So here’s the first SluggerReport in a while (complete with comedy tie incident in the first few seconds). Subjects include:
- The judgement of the UK Supreme Court in the matter of the sovereignty of the Westminster Parliament over whether it has to be consulted before Article 50 or afterwards, which was a Government loss. And more positively for Mrs May, confirmation that sovereignty is not ceded to the devolved nations in the matter of whether the UK as a whole leaves the EU.
- The success of Michelle O’Neill the post of, well, erm, ‘leader of SF in the North’ (as Aaron Callan says in the comment zone on FB, very Game of Thrones). Strengths are that she’s the longest serving SF Minister (a full term, plus seven months), she’s a woman, and was not personally involved in the IRA (even if members of her family were). Profiling Mid Ulster on Thursday’s edition.
- Profile: FST. Given SF picked up 40% of the vote last time, and through their own poor selection only got two seats, if anywhere is slated for a gain in this tight election this has to be one of them. Without a political earthquake Arlene and Maurice Morrow look good for two and SF for two. The UUP’s Rosemary Barton may be stuck in a tussle between Richie McPhillips and a third SF candidate.
The feature of this election is the drop from six to five seats. Although, since they have more seats than anyone else the two larger parties will lose more than anyone else, they have an easier time of maintaining proportionality in the drop.
There was a time when the Sinn Fein electoral machine was second to none in Northern Ireland, but the DUP have been catching up rapidly. Somem of the smaller parties too have acquired key skills in building from nowhere.Machines and money will play a factor here.
Machines and money will play a huge factor here. Even moreso, if you have plenty of both. A glance at Fermanagh South Tyrone confirms the Opposition will be forced to walk through treacle in this election.
In the last few elections the Unionists and others have seen an increase in their fortunes whilst nationalist turnout has been falling. Last May the DUP got an 8.2% uptick, whilst the SDLP (1.1) and SF (0.3) both fell albeit slightly.
The quota last time was 6740. On the same valid vote total, I make it something like 7863. That means a steepening of the climb to election and puts immense pressure on Barton to retain her seat ( she was one of the few last time to gain a seat on less than half of last year’s quota). She had a running mate, Alistair Patterson, who would put her on more than 6k first preferences.
Despite pulling in 40% of the overall vote, Sinn Fein are on about 2.4 quotas this time in, whilst McPhillips barely clears a half. This time however, the SDLP is an incumbent (albeit of just 7 months, and has a reputation for work).
Two each for the DUP and SF is fine. Three for Sinn Fein would be a gift. It show just what a torture this is likely to be for the most innocent parties in RHI.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty