SDLP takes centre stage in Panto season with P&J nomination

Both the BBC & UTV are reporting on a decision by the SDLP to nominate Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie as their nomination to the Policing and Justice Ministry.

Criticism of Mark Durkan often centres around his over-intellectualised style and lack of common touch but rarely is he accused of committing glaring strategic blunders.

The SDLP were on firm ground attacking Sinn Féin on their stitch-up with the DUP and the appointment of an Alliance Minister for P&J. SF were starting to get nervous of their cosiness with the DUP evidenced by their newfound love for the Parades Commission after the SDLP correctly identified it as a sacrificial lamb grazing blissfully in the Castlereagh hills.

However SF can now ‘wholeheartedly’ support whichever name the SDLP put forward in the chamber safe in the knowledge the nomination will not attract unionist backing before an Alliance MLA is rowed home in the cross-community boat. It will be a pantomime comparable to the First Executive (that never was).

As the nominating officer that is Durkan’s mistake, although if reports are true by accepting the nomination clearly Ritchie has bought into whatever the strategy is.

Whether it is Durkan or indeed Ritchie who has to sell this farce to the SDLP faithful I would envy neither’s task…