No SF Lord Mayor

BBC Newsline just reported that the SDLP voted against Sinn Fein at City Hall, and that Jim Rogers has become Lord Mayor of Belfast for the second time.

UPDATE: BBC have the story online, Deputy Lord Mayor went to the SDLP’s Bernie Kelly.
SECOND UPDATE: I’m amazed to say that the Belfast City Council website has the news up already!

  • Starry Plough

    On what ocassions was a United Ireland offered to them? I don’t seem to recall any except an empty promise by Churchill.

  • kensei

    “I didn’t make mention of how it would be perceived. I just mentioned that the UUP’s last stint as Mayor was prior to SF’s, therefore it’s not wholly inappropriate for it to have wanted it this time.”

    Do you believe that successful political parties do not take into account into how decisions play with their electorate?

  • Dec

    Stoop

    Apologies- four of the five main parties would get a turn per term (the DUP ‘lost out’ in 01-05) which means that there was even less claim for SF to this year.

    By that logic there was even less claim for the SDLP to take the position of Mayor last year or does logic fly out the window when your party is involved? Last nights deal was the result of Bernie Kelly’s personal ambition. Nothing more, nothing less.

  • Ken-

    “Do you believe that successful political parties do not take into account into how decisions play with their electorate?”

    Clearly successful parties must take into account how decicions play with their electorate. By definition it is the electorate who give them the power to make those decisions, and can likewise take it away if they disapprove.

  • It’s about the people of Belfast and the fact that the biggest party in it is marginalised by petty squabbling outwith their control. Whilst Sinn Fein did not vote for the SDLP last year it still guaranteed a Nationalist mayor.

    Er… hold on a minute. The representatives of a majority of Belfast’s citizens voted for Jim Rodgers last night. Now, I am no fan of Dolly and would have preferred Tierna Cunningham got the job. But there’s nothing undemocratic about the decision reached. A half-assed coalition of convenience? Certainly. But undemocratic? Hardly.

    Oh, and while we’re at it, how did Sinn Féin guarantee a nationalist mayor last year? By not voting for Pat McCarthy? Bizarre. Wise up.

    when there is bugger all reason to treat SF any different even by others standards

    Yep. So, SF buggered things up because their council group couldn’t negotiate their way out of a paper bag. And the rest of us are supposed to see that as some great affront to democracy and sign of persecution? Give over! When SF cock things up, they get to be sneered at by their opponents in the same way that everyone else does in a healthy democracy.

    Basically, Sinn Féin had the mayoralty in the bag a week ago and they failed to close the deal. Parties which together have a majority on the council have voted for SF Mayoral candidates in the past and have no objection to doing so again on principle. Tierna Cunningham had 18 votes from her own party and Alliance and needed either the SDLP or the UUP to back her to close the deal. It didn’t happen even though SF thought both parties’ support was in the bag.

    SF need to look at their own negotiating strategy instead of rehashing that tired old line of blaming everyone else for their own failings.

    The bottom line is that the SDLP voted against SF for a Unionist candidate. That is a statement of where the SDLP really see their political enemies, and it has been a stance that has been spectacularly unsuccessful in the past few years.

    Sorry, but this is a sign of normal politics. Politicians are nakedly ambitious everywhere. The fact that the vote on the City Hall didn’t break down on tribal or ideological lines, but instead on ambition and horse trading is a healthy thing. It means the tribes and ideology are less important than ever and when not knifing one another in the back, our Councillors might actually do the job they are elected to do, which is delivering the best services for Belfast people at the lowest cost.

  • snakebrain

    It seems to be that the only people who still believe in the old Unionist shibboleth of the “pan-Nationalist front” are…..Sinn Fein.

    Is this the same SF who have systematically sought to marginalise the SDLP in order that they be the sole representatives of all shades of Nationalist thought? The same Sinn Fein who, not content with dominating the electoral system by foul means or fair, are also rather keen on absolute domination within their “areas” in N and W Belfast?

