After #GE2015… Are Labour’s historic coalitions suffering from an ‘upgrade effect’?

So, on with the post election profiles, this time back over to Britain, er, England and Wales. So, let’s talk about Labour (of the UK variety).  The thing about the Labour party is that it is barely more than 100 years old. In most of that time it has been in opposition. Indeed, you sometimes get the impression that some of their support quite like it that way. The only sustained exception to that rule was in the mid-sixties to … Read more

After #GE2015… The UUP reborn, or just lucky?

UUP gavel

Guess what, there’s another UUP success that I didn’t see coming. In my mind, though in retrospect it was a flawed form of thinking, I honestly thought South Antrim would fall to the party quicker than Fermanagh and South Tyrone. In fact they won both, and nearly took Upper Bann. Despite my own trepidation last year, if the Unionist pact played to anyone’s strength it was the UUP rather than the DUP. FST came in for them at a relative canter, reflecting … Read more

After #GE2015… UKIP “We are legion…”

One way to think of UKIP is as a bunch of Elizabethan freebooting privateers, who are now revelling  after having sailed into northern and Midland ports and lain waste to Labour‘s formerly secure golden hoard of working class voters. As Gerry Lynch spotted on election night, the figure which gives you a real indication of what has happened to UK politics is that the combined percentages of Conservatives and UKIP add up to 49.5. The broad assumption always was that UKIP was a right wing affair … Read more

After #GE2015ni… The SDLP begins breaking tough…

The SDLP’s post election profile rarely makes good reading for party loyalists, but this year is at least a partial exception. Alasdair McDonnell may not have turned round the decline the party has  suffered under its two previous leaders, but like a football team with very few opportunities to score, he has at least managed to successfully recycle the ball. In Foyle an increase in the Durkan vote augurs well for Assembly team safety. In South Down, Margaret Ritchie’s 6.2% decline indicates little more than moderate Unionists no longer worry about her … Read more

After the election… the DUP…

In putting together these post election profiles it is obvious the degree to which we arriving at a common Irish political culture based on the use of the Single Transferable Vote system of PR north and south. It concentrates the mind of political parties on the precise needs of their own voters (almost to the exclusion of all else) to a much greater degree than under systems elsewhere. It also makes matters difficult for external pundits to figure out what’s going on with … Read more

After the election… Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland…

So how was it in Northern Ireland for Sinn Fein? Answer, not bad. The party’s big machine and, by now, well established incumbency pretty much took care of business, whilst the main show went ahead in the south. One of Sinn Fein’s signal achievements, with the aid of more than a few helpful witnesses in the Northern Irish media, has been to keep relatively private just how little it has done with the substantial mandate it has had in Stormont … Read more

After the election… NI21…

So, before I get to finish off with the big boys and girls of Northern Ireland (Sinn Fein and the DUP tomorrow and Thursday), lets go briefly to the smallest of all the challengers, NI21. I suppose it helps prove one of FitzJamesHorse’s most persistent contentions about NI politics, that just because the media say they love you doesn’t mean they actually do, or that the voters will. To look at the hard figures, Tina McKenzie lifted 10,553 or 1.7% … Read more

After the elections… The Independents of the south…

For years it has been the case in England at council level ‘independent’ usually connotes rebel Tories disaffected with some national party line or other. They go independent because they feel there is nowhere else they can credibly go. In Ireland, one of the effects of the STV PR system is to shred party platforms in favour of maintaining a community of often fiercely competing individuals. So redesignation as independent often was a last ditch or even first ditch exercise … Read more

After the election… The SDLP…

The late Maya Angelou’s once said “surviving is important, thriving is elegant.” With each year that passes the SDLP is living proof of the resonance of that acute observation. They do, very much against the odds and the broader dynamic within the voting classes, rather inelegantly survive. Just enough to keep hope, now that almost everything else has fled, alive. Despite the influx of some new blood in Fermanagh and Omagh, and the appointment of the first female nationalist Lord … Read more

After the election… The UKIP…

For all its detractors (and I don’t count myself as the greatest fan of its ‘Brixit’ policy) UKIP does something most mainstream parties in Britain are struggling with. They connect with the ordinary man (and I suspect it is mostly men, to be honest) in the street, and they speak in a language they understand. They may get dismissed as saloon bar politicians, but in England they know how to put on a show with a sense of drama that … Read more

