Friday 7 May 2010

No Robinson, No Connor, No UCUNF

All in all, today has been quite a positive one for northern nationalism.

Peter Robinson, leader of the DUP and successor to Paisley, has been defeated in the constituency that he virtually owned for over 30 years.

Rodney Connor, the 'non sectarian' unionist unity candidate in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, has been defeated despite a split nationalist vote.

UCUNF, the bastard child of the English Tories and their UUP lap-dogs, has been left bereft of seats, and with a very uncertain future.

Nationalism made no seat gains – and none were realistic – but thanks to 4 votes in Fermanagh and South Tyrone it has not lost any seats either.

Unionism, on the other hand, lost one seat, dropping from 10 to 9. For the first time ever, only half of Northern Ireland's MPs are unionists.

The proportion of the vote that went to nationalist candidates remained virtually unchanged – 42% against 41.8% five years ago. Despite the habitual hostility of the media, Sinn Féin's share of the vote has again increased, from 24.3% in 2005 to 25.5% in 2010 – making Sinn Féin Northern Ireland's largest party again.

Unionism's share dropped by 1.4%, though, from 51.9% to 50.5%. One more election, perhaps, and unionism will be only a plurality.

This election has been a stressful one, and one with many unknown elements. But at the end of the day nationalism has emerged unscathed, while unionism in all of its guises – DUP, UUP/UCUNF, TUV and independent unionist, has emerged battered and diminished. Good.

27 comments:

New times, New approach said...

Horseman,

You note that, 'The proportion of the vote that went to nationalist candidates remained virtually unchanged – 42% against 41.8% five years ago.'

Given the demographic changes within N.I. which you have analysed on various occasions, are you not surprised that the overall nationalist mandate is 'virtually unchanged' over a 5 year period?

Horseman said...

New times, New approach,

I'd have preferred a significant rise, of course, but I don't see this as a set-back. Turn-out was quite low (57.6% overall in NI), and this may idicate a lessening of nationalist interest in Westminster as the Assembly matures (as another commenter has already pointed out elsewhere).

Trends are more important, and a single election is too little to see a trend in. If the N % stays stagnant for another couple of elections, then it's time to worry. But bear in mind it has been higher in the past, and lower. Next year will give us a few more chances to see how its evolving.

Dazzler said...

I wonder is that down to turnout which was down significantly in nationalist constituencies.

Anonymous said...

Sammy Mc Nally says,


New Times New Approach,Dazzler,

it has been a bit of a gripe for me with Horseman for some time that there were lower turnout figures for Unionists than Nats which he was not tkaing account of but possibly that gap has narrowed this time out.

...however the SF and SDLP combined total in North Belfast was more in line with some of what I have viewed as Horseman's more optimistic figures.

Colm said...

Before the votes were counted, if someone told us Sinn Fein would retain FST, most would have taken that alone as representing a good day for nationalism. Robinson losing to the Alliance and the UCUNF partnership coming to nothing adds to the sense that this has been a good election.

West of the Bann has been consolidated for nationalism. In the future marginal seats of North Belfast, Upper Bann and East Derry there have been swings to nationalism. Sinn Fein are again the largest party in the North.

On the down side, the nationalist vote overall hasn't risen and the TUV appear destined for a swift exit from the political playing field.

It's now time to get down to the real work of preparing for the assembly elections. The Tories coming to power in Britain and the impending cuts on the North presents an opportunity for nationalism to make real gains.

Dublin Commentator said...

The East Belfast result is a hoot though. Gotta love the fact that the TUV, running their candidate against Robinson on the basis that robbo didn't hate the 'micks' enough, managed to steal enough unionist votes for the non-unionist candidate to be elected! lol

Anonymous said...

Turnout is likely to be much lower amongst nationalists than unionists, many nationalists not interested and wanting nothing to do with Westminster.

With the overall NI turnout as low as it was, this may lull unionists into a false sense of security because when the Assembly elections come around nationalist voters will be out in force.