    I certainly wouldn’t like to be an SDLP supporter in Poleglass or New Lodge; that kind of thing could be seen as a dangerous heresy, possibly to be corrected by some immediate attention to the knee region.

    Why should the SDLP work to achieve the ends of SF when they have maintained a position of opposition to their methodology for decades, and SF have lost no opportunity to weaken them?

    The myth of nationalism having to blindly follow SF’s lead has exploded.

    I’m not a supporter of either party, I don’t vote because there’s nobody I care to vote for, but I’m not stupid either, and I’m not oblivious either..

  • I certainly wouldn’t like to be an SDLP supporter in Poleglass or New Lodge

    Hmmm. I’ve been an Alliance supporter in the New Lodge. Just depending on a few personal decisions and the local property market, I might be again in a few months. It doesn’t cause me a moment’s afterthought.

  • Snakebite,

    “Is this the same SF who have systematically sought to marginalise the SDLP in order that they be the sole representatives of all shades of Nationalist thought?”

    Actually Snakebite it is the electorate who have “marginalised” the SDLP by deciding that they arent worth voting for anymore! Sinn Fein’s only ‘crime’ here is to have stood against the SDLP in a democratic election and trounced them…!

    “I certainly wouldn’t like to be an SDLP supporter in Poleglass or New Lodge; that kind of thing could be seen as a dangerous heresy, possibly to be corrected by some immediate attention to the knee region”.

    And you then devise the above gem of a quote!
    Snakebite, whatever ‘reality’ you think you are occupying is a very, very, strange place indeed…

  • kensei

    “Yep. So, SF buggered things up because their council group couldn’t negotiate their way out of a paper bag. And the rest of us are supposed to see that as some great affront to democracy and sign of persecution? Give over! When SF cock things up, they get to be sneered at by their opponents in the same way that everyone else does in a healthy democracy.”

    As I said, I don’t know what the internal workings of the council were. Nationalist voters are going to be pretty miffed that the SDLP voted for a Unionist candidate. That isn’t an affront to democracy, merely bad politics.

    “Basically, Sinn Féin had the mayoralty in the bag a week ago and they failed to close the deal. Parties which together have a majority on the council have voted for SF Mayoral candidates in the past and have no objection to doing so again on principle. Tierna Cunningham had 18 votes from her own party and Alliance and needed either the SDLP or the UUP to back her to close the deal. It didn’t happen even though SF thought both parties’ support was in the bag.”

    Do you know what happened? If so please fill me in. The UUP had indicated they would support SF, so I’m not sure if it can be pinned on SF’s incompetence rather than the SDLP’s opportunism. If it’s the latter, what the hell did they do it for? A deputy mayoralty that will cost them their last remaining votes in West Belfast? It makes no sense to me.

    “Sorry, but this is a sign of normal politics. Politicians are nakedly ambitious everywhere. Yadda yadda”

    Then why do something so likely to piss off your electorate? Was the UUP candidate significantly better? No. Was there anything particularly bad about the SF candidate? No. Was it likely to confer much advantage on the SDLP? No. Was it likely to lead in major reductions in costs? No. Does it indicate councillors won’t continue to stir things up and grab for their own tribe? Nope. Did it signal anything major? Nope. It was simply for the SDLP to stiff SF. Satisfying, sure, but it makes little sense other than that.

    snake

    “he myth of nationalism having to blindly follow SF’s lead has exploded.”

    All for it. Just as long as the alternative direction isn’t, er, Unionism.

  • snakebrain

    macswiney,

    Would that be those parts of the electorate who are alive and well, or those who lumbered from their graves to vote 6 times each, who gave the SDLP such a trouncing over the last 20 years?

    The citizens of the Republic, free of the extremism fostered by the situation here in the North recently made it pretty clear what they thought of SF anyway. That might just be a taste of things to come as the situation here normalises.

    And I’ll stand by my distaste for SF’s methods of controlling “anti-social behaviour” anytime..

