The future of England


By Faha

A new poll was released this week. It was commissioned by the University of Edinburgh and the University of Cardiff and was called the “Future of England Study”. Voters were Fragmented nationpolled throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland during late June and early July 2018.  In Northern Ireland the fieldwork was conducted by LucidTalk and included a weighted sample of 1,089 voters. Numerous questions were asked and I will go over only the most relevant ones.

Voters were asked how they would vote if a Westminster election were held. The results were (excluding those who would not vote)

DUP                                 31.6%

UUP                                 11.1%

Other Unionist                 3.1%

Total Unionist                45.8%

SF                                     27.3%

SDLP                                 11.5%

PBP                                     0.5%

Total Nationalist             39.3%

Alliance-Green                10.6%

Undecided                          4.3%

The Undecided were 70% from the unionist community, 10% nationalist and 20% Neither. Taking that into account it appears the total Unionist vote would be 48%, the total nationalist vote 40% and the Alliance-Green vote 12%. The sample in the poll appears to reflect the actual electorate since the unionist vote is nearly identical to the actual unionist vote in 2017 though the nationalist vote is lower and the Alliance-Green vote higher than the 2017 election.  However, I wish to note that 22% of voters stated they would not vote and the results by constitutional background were:

Nationalist-Republican    29%

Unionist                              14%

Neutral                               17%

None-Non Political           91%

Nationalist voters are much less likely to vote in a Westminster election than unionist voters. As you know, this has been my contention for many years that voter turnout is lower among nationalist voters than unionist voters.

Voters were asked how they would vote on a new EU referendum and the results were:

Nationalist       Unionist         Neutral      None-Non Political

 

Remain in EU                   85%                   28%                94%            92%

Leave EU                             3%                   68%                 3%              3%

Undecided                        12%                    4%                  3%              4%

For all voters it was 60% Remain, 32% Leave and 8% Undecided. This poll shows an increase in support for Remain compared to the actual EU referendum result of 56% Remain in Northern Ireland.

A question on a Border Poll was not directly asked. Voters were asked if Scotland, Wales, England or Northern Ireland should become independent countries. The results for Northern Ireland were:

No it should become part of a United Ireland   44%

No it should remain the UK                                   43%

Yes-independent country                                         4%

Undecided                                                                   9%

The breakdown by constitutional preference was:

Nationalist       Unionist         Neutral      None-Non Political

United Ireland                     89%                2%                 39%           2%

Stay in UK                               0%               93%                16%            5%

Independent country           4%                 3%                  8%             1%

Undecided                              6%                 1%                 37%           93%

The results are unsurprising. A small number of voters actually prefer an independent Northern Ireland. There are 3 interesting findings about the None- Non Political group. Over 90% are in favour of Remaining in the EU and over 90% are Undecided about a United Ireland. Over 90% of this group also indicated that they would not vote in a Westminster election. So major questions are:

How many None-Non Political voters would vote in a Border Poll since over 90% indicate they would not vote in a Westminster election?

Since over 90% wish to Remain in the EU how will that influence their vote on a United Ireland?

The more recent Delta Poll showed that voter preference for a United Ireland would range from 53% to 56% depending on the Brexit scenario with 40% preferring to Remain in the UK. It appears that in the interval between the Edinburgh-Cardiff poll and the more recent Delta Poll that the Undecided and those who prefer an independent Northern Ireland have move to a United Ireland preference.

Another interesting finding is that voters were asked the following question:

Question 47: Some have suggested that leaving the EU may present challenges to the UK. One of these includes the unravelling of the peace process in Northern Ireland. If this happens would you say that:

Leaving the EU was not worth jeopardizing the peace process

Nationalist                       97%

Unionist                            30%

Neutral                             98%

None- Non Political        99%

Yes it was worth it to take back control

Nationalist                         3%

Unionist                            70%

Neutral                                2%

None- Non Political           1%

So unionist voters believe that leaving the EU is more important than peace in Northern Ireland.

This may seem surprising but it is actually not.

First of all, not all Protestants vote unionist and taking this into account perhaps 60% of Protestants believe that leaving the EU is more important than peace in Northern Ireland. When the Good Friday Agreement passed in the Referendum held in 1998 there was little polling done. The media and governments involved tried to convince the world that a slight majority of Protestants voted in favour of the Good Friday Agreement.

It is more likely that a there was a slight majority that voted against the Agreement and these voters are now still opposed to power sharing and believe that any action that jeopardizes peace in Northern Ireland, including leaving the EU, is acceptable.

The final nature of Brexit should be known by late November. It is likely that LucidTalk will conduct another poll on preferences for a United Ireland after that time.

Clarifacation of the poll quoted above as requested by Lucid Talk ” LT did the NI fieldwork (ie gathered the data) but Edinburgh/Cardiff did all the weighting, data analysis, and produced the poll results”

Advertisements

Boundary Commission- the results


Last year I attended the 1st consultation on the Boundary Commissions proposals for the new boundaries. While not perfect, they were reasonable and considered. Following that process they came back with a revision that almost entirely mirrored the DUP version of Leo and Theresawhat was essentially a unionist wish list. A Gerrymander of epic proportions in my opinion.Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland Final Recommendations Report

The final version, published today, is essentially that DUP wish list with minor alterations.

North Down as the sacrificial lamb and the capitulation on Belfast are the glaring examples.

I have no doubts whatsoever that political intervention has taken place here and, contrary to the BC guidelines, influence has been excercised which has no place in their remit.

Based upon these changes, Sylvia Hermon would definitely lose since the 3 Holywood area wards removed which are strong for her and the wards added from the Ards Peninsula are heavily DUP.

The nationalist electorate goes up by 1% in North Belfast but these are mainly extra voters from Newtownabbey that would also add to the Alliance vote.

 

Faha has collated the figures below and this is a work in progress so please bear with us.

