Can SDLP coax back its missing voters?

Chris Thornton has put his finger on an important factor, that’s not yet had much coverage. What’s happened to the SDLP’s missing voters? It’s general accepted that there’s a large chunk of Nationalist voters who stopped voting for them, but haven’t gone over to Sinn Fein. Have they joined the Unionist middle class and, as Mark Langhammer memorably once put it, gone off to play golf instead? Or will ghost of the Northern Bank robbery and the McCartney pursuade them to give their old party of choice a punt, if only for one last time?

  • middle-class taig

    in fact, an agreed unionist candidate would take this seat. I never understood why it wasn’t factored into the UUP/DUP South Belfast/Fermanagh South Tyrone negotiations.

  • smcgiff

    But, wouldn’t agreed unionist candidates lead to agreed nationalist candidates. This might work for one election, but likely to ultimately polarise the two communities in the long run.

  • El Matador

    I think the point is, as I mentioned in The Irish News last week, it is not that Spin Féin have captured the nationalist vote, but simply that nationalists have largely become disillusioned and refrained from voting for anyone.

    In 1998, the SDLP was the biggest of ANY party in the north. By 2003, they had lost 70,000 votes, but the Spinners only had gained 20,000 and were in third place.

    There is a large section of enfranchised nationalists who are not bothering to vote, so rather than becoming suddenly all-powerful, Spin Féin are simply benefitting from general apathy (and admittedly good organisation) despite what their propagandists might say.

    Hence the fact that the SDLP ‘haven’t gone away’ and will continue to maintain and strong power base. The key problem is motivating nationalists to vote again, and to vote they way they used to- i.e. SDLP.

  • Young Irelander

    The silver lining if the SDLP gets demiolished is that it will lead to increased calls for a merger between the SDLP and Fianna Fail. A move I would welcome.

  • Young Irelander

    The silver lining if the SDLP gets demiolished is that it will lead to increased calls for a merger between the SDLP and Fianna Fail. A move I would welcome.

  • Young Irelander

    The silver lining if the SDLP gets demiolished is that it will lead to increased calls for a merger between the SDLP and Fianna Fail. A move I would welcome.

  • Young Irelander

    The silver lining if the SDLP gets demiolished is that it will lead to increased calls for a merger between the SDLP and Fianna Fail. A move I would welcome.

  • Davros

    nationalists have largely become disillusioned and refrained from voting for anyone

    They are turning into unionists . Same pattern.

  • crat

    The stay at home, disillusioned, SDLP voter doesn’t exist and anyone that has followed the electoral system and Slugger’s should know the reason for the disparity in the figures.

    SF was disproportionately affected by the registration shake-up, a broadly accepted point with alternative reasoning. Most interpret it as fictional voters being removed or the system being designed in a way that disadvantages the working classes, SF’s core vote, to a greater level.

    The lost SDLP voters covered this deficit and provided an actual growth in support as well.

    To explain for those not familiar with these concepts, if SF lost 6,000 voters in an area during the registration shake-up but gained 2,000 votes overall and the SDLP lost 8,000 voters this doesn’t mean only 2,000 of the lost SDLP voters went to SF. It means all 8,000 went to SF and counteracted the registration issue and additionally gave a vote increase

    If the SDLP are relying on motivating a Nationalist version of the ‘garden centre prod’ they are going to be greatly disappointed when they discover the phenomenon doesn’t exist.

  • El Matador

    Crat, you’re assertions are based on conjecture alone. In reality, it is impossible to ascertain how many voters SF (or anyone else lost) as result the electoral register shake-ups, and it is simply naive to assume that SDLP voters purely swung across to make-up the deficit and add extra votes to SF. In fact not only naive, but incorrect. A simple canvass around the doors reveals that a large section of people don’t bother to vote due to being disillusioned.

    Unfortunately this results in SF and DUP successes, and even less progress takes place.

  • Gum

    Young Irelander –

    “The silver lining if the SDLP gets demiolished is that it will lead to increased calls for a merger between the SDLP and Fianna Fail. A move I would welcome.”

