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Fermanagh and South Tyrone: why we lost

I have mentioned my thoughts on the TUV and CUs over on slugger and will come to the DUP (and hopefully the others) in time. However, although I quoted Harold McCusker regarding the TUV (“I felt desolate because as I stood in the cold …..everything that I held dear turned to ashes in my mouth.”); yesterday afternoon when Fermanagh South Tyrone was announced I was even more heartbroken. It may be difficult for outsiders to understand at times but it is an issue of huge importance down here who wins this seat. As ever this being Fermanagh everyone at work was utterly polite to one another: however, as soon as there were members of one side everyone wondered how the recount was going. I may be a South Londonderry blow in but the way the local unionist population demanded a unity candidate and forced the DUP and then UUP to agree to one was fascinating and also personally energising (I openly acknowledge I am extremely tribal in my political analysis: I much prefer fighting unionism’s enemies than other unionists). The fact is that this unionist community suffered more than almost any other at the hands of the IRA. It is also a fact that almost never was there any loyalist retaliation in Fermanagh and loyalist terrorists are held by all local unionists in the same quiet, calm but icy contempt as republican ones. Call these people bigots all you want from the safety of the greater Belfast Pale: these people know what republican violence is, that informs their views and they wanted the cheerleader that is Gildernew out.


The fact that this constituency with its very large and put upon unionist minority has had an MP who is amongst the most open terrorist cheerleaders is felt deeply in FST. Her image may be as a friendly, bubbly mumsy: a sort of brunette Naomi Long with less competence but not the irritating preachiness. However, the actual reality is that Michelle Gildernew has suggested that future republicans might “have to” return to violence which in border areas very simply means murder their Protestant neighbours for being Protestants. In addition she has suggested that people should not go to the security forces over certain crimes and has made a habit of glorifying assorted terrorists. As I said previously for unionists to unite to try to oust such an overwhelmingly sectarian figure was not itself sectarian.

Privately as those with whom I have discussed it know, I thought all along we would lose. I expected the SDLP collapse to be at least as bad as it was: indeed it could well have been worse. This is the seat which less than a generation ago was willing to elect Bobby Sands and immediately after that Owen Carron: the SDLP vote was always weak. However, provided some few SDLP voters could not stomach the cheerleader in chief that is Gildernew it could still have been won. The simple reality is that Rodney Connor polled 1625 votes less than the combined unionist total last time whilst the total nationalist / republican vote was only 990 down. It is fairly clear that some unionists, mainly harder line ones did not come out to vote and apparently about a dozen ballots were spoiled with “Vote TUV” written on them. Some unionist commentators on slugger have suggested that the problem was running what they call a “communal” candidate. To suggest that as the cause shows a fundamental failure to understand Fermanagh and South Tyrone. It might have affected a tiny fraction of those 1625 but most will have failed to vote because they thought Rodney too liberal.

Rodney Connor was a good candidate: a moderate unionist with a track record of hard work for the whole of the population of Fermanagh whilst the council chief executive. However, through no fault of his own he was the wrong candidate and it was the wrong campaign.

As soon as he emerged Rodney Connor was tarred as the sectarian candidate by Sinn Fein which as I observed previously was the cesspit calling the operating theatre unhygienic. Connor seemed genuinely hurt by this slur and tried to insist that he wanted everyone’s votes: the problem is he truly seemed to think it might happen. That is almost touching in its naivety but in other circumstances it might have been reasonable.

Had unionists wanted to run a moderate unionist unity candidate like Rodney Connor who would cause minimal offence to (and ideally gain the votes of) nationalists they should have selected him months ago and spent a prolonged period explaining that the issue was about the unacceptability of Gildernew’s views but also her multiple jobbing, non appearance at the parliament to which she was elected and her actually generally poor record of representation. Had they done that for a prolonged period it might have garnered some nationalist votes and might have reduced the SDLP meltdown: might have, but I am not convinced. A prolonged campaign would also have prepared the unionist electorate to vote for Connor en masse.

