Slugger O'Toole

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David Ford: Ideological differences not being handled inside the SDLP…

Mon 28 January 2013, 10:48am

John Manley has an interview with David Ford in today’s Irish News. Much of it what you might expect, but Mr Ford is clearly taking the opportunity to throw out a long line for nationalist voters (traditionally an area of poor returns for the party).

If there was ever a time for them to go fishing for nationalist voters it is probably now when the party’s stock is relatively high after their central part in the flag vote in Belfast.

What he offers is less a pitch and than an analysis of the current difficulties of the SDLP:

The Alliance leader also sees schisms emerging in the SDLP, with one side characterised by its bid to compete with Sinn Fein “for the green vote” and another faction manouevering closer to his own party’ ideology.

“If you look at te difficulties the party leadership is having over the naming of a park in Newry or the case in Dungannon where SDLP councillors failed to support Councillor [Sammy] Brush there is difficulty within the SDLP that they do not know where to position themselves,” he says.

“Their difficulties are nowhere near as extreme as the Ulster Unionists but there are ideological differences within the SDLP that are not being handled in a particularly coherent way.”

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Comments (126)

  1. stewart1 (profile) says:

    Looks like this is the earth shattering,seismic, historic Alliance statement via the Newsletter.

    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/headlines/alliance-call-for-state-regulation-on-flags-1-4729184

    Think the Newsletter got a bit excited earlier with the tweets lol!

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  2. Bangordub (profile) says:

    Alex Kane tweeted just now:
    Alex.Kane ‏@AlexKane221b
    Waited up for Alliance Party doc embargoed until midnight. Very little new in it. But at least it will help me to doze off. Goodnight all.

    Feeling a lot less stupid TG

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  3. David Crookes (profile) says:

    If we keep going all night the poor man will feel obliged to resign before lunchtime. “It was on Slugger O’Toole, so there must be something in it,” people will say as they go to bed. “Mark my words. No smoke without a fire.”

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  4. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Thanks for that link, stewart1. Hould on to the story in case they pull it.

    When my sugar walks down the street,
    All the birdies go tweet, tweet, tweet!

    Was that Nat King Cole?

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  5. Bangordub (profile) says:

    What idiot in their PR or media decided to release that at midnight? It’s a bit like me trying to drum up biz for the local church cake sale by sending my press releases to Reuters

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  6. Gopher (profile) says:

    Still think he has no choice but to resign. No point being justice minister when Northern Ireland has an organised crime problem as clear as the nose on your face and you own government blocks you for the most dubious of reasons.

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  7. David,
    Quite a few recorded it. Ella Fitzgerald and Johnny Mathis to name a couple.

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  8. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Bangordub, your “idiot” was most likely a genuine hater of the Alliance Party. Malice in Wonderland.

    When certain loyal Heathites came to see Keith Joseph as a likely contender for the party leadership, they put out a rumour that he was a hamulose ox.

    Remember the snow-on-their-boots Russians who were seen boarding a Scottish train in 1924?

    Vergil has a great passage about Rumour in Aeneid IV.

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  9. David Crookes (profile) says:

    Many thanks, Joe! I keep learning new things in my old age.

    Stranger notions than that of DF’s midnight resignation have been conceived. A popular idea among right-wingers in the early 1980s was that Gaitskell was poisoned at the Russian Embassy, so that the well-known rabid communist Harold Wilson would become party leader!

    Reality is far more bizarre than rumour. Where did Airey Neave stupidly blab out his security plans for the future? At one of the notorious drinks parties in the Irish Embassy. In what condition was he when he blabbed? Guess.

    Many years ago several players in the c-and-d world decided that they needed to get rid of the AP. In the course of telling me so, they vouchsafed an utterly shocking (and completely unerotic) piece of information about the person who was then party leader. I don’t know whether it was true or not.

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  10. Viridiplantae (profile) says:

    Lionel Hutz

    Alliance mainly stand in predominantly protestant areas where it would be difficult for nationalists to get seats. So vote for Alliance to make your vote count.

    While there is almost certainly a bit of truth in that the census also shows that Catholics in predominantly Protestant areas in the East are more likely to call themselves Northern Irish and less likely to call themselves Irish. When the crosstabs arrive it will probably also more clearly show that those Catholics who call themselves British (8% of all Catholics according to NILT) are also concentrated in those areas.

    The fact that Alliance get Catholic votes in those areas and not elsewhere is probably actually largely a matter of genuine ideological difference and not just electoral tactics.

    Alliance get votes from small u unionist Catholics who would not hold their nose and vote for big U unionist parties who they perceive to be parties to serve the interests of Protestants. Small u unionist Catholics tend to be concentrated in the Greater Belfast area apart from West Belfast and are less common in Catholic majority areas in western Northern Ireland. Again this will probably be clearer when we see what proportion of Catholics described themselves as Northern Irish or British in some areas compared to others.

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  11. aquifer (profile) says:

    Maybe we need a rabid capitalist Progressive Democrat Yang to Alliance former NI labour Yang to detach better off catholics from the SDLP.

    e.g. Take the westminster subvention and give the money to any multinational that will come, or build luxury golf courses.

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  12. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    aquifer, a party did run last time called “pro-capitalism”. It got very few votes.

