BelTel Polling suggests Pact has not quite put East Belfast out of contention

So, next week you will get to see the mettle of the two East Belfast candidates tested under a strong panel of local journalists, but Liam Clarke reports something worth noting in the BelTel today

According to the Belfast Telegraph’s latest monthly LucidTalk poll taster, Gavin Robinson is more likely than ever to win the East Belfast seat off Alliance’s Naomi Long.

Our monthly poll result found that the DUP man is now 75% likely to win the seat.

He was 55% likely to take it last month – so that extra 20% is the bounce he received from the unionist pact. It means the fiercely contested seat, which DUP leader Peter Robinson lost in 2010, is very much his to lose.

Bill White of LucidTalk polling explained: “As a general guide 85% is secure, 65% is fairly marginal and 75% is sort of OK at this stage, but Gavin Robinson would need to be hitting 80%+ to feel confident, in our next and final monthly panel poll before the election”.

Two things worth highlighting here.

One, a poll is not a vote, so these are indicative figure. Two, it indicates that despite the mathematics of the last actual vote in 2010, Alliance were close enough so that the DUP needed this pact with the UUP to give them a secure margin.

And two, even with that secure margin (if we continue to suspend our disbelief for a moment), the seat is still not quite secure.

All of which goes to show that that certain fatalism which has befallen both the UUP and the SDLP (and indeed many pundits in NI politics) that their prices can only go down rather than up in the face of the formidable (OFMdFM) big two can be challenged with a strong candidate and a sense of purpose.

  • Joe Canning

    Come on Sinn Fein. Stand aside and hit the pacters where it hurts. Defeat the bullies of Unionism.

  • Reader

    I’m pretty sure that the DUP would be delighted at something they could present as an Alliance/Sinn Fein pact. Have you thought this through?

  • james

    That’s right. Pacts are only bad if made by unionists. Which page of the green book is that from?

  • Joe Canning

    Reader I said nothing about a pact, not even a meeting with Alliance. A withdrawal of a SF candidate would give a free run to Alliance and so teach UUP/DUP that they can be defeated when it comes to a ‘dirty trick’ campaign on both their parts. It would also show that the Alliance can gain from a party that really want to work for the interests of N.Ireland and not the bigoted stance of those that want to dictate to others. Okay, SF will be accused of this that and the other but at least they wont be throwing away a seat the have no chance of winning. The look on Elliott and Robinson’s face would be priceless and expose their bigotry.

  • Joe Canning

    Yes James but only when it comes about in the interests of sectarianism by two party’s that cannot stand the sight of one and other.

  • Pete

    Now now, Sinn Fein don’t want a pact, they want a “progressive alliance”!!

  • kalista63

    Exactly, look at what happened in S Belfast re. Martin Smyth. Hardly the behaviour of two parties in a genuine pact.

  • Gingray

    Ok Mick – calling this a polling is a joke – the BT are using LucidTalk, which should immediately rings alarm bells.

    A panel of 440 people for all of Northern Ireland, 80% based on how likely they perceive a party is to win certain seats. The OPINION of someone in North Down on who will win in Fermanagh/South Tyrone or vice versa is just pointless, no matter how balanced said panel is. The other 20% comes from unspecified “computer modelling” and “previous elections”.

    The raw data would be great, I wonder how much tweaking was needed around the panels OPINION to get realistic figures (NOT POLLING).

    All this does is what any clown can do using the 2010/2011/2014 election results where the numbers have only slightly moved around the edges.

    Seriously tho – 440 people to cover 18 seats! Most UK constituency polling has around 1000 people with a MOE of +/- 3%, this is giving us an average of 24 people from each seat and 420 people who happen to live nearby.

  • Granni Trixie

    O and there’s more…you cannot consider the paucity of women in public Roles without factoring in media systems/representation.
    Eg journalists ask a political party for a representative and most usually the ‘big beasts’ are rolled out…who are variably male. Given that politics is essentially competitive,it would require the usual suspects within a party to stand aside to give women in the party a chance to get known not to mention to practice how to field questions. A forward thinking party will strategically do so whilst others don’t see it as in their interests to have to do so.

    To sum up – It’s a systemic,cultural problem we are dealing with here. Talk of “supporting women to give them confidence” blah,blah,blah will do little to change this.

