Saturday, September 11, 2010

Reduction in number of MPs

According to a BBC article, Nigel Dodds has spoke out against the passing of the bill to change the Westminster election voting system and reduce the number of Northern MPs.

The question arises as to why Dodds is critical of the bill. We already know that he will be struggling to hold his North Belfast seat at the next general election if current demographic and electoral trends in that constituency continue.

At present Unionists hold 9 seats, Nationalists hold 8 and Alliance hold 1. As the Alliance party won a seat in East Belfast due to the unpopularity of Peter Robinson, I think it is fair to say that many of the votes for Alliance in the constituency were drawn from Unionist voters.

Lets assume that Unionists hold 10 seats and Nationalists hold 8. Assuming that there are no changes to constituencies or the number of MPs at the next Westminster elections and Gerry Kelly wins North Belfast as expected, we will be left with 9 Unionist seats and 9 Nationalist seats. For the first time ever unionists will not have a majority of seats.

Under the proposals being pushed through by the Tory/Lib-Dem coalition in Britain the number of MPs in the north could be reduced from 18 to 15 seats, a loss of 3 seats. Does Nigel know something the rest of us do not? Is he worried that if the number of MPs are reduced by 3, it might be possible that a situation may arise where Nationalists actually have more MPs than Unionists after the next general election?

Monday, September 6, 2010

UUP leadership

On Wednesday 22nd of September the UUP will have a new leader. The leadership battle is to be a two horse race between a traditionalist Tom Elliot and a moderniser Basil McCrea.

A profile of each candidate is available on the UUP website.

Basil McCrea

Cllr Basil McCrea MLA was elected in 2007 to the Northern Ireland Assembly as an Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) member for Lagan Valley.
He is also a UUP Councillor on Lisburn City Council and a member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board and UUP spokesman on Education.
Basil was educated at Belfast Royal Academy before attaining a Chemical Engineering degree from the University of Birmingham. He later attained a degree in Advanced Computer Technology from the University of Ulster.

Tom Elliot

Political Career:Active member of the Fermanagh Unionist Association for many years
Honorary Secretary of the Fermanagh Unionist Association from 1998
Ulster Unionist Councillor on Fermanagh District Council from 2001, serving on following committees - Development, Planning, Policy & Resources; Environmental Services; Equality Impact.
Election Agent for James Cooper in the 2001 Westminster Elections
Chairman of internal Ulster Unionist ad-hoc Review group for its duration 2000/1

Special Interests:
Agriculture and Regional Development.

Educated Ballinamallard P.S.; Duke of Westminister High School, Ballinamallard & Kesh; Enniskillen College of Agriculture - College Certificate in Agriculture.
Farmer on family run Beef and Dairy farm.
Part-time Ulster Defence Regiment and Royal Irish Regiment for 18 years

Elliot the traditionalist is an Orangeman. He favors of a formal link up with the DUP in a bid to form "unionist unity". He does not favor continuing the link with the British Tories and has spoken of his determination to change the St Andrews agreement so a nationalist cannot be elected as First Minster.

McCrea is strictly opposed to doing any deal with the in any form with the DUP and is also against a continuation of the Tory link.

The bookmakers have not yet published odds but it would appear that Elliot is seen as the favorite.

If Elliot wins and this man is given a platform to speak on behalf of moderate unionism, he will, with his 'traditional unionism' views antagonise and agitate many people. In fact he has already started with anti GAA and anti gay remarks.

Past experience tells us that as unionism attempts to strategise in order to encumber nationalism does not work. We saw this in Fermanagh and South Tyrone this year. Attempts at 'unionist unity' had the opposite effect and led to nationalist motivation. Elliot's appointment will ensure nationalism will again be motivated in upcoming elections. It may also lead to increased unionist apathy and ensure that people who occupy the centre ground or whom are indifferent to the constitutional question, will not look to unionist parties on polling day.

Best of luck Tom.