However the close shave in F&ST shows nationalists how dangerous unionists pacts can be. Sinn Féin and the SDLP are more ideologically similar than any of the unionist parties, they need to start getting serious about pacts for the next Assembly to make massive gains.

Englishman said...

It is very difficult to see the wood through the trees with these results. So much tactical voting and an Alliance victory in East Belfast. Did the Alliance vote count towards the Unionist %? How can we say the Nationalist vote was 42% when so many Unionists voted for the SDLP?
The Assembly elections will be a far greater pointer as to how the relative communities are shaping up going forward.

Why did the people of East Belfast shift their vote to the "neutral" Alliance instead of the hardline TUV? Any answers?

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable that East Belfast was lost to someone who is
* 'Neutral/agnostic' on the union. (ie, Not a unionist)
* Pro-gay rights,
* Pro-abortion.
* One of the people who (as a city councillor) conspired to elect the first SF Lord Mayor of Belfast.
(To borrow from another well known blog). What happened?

Ivan said...

I have gone through all the relevant data with a fine comb with a view to comparing trends between 2005 and 2010. The nationalist percentage is about the same at 42.5%. That is if you include Eamon McCann's vote - mainly on the basis of his assembly transfer pattern. 42% if not. What is significant is the shrinkage in the unionist percentage from 52 to 48.8 (DUP, TUV, UCUNF, Lady Sylvia...) leading accordingly to a U/N diferential of 6.3 as as opposed to 9.5. The difference is made up of non-aligned (for want of a better term) parties - Alliance Greens etc.

Anonymous said...

Sammy Mc Nally, there is a guy on slugger saying you are the one what done it or summat!

is this true?

pagasp

Anonymous said...

I know it is off-topic but look at how few seats the Lib-Dems got when their share of the popular vote was close to Labours' - which got about five times as many seats. If this doesn't show how wrong, wrong, wrong, the first past the post is, I don't know what can.

Dazzler said...

If you average the turnout in nationalist seats and compare it with 2005 the turnout was down 9.9%. So a 0.2% increase in the nationalist vote against a 10% drop in nationalist turnout shows that demographic thrends are not being contradicted in the polls.

Nordie Northsider said...

Can't agree that Unionism has lost a seat. Naomi Long is a unionist.

Nordie Northsider said...

Despite the habitual hostility of the media, Sinn Féin's share of the vote has again increased, from 24.3% in 2005 to 25.5% in 2010 – making Sinn Féin Northern Ireland's largest party again.

That's true. We might also add that SF dropped thousands of votes by not standing in South Belfast

hoboroad said...

Any news on Reg Empey doing the honourable thing and resigning as UUP leader?

hoboroad said...

You are here: Home > World News > Europe
Empey to resign as leader of UUP
'Vultures are circling' after the party's failure to win a single seat in UK general election

