The message for unionists: pacts work

One of the critical points in this election for unionists was in March 2013. That was when Martin McGuinness stood down as MP and in the ensuing election Francie Molloy was elected. Nigel Lutton (whose father Frederick had been murdered by the IRA and Molloy connected with that murder in the House of Commons by the DUP’s David Simpson) stood as a united unionist candidate. That resulted in a modest increase in the unionist vote which Mike Nesbitt claimed as justification for the decision (also possibly beneficially for the UUP’s internal cohesion it led to the resignation of Basil McCrea and John McCallister).

A number of things became clear after that:

Nesbitt supported the concept and the majority of his party would cooperate.

The other unionist parties would also cooperate and support a unity candidate.

The unionist electorate (at least in Mid Ulster) supported the concept

That modest increase in unionist vote could be argued to be the basis of the significant gain for unionism at this Westminster election. It needs to be remembered that unionists have lost seats at most Westminster elections for years (the last gain was Willie Thompson taking the new seat of West Tyrone in 1997 on an evenly split nationalist vote).

The results bear individual more detailed analysis wich I will try to do later but in sum: unionism gained two seats, made a third safe and would, very likely have won another had there been a pact in South Belfast.

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  • sk

    I despair.

  • Cue Bono

    Yes the pacts work and unionists on the ground have been crying out for years for the two parties to get their acts together and fight the republican enemy rather than each other. Thankfully that message has gotten through at last. The pacts are not the whole story of this election though. The upward march of the Sinners has been stopped in its tracks by a combination of other things.

    1. True republicans regard them as sellouts and traitors. They would rather vote for Jim Alister than vote Shin.

    2. They are incompetent. The shambles of their changing policies on welfare reform was only exasperated by their ridiculous economic policy (as highlighted by a Sinner moron on the Nolan Show).

    3. They took their northern electorate for granted and started concentrating their efforts in the south. Ironically highlighting the reality of partition in the process.

    4. They remain wedded to murder. The McCreesh play park shambles served as a timely reminder to that.

    5. Despite their flowery rhetoric they remain deeply sectarian. Kudos to Gerry
    Kelly for the timely reminder on that.

    6. Paedophilia. Nothing more need be added.

    7. Flegs. Their little moment of fun at the City hall helped to galvanise the unionist vote. Nice one guys.

    8. Moderate nationalists still detest them because of their bullying and intimidation in areas where they are strong.

    There plenty of other factors which no doubt others can highlight. One thing I would add is that it is perhaps best for unionism that the SDLP held S Belfast. We need nationalism to have a strong alternative to the Provos.

  • Not sure there was much interest in unseating McDonnell in South Belfast. Hasn’t the same energy as unseating a Shinner. Think when you drill down you might find that the unionist vote increased with the addition of UKIP, and TUV standing in a seat or two more (not sure about TUV). So disunity has also delivered, as much as pacts.

    Interesting that the two big parties gained no great purchase from their dysfunctional relationship bringing Stormont to a standstill. Most interesting is the shaving of SF votes, particularly in West Belfast, where at least one Assembly seat is under threat 2016. It will be interesting to drill into the numbers and then imagine 2016. One thing for sure, we won’t be relying on opinion polls to give us a clue.

  • Mirrorballman

    “The message for unionists: pacts work”

    Message for Nationalists = Pacts work

  • sk

    i agree with a lot of that.

    I accept that the leaflets issued by Gerry Kelly were blatantly sectarian, and the sight of Gerry Adams makes my skin crawl. I fail to see the logic in standing for an election and then refusing to attend the parliament to which you have been elected. I wouldn’t vote for them down here.

    I look at the likes of Nigel Dodds and Gavin Robinson and Jim Wells and David Simpson and I see nasty, bitter little men with nothing to offer but a nasty, bitter little future.

    I look at Mike Nesbitt and I see a smarmy little political minnow whose only principle seems to be “a seat at all costs”. He would sell his granny .

    I despair that there are not more Danny Kinahans, Doug Beatties, Jo Anne Dobsons, Mark Durkans, Naomi Longs rising above the political quagmire

    Politically speaking, Northern Ireland is a sewer. But I accept absolutely that it takes two to tango.

  • Cue Bono

    Message for Sinners = shouldn’t have targeted Stoops quite so much.

  • Cue Bono

    Well I never thought I would ever say this SK, but I largely agree with you. I think that the unseating of Willie McCrea shows that unionism is fed up with the fundamentalist wing that has represented us for so long.

