Unionist Unity would be a disservice to us all

Many within the DUP have begun plan B, following the Unionist tanking at the 2017 Assembly Election. All members of society, from all political persuasions, should discourage this – we, the electorate, deserve better. The purpose of opposition, insofar as it exists in an infantile form within Northern Irish politics, is there to oppose. So says Winston Churchill. Churchill was on to something. Dissent, leads to growth, the critical friend should be cherished on par, or above, the sycophantic fanatic. The UUP have experienced an identity crisis (again), but why? Is the party at a weak point? 2017 saw the UUP lose 6 seats, but notionally, according to Nicholas Whyte, if 2016 were run with the new 5 seat constituencies, they would have 5 less to begin with. My own calculations off 2016 results showed a return of 12 UUP seats, so is it a huge loss? In comparison to the DUP’s, who lost 5 more than their notional seats 2016 on 2017, again, according to Whyte. So a notional loss for DUP of 5 seats v a UUP loss of 1….. not disastrous. It must also be remembered that the vote came out. The UUP had it’s highest ever voting figure since the Assembly actually sat: 2007 – 103,145 2011 – 87,531 2016 – 87,302 2017 – 103,314 Yes, voting turnout was up, but the UUP increased its vote in real terms by 18%, whereas the DUP increased by just 11%. (Compared to nationalist vote increases in real terms of 34% for Sinn Féin, and 15% for the SDLP). Further comparison to the other minor Unionist parties, TUV (14% drop), PUP (6%...

From severance, to returning – the SDLP payouts.

Following the 2016 Assembly Election, SDLP members John Dallat (who stood down), and Dolores Kelly (who lost her seat), received severance packages from the NI Assembly – public money – as is normal in such circumstances. It has been reported that the following sums were paid out following their no-longer being MLAs: John Dallat £50,784 Dolores Kelly £65,792 Quite a sum for being out of Stormont for just 302 days. For John Dallat, that works out at the equivalent of nearly £1200 per week, for Ms. Kelly, it’s over £1500 a week. The candidates may well seek to give the money back, if such a mechanism is permitted… I believe that both representatives have been critical in the past when RUC officers were able to retire, and receive a payoff, only to reapply, and join, the PSNI. One trusts that the newly (re)elected MLAs will act in accordance with their principles in accordance with this issue. Or perhaps John and Dolores can just make the payments directly to Alex Attwood and Richie McPhillips, and save the NI Assembly having to make a second wave of payouts to outgoing SDLP MLAs in the same year....
AE17 and two bookies – what do the odds say? Overall result

AE17 and two bookies – what do the odds say? Overall result

So, after the last few days of looking at the odds offered by Paddy Power in the NI Assembly Election-a (for there will likely be a ‘b’), today, ahead of tomorrow’s voting, I’m going to tote up the final scores. Not just of Paddy Power, but combining in A McCleans Bookmakers too. The method for this, if anyone is interesting, is quite simply ranking the top 5 candidates in each constituency based on profit made from a £1 bet. Here’s the full run down prediction. Note: This is based purely off betting profit averages from the above bookmakers. DUP  (34) Sinn Féin (27) UUP (8) SDLP (8) Alliance (8) Green (2) People Before Profit (1) TUV (1) Independent (1) So, starter pistol at the ready… Aaaaand we’re off. Belfast East Naomi Long (Alliance) Joanne Bunting (DUP) Chris Lyttle (Alliance) David Douglas (DUP) Andy Allen (UUP) So the big loser here, factoring in both bookies, is current (at least until tomorrow, anyway) Speaker of the Assembly, Robin Newton. 5/6 with Paddy Power and evens with A McCleans, he’s certainly not to be discounted, but it’s looking unlikely on these odds compared with the others in the field. Belfast North Gerry Kelly (Sinn Féin) Paula Bradley (DUP) William Humphrey (DUP) Nelson McCausland (DUP) Carál Ní Chuilín (Sinn Féin) Paddy Power had Nichola Mallon of the SDLP at same odds as Ní Chuilîn of Sinn Féin in this race, McCleans, however, drop Mallon into 6th place with a still-odds-on of 4/6. Belfast South Máirtín Ó Muilleoir (Sinn Féin) Claire Hanna (SDLP) Paula Bradshaw (Alliance) Emma Little-Pengelly (DUP) Clare Bailey (Green) Both bookies...
AE17 and Paddy Power – what do the odds say? The battle of the Independents.

AE17 and Paddy Power – what do the odds say? The battle of the Independents.

Following on from previous odds-analysis, from Paddy Power’s spread on the Assembly Election constituencies, what about those with a more solitary route to election, or in some cases, re-election? Some constituencies have more independents than others, Foyle and East Antrim have just one apiece. North Down however has 3, and West Tyrone tops that particular league table with 4. But what do the bookies make of their chances? Not much, I’m afraid. East Londonderry If you’re running as an independent, this is the place to be. Both independents are odds-on for election, the best available odds on an independent by a furlong (or five). Claire Sugden is in the key-five spots at 4/9, returning just £0.44 on a £1 bet, and Gerry Mullan slightly outside of Sugden at 5/6, giving you £0.83 on your quid stake. Why such short odds? Re-election, that’s why. The odds-settters are clearly weighting the stakes in favour of re-election bids. Both of these candidates have a party history though, Sugden worked for the late David McClarty, who was in his later years an independent himself, but originally in the UUP. Gerry Mullan is a much more interesting tale, having been elected in 2016 as the SDLP MLA for the constituency, only to be de-selected for the 2017 race, sparking his race as an independent candidate (and a legal battle was suggested in the press). It’s incredibly unlikely that both of these independents could scrape in, but the fact that two party-less candidates are in the odds-on range does much to dispel the suggestion that the reduction from 6 seats to 5 per constituency could...
AE17 and Paddy Power – what do the odds say? Outside the top 5

AE17 and Paddy Power – what do the odds say? Outside the top 5

Continuing on from yesterday’s post about the average returns offered by Paddy Power for each party’s full candidate list in the 2017 Assembly election, now I think would be a good time to look at the likely fallers, to use gambling parlance. In the 2017 Assembly election, there will be 5 candidates returned for each constituency, compared to 6 in previous elections. This will bring the total number of MLAs down from 108 to just 90. There are some who suggest that this will potentially hurt the smaller parties more than the larger ones, whilst that is true of sorts, it’s not the whole story. Yes, People before Profit might lose 1 seat, and the DUP might lose 8; the DUP obviously will be losing more MLAs, but that 1 loss for PBP will be 50% of their total MLAs, whereas the DUP would only be losing 22%. Swings and roundabouts, perhaps, but plurality of voice could be hit in this election. So, let’s see which notable figures, according to Paddy Power, are outside of the top 5 favourites in this election. Belfast East Straight off the bat, in with a potential big faller. The under-siege Speaker of the Assembly, Robin Newton. Currently sitting at 5/6, as the sixth favourite, still odds-on to be returned, but outside of the 5 strong favourites. Following yesterday’s article, a point was made to me that these odds are likely based on the form of the candidates from the 2016 Assembly election, and this is likely a big influencer on the odds given, however – the third favourite in this race, is David...