#SluggerReport: Trump and grown up politics, and #AE17 in South Belfast and North Down

So yesterday’s #SluggerReport featured commentary on the Trump issue (and should Kenny and/or May protest, in the former’s case not go to the Whitehouse for March 17th).  Kevin Meagher on Labour Uncut nails it for me:

We need to properly accept that Brexit means we are living in an age of realpolitik. Idealists who want to wag their fingers at Donald Trump are free to do so; but they should not pretend this is anything other than idle posturing.

Britain is leaving the EU and Donald Trump is now US President. These are now immutable facts. The task is to work with the grain of these twin realities and ameliorate the worst excesses of both.

On the election, two profiles (NB, this is presuming a similar turnout to last May). In South Belfast:

  • The projected quota is 6121, up from 5,247. Two candidates should come home with help of running mates: Alliance’s Paula Bradshaw on a party quota, and Claire Hanna who had 1.2. When the SDLP sweeper gets Hanna over, her other transfers should bring Mairtin O Muilleoir home.
  •  The DUP candidates, Emma Pengelly .7, and Chris Stalford .6, may look weak, but several Unionist candidates won’t be standing.  The UUs have another new face in, so it’s hard to see them breaking. Since the overall Unionist quota is 2.1, the two DUP seats should be safe.
  • Greens Clare Bailey has by far the tallest order. This time Alliance should have little to share. Unless the RHI scandal plays strongly for her, even with transfers from the SDLP, it’s hard to see how she catches the DUP duo.

In North Down:

  • The clear rule in STV is: get in the top five with more than half a quota, and you are at least 90% there. In North Down, it seems the DUP have already recognised the implications, and have ported their Education minister next door to Strangford to try and keep him in the next Assembly.
  • The DUP have 2.5 quotas, but three of the top five places look certain to go to Stephen Farry (Alliance) on 1 quota, Alan Chambers (UUP) .93  and Agnew (Greens) .76. An even split (probably impossible on existing trends) would likely leave one of three DUP candidates behind.
  • As a footnote, whilst Weir has only been in Education seven months it’s telling that whilst in the Republic Ministerial office adds a premium, in Stormont it’s still a matter of some indifference to voters. If, or when, that changes perhaps we might finally be getting somewhere?

Do play with ElectionsNI’s great data and graphics to see how things went last year.

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  • Zig70

    Have to say, I think the days of the Taoiseach running to the US should end regardless of who is in the whitehouse. They should be coming to us on our day

  • mickfealty

    Yeah, good luck with that one Zig. St Pat’s day is a key component of Ireland’s highly successful public diplomacy effort to underwrite an fifty year old FDI strategy. I think the Taoiseach is also right re undocumented Irish, but beyond that, it’s hard to imagine has any sway with the Presidency.

  • mjh

    Yep. North Down looks like a done deal. Unless we see polls showing a swing to the DUP of near 5% since 2016 there would be no grounds for calling 3 there.

    South Belfast is more marginal. The second DUP seat would be vulnerable to a 2.1% swing from DUP to UUP; or a 0.7% swing DUP to Green; or even a much longer shot (but not totally impossible) combination of swings totalling 4.3% to Alliance (e.g.drop in DUP share of 2%, swings to Alliance of 2% from UUP, 1.6% SDLP and 0.7% from Green).

  • file

    I agree: it is tugging the forelock of the worst kind to their new colonial masters, to whom they have submitted themselves voluntarily – in fact sometimes you get the impression that some of the media are even speaking with a US accent!

  • mickfealty

    I think south Belfast is definitely in play with an upswing in turnout. That’s what it will take to hit both govt parties. I suspect there will be a reversal of the recent trend for Unionist turnout to outrun nationalist turnout, but the short notice of the election probably leaves the insurgents at a major disadvantage in that regard (which seems to me to be a large part of the idea behind the election being ‘soooo snaaaap’)

  • Gopher

    North down is definately a seat where the DUP would have got punished running three. Ususually an exciting contest but Alliance, UUP and DUP have all parked the bus making the election here plain dull. I expect the forgone conclusion will not help turnout and it will fall through the floor.

  • Granni Trixie

    Do you see SDLP and Alliance running two candidates each impacting on transfers to the Greens?

  • mickfealty

    If Alliance have just one quota, no. The SDLP transfers may come too late. She needs them both to have a really good campaign. (Or for PBP to consolidate on the left.)