After the election… Fianna Fail…

After Sinn Fein, Fianna Fail is the longest continuously operating party in the Republic. Their long ongoing argument with big rival Fine Gael is often characterised as a continuation of civil war politics. Yet such reasoning is largely academic. These historic if unresolved issues have barely featured in southern political life in thirty years. Class is probably a more significant factor, with Fianna Fail traditionally drawing more support from the lower end of Ireland’s social scale. Yet even that is … Read more

After the election… The Green Party…

One of the few consistent dynamics in the elections north and south was the success of the Green party. In the south the party’s Euro candidate, and former minister of environment Eamon Ryan, is probably kicking himself that he didn’t also run for a seat in Dublin city council. That a minister from the last very unpopular administration was so close to becoming an MEP is testimony to two things: one, the change in the general mood; and two the … Read more

After the election…. Irish Labour Party…

The poor performance of the Irish Labour Party is important for a number of reasons. It’s not as though it hasn’t happened before in the party’s history. Labour defenestration has been a regular feature of coalition governments over the last 30 years. And it always happens for roughly the same reasons: overpromising before the election, then substantially underselling its own agency within government afterwards. It happened to the Greens in the last administration.  That’s why the smaller government party is … Read more

After the election… The UUP..

UUP gavel

On Friday at the count, Mike Nesbitt was on a roll and so was his party. I was surprised at the news from East Belfast, particularly Ormiston one of two DEAs making up the most of the coming battleground between the sitting MEP Naomi Long and the DUP. The drama lingered to the very end, just into Sunday morning when the DUP’s Denny Vitty was edged out by the Green candidate Ross Brown. Having taken two seats further up the count, the … Read more

After the election… Alliance…

Forty plus years in the political middle have made the Alliance party one of the most agile (which often irritates their opponents) of Northern Ireland’s political parties. Overall not a huge amount has changed for them, although there’s something of a problem in East Belfast where the flag issue has alienated a lot of working class loyalists it previously had the support of. One failure to elect was Duncan Morrow in the Botanic DEA of Belfast. But appears to have been more … Read more

After the election… Fine Gael…

So, Fine Gael. Not a great election. Probably slightly less damaging for them since the poor old Labour Party mudguard is catching most of the attention of the press in the immediate aftermath. But they know better from their own sweeping of FF council trenches in 2009 that a lot of the damage they shipped at the weekend is already irreversible. Even in the European elections, the core figures for both party’s actual vote are scary: Fine Gael 369,120 1st preferences … Read more

After the election… The TUV…

I think it was David Brewster in the research for Slugger’s paper on the future of unionism in Northern Ireland who told us that what Unionists needed more than anything else was a win. It’s been a very long time coming, but if there is one clear victor in this election it was Unionism’s reversal of a long term drop in unionist turnout and possibly initiating the rolling back of a highly pervasive sense of defeatism. Jim Allister may have … Read more

After the election… Sinn Fein (in the south)…

So what can we say? Stunning, fantastic, brilliant. It’s Sinn Fein doing what they do best, which is winning elections and running a great campaign.. Some will draw negative inferences from 15% rate which significantly underruns their polling rate of around 20%. But the party had to run their southern campaign on a roster of skeleton teams, with northern sponsors to brand new cummain. As Micheal Martin put it, they have pretty effectively cannibalised the Labour vote. In the process … Read more

Post election, Sinn Fein’s position is (not) like…

…any other party’s on the island. Any activist worth his salt will remind you that Sinn Fein is a movement, not just a party. A few short years ago, when the party was committed to political development but alienated from policing and justice, that held a certain menace. But that is changing, and changing substantially. Into what is not yet clear, but as the Latin poet Lucretius once noted in De rerum natura (On the nature of things): Nam quodcumque suis mutatum … Read more

#GE11 Profile: Sinn Fein achieves national currency…

It’s tempting to overwrite any profile of Sinn Fein’s spectacular move out of its stronghold areas. There were obvious highlights: Gerry Adams topped the poll in good style in Louth and likewise his two Donegal colleagues, Pearse Doherty and Padraig MacLochlainn. The party also performed particularly well in Dublin where there had been concerns about the defections of a number of councillors over the last few years. It’s out in the rest of the country where I think the party … Read more