WE have today (Friday) donned our political anoraks and are have cast the electoral runes in a feeble-minded attempt to do what every other political pundit is doing – casting about the goat entrails to find out what exactly the Mid-Ulster by-election results mean.
The only thing we can say for certain is that Francie Molloy is the new Member of Parliament for Mid-Ulster, even if he will not sit his bottom on the plush benches of the House of Commons.
Sinn Féin saw their vote and share of the vote down from 15,363 at the General Election to 4,681, something the party was quick to blame on voter apathy and SDLP tactics around the abortion issue – and with the turn-out down, as one would expect in a by-election, one can over-analyse it - although Mr Molloy blamed the media for saying all along that it was a Sinn Féin’s seat, leading to voter complacency.
Patsy McGlone will take some satisfaction from an increase in the SDLP vote and Alliance – for whom Mid-Ulster has never been a happy hunting ground - increased their share of the vote by 23%....which represents about 90 extra votes.
However, all the attention has been on the Agreed Unionist candidate, Nigel Lutton, whose increased share of the vote will, on the surface, have pleased those who backed this tactic – even if the number of votes themselves equivalent to all three unionist parties last time out was down by almost 600.
Peter Robinson will be happy enough, given that this was a Westminster seat that a unionist candidate was never going to gain anytime soon. For the DUP it was a no-risk tactic.
However, for Mike Nesbitt it had all the hallmarks of a risk that has already cost him two MLAs.
If the Agreed Unionist candidate had not increased the share of the vote the UUP would have been castigated. But as Mr Lutton did not top the combined figure of DUP, UUP and TUV last time it could be interpreted as a pyrrhic victory. Will it really prevent DUP tacticians smelling blood, as we roll towards the European election? Will it mean more rumblings within the party group come Monday and the Assembly group meeting. And, what will it mean come next year’s council elections?
Mr Nesbitt can only hope that he can use the coming months to rally his dwindling troops – and he should take comfort in the fact that no-one expected King Leonidis to hold Thermopyle for so long…oh hold on! Leonidis died and Thermopyle was sacked by the Persians after the Spartans king’s famous last stand.
We oppose that!
THERE is nothing in the Good Friday Agreement to create a constitutional opposition at Stormot. Such has been the mantra of many for so long.
But Secretary of State Theressa Villiers this week said there’s no reason not to have an opposition.
Mind you, she said that the Assembly would have to cough up the cash, and she would not be proposing any changed legislation as there was “no broad consensus” for an opposition.
Giving evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee, Ms Villiers also said she saw no reason to outlaw double-jobbing.
Change could only be made if the Committee could demonstrate a “groundswell” for altering the status quo. With DUP and Sinn Féin pretty much representing any groundswell, what the Secretary of State seemed to be saying was that nothing was going to change any time soon.
Well that was a waste of our time typing this out – we should have just said Villiers says no! Wouldn’t that have been easier!
NEWS alert – archaeologists in Fermanagh have been allowed an extra week to complete excavations at a Crannog in the county.
Already priceless artefacts of ancient Ulster life have been uncovered.
One lead archaeologist told us that as the dig is peering into the past, as it was some 1,300 years ago, they are hopeful that they are close to unearthing the most recent unionist and nationalist policy papers.
“This remains the most recent evidence we have of the status quo being just in existence for so bloody long that if we dig any more we are liable to find mammoths divided into those with a green pelt and those with an orange pelt,” he revealed.
Way, way down south
SO Norn Iron threw away a golden opportunity to have a say way down south, and by that we don’t mean Cork.
No, in case you missed it, some legislative dunderhead managed to give the Assembly some control over the vast polar continent, Antarctica.
The Assembly rather tamely handed this legislative responsibility back to Westminster. How could they be so short sighted!
A world of new opportunities could have opened up for a divided society near the South Pole. Unionists could have opened up a new Orange Lodge amongst Emperor Penguins, seeing as some still think the British Empire is alive and kicking.
Nationalists could have shown how the Orcas are taking over the lesser species, just as Sinn Féin has over-taken its nationalist revival SDLP.
Meanwhile, the Alliance Party could adopt, as their mascot, the plucky Rockhopper Penguins, those little flightless bird that just keep trying and trying to gain a foothold.
Oh, there would have been scientific reasons for keeping control of part of Antarctica – controlled experiments to determine just how much you can freeze out an electorate before they all decide not to bother voting again…