And what in the early light of dawn does this mean for Northern Ireland? [1]

Hard to know where to start (though that could be the sleep deprivation). First is, don’t get too over invested in your own story. SF’s March advance sustained itself to the point of gutting their own nationalist rivals, but it also inspired the DUP’s rather powerful fightback.

The increased totals in places like Lagan Valley not only took Jeffrey Donaldson back to the popularity of his UUP days when he took over from Jim Molyneaux in 2001, but in about six Assembly constituencies it offers the DUP an expressway to putting back the seat advantage they lost in March they lost to SF.

However this is spun, SF’s clear advantages coming out of this election, only accrue to it as a party, and not northern nationalism or Irish Republicanism as a whole.  No unionist was converted to the cause in this election, and indeed some of the more blatant and nasty aspects have strengthened Unionism.

Calling Bangor a ‘shithole’ at the sight of kids in Orange collarettes was one example. Rounding on a candidate’s father for his paramilitary background in a TV debate was another. Sinn Fein politicians (and some of the media) have gotten too used to turning a blind eye to this sort of casual abuse.

The cumulative effect on voters and ordinary members of the public is to traduce the nobility and attractiveness of its cause, and it puts serious limits on progress towards their stated ambition of a united Ireland, exposing the party’s tactical rather than strategic focus.

Killing the SDLP’s representation at Westminster may leave it in an invidious position of facilitating a Tory-DUP coalition. Who  saw that coming? Well, I did mention on Wednesday on the Last Word on Today FM as a wild but credible scenario. One that SF seems not to have prepared for.

Two, a referendum is a loaded gun, and you can easily shoot your own toes off with one. There were two victims last night, not one. Nicola Sturgeon had a forceable end put to talk of a second indyref, when she suffered unforeseen losses. And Mrs May who over played her hand.

Luckily for Mr Adams, he won’t be allowed get that far. Having made the election a referendum on a referendum, he loses that bet. But Sinn Fein and wider nationalism should review carefully the sorry pass calling for a poll and losing it has meant for the Tories and the SNP.

May’s public incoherence on the matter (whatever about her private preparations) in part comes because her party is terminally split over how to handle the whole process. That’s in part because she treated a narrow win as a carte blanche to pander to a small ideologic extreme.

Most people who voted leave did not need or want the Farage version. But a sudden poll taken out of sequence and out of an incredibly abstract but ideologically driven idea becomes incredible toxic to those who call it or cause it to happen.

That’s before you consider the fact there’s not a government now. There will be much to ponder over the next few days both at the national and the local NI level. No government, no negotiations at Stormont I would guess.

And that in itself is the third matter here. Having strengthened the DUP’s hand viz a viz the Assembly, what has SF to trade to get back into Stormont?  I asked that question before Christmas when they walked out in the first place, and the answer now is even more difficult to contemplate or fathom.

 

  • Skibo

    It is wildly known that the further you cast your net, the more you drag the bottom of the bed and disturb all kinds of unwanted material. Not sure they will be able to keep their camp all in check. As for the UUP, the wider the church, the more the talking at the back.

  • woodkerne

    Indeed it would. (See my earlier post on subject.) In order to realise their destiny (as they see it) Sinn Fein absolutely must hegemonize a pan-class electoral coalition. To do so, will require the trust of the catholic section of the professional middle class. As the norh Belfast result shows, Irish republicanism’s continuing attachment to fundamentalist tenets of their physical force past is a no-no for the majority of middle class catholics who’re otherwise ready to transfer electoral allegiance to Sinn Fein. Sinn Fein’s challenge in the next phase on the rising road to reunification, is realpolitik versus the shibboleths of republican mythology.

  • The worm!

    You missed “whatabout” in there!

  • Skibo

    Sandy Row is Unionist. Belfast is not. The next council elections will point the direction of the city.

  • The worm!

    Good post, pretty much nail on the head!

