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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  • slug

    I think Durkan is very able and had a hard act to follow.

    Will it be Alistair McDonell I suppose as their next leader? He seems the most obvious.

  • Only Asking.

    Mark Durkan had a hard act to follow when he stepped in to John Hume’s shoes, in the beginning it didn’t look like he could fill them, but he did. He is a fine leader, this is sad news indeed.

  • percy

    “Any other party leaders want to make the same promise[s]?”

    Who did you have in mind peteb?

  • slug

    As to your question, Pete, it is possible that Peter Robinson might not stand for Westminster and concentrate on the Assembly. As for Reg Empey its not clear he will even stand for Westminster-UCUNF might be putting in someone different in East Belfast. And as for Gerry Adams, its possible he might stand down from the Assembly so as to concentrate on ROI affairs more.

  • slug

    I am glad he is staying on at Westminster where he makes an important contribution to debates and is highly respected.

  • JD

    A leadership contest will take place against a very different backdrop to when Durkan became leader in 2001 – should the SDLP stay in the Social Democrat/Labour bloc or strike out in another direction? What of Fianna Fail’s presence in the six counties?

    A number of issues that the stoops have kept a lid on are going to have to come out into the open

  • Comrade Stalin

    I like Durkan but he has presided over the SDLP during a period which has seen their vote gradually drop. So I don’t know what all this stuff is about what a great leader he was.

    And as for Gerry Adams, its possible he might stand down from the Assembly so as to concentrate on ROI affairs more.

    Who outside of the delusional UCUNF project believes that ?

  • GavBelfast

    I like Mark Durkan, too. He had a hard act to follow but I think he’s easily the most respectable of the main party leaders.

    This UUP/Conservative alliance does bother you, doesn’t it CS?

    Can’t think why.

  • Dewi

    Timing a little strange – leading an election campaign but promising to step down afterwards. Why say anything? I can’t think of a single way that this will enhance SDLP chances at Westminster Election.

  • Patrick Derry

    Slug

    “Will it be Alistair McDonell I suppose as their next leader? He seems the most obvious.”

    Surely the dual mandate rule which Mark is enforcing by example rules MsDonnell out too?

  • slug

    Comrade Stalin:

    First, I am not in the UCUNF project, I am a floating voter, and second I only said its possible he Adams MIGHT – hardly a statement of belief he would! Pete was asking the question so I thought it made sense to answer taking each leader in turn. In a way Adams could do worse than concentrate on ROI matters by standing down from the Assembly.

    By the way Adams next year after Durkan is replaced will have seen I think:
    3 SDLP leaders
    3 UUP leaders
    2 DUP leaders
    4 Alliance leaders.

  • slug

    GavBelfast

    I agree. I do follow Westminster debates and Durkan is a very good contributor – he takes the job seriously.

    Comrade Stalin

    As for overseeing the decline in voters I don’t think it was an easy time to lead the SDLP and with Sinn Fein in such a strong position it must be remembered that SDLP have 3 MPs, something that was no mean achievement.

    Patrick Derry

    Yes that is true. Durkan seems to think Westminster is not the place for the SDLP leader, though Durkan does seem to think Westminster is important-slightly confising!

    Of course in the leadership contest McDonnell might still argue that he should lead the SDLP even though he is an MP, and promise to stop double jobbing by resigning his MLA post (if double jobbing is an issue). And maybe he will not be an MP-there is a chance he will lose it.

    Personally I think that McDonnell is the most convincing candidate. However there are other possibilities. I like Margaret Ritchie but I think there is something a little awkward about her speaking style still, compared to McDonnell, so I am not sure she should be leader at this stage, maybe next time.

  • Whoever wrote that SDLP statement should be sent back to school, if only to learn how to use a spell checker back to school.

    Perhaps it’s not to late to fix it before the main rush of media interest.

  • igor

    If the Assemby folds where does that leave SF?

    They refuse to attend Westminster so have no platform there. In the Republic it looks all downhill. That leaves control of the bins and bogs in NI Councils. They can hardly go back to violence as that would destroy all those years building up their democratic credentials. So its years of wrangling over the size and design of public conveniences or cut a deal with the DUPs.