Religion or religion brought up in:
Catholic (%)
Religion or religion brought up in:
Protestant and Other Christian (including Christian related) (%)
Religion or religion brought up in:
Other religions (%)
Religion or religion brought up
None (%)
Belfast East 12.70% 75.40% 1.44% 10.47%
New 14.09% 73.83% 1.43% 10.65%
Belfast North 46.94% 45.67% 1.04% 6.36%
New 47.90% 44.21% 1.14% 6.75%
Belfast South 44.01% 43.65% 2.80% 9.54%
New 42.00% 45.82% 2.71% 9.48%
Belfast West 80.09% 16.64% 0.58% 2.69%
New 69.70% 26.18% 0.67% 3.45%
East Antrim 20.39% 70.11% 0.97% 8.53%
New 16.63% 74.06% 0.86% 8.44%
East Londonderry 41.70% 53.27% 0.68% 4.35%
New- Causeway 33.52% 60.83% 0.74% 4.91%
Fermanagh and South Tyrone 57.69% 39.10% 0.61% 2.60%
New 58.57% 38.27% 0.59% 2.57%
Foyle 75.12% 22.02% 0.79% 2.07%
New 74.31% 22.79% 0.79% 2.11%
Mid Ulster 66.72% 30.78% 0.44% 2.06%
New 65.67% 31.76% 0.45% 2.12%
Newry and Armagh 66.36% 30.59% 0.55% 2.50%
New 69.43% 27.69% 0.54% 2.35%
North Antrim 28.39% 66.03% 0.74% 4.84%
New- Mid Antrim 30.28% 64.15% 0.72% 4.85%
North Down 12.59% 74.44% 1.15% 11.83%
New 14.61% 73.47% 1.07% 10.86%
South Antrim 31.86% 59.80% 0.87% 7.46%
New 28.47% 62.06% 1.00% 8.47%
South Down 69.26% 26.85% 0.52% 3.36%
New 68.66% 27.53% 0.52% 3.29%
Strangford 17.28% 73.13% 0.94% 8.65%
New- Mid Down 17.69% 73.86% 0.89% 7.57%
Upper Bann 44.00% 49.99% 0.88% 5.14%
New 43.72% 50.30% 0.92% 5.06%
West Tyrone 67.98% 30.16% 0.40% 1.47%
New-  Sperrin 70.23% 27.99% 0.37% 1.41%

The Time has Come – by Faha


The blog below is by my long time collaborator Faha 

As always, it is forensic and based upon the known facts. To be honest the speed at which things are changing here is almost overwhelming. I wish the peerless Horseman was still with us to witness how this endgame is playing out.

The title of the blog is mine inspired by Christy Moore and Faha’s final line. I’ll not spoil it for you.

Over to Faha. BD

Counting Votes

An opinion poll was conducted from August 24th through August 28th by Deltapoll. Deltapoll was commissioned by 2 groups, Best for Britain and Our Future Our Choice, and the poll was an online poll of voters in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

LucidTalk in Northern Ireland did the actual polling for Deltapoll in Northern Ireland. The final unweighted sample was 1,199 voters which was weighted to 993 voters to adjust for over representation and under representation of certain demographics and the turnout changes in recent elections.

Voters were asked this question:

Do you consider yourselves to come from a Nationalist or Unionist Heritage?

The results were:

Unionist          47.3%

Nationalist      42.0%

Neither              9.3%

Other                 1.4%

This sample appears to approximate the electorate in the 2017 Assembly and Westminster elections. The vote for unionist candidates in the Assembly election was 3.7% higher than that for nationalist candidates and in the Westminster election the vote for unionist candidates was 7.2% higher than that for nationalist candidates. The average for the 2 elections is 5.0 % which is very close to the 5.3% difference in this sample.

Voters were asked how they voted in the 2017 Westminster election and 2016 EU Referendum. They were also asked how they would vote if a new EU Referendum was held. 1% of those who voted Remain would switch to Leave and 7% of those who voted Leave would switch to Remain. This is only a small change and would increase the Remain vote from 56% in 2016 to 58.5%. However, those who did not vote in the 2016 election would vote 83% Remain and only 9% Leave if a new vote was held. This is significant and I will return to this point later.

Voters were also asked how they would vote on a referendum on a United Ireland under 3 different scenarios.

The first scenario is that the UK somehow remains in the EU and the results were:

Northern Ireland Remain in the UK

52%

United Ireland

35%

Undecided

11%

With the UK remaining in the EU support for a United Ireland is only 35%.

The 2nd scenario asked voters how they would vote if the UK leaves the EU and the results were:

 

Northern Ireland Remain in the UK

39.9%

United Ireland

52.9%

Undecided

7.1%

The 3rd scenario asked voters how they would vote if the UK leaves the EU and there is a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and the results were:

Northern Ireland Remain in the UK

39.8%

United Ireland

56.4%

Undecided

3.6%

With a hard border there is no change in the percentage that wish to remain in the UK but half the undecideds would switch to voting in favour of a United Ireland.

The breakdown by Constitutional Position (heritage background) is:

Nationalist

Northern Ireland Remain in the UK

1.9%

United Ireland

96.4%

Undecided

1.7%

Unionist

Northern Ireland Remain in the UK

77.1%

United Ireland

16.9%

Undecided

6.0%

Neither/Other

Northern Ireland Remain in the UK

22.2%

United Ireland

75.9%

Undecided

1.9%

In the Lord Ashcroft and Lucid Talk polls from May 2018 support for a United Ireland among nationalists was in the 85% to 90% range with many undecided and support for remaining in the UK in the 4% to 7% range. The undecided have uniformly shifted in favour of a United Ireland. What little support there was among nationalist voters to remain in the UK has almost entirely disappeared.

There has also been a marked shift among those who are neither unionist nor nationalist.

Support for a United Ireland was in the 36% to 50% range in the May polls and is now 75%. Even excluding those who are Other (foreign nationals) from this group support for a United Ireland is over 70%.

There has also been a significant increase in support for a United Ireland among those from a unionist background which is at 17% in this poll.

This is double that in the May polls. However, I wish to point out that there are 2 very different subgroups within the unionist population. This poll shows that unionists (large U) who vote for unionist parties are only 2% in favour of a United Ireland. This group is ¾ of all unionists. Small u unionists (those who vote Alliance, Green, PBP, SDLP, etc.) or who were nonvoters have a majority that are in favour of a United Ireland. This is an important distinction that has developed.

Those who are nationalists will vote overwhelmingly for a United Ireland. They will vote this way whether they are nationalists who vote for nationalist parties or vote for nonsectarian parties. Those who are neither nationalist nor unionist are also now strongly in favour of a United Ireland. The unionist population electorate differs from the nationalist electorate in one significant way. Nationalists who vote for nationalist parties are only 2% in favour of remaining in the UK.  Unionists who vote for unionist parties are only 2% in favour of a United Ireland.

