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Belfast South

Notional 2005 Results:
SDLP: 11158 (30.7%)
DUP: 10909 (30%)
UUP: 8040 (22.1%)
SF: 3089 (8.5%)
Alliance: 2574 (7.1%)
Other: 555 (1.5%)
Majority: 249 (0.7%)

2005 Result:
SDLP: 10339 (32.3%)
DUP: 9104 (28.4%)
UU: 7263 (22.7%)
SF: 2882 (9%)
Alliance: 2012 (6.3%)
Rainbow: 235 (0.7%)
Workers: 193 (0.6%)
Majority: 1235 (3.9%)

Boundary Changes: Like other Belfast seats expands out, taking in four wards from Castlereagh, Carryduff from Strangford and 2 wards from East Belfast.

Profile: Covers Belfast city centre and the suburbs to the south. On the out skirts this is pleasant suburbia, moving inwards it becomes younger and trendier, taking in Queens University. At the same time, it also covers more deprived areas of bedsits and flats as it moves towards the city centre itself.

Around half the population is protestant, though it also has the highest proportion of people who do not identify with either community thanks to the university and the comparatively high proportion of ethnic minorities. With a unionist majority – albeit a narrow one – this is traditionally a Unionist seat. In 2005 however the UUP rejected the offer of an electoral pact with the DUP and the resultant split allowed the SDLP to take the seat on just under a third of the vote.

Returns 2 SDLP, 1 DUP, 1 UUP, 1 SF and 1 Alliance to the Northern Ireland assembly. These include the Alliance’s Anna Lo, the first member of an ethnic minority elected at national level in Northern Ireland.

portraitCurrent MP: Alasdair McDonnell (SDLP) born 1949, Cushendall. Educated at University College Dublin. Former GP. Belfast councillor 1977-1981 and again from 1985. Contested North Antrim in 1970 for the National Democrats. Contested Belfast South 1979, 1983, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2001. First elected as MP for Belfast South 2005. Deputy leader of the SDLP since 2004.

Candidates:
portraitAlex Maskey (Sinn Fein) Born 1952. Educated at St Malachys College. Former labourer in Belfast docks. Interned twice in the 1970s. Belfast councillor since 1983, he became the first Republican Lord Mayor of Belfast in 2002. MLA for Belfast West 1998-2003, for Belfast South since 2003. Contested Belfast South 2001, 2005. He survived an assassination attempt in 1987.
portraitAnna Lo (Alliance) born 1950, Hong Kong. Social worker. MLA for South Belfast since 2007. Awarded an MBE in 1999 for Services to Ethnic Minorities
portraitAlasdair McDonnell (SDLP) born 1949, Cushendall. Educated at University College Dublin. Former GP. Belfast councillor 1977-1981 and again from 1985. Contested North Antrim in 1970 for the National Democrats. Contested Belfast South 1979, 1983, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2001. First elected as MP for Belfast South 2005. Deputy leader of the SDLP since 2004.
portraitPaula Bradshaw (UCUNF)
portraitAdam McGibbon (Green)
portraitJimmy Spratt (DUP)

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

150 Responses to “South Belfast”

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  1. Interesting that both Alliance and Sinn Fein selections are MLAs. NI seems unique in that, despite what the parties say, stsmding for both bodies is acceptable. SF arn’t bothered I understand but would Anna Lo resign from Stormont if elected to Wetminster?

  2. I doubt she would resign immediately as whoever replaced her would not be an Alliance MLA and that would be rather silly. I expect she’d serve out the remaining year of her term. As she’d be serving the same
    constituency it wouldn’t be as much of an
    issue

  3. Wouldn’t her replacemnt be alliance? There’s been 3 new MLAs recently replacing resignees – all from the same party – how does it work Benjamin?

