Espie resignation letter…

More detail on the Espie resignation on the eve of a local constituency meeting tomorrow evening. It’s by no means indicative of a crisis. Espie insists for instance that he will not be crossing the floor to join Sinn Fein as his former colleague Billy Leonard did. Party headquarters ascribe it to internal reforms, and its true that if the SDLP is going to re-engage its lost middle class voters, it will have to push through in some muscular internal reform. Keep an eye out for further resignations.

His press statement opens:

“The party today is a shadow of the party I joined based on the founding principles of democratic nationalism. The party then was genuinely rooted in communities; it gave value and understanding to the worries, fears, hope’s and aspiration to the electorate who were happy to vote for and empower Nationalist representation in public office. The party at that time represented the street politick of ordinary working men and women unlike the boardroom politico it has turned out to be. Political leadership lacks a distinct charisma; policy is progressively lost to outsiders who have little or no political sharpness. These same people ignore the party membership throughout the North”.

Eddie Easpie’s Resignation letter to Patricia Lewsley:

29th March 2006.

Dear Party Chair,

I am writing you to submit my resignation as, Party officer, Vice-Chair of the SDLP, Chairperson of Elections and Organisation, the SDLP Executive, all groups and sub-committees including European , U.S, Policy, Vision and Communications and from my position as Chair of the Mid-Ulster Constituency Council effective, 12p.m. midnight Wednesday March 29th 2006.

I do so after prolonged consultations with family, friends, associates and colleagues. The baggage of my upbringing included a genuine obligation to give something back to the Nationalist electorate in my community and all the way through Northern Ireland. My devotion to my fellow countrymen and women and their values was the most powerful objective in my political aspiration. As formerly stated, for a considerable period I have expending a lot of time and energy promoting the SDLP throughout the Country. Regretfully it is my belief that I can no longer give that continued commitment at any level within the party.

The party I resign from today is a shadow of the party I joined based on the founding principles of democratic nationalism. The party then was genuinely rooted in communities; it gave value and understanding to the worries, fears, anxieties, hope’s, aspiration and desires of the electorate who voted for and empowered our political representatives in public office. The party at that time represented the street politick of ordinary working men and women unlike the boardroom politico it has turned out to be. Today the same level of elected representative dedication is missing in many areas. Political leadership lacks a distinct charisma, policy is progressively lost to outsiders who harp back to the long-gone days and ways of the past, it is my opinion these outsiders have little or no political sharpness, they are stuck in the past. These same people, having gained influence, ignore the party membership in branches, constituencies, committees, sub committees and various groups, even the party executive.

This is not the SDLP I joined. In my opinion, it has become polluted by obstinate representatives, corrupted by quick fix self-interested solutions and ruined by pig-headed individuals displaying complete indiscipline. I am no longer prepared to preside over, or have any part in the unremitting demise over the SDLP nor will I allow myself to be corrupted polluted or caged. I will be no ones crony nor part of some narrow minded self promoting agenda or a cabal designed by some ego centred individual whose purpose is to serve their own interest, as opposed to the wider interest of democratic Nationalism, so long as the leadership cabals refuse to acknowledge the problems that exist and refuse to address them this demise will continue. The party missed an excellent opportunity in May 2005 for revival, when, after the dust had settled in the local and Westminster elections the membership perceived the dawning of a new political era, that being, the Durkan – McDonnell approach to modern Nationalism. Almost one year on the membership’s justifiable expectation has not been realised. Apathy has replaced hope, lethargy has replaced aspiration and indifference has replaced what would otherwise have been resurgence. My sole interest was, and is, in the promotion of Nationalist as a peaceful political concept, for the good of all. A Nationalism which I envisaged would have been at peace with the electorate, with itself and with other parties.

The SDLP will not be a serious contender in the predicted Assembly elections next year or in any election subsequently because it refuses to study hard lessons from the past; in particular, from the Assembly elections of 2003, to date, it has failed miserably to do so. Instead of the full review, anyone would logically have expected with radical reforms following in quick succession. The Party could have, and should have, seized the lifeline thrown to it in local government and Westminster elections of May 2005 and begun the sweeping transformation essential if it wanted to repossess the extensive ground lost since 1994.

