SDLP looking for new Head of Communications…

Hmmm… this looks like a well paid job, and if the party’s organisational review has some effect (and we hear some mixed messages on that), it could be a good one. But if not, it could be a very hard station indeed…

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  • Michael

    It would be very hard, having to make sense of the Durkan-speak and present it as something that the public might show a bit of interest in.

  • Mick Fealty

    That may be the very least of the party’s communications problems.

  • CTN

    I wonder how big a salary a party which ended up £40K in the red last year can afford.

    If it wasn’t for McGuinness/Adams goofin up all over the show these guys would be history- they’ve never had a doctrine….

  • wild turkey

    has michael nesbitt applied?

  • Cormac

    A little off topic but the best communication the SDLP could make is a request to Fianna Fail for a merger.

    This would most likely give them back a huge amount of ground lost to SF as they would then become the largest all-Ireland party. Possibly not a lot of support in the SDLP for such a move (despite Berie’s popularity), but has it been properly debated within the party?

  • Cormac @ 12:21 PM:

    Interesting thought: can’t see many obvious benefits from the Dublin perspective, however: FF have enough problems in the 26, without adding an impecunious rump in the 6.

    On the other hand, there is the other member of the Socialist International, the Irish Labour Party; but (from long-distant personal recollection) they’re habitually hard-up, have very precise local focuses (I refuse to use “foci” for fear of misunderstanding) and are going nowhere (except into a supping-with-a-long-spoon deal with SF, apparently).

    In view of the awful warning that was SF trying to bridge the gap, does anyone else see a great will to go for a 32-base organisation?

    In regard to the main issue here, it’s good to see that the SDLP is mutating into something more organised, more professional, more “on-topic”, less cult-of-personality (though, in that respect, not much alternative). Curiously, I see the post as a great opportunity for a young face on the make.

  • Cormac

    I think a merger with FF, if it ever happened, would really only result in the adoption of a common name. There would still need to be, for all practical purposes, separate parties. However it could become more than just UI window-dressing as the FF leadership in the South would probably come under pressure to allow for speaking rights in Leinster House (Senate, Dail or committees) for their Northern MPs. Also, a big advantage for Northern FF/old SDLP having a FF Taoiseach canvassing within their constituencies… having Northern faces sitting alongside the cabinet and Taoiseach on the stage at Ard Fheiseanna… Would enable FF/SDLP to ‘out-green’ SF North and South whilst presenting no major constutional problems for Unionists.

  • Token Dissent

    It is difficult to know what direction the SDLP should go. Cormac makes a good point in that a merger with FF would give the Party extra nationalist brownie points. But for their electoral performance to improve it would take either a Shinner blow-up (hopefully not literally), or the possibility of general disillusionment with the Executive. Is there a chance that this disillusionment could result in an oppositional coalition of some sort?

    CTN – “they’ve never had a doctrine”. The SDLP may have committed their fair share of political opportunism and as Malcolm Redfellow says the “cult of personality” was an ever-present, but from their creation they have maintained a consistency in guiding principles. Namely: unity through consent, opposition to violence, pro-European, and advocating power-sharing. The Social-Democrat bit has always been a bit vague – as Fitt and Devlin learnt – but overall surely they have been the most ideologically consistent party in the North. (Talk about damning with faint praise!)

  • Yokel

    If it pays well I ‘d do it. Looks liek easy money. Sure when do they say anything noticeable these days anyway?

  • Cormac

    Token Dissent: “for their electoral performance to improve it would take either a Shinner blow-up (hopefully not literally), or the possibility of general disillusionment with the Executive”

    I think that boredom is the biggest enemy for the DUP and SF.

    Sooner or later people will want a change of Executive and with people likely to keep voting along tribal lines for the forseeable future (unfortunately. So much for all politics being local…) people will eventually vote for the other Nationalist/Unionist party. The SDLP would be well advised to keep their skills sharp and their front bench fresh because sooner or later they’ll be deputy-dawg (sorry, fell asleep watching cartoons during the week)! The SDLP are in a much stronger position to take over from SF than the UUP from the DUP, IMO.

  • CTN

    “unity through consent, opposition to violence, pro-European, and advocating power-sharing. The Social-Democrat bit has always been a bit vague”

    Unity by “consent” is in fact support for unionism- for a so called nationalist party it is something that they have played up and down adding to their image as insincere, ambiguous opportunists.

    Regarding opposition to violence – republicans always drew attention to their oath of allegiance to the British Queen who’s forces here used violence- again another dichotomy.

    Yes they agreed with power sharing and played up the Euro aspect, however this hasn’t stopped their electoral retreat and still as you say they are “opportunist” and “vague” in the absence of a true identity these are hardly praiseworthy qualities…..

