Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Quote of the day

Mrs Dodds, the DUP candidate for the EU elections:
"As a party dedicated to the union, we must ensure that the voice of Ulster is a unionist one," she said.

"Let us not be side-tracked, the top priority for us all at this election must be to stop Sinn Fein topping the poll.

"The only party that can give unionism the victory is the DUP."

For a "party dedicated to the Union", shouldn't the top priority be the maximisation of the total Unionist vote?

15 comments:

fair_deal said...

They are not mutually exclusive.

O'Neill said...

The DUP increased their vote dramatically between the two General Elections 2001-2005; Unionism, as a whole's, vote decreased at the same time:
http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/gallsum.htm#fw97

A DUP victory over Sinn Fein doesn't necessarily mean a maximised Unionist vote which . The latter surely is the more important target?

Anonymous said...

When it comes to supporting party or the unionist community, we all know what choice the DUP will make.

If their main objective is to want a unionist to top the poll they should withdraw.

DG said...

I do see a very significant problem with the idea of Sinn Fein being the largest party in the Assembly, even if the Unionist vote increased.

fair_deal said...

"A DUP victory over Sinn Fein doesn't necessarily mean a maximised Unionist vote which ."

No it doesn't necessarily mean it, neither does it necessarily exclude it.

"The latter surely is the more important target?"

It is a fine aim but as I said they are not mutually exclusive aims.

O'Neill said...

DG
I do see a very significant problem with the idea of Sinn Fein being the largest party in the Assembly, even if the Unionist vote increased

I would as well, in that the actual benefits would be much more tangible (ie we'd have a SF First Minister). But even then the real damage he could do with a portfolio of an increased number of Unionist Ministers would be limiited. But it's a Euro election, if SF top the poll, it'll make the headlines in the Anderstown News, and one or two extreme Irish/American and far left-wing rags on the continent. Much more important in this election is building an increased pro-Union electorate for the long-term which is not dependent on a DUP No1

O'Neill said...

No it doesn't necessarily mean it, neither does it necessarily exclude it.

Well then they should be more specific, do they want an increased total Unionist vote or not, there's no indications in Mrs Dodd's pronouncements so far along those lines.

It is a fine aim but as I said they are not mutually exclusive aims.

I detect a hint of Fair Deal cynicism/pragmatism there again;) In your opinion is it an achievable aim?

fair_deal said...

"In your opinion is it an achievable aim?"

Yes but it will take at least two Westminster elections to see significant results and it involves a degree of practical co-operation between the parties and plenty of basic hard work for it to be achieved.

I'd see an electoral pact as part of that co-operation (partially because having another two MPs and the resources that makes available would be useful). However, there are plenty of other things to be done as well.

I do not expect simply tagging along with the Tories to be the means of increasing Unionist turnout.

Anonymous said...

Maximising the unionist vote is very important and could ensure 2 of the 3 MEP seats are returned as unionists.

With 3 unionists candidates it will be hard to secure two seats. It will depend on vote transfers that will decide the third seat, with SF and the DUP taking the two.

O'Neill said...

Yes but it will take at least two Westminster elections to see significant results and it involves a degree of practical co-operation between the parties and plenty of basic hard work for it to be achieved.

I think the instinctive,(if you like) community (Unionist vote that can be relied on in every election isn't going to rise much beyond the present figure. Instead we're going to have a similar situation as occurs in the rest of the UK where the middle, unattached has to persuaded at each and every election.

I'd see an electoral pact as part of that co-operation (partially because having another two MPs and the resources that makes available would be useful). However, there are plenty of other things to be done as well.

The pact can give a Unionist seat in the short-term, but in terms of persuading that potential vote I've mentioned, I don't believe it can deliver. Something more is needed rather than simple consolidation of resources and what also would be the necessary corrollary of that, policies.

I do not expect simply tagging along with the Tories to be the means of increasing Unionist turnout.

I don't either and I suspect the very much more difficult part of the job is ahead of them- ie building a Unionism that is a real alternative to what has been on offer previously and one which is capable of pulling in new voters for the cause. But I really think there's nothing to lose with at least trying and to that extent I can't understand the hysteria that is flowing out of the DUP Press Office over the whole thing.

fair_deal said...