However, unlike their nationalist counterparts, small u unionists who do not vote for unionist parties are who are nonvoters now have a majority that are in favour of a United Ireland. Of the overall 3.6% of all voters who are still undecided only 0.1% of that are voters who voted for a unionist party. The other 3.5% are voters who voted for nonsectarian or nationalist parties or were nonvoters.

Now some may claim that small u unionists who have not voted in recent elections do not matter if they do not vote. Turnout for the EU referendum, Assembly and Westminster elections was 800,000. The turnout for a Border Poll will be much higher. The GFA referendum has a turnout of 80% of the voting age population. The Scotland independence referendum had a turnout of 85% of the voting age population. Similar turnouts for a Border Poll would have between 1,200,000 and 1,300,000 voters. That is an extra 400,000 to 500,000 voters.

The extra nationalist community voters will vote overwhelmingly for a United Ireland. Foreign national voters will vote overwhelmingly for a United Ireland.  The extra voters from neither community will vote 75% in favour of a United Ireland. The extra unionist voters will have significant minority in favour of a United Ireland.

This poll also noted a strong correlation between those who wish to remain in the EU and voting for a United Ireland (88% yes vs 7% no). There was also a strong correlation between those who wish to leave the EU and voting to remain in the UK (87% vs 12%). In the 2016 EU referendum constituencies such as North Down, Lagan Valley, East Antrim, Strangford, South Antrim and East Belfast had votes in favour of remaining in the EU that were much higher than the non unionist vote  in Westminster and Assembly elections.

This is an indication that there were many small u unionists (as well as some nationalist and neither voters) who voted in the EU referendum that usually do not vote. Indeed North Down had the highest turnout of all constituencies in the EU referendum while it usually has the lowest turnout in other elections.

This is only one poll. There will probably be more in November and December when the final nature of Brexit will be known.

If subsequent polls confirm that there is a majority of Northern Ireland voters in favour of a United Ireland then a Border Poll should be called for next April or May.

Changing times


It is clear now that political unionism is going through a period of coming to terms with the fact that demographic, cultural and social change is a reality in the six counties of north eastern Ulster.Tattered union flag

It is interesting that some seek to portray it as a kind of LGBT/pan nationalist thing. The reality is that poor Arlene’s outreach policy has been outflanked by her recidivist right wing. This begs the question as to who is actually in charge? The obvious answer is Nigel and he really isn’t the sharpest as pretty much everyone knows.

Peter Robinson has gently suggested to his “lemmings” that they need to at least, prepare a response to the reality that is now upon them. Their response, while predictable, is ridiculous.

I actually feel sorry for genuine unionists taken in by such nonsense by the likes of Poots and Wilson.

I know there are genuine, articulate, unionists out there.

Somewhere.

 

Lord Ashcroft Poll- Brexit, the Border and the Union


By Faha

Lord Ashcroft this week released an lgd-20111 (1)Brexit-The-Border-and-The-Union-Lord-Ashcroft-Polls-June-2018 on Brexit, the Border and the Union. 1,666 Northern Ireland voters were polled online from May 24th to May 28th. 3,294 voters in England, Scotland and Wales were polled May 29th to May 31st. 1,500 voters were polled in the Republic of Ireland from May 31st to June 5th.Clock ticking

There was one key question asked of the Northern Ireland voters:

“If there were a Referendum on Irish unification tomorrow, how would you vote?”

49% for Northern Ireland to Stay in the UK

44% for Northern Ireland to Leave the UK and join the Republic of Ireland

7% Don’t Know

The breakdown by religion was:

Catholic

5% for Northern Ireland to Stay in the UK

90% for Northern Ireland to Leave the UK and join the Republic of Ireland

5% Don’t Know

Protestant

86% for Northern Ireland to Stay in the UK

7% for Northern Ireland to Leave the UK and join the Republic of Ireland

7% Don’t Know

No Religion

40% for Northern Ireland to Stay in the UK

48% for Northern Ireland to Leave the UK and join the Republic of Ireland

12% Don’t Know

The breakdown by political party was

Sinn Fein

0% for Northern Ireland to Stay in the UK

98% for Northern Ireland to Leave the UK and join the Republic of Ireland

1% Don’t Know

SDLP

10% for Northern Ireland to Stay in the UK

78% for Northern Ireland to Leave the UK and join the Republic of Ireland

12% Don’t Know

Alliance

30% for Northern Ireland to Stay in the UK

42% for Northern Ireland to Leave the UK and join the Republic of Ireland

28% Don’t Know

UUP

90% for Northern Ireland to Stay in the UK

4% for Northern Ireland to Leave the UK and join the Republic of Ireland

5% Don’t Know

DUP

97% for Northern Ireland to Stay in the UK

1% for Northern Ireland to Leave the UK and join the Republic of Ireland

2% Don’t Know

The findings are almost identical to the Lucid Talk poll which was also conducted on exactly the same dates. The only main difference is that the Undecided are only 7% in the Lord Ashcroft poll versus 12.7% in the Lucid Talk poll. The lower Undecided resulted in an increase from 42% to 44% in those in favour of a United Ireland but it also increased support for staying in the UK from 45% to 49%. Another difference is that Lucid Talk had a slight plurality of those with No Religion who wished to stay in the UK whereas this group has a plurality for a United Ireland in the Lord Ashcroft poll.

The political party preferences are not surprising. It was noted in the focus groups that most Protestant Alliance voters preferred to stay in the UK or were Undecided so the support for a United Ireland among Alliance voters is mainly from their Catholic and No Religion voters.

For Republic of Ireland voters, 9% were not in favour of a United Ireland. 35% would like to see a United Ireland in the next few years. 56% were in favour of a United Ireland but believed it would not be practical or affordable in the next few years. Also 80% of voters would vote to Remain in the EU and 16% would vote to Leave if a Referendum on EU membership was held.

Voters in England, Scotland and Wales had the following views:

28% Northern Ireland should remain part of the UK

57% No opinion or it is up to the people of Northern Ireland to decide

8% Northern Ireland should no longer be a part of the UK.