  • Zorin001

    You made me 20 quid TE so hats off

  • Jag

    Have the unruly taigy students not colonised Sandy Row yet?

  • nilehenri

    you misunderstand me, i’m loving the result. stand by for major unionist butthurt in 5,4,3…

  • Skibo

    How can this be a tactical error for SF. They did not call this election. This should have happened in 2019 after the 2018 constituency changes.

  • Jag

    By the by, TE, I can’t believe you were less than 8,000 off with your estimate of 300k for the DUP. Yes, you later said it included the FST UUP vote, but no-one on here believed you. I even took a screen-shot! But, you were spot on. How prescient of you, well done!

  • The Living End

    Sounds great, but how many votes would it cost to buy to the allegiance of middle class catholics?

  • Skibo

    That’s odd. I make it 47-42 with the rest undecided. That is before anything is explained about what a New Ireland will look like.

  • The Living End

    I was giving examples of triumphalist behaviour, do you have any examples of SF triumphalist behaviour after the last election?

  • Skibo

    Is he going to work for her now. Receiving instead of giving!

  • woodkerne

    It is votes that they have to gain in exchange.

  • woodkerne

    It is votes of that SF have to gain in exchange.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Nope. The Labour gains were entirely because of the Corbyn effect. Kezia Dugdale is widely seen as completely out of her depth, as was shown in the local elections. As for the tories, their gains were mostly in farming or fishing areas, and as I said once Brexit kicks (and I mean ‘kicks’) in they will see which side their bread is buttered on.

  • woodkerne

    hubristic too …

  • woodkerne

    River in Egypt, friend. Scottish nationalism had a bad night, a presage of the beginning of the end of their period of dominance in Scottish politics, in the Yookay …

  • The Living End

    I just don’t see it adding up, as we agreed they would have to gain something huge – and I don’t see middle class catholic votes as being huge enough to cover the massive volte-face

  • hollandia

    That said, Labour used to dominate Scotland too. These things are cyclical, and will depend on the outcome of brexit, and for tory voters in particular, how happy they are to have gotten into bed with the DUP.

  • woodkerne

    The prize is their ultimatum … a unified nationalist bloc in the north is a prerequisite to reunification.

  • JOHN TURLEY

    Mick is talking about S.F. have nothing to trade to get back into Srtormont.besides S.F. is in a much stronger
    position than at Christmas. saying Adams has lost the bet on a referendum is just silly.What could be the
    most silly move yet could be how fast the D.U.P jumped into bed with Mrs May.regarded around the world
    today after making the most stupid judgement call ever..She had a majority,now she has not.She has failed,
    How can the Tory party send her anywhere to negotiate.The D.U.P. will become a laughing stock within weeks for propping her up.

  • The Living End

    But again you are assuming no losses in their vote as a result of dropping abstentionism. Swapping one section of the electorate for another doesn’t make sense

  • woodkerne

    Getting into bed with the DUP, that’s a truly horrifying anaology. Labour lost/abandoned their Scottish heartlands by a) refusing to distance the party from the neoliberal nostrums of the BlairBrown era and b) by joining with the Tories in a unionist alliance against Indy1. Both those errors addressed, Corbyn-Labour clearly has strong affinities with Scotland’s anti-tory progressive base. There is every reason to suspect, therefore, a resurgence in the urban cities of the central belt.

  • woodkerne

    You’re quite right, I am. As the movement and its electoral base acccepted the abandonment of physical force and nonparticipation in Irish assemblies.

  • Vote for the Union! Vote for anger and misery!

  • The Living End

    I get you, but I think you’re about (at least) 20 years ahead of your time

  • JOHN TURLEY

    The S.D.L.P were entitled to make their own decision.even if it was to spite their own nose.
    However,looking at the 3 rejected candidates especially Margaret Ritchie at the count. they
    certainly looked shell shocked.

  • lizmcneill

    Student quarters going up in Shaftsbury Square have the windows in now. Stone’s throw from Sandy Row.