  • Colin Lamont

    If one goes back and looks at my posts before the election I stated many times a good unionist candidate had an excellent chance in FST. I was surprised just how many considered a four vote majority safe for Sinn Fein. It pleases me just how well party interests were put aside in unionism’s greater interests. And I’m pleased for you too Turgon, I remember your great disappointment at the last result. What a difference 5yrs makes. As you said, a unionists will one day stand on that stage as victor; last night was that night, I’m proud to say.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I do not think I’ve come across as accurate decsription of what I’m feeling myself anywhere else, sk. Thank you for the realism. Lets hope the “real” people start learning the dancing steps quickly.

  • 80sactionhero

    Gavin Robinson is many things, but ‘little’ isn’t one of them!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    CB, delighted to find myself entirely agreeing with you for once (and with sk too). I just wish that the UUP (and all the others, too) could field enough sensible decent men like Danny Kinahan whom one could entirely trust to act with integrity as our representatives “over there”, and that the fools who waste our lives year after year by mindlessly voting in the likes of Adams and Gavin Robinson (triumphamist discourtesy is never a very becoming act) would start looking for some actual intellegence in those they vote for. A number of my family have strong links with Unionism, and having met Danny quite often, I’m highly impressed.

    And yes, the silly clash of egos that split Unionism (again and again) has done it no favours, either electorally, or in how it displays itself to the “real people” outside the wee six.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    The kind of triumpalist discourtesy he showed Naomi Long speaks of a very, very small human soul, no matter how much physical bulk it may crouch inside. But I suppose we all get the masters we deserve…….

  • Jag

    Don’t think sk was referring to girth.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Neither do I, jag……

  • mjh

    The pact certainly worked for unionism on the short-term tactical level. But you have to wonder about the longer-term strategic level given that the vote share for unionist parties and candidates dropped from 50.5% at the previous Westminster election to 49.0% yesterday.

    On a narrower party level, Mike Nesbitt’s strategy for his party has certainly been vindicated in spades.

  • smcgiff

    I wonder which the UUP enjoyed more, taking a seat from the DUP or SF?

    The UUP could do worse than offer Sylvia the leadership of the party.

    (edit – too quick replying on mobile)

  • Spike

    Message for anyone who engaged in this undemocratic unionist pact process = you should be ashamed.
    Why dont we all just call a spade a spade, call the pact sectarian and the north belfast leaflet campagin sectarian and let Sinn Fein and the DUP stand on their own all over the country and forget about everyone else. Feed the sectarianism and see which side can get their supporters off the couches and into the voting hall. What ive seen from last night is that Northern Ireland is a sham of a democracy, sectariansim is still rife and the other parties are a waste of time and effort as the big bad ‘United Ireland’ and ‘Threat to the Union’ card is played every year and bread and butter issues are swept under the carpets. West and East Belfast have chronic problems that nationalist and unionist encumbants conveniently forget about despite having ruled for the majority of the past 30 years!
    We’ve got the fools we have voted for….and deserve.
    Its about time some of us found the nuggets to say that unionist or nationalist, catholic or protestant, we want XYZ on proper issues that relate to our lives and that United Irelands / Unions are secondary matters and that ROI and Britain will have the casting vote anyway. Instead we buy the scare tactics every year about ‘themmuns’ and are back to square one. Everyone seems to forget the antics both parties have got up to as past 5 years.

  • Chingford Man

    Turgon, I remember what you wrote on the day of the Rodney Connor Rollercoaster 5 years ago. I’m sure you are happier today.

  • Paul

    I agree that the pact for Unionism has worked the numbers speak for themselves.
    However we’re told the pact was formed on the basis that there would be a hung parliament or a Labour/SNP coalition and that the pact would “give NI a stronger voice”. It now looks like a Conservative government will rule alone (currently on 329 seats to potentially finish on 331) has this victory effectively made the pact unnecessary?
    What I’m trying to say is that while the Unionist Parties have successfully gained these seats (and achieving your electoral goals is I suppose reason enough to be happy!) what difference will it make? The Conservative backbenchers are unlikely to have any big differences on domestic policies and the only blip on the horizon is Europe, and I simply don’t see the Tories letting Europe rip them apart as it did in the 90’s. The DUP and UUP will argue that having people in parliament, having their voices heard will make a big difference…I’m sorry but I don’t see it, more likely is they’ll be told to like it or lump it. All it has achieved in NI is to show elections here for what they are… sectarian headcounts.