This may be anecdotal but large numbers of harder line unionists here in Fermanagh (and even some more moderate voices) told me they found voting for Connor a bit difficult. He did not proclaim himself as a unionist and they felt that he was too liberal. The ones I have spoken to all claim to have voted (and knowing them I believe that absolutely). However, there will undoubtedly be some who did not vote; we also have the evidence of some spoiled ballot papers. I do not in any way blame Rodney Connor for being a liberal and a liberal, Ken Maginnis, held this seat for years. However, if the unity candidate was to be a liberal the electorate should have known him better and okay let us be honest the hard liners would have needed a bit of time to decide to vote for him.

Since the decision to go for a unity candidate was made late the candidate should have been rather more of the colours nailed to the mast, hard liner variety: again something I mentioned to a number of people in the run up to the election. It was clear that Sinn Fein were going to run a sectarian campaign and try to tar the unionist candidate as sectarian. If the time was short unionists should have reciprocated and made much of Gildernew’s sectarian position regarding the IRA’s campaign of murder here in Fermanagh: pictures of the war memorial in 1987 should have been on the election literature. Gildernew clearly wanted to play the sectarian card and it could easily have been thrown right back at her with added interest. The problem with that was of course two fold: Rodney Connor is not that type of man, he is too nice; secondly the Conservatives would not have worn it and they were the reason the unity decision ended up being made so late. Keeping the Conservatives happy meant that Connor’s campaign had to be left quite mild; he might have been willing to push the unionist buttons more positively had he not needed to keep the Tories happy but that is not certain.

The Tory problems had already prevented Norman Baxter being run and many suspect he might have been a better late candidate. Hence, the FST campaign was handicapped by the need to avoid tarnishing the CU’s shiny non sectarian image. This was paramount to ensure maximum CU gain of Catholic votes and garden centre unionists to ensure multiple victories in other seats: and we all know how successful that was. The conceit of the Tories therefore helped ensure that the FST campaign was hobbled by having to decide on a candidate late and then him being the correct candidate for an early unity decision and the wrong one for a late decision. The Conservative line that the DUP should have stood aside to give them a free run was of course shown to be utter nonsense by the annihilation of the party in the rest of Northern Ireland though ironically Tom Elliott might well have done well here against Arlene Foster. Elliott, however, was willing to step aside from an early stage which shows admirable leadership from him.

The reality is that many people are to blame for the failure of Rodney Connor to take FST and Rodney himself is amongst the least of them. It was a problematic set of circumstances which mitigated against Rodney and despite the received wisdom from the UUP and DUP my guess was always that the chances of victory were 60:40 against. It is reasonable to ask whether FST can now ever be retaken for unionism and certainly many unionists seem almost inconsolable: I certainly felt that way yesterday. However, I would suggest that this seat is winnable and we should try again. You can take inspiration from Robert the Bruce’s spider or Rudyard Kipling’s IF but this seat can be won. Next time be that in a few months or five years there needs to be a candidate identified well in advance; there needs to be even more involvement from the unionist parties on a province wide basis. In addition the local UUP and DUP should identify liaison people who will together coordinate this campaign when it comes: these people need to become friends and a team; not rivals forced together at the last minute. Then when the election comes no stone must be left unturned in energising the unionist population of FST. It may not work: who knows. However, we must never let the cheerleader in chief who is our non MP rest easy that her seat is safe: if nothing else it distracts SF resources from elsewhere. In addition one day a unionist will stand on that stage as victor. We owe that to the memories of those whose murders Michelle Gildernew supports. Our revenge will be our laughter on that day. And if all that makes me almost as sectarian as Gildernew, albeit without the support for murder: frankly I don’t give a damn. You do not see comments like this from me too often but: No Surrender.

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Filed under: general election

30 Responses

  1. Framer says:

    Most eloquently put, and much as we felt over South Belfast in 2005. And again although less so last week.

    Losing by so few votes, as in 2001, makes it all the more distressing.

