SDLP's winning messages?

The Sunday Times identifies two clear messages that could reverse the SDLP’s long term decline: Sinn Fein politicians cannot be trusted and that the IRA can be forced to move under pressure.

It’s based on this analysis:

Alex Attwood, who is standing against Adams in West Belfast, says: “In February we had the IRA withdrawing its offer to decommission and warning that the situation was serious. Now, after two months of unremitting pressure, you have Adams asking them to make further moves and the IRA considering it. Pressure works and the most effective way to bring further pressure is to vote SDLP.”

Durkan stressed the credibility issue in his election broadcast last week. He said: “I believe you should always tell the truth, you shouldn’t steal, you shouldn’t lie, you shouldn’t leave people to live in fear, afraid to look up, afraid to look sideways at the hard men.”

By contrast, Adams’s broadcast the previous day was defensive. In a brief history of Northern Ireland, the IRA campaign was not mentioned. He only spoke about the IRA in connection with its, and his, ability to deliver peace.

Adams came close to conceding the credibility point to the SDLP when he said: “Others are saying the Sinn Fein leadership cannot be trusted, but negative campaigning will not build peace. A strong Sinn Fein vote will.”

It seemed like a veiled threat that there would be no peace without a strong Sinn Fein vote but Adams is, one Sinn Fein strategist said, “a man who has put his political career on the line”.

  • George T

    I think this is what Clarke HOPES rather than believes. Anyway, I’ll need to hear it from someone more impartial than Liam Clarke before I believe it myself. If anyone caught Breakfast With Frost the other day, Durkan still needs an editor!

  • sean west

    He needs divine intervention.

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    Do the SDLP have anyone else who remotely looks like a potential leader? I’ve heard Attwood and McDonnell bandied about but not a lot else.

  • DP 47

    The only winning message the SDLP could send at the moment is to sack Durkan.

  • queens_unionist

    “He needs divine intervention.”

    he needs a private army like his nationalist counterparts

  • Gum

    If Alex Attwood was appointed leader of the SDLP they wouldnt win another seat (at any level!)again. He is the one politician in NI that Ive never heard anyone admit to liking. As long as the SDLP keep putting him in front of tv cameras as their spokesman, their electoral prospects decline.

    The tragic thing is – who else? Look at the top of their website and try to pick a ‘charasmatic leader’.

  • El Matador

    SF haven’t done too badly despite not have trés charismatic leadership, e.g. Gerry ‘Night of the Living Dead’ Adams and Martin ‘Get rid of that terrier biting at my ankles’ McGuinness…

  • sean west

    The unionists have had there fair share of private armys,UVF 1914,RUC and B specials,
    UVF 1966,UDR 1970,UDA 1972,UFF RHC PAF UVF LVF
    RIR etc etc etc..

  • sean west

    Adams has charisma.Why do you think Blair is never photographed with him.Adams makes Blair look like Bambi again.

  • Northern FF

    Bradley in Newry & Armagh is a very impressive character. While he faces a tough slog to hold the Westminster seat, is the SDLP really going to be able to insist on the leader being an MP?

  • Chris Gaskin

    “Bradley in Newry & Armagh is a very impressive character”


    “While he faces a tough slog to hold the Westminster seat”

    For Bradley to win he would need divine intervention

    “is the SDLP really going to be able to insist on the leader being an MP?”

    It might not even have any MP’s if everything goes well

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    “Adams has charisma.Why do you think Blair is never photographed with him.Adams makes Blair look like Bambi again.”

    Or in case Adams should trot it out in future election campaigns and claim Tony is ‘endorsing’ his candidature? 😉

  • Keith M

    Sean “He needs divine intervention.”, well he’s got Michael McDowell in his corner so he’s half way there.

  • DerryTerry

    Keith M,

    I think from the perspective of Northern Nationalists the intervention he’s getting from McDowell is coming from the other direction. I’m sure Mark Durkan up in Foyle is having a fit waiting to see the photos in the papers tomorrow.

  • Northern FF

    LOL Chris?

    I’m glad you’re amused, but that wasn’t my intention. Dominic Bradley is an impressive character, as anyone who has done any work with him will say.

    Indeed, your own hero Conor Murphy was a big fan of Bradley’s work in Irish language development until he declared himself an SDLP candidate.

