The Northern Ireland Election aftermath

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Well what a night! After twittering away into the wee small hours and finally getting to bed, I find it is the day after the night before.

Now all the seats have been returned what does this tell us?

Well, Sinn Fein have the largest share with 25.5% of the votes, DUP come in a very close second with 25%, SDLP are third with 16.5% and UCUNF fourth with 15.2%.  That totals (in the inimitable sectarian head count) a 42% Nationalist share and a 40.2% Unionist Share of the big two on each side. Counting in the Unionist share for Sylvia of 3.1% the Unionist total rises to 43.3%.  The Alliance Party sits at 6.3% share of the vote with the different independents (other than Sylvia) reaching 4%.

The overall turnout was 57.6%.  This was the lowest turnout of all the four countries (England tops it with 65.5%, Wales next with 64.9% and then Scotland with 63.8%)

This all translated into 

DUP 8 seats
Sinn Fein 5 seats
SDLP 3 seats
Alliance 1 seat
UCUNF (Conservatives and Unionists) 0 seats

The biggest upset of the night was Naomi Long (Alliance) unseating Peter Robinson (DUP) in East Belfast.  

The closest run seat was Fermanagh and South Tyrone with only 4 votes in it to allow Michelle Gildernew (Sinn Fein) to remain its MP (this was after no less than 3 recounts!).  The fight in Fermanagh and South Tyrone really brought a lot of the voters out (it was seen as a fight between the incumbent Michelle Gildernew of Sinn Fein and Rodney Connor, the independent Unionist Unity candidate)

The biggest majority was Gerry Adams (Sinn Fein) in West Belfast with a majority of 17, 579.

The best polling Independent was Sylvia Hermon (Ind Unionist) in North Down who kept her seat.

The best success was, in my opinion, the SDLP who retained their 3 seats (Foyle, South Belfast, and South Down).

The biggest flop was the UCUNF (Conservatives and Unionists - the alliance of the Conservative Party and the UUP) who returned no MPs and the Conservatives just managed a hung Parliament.  Though negotiations are ongoing with the Liberal Democrats to form a government.

The biggest non-event was the TUV.  The TUV took about 66,197 votes in the European election, could only manage 26,300 votes this time around with the highest polling TUV candidate, Jim Allister, hitting 7,114 votes in North Antrim.

The Unionist vote was down -7.4% (DUP -8.7%, UUP -2.6% & TUV 3.9%). Though this would be raised upward if Sylvia Hermon's and Rodney Connor's share were included by a couple of points or so.  The Nationalist vote was marginally up by +0.2% (Sinn Fein +1.2% & SDLP -1%).

The biggest let down? Voter turnout.  Normally Northern Ireland likes to say it has a very high turnout rate, but the figures show a different image with a turnout of 57.6% (the 2005 Westminster election saw a turnout of 63.5%).  Although the highest turnout in Northern Ireland was in Fermanagh and South Tyrone with 68.9% of a turnout of voters.  All 'Nationalist' areas polled high, with 'Unionist' areas polled low.

So what does this tell us?  Unionism, at the General Election, has, in Mike Nesbitt's words, taken a "bloody nose". It has lost a seat at Westminster and overall voting percentage is down.  This has already led to calls of 'Unionist unity' (something I may discuss in another post).  But I think one of the biggest issues is not 'Unionist unity' but more voter apathy in unionist areas.  

Sore Feet and the DUP

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I can not claim this piece. It was sent to me by a friend whom I shall refer to as 'Sore Feet' ;).

Created to ‘strengthen Northern Ireland’s position within the UK’, the DUP have spent their whole existence convincing protestants in Northern Ireland that they alone can keep the union together.

This message has been the core of the DUP mantra at every election since the 1970’s – until this one.

This election has created a paradigm shift in politics in Northern Ireland. Suddenly, according to the DUP, being a strong and equal part of the United Kingdom is second to protecting the ‘special’ status that excludes Northern Ireland from ever becoming anything other than an unwieldy bolt-on.

