Ritchie to stand for SDLP Leader

Margaret Ritchie has announced her intention to stand for leader of the SDLP. Speaking in Parliament Buildings flanked by Carmel Hanna MLA (South Belfast), Dolores Kelly MLA (Upper Bann), Mary Bradley MLA (Foyle), Thomas Burns (South Antrim), Tommy Gallagher (Fermanagh South Tyrone) and Alex Attwood MLA (West Belfast), Ms Ritchie said:

I have a comprehensive plan for the renewal of the party and an exciting vision for the way forward, I will be setting out that vision to the broad party membership and to the wider public thereafter.

Sources suggest Ms Ritchie has the support of the majority of the SDLP Assembly team.

  • AlanAlan

    Who was it said

    “You are awful, but I do like you . . ?”

  • loki

    this’ll be interesting. think I’d prefer her to McDonald

  • exile

    [i]Sources suggest Ms Ritchie has the support of the majority of the SDLP Assembly team.[/i]

    Talking to youself again, Conall?

  • Hi exile.

    Nope. Not talking to myself. I would not know. It’s what I am told!

  • brendan,belfast

    What sources? I have heard the exact opposite so maybe the introduction of the story will be changed to say “mixed sources have mixed messages and each suits their own agenda”

    But I can’t see that happening.

  • spiritof07

    That’s an interesting announcement. Did Margaret signal her intention to step down from her Ministerial role in order to actually lead the party?

  • allstar

    Seems as if story is being spun already. A election may be a good thing for the SDLP but of those six mentioned as supporters: three are unlikely to be standing again- so the future is not on their agenda. One is definitely going in the next number of months. Two are barely holding on to their own seats and are definite risks at the next election. And one is pledging loyalty to two camps! Outstanding organisation!

  • Justin

    Is the Internet really the best place to discuss internal party matters Conall?

  • eric

    “I have a comprehensive plan for the renewal of the party and an exciting vision for the way forward, I will be setting out that vision to the broad party membership and to the wider public thereafter.”

    What’s the odds that this is “we’ll plod along as we are” – “we were right all along – everyone should support us” – “oh look!, a dignitary from down South is standing next to us”

    Can’t wait

  • TKbytesback

    An election will be a good thing as it may very well energise a lethargic membership. Two very different choices of candidate now exist- if Alastair is joining Margaret in the race. My gut intinct is that there is some more electoral pain coming down the line for the SDLP and either candidate may rue taking the chalice of leadership before 2010 is out. The question is which one has the most to lose? Too many of those with a vested interest are fair well travellers and are more interested in stopping one side than going forward for positive reasons- hardly a basis for the renewal of a party! The measurement of success or failure of either successful candidate is only months away..so we wont have long to await to see if the membership of the SDLP make a choice that reasonates with the mood of wider nationalist audience. An early test after the election is the ability to raise funds for the party…money follows the route of success. Whoever is the Treasurer of the SDLP these days can’t be overly optimistic.

  • Thereyouarenow

    It would be good to have an able woman (and I believe she is) leading a political party on this island.

    She is a good performer in the Assembly and she would be the shot in the arm that the SDLP needs.

    If she does get it watch how some of the other politicians will shoot themselves in the foot with some dodgy remarks regarding her gender.
    Mark my words they will and it will be amusing to watch.
    Some of NI politicians do not deal with the female gender easily.

  • allstar

    Have all three SDLP MPs declared the contents of their letters now?

  • Tkbytesback

    In fairness Justin, why should not Conall put post on the internet.. after all it will be in the papers tomorrow. Though Conall has more than a passing interest in the outcome! Thereyouarenow. you are right someone will cock up over MR’s gender but Margaret would also be unwise to play the ‘sisterhood’ card .. she has not to date throughout her career and it would be shallow to do so now. But hey all is fair in love and politics .. its only most of our politicians have glass jaws when it comes to taking criticism. But a glass jaw is preferable to two faces…

  • riddle me this

    Good luck to Margaret though I fear she will be in for a rough ride. Some awkward questions regarding her decision to terminate CTI funding may follow. In particular questions as to why the CTI scheme continues to run, was running during the court case and why her own Department negotiated for a new contract for the project must be answered. Margaret talked tough but delivered no victory whatsoever other than a rather large legal bill.

    I feel she has declared rather too soon and without taking proper soundings throughout the party. I await her vision for the party with interest.

  • alan56

    Her entry to the race will be good for SDLP. She is able and affable.. if only she could be more natural when speaking to the media. I listened to her on Malachi O’Doherty’s web site when she assumed the interview was not for broadcast…. and she was great.

  • DC

    Is that a stale fart I smell in the room?

