#AE17 Snippets: Alastair Ross steps down in East Antrim for the DUP

It seems sensible to run occasional snippets pieces for the wee bits and pieces that might otherwise get missed:

  • So we kick off with the news tonight that Alastair Ross is stepping down after ten years in the Assembly. No big mystery. As a five-seater the DUP have just over 2 quotas from May. And as clear backmarker, Ross steps out.
  • Dallat of the SDLP comes back in as a runner in East Londonderry pushing his successor Gerry Mullan out. Mullan leaves Dallat 0.6 of a quota, whilst SF have 1.3: together almost two quotas for nationalism. With UUP and Alliance transfers that could make SDLP veteran competitive.
  • In Upper Bann Sinn Fein are running two again, with Nuala Toman – a headquarters staffer – alongside John O’Dowd. The UUP’s Kyle Savage drops out this time, and there’s only 1.4 quota for the two UUP runners. If Dolores Kelly can grab UUP transfers, she might split the SF ticket.
  • One surprise is Sammy Douglas is stepping down in East Belfast, where their three may have to reduce to two. Douglas won’t be easy to replace. Does that mean the Speaker Robin Newton is running again? Keeping three in the field and maybe squeeze the UUP out of Belfast?

Email Mick or David from the sidebar with news or tips…

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  • Gopher

    My reading of Upper Bann is slightly different if Dolores does not put a score up early she will be out before the first UUP ( SF or DUP) candidate goes out. She only got 902 transfers totaling 5237 votes before the stage when the *third* UUP candidate who is not running went out and by that stage their first candidate Dobson was elected. The combined second and third UUP vote before transfers was 4750 compared to 4350 for Dolores. Unionists it has to be noted have 3000 odd votes from UKIP, TUV and PUP to distribute among less candidates. Nope, I hate to rain on the parade but if Dolores survives she has to beat the SF candidate closest to her and the only way to do that is win herself more votes. If PBP stand that might skew things a bit.

  • Jag

    Sad to see the BBC headlining the report on [edit Ross]Hussey with “Naked pics MLA” and “humiliated MLA”.

    Are puritans now running the BBC website.

    Mind you, like most MLAs, Ross has very done very little to individualise or distinguish himself, but even so.

  • Gopher

    Or to explain it in a easier way DUP .99 quotas per candidate, SF .74 quotas per candidate, UUP .64 quotas per candidate, SDLP .56 for Dolores

  • mjh

    Yes Ross and Douglas are interesting. It looks like the DUP are taking the sensible course of avoiding having three sitting members competing for two seats – with all the potential for ill-disciplined vote management, inconvenient and damaging spats between candidates, and post-election bad blood within the local party membership.

    Expect further similar announcements shortly from East Londonderry, North Antrim, North Down and South Antrim.

  • Casual Observer

    Your point is well made, but perhaps relates to another departing MLA, Ross Hussey?

  • T.E.Lawrence

    First of all good luck to Sammy Douglas on his retirement (one off our better MLAs) and will be badly missed if ever we get an Assembly up and running again ? Hope that he still involves himself in the community work across Belfast ? It will be interesting to see in the East if any of the other Unionist Candidates outside the DUP can pick up any of Sammy’s 4230 fpv. I always believed that a big percentage of that vote was a personal vote for Sammy ?

  • mjh

    I go with Mick on Upper Bann. Kelly can win even if she starts out with fewer first preferences than both SF candidates due to UUP transfers at the last stages of the count. It’s whisker thin.

    However a hefty swing of 4.2% or above from DUP to UUP would see her eliminated too early to enjoy them.

  • the keep

    In North Antrim the DUP are running three candidates this time instead of four the fight between the uup and the dup will be interesting.

  • the keep

    Cannot see Dolores edging out SF in fairness the last seat in Upper Bann will be between Unionism of whatever variety against SF.

  • T.E.Lawrence
  • mjh

    I should add that even a very small swing from SDLP to SF, just 0.5% of the total vote, would see both SF in – which would represent a notional gain for SF.

  • the keep

    In this election would that happen?

  • the keep

    How much to Assembly questions cost and are they of benefit to the constituents?

  • mickfealty

    Er, the only Minister?

  • mickfealty

    Vital component in democracy, but I would agree with the premise that numbers are no indication of actual value delivered.

  • mjh

    Any more on the East Londonderry story, Mick?

    Was Mullan actually “pushed”?