The Lord Ashcroft poll had an over response from Catholic and No Religion voters as well as Alliance voters. They adjusted their sample to reflect their view of the demographics of Northern Ireland. However, their adjustment resulted in an over representation of Protestant voters. The percentage of Protestant voters was more than 10% higher than that of Catholic voters. The 2011 census showed only a 7% gap and in 2018 that is now only 5%. The 2017 Assembly election confirmed that it is only a 5% gap since the unionist vote was only 3.5% higher than the nationalist vote. Thus, if their weighting reflected the actual demographics of Northern Ireland the Remain in the UK vote would be 46% and the Leave the UK vote 47%.

As with the Lucid Talk poll it is possible to predict the outcome of a Border Poll based on the religion preferences in this poll and extrapolated to the 2019 demographics of Northern Ireland.

In 2019 the voting age demographics of the 16+ age groups among native voters will be:

Catholic             640,000

Protestant         683,000

Other/None         53,000

Based on the Lord Ashcroft poll preferences the vote would be with a 100% turnout.

United Ireland

Catholic              576,000

Protestant            47,810

Other/None         25,440

Total                    649,250

Remain in the UK

Catholic                 32,000

Protestant           587,380

Other/None          21,200

Total                     640,580

Undecided            86,170

With a 100% turnout of native voters there is a slight edge of 8,670 for a United Ireland (less than 1%). Clearly, the Undecided voters will decide the outcome.

There will also be 150,000 ethnic minority voters in 2019 of which 110,000 are from EU countries. Since support for remaining in the UK is near zero for these voters if they were to vote a United Ireland vote would win by 140,000. That would be a margin of 10%.

It is clear that the impending Brexit has resulted in a surge of support for a United Ireland. This is mainly from Catholics and those with No Religion but there has also been an increase in among Protestant voters.

By October of 2018, and certainly no later than December, the final nature of Brexit will be known.

 

On A Knife Edge – Brexit, Lucid Talk and the Border Poll


By Faha

A few days ago the BBC published a Lucid Talk poll conducted in Northern Ireland in May. The poll was 156 pages long and covered many aspects of society in Northern Tightrope walkerIreland. One of the questions asked was:

If there was a referendum on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, how would you vote?

The results were:

Remain-Vote for Northern Ireland to stay within the United Kingdom

45.0%

Leave-Vote for Northern Ireland to join the Republic of Ireland

42.1%

Undecided

12.7%

The results by Religion were:

Protestant

Remain-          78.5%

Leave-                8.5%

Undecided-     13.0%

Catholic

Remain-             7.2%

Leave-               84.3%

Undecided-         8.1%

Other/None 

Remain-            39.8%

Leave-               36.4%

Undecided-          23.3%

Clearly the result of a Border Poll would be very close. Compared to the previous Lucid Talk poll in December 2017, the percentage of Protestants in favour of an United Ireland is unchanged but the percentage in favour of remaining in the UK has declined from 85.3% to 78.5% with that 6.8% difference now Undecided voters. The percentage of Catholic voters who desire a United Ireland has declined from 90% to 84.3% with the difference added to Undecided voters.

The poll also broke down preferences according to national identity and these closely correlated with the religion question (i.e: many Protestants identify as British but few Catholics do). There was a small group (1%) of voters who have an identity of EU or non EU ethnic minorities and their preference was:

Remain-             6.7%

Leave-               80.0%

Undecided-       13.3%

Voters were also asked how Brexit influences their choice for remaining in the UK or joining a United Ireland. The questions asked were:

Protestants:

Yes, I used to support NI staying in the UK but I may/would now support NI joining the Republic of Ireland

21.0%

No, the EU Referendum result has hasn’t changed my view, I still support NI staying in the UK.

74.3%

No, the EU Referendum result has hasn’t changed my view, I still support NI joining the Republic of Ireland

1.1%

Clearly Brexit has had a significant effect on the views of Protestants towards a United Ireland. Support for a United Ireland was less than 2% prior to Brexit but now 21% of Protestants are considering a United Ireland. In the Border Referendum question most those 21% are either Undecided or in favour of a United Ireland. The results were not broken down by political party preference but based on the previous poll a majority of that 21% are Protestants who vote Alliance/Green/ SDLP/Independent.

The results for Catholics were:

Yes, I used to support NI staying in the UK but I may/would now support NI joining the Republic of Ireland

31%

No, the EU Referendum result has hasn’t changed my view, I still support NI staying in the UK.

4.7%

No, the EU Referendum result has hasn’t changed my view, I still support NI joining the Republic of Ireland

61.4%

Prior to Brexit, almost 1/3 of Catholics were content to remain in the UK. However, most of those are now in favour of a United Ireland or Undecided.

These are the results for those with Other/ None religion.

Yes, I used to support NI staying in the UK but I may/would now support NI joining the Republic of Ireland

41.3%

No, the EU Referendum result has hasn’t changed my view, I still support NI staying in the UK.

30.6%

No, the EU Referendum result has hasn’t changed my view, I still support NI joining the Republic of Ireland

17.0%

Brexit has shifted a large percentage of these voters towards a United Ireland

The results for EU and non EU ethnic minorities were:

Yes, I used to support NI staying in the UK but I may/would now support NI joining the Republic of Ireland

53.3%

No, the EU Referendum result has hasn’t changed my view, I still support NI staying in the UK.

0%

No, the EU Referendum result has hasn’t changed my view, I still support NI joining the Republic of Ireland

40.0%

Clearly, Brexit has resulted in a complete collapse in support among ethnic minorities for remaining in the UK.

Lucid Talk has been very accurate in their recent polls. In the 2016 Assembly election they predicted a total nationalist vote of only 38% to 39% which was widely scoffed at prior to the election since it showed a mark decline in the nationalist vote despite a rising nationalist voting age population. The subsequent election results showed the poll was almost 100% accurate. The Lucid Talk poll for the EU referendum in Northern Ireland in June 2016 was accurate to within 1%. Their poll for the 2017 Assembly election predicted a resurgence of the nationalist vote and a significant decline in the unionist vote which was borne out by the actual results with the unionist parties in a minority for the first time ever in an election in Northern Ireland.