  • Granni Trixie

    Sorry,predictive text at work variably ought to have read invariably.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    East Belfast is turning into the axis of Unionsim (UUP, DUP and TUV/PUP) v the axis of Evil (Alliance, Sinn Fein, SLDP).

  • tmitch57

    Joe, I see that you possess all the subtlety and nuance of George W. Bush.

  • Granni Trixie

    O I am so sorry. I have contributed to this post by mistake – I intended it for Alan’s post regarding women’s lack of representation in politics. Sorry.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    The withdrawal of the SF candidate would be interpreted for what it is – namely a signal for SF voters to support Alliance, which would immediately be seized upon by the DUP.

    Quite appropriately so, as conversely, republicans have seized on the failure of the PUP to stand a candidate as a signal for their supporters to vote DUP (an accurate observation in my view).

  • Joe Canning

    Agreed. Such a move would be seen in my view as a fair and considering the party ( SF) was put in that situation by a seemingly contrived conspiracy. Who would blame them? I suspect the Tories have had a hand in that ,’possible’, extra DUP seat in the event of a hung parliament and would suspect a deal has been done in exchange for a Unionist shopping list.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    Agreed. Such a move would be seen in my view as a fair and considering the party ( SF) was put in that situation by a seemingly contrived conspiracy.

    What move would be seen as fair ?

    What situation were SF plut in ?

    What contrived conspiracy ?

    You need to explain yourself a bit better.

    I suspect the Tories have had a hand in that ,’possible’, extra DUP seat

    What’s this about the Tories ?

  • james

    Like Sinn Fein and SDLP? Hmm..yes, I suppose so. I think it id very dangerous, this belief that is programmed into Sinn Fein disciples, that anything they do is justified, while the same behaviour in others is deemed obnoxious. I suppose that is how they manage to get unrepentant murderers voted into office. Did we learn nothing from Germany in the 30’s.

  • james

    Indeed. First they steal the words, then they steal the meanings of the words.

  • Joe Canning

    Dear oh dear. I have absolutely come up against someone that cannot see the wood for the trees.
    1. any move that would see SF withdraw in the interest of Alliance would be fair and countering an UNFAIR sectarian arrangement. Moderate Unionism will swing to Naomi.
    2. The situation to compete against a sectarian arrangement, i.e. Sectarian pact.
    3. The pact is a ‘contrived’ conspiracy.
    4. The conservatives have the DUP in their pockets I suspect…note the word ‘suspect’.
    I think I explained my reasons for that ‘suspicion’, and finally,
    a blind man can see what is going on.

  • Joe Canning

    Name me a few SDLP murderers and I”ll name you a few Unionist UDA officers the collusion party. BTW.. James I have never voted for the Shinners in my life.

  • Joe Canning

    Ah! so now you’re telling me that two Unionist party’s have formed a pact to remove another Unionist party (the Alliance)Your words not mine Anon. tut tut.

  • Reader

    Joe Canning: Reader I said nothing about a pact, not even a meeting with Alliance. A withdrawal of a SF candidate would give a free run to Alliance…
    Alliance would only stand to benefit from any SF supporter who still bothers to vote on the day, and wasn’t already going to vote tactically.
    But Alliance would stand to lose votes they are desperately hanging on to right now – actual unionists who regarded the DUP as tainted in 2010, and set out to punish the DUP. Of course there are people who would not blame Alliance for a unilateral act by SF; but there are many others who would regard even implied SF support in a 2 horse race as utterly poisonous.

  • Paddy Reilly

    You can remove your contribution by logging in and pressing ‘edit’.

  • Robin Keogh

    No, all our lessons come from the Stormont of the 1930s

  • Robin Keogh

    The GFA was not a ‘settlement’ it was an agreement. Nothing more nothing less

  • Robin Keogh

    Does anybody happen to know what the situation on the ground in SB is like? Are SF heavily canvassing?

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Thank you friend. 🙂

  • james

    Whatever do you mean, Robin?

  • james

    I wasn’t referring to the SDLP.

  • Granni Trixie

    Many thanks Paddy R.

  • Robin Keogh

    Oh dont mind me, just the meanderings of a bitter ol Queen

  • Robin Keogh

    What? Granni u are all over the shop today

  • Robin Keogh

    ‘Settlement’ suggests the end of the process which is far from the facts. The GFA is an importantent ‘holding’ stage before Unity. That has always been the case from a nationalist and republican perspective.