  • Cue Bono

    Are you sure about your figures mjh? I’ve seen another post quoting the overall unionist vote up 3.8% and the nationalist vote down 3.6% since the last westminster election.

  • Robin Keogh

    When the pact was originally announced, a number oc commentators suggested that it might not be so successful because of the Unionist electorate might be put off by the plan. But it seems it has done the trick. Maybe its time for the Shinners and the SDLP to do the same?

  • Cue Bono

    The Sinners would do it in a heart beat Robin. Their problem is that the Stoops hate them. Something to do with a thirty five year murder campaign, SDLP members being intimidated from their homes, attacked in the street, being called the Stoop Down Low Party etc. They won’t be rushing into any pacts with Stoop Further. Especially given that there is nothing in such a pact for them. Unless the Sinners intend to step aside in Fermanagh.

  • Kevin Breslin

    UUP are not going to win back Strangford 2, they are possibly going to lose East Belfast, they are dead in the water in North Belfast, South Belfast they could lose out there too. Lagan Valley and South Down are still vulnerable to NI21 and ex-NI21. Newry and Armagh may be where the DUP lose to UKIP. Best hopes of winning a seat come from getting McClarty’s seat back, Maurice Morrow and maybe North Down.

    They might call it quits and just decide to stop fighting the DUP at all.

    Even on an even split Mid Ulster, West Tyrone, South Down and Foyle are safe against a single unionist unity candidate. Newry and Armagh is marginally safe even with a 50:50 SF/SDLP spilt and would polarize.

    There are no gains to be made from a pact apart from South Belfast in which the DUP & UUP vote went down.

    This isn’t really a pact, it’s a merger out of wedlock. Call it what it is.

  • Carl Mark

    It is amazing how the DUP can be ungracious in both victory and defeat.
    The sign of little people!

  • Cue Bono

    Francis Molloy wasn’t very gracious in his victory speech, but strangely none of the comrades seem to have noticed that.

  • Cue Bono

    NI21? That is so last year.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Wouldn’t it be nice, Carl, to be dealing with actual adults instead of the seemy end of a rather dull playground, just now and again.

  • kalista63

    Nah, that’s not the way to go. The time for the old brigade of SF has gone, they’re a liability. MMG couldn’t answer a question without waxing on about Ian Paisley, the GFA and the queen. Not a fek’n fact in sight. Much as I like Gerry Kelly, he’s also a liability now

    The SDLP are a total mess, save for one or two and a growing amount of unionists are disillusioned with their parties, with left leaning unionists having no one to vote for. There’s also unionism’s ties to dinosaurs and religious fundamentalism. That’s who SF should be making a pact with.min word and deed.

    Unionism clearly wants to go on fighting their war of paranoia Vs reality. Leave them to it and don’t let them drag others down to their level.

  • Kevin Breslin

    UUP seats at the expense of McCallister & McCrea can’t be guaranteed. I believe McCallister’s South Down seat is safe (from mainstream unionism anyway) and McCrea is certainly going to get transfers from the field in Lagan Valley to do damage.

    The eventual merger of the UUP and DUP will require something like NI21 to take on Alliance’s grip on the unionist center-ground.

  • Jag

    The real question today is whether or not the decline in the SDLP vote in south Belfast is sufficient to prod the SDLP leadership to take the plunge and accept the principle of pacts.

    If unionist pacts are a fact of life then nationalism must respond in kind, otherwise it’s like bringing a knife to a gunfight and it will lose every single time. Of course it’s a race to the sectarian bottom but nationalism doesn’t have a choice.

  • Robin Keogh

    You are probably correct in the latter part of your post there, except I imagine Unionism will form a pact in SB next time out.

  • james

    That’s different. There is no expectation that SF would be gracious.

  • Robin Keogh

    If you pull in together the main parties and all the various shades on unionism nationalism you get 39.5 Nationalist ant 50.2 Unionist.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    You’ll have to explain just what you mean, saying that Molloy “wasn’t very gracious” CB. I just listened to it and all he seemed to be doing was just endlessly thanking everyone in the wee six except Gareth Ferguson. I might have missed the bit you’re thinking of as I started nodding off after the first 150 minutes. In which hour did the “ungraciousness” actually happen, so I can go back on YouTube and try and find it properly without dying of boredom watching all the “filler” bits. Or perhaps he will repeat that scurilious bit in his maiden speech in the Commons. He kept talking about “the people of Mid-Ulster being properly represented” so he must be re-thinking abstention………

  • Carl Mark

    Post a link there then, what did he say!

