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South Antrim

Notional 2005 Results:
DUP: 13266 (39%)
UUP: 10142 (29.8%)
SDLP: 4065 (11.9%)
Alliance: 2944 (8.6%)
SF: 3619 (10.6%)
Majority: 3124 (9.2%)

2005 Result:
DUP: 14507 (38.2%)
UU: 11059 (29.1%)
SDLP: 4706 (12.4%)
SF: 4407 (11.6%)
Alliance: 3278 (8.6%)
Majority: 3448 (9.1%)

Boundary Changes: Loses Glengormley to North Belfast.

Profile: South Antrim covers the suburban fringes of northern Belfast and the rural hinterland beyond it, including the towns of Antrim, Crumlin and Ballyclare which largely look towards Belfast where many residents work. Antrim houses several overflow estates for Belfast and Crumlin is rapidly expanding to meet the housing demand. The seat also includes Belfast International Airport.

The population is around two thirds protestant and this is a solidly unionist seat. It was held by the Ulster Unionists continuously until 2000 (for thirteen years by Jim Molyneaux). After the death of Clifford Forsythe in 2000 the DUP’s candidate Willie McCrea took the seat in the ensuing by-election, defeating the UUP’s David Burnside in an election dominated by the issue of IRA disarmament. In 2001 Burnside again stood, defeating McCrea. In 2005 they faced each other again, with McCrea retaking the seat. Returns 2 DUP, 1 UUP, 1 SF, 1 Alliance and 1 SDLP to the Assembly.

portraitCurrent MP: Willie McCrea (DUP) born 1948, Stewartstown. Educated at Cookston Grammar School. Free Presbyerian minister and gospel singer, having released 27 albums. Magherafelt councillor since 1973. Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for Mid-Ulster 1998-2007, South Antrim since 2007. Contested Belfast South 1982. MP for Mid-Ulster from 1983-1997. First elected as MP for South Antrim in 2000 by-election. Lost the seat in 2001, but regained it in 2005.

Candidates:
portraitWillie McCrea (DUP) born 1948, Stewartstown. Educated at Cookston Grammar School. Free Presbyerian minister and gospel singer, having released 27 albums. Magherafelt councillor since 1973. Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for Mid-Ulster 1998-2007, South Antrim since 2007. Contested Belfast South 1982. MP for Mid-Ulster from 1983-1997. First elected as MP for South Antrim in 2000 by-election. Lost the seat in 2001, but regained it in 2005.
portraitMel Lucas (TUV) Antrim councillor.
portraitAlan Lawther (Alliance)
portraitSir Reg Empey (UCUNF)
portraitMichelle Byrne (SDLP)
portraitMitchel McLaughlin (Sinn Fein)

NB - The constituency guide is now archived and is no longer being updated. The new guide is at http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/2015guide

69 Responses to “South Antrim”

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  1. The suggestion in today’s Belfast Telegraph is that Sir Reg will have to commit to standing down from the assembly if elected for this seat at Westminster. Apparently the UUP are particularly vociferous in condemning “double jobbing” on the part of elected representatives.

  2. And indeed, Sir Reg has confirmed that when it was announced he would stand.

  3. I think Sir Reg would be a great addition to the HofC, and is one of 2 or 3 realistic prospects for UCUNF

  4. Sir Reg Empey MP sounds repetitive…..he was obviously destined to go into politics with such a surname. :)

  5. UUP Gain= 2,000 maj

  6. Latest Ladbrokes odds

    C&U 8/11
    DUP evens

  7. UUP must be favourites here in a close race. My prediction is for a 1-2,000 vote majority over the DUP, and one of TUV’s better results – placing them third, ahead of the SDLP and Alliance.

  8. Prediction:- DUP (HOLD)

  9. Warofdreams, I think you’re probably overestimating TUV here and and underestimating Sinn Fein.

    Remember they moved high profile Mitchell McLaughlin here in 2007 and he topped the poll with well over 6,000 votes.

    Alliance will flop here as their candidate is a unknown.

  10. Tactical voting could be important here. Nationalists may be tempted to vote tactically in order to oust McCrea – as was perceived to have been the case with a previous UUP leader in Upper Bann in 2001- and if they do so in sufficient numbers Reg Empey might pull it off. The fact that the SDLP are running a first-time candidate and not their sitting MLA (who is not running for personal reasons) could be important in this regard.

    If Willie does lose the seat it will be the third time in 13 years he will have lost his Westminster seat having lost MId Ulster to Martin McGuinness in 1997 and South Antrim to David Burnside in 2001 (9 months after beating him in a by-election).

    If there is no Nationalist tactical voting it’s very difficult to call but McCrea would possibly be a very slight favourite.

  11. Interesting words from Michael.

    People all over cyberspace have been trying to portray Reg as a superbigot lately, precisely because he wants to take his party in the other direction.

    I suppose people in the real world will still see the UUP as less anti-catholic than other unionist parties. Whether or not that translates into tactical votes, I’m not quite sure, but I’d doubt it.

    Empey’s ace card here is ultimately Willie McCrea. Tim from the Lib Dems seemed to think he “was more dispicible” than Martin McGuiness, an ex commander of the IRA, but I don’t think I’d go that far, but plenty of unionists are not so keen on the man. William McCrea’s contribution to unionism is questionable, unless you really happen to like gospel albums.

    I have a feeling that McCrea gained this only on the back of a regional swing to his party.

    The only other thing to remember is the TUV effect. I expect it will be small here, but not necessarily irrelevant (say circa 2000 votes).

    Such being the case, Reggie only has a majority of around 1,200 to overturn, and that is not an impossible case, and I’d call him the favourite.

  12. I’d say McCrea is better at mobilising the vote than Empey.

  13. Reg Empey will win this seat with a majority of 1500 votes. I’m told he is a better singer than Willie McCrea, but then again anybody is a better singer that Willie McCrea!

  14. “Warofdreams, I think you’re probably overestimating TUV here and and underestimating Sinn Fein. ”

    I underestimated Sinn Fein by forgetting to mention them! They should beat both Alliance and the SDLP, but I’d expect them to behind TUV.

  15. A seat likely to bite the dust if the coalition get their way. Ballyclare goes to East Antrim, the rest of Newtownabbey goes to North Belfast, Antrim district combines with most of Lisburn to form the successor seat to Lagan Valley.

  16. Not an exciting Assembly contest here. The DUP gained the SDLP’s seat – something they nearly managed last time. The UUP and SF held their seats, as did Ford, whose increased prominence doesn’t appear to have helped the Alliance vote here.

  17. The minor changes from the Boundary Commission proposals help the DUP very marginally. This one will still be worth watching in 2015. My calculations of the notional 2010 result on the proposed boundaries can be found here:

    http://www.allthatsleft.co.uk/2011/09/have-the-boundary-changes-done-sinn-fein-a-favour/

  18. Today’s Times reports that William McCrae would like to see the boundary process halted.

  19. What do his colleagues think? The process must be dead if the DUP vote against.

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