Little strategic direction exists within the party, at any level, and what there is – appears to come from a tiny unrepresentative and inexplicable group? Their briefings appear to be based on the recent political state of affairs and are not part of any longer term electoral strategy. The most noticeable predicament with the SDLP as it is presently constituted is a continual shortfall in communicating grassroots problems to the party leadership, conversely motivating the membership to engage with the party at election times, is increasingly seen as labouring to the privileged and elite. At the centre of the SDLPs difficulties is the detachment between the ordinary membership on the ground and political leadership. This interaction function should be at the public face and at the hub of everything the SDLP does, strategy is acceptable, but unless it is received and understood by the proper audiences, it changes nobody.

The situation where some senior staff at ‘Head Quarters’ in collaboration with cabals who run the party disregards the opinions and needs of grassroots members is indefensible. Common courtesy costs nothing but mean’s a lot to these dedicated members across the North. The party team at all level, needs to be unified, cohesive and consistent, with a clear plan for the present and for the future. Noticeably, this is not presently the case.

The Party did not engage in any proficient specialized study as would be expected in a review. In the absence of such reviews, the only real activity was that of the Election and Organisation committee whose members gave freely of their time and expertise based on individual commitment. Those involved gave an incomparable devotion and dedicated service to the party. This commitment is carried out without salary, not even; out of pocket, expenses are ever re reimbursed. Despite dispute and disorder not being of their formation, the treatment and respect these people receive is non-existent or imaginary, the hard work seldom appreciated, worse: at times, the effort is completely frowned upon all the way up to and including leadership. This, to me is not only deplorable, it is unforgivable, and the idea that some self-styled party personalities having asked for and receiving off the services of this small band of dedicated activists.

The time and skills of the devoted have been atrociously justified as having cost nothing, the exertion is deemed worthless or has no actual worth or benefit when the result or decision is out of support, with the gratuitous self significant idol or controller of the local organisation. The systematic exploitation of the party decision making bodies branches, constituencies, and committees all the way through to the executive committee by individuals should never have been sanctioned. Family connections and those with careers close to party reps continue to deadlock crucial fundamental reforms to the detriment of the party. Members involved in various groups, those whose opinions have added significance to Nationalism who have contributed to the highest degree are becoming completely disenchanted by the current state of affairs and a few have confided to me their intention to move on and move away from the party.

My defiance must not be taken flippantly if the party intends to continue in existence in anything like its present form. The electorate who previously voted for the party and who now choose to stay at home, probably will not return. In the background of vagueness and instability, those who most intensely oppose reforms have thrived; the destroyer and the political dinosaurs have taken advantage of political inactivity by generating artificial hope through unfilled promises. All that dialogue about growth, reform, on party building and return to electoral supremacy is alright for specifying once a year at party conference but in the real world, in a growing number Nationalist areas all the way through the country the SDLP is in electoral decline.

As the situation stand things are not going to improve electoral and unless the central organisation is overhauled fundamentally. The current Assembly group of eighteen selected members of the legislative assembly is unlikely to be returned, when this happens and given the ongoing proposals in the RPA, the percentage share Nationalist councillors currently enjoy will plummet appreciably. The knock-on affect will have implications through to Westminster and Europe. The fact remains that a large proportion of the Nationalist people in the North will never and could never vote for Sinn Fein. The SDLP ought to be perfectly positioned to secure the votes of these people, but unless the overhaul begins with immediate effect. This opportunity will be lost. This unpalatable reality is being ignored and while it is being ignored, the downfall will continue unabated. This is not something I find acceptable nor will I put up with the crisis management approach any longer. Playing head-in-the-sand politics is not for me.

Finally and in conclusion, I would like to thank the many people, within the party, who had worked with me in various projects during these last few months and years. I realise that in taking this difficult decision some may feel disappointed, surprised even a little hurt. If the party were too harness the ability and aspirations of its members on the basis on which it was founded it could regain its rightful place at the forefront on Nationalism. Everything worthwhile has an expiry date. Trends, like people, come and go. It is now my turn. Being unable to commit further to the SDLP organisation, to fundamentally restructure the party, because of entrenched attitudes from self persevering personalities, I now leave the office I was elected to serve. In going, let me state I will continue to stand for the rights of everyone who asks for my assistance – in whatever capacity I am able to.

Yours Sincerely,

Eddie Espie.

  • CS Parnell

    Gave up reading about three-quarters of the way down because it is tedious beyond belief.

