Tuesday 6 April 2010

BBC election coverage goes all sectarian

One of the surprises in the BBC's pre-prepared Election 2010 website is how overtly sectarian it is in respect of some Northern Irish constituencies.

In most of their Constituency Profiles they helpfully tell the reader how 'Catholic' or 'Protestant' the constituencies are:

Fermanagh and South Tyrone: "Just over half the population is Catholic and the nationalist voters have dominated in recent years."

West Tyrone: "This is a predominantly Catholic constituency".

Foyle: "The constituency has the second highest proportion of Catholics in Northern Ireland".

East Derry: "This mainly rural and Protestant constituency …"

South Antrim:"This is a largely Protestant and Unionist seat, with Catholics forming just over a quarter of the population".

Strangford: "Only just over an eighth of the population is Catholic. The Presbyterian community is dominant in this part of Northern Ireland".

North Down: "is a predominantly Protestant, middle class and suburban dormitory area".

Belfast East: "The seat is predominantly Protestant, with less than 10% of residents identifying themselves as Catholic. This is the smallest proportion of Catholics in Northern Ireland".

Belfast West: "is overwhelmingly Catholic and nationalist with the highest proportion of Catholics of any Northern Ireland seat".

Belfast North: "has a Protestant majority but has a substantial Catholic minority".

Now this blog is not averse to making presumptions about voters political preferences based upon their religions – but it is not often that the BBC so clearly demonstrates that it agrees! The polite pretence that religion is not an indicator of political preference has been blown out of the water by the BBC. What other reason would they have for providing information on the religions of voters in Northern Ireland, but not in Britain?

It is likely that someone will complain to the BBC, and that they will then change their constituency profiles – but the fact that in their raw state they present clearly religious data as an electoral factor shows that behind the façade that is what they think counts.


Paddy Canuck said...

So where do we go to find out how Catholic Glasgow is? Or how Protestant Yorkshire is? Don't tell me the Beeb's let us down on this crucial information with a spring election on the go... How can those people be expected to vote if they can't already tell what's a foregone conclusion?

hoboroad said...

SF 6
SH 1

The DUP lose North Antrim to Jim Allister and North Belfast to Gerry Kelly. Sylvia Hermon holds on to North Down. No change for the SDLP as they hold what they already have. Overall it is 9 seats to nationalists and 9 seats to unionists.

Wiz said...


I think it will remain 10-8 to be honest. But I hope I'm proved wrong.


hoboroad said...


Anonymous said...

If the unionists ever get their act together it's not beyond the realms of possibility that nationalists lose South Belfast and FST, because they'll never enter a pact.

Would probably hurt the SDLP more than SF; their decline seems unstoppable. It's only a matter of time before Foyle returns a SF MP.

picador said...

Belfast North: "has a Protestant majority but has a substantial Catholic minority".

How did they work that one out?

Anonymous said...

unlike this snide little blog horsey?

Mick said...


Try reading the Census: http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/anb.htm

FST will be tight, but a possible loss for UID fans. Upper Bann has a very outside chance of swinging... And 12k may win South Antrim... Mitchel needs to squeeze Burns vote now he can't run (for family reasons)... and hope Reg and Willie beat each other to a standstill..

Turnouts will be interesting...


You might be right re Derry, but I would like to see the figures coming out of this one... Incumbency in Westminster is not that easy to overthrow... Voters demotivate easily if they think the MP is dug in...

Its in the changeover when parties are weak... The faultlines in nationalism have not shifted that much, and the SDLP continue to punch way above their weight in the Westminster...