersharing government with SF and work the structures of the GFA.

  • John Gorman

    I think you can get bogged down on the figures from other elections too easily. We should really only compare like for like ie the 2010 results. I still think the DUP will win but there are a number of interesting changes. UUP have selected Dobson who is a much more serious candidate than Hamilton. SF have picked Seeley who will likely get extra votes after being forced out of her teaching job by Ulsters no 1 crank and his merry men. Dolores Kelly likeable as she may be isnt likely to halt the steady decline from the Brid Rodgers days. In 2010 only 3500 odd votes seperated the 3 parties

  • Jag

    SFers take their seats in Westminster, rationalising it’s only a small step further than the toast of good health offered by MMG to QE in 2014, to provide an oath to the English queen, and isn’t life conducted on a nod and a wink basis anyway where we don’t really mean what we say (a basis which, incidentally, the PSNI disgracefully ignored last May when they arrested GA).

    SFers will constantly breach House of Commons rules, and when reprimanded by the speaker, they will taunt him with scurrilous suggestions of shenanigans between the speaker’s wife and the Irish traveller, “at least he doesn’t have to use a trampoline to ride her” will be their refrain under parliamentary privilege. And speaking of parliamentary privilege, the SFers will name Solider A, Officer B etc in the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, as well as the Brits behind the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

    The SFers presence in the Commons chamber will lead to frequent disruptive behaviour as they will all be grouped in the “Paddies Section” with the DUP and SDLP, this will be closest proximity most DUPers have experienced with the SFers (and vice versa). Frequent fisty-cuffs betweens Messrs Campbell, Dodds, Murphy and Doherty can’t be ruled out.

    David Cameron will rue the day he hosted the DUPers for a garden party to coincide with GA’s arrest last May, with the eight DUPers effectively neutralised by the six SFers.

  • Morpheus

    That’s not moderation of an ideology, that’s simply doing what they are elected to do and they are very well rewarded for it. Hardly worthy of praise

  • chrisjones2

    On the advice of my advisers I must point out that I never said who was in the Think Tank

    But you have worried me. Associating the word ‘Think’ with OFMDFM is potentially far more libelous to them than anything I might say about you.

    Anyway…Happy New Year and I agree…..everfythging will get even worsde

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Surprising amount of comment on local elections when we all seem to agree that Stormont achieves feck all – like moving the deck chairs around on the Titanic. The bigger picture stuff is the Westminster election, especially if you believe there is a strong potential for direct rule. God help us if Labour win, we may as well build a land bridge to France and the socialists can paddle us down the plug hole. Red Ed, the bacon sandwich eater as our PM, with the Ball’ster setting economic policy….THE HORROR! With Labour being slaughtered in Scotland by the SNP, watch out for kingmakers. My bet is on Salmond. I’m more wary of his savvy than anything Farage may have in his back pocket. A lot of people don’t like the Tories, but they are the only economic show in town. If Labour win, then the voters deserve what they get and hopefully the ‘leccie is still running so someone can switch the lights off.

    Buon anno tutti.

  • Bryan Magee

    It seems like a moderation to me, whether praiseworthy or paid or not. Ditto Sinn Féin who I would argue have moderated in a similar way. So we will just have to agree to disagree.

  • streetlegal

    Continuing instability around parades – but also around Stormont finances as the pressure to balance the books within government departments becomes more intense. More unseemly squabbles at the Executive meetings, lack of direction and drift. Nigel Dodds assuming leadership of DUP following poor electoral performance in May and DUP MPs taking the Conservative whip at Westminster.

  • mjh

    Good point about the 2011 Assembly Election, salmonofdata. However, if we look at all the electoral evidence over the last ten years, together with this year’s council elections the case for the prediction of a DUP win becomes even stronger.

    There are three key factors that the data suggests about the unionist leaning vote in Upper Bann:

    1. The DUP successfully squeezes other unionist votes in Westminster elections. Of the 7 elections in the last ten years the two best shares for the DUP were the two Westminster elections.

    2. The UUP performance this year was by far it’s worst in that period. It achieved around 18% (my estimate) against it’s previous low of 21.3% in 2007.

    3. The UUP’s decline in relation to the 2011 council elections in this constituency (down from 23.8%) ran counter to its general trend of improvement in the rest of NI. While the DUP’s increase from 29.4% is also contrary to its wider NI performance.

    What the data tells us about the nationalist vote is:

    1. The SDLP share of the vote has been consistent. In 5 of the last 7 elections it has varied between 12.7% and 13% (including this year’s council which I estimate at about 13%.

    2. SF has had limited and mixed success at squeezing the SDLP in key elections. It did so in 2005 for Westminster, but failed completely in 2010. It did again in the 2011 Assembly, when SF were fighting hard to try and win a second seat, but only by about 1.5 percentage points.

    3. The 27.2% SF gained in 2011 Assembly was its best performance and falls well short of what it would need to win Westminster.

    All this is not to say that if the electorate were convinced that SF were in with a genuine chance that it could not achieve a greater squeeze on the SDLP. It’s just that such a perception would also raise the bar by enabling the DUP to put a greater squeeze on the other unionist parties. And there are more “other unionist” votes available than there are “other nationalists”.