    Fianna Fail and the SDLP are not natural bedfellows if you think of their ‘values’. If the SDLP merge with them it will just go to show they are more interested in enjoying the trappings of power than in advancing ‘social democracy’ or the interests of labour.

  • Gum

    Ironically, its a move Sinn Fein would also probably welcome – they will claim a second all-Ireland party moves unity closer.

  • El Matador

    If the SDLP merge with them it will just go to show they are more interested in enjoying the trappings of power than in advancing ‘social democracy’ or the interests of labour.

    That’s why it will not happen. Not a chance.

    The SDLP was formed to advance social democracy and the rights of nationalists in the north. There is no question of it uniting with a southern party.

  • Young Irelander

    El Matador,

    Don’t be so sure. From what I’ve read there are many within the SDLP who feel this needs to happen for the future of the party. Brian Cowen has also expressed interest in the idea.
    It would be a good move for Irish nationalism.

  • Young Irelander

    El Matador,

    Don’t be so sure. From what I’ve read there are many within the SDLP who feel this needs to happen for the future of the party. Brian Cowen has also expressed interest in the idea.
    It would be a good move for Irish nationalism.

  • Young Irelander

    El Matador,

    Don’t be so sure. From what I’ve read there are many within the SDLP who feel this needs to happen for the future of the party. Brian Cowen has also expressed interest in the idea.
    It would be a good move for Irish nationalism.

  • Young Irelander

    El Matador,

    Don’t be so sure. From what I’ve read there are many within the SDLP who feel this needs to happen for the future of the party. Brian Cowen has also expressed interest in the idea.
    It would be a good move for Irish nationalism.

  • Gum

    It would be the death of the party – FF will gladly incorporate them, but would never give them equal partner status (i.e. rename party FF-SDLP).

    It would only serve to allow SF to take over vast majority of currently-SDLP seats: It would take FF a long time to become a force in NI

  • The Devil

    It is the sectarian nature of the beast (elections) that causes voters to cast their preference for parties that they have no historical or political ties with.

    Keep the “black” or “fenian” bastard out

    Where no threat from the other side arises in a ward they vote in, the voter has the choice of voting for a “loser” or a “winner”, now who really wants to make the effort of leaving a nice warm fire and coronation street to trudge a mile and a half to vote for Alex Attwood.

    Young Irelander,
    the silver lining blah blah blah

    HELLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO where have you been the SDLP got demolished at the last election, seats that where safe are now precarious and will be won by Sinn Fein/Magennis’s bar. The seats that were a worry for the SDLP are not a worry any more, because they are already gone and gone forever to Sinn Fein/Magennis’s bar

    tut tut… really young irelander sometimes your posts are so silly and out dated.. teachers report says MUST TRY HARDER……..

  • peter

    The SDLP voter became disillusioned with Mark Durkan and his woeful leadership. Hume and Mallon should not have stood down and deserted the GFA when they did.The SDLP allowed themselves to be relegated to the status of peace process observer.

    West Tyrone is a case in point. In an election every voter is entitled to a choice. Listening to SDLP members advocate not standing in an election and to hand their votes to an arrogant GP is woeful. In all likelihood the SDLP vote would have went in all directions.

    I am sure all the parties in West Tyrone want a hospital but the fact is there aint the money. Dr Deeny was elected to the assembly two years ago and has done nothing but lift a big salary for his trouble.

    Dr Deeny can only win W.Tyrone if he had of got everyone else to stand down but that was never an option. Voters are not to be taken for granted.

  • John O’Connell

    The Devil

    What about this as a definition of the devil?

    I would argue that the two 666 politician’s names, Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley, bear some relation to the two beasts of the Book of Revelation, where the number of the beasts is to be worked out from their names.

    “… so that no-one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.”(Rev 13:17).

