SWOTing the parties: Threats to the SDLP…

Okay, we’re just processing all the material we’ve gathered on the DUP and hopefully will be producing a shorthand analysis on that for further comment later today. The idea is to get away from careless opinion and to provoke more thoughtful long term responses. Today and tomorrow, I want to focus, in reverse order this time on the SDLP’s strategic position. Please note, this is a controlled exercise. So the comments on this thread are not for debate or discussion, just for on topic contributions. Apart from anything else even short casual asides makes things difficult to process when we try to crunch the ‘data’ so to speak. So please don’t take it personally if I remove of edit your contributions… So give us your bullets on the Threats to the SDLP:

  • koan

    a. A widening of investigations into political interference in the planning process.

    b. Ageing leadership

    c. Poor internal communications and organisation

    d. Poor definition of political objectives

    e. The continuing threat from the probable organisation of Fianna Fail in Northern Ireland

  • Los Lobos

    1 A hostil takeover by Age concern and help the aged.
    2 Still seen as part of the problem not the solution as they are a party of government
    3

  • J Kelly

    1.Margaret Ritchie as leader will be seen as Durkans proxy.
    2.Allisdair McDonnell as leader will not have the support of much of the party.

  • Los Lobos

    3 Vaunting Nationalism as a viable modern ideology
    4 Not fully accepting or embracing NI as a state
    5 A unhealable split after the leadership contest
    6 Stuck in neo-liberal economic mode
    7 Meltdown after Durkan leaves his post
    8 Trying to out Sinn Fein, Sinn Fein
    9 No MP’s at Westminister after elections
    10 Unable to be percieved as non sectarian
    11 Falsely dinning on the NI Civil Rights movement

  • Scaramoosh

    1 – “The Good Catholic Party”

  • daisy

    1. Middle-aged, grey party – their only asset was John Hume and it shows
    2. Need a more dynamic membership and more up-to-date policies
    3. Have been unable to take advantage of the split within republicanism and give people a genuine alternative

  • Have the look and feel of a comfortable and dependable pair of old slippers that are fine for around the house but not suitable for public airing.

  • Danny Boy

    1) Being a party of Catholic teachers used to mean being relatively socially progressive. Now it means being about as radical as the Antiques Roadshow.

    2) Voters who are fed up with the main parties’ shenannigans don’t hear the strength of their anger reflected in the SDLP’s polite bleating.

  • Neil

    The mooted electoral pact between the DUP and the UCUNF. Nothing would have ‘swing’ voters moving from the stoops to the shinners like the unspoken suggestion that Nationalists are unacceptable to Unionists in the top job. I haven’t voted for SF in years, but I will this time.

  • ‘The nationalist SDLP’ are not seen as being as nationalist as SF (I acknowledge that this observation falls mainly under the ‘weaknesses’ rather than threats heading, but it should be noted here as well on the grounds that things could get worse for the SDLP on this front.

    Also, possibly open to minor threats if partisan dealignment were to result in other parties stepping into the centre-left political space (though I wouldn’t overstate these, but the Alliance, the PUP and even the UUP potentially have a small electoral appeal to ‘moderate’ catholics who are ‘centrist’ on economic issues).

    I do think that the S, W and O part of this exercise will be a lot more fruitful that the T bit in the SDLP’s case.

  • Banjaxed

    1. Tired policies
    2. Tired representatives
    3. One trick pony – just being anti-SF is not good enough – thus
    4. No coherent strategy for advancing Nationalist ideals
    5. Failure to inspire
    6. Perception as ‘Rollovers’
    7. Present leadership candidates, a recipe for despair
    8. No vision, no vision, no vision and
    9. No vision

  • seosamh

    Do not have the money, or fund-raising ability to compete with Sinn Féin, and when Fianna Fáil get organized in the six counties.

    End of story.

  • John O’Connell

    The only threat to the SDLP is the ignorance of sections of the electorate. The SDLP have it all. They have the message and the ethics. Others do not.

  • Chuck Loyola

    1. ageing leadership
    2. lack SF’s whiff of cordite
    3. lack FF’s whiff of “cute hoorism” so curiously appealling to the southern electorate.
    4. alex attwood as electoral liability
    5. alex attwood as PR liability
    6. alex attwood as aesthetic liability
    7. alex attwood.

  • Banjaxed

    Ethics, JO’C?? Maybe you missed the action of Alastair McDonnell when, as councillor in Belfast, he grabbed the Deputy Mayor’s position in direct opposition to party policy at the time. ‘Self-serving opportunism’ would be a more apt description in his case.

    The only ethical politician I’ve seen in recent years has been Robin Cook who took a principled position on the Iraq war and resigned.

  • Wabbits

    Another threat is stay at home voters on the register.

    Most people who would be SDLP inclined may well feel sidelined and see no point in any of it any more.

    SDLP has small party machine. Not enough foot soldiers.

  • Mark McGregor

    People seem to be mixing up weaknesses with threats.

    Mine:

    Choosing wrong leader
    Divisions after leadership contest
    Failure to attract constituency members
    Perceived irrelevance
    Increasingly unattractive to large/business donors
    Several seats vulnerable

  • daisy

    Threat: From this thread, it would appear to be people voting for SF who wouldn’t normally vote for SF in a kneejerk reaction against perceived unionist abhorrence of a nationalist (or just republican? I’m not sure) FM.