    That’s why the DUPs have them over a barrel. They need devolution of P&J much more than the DUPs need the Assembly. So Robbo now has the opportunity to do onto Gerry what Gerry did onto Trimble all those years ago.

    If we ban dog fighting, badger baiting and hare coursing, why do we allow politics?

  • Greenflag

    Dewi,

    ‘Timing a little strange – leading an election campaign but promising to step down afterwards. ‘

    Nail on head Dewi . I’ve always thought that Mark Durkan was a decent man and politician but it’s acts like this that make one think that he doesn’t have the ruthless streak needed to drag the SDLP from where it is to becoming the leading nationalist party in NI .

    Staying at Westminster fine but surely it would make sense to have a new leader for the coming election campaign ? Is there anybody out there who has the cojones plus the requisite wit and ambition ?

    Or has the current economic and political crisis ‘deballed’ possible contenders ?

  • Greenflag

    Igor

    ‘why do we allow politics? ‘

    Because the alternative is perpetual gunfire between members of the same species in confined areas of a remote part of the UK which is of little interest to the rest of the country .

    Have you been rip van winkling for the past 40 years or just freshly landed from another planet ?

  • truth seeker

    this IS the death knell of the sdlp…the contradictions and factions within the sdlp will now come to the forefront….

    Alex Attwood the one with the huge chip on his shoulder will be the last leader of the south down and derry party…

    lust before it implodes.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Malachi
    “Perhaps it’s not to (sic) late to fix it…”

    Sorry, the irony made it too hard to resist (fully paid up member of Anal Teacher Society.)

  • Pete Baker

    Malachi

    Someone may have been listening..

  • Chris,

    I’d say your remark in brackets is open to more than one interpretation.

    Durkan made a number of key mistakes. The most serious was in basically the entire frontline SDLP leadership stepping down from the Assembly all at the same time, with the loss of seats being the consequence. They should have stood, then retired in favour of alternates. Announcing this in advance is another mistake. His leadership hasn’t been an utter disaster, and at times he was quite effective (over on the runs for example) but he could have done better. Having said that, the SDLP’s problems were structural, both within the party and in the general political situation.

    I would expect Alban Magennis to be a more likely leader than Alex Attwood. Ritchie maybe, but I’d be surprised.

  • New leader? Eamon Gilmore, please….

  • victor

    What about Margaret Ritchie as the new leader?

  • Expenses111

    I hope Margaret Ritchie is new leader as to put the final nail in the coffin of the SDLP

  • Ever the optimist, eh Jenny? 🙂

  • Chris Donnelly

    Garibaldy

    Very good.

  • cross tel

    What about some young blood as leader? Eddie McGrady, perhaps?

  • Eleanor Bull

    “just freshly landed from another planet ?”

    Same flight in as Ian Og???

  • Dave

    As there is no significant difference between the two main nationalist parties in Northern Ireland, the SDLP should follow the PDs and disband. John Hume never promoted anyone who could challenge his position, and Durkan continued that race to the bottom.

    The only way they can regain the ascendancy is if the present leadership of SF are outted as British agents – and they’re too valuable to be outted.

  • DC

    Time to skip a generation and get new leaders out to play.

    I suggest: Matt McDermott and Sharon Haughey plus the girl who works in Carmel Hanna’s office – I think she is pro-European in outlook?

    But, in terms of the SDLP being seen as Labour-ish in leaning I am v concerned with this:

    “Mr Durkan feels that as a Nationalist party and one that did more than any other to secure the institutions of agreement that the SDLP cannot be long-led from Westminster.

    Well, that’s me out!

  • oisineire

    It doesn’t matter who leads them because SDLPers prefer the open-minded and practical Durkan. It’s sad to see a good politician go, but I’m glad to say that the SDLP will now be finally annihilated. McDonnell and Ritchie just don’t have the qualities that either Hume or Durkan had.

    Dewi

    Definately, his timing is extremely bad. But that could just be another factor in their demise.