  4. I THOUGHT a replacement would be done by countback. If they are co-opted then that should be fine.

  5. Replacements are co-opted – see this BBC story, for example: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/8409014.stm

  6. McGimpsey won’t be seeking the nomination:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/8427241.stm

  7. Why is there no DUP or Con UU candidate selected yet for such a marginal seat?

  8. I don’t believe any UCUNF candidates have been selected at all yet. In several seats the UUP an/or Conservative nominees for the candidacy have been selected, but I don’t think they have chosen between them in any seats.

  9. The Belfast Telegraph report http://bit.ly/5G0y0F that the DUP are considering giving the UUP a free run here. It would seem to make more sense here than in FST – even if TUV also ran, the UUP would then be pretty much guaranteed a win. The UUP don’t have anything much to offer in return, but a “selfless” gesture here might win the DUP some extra votes elsewhere in Belfast.

  10. The three Conservative nominees for South Belfast (McCann), East Belfast (Nelson) and Lagan Valley (Davidson) are all reported to have withdrawn their candidacies as rumours of a Conservative/UUP/DUP pact circulate:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/8476202.stm

  11. I think the Tories’ NI Spokesman is discovering that it isn’t just Nationalists who don’t like being told what to do by London. It seems bizarre that he insisted yesterday that they’ll field 18 PPCs here. Are they going to dump a Surrey lad or lass in West Belfast?!

  12. Paula Bradshaw , a community worker, has been selected by UCUNF this morning as their candidate in South Belfast. She is a UUP member .

  13. UCUNF have selected Paula Bradshaw here, who works for the UUP

  14. Latest reports are the DUP will not stand here, which puts the Unionist and Conservative, Paula Bradshaw, in a good position.

  15. Adam McGibbon will stand here for the Green Party Of Northern Ireland (to give them the full name….)

  16. They can be the Green Party “in” Northern Ireland, and they call themselves the Green Party Northern Ireland, but not the Green Party “of” Northern Ireland.

  17. Hah! And there I was thinking I hadn’t made a mistake.

    Yes, quite correct, another ickle Doktorbian error there.

    Wiki has them as “Green (NI)”, think I would have been better off calling them this myself….

  18. SDLP: 13000
    UUP: 10000
    DUP: 9000
    SF: 2000
    Alliance: 1500
    Other: 1000
    Majority: 3000

  19. According to the BBC, the DUP have now selected Jimmy Spratt, their 2005 candidate and a local MLA – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/northern_ireland_politics/8599003.stm

    Presumably he could still be replaced if they were to end up cutting a deal with the UUP.

  20. DUP confirmed Jimmy Spratt as candidate.

  21. BBC reporting that Spratt has been selected here by the DUP

  22. Jimmy Spratt, to give him his full name

  23. Was out for a drive this evening and strayed into both Strangford and East Belfast. There were plenty of DUP election posters on view, yet when i drove back into my own S Belfast there were none.

    Either Mr Spratt is keeping a low profile or is going to stand aside as part of some deal.

  24. There appears to be no prospect at all of a single Unionist candidate in this constituency, despite the DUP and the Orange Order still insisting that the Conservatives/UUP should act to ensure that happens. Saturday’s Belfast Telegraph quoted a well placed Tory source as saying “I’ll give it to you in percentage terms — zero. It’s inconceivable.”

    The argument from the Tories is that Fermanagh and South Tyrone is a special case as the constituency currently receives no representation at Westminster, and has not for the nine years since Sinn Fein took the seat. So the Tories will stand aside to help ensure the defeat of an abstentionist nationalist MP, but not one who takes his seat.

  25. SDLP Hold= 800 maj

    I still hope and prey that some deal can be done here to allow an agreed unionist candidate to stand. If they do, then I will change my prediction to:

    Ind U Gain= 6,000 maj

  26. Gordon,

    Spratt’s posters are now up in Sandy Row and Donegal Road, they differ from other DUP posters in that they contain the line “unionists unite” across the top.

