Breaking out of Andersonstown….

I spent about half an hour on the beat with a small, but dedicated band of SDLP supporters trudging around the upper end of Andersonstown in the freezing rain last night. They are looking for about 10,000 votes in a vast constituency with a tiny party machine in Sinn Fein heartland. If last night is anything to go by, their voters are being targeted over and over again. One guy told Attwood, he’d had two leaflets and letter from Gerry Adams in the space of the last few days. The 87 votes between Dodds and the fifth Sinn Fein candidate, Sue Ramsay, is the primary theme. Although this particular voter reckoned that Attwood, rather than Dodds, was the real target.

At the same time, former Republican supporters are virtually being ignored in the canvass. The conventional wisdom is that in the forsaking of one, and courting of the other, Sinn Fein will reap more than they sow in this election. Attwood, as you might expect, demurs. There seems to be a reckoning in this election.

One old timer, a veteran from the IRA’s 1950’s campaign, and a former Sinn Fein party worker was irked enough to promise Attwood his second preference purely on the SDLP’s consistency over policing and other matters – independent Republican Geraldine Taylor will be getting his first. When asked why, “It’s the lies” he said, “I don’t see why if they were going to sign up for policing they couldn’t have done it years ago”.

“We’re getting stories like that every night”, Attwood claims. And there is some circumstantial evidence, in certain areas like Ballymurphy, that Sinn Fein is no longer the popular force it once was. There seems to be a cat and mouse game going on between people putting posters up and those ripping them down. It’s strange to drive around such a hardline Republican area, and see the majority of signs still up are those of the SDLP. Even stranger to discover the UUP have been leafleting some of the houses here.

On the Whiterock Road last night, someone had erected four Adams’ posters, one on top of the other: clearly determined to get the message across no matter what plans the weather or their opponents might have to the contrary. With only a day to go before the poll they should do the job. But it’s clear that Sinn Fein’s mind, and the efforts of its workers are elsewhere these days.

  • gerry

    They SF have yet to call to my door, and I got a letter adress to my family personally as did all my relatives, handed around the doors in this area by a kid aged about 12. No personal show this time round. Perhaps it is like someone else suggested they have lost a lot of their foot soldiers over policing, if so, its about bloody time. They went around yesterday morning with a loud haler, woke us all up, and that was the first I’d heard.

    I’d say Attwood is right about the 87 votes, BTW mine makes it 88!!

  • slug

    Of all NI’s constituencies, West Belfast is the one that seems the most mysterious. I never go there except for curiousity’s sake. I never fail to be amazed at how dominant Sinn Féin are there, being close to 5 seats. I don’t have any feel for the place.

  • Yokel

    One friend from up country described West Belfast as the ‘Reservation’.

    Coming originally from West Belfast I had to agree it was a great name for it.

    Are the UUP leafleting or just sending out their normal postal delivered maildrop that parties do?

  • gerry

    Mick was on the radio this morning saying the UUP were leafleting the doors, but we did get all the bumph even from the DUP thru the letterbox via the free delivery from the post office. I think everybody gets that.

  • DK

    It’s not just SF that are getting it. Someone has ripped down all the DUP posters in white city.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Mick

    If Attwood thinks he’s getting any where near 10,000 votes, then he really is away with the fairies.

    Working with west Belfast activists on a daily basis, I must also take issue with the notion that republicans are somehow avoiding their core support areas.

    I think you’ll find even a cursory amount of research will reveal that each household in west Belfast has recieved more pieces of election literature from Sinn Fein in this election than at any in the recent past.

    In addition, the by now traditional multi-faceted canvass operations aimed at traditional and swing voters has been exhausted, with very few people I know not having a Sinner at their door in the past 6 weeks.

    I think the SDLP are falling into the immediate pre-election world of fantastical aspiration.

    I’d expect the SDLP vote here to remain at the rock bottom core it has slumped to in recent years.

  • middle-class taig

    “vast constituency”

    am I missing something?

  • Yokel

    MCT

    You know, like a black hole….

