SDLP leadership readers’ survey: McGlone leads with good show from McDevitt…

Okay, as has been said several times, this online survey, and was just for fun… So why do it (I hear FitzJamesHorse calling out from the group of troublesome boys at the back of the comment zone)?

Well, it’s a sampling exercise… Not a sample of the electorate, but the rough opinion of the online readership of Slugger O’Toole… It should be noted that there is a substantial urban and in particular a Belfast bias to our readership (which may make some of the results something of a surprise)…

So if we were to assume that this was an accurate sample of general political sentiment what might it tell us? Well, perhaps, that fortunes favours the bold?

Most notable is the very poor showing for the Minister Alex Attwood. Of the two ‘younger’ candidates, it is McDevitt who has the more significant sentiment with him. If this is reflected in the real figures, he will be some someone the new leader must be prepared to deal with.

At least as far out front as Attwood is behind, Patsy McGlone is a clear favourite to take the leadership. He was first to announce his intentions, and has been in campaign mode for much of the summer, courting party branches across Northern Ireland.

Significantly, if the real results were anything like this one, it suggests that even if Attwood were to cash in his chips in favour of McDevitt (as has been rumoured), they would still not have enough support to catch McGlone…

Alisdair McDonnell gets a respectable share of our virtual electorate… He and his younger south Belfast rival are pretty much neck and neck in second place (there’s just five votes between them)…

, ,

  • leftofcentre

    Do we know if there are any public candidate debates planned?

    I know there was one last week for SDLP youth but it would be nice if they had one for the rest of us.

    I will bring the pop corn…

  • Ah thats a bit unfair. 😉
    Mr Fealty and I are both pointing up the limitations of the poll.
    As to the poll itself and interesting ……actually very interesting narrative ……..I am too constrained to comment.

    But interestingly Mr Fealty draws attention to the urban/Belfast bias of Slugger O’Toole which has perhaps skewed the results.
    Interestingly at the weekend I was reading an interesting website of an organisation which reported low or no response to an online survey it had undertaken.
    Heavily reliant on Belfast (particuarly South Belfast) there were actually no responses to its online survey from Mid Ulster and West Tyrone.
    And what organisation was that?
    Platform for Change……..and as far as I know there is only one Leadership candidate who is a member of this Party within a Party (or three or four parties).

    PfC….a Very Non-Militant Tendency of an “entryist” nature.
    I suspect many PfC members are Slugger readers. They wouldnt be backing “their” candidate by any chance?

  • the wrong side of 40

    My understanding of the whole leadership contest is that the party wants to keep it all internal, and therefore it is unlikely that there will be any opportunity for a public debate.

    I think that there would be a lot of relief that the bigger story is the Southern election. The media and many others are in no way interested in the SDLP leadership yet, that suits the party. If the 4 guys were being pursued and harrased for commentary then someone would inevitably fall into the trap of being over critical of one of their colleagues. Then the gloves would be off and we would have a much more interesting contest.

    A lot can happen in 6 weeks mind you, but so far its all being kept behind closed doors.

  • Leftofcentre, I understand it is to be a balloon debate.

    The burner is running out of fuel, the hot air balloon is sinking fast and survival is dependent on self sacrifice, or failing self sacrifice, casual manslaughter perhaps even murder most foul.

    The four would be leaders consider self sacrifice but rule it out on account of the public interest and the resulting democratic deficit .

    They consider secondary , one step removed, self sacrifice but rule it out on the grounds that with each needing to keep one hand around another’s throat they each have insufficient resource to effect the manoeuvre.

    Young Stoops refuse to provide extra resource and support without influencing the outcome.

    The Burner runs out of fuel but curiously the balloon rallies, remains airborne and begins to rise. Onlookers suspect that the debate is getting heated and the hot air balloon has unwittingly a most surprising yet obvious source of fuel.

    Thud!!! Alex hits the ground with two knives in his back. Hot air balloon plummets earthwood but a gargantuan effort from Conall is alas not enough. Alisdair bellows mightily and saves the day. The balloon steadies and rises. Conall recognises his limitations and steps outside but rescues stray polar bear. Bounce!!! He’s back in the basket again.

    The debate continues and the SDLP balloon is out of sight and out of mind, rudderless, with nobody listening and not on anybody’s radar, and a danger to the Sinn Fein Presidential helicopter brought in to replace the battlebus for the last few days of the election.

  • Damian O’Loan

    “I’m not pretending that it’s anything other than a fun crowd sourcing exercise”

    The question was, “which of the four contenders for the leadership of the SDLP is most likely to win?”

    It is a ‘fun’ test of crowd-forecasting abilities.

