Covid border measures look like rehearsals for the breakup of the Union

Photo:The Scotsman Only in corridors of power in London has the latest opinion poll on support for Scottish independence registered a modicum of shock to disturb the  prevailing confusion. The analysis of the results by Sir John Curtice contains only one small note  of comfort for the Union cause. A new poll from Ipsos MORI for STV has suggested that 58% now say that they would vote Yes in another independence referendum. Just 42% state that they would vote No, and thereby …

Read more…Covid border measures look like rehearsals for the breakup of the Union

Slugger TV – the devolved nations fightback episode

This month, in episode 38, Slugger O’Toole’s deputy editor David McCann talks to Irish News journalist Allison Morris and Andersontown News columnist Andrée Murphy about the performance of the Northern Ireland Executive, the legacy of different devolved government strategies to ease the COVID-19 lockdown, and the Irish Government’s lack of cross-border consultation about their plans. Edited by Alan Meban and also broadcast (as a slightly shorter 30 minute edit) on Belfast’s community TV channel NvTv tonight at 20:35.

It’s all about the test: Counting COVID-19 deaths *updated*

Who is and is not being counted in this daily reported figure? What are the regional variations and why? We explain below.

Two sets of COVID-19 data are regularly being produced:

(1) Daily reports on the deaths of people who had tested positive for the virus (mostly dying in hospital, though may include some people discharged to care homes); and
(2) Weekly reports based on COVID-19 being listed on death certificates no matter where the person died — but there’s a delay to account for the registration process. (The Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency intend to provide a further level of breakdown to include deaths in care homes.)

Ahead of the Stormont budget, should the Executive be rethinking its priorities?

With the first budget of the newly reconstituted Northern Ireland Executive expected shortly, there will be an opportunity to consider whether public resources are being directed appropriately to deal with Northern Ireland’s priorities for the decade to come. The table above shows UK public spending per person in each UK region for various expenditure categories for the 2018-19 fiscal year, in both monetary terms and expressed as a percentage of the UK average. For example, health spending in Northern Ireland …

Read more…Ahead of the Stormont budget, should the Executive be rethinking its priorities?

Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales rank amongst the lowest countries in the developed world for the number of intensive care beds

The response to the Covid-19 coronavirus has raised questions regarding the capability of health systems to deal with an influx of patients requiring intensive care. It is estimated that one in seven of those who get Covid-19 will require hospital treatment, and out of those one in five will require ICU care. A widespread outbreak of Covid-19 would therefore put an unprecedented strain on intensive care facilities across the world. The chart above shows the number of ICU beds per …

Read more…Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales rank amongst the lowest countries in the developed world for the number of intensive care beds

An hour-by-hour guide to election night

It’s almost over. The fights that didn’t happen, the interviews that didn’t take place, the ice statues that melted, an election campaign that would make even the most hardened election nerd feel like the kid in Matilda that had to eat all the chocolate cake, is nearly at a close. There is little to do but settle in for a long night of bar charts, ridiculous graphics, and the unique sight of watching politicians’ entire careers evaporate live on stage …

Read more…An hour-by-hour guide to election night

Book Review: The Catholic Church and the Northern Ireland Troubles, 1968-1999, by Margaret M. Scull

A rich and carefully-researched new book, The Catholic Church and the Northern Ireland Troubles, 1968-1999 (Oxford University Press, 2019), offers fresh insights on the changing role of the Catholic Church and the personalities that drove its interventions during that fraught period. The author, Margaret M. Scull, a post-doctoral research fellow at NUI Galway, writes in a clear, accessible style, ensuring the text will be of interest not only to scholars, but a general readership. There will be a Belfast launch …

Read more…Book Review: The Catholic Church and the Northern Ireland Troubles, 1968-1999, by Margaret M. Scull

Social media transparency data is giving real time insight on party strategy at #GE2019

The upcoming general election is the first general election in the UK where social media companies are publishing transparency data, showing which political advertisements are being displayed on the platforms, who is paying for them, and the amounts being spent. Facebook is, by far, the largest platform for social media political advertisements in the UK. In the first full week of the campaign to the 4th of November, there was £175k of spending on campaign related advertisements on the platform, …

Read more…Social media transparency data is giving real time insight on party strategy at #GE2019

The Conservatives are failing to make headway in the Brexit supporting North and Midlands

At the next general election, the Conservatives’ hopes of regaining the overall majority in the House of Commons will rest on winning a substantial number of seats from Labour in Brexit supporting areas in the North and Midlands of England. This is especially true given that they can expect to lose seats in Remain voting areas in London, the South East and Scotland. The map above compares the results of the 2016 EU referendum on a constituency basis (with seats …

Read more…The Conservatives are failing to make headway in the Brexit supporting North and Midlands

A bridge across the Irish Sea is a ridiculous idea, but the ferries between Northern Ireland and Scotland are the most expensive in the UK

When Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, Minster for the Union and Novelty Infrastructure Tsar Boris Johnson visited Belfast last month for a Conservative Party leadership hustings, he re-iterated his previous support for a bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland. It was “the kind of project that should be pursued by a dynamic Northern Ireland government”, as he optimistically phrased it. It is worth re-iterating just how stupid this idea would be. Such a …

Read more…A bridge across the Irish Sea is a ridiculous idea, but the ferries between Northern Ireland and Scotland are the most expensive in the UK

What would happen at GE2019 if it is more like the 2019 European election than the last general election?