    Presumably he lost an argument and is now flouncing off and trying to justify it with many multi-sylable words but there is absolutely *nothing* specific in his letter.

    What, exactly, is he complaining about? Beyond clearly having some sort of personality clash, I cannot see what he is on about? Anybody else know?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Espie sounds a bit p’d off with the Hume project, which was of course a complete disaster for the party’s long term fortunes.

  • pol

    No longer do people sheepishly go to the polls and vote for the SDLP. Now they have to go out and convince the public to vote for them.
    The days of there house puppy politics are over.
    Very difficult when you have a vibrant party like Sinn Féin winning over there voter’s. It also sounds like Mark Durkin is running the party the same way that John did, self servingly.

  • I for one think Espie is 100% right in resigning. The SDLP and the UUP are pale imitations of the parties they once were.

    In recent years, they have lost their position to the two extremist/hardline parties and command little respect or attention. Instead of leading by example, both are trying to (unconvincingly) follow the tough-talking swagger of the DUP and Sinn Fein.

    I’m lumping the UUP in here because I suspect they’re both suffering from much the same internal problems.

  • Brendan, Belfast

    eddie who?

  • Fountain of Knowledge

    Not suprising shinners are using this as an attempt to attack the SDLP.

    Lets face SDLP have 98 councillors and 3MP’s.

    They are still strong, there forgive me but

    THEY HAVENT GONE AWAY YOU KNOW

    The reality is that people still come out and vote for them and they are still one of the 4 largest parties.

    The SDLP are the only party who can get a united Ireland, and only one with a strategy for this.

    They are protecting the rights and beliefs of the nationalist community and protecting the people of ireland against sinn fein selfishness like that seen with the OTR legislation.

  • urquhart

    “My defiance must not be taken flippantly if the party intends to continue in existence in anything like its present form.” Boys oh boys oh boys. Who’d be in politics??

    Although looking at it earlier, this chap’s website says all that needs to be said about his contribution to politics in the North.

    I can’t imagine there are many stoops worrying themselves about this tonight. Looking forward to seeing SDLP CRISIS in Daily Ireland tomorrow though…

  • pol

    Fountain of Knowledge

    …………The SDLP are the only party who can get a united Ireland, and only one with a strategy for this.

    They cant unite the party. So how the feck are they going to unite the country.

  • Keith M

    FoK “The reality is that people still come out and vote for them and they are still one of the 4 largest parties. ”

    No, the reality is that in 1998 they were the biggest party in Northern Ireland in terms of vote share. Today they are fourth and even with the UUP in frrefall, fourth is where hey are likely to stay for years to come. By constanstantly looking over their shoulders at SF/IRA they made themselves irrelevant. Now years of decline until the reach the level of APNI is all that awaits them.

  • D

    “The SDLP are the only party who can get a united Ireland, and only one with a strategy for this.”

    Give me a break, Sinn Féin have been pushing their All-Ireland agenda over the past few years, and only now is the SDLP’s ‘North-South’ Agenda coming into play with remarkable similarities.

    Surely a party organised across the island, rather than working on a partitionist basis are better placed to achieve a United Ireland?

  • middle-class taig

    “It’s by no means indicative of a crisis.”

    Of course this indicates a crisis. The party chairman just resigned in outrage making a public statement that the party stinks to high heaven, treats its people badly, fails to represent the electorate and has no strategy or vision.

    The SDLP can recover some of the ground it has lost, but it won’t do it through Nelsonian blindness. It needs to root out the dead wood, starting with certain Belfast families I could mention, but won’t because Mick will ban me in a heartbeat. It also needs to realise that attacking SF gets it nowhere. Apart from its aging core vote, it needs to pick up the votes of those for whom SF are too confrontational, and it must urgently cannibalise the increasingly pointless and rudderless Alliance. The SDLP offers what Alliance should – a non-sectarian, inclusive outreach-based approach to politics.

    However, the first step to a cure is admitting you’ve got a problem.

  • How Ye Doing?

    Well fair play to Eddie. He has the balls on him to step out when it’s needed. But those SF boys are right. SDLP is nothing what it was, it represents less people than SF do. Therefore the SDLP should pack all up and forget about their voters…after all it is semi majority rule.

    SF all the way, its not like they were the smallest party at any one time. Nah methinks the SDLP has to go kill some lad in a pub soon….you know to show you all who is boss, and then afterwards they can do some fundraising…say in Ulster Bank. We can buy a bus and collect our brainwashed childeren from our catholic schools and Nationalist only GAA clubs.