  • Jag

    Oh, and David Vance will be outed as the person writing
    Jamie Bwyson’s tweets for the past four months [edited]

  • Bryan Magee

    Ed Balls seems to me to be pretty good on the economy. He understands about the need for prudent financial management and has been restraining the Labour party in its approach (which is why they do not make lots of expensive promises). The main worry is that Ed Milliband can fire him at any time.

  • Bryan Magee

    For a long time I have taken the view that parades issues get far more coverage than they deserve. In recent years I think the public have become very uninterested in them. Perhaps its time to stop focusing on them so much? We all understand the basic issues to do with freedom of expression balanced against the importance of respect for others who hold different views. The fact that parades happen in Derry without contention shows what can happen when you work behind the scenes and all sides focus on the “respect for others” part of the thing.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    The same Ed Balls that was Economic Secretary to the Treasury in 2007 during the last Labour government just ahead of the UK’s economic collapse? That Ed Balls? “Lots of expensive promises”?’, they don’t make any spending promises as they don’t have an economic policy.

  • Tacapall

    “an electorate that does not–unlike nationalists–vote for paramilitaries who are considered to be simply terrorists”

    Yawn. Same old same old cliche from someone who either hasn’t a clue about our recent past or someone who is deliberately being economical with the truth in order to give the illusion of a unionist electorate innocent of any association with loyalist terrorists who have been used by the loyal orders and unionist politicians to threaten the British government numerous times in the past in order to keep the status quo. Being associated with a paramilitary organisation that engaged in acts of terrorism like importing hundreds of automatic weapons into this country, some of which were later used to murder innocent people, has done the DUP no harm they are the largest party in government and who do you think elects these non paramilitary associated politicians into government.

  • Gaygael

    So tmitch. I gave an introduction that some of this may be wishful thinking, but I gave a strong rationale as to how and why the dup may lose those seats. I have form for good prediction, namely Long in 2010, and the recent council elections calling the PUP resurgence and the green and PBP breakthroughs. The only thing that hampered me getting everything correct was the failure of the UUP to continue to spiral downward and the election eve implosion of NI21.
    Elsewhere (namely after uup conference) I have presented significant reasoning for what the UUP need to do to gain either of those constituencies. There is a significant tactical vote of 7-8% which swings to and from alliance to uup dependent on the nature of the vote in south antrim. I am trying for the life of me to post the link here but this programme is terrible. It’s uup confernece thread by alan in belfast on October 18th. Apologies for not having handy link.
    In upper bann, the UUP did very well at council, and although Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon is not conterminous with the Westminster seat, the DEAs that are in they did very well. The machine is formidable and even in their worst years they have a good operation here. They aree gaining ground on the dup.

    Don’t diss my postings and rationale without presenting some evidence to the contrary. Happy to see this thread republished in may. If you think the DUP has moderated, then you probably see the bnp as centre right. Here are three recent examples of the dup failing to be moderate and in fact being extreme. Gregory Campbell and that abuse of a minority language. Paul Givan and the YTP written conscience clause. Who will the first minister send or not to the shops. Jesus if you thinks that moderate then I am scared to think what you suggest is extremist.
    So you have critiqued my reasoned and thought out suggestions. What are yours and what is the evidence or rationale for them? Thanks dear.

    Usual refrain here and hence my reticence to post. Buggy, jumpy, impossible to copy and paste, editing issues and limited opportunities to amend spelling. Just me? Or a recurrent problem using disqus for an ipad? Anyone?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    And a very happy and prosperous New Year, chrisjones2 mo chara, to you to! I have already sent out all the emails to those British and Irish cabinet ministers I usually lunch with drawing attention to your perceptive insights but pointing out that I am not, nor ever have been, a member of that body of those commissioned to advise in any capacity the OFMdFM. They have as yet to realise that the money would be much, much better spent on me, at least as regards its entertainment value.

  • Gaygael

    Interesting that SDLP have not yet selected. I presume there is a competition between Alban and Nichola. Rightly she has timed it well for a punt and potential inheritance of the assembly seat, with her successful stint as Mayor coming to an end. Albans vote continues to fall. He is a out and out social conservative, and the two attempts to restrict abortion and his failure 3 times on marriage means many progressives in north belfast have abandoned him and potentially the party.
    Regardless of the SDLP candidature, I still don’t think enough people will tactically vote against Dodds.
    Unless there are significant unionist alternatives he will hold. Marginally thou. UUP have nominated, maybe with an eye on pressure for a pact. PUP have not yet said. UKIP promised full slate, but at most will be a paper candidate. TUV won’t run.
    Greens unlikely, alliance have selected Jason O’Neill, and people before profit unsure. These will have little impact, although it may be interesting to see if alliance can continue to build after success in castle. I had that pegged as a gain against the UUP, who held up well, and they technically gained against SF.

  • chrisjones2

    Methinks you protest too much. After all Gerry was never in the IRA and look where he finsished up

  • Morpheus

    Dan McCrossan seems to be making a good go of it. Nice fella who seems more than capable of taking on ‘the establishment’ in those parts. He has a good team of volunteers and finally someone ar the SDLP who understands technology. Makes my blood boil when they regurgitate the problem omitting what the SDLP intend doibg about saud problem

  • Fraggle

    we should be so lucky, good laugh though. 🙂