Gerry Kelly: “The letter with the figures said it all because it dealt with anti-sectarianism and that’s the way I am…”

Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly is still squirming on the sectarian hook the party hoisted him on during his failed campaign in North Belfast during the UK parliamentary election. [Petard? – Ed]  Pardon you… After his party colleague, Carál Ní Chuilín, MLA, [Good heavens, you’re the Culture Minister?! – Ed], tried, and failed, to blame the Electoral Commission for Sinn Féin’s use of the 2011 census’ breakdown of the constituency by religion, or religion brought up in, to support the party’s claim that Gerry … Read more

The election exposed the faint breath of a desire for change within the sectarian camps.

All true democrats should thrilled to have it confirmed that politics is not dominated by the polls. Real people apparently can think for themselves. Locally LucidTalk’s amazingly hairy exercises with opinion panels fared better  in the prediction stakes than the  UK national pollsters, even though playing percentages  is a whole lot easier than making firm predictions. Small shifts in turnout and opinion made all the difference. Looking at it from across the water, your campaign was generally beyond embarrassment. The … Read more

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

As with the Red Queen so too, it would seem, with Sinn Féin – who published their 2015 Westminster Election Manifesto today. The BBC report notes Deputy leader Martin McGuinness said that he does not believe any of the main parties in Northern Ireland will play a role in the formation of the next government and that any claims to the contrary were “misleading”. Well, Sinn Féin will not play any role.  But other Northern Ireland parties might, depending on … Read more

Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol – Who are they and what do they want?

I met 3 of the Northern Irish parliamentary candidates for the Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol party to discuss their campaign, their goals and ambitions. Barry Brown (West Tyrone), Glenn Donnelly (North Down) & Neil Paine (East Londonderry) are all standing for the single-issue party in the 2015 general election but they admit that they are quite late to the table for this vote, with firm eyes on the 2016 Assembly elections. I asked them all the normal questions that … Read more

NI Conservatives – (not)Sponsored by FlyBe

In the 2010 General Election the Conservatives in NI party allied with the UUP and ran under the “Ulster Conservatives & Unionists – New Force” banner. It wasn’t successful, UUP lost their only sitting MP, no candidates were elected, and despite a couple of candidates coming a respectable second, such as Reg Empey losing by just over 1000 votes to William McCrea…it was a failure. The unionist alliance disbanded afterwards which has brought us to now… The Conservatives in NI … Read more

Defence Spending: an orphan subject at the election – with a mad uncle

Defence after a few days in the spotlight a couple of weeks ago has settled back to being one of the Cinderella subjects in the General Election campaign. It is maybe fairer to call it an orphan rather than a Cinderella subject: orphan because very few serious politicians pay it anything more than lip service during election campaigns. To continue the orphan analogy it does have an odd, mad uncle who is supportive but that often hurts not helps the … Read more

Six Degrees of UKIP – the link between university qualifications and voting intention

According to the analysts at, who have analysed bookmaker’s odds for each seat in the upcoming General Election, there are seventeen constituencies where UKIP have a 25% or greater chance of winning election to the House of Commons. These include the two seats that they are defending; Clacton, and Rochester and Strood. Also on the list are a number of seats in Kent and Essex, including the seat Nigel Farage is targeting of Thanet South, as well as a … Read more

Labour’s Scottish Play – the onward march of the SNP

Election watchers and political anoraks have been spending much of the day absorbing the eagerly-awaited Scottish constituency opinion polls from Lord Ashcroft. The SNP have been polling very strongly in national Westminster opinion polls since the failed independence referendum, and have consistently polled leads over Labour of over 20%. The big question for those trying to make sense of the upcoming election has been “Do these strong national polls for the SNP translate to possible gains in a first past … Read more

How much leverage for Northern Ireland in murky coalition waters at Westminster?

That shrewd observer (pardon the pun) Andrew Rawnsley has been among the few, the very, very few ,to have even noticed Northern Ireland’s little governmental crisis.  Not out of compassionate concern for our people or even out of fear of “a return to violence” but because of what really matters to them– who might form  the next UK government and who – given no one is expecting a majority government – might support it. One option would raise a few … Read more

Brown bows out-what is his legacy?

Former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown has announced today he is stepping down at the next election. He was the leader that steered us through the financial crisis, borrowed and spent money like there was no tomorrow. Yet to most people he was completely unsuited for the job of Prime Minister. Indeed, when articles like this from the Independent “Six things Gordon Brown did that weren’t a complete disaster” are on the front pages you have to wonder how his time … Read more

Johann Lamont: a necessary defenestration

Poor Johann Lamont, the leader of Scottish Labour leader who was always out of her depth and no time more so than during the referendum campaign when the Tory leader Ruth Davidson clearly outshone her. The BBC headline writer’s verdict is cruel  but accurate: Johann Lamont resignation: A leader without influence The post referendum message couldn’t be clearer. A Panelbase poll on 2 October showed: SNP: 34%, Labour: 32%, Conservative: 18%, Liberal Democrat: 5%, UKIP: 6%, Other: 5%. From the … Read more