SDLP revise Durkan leaving date

Rather than Mark Durkan staying on as SDLP party leader until after the next General Election, as he had initially announced, it looks like the SDLP will be choosing his successor at their annual conference in February 2010. The opening date for nominations for the post is November 1st, closing on November 14th.

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  • Dewi

    That makes a good deal more sense.

  • Soldier of the Rearguard

    Let the bloodbath begin. McDonnell Vs Ritchie Vs Maginnis, they will tear each other apart. Expect Ritchie to come through the centre as the compromise candidate ie. outside the Belfast/Derry rivalry, and not FF (McDonnell) or Labour (Maginnis) – shes from the SDLP wing of the SDLP. Upon losing, expect McDonnell to try nuzzle up to FF – except they will want nothing to with him!

  • Soldier of the Rearguard,

    If Ritchie was to get it, then where would that leave the SDLP in South Down? McGrady simply has to retire – he’ll be 75 next year so surely won’t stand again. And the only other senior SDLPer there is P.J. Bradley, who is 69 – hardly an age to begin a Westminster career!

    Ritchie was the SDLP’s big hope to retain McGrady’s seat, but unless she plans a dual mandate, or ‘long-leading’ the party from Westminster, she cannot be both leader and MP.

  • J Kelly

    This now highlights the sheer stupidity of Durkan’s announcement on Sunday. He now enters the Westminster campaign, the seat he wants to keep, without all the extra air time and media profile that the leadership gave him. He fought the Foyle campaign in 2005 with the key themes of Leadership, Stronger and a safe pair of hands, remember the images of him holding his child above his head and John Hume hand on his shoulder. He has proved he is not a competent leader, a lot weaker and who woukd want him in nets in their five a side team.

    They say a week is a long time in politics how long will the next 6 or 8 months be for Mark Durkan.

  • This makes a lot more sense and is a defeat for those who last night wanted Mark to go sooner.

  • elvis parker

    What a farce Durkan snatches the prize for ‘biggest media cock up’ from Ian Parsley and Ian Paisley jnr

  • He’d still be a better MP than Mitchell, Martina or any other IRA party members in Derry

  • SOTRG

    Horseman

    If both McDonnell and Ritchie are ruled out by dual mandate, that literally leaves Maginnis as the only potential leader left. Expect Durkan’s comments on dual mandate to be ignored, and either McDonnell or Ritchie to take the leadership while MP/MLA. Maginnis’ red hue would totally split the party, as would the Green hue of McGlone if he threw his name in the ring. Ritchie is the only unifier left. Basically the SDLP will be seen for what it is in the coming months, a loose coalition of individual fiefdoms that have seperate political allegiances and philosophies.

  • Basically the SDLP will be seen for what it is in the coming months, a loose coalition of individual fiefdoms that have seperate political allegiances and philosophies.

    Not saying I disagree but is there a great ideological beacon of a party waiting to take its place.

  • Thereyouarenow

    Shouldn’t Northern Irelands nationalists/republicans use this as the opportunity for a re-alingment with 1 left wing party and another centriest party.

    The people in the nationalist parties have to make a decision as to where they sit on the political pendulum.

    Each party cannot be all things to all people.

  • truth seeker

    a party with no leadership, no direction, no idea, no members!!

    A pointless little rabble grouped around 2 MP`s…

    The End is Nigh…

  • JD

    “Let the bloodbath begin. McDonnell Vs Ritchie Vs Maginnis, they will tear each other apart. Expect Ritchie to come through the centre as the compromise candidate ie. outside the Belfast/Derry rivalry, and not FF (McDonnell) or Labour (Maginnis) – shes from the SDLP wing of the SDLP.”
    _______________

    Is this a one member one vote election? The Irish Labour Party engaged in such an exercise after Ruari Quinn stood down in 2002. Although Pat Rabbitte emerged as victor, Brendan Howlin started out as favourite. The interesting thing about the Labour one member one vote election was that although the party grassroots would 90% “Old Labour” and 10% Worker’s Party/DL, in that election Pat Rabbitte and Eamon Gilmore (both ex-worker’s party) got 62% of the votes cast by members.

    My point is that whether by one member one vote, or delegates at a party conference grassroots elections are totally unpredictable and difficult for the party establishment to manage – remember when ordinary Tories picked Ian Duncan Smith over Michael Portillo as leader in 2001?

    Hopefully such a long drawn out campaign will bring the divisions in the SDLP to the fore, whether it is Patsy McGlone (Green wing/FF), Alban McGuinness (Red wing/Labour) or Margaret Richie (Continuity SDLP) – the pent up divisions and realignments need to be brought out into the open and allow a fresh beginning for Nationalist politics.

    The SDLP honestly debating these issues would be a real service to politics.

  • I wonder whether the increasing FF interest in the north triggered Durkan’s sudden announcement, or if FF started sniffing around because they could already smell death in the air?