  • Mick Fealty

    mct,

    Small constituency party. 50,000+ voters. Answers only from every fourth door. Needle in a haystack?

    Chris,

    I wasn’t seeking to be definative on a half hour walk with your opposition, but I did mention the guy who had three pieces of literature in a single weekend. Although the ‘old soldier’ claimed that the leaflets were being delivered by kids rather than activists.

  • middle-class taig

    Sorry, didn’t mean to come off as sneering.

    Hard to believe that the SDLP held the Westminster constituency less than 10 years ago.

    Having said that, if confirmed shinners don’t answer the door to the SDLP they’re playing it very wrong tactically. Far better to keep the poor craturs chatting at a shinner doorstep than leaving them to go on to canvass nationalist swing voters.

  • Mick Fealty

    mct,

    Even in West, 30% of electors don’t vote. And not everyone is up for a scrap on the doorstep! 😉

  • OIlibhear Chromaill

    As far as most people that I know are concerned, Alex Attwood has been the invisible MLA in West Belfast. While I commend Mick for accompanying him on the canvass for half an hour – that took some doing! – the man has yet to call on my door though he has had the impertinence to erect posters on the entrance to the estate in which I live.

    Incidentally, he is doing the green thing. He’s recycled some of his 2005 General Election posters, discernible by the X and the younger looking picture and the absence of any mention of his running mate, Margaret Walsh. It’s every candidate for themselves now.

  • Al

    “SF have yet to call to my door”

    What area are you in Gerry? As an SF canvasser in WB I can say that we’ve been out every single night for the last fortnight and if what we’re getting on the doorsteps is correct I say to anyone that likes a flutter put your money on SF taking the fifth in WB.

  • Red Mist

    Chris,

    I don’t work with people from west belfast I am from west belfast and I can tell you that this is the case indeed. Obviously SF activists are not going to be the most objective source of info on their performance (or lack of) locally.

    I have had my door knocked twice during this campaign. Once by SF and once by Sean Mitchell of People Before Profit.

    These areas used to be buzzing come election time but this time out it is flat, totally flat. We used to have teams of locals pounding the pavement for weeks on end coming up to election, not anymore. Their strength in terms of workers has gone down the pan locally. If your or your friends ideas of not avoiding their core areas of support is handing out leaflets or putting up more posters than anyone else then you have taken a very major departure from the election strategy from when I dropped out.

    It used to be about contact. Shows of strength locally (the numbers type not the other kind). Building this all to reach a climax on election day. It is dead. No teams, no buzz, no work.

    I really don’t know whether they are taking the electorate for granted (I doubt it given that they are losing republican families by the bucket load in the west), or is it that they don’t have the workers to do it (more like it), or if they just don’t have the confidence to face their own people on the door steps (sounds about right).

    Bottom line is they are a totally transformed and much reduced force. Future elections will get decidedly more grim for the people who got used to being on board what seemed an unstoppable electoral machine.

  • Red Mist

    Al,

    SF have no chance of the fifth seat in the West. In fact, I am of the belief that they know this and all this scare tactics about the DUP getting in is designed to stop their percentage slipping and not to capture a fifth seat, which again I think is unattainable.

    Many republicans in the west are not voting SF this time round, I myself know scores of former SF voters who will not be voting for them again this time. This is replicated right across the west.

    Furthermore, the unionists are just aware how close it cam last time and have more incentive to consolidate their vote than do former SF voters.

  • Al

    Well RM I can only comment on what is being told to us on the doorsteps if people are being dishonest fair enough.

    “Many republicans in the west are not voting SF this time round, I myself know scores of former SF voters who will not be voting for them again this time. This is replicated right across the west”

    Is this not somewhat exaggerated? I do concede that we have lost some voters however if our electoral intelligence is a representative gauge these numbers are negligible.

    “The unionists are just aware how close it cam last time and have more incentive to consolidate their vote than do former SF voters”

    Highly speculative RM however who said that the fifth seat was going to be at the expense of Unionism?. :o)

  • Plum Duff

    Yokel

    “One friend from up country described West Belfast as the ‘Reservation’.
    Coming originally from West Belfast I had to agree it was a great name for it.”