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  13. Granni Trixie (profile) says:

    FJH has demonstrated often his intense dislike and prejudiced view of all things Alliance. DF seems to have really rattled him hence he is talking up his dream of a Ford resignation. dream on.
    (Ford must be doing something right).

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  14. David Crookes (profile) says:

    The more venerable among us will remember a local party which had “yogic flying” in its manifesto. It never really took off.

    According to rumour, the pro-capitalist party annoyed people by printing all its election literature in upper-case.

    David Owen’s split-off liberal party folded up after it was beaten into fourth place in one constituency by the Monster Raving Loony Party.

    Big story about the AP on the BBC NI site at present.

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  15. otto (profile) says:

    “Maybe we need a rabid capitalist Progressive Democrat Yang to Alliance former NI labour Yang to detach better off catholics from the SDLP”

    Anyone serious about economic development in NI must see that the biggest barriers to inward investment and export are the international reputation of the region, the readiness (capacity and willingness) to trade across the island and the lack focus of business and government on commerce as our biggest priority.

    A few Any Rand cranks spouting Milton Freidman cliches aren’t going to change any of that. What’s needed are effective North-South institutions and cultural change within NI. The only two parties seriously thinking about addressing those are the SDLP and Alliance – and both of them are partial (SDLP more focussed on North – South, Alliance on internal change). NI Conservatives are beginning to talk a good game but they are spectators until the great redistribution of UUP seats and personnel comes, if ever.

    Between them they have a joined up plan but they need to stop fighting over scraps.

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  16. Oh I think Granni is protesting far too much. Even a stopped clock is right twice every 24 hours…and sooner or later I will be right that David Ford will resign. Hes there ten years seemingly and hes 62…could I be that wrong that the Alliance men and women in grey coats will be paying him a wee visit over the net few months?
    Or how old will (say) Naomi Long or Stephen Farry be before they take over…they are 41.
    I am not really sure that David Ford is capable of “ratlling” me.
    But my “intense dislike and prejudiced view of all things Alliance”????? oh come on Granni…theres a lot of people out there outside the Alliance Party offices on the Newtownards Road whose intense dislike and prejudiced view put the likes of me in the ha’penny place.
    At least I am right about that.

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  17. otto (profile) says:

    And, widening the point, if a Shared Future forum including Alliance, the SDLP, the Greens, the NI Tory (all one of him), Basil, David and John can’t come up with a joined up plan (perhaps even a 2015/2016 “Shared Future” coalition manifesto) then there’s no credibility in anyone, including Alliance, pointing fingers at Sinn Fein and the DUP.

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  18. otto (profile) says:

    Ayn Rand! Any Rand sounds like a desperate South African.

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  19. Granni Trixie (profile) says:

    FJH,no,wrong on all the points and assumptions you make in your post,including your assertion that somehow you have lesser animosity than some others,at least that is how you come across to me.
    Enough! (Just accept that we see things v differently)

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  20. Bangordub (profile) says:

    Granni Trixie,
    Methinks FJH may have rattled your cage somewhat?
    “wrong on all the points and assumptions” could you expand somewhat?

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  21. Bangordub (profile) says:

    Incidentally Granni,
    “Enough!” is a condesending and dismissive term. I think that being condesending and arrogant may be one of his central critisisms of Alliance. Perhaps I am wrong?

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  22. Gopher (profile) says:

    Surely the SDLP would be vulnerable to Alliance on its anti NHS stance

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  23. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    FJH absolutely rattles cages. I have participated in a number of emergency meetings, some chaired by the party leader, dedicated to discussing the issue of how to counter his evil propaganda on Slugger.

    Ford’s remarks at the meeting concerning the failure of Party functionaries to address this FJH menace are not fit to repeat in polite company. At one point, Lord Alderdice intervened with a promise to use his influence in the House of Lords and the European Parliament (through the ELDR) to raise private member’s bills dedicated to dealing with this internet interloper once and for all. For his part, Ford assured members that his permanent secretary had been ordered to clear his desk and he promised emergency legislation from the justice department in the new year.

    I can assure you that the cage-rattling is being treated with the utmost priority.

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  24. Granni Trixie (profile) says:

    Condescending,dismissive? Though I have never been accused of that before, I can live with this view of me from someone who does not know me.

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  25. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    @Viridiplantae,

    When I was doing research on Alliance in 1998 I saw someone’s MA thesis from some university in Brittany and he had come to the same conclusion regarding Catholics voting for Alliance mostly in areas where nationalist candidates aren’t viable.

    I believe that this is a combination of both tactical voting, and demographics and class identity. Working class Catholics like working class Prods don’t vote for Alliance. Middle class Catholics have a choice between Alliance, the SDLP and the Shinners. If they are consciously nationalists than the choice is between the SDLP and SF. If they are not consciously nationalist then the choice comes down to geography and ideology. Alliance isn’t viable outside of the Greater Belfast area so a Catholic in Omagh who wants his or her vote to count won’t vote for Alliance. Likewise in many areas of Greater Belfast the SDLP isn’t viable, so Catholics will vote for Alliance. Where both are viable then the elections tend to be close and hard fought as in South Belfast.

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  26. Professor Yattle (profile) says:

    Comrade Stalin – did you suggest that Ford set up a absurdly tedious and self-regarding blog, with equally tedious comments from the same three people, which they then follow up on their own blogs, where Ford joins them to agree that they all still agree with him and each other?
    Seems to work for FJH.

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