Vincent Browne with a fascinating analysis (subs needed) that’s as well read in full (at the moment we don’t have permission from author or paper to replicate more than we have). He extolls the virtue of renewed competition in Nationalism, though interestingly not Unionism.He points out that:
“….the taking of 92 seats by the SDLP (up to that point), just 28 short of the Sinn Féin total at the same point, shows they will feature strongly in any new elections for the Northern Assembly. So, too, will the Ulster Unionists, provided they decide quickly on a new leader and get someone likeable and electable. Sylvia Hermon would be that, but she has a major disability in terms of unionist politics – she is a woman.
He comes varying conclusions of the desireablity of competition, firstly within Unionism:
The fact that there remains competition on the unionist side makes that all the more difficult, for the DUP and Ulster Unionists will fight Assembly elections on the basis of which is the tougher party
And then Nationalism:
Competition on the unionist side is a complication; competition on the nationalist side is a must. This is because competition on the nationalist side will drive politics towards the centre. Sinn Féin did well in these elections but not spectacularly so. It had wanted to wipe out the SDLP at its leadership level and at its grass roots. Neither has happened. The success of Mark Durkan in Foyle is hugely significant for it retains its leadership; the success of the party in the local elections retains its base.
And the element many pundits thought was buried on the 18th March:
Someone said in Belfast recently that before the Northern Bank robbery and the Robert McCartney murder, Sinn Féin could not miss a shot, like Steve Davis in his prime. But like Steve Davis as he passed his prime, they started missing shots and, after a while, couldn’t make a shot. Anyway, it has thrown Sinn Féin off its stride and probably contributed to Gerry Adams making his hugely significant plea to the IRA to go away.