Monday, September 24, 2007

The Monday Myth Deconstruction

1.There are not a million protestants in the north, there are approximately 900,000. There are approximately 800,000 nationalists. The difference in the vote between nationalists and unionists is much less, around 40,000-50,000 and narrowing.

OK, this, from a recent thread on Slugger is a good enough one to start with.

According to the last Census, there are 767,923 protestants in Northern Ireland and 678,462 Roman Catholics. The number of "nationalists" was not recorded on this census. In the last Assembly election, however, a total of 285,737 voted for pro-Irish Unity parties, 329,896 for the Unionist parties. 411,366 of the potential electorate did not vote, nor declare their constitutional preference for Northern Ireland’s future.

The difference in the vote between nationalists and unionists is much less, around 40,000-50,000 and narrowing

There was indeed a difference at the last election of 44,159 between those voting for unionist and nationalist parties.

However, if you check the statistics on Nicholas Whyte’s excellent site, you’ll see, with the exception of the last Assembly Election, the difference between the 2 groupings has for the last ten years remained constant and even occasionally moved in favour of the pro-Union parties. There is thus no empirical evidence of a "narrowing" occuring.

What’s next? How about this old chestnut?

2."Demographics" (a polite p.c. way of saying a change in the religious composition of Northern Ireland) will bring about a United Ireland.

No, a majority of people voting for that option at a Border Referendum will bring about a "United Ireland".

Much more important than the sectarian breakdown of the province's population will be such present imponderables as:

a) The future stability and economic prosperity of Northern Ireland
b) The level of immigration and emigration to and from Northern Ireland
c) And, most vital of all, if and how the 411,366 present non-voters mentioned in point 1) above will vote.

This next one has raised its head once again in the last few days...

3.There needs to be a united Unionist party to maximise the Unionist vote.

In all elections, except for Westminster, we work on a Proportional Representation system.
With this kind of mechanism in place, in the vast majority of cases, it doesn’t matter how many parties or candidates there are, actually having a wider range of options may persuade more people to vote.

Regarding the Westminster seats, in only two nationalist-held constituencies would a joint Unionist canditate possibly have won a seat at the last election- Fermanagh/South Tyrone and South Belfast. If they want to maximise Unionist representation, logically the two parties could reach some kind of compromise for these two constituencies, but even then, it wouldn’t guarantee a Unionist victory, as that really ultimately depends on how the nationalist vote divides.
In my opinion, much better, even in cases like this, to give the electorate as wide a choice as possible

4.The "British" are sick of subsidising the N.Irish and want "rid" of them.

In all the time I spent in England, I never heard anyone say this even once; people simply no longer care one way or the other now that the provos have given up blowing up their towns and murdering their children...but this is supposed to be a statistical-based deconstruction, so, here we go.

Northern Ireland needs five billion a year from the central Exchequer to stay afloat.*
The United Kingdom has 29 million taxpayers.
Each UK tax payer thus contributes 172.41 GBP annually towards the upkeep of Northern Ireland.

So, Irish Unity comes tomorrow....in the absence of any divine intervention, Northern Ireland will, at the beginning, still need five billion annually, but this time from the much smaller the Irish tax-base.

Including those in Northern Ireland, there are 2,072,000 taxpayers on the island of Ireland.

Irish taxpayers would need to pay the euro equivalent of 2413.12 GBP per head annually to keep Northern Ireland in the manner to which it has become accustomed....and it's only fair that somebody should really get round to telling them this unpalatable fact.
Bertie? Gerry?

If anyone fancies any more separatist myths being debunked, please post them up in the comments and armed with the all-important stats, I’ll see what I can do for you.

* By the way, when I was doing the resarch on this, I found out that we (ie the UK taxpayers) are presently paying Eighty Billion GBP a year just to keep the various quangos up and running.....now, that is shocking !

13 comments:

Ciarán said...

Irish taxpayers would need to pay...

It would be useless and vain to mention that I beat you to the punch on this two and a half years ago! Though I did my sums on the basis of imagining, entirely arbitrarily, that the cost of running NI fell by half (to account for drop-offs in military expenditure etc in the UI dreamland).

Still, you've made me curious again: by your figures, taking on NI as is would require a 27% increase in ROI Net Current Expenditure from the 2008 Net expenditure estimate (as was in this year's budget). I wonder what the West Germans took on when they reunited with the East? It would be hard to calculate since the killer for them was the 1:1 Ostmark-Deutschmark swap, but it would be an interesting comparison nonetheless...

Oh: and a quibble. If you're going to make remarks about all those quangos, you really ought to take a look at the list and say which functions of government ought to be abolished or returned to Whitehall.

Anonymous said...

For your PR assumption to work i.e. it doesn't matter how many Unionist candidates there are, you need a 100% transfer rate. Something that rarely, if ever happens.

Chekov said...

The point is that a broader spectrum of unionist parties will bring in pro-union votes from a broader spectrum of voters. A unionist / Ulster nationalist monolith behind Paisley would alienate a good percentage of moderate unionist voters

Anonymous said...

I don't think that anyone would argue for 1 single party, but I think most people would be against more than 2. Look at South Belfast for a tet-book case of how too many Unionist candidates from too many parties cost Unionism a seat.

Chekov said...

"don't think that anyone would argue for 1 single party,"

You might want to tell that to Billy Armstrong.

