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.
Another couple of thousand votes and the Alliance might have took the seat in 1979.
Didn’t the old NILP have a sizable vote in East Belfast back in pre 69 days.
If the EB seat was in Glasgow or Liverpool it would a safe Labour seat.
Come to think of it, in Glasgow terms it might have moved by now to the more left leaning SNP.
See Glasgow East.
Oliver Napier went closer in a three way split in the 1970s.
I totally discount the old NILP of the late 1950s early 1960s. Different era.
Just to be very clear, I am not suggesting there will only be two names on the ballot paper in 2015. They will both lose votes to other parties but effectively its a head to head.
East Belfast just too hard to call for Westminster, there are a rake of opinions and parties and just wouldn’t know what way votes will swing.
Will UUP votes stay UUP, swing to DUP, or to Alliance? How strong will NI21 be?
My inkling is that East Belfast rejected DUP before on moral grounds, and will do so again – plenty are annoyed by the flags protest which is diminishing in strength. The only caveat to this is how many WestMinster votes will NI21 take and who from? If TUV took 1500 votes last time out then NI21 can do same and potential more, enough to swing the pendulum back in DUP favour
The UUP may very well stand aside I think the only thing preventing some dirty little unionist pact is if the DUP go for 2 seats in the Euros which seems highly unlikely as the numbers are just not there. Alliance won in a perfect storm but all the Robinson troubles of 2010 seem a distant memory. The DUP would win on their own but will likely get the comfort blanket of no UUP candidate. NI21 are going to take votes off Alliance so all in all Naoimi is toast ironically her biggest hope is if the fleggers vote on mass for the PUP or some other space cadet candidate but seeing as they hate Alliance even more than the DUP they will probably give DUP the vote just to make sure
dirty little unionist pact I would say they would make no bones about it …bit different to SF pulling out in South Belfast at the last minute to give SDLP a free run..slippery…dirty?
FST was a dirty little pact especially when David Cameron only a few weeks earlier boasted that a Tory candidate would stand in every consitituency in the UK. I wasnt surprised then when the deal was announced that several local Tories quit in disgust. I am no SF fan and I thought O’Connor was a fine candidate but I was delighted by the result even more so by the close nature of it, icing on the cake being Foster and McNarry making complete clowns of themselves on national TV when the first count came in. The big difference in South Belfast was that the SDLP never asked or wanted a pact and McDonnell reiterated his stance in his victory speech. SF played a blinder because although they wanted SDLP to reciprocate by pulling out of FST they got an even better result – the SDLP vote was squeezed beyond belief and the knock on effect resulted in an extra seat for SF at the following assembly election.
I do find pacts interesting but feel Unionism are over stating their importance. They worked back in the day when the single unionist candidate would come through the middle of the 2 nationalist candidates in a number of constituencies as shown here when Norn Iron looked well orange.
Those days are gone and I can only see a few constituencies where it could work. The mid ulster unity candidate last year was ridiculous as he had no hope despite even the TUV joining in on the pact. The only constituencies in play are FST, SB and NB.
Unionism threw everything and the kitchen sink into FST last time and lost so I think that has gone now. McDonnell out polled the combined unionist tally in SB so if he can keep his rainbow coalition of voters then he will win again with or without SF as he polled very few votes in the SF strongholds. That leaves us with NB and leaves the SDLP with a dilemma. Im sure they will take the moral high ground again but seriously risk a collapse of their vote. People have had enough of Dodds and McCausland and their vulgar behaviour and I feel a number of SDLP voters will lend Kelly their vote. If Alban stands he may retain his large personal support but any-one else and it will vanish.
I also find the DUP view interesting as I dont really see whats in it for them. Many have talked about them standing aside in Strangford but why would they just give up a seat they comfortably won or even SB where they out poll the UUP by several thousand votes, what exactly do the UUP bring to the table in these unity deals? Surely its in the DUP’s interests to finish the UUP off once and for all when they have the chance.
Sorry one more thing although I can understand why you dont like the Alliance party but I would still rather see them win East Belfast than Peter Robinson or some other DUP hypocrite
In practical terms, I have two problems with Alliance. One is the whole holier than thou attitude and the second is their gerrymandered position.
