Weekly Updates

Top 7 at 7am
12th June 2017
1. Vote often

So the votes have all been counted and all that remains is for the posters to be taken down from the lampposts. But with the very real chance of another general election and even an Assembly election before the end of the year, perhaps the posters will remain in place to mark the never-ending election cycle we seem to be in here. Last Thursday’s election means we have had no less than seven elections since the last ‘fallow’ year of 2013, and even than had a Westminster by-election. Voting is an extremely important thing, but are so many trips to the polling stations halting the chance of some actual politics breaking out?

2. Power play

Every party will spend the next few days and weeks spinning whatever aspect of their election result they can, but all eyes will be on the outcome of the Conservative’s negotiations with the DUP for a ‘confidence and supply’ agreement. Returning a record 10 MPs has put the swagger back into the DUPs step, but bossing it in the halls of Parliament Buildings is a very different game from bossing it in the halls of Westminster, and any agreement could well come with a demand from Number 10 to make Stormont run smoothly.

3. Numbers game

Forming a government is a numbers game. Winning more than 50% of the seats is becoming a tricky task, which is why the largest parties have to look to the support of smaller parties to get them over the line. The 18 MPs we elected have rarely had more than a headline at PMQs every few weeks, and a few weeks ago most would have said that would remain the position. But the increased mandates of both Sinn Fein and the DUP clearly do matter. The Tory losses left them far short of the necessary numbers, but the fact that Sinn Fein wont take their seven seats reduces the over all numbers needed, and the DUP have just about enough to take them over the line.

4. Lost souls

Five seats changed hands in Northern Ireland, leaving the SDLP and the UUP with no MPs at all, and even Independent Sylvia Hermon doesn't look as rock solid as she has in the past. These two parties will begin a new phase of soul searching, looking at what went wrong with their campaign and messaging, and how they can bounce back. But none of the smaller parties made any significant inroads against the DUP and Sinn Fein.

5. Bye bye big names

The first past the post system for Westminster elections is a cruel game, leaving only one winner who can win by a single vote or a whopping majority of tens of thousands. And having a big name and profile guarantees nothing. Some of the biggest names to lose out this time include former Lib Dem leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, former SNP leader Alex Salmond and SNP Leader in the Commons Angus Robertson.

6. Closer to home

Whatever is going on in London, we have a parliament in Stormont that has not properly sat since the election in March. The negotiations will begin again this week, with a deadline of the end of the month. But with the recommencement comes a new problem. Secretary of State James Brokenshire was never considered an impartial or appropriate chair by some parties, and the news of the new Tory-DUP relationship has only reinforced that view. Now calls have been made for an independent chair to be appointed. Any volunteers?

7. Serious candidates

For the outsider, politics can sometimes be seen as a stern and serious business, and it often is. But Elections gives everyone the opportunity to put themselves forward in front of the electorate with whatever weird or wonderful ideas they have. In Theresa May’s Maidenhead constituency she faced a challenge from intergalactic space lord, Lord Buckethead, and Elmo. Saying that, some people think we only have clowns standing for election here.

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