Friday 12 February 2010

Jim Allister's Heimat

Jim Allister and the TUV have staked out their Heimat. In the run up to the Westminster election ...

"Mr Allister has already declared his interest in North Antrim. It is thought the TUV will also stand in Lagan Valley, Strangford, East Belfast, East Antrim, South Antrim and in Mid Ulster … "

These areas correspond almost exactly to the areas of Northern Ireland that are majority Protestant, curiously enough. Perhaps the TUV agrees with this blog that there is a remarkable coincidence between religion and political persuasion in Northern Ireland.

Mid Ulster is a curious choice. Sinn Féin has a safe majority here and the TUV would just splinter the unionist minority into three instead of two. Perhaps they are just testing the waters in anticipation of the Assembly elections a year or more down the line.

More curious, though, are some of the constituencies that the TUV is not planning to run in:
  • East Derry
  • Upper Bann
  • North Belfast
  • South Belfast
Why is the TUV not planning to challenge the DUP in East Derry? Could it be that they recognise in Gregory Campbell a fellow-traveller?

Likewise in Upper Bann. Is David Simpson acceptable to Mr Allister, even though he too, apparently, is a member of a party that is 'in government with terrorists'?

And North Belfast? Is the TUV's shyness here more related to the fact that any split in the DUP's vote might gift the seat to Gerry Kelly of Sinn Féin?

And even the SDLP is apparently unacceptable to Allister, because he does not plan to compete in South Belfast – perhaps in the hope or expectation that the UUP and the DUP will eventually cobble together a 'pact' under another name to oust Alasdair McDonnell.

The TUV's Heimat is similar in shape to the real unionist 'Ulster' – i.e. a small and shrinking part of east Ulster where they still command a majority. By withdrawing electorally from the rest, the TUV is implicitly accepting the shrinking boundaries of the unionist project. There was a time when extreme unionism felt itself strong enough to stand all over Northern Ireland, but it seems that those days are over, and the extreme unionist aspiration is increasingly being pursued only in a part of Northern Ireland.


hoboroad said...

hoboroad said...


East Belfast David Vance
Strangford Cedric Wilson
North Antrim Jim Allister

Anonymous said...


peteram79 said...

Some interesting comments, Horseman, but again let down but what you conveniently don't mention.

I'm no fan of the TUV. As you rightly point out, they seem to have chosen not to stand in certain seats where they would have an impact simply to "keep a Taig out". This narrow, both in mind and scope, traditional Unionism is simply no longer appropriate in today's NI (just as Scum Fein's anti-unionist crusade is too).

On the other hand, I would have significant sympathy with two of TUV's core aims, voluntary coalition and a govornment composed of non-terrorists. Achieving this cannot, however, be through the vehicle of "never-never" defensive Unionism but rather moving away from the constitutional question at the heart of NI poloitics. The UUP is making faltering steps towards this. Ms Ritchie's challenge is to take the SDLP in the same direction. Hopefully, other parties/movements with left or right rather than orange or green as their major preoccupation can either sprout up or evolcve from the existing political actors.

Anyway, I digress. Where your post falls down is that it doesn't touch on TUV finances versus ambitions, and also the idea that "extreme unionism", whatever that means, was always an Ulster-wide phenomenon.

The TUV is a relatively new political party and does not have the financial clout of its rivals. Given that its aim is to give the DUP a bloody nose, standing in places like Foyle, South Down, Newry and Armagh, West Belfast, where the DUP vote is already small, offers little impact for its investment. So it makes sense not to throw resources at standing in these areas. We can both agree that TUV are avoiding seats where its presence might see a unioinst seat move to a nationalist. The generous view would be that the TUV is putting its unionism above party political considerations. The not so generous view, well I hardly need to spell that out on this blog, and to a large extent I'd share your suspicions...

It's also hardly new that one of the main unionist parties would not stand in a majority nationalist constituency. Sometimes this was motivated by a tactical decision to take advantage of a split nationalist vote (e.g. FST) or again simply to conserve resources. Indeed it was not confined solely to majority natonalist constituencies, with, say, the UUP not standing in East Belfast for a number of general elections pre-97.

Therefore, to claim that because the TUV is likely to be light on candidates west of the Bann is a sign that unionist relevance outside of the east of NI is receding is a total canard.

Dazzler said...

I think the TUV are avoiding Upper Bann for the same reason that they are not running in NB. The nationalist vote in 2005 was 34% and 36% in 2001. If the TUV ran and took 40% of the DUP vote and there was a strong nationalist turnout nationalism could easily gain this seat.

Nordie Northsider said...

Hoboroad - is that Cedric Wilson, the serial protestor ex of Bob McCartney's fan club?

picador said...

Surprised they're not intending to stand in either East Derry or North Down (lack of candidates may be a problem), less so about Upper Bann, North Belfast and South Belfast. You have made a very good point about their lack of ambition south and west of the Bann.

picador said...


The article you have linked to quotes Allister as saying the TUV will run in 'more than half' of the 18 constituencies. You have already mentioned seven. More than half implies a minimum of three others. I'll wager that East Derry and North Down are among them - and that Allister will keep Dodds and Simpson sweating for a while yet!

hoboroad said...

Nordie Northsider yes that Cedric Wilson. He was spotted at the TUV party conference. But so was Bob the Barrister I wonder where Keith Harbinson will stand?