When the leader of one of the two main political parties in the UK states clearly and repeatedly that he refuses to accept Northern Ireland as a ‘semi-detached state’- making the full inclusion of Northern Ireland a central pillar of his leadership, you would expect the party that has worn its ‘unionist’ credentials like a Chelsea pensioner wears his campaign medals to hail this as a historical moment for unionism in Northern Ireland.

Strangely, the DUP – the party that only exists to ensure Northern Irelands place in the UK – has done everything it can to undermine this support from the man who could be the next Prime Minister.  The DUP have changed their fundamental stance from demanding to be an equal within the UK to ‘Northern Ireland needs to be treated differently to England, Scotland and Wales’.

Could it possibly be that the DUP have now decided that they prefer being the big fish in the small pond so much that they are prepared to undermine their very reason for existence?  Their shallow cries of ‘unionist unity’ seem to miss the point that if they were prepared to step aside from their own ‘exclusionist’ agenda, Northern Ireland could find itself in the strongest position in history regarding membership of the UK.

The simple fact is that if the DUP could put down their sectarian sword and their exclusionist shield, Northern Ireland could make the next step in the process of ‘growing up’.  If the Conservative party are prepared to make a committed stand on Northern Irelands membership of the UK, Labour and the Liberal Democrats would be forced to follow (Labour are already rumoured to be considering running Council candidates in Northern Ireland next year).

The very thought of a Westminster election in 2014/15 which sees Labour, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives standing candidates in every constituency, without the childish infighting that defines ‘Northern Ireland Unionists’ is the biggest example of ‘unionist unity’ that anyone can imagine.

The only argument that seems to be coming from the DUP to explain why they are against the move to offer ‘real’ politics to the people is that if they are independent they can fight for what is best for Northern Ireland.  Even with a hung parliament, do they really believe that 9 DUP MP’s will have any power to ensure that we get more than England Scotland or Wales?

The DUP need to decide very quickly if they are really a party that wants Northern Ireland to be an equal member of the UK or have they become the Northern Ireland independence party

I think Sore Feet's fundamental point is that the DUP have a major question to ask themselves, are they in favour of playing a full role as a fundamental part of the UK, or are they going to take a similar position as the SNP and Plaid Cymru?  That position is about the break up of the UK as the SNP want full independence from the rest of the UK and Plaid Cymru is not far behind.

I suppose keeping independence in a hung Parliament is an argument that can be put forward with some credence.  However, while the practicalities are there, the principles of Unionism' have gone out the window as well as any ability to obtain what in the end both the DUP and the UUP want, that of economic stability, job creation and private sector growth.

A hung Parliament is not good for Northern Ireland, is not good for Scotland, is not good for Wales and is not good for England. the focus will be taken away from decisive leadership to mired and murky side-deals.  I thought people wanted a  new politics, cleaner, more transparent and decisive? A hung Parliament will drag us all back into the political scandals that have rocked Parliament the past couple of years.

Come what may, Friday will be a turning point in all our lives as it will have determined who the next government will be for the next four to five years.  

Maybe the DUP, Sinn Fein and the SDLP will remain unchanged.  Maybe things WILL change.  

But if you don't try to change then there is no point in complaining when things stay the same, or even get worse.  

I will be Voting for Change on 6 May.  Please join me and Sore Feet in making that change happen.

[If anyone wants to get an opinion piece up on my blog just hit the 'contact me' button on the top of the page]

My Conservative and Unionist (& peppa) adventures at La Mon (pt4)

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Well, through a bit of messing about and even Eamonn Mallie's intersession Hannah, Freya, Peppa, Kitty and even I got a photo with David Cameron.

Woohoo!!!


My Conservative and Unionist (& peppa) adventures at La Mon (pt3)

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David Cameron's ETA has been put back a bit but he is on his way.

It has taken quite a chunk out of his day today, and to me at least shows how important he holds Northern Ireland.  So, fair play David.

