Belfast South (UK Parliament constituency)

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For other constituencies of the same name, see Belfast South (disambiguation).
Belfast South
Borough constituency
for the House of Commons
Outline map
Boundary of Belfast South in Northern Ireland.
Districts of Northern Ireland Belfast, Castlereagh
Electorate 60,914 (March 2011)
Current constituency
Created 1922
Member of Parliament Alasdair McDonnell (SDLP)
Number of members One
18851918
Number of members One
Type of constituency Borough constituency
Replaced by Belfast Cromac, Belfast Ormeau
Created from Belfast
Overlaps
European Parliament constituency Northern Ireland

Belfast South is a parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom House of Commons.

Boundaries[edit]

1950-1974: The county borough of Belfast wards of Cromac, Ormeau, and Windsor.

1974-1983: The county borough of Belfast wards of Cromac, Ormeau, and Windsor; the electoral divisions of Ardmore, Dunmurry, Finaghy, and Upper Malone in the rural district of Lisburn; and the electoral divisions of Breda and Edenderry in the rural district of Hillsborough.

1983-1997: The District of Belfast wards of Ballynafeigh, Cromac, Donegall, Finaghy, Malone, Ormeau, Rosetta, St George's, Stranmillis, University, Upper Malone, Willowfield, and Windsor.

1997-2010: The District of Belfast wards of Ballynafeigh, Blackstaff, Botanic, Finaghy, Malone, Musgrave, Ravenhill, Rosetta, Shaftesbury, Stranmillis, Upper Malone, Windsor, and Woodstock; and the District of Castlereagh wards of Beechill, Cairnshill, Galwally, Knockbracken, Minnowburn, and Newtownbreda.

2010-present: The District of Belfast wards of Ballynafeigh, Blackstaff, Botanic, Finaghy, Malone, Musgrave, Ravenhill, Rosetta, Shaftesbury, Stranmillis, Upper Malone, Windsor, and Woodstock; and the District of Castlereagh wards of Beechill, Cairnshill, Carryduff East, Carryduff West, Galwally, Hillfoot, Knockbracken, Minnowburn, Newtownbreda, and Wynchurch.

The seat was created in 1922 when, as part of the establishment of the devolved Stormont Parliament for Northern Ireland, the number of MPs in the Westminster Parliament was drastically cut. The seat is centred on the Belfast City Council districts of Balmoral, Laganbank and Pottinger and also contains part of the district of Castlereagh.

Prior to the 2010 general election the Boundary Commission proposed expanding Belfast South further into Castlereagh, taking in areas currently contained in both Strangford and Belfast East. This was strongly opposed by the DUP but supported by the Ulster Unionists. It was also one of the issues which generated the most negative comments in the written submissions with a petition representing half of Cregagh's residents opposing its move.

Following the local enquiries, the Boundary Commission proposed retaining the Cregagh ward in East Belfast while transferring instead the Hillfoot ward. These proposals were submitted as final recommendations and were put into force through the passing of the Northern Ireland Parliamentary Constituencies Order[1] in 2008.

History[edit]

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Belfast South tended to elect 'rebel unionists' such as William Johnston, who famously defied a ban on Orange marches, and Thomas Sloan, founder of the Independent Orange Order.

Belfast South, centred on the River Lagan contains some of Belfast's most exclusive residential districts as well as Queen's University Belfast, and the overall tenor of the constituency is middle-class – young, trendy and cosmopolitan towards the city centre, with Northern Ireland's biggest concentrations of both students and ethnic minorities, and settled and prosperous further out. Despite this, significant pockets of inner-city working class areas such as the Markets and a number of isolated suburban estates are in the constituency.

There has been particularly rapid demographic change in Belfast South over the past 20 years, change which seems to be continuing. Since the 2011 census, Belfast South consists of a slightly larger Catholic population than Protestant. Belfast South traditionally had a unionist majority, but the nationalist vote has now surpassed this in more recent elections. There have also been strong votes for other parties such as the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, the Conservatives and the Northern Ireland Women's Coalition. The seat has also seen a steady series of candidates backed by groups who aspire to support the British Labour Party despite its prior ban on membership and organisation in Northern Ireland, though their results have been minimal. Until the 1990s the main focus of attention has been on contests between unionist candidates.

In the February 1974 general election the seat was won by Robert Bradford of the Vanguard Progressive Unionist Party on a united anti-Sunningdale Agreement slate with the Ulster Unionist Party and the Democratic Unionist Party. He defeated Rafton Pounder, the sitting Unionist MP who defended his seat as a pro-Assembly unionist. Bradford held the seat for the next seven years, though in February 1978 he and the rump of Vanguard reunited with the Ulster Unionists. At the end of 1981 Bradford was assassinated by the IRA in a Belfast community centre while hosting a political surgery.

