SDLP: (Still a)live from Newcastle…

Okay, this is our first conference live from the venue so to speak… The interest is mostly on who wins the leadership contest, but I’ll be spending some of my time testing the waters and talked to delegates about that contest, the future of the party and (if I can persuade them) to tell us ‘what the SDLP is for?’ Drop me a line if you want to help moderate the live blog, since I’ll be contributing mostly through Twitter and we need people to let people’s comments come through in a timely manner… If you are tweeting, let us have you stream address and we’ll add it… otherwise, we’re picking up the #SDLP hashtag… (Your killer questions please?)

  • Jaggers

    Whilst SF, DUP, UUP and TUV have all issued press releases reacting to the new Hillsborough Agreement, the SDLP have been silent. Is this reflective of a political party with primitive communications or is it the case that the SDLP have been so sidelined in NI politics that any view would be irrelevant anyway? [sorry for confrontational question but the SDLP had time yesterday to issue releases on unregulated exams, the deputy leader and funding for Girdwood barracks]

  • Jaggers

    Given SF’s abandonment of political violence and embrace of Democracy, their Labour left wing position in the political spectrum, their Social campaign for equality for all (which to be honest has meant raising the circumstances and ambitions of nationalists and catholics though it’s fair to say many unionists feel as if they are now on the wrong foot), is it now time to consider a merger of the two parties?

  • nick

    The unfortunate timing of today’s conference, a day after the Shinners sealed the deal, merely underlines the irrelevance and decline of the Stoops.

    As for the change of leadership, rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic springs to mind…

    Still at least there’s no need for Bouncers on the door to stop anyone under 58 trying to get in.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Mick
    On your ‘questions’ request for party figures:

    1. How serious is the party about pursuing its stated objective of Irish unity? What steps are they going to take to convince the nationalist electorate of the seriousness of their intent?

    2. Other than nodding to the pantheon of former SDLP gods, how does the party believe it can distinguish itself from Sinn Fein in terms of all-Ireland intentions and the approach to the era of regional governance at Stormont?

    3. Two of the reasons why SF eclipsed the SDLP were that the former knew not only what the nationalist electorate wanted (at that time) and, crucially, the weaknesses in the SDLP. Do SDLP members believe they know what nationalists want, and do they believe they can identify the critical weaknesses in Sinn Fein?

  • slug

    Mick

    How serious is the SDLP about pursuing its social demicratic and labour valus?

  • slug

    How serious is the SDLP in putting forward the shared future agenda?

  • Los Lobos

    What can the SDLP offer 1 million plus non nationalists in Northern Ireland who don’t share their vision of a United Ireland?

  • Does the SDLP think it would work with unionists better than SF? If yes, what makes them think they can work better with unionists than SF?

  • Jaggers

    What functional political party would have a leadership election three months prior to a major election (in this case the Westminster). Does this reveal an immature party that lacks seriousness?

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Interesting that some of the Twitters or whatever they called have said EXACTLY the same thing about Margaret Ritchie. Thought transference or just organisation?

    I am not sure that any SDLP person would answer a question so insulting as “what is the SDLP for?” For all their faults they have been around for 40 years and dont really need to be explaining themselves at that level.
    As part of any re-launch, the SDLP should pin a few journos against a wall and demand to be treated with a bit of respect. And at least a semblance of impartiality.

    Of course lack of originality is not confined to SDLP Twitter people. Nick (msg 3) mentions “Stoops”. “deckchairs and Titanic” and “bouncers” keeping people aged 58 and under out. Its the way other people tell them Nick.