    If, as you say, West Belfast was your original home, I’m very surprised you tolerate the sneeringly patronising ‘Reservation’ comment with its manifestly racist overtones.

    As Wellington retorted on being called Irish, ‘Being born in a stable does not make one a horse’. I’m sorry to say that you’ve given the impression you’re from the same paddock.

  • northsider

    Many republicans in the west are not voting SF this time round, I myself know scores of former SF voters who will not be voting for them again this time. This is replicated right across the west.

    I’m not going to be drawn into another one of these time will tell/just you wait and see arguments. We’ll discuss all this on Friday afternoon when either I’m right and the dissidentry have made no impact and the SF-SDLP vote is pretty much the same as last time.

    Or SF takes a battering as you say. What about the dissident candidate Taylor – I note you stop short of saying she will sweep in on transfers…

  • Red Mist

    Al,

    Well obviously I cannot comment on what you are being told on the door steps. What I can say is that I know enough people have told the few canvassers that have been round that they are not voting for it to be viewed as more than negligible. Substantially more. In most cases these have been followed up by a visit from leadership level only for them to be told the same thing.

    You say my opinion on the fifth seat is highly speculative, it is indeed, as is yours for that matter. I must however question your closing comment “who said that the fifth seat was going to be at the expense of Unionism?” Your party has. Hence all the election literature highlighting how close SF was to getting Dodds’ seat last time round and urging people to reverse this. Wake up comrade. Although I dont blame you for not reading the literature, I can rarely stomach it myself.

    More laughable is you hinting that the fith seat may come at the expense of the SDLP, come on Al if you haven’t anything sensible to offer….vote 1,2,3,4,5 SF.

  • Red Mist

    northsider,

    You should really take notes before committing yourself to a post.

    Firstly, nobody was trying to draw you into anything. I hate to deflate your ego but my post was in reponse to Chris and whilst this may come a shock to you I do not sit around here all day trying to draw you into debates.

    Secondly, can you tell me where I commented on the ‘dissidentry’? Their impact or lack of?

    Thirdly, can you highlight where what lead you to direct this comment at me? “Or SF takes a battering as you say.” I have clearly never said that nor do I think it is going to happen.

    Finally, can you advise me why you expected me to comment upon Geraldine Taylor or her ability to attract transfers. I do not support her nor in fact would I vote for her.

    I must say for a short post you sure as hell can get a lot wrong. Buck up your ideas old son.

    Come to think of it something about the tone of your post may make sense. You insinuate that you were involved in the discussion and that things had been directed towards you. Could it be that you are indeed Chris Donnelly operating under various guises? If so wise up and stop loading your arguments by pretending that theyare coming from some broad consensus.

  • Al

    Forgive me RM the comment made regarding the fifth seat was me being naughty and was made with my tongue firmly implanted in my cheek.

    “What I can say is that I know enough people have told the few canvassers that have been round that they are not voting for it to be viewed as more than negligible. Substantially more. In most cases these have been followed up by a visit from leadership level only for them to be told the same thing”

    I have canvassed the entire upper Falls area RM and can tell you that, in my experience, the amount of times that this has happened could be counted on both hands.

  • Red Mist

    Al,

    Better your tounge being in cheek than stuck out I say. No worries.

    I do not doubt you when you say you have only come across this a handful or is it two handfuls of times. No prob that is your experience. Am i right in sayign that you are referring to the visits from leaderships to the homes of former supportes and not to republicans knocking you back at the doors? Because if you are saying only 10 or less republicans in the entire Upper Falls have said they are not voting your credibility goes firmly our the window.

    However, my experience is quite different. I know of very many people who are not voting this time round and crucially many of them are activists not the here today gone tomorrow voters recently inherited. This is where your biggest losses will be I think. How does it translate itself on polling day when the new and old are balanced? Well thats too hard to call I think.

    Take care though.