  2. Turgon,

    If even five voters declined to vote for Connor because they felt he was too nice to Catholics, then they deserve the representation they have got.

  3. Turgon says:

    Nicholas,
    That is a spurious argument. Those of us who voted do deserve representation. I am not defending people not voting for whatever reason: I condemn it; the more so if it were informed by pathetic bigotry. However, elections are about bringing forward a candidate and a set of policies to get the votes out. My thesis is that Rodney Connor was a fine candidate had the unity decision been made earlier. However, the late decision combined with the inevitable SF tactic to paint any unionist candidate as “the sectarian candidate” meant that it was the wrong combination of candidate and timing.

  4. st etienne says:

    inevitable SF tactic to paint any unionist candidate as “the sectarian candidate”

    Surely this ridiculous portrayal ought to galvanise support for the man?

    You have a very valid point though – Maginnis, although a fellow Liberal, was never shy of rubbishing republican mudslinging. Maybe that’s why his last Westminster vote was 20% above Connors. Personally I’ll never understand it when you look at what the alternative is, but it’s a point worth emphasising – unionists need to see strength in leadership before they feel motivated to vote. And that transcends liberal or fundamentalist sects.

  5. oneill says:

    “Call these people bigots all you want from the safety of the greater Belfast Pale: these people know what republican violence is, that informs their views and they wanted the cheerleader that is Gildernew out.”

    Turgon,

    I guess like most reading on here, I’m lucky enough not to be old enough to remember the really worst times of the Troubles. However, my father did lose three good friends and colleagues to terrorism and my earliest (political) memory is him attending Robert Bradford’s funeral. When I did a Q/A for one of the English Labour blogs I listed the late Edgar Graham, along with Carson and Disraeli as my main political inspirations.

    All this I don’t normally mention on either my blog or comments elsewhere but if your implication is that coming from in the “safety of the greater Belfast Pale” somehow makes people like me immune to or unaware of the reality of the effects of terrorism, then it’s the only way that I can show to you that you are very, very wrong.

    However, I refuse to let the IRA or Sinn Fein shape or influence my political beliefs or my Unionism. Our greatest revenge over the likes of Gildernew will not be winning one seat at one Westminster election but if in 20/50/100 years time we are still a part of the United Kingdom. IMO pacts like the one we saw in FST makes that scenario less not more likely.

  6. Turgon says:

    oneill,
    I am sorry about you relatives losses but I am afraid that you comments help illustrate my point. Yes the IRA murdered everywhere. However, the danger to random utterly uninvolved Protestants was greatest here; more were murdered here. In addition many were intimidated in and often from their homes: again yes that happened elsewhere but much less so and in a less organised fashion.

    Next your comments about the IRA are all in the past tense: in Fermanagh it is the present tense both from the dissidents and many feel from the “proper” IRA. The fact that you do not see or feel that elsewhere that makes all the difference. South Armagh would of course be similar.

    As to thinking that stopping Gildernew does not matter: yes it does. It has an enormous psychological importance to the unionist population of FST and for you to say that they should not attempt this is I am afraid extreme arrogance. The insistence on a unity candidate was a grassroots up concept. Without being too sharp that is in stark contrast to the CU tie up.

    If SF can hold this seat easily it makes them feel they are closer to their aims. However, making SF fight tooth and nail for this seat means they take the psychological hit when we retake it and in addition they waste resources which otherwise they would turn on North Belfast or Upper Bann etc. Disrupting your opponents is necessary in politics and depriving them of political momentum is essential. Not trying to do that is folly.

    However, the most important reason for a pact is that that is what the local people here wanted. I am sorry to be sharp but they do not need to be told what is best for them: they are perfectly able to make that decision for themselves. You need to learn to respect the electorate of FST. If the unionists wanted to unite who are you to tell them otherwise? especially for some theoretical concept to do with having a non sectarian unionism. You have fallen into the trap of believing the SF lie that Connor’s campaign was a sectarian one: it was her, the cheerleader in chief, who was sectarian.