    On top of the 666 coincidence, the Sinn Fein leader’s name also includes the plural of the name “Adam”, the Bible’s first man, Adam meaning ‘man’ in Hebrew, and the number of the beast is specifically described as “man’s number” (Rev 13:18).
    The apostle Paul wrote: “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Cor 15:22). Adam therefore symbolises death, and thus the question must be asked, is there significance to the ‘Adam’ in Gerry Adams’ name? Does Gerry Adams, the effective leader of the IRA’s republican movement, symbolise death?
    The descriptions of the beasts in the Book of Revelation are interesting.
    ‘The inhabitants worshipped the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed,’ (Rev 13:12). Gerry Adams was shot and wounded in 1984, but recovered. Afterwards, he became Sinn Fein president and one of the foremost politicians in Northern Ireland. The use of violence for him is a matter of tactics.
    The first beast, who is said to be the Antichrist, is prophesied to have “seven heads” (Rev 13:1), which is the number of heads on the IRA army council, including Gerry Adams’ allegedly.
    “Who can make war against him?” (Rev 13:7). The IRA has been described as ‘the most sophisticated terrorist organisation in the history of mankind’. Their structure makes it impossible for a conventional army to defeat them.
    The New Testament value system is losing out due to Gerry Adams’ leadership of Sinn Fein. Christ is being challenged by Adam. Life is being challenged by death.
    Therefore one must ask: ‘Is Gerry Adams challenging Christ?’

  • PatMcLarnon

    The anti fraud legislation seems to have caught up with the SDLP, the cheating dogs.

  • God

    John, you’ve an awful lot of time on your hands.

  • God

    John, you’ve an awful lot of time on your hands.

  • The Devil

    God,

    Leave John alone

  • harry

    John

    How’d you work out that Gerry Adams name was 666?

  • John O’Connell

    Harry

    A simple alphabet based on the number six, the number of man in the Bible,

    A=6, B=12, C=18, D=24, … Y=150, Z=156

  • SeamusG

    John, that was an entertaining, if completely insane, diversion…lol

  • Young Irelander

    The Devil

    What are you talking about? I don’t want to see Sinn Fein do well but I acknowledge that the SDLP are a shambles and that if they are demolished by Sinn Fein, the silver lining will be those within the SDLP who want a merger with FF will make their voices heard. Do pay attention Devil although your home will most likely freeze over before that happens…

  • Young Irelander

    The Devil

    What are you talking about? I don’t want to see Sinn Fein do well but I acknowledge that the SDLP are a shambles and that if they are demolished by Sinn Fein, the silver lining will be those within the SDLP who want a merger with FF will make their voices heard. Do pay attention Devil although your home will most likely freeze over before that happens…

  • Young Irelander

    The Devil

    What are you talking about? I don’t want to see Sinn Fein do well but I acknowledge that the SDLP are a shambles and that if they are demolished by Sinn Fein, the silver lining will be those within the SDLP who want a merger with FF will make their voices heard. Do pay attention Devil although your home will most likely freeze over before that happens…

  • Young Irelander

    The Devil

    What are you talking about? I don’t want to see Sinn Fein do well but I acknowledge that the SDLP are a shambles and that if they are demolished by Sinn Fein, the silver lining will be those within the SDLP who want a merger with FF will make their voices heard. Do pay attention Devil although your home will most likely freeze over before that happens…

  • franc

    Is anyone aware of any spare beds at any of our institutions for the mentally ill

    if so

    John needs a bed

  • SeamusG

    “The first beast, who is said to be the Antichrist, is prophesied to have “seven heads” (Rev 13:1), which is the number of heads on the IRA army council, including Gerry Adams’ allegedly.”
    Yes but John, an ACTUAL monster with seven heads would be a lot cooler, especially when they get round to making the film.

  • Henry94

    I don’t think Fianna Fail would touch the SDLP with a bargepole. The merger talk is just that and is designed too give the impression that there might be a 32-county dimension to the SDLP. But there isn’t and there won’t be.

  • Davros

    What happened about FF in Derry ? Are they putting forward any candidates ?