    As others have hinted at, this was so badly conducted, it’s just meaningless.

    I used to think your multiple mistakes were forgivable, over time I’ve realised you just throw things down without thinking them through. More polls and more preparation would be good.

    In the meantime, “significantly, if the real results were anything like this one”, is just not significant at all – it indicates nothing.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Mick, Damian has a point, no-one was asked who they supported but were asked who is most likely to win, which makes the whole exercise virtually meaningless.

    Patsy is the obvious answer for most likely to win, but McDonnell is putting up a good fight and looks like he could gain ground.

  • Mick Fealty

    Wow. Hold on there. Touché on the ‘significantly’ thing Damian. But how exactly do you think more polls would fix the problem?

    As pointed out previously this is about crowd sourcing judgement, not looking for a representative sample (which would be seriously misrepresenting what can be done with any Internet poll).

    It’s no less reliable than the tiny amount of cash in that’s in Paddy Power’s Market for this question.

    I can see some merit in doing it the other way, but only if you could control for SDLP membership. We can’t, so I didn’t do it that way!

    Ditto Drumlin!

  • As there can only be one winner……..the clear thing is that most respondents have actually got the answer wrong that have got it right.

    If McGlone wins….47% have got the answer right but 53% have got the got the answer wrong……but this is the “best” outcome as it shows the Sluggerites have analysed the situation badly.
    If for example McDevitt wins, a staggering 76% of respondents will have answered incorrectly.

    The one clear

  • Mick Fealty

    Just to iterate on that last point a little further DR.

    Measuring how you might choose to vote were you a member of the SDLP would ‘infect the data’ since you are in fact a member of another party.

    Your Individual judgement however does have a value because you have both a knowledge of and a passion for NI politics.

    Within a large and diverse aggregate it’s value is further enhanced, because your sets of biases (unionist, rural, non participating) can counteract those of others (nationalist, urban, participating).

    Of course there’s no control for that diversity other than we can be fairly sure that the people who read Slugger come from across the political piece. SDLP voters may be more inclined to participate, not least by those keen to skew the results by lobbying.

    However, it should be noted that these general patterns have been relatively consistent throughout the period of data collection.

    At least they can’t comprise the complete set. I’m simply making a virtue of necessity, in the hope it gives us a useful prediction. If there’s any mileage in it, we might look at ways to capture similar data in future in more controlled ways.

    So, it’s not perfect. But we don’t (yet) have lavish budgets for that kind of thing on Slugger… We’ll see how imperfect it was when the time comes…

    In the meantime, there’s *quite* a long way to go…

  • Mick Fealty

    Feel free to come back at me Damian!

    I’ve been thinking about why I chose the word significantly. It’s a reference to an alleged plan, the existence of which is much gossiped about but not known.

    If our guys are right that ‘plan’ is toast.

  • Alias

    So is McClone most likely to win? I’ll hazard a guess that the poll turns out to be surprisingly accurate.

  • Drumlins Rock

    “It’s a reference to an alleged plan”

    Now you have our interest, love a bit of conspiricy 🙂

    Have some Stoop contacts and it seems things aren’t a clear cut as I first thought.

  • Damian O’Loan

    “But how exactly do you think more polls would fix the problem?”

    I don’t, but I like polls and there aren’t enough conducted on NI affairs.

    “this is about crowd sourcing judgement”

    Funny, the word you used repeatedly in interpreting was “sentiment”. You have confused these two concepts from start to finish.

    “I’ve been thinking about why I chose the word significantly. It’s a reference to an alleged plan, the existence of which is much gossiped about but not known.”

    Care to elucidate?

  • FuturePhysicist

    Maybe there should be a poll on the deputy contest.

    Kelly or Eastwood.

  • Mick Fealty

    Not sure how strong a view people would have on that FP… But definitely open to running more… Perhaps on the presidential race?

  • If Attwood fell/was thrown out, the balloon would have soared skywise unless there is a hidden or implied accusation that he had a negative effect on the buoyancy.

  • Mick Fealty


  • In Articles’ 7.43, he says attwood hits the ground in a thud, implying that he was thrown out.He then says that the balloon fell earthwise But in a real balloon, if you throw ballast out, the ballon soars up. That’s the reason for ballast. So, only way that the balloon would plunge down would be if Attwood had negative buoyancy which isn’t possible in the real world.

  • Mick Fealty

    “hot air” balloon! “bellows mightily” “saves the day”.

  • OneNI

    I ‘voted’ for Potsy as ‘most likely to win’. Also think he would be the worst leader….

  • Sean Og

    I reckon that “poll” won’t be far away from the actual result. It probably over states support for Conal McD but other than that I think it will be close to the result.