  • lizmcneill

    What’s the chances the changes happen now?

  • Skibo

    I think Richie would have been wiser to offer the chance to a younger person and step down.

  • Skibo

    All up in the air now. can see DUP using this as leverage but the Tories want austerity for the country but none for Westminster. They could push it through and blame an outside body, much the same way they explain rises in wages for MPs.

  • james

    The strategic error from SF has been that of cannibalizing the moderate SDLP. The moderates in nationalism cannot vote for a party of fundamental extremists like Sinn Fein, but SF have also turned them off SDLP. The Shinners took more votes, but because of SF nationalism in general lost ground.

    Thus the SF tactic has profitted Sinn Fein – but harmed nationalists generally. This will not be recognised as a defeat by the faithful, precisely because SF do not care about nationalists generally – just the ones who ‘votail Sinn Fein’.

    It was ever thus.

  • woodkerne

    The full-constitutionlaization of Sinn Fein (aka in realisation of committing to gradualist road, since 1982) is surely a prerequisite for the unification of the island coinciding with a final settling of the original basis of the civil war (which, you’ll remember, was ignited by differences over a form of words). In order to fulfil their historic ‘provisional’ role in an agreed modern Ireland, Sinn Fein cannot succeed as a wee-bit , slighty or a nearly-constitutional party.

  • Karl

    Nationalist candidates received approx 75,000 votes and unionist candidates received 67,000 votes in Belfast.

  • mickfealty

    I don’t have a strong sense of who he is, but he’s clearly canny.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Jag since March I have seen what was going on in them loyalist districts and areas and how they were mobilizing a unionist backlash vote the problem sometimes with keyboard warriors is that they live in a little cocooned world and don’t see reality what is happening around them !

  • nilehenri

    this seat is mom’s. and john will take the north.

  • nilehenri

    by just over two thousand votes. now we know the lie of the land for the next election.

  • JOHN TURLEY

    She was very confident,even to the point of arrogance.

  • The Living End

    ah now there was more to the civil war than the oath, and (IMO) reunification does not depend on SF. In fact if it were to depend on SF it would be less likely to happen.

    A more likely scenario would be Fianna Fail (possibly followed by Fine Gael) running in NI and hoovering up the middle-class catholic vote – and neither of those parties will be running for Westminster. From an all-island political point of view SF are already fully constitutionalized and Westminster elections are almost a distraction.

    As someone said on the this site recently, it’s no longer about the number of seats, but the total number of votes. When there is a clear ‘green’ majority, there will be a border poll.

    If SF plan to survive reunification, and go into full battle with FF/FG et al., then taking their seats in Westminster is a no-go

  • JOHN TURLEY

    Will be interesting to see how the Tory backbenchers and their media friends grow to apprecite the help of
    the D.U.P. Today i heard Kay Burley ask some chap,are you surprised that Mrs May did a deal with an
    organization like the D.U.P.

  • Skibo

    That is not strictly true. The increased turn-out has been majority on the Unionist side and the overall Nationalist vote has gone up by around 5%. It is still in around 42% as opposed to the 47% of combined Unionism.
    SDLP has only dropped around 500 votes from the assembly election. What has happened is Unionism has not come to the rescue of the SDLP this time rather than the SF gutting anyone.
    Are you suggesting that SF should only be targeting Republican votes? If that is the case, why is the DUP courting the Loyalist command? and gutting the UUP?

  • Skibo

    How can you look past Corbyn. The growth in Labour this time is totally down to him. Had the PLP backed him from the start, he would not have lost the first 5 weeks trying to convince both the electorate and particularly the papers and the TV that he was leader material.
    The front pages of a number of papers on election day and the day before were totally over the top. So much for an embargo on electioneering.

  • Skibo

    TEL do you expect this to be a tit for tat constant increase till we hit the high nineties?