  • richiep

    The primary work of the SDLP is done , they’ve gotten the provos off the backs of the people and we should all be grateful to them for that.
    They can now reinvent themselves by summoning up the memory of the two great working class Belfast socialists , Gerry Fitt and Paddy Devlin by getting down and dirty with the working class who have been the greatest victims of the troubles.
    Jobs, education, health, community revitalisation are all there to be tackled.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Devlin and Fitt are only heroes to the kinda journalist/academic who believes that Devlins autiobiography is a missing gospel.
    The reason that SDLP never grew in Belfast is that Devlin and Fitt were really only SDLP in name only. Both were more interested in office than in actual hard work which they left to Desmond Gillespie who was the only other SDLP man in Belfast at time of Sunningdale.
    They had their own coterie of non SDLP members who surrounded them. No respect for either man.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Devlin and Fitt are only heroes to the kinda journalist/academic who believes that Devlins autiobiography is a missing gospel.
    The reason that SDLP never grew in Belfast is that Devlin and Fitt were really only SDLP in name only. Both were more interested in office than in actual hard work which they left to Desmond Gillespie who was the only other SDLP man in Belfast at time of Sunningdale.
    They had their own coterie of non SDLP members who surrounded them. No respect for either man.

  • nick

    Fitzjameshorse-‘comments so good that he posts them twice’-not very original that…

  • LabourNIman

    Marky Marks speech is good… but why does he always have to cry??

  • redhugh78

    Anyone notice the SDLP politician who does’nt know who Selwyn Black is?

  • iluvni

    On a scale of 1 to 10, how much of a filure has Mark Durkan been as leader given that a party of terrorists, criminals and paedophile protectors are now the voice of the Roman Catholic community of Northern Ireland?

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Indeed Nick….on a previous thread I managed to post three times. Although personally I didnt think my post was THAT good.

  • richiep

    ” Devlin and Fitt are only heroes to the kinda journalist/academic who believes that Devlins autiobiography is a missing gospel.”

    Think I still have a copy of ” Straight Left ” ( same title as Ruari Quinn’s ) somewhere. Good read , especially when compared with Adams’s diatribe of self love. I tried once to read that but gave up when a long dormant ulcer could take no more.

    There is definitely an opening in urban areas for an honest left wing party . Lukewarm shinner supporters will soon tire of the shenanigans at Stormont .

  • nick

    ‘Indeed Nick….on a previous thread I managed to post three times. Although personally I didnt think my post was THAT good’

    Don’t worry-neither did anyone else

  • fin

    “The primary work of the SDLP is done , they’ve gotten the provos off the backs of the people and we should all be grateful to them for that.”
    richp

    Probably the truest statement I’ve ever read about the SDLP and an easy answer as to why they’ve been rejected by the nationalist community who are more interested in achieving powersharing.

    I think any gratitude for the SDLP comes from unionism (who got Joe Hendron elected) and HMG (who I believe use to show their gratitude with sizable donations to fund SDLP election campaigns)

  • richiep

    Fin, you would have to accept that getting the grouping who killed more Catholics than any other to stop was some achievement.
    Provos have been glad of establishment assistance also, even when it came to writing speeches.

  • Alan N/Ards

    I heard most of Durkans speech. He seems like a decent enough bloke so why does he have get silly little digs in. What was the Peter Robinson “born again” comment all about? Was this a dig at born again christians?

    To be honest, what I seen today on tele, was a lot of well heeled catholic nationlists trying to out green the shinners. What’s with the green, white and orange platform decorations? Are they wanting only catholics to vote for them? Why are they pretending that they are a labour/socialist party? Mind you the shinners are not much better considering the number of people who were bombed out of jobs and homes.

    I look forward to the day when N.I. has a real non sectarian labour party in which all people, regardless of religion, can join and support.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Alan N/Ards …I look forward to similar condemnation of red white and blue decor.

  • willis

    Fitz

    I think Alan’ point was that you do not expect a Labour party to wrap itself in the Tricolour.

    I completely agree with Alan’s sentiment regarding a non-sectarian labour party, can’t see it in my lifetime though.

  • Alan N/Ards

    Fitzjames

    I don’t have a problem with condemning so called (labour) parties that try to get votes using the red, white and blue. It used to be said that you could wrap a monkey in a flag here and people would vote for it.