  27. I tried to keep up with the current state of the “unity” candidate while watching yonder Hearts and Minds programme or whatever it is. After two minutes of circular logic I gave up.

  28. This is a tricky one. With no TUV candidate and no “unionist unity” candidate, it’s likely to remain a three-way marginal.

    Most likely result is probably the SDLP narrowly holding by taking even more SDLP votes, while the DUP lose a few to the UUP.

  29. Prediction:- SDLP (HOLD)

  30. I think the above prediction was likely to be borne out anyway. Now that Alex Maskey has withdrawn it is almost certain :(

  31. This is Sinn Fein’s retaliation for there being a single Unionist candidate in Fermanagh & South Tyrone. It will indeed almost certainly result in an SDLP hold in this seat.

  32. Not so much revenge but a rather clever ploy to be able to say to the votes of FST that we (Sinn Fein) have done our part in SB just because the SDLP won’t do the ‘honorable’ thing and withdraw, doesn’t mean you can’t vote for us anyway.

  33. Predictions of 6000 majorities for Independent Unionist candidates miss the point that demographic change here has been rapid and is still ongoing. As late as 1993 nationalists only held one council seat here, now they’re almost neck and neck with Unionists. Furthermore the last election, the 2007 assembly elections, showed the combined SDLP+SF vote to be the same as the combined DUP+UUP vote. Adding in smaller parties would have put the Unionists ahead but only by about 800 votes which may well have been swallowed up by demographic change since then.

    Furthermore the SDLP have other advantages, incumbency and unlike in most of Northern Ireland, a functioning local organisation on the ground which has so far been able to hold off the shinner challenge on the ground at a time when they’ve been mauled by Adams and co elsewhere. If Sinn Fein had stood, a single agreed Unionist would probably have been able to beat McDonnell by about 2000 votes but with SF withdrawing and no agreed Unionist, McDonnell should have a comfortable win.

  34. Looks like Sinn Fein have saved McDonnell’s bacon here this time. What a shame we couldn’t have achieved unity for the unionist community too.

    It seems to me Sinn Fein are desperately trying to get the SDLP onside in the event of unionism becomming more united over the next few years. I can’t see any other reason for them to pull out here without any committment in Fermanagh.

    Clearly when South Belfast remains SDLP but Fermanagh goes unionist, Sinn Fein are hoping it will put pressure on the SDLP to come to the negotiating table.

    As a unionist I find it quite a shame that the SDLP is going to survive now in two seats. South Down may still go Sinn Fein (perhaps) but if they had lost here too then the SDLP could have been wiped out entirely over the next parliament. That would have then achieved the catholic ‘unity’ that Sinn Fein needs and wants. Unionism would then have to respond by negotiating too.

    A missed opportunity I think.

  35. Full List for Belfast South

    Paula BRADSHAW (UCUNF)
    Anna LO (Alliance)
    Alasdair McDONNELL (SDLP)
    Adam McGIBBON (Green)
    James SPRATT (DUP)

  36. Sorry to correct my old friend Valenciano, but there was an SDLP Councillor elected in both Laganbank and Balmoral in 1989. That does not undermine his point about rapid demograpghic change.

    Sinn Féin pulled out here because it will help them destroy the SDLP – and I am being restrained in my use of language – in FST and do serious damage to them everywhere West of the Bann outside Derry City. The sheer beauty of the move from a Shinner point of view is that it not only does that, but also disquiets the SDLP’s moderate fringe (potential Alliance and even UCUNF voters – there is evidence of UUP council election/SDLP general election ticket splitting here) in a seat with very different perceptions of communal allegiance than those that apply in Fermanagh, Tyrone or South Derry.

    To that extent, Ritchie was right in her analysis that this was a move calculated to damage the SDLP, although it obviously helps McDonnell to safety in the short term. Still, the Markets only managed an NI-average 42% turnout in the Euros last year. Any bets what it will be this time? I doubt it will break 50%.

