(a slightly tongue in cheek and completely biased analysis of the “other” constituencies, candidates other than those mentioned are listed in the EONI & BBC websites! )
Common wisdom says a candidate on 52% share of the vote is unlikely ever to be beaten by an opponent on merely 11%, certainly not in one election cycle, until the 2010 East Belfast result that is. Many factors went into it, but they all resulted in opposition clustering around the opponent most likely to unseat the safe encumbent. Applying the same logic what are the theoretical possibilities for similar upsets this time round?
Lets ignore the Hot Seats which will be discussed endlessly elsewhere ( North, East & South Belfast, South Antrim, Fermanagh South Tyrone and Upper Bann) and skip over the Peoples Republic of West Belfast, where the slide to a mere 70% would only distress Kim’esque politicos, surely out of the other 11 seat there is some room for magical alignments and seismic shifts to give us a reason to sit up all night on the 7th of May?
Starting at the top we have Juinor, is he unassailable in his late father’s heartland? Perhaps, but he seems increasingly detatched from the centre of power, is that a blessing in disguise? His party sits on 40%+ with the other Unionists combined sitting on another 40%, Alliance to Sinn Fein make up the remaining 20%. A rejuvenated UUP & bullish TUV were neck in neck in the local elections, separately could both shave enough of either side of the encumbent for one to sneak past? A more likely scenario is the “LONG Shot” of identifying the most likely opponent, which might just work, this would need some help from the other 20% too, I doubt the TUV could manage that, therefore the only real alternative is the UUPs local MLA who has grown in political stature since elected, is the hunger for change there or not?
Lets go to the bottom now, Limestone Churches, Orchards and Refineries, with the holders once again playing musical chairs perhaps an opening exists? maybe even a few “borrowed” votes, like the neighbours do, could swing it? seemed a fair proposition at one time, but with surprising flirtations actually rebbutted and the arrival of Parks & Pacts, that option has sunk out of sight, a good “What If?” at best now. But maybe with a strong team of players on the field he can do it on his own. Along with a possible Willie Thompson Squeeze, it could actually be a genuine three horse race, however Newry & Armagh seem to avoid tense elections in recent years and might not be ready for that much excitment.
Speaking of Willie Thompson, the Wild West has yet to recover. Rumour has it the encumbent is a secret limbo dancer, there is no other way he could achieve such a low profile, with all that its still a case of move along, come back in five years time and something might have changed…
In the land of the Rising Sun the encumbent is an Independant Lady with DUP support, on the 8th of May she will probably be an Independant Lady with UUP support, that is unless the idea of voting for the established largest party has actually become eccentric enough for the Gold Coast voters. I would be careful what I wish for though, that independent streak works both ways !
Lets hop across to Malloy in Middle Earth, if the proportion of Unionist voters was similar to the proportion of candidates this would be an interesting race. But its not so it isn’t. Which is a shame because its an eclectic mix of candidates. Saying that the By-Election showed taking the seat for granted isn’t reccomended anymore, not this time, but…
Motoring on up the red roads to the ‘Port, the Orriental Dairies founder will likely snooze through this election too, if anyone tries to wake him he will remind them of the Bogey Man, the afore mention Bogey Man might rattle a few chains on cue, but isn’t really a threat for now, and neither is anyone else, local difficulties have likely set back any real challenge for a while yet, but next time round things might be scarier.
Did you know the International boundaries in Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough have never been fully settled? I trust the candidates will not drift out of their territories in search of vote, indications are the former leaders are much safer than their current boss, even if Terror Parks scare of a few lenders the core it seems to be holding up sufficient to keep things steady as she goes.
Finally we have the remaining Home Counties, predictions of upsets are few and far between, mainly setting stalls out for next year and the years after, but are the ingredients present anywhere for a unexpected LONG Shot?
Poor Sammy has lost his Jesters crown to Gregory, but still has enough profile to see off a re-energised UUP, the magical unity of opposition is unlikely to materialise.
Scrabo tower is as likely to topple as Jimbo ( is it still closed for emergency repairs ? ), the locals don’t seem to like sudden change, but when it does come it will be hard to stop.
The Protestant alternative to St Jude of Lost Causes is probably the weakest of the three, no-one knows what his position is in the pecking order these days, even his eternal youthful looks pale in comparison to the new kid in town, hints of some momentum have already reached the bookies, maybe its not to late to risk a quid or two.
To sum up, the three others worth watching are North Antrim, Newry & Armagh and Lagan Valley, whos up for a flutter?