    Welcome to Northern Ireland everyone…please mind your back!

  • Snuff Box

    How can you get from a discussion on the resignation of some middle ranking sdlp member to an attack on sinn fein because of the mcCartney thing.

    Who said that the sdlp should pack up and forget about their voters? In fact many nationalists and even perhaps some republicans would welcome a resurgent sdlp as there is room for the two parties in northern ireland. The ‘soft’ nationalist voter could not vote for sinn fein in the forseeable future and middle class catholics must have worries about SF’s soviet style economic policies.

    The truth is that the sdlp have been in decline for 10 years both electorally and in terms of their broader political outlook.
    The fact that Sinn Fein “stole their clothes” is a valid point in explaining the decline. However we have heard much about this in the past and at long last someone from within the party is willing to give their take on whats gone wrong.

    The central thrust of Espie’s statement appears to be that the sdlp is ignoring grass roots supporters. Power rests in groups of cronies who are simply self serving and therefore reluctant to change and bring in new blood. eg the Belfast families such as Alisdair Mc Donnell’s

    This is a load of horse piss. The British labour party having done quite well for the last 10 years by ignoring grass roots support and by inherent croneism. The problem lies not in having self preservation societes in political parties, for those are quite necessary. The problem lies when none of these competing political subunits have any talent, ideas, backbone, entusiasm or policies.

    That’s where the sdlp’s falling down Eddie!

  • Lorcan

    Maybe, just maybe….. he is planning to form the Northern Ireland section of Fianna Fail (or similar) – Just a thought……

  • northcoaster

    snuffbox, you probably don’t have full understanding of the problem- “eg the Belfast families such as Alisdair Mc Donnell’s”= Wrong person. I think you’d need to look at another area of the city to find the root cause cause of the problem.

    “The problem lies when none of these competing political subunits have any talent, ideas, backbone, entusiasm or policies”- that could be a problem, but not in this situation, which explains this ex-party official’s frustration.

  • Elvis Parker

    ‘Maybe, just maybe….. he is planning to form the Northern Ireland section of Fianna Fail (or similar) – Just a thought……’

    Yes Lorcan thats just what I was thinking

  • Betty Boo

    It reads like a manual how not to treat people in politics or anywhere else for this matter. But as mentioned on this site before; “If common sense would be so common …”

  • pakman

    “The baggage of my upbringing included a genuine obligation to give something back to the Nationalist electorate”

    I thought he was a stoop because of socialism not self loathing.

    I wonder if Mr Espie (of whom I have never heard) believes the SDLP would be stronger now had they moved with the UUP to exclude SF after Stormontgate?

  • urquhart

    “I can’t imagine there are many stoops worrying themselves about this tonight. Looking forward to seeing SDLP CRISIS in Daily Ireland tomorrow though… ”

    I’ve just seen this morning’s front page – Must they always be so bloody predictable?????

  • brendan,belfast

    Espie’s resignation letter “exclusively seen bu Dilay Ireland…” and er, everyone who reads Slugger or any other paper.

    Espie’s relationship with DI is interesting, given all the West Tyrone leaks which DI highlighted last year – probably as part of their balanced coverage of the election!

  • J Kelly

    one of the families I believe he is talking of is the Attwoods whos fingerprints are on every disaster that has befallen the stoops in the past five ten years.

    Stalingrad at West Tyrone, Alex lost 10000 votes in West Belfast and what happens he is able to get his brother on the council ticket and now no competition for his Assemly seat. Alex was the man who put his nose into the Assembly election debacle in Derry which the party internally has never really recovered from. There are two SDLPs in Derry. Alex and Tim campaigned against Mc Donnell for deputy leader and this assured his success. Alex was the one who convinced Durkan after Weston Park to jump for policing and look were that has left them. Its no surprise that the tactic of attack SF at every option is coming from an SDLP leadership which AA has so much influence over.

    All of this is public knowledge and now with this resignation there is obviously other things happening internally which i would bet a few quid on have AA and TA all over it. Its seems from the outside that Mark Durkan listens far too much to Alex Attwood whos judgement when it come to political strategy is dodgy to sat the least.

    I may be wrong in all of this but would any of our SDLP friends like to put the record straight.