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By Alan Murray
Sunday May 09 2010
The Ulster Unionist Party leader Reg Empey is expected to announce his resignation in the next few days because of his party's failure to win a seat in last week's British general election.
Party leader since 2005, the 63-year-old Stormont minister was unable to unseat the DUP's Rev William McCrea in the South Antrim constituency in last Thursday's election and senior party sources said they expected him to step down this week.
Mr Empey still believes in the coalition with the Conservatives, but accepts that many will feel that he has been holed below the waterline.
Some of the vultures are already circling and he feels that his departure is inevitable in the next few days, one party officer said yesterday.
With no representative in the Westminster parliament, his successor is likely to be a member of the Stormont Assembly, with Tom Elliott and Basil McCrea the front-runners at the moment.
UK election news and analysis Pages 18 and 27
With the Conservatives virtually certain to form the next UK government, there is renewed optimism within UUP ranks that their project with the Tories can still yield results. "With Cameron in government we will have the advantage of that additional pull to convince voters in our four target seats that we are a more than viable option," one senior strategist said.
He added that the party had already lost Sylvia Hermon (North Down MP), "so her formal separation was no surprise, but with a Conservative/Lib Dem coalition or a minority Conservative government most likely the UUP will have the [Tories'] ear".
With Peter Robinson ousted from East Belfast, the possibility of recapturing the seat is a primary target in the next election along with Strangford, South Antrim and the Upper Bann constituencies, where Freddie Mercury impersonator Harry Hamilton polled 10,639 votes.
In Strangford, too, former television presenter Mike Nesbitt's vote of over 9,000 is regarded as a good first showing and with another election possible within the next two years there is optimism that a David Cameron-led government in London can boost the fortunes of the UUP in the next Assembly election and general election.
If the TUV vote in South Antrim had been allocated to Mr Empey, he would have toppled Mr McCrea, and that could happen next time.
Both Mr Hamilton and Mr Nesbitt have quotas for Assembly seats and they can build on those bases, the party officer said.
Mr Empey's successor could come from outside the Assembly, but sources within the party yesterday were predicting that it would be a two-horse race between Mr Elliott, a farmer from Co Fermanagh, and policing board member Mr McCrea.
As party leader, it would give Mr Elliot a higher profile to try to win the seat from Michelle Gildernew if there was no agreed unity candidate next time round, one supporter said.
- Alan Murray

Sunday Independent
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hoboroad said...

Interesting piece by Benedict Brogan from the Daily Telegraph below.

With the global economy teetering on the brink of something horrible, and Westminster paralysed, the issue of Scotland is second or third order. But it is there, and the outcome of the election has made it more explicit. You could argue that by swinging to Labour, Scotland merely did what England did as well, namely back the opposition against the party in power. But there are plenty of MPs of all parties who are desperately uneasy about the deepening political gap between Scotland and England. Conservatives in particular can see the long-term threat: for some there is a question of legitimacy. In the tough times ahead, can you be a credible national government with just one seat in Scotland? Expect voices to urge David Cameron, if he ever gets into No10, to offer that referendum on independence the SNP claims it wants. If Scotland then votes no, the price will be a root and branch review of the financial relationship. Some Tories want a confrontation with Scotland about money.
But that diguises something which is more deep-seated. The Tories have no idea how to undo the damage done to their reputation north of the Border under Margaret Thatcher. When Gordon Brown was a mere opposition spokesman on the make, he was part of a successful movement to equate Thatcherism with the English. It fed Scotland’s conceit that it somehow has a more caring and effective social model. Of course, all the statistics from public sector productivity to mortality rates for preventable diseases tell you the opposite is true. But Scotland was turned, and a smooth-chopped public school English guy who proclaims his passion for the Union hasn’t reversed it. A Scots chum suggested to me that the Tories might have better luck if their leader was Michael Forsyth, the Freddie Kruger of the battles between Labour and Tories in Scotland in the late 80s and early 90s. Interesting idea, but something tells me England has had its fill of Scottish politicians.
Mr Cameron has other fish to fry. But if he becomes Prime Minister, it will be without Scotland. Mrs Thatcher, from memory, had 22 Scots MPs on her benches in 1979 before they were wiped out. He will have to consider how to address this legitimacy deficit. Does he keep signing large cheques to keep a troublesome province quiet, much as Ms Thatcher used to do every time Malcolm Rifkind threatened to resign? Does he give Scotland a chance to say in or out? And does he insist on the Barnett formula in reverse? For every cut in English budgets to come, should Scotland be made to swallow its share?

Anonymous said...

........No loss!

Anonymous said...

Sammy Mc Nally,

Horseman,

Ulster is still doomed - it might just take a little longer than you thought. But North and South Belfast do still look very promising.

Colm said...

Nordie Northsider said...
Can't agree that Unionism has lost a seat. Naomi Long is a unionist.


She said on BBC1 on Sunday "I am not a unionist."

seamus kilby said...

I have to marginally adjust the above - the unionist total was about 50.4%. However the U/N gap is narrowing. As regards tacical voting, both sides did it - e.g. with Naomi Long -and it probably cancelled out overall.