The subsequent by-election garnered much interest as it was expected that the Democratic Unionist Party would take the seat, building on their steady rise which had seen them gain both Belfast North and Belfast East at the previous general election. However in the event the DUP came third, behind the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland and the UUP's candidate, Martin Smyth won the seat, holding it until 2005. The by-election was extremely significant at the time in that it was the first at which the DUP tide ebbed.

In the 2001 general election less than 50% of voters voted for unionist parties for the first time in its history, but this has been attributed[who?] to a collapse in the vote for the small Progressive Unionist Party as well as to Smyth's fierce opposition to the Good Friday Agreement which is estimated to have sent many pro-Agreement unionist voters to vote tactically for the Social Democratic and Labour Party.[citation needed]

In January 2005 Smyth announced that he would be retiring at the 2005 general election, raising speculation both as to whom the Ulster Unionists would field in succession to him and what effect a different candidate would have upon their share of the vote. The UUP selected Assembly member Michael McGimpsey, albeit with a highly controversial and bitter selection. The aftermath saw McGimpsey repudiated by many prominent local and national Ulster Unionists, including both Smyth and former UUP leader James Molyneaux. The DUP selected Jimmy Spratt and offered an electoral pact to the UUP that would give each party a free run at one out of South Belfast and Fermanagh and South Tyrone. This offer was rejected by the UUP.

In the event, the DUP and UUP both fielded candidates which split the vote, while the nationalist vote mainly went for the SDLP over Sinn Féin, with the result that the SDLP took the seat despite a majority of votes cast for unionist candidates.

In 2010, Sinn Féin opted not to stand against the SDLP to avoid splitting the nationalist vote. This effort was successful as the SDLP won the seat with a majority of 6,000. This was also the seat in which the Alliance Party had their second-best showing, polling 15% of the votes.

Members of Parliament[edit]

The Member of Parliament since the 2005 general election is Alasdair McDonnell of the Social Democratic and Labour Party. He succeeded the Rev Martin Smyth of the Ulster Unionist Party, who had sat for the seat from a by-election in 1982 until retiring at the 2005 election.

Election Member Party
1885 William Johnston Conservative
1902 Thomas Henry Sloan Independent Unionist
1910 James Chambers Ulster Unionist
1917 William Arthur Lindsay Ulster Unionist
1918 constituency abolished
1922 constituency recreated
1922 Thomas Moles Ulster Unionist
1929 William John Stewart Ulster Unionist
1938 Progressive Unionist
1945 Conolly Hugh Gage Ulster Unionist
1952 David Campbell Ulster Unionist
1963 Rafton Pounder Ulster Unionist
Feb 1974 Robert Bradford
murdered, 1981
Vanguard Unionist
1977 Ulster Unionist
1982 Martin Smyth Ulster Unionist
2005 Alasdair McDonnell Social Democratic and Labour

Election results[edit]

Elections in the 2010s[edit]

General Election 2010: Belfast South[2]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
SDLP Alasdair McDonnell 14,026 41.0 +10.9
DUP Jimmy Spratt 8,100 23.7 -5.9
UCU-NF Paula Bradshaw[3] 5,910 17.3 -4.9
Alliance Anna Lo 5,114 15.0 +7.7
Green (NI) Adam McGibbon 1,036 3.0 N/A
Majority 5,926 17.3
Turnout 34,186 57.4 -5.1
SDLP hold Swing

Elections in the 2000s[edit]

General Election 2005: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
SDLP Alasdair McDonnell 10,339 32.3 +1.7
DUP Jimmy Spratt 9,104 28.4 N/A
UUP Michael McGimpsey 7,263 22.7 -22.1
Sinn Féin Alex Maskey 2,882 9.0 +1.4
Alliance Geraldine Rice 2,012 6.3 +0.9
Rainbow Dream Ticket Lynda Gilby 235 0.7 +0.4
Workers' Party Paddy Lynn 193 0.6 +0.1
Majority 1,235 3.9
Turnout 32,028 60.8 -3.1
SDLP gain from UUP Swing
General Election 2001: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Martin Smyth 17,008 44.8 +8.8
SDLP Alasdair McDonnell 11,609 30.6 +6.3
NI Women's Coalition Monica McWilliams 2,968 7.8 0.0
Sinn Féin Alex Maskey 2,894 7.6 +2.5
Alliance Geraldine Rice 2,042 5.4 -7.6
PUP Dawn Purvis 1,112 2.9 -11.5
Workers' Party Paddy Lynn 204 0.5 -0.2
Rainbow Dream Ticket Rainbow George Weiss 115 0.3 N/A
Majority 5,399 14.2
Turnout 37,952 63.9 +1.6
UUP hold Swing

Elections in the 1990s[edit]

