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.

  • The Assembly and Executive Review Committee is due to review the voting system, designations and cross-community voting in June 2009. If the SDLP want this brought forward, why don’t they start saying so? It would be a perfectly reasonable request and many people would support it. At the moment it just looks like they don’t want to take responsibility for the decisions of a coalition they are (still) part of.

  • IJP

    Firstly, it is correct that the SDLP seems to defend things somewhat pointlessly. For example, it remains the chief supporter of d’Hondt and designations, mechanisms which together give the DUP six Ministers from 36 seats, and the SDLP one from 16. Quite.

    Secondly, there are no votes in discussing the institutions. No one even knows what a ‘Programme for Government’ is, far less an ‘amending amendment’ or ‘d’Hondt’.

    Thirdly, Gonzo is reading too much into the SDLP’s actions. They weren’t as cunning as that. Frankly, it was all a bit of an accident.

    The key point, however, is that frankly no one noticed. Whereas they did notice Ruane on Thursday…

  • CS Parnell

    Durkan is not opposed to the idea of a voluntary coalition. He is opposed to the idea when the unionist parties have yet to demonstrate that their principal motivation is keeping the Taigs down.

    What strikes me about all this is that the other parties are so freaked by some real politics. Politics is about disagreement – if we all agreed about everything we’d have no need for it after all.

    For the first time ever the DUP and the Shinners are having to take responsibility for things – something the SDLP did in 74 and again in 99 – 02. They obviously find this a very uncomfortable experience. Well, that’s tough.

  • CS Parnell

    principal motivation is *other* than

  • oisin31

    how many uda votes are there in east belfast?

  • nineteensixtyseven

    The SDLP voted against a PfG and a Budget that they didn’t agree with, simple as. They take their Executive seat as of right and there would be absolutely no point in having an elected Assembly if it just had to do what the Executive told it.

  • interested

    There’s one thing voting against something you don’t agree with – Alliance did that.

    Its another thing entirely voting against something which one member of your Party has been involved with, helped negotiate, and backed in its entirety.

    The SDLP were part of the process they are now voting against.

    Mind you – I tend to agree with IJP on the analysis of the SDLP’s cunning. They’re more clueless than on a wrecking mission. Its all attempts to gain some short-term publicity. Ritchie’s CTI stuff was the same – short term attempts to look tough without any clue as to whether its actually possible to do what she said or not.

  • aquifer

    The SDLP are entitled to kick SFDUP on the shins. SFDUP ‘street politics’ made this place a hole for a generation, no-one owes them respect. Roll on the review of the institutions.