    You are of course entitled to your opinion but the unionist population of FST is also entitled to their’s and on the subject of the representation of FST their views should be respected over yours no matter how correct you feel you are.

  7. The Watchman says:

    Very heartfelt, Turgon. I can imagine how gutted people are down there but remember Enoch Powell’s wise words that nothing is ever as good or as bad as they first appear.

    A few questions.

    1. How many votes do you think the unofficial Tory link cost Connor? Even a semi-Tory link would hardly play well in Sands’s old seat eg the “No Tory Here” posters.

    2. Given that he was only in situ as a candidate less than a month before polling day, as an independent how robust was his organisation, especially in South Tyrone where he was less well known? Would the old UUP of the West/Maginnis era have been better at nailing every potential unionist vote?

    3. Where there any suspicions of SF malpractice?

    On the bright side, FST shows a truth to unionists that when they work together, even in very adverse circumstances, they can take the Shinners into a virtual dead heat. They had to throw the kitchen sink at this. Not much consolation, but if unionists can learn to work together in other situations when circumstances are more favourable they may get better results.

    FST is probably still winnable: certainly losing by 4 votes shouldn’t discourage people from trying again. Hang on in there. And No Surrender.

  8. Ian Mc says:

    Rodney Connor was labelled as sectarian because the orange order supported him pal. I can’t see unionism ever getting this seat back, the SDLP had 3000+ votes here and I know for a fact that some protestants voted for Gildernew.

  9. FMTer says:

    An interesting piece Turgon, especially your heartfelt 1st paragraph which I agree with 100%.

    I disagree with some of your argument. I’m not convinced Rodney’s liberal unionism cost him. I think a hardline unionist candidate may have shored up some (I’ll not quantify it as it would be total guesswork) hardline unionist votes but I believe that number would have been surpassed by some ultra liberal unionists not voting and even more nationalists voting SF eager to keep the in your face unionist out. You yourself admitted the SDLP collapse as bad as it undoubtedly was could have been worse.

    I’m not convinced the unionist stayaways were hardliners. Some probably were but I suspect many were simply apathetic or lazy.

    Unionism lost this battle on the ground. Did Connor’s team canvas half the number of houses SF did I wonder? I suspect not. And I’m not criticising Connor or his supporters on this. They just couldn’t match the shinners.

    Political unionism needs to politicise the unionist community. The political parties need an injection of youth. They need to be knocking on doors, ensure that everyone who considers themselves unionist is registered and is voting. We mightn’t be able to match SF but we should be having a go at it.

    Anyway regarding this particular seat it looks like PR or the Alternative Vote might be in play come the next election which will change things (not sure for the good or bad!) That is if the seat still exists!

    Regarding other comments:

    “1. How many votes do you think the unofficial Tory link cost Connor? Even a semi-Tory link would hardly play well in Sands’s old seat eg the “No Tory Here” posters.”

    I suspect the Tory link up got him 0 extra votes and cost him more than 4 (some not voting for him because of it, other voting for Gildernew because of it). Not talking about massive numbers at all but more than 4.

    “3. Where there any suspicions of SF malpractice?”

    Letters sent to unionist homes saying he was soft on SF, not a proper unionist etc. Connor posters defaced and removed. 36 more ballot papers counted than were issued. Connor seems to have a list of issues for the electoral office.

    “I know for a fact that some protestants voted for Gildernew.”

    Aye and isn’t half the shankill voting for Gerry as well! A great cross community party altogether. I think that IRA bomber Martina Anderson is their Unionist outreach person – clearly with those credentials how could unionists not be won over!

  10. Seymour Major says:

    “for unionists to unite to try to oust such an overwhelmingly sectarian figure was not itself sectarian”

    This statement is misconceived. I dont expect to make any friends amongst unionists in the near future after expressing my views on Fermanagh and South Tyrone. My views have been an enigma to many. I rejected the endorsement of Connor as a Unionist candidate because it was indeed a sectarian carve-up. The Conservatives, having previously stated they would run a candidate in every constituency, broke their there own principles, which they had agreed in writing with the UUP.