    Didn’t he replace Dallat last year following the “sexed up” leak of a internal SDLP review which was supposed to have cast severe doubt on Dallat’s ability to retain the seat then?

    It’s interesting for the light it might cast on whether anything is going on in the local party which might effect their effectiveness in the coming campaign.

  • the keep

    He has many questions to answer. : )

  • the keep

    Was lead to believe there was a contest were Dallat won the vote against two other candidates.

  • Jag

    Thanks CO! Tells you how distinguished many MLAs are!

  • Croiteir

    How much did Dallat get if anything 8 months ago when he did not contest? Woud he have to pay anything back if he did get anything?

  • Croiteir

    Never mind the quality, feel the width

  • Granni Trixie

    I agree that SD has a personal vote. He also broadened the appeal of the DUP. He could be stepping down for personal reasons but I’m sure he won’t miss the stigma of the DUP given recent events.
    Cant see who else the DUP have with such a profile. HIs stepping down is likley to disadvantage DUP vote wise.

    I identified SD with involvement in community relations work hence found it strange that he was drawn to the DUP, to many an extreme party.
    Now that we know more about its imternal culture it’s all the more surprising,

  • Granni Trixie

    Eyes will be on them come the next Westminster election to see if they kiss and make up.

  • Granni Trixie

    Omg,get the name right. Lawyer anyone?

  • mjh

    Who really knows?

    My feeling is that this has the potential to see some far bigger swings than we have grown used to in the last few years. Maybe even of the scale of 2003 or 2007.

  • the keep

    I couldnt agree more!

  • Granni Trixie

    Funny thing is that in our house we thought highly of Ross as the more articulate and moderate of his party that we shout at th tele “why are you in the DUP?”

  • the keep

    The problem that the UUP and SDLP have is that they are not running enough candidates to present themselves as a credible alternative.

  • David McCann

    In fairness the MOM, if you look at other ministers they have the same in terms of AQs, so it’s not a fair representation.

    Some MLAs send letters instead, rather than do AQs also. So this is not a reflection of any work ethic at all.

  • Madra Uisce

    Will someone please tell Paula that Minsters usually answer questions not ask them, what the hell do we pay theses people for.

  • Casual Observer

    Gareth Gordon BBC reporting (on Twitter) that DUP’s Peter Weir is being moved from North Down to Strangford – probably to replace naughty Jonny Bell. Not confirmed though.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    TK – Now that is the Question ? Have we got a Quantity Surveyor in the room to put a value on all of Paula’s Questions to see if it was worth the Public’s Money ?

  • mickfealty

    Not great messaging to go back to the guy you had before, but all felt a little hasty and last minute last May. Perhaps they realised they need to defend however they can. Dallat’s machine won last time.

    Mullan’s had no time to create an impact: being in Limavady he’s in the wrong part of the constituency to pick up Nat votes. It’s still one of four weak seats the SDLP desperately needs to hold.

    Given the poor handover (which I criticised Dallat for last year) this is probably the smartest move open to them this time out.

  • mickfealty

    Not surprising. They absolutely need to do that just to get Weir back in. He’s toast if he runs in North Down.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Don’t mention that word “Leaflet” to Alliance ? Oh S— ! they have went and done it themselves ! What I want to know is who is Paula’s Election Agent in SB ! He/She are playing a Blinder ! (sorry rephase he/she is blinded)

  • mickfealty

    Jag, can you amend appropriately? Don’t want to be giving a false impression.

  • mickfealty

    That’s fine, if the UUP are on for two seats, but Carla is going to run away with it at the top of the ticket and she should easily bring over her running mate. Whatever way you look at it there’s two Nat seats.

    Kyle’s transfers would have come from the most Dolores resistant parts of the Unionist constituency. That would not be the case with Joanne or Doug, and there will be more of them to distribute.

  • mickfealty

    Bang on. That’s the thing none of these early calculations can account for. Lucid talk’s first election poll is out on Sunday, so we may get a hint of how RHI is playing generally. And what if any swing we may be talking about.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Agree – I also knew SD from his community relations work, but at that time he became involved in politics with the DUP, Peter Robinson’s strategy was not only the QUB Brigade of Unionism he also needed strong community activists like SD to secure and solidify the grassroots unionist working class votes ! So he adopted a Parallel Recruitment Drive of new resources. Even with PR faults and swiss baggage one thing that can never be taken away from him and even a political opponent like me will always have to respect is he was a very smart election strategist and someone whom the DUP will sorely miss ?