  • Do you know what happened? If so please fill me in.

    Not really, but I knew they thought they had it in the bag last week. While you can’t really blame the Shinners for the UUP falling to bits (par for the course), you can blame them for taking the SDLP for granted.

    It’s bad politics, and bad negotiation strategy, which is typical for SF – basically, rant about being persecuted, demand something in a fairly intemperate fashion, and rant some more. It just doesn’t work if you’re not being persecuted, which they aren’t.

    Was it likely to confer much advantage on the SDLP?

    They obviously thought so. I’m also not convinced that this will backfire on the SDLP (except on the council where SF will undoubtedly be livid). The SDLP will try to sell this to their base as them building peace and harmony and love, etc., etc. The SDLP base will be receptive to this message. Especially if they vote for the Shinners for Mayor next year, which will be very difficult for them not to do. End of problem.

    Does it indicate councillors won’t continue to stir things up and grab for their own tribe?

    That has been in decline on the council for some time anyway, and to my mind it underscores this important and often unnoticed transition. So, I don’t think it indicates that councillors won’t do some tribal stirring when it suits, it also indicates that it is happening less and will continue to happen less.

  • The SDLP will try to sell this to their base as them building peace and harmony and love, etc., etc.

    To whit: I thought Alban did a pretty good job of selling this to his base on the radio this morning and definitely got the better of Paul Maskey, who let his anger get on top of him.

  • kensei

    “Not really, but I knew they thought they had it in the bag last week. While you can’t really blame the Shinners for the UUP falling to bits (par for the course), you can blame them for taking the SDLP for granted.”

    If they thought they had the UUP in the bag, and the SDLP hadn’t indicated they wanted an alternatives, why worry?

    “It’s bad politics, and bad negotiation strategy, which is typical for SF – basically, rant about being persecuted, demand something in a fairly intemperate fashion, and rant some more. It just doesn’t work if you’re not being persecuted, which they aren’t.”

    For bad negotiating strategy I’d say SF have got considerably more out of the system than Alliance, Sammy.

    “They obviously thought so. I’m also not convinced that this will backfire on the SDLP (except on the council where SF will undoubtedly be livid). The SDLP will try to sell this to their base as them building peace and harmony and love, etc., etc. The SDLP base will be receptive to this message. Especially if they vote for the Shinners for Mayor next year, which will be very difficult for them not to do. End of problem.”

    Complete myth. The SDLP have been focusing their fire SF for years, rather than coming up with a different vision for Nationalism. Their vote keeps going down. The definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

    Most Nationalists want strong Nationalist representation and not infighting, especially having seen the effect on Unionism. This will generate a little anger and peel off some voters they won’t get back, whether they vote for SF next year or not. And on the BBC link, Alban didn’t sell it as outreach either, more just “fuck off SF”.

  • If they thought they had the UUP in the bag, and the SDLP hadn’t indicated they wanted an alternatives, why worry?

    What, you mean the SDLP are going to do what you want because you’re both from the same side of the fence? Touchingly naive.

    For bad negotiating strategy I’d say SF have got considerably more out of the system than Alliance

    Great, shoot the messenger if you don’t like the message.

    Who have the Shinners got stuff out of? The Brits. Who basically didn’t give a monkey’s what happened as long as nobody bombed London and suffer from post-colonial guilt into the bargain. Come on, the Brits would even have turned a blind eye to McCartney and the Northern Bank robbery had nationalist Ireland not kicked up a fuss. And they had the guns under the table as a bargaining chip.

    Now we’ll see how great the Shinners are at negotiating with people who have to share a country with them, when they’re just another political party and when the old persecution line isn’t going to work.

    Maybe they’ll run up the learning curve quickly; but we don’t know that yet.

    The SDLP have been focusing their fire SF for years, rather than coming up with a different vision for Nationalism. Their vote keeps going down. The definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

    And SF have been focusing their fire on the SDLP for years; that’s what competing political parties do. There are lots of reasons why the SDLP vote has been declining in recent years. Claiming it’s because the SDLP attack Sinn Féin doesn’t really bear out the facts.