  • brendan,belfast

    well said J Kelly / Sean. Still no word on the plagiarism? come on, we want an answer!

  • Snuff Box

    Was having a stab in the dark to see if I could get the powerful Belfast Brigade. Was actually thinking of Alban McGuinness and incorectly named McDonnell. Just a bit of mischief… However surprised to learn that Atwood is the Belfast Don. Some big sdlp supporters I know think he’s an absolute lightweight. Does’nt bode well if he’s the conspirator general.

    What we need is Andrew Neil to present a NI version of This Week to tell us what’s really going on.

  • J Kelly

    Brendan already answered on relevant thread

  • northcoaster

    snuffbox, youre also wrong about maginness. adjust the compass point westwards.

    brendan, im puzzled- on one hand u attack espie, on the other u support the analysis of j kelly (which concurs with what espie said). do u agree with what espie said, or do u support those he is criticising. interested to hear.

  • Rory

    What a wonderful resignation letter. Mr Espie clearly must have had guidance from other wise sources while drafting it. Perhaps John Prescott and Count Arthur Strong? I’m sure I detected glimmers of the erudite phrasemaking of both throughout the document.

    Are translations available I wonder?

  • brendan,belfast

    Where did i attack Espie? as it happens i think he is a lighweight sulker who failed to make any impact on the party and has finally found peace with himself by appearing on the front page of DI. he is an irrelevance – but (prior to this post anyhow), i didn’t attack him.

    I certainly dont support ‘J Kelly’ or any of alter egos or his theories – i am just amused by him.

  • Stephen Copeland

    northcoaster,

    … youre also wrong about maginness. adjust the compass point westwards.

    Stop teasing. Just give us the name. Presumably it is west Belfast, so the choice of stoops is small enough: Alex himself?

  • brendan,belfast

    Northcoaster wrote “brendan, im puzzled- on one hand u attack espie, on the other u support the analysis of j kelly (which concurs with what espie said).”

    Where did i attack Espie? Until yesterday i had no idea he even existed. Now it is clear he is merely an irrelevance – seems to be me that he lost an argument or two recently and has now had his day in the sun. (Front page of Daily Ireland! well done Eddie!) I have not attacked him (until this post anyway)

    As for ‘J Kelly’ i just find him and his alter egos amusing.

  • snuffbox

    I think Brendy may know all too well the apparatchiks in the stoops. Thus the tenderness

  • Observer

    Snuff box, ur right about McDonnell – self serving

  • northcoaster

    brendan i understand. i was just a bit confused at whether u r opposed to espies actions in quitting as chair, or the thrust of his argument. do u think he was rite in what he said? im not a member of the party so can only go on what i hear from people like u, so wud b interested in what line u take on the issues espie raised.

  • Dualta

    This is very good to see. This will cause tensions to increase in the SDLP and, hopefully, spur some people to action.

    There had been speculation on this board as to who is responsible for the decline of the SDLP and I think that the whole lot of them has to take some blame for it. However, the finger has been pointed specifically at the Attwoods here and I think that analysis is not far wrong.

    There can be no denying their influence over the direction of the party in the last decade. They typify an awful political culture in the SDLP which harks across the water to the US and across the border to a style of political party activity which has no place in the north of Ireland.

    It is the shiny suit wearing, cigar munching, palm spitting gobshitery which belongs on the used-car sales court, rather than in principled politics.

    It’s a ham-fisted attempt at Machiavellian politiking which is all-the-more pathetic given the mangey mess the SDLP has become.

    People are inspired by principled leadership. Hume had a fire in his belly and the people knew it. He might have had the old greasey barterer look about him, but he was an activist for the good cause when we needed one.

    He was truly wedded to the principle of nonviolence, even if he wasn’t fully aware of the full outworking of it. Nonetheless, the SDLP is a shadow of itself without him.

    The day and hour I saw the ‘defeat the two Ians’ campaign I knew they had completely lost the run of themselves and were drifting towards oblivion.

    Someone within the SDLP needs to go back to their roots again, read a little ML King and Gandhi, get a revolutionary fire in their belly and deliver Irish unity.