  • Mick Fealty

    CTN,

    Unity by “consent” is in fact support for unionism.

    Well that’s all the supporters of the current settlement neatly moved into the unionist bracket then, surely?

  • Comrade Stalin

    CTN:

    Unity by “consent” is in fact support for unionism-

    How is consulting the Irish people prior to establishing unity, support for unionism ?

  • patrique

    I applied last time. At the interview I told them they needed to keep Alex Atwood of the TV. No job for me, and downhill for them.

    Serves them right for looking for a “yes man”.

  • Chris Donnelly

    I was tempted in recent days to put a thread with Durkan’s photo entitled ‘Has anyone seen this man recently?’

    The disappearance of Durkan from the political spotlight here has been remarkable; the man is simply fading from view, as I suspect is his authority within the party.

    Perhaps it was a natural consequence of the elevation of Ritchie to the solitary Executive post, but in fairness at least Alisdair McDonnell has managed to keep his profile up since the Executive show began.

    Cormac is right to point to the 32-county option as the only road to redemption for the party, but that would require a pro-active approach to Fianna Fail (and, given the latter’s success in seeing off my own party (Sinn Fein) in the recent election, that would require an imaginative and persuasive sell.

    I do believe that Fianna Fail’s entrance to northern politics is inevitable, but the party may actually be awaiting the SDLP’s final calling at the next Assembly election to clear the path for a fresh alternative to Sinn Fein within northern nationalism.

  • CTN

    Martin McGuinness put it at the ’98 SF Ard Fheis- “The only Principle of Consent we recognise is the one in the SF constitution”, however SF and almost everyone else is de facto moved into the unionist bracket as they give their consent to unionist structures- however in parallel SF argue that whilst they are in these structures “it is only an area of struggle and the only govt that they will formally recognise as legitimate is the 32 Irish Republic when established”

    A lot of their former members doubt their competence and sincerity in that regard but many voters in the north don’t.

    Consulting the Irish people after the British have refused to disengage and offering a choice between one form of British occupation over another is arguably undemocratic as there is arguably not a date when the British ceased to be a force of occupation and then became a legitimate authority as they would have been occupiers when they set the date of any election or referendum to ratify their occupation as legal.

    It basically depends on whether your a prod or a taig but age old perceptions are everything in good old Ulster I mean occupied 6 counties or norn iron or the occupied territory or the fourth green field or the promised land, the province etc…

  • Token Dissent

    For anyone to still question the consent principle would be a joke if it wasn’t so dangerous in its stupidity. The slowest of the slow learners.

    patrique – I don’t think anyone could accuse the Attwoods of being careerist “yes-men”, picking the positions of least resistance. In fact the SDLP as a whole there has shown very little considration for its long-term future!

    Ps. I’ve just remembered a previous chat we had patrique! Have you re-thought your support for the Muslim Brotherhood? http://sluggerotoole.com/index.php/weblog/comments/how-blair-pandered-to-sectarian-populism/P25/

  • Chris Donnelly @ 09:19 PM:

    Why is Fianna Fáil’s entrance to northern politics … inevitable?

    Superficially, it is a neat option. In Realpolitik I don’t see how it happens.

    Yes, yes: I fully acknowledge the De Valera legacy and the 32-county rhetoric, the posture of being the authentic voice of Catholic Ireland. That said (and it is a substantial quantum, I admit), the other great characteristic of FF is pragmatism — epitomised by Jack Lynch, as early as 1972, telling the UK ambassador that “voters in the South could not care less about reunification”.

    For any conceivable future, I do not see the plusage for FF in any formal affiliation with a Party in the North. That does not exclude informal flirting and use of the local stage for theatricals. Why surrender the hands-across-the-Irish-Sea “European-statesman” posture and occasional access to a Westminster/Downing Street podium to get down and dirty in the mud-wrestling of NI politics? Unless the wheel comes off at Stormont in a serious miscarriage, everybody is delighted to go with the flow (Ouch! that’s a seriously mixed metaphor.)

    Somewhere in Lower Mount Street the FF strategies for two events are being sketched out: Bertie carried tits up from the Mahon enquiry; and a General Election some way further down the line, but before the economy turns. In either case there will be a newer, younger leadership (presumably Cowan is still front-runner). Neither scenario is enhanced by trying to impose club rules on the SDLP factions. Equally, the SF cock-up in the 26 is an awful warning that trespassers across the Great Divide are likely to get it up them.

    There is obviously a lot of meat in what you imply, but it ain’t goin’ to be dished up as easily as your (and my) simplifications imply.

