Can naomi Long hold East Belfast?
Mick Fealty tweets wondering whether it will be more difficult than generally assumed for the DUP to take back the East Belfast seat from Naomi Long. (Westminster).
Mick is right but so long as Alliance are given a helping hand…gerrymandering and a place on BBC Spotlight (last night it was Naomi herself) then it is important that she is defeated. Id also add that the feeling in Alliance (I asked someone) is that it was a hard seat to win in 2010 and even then they knew it was a difficult one to retain in 2015.
The 2010 Election was fought against the background of Iris Robinson (60) having an affair with a man of 20 plus. And to a lesser extent some questions about Peter Robinson himself.
It is not 2010. It is not even 2015. So there is no certainty that the next Election will be fought against the background of Flegs.
Sinn Fein, SDLP, Green,NI21, Conservative may only be worth an absolute limit of 5,000 votes but all of those parties would be unwise to give Naomi Long a free run…even if she has the sympathy of many “soft” voters.
Nor is it certain…but it IS possible that UUP will defer to DUP in East Belfast (in exchange for a free run in Strangford or South Belfast).
So could it be a straight fight between Alliance and DUP in 2015? Or effectively so with TUV needing to nibble at DUP and the other parties needing to pin back Alliance?
Certainly, walking from Ashfield Boys School (East Belfast Speaks Out) along Leafy suburban Holywood Road to a taxi office at Belmont Road was interesting. Especially at 10pm.
I do not know East Belfast at all but I was struck by how pleasant Holywood Road is.
I am only a little more familiar with Newtownards Road, Castlereagh, the Mount etc and I am always struck by how thoroughly unpleasant they are.
Inner City problems and Sectarianism would be nasty if I had encountered a gang in that area. Hence the taxi to the train station.
I am barely familiar with Belmont Road or Knock or Stormont.
Yet it strikes me that there are areas that might be described as natural DUP territory. And areas that are natural Alliance territory (more so since UUP fortunes have fallen).
The Flegs Dispute has certainly divided opinion.
Are people in East Belfast more annoyed about the removal of the Flag?
Or more annoyed about the violence on the streets?
But entirely reasonable analysis by Mick Fealty.