    I take it the votes will be counted using the STV system? If that’s the case 2nd preferences will play a part and Patsy could be caught.

  • Mick Fealty


    That’s exactly the quality of judgement we were looking for.

  • exsdlp

    The ‘plan’ alluded to above is this: with a few weeks to go, Attwood withdraws from the race, declaring that he has listened to the grass roots, acknowledges the desire for real change, including generational change, and throws in his lot (probably about 13 delegates votes at that stage) behind McDevitt.

    This will be an attempt to put momentum behind Conall and in return the youngster has promised to allow Alex to retain the Ministry.

    All of this will be presented as a spontaneous act of fellowship and party loyalty. But it is in fact the opposite.

  • Cynic2

    This election has all the allure of 4 men adrift in a leaking lifeboat drawing lots to see which two get eaten first

  • Hot air balloons.
    Leaking Lifeboats.

    What next?

    TAXI for the SDLP!

  • the wrong side of 40

    It`s funny how some people seem to delight in predicting the imminent demise of the SDLP.

    It undoubtedly had a poor election, but it still has 14 seats in the Assembly, 3 MP`s and 84 councillors. I`ll admit that there is some dead wood amongst that group but what party is carrying some dead wood? There is still a lot of talent in the party and under the right leader it will be strong again.

    The election is low key, but that is a good thing. It`s an internal party matter. Surely having some discipline around the internal running of this campaign is a positive and shows that maybe the SDLP is starting to appreciate that washing it`s dirty laundry in public is systematic of some of its less favourable qualities – poor discipline and organisation.

    If it is learning that then maybe the road to recovery won`t be that long. In May SDLP voters did not make a wholesale shift to SF or Alliance, they just stayed at home. It might not take that much work to get a lot of them out again next time round.

  • Indeed….
    the previous post points out the low key nature of the contest which is to the SDLPs adavantage.
    As is the high profile Election in the South.
    Which is why anyone with the interests of SDLP at heart should not get into a slanging match with those who are being a little bit mischievous.
    And members who have actually been at a Husting should refrain from comment also.
    It seems to be working out nicely so far.

  • Mark McGregor


    They are being surprisingly well behaved. Especially as Attwood, McDevitt and McDonnell are also involved in a profiling exercise across South, West and East Belfast branches to ensure they aren’t last man standing come MLA selections post boundary change.

  • RyanAdams

    Mark, on that point I can see Attwood and McDevitt going SW with McDonnell going SE, especially with McDevitt being more Balmoral aligned and the latter more Ormeau. On another note, It will be intersting to see what happens with SF in Belfast too – If Alex Maskey wants to go to SW Belfast, which is more than likely then at least one of the five current WB figures will be shitting it come 2015, with Balmoral and Shaftsbury helping out Unionists and the SDLP more than anybody.

  • Id have to bow to MMGs superior knowledge of what is the dynamic among three of the leadership candidates ….with specific relation to the proposed boundary changes.
    Its never too early to think about such things.
    Specifically on South West Belfast……there would appear to be three safe SF seats and one SDLP seat (bearing in mind that 2011 politics isnt 2015 politics) and two seats up for grabs……SF, SDLP, Alliance & a unionist.
    So selections in all those camps will be interesting.
    Id expect Ms Bradshaw to seek an AP nomination.

  • Mick Fealty


    I would imagine Mairtin is in Balmoral and making good impact for a reason.

  • RyanAdams

    Mick, I hadn’t really factored that into consideration, but worth noting he polled just 14.7% with all other parties coming in front, even the UUP.

    Again though, it puts more pressure on Alex Maskey and the other five in West Belfast, at least three of them will be displaced.

    Fitz, I’d imagine Ruth Patterson is deputy mayor for reason and locally is well planted in time for 2015, and again Mairtin will likely be mayor come 2014 for similar reasons. Anna Lo will certainly shift to SE Belfast, and there will more than likely be a row in between the current Belfast UU’s, although I think they’d be wise to ditch the dead weight that is McGimpsey. The pressure on the both the UUP and SDLP for a seat in South East Belfast will be immense, I strongly doubt both can win.

