“When we win you win” says SDLP

This morning I attended the SDLP Bloggers breakfast. It was a reasonably good showing, an event when you meet some faces behind the world of the World Wide Web.

I will not direction conversation here away from Mick’s post earlier other than to say that I thought it was a good event with a decent showing. I would raise my glass to the SDLP for what I thought was a very good idea.

Anyway, I wanted to give some analysis here on the SDLP and Alban’s chances in Europe. (See below)

Adds: Check out O’Conall StreetFirstly, he will do well to beat their candidate’s vote in 2004, Belfast City Councillor Martin Morgan (now retired from Politics). Alban is a pro-European voice, their campaign and message is clear in that. I thought their PPB is very good, connecting man (Alban) as a family man and the ordinary working people. He covered the benefits (he feels) their are in Europe and talks about a missing ‘pro-European voice’ since 2004.

The SDLP Chief Executive, Michael Savage told me that Alban, selected in September last year, had been on the canvass since December 15th. There were reports of positive responses particularly from Sinn Fein areas – like Newry and Armagh. However Alban made clear his challenge: getting the ‘sit at home’ voters out. This is the same challenge for the DUP, UUP and Alliance. Apathy will be a major factor in this election.

This election is key for the SDLP after the Assembly election in March 2007. The SDLP are slowly in melt-down, but appear to be organised and fighting back.

Sinn Fein voters didin’t come out in the Fermanagh by-election, but do not expect them to turn out for the SDLP either. It was admitted to me that they were finding it hard to break the ground in Fermanagh South Tyrone due to an increase in young voters, voting for Sinn Fein.

The SDLP has a fairly active Young Wing, despite an almost non-existence at Queen’s. They have a good press team around them and seem willing and ready for a fight. However, will Alban’s, and the SDLP’s position on Europe discredit them? I think it might, however this election as with any in NI is more about ‘count the Prod’, or ‘count the Catholic’. People will vote according to their identity.

Ulster’s people are generally seen as Eurosceptic, however it probably boils more down to the point of what is Europe doing for me? It is so so far away!

My views would differ from Alban in alot of ways, however he seems like a genuine and hardworking man wanting to do his best for his people.

  • slug

    He is a good candidate. He seems a better candidate than the 2004 one. The SDLP seem to be running a positive campaign.

    I look forward to the PEB.

  • slug

    In fact, I think he is the best candidate.

  • kensei

    Sinn Fein voters didin’t come out in the Fermanagh by-election, but do not expect them to turn out for the SDLP either. It was admitted to me that they were finding it hard to break the ground in Fermanagh South Tyrone due to an increase in young voters, voting for Sinn Fein.

    No; SF voters turned out, mostly. SDLP ones didn’t. That should be deeply troubling for nationalism if it repeats.

    Arlene Foster (DUP) – 1,925
    Debbie Coyle (Sinn Fein) – 1,816
    Basil Johnston (UUP) – 1,436
    Rosemary Flanagan (SDLP) – 739
    Dr Kumar Kamble (Alliance) – 231
    Karen McHugh (Independent) – 158

  • ChrisJP

    How can a party be in meltdown and yet be well-organised and fighting back?

    I think you are putting forward two conclusions – that people here will vote based on the ‘tribal’ identities and then that people won’t vote for Alban based on their attitude to Europe. It’s hard to reconcile those two points.

    I suspect that in NI, more so than most other parts of Europe, this will be a true ‘second-order’ election (see Rief & Schmitt) and that European issues will barely feature beyond the superficial farming, constitutional and immigration issues (which are themselves issues that neatly divide along tribal lines in NI).

  • Andrew

    By meltdown meant electorally

  • LURIG

    I have voted for Sinn Fein for 15 years but no longer. They are a Troubles party who have floundered in peace time and are so far out of their depth now. They have allowed the DUP to set the agenda and have brought nothing to places like North Belfast where scumbags now rule the roost and decent people are afraid to go across their door. The SDLP seem to be putting a lot into this election and Alban deserves a few votes so I will transfer this time to him. However the SDLP must get it’s hands dirty in North Belfast again and get back into the inner city districts. Alban and the SDLP must start canvessing the New Lodge, Ardoyne, Bawnmore, Cliftonville etc with a new purpose because there are votes there for them if they just tried a bit harder.