  • Garibaldy

    Chris,

    Not sure I agree FF entry into northern politics is inevitable. They like winners, which the SDLP at this point clearly no longer are. In addition, we already have a northern party that is an identikit of FF – actually we have 2, one nationalist and one unionist. It’s a loser for FF and makes absolutely no sense for them, and would only mean them taking their eye off the ball in the south, which I can’t see them doing.

  • patrique

    Token Dissent, I shouldn’t really have to explain this to an adult, but they wanted a “yes man” for the job, not someone who was going to tell the truth.

    As to the Muslim struggle, it is clear that we need to offer support because President Cheney is intent on wiping them out to get more oil for the good old US of A, and bringing democracy (USA style, torture, drive by shootings, gun culture, people shooting up schools and colleges with the latest weaponry, and telling porkies about WMDs and the rest)to the conquered countries.

    And maybe getting us all killed as well while they do it. So it is imperative that the rest of the world unites to oppose this tyrant, because President Cheney does have WMDs.

  • CTN

    Toke- “For anyone to still question the consent principle would be a joke if it wasn’t so dangerous in its stupidity. The slowest of the slow learners.”

    Do you think the entire provo network are on board and are satisfied regarding the above?

    I and quite a few unionists think at least some of them are double gaming in this regard.

  • Token Dissent

    CTN – I am sure that there are many who are not on board, but they are fooling themselves if they think that nationalism can be furthered by any other basis. Any slippage by mainstream republicanism on this issue would not only immoral, but also completely unrealistic and counter-productive to their own apparent cause. I plead ignorance as to the percentage of the republican family who will rebel when they realise that the rules of the game are fixed, but it will be interesting to observe.

    patrique – Thankfully the Muslim Brotherhood and their like-minded souls do not speak for all Muslims in what you wrongly call “the Muslim struggle”. Many Muslims through-out the world reject the ultra-reactionary, oppressive vision of these people. Its more than a little surprising that many self-righteous faux-socialists/liberals in the west aren’t on the side of democratic reformers and trade unionists in these countries, instead of the their oppressors. Again you are letting justifiable criticism of US foreign policy, mixed with a large degree of infantile anti-Americanism, lead you into supporting odious sectarian political forces, who make George Bush look like Nye Bevan.

    Its looks like you are not going to apologise for the personal slurs you spat at me. If that unfortunately is the case you could at least be a little more careful in the future when you throw hurtful words like “racist” and “BNP supporter” around.

    Regards

  • CTN

    Toke- It will be interesting, do you think the Irish Language Act will materialise or fall by the wayside- you can answer that in the morning as I am off to hit the scratcher…

  • Garibaldy @ 11:43 PM:

    Glad to agree with you, and note that you said it far more economically than I.

    But how the blue, blistering blazes did the Islamic Brotherhood and the kifah become relevant to this thread?

  • DK

    “But how the blue, blistering blazes did the Islamic Brotherhood and the kifah become relevant to this thread?”

    Because Patrique went for the SDLP job and claims he didn’t get it because he was against Attwood being on TV. However, from his post no. 20 at 11.55pm above, I think their may be other reasons why he didn’t get the job….

  • DK @ 09:36 AM:

    Yeah, I noted that.

    But my point still stands.

    patrique @ 08:28 PM was making a valid point. patrique @ 11:55 PM was posting to another thread, and totally off-topic. However, as you say, that, in itself, does suggest that there might be good reasons to keep him off the SDLP brief.

    And, also yeah, under pressure I would admit I’m closer to Token Dissent @ 01:54 AM. But, even there, I wince at invoking the great Aneurin as a comparison.

    Now, is there any chance that we might focus on the immediate needs of the SDLP, if it is to maintain any kind of relevance and public presence? Or, as I tend to think in darker moments, is that too late? [And I expect another blast from my favourite misanthropic American for that.]

  • Token Dissent

    Folks, apologises for dragging you off topic with my question relating to an earlier comment from Patrique. I was provoked! I reached for Saint Nye in a moment of desperation…

    On topic – Chris Donnolly makes a fair point about Durkan’s low profile. Having a leader without a ministerial profile only adds to the difficulty they have in getting the Party’s agenda across. The broader difficulty remains how to respond to the rush to the centre by other parties. Cormac (in post 10) probably expresses the realistic strategy, but I am less sure than him that it will yield results in even the medium-term. The inclusive structure of the Executive makes it less than straight-forward that disillusionment with DUP/SF will lead voters to flood back to those parties who in the past have won the argument but lost the game.

  • Is there any big European job on the horizon in which, perhaps, the Member for Derry might be interested? Is his invisibility in NI anything to do with that? After all, Mark Durkan is a capable guy, SDLP experience notwithstanding, and wouldn’t want to spend his days in a dead end job at the head of a party which seems to be going pear shaped. (I recall a recent story in which former members claimed that they had been deselected for an Assembly candidature after dead people voted at a selection convention…).