  • Mr Adams, I think there is a danger of projecting 2011 into 2015.
    Its not just a matter of the same Mathematics.
    Theres no guarantee that specific candidates will be chosen for specific seats.
    I think most reasonable people would say that South West Belfast will have three safe SF seats and SDLP one. As Ive said all parties, including a unionist will be looking for the fifth and sixth seat.
    SF will be more centrally organised than any other Party and Id think they would run four candidates rather than five.
    SDLP bringing in current branches like Finaghy and Stranmillis, will have the situatio South West Belfast have more members in South rather than West……there would certainly be a chance of a second SDLP seat presumably McDevitt………….but he proved no vote winner last time out.
    For UUs we cant assume that the internal row which damaged them in South Belfast would continue but they are weaker than DUP. Ruth Patterson (as of 2011) is the front runner for them. But Id say Mr Stalford might be looking at the opportunity of moving his base.
    Alliance…..well the position is that they are strong in East Belfast and South Belfast but hopeless in West Belfast ……although the 200 bedrock votes they have there would likely increase if there was a realistic chance of a seat which the influx of Balmoral votes would bring.
    Candidates depends on the choreography of South East Belfast and Strangford…… one of their current MLAs Cochrane is based in the area that will go to Strangford……leaving Lyttle in SE Belfast. Lo has a tough decision……as Curran is based in Laganbank but has West Belfast connexions also. I am also indebted to the correspondent who has pointed out (re my post at 9.01pm) last night that Bradshaw has pointed up her own connexions (work and family) in her own Blog.

    But as this thread is specifically on SDLP Leadership and we have somewhat strayed, I think that it is at least possible that McDevitt wont be in front line poiltics in 2015 if he loses the Leadership Election.

  • the wrong side of 40

    fitzjameshorse, it would be very disappointing to think that there was any possibility that if McDevitt did not win the leadership, that he would not be in frontline politics by 2015.

    Conall is undoubtedly a great talent, he is very personable aswell just the sort of person that the SDLP need. I am sure that he is a leader of the future but as I understand it some within the party just feel that you need to have 1 or 2 more elections under your belt before you can push on and take the reins.

    That means that Conall just has to bide his time, although that is the one common criticism that he does not seem to have the patience to wait and serve his time through constituency work.

    If he doesn`t get the top job this time round, then whoever does (and I mean Al or Patsy, Alex will surely bow out urging supporters to back Conall) must ensure that there is a key role internally for him. I think that he would be ideal at election strategy or organisation.

  • Well he wasnt THAT good with his own election strategy in South Belfast in May.
    And I think he and Alex are too much part of the inner circle of the current leader to be convincing advocates of the Party must change/regroup etc. I dont really think that the Attwood-McDevitt team is anything more than trying to maximise the role of the current establishment in any future leadership team.
    Damage limitation.
    Ultimately his association with Platform for Change (effectively a Party within a Party like Militant Tendency & The Tea Party) is his achilles heel.
    All very laudable that people within political parties want to reach out…….but ultimately the reachers out (McDevitt or Basil McCrea in UUP for example) arent mainstream in their own Parties….and will never actually lead a Party.

    I think McDevitt is a very unconvincing advocate of listening to grassroots opinion when he has been part of a leadership team which notoriously listened to every voice except the voice of SDLP voters and members.

    Yes he clearly has a role in the next couple of years. Not as Leader but as one of the Top Five or so in SDLP. And a little bit of self-doubt might actually go a long way.

  • RyanAdams

    Fitz, sorry to sidetrack again but the internal row with the UU’s was fairly negligible IMO. They’ve been in decline in South Belfast since 2005, and under that boundary proposal and current leadership in my view 2015 will see them out of Belfast. I do believe they have the support there, but seriously have trouble getting it to the ballot box, a problem which has only festered under Elliot.

  • Mark McGregor

    I’m delighted to see McDevitt has at last launched a twitter ‘Twibbon’ campaign to support his leadership bid.

    I knew he wouldn’t let us down – long live internet inanity within ‘politics’.

    You can support my campaign for SDLP Leader with a Twibbon. Real Change – Vote McDevitt 1

  • Ah the trouble with Twibbons……….
    Obviously a bit silly.
    But Im more impressed with the Facebook “Conall McDevitt….Real Change” Campaign.
    80 plus people “like” it……..but maybe the SDLP members should be asking why people who are members of other parties (eg Brian Wilson of the Green Party) are so supportive of him becoming Leader of SDLP.

    “The Real Change” that the SDLP should be looking for is a Leader who prioritises SDLP voters, members and voices.
    Basically if your Leader is popular in other parties…its not a very good sign.

  • the wrong side of 40

    I have previously stated on this thread that Conall has a lot to offer the SDLP and I stand by that, but this is the sort of thing that makes me shake my head and think he has a lot to learn still.

    What the hell is “twibbon” and what is the point of a Facebook campaign. How many people that will be delegates in November even know what those things are. What they want to know is “how is the party going to rebuild in Fermanagh, South Tyrone? What about finances and structure and discipline?”