  • Haven’t met a Unionist in East Londonderry who would transfer to Dallat. Ditto Upper Bann and Kelly.

  • Zorin001

    As much as I don’t have time for the DUP Weir always seemed a hard grafter in the area so surprised hes being moved, saw him all hours last year pushing leaflets through the doors.

  • Zorin001

    Paulas been indispensable in helping my best mates cousin through some very difficult times related to the Department of Health so I have all the time in the world for her.

  • the keep

    Completely correct i think he is toast even if he runs in Strangford as well.

  • the keep

    Yep she really is a decent person and a good mla stormont would be poorer without her.

  • mjh

    Maybe its a secret pleasure!

  • T.E.Lawrence

    No Probs on that score Z ! But a bit of a poor election leaflet she has put out ? Very difficult to defend ?

  • mickfealty

    Just checked. Ministers don’t ask questions of other ministers. Cheap point scoring.

  • the keep

    How could you suggest that Alliance would ever stoop to that level?

  • Granni Trixie

    I can see why you credit PR as was except that now that we know more about the DUP internal workings it is clear he did no favours in not modernising his party (I say the same is likely to stymie sf in time).
    Now that the lid has been lifted he is a liability, likely to override whatever talents he brings to the table. Once the public perceive a politician to be self interested or inauthentic it’s very difficult to recover a more positive image which attracts votes.

  • Gopher

    There are two nationalist seat there just ain’t one for Dolores unless she gets close early.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    “Once the public perceive a politician to be self interested or inauthentic its very difficult to recover a more positive image which attracts votes” Agree ! Take the name Peter away and change it to Arlene. This is a big election for Arlene its basically S—- or Bust for her ? A Big Vulture from within the DUP is already circlein in the skies above !

  • mjh

    They will each run at least enough candidates to be able to claim that they could form the largest group within their respective designations.

  • Granni Trixie

    I would argue that her image is now so damaged that she is a lame duck even should the DUP get a reasonable result.
    A stupendously wonderful outcome (.unlikely) would make a powerful argument she would rightly exploit.
    What surprises me is that there is not chatter about who might replace her. …at one time Hamiltons name was being mentioned but his star seems to have faded as he is associated with trying to handle RHI matters. Have they actually got anyone at Stormont to do the job?

  • mjh

    They’ll keep the lid firmly shut on the chatter if they can. No-one aspiring to replace her would want to be caught within a million miles of any suggestion of disloyalty or rocking the boat before the election.

    If there is any blame after the election they will want it all sticking firmly to Arlene.

  • Richard Cairns

    Well, it’s more to do with using every tool possible. AQs are public record, as are the answers. Letters tend to be more for case specific issues. But they all pale in comparison to Jim Allister use of them to extract information: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5f62937c911706f3373d4f4d0daeadcc75186bf1835c1f5ada183feaaa136ecd.jpg

  • Granni Trixie

    how do you read Ian Ps. intervention about MMG? shot acrss the bows? Would/could a DUP Westminster MP be leader of DUP?

  • Gopher

    The UUP are only running 2 both of whom will have more votes than Dolores and will get the transfers of UKIP, TUV and PUP. I would check your figures once again. Look at last years card Beattie was only behind Dolores until Savage was eliminated and then end up 1100 votes ahead. I repeat once again last election UUP .43 quotas per candidate this election .64. Dolores has only .56 and will have to rely on smoking canabis, hugging trees and holding hands for transfers. The bottom line is Dolores has to out poll one of the SF candidates early doors or she will be gone before the UUP.

  • the keep

    Payback.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJqimlFcJsM It’s Coming Home ! He’s Coming Home !

  • mjh

    Call me a cynic – but I am convinced he said it because he meant it – pure and simple. And I applaud the decency that did not let any calculations of political implications filter his comments.

    There is no legal obstacle to a party leader being a Westminster MP. However, were the situation to arise it would be easy to do a Sinn Fein Shuffle. Both the MP and an MLA resign – and swap places after a by election and a co-option respectively.

  • Gaygael

    It could be her husband that she employs part-time.

  • mac tire

    I believe he got over £50,000 eight months ago for stepping down.

  • Granni Trixie

    That’s the point – she is NOT a minister but a representative for SB – MEANT to hold Ministers to account and scrutinise for delivering to their portfolios. As I live in SB I have heard Paula talk about what she lobbies about reflected in the questions she asks.
    Off the top of my head some examples are: accessing cancer drugs,domestic violence, blue badge schemes,residents parking schemes and core funding for community groups.