General Election 1997: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Martin Smyth 14,201 36.0 -18.7
SDLP Alasdair McDonnell 9,601 24.3 +10.1
PUP David Ervine 5,687 14.4 N/A
Alliance Steve McBride 5,112 12.9 -2.8
Sinn Féin Sean Hayes 2,019 5.1 +2.6
NI Women's Coalition Annie Campbell 1,204 3.0 N/A
Conservative Myrtle Boal 962 2.4 -9.3
Independent Labour Niall Cusack 292 0.7 N/A
Workers' Party Paddy Lynn 286 0.7 N/A
Natural Law James Anderson 120 0.3 N/A
Majority 4,600
Turnout 62.2
UUP hold Swing

1997 Changes are compared to the 1992 notional results shown below.[4]

Notional 1992 UK General Election Result : Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP N/A 23,258 52.7 N/a
Alliance N/A 6,921 15.7 N/A
SDLP N/A 6,266 14.2 N/A
Conservative N/A 5,154 11.7 N/A
Others N/A 1,437 3.3 N/A
Sinn Féin N/A 1,116 2.5 N/A
Majority 16,337 37.0 N/A
General Election 1992: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Martin Smyth 16,336 48.6
SDLP Alasdair McDonnell 6,266 18.7
Alliance John Montgomery 5,054 15.0
Conservative Andrew Fee 3,356 10.0
Sinn Féin Sean Hayes 1,123 3.3
Labour and Trade Union Peter Hadden 875 2.6
Workers' Party Paddy Lynn 362 1.1
Natural Law Teresa Mullen 212 0.6
Majority 10,070
Turnout 64.5
UUP hold Swing

Elections in the 1980s[edit]

General Election 1987: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Martin Smyth 18,917 57.8
Alliance David Cook 6,963 21.3
SDLP Alasdair McDonnell 4,268 13.1
Workers' Party Gerry Carr 1,528 4.7
Sinn Féin Sean McKnight 1,030 3.2
Majority 11,954 36.6
Turnout 60.3
UUP hold Swing
By-election 23 January 1986: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Martin Smyth 21,771 71.3
Alliance David Cook 7,635 25.0
Workers' Party Gerry Carr 1,109 3.6
Majority 14,136 46.3
Turnout 56.9
UUP hold Swing

Note: The by-election was caused by the decision of all Unionist MPs to resign their seats and seek re-election on a platform of opposition to the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

General Election 1983: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Martin Smyth 18,669 50.0
Alliance David Cook 8,945 23.9
DUP Raymond McCrea 4,565 12.2
SDLP Alasdair McDonnell 3,216 8.6
Sinn Féin Sean McKnight 1,107 3.0
Workers' Party Gerry Carr 856 2.3
Majority 9,724 26.0
Turnout 69.6
UUP hold Swing
By-election 4 March 1982: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Martin Smyth 17,123 39.3
Alliance David Cook 11,726 26.9
DUP William McCrea 9,818 22.6
SDLP Alasdair McDonnell 3,839 8.8
Ulster Loyalist Democratic Party John McMichael 576 1.3
United Labour Party Brian Caul 303 0.7
One Human Family Jagat Narain 137 0.3
Peace State Simon Hall-Raleigh 12 0.03
Majority 5,397 12.4
Turnout 66.2
UUP hold Swing

Elections in the 1970s[edit]

General Election 1979: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Robert Bradford 28,875 61.7
Alliance Basil Glass 11,745 25.1
SDLP Alasdair McDonnell 3,694 7.9
Unionist Party NI Victor Brennan 1,784 3.8 N/A
Labour Integrationist Jeffrey Dudgeon 692 1.5 N/A
Majority 17,130 36.6
Turnout 67.9
UUP hold Swing
General Election October 1974: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Vanguard Robert Bradford 30,116 59.2
Alliance John Glass 11,715 23.0
Independent Unionist Stanley McMaster 4,982 9.8 N/A
SDLP Ben Caraher 2,390 4.7
Labour (NI) Erskine Holmes 1,643 3.2
Majority 18,401 36.2
Turnout 50,846 67.7
Vanguard hold Swing
General Election February 1974: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Vanguard Robert Bradford 22,083 42.6 N/A
Pro-Assembly Unionist Rafton Pounder 18,085 34.9
Alliance David Cook 5,118 9.9 N/A
SDLP Ben Caraher 4,149 8.0 N/A
Labour (NI) Erskine Holmes 2,455 4.7
Majority 3,998 7.7
Turnout 51,890 69.6
Vanguard gain from UUP Swing
General Election 1970: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Rafton Pounder 27,523 70.4
Labour (NI) John Coulthard 11,567 29.6
Majority 15,956 40.8
Turnout 39,090 68.4
UUP hold Swing

Elections in the 1960s[edit]