    I suppose it merits a slow clap.

    Where are the younger people, I mean Ritchie is okay but hardly a regenerator (nor is McDonnell), may stop the decline by a year or two; unless Sinn Fein suffers from an implosion along with the economy than experience say this much-awaited mind-blowing community orgasm from policing and justice powers. You just never know as p&j is fast turning into an anticlimax.

  • Expenses111

    1. How unprofessional yet again of Conall to mention sources.

    2. Is this taking away from Eddie McGrady’s expenses?

    3. Does cheating win?

  • Justin

    Thanks for your comment.

    I think its important to give people outside the party the opportunity to debate this issue. My own view is that politics is too often consigned to the committee room.

    My hope is that this becomes a debate about the opportunities for the SDLP and how they are realised rather then a personality contest.

    Conall

  • Pancho’s Horse

    If I may quote myself, “Who better to lead a party of old women than an old woman” AND every time I see her face I think of the three black marble slabs eulogising the unionist terrorists in Kilcoolie.

  • Interesting Competition Ahead

    Would Justin prefer that the only candidate was MrMcDonald?

    Why cant this be discussed on the internet? If it was a candidature for SF then we would almost certainly all be interested.

  • granni trixie

    Panchos Horse:
    In your quote from yourself – do you really not know that you are being ageist and sexist …or just trying to wind us up?

    That aside, the SDLP are a dead duck which is obviously why Mark Durkin has ducked out of the leadership. So good luck to anyone who thinks they can revive it.

  • slug

    Conal

    I am not a nationalist so you can take this how you like, but I don’t think that the future is out-greening SF. It is surely in developing Social Democrat politics that can appeal to non-nationalists. There is a gap in the market there.

  • StarHound

    Is this as good as it’s going to get for the SDLP leadership contest?

    It’s hardly inspiring and I have a terrible feeling that the comment above from eric (9) is pretty much how it will pan out. Her DSD record seems to be endless PR opportunities with photos and little money or substance to back up the hot air.

    I don’t think too many ex-SDLP voters will need to think about going back any time soon. Still, at least she’s not Alastair…or Alex, or Eddie, or Alban…

  • Big Bird

    Let’s get this straight then.

    On June 2, 2009, a press release from Mark Durkan “clarified” his invoice returns over 2 nights for 2 people in a double hotel room (bed and full breakfast) which appeared on page 47 of his expenses claim for 2005/06. That was in his claims form for 01/07/05 – 31/07/05 – just weeks after his election as MP. Mark stated that he only claimed half the hotel costs at the time from the Commons, totalling £176-00… ‘cos the hotel had, apparently, made a mistake.

    On June 23, 2009, another press release entitled “Mark Durkan Clarifies Expenses Repayments” was issued which he admitted making four separate repayments to the Commons – one for £1,124 on electricity; one for £200 on a cash-back offer for a new mobile phone; one for two mobile phone monthly bills totalling £80; and the fourth totalling £302 in relation to reductions in an accommodation deposit – £1,706 in total.

    Now on October 13, 2009, off the back of Sir Thomas Legg’s inquiry, Mark Durkan accepts that he should have to pay back a further £100 on council tax, and a further £136 for wrongly claiming three nights hotel expenses for his wife back around June 30, 2005, for attending his maiden speech…. (did it really, ummmm, last three, ummmm, days?)

    Yet he’d already (apparently) accepted back in June this year that he wasn’t entitled to claim for his wife’s, or anyone else’s, hotel costs. Shurely shome mishtake you might shay.

    Bit curious, really. Did Mark genuinely think it was ok to claim for two people in June 2005 and then have a pang of conscience in July 2005, but happily forget the four-day round trip he and his wife had made to London a few weeks earlier?

    What’s more his wife is his parliamentary employee, paid by you know who… the taxpayer through the Commons. (Not to mention the lightbulbs, toiletries, laundry, cleaning, food, groceries, new tv, scart lead, freeview box, bog-roll… etc, etc, etc)

    It all begs the question: what else, ummmm, must we now, ummmmm, wait for, ummmm, Mark, ummmm, to, ummm, “clarify”…..?????

  • Salem

    To get this back on track – very clever Big Bird or should I say bird brain !!!

    We can all quote Ministeral expenses – However I might point out that the SDLP have been open about the fact their repayments. Where we say the DUP try their best to cover their tracks and inapproriate claims.

    Anyhow Good on Margaret Ritchie, she has proved herself to be strong to stand up again and again to the constant attacks on her from DUP and SF. She is more than capable than taking over the reins as SDLP Leader, but I think we could wait and see if we shall get anymore names ………….perhaps Alban Maginness ?