    We can all sit back and watch as Foyle voters recoil in disgust at the idea of “their man” no longer being leader and an internal and brutal fight for the leadership by second rate politicians.

  • oisineire

    Cross tel

    Is McGrady even standing again? I think it’s about time he stood down aswell…

  • Ulick

    “That’s why the DUPs have them over a barrel. They need devolution of P&J much more than the DUPs need the Assembly. So Robbo now has the opportunity to do onto Gerry what Gerry did onto Trimble all those years ago.”

    Erm, I don’t think so. Republicans have no love or respect for Stormont, it’s simply a means to an end or rather a hedging of the conflict until the inevitable happens. SF persuaded us that the southern government were not the best people to look after our interests in the event of ‘Plan B’ and that is the only reason republicans are backing the Assembly for now. The vast majority of us really couldn’t care less if it fell tomorrow and I suspect most of us wish it would. Whether it falls or not that will still do nothing to damage SF as at the moment there isn’t a creditable political organisation to step into their place.

  • J Kelly

    Great start to the election campagn whoever thought of this tactic should be the next leader…

  • cross tel

    Yeah, he wants to stand again. The sooner the better that Fianna Fail come in and finishes off the whole sorry lot of them.

    I was at the meeting at Downpatrick and there really was a feeling that it was time for FF to come in and fill the void.

  • oisineire

    Well i suppose if Paisley can stand again, unfortunately so can McGrady…

    FF are a viable alternative to the SDLP, although personally it would be great to see Nationalism under one banner – Sinn Féin. Optimistic thinking??

  • Comrade Stalin

    Gav:

    This UUP/Conservative alliance does bother you, doesn’t it CS?

    Can’t think why.

    It doesn’t bother me beyond being exasperated by the delusions of its supporters.

    cross tel:

    I was at the meeting at Downpatrick and there really was a feeling that it was time for FF to come in and fill the void.

    More delusion. Like the people of Downpatrick want the crime syndicate party which has just ruined the Irish economy to step in up in Northern Ireland at a time when FF’s showing at the polls is at a historic low ? I don’t know who is more delusional, you guys or the UCUNFers.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Like the people of Downpatrick

    Oops, that’s not right. “people of NI”.

  • Patrick Derry

    Margaret Ritchie would get my vote if I were a member. She is in the SDLP wing of the SDLP unlike some of ther others mentioned earlier. She is also a strong regionalist and believes in making a shared future happen.

    New faces and talent urgently needed. She could lead a renewal project and become the first woman to lead a Northern party.

  • expenses111

    I think Eddie McGrady will stand down.

  • cross tel

    ‘I think Eddie McGrady will stand down.’

    Apparently he can hardly stand up anymore..

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Durkers was (is) a good egg but a good egg pissing into a strong green wind and could not hope to follow what many people consider Ireland’s best post partition politician as leader – particularly with no structural need for 2 pro-agreement parties representing the good guys.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    CS

    You are definately fixated by the CU’s.

    Is IP your ex member delusional, or does he just see the future better then you?

    Are the 132,227 people who placed them 1st or 2nd in the EU election delusional?

    Is the fact that they led in 6 of the Westminister constituencies delusional?

    Is the fact they are taking the place of Alliance in the middle ground delusional

    Or is it because they haven’t asked you to join them the problem?

  • Driftwood

    and could not hope to follow what many people consider Ireland’s best post partition politician

    Sammy are you talking about Churchill,Faulkner or Thatcher?

  • Disinterested observer

    The only reason to announce you are standing down – but not until the General Election is to screw Alistair McDonnell
    Otherwise he would have fought the GE and stood down However that would have meant that McDonnell would have walked the leadership.
    By doing it this way Durkan essentially begs the question ‘can we have a dual mandater as leader’ The MLAs and members say ‘no’ and Margaret Ritchie walks straight in
    (Unless Alistair announces he is standing down from Westminster?)
    Your move Alisdair.

    If Margaret succeeds Eddie however this would screw things completely. Margaret will now have to chose betwwen the leadership and Westminster

    Alex Attwood anyone?