  • Carl Mark

    James, you should remember that CB makes a lot of these things up.

  • mjh

    Cue Bono. I’ve double checked and confirm the figures I gave. I don’t know if the confusion comes from different people including different elements in their totals. For the avoidance of doubt I have included all unionist parties and all unionist flavoured independents, such as Silvia Hermon, Willie Frazer and Rodney Connor.

    For nationalists I have adopted the same principle, it is a little less straight-forward due to the question of whether you include PBPA in the total. Simply there is very limited transfer evidence for them, and what there is does not all point in the same direction. I have included the Workers Party in my nationalist figures – although their vote is more widely sourced than SF’s and the SDLP’s, simply because on the whole their transfers are more similar to nationalist parties’ than they are to those of the Greens or Alliance.

    Excluding PBPA the nationalist total fell from 42.1% in 2010 to 38.9% yesterday. If you were to include PBPA the total fell from 42.5% to 39.8%.

  • Zeno

    That’s true, more nationalist parties would men more votes.

  • Cue Bono

    “In his speech, Mr Molloy said: “This constituency changed
    dramatically when Martin McGuinness first defeated Willie McCrea and I understand that Willie is on the run again.

    “Another constituency has said time to move on so I will send him a letter to explain what it’s all about.””

    A Provo in joke obviously.

  • Cue Bono

    I can’t see unionists in south Down staying with McCallister. It’s an area that suffered at the hands of the Provos and unionists there won’t suffer pro union politicianns who are perceived as soft gladly. I think that the nasty side of Basil has been highlighted of late and I doubt that he has much of a political career left either.

  • Cue Bono

    If UKIP hadn’t stood there the DUP would have walked it. Personally I’m glad that the SDLP leader stayed on as nationalists need a realistic alternative to the Provos.

  • Cue Bono

    Thank you chaps.

  • puffen

    Unionists who live in Urban areas, do not identify with Willie Mc Crae, their social attitudes are not on the same planet compared with his, I would suggest that Robinson was glad to see the last of him for two reasons. 1 to demonstrate that the Poots wing of the party would lead them into a Cul De Sac. and 2, and thus show to where the party should look for a Successor,Arlen

  • Carl Mark

    And you will have to explain how that is offensive. And will was on the ropes not the run.
    Really you will have to try harder.

  • Cue Bono

    You will have to explain how Gavin’s speech was more offensive than Molloy’s. Molloy wasn’t even taking about his own constituency ffs.

    I know you’ve had a really crap day comrade, what with the death of your whole political phiosophy and all, but try to show a bit of perspective.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The DUP/UUP are hard on Provisionals … rubbish. Even Jim’s intervening in the selling houses to them.
    The DUP/UUP are hard on Loyalists … Even more rubbish they are recruiting ex-loyalists to their party for their community work, just like Sinn Féin.

    How many connections have these parties done to actually make more people from here and those on the island of Britain instead of stoping drifting apart, how much of a “national connection” exists outside a few career politicians and the desire of many to join the UK Defence force reserves?

    No selfish, strategic or economic interest … and how could there be if the region just provides army cannon fodder and bitter whinging politicians?

    You can’t build connections promoting golfers who barely live here.

    The reason these pro-union politicians who are considered soft are only “soft” because they are fed up with those two parties making Northern Ireland a foreign country within the United Kingdom, especially culturely. And there is nothing these politicans are doing to change this.

    In many cases this Northern Ireland of Flag and Orange Parade obsession, of moaning about 100 year old injustices is more foreign to the United Kingdom than the Republic of Ireland and in some cases even France, it is actually more familiar with the rest of Ireland.

  • Cue Bono

    That may be your perception Kevin, but the perception that counts is the one held by the unionist electorate. My betting is that McCallister is definitely toast in south Down and that McCrea is very likely to be toast wherever he is standing. I’m hedging my bets a bit on McCrea as he comes from a Provo free area where unionists tend to be more flexible, but I think his genuinely nasty personality will probably sink him.

  • Ryan A

    Gavin Robinson can enjoy that seat for five years and no more. With a Conservative majority electoral reform is back on the agenda and if Ravenhill, Rosetta, Ballynafeigh and various other parts of South Belfast move into East Belfast as planned no pact will save him next time around.

  • Cue Bono

    How do you work that out?

  • Catcher in the Rye

    The unionist pact certainly does seem to have worked in terms of yielding Westminster seats. It has delivered North and East Belfast, and FST.