    His November electorate know by now that the party is drinking in the last chance saloon and that if they don`t choose decisively now they are finished.

    This nonsense tells me that the penny hasn`t yet dropped with Conall. All the new age media stuff didn`t give him a bounce in May, its the unsexy stuff like working for your constituents that gets votes. I had hoped that the lesson may have been learnt.

  • I daresay that making a Twibbon is a skill…….but more suited to somebody attending an audition for a Blue Peter Presenter than contesting the leadership of the SDLP.
    I am a bit skeptical about new media and politics…..but I just cant see how making a Twibbon is cutting edge use of Technology.
    All this might get Brian Wilsons 4th preference vote (behind himself, Green and Alliance) in Bangor West DEA but it wont win Liam Logan a seat on North Down Council.
    The bigger priority is a couple of hundred first preference votes in Fermanagh-South Tyrone.
    Conall has set himself on the wild goose chase of getting votes from those who would not pis……er call the Fire Brigade if the SDLP was on fire.
    The better option would be to start asking itself questions about why the SDLP has lost votes.
    I am all for Respect and Discretion but the plain fact is that there is a certain amount of Denial going on also……..about the past eighteen months.

    Alasdair McDonnell and Patsy McGlone can claim to have opposed and exposed the nightmare.
    Conall McDevitt and running mate Alex Attwood can claim no such credit. They facilitated and were promoted during the nightmare.
    Distancing themselves from the nightmare (but getting the rump votes of people who still think it wasnt a nightmare) and making overtures to the broader SDLP about “listening”, “re-organising” and all that good stuff has no real credibility.
    Unfortunately it might work.
    Yet another triumph of Image over Substance.
    The SDLP members need to look past the Twibbons.

  • Red Rob

    Some interesting developments in this leadership race.

    An SDLP insider tells me that Attwood is the dark horse in this race and has received pledges of support from some unlikely sources in recent days. Many think he can now win with some McDonnell supporters switching camps becaue they dont thnk their man can win and they want to stop McGlone.

    I’m not an SDLP voter but would prefer to see the party led by someone with genuine socialist principles like Attwood.

  • Mark McGregor

    Red Rob,

    Come back to us when you or that SDLP insider have any credibilty, anywhere – you are a declared Unionist with a half dozen comments on this site now claiming inside knowledge of a very internal SDLP contest.

    Until you back it up it looks like either you or your SDLP contact are talking down McDonnell with no substansiation.

    Was it McDevitt you were speaking to? 😉

  • Red Rob

    Well Mark it is a wide open contest with a small electorate so it would not surprise me if Attwood sneaked through the pack to win. I won’t name my SDLP source at this stage but it is a senior and well respected member of the party with no obvious connection to any of the four leadership camps.

    I have come into contact with all four candidates at some stage and, for me, Attwood and McDonnell are a fair bit ahead of the other two in terms of leadership qualities and political ability.

  • .
    Red Rob…
    “I won’t name my SDLP source at this stage”

    …………..which means Red Rob that we can all look forward to you revealing your highly placed SDLP source at later stage.

  • Big Boss

    Red Rob,

    Your source seems to be the only source that would ever put it out that McDonnells supporters would rather have Attwood or McDevitt over McGlone!

    Which would suggest a very unreliable source indeed!

  • the wrong side of 40

    I think that any well placed sources are really people that are watching the likes of Paddy Power`s odds. They changed this week and brought Alex into 7/2 from I think a starting point of 14/1. My guess is that these odds have been updated to take into account an Irish News article earlier in the week which stated where candidates stood on the delegate strength of branch nominations.

    I would think that the very small electorate, (it`s 350 – 400 people), really want to see genuine proposal of how the SDLP can lift itself from the mess it is in. The grass roots are screaming out that they are in real danger of dying as a party, but the campaigning has been all very low key as the candidates and party generally are keen to avoid any bloodshed (though that must be a positive sign for any long term SDLP watcher).

    This time the demand for substantial change and reorganisation is coming from the members up. If they could turn back the clock 18 months, many of them would not vote for Margaret.

    They want concrete proposals and a bit of confidence that the party is actually going to listen to its members this time and leadership will be collective and no longer clique based. I understand that the man in front in that regard is McDonnell, some of the others don`t seem to have accepted the grimness of the position and are still being fanciful in their expectations.

  • the wrong side of 40

    Just flicking through this mornings papers and I see that one of McDevitts big ideas from his launch yesterday was that the party should organise across the whole of Ireland, I would have expected to see more on an NI fightback first.

    Are the SDLP to have self satisfying taking shops in Fermoy and Athlone while remaining wiped out in Fermanagh and Antrim?