    My concern has always been for the longer-term position. I always expected not to hope for a non Sinn Fein MP in FST for many years to come. I simply wanted what all Conservatives want – an end to sectarian – type politics in Northern Ireland.

    The only reason that the Conservatives agreed to the deal was because they were concerned with numbers of seats in Parliament. If their lead in the polls was similar to this time last year, there would have been no single unionist candidate.

    I am personally very relieved that Connor did not win. Had he done so, he would have been an embarassment to David Cameron. Being the sole MP from NI taking the Conservative whip, it would have highlighted to the great mass of the UK population how he got there. The fact that he lost will also help to repair the damage done to the Conservative longer-term objectives quicker than would have happened had he won.

    There will not be a single unonist candidate again. People who think otherwise can forget about the prospect. There will be a Conservative candidate. Yes, Unionists may howl, wail and scream that they are getting no representation in Parliament in FST but this is better for the longer-term future for Northern Ireland politics.

    Unionists with your point of view will have to change if they want some real long term political benefit, whether they like it or not.

  11. Turgon says:

    The recurrent problem with comments like Seymour’s is that the desire for a unity candidate was a grass roots position. There may be theoretical reasons not to have a unity candidate and some may feel that those are the reasons why Rodney Connor lost. I disagree on that. However, the simply fact is that the vast majority of unionists in FST wanted a unity candidate and they effectively forced the DUP and then UUP to accept one.

    If the unionist people down here want a unity candidate then that is what they should have. Telling them that they should not have one for some greater good is redolent with the arrogance born of a lack of understanding and top down thinking which has led the UUP to the crisis which it now faces.

    By all means Seymour argue that a unity candidate is a bad idea: however, unless your lack of understanding of your own constituency’s unionist population is complete do accept that the unity candidate is what they wanted and no matter how much you may disagree you should accept that such an aspiration is their right.

  12. Drumlin Rock says:

    I think the reason Rodney Connor lost was very simple, the time scale was just not long enough to get the word out who he was or what he stood for, 3 weeks is nothing, espically when his personal team was tiny and he was relying on the two parties, but without their full party machines behind them, ie. posters leaflets etc had to be designed from scratch. With hindsight things could have been done better, but thats life.
    One final thing, the Orange Order did not have any part to play in his selection or campaign that I am aware off, certainly not in Tyrone.

  13. TheWhiteVanMan says:

    I wholly agree with Turgon, a stronger candidate was required here, and a single party machine would have made it easier too.

  14. Seymour Major says:

    Turgon,

    By all means, try and repeat what happened and put up a single Unionist candidate to fight Gildernew at the next election. Even if you get everybody who supports the single candidate to vote for him/her, the candidate still wont win at the next election. In fact, if alternative voting is in play at the next election, Gildernew will win by an even bigger margin. There is no future for that kind of strategen.

    A moderate cross-community candidate is the only person who will have the chance, in the longer term of unseating the likes of Gildernew.

    I never pretended to suggest that what I want is what most Unionists want. What is in their best intestests is a different matter. Perhaps the Unionists need another defeat in FST in 2015 before they start to think differently.

  15. Turgon says:

    Seymour,
    I am afraid that post is simply nonsense and you should know it. Firstly Rodney Connor came within a hair’s breadth of unseating Gildernew. He or someone else might do less well next time or might do better: neither you nor I can tell; I have the humility to admit that, clearly you do not.

    Secondly Rodney Connor had good cross community credientials. The people who thought otherwise and smeared him were Sinn Fein: you know the one’s who support the IRA murders here in FST.

    Thridly even if SF do win next time against a unity candidate: requiring them to put the massive effort they did into this seat reduces their ability to make more progress elsewhere.