    But there are outworkings which might later become clear. The first and most immediate one is that the UUP no longer have any viable presence in Belfast, and this has implications for the two remaining UUP seats, both of which look like they are in serious trouble.

    The DUP/UUP pact in East Belfast contributed substantially to Alliance winning 43% of the vote, the party’s biggest ever result in any election, ever. Without a pact, Naomi would have been more likely to win the seat – but would also more likely have done so on a much lower share of the vote. The pact made Alliance look bigger and and stronger in the constituency as they pulled in soft unionists and people put off by the comments made by DUP politicians during the election. The DUP victor made no mention at all in tribute to the longtime UUP supporters whom he relied upon to secure his re-election and who are now firmly within the warm embrace of the DUP.

    In North Belfast, Alliance also saw a modest jump, again probably coming from UUP supporters who could not support the DUP. The opportunity exists for the party to exploit this situation to secure a shock assembly election victory. Even more so than East Belfast, the North Belfast UUP has now been effectively wiped out and will never stand a candidate again.

    In South Belfast, once again, the UUP candidate found himself pushed into fifth place with the ex-UUP Alliance candidate consolidating upon Anna Lo’s already substantial vote. This was done at a time when Alliance efforts were focused exclusively on East Belfast. Alliance must run two seats here.

    So that’s at least three ex-UUP seats that Alliance will probably target in Belfast alone. Ironically, it may well be Alliance that end up having the last laugh.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    Under the boundary review to reduce the number of Westminster seats around 2011/12, NI as a whole was due to fall to 16 seats, and Belfast would go to three seats. If I recall correctly the plan was to merge large parts of South and East Belfast together. The boundary proposals were published and circulated to parties at the time.

    This is a Conservative plan (reducing the cost of government) but the Lib Dems pulled the plug claiming that the Tories had welched on a deal to reform the House of Lords. It will almost certainly be resurrected and pushed through now that the Tories have a majority.

  • Cue Bono

    Surely the areas named above are fairly unionist areas?

    Adds: Great bargaining chip for unionist Mps.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    CB, these areas used to be Unionist areas, I’d feel that only Ravenhill could safely be so catagorised today. Ryan has a point about how this would entirely shift the voting balance of the constituency. But perhaps an urbane and sensible proponent of the Union such as Danny Kinahan (if one could be found to contest the seat) might keep it in Unionist hands. It has usually been middle class Catholic families moving into these parts of south Belfast and as I’d commented over on the Rory McIlroy thread at the end of April,

    “Something that is seldom noticed anywhere is just how many young Catholics in the wee six who are distancing themselves from SF think of a link with England as just another piece of the landscape, with a period of work in London or Cambridge in new technology or media no differently seen to looking out middle class jobs in Dublin. Those actually seeing the link with Westminster as a positive boon are still not a big group and usually they are conservatives with a small “c”, from families both working and middle class who were themselves disgusted with the acrimony and legacy of violence evident in both highly subscribed wings of political opinion here.”

    These are the very people that “Old Guard” DUP such as Gavin are keeping in the SF camp.

  • Jack Stone

    In my opinion, those pacts only make sense if Sinn Fein takes their seats in Parliament. Unless the SDLP can offer some other sort of sweetner to get Sinn Fein out of races to give them a clear run, why would Sinn Fein drop out of races when there is slippage of the SDLP vote. Sinn Fein are fighting the long war (so to speak). There is no way that the SDLP will enter a pact to not send a MP to Westminster (which you would be doing by sending a Sinn Fein MP) I believe you MIGHT be able to see SDLP/Fianna Fail pacts if FF begins to contest national elections but if that southern party becomes powerful enough to pact with then SDLP are off to the graveyard of history anyway. Pacts are great for the short term but eventually weaken the party that takes advantage of them. its harder to demonize a party in a constituency you told your voters to vote for a few years before.

  • Cue Bono

    Do you remember when the evil Brits moved the boundary to ensure that SF could never lose west Belfast again? I would think that in order to ensure DUP support in this parliament Cameron will be unlikely to destroy their chances in the east.

  • Ryan A

    Cameron doesn’t get a say – it’s independent and if he thinks he can remove 20 labour seats then frankly I don’t think he will care about one DUP seat. All the aforementioned wards are heavy Alliance except Rosetta which is more SDLP. And if it comes down to Gavin v Naomi I think we can guess who will be the beneficiary.