  • Liam

    Derry Terry,

    hopefully we’ll be able to see Gerry in a pose with your new East Derry candidate. Ha Ha!

  • John O’Connell

    Sean West

    “Adams has charisma.Why do you think Blair is never photographed with him.Adams makes Blair look like Bambi again”

    Gerry Adams passed me in the street in Derry today, huddled under a golf umbrella held by our mayor. He has all the charisma of a rent boy, not to be putting too a fine point on it.

    He takes himself way too seriously, and no-one else seems to hold him in any real reverence. The IRA in Short Strand has just ignored him so far after his leader’s speech in Dublin in relation to the McCartney sisters.

  • dr who

    The spoops are facing a meltdown

    They are basically unelectable in many Nationalist constituencies

  • DerryTerry

    John O’Connell,

    Apart from the fact it was raining in Derry today, keep doing the sums.


    I’ve just realised a winning message for the SDLP in Derry, Durkan withdraws, Ramsey to run. That would cheer up at least half of the party faithful. (of course the other half would resign)

  • Liam

    Derry Terry,

    You really be careful about your information. Try not to let the discussion get too low brow please DT – you really are letting yourself down.

    Must agree with John, I met Gerry a few years ago, at a conference in Derry where he came just in time for a photo and left.

  • Jeremy

    The SDLP are receiving a lot of free advice from people recently. FFers in the last election. Michael McDowell, David Trimble and the Sunday Times in this one. Its indicative of the dearth of clear direction for that party that everyone is taking time to offer some friendly advice to them

  • harry


    rent boy , body warmer

    There is help for deranged people like yourself out there

    Contact your local health trust,soon

  • Liam

    Strange perspective Jeremy. But then the SDLP does have political allies in democratic Ireland unlike the literally translated Ourselves alone.

  • DerryTerry

    Liam, in agreeing with John “keep doing the sums” O’Connell does that include the rent boy and body warmers remarks, or are these remarks to low brow?

  • harry

    The SDLP have allies because they have no votes in the 26 counties.

    Strange for a party which esposes Irish unity but refuses to stand on an all island basis

  • Liam

    ‘Terry’, for petes sake -where’s your sense of humour gone??? The stress of the campaigning must be getting to you!!! Look, concentrate on winnable seats for the Republican betrayers like Mid Ulster and realise that you are fighting a losing battle in Foyle!!!

    keep to the real issues in future and come back to me on the posters and the hidden Sinn Fein marxist issues

  • DerryTerry

    Liam, new SDLP winning messages because you didn’t like the last ones.

    SF are communists, the SDLP aren’t. Tried in 1932 by old Nationalist Party in Derry. 73 years old so hardly new.

    SF use posters, SDLP do too. Not very cathcy but shouldn’t aienate anyone.

    Please leave us alone in Foyle, you’ve got Mid Ulster, West Tyrone, West Belfast, Fermanagh & South Tyrone, that nasty Conor Murphy and nasty Miss Ruane, gone leave us alone in Foyle.

    Liam, if i was stuck i would go for the Durkan withdraws, Deeney throws his hat into the ring.

  • Liam

    Beg your pardon ‘terry’
    What was that last post about???

    Tell us about the Smash Stormont posters then. Go on…etc….

  • John O’Connell

    While the conclave of Cardinals of the Church are presently deciding on the new Pope, I would like to point out some things about Pope John Paul II and our political situation. The Pope, like us, lived under a foreign oppressor and occupier and had to seek freedom and justice for his people.

    The Pope never lifted nor supported those who would have lifted a weapon to fire in anger against those oppressors. The Pope’s opposition to that oppression was totally non-violent in accordance with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

    He used the message of Christianity as a sword – especially through the mass – as Christ had asked us to (Mt 10:34) when confronted with opposition. He did not support any armed struggle or any use of violence.

    The only rational approach to conflict is the Christian one followed by Pope John Paul II and by John Hume, the non-violent civil rights movement, and the SDLP throughout the course of its history.

    Let’s be fair about this in relation to Christianity. Sinn Fein defied Christ for the duration of the Troubles and continue to defy him now with their tactical ceasefire.

    They make a mockery of the concept of peace when they say that they have a right to decide whether we go forward in peace or in war. Peace has been the way laid down by Christ. There is no choice in the matter for Christians.

