Tuesday 9 June 2009

Election fall-out: Part 3

The UUP and its Tory friends are trying to spin Jim Nicholson's 17.1% score in the European election as a vindication of their non-merger.

They are wrong. Nicholson's score was abysmal, and they know it.

The big story of this election, overshadowing everything else, was the collapse of the DUP vote – from 31.9% to 18.2% – but despite such a wealth of unionist disillusionment and potential new voters the UUP managed to add just 0.5% to their score! Dodds managed to alienate 87,415 voters, but Nicholson attracted none of them – in fact his vote declined by 8,271 (only the lower turnout saved him from a reduced percentage too).

Nicholson's boast was that the UUP-Tory non-merger would attract new voters – in other words, in addition to the core UUP and Tory vote there should have been additional votes. But while the number of Tory voters in Northern Ireland is hard to pin down (sometimes they stand, sometimes they don't, sometimes partially), there must be a Tory electorate of at least 0.5% (their score in the 2007 Assembly election, where they stood in only 9 constituencies). So Nicholson's vote looks suspiciously like the UUP vote plus the Tory vote, plus … well, nothing.

Faced with the open goal that the DUP melt-down represented, the UUP failed to score. They did not recover the voters that had defected from the UUP to the DUP in the past decade, they did not benefit from Dodds appalling campaign, they did not present the voters with a new or attractive alternative, and they did not benefit from any Cameron bounce. They stagnated.

UCUNF has clearly failed to make any impact on its first big test. Other tests will come, including a Westminster election within a year, and Assembly and District Council elections in 2011, but on the evidence of the European election UCUNF remains simply the UUP in different clothes.


hoboroad said...

Horseman I read that Gordon Brown plans to bring in a new voting system for Westminister Election.The AV system I think it's called how will that effect parties here.

Pedro said...

Sure enough, I've found out that this is being mooted. Essentially it is PR as per Europe, Assembly elections etc. but with only one seat per constituency. In short it would significantly reduce the effect of vote-splitting and increase that of tactical voting. I've looked through those where it could have an effect:
Foyle: This insulates Durkan who would pick up unionist transfers en masse to keep out the shinner.
South Belfast. Would give the SDLP some chance, via Alliance/SF transfers, in the event of one unionist.
North Belfast. Seriously increased possibility of an SF gain.
FST. SF insulated in the event of an agreed unionist.
Newry and Armagh. Major implications here - enough of a unionist vote to swing matters towards the SDLP and against SF.

hoboroad said...

Thanks for the information Pedro.

hoboroad said...

DUP expected to back calls at Westminister for General Election

hoboroad said...

DUP party activists and elected representives going round Bangor Market asking members of public why they did not vote DUP last Thursday?

hoboroad said...

It looks like Ian Junior could be going to prison!Like father like son.

Militant Mike said...

well call me an Alliance optimist if you must but as far as i can see Ian Parsley is the first Norn Iron politician to increase, in only his second ever election contest, his first ever election vote by 7,750%. Surely a stat for the next Guiness Book of Records.

Seymour Major said...

I dont think you can read too much into the "failure" by Nicholson to attract DUP votes at this stage.

The internal organisation between the Conservatives and the UUP is still work in progress. Nobody from the Conservatives expected very much in this election. Alllister also had two years to plan his election. He also had some luck.

Having the mantle of "largest party within a designation" does have meaning in Northern Ireland. It is hard to shift unless you as the holder of that mantle gravely upsets its constituency. That happened when Trimble hung on to Stormont after failure to decommission. It has happened now with the DUP for perhaps more than one reason. One of the reasons could be the expenses saga. Another could be going into govt with SF or both.

Whatever the case, the DUP has lost its position of domiance. It is now vulnerable Other supporters may now leave them in a future election.

I suggest that the UUP now has an opportunity which it did not have in the Euro election. The General Election will yield gains from the DUP to UCUNF

hoboroad said...

Seymour which DUP voters are UCUNF targeting?The voters who think the Earth was created in 7 Days?The voters who think homosexuality is worse than paedophillia?Or the voters who think it's ok to murder somebody if they live in a area with a tricolour flying?

hoboroad said...

I see all the talk in the Sunday Newspapers is about UVF decommisioning.Is this the DUP trying to put up a smokescreen to move people's attention away from there dismal election result!Also two Protestant ministers are hardly independent observers can they get away with this?