I have in the meantime been given a few extracts of what David is to say today .  


He is to say to the people gathered at La Mon that,

Our two great parties have created a dynamic new electoral force for Northern Ireland.  And it’s because we made that step that today we are not just saying that we are the party of the union. We are showing that we are the party of the union.  The party of Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England – with candidates standing in every part of the United Kingdom.


Nobody else can say that. Not Labour. Not the Liberal Democrats. And none of the local parties here in Northern Ireland. So why is this so important?


It’s important because of our deep commitment to the union.  So let me repeat the pledge I made to you in Belfast a year and a half ago. I will never be neutral on the Union.


We passionately believe that England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are stronger together, weaker apart – and the union of our two parties strengthens those bonds. But our new electoral force is also important for another reason.  For as long as anyone can remember, politics here has been dominated by constitutional issues – the latest developments in the peace process.


This election presents a new opportunity to participate in the mainstream of British politics.  Mainstream politics in which issues like taxes, pensions, defence and foreign policy.  That are decided in Westminster yet affect every single person in Northern Ireland are part of the mainstream political debate.


Mainstream politics in which people in Northern Ireland can participate at all levels of government in the UK – from the council chamber right the way to the Cabinet table itself.  At this election, only Conservatives and Unionists are offering people in Northern Ireland that opportunity - the chance to elect MPs who can be part of the government of the United Kingdom.


We’ve got record government debt. Record government borrowing. Unemployment is up.  In this contract are the radical plans to dig us out of that mess.  Plans to make government accountable, stop the waste, stop Labour’s jobs tax – and get better services for the taxes you pay.  Plans to make the UK the best place in the world to do business.  Stopping the rise of red tape, lower corporation tax rates, abolishing employment taxes on the first ten jobs created by new businesses.  We’ll bring a new age of enterprise and ambition across the United Kingdom.


In this part of the UK we’ll go even further, looking at ways of turning Northern Ireland into an enterprise zone.  And we’ll produce a government paper examining how we can change the corporation tax rate here, so that we can get even more investment coming in.  We want to grow the size of the private sector in Northern Ireland to create new jobs and investment.


But let me also say this.  The country faces some difficult decisions ahead on how we will tackle the deficit.


I want people to know that if elected I will make these decisions with compassion, reasonableness and a concern for the most disadvantaged.  That is who I am and that is what a government I lead will be like.  So we will continue to fund Northern Ireland according to its needs, and we will tackle the deficit while protecting the essential frontline public services that we all rely on.  There is no way Northern Ireland will be singled out over and above any other part of the UK.


I know that for many years people in Northern Ireland felt cut off from the rest of the United Kingdom, including from the government.  I want to end that sense of isolation.


I want to give voters in Northern Ireland the right – for the first time in generations – to vote for a party capable of forming the government of our United Kingdom to enable people in Northern Ireland to play their full part in the affairs of the country as a whole and to realise at long last the basic democratic right to equal citizenship within the United Kingdom.


That can only happen through the partnership of our two parties.  Other parties can talk about this.  Only Conservatives and Unionists can deliver.  Of all the parties standing in Northern Ireland at this election – only we can form the government of our country.


Of all the parties standing in Northern Ireland at this election – only we can get a decisive mandate and strong majority in the House of Commons.  Of all the parties promising change – only we can deliver it.




Well, he will be really putting forward his Unionist credentials and highlighting once again how he wants to help businesses and put \northern Ireland at the very heart of government.

He will give a very clear indication as well that the Conservatives and Unionists (the link with the UUP) is the only show in town.

My Conservative and Unionist (& peppa) adventures at La Mon (pt2)

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Well, it is 12.25 and still no sign of David - though I have been told he is in the air.

It should be an interesting

Sandwiches and an impromptu picnic methinks. Hannah, Freya, Kitty and Peppa.

The other people here seem to be enjoying the delay using it as a time to catch up with each other on how the campaign in its final hours is going in the different constituencies.