  • Cue Bono

    There are people who vote for the SDLP who will never ever vote for SF. The SDLP will not risk alienating them. Besides where would a pact favour them?

  • Jack Stone

    You forgot the most obvious reason. Abstentionism is the antithesis of the SDLP’s supposed political philosophy. They look like hypocrites. It is one thing to ally with Sinn Fein on the local level but it is another to sign over your party’s voters to a concept you are opposed to fundamentally.

  • Cue Bono

    Hold that thought Ryan. We’ll find out in five years time if you are right, but I suspect that when it comes to propping up a government anything is possible.

  • Ryan A

    Maybe. In any case the whole plan was to equalize electorates. Inner city districts, Scotland, NI and Wales had depopulated seats while most of England runs with 75k+ electorates as a norm. The intention was to ensure a vote in the south east of England was equal to a vote in Manchester and equalize an advantage that was disproportionately labours.

  • Jack Stone

    Well Belfast South for one, The pact brought it close and MP McDonnell did lose about 15% of his vote from 2010, most of which was picked up by Máirtín Ó Muilleoir and Alasdair McDonnell only won the seat by 2% of the overall vote. If Martin eats into his votes any deeper next time then the Unionist candidate might gain another seat. SDLP voters have voted for SF in the past. If Sinn Fein were to take their seats (which they wont do at least at least in the near future) then perhaps a limited pact in Fermanagh & South Tyrone and Belfast South might help both parties.

  • Ryan A

    Unionists will not gain that seat. The numbers are not there.

  • Um Ryan, you do know that the second largest seat in terms of electorate (95k) is Manchester Central, don’t you? Only the Isle of Wight has more voters. The other three Manchester seats clock in at 76 or 77k and Greater Manchester as a whole has 27 seats, which is fine, since a uniform quota entitles it to 27.4.

    Scotland, based on the latest electoral figures, is no longer overrepresented (they sorted that in 2005.) Only Wales gets a big bonus and of the four smallest seats there, 2 are held by Plaid Cymru and 2 by the Conservatives. The tories have based all this on faulty and dubious logic, mainly linked to Blair’s big seat bonus in 2005, which was really untypical and I do wish people would look into the situation a bit more rather than just unquestioningly repeating what the Conservatives say.

  • Jack Stone

    Uh what? Jonathan Bell only fell short 906 votes of winning the seat. If there had been a pact in Belfast South, the DUP might have walked away with another MP.

  • Ryan A

    Catcher in the Rye is completely right about Belfast. Don’t be surprised to see Alliance go for three in East Belfast with Long at the top of the ballot. Also, in the 2014 locals Alliance looked like the top party in the South Belfast area, winning Laganbank and Castlereagh South outright very extremely strong figures in the part of Lisnasharragh in South Belfast – albeit this will likely come from the SDLP as opposed to the UUP who are more vulnerable than ever before to a second DUP runner.

  • Ryan A

    Maybe a bad example but do you really think the Conservatives will architect their own downfall via an electoral reform mechanism?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    The one good thing about a Conservative majority, CB, even putting a smile on the face of a dangerious radical like myself, is that Cameron does not have to try and hold back the sniggers every time one of the DUP address him. With even a silm majority, unless the plague hits Westminster and we have a dozen bi-elections, he does not have to pretend to be polite to these people. Thank goodness……

  • Cue Bono

    Point taken. I still think that the thing that keeps the SDLP vote alive is the fact that there are nationalists out there who absolutely detest SF and everything they have stood for. I don’t think that they will risk that by going into a pact with the Sinners. Especially when they are propped up by unionist votes in Londonderry and south Down.

  • Ryan A

    “If there had been a pact” – they couldn’t agree a pact. Not in 2015, not in 2010 and not in 2005. That’s before you get into what the SF/Alliance vote would do if they did.

  • Cue Bono

    Nonsense. He has a minority, but it is tiny. At some stage over the next five years he will require unionist support. That is a certainty.

  • Ryan A

    Ravenhill is not a unionist area any longer going off recent tallies.