  • bob wilson

    In reference to coming public expenditure cuts Durkan said:
    ‘the implications in terms of the welfare system and other matters are such that I think there is more work to done at Westminster now.’
    An interesting admission of the importance of Westminster for an Irish nationalist and somewhat damning indictment of Stormont.

  • Comrade Stalin

    fd:

    You are definately fixated by the CU’s.

    Is IP your ex member delusional, or does he just see the future better then you?

    Yes. I think he made a mistake by defecting. But we will know soon enough who is right about that.

    Are the 132,227 people who placed them 1st or 2nd in the EU election delusional?

    No, they’re unionists who voted for the same candidate before the UCUNF delusion set in. They’ve done nothing except loyally vote for the UUP as they have done in the past.

    Is the fact that they led in 6 of the Westminister constituencies delusional?

    It sounds a bit like it might be. The UUP/UCUNF shotgun marriage has no MPs, although being delusional you might like to claim Sylvia.

    Is the fact they are taking the place of Alliance in the middle ground delusional

    No, because the UUP are not the middle ground, and the Conservatives are not the middle ground.

    Or is it because they haven’t asked you to join them the problem?

    Is that the only way people get to join UCUNF ? Sounds like one of those exclusive men-only clubs the Tories are associated with.

  • slug

    I still think its McDonnell. He is the strongest and the argument may be made that party leaders can hold two mandates as an exception to the rule.

  • BonarLaw

    This says much more about Durkans’ prognosis for devolution than about the state of the SDLP. His “ugly scaffolding” has done for it.

  • DC

    “His “ugly scaffolding” has done for it.”

    Truth hurts.

  • J Kelly

    The reason that Durkan is hoping to go to Westminster is that he will be happy, well content, to drift along in Westminster and feel important because in Stormont he was dead man walking. No chance of deputy first minister a likely challenge to his leadership so he wasn’t going to be second fiddle to both sinn fein and even big al or worse the likes of alex attwood his ego couldn’t take it.

    The big question for a supposed nationalist is how can he see more relevance in westminster.

  • WindsorRocker

    Eventually the contradiction between Social Democracy and middle class nationalism will tear the SDLP apart.
    Hume held it together and especially through the “Process”, gave it a role.
    With SF now in the democratic fold and the last real “Hume” link about to go lower profile, I expect realignment soon enough.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Driftwood,

    Winnie, Thatch, and Faulkner,

    Surely you are not a fan of Winnie – he tried to offload Norn Iron during WW2.

    and you surely cant be a fan of Thatch either she wanted to give away Armagh under a re-partition plan.

    Faulkner probably wasnt too bad an bad egg – bit like Trimble (if you leave out the sectarianism) he at least tried to cut a deal if he coudlnt take the plain people of Ulster with him.

    Frustrated Democrat,

    what is this complete an utter jibber-jabber about the middle ground – the UUP have proven they are a narrow sectarian rump and as of last week a narrow sectarian, anti-agreement rump trying to block progress – if they dont mend their ways the even the right wing Tories ( who actually support the GFA/STA) will ditch them.

  • slug

    I have respect for the SDLP but at the same time I think realignment would be desirable, so there is a labour/social democratic choice to the electorate.

  • truth seeker

    “Matt McDermott and Sharon Haughey”….

    just because these are the only 2 young elected councilors (in areas were the sdlp with their quotas could put up monkeys!!!!)says more about the quality of the sdlp…

    Would the last sdlp member out of the room pay for the lecky!

  • Driftwood

    BonarLaw
    Yep. The light is finally dawning that Westminster Rules OK! Durkan is not the only local politician to know this, but the first to openly acknowledge it. And boy don’t SF know it as well. They just can’t bring themselves to admit the awful (in their eyes)truth.
    Molyneaux knew how it works.

  • J Kelly

    realignment with who or what, lets be realistic the sdlp are a crowd of right wing middle class would be tories with a few young new labour type careerist the leadership battle could be fun.

  • young newt

    Says it all about the ‘Irish Nationalist’ credential of Durkan, when he is happiest sitting as a lapdog in the British Parliament(a la John Redmond). This satisfying spectacle coupled with Sinn Fein administering British rule at Stormont means that we loyalists can now declare victory.
    Within the last 100 years, the aspiration to end our British presence on Ireland has not advanced at all.