However, there are 3 flaws in the Lucid Talk poll, all of which are related to demographics. Lucid Talk has no control over 2 of these. Their sample only contains 1% who identify as ethnic minorities. Recent data on foreign nationals with NiNO registrations residing in Northern Ireland indicate that the ethnic minority voting age population is in the 9% to 10% range. Of course, many of these are less connected to Northern Ireland or have limited English language skills so they are difficult to find for an opinion poll. They currently comprise 4.5% of the electoral register, half their actual numbers in the population. Since the poll showed that support for remaining within the UK is 0% among this group the poll is underestimating the percentage vote for a United Ireland depending on the turnout among these voters, which would certainly be higher than the 1% included in the poll.

The 2nd flaw relates to the Religion composition of those polled. Lucid Talk has Other/None as 15.4% of the voters. The 2011 census has a question which included Religion brought up in and this group was only 5.4% so the poll has this group 10% higher. This question was not asked in the poll. The census would show approximately 10.4% Other/None by the Lucid Talk criteria so the 15.4% still overestimates this group. The constituency results should have each constituency contributing 5.5% to their sample. Three constituencies in the West (Foyle, Mid Ulster and West Tyrone) were less than 4% of the sample whereas South Belfast was 11.4%, East Belfast 8.9% and East Antrim 7.3%. Since the Other/None are quite high in these latter 3 this explains why the Lucid Talk poll is overestimating the Other/None group.

The poll sample comprised the following:

Protestant      46.0%

Catholic           38.6%

Other/None    15.4%

The gap between Protestants and Catholics is 7.4%. Including “secular” Catholic and Protestants (> 70% Protestant and <30% Catholic in the census) the gap would be 11.0%. The census shows the actual gap among native voters should be 5% to 6%. So the sample is overestimating voters from a Protestant background.

The sampling issue is not a problem for predicting the results of a Border Poll Referendum in 2019 since we know the preferences by religious background.

This is what the voter demographic profile of native voters in Northern Ireland will be in 2019 post the March 2019 Brexit. This is based on the 2011 census and assumes a voting age of 16 which was the voting age allowed for the Scottish Independence Referendum. Adjustments are made for emigration which shows a continuing exodus of native youth.

In 2019 the voting age demographics of the 16+ age groups among native voters will be:

Catholic             640,000

Protestant         683,000

Other/None         53,000

Based on the Poll preferences the vote would be with a 100% turnout.

United Ireland

Catholic              539,520

Protestant            58,055

Other/None         19,292

Total                    616,867

Remain in the UK

Catholic                 46,080

Protestant           536,155

Other/None          21,094

Total                     603,329

 

Undecided           155,804

 

With a 100% turnout of native voters there is a slight edge of 13,538 for a United Ireland (only 1%). Clearly, the Undecided voters will decide the outcome. More than half the Undecided are from a Protestant background so the 13,538 margin for a United Ireland could be completely wiped out.

There will be 150,000 ethnic minority voters in 2019 of which 110,000 are from EU countries. Since support for remaining in the UK is near zero for these voters if they were to vote a United Ireland vote would win by 140,000. That would be a margin of 10%.

The results of this Lucid Talk poll indicates that there should be a Border Referendum in 2019 post Brexit. Those political parties in favour of a United Ireland need to put forward proposals for how Northern Ireland would be integrated into the Republic of Ireland. There is also much tactical work that need to be accomplished. This includes lowering the voting age to 16 and putting on the electoral register the 90,000 foreign nationals who are currently not registered to vote. With the implementation of online voter registration in Northern Ireland this month this should be easier to accomplish.

If’s, But’s and Maybe’s


Good afternoon .

It’s been an interesting day. From Theresa May telling blatant, demonstrable lies in Westminster regarding the legacy inquiries to , eh, Jim Wells being suspended by the DUP.

It is this latter issue I wish to comment upon.

Wood PelletsJim has had the DUP whip withdrawn as a result of an internal DUP issue. A first fallout of the RHI scandal as I would see it.

This is an internal DUP disciplinary issue of course. Others outside that party are already forming their views based upon the evidence so far and, of course, the findings of the official enquiry when they are arrived at.

The action against Jim Wells has a singular decisive effect though.

It puts Sinn Féin and the DUP at level pegging on 27 seats each at Assembly level.

This raises the question as to who would be elected as First Minister if the Assembly were to reconvene.

The rules are actually quite clear:

Following the St Andrews Agreement in October 2006, this procedure is:

  • a First Minister nominated by the largest party of the largest designation
  • a deputy First Minister nominated by the largest party of the second largest designation.

The results in 2017 were SF 27, DUP 28, UUP 10, SDLP 12, TUV 1 PBP 2, All 8, Greens 2, Others (Claire Sugden) 1.

That’s a lead of precisely one for unionism. (DUP/ UUP/TUV and Claire)

What has changed now with the removal of Jim? Everything.

In other words a dead heat in seats between designated Nationalists and Unionists.

So who decides the First Minister position now? The electorate of course.

In the circumstances of an equal number of MLA’s elected for the two main designations, the party with biggest vote at the Assembly Election would be the party who can nominate first for the post of First Minister.

That, of course, would have been the DUP at the last election (225,413 vs SF 224,225)

 

But the bould Jim polled 7,786 leaving SF (Hypothetically speaking) as the largest party and Michelle O’Neill as our new (Hypothetical) First Minister.

 

 

Managing Decline – the Lucid Talk poll- Feb 2018


Lucid Talk today released the first findings of their February 2018 tracking poll.

I thought it worth doing a quick blog on these findings as they reveal some very interesting facts.

Below are two of the charts published by Lucid Talk, the first is an age grouping breakdown:

Lucid Talk poll Feb 2018

The second graphic shows us the overall effect of the above and a comparison with results in September 2017:

Lucid Talk Poll Feb 18-2This is fascinating stuff, In the first graphic we can see that SF have a lead of 9.5% over the DUP in the under 44 category and Nationalist parties (SF & SDLP) have a full 10% lead over the main unionist parties (UUP and DUP).

In the older age cohort the figures are a lead of 10.2% for DUP over SF and 13.7 for Unionism (35.3% vs 49%)

This is massive electoral change coming down the line for political unionism and it’s a one way direction of travel.

Turning our attention to the second graphic which combines the results to give us a prediction as to voting intentions and the changes over a six month period the figures are equally startling.

There is a swing from DUP to SF of 3.1%, in the context of politics here, that is significant.  I am sure the drop in support for the DUP will be much speculated upon over the coming days.

Using the above figures, the total Unionist vote (DUP/UUP/TUV and PUP) translates into 46.6%, well short of a majority. The total Nationalist vote (SF/ SDLP/ PBP) is 42.7%.

