Assembly Election 2017: Foyle

The key difference between Assembly 2016 and Assembly 2017 is that only five MLAs will be elected from each constituncy. For at least eighteen MLAs and their staff, this election has come four years too early.
The percentage of votes required to get elected…the quota…will be higher but I am not thinking in terms of percentages. Rather I am thinking in terms of votes cast in May last year and the number of votes likely to be cast this year.
Too often …analysts with some justification …focus on the statistics of elections. Arguably this one is different. There might actually be Politics involved.

So …Foyle
May 2016: Quota: 5672
SDLP (2 seats) 11900
Sinn Féin (2 seats) 11300
DUP (1 seat) 4737
People Before Profit (1 seat) 4176
Others: Independent (McCloskey) 3410, Independent (Devaney) 1173, Independent (Bradley) 900, UUP 1420, CISTA 259, Alliance 238, Green 157, Tory 36.

2017 Candidates:
SDLP: Colum Eastwood, Mark H Durkan,
Both outgoing.
Sinn Féin: Raymond McCartney, Eilish McCallion.
McCartney is outgoing. Martin McGuinness has retired.
DUP: Gary Middleton.
Outgoing.
People Before Profit: Eamonn McCann.
Outgoing.
UUP: Julia Kee.
Stood last year
Alliance: Colm Cavanagh.
Green: Shannon Downey
CISTA: John Lindsay
Tory: Stuart Canning

Likely Turnout.
There are three scenarios.
People will be so disgusted at Stormont itself, that they just dont come out.
They are so disgusted at DUP-Sinn Féin, they will turn out.
DUP and Sinn Féin will play the bogey man card and people do turn out.

My gut feeling is that this election is a little like the 1998 Referendum on the Good Friday Agreement. Unlikely people will vote.
I am guessing at most 42,000 votes and a quota of 7,000.

The Independent Anne McCloskey polled well in 2016. Her 3,000 votes will go in a ratio of 2:1 for SDLP. With Colum Eastwood performing well as SDLP Leader and the retirement of Martin McGuinness, Id expect SDLP to gain from Eamonn McCann and to increase from 11,900 to 14,000 …there are two safe quotas.
Likewise Devaney (ex DUP) stood last year and his 1,000 votes should go to Gary Middleton. He may need transfers from Julia Kee when she is eliminated but he should get elected.
I expect Sinn Féin to slip back to 10,500…only safe for one seat.
But Eamonn McCann…..sometimes I wonder that despite his constant standing in elections, he never expected or wanted to be elected in 2016. Getting elected interupted his busy schedule of being interviewed on Derry’s Walls and generally pontificating to younger people (yes I recognise a kindred spirit).
His support for BREXIT should help him get unelected in 2017.

SDLP 2. Sinn Féin 2. DUP 1.

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Assembly Election 2017: West Tyrone

The key difference between Assembly 2016 and Assembly 2017 is that only five MLAs will be elected from each constituncy. For at least eighteen MLAs and their staff, this election has come four years too early.
The percentage of votes required to get elected…the quota…will be higher but I am not thinking in terms of percentages. Rather I am thinking in terms of votes cast in May last year and the number of votes likely to be cast this year.
Too often …analysts with some justification …focus on the statistics of elections. Arguably this one is different. There might actually be Politics involved.

So …West Tyrone
May 2016: Quota: 5545
Sinn Féin: (3 seats) 16304
DUP (1 seat) 8534
UUP (1 seat) 4441
SDLP (1 seat) 4287
Others: Independent (Deehan) 1778, Independent (McAnespy) 828, Independent (Kelly) 661, Independent (French) 124, Independent (White) 85, Cannabis 547, Alliance 494, Green 458, Animal Welfare 224, Tory 44.