  • Robin Keogh

    do u mean the Anna lo type of Alliance voter?

  • Pete

    I don’t understand why unionism is apparently “sectarian” now…

  • Sergiogiorgio

    With regard to all the Unionist cobblers posted below, I simply find it sad that we may loose a genuinely talented, intelligent and lucid representative like Naomi to some grubby unionist pact. Robbo got his ass kicked out of the constituency last time round in a fair vote (I really don’t know how the guy lives with himself after all the rejections he has experienced). The only way the DUP can get back in is a marriage of convenience with the UUP (absolutely shameful behaviour from Mike Nesbitt). Bottom line, it’s crap politics and keeps NI rooted in its sectarian past. Seriously guys, unionism sucks…..and before the whataboutery republicanism runs a close second. Time to re-emigrate.

  • Joe Canning

    Now????

  • Jag

    In fairness he’s not referring to DUP/UUP/TUV/PUP as the “axis of good”

  • Pete

    Well just in general. Being in favour of the union isn’t sectarian.

  • Jag

    Putting aside the obvious and mighty flaws in the polling methodology, this looks like wonderful news for nationalism because it shows that pacts work (even if they reduce politics to sectarian headcounts).

    If pacts work, and absence of pacts DON’T work, then the writing is on the wall for subsequent elections (the SDLP are slow learners and will need see with their own eyes the May election results, I think SF are serious contenders for South Belfast).

    And once we get into pact voting, nationalism wins hands down, because UKIP and the conservatives (and Jimbo’s TUV probably, which has an almost religious objection to compromise) will split unionism.

    On a sectarian headcount, nationalists are now in the majority.

    Nationalists should be on bended knee thanking God for unionist pacts, they’ve probably shaved a decade off reunification.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    The strategy by the PUP to not run in these Westminster Elections but focus on a serious effort for the 2016 Assembly Elections is the correct game plan. Back in 2011 the DUP almost obliterated the PUP off the political arena. Hugh Smyth only got 640 FPV in the Shankill (Court Ward) (BCC) and only scrapped home by the hand outs of others transfers. This was the lowest vote the PUP ever got from this ward. John Kyle also scrapped home with 1022 FPV in Pottinger Ward. (BCC).
    For a political party that was almost zombified it was by no mean feat to come back in 2014 Belfast City Council Elections and take 17% of the Unionist FPV (7096 Votes) in the city. Very few commentators have debated such a come back in NI politics but I can’t recall such a turn around in the fortunes of any other NI political party.
    By not standing the PUP have guaranteed that Belfast will return 2 Unionist MPs from East and North Belfast.
    I believe that the Unionist Electorate shall repay them with vote transfers that they will need to try and take the 6th seat of both the above constituencies in 2016 Assembly Elections.
    They also have ensured that its working class vote base gets the opportunity to give the Alliance Party a busted nose for taking down its Union Flag at Belfast City Hall.
    Below is a record of where the PUP got its votes transferred from at BCC 2014 Elections.
    DUP – 753 UKIP – 231 UUP – 220 TUV – 189 N121 – 120 Greens – 40 Workers Party – 22 Socialist Party – 22
    Alliance – 16 NI Cons – 9 SDLP – 2 SF – 1

  • Catcher in the Rye

    1. any move that would see SF withdraw in the interest of Alliance would be fair and countering an UNFAIR sectarian arrangement. Moderate Unionism will swing to Naomi.

    I am lost as to why you would think that an implicit SF endorsement of Naomi would be beneficial to her in East Belfast. It’s certainly a novel reading of the mindset of moderate Unionists to think that they would change their vote in Naomi’s favour as a result of something SF did. But I guess everyone is entitled to their opinion.

    2. The situation to compete against a sectarian arrangement, i.e. Sectarian pact.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right, and quite rightly, the rest of the parties have declared themselves to be above these pacts. You have to place your trust in the electorate – if they want Naomi to represent them they do not need a pact to make that happen.

    3. The pact is a ‘contrived’ conspiracy.

    There is nothing complicated about the pact. It’s “us” joining up to try to keep “them” out. Dead simple.

