SDLP and FF around the May poll…

LIAM Clarke suggests that Fianna Fail could provide a lifeline for constitutional nationalists if the SDLP collapses to Sinn Fein in the May poll.

Clarke writes:

Sinn Fein is good at playing for sympathy in the court of public opinion. Until recently, the temptation for other nationalist parties like the SDLP and Fianna Fail has been to give them a soft ride for the sake of the peace process and to support Adams against the hardliners who are supposedly yapping at his heels.

As things stand, the main effect of the robbery will be to prolong political stasis in the north, preventing the return of devolved power sharing for the foreseeable future. That is something that Sinn Fein can play to its advantage, pointing to it as evidence of the irreformability of the northern state, the intractability of unionism and the need for rapid movement toward Irish unity.

It is not a bad line to pursue over the next year of Ruane-led celebrations, in which they will push the Irish government for a green [sic] paper on how a united Ireland will be achieved. Looked at from that perspective, a failed settlement in Northern Ireland and an IRA that is still there in the wings doesn’t look bad for Sinn Fein — provided there is no return to violence.

Sinn Fein’s big card will be that it is the only all-Ireland party, that it represents the majority of nationalists in the north and that it is the next big thing in the south. The SDLP now looks like a loser and some of its brightest and best young talent, men like Martin Morgan, the former lord mayor of Belfast, are thinking of stepping aside. Its former links with the Irish Labour party, which is already recruiting members on its own account in the north, count for less and less.

Connections with Fianna Fail could change all that. It would certainly attract new members and could halt the haemorrhage of old ones. It would also give Fianna Fail an all-Ireland organisation that could counter Sinn Fein.

  • TroubledTimes

    This is the ultimate downfall that the SDLP are continually ignoring.
    They are not actively engaging in All Ireland politics and by doing so are creating a party that stands for all good things but none that will attract a vote. Come on Durkan, change the face of Irish politics or be nice to everyone so that no-one remembers your name. Lead now or forever be forgotten!

  • James

    “Connections with Fianna Fail could change all that. It would certainly attract new members and could halt the haemorrhage of old ones.”

    I’ve classed Clarke with Harris and Edwards in the past as being too much into demonizing the Shinners to be objective on evaluating how to defeat them or with what tool to use. I might revise that opinion if I had access to the full article but the excerpt does noting but reinforce it.

    Firstly, I canvassed with the SDLP a couple of years ago for a day. Most of them were teenagers or older on Bloody Sunday. Their formative angst, whenever they let their hair down, concentrated on equal parts loathing of the Shinners, the British and the troglodyte unionists. I do not think that anyone from Fianna Fail could come within light years of understanding this, let alone harnessing or redirecting it.

    Secondly, it rained southern aparatchiks during the last assembly elections to no avail. No slurry of spin doctors, no garble of pollsters, no tetrabyte of computer bandwidth could save the SDLP.

    Lastly, I believe Clarke misplaces his emphasis on new members at the expense of young members since the ones I dealt with were then getting long in the tooth.

  • cg

    How go you see the sdlp doing in May?

  • Davros

    e-mail me and I’ll send you a copy James.

  • James

    OK, I have now read the full article. My conviction stands.

    “It is not a level playing field. The SDLP cannot raise millions in America,”

    Clarke doesn’t know jack about it.

    Firstly, no one is going to tell me that millions over all these years have not come from sources a little bit closer to home, like Kilburn.

    Next and major: The Gerry Adams road show was publicized here, mostly by the honchos in the east-coast enclaves like McManus. The SDLP would not know what a publicist was if one took a chunk out of their ass the size of a garbage skip. I give just one local case in point:

    I found out that John Hume came to the Bay Area two days after the fact when the San Jose Mercury news reported in the Second Section that Hume had addressed the graduating class of Santa Clara University. Obituaries are in the second section as well…. hint, hint.

    It is not that we threatened them with a cruise missile attack if they publicized the event, they either chose not to publicize it or ignored the opportunity altogether. That is not a sloped playing field, that is stupidity.

    Why stupidity? Firstly, to attend Santa Clara University, Daddy-o has to come up with 28 to 30 thousand bucks a year for four blood-sucking years. Hume had the opportunity to swing a wide loop and call in the alumni and parents within this gilded income group for a major smooze and snatch for cash. Secondly, this occurred in the middle of Silicon Valley during the very Dot.Com boom which was a milk cow for the Clinton campaign……. well DUH!!.

    This ain’t rocket science.

  • James

    “How go you see the sdlp doing in May?”

    The only things I really trust are the people I talk to and what I see with my own eyes. Politics has been paralyzed in the province for the past year or so, thus there has been nothing to look at or experience during my past three visits. My alternative is to try to form an opinion from the media which I’ve already characterized as being too aligned to be objective.

    I can say that I have not seen evidence of younger leaders or innovation in either fund-raising or the marketing of the “message”. For that matter, I have not seen any attempt to formulate what the “message” is other that “we ain’t them”. I’m not saying that these are bad people but that their political approach really sucks.

    So I’ll stick with the status quo and hang onto the grocery money.

  • abucs

    Let’s forget all of the logistic and ego problems and also assume all sdlp voters are comfortable joining with FF. Let’s also assume that this new party is spectacularly successful in attracting SF voters and can attract 70% of the overall nationalist vote.

    This could be very scary for Unionists.

    1) you still have Sinn Fein, they are still a force in Irish politics.

    2) you now have the Republic’s government (usually) not only having a direct say in the internal workings of Nothern Ireland, but now working as equal partners with Unionists in the day to day running and decision making of all facets of Northern Ireland. They would be having a bigger say in NI that the British Government.

    This is pretty close to joint authority.

    Buy hey, the shinners will be down for a while.

    This is all pretty close to Sinn Feins plan for the north, excepting of course that it will be FF in their place. Perhaps we might see a joining of the new FF and Sinn Fein sometime down the track ?

    Game over.