    You can satisfy your ego with these fanciful notions if and when you restore a strong base. It doesn`t appear to me that Conall is a candidate that has realised that this leadership contest, and the years that will follow are about sheer hard work, listening to the electorate, and avoiding the parties extinction.

    It would be nice to hear a bit of humility from the 4 candidates. Their message should be sorry we lost our way for a decade, the last couple of years were a big mistake (and I don`t just mean Margaret but the advice she got from the group around her), and now we are are ready to fight on your behalf once again.

  • In fairness, Conall talks about organising SDLP “support groups in major cities in the Republic”. I am paraphrasing of course but its a more limited and achievable.
    But the main thrust of the post at 1.12pm is accurate. Getting 75 more votes in Fermanagh-South Tyrone is a bigger priority than getting 20 14th preference votes in North Down with Conalls Platform For Change rhetoric.

    I must emphasise agan that I dont have a vote in this Leadership Election. And have urged those with a vote not to engage in public debate but yesterdays launch with journalists present and reported in newspapers… of course a public event.
    The past 18 months have been a nightmare for SDLP members (some still cleraly in Denial) but more so for SDLP voters who have perhaps reason to be angry at the choices SDLP have made.
    Frankly the SDLP has not exactly made itself electable and the priority seems to be a rallying call for former SDLP members…….warhorses (including those soon destined for a glue factory) to re-join.
    I am not sure that this is even possible as the sense of denial within some SDLP quarters is a recipe for conflict with angry SDLP voters who feel left down.The gap between Member and Voter might be just too wide.
    It is a time for the Warhorses….not Show Ponies.

    Margaret Ritchie had no real depth and was found wanting.
    It is not a mistake the SDLP can afford to make twice.
    Conall McDevitt does not convince me that he has real depth. More worryingly from my perspective he is an unconvincing champion of the kind of “change” (“change” is the buzzword) that the SDLP needs……being much too closely identified with the failures of the past two years and being an unapologetic believer in “outreach”.

    There is of course a sense of deja vu. In endorsing Conall McDevitt……her former Special Advisor at Agriculture…… is a reminder that Bríd Rodgers endorsed Margaret Ritchie enthusiastically.
    And surely a sign that some elements in the Party just want to follow the same line with a different Leader.

    I am not of course an expert in these things. And maybe one of the SDLP lawyer types can help me out here.
    As I understand it roughly one hundred SDLP members MPs MLAs Councillors) attend Conference as ex-officio delegates and presumably have a “free vote” in the Leadership.
    The other delegates are selected by Branches etc, . The number of delegates dependent on the size of the Branch.
    Its unlikely Bríd Rodgers has an ex-officio vote (former Deputy Leader perhaps???). It would be understandable if the ex-officio people declared support for a candidate.

    But while Hustings are still going on (three more Party events I understand scheduled) and candidates still in the process of criss crossing the North addressing branches….it would be bizarre if a (at best) Branch delegate or non delegate could publicly endorse a candidate ahead of the Branch endorsing a candidate and mandating its delegates accordingly.

  • Actually reading the report (I actually bought the Irish News!!!) of the Great Launch, Conall seemed to manage to make a speech without saying anything.
    He agonises that only half of nationalists vote………seemingly because the SDLP is not relevant……hardly surprising when Conall spends every waking hour outreaching to non-nationalists.

    His stance on “opposition”… actually no different from Patsy McGlone. It just looks different.
    Patsy has ruled “opposition” out.
    But Conall has said that its a matter for “debate” he “wont dictate (sic) to SDLP members”……thats all doublespeak of course and a sop to SDLP members who would like to go into Opposition.
    The reality is that McDevitt-Attwood dont want “opposition” either.

    If only Conall was as clever in dealing with the enemies of the SDLP as he is in dealing with SDLP members

  • Big Boss

    McDevitt says he is for change, But what change can he offer?

    He was head of Ritchie campaign two years ago and was her right hand guy all through her leadership, what change can he offer? and why hasn’t it been done in the last two years?

    Ritchie, along with bad candidates destroyed SDLP in F/ST, how is McDevitt going to fix that? why are all those who where backing Ritchie last time now backing him? same aimless leadership with a new face?

    Its the same as SF putting the word change on their posters, despite them being the ones in charge, its a stupid slogan to use. If he hasn’t done it in the past two year why not? SDLP members should be asking these questions and if they are not, then the deserve to go down the drain.

  • the wrong side of 40

    Big Boss and Fitz.. sum it up well. You can`t cry out for “change” when you were central to what needs changed! This applies to Conall and Alex.