    So although the numbers of questions asked are not the full story of what your MLA does for you if you are hard working as I know PB to be why not use such information to indicate that to voters?

  • Madra Uisce

    Correct see my post above. Paula has made a hames with this poster as they say.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Now Now GG there is a very good thought ! All will be revealed at the nomination of election papers ?

  • mjh

    Sorry, Gopher, you can’t just look at the starting figures. It is essential to follow the transfer process through every stage of the count.

    After Savage is eliminated (on what would have been Stage 10) we are back to two UUP candidates who will have received fewer transfers from the DUP than they did last year because the quota is now higher. At that stage, between them the two UUP candidates do have a bit more than double the number of Kelly’s votes. But critically they are not in the position of perfect balance they would need to ensure Kelly went out rather than Beattie. Dobson is on about 6770 and Beattie on about 4190. Kelly is sitting behind both SF candidates. She has about 5300, while they have about 5480 and 6450.

    Beattie is therefore eliminated.

    Nationalist get few transfers from him. SF divide about 30 between them. Kelly gets about 110. This is based on average UUP transfer patterns where there were a similar range of transfer options.

    Dobson is then elected and her surplus of about 2300 is distributed. This is very beneficial for Kelly who gains about 410, while the 2 SF share only about 30. In the process Kelly overtakes the second SF candidate.

    There remains an undistributed DUP surplus of about 300 votes.

    To be clear I am not saying that I expect the votes in 2017 to be the same as in 2016. But I am trying to demonstrate that claiming that Kelly would be bound to lose on no other basis than the votes cast last year is wrong.

  • banana man

    They ran him in Westminster 2015 to up his profile so i doubt it was anything to do with that report and was more to do with Dallat signaling his retirement plans. He probably sees this as easy money with the assembly headed for a lengthy suspension, shame for him theyll never hold onto that seat!

  • Ryan A

    THREE ministers in Strangford. That’s playing with fire.

  • Gopher

    There are only *TWO* UUP candidates running in 2017 Your assumption is there will be *THREE* like 2016. Dolores will be behind throughout and get eliminated irrespective of DUP transfers.

  • mjh

    No, Gopher. I assume there will two candidates. That does not however change the calculation. I have given the figures for what my calculation shows from the Stage in the count at which the number of UUP candidates has already been reduced to two.

    If you want to debate in what respect, and by how much, those calculations are wrong please do.

  • Gopher

    With your caveat of using 2016. Dobson 5155 votes 2nd UUP candidate 4769 Dolores 4335. At which count will Doloros overhaul a UUP candidate? After the PUP go out? After UKIP? Or After TUV?

  • mjh

    Hi Gopher.
    We have two different approaches to the question of how to deal with the reduction of the number of candidates run by a party.

    As I have said previously, the method I use is to leave all three candidates in the model until the natural progress of the count removes one of them. In our example that raises the question of whether some of the first preference and transfers which Savage did not transfer to his running mates would have been captured as first preferences by the other two if he had never been present. And if so how many?

    The other method is to add the third candidates first preferences and subsequent transfers to the totals of the other two candidates. In our example that raises two issues. Firstly, the question of whether in the absence of Savage some of his first preference votes and transfers would have gone elsewhere. And if so how many? Secondly how Savage’s first preference votes and transfers should be re-allocated between the two candidates.

    We can set aside this first issue for the moment since the numbers involved would not actually make a difference to our discussion of whether Kelly or Beattie would be eliminated. It would not cover the gap my chosen method shows between Kelly and Beattie.

    The re-apportionment of the first preferences and transfers is what makes us come to different conclusions.

    You take all of Savage’s votes and add them to Beattie, leaving Dobson unchanged.

    This gives Dobson 52.2% of the UUP first preference votes, and Beattie 47.8%. Transfers will bring this to 50.0% to 50.0% at the point when Kelly would be eliminated.

    A feat of vote balancing that would excite the admiration of the acknowledged champions, the West Belfast SF.

    SF ‘only’ managed a 54.8% to 45.9% balance in this constituency.

    The fact is the UUP do not do vote management, and are in no position to carry that off even if they genuinely tried.

    Even on your assumption that the UUP retain every single first preference and transfer that Savage gained, they would still need a balance of no worse than 56.3% to 43.7% to see Kelly eliminated rather than one of them.

    Last year they only managed 52.2%, 30.0% and 17.8%.