  • Paddy Reilly

    One thing that should be observed closely is the quite amazing turnout achieved by the DUP.

    There are, I calculate, currently 863,921 Protestants in Northern Ireland. Some of them must vote Alliance and Green.

    So when the DUP gets a vote of 292,316, while the UUP still had 83,280, this must mean that something close to the entire adult population of Protestants turned out to vote. Presumably some Protestants must be children.

    It looks like SF missed a trick here: any increase in their vote seems to come entirely from wiping out People Before Profit. But it probably is not worth their while expending that much effort for an election in an overseas parliament which they do not intend to frequent.

  • Trasna

    Will Nigel hold his seat next time out?

  • woodkerne

    Jeremy Corbyn is already 68 years of age. If the democratization project is to stick, they need to be thinking of succession planning.

  • woodkerne

    And smart, and he’s had a real job and he’s on the left, and served in Blair years, so a figure of continuity/succession, when the time comes.

  • Trasna

    How well do you think SF sitting in Westminister would be received in the Rep?

  • woodkerne

    Can’t see the latter happening. If a post-civil war centrury Ireland is to finally emerge, it’ll naturally tend to transform the whole political landscape, north and south, notably as hitherto shaped by the fratracidal legacy of pro- and anti-treaty differences and similariites.

  • woodkerne

    The whole point is combine the two, by constructing a pan-class coalition of the kind that’ll quicken the course of events. It has to be both/and. Either/or permits partitionist interests to continue to obstruct capitalise on intra-nationalist divisions.

  • The Living End

    If youre at a party what the hell are you doing on slugger? Seriously

  • The Living End

    I dont see any evidence that SF taking seats in westminster would create a ‘pan-class coalition ‘, neither do I see any evidence for your assertion of SFs “historic objective of constructing a pan-class catholic electoral bloc.”

    Could you provide some source for this ‘pan-class’ coalition? Or is this your interpretation?

  • The Living End

    Ask young voters in the Republic about the current effects of the civil war on Irish politics . Bar some wags who’ve just seen the michael collins movie, you’ll mostly be answered by raised eyebrows

  • woodkerne

    What, you mean ignorance? All the more reason not to held hostage by atavistic shibboleths.

  • woodkerne

    I can’t see how FF would gain traction in the north. SF are the Republican Party after all … A convergence or FF/SF coalition in the Dail isn’t beyond the bounds of possibility. Though clearly, on that score, FF have their own ghosts and shibboleths to settle.

  • woodkerne

    It’d represent a rubicon of sorts and terrify the bejesus out of the civil war parties.

  • woodkerne

    Pretty much all modern political parties in the capiatalist democracies rely on electoral coalitions corresponding to material interests in economy and society. The Labour party, for example, was established to represent the interests of organised labour in parliament and manufacturing working class. Its leaders have traditionally been drawn from the liberal intelleigentsia or professional class and an important bloc of of votes, correspondingly, is drawn from public sector professionals, the arts, education, and the health professionals. Labour historically does well in the celtic regions of the UK and the big cities. The party has in this way always relied on a pan-class coalition reflecting the interests and outlooks of its members and supporters.

  • BERZERKERMG

    I don’t really buy this nationalist bloc thing. Maximising the number of seats is not important for natonalists in either Westminster or the Assembly. Ending up with 1 or 2 extra seats in Westminster is meaningless, they will never hold power there. There is no way nationalists could prop up a Westminster government the way the DUP have done because even being in a position to win concessions from Westminster through a confidence-and-supply arrangement would serve to show the benefits of union and be counterproductive to the aim of separation. Under the GFA both nationalist and unionist sides are guaranteed a roughly equal share of power so crowing over a couple of extra seats here and there in the Assembly is pointless. Organising a pan-nationalist electoral bloc is a lot of work for no real gain whatsoever. A border poll will be fought on crude numbers and when that happens SF, SDLP and others can come together to campaign.

