SDLP copy the old anti-agreement DUP…

LISTENING to Mark Durkan on Inside Politics defend his party’s decision to vote against the Programme for Government and budget in the Assembly – while the only SDLP minister in the Executive did the opposite – I got the distinct impression that the SDLP’s only real aim is to destroy those aspects of the St Andrews Agreement that were either secured or agreed by the DUP and Sinn Fein. Ritchie’s refusal to back the CTI funding also ran a coach and horse through the St Andrews Deal, which perfectly explains why chief SAD enforcer Peter Robinson keeps flying off the handle at the SDLP – he cannot allow the deal he shook on to be seen to be weakened. To me the vote the other day doesn’t seem to have much to actually do with SDLP disagreements with the PfG or budget, and is more about rowing the arrangements back to those in the original Good Friday Agreement. It also appears that the SDLP is happily replicating how the DUP used to play silly buggers with the rules in the previous Executive. Robinson certainly doesn’t like the taste of his own medicine. But if, ultimately, the SDLP succeeds sometime in the future of getting a review or ‘re-negotiation’ of the DUP/SF-backed arrangements, I doubt things will move backwards. In fact, they may move even further away from the SDLP’s ideals, and towards a more voluntary form of coalition government. I’m not sure this would be a bad thing for the SDLP if it happened, although the party has a habit of defending arrangements that contribute to its own demise.