Election Notebook (Nick Robinson) – a humble & honest recollection of #ge2015 – and a reminder that NI politics don’t matter at a UK national level

Nick Robinson’s premise was to document the twelve month run up to the May 2015’s General Election. Between the Scottish independence referendum, UKIP’s rise and wobbles, and early polling that couldn’t predict the next government at Westminster, it was sure to be volatile period on which to report. The diary format of Election Notebook: The Inside Story Of The Battle Over Britain’s Future And My Personal Battle To Report It reveals that the BBC’s political editor inhabits an ever-revolving hamster …

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It wasn’t quite Twitter wot won it – social media and the General Election

In the end, it was hardly a case of “as Twitter goes, so goes the nation”. If the election had been decided by the number of followers each candidate had before the election, Ed Miliband would have been elected Prime Minister, albeit needing the help of the Liberal Democrats and, um, the Pirate Party. The FT Data blog (£) has some fascinating charts showing how the conversation on Twitter was dominated by supporters of Labour and the SNP. It is apparent …

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SNP revolution means it’s now make or break time for the union

By Ben Wray, a journalist with CommonSpace, which is an online Scottish news, analysis and opinion website. They used to say if you pinned a red rosette to a monkey in Glasgow people would vote for it, such was the overwhelming dominance of the Labour party in Scotland’s biggest city. Labour is not just a political party in Scotland – it has been symbolic of Scotland’s political culture for decades, a way for people of identifying who they are, spanning generations of …

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Seamus Mallon and Brid Rodgers call on Alasdair McDonnell to step down

John Manley has a great scoop in today’s Irish News with comments from the former Deputy First Minister, Seamus Mallon on the leadership of Alasdair McDonnell.  It is no secret that some party members are unhappy with McDonnell but now one of the big beasts of the party has came out to call on him to go. Speaking to Manley he said that McDonnell should resign “as soon as possible” adding that if he acted decisively it would be good …

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Battle for South Belfast: Tough old bull triumphs, the young ‘pretender’ falls

Saving my usual series of where the parties stand analysis for next week, for now I want to do a short series of head dumps on the election. First, that tough (and very dirty) battle for South Belfast. There was a number of factors in this seat that made it hard to predict. When the DUP selected Junior Minister Jonathan Bell I thought it was a good choice. I still do. His problem in getting ahead of Alasdair McDonnell was …

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All the right votes in all the right places – how the Tory electoral strategy triumphed

The General Election of 2015 has been the worst for opinion pollsters since their calamitous evening in 1992. Whilst almost all pollsters and commentators had expected a hung parliament, with weeks of constitutional crisis, deadlock, and possible three party coalitions, in the event the Conservative Party won an absolute majority. As was widely predicted, Labour were all but wiped from the electoral map in Scotland. But this eventuality had already been baked in to the forecasts; the real shock was …

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GE2015: The Autopsy

When there’s something puzzling or suspicious or unnatural about a death, there’s an autopsy. Sometimes it’s obvious what happened, sometimes it takes time and tests to discover the truth; just very occasionally it’s not possible to determine with certainty the sequence of events. Before 10 pm on Thursday night, we were all wrong; and immediately afterwards, only John Curtice was right. He was so very right that Paddy Ashdown said he’d eat his hat, and Alastair Campbell said he’d eat …

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“As Returning Officer for the Constituency of Tax Disc Holders…”

Well, who bought the most political car screen tax holder discs over the election? Who was least afraid to show their political affections in public?  That would be…   We suspect Sinn Fein’s strong showing is the revised version which came post Slugger’s intervention [on their behalf]… Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the …

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Now Westminster is settled, here’s all the other unsettling business NI politicians need to get back to

It’s back to work on Monday for our local politicians. There’ll be no commission on the union (though David Cameron should now outright reject the idea), no extra £1 billion of cash, and no immediate possibility of bargaining for the 45 ideas in the DUP’s plan. Though over the next parliamentary term there are sure to be plenty of tight votes in which The Northern Ireland Plan can come out of Nigel Dodds’ back pocket and be used as bargaining …

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Reflecting on the numbers behind NI’s General Election results #ge2015ni (updated with individual party analysis)

For some the 2015 Westminster campaign in Northern Ireland was a vision of normalisation, with non-sectarian issues such as homophobia, women’s reproductive rights and austerity at the heart of many political argument. Yet the old us-versus-them crept in late in the day with the use of religious affiliation census data to encourage voters, and anonymous letters being posted. The traditional intra-unionism and intra-nationalism skirmishes were weakened by the four-seat unionist pact and the near complete absence of Alasdair McDonnell from …

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Clegg Out – The writing was on the wall … back in 2011!