    There has to be angry supporters, and I`m sure members out there. Thousands of one time SDLP voters just have stopped bothering to vote in recent times, that is not wholesale switches to SF. They can be got back and that alone would be a great start.

    Just look at this thread. In recent days it`s been kept going by a few people who without wishing to judge the comments of others too much, seem to have a soft spot for the SDLP. The majority of Slugger regulars don`t bother. That has to be the worst thing for a party. Wasn`t it Wilde that said “the only think worse than being talked about, is not being talked about”?

    As I see it, there is only McGlone and McDonnell that are actually saying that this is now do or die for the party. I don`t have an insight into the minds of too many SDLP delegates but that MUST be what they are thinking too. I daresay that as they knocked doors in May they got a lot of sympathy for their plight but, “I`m not bothering this time”.

    Not bothering is an easy trap to fall into. The next election is likely to be for Europe, hardly enough to set the pulses of the mildly interested voter racing. Before you know it the voting habit is gone.

    That is why I want to hear the candidates shouting out the wake up call. It is do or die, ask Declan O`Loan or Tommy Burns, I don`t think they will tell you that organising in all 32 counties of Ireland is going to help out in the now SDLP free Antrim constituencies.

  • Big Boss

    Was just thinking,

    The people behind Ritchies campaign where the same behind Durkan, and they have now moved on to McDevitt. There seems to be a group within the SDLP that are determined to hold on to the parties reins as along as possible, the more things change the more they stay the same.

  • The SDLP is best served by those who have a vote in the upcoming Election, giving this thread a very wide berth. There is nothing to be gained by engaging in sterile “Taxi for the SDLP” level of Debate.
    I cant presume to speak for others but as I recall Tommy Burns (mentioned above) was actually a Margaret Ritchie supporter.
    Conducting the same experment twice and hoping for a different result defines Madness.
    Choosing Ritchie and then McDevitt would be madness for the SDLP.
    Too many SDLP people seemed locked in a blame game.
    “The British Govt let us down”
    “The Irish Govt let us down”.
    “The Americans……”
    All this is what a SDLP audience likes to hear.
    A SDLP “members” audience.
    In the wider SDLP support they might hear the uncomfortable truth that the SDLP let down its own Voters.
    Anybody saying that would be distinctly off message.
    All the SDLP needed to do in 2011 was to give their Voters a reason to vote SDLP. And they failed to do so. And thats the first task of any political Party………Make Yourself Electable.

    And heres the contradiction. The SDLP has a lot of decent people who actually want to do right by the underpriveleged and unfortunate in society…..poor, sick, unemployed……..
    Its a simple fact that too many of the people that the SDLP represent and seek to represent dont turn out at Election time….they need to be persuaded that Hospitals, Family Tax Credits, DLA legislation, IS their issue. The alleged disenfranchised arent nearly as disenfranchised as they think they are.
    Rights have to be fought for. Especially against a background of economic downturn.
    The abandonment of public sector workers by Sinn Féin as seen last week is an opportunity for the SDLP. Of course that requires the SDLP to be opportunistic. But this is not necessarily a good time to have the major role in Government.

    People have tried to identify splits in the SDLP……for generations along nationalist and labourite lines.
    Actually thats not quite the case.
    The places where SDLP seem strongest as an organisation are in the old “NDP” heartlands of South Belfast and South Down (and perhaps Derry). The old Nationalist heartlands seem less well organised.
    “Organisation” seems like a bad word within SDLP although all candidates seek to address it……but it has left the SDLP looking lopsided. The metropolitan tail wags the rural dog.
    With SDLP branches in Balmoral, Cromac, Stranmillis, Castlereagh, Ormeau, QUB……does South Belfast really need all those branches in it or part of it?
    But this is where people “think” politics. Beyond that people “do” politics. Politics and Community I suppose.

  • the wrong side of 40

    Interesting thoughts Big Boss, I hadn`t considered that there was an element of the same wee group clinging on that long and now trying to secure the 3rd dynasty in a row.

    They really mustn`t like Big Al or Patsy, are they scared of trying something different – like actually winning the odd election!

  • Actually if Patsy or Alasdair win, the boys and girls in Platform for Change would not like that one little bit.

  • the wrong side of 40

    Sorry for again returning to an old theme, but I think that 3 out of the 4 candidates have now either had a some kind of a launch or put out policy plans. (don`t think I have seen anything from Alex as yet)

    Has anyone had an opportunity to look at all of these and see if there is any substance to them?

    I see Big Al is promising not to “stand by and watch the further decline, disintegration and eventual disappearance of this party,” He sounded like a man with a mission.