  • Garibaldy

    Ritchie was clearly promoted because the SDLP are desperate to hold on to McGrady’s seat. The thinking obviously being that having seen off Mitchel McLaughlin, Durkan can see off Martina Anderson or any other PSF challenger in Foyle without needing the profile of being a minister, unlike Ritchie, who is likely to struggle, especially if PSF put up someone who isn’t seen as annoying and patronising in the way Ruane is by loads of people.

    I think both the SDLP and UUP are in serious trouble because of structural changes in our politics, which their own pathetic disorganisation and failure to produce a middle leadership for the last two decades has only grossly exacerbated. Now that there is no violence and we are in an era of consensual politics there is little point in having two main parties for each sectarian bloc. The DUP and PSF are now in the driving seat, have more people who carry more weight across their leaderships, and have better organisations both for constituency work and elections. A glorified press officer isn’t going to change that.

  • P45

    Malcolm Redfellow :

    “FF have enough problems in the 26, without adding an impecunious rump in the 6.”
    What planet are you? Bertie’s government is one of the most successful government the South has known!

    “does anyone else see a great will to go for a 32-base organisation?”
    Speaking to people within the party, I don’t see a great push there but I think there are certainly rumblings along those lines… I for one would like to the SDLP go down that line.

    “it’s good to see that the SDLP is mutating into something more organised, more professional…”
    Agree 100%

    Cormac

    “I think a merger with FF, if it ever happened, would really only result in the adoption of a common name.”
    That may be because the two are so close…, hence a merger!

    “There would still need to be, for all practical purposes, separate parties.”
    Rubbish. Does the SF operation in the South differ in principle to it’s operation in the North?

    “..a big advantage for Northern FF/old SDLP having a FF Taoiseach canvassing within their constituencies…”
    Did you work that one out all by yourself? It’s nonsense to suggest that such a move would “enable FF/SDLP to ‘out-green’ SF North and South…” That just won’t happen. SF’s raison d’etre is based on the plastic green politics of being more “green” than any other party.

    TD

    “..from their creation they have maintained a consistency in guiding principles. Namely: unity through consent, opposition to violence, pro-European, and advocating power-sharing…”
    So true. Slow learning Shinners must find it strange if not annoying that Gerry tries to emulate John so much. Let’s face it, Gerry’s no statesman and his party is stuck firmly on the arse-end of Irish politics.

    CD

    “The disappearance of Durkan from the political spotlight here has been remarkable; the man is simply fading from view, as I suspect is his authority within the party.”
    Just imagine for a moment a scenario where, as part of the Hume-Adams talks, JH told Gerry he would get off side, leave the stage so to speak, and the path would be left open for the Shinners to take a leading role in Northern politiks… The SDLP portrayed as an irrelevancy…., the Shinners as the bright new future… Would you really want Mark Durkan in the spotlight?

  • Mick Fealty

    Chris and Oili,

    Durkan’s absence from the local stage struck me too. Though I guess the reference to an internal review would explain it to a large extent. And I guess it’s summer, so it would also be the time for holidays.

    Certainly now is a good time for the party to lay low and regroup. Trying to narrate into this top-down flow from the big boys would be both unrewarding and a waste of energy.

    The big strategic question now has got to be: what is the SDLP for?

    It’s an awkward question, not least since the main differential between itself and Sinn Fein is slowly disappearing. Their rivals (with the exception of some local councillors) are gradually espousing peaceful means only to achieve its political ends.

    Perhaps a better question might be: in ten years time, will there even be an SDLP?

    In short, Durkan’s absence is less important than whether his review is focused on the basic foresight issues, rather than bogging itself down in more comfortable issues of structure.

    Without a new ‘Springboard story’, I’m not sure it will has a viable passport into the future.

    And given the new ‘understanding’ between Pat Rabbitte and Sinn Fein, they’d need to consider the effect of future masterly inactivity on their political relationships in the south.

  • CTN

    Mick there- is no understanding between Pat Rabbitte, Bertie Ahern or Enda Kenny and SF just a series of mutual backscratching deals done at local govt and now senate levels due to a need for progress required by parties to the given local deal.

    These deals will continue to evolve with all parties as SF settles down to becoming a non-paramilitary linked party in the eyes of the electorate.

    The SDLP have their albeit small and insignificant fingers in all political pies down here, whether or not they choose to sacrifice the cumulative help from many for more intensive or concentrated help from just one party remains to be seen.

    For the forseeable future they are unbeatable in Foyle and McGrady will not be unseated for as long as he hangs around….

  • CTN

    I think this oul thread has had it people- Adios!