Mark Durkan to step down after next General Election

The BBC reports that SDLP party leader Mark Durkan has told BBC NI political editor Mark Devenport that he intends to stand aside as party leader after the next Westminster election, and that “if [he is] elected again to Westminster as MP for Foyle [he] will be stepping down from the Assembly.” Any other party leaders want to make the same promise[s]? Adds [Rushed?] SDLP statement. And In the comments zone, bob wilson highlights this section of the BBC report

Mr Durkan added that he believed Northern Ireland would be significantly impacted by cuts in public expenditure after the next election, and this had influenced his decision. “If there is a Tory government elected, the implications in terms of the welfare system and other matters are such that I think there is more work to [be] done at Westminster now.”

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  • otto

    I’m half with you eric.

    What both the SDLP and Alliance need is to be part of something bigger and better resourced.

    What Northern nationalism needs is a credible all-Ireland liberal alternative to Sinn Fein’s hard-left socialism.

    What United Community needs is a credible social-democratic alternative to conservative unionism that can represent the Short Strand as much as the Newtownards Road (and be a bridge between them).

    In other words we need Fianna Fail and we need the Labour Party. We don’t really need either the SDLP or Alliance. Neither is well enough resourced or well enough differentiated from either Sinn Fein or the Conservatives & Unionists.

    We already have a formula for a cross-community Labour Party – the Green Party’s regional Irish party with Scottish, Welsh and English affiliations hasn’t put off any prod (or unionist background) supporters.

    How you arrange all these swapsies I don’t know – and Fianna Fail’s abstentionism remains a problem. Maybe the answer of for Fianna Fail to decline to run for Westminster at all and to give tacit or explicit blessing to United Community candidates.

  • igor

    “Because the alternative is perpetual gunfire”

    is it Greenflag? Why?

  • eric

    “We already have a formula for a cross-community Labour Party – the Green Party’s regional Irish party with Scottish, Welsh and English affiliations hasn’t put off any prod (or unionist background) supporters.

    How you arrange all these swapsies I don’t know – and Fianna Fail’s abstentionism remains a problem. Maybe the answer of for Fianna Fail to decline to run for Westminster at all and to give tacit or explicit blessing to United Community candidates. ”
    ___________________________________________

    How you arrange the swapsies is a bit of a chicken and egg issue, but it requires one of the potential actors to make a move.

    The Labour Parties allow dual membership, but don’t do elections in the North. The defection of some SDLP reps in the event of the SDLP breaking the socialist link would sort that out.

    Fianna Fail don’t want Westminster MPs, but they have said they’d consider a “strategic partner”. That would easily be achieved by the SDLP rebranding and joining Fianna Fail’s Euro group – that allows a joint candidate for a Euro election.

    Fianna Fail’s “abstentionism” always allowed for backing candidates that would take their seats as long as they were not officially a member of FF. Even an all Ireland Fianna Fail would keep up that ruse as regards Westminster. Alisdair likes Fianna Fail, but he also likes Westminster – a Jesuitical solution is easily achieved with a short side step from the “Social Democrat” to “Liberal” camp.

  • Coll Ciotach

    Sammy

    FF may well take a beating, that remains to be seen, but the point is that north of the british imposed border the only option is two absolute failures, SF and SDLP. FF will come back and form a national govt.

    The SDLP is finished, it is out on its feet but has not yet the wit to stiffen. SF can only hope to administer british rule. They will not be part of the govt in the near or middle term as FG will not touch them and their rivals on the left are too competitive to give them the leg up that would be membership of a coalition.

    This means that they have no leverage in Stormont and can only get the crumbs of the unionists table.

    FF will be able to impose a 32 county agenda. Once they are elected into Stormont you get de facto Dublin control.

    This is why FF will get votes from all sections of the population here.

  • otto

    “that north of the british imposed border”

    You’ll be needing to decommission that colonial mindset if you want to “impose a 32 county agenda” and get “de facto Dublin control” with support from
    “all sections of the population here”. A majority of people don’t think that border was “imposed” by the Brits – they think it was conceded and guaranteed in order to give them a fair share of self-determination.

  • Coll Ciotach

    otto

    I know who is joining – you are in for a shock

  • otto

    “I know who is joining – you are in for a shock”

    I’ve no problem with Ulster Unionists or Alliance members or anyone else joining FF Coll. They’ll help to ensure FF becomes the mainstream European liberal governmental party we all need.

    But just don’t try to impress your new friends by blaming it all on a third party. They might not tell you to your face but it doesn’t impress them.

  • slug

    Yes, the Labour party needs to stand in NI as a centre party, with the same arrangement that the Westminster MPs would be fully a part of the UK government, and the NI ‘party’ could be a coalition of Irish and British labour similar to UCUNF is a coalition if UUP and Conservative.