A swing to nationalist parties of 0.6% since September.

How this would translate into actual seats of course depends on the geographic spread of the votes and how motivated voters are in an actual election.

This poll demonstrates the continuing trends established in last years elections and the potential growth of the nationalist parties in the years ahead. For political unionism, while they continue to beat their tribal drums and resort to the dog whistling of the past, they are faced only with decline.

As events of the past two weeks demonstrate, Unionism keeps repeating the mistakes of it’s past. Walking out of the talks process was a colossal strategic error, lying about the circumstances in which that happened compounded that error and failure to have any idea about what to do next exposes their lack of vision and planning for the future.

The failure to be honest with their electorate is why their base was so woefully unprepared for the deal on restoration of Stormont. The above poll demonstrates that they are now managing the decline of unionism. Denial will only increase the shock to unionist voters as this process rolls out in the years ahead.

Like their allies in the Brexiteer brigade, they may have acted in haste but will have plenty of time to repent at leisure.

This is only going one way.

 

Faha: Why the Boundary review needs to be challenged


The Boundary Commission released their revised recommendations this week for the new 17 Northern Ireland constituencies.

I will analyze the changes and how they will affect the Westminster and Assembly elections that are currently scheduled for 2022. First I wish to give some background on the Boundary Review. The current UK Boundary Review was begun in March 2016 and was based on the December 2015 Parliamentary electoral register. The number of seats in Westminster is to be reduced from 650 to 600 with Northern Ireland dropping from 18 to 17. The revised proposals have already been released for England, Scotland and Wales. As it currently stands this review is unlikely to pass in Westminster.New Boundary Commission Map

There have been several reports from the Conservative Party that the estimated 15 Conservative MP’s who would lose their seats will vote against the proposals. There are others who will have radical changes to their constituencies. It only will take 5 defections for the Review to fail. It appears there may be new legislation to redo the Review but with 650 seats. This will not affect Northern Ireland since the proposals released this week are likely to be very close to the final proposals. If it is redone with 650 seats Northern Ireland will still only have 17 seats. The reason for this is that a new review would be based on the 2018 electoral register. The Northern Ireland December 2015 register was 1,243,369 voters and the January 2018 register is 1,242,444 voters. That is a decline of 955 voters in 2 years.

The total UK register was 44,722,000 in December 2015 and increased to 46,800,000 at the time of the June 2017 Westminster election. It is now over 47,000,000. Since the Northern Ireland register has declined while the total UK register has increased by 2.5 million, Northern Ireland is currently entitled to 17.1 seats with a 650 seat Parliament. So Northern Ireland will have 17 seats if the current review passes and 17 seats if it is redone with a new review. One commentator noted in 2016 that if the current review had been based on the March 2016 register (when the Review actually began) Northern Ireland would have had only 16 seats. It barely qualified for 17 seats in the current Review.

I will analyze each constituency and project any changes for the 2017 Westminster and Assembly elections based on those changes. I will begin with the southern and western constituencies as these have minor changes.

South Down

There were only a few minor ward changes on the edge of the constituency.

Catholic       Protestant         Other         None

Current                      69.26%             26.85%         0.52%         3.36%

New                            68.66%             27.53%         0.52%         3.29%

The Catholic population will be only 0.6% lower. The Westminster election would still be a SF MP and the Assembly would be 2 SF, 2 SDLP and 1 DUP.

Newry and Armagh

The heavily unionist wards of Laurelvale and Tandragee were transferred to Upper Bann.

Catholic        Protestant         Other          None

Current                       66.36%            30.59%            0.55%         2.55%

New                             69.43%            27.69%            0.54%         2.35%

There would be a 3% increase in the nationalist vote with a SF MP and 3 SF, 1 SDLP and 1 DUP in the Assembly.

Upper Bann

Laurelvale and Tandragee wards were added to the constituency and the Banbridge town wards were transferred to the new Mid Down.

Catholic        Protestant         Other          None

Current                         44.00%            49.99%             0.88%         5.14%

New                               43.72%            50.30%             0.92%         5.06%

Minimal demographic changes. The Banbridge wards that were removed have a UUP vote that was much higher than the DUP vote in 2014 council election. The SDLP vote is also slightly higher than the SF vote. The DUP will have an even larger plurality in the Westminster election. The Assembly would still be 2 DUP, 1 UUP, 1 SF and 1 SDLP. The SDLP will benefit from the large excess of available transfers from unionist parties.

Fermanagh South Tyrone

There were some minor ward boundary changes here that actually have a significant influence on a Westminster election. A net of 600 unionist voters (500 voting) were transferred to Upper Bann and a net of 1,200 nationalist voters (900 voting) were transferred inform nearby Dungannon wards.

Catholic        Protestant         Other          None

Current                         57.69%            39.10%             0.61%         2.60%

New                               58.57%         38.27%             0.59%         2.57%

Although the ward boundary changes were minor they would result in 500 fewer unionist votes and 800 more SF votes in a Westminster election. Michelle Gildernew would have won by a margin of over 2,000 votes. The days of a unionist unity candidate winning here appear to be over. The Assembly would be 3 SF, 1 DUP and 1 UUP.

West Tyrone

The 3 wards of Banagher, Claudy and Feeny were added from East Derry. A section of Slievekirk was transferred to Foyle.

Catholic        Protestant         Other          None

Current                         67.98%            30.16%             0.40%         1.47%

New                               69.34%       28.84%             0.39%         1.44%

The constituency is even more nationalist than previously. SF would still win Westminster with a larger margin and the Assembly would be 3 SF 1 SDLP and 1 DUP.

Foyle

A net of 800 unionist voters (600 voting) were transferred from the Slievekirk ward.

Catholic        Protestant         Other          None

Current                         75.12%            22.02%             0.79%         2.07%

New                               74.31%         22.79%             0.79%         2.11%

Eamonn McCann of PBP lost this seat to the DUP by 660 votes with an undistributed SDLP surplus of 160 votes and over 800 votes from nationalist candidates that transferred to no one. If 2/3 had transferred to PBP he would have won. However, with these new boundaries adding 600 unionist voters the DUP would win under any scenario.