Paddy Canuck said...

Forget soccer, forget cricket... statistics is the new national sport of Northern Ireland. :)

Paddy Canuck said...

What I can't get over, though, is how many of these people hold umpteen offices simultaneously. When I read that Robinson lost, I was initially puzzled. I thought, wait, isn't he, like, the First Minister of Northern Ireland? This was an election to the House of Commons! How could he have lost? Did I miss hearing about him resigning from Stormont to run for Westminster?

But that's just it; I remembered... no, this goes on all the time in NI. After all, wasn't Ian Paisley an MP, MLA, MEP, Lord Dog Catcher, Exchequer of the Privies, and Deputy Minister for Quangos all at the same time? How is this legal, or even constitutional? I thought I'd heard that they'd moved to end this kind of conflict of interest... no?

hoboroad said...

The death knell for Unionism in Ulster?
DAVID BLACKBURN 5:06pm
Last Thursday was a dreadful night for the Unionists in Ulster. Six months of unionist divisions, dissent and defections culminated in a near decimation of the Unionist vote. There was an 8.7 percent against the DUP, whose self-induced crisis was embodied by Peter Robinson’s humiliating defeat. The Ulster Unionists have been eradicated. Slyvia Hermon was one of many to resist Sir Reg Empey’s pact with the Tories and overall there was a 2.7 percent swing against the party. Infighting will prevail. The anti-Conservative Michael McGimpsey is apparently in the mix to succeed Empey.

Blame must be apportioned to the Conservatives’ efforts to create a non-sectarian centre-right alliance in Ulster. Secular politics is admirable; but, as I argued here and here, Tory interference was diluting the Unionist vote, which is not uniformly conservative. And so it happened. For the first time ever, Sinn Fein polled the most votes and the SDLP beat the Ulster Unionists.

However, any claim that this electioneering compromised the peace process is absurd. The Conservative and Unionist Party is honour bound to preserve the Union - though it must reconsider strategy. Equally, the SDLP has long taken the Labour whip and that has not diminished progress at Stormont. Even Martin McGuiness conceded (in an interview with the New Statesman) that he foresees no problem in working with a Tory government. Owen Paterson’s electoral politics were self-defeating, but that is no impediment to his competence to discharge his ministerial duties.    

hoboroad said...

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/columnists/eric-waugh/sir-reg-pays-the-price-as-voters-opt-out-of-westminster-politics-14804239.html

hoboroad said...

One of the less-noticed aspects of this coalition Government is the potential for opening up a new arrangement for financing Scotland. The present situation is clearly unsatisfactory. The country raises directly only 11 per cent of the money it spends (council tax and business rates). Other taxes are set and raised by Westminster and then redistributed back to Scotland via the Barnett formula. This is bad for the Scottish Parliament, as it faces the charge that it has power to spend money without any responsibility for raising it. It is also unsatisfactory for the rest of the UK because it will be attacked for imposing cuts on Scotland as part of the general fiscal squeeze that is to come.
The present solution is an unsatisfactory patch satisfying no one. Suggestions that it should be given somewhat greater tax-varying powers, as suggested by the Calman Commission last year, have been criticised as adding complexity and uncertainty.
But there is a more radical alternative on the table, in the shape of a paper written by Professor Andrew Hughes-Hallett of St Andrews University and Professor Drew Scott of Edinburgh University, and published by Reform Scotland. Scotland would set all tax rates other than VAT, which can't be varied within an EU country. It would collect the money and then pay Westminster for shared services such as defence and foreign affairs. The paper explains how this would work in detail, and how it could be set up. Several Scottish business leaders have spoken out in support.
So where does the Government stand on this. Well, the new Scottish Secretary, Danny Alexander, did call for "full home rule for Scotland" in his March Lib Dem conference speech. But he was also in favour of Calman's ideas, which are far from "full home rule". In any case, the world has now changed and we don't know what our new PM thinks. But if you really believe in handing power down, the idea that Scotland manage its own finances must be worth pondering.