    A real labour party would try to win votes by its policies not by waving a particular flag or banners from a conference platform. I belive that a real labour party should not care about a U.I. or UK but about helping the people. Was it not John Hume who said “that you cannot eat a flag”. All I was trying to say was that the sdlp are not a labour party. Regardless of the nice concillatary words they use, protestants like me seen them as a nationlist catholic party who have wrapped themselves in the flag John Hume didn’t want to eat.

  • redhugh78

    How the hell is having the Leader of FG at a so called ‘nationalist’ party conference going to win the SDLP votes? beyond me.

  • fin

    “Fin, you would have to accept that getting the grouping who killed more Catholics than any other to stop was some achievement.
    Provos have been glad of establishment assistance also, even when it came to writing speeches.”

    richiep, that stat has always puzzled me I’m guessing it includes catholc british soldiers and catholic british police, so I’m bemused whenever when its brought up, the IRA probably killed more buddists as well!

    Shame that the SDLPs primary goal was not to stop the BA,RUC and unionist paramilitaries to stop killing (catholics or others)

    can you point me to sources for your claim of the establishment writing speeches for the IRA?

    by and large though your response does seem to reinforce why nationalists don’t vote SDLP

  • DerTer

    Some very nasty, cynical and unnecessarily personalised things have been said on this thread. The description ‘Stoops’ is gratuitously offensive; and do republicans not know that ageism is as objectionable as sexism and racism? Moreover, it is difficult to for those of us not within the SDLP fold to avoid the simple truth that we all owe most to that party for the relative peace we enjoy today. Consistency and persistence have been its most staggering virtues: go back to the ‘Towards a New Ireland’ paper submitted at the Sunningdale negotiations in 1973 to see the roots of the GFA. People laughed – he laughed himself – at John Hume’s ‘single transferable speech’, and at Seamus Mallon’s “Sunningdale for slow learners” description of the GFA. But former hunger striker the late Brendan Hughes – regretting the futility of the armed struggle (or what I note the late Tomas McGiolla called “Provo terror”) as set beside the GFA – said much the same thing as Mallon: “From a nationalist perspective alone what we have now we could have had at any time in the last twenty-five years”.
    As an admirer of Gerry Fitt and even more so of Paddy Devlin – a decent, honourable and instinctively anti-sectarian man – I would have to recognise that they were loners rather than party-men. With engaging frankness (or lack of decent reticence), Paddy told me only a few weeks after the SDLP was set up that the only reason he and Fitt became founder members of the SDLP was to prevent Hume from becoming leader! So no credit can be given to them for the party’s most obvious achievements. On the other hand I know there were many who regretted that the SDLP began by adopting a nationalist position, when what was anticipated was a leftist civil rights party with an appeal right across the sectarian divide. One explanation offered for the need for a nationalist label was that it just was not possible to sit on the fence on partition – thus ignoring the damage coming off the fence had done (in the short term at any rate) to the NILP. Whither the SDLP post-Durkan? I think it is much too soon to write it off; indeed after the recent negotiating fiasco I anticipate a return to the SDLP of many electors who voted SF because they thought it would be more likely to be effective in delivering a conclusive political outcome.

  • Stewart

    I can’t see either Ritchie or McDonnell having much effect on the stoops electoral strength.

    The party just looks past it with their ageing elected reps trying to hold on to thier pay packets for another few years before retiring.

  • redhugh78

    Der Ter
    ‘indeed after the recent negotiating fiasco I anticipate a return to the SDLP of many electors who voted SF because they thought it would be more likely to be effective in delivering a conclusive political outcome.’

    come come now, I’m fed up hearing that crap come every election,THEY AINT GOING BACK YE KNOW.