  • The Living End

    Seriously? The ‘civil war parties’ (have you just finished an Irish history major?) would love it. They would jump all over SF. Look at what Micheal Martin is saying about SFs abstentionism today

  • BERZERKERMG

    The difference is that the Labour Party in Britain does not, nor could it ever, monopolise all of the working class or all of the intelligentsia. It appeals to only a section of those classes. A pan-class bloc in nationalism would need to monopolise all the nationalist working class and all the intelligentisa/professional classes to be viable. It’s not possible to achieve. Labour parties the world over are united by strongly held ideological beliefs which make them appealing to a variety of people. Nationalism is in comparison superficial. When socialist parties achieve power, they don’t disintegrate immediately. if a UI was ever achieved, any pan-class nationalist bloc in the north would disintegrate immediately upon victory. It is a single-issue campaign. There is nothing that unites nationalists apart from getting rid of the border and they have no strategy beyond that.

  • The Living End

    Ok great, anything from Sinn Fein? (Politics and history major?)

  • The Living End

    What? No, really. What?

  • The Living End

    https://www.fiannafail.ie

    Check the slogan, all my life FF have been ‘the Republican Party ‘.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    I think we will only hit 90 in a border poll but has long as SF keep continuing to rise then unionism is going to pull out all the stops to counter it. The taxis in rathcoole were given free fairs to take people to and from the polling stations. I spoke to a couple of DUP activists and they were a bit disappointed with the Dodds vote they believe there is still more unionist votes could come out in NB I stated that I think there is also still more across NI so I don’t think the Unionist vote has peaked yet I think if needed at a border poll there is more in the tank yet

  • 05OCT68

    Newsnight, Question Time, C4 News are lining up to out them. Look at the hard time Tim Farron got over his personal religious believe about homosexuality. The DUP are about to be exposed & great British public will, I suspect be appalled. Then we have RHI, the Berxit funding, creationism, climate change, curry in me yogurt, gay blood, gay cake, stuff they got away with in the backwater that is NI is now suddenly centre stage. I can’t wait to see Sammy joke his way out of this.

  • the Moor

    It’s the monstrous other … the post-imperial cringe

  • the Moor

    Good value for satirists the length of the land as well … What would Spitting Image do with this extraordinary ensemble of half-wits and headcases: Nurse Ratched and the cast from Cuckoo’s Nest, as one commentator has observed?

  • woodkerne

    that was my point … ‘the’ Republican Party

  • woodkerne

    Your man’s a Tory

  • woodkerne

    ‘There is nothing that unites nationalists apart from getting rid of the border and they have no strategy beyond that.’ Not quite. Depends on teh concrete particulars. Normally, ethnic nationalisms, as that’s what you appear to be discussing, are founded on an ideology of nationhood – an ‘imagined community of interest’ – imagined, that is, or cohered, around emblems, beliefs, practices (supposedly) in common (thus the abiding importance as criteria for belonging of language, religion, folk customs) as well as a primordial relationship (often mythic) with territory, the land. This land, our land. Not their land because they don’t possess the aforementioned qualifying attributes of language, religion, etc.

    There are too, in history, almost as many instances of civic nationalisms where ‘belonging’ is a matter of demonstrating loyalty to values of (becoming) citizenship. The modern states of France and the USA are founded in civic conceptions of natinal identity. Ethnic conceptions, by contrast operate around in/out qualifying/disqualifying attributes. For ethnic nationalists, a foreigner is always and can only be an alien.

  • woodkerne

    It’s not about achieving influence in the UK parliament. It’s about steps along the political road to reunification. 50% + 1 of catholics over protestants won’t be sufficient unless the economic unionists among SDLP voters are persuaded to the material advantage of antipartitionism.

  • woodkerne

    Historic … ‘game changing’

  • BERZERKERMG

    Even civic nationalism is not comparable to socialism. It’s much more superficial. American-style patriotism can be just as dangerous as fascistic ethno-nationalism.