    I agree the centre ground needs a social democratic option and since Irisn labour and British Labour have a lot in common (at least as much as the Greens) then there should be no problem creating a Labour brand in NI that does not put off unionists or nationalists who primarily care about social democratic issues.

  • eric

    “I agree the centre ground needs a social democratic option and since Irisn labour and British Labour have a lot in common (at least as much as the Greens) then there should be no problem creating a Labour brand in NI that does not put off unionists or nationalists who primarily care about social democratic issues.

    Posted by slug on Sep 21, 2009 @ 04:33 PM”
    ______________________________________________
    Very true. It is just that the two Labour Parties feel the need to tip the hat to their PES affiliate the SDLP – therin lies the blockage to change.

    Change will only happen on that front if the SDLP re-position itself outside the Socialist Group. By enlarge most of the SDLP belongs with Fianna Fail and the Alliance in the Liberals. Such a re-positioned SDLP would be able to build an alternative policy platform to SF/DUP with the Conservatives & Unionists

  • elvis parker

    Yes Eric SDLP and FF in the Euro Liberal Group would be able to offer an alternative policy platform in Europe that could rival the Conservatives and Unionists in Brussels (although they would probably only ever have half a dozen MEPs compared to C & Us two dozens.
    They will of course never to able to offer a viable alternative platfrom at Westminster Even if SDLP took 6 seats the C & U would have 200-300 – I guess that’s just democracy in action

    Back on thread Alistair McDonnell has been on the radio noting that only Durkan has a problem was dual mandates – i.e. he doesnt
    You could nearly hear him praying that the leadership contest is not held until after the General.

    The problem for Alistair is that most of his fellow SDLP MLAs DO have a problem with double jobbing and are unlikely to elect a double jobber as leader

    Alistair might have to chose between Westminster and the Leadership – which is just the way Durkan wants it!

  • Greenflag

    igor

    “Because the alternative is perpetual gunfire”

    is it Greenflag? Why? ?

    Go read your Irish history and if you are British read your British history with emphasis on British attempts over several centuries to ‘govern’ Ireland against the wishes of the majority of it’s inhabitants . Of course the British only really copped that the Irish did’nt want to be ruled from London when the Irish started speaking English and stopped speaking Irish . Call it a failure to communicate if you will .

    While the politics of NI may be piss poor better that than gunfire . It’s looking as if it may be easier to bring ‘democracy’ to Afghanistan than to NI . Which is why the province has to have mandatory power sharing of it ‘sectarian ‘ defined division.

    I’m sure NI can do with somebody of the calibre of Mark Durkan at Westminster to ‘keep ‘ an eye on the forthcoming cuts . Not that he’ll be able to stop them but at least he may be able to give some advance warning .

  • Frank

    Alasdair McDonnell to take the leadership..after speaking to a few SDLPer’s this evening. Has all of Belfast (apart from half of South belfast), Noone else prepared to go against Alastir and support Margaret Ritchie.

    What a pity!!!

    And the end of the SDLP begins…

  • patrick derry

    Frank
    “Alasdair McDonnell to take the leadership..after speaking to a few SDLPer’s this evening. Has all of Belfast (apart from half of South belfast), Noone else prepared to go against Alastir and support Margaret Ritchie.”

    I think you are being too kind to McDonnell. Cant see how he would have support in the West of the City (Attwoods and he dont get on) and if he cant even deliver his own constityuency organisation then surely there is a problem.

  • BOM

    Here’s a thought. What about Patsy McGlone for Leader? He is by far the most proactive, well liked, on the ground party representative.
    The current frontline representatives are all good and well respected, however, in order to turn the fortunes of the party round there needs to be someone who is not as in your face, who works hard for the people and who does not have his own personal ambition at heart. Far too many are in politics for their own good and noone elses. We need politicians who will look beyond their own ambitions and look at what is better for the people they represent. I dont many of them who are truly like this but I sure know that if there were more, people would be less put off by what goes on in Stormont, or Westmister or wherever!
    Many politicians think they deserve to be where they are and that they deserve a livelihood from the people simply because they want one but do they honestly have the ordinary person at heart or is their ambitions and the size of their egos that have put them there in the first place?

  • eric

    “Here’s a thought. What about Patsy McGlone for Leader? He is by far the most proactive, well liked, on the ground party representative.”
    ________________________________

    I’m surprised his name has not come into the mix. Unlike McDonnell and Richie he is younger than Durkan.

    Might be too rural for some of the Belfast crew. Even closer to Fianna Fail than McDonnell. To many he would be a fresh face.

    My point about “Liberal” FF/SDLP & Tory/UUP would be that in Northern Ireland they could forge a cogent policy alternative on bread and butter issues to SF/DUP. Obviously in Europe like the Tories and Lib Dems they would be poles apart

  • spiritof07

    Patrick, don’t forget that the west Belfast constituency organisation is so tiny that it carries virtually no weight.

  • Coll Ciotach

    otto – not sure what the third party is – can you explain