Ground war is the only game in Northern Ireland this time out…

We’ve had a lot of speculation on Slugger about how the election will go. The biggest thing in the favour of the two major parties is the fact there’s been no air war. If anything, it slightly favours the DUP in that most of the damage in March was self administered by the former First Minster.

Both big parties have been working on postal votes and proxies but just looking at the figures published by the Electoral Office, the huge increase even from March’s huge increase will be a worry for the SDLP in Foyle:

11,707 proxy votes have been issued – that is 1,787 up from the 9,920 proxies appointed for the March assembly election. 23,682 postal votes have been issued – up from the 19,670 sent out in March.

Fermanagh South Tyrone tops the table for both proxy and postal votes issued. 1,707 proxy votes and 2,981 postal votes have been issued in the constituency.

Other constituencies with high levels of applications include Mid Ulster and West Tyrone which are especially high for postal votes, and Newry and Armagh and Foyle which are high for proxy votes.

It also poses a huge problem for Tom Elliott in Fermanagh South Tyrone, where unionism only retains the seat on a one candidate strategy already. The ebbing of rage against Arlene amongst rural nationalists may be more than compensated for by organised proxy voting.

Most of the change we will see by the early hours of Friday will be the result of these subterranean moves and will be hard to anticipate, but I’m expecting a squeeze on SDLP and UUP votes, whose machines are puny and under-resourced for this ground war game.

The SDLP’s early gamble on work done on Brexit will likely go the same way as it will for the poor old Lib Dems in Britain, a proverbial beaten docket with only SF and the DUP getting any value out of it as a tribal marker.

  • ted hagan

    Is she a historian, a unionist propagandist, or does she simply hate the Republic of Ireland?

  • Jim M

    Yeah, it does. Personally I think that for things like presidential elections or constitutional referendums, one can justify letting people vote who’ve been out of the country a few years (perhaps a decade max). I don’t however think you should be able to vote on who should be MP or MLA for your local area if you haven’t been living in that constituency for more than two years or so. As for the question of Irish citizens from NI voting for the Irish president – well, I’m not an Irish citizen or RoI resident, but it doesn’t seem that big of a deal really.

  • Granni Trixie

    Well I think it would – as it is very likely to turn more ‘.poitical’ than presently.

  • Jim M

    You’re probably right, when I come to think about it…a likely scenario would be SF having a favoured candidate and galvanising all their voters to vote for them. Which would certainly have implications.

  • Lucian Fletcher

    But Tom stated only two days ago that he will not hesitate to vote against a bad Brexit deal. SF can’t do that. http://www.farminglife.com/farming-news/i-will-have-a-say-on-final-brexit-deal-elliott-1-7996203

  • Lucian Fletcher

    The UUP as a party was broadly against Brexit. For the record, I am a UUP-supporting Remoaner. But we lost that referendum and now the only game in town is trying to get a good deal and make the best of a bad job. SF only became pro-EU because the UK was threatening to leave. Do you not remember the Lisbon referenda in the RoI? They are just chancers on this issue. Worse, in regards to your wishes, they will do absolutely nothing to prevent Brexit. It’s just a tool to divide NI and GB to themm

  • whatif1984true

    After umpteen years of SF delivering very very little in education, health and the economy you now really expect them to do so on Brexit? Vote for them is wasted imho.

    Once bitten twice shy comes to mind.

    A vote for your first choice is a real vote and one we should all make.

  • Skibo

    Do you accept the right of GB to take the North out of the EU?

  • Korhomme

    Not to rerun the referendum much, but:

    It was called as a Tory party control measure
    It was advisory
    It didn’t say what leaving the EU meant

    And in NI we voted to Remain.

    The referendum in the Republic was rerun after some changes beneficial to Ireland were made.

  • Korhomme

    Tactical voting is the name of the game in this election.

  • woodkerne

    Which is to say exercise in realpolitik … for now and the future

  • woodkerne

    And that from Ruth Dudley Edwards, known principally as an anti-republican historian/commentator! At some point in the near ro medium future, Sinn Fein are going to have to develop their position on the abstentionist shibboleth. The caliber and reach of the north Belfast candidate counts for nothing if republicanism cannot/will push on to broaden their appeal in building a pan-nationalist coalition, ending the schism in nationalism in the north, and in gathering momentum towards the project of reunification within Europe and the EU.