  • D McM

    Northern Ireland’s political parties are all in trouble and will continue to be until there is working political progress.
    Think about it….if the UUP and the SDLP disappeared you would have 2 parties -DUP and Sinn Fein. Does anyone in their right mind really believe these parties can solve anything?????
    Both of these parties agendas is to dominate in such a way that the other parties raison d’etre is obsolete.
    Those who tried to compromise in Northern Ireland are losing the votes.
    Those who shout the loudest and appeal to the less intelligent thinkers (Sinn fein and DUP voters) continue to gain.
    The outcome is complete polarisation with a possible Civil War – all thanks to the naivety and stupidity of the electorate.
    There will never be peace in Ireland until people learn that the way forward is to compromise – NOT TO DOMINATE!

  • pakman

    “deliver Irish unity” – is this the be all and end all of the SDLP?

  • middle-class taig

    Snuff Box

    “middle class catholics must have worries about SF’s soviet style economic policies”

    Not particularly. They governed responsibly in ministerial office. I also think it’s rather unfair to the catholic middle-class (many of whom are teachers and nurses, run gaelic sports teams, take communiy groups, etc) to assume that all we care about is a few extra quid in our own pockets. In fact, the catholic community in the north of Ireland is one of the very few genuinely left wing catholic communities left in the World. We are voting in increasing numbers for SF because we are increasingly looking for political delivery to go along with the idealism which the SDLP seems to be struggling to relocate. We’d be more concerned with issues which affect the flow of deliverables .

    “The fact that Sinn Fein “stole their clothes” is a valid point”

    aye, stole their clothes and now wear them better

  • Garibaldy

    what evidence is there for northern catholics being left wing? The Provos and the SDLP both explicitly identify themselves as the representatives of Catholics, despite occasional rhetoric to the contrary. The very basis of left-wing politics is the equal nature of every citizen in the state, and the aim of left-wing politics is to represent the interests of the majority, i.e. working people. Not catholic or protestant workers, or black workers, or white workers.

    The leftist elements of the SDLP were forced out by Hume et al, and as MCT points out, in government, Martin and Bairbre happily implemented a centre-right agenda. Catholics are voting for them in increasing numbers because they are seen as better able to stand up for catholic interests, in the same way that the DUP is seen as better able to protect protestant interests. I fail to see how this is left wing.

  • urquhart

    Dualta, you said: “It is the shiny suit wearing, cigar munching, palm spitting gobshitery which belongs on the used-car sales court, rather than in principled politics.” when criticising the Attwood brothers.

    A questions – have you ever even met either of these guys? The reason I ask is because your description of them couldn’t be further from the truth.

    I’m not one of their fans, but your description is just shit talk – it makes me wonder whether you’re genuinely interested in the subject at hand or merely determined to make ill-informed generalisations that fit the picture you’re trying to paint of the SDLP you hate.

    Truthfully, your description is utter nonsense.

  • middle-class taig

    Dualta

    Well said. In some ways, I feel sorry for Alex Attwood. He’s got a tough station in West Belfast. He has to stand in every election and get absolutely eviscerated by someone he obviously despises. I think that political experience breeds a sharp edge, and a sort of paranoia.

    In may ways, AA would be much better suited to unionist politics. The pettiness of some of his rhetoric (his “British Parliament” jibe at Gerry at the count in the 2001 Westminster elections), the personalisation of some of his delivery (Flanagan) is, I think, not something with which SDLP voters naturally identify. Hendron was never at that, nor was Hume. Mallon had a deep dignity that AA would do well to replicate.

    Alas, he seems to have appointed himself as the SDLP’s attack-dog against SF and spokesman on policing. That gets him loads of exposure, but it’s totally crazy for a guy whose electoral “base” is in West Belfast, the very citadel of SF’s hegemony and where policing is at its worst.

    Alex needs to take action urgently so as to avoid loing his Assembly seat. Even in his very short time standing for election for the West Belfast constituency he has seen the SDLP’s support drop from 25% to 19% then down to under 17%. Worse still, his own support on 5 May 2005 was more than 2% below the party’s, at a level heartstoppingly close to an Assembly quota. This haemhorrage needs urgent staunching. Eventually, SF are going to get their vote management right and take five seats in WB. Alex better be careful it’s Dodds’ seat, not his, that they take.

    As to how he goes about mounting this rearguard action; my view – chill, smile, stop attacking SF and stop defending the peelers when they overstep the mark. (Oh, and don’t approve any more weapons for them.)

  • dontletthedoorhityourassonthewayout

    I noticed on the background of the site Eddie misspells – ‘Taking part in nothing, wining is everything’

    I can’t help but think he would have had a more appropriate misspell by adding a H.