  • DerTer

    Fin has asked for some statistics, so can I ask everyone else who is interested in the substance of this thread to bear with me for just a moment.
    Fin, some stats for you:
    • 60% of deaths in the troubles were caused by republican paramilitaries (50% by the IRA; the rest by republican splinter groups); 30% by UDA, UVF and ‘own label’ loyalists; and 10% by the RUC and British army
    • The RUC lost 302 members (both f/t and reserve), but killed 53 people
    • The IRA and various republican splinter groups lost 355 volunteers, but they killed 2001 people
    • The RUC killed 16 republican paramilitaries (once again, IRA and others); republicans killed 508 police and soldiers
    • Republicans killed 713 civilians; the RUC killed 31 civilians
    • Republicans killed more Catholics than the loyalist UDA
    I don’t know if these latter figures include Catholics in the British army and RUC, but are you seriously claiming that this would have a statistically significant impact on the truth of the broad statement that republicans killed more Catholics than the UDA?
    Furthermore, I’ve often thought that if the British state was supposed to be “waging war against the nationalist people of the North”, as SF/IRA would have it, they did a very poor job. For substantiation of this and the other figures provided above, see the full, sordid and detailed picture at the University of Ulster’s CAIN website, where there are comprehensive tables at:
    http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/issues/violence/cts/tables.htm
    Now back to the SDLP.

  • John O’Connell

    I think that, with a little bit of good luck, the SDLP should narrow the margin with Sinn Fein in the near future.

    I expect, of course, that Gerry Adams will be badly damaged even more this time when Darkie Hughes’ book comes out and we hear about the IRA involvement he denies and the fact that he sent certain people to their deaths.

    It really hasn’t been tested yet whether the Nationalist public could stomach leadership from people who’ve committed specific actions. They know they were in there but they don’t know what they’ve ordered.

    Could this book be the turning point in the fortunes for the SDLP. These are changed times.

  • John O’Connell

    DerTer

    Good post. But statistics won’t move the mountains we need to move in order to bring the SDLP back into play. The sight of pictures of the brave big Gerry Adams ordering the death of a frail little woman with eleven children might see off Gerry and reduce the Sinn Fein capacity to make electoral war on the SDLP.

  • redhugh78

    John,
    Don’t hold your breath.
    Everyone assumes Gerry was ‘in the Ra’ anyway, so it’d be safe to assume that most people already have accepted he was involved in operational decisions anyway and even it does shock some,
    it does not necessarily mean they are going to vote SDLP.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The description ‘Stoops’ is gratuitously offensive; and do republicans not know that ageism is as objectionable as sexism and racism?

    Dry your eyes.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Willis
    Hmmm James Connolly .

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Alan,
    Did you see them WAVE a flag? Or is it just hyperbole?
    Nor did you see anyone eating it metaphorically?
    Serving neither “King nor Kaiser” is an intrinsic part of Irish Labour movement.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Der Ter,
    I think you make some reasonable points. You liked Paddy Devlin. I didnt. He was never an SDLP “party man”. He had his own coterie of people who were closer to him than anybody officially in SDLP. Thats how he worked.
    I also find the label “Stoops” offensive and frankly usually used by youngsters trying to show off.
    John O’Connell…even allowing for your caveat “with a bit of luck” I cant see any reasonable expectation that SDLP will close the gap on SF. They will get “soft” SF votes in South Belfast to help McDonnell and I suspect there will be some resilient anger also that SF cheated them out of a Justice portfolio. I feel rather aggrieved about that myself but frankly no unionist party would really accept a Catholic or Nationalist minister of Justice (Empey doesnt want catholics in his Party for Gods sake!).
    I also think that Nationalists DO accept that SF members were involved in directing Terrorism. I doubt that those who have acknowledged high office within IRA could have held such positions without being involved.
    I daresay half of the MLAs in SF have “criminal records”. And it doesnt bother their voters. Indeed I..choosing my words carefully and deliberately (and possibly offensive to some)..that the fact that are IRA is a comfort to their voters. These people CAN deliver. No point in dealing with people who were NOT heavily involved.
    When unionists say that IRA is in government they are…I believe….right. The Creative Ambiguity rules mean that we must all pretend otherwise.