2017 Candidates:
Sinn Féin: Barry McElduff, Michaela Boyle, Declan McAleer.
All outgoing. Four candidates in 2016.
DUP: Thomas Buchanan
Outgoing. Two candidates in 2016
UUP: Alicia Clarke.
Replaces Ross Hussey who is standing down.
SDLP: Daniel McCrossan.
Outgoing.
Cannabis: Barry Brown.
Stood in 2016.
Alliance: Stephen Donnelly.
Stood last year.
Green: Ciaran McClean.
Stood last year.
Tory: Roger Lomas.
Stood last year.
TUV: Charlie Chittick.
Independent:Corey French
Independent: Susan Ann White
Independent: Sorcha McAnespy.
Independent: Roisin McMackin

Likely Turnout.
There are three scenarios.
People will be so disgusted at Stormont itself, that they just dont come out.
They are so disgusted at DUP-Sinn Féin, they will turn out.
DUP and Sinn Féin will play the bogey man card and people do turn out.

My gut feeling is that this election is a little like the 1998 Referendum on the Good Friday Agreement. Unlikely people will vote.
I am guessing at most 41,000 votes and a quota of just under 7,000.

Last year, Sinn Féin had four candidates (over 16,000 votes)as well as an ex-member, Sorcha McAnespy who took over 800 votes. I dont think it likely that McAnespy will take so many this time. Sinn Féin wont balance perfectly. At best 16,000 votes and two quotas.
SDLP (4287 votes) vote was affected by two disaffected councillors (Deehan and Kelly) who polled over 2,300 votes between them. Since then Daniel McCrossan has established himself in the Assembly. The Party in West Tyrone has had a lot of internal dissent going back more than a decade but a former MLA, Eugene McMenamin has signed Dan’s nomination papers and this time around there is no mutiny. Most of the disaffected voters will return. He will be around the quota. If required, the transfers from eliminated Greens, Alliance and Cannabis Party will be enough.

On the unionist side, Thomas Buchanan (DUP) will lose some of his votes to TUV but is likely to over the quota.
UUP?…a new candidate will be unlikely to poll as well as last year and will be short of a quota but there will be DUP transfers and some ALliance transfers which will bring Alicia Clarke closer.
It is going to be close for the final seat.

Sinn Féin 2. DUP 1. SDLP 1……UUP 1 (I will probably think SF tomorrow).

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Assembly Election 2017: East Antrim

The key difference between Assembly 2016 and Assembly 2017 is that only five MLAs will be elected from each constituncy. For at least eighteen MLAs and their staff, this election has come four years too early.
The percentage of votes required to get elected…the quota…will be higher but I am not thinking in terms of percentages. Rather I am thinking in terms of votes cast in May last year and the number of votes likely to be cast this year.
Too often …analysts with some justification …focus on the statistics of elections. Arguably this one is different. There might actually be Politics involved.

So ….East Antrim
May 2016: Quota: 4630
DUP (3 seats) 11701
UUP (1 seat) 6550
Alliance (1 seat ) 4747
Sinn Féin (1 seat) 2633
Others: TUV 1643, SDLP 1229, Green 693, Some Kinda Labour 551, PUP 455.

2017 Candidates:
DUP: David Hilditch, Gordon Lyons, Stephen Ross.
Hilditch and Lyons are outgoing. Ross replaces his brother.
UUP: Roy Beggs, John Stewart.
Beggs is outgoing. Stewart stood last year.
Alliance: Stewart Dickson, Danny Donnelly.
Stewart is outgoing. Donnelly stood last year.
Sinn Féin: Oliver McMullan
Outgoing.
SDLP: Margaret Anne McKillop.
Stood last year.
TUV: Ruth Wilson.
Stood last year.
UKIP: Noel Jordan.
Stood last year.
Some Kinda Labour: Conor Sheridan.
Stood last year.
Green: Dawn Patterson.
Tory: Alan Dunlop.
Independent: Ricky Best.

Likely Turnout.
There are three scenarios.
People will be so disgusted at Stormont itself, that they just dont come out.
They are so disgusted at DUP-Sinn Féin, they will turn out.
DUP and Sinn Féin will play the bogey man card and people do turn out.

My gut feeling is that this election is a little like the 1998 Referendum on the Good Friday Agreement. Unlikely people will vote.
I am guessing at most 36,000 votes and a quota of 6,000? Thats a low quota.