    I could go on but telling people what you as a blow in (and I might add and even more of one than me) think is in their best interets is the height of arrogance. How dare you! The unionist population here were murdered for years by the IRA of which SF are so proud. People here are not stupid: they know the issues involved and the difficulties in unseating Gildernew. If they want to run a unity candidate whoever he or she is I will support them and anyone who claims to be an opponent of terrorism and especially anyone who claims to be supporter of the union should help. To suggest that they need another defeat to a terrorist cheerleader is a shocking comment from someone who claims both to be opposed to violence and a supporter of the union.

    You are entitled to your views Seymour even though the are nonsense but try showing some respect to the people here: they are not stupid and have a right to conduct their public affairs as they want.

  16. Seymour Major says:

    Today, I met some people who normally vote SDLP and who decided to vote for Gildernew to keep out Connor. They told me a story about Connor, which I wont publish here. Let me just say that I dont know if it is true. It is possible that some dirty propaganda was put out about him. Cross community or not, I am afraid that his character has been assassinated in the Nationalist community.

    The fact is, some 3,000 or voters who would normally vote SDLP switched their vote to Gildernew to keep out Connor. As far as I am concerned, the views of these people are important. Worse still, Feareghal McKinney was a good candidate. Had he not been, Connor would have fared worse.

    I will continue to took at problems, such as toxification and sectarianism and ways to tackle it. Maybe one day (perhaps when the Turgonites within unionism have gone out of fashion) we will see more unionists interested in my sort of approach. Until then, they will continue to be upset and disappointed by election results.

  17. Turgon says:

    Seymour,
    Remember that in 1981 those SDLP voters voted en masse to elect a terrorist in the process of starving himself to death. When he succeeded they proceeded to elect a terrorist cheerleader who went on to become a practising terrorist if by chance he was not one in the first place.

    The SDLP vote in FST is weak and many supposedly SDLP voters will vote for anyone including terrorists to keep a unionist out. Hence it should come as absolutely no surprise that they voted for the cheerleader Gildernew to keep out Rodney Connor.

    The logic of your position is actually that unionists may as well give up as they will never retake FST If they run a moderate he is smeared and many SDLP voters will happily vote for a cheerleader to keep out a unionist (realistically to keep out a Prod).

    The arrogance simply drips from your comments. You stated that unionists might need to loose and then call yourself a unionist? As to us being disappointed by the results. Yes we were and if you call yourself a unionist and an opponent of terrorism so should you be disappointed.

    I think we need to go in for massive voter registration and energise the electorate of FST; decide the unity candidate earlier and push much harder. Then we may win. Even if we do not we will force SF to use massive resources on beating us. By your tactics we can never win but I get the impression you do not really care if we do not. You would rather we lost to prove your point that by uniting we cannot win.

    As I said before the unity decision was a grass roots one: you seem to despise the grass roots of unionism down here. I regard them as put upon, murdered, attacked, intimidated and yet remaining utterly decent, never answering like for like and merely getting on with their lives and trying democratically to remove Gildernew. In short they are wonderful people and far from stupid. I would help them in any way I could and am proud and humbled to have been accepted as one of them.

    You Seymour can be whatever you want but please learn to respect the unionist people amongst whom you live.

  18. slug says:

    It tends to reduce politics to a tribal headcount, rather than being about electing a government with a particular set of ideas, which is unappealing.

  19. Seymour Major says:

    I agree with you Slug.

    For what it is worth, I am a unionist. However, that does not mean that in Northern Ireland, wherever I live, I will vote for a candidate, just because they are Unionist or not vote for a nationalist candidate simoply because they are nationionalist. I would only vote on my constitutional preference at a referendum.

    Rodney Connor was a single Unionist candidate but he only represented the Centre Right. He did say he would take the conservative and not the Labour Whip. If I was a left wing or left of centre unionist, I might be completely put off from voting for Connor. By contrast, my views on issues might actually be nearer to the SDLP. For that reason, I might vote SDLP. What would be so illogical about that? That is just one example of how different and diverse people are becoming in their political thinking.

    People may have other reasons for voting differently but the point is, voting diversity is on an increasing trend. Polarised tribal voting is on a decline, albeit a slow one at the moment.