  • ted hagan

    Seems to becoming fashionable that anyone who protests at the frightening rise of the right in the West is now dismissed as an ‘idealist’, or part of the woolly ‘liberal elite’ and that they should suck it up because ‘it’s democracy, stupid’. Realpolitik, the word of the moment, has become a convenient blanket to throw over and excuse a multitude of sins.This is dangerous. Yes, trade must go on. Yes, sanctions often involve much hypocrisy. Yes, we must be realistic, but at what stage do we draw the line and put principle before profit, or does it all become just ‘realpolitik’ and shoulder-shrugging?

  • mjh

    Some reporting of the Lucid Talk poll has taken place in today’s Sun. https://www.thesun.ie/news/513568/arlene-foster-is-rated-the-lowest-of-any-political-leader-in-northern-ireland-as-voters-turn-their-back-on-dup-poll-reveals/

    Unfortunately the full party figures are not given in the report. Also whereas the percentages given for unionists, nationalists and Alliance+Green add to 99.2% for this year, they only add to 95.7% for last year. This is probably due to the presence of Independents and small parties last year which are not reflected in this year’s figures.

    This could mean that the suggested swing from unionist to nationalist suggested by the reporting is not quite as big as it is reported, and that increases in a party’s vote share may have been partly exaggerated by the inclusion of votes which transferred to them from Independents or small parties. Similarly any decrease may be partly understated.

    The one individual party figure given is for the DUP – a decline of 3.3%. At that level up to 5 seats the party would have won on last year’s figures could be lost: Belfast North, Belfast South, Lagan Valley, South Down and Strangford with Upper Bann hanging in the balance. That could reduce the party to 26 seats.

  • Ryan A

    Very accurate. Alex Kane says he doesn’t see them dropping to below thirty on a 3.3% drop but I think he’s looking at that too simply. The effect of that 3.3% is likely to be amplified in constituencies where they hold multiple seats; so that might equate to a 1-2% drop in seats where they have one; but it could be as large as 4-6% in seats where they hold 3. It doesn’t take into account either that transfers in this election will likely go against the DUP.

  • Zorin001

    “and that they should suck it up because ‘it’s democracy, stupid”

    Lets see how long that Democracy lasts when it starts to get in the way of the Alt-Right of achieving its goals.

  • Stephen Warke

    I would agree with the point where Parties that hold 3 Seats under the current 6 Seater arrangements would be squeezed. This is the scenario across the board for the 2 main parties here – DUP saw the writing on the wall in North Down, North Belfast will be tight, South Antrim even tighter with a potential loss – For SF, they will be under pressure from PBP in West Belfast and possibly Foyle, and in Newry and Armagh the third seat belonging to Conor Murphy is precarious.

    I would disagree strongly that the DUP 2nd Seat in Upper Bann hangs in the balance. Carla Lockhart topped the poll, elected over quota on first count and her running mate followed her home on the second count thanks to her surplus. Even with the rise in the Quota, the DUP are strongly in line to hold a second seat in Upper Bann. What to watch is how the UUP split up Lurgan between their two candidates. Dobson is Banbridge centric and Beattie in Portadown, leaving Lurgan in the middle to be split – how this is split will be fascinating and may benefit one of the two. Dobson may be in the driving seat here but expect Beattie to come out fighting strong with a lot of help from Party HQ, much like last May with Empey’s battle cry on his behalf the weekend before polling day.

  • Reader

    ted hagan: Yes, we must be realistic, but at what stage do we draw the line and put principle before profit, or does it all become just ‘realpolitik’ and shoulder-shrugging?
    Are you proposing sanctions, or something? I think there are about 200 countries in the world. How many of them would you sanction?

  • Gopher

    I think people are getting somewhat carried away especially with something as inaccurate as a Lucid Talk poll. There is no doubt that the DUP’s popularity is rock bottom but they still do hold numerous strong cards. First and foremost it’s good to be at your nadir at the start rather than the end of the campaign. The second is they have 9 seats to lose out of 18 before losing their POC. Thirdly SF have said they are not going back without negotiations making the result academic so it’s no longer by and large about RHI but about relative positioning. I don’t think the DUP are quite finished yet between them the rest only have individual talent and you can name them on one hand.

    32 seats+ Decisive victory, 31 seats Tactical Victory, 30 Seats Marginal victory 28 or 29 seats stalemate, anything else defeat.

  • hgreen

    Anyone in South Belfast who supports a woman’s right to choose what she does with her own body has only one sensible choice in this election, Greens.