  • Andrew

    LURIG

    Interesting?

    Who would you be giving your 1st preference to?

    Agree on SDLP getting hands dirty in estates, it almost seems as if their too good for those areas. Not just case for SDLP but other parties too across NI.

  • Ciaran

    Just watched Alban Maginness’s election broadcast on BBC One. Thought it was really impressive. I have absolutely no idea what Sinn Fein have done for us in Europe over the past few years, or actually in the Assembly working with the DUP. I care about housing, education, the environment and they’re making a hash of it. It looks like the Unionists are achieving more, and we’re getting no benefits from having Sinn Fein MEPs in Brussels, so I’ll be voting SDLP this time.

  • slug

    Andrew

    I think LURIG means he is transferring his first preference vote to the SDLP.

  • nineteensixtyseven

    Andrew,

    You are probably right to an extent about parties ignoring socially deprived estates but, while I can’t speak for any other branches, my own branch of the SDLP has spent the vast majority of its time in public housing estates and estates with high unemployment and related social problems. The NI parties should never forget that a peace process at the top means nothing without peace and social harmony at the bottom, and that can never come about if such communities are ignored.

  • slug

    I also think Alban is a good candidate.

    Correction: I think he is the best candidate.

    He is intelligent and educated and can think for himself. He appears to be a good person. I am not nationailst in my political views, but he is someone that one could consider voting for. Sometimes you should “vote for the person” even if his politics are not quite yours.

  • slug

    Is the PEB the one on El Blogador?

    Very good. Its all Alban, and very engaging he is. He has a good spiel.

    Thought this was the best of the 4 main parties, though I also thought the UCUNF one was good. Both were positive.

    A contrast is that while the UCUNF PEB was about the party, this one was much more about the candidate.

  • Andrew

    slug

    Thanks

    Chris

    My argument is confused I know because the issue is complicated. So let me dissect it a little. I would also appreciate your input/come back as anyone elses as its an interesting issue. [Perhaps worthy of another thread, but I’ll post it here anyway and see how we go.]

    Are nationalists generally seen as pro-european? Probably so but national aspirations override it. [Others may disagree as why De Brun in 2004?, but she represented Sinn Fein the party representing nationalism at the time, the party people were voting for and secondly John Hume was stepping down.]

    I suspect nationalists don’t care, as many Unionists may not. However as the RoI is generally pro-europe (however they demonstrated back bone over the EU Constitution in voting ‘no’) nationalists in NI you would think to follow their lead in aspiring to a Europe where all identities are equal (however some Unionists aspire to this too, like Lord Laird).

    Unionists are generally anti-european; as being British they view the EU as eroding Britains identity and sovereignty.

    However Albans focus is interesting. His use of terminology – the North, Ireland etc state his nationalist aspirations and the SDLP is a nationalist party (surprise surprise I know!). His appeal of being pro-european could attract some Unionist votes (maybe) and he is playing down the nationalist card – certainly in his PPB, I feel. For example he could explode the focus of his campaign on getting two nationalists elected and increasing nationalist turnout.

    The aspirations of Nationalists and Unionists overrides everything else in this election.

    This is a similar story in GB. But totally different scenarios. Its a case of being for the Government or against the Government – lets give them a bloody nose. In some ways this is the focus of the Ulster-Tories (UUP), following the Conservatives, but they also argue that by people voting for them people in NI are engaging in national politics.

    Basically if you hate Europe vote Jim Allister (TUV), Diane Dodds (DUP), or Barbrie de Brun (Sinn Fein); alternatively vote Jim Nicholson (UCUNF/UUP/Unionist Conservative) if you believe in working with Europe but in doing so protecting sovereignty and deconstructing aspects of the EU deemed ‘not so nice’ for us. Alternatively vote Ian Parsley (Alliance) or Alban McGuinness (SDLP) if you support Europe either as it is or for closer relationship.