    Turgon does not understand is that not all Unionists think the way he does. The reference to “blow in,” normally a term I would regard as friendly banter, is racist in this particular context.

    In Turgon’s world, you have to put your tribe before issues and if you dont agree with him, you are being disrespectful.

  20. Turgon says:

    No Seymour I am not being racist and I demand you retract that lying slur. This blog is characterised by civility and you have just broken that.

    I am not asking you respect me though I have done nothing to you: I am asking you to respect the simple fact that the vast majority of FST’s unionists wanted a single candidate and for you to run around telling them they are wrong and that you know better is disrespectful; especially when I am afraid you are not from here and have not suffered what the people here did suffer.

    If you want to see racism Seymour you could ask how it is that no one ever went to the police over the murders on Remembrance Sunday or the near murders at Tullyhommon. You might wonder about the issues surrounding the RUC being asked not to search the building blown up on that day. You might ask why the SDLP did not stand against a terrorist who was in the process of committing suicide and then failed to stand again after that terrorist succeeded in his suicide and another IRA man stood.

    Alternatively Seymour you could call me a racist, a fellow unionist whom you do not know but whose pretty extensive writings have never contained any racism. To you Seymour unionism is on your terms or nothing else. To you unionism is a play thing. You have a great deal to learn from Fermanagh unionists and seem rather to delight in displaying contempt for their views: where contempt for their views ends and contempt for them personally begins I am unclear but you seem very close to that point.

  21. 1of4 says:

    You keep describing Gildernew as Sectarian when it’s your own blog which is prob one of the most Sectarian things I’ve ever read.

  22. Turgon says:

    Yes I forgot it is sectarian to call for the removal by democratic means of an individual who appears to have twice in her three election victories been the beneficary of extremely irregular and almost certainly illegal electoral practice. In addition she has openly supported terrorists and the terrorist murderers in her own constituency; suggested that people not go to the police over certain criminal acts and has stated that a future generation of republicans might “have to” go back to violence.

    Yes indeed such an individual is not a sectarian bigot and to try to remove her is the sectarian position.

    Clealry republicans do not do irony.

  23. dantheman says:

    An interesting and well written (but flawed) analysis, which ignores the major problem that you simply don’t have the voters to win this seat anymore. Either by FPTP or AV.
    AV might get you a Stoop in there, so best to push for that if possible.

    Best to stick with the battle to retain North Belfast (and outside possibility to regain the south of the city). You’ll obviously retake E Belfast in 2015

    All other seats are lost, permanently.
    Including this one.

  24. Turgon says:

    dantheman,
    We lost by 4 votes and it looks as if there was some electoral malpractice.

    I think the seat is very winnable. Even if it is not, forcing Sf to take massive resources away from other areas to hold the seat makes them less able to cause problems in North Belfast and the like.

  25. dantheman says:

    “dantheman,
    We lost by 4 votes and it looks as if there was some electoral malpractice.

    I think the seat is very winnable. Even if it is not, forcing Sf to take massive resources away from other areas to hold the seat makes them less able to cause problems in North Belfast and the like.”

    The seat was one fair and square, just because the Unionist parties agreed a “Super Prod” candidate gave him no right to be elected. There was no malpractice.
    SF aren’t causing problems, don’t be so melodramatic. They’re maximising the votes for their own party candidates. All parties do it. Happens everywhere. They don’t get my vote (poor economic policy), but they do know how to get the vote out (see the 5 way vote split in West Belfast in the last Assembly elections). Even Diane Dodds acknowledged that.

    The seat is gone forever. The people of Fermanagh & S Tyrone do not want a Unionist MP anymore. Face facts, limiting choice reduces overall turnout. So if the base electorate isn’t hign enough, you lose. It’s not rocket science!

  26. […] a number of people have noted 5 years ago I did a blog in the aftermath of Rodney Connor’s defeat in Fermanagh South Tyrone. Many unionists (like […]

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