How the votes distribute between the blocs will be the key.
DUP…..11,000 wont be far away from two quotas. But the distribution will be around 4,000, 4,000 and 3,000.
UUP should be in excess of the quota and Beggs will be well ahead of his running mate. A similar position for Alliance.
TUV will poll a little better and UKIP a little worse than in 2016.
It looks like a case where eliminations of the also-rans…Green, Tory, Labour and Independent will add to totals and then the elimination of middle rankers….SDLP, second Alliance, UKIP and second UUP will leave around seven serious contenders.
When the dust settles, DUP will have two seats, UUP one and Alliance one.
And the fifth seat. TUV wont be far away. But ultimately it is DUP or Sinn Féin.
DUP 2. UUP 1. ALliance 1. Sinn Féin 1.

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Assembly Election 2017 Newry-Armagh

The key difference between Assembly 2016 and Assembly 2017 is that only five MLAs will be elected from each constituncy. For at least eighteen MLAs and their staff, this election has come four years too early.
The percentage of votes required to get elected…the quota…will be higher but I am not thinking in terms of percentages. Rather I am thinking in terms of votes cast in May last year and the number of votes likely to be cast this year.
Too often …analysts with some justification …focus on the statistics of elections. Arguably this one is different. There might actually be Politics involved.

So ….Newry-Armagh
May 2016: Quota: 6819
Sinn Féin (3 seats) 19514
SDLP (1 seats) 8700
DUP ( 1 seat) 7980
UUP (1 seat) 6745
Others: Independent (Berry) 1665, Independent (McAllister) 940, CISTA 1032, Alliance 493, Green 335, UKIP 315.

2017 Candidates:
Sinn Féin: Conor Murphy, Cathal Boylan, Meagan Fearon
All outgoing.
SDLP: Justin McNulty
Outgoing
DUP: William Irwin
Outgoing.
UUP: Danny Kennedy
Outgoing
Green: Rowan Tunnicliffe
Alliance: Jackie Coade
CISTA: Emmet Crossan.

Likely Turnout.
There are three scenarios.
People will be so disgusted at Stormont itself, that they just dont come out.
They are so disgusted at DUP-Sinn Féin, they will turn out.
DUP and Sinn Féin will play the bogey man card and people do turn out.

My gut feeling is that this election is a little like the 1998 Referendum on the Good Friday Agreement. Unlikely people will vote.
I am guessing at 48,000 votes and a quota of 8,000. Thats a very high quota. Only nine candidates and three are also-rans.

If William Irwin (DUP) retains his own vote and takes some of the Paul Berry votes and the UKIP votes, then he will exceed the quota on the first count.
Fellow unionist Danny Kennedy of UUP will be short of a quota.
On the nationalist side, Justin McNulty should exceed the quota.
For Sinn Féin, it is more problematic. Around 21,000 votes split three ways does not look promising and whether SF favour two of their people (Murphy and Fearon) more than Boylan might be a cause of disagreement when territory is marked out. If SF really try to distribute their vote equally, it does not look likely that any of the three will exceed the quota.
Danny Kennedy has already gone on record as saying that he wont be transferring to SDLP. In his case, it is academic as he wont have votes to transfer. Rather he is looking for a lifeline from Irwin. Irwin’s surplus will take him to the quota.
SDLP voters in Newry-Armagh would be crazy to transfer to Kennedy as there is clearly no reciprocation. Most of McNulty’s transferrable vote will go to the Sinn Féin candidates.

Cannabis and Green transfers will go “left” and at best Alliance transfers will be mixed.
Clearly SF will get two seats.
The fifth seat is either SF or UUP…..I think UUP is more likely.

Sinn Féin 2. SDLP 1. DUP 1. UUP 1

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South Belfast Hustings

A crowded hall/church  at the Methodist Agape Centre, Lisburn Road, Belfast last night. South Belfast hustings. Organised by two students (one still not eligible to vote) thru Challenges NI.

A crowded hall/church but not a crowded platform. DUP, UUP, TUV and People Before Profit were “no-shows”. A report on the 2016 event is in the archives of this Blog. Last year Máirtín Ó Muilleoir was the only “no-show”.