    As for Sunningdale for slow learners…well Seamus Mallon was just a little to premature. The GFA brought the IRA in from the cold….ironically the SDLPs greatest achievement has been deliberately empowering its main rival (hence my distaste at the “Stoops” jibe of adolescent bloggers).
    But Mallon failed to recognise that the Sunningdale process was only complete when the extremists were actually in the First Ministers Offices.
    Post Durkan SDLP should be worrying for the Party.
    More vigourous nationalism so despised by old NILP “Im a socialist” labour types or an appeal to the so called middle ground?
    Frankly there is a void in the leadership…..Ritchie? McDonnell?……but really only Attwood and McGlone looking vaguely Front Bench (Alban Magennis probably has a Chief Justice role somewhere ahead and keeping political low profile)…….but Dolores Kelly, Tommy Burns…..are just not up to it.
    They already lost Patricia Lewsley (very capable) and has been unable to get that Marietta (?) Farrell or Sharon (?) Haughey elected and its NOT a good scenario.

  • willis

    Fitz

    That would be this James Connolly.

    “The day has passed for patching up the capitalist system; it must go. And in the work of abolishing it the Catholic and the Protestant, the Catholic and the Jew, the Catholic and the Freethinker, the Catholic and the Buddhist, the Catholic and the Mahometan will co-operate together, knowing no rivalry but the rivalry of endeavour toward an end beneficial to all. For, as we have said elsewhere, socialism is neither Protestant nor Catholic, Christian nor Freethinker, Buddhist, Mahometan, nor Jew; it is only Human. We of the socialist working class realise that as we suffer together we must work together that we may enjoy together. We reject the firebrand of capitalist warfare and offer you the olive leaf of brotherhood and justice to and for all.”

  • Medillen

    Can we please also dispense with this nonsense that the SDLP brought about peace or brought Sinn Fein out of the cold. The Republican Movement had decided by 1987 that a peace and justice strategy was required to advance the struggle, as the armed struggle had reaached a military stalemate. The strategy involved finding common ground with nationalism north and south in order to build a broader concensus towards a collective aim of unity. In the north the RM looked around for a weak link in the SDLP resistance to dialogue, they found it in John Humes’ ego. Dialogue began, and to Humes’ credit persisted against huge opposition in the SDLP, and the strategy began to bear fruit as we moved towards the potential agreements and eventually ceasefires with resulting politcal progress. The SDLP neither initiated the process or they were central to it and have simply lost their relevance once the Republican Movements strategy advanced.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Yes Willis…the one who fought and died for an Irish Republic.

  • fin

    DerTer,
    Geez, they are fairly damning stats, the ‘security’ forces killed more civilians than bad guys EVEN before factoring in the assistance given to unionist terrorists, I wonder if it was mostly nationalist civilians (nay, just kidding I know it was) yet despite this I’m told the primary work of the SDLP was to stop the IRA, and they wonder why nationalists won’t vote for them.
    p.s
    I see the security forces were exceptionaly bad at killing unionist terrorists, gosh

  • Comrade Stalin

    I also find the label “Stoops” offensive and frankly usually used by youngsters trying to show off.

    Bollocks. Everyone calls them the “Stoops”. It’s not usually in a way that’s intended to be insulting, just a nickname that has stuck.

    I have to admit, it is a bit passe these days. I prefer the “Schoolteachers, Doctors and Lawyers Party”.

    But Mallon failed to recognise that the Sunningdale process was only complete when the extremists were actually in the First Ministers Offices.

    Therein lies the problem – the Hume doctrine that you can create lasting peace by putting terrorists in suits and giving them (substantially) what they want. Why weren’t the SDLP campaigning to see the UDA/UVF parties awarded executive ministerial seats ?

  • nollaig a chara

    oh passed through newcastle earlier i hope the SDLP take down all the colour run posters campagining for Madge

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Comrade Stalin,
    The UDA/UVF has always claimed its violence was reactive.
    It never had the POLITICAL strength of militant Republicans.
    John Hume is a Republican.
    Far too soon to tell if the Peace is lasting but would you like to visit the CAIN website and state the number of deaths in the ten years to 1998…….and the ten years after 1998?
    I wont embarrass you with actual figures.
    Suffice to say it makes a nonsense of your point about “The Hume Doctrine” doesnt it?

