Anyone for a game of Fantasy Cabinet?

House of COmmons logo

You’ve got an hour or two – maybe even until Wednesday morning – to suggest in the comments below who you think will be appointed to the Cabinet. Remember you’ve MPs from two parties to choose from? Who will be Chancellor? Foreign Secretary? Northern Ireland Secretary? … Confirmed … Chancellor – George Osborne Foreign Secretary – William Hague Defence Secretary – Liam Fox Deputy PM – Nick Clegg (Lib Dem) Health Secretary – Andrew Lansley … Northern Ireland Secretary – …

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SDLP performance between May 2005 and May 2010

SDLP percentage point changes between 2005 and 2010

The SDLP successfully held onto their three Westminster seats, and passed the baton between Eddie McGrady and Margaret Ritchie without a fumble. However, how healthy is their share of the vote across the 18 constituencies? They lost their deposits in two seats – North Down and Belfast East – and other than two of the seats they won, they only made gains in share in three others. The graph below shows the percentage point difference in their share between May …

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East Belfast at the next General Election?

Naomi Long - Lord Mayor

There are a lot of issues external to the Alliance party and Naomi Long that will impact the next result. How many people used their vote as a protest? Will the TUV implode? Will UCUNF collapse? Will Peter Robinson stand again? Unionist unity candidate? Or will the East Belfast electorate will decide to give their new MP a second chance?

Basil McCrea talking about results, strategy, leaders & therapy

Basil McCrea

I caught up with Basil McCrea this morning and he talked about UCUNF’s results, Lagan Valley, the UUP’s strategy going forward, choosing a new leader (to fit the strategy) and something about getting a therapist! By the way – the breakfast liveblog post has been updated with voxpops with Dawn Purvis (talking about Naomi Long’s success in East Belfast) and Conall McDevitt (talking about the SDLP results and need for engagement by civil society). Alan Meban (Alan in Belfast)Alan Meban. …

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Slugger Stratagem Election Breakfast – what they’re talking about this morning

David Ford watching Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg speaking on BBC News election programme

This morning, Stratagem and Slugger hosted a post-election breakfast in Belfast’s Europa Hotel. I’ve tidied up the proceedings and added a couple of brief voxpops with contributors. Passages in “direct quotes” are cleaned up verbatim comments, the rest captures the gist of their points. 0825 Mick Fealty kicks off and welcomes people. 0828 Brendan McMenamin (Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013) – “New [political] stories are emerging this morning” … and that’s the story of the City of Culture bid …

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Long-shot success, Gambling leaders at a loss, Hanging chads in FST

It was a night of success for Alliance in East Belfast. Peter Robinson and Reg Empey were united in defeat; and after recounting was suspended before 5am this morning. New party leader discussions could be heard at counting stations last night as the news sunk into DUP and UCUNF camps. Fermanagh & South Tyrone has come down to the interpretation of whether doubtful votes should be counted or rejected. Sinn Fein are seeking legal advice this morning. The SDLP held …

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New “united” Spratt posters appear in South Belfast

They've united, so have we! Vote Spratt - DUP election poster featuring pictures of SF's Alex Maskey and SDLP's Alasdair McDonnell

They’ve united – so have we! The meaning and context of the word “united” is probably open to interpretation (and misinterpretation) in these Spratt/DUP posters spotted tonight around Donegall Pass, near the old School of Music building. The sharp-eyed may spot the election mark to the right of McDonnell’s image – so it’s an official DUP poster and not a piece of rogue campaigning.(Thanks to @kateyo for the tip off.) Update – Or did they have these printed just in …

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What to expect at the count (AH AH AH AH AH!)

Ian Paisley Junior and others hunkered down on the ground tallying votes being validated face down at the 2009 European Election

What should you expect to see at the count on Thursday night if you’re turning up as a party worker, a journalist, an election observer or a member of the public lucky enough to find a count centre allowing you in? What follows is my understanding of what will happen. (EONI’s Guide for Candidates is a good source of information.) The first ballot boxes will arrive at the count centres from nearby polling stations shortly after ten o’clock. As soon …

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Posters, walkthroughs, boundary changes, Facebook – reflections in Lagan Valley

In the last of these three posts looking at the campaign in Lagan Valley, I’ll broaden it out from just canvassing to look at a few other things I’ve picked up along the way. Posters seem to be a necessary evil. The unanimous verdict across the five parties I talked to in Lagan Valley is that as long as one party puts them up, the others will be forced to follow. While a local agreement was put in place to …

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Fears over the end of the overnight count allayed

At the end of last summer, the media was buzzing with fears that right at the moment that Northern Ireland was re-embracing overnight counts, many English local authorities were threatening to pull out of nocturnal calculations at the General Election. As you’d expect, a Facebook group was formed, and electoral officers (described by Tory MP Peter Bone as “tin-pot, upstart little town clerks”) across the UK were surveyed to find out their plans. By January 2010, BBC Newsnight’s Michael Crick …

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So what happens on the doorstep?

UCUNF's Daphne Trimble and canvassing team consulting the street map before setting off around the doors

All the candidates (and canvassers) have a fixed patter that they repeat ad nausea on every doorstep. Rosettes and ties are out with the UCUNF team in Lagan Valley, but in with DUP and TUV. A sitting MP has an advantage – and knows it. No one tells unionists canvassers that they vote nationalist or Alliance. All that and many more reflections from watching the parties canvass in Lagan Valley.

Canvassing for beginners

Bring pens, maps, water and a coat. Wear comfortable shoes. Don’t forget to eat. Keep track of the bookies’ odds. Develop a sixth sense for whether a house is empty or occupied. It’s all good advice for candidates canvassing around the doors of their prospective constituency. During last year’s Euro election I blogged about the process of checking postal ballots, polling day, the main verification of votes, and the eventual counting of the ballot papers. This year I’ve gone a …

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Are hustings a thing of the past?

logo for CARE's Make The Cross Count initiative

Am I the only person who has been disappointed by the lack of hustings in local constituencies? Reading election literature doesn’t give you a complete picture about candidates, and how they engage with difficult issues – and difficult people – could be crucial to how you’d vote. (OK, other factors like how you’ve always voted, and how your parents voted might also be crucial in NI too.) Under the banner of their Make The Cross Count initiative, the organisation CARE …

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Making Political Films About the North: Then and Now

Here’s something with a bit of politics for the film buffs reading Slugger. As part of Belfast Film Festival and in conjunction with Index on Censorship there’s a free session on Thursday 29th at 2pm in the QFT looking at Making Political Films About the North: Then and Now. The troubles in the North of Ireland have long been the subject of film-makers. This film-making landscape has changed over the years, as has the political landscape. Self Censorship and direct …

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You can take tablets to get rid of worms

Spoof worm trail graph showing the author's dissatisfaction with broadcaster’s worm trail analysis, laid over screen grab over Sky News

The phrase “every word scrutinised” and the sight of worm trails stretching out across the TV screen make me shiver. The West Wing boxset, a politics educational series that should have been co-produced by the Open University, long ago taught us the techniques of US pollsters. But just because political parties can afford to wire subjects up to boxes and force them to record their second by second reactions to the witterings of three party leaders doesn’t mean to say …

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