  • Levitas

    John I think you need help, mental illness is more common than many of us imagine and there is no shame in this-if what you have written is serious-then you need to see someone about this because this is classic paranoid delusional nonsense.See your GP and explain what you have just explained to us, he/she should be able to help. I’m not being facetious a friend of mine at College before he was diagnosed as being mentally ill spent a lot of time explaining to me why the Greek embassy was the source of evil on this island, he was arrested eventually a number of years later, in London, for stalking the Greek amabassador with a bread knife.

    As for FF and the SDLP don’t hold your breath Young Irelander. How would the “Soldiers of Destiny” (FF-The Republican Party) sell their 6 county elected reps taking the oath of allegiance to her majesty the Queen? I think this would not play well with the FF rank and file and SF would have a field day on the issue-most FF’ers still consider themselves “republicans” despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

  • Davros

    There’s a weakness in your argument Levitas. FF – and SF for that matter – signed upto the Belfast Agreement which acknowledged the status quo. If Two SF elected reps can sit in executive office in Stormont and still be republicans, then why can FF not participate in NI elections ? De Valera was after all elected 3 times to Stormont in the 20’s and 30’s.

  • Levitas

    I did not say that it was impossible-I merely feel that it would play badly with the FF rank and file in the 26 counties and that is of primary importance to FF since it is at heart a pragmatic nationalist but fundamentally partitionist party. Furthermore taking office in Stormont under the terms of the GFA is quite a different political and constitutional issue to taking a seat in Westminster and taking the oath to HM The Queen, but I think you knew that.

  • Gum

    Yeah, but Dev never took his seat. FF would probably have no problem in sitting in the assembly/ councils, but wouldn’t go to Westminster if elected.

    Sinn Fein would publically welcome FF in the north as another cross-border link, but they would welcome it privately too: there is no way FF would be challenge for 10yrs, they would just siphon enough votes from the SDLP to make both irrelevant

  • Davros

    Yeah, but Dev never took his seat.

    I Know Gum, but I thought it worth mentioning. I see where you are both coming from, but would the FF leadership be able to sell it by stressing the rescue aspect for the SDLP ? or by Pointing out that
    FF seats in the assembly would give the DUP purple fits as it wouldn’t half be a cross-border role LOL

  • Jimmy Sands

    Surely FF was founded on the very principle that you could take an oath and not really mean it.

  • Chris Gaskin

    I would welcome the FF conversion into an All Island political party as very welcoming

    As Conor Murphy said FF’s republic has always stopped at the border, it would be interesting to see what impact they make in the north.

    In my opinion it would be minimal, just anti-Sinn Féin votes

  • Gum

    I dont think they would be rescuing the SDLP at all – since they would never make them equal partners any merger would be FF simply eating the SDLP up! I dont think FF are really interested in throwing the SDLP a lifeline – any expansion north of the border would be part of their strategy against SF in the South. They have already made it clear SF are their main concern, I think removing their ‘All-Ireland’ claim is what would motivate standing any candidates in NI.

  • Davros

    I dont think they would be rescuing the SDLP at all

    This is politics 🙂 That it woundn’t actually be a rescue doesn’t mean they couldn’t sell it to their rank and file as rescuing the poor SDLP 😉

  • Gum

    Dont see why they’d need to sell it to the rank and file – its an issue thats raised every year at their ard fheis

  • Chris Gaskin

    I know they are booking a stall at this years Freshers bazzar in queen’s

  • Davros

    Wouldn’t it be just typical luck if their stall just happened to be beside the DUP Stall LOL

  • Chris Gaskin

    I am hoping that ours is 😉

  • Robert Keogh

    Jimmy Sands,

    Surely FF was founded on the very principle that you could take an oath and not really mean it.

    Interesting interpretation.

    An oath absolutely incompatible with their electoral platform and fundamental beliefs. Requiring republicans to take an oath of allegiance to a monarch, requires them to forswear themselves and their beliefs. The right to enter parliament derives from the people and no monarch has the right to prevent that.