Mid Ulster

Small sections of wards were transferred to Fermanagh South Tyrone and 4 nationalist majority wards (Upper Glenshane, Dungiven, Garvagh and Kilrea) were transferred in.

 

Catholic        Protestant         Other          None

Current                         66.72%            30.78%             0.44%         2.06%

New                               66.67%            30.84%             0.43%         2.06%

The demographics are unchanged here and so are the election results with a SF MP and 3 SF, 1 SDLP and 1 DUP in the Assembly.

 

Causeway

Causeway is a newly named constituency that is a merger of parts of East Derry and North Antrim. Most of the Catholic majority wards of East Derry were removed which significantly reduced the Catholic percentage of this new constituency. The wards added were from Moyle and the Ballymoney town and nearby wards.

Catholic        Protestant         Other          None

Current (East Derry)          41.70%           53.27%             0.68%         4.35%

New                                      33.52%           60.83%             0.74%         4.91%

Gregory Campbell would win a Westminster election with well over 50% of the vote. It is likely there would be only one nationalist MLA (SF) since it appears that the SDLP candidate would be over 1,000 votes behind the 3rd DUP candidate on the final count. There would have been 3 DUP, 1 Independent Unionist and 1 SF elected in an Assembly election.

East Antrim

This constituency will have significant changes with the loss of 1 nationalist ward in Moyle and the addition of 7 heavily unionist wards in Newtownabbey (4 of the Ballyclare wards plus Hawthorne, Ballyduff and Mossley).

Catholic        Protestant         Other          None

Current                         20.39%            70.11%             0.97%         8.53%

New                               16.63%           74.06%             0.86%          8.44%

Sammy Wilson will easily win this seat for the DUP. The Catholic population will be almost 4% less so there is no hope here for a nationalist Assembly seat. There would have been no change in the Assembly election with 2 DUP, 2 UUP and 1 Alliance.

Mid Antrim

This new constituency is mainly the Ballymena wards and some of the Ballymoney wards from the current North Antrim with the Dunsilly DEA wards added from South Antrim.

Catholic        Protestant         Other          None

Current (North Antrim)        28.39%            66.03%             0.74%         4.84%

New                                         30.28%             64.15%             0.72%         4.85%

The Catholic population is 2% higher and those nationalist voters in Dunsilly vote at a higher rate than those removed from the Ballymoney wards. Even so, the SDLP would have been 1,500 votes short of a quota. The Assembly vote would have been 2 DUP, 1 UUP, 1 TUV and 1 SF. Ian Paisley would easily win the Westminster election.

South Antrim

The new South Antrim is a merger of half of the current South Antrim with half of the Lagan Valley constituency.

Catholic        Protestant         Other          None

Current (South Antrim)         31.86%            59.80%             0.87%         7.46%

New                                          28.62%            61.86%             0.98%          8.53%

Paul Girvan of the DUP would easily win the Westminster election as the new boundaries are even more favourable to the DUP with the addition of the Lagan Valley wards. There would have been 2 DUP and 1 UUP in the Assembly election. The Alliance candidate would have been ahead of both the SF and SDLP candidates and would add to that margin with unionist transfers. SF appear to be 400 votes ahead of the SDLP but the SDLP would have won the 5th seat on unionist transfers.

Mid Down

Mid Down is a new constituency. The majority of the wards are from the current Strangford (minus the Ards Peninsula which was transferred to North Down). Other wards were added from Lagan Valley, South Down and Upper Bann.

Catholic        Protestant         Other          None

Current (Strangford)        17.28%            73.13%             0.94%         8.65%

New                                    17.69%            73.86%             0.80%          7.57%

Both the Catholic and Protestant populations are slightly higher but basically no demographic change. It is likely that Jeffrey Donaldson will compete here since part of the Lagan Valley constituency is within this new one. He would easily win the Westminster election. There would be 3 DUP, 1 UUP and 1 Alliance elected in the Assembly election.

North Down

The entire Ards Peninsula DEA was added to North Down and 3 wards were transferred to East Belfast

Catholic        Protestant         Other          None

Current                         12.59%            74.44%             1.15%         11.83%

New                               14.61%            73.47%             1.07%         10.86%

The changes here would have had profound consequences if these boundaries were in place for the 2017 Westminster election. The addition of the Ards Peninsula would have added over 5,000 votes to the DUP, 1,000 to the UUP and 1,000 to the Alliance party.  There was no UUP candidate so most of those votes would have gone to Sylvia Hermon with perhaps a few tactical Alliance votes also. Sylvia Hermon only won by 1,200 votes but would have lost by over 3,000 votes. The wards that were transferred to East Belfast were also area where Sylvia Herman polled well. Jim Shannon will be the candidate here and should win easily. There is a 2% increase in the Catholic population but still far below a quota. The Assembly would return 2 DUP, 1 UUP, 1 Alliance and 1 Green.

North Belfast

The 90% unionist wards of Woodvale and Crumlin were transferred to West Belfast but the equally unionist wards of Monkstown, Carmoney and Burnthill were added in along with the mixed Mallusk ward so the demographics are unchanged.

Catholic        Protestant         Other          None

Current                         46.94%            45.67%             1.04%        6.36%

New                               46.95%            45.15%             1.15%        6.75%

Even though the Catholic population is unchanged the demographics are slightly less favourable for SF since Catholics in Newtownabbey have a greater tendency to vote SDLP or Alliance compared to those in the Belfast wards. Nigel Dodds would have won with a slightly higher margin. The Assembly would still be 2 SF, 1 SDLP and 2 DUP.

West Belfast

Wet Belfast will experience dramatic demographic changes with the addition of the heavily unionist Woodvale, Crumlin, Seymour Hill and Lambeg wards. The mixed Derryaghy South wards was also added.

Catholic        Protestant         Other          None

Current                         80.09%            16.64%             0.58%        2.69%

New                               69.70%            26.18%             0.67%        3.45%

The Catholic population has dropped over 10% due to the addition of heavily unionist wards. This will not affect the Westminster results. However, there will be more than enough unionist votes here for a DUP MLA at the expense of SF. The result would be 3 SF, 1 PBP and 1 DUP.

Belfast South

Similar to Belfast West 3 heavily unionist wards (Cregagh, Drumbo and Moneyreagh) were added to South Belfast.

