SDLP to be squeezed both ends?

Ciaran Barnes in Daily Ireland has an entirely plausible piece that speculates that if the SDLP experiences meltdown in these elections, they may find themselves supplanted by another party: namely Fianna Fail!

He has an unnamed source inside FF, who suggests:

Some people believe that the SDLP will link up with Fianna Fáil as its sister party if they endure a drubbing at the hands of Sinn Féin this time round. But the reality is that the Fianna Fáil leadership feels it has nothing to gain from being associated with a failed political party. It would do much better standing in elections under its own steam, and that would give the lie to Sinn Féin claims that it is the only truly national party in the country. Sinn Féin is predicting that it will be the first party in government North and South but Fianna Fáil could beat them to it if it organised in the North.

The source goes on:

But if they go down, we won’t be wasting our time with fancy coalitions when what’s really needed is for Fianna Fáil to organise itself in the North. Anyone in the SDLP who wants to join our ranks will be made most welcome.

Fascinating stuff. This election could see a realigment of both Nationalism and Unionism. In the case of the former, it doesn’t look like merger or takeover, but the beginning of a new initiative from what many regard as the natural party of government in the Republic. However, realistically it may be another one or two election cycles before they are challenging Sinn Fein supremacy north of the border. It’s also likely to be that long before SF challenge for a place in a Dublin cabinet.

And of course, the SDLP could still surprise us all yet!

  • harry

    I can’t really see McGrady and McDonnell being to keen on a link up with Fianna Fail.

    Fine gael or the P.D’s would probably be more suitable bedfellows

  • Chris Gaskin

    I would agree Harry

    The sdlp will become fragmented and even more of the political parties will organise on an all-Ireland basis, which can only be good

  • Chris Gaskin

    Mick

    “It’s also likely to be that long before SF challenge for a place in a Dublin cabinet”

    You presume Sinn Féin want a place in a Dublin cabinet 😉

    I would forsee Sinn Féin supporting a minority government in exchange for certain things

  • Cahal

    I think FF organizing in the North would be fantastic. IMO it would be nice to be able to vote for a party capable of forming a government – maybe then the government in the republic would take more of an interest in the nationalist cause in the north.

    Chris
    “The sdlp will become fragmented and even more of the political parties will organise on an all-Ireland basis, which can only be good”

    Wouldn’t this fragment the nationalist vote, making it more difficult to speak with ‘one voice’?

  • Chris Gaskin

    “Wouldn’t this fragment the nationalist vote”

    No

  • NewYorker

    Why would FF want to get involved in the mess in the North? Things are going quite well for them in the ROI. Why would they ever want to get involved in the dysfunctional province. As long as there is a SF, there will be a SDLP: A sizable proportion of the Catholic population cannot stomach SF/IRA, and events since December have elevated their revulsion. Not a very credible story from a not very credible newspaper.

  • Mick

    NY:

    It’s because your penultimate sentence is true that Fianna Fail might well be tempted to mount a serious northern campaign. And please, whatever you think about the politics of the paper, Barnes is a serious journalist. And his story has credibility.

    It’s just one more pressure on the SDLP to pull off a credible performance in this election.

  • peter

    I think the SDLP performance will be credible. The McCartney sisters are keeping the pressure on SF.This can only be good for the SDLP.

    The SDLP could actually emerge with four seats, the same number as SF.

    The SDLP will easily win Foyle, S.Down and possibly S.Belfast.

    They may well hold Newry/Armagh owing to the SF vote collapsing due to their criminality.

    If SF lose Fermanagh which is still a distinct possibility the outcome could be 4 SDLP, 3SF.

    If Deeny wins which again is a possibility SF could well be left with 2 seats.

  • barney

    “If Deeny wins which again is a possibility SF could well be left with 2 seats.”

    And if they lost those 2 seats they would be left with no seats. Excellent analysis peter.

  • A.W.

    Peter

    I hope your predictions come true but the ruthless machine that is SF is unlikely to loose West Tyrone or Fermanagh and South Tyrone. Newry and Armagh is lost because I can see nothing in the SDLP campaign that would ignite enthusiasm.

    The SDLP will hold South Down and I think Foyle will be close but I think SF have the edge as McCann will take votes from the SDLP. South Belfast will go to the leading Unionist.

    That unfortunately is the likely reality and I don’t like it.

    However one ray of hope in this election; the DUP and SF will probably peak for there will be little else for them to gain so from the summit all roads lead down.

    I think there may be a realignment in the years to come to fill the voids left by the SDLP and UUP. These parties are imploding.

  • El Matador

    Ciarán Barnes in the Really Direland “plausable”?

    Ha-ha.

  • carlosblancos

    He may be a serious journalist but ‘sources’ could just be an off the cuff remark from some random border TD. Anyone in FF knows that while Senator Martin Mansergh has Bertie’s ear on the North there will be no FF in the six counties.