    4. The conservatives have the DUP in their pockets I suspect…note the word ‘suspect’.

    You may not have noticed but the DUP have spent the past five years talking about how re-winning East Belfast was their top priority. You might even have noticed that they created a huge controversy around flags to this end. The Conservatives have nothing to do with any of this. Our local parties are quite capable of spinning hateful campaigns without any outside help.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    Unionism does not need to be regularly re-endorsed

    The principle of consent and the rules around a referendum date back to 1974. The GFA codified these but there was always an understanding that in the event of a nationalist majority the British government would have to act on constitutional issues.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    I see that a DUP activist was on twitter this morning talking about “taigs”.

    They’re doing a bang-up job.

  • IN 2010, the Unionist vote was 59.5% and the Nationalist/Republican vote was 3.5% in East Belfast. Sinn Fein standing aside would hardly give Naiomi a “free run”. It would just make the vicotry for Gavin more satisfying.

  • Farmer Tim

    What is the difference between a pact as in EB and tactical voting as some say will happen in Scotland to keep Labour or SNP out? Same difference?

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Err no Tim. Tactical voting, ie voter choice and an electoral pact, ie party choice, between two Parties that have different agendas and different support bases is completely “different”.

    I’ve been thinking about this off and on all morning –
    1. A Catholic majority occurs within say the next 25 years – birth rate, emigration of unionists etc.
    2. Unionism reacts by lurching toward the extreme end, ie DUP, as witnessed by the Mike Nesbitt selling his soul (Nick Clegg’esce) to the DUP, to keep the “taigs” out.
    3. Moderate nationalists, ie non SF voters, lurch to the left, as they perceive the unionist extremism (they are all alike) and fall into SF welcoming hands.
    4. We finish up in a United Ireland.

    Just a thought……

  • Reader

    Jag: If pacts work, and absence of pacts DON’T work, then the writing is on the wall for subsequent elections…
    You seem to attach a lot of importance to Westminster elections (the only FPTP elections that we have, and therefore the only elections where a pact is meaningful)

  • Jag

    When we ultimately have the Border poll and inevitable reunification, nationalists (that is, SF and SDLP) will need to be singing from the same hymn sheet. Unionist pact->Unionist Westminster victory->Nationalist pact-> Nationalist cooperation and what more important subject will cooperation be needed for, save reunification.

    On this Sunday morning, God bless thee Pete and Mikey for ye have accelerated the demise of the 90-year old partition and made reunification a shorter term reality.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Are you saying the 2015 EB vote will not be fair?

    Was the pact in SB last time around okay?

  • Pete

    Parties don’t have an obligation to stand in all constituencies.

    If the people of East Belfast don’t like the pact, then they won’t vote for the DUP. If people choose to vote DUP and they win, that is perfectly fair.

  • Reader

    You won’t have any cooperation other than what you would always have expected anyway. I.e – SF says “vote UI”; SDLP says “vote UI”; electorate says “no thanks”.

  • Jag

    It’s “RI” Reader. As in, Reunified Ireland. Not interested in a united Ireland. Shure, weren’t we united last month in our support of Carl Frampton and to a lesser extent the Irish rugby team.

    And we’re not heading towards a United Kingdom arrangement whereby the six counties in north east Ireland have their own parliament like Scotland and Wales. Every Tuesday, in a reunified Ireland, our politicians will head down to Dublin like the rest.

    Nationalist pact->Single nationalist hymn sheet for reunified Ireland->Nationalist majority->Reunified Ireland

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Don’t be silly Pete. The people of east Belfast don’t get a choice on the cooked up pact. DUP voters will vote DUP and UUP voters either won’t vote or transfer their vote to the only other Unionist runner, the DUP, as their UUP choice was removed by the UUP. Its base politics of the worst kind and reinforces the “keep a Prod” in the seat at all costs. If SF and the SDLP did the same I’d call it the same. It just hastens the end game – a united Ireland, which is something I don’t want.

  • Reader

    Jag: It’s “RI” Reader. As in, Reunified Ireland. Not interested in a united Ireland.
    Then tell Gerry:
    http://www.thejournal.ie/sinn-fein-calls-for-a-border-poll-761129-Jan2013/
    Meanwhile – why would I be interested in a wrangle over terminology with a dissident nomenclator?

  • Reader

    Jag: Nationalist pact->Single nationalist hymn sheet for reunified Ireland->Nationalist majority->Reunified Ireland
    And I thought Robinson and Nesbitt were being idiotic for following the same sort of logic as you.