    However I suspect, in fact I know this election is about Unionist/Nationalist politics.

    Unionists: vote for the Union first (DUP, UUP, TUV)

    Nationalists: vote for a United Ireland (SDLP, SF)

    Other: non of the above? Vote Alliance.

  • slug

    Andrew

    “His use of terminology – the North, Ireland etc state his nationalist aspirations and the SDLP is a nationalist party”

    On the terminological issue, he also used “Northern Ireland” a few times too. So he was saying that he is a man who is big enough to be able to use all these alternatives. For which I give him kudos.

  • LURIG

    My advice to Alban and the SDLP heirarchy is this. There are 4 weeks left to the election and enough time to chase votes and change minds. I implore you to get into working class districts of North & West Belfast and other so called Sinn Fein dominated rural districts because many people there have had their fill of the control freaks of Sinn Fein who want to keep Nationalists downtrodden and victims for ever. The DUP have made mincemeat of the Shinners and are having a ball up at Stormont. Nationalists need a party who can stand up for their rights and it most certainly isn’t Sinn Fein given their recent appalling record. Get on to the Antrim & Falls Roads and the districts off them and fight for votes. So what if you get a few catcalls and the usual STOOP nonsense but that’s what Sinn Fein want. They want the SDLP to be frightened to go into these areas. Prove them wrong for once. The Andersonstown News debacle and Gerry Adams apology put me off Sinn Fein forever.

  • Justin

    I think you should join the campaign Lurig.

  • Lurig,

    Even though I’m working for another candidate, Justin is right – if you feel so strongly, you should volunteer. Politics and democracy only work when people get involved. I don’t think any NI political party has enough volunteers to do all the things they would like.

    Also, I don’t know the SDLP are scared to go into working class areas in N&W Belfast, nor should they be. Certainly from an Alliance perspective, I can never remember us (or our posters) being treated with such courtesy and respect in Republican areas; I think there is a large element of people thinking well, The Troubles are over, politics is not a life or death matter, fair play to you for making the effort even if I don’t agree with you.

    I can only speak for Alliance, but insofar as we don’t entirely cover the ground, it’s a matter of lack of volunteers not lack of willingness. And naturally, when you’re short of volunteers you focus on your strongholds, because that’s the easier payoff.

  • slug

    Sammy M

    Are you finding more people volunteering to help in campaigns? Just wondering whether there is more willingness to come forward and get involved as part of the “well, The Troubles are over, politics is not a life or death matter,” attitude you cite…

  • It’s up a bit for us, but then the party is up a bit in general. It’s solid, and it’s very welcome, but it’s not earth-shattering. I haven’t noticed a great surge yet among our opponents, either, in some cases maybe even a bit of the reverse.

    Any post-troubles bounce locally here has do contend with the general decline across the West in volunteering in general and in participation in politics in particular. I also think people aren’t quite convinced that it’s all over for all time yet. If we manage to have a second Assembly election without the roof falling in, I think that will be a signal for a lot of people to get off the fence.

  • redhugh78

    LURIG are you Alban in disguise?

  • Silverline

    (TUV) Turncoats Unionist Voice could cost Unionism a seat, it was interesting to hear Allister propose a new Committee for Stormont in a debate with Dodds for the three MEPs to sit on aswell. I thought he was against extra waste, this is hardly a sign of someone not wanting to share power with Sinn Fein. In fact lets look at his record.

    A) Prepared to share power with Sinn Fein in a super council styled model
    B) Agree that not elements of the St Andrews Agreement were bad
    C) Wont reveal expenses in Europe
    D) Now proposing a new Committee for Stormont
    E) Left the DUP over one issue wanting to have a longer testing period for Sinn Fein before agreeing to go into a Voluntary Coalition

    Seems like alot of double standards by the (TUV)