"I think the instinctive,(if you like) community (Unionist vote that can be relied on in every election isn't going to rise much beyond the present figure."

I would be more hopeful than you on the instictive community. For example when the records were checked it was discovered that of all those who'd used a Unionist constituency office in a working class community 55% (approximately 850 people) were not registered to vote. Plenty of scope their for improvement the problem is the work involved to do it is labour intensive (something Unionism is increasingly short of).

If Unionist and nationalist turnout levels were comparable Unionism would be in much better shape. As Escoterica rightly pointed out it is working class communities that have seen the greatest decline in turnout and present turnout is significantly below working class communities who vote nationalist e.g. Court 55% turnout Lower Falls 65% turnout.

Although I fully agree targeting non-traditional communities is needed too.

"The pact can give a Unionist seat in the short-term,"

Plenty of life in south Belfast yet and if it is done properly in Fermanagh too. It is also in the short-term (ok medium-term) ie between now and 2015 that we are talking about.

"the DUP Press Office"

It gives them something to do ;). Anyway it is not the job of the DUP press office to leave the media pitch all to the UUP.

O'Neill said...

For example when the records were checked it was discovered that of all those who'd used a Unionist constituency office in a working class community 55% (approximately 850 people) were not registered to vote. Plenty of scope their for improvement the problem is the work involved to do it is labour intensive (something Unionism is increasingly short of).

OK, point taken, but the fact that both Unionist parties have left this potential alone suggests that the work involved to realise it is either beyond their present resources, as you suggest, or (as happened with Labour in places like Barking)they haven't got a strong enough credible argument to take on the *communal* extremists.
Either way, at the minute it's a lost potential for Unionism which it really hasn't a chance of recovering.

Carson's Cat said...

O'Neill,
I take a similar view to F_D. I believe that unionism being the main voice eminating from Northern Ireland does is important. I believe that is helped with a unionist topping the poll. Its self-evident that increasing the overall unionist percentage is obviously good for unionism and it is possible to do both at the same time.

If we're going to get party political about it - there's no chance that the Ulster Unionists would be playing down a poll topping performance if there was ever any chance of Nicholson doing it so I take all UUP attacks with that rather large pinch of salt.

That point would be proven were Diane Dodds not to top the poll and I'll expect the ream of nasty UUP press statements blaming the DUP for "allowing" Sinn Fein to top the poll and speak for Northern Ireland.

The DUP will obviously use it to turn out the vote - but there's no doubt that Ulster Unionists play it down for equally cynical party political reasons and not simply because of some grand unionist plan.

I do love the facination too with the DUP "press office" - frankly they must be highly amused with the amount of attention they get. The mere fact that the DUP press operation is so talked about does make you wonder why no-one ever gets too worked up about whatever the operation in the new Cunningham House is called. It clearly means they're pressing some buttons somewhere....

O'Neill said...

I believe that is helped with a unionist topping the poll. Its self-evident that increasing the overall unionist percentage is obviously good for unionism and it is possible to do both at the same time.

Yes, of course it is, but Mrs Dodds concentrated solely on the former. Unionism increasing the distance between itself and nationalism in total votes secures in the long term much more effectively the Union than preventing SF winning this one but with a total reduced unionist turnout.

fair_deal said...

ONeill

"the fact that both Unionist parties have left this potential alone suggests that the work involved to realise it is either beyond their present resources"

Simply checking office users a registered and if not getting to fill in the form is a simple and non-intensive proceudure.

You'd be surprised how many seem ignorant that such things should be standard practice. Resources could be re-prioritised to it. Also if parties were willing to see the sense in it there is little reason why they couldn't co-operate on such work.

It takes one person 10-14 working days to a street by street analysis of the marked register of a Westminster constituency. Plenty of people running about Stormont etc who could be easily tasked with the work.

However, I would stress that I agree with you that finding new voters should not be ignored. I am from the LBJ school of election politics "To win you do everything" (minus the corruption and the serious heart problems you get from trying to do everything) ;)