  • fair deal

    Conall,

    Interested on your own view of the expected leadership battle, between Alistair and Margaret. Are you supporting the Balmoral branch line, as seen by Carmel Hanna’s position and opting for Margaret or is their a third candidate?

  • Vulture

    FF and Irish Labour are readying themselves for the impending bloodbath that will see the SDLP split all over the place. A spent force. We are all aware of Conall’s Labour tendencies, its strange that on one page he is complaining that people constantly bring up FF and Labour with regard to the SDLP leadership contest, and then he goes and contradicts himself by saying “I think its important to give people outside the party the opportunity to debate this issue. My own view is that politics is too often consigned to the committee room”.

  • Vulture. I am in the SDLP wing of the SDLP. Not a Labour one or a Fianna Fail one. Just want, again, to make that clear.

    The vast majority of SDLP members I meet do not bring up FF or Labour. They bring up the SDLP and want to be part of a renewal process. Nor do I think it will be the issue in this contest. I think the big issue will be renewal.

  • Jeb

    Hold on. Wait. Alright. No, wait, aw – ok. I think its ok. Right. No wait. I can’t stick this. My sides are sore. Alright, ok, I’ve got my breath back again.

    Now go – quick Conall, say it again, real quick…. SAY IT – “Renewal”

    Aaaahhhaaaaahhhhaaahhhhaaahhhaaahhhaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Belter Con man. Renewal – with Mags and Big Al. Priceless!!!!!!!!! Absolutely priceless!!!!!!!

    Now away back to watching the West Wing and give us another while to recover.

  • Expenses111

    Any word on Eddie McGrady’s letter? The only one the press haven’t mentioned.

  • [i]I am not a nationalist so you can take this how you like, but I don’t think that the future is out-greening SF. It is surely in developing Social Democrat politics that can appeal to non-nationalists. There is a gap in the market there.[/i]

    Hear, hear!

    [i]Is the Internet really the best place to discuss internal party matters Conall?[/i]

    God forbid that anyone discusses the ‘secret’ public press conference!

    [i]Any word on Eddie McGrady’s letter? The only one the press haven’t mentioned.[/i]

    No, but he has [url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/8306998.stm]just won a libel case[/url] and the DUP are paying back a few grand…

  • URQUHART

    I have a lot of time for Margaret Ritchie, but I can’t for the life of me understand why she has made this decision.

    She’s doing a good job in the Department and should be focussing on getting on with it. Obviously she would have to resign if she wins, but would another leader let her stay if she loses?

    It’s hard to shake the feeling that she’s being used by the ‘Anyone but Alasdair’ caucus.

  • Padraig

    She seems to be a very odd lady, with very odd mannerisms.

    Reminds me off Michael Foot.

    They say when you are in a hole stop digging. The SDLP have brought in a JCB

  • Vulture

    Oh yeh Conall?

    Exhibit A: FF become all Ireland party, McDonnell joins when he loses WM seat

    http://file038a.bebo.com/12/large/2007/11/08/15/1147816805a6055009942l.jpg

    Exhibit B: Durkan heads up new NI Labour Party with dual membership of Irish and British Labour.

    http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2008/06/06/article-0-01658B2B00000578-639_233x423.jpg

    And maybe even for the rump left:

    http://torystoryni.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/triple-alliance1.jpg

    Your party is over after the leadership contest, as it will have torn itself apart. But as a SFer I welcome the aligment of southern parties on an all Ireland basis. The SDLP are finished.

  • SDLP supporter

    Vulture – OMG SHOCK HORROR ! SDLP Politicans in the the same picture with other politicans and infront of a logo! Would you go grow a pair !

    The SDLP have not torn itself part – and no the SDLP are not finished.

    We were here at begining of the Peace Process working for all people of Ireland and we will continue to work for the people of Ireland.

    Whilst Sinn Fein are happy to sell parts of the Good Friday Agreement off for more DUP authorised executive action.

    We will be here to continue to stand up and work towards a shared future for all people of Ireland.

  • Expenses111

    What about Eddie now? Paying back £6111.

    What about Mark Devenport’s comments calling Ritchie a liar

  • Comrade Stalin

    Obviously she would have to resign if she wins, but would another leader let her stay if she loses?

    Why is everyone saying that Ritchie has to resign as a minister if she becomes SDLP leader ?

    Being a minister didn’t stop Ian Paisley or Peter Robinson. It doesn’t stop Reg (although you’d be forgiven for not being aware that he is a minister at all) and I’m reasonably sure that Durkan was either DFP Minister or deputy First Minister for a short time during his initial period in the SDLP leadership.

  • Sean Og

    Is there another candidate yet?