Anonymous said...

Armstrong can be discounted as aminnow in the whole discussion. Most people want to see closer co-operation between parties i.e. in safe Unionist seats two or more canidates running but in marginal seats agreed candidates. That makes sense.

O'Neill said...

Ciaran

I do vaguely remember seeing your post first time around, I'd say there'd be a struggle for to persuade the ROI populace to pay a 1000 GBP extra tax per capita, and I think that figure is a pretty conservative one.

Just had a quick look at google and the costs of German unification were and are still astounding (1.5 trillion euros!!).

Of course, W.Germany had a slightly bigger economy and higher population than the ROI to cope and pay for this, but still. Also interesting to see that over 10 billion euros are still allocated annually to the former east German states, there is stilll unemployment of over 25% in much of the east and very high migration of former east German workers....basically, most of the problems experienced in the German economy are adirect result of unification. Obviously there isn’t a direct comparison with our potential situation, but with over 6o% of our economy tied in with the public sector and with many of the jobs there, similar to the ones guaranteed by the GDR state( ie not “real” ones, or at least ones not likely to exist after unification) there are enough salutary lessons to be pulled out there.
.
Re the 5 billion, Brown promised recently 50 billion for the next ten years, said by many in NI not to be new money, but nevertheless required to build up its infrastructure.
http://www.economist.com/world/britain/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9164973

Regarding the quangos, this could be a book worth reading:
http://www.trainingzone.co.uk/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=137022

Obviously there are some which must do the job more efficiently that Whitehall, but do we really need a British Potato Council or a Wine Standards board for example?
A severe pruning of the spuds and grapes required methinks!

O'Neill said...

For your PR assumption to work i.e. it doesn't matter how many Unionist candidates there are, you need a 100% transfer rate. Something that rarely, if ever happens.

Anonymous
September 24, 2007 3:23 AM

Why is there a less than 100% transfer rate?
Part of the reason is the incompetence of the party workers, explaining who their supporters whould vote for 1, 2, 3 etc.

But also a big part is DUP voters refusing to vote for UUP canditates further down the list and vice-versa. And before we go too hard on the Unionists' stupidity, that is exactly the case with the SDLP and SF voters.

If people are presently refusing to vote for rival unionist candidates down the list ,would they vote for the same candidates if they were the only ones standing in the constituency? I wouldn't put my money on it.

The DUP are now the main party of unionism, I don't like that fact, but it is a fact. But as they've become more and more mainstream, there will be more and more room to both their right and left for other unionist philosophies and maybe even groupings to emerge.

Apart from times when our constitutional position within the UK has been directly threatened, Unionism has never been a truly monolithic political movement; and it needs this "conflict of ideas" if it is truly flourish and move forward with confidence.

Ciarán said...

Thanks for the response O'Neill. Of course I entirely agree with you on this aspect of the post. As I pointed out, my conservative estimate is rooted in an if-all-the-SF-dreams-come-true measure. IIRC I was trying to account for purported reduction in security requirements etc. I know it's a pipe dream.

On Germany, that's an interesting figure. I must take a look: what interests me is that the figure must - as with a UI - not only account for money spent but for alternative spending foregone. And for the depressing effect on the economy as a whole etc.

Finally, every civilised country needs a potato council. Who else would look after potatoes?

Anonymous said...

O Neill

I think you'll find that the transfer rate from DUP to UUP is far far higher than the other way around. Most UUP transfers go to APNI and nationalists.

Despite what you say a 100% Unionist transfer rate will never be achievable (for goodness sake a 100% transfer rate from 1 UUP candidate to another nver happens) thereefore my central point stands - 2 parties OK - 3 not thanks!

O'Neill said...

"Despite what you say a 100% Unionist transfer rate will never be achievable (for goodness sake a 100% transfer rate from 1 UUP candidate to another nver happens) thereefore my central point stands - 2 parties OK - 3 not thanks!"

I actually agreed with you that 100% transfer rate is not achievable- that's the basis of my argument that one *united* unionist party wouldn't increase the present total vote. Re your point about UUP-transfers, that kind of strengthens what i'm saying. There's a proportion of the unionist community will not vore for the DUP under any circumstances; whereas previously this would have been those of am ore liberal outlook, now there are also those on the "prodiban" right that want nothing to do with the Dupes. So, another more right-wing party won't take votes away from unionism (in a pr election anyway). I don't think there is room for a liberal/left-wing unionist party, there's simply not enough of us "wishy-washies" to justify it- we're left with picking out those individual candidates who are the closest to our beliefs.

Ontario Loyalist said...

Who claims there are 800,000 nationalists in Northern Ireland? I'm obviously guessing that this means Roman Catholics, but how on earth can anyone claim all RCs are nationalist? If this were true, which opinion poll after opinion poll shows it is not, then more than the 23% of the population of Ulster would be in favour of a 'United' Ireland?

Source?

http://www.ark.ac.uk/nilt/2005/Political_Attitudes/NIRELAND.html

Keep up the good work Mr O'Neill

O'Neill said...

OL
Thank you and I'll do my best!

If this were true, which opinion poll after opinion poll shows it is not, then more than the 23% of the population of Ulster would be in favour of a 'United' Ireland?

According to where it matters (at the ballot box) 77% of the population aren't nationalist, Unionism needs to do abetter job and make sure that 77% of the population are 100% unionist!