  • DC

    Gotta start somewhere truthseeker? Also, at least they don’t strut around election counting areas clucking “cockadoodledoo”.

  • PaulM

    Time for the SDLP to disband, and the NI labour party (aligned with both the UK an Irish Labour parties) to stand for elections properly. NI is in desperate need of a party who’s main ethos is based solely on left-wing politics. I’m sure if NI Labour actually made an effort they would receive a large amount of cross-community support.

  • Scaramoosh

    Durkan was useless. He lacked charisma, style and strategic ability. He failed to reposition the SDLP away from its position of being “the good Catholic Party” and in the process led the party into the political wilderness.

    I have one abiding memory of him, which sort of sums him up as a man and his position in N.Ireland politics.

    On returning on a flight from London, I saw some leading Sinn Fein figures and their henchmen in the airport. I also saw Durkan who was sitting on his own. The Shinners all went to the front of the plane, whilst Durkan quietly took a seat somewhere in the middle….

  • I am sad to see Mark go. He is an uncommonly honest and decent man for a politician.

    But he’s always had an underestimated hint of steel – and that’s why I tend to agree with Disinterested Observer up the thread about the reasons for timing of this move. Alasdair has been running a leadership campaign through the pages of the Irish News for some time.

  • Wolf

    Conall McDevitt to usher in a new SDLP dawn. You heard it here first.

  • John O’Connell

    Sad day for the SDLP. Durkan was as good as it gets for a social democratic female party, a party of persuasion and dialogue. What is in the ascendancy at the moment is a wholly unrealistic set of parties, none of which actually know how we got to this stage and therefore won’t be able to fix it if it gets broken in a meaningly way.

    But after the Bosnia/Rwanda ahead, I expect they’ll call for the SDLP again. When will these idiots ever learn?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Driftwood,

    Yep. The light is finally dawning that Westminster Rules OK!

    Several UCUNF members/supporters posted on a threat here last week that they were tired of rebutting the myth that the UUP was opposed to devolution.

    It sounds like you’re pretty unfamiliar in general with politics here.

  • Driftwood

    Comrade
    I’m not in the UUP, and prefer the Jeff Peel outlook:
    http://jeffpeel.net/
    Preferred the Molyneaux approach and more interested in mainland politics. some of the people you refer to would have some overlapping views with me, some not. No big deal
    Did you mean to write ‘on a threat’ or ‘on a thread’?

  • andrew white

    Molyneaux knew how it works.
    Posted by Driftwood on Sep 20, 2009 @ 07:14 PM

    ah yes they guy who brought us such timeless classics are the Anglo-Irish Agreement / the downing street declaration and the framework documents.. good old jim

  • bark porkin

    john o connell, what number did mark come out as in your beastie thingie please???
    this is a good day for the sdlp Shut Down Ladies Please pffffft

  • andrew white

    Are the 132,227 people who placed them 1st or 2nd in the EU election delusional?

    Try first pref votes and you still got beat by the DUP on its work day and were just ahead of the TUV and you LOST 9,000 votes from 2004

    The tories made up AT LEAST 1% of the UUP vote so the UUP vote fell to 16.1 from 2004-16.6%

  • Comrade Stalin

    I meant “thread”.

    Ah yes, Molyneaux. “Recipe for a civil war” and all that. Glad you mentioned him.

    Your “mainland politics” is not going to happen.

  • Marcus

    I could see Alex Attwood going for it as they haul him in front of the cameras at any opportunity, dont know what he would be like as a leader though.

  • Driftwood
  • slug

    Alex Attwood is good on TV – very eloquent – but he has not garnered a large number of votes in his constituency; rather the SDLP vote has fallen badly in West Belfast.

  • Frank

    Its hard to see who from within the SDLP could replace Durkan and manage to claw back votes from Sinn Fein.

    McDonnell is the most unlikeable politician in the assembly, comes across as a smug, bullying, soulless sort of sh*t.(No offence) I can see why Carmel Hanna hates him.