I have also seen Owen from Three Thousand Versts here and Mark Devenport as well. Obviously lots of journalists as well.

Ah, well a bit  more waiting.  Ho hum.

My Conservative and Unionist (& peppa) adventures at La Mon (pt1)

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Well, I arrived at La Mon around 11am with kids in tow for the possible big arrival of David Cameron, who is more than likely the next Prime Minister for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

I was told the event would originally be at 11.30 but it seems put back at the moment.  Hey ho - kids to amuse now.  Which given the large crowd is easier than I first thought!

The big news at the moment is that Hannah, my eldest, has brought a very Tory Peppa Pig (who did not want to meet with Gordon) to see if she can meet David! 

We shall see. :)

David Trimble would ward against Woodward comments

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I have just seen the letter from David Trimble to Gordon Brown regarding the recent comments from  Shaun Woodward.

Woodward in an interview with the Guardian has praised Peter Robinson and dissmissed the UUP and its link up with the Conservative party.

Specifically, the Guardian highlights,

Woodward praises Peter Robinson, the DUP leader, as a "strong leader" for the way in which he pressed ahead with devolving policing powers. Woodward says Robinson understood the dangers of political uncertainty.

As an ex-Conservative, Shaun may be trying to demean the Conservatives and the UUP link up with a very personal attack on David Cameron.  Trying to keep his 'Red Flag' credentials methinks.  But it could very well back fire as it shows a Labour Party in disarray over the election.  Labour have aligned themselves with the DUP on this one with Woodward endorsing Peter Robinson.

I wonder who it will do the most damage to.

According to the Guardian Woodward basically accuses the Conservatives and Unionists of

"adopting a "reckless" approach to Northern Ireland, which threatens to destabilise the peace process by strengthening the hand of dissident republican terrorists".

Woodward is accusing the Conservatives and Unionists of threatening the Peace Process.  Hmmmm. I wonder if the DUP agree with this assessment and if they will comment on it.

Iain Dale even comments on Shaun's ludicrous assertions.

I think this is the last desperate throw of the dice by Labour to once again undermine Northern Ireland.  Lets not forget that Labour are 'neutral' on the Union whilst the Conservatives and Unionists are campaigning in Northern Ireland to get it back into the heart of the Union.

I have added the whole letter from David Trimble below.

Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing to see if the views expressed by Shaun Woodward, as our Secretary of State, in the Guardian on 2 May accurately reflect government policy.

The Secretary of State has already declared he is neutral on the Union. The Belfast Agreement is not neutral, it upholds the right of the people of Northern Ireland to be part of the United Kingdom. A Secretary of State for NI might be able to justify a general approach of neutrality as between the political parties in Northern Ireland. But by explicitly attacking of the Ulster Unionist election arrangements he is effectively asking unionists to vote for the DUP.

I therefore must ask you is it the policy of the Labour party to be neutral on the union and to encourage support for the DUP? Do you, as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom value the union with Northern Ireland?

I also have to say that it is completely unacceptable to suggest as does the Secretary of State in the Guardian article that David Cameron and Reg Empey are somehow “strengthening the hand of dissident republican terrorists" and I would hope that you would restrain the Secretary of State from making such intemperate comments. Perhaps you would encourage him to show some concern that for the first time in 88 years the police are unavailable the protect voters in the environs of our polling stations during this election.

You may also want to consider the Secretary of State’s apparent lack of concern about the recent budget cuts in NI of £435 million, resulting in Health immediately losing £113 million. Is such an assault on frontline public services congruent with Labour party policy? And if not, should not the Secretary of State have a position on the matter?

Yours sincerely,

David Trimble
The Rt. Hon the Lord Trimble

What do you think of it all?

Who can you trust for North Antrim?

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Who can you trust? Who is your hero in this election?

Watch and see (be patient and watch - it will take a little while).  You will be surprised.



Thanks to Owen at Three Thousand Versts for bringing this to my attention. :)

 

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