  • Eurocrat

    Despite the very sarcastic title for this post the SDLP is still very much alive and kicking. Was at their conference this evening and I must say I was impressed by the speeches and general atmosphere. It is easy to knock the “stoops” for their poor electoral form but people should recognise their contribution towards getting the North to the position it is in now.

    Yes it is true that they should not look back too fondly on past glories but I saw many young people at their conference tonight and they have plenty of much needed new energy.

    It is important that whatever leader that is elected tackles their major problems and creates a party that has directiom, is organised and has purpose.

    I for one hope that they really pull things together because the North needs an energised, honest and organised SDLP.

  • Alias

    “John Hume is a Republican.” – FitzjamesHorse

    John Hume is neither a nationalist nor a republican. A nation is not the same thing as a nationality, whereas a nationalist is someone who advocates a sovereign state, typically a nation-state which is, of course, inseparable from nationality. When John Hume used the term “constitutional nationalism” it was the British constitution which rejected the right to his local tribe to self-determination that he was referring to, and not the Irish constitution which asserted it.

    John Hume’s vision fits in with the English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish nations, which are non-sovereign nations within a British unitary state. None of those nations have a nationality that is a function of their respective nation since they are, rather obviously, non-sovereign nations. They all share British nationality. And nationality is a function of a sovereign state.

    John Hume’s view is that nations do not need to be sovereign, so he logically endorses transnational structures such as the UK and the EU.

    Like the Shinners, he has formally rejected the right to national self-determination of the nation to which he belongs in the region wherein he resides, downgrading it to the status of a token aspiration that will fade away in due course. He has also explicitly rejected the concept of the nation-state.

    There are circa 8,000 nations in the world but only 194 sovereign states. The England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are not among them but the UK is. If John Hume argues in common with the UK that you have no inalienable right to be among the lucky 194 and would like to join the other 8,000 and you agree with him, then that is your pejorative. It’s no big deal. Most of those non-sovereign nations share a common nationalism and are not nationalists either.

  • Erasmus

    There is one vital point that has neither been made forcefully enough nor often enough to SF critics of the SDLP.
    These ‘critics’ argue within the parameters of nationalist street cred and commitment to a UI objective in which area they perceive the SDLP to be weak. The SDLP may be ageing, jaded, unimaginative, lacking in ground presence, top heavy with professional types etc etc.
    But they have one whopping great advantage over SF in terms of UI credentials which understandably exercises the minds of many N.I. nationalists: that is the goodwill of the ROI population with which the said NI nationalists hope to coalesce.
    There is no comparison: the SDLP are like long-cherished relations; SF are like the family black sheep.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Alias.you seem to be suggesting that John Hume is “a man apart”……neither Republican or nationalist.
    As he nominated himself as a “Nationalist” in the Assembly we can assume he is Nationalist.
    Likewise despite his many awards we might reasonably expect a man of his stature to hold some kind of bauble from Mrs Windsor…not even an OBE or a peerage.
    A monarchist or unionist…he aint.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Erasmus……this is very true.
    Sinn Féin in the south has suffered as a result of their 6 county leadership.
    SDLP on the other hand enjoys a good reputaion in the south which can only be tarnished by linking with Fianna Fáil held to be a party of “stroke politicians” in the north.

  • John O’Connell

    Medillen

    The Republican Movement had decided by 1987 that a peace and justice strategy was required to advance the struggle, as the armed struggle had reaached a military stalemate.

    I refer you to http://johnoconnell.org/Believe.htm if you really want to know the truth. The truth is stranger than fiction. And I know that the voters will come back to the SDLP when the time is right and when they have got over this fascination with trying to intimidate the unionists into a united Ireland.

    When they want to persuade the unionists they’ll come back to the SDLP. What side of a Rwanda or a Bosnia that derives from, who knows? Perhaps Gerry Adams knows? Perhaps no human being knows?

  • John O’Connell

    Redhugh78

    I’m sure people are aware that Gerry Adams was imvolved with the IRA but when they see pictures of Jean McConville on screen, they will see the lack of empathy at the heart of the all miliatrism and they will think twice about endorsing his strategy.

