Tuesday 2 March 2010

Paisley stands down

Unsurprisingly, Ian Paisley senior has announced that he will not stand again in the upcoming Westminster election. Although he had been giving conflicting signals for the past year or so, it would have been much more unusual if he had chosen to stand again at the age of 84 (he was born on 6 April 1926).

His departure (unlamented by this blog) opens up North Antrim. The DUP have yet to announce their candidate, but it is widely rumoured that it will be Ian Paisley junior.

Jim Allister will stand for the TUV, and will be hell-bent on taking the seat, which he will see as almost divine retribution on the DUP. The UUP/UCUNF have not yet announced their candidate, but if they find a good one, then the battle within unionism will be three-way, and even more interesting. The UUP have put forward Robert (or Robin as Mark Devenport puts it) Swann (who?) but the Tories have yet to make their counter-offer. Swann (if Robert) is a minor UUP activist in North Antrim, who got 2.9% of the vote in the constituency in 2007. He is hardly a serious contender. If he is 'Robin' he is even less well known.

Ironically, the second highest polling candidate in the last Westminster election was Philip McGuigan of Sinn Fein with 15.7% of the vote. In 2007 SF remained the second-largest party with 15.9% of the vote. It is very unlikely, though that the constituency will see the ultimate upset – a Sinn Féin victory – because unionism as a whole gets 67.5% so even split three ways evenly would win. Even nationalism's total of 29% of North Antrim's vote (2007: SF 15.9%, SDLP 12.2%, Independent nationalist 0.9%) would not be enough, as any whisper of a nationalist voting pact would swing unionists behind a 'champion'.

Essentially this constituency will be a battle royal for the heart and soul of right-wing unionism. Regardless of who wins it, the result will be a defeat for right-wing unionism, because intra-family battles are always dirty, unpleasant and damaging. The split between the TUV and the DUP will deepen and lengthen. If the DUP win, the TUV will lick their wounds and plan revenge; and if the TUV wins the DUP will be a badly wounded beast. Either way, the winners will be the opponents of extreme unionism.

So let battle commence!


qubol said...

Will the SDLP go with Declan O'Loan? The only possible way that a nationalist could upset the result (and as you mentioned that is a *massive* if) is with a weak SDLP candidate and regardless of my opinion on O'Loan he'll easily pick up Farren's votes.

Daithí McKay said...


Further to your post, the Glens are being moved from North Antrim to the East Antrim constituency which will further reduce the number of nationalist/republican voters in the constituency.

Paddy Canuck said...

I know I said recently that I felt nationalists winning seats simply because the unionist vote was split made me uneasy... but I still can't help thinking how nifty it would be to elect someone from Sinn Fein to Paisley's seat out from under the brawling unionists factions. The exception to the rule. :)

Anonymous said...

No surprise there then Paddy. The Irish and their principles.


Anonymous said...

Kieron Says:


as Daithi mentions this constituency will lose 'green' votes because of boundary changes and as a result one of the 2 green seats in the Assembly may disappear although compensated by a green gain in South Antrim.

What migh be an interesting annalysis, for someone of your statistical disposition, is to produce a league table of each assembly constituency which shows the percentage increase in the green vote which is required for that constituency to theoretically gain an extra green seat. That should allow for a reasonable prediction, (assuming the birth rates remain stable) about, if/when green seats will outnumber orange seats in the assembly.

On a less ambitious note, is it possible to say what is the approximate percentage that is required to win a seat - the tipping point - for a seat to be turn green/orange. In NA for example the green % is projected to fall to 25.4% although in 1998 there were 2 green seats with a slightly smaller %. I apppreciate that the relative strength of the green turnout and transfers impact on the answer but I still think there could be quite a useful rule of thumb that would allow you to say that given the green population growth of for example 1% every 2 years a given seat will turn green over a certain number of years.

Anonymous said...

Ian Paisley. Such an awful man. Such an awful legacy....

Anonymous said...

Paisley: a bigot's bigot.

Good riddance to him.

But let us acknowledge one good thing he did: he personified unionism and its intransigence and hatred of its fellow citizens.

Paddy Canuck said...

"No surprise there then Paddy. The Irish and their principles."

Well, at least in this case, it's the exception to the rule, rather than the rule of exceptions that dominated Northern Ireland for its first 70 years. :)

Paddy Canuck said...

"But let us acknowledge one good thing he did: he personified unionism and its intransigence and hatred of its fellow citizens."

Yep, he's been a first-rate poster child for What's Wrong With Northern Ireland for the rest of the world. Yeah, thanks to him, people like me came to understand what the Troubles were actually all about.

Anonymous said...

He embarrassed us all. I still can't watch that clip of him getting trailed out of the Euro Parliament without cringing. What a buffoon.

Anonymous said...

Trailed out with the help of The Catholic fascist FN from what I recall.