  • woodkerne

    ‘Even civic nationalism is not comparable to socialism.’ I didn’t say that it was, directly, but nor is it incompatible. Indeed, arguably all modern political parties in the capitalist democracies are framed by allegiance to a nationlaism of one kind or other. The British Labour Party, the Conservative & Unionist Party, for example, are both patriotic defenders of British values. It is fair to say, too, that the Conservative Part in particular is also a vehicle for English nationalism, as too was/is UKIP. The latter conforms very much with the general characteristics of ethnic-nationalism. There aren’t any socialist parties I can think of competing for state power that aren’t already national parties. Communist parties, on the other hand, are premised, in principle, to inter-nationalist principles.

  • woodkerne

    Sammy (on the left). No hold on, it’s Gregory on the right and Sammy righter. To be sure neither is on the left … Other famous double acts, Dumb & Dumber? Dupid & Dupider?

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/18ff255cf8aad15df3925e5deca1d23e8a5acf9c12ae0e7e3b4418f3391001ad.png

  • BERZERKERMG

    Both socialist and capitalist parties can of course be nationalist but a nationalist party must choose to be either socialist or capitalist. It cannot define itself simply by nationalism. Because of this a pan-class nationalist bloc is impossible – it cannot accommodate divergent left and right tendencies. .

  • woodkerne

    A ‘pan-class nationalist bloc is impossible’ you assert. This isn’t true, not even in circumstances of revolutionary upheaval. Neither the African National Congress or the MPLA (freelimo), for example, comply with your reductive characterisation. All socialist parties – bearing that name or another – starting with the German Social Democratic Party, naturally depend upon, even where they don’t seek it, cross-class alliance and affiliation (and I include Worker’s Parties in that distinction) both in membership and electoral base. Lenin was a bourgeois dissident leading a workers’ party.

    Indeed what democratic party would seek to limit its appeal to one class or class fraction only? The Italian Communst Party (of which Gramsci was a member and an elected MP on behalf of when arrested) later pioneered a transition from revolutionary to gradualist politics in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. In doing so, it the PCI prototypically sought to build the broadest possible socioeconomic alliance for it’s ‘eurocommunist’ politics and program, providing a model for others on the left, labour, socilaist and social democratic parties, in Ireland and elsewhere. The PCI program went by the name of ‘the third way’. Forsaking their revolutionary past, the third way acknowledged the need to work with and within capitalism in order to reform it.

  • The Living End

    You’re making no sense man

  • BERZERKERMG

    MPLA and ANC aren’t just nationalist blocs, they are socialist blocs within a national setting. Same with SF, who like the others arose out of a conflict situation. Where there is discrimination based on elements other than class – religion, race, language, etc – it is easier to achieve a pan-class consensus. Other concerns are suppressed until national liberation is achieved. Those conditions don’t exist in the North anymore so there is no need for a monolithic liberation movement based around one party. SF is already a pan-class nationalist bloc, with supporters from all walks of life united only by the single issue of the border, so I don’t see any more scope for it to grow nor any need for every nationalist in the North to be represented by one party. The goal of socialism is to eradicate class so it’s pan-class consensus is provisional. Once socialism is installed the aim is there will be no more class. The same is not true of nationalism so fissures and ideological divides are inevitable. In societies where there is a broad consensus about how the system should operate, e.g. USA, ROI (centre-right), there is still heated competition between parties for power, Democrats-Republicans, FF-FG. Even populist/broad church parties face opposition unless they operate in a totalitarian state. What I meant by “a pan-class nationalist bloc is impossible” is that it is impossible except under certain conditions not met in NI today and it is impossible for it to absorb every single potential nationalist which is what you seem to be suggesting.