Photo taken in Short Strand, 12 July 2011. Alan Meban (Alan in Belfast)Alan Meban. Tweets as @alaninbelfast. Blogs about cinema and theatre over at Alan in Belfast. A freelancer who writes about and reports from civic, academic and political events, reviews cultural performances, chairs discussions, and live-tweets, streams and records lectures and conferences. He delivers social media training, coaching and consultancy, produces podcasts, is a member of Ofcom’s Advisory Committee for Northern Ireland, FactCheckNI board member, and is a member …

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Who Should I Vote For App’s – Accurate?

I’ve noticed in this General Election more than any other that there is an abundance of tools online to help the electorate align themselves with a party that matches closer to their values than another. Does it work though? Take a look at where I ended up across different guides. And don’t judge me…   Who Should You Vote For The questions weren’t exactly in-depth, each policy area was skimmed across rather than actually getting down to the nitty gritty …

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SNP take on survivors from a shrinking Scottish centre left…

Great piece by Jim McCormick on Stratagems website which includes what has to be the quote of the campaign… Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy’s campaign: professional and energetic, but “like a really good swimmer trying to escape a tsunami”. It’s brilliantly accurate, and it may also point to the possibility that his sheer political athleticism may just get him through. It will be an unmitigated disaster if he doesn’t. But he goes on… The SNP’s ability to reach way beyond …

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Tribal, sectarian, personal and nasty scraps amongst political ‘friends’…

For those looking for my take on the 18 by elections taking place in Northern Ireland on Thursday it’s in today’s Irish Independent…  Almost everyone is trying to unseat parties with whom they already share power in the Northern Ireland Executive. In summary, I don’t think FST will be the story this year. However many friends he has who are nationalist, Tom Elliott won’t have many nationalist friends actually vote for him. The scum comments and his refusal to do what the DUP would do and …

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If #GE2015 was decided by Twitter – the candidates with the most followers in each constituency

Politicians’ attitudes towards social media have evolved significantly since David Cameron’s famously disparaging comments about Twitter in 2009. Social media is now widely accepted as one of the key theatres of the electoral battle, and is widely being used by politicians and aspiring candidates to build a relationship with potential voters and boost their profile. The excellent dataset created by yournextmp.com shows how different social media platforms are being used by those seeking election to the House of Commons.  Of …

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The Unique Democracy of the DUP Part 1…

In the advent of the Jim Wells debacle at the South Down hustings I found myself in an unfamiliar situation, I, as a liberal pro-union voter, had front row seats to a DUP disaster movie that I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch but yet couldn’t look away from. I’m on record stating how comfortable I am with voting Sinn Féin, I probably sit very close to Alliance-but-not-quite-entirely-there but ultimately, if I had my way..my dream scenario, there would be …

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In North Belfast forget politics just remember you’re a Catholic…

I guess this is Sinn Fein calling a spade a spade, but in the party’s vision of an Ireland of Equals it seems that Protestants need not  apply…   It’s not that it’s wrong. The toxic nature of north Belfast means that Catholics and Protestants do generally split this way. And FPTP offers an opportunity just to further squeeze SDLP hold outs and a small but growing number of Catholic Alliance voters in North Belfast. But from the only party to have been found …

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Could the SNP and Tories trigger a UK shift to the nationalist right?

This is interesting. I’ve made the point on the SluggerReport that even reliable national polling will be mediated by ground war efforts by various parties. However FPTP may allow the SNP to take almost all the spoils in Scotland: The latest and final Ipsos MORI poll for STV News puts support for Nicola Sturgeon’s party at 54%, up by two percentage points on the last poll, with Labour trailing on 20%, down from 24%. Support for the Conservatives has increased …

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Why the DUP is genuinely open for political business with an incoming Labour administration

Good piece from Graham Walker which if anything works a little too hard to match the DUP with a future incoming Labour government, it is nevertheless is a useful corrective to the prevailing assumption (in Britain if not NI) that their natural fit is with the Tories. In particular he notes: …social class does matter politically in Northern Ireland, contrary to what many outsiders are led to believe. The DUP draws much of its support from less well-off protestants and …

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