    Attwood is lightweight, Alban McG has lost that many elections he’s probably past it, to be honest.

    Margaret Ritchie has done a decent job in Social development, but i can’t see Alasdair McDonnell being led by a woman. Although, if McGrady does not stand in South Down at the next Westminster election…I think however that McGrady and Alasdair McDonnell are from the same wing of the SDLP, so he may well stand again.

    O’Loan, Dallat, Gallagher etc.. again are fairly lightweight, like Attwood.

    No young blood at all in the party, so expect Alasdair McDonnell to be the next leader, the SDLP to continue losing votes & a permanent Fianna Fáil presence being organised by disenchanted SDLP members, post Westminster elections.

  • frustrated democrat

    Sammy

    The UUP leadership is and always has been committed to powersharing, because for extremely understandable reasons they think this is the wrong time to devolve P&J does not change that.

    AW

    Next you will be telling us all that the DUP did well and really did get a quota, what was the reduction in your percentage of the vote? The CU’s can now justifiably claim to to represent the mass of the pro union population.

  • Greenflag

    scaramoosh,

    ‘The Shinners all went to the front of the plane, whilst Durkan quietly took a seat somewhere in the middle….’

    Planes are not renowned for reversing into the side of mountains ;). I can’t recall which seats are ststistically the ‘safest’ but it’s either the middle rows or the back .

  • andrew white

    they think this is the wrong time to devolve P&J does not change that…………

    according to empey they would support the immediate devolution of P+J , just not the financing of it

  • slug

    Alasdair McDonnell being elected leader might be good for the prospects of a local Labour option developing as an alternative to the SDLP.

  • Driftwood

    Mr Durkan added that he believed Northern Ireland would be significantly impacted by cuts in public expenditure after the next election

    Indeed, and spending £600 million on a paper tiger will not be part of such equation. Get real folks..the gravy train has too many passengers on board, or back to that old management crap-who to throw out of the balloon?

    Will anyone at Stormont wake up and smell the Lidl cut price coffee? Doubt it.

    And no more series of ‘The Wire’ in the offing!!!

  • Driftwood
  • Driftwood

    BTW It would be nice if a regular blogger was to take the Balloon Debate referring to our current (108 member!) assembly and open it out.
    Not just the obvious targets like Ruane and McCausland, but the behind the curtain gravytrainers like Willie Clarke and John McCallister- that’s just in South Down.
    Expose the wasters? Probably asking too much I suppose.
    Just a thought..

  • andrew white

    The CU’s can now justifiably claim to to represent the mass of the pro union population.

    How so, when on first pref votes they just scrapped ahead of Jim ALlister.

    The next election will be first past the post and based on that the CU project will come to a grinding halt.

    The UUP still cant beat the DUP in a straight fight, even with Cameron coming to NI the CUs LOST 9000 votes on 2004

    The DUP remains the largest Unionist party

  • Pete whitcroft

    Don’t think mcdonnell will have a dual mandate.

  • frustrated democrat

    AW

    Maths not your strong point? How many votes did you finish with in the EU election?

    About 17,000 behind the CU’s as I remember. Seems clear to me which party most pro UK voters prefer now.

    I would however agree that most navel gazing Ulster Nationalists support the DUP.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Since to announce your leadership exit and declaring you’re a busted flush before an election is hardly inspiring news, my guess is the same as Sammy’s – that this is an early attempt to scupper things for Alasdair. Otherwise Durkan would have quit after the election.

    The rushed nature of the press release suggests Durkan caught head office by surprise and mention of dual mandates seems to back the theory about McDonnell, whose front page lambasting of the Shinners the other week was being described as build-up for a potential bid for leadership. Billy Graham wouldn’t have written that unless that’s how Alasdair was spinning it.

    The other thing to note is that SDLP MLAs who are not going to be standing for Westminster are also going to be campaigning for the party leadership during a general election campaign. And every time Alasdair is on TV or radio, he’ll be asked about the leadership and dual mandates.

    None of this bodes well for the party, which faces mucho turmoil. Whatever way you look at it, all is not well in the higher echelons of the SDLP.