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    “They may well hold Newry/Armagh owing to the SF vote collapsing due to their criminality.”

    Peter, I think you give Sinn Fein voters far too much credit in assuming that they have a conscience when it comes to criminality and murder of innocents, particularly those in bandit country.

  • Rebecca Black

    “The sdlp will become fragmented and even more of the political parties will organise on an all-Ireland basis, which can only be good”

    Hardly gaskin, it gives republics in Northern Ireland a respectable republic party to vote for (Fianna Fail) and it gives softer republicans a softer yet still republican party to vote for (Fine Gael). Also, in the long term if Fianna Fail and Fine Gael take over the majority of the nationalist and republican vote it means power sharing can go ahead and Northern Ireland will work. None of this is in the interest of Sinn Fein, lift your head out of the sand!

  • middle-class taig

    “I think you give Sinn Fein voters far too much credit in assuming that they have a conscience when it comes to criminality and murder of innocents”

    what an ugly, bitter statement, more revealing of the mindset of its maker than of those it slanders

    “None of this is in the interest of Sinn Fein, lift your head out of the sand!”

    It’s not in the interest of SF to have the two main parties in the South organising and contesting elections in the North, while the mainstream parties in the UK ignore the North entirely? When I see analysis of this nature, I really find it hard to believe that the UUP is in the state it is.

    Acquisition and retention of power, patronage and privilege are not ends in themselves for the nationalist parties. Both know that in the aftermath of the declaration of a United Ireland they may well find themselves obsolescent.

  • middle-class taig

    actually, beano, what you said has really gotten to me, and as my employer will get nothing useful from me until I’ve gotten this off my chest…

    do you really, honestly believe that SF voters don’t care about violence against their communities (from within and without)?

    do you honestly think people in republican areas sleepwalk hypnotised into the voting booth every four years, uncritical of the political background? if so how do you explain West Belfast 1992?

    is it too much of a stretch to accept that people from those areas are able to judge dispassionately which advocates best represent their philosophy and aspirations, and offer the best chance of delivery?

    is it so difficult for you to understand that while “criminality” is a relative concept in the North, few in nationalist communities are fans of murder?

    is this what we have to look forward to – future generations of unionists growing up believing that people vote SF in order to give their approval to murder?

    In nationalism, we’re trying very hard to challenge our own prejudices, to see the historical forces acting on unionists when they refuse to talk to our representatives, band together to minimise nationalist poarticipation in public life and push intimidatory militaristic marches down our throats. We are trying to accept that unionism’s concerns (however misconceived) are legitimately and genuinely held, rather than (as is our natural tendency to believe) illusory, invented obstacles erected with a view to keeping the croppies in our place.

    It would be nice to think that there was at least some critical analysis on the other side of the fence….

  • Chris Gaskin

    “Peter, I think you give Sinn Fein voters far too much credit in assuming that they have a conscience when it comes to criminality and murder of innocents, particularly those in bandit country.”

    Beano

    A disgusting sectarian remark about a place that has suffered as much as any area during the troubles!!

    Who are you to cast dispersions over the people of South Armagh?

    You should be ashamed of this sectarian remark and apologise for it

    “Hardly gaskin …None of this is in the interest of Sinn Fein, lift your head out of the sand!”

    Rebecca your knowledge of Republican strategy is about as comprehensive as your parties chances of staging a comeback i.e. ZERO!!!

    Sinn Féin’s main priority is the unification of this country and having southern parties organise in the north is a good thing and a positive step.

    Sinn Féin voters would never vote Fine Gael or Fianna Fail but sdlp voters would.

    If this was a bad thing for Sinn Féin then why haven’t the parties organised already?

    The reality is that it is Sinn Féin who is challenging the establishment parties in the 26 counties.

    Oh and Rebecca do try and form your own analysis as that UUP hat you are wearing just doesn’t work these days

  • Cahal

    “Sinn Féin voters would never vote Fine Gael or Fianna Fail but sdlp voters would.”

    Wrong. Off hand I know a few, given the choice.

  • Rebecca Black

    “hile the mainstream parties in the UK ignore the North entirely?”

    oh so there isn’t members of the Conservative Party running in Northern Ireland then? I must have imagined all those Terry Dick posters in Newtownards over the weekend!!

    “Oh and Rebecca do try and form your own analysis as that UUP hat you are wearing just doesn’t work these days”

    I assure you gaskin that what I say on slugger is my own analysis, thats fairly clear from the things that I say – ie. too liberal for most UUP to lay claim to.

    Concerning the comment above that you rubbished. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that another republican party in Northern Ireland is not good news for Sinn Fein. Sinn Fein took down the SDLP for that reason, incidentally the same reason the DUP is trying to take down the UUP. A party such as Fianna Fail who are true republicans will attract a significant portion of the republican vote.