Catholic        Protestant         Other          None

Current                         44.01%            43.65%             2.80%         9.54%

New                               42.00%            45.82%             2.71%         9.48%

The Catholic population will decrease by 2% and the Protestant population will increase by over 2%. In 2017 the DUP won the Westminster election by 2,000 votes. If these new boundaries were in place last year the margin would have increased to 5,000. The Assembly results would also change. The second DUP candidate was only 58 votes behind the UUP when she was eliminated. Her surplus elected the other DUP candidate. There was an undistributed DUP surplus of 1,500 votes which were never distributed since the UUP candidate was 1,540 votes behind the Green candidate Clare Bailey. However, these new wards would have added over 2,000 votes to the 2nd DUP candidate and the UUP candidate would have been eliminated. I estimate that the Green candidate would have lost by over 1,000 votes. The Assembly vote would have resulted in 1 SF, 1 SDLP, 1 Alliance and 2 DUP.

Belfast East

Belfast East added 3 wards from North Down. Cregagh ward was removed and Hillfoot added.

Catholic        Protestant         Other          None

Current                         12.70%            75.40%             1.44%         10.47%

New                               14.09%            73.83%             1.43%         10.65%

There is a slight increase in the Catholic population but these are Catholics from North Down who are voting Alliance or Green. The DUP would easily win the Westminster election. The Assembly would be the same with 2 DUP, 1 UUP and 2 Alliance.

The final Westminster results would be 10 DUP and 7 SF. This is in contrast to the initial Boundary Review proposals in which the results would have been 9 SF and 8 DUP. For the Assembly there would be 5 fewer MLA’s due to the loss of one constituency. If last year’s Assembly election had been with these boundaries the results would have been:

SF                     25      (-2)

SDLP                11      (-1)

PBP                    1

Alliance             7      (-1)

Green                 2     (-1)

DUP                 29      (+1)

UUP                  9       (-1)

TUV                   1

Unionist           1

The total number of unionist MLA’s would be unchanged at 40 and the 5 eliminated seats would have been 2 SF, 1 SDLP, 1 Alliance and 1 Green.

One does not need to be politically astute to see that these new proposals will obviously benefit only 1 party- the DUP, at the expense of nationalist and nonsectarian parties. That is the definition of gerrymandering. SF has already noted this publicly. You will note in my analysis that the southern and western constituencies do not have any net gain of electors since overall they are not short of the required minimum. Several heavily unionist constituencies in the Belfast region such as Strangford, East Belfast, North Down and East Antrim needed to add significant numbers of voters. If it were a truly random process one would expect that the added wards would result in nationalist representation in some of these 4 where none exists currently. Indeed the initial proposals in 2016 added enough nationalist voters to East Belfast and Strangford so there would be nationalist MLA’s elected. There would have been only 2 constituencies, East Antrim and North Down, without nationalist representation. However, these new proposals would result in no nationalist representation in 4 constituencies: Mid Down, East Belfast, East Antrim and North Down. Currently there is one constituency with no unionist representation, West Belfast. There is 2nd, Foyle, on the verge of no unionist representation. These new proposals added enough unionist voters to those 2 constituencies to elect 2 DUP MLA’s. Thus while unionists will be represented in all constituencies there will be no nationalist representation in 4 constituencies. That is how you define gerrymandering.

These proposals will only increase the disillusionment for the political system among nationalist and indeed nonsectarian voters. In 2016 the UK voted to Leave the EU yet 90% of Northern Ireland nationalist voters and 85% of nonsectarian voters voted Remain in Northern Ireland. There will be no Northern Ireland MEP’s after the May 2109 European Parliament election so Northern Ireland will have no representation in Europe. The new District Council boundaries were gerrymandered by the DUP with the result that 3 nationalist councils were transferred to unionist controlled councils while no unionist councils were transferred to nationalist control. Unfortunately, SF went along with that DUP gerrymander. SF cannot make that mistake again with these proposals. Along with the Irish Language act, the status of Northern Ireland outside of the EU and other important issues it is now imperative that SF include the Boundary Review in all negotiations with the DUP and Conservative Party. One possibility would be to have a separate Boundary Commission for the Assembly constituencies. The Chairman of the current Boundary Commission is the Speaker of the House of Commons who originated from the Conservative Party. There should be a representative from the Dail in the Republic of Ireland as a Co Chairman so the Commission would have representation from the nationalist side also

At the suggestion of Enda over at “endgame in Ulster” I’m including the below details from the Boundary Commission website on how to contact/ respond to the consultation – BD 

How to respond

Complete our online consultation at www.bcni2018.uk(external link opens in a new window / tab)

Email your views to: review@boundarycommission.org.uk

Post your views to: Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland, The Bungalow, Stormont House, Stormont Estate, Belfast, BT4 3SH

The Battle for the Middle Ground


The premise for this blog was always to build upon the work of Horseman in his relentlessly logical and fact filled, but beautifully titled blog, Ulsters Doomed.

Little did I suspect when I began this blog, that his predictions would become so acute and so prescient so fast.

I have always been thinking towards a date of mid 2021-22. I was wrong, the time is now.Tricolour stormont

As so often in history, moments, or events, can change things faster than anticipated. In the circumstances of Ireland that is no surprise to those of us who are keen students of our past in order to better understand and shape our future. Examples abound across our history from the wars for an English crown in the 1690’s through to the struggles for civil rights in the 1960’s and much else before and after.

Today, the catalyst for change in Ireland is the brexit calamity but the central dynamic for the reunification of the island is, and has, remained constant since the enforced partition of Ireland by the Government of David lloyd George under the threat of “immediate and terrible War” in 1921.

The Brexit debacle has merely focussed minds.

As Edward Carson observed in 1922 “I was only a puppet, and so was Ulster, and so was Ireland, in the political game that was to get the Conservative Party into power.”

These days, the DUP have walked straight into that bear trap. They are now little more than the “paramonetary” wing of the brexiteer wing, of the conservative Party. It is a short sighted tactic which makes no strategic sense whatsoever.

The path ahead is now, in the short term, dependent upon the middle grounders. Those who don’t have a strong idealogical leaning towards the reunification of the island and those who are ambiguous regarding continuation of the link with the UK.

Brexit has decisively shifted the balance amongst this group.

The case for reunification has thus taken a decisive turn and I anticipate a border poll within the next 3 years.

To paraphrase the words of Horseman, Ulster (As it is defined by political unionism) is doomed.