  • Sam Thompson

    andrew white

    ‘The UUP still cant beat the DUP in a straight fight, even with Cameron coming to NI the CUs LOST 9000 votes on 2004’

    the DUP lost 89000 votes on its 2004 performance. so if losing 9000 is bad for the UUP…

    the unionist electorate will continue to reject you at the polls, as they realise that at the very least the UU’s tried to reach a settlement in 1998, with honourable intentions – if not with tangible results. the DUP left talks in 1998 because they neither had the stomach for the fight, but also knew that a deal removed their raison d’etre – opposition, protest politics. i’m no tory, but i will vote CU in every election from now on, because they offer a pan-UK alternative to narrow minded presbyterian ulsterism.

    As for the stoops, until they offer a radical alternative to the current status quo, they will fade away regardless of leader… if they had the nous to reject the perpetuation of the 1998 style of government for a power-sharing, cross-community alternative, they could recover. i expect they wont though, as lack of imagination is endemic within the party. SF have the same problem, but they somehow have managed to reconcile accepting partitionist government with the revolution espoused on their Markets billboards, and a portion of SDLP supporters have fallen for it in recent times. If McDonnell becomes leader, they are doomed however, because he is a pompous buffoon. I’m a unionist, but I liked Durkan and felt he had an integrity missing from others in his party

  • dewi

    The more I ponder this the more I feel it’s quite a bizarre position to be in. I would not be at all surprised if Mr Durkan resigned today.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Sam,

    the unionist electorate will continue to reject you at the polls, as they realise that at the very least the UU’s tried to reach a settlement in 1998, with honourable intentions – if not with tangible results.

    If anybody wants a definition of self-delusion, here it is.

    UUP voters switched to the DUP in the years after the agreement. It should be blindingly, stupendously obvious that this was because they thought either that, in retrospect, the UUP negotiated badly; or that they thought the UUP was not managing the outcome well. It must be crystal clear from a unionist perspective that Sinn Fein has been on the back foot since the DUP came to the top; they have been forced to back down in the face of DUP determination almost every step of the way.

    Setting aside my usual party political views, I think the UUP’s principal problem today is incoherence. There are mixed messages coming out of the party about devolution and the solution going forward, mixed in with occasional Paisleyite blood-and-thunder missives about the GAA.

    The very simple reason for this is because of a terrible leader who is afraid to nail his colours to the cross on anything. The UCUNF tieup has only worsened this incoherence, with various high profile individuals declaring that they are not Conservatives, and others apparently asserting that the future lies in Westminster and not the local assembly.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Comrade Stalin,

    “It should be blindingly, stupendously obvious that this was because they thought either that, in retrospect, the UUP negotiated badly; or that they thought the UUP was not managing the outcome well”

    And it It should be blindingly, stupendously obvious that those who turned to the DUP are now turning to the TUV because of similar disapointment with the DUP for promising something they couldnt deliver – ie to smash SF (who are now threatening to remain the largest party) or as many of their supporters reasonably thought smashing SF did not mean chuckling up to them in government.

    The same problem for Unionism continues – they remain unloved and unwanted and treated shabbily (as they see it) by the state to which they give their allegiance partly because their self-indulgence in Unionist culture/sectarian behaviour means they are an embarassment to that state, with even the ‘moderate’ UUP now adopting anti-agreement policies and sectarian posturing but also because even more worryingly for Unionism Britian largely share the Nationalist view of the world as reflected in British support for the GFA.

  • DC

    Morning Sammy, nice to see you’ve got up out of the positive side of bed this morning.

  • brendan,belfast

    What a car crash interview that was on GMU this morning from Durkan. All over the place.

  • Bruiser

    Am I the only one pciking up on this – Has Mark Durkan’s resignation something to do with a potential merger with Fianna Fail. Could we see Mr Durkan in the Irish Senate in the not so distance future?