  • Zig70

    I think a US president would think long and hard about refusing an invite to Dublin. The focus that would give Ireland would be immense. The Irish are always to slow to appreciate the value of what they have.

  • mjh

    Yes, it’s perfectly possible that the DUP will do better than this poll suggests. With a 3% margin of error the DUP drop could be less than 3.3% (or more). Secondly there could be a “shy DUP” factor – although that is least likely with an internet poll such as this one where the respondent answering another person. Thirdly, and this could be the most significant, the line that “SF is nearly neck and neck with the DUP” plays exactly into the DUP central strategy to turn the election into a referendum for First Minister and so could help them to claw back ground.

    However the DUP do not have to lose 9 seats before they lose their POC. The decline to 90 seats ensures that 6 of these have already gone. I make their starting point 32 (Nick White suggests 33), so they don’t have that much to play with.

  • mickfealty

    How many presidential visits to Ireland in the last 30 years?

  • mjh

    A fuller (but not entirely complete) breakdown of the individual party figures from the Lucid Talk poll has been published in the BelTel http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland-assembly-election/poll-arlene-foster-rating-plummets-dup-and-sinn-fein-neckandneck-35415176.html

    It supports your suggestion, Stephen, that Upper Bann at least would be likely to keep both DUP. Applying the changes in vote support shown for all of NI to Upper Bann (i.e. without any local factors) would give 2 DUP, 1 UUP, 1 SDLP, 1 SF. This does not take any account in significant changes in transfer patterns, but those would be unlikely to affect the outcome in this case.

  • Ryan A

    In any case I doubt SF will be returning to an assembly without re-negotiation on the PoC mechanism.

  • Gopher

    That’s a creative way of putting it when they realistically can’t lose a seat in 5

  • Fear Éireannach

    So presumably those who do not think that people should be able to end other lives at will should not vote Greens?

  • Gopher

    God only knows what SF will want in their latest “peace in our time” talks on the “North of Ireland” so I’m looking forward to the return of the efficiency of Direct Rule.

  • ted hagan

    No, I’m not proposing sanctions. I’m pointing to the countries that actually do have the courage, like Canada, to speak out strongly against Trump’s ill-thought-out immigration measures as opposed to Britain,which is increasingly looking sad and pathetic as it prostrates itself to Trump in the name of ‘realpolitik’.

  • hgreen

    I didn’t mention murder. However to answer your silly argument I’d also expect those people who oppose the Green position on abortion not to vote for parties that support IVF.

  • Granni Trixie

    Now why would that be? Reforms of POC system was a main condition Alliance put to the DUP and SF for APNI to take on the Justice Ministry. The FM/DFM wouldn’t even discuss it.

  • Ryan A

    I’m part convinced the reason we’re having this election is that SF botched their negotiation the first time; realised late last year they were getting nothing out of Stormont and RHI was a convienient scape goat. In hind sight they probably should have paid Alliance more attention and I hope Naomi reminds them of that often in the next month.

  • Granni Trixie

    Believe it or not It has taken recent events to help me see that sf and the DUP are not capable of governing with the common good in mind.

  • Gaygael

    In AE16 the % across the three designations were;
    36.1% for unionists
    34.2% for nationalists and
    29.7% for others.

    Pup are not standing. Ruth appears to have learnt her lesson after her embarrassing campaign managed by Bryson. Kippers are in free fall. Dickson seems to have gone back to retirement. I fully expect that the unionist vote will fall considerably with less options, a toxic dup and a non existent uup ground campaign.

    PBP have entered the race and like most areas they stand in, will take the vast majority of their votes from sf and some from the sdlp. They may take some from others. Any score for them moves into the other category.
    Alliance seem to be buoyed by longs leadership despite her cack-handed handling of that little local difficulty in castlereagh. I expect their vote to recover from their decrease last year. Seán burns is standing again and canvassing but may be eaten into by PBP. WP have nominated Lily Kerr who will pull her usual few hundred votes.
    I’m obviously involved with the green campaign, and this time we have even more people on the ground than last year when we covered the most ground in the constituency. We also put on 1,300 votes between WM15 and AE16. We did that out of the back of a car without an office for an unelected candidate. Fully expect that vote to be up.

    As for the Nats, sf will probable experience a drop due to PBPs entry. The sdlp are running the locally popular Hanna and a second sweeper with no profile. A deputy leader with significant profile didn’t hold their vote up. Regardless of how good a candidate Gallagher is, I don’t expect their vote to improve.