General Election 1966: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Rafton Pounder 23,329 65.4
Labour (NI) Erskine Holmes 12,364 34.6
Majority 10,965 30.7
Turnout 35,693 63.3
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1964: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Rafton Pounder 27,422 69.8
Labour (NI) John Barkley 8,792 22.4
Liberal Judith Rosenfield 1,941 4.9
Independent Republican Robert McKnight 1,159 3.0
Majority 18,630 47.4
Turnout 39,314 68.3
UUP hold Swing
Belfast South by-election, 1963
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Rafton Pounder 17,989
Labour (NI) Norman Searight 7,209
Liberal Albert Hamilton 2,774
Majority 10,780
Turnout
UUP hold Swing

Elections in the 1950s[edit]

General Election 1959: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP David Campbell 30,164 69.9
Labour (NI) Norman Searight 9,318 21.6
Liberal Sheelagh Murnaghan 3,253 7.5
Sinn Féin Brendan O'Reilly 434 1.0
Majority 20,846 48.3
Turnout 43,169 72.1
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1955: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP David Campbell 33,392 78.4
Labour (NI) Edward Brown 7,508 17.6
Sinn Féin Patrick Kearney 1,679 3.9
Majority 25,884 60.8
Turnout 42,579 65.7
UUP hold Swing
Belfast South by-election, 1952
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP David Campbell 23,067 75.1
Labour (NI) Samuel Napier 7,655 24.9
Majority 15,412
Turnout 46.4
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1951: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Hugh Gage 37,046 75.8
Labour (NI) Robert McBrinn 11,815 24.2
Majority 25,231 51.6
Turnout 48,861 73.8
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1950: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Hugh Gage 34,620 75.2
Labour (NI) James McKernan 11,428 24.8
Majority 23,192 50.4
Turnout 46,048 69.3
UUP hold Swing

Elections in the 1940s[edit]

General Election 1945: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Conolly Hugh Gage 24,282 52.2
Commonwealth Labour Harry Midgley 14,096 30.3
Labour (NI) James Morrow 8,166 17.5
Majority 10,186 21.9
Turnout 46,544 66.4
UUP hold Swing

Elections in the 1930s[edit]

General Election 1935: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP William Stewart Unopposed N/A N/A
UUP hold Swing N/A
General Election 1931: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP William Stewart Unopposed N/A N/A
UUP hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1920s[edit]

General Election 1929: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP William Stewart 24,019 62.9
Independent Unionist Philip James Woods 14,148 37.1
Majority 9,871 25.9
Turnout 38,167 64.7
UUP hold Swing
General Election 1924: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Thomas Moles Unopposed N/A N/A
UUP hold Swing N/A
General Election 1923: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Thomas Moles Unopposed N/A N/A
UUP hold Swing N/A
General Election 1922: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
UUP Thomas Moles Unopposed N/A N/A
UUP hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1910s[edit]

Belfast South by-election, July 1917: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Unionist William Arthur Lindsay Unopposed N/A N/A
Irish Unionist hold Swing N/A
Belfast South by-election, April 1917: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Unionist James Chambers Unopposed N/A N/A
Irish Unionist hold Swing N/A
General Election December 1910: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Unionist James Chambers 5,585
Independent Unionist Thomas Henry Sloan 2,722
Majority 2,863
Turnout 8,307 78.2
Irish Unionist hold Swing
General Election January 1910: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Irish Unionist James Chambers 5,772
Independent Unionist Thomas Henry Sloan 3,553
Majority 2,219
Turnout 9,325 87.8
Irish Unionist gain from Independent Unionist Swing

Elections in the 1900s[edit]

General Election 1906: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independent Unionist Thomas Henry Sloan 4,450 N/A
Irish Unionist Lord Arthur Hill 3,634 N/A
Majority 816 N/A
Turnout 8,084 84.8 N/A
Independent Unionist gain from Conservative Swing N/A
Belfast South by-election, 1902
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independent Unionist Thomas Henry Sloan 3,795 N/A
Conservative C. W. Dunbar Buller 2,969 N/A
Majority 826 N/A
Turnout 6,764 60.1 N/A
Independent Unionist gain from Conservative Swing
General Election 1900: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative William Johnston Unopposed N/A N/A
Conservative hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1890s[edit]

General Election 1895: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative William Johnston Unopposed N/A N/A
Conservative hold Swing N/A
General Election 1892: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative William Johnston Unopposed N/A N/A
Conservative hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1880s[edit]

General Election 1886: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative William Johnston 4,442
Irish Parliamentary A. McErlean 657
Majority 3,785
Turnout
Conservative hold Swing
General Election 1885: Belfast South
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative William Johnston 3,610
Irish Parliamentary J. W. Workman 990
Conservative R. Seeds 871
Majority 2,620
Turnout
Conservative hold Swing

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]