  • BERZERKERMG

    MPLA and ANC aren’t just nationalist blocs, they are socialist blocs within a national setting. Same with SF, who like the others arose out of a conflict situation. Liberation movements can achieve pan-class consensus when they are fighting against other forms of discrimination based on race, religion, etc, but once power is achieved they either descend into factionalism or adapt to a left or right ideological model. Name me one pan-class nationalist bloc that isn’t also committed to another ideology, either left or right, or which is able to monopolise the vote completely outside of a one-party totalitarian setting.

    Socialism is able to achieve pan-class consensus because the ultimate goal of socialism is to eradicate class, so the consensus is based on class being provisional. A movement without that understanding would struggle to achieve pan-class consensus to begin with unless it espouses an alternative ideology such as capitalism or ethnonationalism, but in all these systems except ethnonationalism the nationalism is the least important factor.

  • woodkerne

    You’ve contradicted yourself several times during this exchange in order, it seems, to say that you don’t think Sinn Fein need to alter anything at all in their current tactics or strategy towards the long-term objective of a united Ireland. I disagree that the current approach is as effective as it can be, critically in the area of building a hegemonic base of sufficient magnitude and momentum in order to quicken the antipartitionist project.

  • BERZERKERMG

    I have not contradicted myself even once. If you can find evidence I have, please demonstrate it. You seem to be suggesting NI needs an SNP. SF have too much baggage to become that vehicle, nor will they relinquish ground to others, so it won’t happen. Realistically what NI probably needs is a revitalised SDLP or another nationalist party to the right of SF who can campaign together on a UI ticket but remain separate parties.

  • woodkerne

    You said a pan-class nationalist bloc is impossible, then said it already exists! The various contortions performed in your posts seem intended only to disagree, while agreeing with my principal observation about the nature of hegemony. Wrong kind of leaves on the line, I guess! My suspicion is that you object to SF being characterised as gradualist (which they surely have been by degrees since circa 1982), on the eurocommuist model, rather than as truly revolutionary, according to your doctrinaire imagination. I don’t mind either way. Anyhow, as we’ve exhausted the arcane differences of socialist dogma on the matter, for myself I’ve nothing further to add on the exchange at this time. Best wishes.

  • BERZERKERMG

    No, I said a pan-class nationalist bloc is impossible except in specific situations such as in a war-footing. Those conditions do not exist in contemporary NI. My point stands. I don’t object to SF being characterised as gradualist at all, they can be quite pragmatic, but there are limits to what their core support will tolerate and ending abstentionism would be that limit. The SNP had 56 out of 59 Scottish seats and still couldn’t deliver independence and now their decline has started.

  • Paul Mead

    SF’s collapse of the assembly is a spectacular own goal, it allowed the unionist votes to go to the DUP & they are now elevated to backing the Tories giving them support on a ‘confidence & supply motion’, Foster’s requests make no mention of same sex marriages etc, in fact, they want more investment in the North. SF have taken up their abstention option, though still being paid by UK plc, so their bleating about everything being unfair has a hollow ring to it. There is no appetite for an armed struggle, a border poll will not result in a UI, so get use to more of the same politically for another 25 years

  • The Living End

    In other words, post civil-war

  • Skibo

    All bluff and smoke. The SF vote rose while the SDLP fell only by 2.2%. The overall number of voters for SDLP did not fall substantially. They will still be a force in the assembly election to mop up the Nationalist vote who don’t vote for SF but they will rely on transfers from the SF vote.
    The UUP on the other hand have slipped behind the Alliance and will head further down unless they can do something to offer the Unionist electorate an alternative to this “vote DUP to keep SF out”
    That is the real story from this election. The UUP got a free run in FST even though DUP are the strongest party there and still lost. I do not see Tom being given the same free run the next time.
    The Nationalist vote is rising. They are near their largest percentage which was attained due to a lower than expected Unionist vote. This time the Unionist vote has not reached its highest level of 1998 being 5000 short. The Nationalist vote is 17000 past that. The turnout in 1998 was 70%. The turnout this year was 65.4%.
    What else does Unionism do to get the vote out?