    Thats just elementary my dear.

  • Chris Gaskin

    Black

    The demise of the sdlp is down to a lot of factors of which our position of being a 32 county party is but one.

    Our constituency work is right up the top of the list and this is something that no other political party on this island can even come close to.

    “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that another republican party in Northern Ireland is not good news for Sinn Fein. Sinn Fein took down the SDLP for that reason, incidentally the same reason the DUP is trying to take down the UUP”

    How is the DUP a republican party?

    “A party such as Fianna Fail who are true republicans will attract a significant portion of the republican vote.”

    Given your vast knowledge of Irish Republicanism and the Republican psyche how exactly is Fianna Fail a true Republican party?

    Their Republic stops at the border and for them that will always be the case.

    Rebecca, you must try harder at understanding Irish Nationalism because you recent analysis is abysmal!!

  • middle-class taig

    Rebecca

    I’ll look forward to Michael Howard’s visit to support Mr Dick then.

    “A party such as Fianna Fail who are true republicans will attract a significant portion of the republican vote.”

    But to do so, they’ll have to pursue SF’s agenda. SF is about achieving its agenda, not getting bums on seats.

  • Rebecca Black

    “how exactly is Fianna Fail a true Republican party?”

    Fianna Fail would strike me as a grown up political party, they wish to see a united ireland but they don’t try to achieve this objection by shooting and bombing their way to it. Fianna Fail also have to advantage to having had experience in running a country unlike Sinn Fein with their collection of pipe dreams. Saying that Fianna Fail running in Northern Ireland will not take from Sinn Feins voting base is delusional. Just admit it, if Fianna Fail run, they will take Sinn Fein votes!

    “SF is about achieving its agenda, not getting bums on seats.”

    Oh really? So thats why they run mini bus services around rural areas to ensure that every last body, living or dead no less gets down to the polling station?

  • Reds under the Beds

    Oh yawn yawn Peter – incisive piece on Sinn Féin’s electoral chances.

    “They (SDLP) may well hold Newry/Armagh owing to the SF vote collapsing due to their criminality.”

    Either you have been living on another planet or taking hallucinogenic substances to think SF will not win this seat. Get a life!!

  • Chris Gaskin

    “Fianna Fail would strike me as a grown up political party”

    Yes they are corrupt; perhaps that’s why you have so much affinity towards them

    “Fianna Fail also have to advantage to having had experience in running a country”

    Running it badly!!

    “Saying that Fianna Fail running in Northern Ireland will not take from Sinn Feins voting base is delusional. Just admit it, if Fianna Fail run, they will take Sinn Fein votes!”

    Why would I admit something that isn’t true?

    Indications are that Fianna Fail don’t want to merge with a failed political party i.e. Stoops therefore they intend to set up in their own right.

    They will have no set party structures in the north, no record of delivering on a constituency basis.

    Take your head out of the clouds Black, Fianna Fail are about as much threat to Sinn Féin as the sdlp are!

    “Oh really? So thats why they run mini bus services around rural areas to ensure that every last body, living or dead no less gets down to the polling station?”

    Remind me Rebecca who was the last person convicted of electoral fraud?

    People in glass houses….

  • middle-class taig

    Rebecca

    “living or dead no less”

    Admit the lie or provide evidence please. How’s that case about the UUP postal vote scandal going?

    “Just admit it, if Fianna Fail run, they will take Sinn Fein votes!”

    Of course they will take some SF votes, but to do so in significant numbers, they’ll have to tack hard to the green, thus promoting the republican agenda throughout the island.

    Your recent posts have been increasingly and rather humorously facile. Focussing on its agenda does not require a party NOT to mount a vigorous electoral contest; I simply make the point that some projects are about more than electoral advancement. As an heir to the legacy of unionist gerrymandering, I wouldn’t expect you to have the vision to see beyond electoral concerns.

  • Rebecca Black

    “Why would I admit something that isn’t true?”

    so you are saying that Fianna Fail would fail to take any Sinn Fein voters? I can’t wait til they do run and you are so badly proven wrong!

  • Rebecca Black

    middle class taig

    my recent posts have been all about trying to get you and gaskin to admit that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael (if they set up) will take some of Sinn Feins votes. How you two are denying this boggles my mind!!

    Attacking me and my party will not make this threat go away.

  • Chris Gaskin

    I am glad to see a Unionist welcoming the growing Republicanism and the move towards a 32 county state in the North of Ireland 🙂

    Does Cunningham House know your views on this?

  • middle-class taig

    Rebecca

    “my recent posts have been all about trying to get you and gaskin to admit that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael (if they set up) will take some of Sinn Feins votes.”