  • sms

    mick
    surprised at your “tea time with alex” foray into ” the wild west” and actually coming out alive. They havn’t stopped eating their young in the resevation you know. To build any sort of prediction on half an hour’s anecdotes with one party is way below par for you.

    red mist
    are you predicting that sinn will lose seats in the west?

  • Al

    As said previously RM I can only speak of my own experiences.

    “Am I right in saying that you are referring to the visits from leaderships to the homes of former supporters and not to republicans knocking you back at the doors? Because if you are saying only 10 or less republicans in the entire Upper Falls have said they are not voting your credibility goes firmly our the window”

    Yes I’m speaking about leadership visits RM. Adams was out in Willowvale and Hillhead a few Sundays ago and was told by two people that under no circumstances would they be voting SF.

    In terms of being knocked back at doors I can say that I’ve never personally had a negative remark from green voters regarding current party strategy although I have heard from others that they have but, as said previously, this number has been miniscule.

    “However, my experience is quite different. I know of very many people who are not voting this time round and crucially many of them are activists not the here today gone tomorrow voters recently inherited”

    My experience is totally different; I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree on that one.

    “Take care though”

    Appreciated comrade

  • Red Mist

    Al,

    Fair enough comrade, to be continued at a later date.

    sms,

    No I don’t think there is any chance of SF losing a seat in the West, not at all in fact. However, I presonally do not believe that the fifth seat that they are chasing is attainable. But like everything, this is only my opinion and it remains to be seen on the day.

    However, if SF do not continue their upward trend in seats and overall percentage it will come as a big blow whether it is admitted or not. This whole process of transformation has been sold on the basis of substantial continued electoral growth. Any stalling or sliding will be very costly indeed.

  • Red Mist

    Still no response from northsider or Chris?

  • Henry94

    Red Mist

    However, if SF do not continue their upward trend in seats and overall percentage it will come as a big blow whether it is admitted or not.

    It would without a doubt. But that is the nature of politics. Both the SDLP and the dissidents are trying to out-green Sinn Fein. But one has no brain and the other has no heart on the subject.

    To read slugger you would think Sinn Fein were faced with terrible election. But I think people know what’s at stake and they know what to do.

  • Red Mist

    Henry94,

    I think it better to include the following lines to my original post as well to get the full picture.

    “However, if SF do not continue their upward trend in seats and overall percentage it will come as a big blow whether it is admitted or not. This whole process of transformation has been sold on the basis of substantial continued electoral growth. Any stalling or sliding will be very costly indeed.”

    You see its not just as simple as saying well sometimes in elections you go up and sometimes you go down. The leadership sold a whole raft of concessions to the rank and file on the promise that this would aide the unfettered growth of SF North and South and lead the Irish Republic (I have left out Socialist in line with most SF commentators these days).

    If SF cannot deliver substantial gains in electoral strength over the coming few years then their project looks very shakey indeed.

    BTW I do not think SF is facing into a terrible election but I do see the first signs of slippage and I do think SF is in for a few political awakenings in the coming years. You are not guaranteed to win and that you should rise up with your community and not rise up out of your community.

    More and more people will be making judgements based on what is tangible in the future, not on winks, nods and promises. That my friend is big trouble for SF.

  • Henry94

    Red Mist

    The leadership sold a whole raft of concessions to the rank and file on the promise that this would aide the unfettered growth of SF North and South and lead the Irish Republic

    I’m getting tired of arguments based on the assumption that the rank and file of Sinn Fein are idiots. My experience of Sinn Fein members is quite the opposite and they all know that politics is a hard road on which you get what you work for and nothing else.

    I’m delighted that there is a platform of republican candidates running in opposition to the Sinn Fein strategy and I look forward to the day they come up with a strategy of their own.

    So far the only thing remotely resembling an idea they have had is to boycott the institutions, the “Honey I shrunk the movement” approach of yesteryear.

    More than anything else I hope the nationalist and republican people bury that idiocy for all time tomorrow.