    The coincidence of timing between the Downpatrick forum and Durkan’s statement is interesting, to say the least.

  • Horseman,

    I think your speculation has an air of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy about it. More to do with vicious briefing by a certain ambitious individual I’d bet.

  • Peter McGrath

    Last night’s exectutive meeting was a major setback for McDonnell. He cannot even get the support of his own constituency. Carmel Hanna will tell you what a bully he really is.
    If ritchie enters the race she will pick up support across the North. She is in the SDLP wing of the SDLP which is where the vast majority of members are too. Given this is a delegate conference election McDonnell’s years of betraying the party will come back to haunt him.
    McGrady has let it be known he will stand for Westminter. He is clearing the road for Ritchie.

  • Dave

    It’s humiliating for Durkan to be slapped back down by his own party – who clearly had no intention of indulging a long goodbye from the prima donna. His political judgement looks shot at this point.

  • Comrade Stalin

    horseman:

    she cannot be both leader and MP.

    Why not ? Every single NI party leader is either an MP or an MP candidate. Every SDLP leader has been an MP.

    The McGrady issue is interesting. I hate to be morbid but he is pretty old, and if he runs again there’s a chance that he will die during

    Why on earth are people still talking about this FF thing ? Why would anybody even think about hooking up to this failed, corrupt party which has destroyed the Irish economy ?

  • [i]Why on earth are people still talking about this FF thing ? Why would anybody even think about hooking up to this failed, corrupt party which has destroyed the Irish economy ?[/i]

    Blinkered Irish nationalism is the only reason I can see.

  • igor

    McDonnell’s majority blast ime was what – 17 or so?

    Thats not a barrier

  • Comrade Stalin,

    Dreadfully selective quoting there, CS! What I said was “unless she plans a dual mandate, or ‘long-leading’ the party from Westminster, she cannot be both leader and MP.” Nothing you said contradicts that.

  • URQUHART

    When I heard that an emergency Executive meeting was being held, I thought, momentarily, that political wit had sprung up in the SDLP. Alas, the farce continues.

    One reason. I’d settle for one reason why there is any benefit in waiting until February. (Finding ways to shaft McDonnell doesn’t count).

    On the dual mandate nonsense quoted by some people above as a problem for Ritchie or McDonnell… surely with the departure of Durkan it ceases to be an issue. Until such time as legislation is in place (don’t hold your breath) it is simply a political position by the SDLP.

    And the new leader sets the policy.

  • cross tel

    McGrady’s announcement tonight that he wants to stand again for Westminister gives Richie a get out of jail card against accusations over double mandates.

    This sweetheart deal is self-explanatory. Make no mistake about it, Ritchie wants the big gig-even at the expense of McGrady losing the Westminister seat.

  • Stormontspy

    This is the first time I have ventured in to Slugger. As I wrote on Mark Devenports blog on Sunday –

    The race for the new leader will no doubt be interesting as each will pitch a mark for others to challenge.

    With Margaret Ritchie we seen recently the antics that she gets up to with elections. When she stood down as councillor instead off replacing her with a 50 something community worker doing the job for years her replacement was a 25 year old law graduate. Margaret Ritchie often says regarding P&J no nationalist need apply well in this case it was no one without a law graduate need apply.

    Alastair McDonnell we would expect to lose his seat as MP if unionists can agree to have a pact.

    Since Sunday the SDLP have slid into a further sham. It is quite clear all stops will be pulled out to get Ritchie in to this job.

    Stormontspy

  • JD

    “The coincidence of timing between the Downpatrick forum and Durkan’s statement is interesting, to say the least”.

    I doubt the FF wing of the SDLP, or Fianna Fail were happy at the timing of this leadership contest. The optimum time for Fianna Fail and their allies to move would have been between the 2010 Westminster Election and the 2011 Assembly and Local Elections. The reasons being:

    1) Post 2010 FF would not have to deal with the difficult problem of a First past the post Westminster election and the vote splitting problems associated with it for 4 to five years
    2) Fianna Fail’s focus is on the assembly and PR elections. Durkan going early means the focus for the SDLP will be getting a candidate that can unite them for the 2010 Westminster contest rather than re-positioning the party for a PR assembly or local election where talk of new alliances might be of merit
    3) It is likely that Fianna Fail will be in opposition down south sometime in the next year and their unpopularity will have bottomed out. Fianna Fail badly need a period in opposition for renewal and the 2011 assembly elections would have been a nice start for them if they could line up a realigned SDLP with them. At present Fianna Fail is on their knees and understandably an unattractive prospect for much of the SDLP save their most hard core supporters

    Having said all of the above the SDLP still has the problem that it actually has to run a “SDLP wing” candidate to secure the leadership of the SDLP. Campaigning to keep their Labour and Fianna Fail members on board allows little focus for competing against SF