    I didn’t deny it in so far as FF were concerned, as you would know if you had read what I wrote.

    If you think FG will take even one hundred votes off SF then you have an alarming lack of basic political nous. If anything, they’ll attract unionist votes.

  • GavBelfast

    Beano,

    I think your views have hit the spot.

    Surely West Belfast was “stolen” from the people (ie. the only ones who mattered to Adams when he uttered that silly remark at his defeat in 1992). Later that day: Bishopsgate bomb.

    I don’t doubt that the RM’s vote has increased partly because of TUAS and partly because some of its latter day voters give it support to encourage it further away from violence and because they don’t remember or don’t want to remember how awful some of the atrocities were.

    By the way, Beano’s comments were hardly sectarian in the accepted sense. How could they be, sure the RM have Billy Leonard. No, if sectarian comments are what you’re after, look closer to home, at the RM’s 2001 South Antrim candidate ….

  • Keith M

    As long as Ahern is at the helm, I do not see FF contesting elections in NI. There is still a lot to be done in this country on issues like health, education and other infrastructure. Keeping a coalition togethe for a third term is going to be hard enough work without getting involved in thankless quagmire that is Northern Ireland politics. Ahern, like most people in this country is only interested in keeping Northern Ireland quiet and doing what it takes (but no more) to make sure that there isn’t a return to the bad old days.

    Unlike what SF/IRA cheerleaders on this site would have you believe, FF is not coming under any serious theat from that party in this country. Indeed when you look at the results of the 2002 election, the big impact that SF/IRA is making here is to neutralise the opposition parties. That may continue if the current pressure on SF/IRA subsides, but as long as that party retain a private army and continue with criminality they will be all but irrelevant here. For all the extra councillors they got last year, they have any major say in the councils.

    As for the SDLP, they only have themselves to blame for their difficulty. Hume put nationalist solidarity above party interests when he started the Hume/Adams talks. They then insisted on designation in the Belfast Agreement. It was that consociational approach which would inevitably lead to the party being eclipsed by SF/IRA.

    What is remarkable is that as Catholics become richer (both in real and comparitive terms) and more of them join the middle class, the SDLP is on the decline. Your need pretty awful leadership to achieve that!

  • middle-class taig

    Keith

    “FF is not coming under any serious threat from that party in this country.”

    I’m not sure how you can realisitcally say this, Keith. Your predictions are normally pretty close to the mark, and I’d genuinely like the benefit of your views on this.

    Of SF’s five Dail seats, two were clearly taken at the expense of FF. However, it is clear SF’s 2001 breakthrough was blunted by FF’s strength. Adams admitted that on the day.

    Looking at SF’s likely target seats for the next two Dail elections, it seems to me that all of them threaten FF incumbents – DubNW, DubNE, DubC, a Meath seat, Donegal SE and NW, S/L, Wexford, Cullinane in Waterford even. That’s nine seats for them to go for over the next seven years. They’re reasonably placed in all of them.

    FF’s big battleground will remain FG. Labour are a bit of a busted flush, PD’s and Greens looking to have stagnated. Assuming FG won’t do be quite as impotent as last time, they’ll get eight or ten seats back. Putting FF on low 70s – no catastrophe; in with Labour. But lose another four to six to SF, and either its Labour + PD, Labour + Green or some even more unstable hydra.
    And competing with FG/PD will force it to open its left flank, exposing it to SF predation. Then add falling turnout….

    Even looking beyond that, many of the places SF will be looking to build towards contention for a seat will be places where FF naturally pick up the scraps – Cork NC, Dub SE, DunL, L/O, Galway.

    I just don’t believe that FF number crunchers looking to thte future don’t fear a leaching of support to SF.

    “What is remarkable is that as Catholics become richer (both in real and comparitive terms) and more of them join the middle class, the SDLP is on the decline. Your need pretty awful leadership to achieve that!”

    Or, perhaps its a natural bi-product of a community growing in financial, political, educational and social power, knowing what it wants, seeign what it should always have had and no longer prepared to be cowed into taking no for an answer. A community no longer asking politiely (SDLP) but taking what it feels it is entitled to (Northern Bank)

    whoops, not Northern Bank, I mean SF
    sorry, sorry … 🙂

  • Vera

    I just can’t see why Fianna Fail would seriously consider standing in the North any time soon. What’s in it for them?

    I can see why it might be good for Northern Nationalists, or indeed good for Northern Ireland in general if they did. But they’re not going to do it out of altruism, there has to be some advantage in it for FF, and I can’t see how it would give them anything but grief.

    Would they take their seats in Westminster or not? It would be a huge headache and probably loose them some votes back home in the ROI either way. And that’s just the first issue they would face. Surely they are better off at home keeping a little distance from Northern Ireland and staying above the whole mess?