    If Sinn Fein want to grasp Christianity, they should give up their weapons and end their private army unilaterally, and stop mocking Christ by seeking votes to do what the common good demands they should do.

    If Sinn Fein really want to grasp Christianity, then they should repent of their failed past and apologise to all the people of this island for the wasted years of violence which are still affecting the prosperity and health of our people.

    The challenge for Sinn Fein is to convert from their antichristian posturing. The challenge for them is to be born again in a new spirit of love and peace. Until they do so, the voter will be faced with a choice between an antichristian party, Sinn Fein, and the party of peaceful methods and Christianity, the SDLP.

  • Jeremy

    ” Sinn Fein defied Christ for the duration of the Troubles and continue to defy him now with their tactical ceasefire. ”

    If SF obey the bearded one will you be happy John and accept that they are Shinners no more but follow the path of HUMEility and righteousness under the staff of Moses Durkan who leads his people across the Foyle to the promised land of Westminister.

  • Keith M

    John O’Connell “The Pope, like us, lived under a foreign oppressor and occupier and had to seek freedom and justice for his people.”

    Who exactly is being oppressed by a foreigner?

    The SDLP have acted as a political bodyguard for SF/IRA for the last 5 years. They have made themselves a doormat, and have been walked on. Few would shead a tear for the poltical demise of such a spineless leader as Durkan.

  • GavBelfast

    I’ve read John’s epistle above and, if typical of activist thinking, can see why we are maybe talking about the demise of the SDLP.

    Unless it was a joke, in which case we should be warned that it was intended as humour.

  • trig


    Tell everyone about the body warmer

    ooh..suits you sir!!!

  • crat

    Does this mean Durkan will be the next pope?

  • J Kelly

    This thread was going ok until the number chrunching bible basher threw a wobbler. But back to thread and a new message for the SDLP should be do not share platforms with political liabilities. McDowell was heckled in BELFAST by the Anti Racism Network. Mark Durkan will be pulling his hair out tonight. I hope McDonnell realises now that its not only republicans that despise this arrogant self righteous ……. What chance Mc Donnell now.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    [quote]McDowell was heckled in BELFAST by the Anti Racism Network.[/quote]

    I think that was very rude of him.

  • spongebobsp

    It might be interesting to ask Alastair if he supports McDowells immigration policies

  • puck

    well, he was warned

  • Young Irelander

    Mc Dowell was heckled by a well known communist and known IRA supporters. Mc Dowell is the only one in Ireland to have stood up and faced down the SF criminality and also the criminality of emigrants.

    I keep telling people the SDLP will surprise all in thsi election. returning with three seats and maybe four.

  • Chris Gaskin

    “I keep telling people the SDLP will surprise all in thsi election. returning with three seats and maybe four”

    Can I ask where exactly you see the stoops taking 4 seats?

  • NewYorker

    The winning message for SDLP is we are not SF/IRA. We don’t murder you if we don’t like you the way you look at us, we don’t beat your children to a pulp, we don’t rob banks, we don’t intimidate you, we don’t operate a school for thugs and criminals, etc., etc. Of course, SDLP is not saying that, but that will be in many voters minds on May 5th.

  • Young Irelander

    spot on NY. The four seats will include South Belfast.

  • Keith M

    sprongbob “It might be interesting to ask Alastair if he supports McDowells immigration policies”. Yes it would be interesting to see if he agrees with the vast majority of people in this country who supported last year’s referendum and rejected SF/IRA and others in the anti-everything coalition.

  • Gum

    “also the criminality of emigrants”

    Young Irelander – thats a disgraceful comment. The forced deportations of the last few years are simply sickening. Despite echoes of evictions through penal and famine times, and despite the rest of the world opening their borders to save millions of otherwise doomed Irish, we can still treat others like this. nothing makes me more ashamed of this country than the racism and selfishness evidenced by these sort of politics.

  • Seamusin

    people making this prediction of south belfast for the sdlp is quite ridiculous i believe. SF are going to take a minimum of 15 percent there, leaving the sdlp with 22/23 and no chance. its a non starter. newry/armagh is gone. who knows south down or foyle, both will be won with only 1,000 votes in it, but to who, i dont know?

  • ormeau

    The Stoops will not win South Belfast

    McDonnell’s vote will probably rise,but onlt slightly

    Carmel Hanna would have been a more attractive candidate to potential swing voters.