Saturday, 16 January 2010

Lessons from the Craigavon By-Election

Ulster Unionists won this seat with a vote of 64% on a turnout of just under 24%. By by-election standards, and considering the poll was in mid-January after a protracted period of bad weather, the turnout was reasonable.

The TUV got 19%. The DUP did not stand.

Jo-Anne Dobson is a local resident, well known and well regarded in the area. Also well known in the area is that she and her family have for many years been very supportive ‘Trimble Unionists’.

I campaigned every day with her, and David campaigned every day he was available, including the Mourneview and grey estates in Lurgan, both traditionally ‘hard’ areas, where our previous experience had been that we were frequently given a hard time on the doorsteps. In the past, these estates, particularly the grey estate, were by and large areas of significant DUP support. Our reception on the doors in this area was very good - the DUP vote is collapsing.

The TUV vote in the European election was 13.5%. At 19% Allister will be satisfied with the outcome.

But our vote at 64% is higher than we have had for many years in any election. The warmth of the personal reception for David and me indicates that the electorate now can acknowledge that the UUP did a better job than the DUP are now doing – and are coming back to us.

1 comment:

  1. The electorate having now witnessed (at some length) the contributions (or lack thereof) of the DUP is now returning to a more sensible ‘equilibrium’. What I do somewhat fear is a cycle of see-saw Unionism with one hue being in vogue for a period, then another. The TUV might “add another patch to the quilt”, but I really struggle to see what they offer beyond vote fragmentation.

    I think the UUP has the right strategy in terms of approach to political normalisation and strengthening the ‘east / west’ (excuse the cliché) relationship with Cameron. This can only be sensible, and is (I say with sadness) often in contrast to the myopia of inward-looking DUP strategists. I feel confident of a rise in fortunes at Westminster, doorstep reaction and the result in Craigavon being encouraging metrics.