  • No, but I think an ordinary boundary review with a UK wide quota would have ironed out the discrepancies anyway and that they really haven’t thought through the implications of the “within 5% of quota + reviews every 5 years” stuff. The aborted review was a real mess with a load of illogical and unnatural creations. They will pass it and what will happen is that people will lose contact with their MPs, as they will be frequently shunted around to equalise numbers, local authorities will be miffed as many more of them will have to do deal with more than one MP. More importantly, constituency parties will get annoyed at having to constantly reorganise, while MPs and parties will dislike the uncertainty of constant boundary reviews. When all that happens, I think they’ll water it down a bit. This has all happened before, as the Conservative government of 1951 did exactly the same (more regular reviews) only to have to backtrack when their own backbenchers got fed up of the uncertainty.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    One of the joys of being an auld fella like myself is that I’ve seen this all before, and “certainty” it is not! Me, I’d be looking virtually anywhere else but the DUP for support. I know they pass for human in local terms but seen from an English perspective, the DUP are almost as much of a sclerotic anachronism as UKIP, but even less amusing. Until the wee six produces people to put up as candidates who can actually talk to people like Cameron, they will only find themsleves asked to dance with the big boys in dire emergencies such as the frightening possibility of not getting a real majority, when Cameron reluctantly started inviting them to social events and reallly tried to remember not to ask them to serve the drinks. Luckily the UUP have begun to grow out of their unfortunate period of inverse snobbery (their era of “no discrimination on grounds of intellegence”), and are begining to field some credible adults (although they really missed the opportunity this time to field the excellent Jeff Dudgeon in south Belfast) and Alliance seem to be able to find the odd adult too if they try. But the DUP…………

  • SeaanUiNeill

    So just another attempt at “efficency” which creates mayhem, just like all those other moves that destroyed perfectly thriving businesses in the private sector during the 1980s! Government has the luxury of backtracking and playing their usual “get out of jail free” card: “we have learnt from our mistakes”. People and concerns in the “real world” just don’t. I remember having to find work for any number of talented people in the media world left high and dry when their companies made themselves so “efficent” no bank would risk loaning them money to buy time to sort out the consequent mess.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Parts of it clearly still are! But thanks for putting me right about the broader picture, I can certainly see the changes on the ground.

  • Cue Bono

    Are you old enough to remember 1974? Because that was the last time that a majority government had such a tiny lead. How did that work out in the end?

  • Robin Keogh

    No, he has a majority

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Unionist pacts work.

    Evidently ‘yes’.

    I would go further and state that ‘unionist pacts work FOR NOW’.

    If Mr Elliot does a good job of representing FST (and there is good reason to think that he will) then he might possibly slip in again next time around.

    However IF SF and the SDLP form a pact (and unionism has drawn first blood on that (generally)) then he’ll lose and that’s that forevermore.

    Also, if Mr Elliot is goaded into saying something that may offend the nationalist community in FST then he may cause them to turn out and vote next time around.

    If I was Mr Elliot I would be thinking of attending the odd GAA game or two (I think his Orange CV is of sufficient value that he could weather such Lundy-esque acts without losing orange votes) to show he’s not ‘that’ sort of unionist.

    If I was part of the Shinner machine I’d be thinking of ways of goading Mr Elliot into saying or doing something that could be perceived as offensive but at the same time not something that would provoke wider unionist outrage e.g. not something akin to Flegger-gate which seemingly galvanised the unionist vote.

    Don’t be surprised if we see an increase in controversial parades of either sort in FST over the next 5 years….

    ( because once Mr Elliot has to choose between the majority of his constituents which he is duty bound to serve and the OO, well, who do you think will receive his service? Also, a few more hunger strike themed parades would serve to draw out any venom he may have in a public sphere).

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Old enough to remember 1964 even, and “which twin’s the Tory” dabbed on North Kensington walls when I visited family in London during that election! Don’t you remember from earlier interchanges, I was one of those innocent PDs who were gullible enough to be duped by the old Officials before another local party copyrighted the acronym for their own party name (ie: “DUP”). It would be a pity if the DUP were able to force their bullying narrow mindedness on any Westminster administration, as too much intimacy with SF has made them, in my mind at least, indistinguishable in technique from what they proport to oppose, as with the pigs in that last all-too-true chapter of Animal Farm. We have any number of intellegent and sincere people from all backgrounds here, as SK mentions above, but tragically we seem to represent our community to the world outside through MPs who display some of the worst characteristics of most problematic factions of our poor much abused community.