  • woodkerne

    ‘Terrorism’ is such a lazy term which by this time is used principally by exponents of the ‘war on terror’ as a decontextualising means of evacuating the concrete particulars of history and circumstance in which political violence arises. To compare or equate ISIS with the IRA (if that’s your point) on the spurious grounds that all ‘terrorism’ is the same may satisfy an ideological need to refuse engagement with and deny legitimacy to Irish republicanism in its contemporary form, but it isn’t serious analysis and doesn’t contribute much to an understanding of the specificity of the political traditions of ‘physical force’ in Irish politics or add anything to comprehending the postmodern horror of jihadist barbarism. As Corbyn pointed out, against strident denunciation by ‘war on terror’-industry experts, the actions metropolitan state’s do have consequences over time. (And on this score, orchestrated hysteria notwithstanding, the current Foreign Secretary and the relevant parliamentary inquiry concurred.) As a root cause, it may be worth noting, in ways specific to each example, these two otherwise dissimilar instances share in common. Otherwise, the particulars differ from each other in fundamental ways. More importantly, in context of the present exchange, it seems to me, what is the point in comparing them (that’s a rhetorical question, btw, as I’ve suggested above the true motivation lies in seeking delegitimise by assocation), as only one of them is a continuing problem in the world.

  • whatif1984true

    IMHO it is a wasted vote which will achieve nothing except confirm to SF that they are the TRUE rulers.

    its about time that the Emperors realised that they have no clothes.

  • Granni Trixie

    Meanings are socially constructed. Terrorism is normally understood to mean violence used to kill and intImidate and spreads distrust. Ring any bells?

  • Skibo

    All wars use violence to kill and intimidate and spread mistrust. Why is terrorism any different to any other type of war? Are they not all to be abhorred?

  • Korhomme

    It’s certainly the case that SF are using Brexit to advance a united Ireland.

    The Republic has average after tax pay abut 50% higher than NI; even with the cost of living there, this sounds good. (I was at Dublin airport the other day; in the ‘short term’ parking, all I saw were rows of large, shiny, new BMWs and Mercs, with some Audis and Range Rovers.)

    The EU has, according to the Financial Times about 750 agreements or ‘deals’ with 168 countries. If there is no UK deal, and many in Europe think that negotiations will quickly collapse, is it realistic to expect that all these ‘deals’ will continue with the UK? It’s not just trade, it’s all areas of common or bilateral interest. Look at the veggies in the supermarkets; many come from abroad. Will the trade deals still allow their importation if there is a no-deal-Brexit? And will there still be aviation agreements?

    Perhaps this is the worst scenario; but no provisional arrangements have been made in the event that it happens.

    So, even if SF are using this election for their own purposes, at least they recognise the harm that no-deal-Brexit will do to N Ireland.

  • woodkerne

    Meanings are socially constructed for sure and for this reason subject to the authority of prevailing wisdom in public discourse and political society. While I can agree that on a personal level, for the victims and survivors of political violence, the sense of dimay, loss and grief felt by any one individual–in–history is of course comparable in all circumstances, and that there is no hierarchy of personal suffering or emotional distress in the post-traumatic aftermath of conflict, at the same time, if one’s aim is to understand causes and consequences in order to propose or support the right antidote, it’d be quite wrong to concur in any exercise that would level-out very real differences in the magnitude and scale of destruction experienced on the part of those on the receiving end of campaigns of terror (whether conducted by ethnicist militia in conditions of civil or internecine warfare, or perpetrated by state actors or their proxies in persuance of geopolitical objectives), notably where the balance in forces between combatants and the correponding impact on the civil population under attack is asymmetrical. Which is to say, to give only a couple or three examples, the experience on the ground of siege and bombardment in Gaza or southern Sudan by regional powers such as Israel or Saudi Arabia or at the hands of foreign-funded militia in Syria, are simply not comparable to the conditions of chronic civil disturbance and unrest endured in any part of NI during the recent 30-year period of our Troubles (1969–99). MOreover, reprisals and offensive actions by Al Qaeda or Daesh against civilians in Madrid, Paris, Brussels, Manchester and London are quite distinctive also in their motivation and modality and different from the military actions characteristic of the IRA’s campaign of physical force. As they see it, Daesh are fighting a holy war of civilizations, a sectarian crusade to the death against the infidels (including shia muslims) and values of modernity, pluralism and mutualism – and notably in abhorrence against what they regard as the affront women and girls not prepared to submit to the primeval demands of their male-ordered fantasy.