Last year I said that I liked the Panel much better than I liked the Audience, which was too “right on” in the manner of young MetroTextuals in South Belfast. Too anti-politician for my taste. Whatever the shortcomings of politicians of ANY Party, they have the courage to show their heads above the parapet.

Last year, I singled Christopher Stalford (DUP) for some praise as  he (and Claire Hanna) had defended Fearghal McKinney from a charge of sectarianism levelled by a strange member of the audience. That was decent.

Last night William Crawley joked that last year his life had been saved by a member of the Alliance Party (it was Duncan Morrow) but he might have mentioned the potential assassin was a lifelong Alliance voter.

Last year, there were two sessions. There was an undercard for the also-rans. ..a warm-up for the main players. Last night with seven participants, the minor Party candidates, Lily Kerr (Workers), Sean Burns (Cross Community Labour) and Stephen Jaubert (Conservative) got to share the stage with Claire Bailey (Green), Claire Hanna (SDLP), Emmet McDonough-Brown (Alliance) and Máirtín Ó Muilleoir (Sinn Féin).

The good thing about arriving early is that you can spot little groups forming. And when the candidates arrive, they seek out these groups. Thus Greens were seated to my left, just behind the Workers Party folks. Alliance a few seats in front of me….and I daresay each Party had a little cluster of their own. I would assume William Crawley was trying to select questioners from each group as well as questions from “civilians”.

Crawley asked the participants to introduce themselves in non-political terms.

Lily Kerr is a grandmother, veteran UNISON official and a shop steward since she was 15 years old. Sean Burns is a 20 year old and starting off on the socialist journey. Stephen Jaubert is a Tory…a Syrian migrant granted access to “UK ” for his key skills. Complete with blue rosette, he appeared like a Conservative Party member sent along by Central Casting.

Young Emmett  and Claire Bailey are actually quite similar. “Westies”, Claire is from Clonard and told the familiar tale of being in the first intake of twenty-eight students into Lagan College in 1981. And Emmett has made the same journey from West to South.

There is I think more to it than a physical move. One of the veteran Alliance contributors on Slugger O’Toole used to go on about the same “journey”.

Of course there are two different types of ex-Westies. One that quickly kicks off the dust of Beechmount and Turf Lodge and reinvents themselves in Carryduff. The other ex-Westie leaves Grosvenor Road and Ballymurphy and claims that he/she is still the same old boy/girl from the ‘hood.  A bit like Jimmy Tarbuck slabbering on about Liverpool.

Máirtín ÓMuilleoir is another Westie….and still lives there. Claire Hanna had the best line. She is having a baby at the end of March….just a few weeks after the Election. “This election will not be about Delivery”

The first question of the night was on RHI. EVeryone was suitably outraged at the DUP and Sinn Féin and Ó Muilleoir who was suitably indignant that Sinn Féin are also in the dock. He tried his own Timeline of events but the audience were having none of that. They were after all a government.

He was certainly punching back or lashing out from being on the ropes. And was saved by the bell, in what seemed a very short round.

The question on Bus Lanes and traffic congestion in South Belfast was obviously local. SInn Féin Minister Chris Hazzard was widely praised by SDLP, Greens, Alliance for his general attitude but all opposed his recent decisions were queried. Ó Muilleoir tried to justify it as an “experiment”, a bad choice of words as an audience member wondered allowed how the success could be measured …dead bodies and broken limbs?

There was pretty widespread condemnation of unionist failure to attend as Equal Marriage and “Reproductive Rights” were discussed. The parties on the platform were mostly on the same page.

The politicians from minor parties had been given a comparatively easy ride. Lily Kerr was appearing as your favourite, outspoken auntie. Sean Burns was your favourite nephew, with his mates at the back of the hall….all with matching fluffy facial hair.

Stephen the Tory had been given an easy ride largely because so few people had actually seen a Tory in real life. But ironically he lost the room with his defence of Tory refugee and migrant policies. South Belfast…or at least those in the room are overwhelmingly pro-migrant and extremely humane. It was very reassuring.