    Yes, I remember 1974, and it may amuse you to find that I was even very friendly with of the early activists for the DUP in the election that year, someone who had been in at the party’s actual founding (and habitually introduced me as “Robert Lundy the anarchist” when we met people)! The election of 1974 is hardly a serious comparison with the one just past! No-one had a majority at all in that election, and the see-saw between Conservative and Labour was just a hair’s thickness apart, something poor Ed Milleband must have been praying for this time around. But, as I’ve said above, short of bi-elections changing the landscape, Cameron has a small working majority of twelve at the moment and does not need the DUP (who does, really?). Additionally, he can possibly rely on the two UUP votes, certainly on the four SF MPs, whose self-denying ordinance increases his majority by four built in abstentions on every issue, a delightful consequence for him of their declared policy. He has 331 MPs and only 315 MPs will vote against him if every other party and independant actually forms a united opposition on a vote. There is a good enough safety margin (called ” an outright majority” of 16, counting SFs contribution to his total) for Cameron to govern in a manner a great number of people here in the wee six will find uncomfortable in any number of disparate ways, although working with this will require serious discipline from his party.

    And hey, just how much real power does anyone at Westminster actually have any more? The big difference since 1974 is the seismic shift in the real hierarchy of power that has developed since that date through Globalisation. The IMF, the IRS, global banking interests, the bond and money markets, international companies, etc, etc, are the real brokers of power and in about fortieth place down this hierarchy come the national governments. Cameron, and anyone else who may have any influence on him from below will be doing simply what then IMF and those further up the hierarchy requires them to do to maintain the stability of Global Finance , with some very slight tweeks to meet those local conditions not in conflict with such stability. Just look at Greece if you want to see what a motivated “Democracy” can actually do nowadays…….pretty much nothing..

  • Jag

    If SF and SDLP don’t do pacts then this is what will happen next time:

    SF will split the nationalist vote in south Belfast and UUP will win and SDLP representation at Westminster will decline by one.

    If SF and SDLP do a pact then SDLP will retain south Belfast (and SF will retake FST and take North Belfast)

    As regards flipping between lionizing and demonizing once the election is over, voters are sophisticated enough to know what’s happening. UUP and DUP will be at each other’s throats in no time, believe me.

  • Carl Mark

    Oh dear, before I explain why Molloy was offensive, you will have to give us A EXAMPLE OF HIM BEING OFFENSIVE.

  • Carl Mark

    how is it a great bargaining chip? I know your a bit light headed this morning but the Tories got a majority , what does unionism have to bargain with?

  • Carl Mark

    again why should he be concerned about the Unionists, did you rally miss the Toriy majority thing.

  • It’s not even about efficiency, it’s mostly just a Conservative sulk about the 2005 election result, where Labour had a 70 seat majority on 36% of the vote, but that was an unusual and untypical election and a lot of that result was down to traditional Labour voters either abstaining or protest voting LibDem over things like Iraq and that at the 2010 election, a tie in votes would have led to a Labour lead in seats. With the new situation in Scotland and the collapse of the LibDems, it’s no longer true and a votes tie this time would have resulted in more Conservative seats. So the changes are based on outdated assumptions from what happened 10 years ago, ignoring current developments.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Totally agree John, just feel that this kind of thing is all too frequently dressed up in the language of an “efficency re-organisation”, and those who oppose it are painted as arguing to retain more cumbersome older usages because they are unregenerate Luddites. No-one ever apperas to recognise that a serious evaluation of current conditions, and a careful response to those is waht is really required if genuine public interest is to come first. Things in the real world change very rapidly, but all too often “middle ground thinking” from both main parties elects to employ incorrerct assumptions raised to the dignity of “facts”.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I don’t think CB has perhaps realised this yet. I’ve given him the figures below.

  • Jack Stone

    But this election has shown that Unionism is past their high water mark and their only path to electoral success is through pacts. Obviously it will probably change their views on pacts in the future. But Bell doesn’t need the pact if someone like MoM continues eating into the SDLP vote. So to say NEVER seems a bit premature.

  • Eyes wide open

    What “Bullying and intimidation” Any links or

  • Jeffrey Peel

    They clearly work in that Little Ulster Nats get elected. But they don’t work in the sense that the elected representatives will be ignored. The only purpose of politics is to gain power. There is no power to be gained from being a Northern Ireland Unionist or Nationalist Member of Parliament. That’s why Unionists and Nationalists will always be lumped into the little grey “other” in the BBC pie-chart of parliamentary make-up. There was a hope, of course, that there might have been a hung parliament where Ulster Unionists (people in GB rarely remember the distinctions between the UUP and DUP) might hold the balance of power. But, alas, power has been pulled away yet again. And we’ll quickly get back to the default of trying to carve-up the block grant in the Assembly and failing to reach resolution on anything – because of the ground-hog day ineptitude of weeny parish pump politics.