    My read of last years votes on a five seater is that Bailey may just have shaded Stalford. By less than three digits.

    Lots of events to come, and the usual caveats but I expect south belfast to make history,
    again. One of those reasons being that others may emerge, very marginally as the largest political grouping.

  • scepticacademic

    I really dont understand why Alliance are running 2 candidates. They had <1.2 quotas last time. Also, surely there's a chance that the Greens will get more FPs and transfers now that Bailey's profile has been raised? Can't help thinking a bit of collusion between SDLP, Alliance and Greens (running only one each, to spread transfers around) could have put the 2nd Dup seat at greater risk.

  • Granni Trixie

    This election is called in circumstances where people could be looking for an alternative so why would APNI not increase its capacity to absorb votes looking for a home?

    Cannot agree that Greens likely to outpoll APNI with FP as Alliance reps have built up solid support over many years in SB plus the party has generally a higher profile.
    Also, whilst Bailey did indeed raise her profile for the last election many say she has been little heard of since – for example wasn’t her maiden speach in Assembly the day the Assembly broke up? Having said that, you cannot divorce a low profile from how the media works,marginalising smaller parties and tending to showcase leaders rather than less well known reps.

  • scepticacademic

    Sorry, I didn’t mean I thought Greens would outpoll AP; obviously Alliance are well established and popular in SB. I was just saying I thought Bailey might get a good increase on her FPs and that there was a chance to save her seat. Would the average Alliance voted not prefer to see Bailey get the 5th seat over Stalford?

  • Gaygael

    Grainni. I know Alliance are trying to use that attack line on Bailey. It’s not working with the electorate of south Belfast.

    As you well know, the maiden speech is a convention, which allows a newly elected MLA to make an uninterrupted speech on any debate. I guess Bailey may have been awaiting a particular report to use her maiden speech.

    She led two successful amendments to a sexual violence (October) and human rights (December) motions which with hard lobbying won majority support across the house.
    Her questions on trans access to services and paramilitary intimidation made newspaper headlines.
    She also has launched a private members bill consultation.

    Thats a quick synopsis of her work, but there is much much more.

  • Gaygael

    Alliance voters definitely do.
    Alliance members want to squeeze out any other middle ground. They are particularly mean.

  • Granni Trixie

    You are entitled to your opinion but I believe that Alliance supporters of all kinds want to see the country working effectively and vote accordingly, Go figure.

  • Gaygael

    One Green backbench MLA made as much law in one mandate (the Children’s Bill) as the entire Alliance team of MLAs did over 2 mandates.

    I think that gives some credence to the Green work rate.
    Steven was working on a cross party PMB with Alliance, SDLP, SF and UUP and Clare was bringing forward her own PMB. That’s a pretty good work rate again.

    Steven brought the first marriage motion. Steven called out RHI when Alliance were in the Executive.

    I also imagine many people were disgusted at Long’s cack-handed handling of the racism/class/sexism allegations.

  • Granni Trixie

    The same “many people” who voted her top of the list of Leaders in Lucid Talks poll?

  • T.E.Lawrence

    It’s called the Ginger Ninja Factor ! They just do not like sharing their toys with the other kids in the playground ! It’s the way their mummies and daddies brought them up ?

  • Paddy Reilly

    #AE16: First Preference Vote.
    DUP 29.2%, UUP 12.6%, TUV 3.4%, UKIP 1.5%, PUP 1.9%, Conservatives 0.4%, Claire Sugden 0.5%.

    And how does this add up to 36.1%?

  • Gaygael

    South Belfast paddy.

  • Gaygael

    Yes. I think she is a very good leader and formidable media performer. She is in the honeymoon period having just taken the leadership and the election has come at the right time. I had a lot of time for Naomi.

    However, she was deputy leader throughout the marriage debacle. She is now leader when the party won’t move on a minimum human rights standard on abortion. She opposes quotas quite vociferously.

    She responded to allegations of racism/sexism/ageism by not speaking to those that made the accusations and only speaking to those that the accusations were levelled against. She dismissed them out of hand as ‘mud-slinging sour grapes with no basis in facts’.

    In my professional life, If I responded to those type of allegations in that way, I would likely be sacked.

  • Granni Trixie

    I do not agree with your opinions and account so we will have to agree to differ.

  • Gaygael

    What do you not agree with?
    The marriage debacle?
    The non-compliance with a minimum human rights standard? The absolute human right on freedom from torture.
    Or best practice in addressing allegations of discrimination on the basis of age/race/sex?