  37. SF withdrawing here moves McDonnell from a weak favourite to a strong one. It would take something big to move enough unionist tactical votes one way or another to win now. They were careful to leave the announcement of their withdrawal very late, leaving almost no time for any independent or dissident republican to stand.

    On the bigger impact, this is probably politically astute for SF, and may strengthen their vote slightly in FST, although they were already well placed to pick up tactical votes there.

    How much does it really disquiet the SDLP’s less partisan voters? The SDLP have been clear that they aren’t interested in any sectarian “unity” candidates. Indeed, they have been far more consistent on this than any of the other three major parties – the DUP unsurprisingly pushing the idea, SF hypocritically condemning the unionist unity push but then proposing nationalist unity candidates, and UCUNF backing down from a principled decision and prioritising unionism over any other political position in FST.

  38. The Press Association list of candidates includes Alex Maskey of Sinn Fein but in fact it looks like he has pulled out, so the total number of candidates is 4,148 not 4,149.

  39. SDLP 14,026 41.0 +10.9
    DUP 8,100 23.7 -5.9
    UCUNF 5,910 17.3 -4.9
    Alliance 5,114 15.0 +7.7
    Green 1,036 3.0 +3.0
    Majority 5,926 17.3
    Turnout 34,186 57.4 -5.1

    The SDLP increased their majority by a much wider margin that the demographics here would seem to support. In the 1980′s the unionists won Catholic seats due to the Nationalist and Repulican vote being split. Now SF did not stand here which helped boost the SDLP vote but does the Alliance take more unionist votes than nationalist / republican votes?

  40. The Alliance traditionally take middle class Protestant votes and there’s a lot of those in this constituency.

    They have never done well in more Catholic areas.

  41. In general Alliance do better in more protestant areas but that’s not the same as saying that they got more votes from protestants. Often, in places such as East Belfast and North Down nationalist minded voters vote tactically for Alliance as their own candidates have no chance.

    In South Belfast their support seems to come almost evenly from both communities, with most of it coming from the UUP and SDLP rather than the DUP and Sinn Fein.

    Alliance votes in the 2003 Assembly election when the last Alliance candidate was eliminated went as follows:

    DUP 2.4%
    UUP 25.0%
    SDLP 26.6%
    SF 0.7%

    The largest number 35.5% went to the now defunct Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition, another centrist party.

  42. So even if there was a united unionist candidate, the SDLP would still have won by just 16 votes.

  43. If the Fermanagh & South Tyrone result is anything to go by then a single Unionist candidate might even have polled less than the combined Unionist total from the previous election would suggest.

  44. No change in the Assembly make-up here, still 2 SDLP, 1 SF, 1 UUP, 1 DUP and 1 Alliance. If things carry on as they are, the DUP will take that last UUP seat at some point, but they didn’t managed it this year.

    Anna Lo performed very strongly for Alliance. They should stand a second candidate next time – they probably couldn’t quite have managed two this time, but with Green transfers early on, they might just have managed to take the second SDLP seat.

  45. Alastair McDonnell is clearly done for under the Boundary Commission proposals: no chance in either SE or SW Belfast.

    My notional 2010 result calculations on the proposed boundaries can be found here:

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

  46. This constituency includes the following electoral areas of the City of Belfast: Balmoral, Laganbank, and part of Pottinger which area is shared with Naomi Long’s seat of Belfast East. Which electoral areas of the Borough of Castlereagh does it cover?

  47. The whole of Castlereagh West EA and all of Castlereagh South less one ward (Moneyreagh). Also one ward of Castlereagh Central (Wynchurch)
    It takes two of the six wards from the Pottinger EA of Belfast (Ravenshill and Woodstock)

  48. Have the Stranmillis area and the so called ‘Golden Mile’ of Belfast (including the Crown Liquor Saloon and the Grand Opera House) been in this seat since 1922?

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