  • The Devil

    Henry 94

    “based on the assumption that the rank and file of Sinn Fein are idiots. My experience of Sinn Fein members is quite the opposite”

    Oh no… how do you explain Northsider then

    “and they all know that politics is a hard road on which you get what you work for and nothing else”

    This is true and proves that Sinn Fein have not worked…. hence they have got NOTHING

  • Valenciano

    MCT: “Hard to believe that the SDLP held the Westminster constituency less than 10 years ago.”

    Yes but that was in 1992, pre-ceasefire and a constituency which didn’t include Poleglass and Twinbrook. If they’d been in it then Adams would have held it by about a thousand votes.

    “It would without a doubt. But that is the nature of politics. Both the SDLP and the dissidents are trying to out-green Sinn Fein. But one has no brain and the other has no heart on the subject.”

    It’ll be some achievement if they do take the fifth seat. Hell of a lot of balancing to do there but if anyone can do it, its them and I suspect that it would come from the SDLP not the DUP.

    The SDLP tactic of putting up 2 candidates in a compact urban constituency when you’re defending a single seat is the serious no-brainer. RSF didn’t help their cause by not registering with the electoral commission. I imagine that even if they had been on the ballot as “Republican Sinn Fein leader Ruairí Ó Brádaigh” they’d have got a few votes just by mistake by people who thought they were voting for PSF.

    I’d personally predict the status quo but won’t be surprised with a (SF) 5-1 (DUP) result.

  • Crataegus

    Red Mist

    Bottom line is they are a totally transformed and much reduced force. Future elections will get decidedly more grim for the people who got used to being on board what seemed an unstoppable electoral machine.

    I agree and it will be interesting to see how the remaining workers weather electoral reversals!

    I have spent the better part of today going round West Belfast, Ardoyne and Newlodge. Judging from people I know I think SF have substantial problems. Difficult to gauge just how widespread it is but to my eyes it looks serious. In Ardoyne there appears to be more SDLP posters up than SF ones. Now that is unheard of in recent times.

    This problem runs a lot deeper than the Policing issue and has been building for a few years. There is now a sufficient body of people willing to say exactly what they think and discontent is surfacing.

    I’m inclined to think that SF may come out of this election losing a few seats and not achieving the gains they hoped for. However if this happens it will be hard to stop future decline and they shouldn’t expect and rescue from the election in the South it also is unlikely to show significant gains. SF are stalling.

  • Red Mist

    Henry94,

    You have totally misrepresented what I have said. Until very recently I was a rank and file member of SF for well over a decade so, unlike yourself, I have intimate knowledge that rank and file SF members are not idiots.

    However, the point I make is valid regardless of your interpretations. The leadership has alluded to a grand plan that will facilitate SF’s growth North and South until they ultimately have the hands on the levers of power across the island. Now I do not believe this is true. I have stated that any stagnation or slippage in the SF vote will make this project look very shakey. If this happens then more people will be questioning the wisdom of their continued support for this strategy.

    This is not branding SF members idiots. I do not think they are idiots for supporting the leadership line. Many of them trust in the leadership, I no longer do, but then again I still did after many others didn’t. So its not a simple as you make out. I believe that many others will come around to my way of thinking if the strategy put forward by the leadership doesn’t come to pass. This my friend is hard politics.

    Furthermore, I totally resent every time people who longer agree with Gerry raise their heads they are lumped into a mish mash of everything ‘dissident’. This is a ploy to try and discourage people from being outspoken. If you speak out in opposition to ‘us’ you are one of ‘them’. Grow up.

    I have no stake in what happens to the independent republican candidates tomorrow. I have never stated that I did nor have I ever canvassed for support for their campaigns here. So whatever happens to them tomorrow my mind will be focussed on analysing the SF vote (being a former member).

    Whilst you speak of burying that idiocy, I am entirely more positive. To me the hope lies in the many people who have left the republican movement and indeed some of those in other movements who can progress with forming a progressive alternative complete with the alternative strategy that you recent SF supporters keep requesting.

  • Red Mist

    Crataegus,

    I pretty much agree with your post.

