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People Before Profit perceived as 'green'

Published 12/05/2016

The election of two People Before Profit (PBP) MLAs is welcome if, as is its intention, it adds backbone to the fight against austerity and can unite that effort. If it adds substantively to the demand for marriage equality and a woman's right to choose, even better.

On the subject of whether PBP is politically 'orange' or 'green', it is, despite PBP rhetoric, perceived as Left-wing or green. It is impossible to escape this dichotomy that reflects attitudes for (orange) or against (green) the state of Northern Ireland.

It would appear that PBP recognises this in practical terms. Its successful candidates stood in two overwhelmingly nationalist (green) constituencies.

Polling evidence suggests that PBP voters are very clear on this issue. Analysis of the distribution of Gerry Carroll's surplus vote in West Belfast illustrates the position. Of 3,117 votes above the 5,182 quota, remarkably only 12 were non-transferable. Sinn Fein received 1,546 votes, proportionately, of Carroll's surplus: that is 50% of 8,299 second-preference votes. Then 761 votes - 25% - went to the SDLP.

Of the remaining candidates (all unsuccessful), a mere 12.5% went to two parties also claiming to be neither orange or green - 253 to the Workers Party and 136 to Alliance. The Green Party received 379 votes. That left the UUP and DUP receiving 15 votes each.

In other words, less than 1% of PBP voters in West Belfast veered toward the distinctly orange shade of the political spectrum, while more than 75% were green in their second-preference political complexion. By any reckoning, PBP voters discriminated in favour of green nationalist or republican politics and possibly saw themselves as a redder shade.

Of course, PBP should seek to win orange voters to its non-sectarian position.

I suspect, however, that these voters will perceive it as green, as have voters in West Belfast.

NIALL MEEHAN

Dublin

Belfast Telegraph

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