  • danielmoran

    greenflag…. msg 15
    from the time of the last sdlp leadership contest, i recall that because john hume had nominated durkan as his replacement, nobody challenged him for it. that can be seen now as a mistake. i think that hume’s motive for naming durkan was a bit similar to thatcher’s naming of major, i.e. to ensure their respective parties wouldn’t have a strong leader after them, so their own names would remain prominent in history. pure vanity, in other words.
    durkan was a decent mp for Derry since hume left that post, but was never the best candidate for leader. mcdonnell has the gravitas for the job and should be favourite to take over.

  • otto

    Bruiser

    “Am I the only one picking up on this – Has Mark Durkan’s resignation something to do with a potential merger with Fianna Fail. Could we see Mr Durkan in the Irish Senate in the not so distance future?”

    As Fianna Fail are an abstentionist party (which regardless of republicanism is probably only appropriate for a party of government in another EU state) maybe Durkan will have to run as something other than Fianna Fail if that merger does take place. That would make it hard for him to lead the regional party.

  • Bann sider

    LOOKS LIKE ANDERSON FOR FOYLE IN 2010?

  • Coll Ciotach

    As a FF member I have not heard anything concerning a merger. There is nothing of substance in it for FF. They would be saddled with all the negativity surrounding the SDLP with what gain? There is nothing there that FF cannot garner for itself. I for one am inplacably opposed to it. FF should not be the lifeboat for SDLP and those in the SDLP who have not switched by now, or perhaps in the near future, should go through a decontamination period before being allowed to be a public representative.

    I feel that Durkan has done the dirt on the SDLP. He knows that FF will not go to Westminster, it is debatable whether they will even stand in Westminster contests. Thus he has secured his job, (in his eyes), by opting for Westminster rather than Stormont.

    This also leaves McDonnell with a quandary. Should he declare to stand for the instable Stormont and thus, (again in his eyes), keep the emergency exit door to FF, or stick with Westminster and risk not getting re-elected and ruling himself out of FF? Decisions decisions.

    This is the beginning of the end. Expect careerists to start looking for a lifebelt. The rats are deserting, chief rat jumped first.

  • eric

    “No young blood at all in the party, so expect Alasdair McDonnell to be the next leader, the SDLP to continue losing votes & a permanent Fianna Fáil presence being organised by disenchanted SDLP members, post Westminster elections”.

    Mc Donnell did an interview on the BBC two years ago where he was practically drooling at the prospect of joining with Fianna Fail.

    I reckon the Good Catholic Party should reposition itself with a new brand and cut the Labour link. Perhaps something along the lines of the “New Ireland Party” and join with Fianna Fail and the Alliance Party in the European Liberals. That way they can have a pact with Fianna Fail at local, assembly and Euro elections and still go to Westminster. Such a positioning would combine a North/South and Cross Community link.

    It would naturally be complimented by the establshment of a separate Labour organisation linked to the two Labour Parties.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Jeezus,

    someone from FF with the absolute cheek to firstly talk of the demise of a party other than their own and secondly to suggest that any party would need decontamination in order to do business with the MOST corrupt political party in Western europe or indeed the solar system where the DUP have recently apparently been operating.

    ps Perhaps a joke?

  • Máirtín Ó Catháin

    Bann Sider, are you soft in the head? Anderson has no chance of taking the seat even though the Shinners started her election campaign sometime in the last ice-age. I’m no Irish nationalist and couldn’t care less who wins, but even if SF get her to drop the dual mandate and the Police hat to match Durkan’s single focus on Foyle, they’re still hammered by the republican relic of abstention here. Certainly, she’ll eat into his vote but that’s all she’ll do, and if the local rumours of some tactical voting by the dissidents are anything to go by, then she really is condemned to be marooned on the hill for many years to come.

  • John East Belfast

    There has to be a future for the SDLP because surely northern nationalism could not have sunk so low as to say only SF represent their views ?

    I would like Margaret Ritchie should be leader – she would be highly respected among the unionist community as well.

    I would recommend a UCUNF & SDLP joint platform for the next Stormont Assembly on a get SF & DUP Out ticket.

  • Cushy Glenn

    “LOOKS LIKE ANDERSON FOR FOYLE IN 2010?”

    I can categorically state that Gerry will not be standing for parliament next year. Dunno about Sean Coyle though….