    Their issues are more substantial that has been alluded to by SOME of their supporters.

    However, even if the result is only a bit of a stagnation what people should keep in mind is that this is a balance between new votes and old votes. My experience of the old votes is that most of them are staunch republicans who fought the struggle and feel let down by SF policy on policing, socialism, etc. The new votes are much much weaker. People who are not the heart and soul of this struggle nor their communities for that matter.

    I know what I would rather have on my side tomorrow.

  • slug

    I find it strange that the Green Party didn’t stand in West Belfast.

  • middle-class taig

    Valenciano

    Please note that I did not say: “Both the SDLP and the dissidents are trying to out-green Sinn Fein. But one has no brain and the other has no heart on the subject.”

    I do not believe either to be true.

    Crataegus/RedMIst

    But, if SF stall at this election, will that really be sucha surprise? They’ve had a couple of tough years with the weight of both establishments bearing down on them, plus the White House, plus the press, the church and everyone else frankly, and with Robert McCartney, Northern Bank, Stakeknife, etc.

    If they consolidate their position and don’t lose any more than about 2% points they will have had an astonishingly good result on any objective analysis. If they do better than that, then they will have weathered all recent storms unscathed, can gather themselves and launch a major push. Moreover, if they do stay around 22-23% they can consider that vote core, and look to spend a few years gathering in the lost dissidents and floating voter and raking in new voters. Anything above that level, and any stall will be chalked up to the PSNI acceptance, and turned into a political asset.

    Will be interesting to see on Thursday.
    Patrick

  • slug

    I think if SF stall it would represent the end of that phase, beginning 1997, when the SF vote went up each year.

  • middle-class taig

    I’m also hoping for a good sdlp showing. A closer fight within nationalism will be good for both parties, and for the “movement”.

  • Belfastwhite

    Red Mist

    My experience of the old votes is that most of them are staunch republicans who fought the struggle and feel let down by SF policy on policing, socialism, etc.

    No harm comrade but what a load of hooley! Look at the list of candidates and those who added their names to their election papers. This notion of only those who oppose the leadership are true staunch republicans and the rest are sheep led by the nose or Johnny come lately republicans is a very thin argument. Take a look at the actual candidates their republican credentials and their families are as staunch as those who you say “fought the struggle”. True the leadership have taken a huge gamble with the PSNI and only time will tell if this will pay off. As someone who has been involved with the republican movement for over twenty years I applaud the courage of this decision and I’m looking forward to the work ahead tommorow and in the future.

  • slug

    I remember Brian Feeney predicting that nationalists would just “swing behind” Sinn Fein after they became the largest party and the SDLP would essentially be finished. This election could well be the continuation of that prediction. Or it could represent the point at which we realised Feeney was wrong.

  • middle-class taig

    slug

    That’s certainly true. And I think that may not be such a bad thing for the coming period. So much of the difficulties of recent years has been due, at least in part, to unionist headspin at rapid republican advances. I think unionists will be far more comfortable with political life here if it isn’t one long SF celebration.

    I don’t think we’re likely to see, in the medium term at least, any more of the “sharp-intake-of-unionist-breath” moments, like when Murphy ran Mallon close, Michelle won FST or when McGuinness became Education minister – well, not until justice ministers Kelly and Ferris hold their first joint cross-border ministerial summit :-).

  • middle-class taig

    Slug, we’re at a convo-disconect.

    Surprised at Feeney for saying something so rash. Nationalism needs two strong parties. So does unionism…

  • Belfastwhite

    MCT

    “Nationalism needs two strong parties.”

    Agreed and even a third dissenting voice party will do the other two parties no harm.

  • slug

    “I think that may not be such a bad thing for the coming period. So much of the difficulties of recent years has been due, at least in part, to unionist headspin at rapid republican advances. I think unionists will be far more comfortable with political life here if it isn’t one long SF celebration.”

    Indeed. Though I thought that unionist discomfort was the attraction of votailing Sinn Fein 🙂

  • Observer

    “I’m also hoping for a good sdlp showing. A closer fight within nationalism will be good for both parties, and for the “movement”.”