    When they realise that it must inevitably lead to them having to fight a Bosnia, or Rwanda, they will chuckie no more.

  • Greenflag

    fitzer,

    ‘Sinn Féin in the south has suffered as a result of their 6 county leadership.’

    Not really . They have suffered from not attracting enough electable candidates during the years of the tiger . They also have to contend with much stronger political opposition in the Republic and they miss out on having the ‘sectarian’ inflammatory background in the Republic -which is what helps to consolidate their vote particularly among the young in Northern Ireland .

    It’s not clear yet whether SF in the South can attract the hundreds of thousands of disaffected youth . Some 3 in 4 young people under the age of 25 have little confidence in the present political establishment to dig the country out of it’s present mess .

    But then I’m sure the percentage numbers of disaffected youth could be replicated right now in NI -the UK or the USA .

    The problem for SF is that for their ‘hard left’ agenda to ever be a practical possibility in Ireland it would first have to be taken on board in the larger economies of Germany, France , the UK. Spain and Italy . Ireland cannot afford to be isolated politically from our major trading partners .

    The people have no desire to return to Dev’s bucolic pastoral paradise where as many people left the country each year as were born into it .

    SF have to move towards the centre -assuming that at some point in this economic downturn worldwide that the centre will remain a political destination that offers reasonable hope to hundreds of millions across the world .

    That is not guaranteed of course . The countries of the world have yet to reach a new economic paradigm and the birthing process is still underway.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Greenflag,
    I take your point and note the caveat “Not Really” which suggests you see my point also.
    The point of agreement is that we agree SF down South do not have enough electable candidates. In part that is due to most of the major faces being “northern”.
    The recent talks at Hillsborough with Mary Lou and Ferris prominent serves the twin purpose of showing its northern voters that SF is a 32 county party AND antagonising unionists.
    We have even seen the knuckle dragger response fom unionists on this Board which is always satisfying.
    But in the north SF is preaching to the converted (in one community). They start off in the south about 25 years behind in terms of mass appeal.

    I note you concentrate on economics, trading partners, Europe, Celtic Tiger etc. This is crucial. This is uppermost in most southern minds. Mary Lou at the Hillsborough Top Table and Ferris hovering in press briefings has I believe a mixed (at best) reaction in the south among potential voters who see them mixed up in a northern sideshow which is either entertaining or irrelevant to economy.
    The most recent Southern Election was a disappointment for SF. They thought they might take a few extra seats and while they certainly came close…I have heard some anecdotal evidence which suggests that southerners were wary of van loads of northerners enthusiastically descending on their constituency. Probably a case where LESS was MORE.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The UDA/UVF has always claimed its violence was reactive.

    Yes, but everyone knows that this wasn’t the truth.

    It never had the POLITICAL strength of militant Republicans.

    The political strength of the republicans was very limited until they found a politician who was willing to lend them credibility and make them acceptable to middle-class Catholic voters. That politician was John Hume.

    John Hume is a Republican.

    I don’t remember him ever describing himself as such while he was SDLP leader, or before.

    Far too soon to tell if the Peace is lasting but would you like to visit the CAIN website and state the number of deaths in the ten years to 1998…….and the ten years after 1998?
    I wont embarrass you with actual figures.
    Suffice to say it makes a nonsense of your point about “The Hume Doctrine” doesnt it?

    No. The “Hume Doctrine” assumes that Hume persuaded the IRA to adopt peace. In fact the IRA were essentially militarily defeated and had been talking to the British government through back channels since the late 1980s with a view to trying to find a way out. The deal with Hume was that he would give them a leg up, and Hume would take the credit.

    So I don’t credit the Hume doctrine with creating the peace that we now enjoy. The IRA fought as hard as it could, and lost, and ultimately surrendered and unilaterally disarmed.

    If anything, Hume delayed the reconciliation process. The 1992 Brooke talks offered a promising path forward, something similar to what we ended up with in 1998, and the indications are that the DUP as well as the UUP may have been on board. We could have had that six years earlier if Hume hadn’t decided to walk out to promote Hume-Adams instead.