Previously, I looked at what might happen at a future general election using the 2017 general election results as a base and a YouGov poll to redistribute votes to see how a new general election might pan out. This poll gave the Tories a 9 point lead over Labour in second place, and accordingly in such a scenario the Tories would win a majority despite a historically low vote share, albeit with a smaller majority if the Lib Dems, Greens …

Read more…What would happen at GE2019 if it is more like the 2019 European election than the last general election?

The Unite to Remain alliance will have a mountain to climb to prevent a Conservative victory at the next general election

After several months where the Brexit Party, the Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Conservatives have been locked in essentially a four-way tie in the opinion polls for the next British general election, the election of Boris Johnson as Conservative party leader and prime minister has led to the Tories having a consistent lead over their rivals. The Tories have a lead of around 10 percentage points over Labour and the Liberal Democrats, who remain essentially tied on around 21%. The …

Read more…The Unite to Remain alliance will have a mountain to climb to prevent a Conservative victory at the next general election

UN Report: The Full Picture of Poverty in the UK is Obvious to Anyone who Opens their Eyes

“[T]he full picture of poverty in the United Kingdom, much of it the direct result of government policies… is obvious to anyone who opens their eyes. There has been a shocking increase in the number of food banks and major increases in homelessness and rough sleeping; a growing number of homeless families…” – Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on poverty in the UK (22 May 2019) “I reject the idea that there are vast numbers of people facing dire …

Read more…UN Report: The Full Picture of Poverty in the UK is Obvious to Anyone who Opens their Eyes

General election seat forecasts are no longer useful

For much of the last century, general elections in Great Britain have been largely predictable affairs. Aside from the odd Liberal, SNP and Plaid Cymru MP returned here and there, Westminster elections were a battle between Labour and the Conservatives. The relationship between the opinion polls and election results was straightforward; most constituencies were either safe Labour or Tory seats, and it was well established that a few points gained or lost in the opinion polls could predict the winner …

Read more…General election seat forecasts are no longer useful

The Brexit Party look set to dominate at the European Elections in Great Britain as the Conservatives collapse

The Conservatives are on the verge of being virtually wiped out at this Thursday’s European election, whilst the Brexit Party look set to improve on the 24 seats that Ukip won at the 2014 poll. Using the data from this YouGov poll and analysis on the number of seats won by the vote received in the 2014 election, I estimated the probability of each party winning each seat in each European constituency. The Brexit Party would be, by far, the …

Read more…The Brexit Party look set to dominate at the European Elections in Great Britain as the Conservatives collapse

UK Parliament Declares Environment and Climate Emergency

The House of Commons has tonight declared an “environment and climate emergency.” The first national parliament in the world to do so. This comes in the wake of mass civil action by Extinction Rebellion, school strikes for climate, and local declarations of climate emergency all over the world. The UK Labour Party, which proposed the motion, asked MPs to “act with commensurate urgency.” Something which the Green Party have been urging for a very long time.  In the last few …

Read more…UK Parliament Declares Environment and Climate Emergency

A new British centrist party would likely benefit the Tories, just like the last time

An unpopular Conservative government, a left-wing Labour leader with poor favourability ratings, and a breakaway faction of centrist Labour MPs joined by a Conservative defection a short while afterwards. The parallels between the formation of the Independent Group of MPs in February 2019, and that of the Social Democratic Party in 1981, are clearly apparent. Could a new centrist force make a breakthrough in a Westminster general election, as the alliance between the Liberals and the SDP famously failed to …

Read more…A new British centrist party would likely benefit the Tories, just like the last time

By An Means Necessary – a review of RTE’s Michael Collins era drama ‘Resistance’

After ‘Rebellion’ comes ‘Resistance’. Irish TV dramatist Colin Teevan has returned with a five part showpiece follow-up to his 1916 RTE Easter Rising drama, ‘Rebellion’ which reached international audiences in the United States on the Sundance Channel and other parts of the globe through Netflix. For the Dubliner, ‘Resistance’ is another chance to prove he can craft a gripping, multi-layered period drama in a prime time slot after the rather underwhelming 2015 RTE mini series ‘Charlie’ about Charlie Haughey and …

Read more…By An Means Necessary – a review of RTE’s Michael Collins era drama ‘Resistance’

Leading Northern Irish voices join support of ‘Stansted 15’ protestors

“It must be recalled that this is all taking place against the background of an inhumane immigration policy that is acknowledged to be openly hostile.” Leading Northern Irish politicians, human rights groups, academics, journalists and activists have expressed their “deep concern and disagreement” with Monday’s ruling against fifteen human rights activists who “acted to stop a brutal, secretive and barely legal deportation flight” at Stansted airport in March 2017. Known as the ‘Stansted 15’, they have been convicted of ‘endangering an aerodrome’ under the …

Read more…Leading Northern Irish voices join support of ‘Stansted 15’ protestors

Should the IFA adopt its own national anthem?

Recently we had the disgraceful but in some ways predictable behaviour of some fans (but at least it was a minority) at the Northern Ireland versus Republic of Ireland match during the playing of the National Anthems. I was always taught that no matter how you feel about a country, or its government’s policies, you should always respect the national anthem. However, at the same time – why do the Irish Football Association still continue to use God Save the …

Read more…Should the IFA adopt its own national anthem?