Sunday, May 09, 2010

Election round-up

Five posters, representing four political parties, tied to one lamppost in Lisburn

It's been quiet on this blog for the last week or so. The election got in the way, and I tended to post over on Slugger O'Toole (you can subscribe to a feed of my posts if you're interested) rather bore folk with too much politics-based content over here.

Normally the only side of canvassing you see is when someone knocks on your door, or just slips a leaflet through your door. So it was interesting to go out and watch different parties canvas. Surprisingly, most of the Lagan Valley candidates agreed. You can read about what I discovered in the following posts:

Canvassing for beginners

Bring pens, maps, water and a coat. Wear comfortable shoes. Don’t forget to eat. Keep track of the bookies’ odds. Develop a sixth sense for whether a house is empty or occupied ...

So what happens on the doorstep?

All the candidates (and canvassers) have a fixed patter that they repeat ad nausea on every doorstep. Rosettes and ties are out with the UCUNF team in Lagan Valley, but in with DUP and TUV. A sitting MP has an advantage – and knows it. No one tells unionists canvassers that they vote nationalist or Alliance. All that and many more reflections from watching the parties canvass in Lagan Valley ... More people are answering their doors wearing pyjamas than ever before ... Most candidates talk about losing weight during previous campaigns ... How long should you talk on the doorstep to someone? No longer than two minutes.

Posters, walkthroughs, boundary changes, Facebook – reflections in Lagan Valley

Searching for Paul Butler - Sinn Fein poster on a lamppost with a traffic camera in the background

Having talked about all that I made some predictions about Lagan Valley:

  • Turnout will be down on the 2005 general election. Correct - Down from 42572 to 26678 (56.2%).
  • Jeffrey Donaldson (DUP) will have a much smaller majority, but will still easily top the poll. At this stage, it would take a him to trip on a seismic banana skin to lose. Correct - No tripping, but majority shrunk from 14117 (with a 54.7% of vote) to 10486 (with a 49.8% of vote).
  • From what I saw on the small sample of doors I stood at, I’d say that Daphne Trimble (UCUNF) will come in well ahead of Keith Harbinson (TUV). Correct - Daphne Trimble achieved more than double the votes of Keith Harbinson.
  • The Alliance share of the vote will be down on the 10.9% (adjusted) figure from 2005. Wrong - Alliance share of the vote went up from 10.9% (corrected to take account of the boundary changes) to 11.4%.
  • There won’t be much between the SDLP and Sinn Fein votes – expect both to sit around 4% share. Correct - and fortune switched with SDLP polling higher (1835, 5%) then Sinn Fein (1465, 4%)

Lastly a few other posts:

What to expect at the count (AH AH AH AH AH!)

A guide to the verification and count procedure ...

Basil McCrea talking about results, strategy, leaders & therapy

I caught up with Basil McCrea this morning and he talked about UCUNF’s results, Lagan Valley, the UUP’s strategy going forward, choosing a new leader (to fit the strategy) and something about getting a therapist!

I spent Thursday night (and the early hours of Friday morning) at the Lagan Valley Leisureplex where the Lagan Valley and South Down constituency counts were taking place.

The most memorable moment of the night was just before the Lagan Valley declaration. The candidates and agents had moved up from the main hall to the small room upstairs where the declaration would be made. Word came through that

Long wins East!

Journalists exited the room to go next door and gather around the TV with its fuzzy picture and set top aerial to see if it was true. While the assembled DUP councillors and activists cheered loudly during Jeffrey Donaldson's speech, they remained silent when Trevor Lunn mentioned Naomi's victory in his speech. I should also point out that there was some close-to-libellous hecking (I think, by a UUP supporter) during Donaldson's speech, and the DUP camp jeered loudly when Paul Butler started his speech in Irish.

Back in November, I ran a two part interview with Naomi Long on the blog in which she explained how she had got into politics.

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