  • middle-class taig

    Actually, urquhart has a bit of a point there Dualta. My well said should be restricted to your comments in your paras 1-3 and 6-9.

    pakman

    you might note that Dualta exhorted the SDLP to deliver “Irish unity”, not a United Ireland.

    subtle

  • pakman

    middle-class taig

    subtle or post-nationalist?

  • J Kelly

    MCT
    AA survival strategy
    Stand dowm from council in case he loses seat,
    Get brother on sdlp ticket no competition for Assembly seat,
    Policing Board SDLP cant remove elected rep.
    Hope there will always be SDLP in West Belfast.

    “He has to stand in every election and get absolutely eviscerated by someone he obviously despises”.

    I’m sure the feeling is mutual thats even if Gerry acknowledges him.
    I would imagine the majority of the WB electorate despise Attwood.

    “Eventually, SF are going to get their vote management right and take five seats in WB. Alex better be careful it’s Dodds’ seat, not his, that they take”.

    I’m sure many SF voters would prefer Dodds to Attwood anyday

    If I were an SDLP strategist I would be looking for a SDLP candidate in West Belfast that doesn’t antagonise over 60% of the eletorate. Back to the original thread Attwood brothers are in my opinion the people that EE speaks of and the longer Durkan listens to these two the longer the SDLP will struggle.

    By the way i think the Attwood boys are doing a good job. Long may it last.

  • snuffbox

    Middle Class Taig

    My point was that there is a need for the sdlp in nationalist politics. For two reasons

    1. Many nationalists middle class or otherwise could not bring themselves out to vote for Sinn Fein because of actions taken by the IRA suring the troubles.

    2. Because Sinn Fein economic policies would be suicide if they ever were in a situation to implement them. For example in the south they favour increasing corporation tax; re-nationalising bus, rail and aer lingus; and spending more on public services. Imagine what would happen here where we are already overdependent on the public sector!

    Sinn Fein do sit with the communists in the Europen parliament, perhaps this is where their inspiration comes from

  • pakman

    snuffbox

    if SF are a proto Marxist economic basksketcase why did the SDLP not take the opportunity presented by IRA criminality and exclude them from executive power in NI? At least then they would not be in a postion to collectivise anything in this state.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Snuffbox,

    … For example in the south they favour … re-nationalising bus, rail and aer lingus

    None of these have (yet) been privatised! All are still in state hands. The debate currently is over the wisdom of the state privatising Aer Lingus when it is bringing in such big profits for the state.

  • Snuff Box

    Pakman

    That’s fairly simple.The sdlp have designs on gaining back some of the voters it has lost in previous elections and doesnt want to concede yet more and end up in Aliance party territory in terms of vote share. For it would surely be electoral suicide. Easy as that. Its not for any great empathy with republicans antics which have sullied the process

  • pakman

    Snuff Box

    so in order to keep the support of people who have well founded concerns about SFs fitness for government the allow a situation where no one is in government?

    Do you really think an effective SDLP/UUP coalition would have driven nationalists in their droves to SF?

  • snuffbox

    Stephen Copeland

    My words were exact. As far as I’m aware SF would re-nationalise these if they were ever in a position to form a government in the south. I’m an avid reader of An Phoblacht.

    http://www.anphoblacht.com/subscribers/login?f=/news/detail/13693

  • Stephen Copeland

    snuffbox,

    They ‘would’ re-nationalise them if they had ever been privatised. But since they haven’t, then the promise is an empty one.

    Anyway, no investor would ever buy Iarnrod Eireann, so there’s no fear of them being called on that one!

  • Garibaldy

    Snuffbox,

    Certainly Provo rhetoric suggests they are socialists. But look at their actions. They were perfectly happy to implement right-wing policies in the north – why would it be any different in the south? The truth is that their leadership is composed of people who are happy to be all things to all men, but when push comes to shove are actually fairly conservative.

    There are leftist elements, overwhelmingly in the south, but they are marginalised, used for donkey work but denied control over anything. Look at their positions on abortion, or the bin tax, where one of the TD’s demanded that hands were not tied. The same is true with coalition with FF. Let’s not forget their lead TD and Mary Lou started in FF. What left-wing bills have they introduced in the Dail? When the before the last election, the coalition government was dependent on their single TD amongst others, the price of their support was related to the north, not the conditions of workers in the south.