I think if they were compelled to compete on equal terms with everyone else, then that would at least make them democratic enough for me to consider.
On your main point, Aloance as an alternative to DUP. I can see that (if democratic) they are worthy for consideration in a PR Election.
Westminster is First past the Post…and I have never voted tactically in my life. I can see that people do. Personally I dont.
(I prefer Proportinal Representation) and even now only make two choices…SDLP and SF…and From 1993 to 2007 SF and SDLP.
But Naomi Long being MP for East Belfast has indirectly benefitted Aliance by increasing their profile. They strut around like they are the third party….2 Executive seats (while UUP and SDLP lose out) and Naomi herself on Spotlight panel (no SDLP or UUP there) so for me…its a bigger picture.
If Naomi losesE sat Belfast in 2015, that might affect the Alliance chances elsewhere in 2016
Naomi Long losing weight and going from ginger to strawberry blonde will help in the eyes of the public I reckon. She is a great talker and mesmerises as she talks on and on and on but aside from talk the party under her leadership hasn’t achieved much. If the party wants designated days throughout NI why not wait and use Belfast as a bargaining chip, Belfast will do designated days when Derry does as well? That would make sense – a win win, rather than zero sum of the union flag coming down and no ‘shared future’ flag going up in its place in Belfast by those that hold the balance of power there.
Naomi Long has an incredibly bad if not brutal temper, perhaps worse than Peter Robinson, she is a big bossy boots. As Alliance advocate individualism I am not sure if Naomi Long just isn’t advancing her own strong opinions personal to herself, than any sort of beliefs grounded in political ideology. I doubt she is working off any sort of political strategy.
Peter Robinson despite being an arrogant rotter could at least present his political actions as Unionist motivated ones and could try to make it out as if he was working on behalf of those who group themselves as unionist, he could say he was advancing the interests of that group. Alliance, I am not so sure whose cause it advances in doing what it does. The same idea would be for a Labour politician who might be a bit foul and bad tempered but elected to advance the interests say of the working class and voters would hold their nose if a 25p increase say to the minimum wage were achieved. With Alliance this is lacking, they didn’t back gay marriage, they didn’t get designated days regionally throughout NI, they haven’t got abortion sorted out despite David Ford being justice minister and this being very important to individuals, pro choice folk. Still no shared future flag to symbolise this new Northern Irishness that is out there apparently. Ultimately Naomi Long since being elected MP has received death threats from her own constituents that is hardly a clever handling of events, eh?
Naomi always appears to me to be a bit divisive in Alliance.
Local Girl Made Good….Mayor ofB elfast but not that much about her in a political sense.
The next two and a half years will be interesting for her.
Just what is going on within East Belfast Alliance…and the Party as a whole and Naomi seems to be at the edge of both.
First off …they would never admit it …but Alliance councillors totally screwed up in the City Hall last year. Thats increasingly obvious. Being on the moral high ground was not enough. You need tactics, strategy and I think veterans like Marie Hendron and Meryn Jones are shell-shocked. Obviously Age is a factor in selections next year but Id imagine that one or two Alliance tweeters might be on the ticket in East Belfast wards next year.
May 2014…Euros and Councils…will set the scene for 2015.
In six months time, we will know how the Flegs-Parades-Drug Dealing-Robinson issues are playing out in the East.
And that should at least settle the tactics Alliance will be using in the next year and whether the NIO or anyone else will rescue them
I think 2015 will be a straight fight and close….with victory and defeat sealed by how many votes the smaller parties (the ones that dont stand aside do).
And yet Naomi might already be looking to an each way bet after 2014.
She could of course be looking to retain her seat or thinking in terms of Assembly or Quango-land.
And that has a lot to do with the internal politics of Alliance.
Ford has succeeded in getting two Executive seats.
but he has done very little with them.
In government but not in power.
He is older than I am and might well stand down before 2016. The Lords?
But that opens up a Leadership contest and Naomi and Farry seem the candidates.
The Churchy Wing versus the Ruthless Wing.
And that means Naomi on the ticket for Assembly in 2016.
East Belfast …they can only get two seats as they hve now. With Lyttle and Cochrane, their best hope is defending two seats. With Naomi two are safe…but that means Cochrane moving to Strangford.
Or indeed Long and Lo on the SouthB elfast ticket.