My vrecollection is that this is the point that Máirtín had to leave for another appointment on Ravenhill Road. So he missed the Brexit Question.

Lily, Sean and Stephen had all voted to “LEAVE” and this was the point that the audience turned against the minor parties. I dont suppose that this audience was representative but it was very Europhile. All the major candidates were “REMAINERS” and all presented visions of the horrors to come….and a tacit acceptance here that Claire Hanna was the most authorative.

Lily Kerr talked about a “rich mans club” and tried to argue that she had not voted for BREXIT …she had voted for her own “LEXIT” (a Left Exit). It was a silly point and she lost the favourite aunt tag. Sean was no longer patronised …he was just dismissed as naive. And Stephen was a Tory…and nobody really had any sympathy for the view that we should trust Theresa May.

I am not sure how Sinn Féins lukewarm non campaign and subsequent posing could have been explained away by Máirtín.

And that was it.

What did we learn? DUP did not show up. Nor did TUV. Not their type of audience. But UUP not showing up was a surprise. I know as little about Michael Henderson now as I did last week. He should have taken advantage of the platform. Likewise Paidraigin Mervyn of People Before Profit.

Well you’d expect me to say that Claire Hanna performed best and she probably did. It was easy for her in the sense that she was the most experienced “Opposition” politician and basically it was straightforward to target Ó Muilleoir as the Finance Minister who didnt know what was going on. Claire Bailey was ok…played to her strengths (Feminism) . I liked Emmet, who was very direct, not a waffler and obviously to the left of his running mate in this election.

Ó Muilleoir….well which Máirtín was it? The one I saw last year at an Easter 1916 Commemoration, calling for “bualaidh bós” for the next MLA for Strangford (Dermot Kennedy). …or “NewBelfast” reading poetry as he cycles along the Lagan Towpath. Either way, he seemed downright offended that anyone would even question his performance over the last ten months.

 

 

 

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The Campaign So Far

The problem with this campaign is the contradictions. The biggest contradiction is speculation about Turnout. Some tell me it will be better than last year. Applications to get on the register are allegdly up…but some canvassers are being told that people are not voting.

Maybe both are right…maybe there are regional variations or maybe different parties are getting different reactions. The “good response on the doorstep” quote is a cliché. But obviously in a lot of cases, it is true. Maybe there is actual movement.

Reading “The Tyrone Courier” in a barbers in Dungannon two weeks ago , there was no election coverage except for those clichéd photographs of candidates and supporters handing in nomination papers. In a coffee shop in Newtownards, the ladies were in guarded conversation.

There does not seem to be many “sweepers”. It looks like some votes wont actually count. More votes than candidates.

Claims that UUP AND SDLP are eating into veteran Trevor Lunn’s Alliance vote in Lagan Valley but Alliance doing well in East Belfast and North Down.

Violence….casual sexism, sectarianism, homophobia or just unpleasantness at doorsteps, a bullet sent to a pregnant SDLP candidate (Nichola Mallon) and the fire-boming of a SF agents car in Bangor….and the casual theft of election posters.

I will be glad when it is all over.

 

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Alliance Ask The Questions…But Only To Each Other

I am indebted to “Hoboroad” for the link to the Alliance Party scandal. Basically a sub group of activists asking easy questions of their candidates on radio phone-ins. Many will find it difficult to believe that the Party of Saint Naomi, Blessed Paula and Archangel Stewart would stoop to such a shabby tactic.

The tactic might be shabby but it is the kinda thing that works. If an Alliance big wig is on the radio for an hour, it is agood idea to fill up as much air time as possible with friendly questioners and easy topics.

Obviously the callers dont identify themselves as Alliance Party members and a bad idea to ask a follow up question like “what are we having for dinner tonight….and call at Tesco and bring home a bottle of milk with you”.

In its own way, it is the same kinda scandal as the DUP NOT answering questions.

I am looking forward  (possibly in vain) to the Slugger O’Toole thread on the Alliance Party scandal. No doubt the  “secret” Alliance Facebook group would challenge any idea that this is a scandal….because Alliance dont do scandals.

At least thats one problem I dont have on this Blog.

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