    Why would this be good for the movement?
    Surely the objective is to build political strength and convert that to political power, in order to further the objective of a United Ireland. Competing with another party (with an ant-republican agenda) does not seem consistent with achieving that objective.

    “Agreed and even a third dissenting voice party will do the other two parties no harm.”

    It will do the struggle no good. Diluting republican representation offers options for those who oppose a UI. Unionists and the Brits/Staters have always used the SDLP as a foil for republicans.
    The struggle isn’t over (despite what many think)and the objective remains the same. The SDLP are as much an obstacle to the creation of a UI as the unionists. More so, perhaps, because they have the ability to reduce the impact of the republican mandate in a way no unionist can.

  • If they consolidate their position and don’t lose any more than about 2% points they will have had an astonishingly good result on any objective analysis.

    Spinning in advance, MCT?

  • belfastwhite

    Observer

    1)Like it or not there are those nationalist/republicans out there who would never ever vote for Sinn Fein. IMHO it is better for these people to have a strong political outlet from whatever position best represents their views.

  • belfastwhite

    observer

    2) The added advantage of other strong nationalist oppositon is to ensure that Sinn Fein keep their feet firmly on the ground. The zest of opposition keeps us both focussed and energised for the struggle ahead.

  • Observer-

    “The SDLP are as much an obstacle to the creation of a UI as the unionists.”

    Hmmm- because clearly the SDLP have made no efforts to foster a positive relationship with the main parties in the south, have not produced a strong document in the form of North South Makes Sense, and have not explicitly said that they want reunification [rolls eyes]. If you’re gonna slag off the SDLP, at least do it on something truthful instead of spouting that kind of rubbish- people can see through lies you know. I could of course raise the fact that the provos retarded any chance of a united Ireland by a generation by suitably turning any progressive unionists and large swathes of southerners away from the idea, but this is neither the time nor the place.

  • Observer

    El Mat
    The SDLP have consistently provided the British and unionists with an “acceptable” alternative to republicans. This enabled the British government to marginalise republicans for many years. British and State assistance at election after election (including this one) promoted the SDLP as a method of suppressing the SF vote.

    “people can see through lies you know.”
    Correct, as election after election has shown.

    Belfastwhite

    “1)Like it or not there are those nationalist/republicans out there who would never ever vote for Sinn Fein.”

    Agreed.

    “IMHO it is better for these people to have a strong political outlet from whatever position best represents their views.”

    I disagree. A weak and demoralised SDLP would find it more difficult to run interference against republican objectives than a strong non republican party. The SDLP have seldom missed an opportunity to undermine SF, particularly at election time (for example the ludicrous claims in their South Armagh election paper). They unashamedly join in with every media anti-republican frenzy in an effort to promote ant-SF sentiment.
    A disorganised and weakened opposition is more desirable than one capable of slowing progress toward unity.

  • belfastwhite

    Crat

    I have spent the better part of today going round West Belfast, Ardoyne and Newlodge. Judging from people I know I think SF have substantial problems. Difficult to gauge just how widespread it is but to my eyes it looks serious. In Ardoyne there appears to be more SDLP posters up than SF ones. Now that is unheard of in recent times.

    Fair play to you crat you must be on a one man mission to find out how bad Sinn Fein are going to do it the elections? *Chuckles*

    As far as SDLP posters are concerned maybe they are early risers, maybe they have money to burn this time round(pssst they have to pay for their poster putter uppers), maybe the rain falls mainly on Sinn Fein posters but whatever, they are probably the last SDLP faces you will see in the New Lodge, Ardoyne and West Belfast until the next election anyway.

  • Obs-

    “British and State assistance at election after election (including this one) promoted the SDLP as a method of suppressing the SF vote.”

    What?! What planet are you on?

  • Northsider

    Oh no… how do you explain Northsider then

    I’m not a member of Sinn Fein, as I stated on another thread. And as you seem to be stalking me (why else suddenly follow me to this thread to have a pop – maybe you’re still stinging from yesterday oh great one) then you would have noticed it.

