The North Down constituency, in which I live, is generally recognised as the most independently minded and unpredictable constituency in the North. Firstly some facts:

  • The average age was 39.52 (2nd highest).
  • 9.20% described themselves as Catholic (17th of 18 constituencies); 31.68% as Presbyterian (4th highest), 19.37% as Church of Ireland (5th highest), 6.25% as Methodist (3rd highest) and 8.49% as members of other Christian denominations (5th highest). A massive 24.62% were “no religion or religion not stated” (highest in Northern Ireland).
  • The translation into “Community background” was 11.68% Catholic (17th out of 18), 81.63% Protestants and other Christians (2nd highest), 0.52% other religions and philosophies (2nd highest) and 6.17% none (highest in Northern Ireland).

(2001 Census stats from the Ark Website)

So why can the SDLP not get even a councillor elected here? The party has performed appallingly in the constituency for years. It’s high point was in 1998 when Marietta Farrell achieved 5.5% of the vote in an Assembly election. The last two Local Council elections have seen the vote drop from 1.6% to 1.2%.

The Holywood DEA alone has a Catholic population of 23%, but then there seems to be a rather tenuous connection with Nationalism in that particular Town. Bangor has a Catholic population of 11%.

Sinn Fein are not really a factor here, their electoral high point being 1.3% in the 2007 Assembly election, they didn’t stand any candidate in the last 2 Council votes.

Interestingly, lets look at those two elections in some more detail. 2005 results first:

Alliance: 15.4% and 17.9%

Greens: 8.2% and 6.8%

Combined Unionist: 74.8% and 74.2%

I would argue that the SDLP should be going aggressively after the Green and Alliance vote in this constituency at a local level. With no SF competition and a volatile electorate there is absolutely no reason why Nationalists do not have a single representative on the local Council.

So, I had a look at the SDLP candidates performance. I’ll not mention his name as I don’t know him personally and I don’t want to attack him per se. I believe this is a Party failing.

Twitter: Total of 7 tweets between April 2010 and April 2011. – Ok, maybe it’s not his thing.

Facebook: Same Timespan- half a dozen posts. including unanswered questions from constituents-  Again, maybe not his thing, lets try the Party!

SDLP Website: 2 Entries, Sept and May 2010.

Local Press: Nada

Do you see my point? Am I being unfair to the poor chap? Perhaps he is beavering away below the radar, perhaps there is pamphlet or flyer being prepared as I write to let us all know, or perhaps the SDLP needs an actual candidate.

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