Another constituency with a worrying drop in DUP support. The DUP has never had had 3 full quotas but to find themselves sitting below 2 for the first time in a long time is telling. I think Gregory Campbell will hold this seat but this is far from where they would want to be. It's hard to see where the opposition is. The TUV will probably field Boyd Douglas as Willie Ross (the former anti-agreement UUP MP) will likely not run as he must be pretty old now. Also not sure who the UUP candidate would be. I'm not sure Lesley Macaulay is even in the party anymore. I'd go for the former mayor of Coleraine David Harding on the basis I can't think of anyone else from the party and likely no one else can either. SF will again be annoyed to show a small drop and the SDLP a small increase. The small 'other' nationalist likely comes from the small sliver of Banagher and Claudy moved into the constituency which had a couple of independents (one formerly of the IRSP I believe) standing. The SDLP made a small inroad into SF's half quota lead. With John Dallat back on the ballot I'd say he will be well placed to close that gap a little further. I think the SDLP target will be to shrink the gap with SF further as in 2011 despite 6 pts between them the SDLP's superior balancing lead to them gaining Alliance transfers and their trail runner almost finished ahead of SF's no.2 which could have lead to an unlikely SDLP challenge for the last seat. As it was they got one seat as their vote warranted. The Alliance have remained steady and could count on most of those NI21 votes as a bonus. However I think ultimately the SDLP has most to gain from a higher Alliance turnout here.
A thought also for poor David McClarty who lost his battle with cancer. His popularity was demonstrated by winning a seat from his own (ex-)party and getting more than the two official UUP candidates combined. They certainly appear to be gene-pool UUP votes as the UUP seems to only be up to the level they already were at in 2010.
I don't think the DUP would endure the indignity of trying to rally unionists to them to keep SF out as it would only highlight their poor standing. The TUV probably feel content to stand here in 2010 without splitting the unionist vote too much. The nationalist vote is too evenly split anyway for the 35-36% nationalist vote to threaten the seat. The TUV would be well placed to pick up an assembly seat directly from the DUP here, so I think they must compete here to try and cement their support around one candidate for 2016.
I usually prefer to let the blogs cover the actual candidates' conduct while I speculate on the numbers but given the dearth of information on the East Londonderry constituency I decided to throw in this little nugget I saw in the media: www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-29886175
So the sitting MP asks a question of minority language development by mocking the irish language. My first reaction is that this'll blow over, if for no other reason, that he Gregory Campbell has form on lazy bigotry. I think when an individual has a track record of this kind of comment over 30 years, they soon become a parody of themselves. Paisley certainly was. Now his fans expect it of him. SF I'm sure will try to make hay out of this but there is a serious point in all of this: What minimum standards should politicians be expected to meet and how can they be held to account. Earlier this year we had the extraordinary spectacle of the First Minister, without a hint of shame or compunction, saying he'd only trust muslims to "run down to the shops for him" and "bring him back the right change". I personally think not only did the FM see nothing wrong with his comments but probably even felt charitable by throwing out the scenario when he would trust muslims. Combined with other everyday bigotry comments that we have probably all encountered, the question which springs to my mind is: What kind of bubble do you have to live in, to feel this is a sensible way to behave?
Is it a case of: as long as the people insulted are in no position to remove you from office then it's fair enough?
Personally I'd love to here from people in his constituency, particularly unionists, to ask why he remains so popular? This seems like a constituency that produces a fair degree of noticeably moderate likeable unionists (Lesley McAuley, David Harding, David McClarty (RIP)) that people could vote for instead but Gregory (who's still a blow-in) wins out.
I've already noticed cynics even speculating that his comments serve as a useful distraction from his colleagues severe budget cuts announced on the same day. While I'm not convinced they are THAT calculating (can't rule it out either though), I do wonder if Gregory regularly throws this nonsense out there just to get his name out there again in the minds of anyone thinking of voting TUV next year. The TUV and other unionists appeared to have a strong election in this constituency earlier in the year and that seems to come at the expense of the DUP, so I do get curious if this is just done to keep his personal vote intact.
Gregory is an embarrasment full stop. He has no shame and recently bothered to go to the beach boys concert and tweet whilst they performed sloop John B that 'no-one was offended funny that! For those who dont know the hugely offensive sectarian famine song is sung to the tune of sloop John B. Only in Northern Ireland do elected representatives get away with such ludicrous remarks. Although this is a fairly safe Unionist seat I was amazed in 2010 that the TUV stood and not only that fielded the former UUP MP for the area Willie Ross. I was then surprised that he polled so poorly and also that nationalists didnt really bother to vote. If this time the Unionist vote is split very evenly here and nationalists bothered to vote it could get very interesting as you could have 5 parties in the mix. Alliance will also stand but be miles away. I know Sf wil be targeting North Belfast first and foremost and then Upper Bann but they or the SDLP could have a sniff here in a perfect storm. However just like Upper Bann they have to get their vote out something they have struggled to do in these constituencies in the past for some strange reason.
I can see Gregory winning the seat comfortably with only around 25-30% of the vote. Under AV I dont think he would be elected and a more moderate unionist candidate would prevail, but I cant see another candidate breaking 20% here. I dont think anyone else can see DUP losing here either which means less resources are thrown in and it becomes self fulfilling that DUP hold. On the 2014 numbers the 3rd DUP seat would most likely go TUV probably well under quota.
I have no doubt Gregory Campbell will win either, but I'm not convinced he'd lose under AV because my of the nationalists (more likely SF) would probably be 2nd with three candidates remaining meaning the last unionist elimination would push Gregory over. The reverse is true in say, Newry and Armagh. SF only has around 40-42% of the vote, but an AV election probably wouldn't help the SDLP as the UUP would likely have 33/34% of the vote on the last elimination resulting in SDLP transfers mostly going to SF.
Another reason I'm sure Gregory will win is that the main TUV challenger in the area (Boyd Douglas) pulls these kind of stunts on Limavady Borough Council: I seem to remember an article about him bringing a small union flag into a meeting and sitting it on his desk, in contravention of the council's flag policy. If that kind of thing impresses the electorate then Gregory is well on his way to defending the seat.
Hi Charlie Thinking it through again, you are spot on in your above analysis. A moderate unionist candidate would need to pull in the bulk of alliance transfers and then a sizeable minority of SDLP transfers which is unrealistic. As for the stunt Gregory pulled, its sad but it wont affect any core vote, just ensure more moderate voters give up on voting altogether.
And now Gerry Adams is getting his own death threats. I have to be honest here and say as unpleasant as receiving them is to anyone, given Gregory has been targeted before and Gerry has been shot numerous times, a threat like this is probably a badge of honour. Besides any nutter can call up an office anonymously and make a death threat. In the twisted world of Northern Ireland politics, where some people spend literally their whole lives either identifying a grievance or failing on the 'other side' it's not beyond the realms of possibilty that a death threat is actually by your own supporters to gain you street cred/sympathy.
In any case, in most of the killings in Northern Ireland, there is no threat issued. They just roll up beside the target in an unmarked car or whatever and do it. If you want someone dead that badly why give them a heads up?
Caoimhe ARCHIBALD - Sinn Féin Yvonne BOYLE - Alliance Party Gregory CAMPBELL - Democratic Unionist Party - D.U.P. William MCCANDLESS - Ulster Unionist Party Gerry MULLAN - SDLP (Social Democratic & Labour Party) Neil Jason PAINE - Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol Elizabeth Anne ST CLAIR-LEGGE - Conservatives