Why the SDLP should take Lords seats

Jim Dougal argues that for all the trappings of inherited previlge, thst there is nothing of substance preventing senior members of the SDLP from accepting the opportunity and experience that the Upper House of Westminster has to offer.

Following the Belfast Good Friday Agreement of 1998, I’m not sure the old arguments against participation hold water, even if they ever did. It’s unelected, of course, it’s a British body, and the SDLP are nationalist and their eventual aim is a united Ireland. But it seems to me that the united Ireland bit will be a long time in coming and the little matter of settling Northern Ireland has to be sorted out.

There are, much at the SDLP’s urging, new relationships being established in these islands and the House of Lords provides an opportunity, a platform and a sphere of influence, which the party is unwise to ignore.

And after all, members of the SDLP have in the past accepted appointment to the Irish Senate. Both Brid Rogers and Seamus Mallon were appointees. They were not elected but they contributed to the debates.

So, if we are in a new situation in these islands, where the respect for difference and the traditions of others is paramount, why leave out the House of Lords?

  • Brian Boru

    The House of Lords is the very definition of unaccountable and undemocratic vestage of power in an elite – now entirely appointed by the British PM. OK so it was worse when most of its members got there by virtue of being born into the family of one of Charles II’s 18 mistresses or whatever, but that doesn’t excuse its unnacountable and anti-democratic nature. Added to that, if the SDLP were to accept seats in the Lords and the titles that invariably go with it, then they are effectively submitting to the British Queen and conceding her right to issue such titles to Irish people – in effect legitimising the Union, which the Irish people have never wanted nor supported.

    But it’s their decision. However accepting such titles and seats will probably help SF portray them as the Stoop Down Low Party and take more votes from them, which they should probably consider if they value self-preservation.

  • eranu

    so are you for or against taking seats brian ? 😉

  • Brian Boru

    I suppose against eranu.

  • Oilbhéar Chromaill

    If the SDLP is the worst attender at the House of Commons – see Daily Ireland today and Hansard, see the Irish News tomorrow- why should it bother taking seats in the Lords, given that they’re unlikely to attend there either.
    Though they may go for the ceremonial occasions when they have to dress up in ermine and garters….

  • Curious

    Lord McDonnell of Malone….

  • Not Blind

    McDonnell and the Belfast SDLP opposed to Durkan, would bend over backwards to accept the Queens penny and take up a Lordship.

  • CS Parnell

    Last time I looked Gerry Adams had a far worse attendence record than Mark Durkan.

    The whole story is bollix.

  • CS Parnell

    Btw Olly, I know Gerry likes to wear a uniform too (black is sooo slimming). But I ain’t never seen Marko wearing one – have you?

  • The greatest man alive

    The sdlp might aswell take up the option of a Lords seat as frankly, they are so out of touch with Nationalists on the ground as to be meaningless.

    They have no representatives in huge parts of Nationalist areas, only vist at elections and come the next election, the house of Lords will probably be the only place where they can shout at and try and lecture and berate the Nationalist population.

    Welcome to the old Nationalist Party.

  • Oilbhéar Chromaill

    Last time I looked Gerry Adams had a far worse attendence record than Mark Durkan.

    The whole story is bollix.

    You’re so elegant, Mr Parnell, you put it so eloquently.

    The story seems to have touched a nerve with you. Is it perhaps because it’s true ?

    Gerry, of course, doesn’t get paid because he follows through his abstentionist policy, enunciated before every election.
    However Mark, Alisdair and Eddie do get paid – even though they seem to be abstentionist by default.
    On top of that they did turn up for the 28 days internment debate and voted for it. Shucks, they’re republican to the core.
    By the way, which Gerry are you talking about, it wouldn’t be Lord “I’m the founder of the SDLP” Fitt of Bell Hill would it?

  • CS Parnell

    The Shinners’ predictions of the imminent demise of the SDLP are growing whiskers. They stab it with their steely knives but they just can’t kill the beast.

    As for the complaint that they don’t come round too often – if I’d knicked £25 million then I’d have a lot of staff on the ground too.

    The thing is, is there a piece of evidence for the claim the SDLP would enter the Lords? I’ll bet the Shinners will be there first: not an ounce, not a bullet.Seen the insides of one partitionist Parliament, seen em all, eh boys?

  • The Queens poodle

    Lets get things straight. In the majority of areas in West Belfast, the sdlp are only seen at election times. Fact.

    Too busy waiting for their OBE`s probably.

  • Maybe the Shinners should consider taking seats in the Lords. Just think we could have Lord Adams of Andytown debating with Lord McGuinness of the Bogside over whether the annual Berkshire fox hunt should be allowed to go ahead.