  • Jimmy Sands

    The provos faced the same dilemma when the anti-violence oath came in. No-one seriously believed they meant that either.

  • John O’Connell

    Levitas

    “John I think you need help, mental illness is more common than many of us imagine and there is no shame in this-if what you have written is serious-then you need to see someone about this because this is classic paranoid delusional nonsense.See your GP and explain what you have just explained to us, he/she should be able to help. I’m not being facetious”

    What age are you, Levitas? The age where you’re mind is allowed to wonder about the world or where it is only able to decipher accepted norms? Most people are students. My above quote is from a book of mine which took a lot of bravery to write, and write has caused ripples in Church circles.

  • Levitas

    John

    I’m sorry for calling you mentally ill. It’s just that at that time of night the Amnericans start to log on and it would be very embarrassing for Sinn Fein to have doubts cast about their leader’s integrity.

  • Davros

    John – is the book still available ?

  • El Matador

    I searched Amazon, but alas cannot find it

  • Free Fall

    I have some of John articles and not only does he feel that he has developed a scientific method to prove that Gerry Adams is the devil he also states that he thinks the career of John Hume is the second coming of Christ. I think some of the ealier posts giving advice to John may indeed be correct.

  • El Matador

    Can you publish them on here? I’d like to have a read of the truth 😉

  • John O’Connell

    Davros

    Yes. It’s called Love is the Answer. Try http://www.johnoconnell.org

    Free Fall

    Derry Sinn Fein, I presume. A bit nervous are we? Gerry Adams would never be the Antichrist. Sure he’s never even fired a bullet in anger – no, but mugs like your brothers and sisters have.

    No, I don’t regard John Hume as the second coming. That’s just yet another smear from the masters of cynicism and evil, SF. I wonder why you lost the long war.

  • George T

    This level of analysis will really move the discourse forward John

  • El Matador

    A new world is in the making, where Ireland has been united, and Protestants and Catholics live alongside each other in relative harmony. The Social Democrats are in government in Dublin, and Sinn Fein are consigned to the edges of society where they control small mafia cliques engaged in organised crime.

    Perhaps a prediction of things to come?

  • DerryTerry

    John, keep doing the sums.

  • John O’Connell

    DerryTerry

    I know the answer. The answer was given to me in 1986. It is for you to keep doing the sums so that you come out with the same anwser.

    Until you do you will be living in ignorance.

  • PatMcLarnon

    FF will never stand in the Northern six counties. Remember, a FF Ard Fheis approved the setting up of cumann in the North several years ago. Nothing has happened in the meantime, Bertie et al have quietly dropped the idea. Where are all these potential FF candidates who are chomping at the bit to take on SF? They don’t exist and except for will he, wont he Martin Morgan no one of any profile has leant themselves to this silly little notion.

  • Robert Keogh

    PatMcLarnon,

    I think FF are waiting for SDLP to implode before they start organising in the north.

    Did you notice how all talks of a merger died after FF campaigned on the ground with the SDLP? My interpretation is FF decided the SDLP is not worth saving, they might as well let SF eliminate them. Then when FF go north they have no connection to the any of the tribal parties.

    I’m sure they would like to step into NI politics when people are sick and tired of SF/DUP and want someone who appeals to both sides.

  • Robert Keogh

    Jimmy Sands,

    The provos faced the same dilemma when the anti-violence oath came in. No-one seriously believed they meant that either.

    I’m not sure I understand the point you are making.

    When FF took the oath they didn’t expect anyone to believe them, they preceeded the oath with a statement that didn’t leave any doubt as to their position.

  • Jimmy Sands

    The point is that there seems no reason for a formal oath to be considered an obstacle, particularly when the true opinions of those taking it remain clear.

  • extenders

    I agree with you the way you view the issue. I remember Jack London once said everything positive has a negative side; everything negative has positive side. It is also interesting to see different viewpoints & learn useful things in the discussion.