    Seems ad hominem attacks from The Devil are not simply a myth as Slugger’s mods would have us believe.

    Be good.

  • belfastwhite

    Observer

    A weak and demoralised SDLP would find it more difficult to run interference against republican objectives than a strong non republican party. The SDLP have seldom missed an opportunity to undermine SF, particularly at election time (for example the ludicrous claims in their South Armagh election paper). They unashamedly join in with every media anti-republican frenzy in an effort to promote ant-SF sentiment.
    A disorganised and weakened opposition is more desirable than one capable of slowing progress toward unity.

    Disagree

    The current SF strategy is forcing parties like the SDLP, Fianna Fail and Fianna Gael to green up their image and thereby promote our objective of a UI. The only way a strong dissenting republican party is going to threaten Sinn Fein is by out working Sinn Fein at grassroots and community level something which the SDLP has never and IMHO can never do.

    Well mo chara it is getting late and I’m sure like me you have a long day in front of you, adh mhor.

  • Yokel

    Plum Duff

    I knew someone would take offence.

    I’ve never held back from saying, including to family still in the area that it needs a good kick up the arse because it has far to many people amongst its populous celebrating mediocrity as somehow being a success.

  • Yokel

    MCT

    Are you a member of SF or have close connections to it (as opposed to, say, being a SF voter)?

    I’m just trying to put a context to your comments in the thread.

  • Observer

    Belfastwhite

    We’ll agree to differ.
    Adh mhor.
    Beir Bua.

    El Mat

    “British and State assistance at election after election (including this one) promoted the SDLP as a method of suppressing the SF vote.”

    What?! What planet are you on?

    Check out your own website!
    You must have named every State minister as a supporter of the SDLP.

  • Observer

    El Mat

    From your website

    “There is only one party in the north that commands the respect of the main parties in the south and enjoys their open support- that party is the SDLP.”

    First line, latest blog.
    Perhaps you had forgotten.

  • marc

    EL MAT’s gone missing !!

  • Crataegus

    Red Mist

    people should keep in mind is that this is a balance between new votes and old votes. ……. The new votes are much much weaker. People who are not the heart and soul of this struggle nor their communities for that matter.

    I agree and to me it is a major misjudgment. they are placing themselves in the shoes of the SDLP, but why should anyone vote for SF when they can vote for the SDLP? They will lose votes to independent Republicians, other independents and Greens etc. I think the SDLP will have another better than expected election.

  • Red Mist

    Belfastwhite,

    Try reading my post comrade.

    I was clearly talking about the old votes which have departed being staunch republicans who fought the struggle and the new votes being much weaker.

    What is your issue with this? Are the new votes not much weaker? Surely they must be if they are new. Ignoring the people too young to have fought the struggle then the rest of the new voters didn’t fight it and in fact many of them opposed it.

    In no way and in no place in any of my postings here have I said that all the good republicans have left and its just sheep left.

    My advice comrade is to read more and post less.

  • middle-class taig

    Yokel

    Just a voter.

    Sammy Morse

    Not spinning; no interest in spinning. Whether SF take 20 or 30 seats tomorrow, I still have to go to work on Friday.

    slug

    I thought you didn’t engage with me. Is that a that I see in the wall of unionist intransigence?

    If you’ve read many of my posts, you’ll know that unionist discomfort is not a major passion of mine – it’s occasionally diverting, but hardly amounts to a political strategy.

  • slug

    MCT I do have problems with your name. But you know that.

  • middle-class taig

    Would “middle-class fenian” be more acceptable, given the more obvious political connotation of that word? I’ve no desire to give needless offence.

    Of course what I meant above was “Is that a thaw I see in the ice-wall of unionist intransigence?”

  • SuperSoupy

    Red Mist, Crat

    Turns out that your views on W Belfast were a pile of poo. Remember that next time you think about sharing your wisdom with us.

  • Crataegus

    SuperSoupy

    SF did well, enjoy your hour in the sun.