  • Marcionite

    Threats to the SDLP

    1. Unionist unwillingness to serve under a nationalist

    2. Lack of revolutionary/visionary chic.

    3. Are they nationalist or socialist? At least socialism has a discernable tangible economic outcome and is an ongoing policy but nationalism in itself does not have the above. It’s a vacuous intangible idealogy if not backed up by a hard vision

    4. Image. They are verbose and patronising and sanctimonious. Attwood & Ritchie personify these attributes.

    5. Victim of own success. The party’s raison d’être for 35 years was finding the holy Grail of the GFA. now they found it, game over. They’ve no higher game levels to move to , if I use arcade game parlance

    6. Outflanked by SF due to absence of advice centres in poorer districts. SF are seen and heard and are part of the modus vivendi of street life. SDLP are only seen on TV (as an aside, Labour will fall victim to the BNP for this very same reason in England. Summed up as complacency)

  • Banjaxed

    Well, if we follow Mick’s request to the letter in sticking to threats, the main and only one of importance to the SDLP and *ANY* political party, IMHO, is the sight of feet walking away from them, either in a homeward direction or towards their political opponents. Anything else doesn’t matter.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    1 The SDLP has always been vulnerable on two wings (while SF is vulnerable on one…or one and a half if you count abstentionism).
    2 Belfast (1)…..the SDLP has never punched its weight in Belfast. Thirty years ago it could never take more than two seats in West Belfast and one in North Belfast and none in South Belfast.
    3 Belfast (2)…legacy of Fitt and Devlin who both betrayed the Party. They had their own praetorian guard of non SDLP types and the party in West Belfast/Belfast never recovered.
    4 Belfast (3) Changing Demographic. Now one seat in West Belfast but doing ok in more “middle class” South Belfast.
    5 Leadership….Fitt…Hume…all acted “alone” and theres a strange cmpulsion within SDLP for decisions to be centralised and membership to dutifully follow.
    6 Fianna Fáil…most Northern Catholics look a little warily at the stroke politics of FF types. The SDLP is better than that. It will lose votes with the FF connexion. A direct opposite of SF (all Ireland status)…most southerners dont like the SF types.
    7 Margaret Ritchie…really no better than a good local councillor or a mediocre back bencher at Stormont but leader, deputy leader or ministerial material?
    8 Success….what does a political party do when it actually succeeds?. Basically the stuff that Fitt, Hume, Cooper, Devlin, Currie, O’Hanlon were arguing for has more or less happened. Power sharing and an Irish dimension. It cant go on re-inventing the wheel.
    9 Quality of MLAs…nice people…Tommy Burns, Pat Ramsey, Dolores Kelly…but not top drawer.

  • PaddyReilly

    The only threat to the SDLP is the system that they themselves fought to put in place.

    One which gives a little too much importance to the larger party of any designation.

    A coalition between the DUP and SF is unbalanced. It needs the UUP and SDLP as well to give true consent to the governed.

    People are crediting SF with initiatives which are in fact Nationalist initiatives. Equally, others are refusing such measures because they say they are IRA measures, when in fact the SDLP are just as much in favour of them.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Perception – it’s a long standing problem. People see the party as without vision, vigour or strength. They’re wrong ofcourse but this inability to turn this around particularly when Sinn Fein are stagnating is also their great weakness. But as it is, this still threatens to destroy the party.

    The DUP/UUP axis or the perception (theirs that word again) amongst nationalists that unionists are becoming more tribal. Many people who vote for Sinn Fein do so because they have come across in recent years as the only chance to beat away the unionist threat. This run on the SDlP currency may continue.

    Losing Mark Durkan – it seems to me that he is the right leader for them right now and I’d bet an opinion poll would have him way ahead of all other leaders. Losing this could hurt them in upcoming elections

  • Few care what the SDLP thinks, on anything. The leadership contest is largely irrelevant: Father Ted v Mrs Doyle. Still fighting battles won and lost. What is the SDLP for, other than to offer a Party for those who don’t want to vote Sinn Fein?

  • Lionel Hutz

    Perception – it’s a long standing problem. People see the party as without vision, vigour or strength. They’re wrong ofcourse but this inability to turn this around particularly when Sinn Fein are stagnating is also their great weakness. But as it is, this still threatens to destroy the party.

    The DUP/UUP axis or the perception (theirs that word again) amongst nationalists that unionists are becoming more tribal. Many people who vote for Sinn Fein do so because they have come across in recent years as the only chance to beat away the unionist threat. This run on the SDlP currency may continue.

    Losing Mark Durkan – it seems to me that he is the right leader for them right now and I’d bet an opinion poll would have him way ahead of all other leaders. Losing this could hurt them in upcoming elections

  • aquifer

    Being a nationalist party in the middle, without a strong labour bent or a criminal gang, the SDLP always look softer than Sinn Fein.

    Oh the glory days with Gerry Fitt and Paddy Devlin.

    They need to kick Sinn Fein just to show they can.

  • slug

    I see two threats. One from the left, the other from the right.

    The threat from the centre left is Labour. It is surely sensible for Labour to be offered to us as an electorate. When Laboour stand, there is a threat that some people will switch.

    The threat from the centre right is UCU-NF, who, in the longer term, are looking at some of the SDLP’s voters.

  • Medillen

    I see two threats:

    1. Margaret Ritchie becoming leader.

    2. Alaister McDonnell becoming leader.

    A classic pincer movement leaving the party in oblivion.

  • slug

    Under – “OPPORTUNITIES” for the SDLP I will be writing this:

    The opportunity to build the Social Democratic Labour brand. You have the name – put it into practice. Link to Irish Labour, to UK Labour. Do a UCU-NF style arrangement with UK Labour, and a link with Irish Labour. The SDLP the link in teh chain of centre left parties on these islands. Develop as a Social Democratic party first and foremost, and appeal to those of us (myself included) who vote Labour if/when in GB.

    Like the greens, Labour is an internationally recognized brand, and the SDLP have the opportunity to build on that.

  • J Kelly

    Elections, they dont understand strategy and the purpose of elections,
    Greed,
    Jobs for family members, Pat Ramsey has his wife as his driver says it all