    There’s no reason to think the SDLP’s gentle decline won’t continue, or even accelerate. But after the Southern election results we ought also to leave the theories of historical inevitability to the Marxist history professors…

    Most Nationalists want strong Nationalist representation and not infighting, especially having seen the effect on Unionism. This will generate a little anger and peel off some voters they won’t get back, whether they vote for SF next year or not.

    This sounds like an Andytown News editorial. People will not remember this in three years unless the Shinners have grounds to remind them (like they’ve been excluded for the whole council term). If the Shinners get the mayoralty next year, no-one will remember this except for us anoraks.

    As for the “Most Nationalists want strong Nationalist representation” line, arguably so, but at least a very large minority transfer Alliance, Green, plump or even go UUP rather than go to SF. Even those who transfer SF aren’t necessarily that keen on a ‘pan-nationalist front’ style arrangement; a lot of SF voters wouldn’t be too keen on it either.

    You seem to be advocating the worst sort of tribalism – if the SDLP ever vote against SF, it shows they’re really crypto-unionists out to shaft the Nationalist people. Personally, I don’t thank the Stoops for inflicting that horrible glipe Rodgers on us rather than a fairly innocuous Tierna Cunningham. But trying to pretend this is persecution is just a classic piece of Shinner over-defensive over-reaction.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Most Nationalists want strong Nationalist representation and not infighting, especially having seen the effect on Unionism. This will generate a little anger and peel off some voters they won’t get back, whether they vote for SF next year or not.

    I don’t think this is true. Republicans perhaps want strong nationalist representation, but does the SDLP’s base? As Sammy points out, the days of SDLP transfers going 90% to SF are over. In Lagan Valley the Alliance actually got more transfers from Farrell than Butler did. My own party even managed about 150 transfers!

  • kensei

    “What, you mean the SDLP are going to do what you want because you’re both from the same side of the fence? Touchingly naive.”

    Er, no, I meant they already had the numbers with the UUP and the SDLP hadn’t even hinted they wanted an alternative.

    “Great, shoot the messenger if you don’t like the message.”

    No, let’s talk reality. SF have done alright out of their negotiations thus far. If they do shit in the future for the stuff I want I’ll be happy to have a go.

    “Who have the Shinners got stuff out of? The Brits. Who basically didn’t give a monkey’s what happened as long as nobody bombed London and suffer from post-colonial guilt into the bargain. Come on, the Brits would even have turned a blind eye to McCartney and the Northern Bank robbery had nationalist Ireland not kicked up a fuss. And they had the guns under the table as a bargaining chip.”

    Unless of course you just want to go on a rant with wild generalisations and rambling. Carry on.

    “And SF have been focusing their fire on the SDLP for years; that’s what competing political parties do. There are lots of reasons why the SDLP vote has been declining in recent years. Claiming it’s because the SDLP attack Sinn Féin doesn’t really bear out the facts.”

    I would say it is a factor.

    “There’s no reason to think the SDLP’s gentle decline won’t continue, or even accelerate. But after the Southern election results we ought also to leave the theories of historical inevitability to the Marxist history professors…”

    I’ve never suggested historical inevitability. I clearly made a case based on the current facts as I see them. The SDLP have shown precious few signs of life. May change, hasn’t yet.

    “You seem to be advocating the worst sort of tribalism – if the SDLP ever vote against SF, it shows they’re really crypto-unionists out to shaft the Nationalist people.”

    I’m not suggesting that. I am suggesting that as I am a Nationalist, it is not unreasonable to suggest I would like Nationalist representation. Particularly when we are in a situation where SF have only had 1 mayoralty, things are rotated and they have a good case, and there seems to be no rhyme or reason to go with a Unionist other than to stick it to SF.

    “But trying to pretend this is persecution is just a classic piece of Shinner over-defensive over-reaction.”