    Their recent big rethink of economic policies moved far from socialist rhetoric. And even before that their answer to the North’s economic troubles was to cut corporation tax to the same levels as the south.

    If they were really socialist, would Adams be invited to the White House?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Smart Alec and not so nice but Dim Tim are just doing a fine job, leave them alone to get on with it.

  • middle-class taig

    snuffbox

    “My point was that there is a need for the sdlp in nationalist politics.”

    Agreed.

    “Many nationalists middle class or otherwise could not bring themselves out to vote for Sinn Fein because of actions taken by the IRA suring the troubles”

    In the venn diagram of nationalist voting patterns, that is a circle of ever-decreasing radius.

    “Because Sinn Fein economic policies would be suicide if they ever were in a situation to implement them.”

    Oh, turn it up! There was no such “suicide” during their term in government. Everybody knows this argument is fatuous cobblers. All political parties are economically illiterate.

    “Sinn Fein do sit with the communists in the Europen parliament”

    So what? They can’t sit with the socialists, because Irish “Labour” Party, New Labour and PSOE would exclude them.

  • Garibaldy

    MCT,

    I heard that the socialists did indeed turn them down. And for snuffbox, the United Left is most definitely not the same as the old Communist bloc, as there’s no ideology unity.

  • lib2016

    The SDLP need time to establish themselves as a reightwing nationalist party which can attract post-unionist votes from those disgusted by the mess the unionist parties are in. It can’t be done overnight but it is perceptibly happening, not least over the policing issue.

    Sinn Fein, has to keep its radical edge if it is to continue to grow in the South and there simply isn’t room on the left for two nationalist parties.

    Unionism has plumped for the delights of Paisleyism so the UUP and Alliance will be left fighting for the middleaged and older unionist ‘moderates’, not a group which has seen much growth recently.

    Just a few more years!

  • Dualta

    urquhart wrote
    [i]A questions – have you ever even met either of these guys? The reason I ask is because your description of them couldn’t be further from the truth.

    I’m not one of their fans, but your description is just shit talk – it makes me wonder whether you’re genuinely interested in the subject at hand or merely determined to make ill-informed generalisations that fit the picture you’re trying to paint of the SDLP you hate.

    Truthfully, your description is utter nonsense.[/i]

    urquhart,
    I have met both of these men and write from a considered position. I am neither ill-informed nor writing about a party I hate. I have been a lot closer than you may think.

    We need much less party politics in the North. As I said, people follow principled leadership. Fight the good fight and electoral success will come regardless.

    Being snide, vicious, double-dealing and untruthful wins no hearts and here, as anywhere, without the deep support of the people, which Hume had, you will not deliver real change.

    Hume wasn’t a party politican. He cared little for his party. It was merely a vehicle for him to realise his principles. He is the best of them.

  • snuff box

    MCT

    In fairness Sinn Fein havent really got a chance yet to show their economic mettle. One thing is for sure and that is that it wont be particularly friendly to foreign investment. With the resultant effect on un-employment perhaps then nationalists of all classes may sit up and take notice.

  • northcoaster

    ive yet to hear from brendan about his views on the content of espies arguement.

  • brendan,belfast

    Sorry Northcoaster i got caught up in, you know, work.

    My views on Espie’s letter are that he had too much time on his hands when he wrote it. He makes some points – detachment from leadership and grass roots, people ‘not listening’ on the doorsteps – which probably apply to all political parties at some stage or another. No doubt the SDLP has faults and Espie may have flagged up some of them – i just don’t know.

    Too much is made of the letter – he was an anonymous background man.

  • carlosblancos

    I’m no SDLP expert but I’ve never heard of this guy. That said, I come from East of the Bann so might not have come across him. Middle Class Taig’s earlier post hits the nail on the head…the state of the party in Belfast is a disgrace with many voters so fed up that they stay at home or make the switch. The situation isn’t lost but requires decisive action.

  • northcoaster

    mr blancos it seems we are in a similar position looking in at the sdlp. but is anything going to b done about this ‘disgrace’ u mentioned or is it going to be ignored in an act of ‘pig headed obstinacy’ as espy called it? what do u think should b the decisive action? 4 people who would mostly support the sdlp its anoying to see it ‘polluted’ as espy put it. i think untill these issues r fixed sinn fein will have an upper hand