As the dust settles on Assembly Election 2016, possibly a good time to look at the Parties.
will be happy with going out of the old Assembly with 38 seats and coming back with exactly the same number is a good performance. It means that the transition from Peter Robinson to Arlene Foster went smoothly and the big hitters such as Sammy Wilson and Gregory Campbell confined to Westminster did not adversely affect results.
Few people with any taste for decorum will miss Campbell and Wilson from the Assembly.
More women on the benches.
Minimal vote percentage drop.
Seats: 38 (no change).
Will also be happy. The loss of just one seat to People Before Profit is an irritation. But they can still supply an army (sic) of election volunteers sheltered under gazebos outside West Belfast polling stations. Gerry Adams is gaffe-prone and increasingly a liability but they were not affected. They traded seats with SDLP (lost Fermanagh-South Tyrone and gained Upper Bann) and they will be happy with that. Elsewhere showed no real progress.
They NEED to be in Government and whether Sinn Féin or just a rank and file member of the Felons Club need to tell each other and the electorate that merely being in Stormont is enough. To admit that it is a long way short of what nationalists had expected in 1998 and that the “Conflict” was in some way a success.
But the vote share is down 2.9% and thats a worry.
Seats: 28 (minus 1).
For all of “TV Mike’s” bluster, the UUP made no progress. A marginal loss of vote-share and just one MLA in the entire City of Belfast. Very much second-fiddle to DUP in the rest of Norn Iron. No change in the number of seats. But the Party has the look of one created by Nesbitt rather than the one left to him by people like Reg Empey and Tom Elliott.
Now that there are fewer government departments, UUP might choose to take the one due to them because of the number of seats won on Thursday. With fewer members of the Executive, the UUP influence would be proportionately stronger.
SDLP will look on this election with a mixture of emotions. It was the best campaign but this did not translate into votes. It should have been better but as the results came thru on Friday, they will think it could have been worse.
They did lose three MLAs …Fearghal McKinney to the Greens, Gerard Diver to the People Before Profit and Dolores Kelly to Sinn Féin. On the upside, they took a seat from Sinn Féin….so a net loss of two seats.
The new Assembly Party is smaller, younger and looks inexperienced and they have the problem of finding a new Deputy Leader. Only Attwood and McGlone survive from the era of the Good Friday Agreement. Eastwood and Durkan are part of the 2011 intake, Hanna and McCrossan were co-opted in 2015 and the other six are all first elected on Thursday.
The Party is entitled to one Department in the new Executive. But whether they accept it is problematic. Choosing Opposition seems more dignified as well as pragmatic. The Opppsition benches look a better place to re-group. The Party will probably enter a period of reflection and have one of their usual “conversations” or “consultations” with members. No Party ever has genuine consultations. But it might all be part of Deputy Leadership campaign.
SDLP have always been the Party of the Good Friday Agreement. And there is thinly disguised that the Party resents not reaping the benefit. True, Sinn Féin have jumped on the bandwagon….but really SDLP might be the first to jump off the bandwagon.
SDLP vote dropped by 2.2% (and the combined nationalist vote fell by 5.1%).
The writing is on the wall.
Nationalist voters are apathetic at the institutions or disenchanted with the institutions.
The number of nationalist seats in the 108-member Assembly falls from 43 to 40. The Demographic Time Bomb? It has been examined by the experts and declared to be a hoax
The race is now on. Which nationalist Party will repudiate it first?
The unionist analysis is correct. “The Union is safe”
Seats: 12 (minus 2).
The biggest losers, although their vote share was only marginally down and they lost no seats. But with the threshold for the right to be Minister in the Executive being raised from eight seats to ten, Alliance failed in their target of gaining the two seats necessary to claim a Department.
In the outgoing Executive, they had two Departments being gifted the Department of Justice by DUP-SF, propping up the very people they regard as extremists. Of course they might still keep Justice thru another shabby deal but the election has put some manners on them.
They deserve failure. While other parties are vilified for half-hearted “outreach”, the Alliance Party has never tried to reach more than twenty-five miles beyond Belfast City Centre.
Really they did even look capable of adding a second seat in South Belfast, North Down or East Antrim or a third seat in East Belfast.
The interesting thing about Alliance is would anyone other than David Ford or Trevor Lunn retained South Antrim or Lagan Valley. If Ford as expected resigns as Leader and appointed to the “House of Lords for services to whatever it is David Ford does”, will he resign from the Assembly and a completely unelectable (in 2016) substitute be co-opted.
Co-Option is a GOOD thing. Extremely civilised. It is right and proper that someone is co-opted to replace a MLA who has died or suffering serious illness. It is much better than a bye-election and a seat just going to the biggest party in a constituency.
But it is important not to abuse that very civilised arrangement. Simply resigning is not a good enough reason.
The way seems clear for Saint Naomi Long to become Leader of Alliance and give us yet another rendition of “I’m just a wee girl from Bloomfield” speech.
Seats: 8 (no change).
Pretty much a disaster for Jim Allister. I certainly thought there were gains to be made in the Antrim constituencies. But Allister went out of Stormont as the sole MLA for his Party. And thats how he returns.
Seats: 1 (no change)
Perhaps the biggest phoneys in Norn Iron politics. They are NOT socialists. If you think they are, ask an unemployed miner or steelworker. Of course there are not any in Norn Iron…which is the reason that Greens get elected. They have expanded their usual policies to include Abortion Law reform. Clare Bailey has championed this for years and is now MLA for South Belfast.
Seats: 2 (minus 1)
PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT
Hailed as the big winners in this election but some perspective is needed. They have two seats. The West Belfast victory was expected but the Foyle victory less so. They will probably stage a few publicity stunts at Stormont, probably some nonsense about dress code if they show up in scruffy Tshirts and jeans. Ultimately there are only two lobbies at Stormont. There is nothing really new about PBP except they have designated themselves as “Other” rather than “nationalist” or “unionist”.
The Revolution has not started.
Certainly a little extra cash for Eamonn McCann (now 73) to supplement his pension. You might consider him a great socialist. I consider him a spoofer. I first heard him make a speech in 1968/69 and he hasnt shut up since.
A pain in the arse.
Seats: 2 (plus 2)
I should add that there is one Independent, a unionist, Clare Sugden who has held her seat in East Derry. She was co-opted on death of David McClarty during the last Assembly.