    You said it was persecution. I said I couldn’t understand why they did it, and it’ll backfire. I am also not a Shinner.

    Michael

    “I don’t think this is true. Republicans perhaps want strong nationalist representation, but does the SDLP’s base? As Sammy points out, the days of SDLP transfers going 90% to SF are over. In Lagan Valley the Alliance actually got more transfers from Farrell than Butler did. My own party even managed about 150 transfers!”

    SF managed to increase their vote by over 4% in that constituency, and I would suggest there was a degree of tactical voting, particularly in regard to your party picking up votes from the SDLP.

    The problem with this is that there seems to be so few places that the SF aren’t elected before the SDLP is eliminated to make a fair comparison. While there is certainly a more Alliancey strand in the SDLP, the Alliance is non existent where there is a viable Nationalist alternative. Facto.

  • As Sammy points out, the days of SDLP transfers going 90% to SF are over.

    There never were any days when SDLP transfers went 90% SF. Sadly, there were days were they went about 80% Alliance, which are gone, although we still probably do better than anyone else out of SDLP transfers.

    Back at the height of the troubles very few SDLP transfers went to SF. For example, in 1982 in Fermanagh-South Tyrone:

    The runner up was Francie Molloy of SF, who finished on 7603 votes to 8146 for Ivan Foster of the DUP. On the last count an SDLP surplus was transferred, splitting 32 votes to Foster, 755 to Molloy and 1751 non-transferable. If half of the non-transferable votes had gone to Molloy instead he would have been elected instead of Foster (bearing in mind that there were also 310 votes to distribute from UUP surpluses).

    This is in the consituency where almost all SDLP voters were prepared to vote for Bobby Sands and Owen Carron just a year before. And the transfer rate would have been lower yet in Belfast.

    The reasons why that has changed are too obvious to dwell on and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t change – given all that’s happened here over the past few years, I don’t see any reason why I won’t be giving Danny Lavery a high preference in the next council elections. But your point that the monolithic nationalist bloc is a product of some wishful thinking by enthusiastic Republicans.

    And that isn’t limited to SDLP voters – in South Antrim this time, 10% of SF voters went Alliance, Green or Stickie ahead of the SDLP, 15% didn’t transfer at all, and several dozen went to various unionist candidates.

  • IJP

    Kensei

    Changing subject, how’s the “Unionist Outreach Strategy” going?

  • circles

    All the same – the Shinner candidate wasn’t exactly inspiring was she? Ok so several boxes were ticked – mainly “young” and “female” but I personally would imagine a big question mark over the “capable” box (although “slightly daft” may have gotten a tick).

  • kensei

    “Changing subject, how’s the “Unionist Outreach Strategy” going?”

    I have no idea, not being a member of Sinn Fein or involved in any outreach programme. If you are looking my opinion on SF’s, I thought the document produced was far too vague and lacked policy but if it was merely a statement of position it was ok. Asking the question is now fucking stupid, anyway, because if you were serious about it you would be looking on a time scale of at least 5 years to get any appreciable results rather than about 5 days. I also refute the Alliance mentality that states to have outreach and understanding we have to give up our own ideas and principles and become some amorphous yellow blob. Bollocks, too, is the suggestion that this move was any kind of outreach, rather some particularly opportunistic politics on behalf of the SDLP. Except stupid, because a big section of their potential electorate won’t like it.

    Remind me again, IJP – what percentage of votes did the Alliance get in west Belfast, or say, West of the Bann? When will you be putting your Nationalist outreach program in place? Though – small tip – it might be an idea to attempt to connect with reality first.

  • Ginfizz

    IJP

    LOL! Changing the subject my eye!

    The fact of the matter is that for the third year running Sinn Fein simply thought that they could steamroller/bully the SDLP into voting for them to get the Lord Mayoralty and for the third year running they run gurning to all and sundry about their “persecution”.

  • IJP

    Ginfizz

    What can I say?!