    Are enough of the delegates in agreement this time round? Will they put their faith in Al now having opted for the “safe” but ultimately failed Margaret clique of 18 months ago?

  • Alex Attwoods launch is tomorrow (or more precisely later today).
    Im not actually sure that a “Launch” is a good thing. Certainly it increases the profile of a candidate but as the Electorate is only around 100 SDLP MLAs & Councillors plus delegates either already selected by or about to selected by Branches…… seems unnecessary.

    With Hustings taking place or having taken place and candidates addressing Branches, there is little point in staging an “event”.
    I have argued ….possibly in this thread that it is a matter for SDLP themselves and it would appear that people who actually havea vote in the process are wisely avoiding public comment.
    However if people DO go public by attending launches etc or speaking in support of a candidate at a public event……it follows that there can be no imperative on SDLP folks to stay silent when they see or hear something risible in a public platform or social networking site.

    Im also not sure that SDLP members actually read the details of manifestos as there is very little between candidates. None is against Jobs, Health or Education and all are for re-building the SDLP.
    The winner will be the person who can convince the voters he can do that. Launches are a sideshow.

  • the wrong side of 40

    I am about to risk the wrath of Fitzjameshorse here, but so be it. I know that Fitz is very keen that this campaign is measured and stays below the radar and he has even mildly lectured those of us with a soft spot for the SDLP not to stray off that same message.

    Yesterday and today we started to see the cracks in the enforced clean contest rules apparently insisted upon by SDLP headquarters and we are now in some danger of an actual election campaign breaking out.

    We had Conall coming out in The Tele and appearing to be dismissive of the thoughts of Big Al, (Is the idea of a post leadership campaign leader actually wanted to use ALL the talents of the party that alien to the SDLP?).

    I do have some regard for Conall but of late I can`t help thinking that he would lead the party in a more clique orientated manner than the ill fated Ritchie regime which was greatly influenced and inspired by ….. oh yes Mr Conall Renewal/Change McDevitt.

    Just watching the news on RTE and it mentioned a question about changing the Irish National Anthem, I would imagine that under Conall the SDLP constitution will be replaced by a Pledge of Love to all things Conall.

    I haven`t been at meetings but some friends have, and apparently there are cracks developing in what we might have previously assumed to be the close axis of Alex and Conall. The distance is apparently coming from Alex who has made some thinly veiled references to Conall`s lack of experience. I think Alex has referenced the potential folly of skipping an entire generation.

    Was there an understanding that Alex would step aside in favour of Conall, and now that he is actually performing well that is of the agenda? Some people have suggested that Alex`s best hope was to have a good run, and make people like him a wee bit more thus making it much more difficult for either Al or Patsy to dispense with him as Minister in the first 30 seconds of their leadership term. From here if that was his intention it is going well.

    Sorry Fitz, but there you have it. It`s been a fake campaign up until now, sometimes a party needs to have a bit of blood letting. I for one will sit back and enjoy the show, you may as well do the same because its going to happen anyway.

    (Tip to Patsy, if you are going to have a “launch” take a tip from Conall the PR guru and go for a Sunday. It`s such a slow news day that you will get a few minutes of TV news, Al and Alex barely got 30 seconds each over the last few days.)

  • 1 I dont think that the “clean” contest is enforced rules from SDLP HQ….I think thats what SDLP members would naturally want.
    2 I think they are getting that……with the proviso that theres still two weeks to go.
    3 A “clean contest” puts certain topics off limits……eg Margaret Ritchie.The effect of Margaret Ritchie being off limits helps Attwood & McDevitt as they are distanced from the nightmare of which they were enthusiastic supporters. Perhaps it requires someone at a Hustings to remind them they arent wearing any clothes.
    4 If Margaret Ritchie was actually standing in this election, she would lose heavily. And would have to listen to a lot of Anger.
    5 As she is not standing , she will be given a standing ovation and a big bouquet and the candidates associated with her legacy might hope for a boost.
    6 Its a strange 2 for 1 election. McDevitt and Attwood are essentially from the same camp. Likewise McGlone and McDonnell.
    7 Nobody will win on the first count. But its difficult to see transfers going from one “camp” to the other one.
    8 Tom Kelly in the Belfast Telegraph has suggested that SDLP would implode under McDevitt….dramatic and over the top but he is simply not mainstream enough to lead the Party.Endorsements from people in OTHER Parties is not actually a good thing.
    9 A six county Party almost entirely led from South West Belfast just wont work.
    10 This Election comes five years too early for McDevitt. He is much more junior than he thinks he is. And is damaged by his own electoral performance.
    11The Minister of Environment thing is a complete non issue.

    I think it is better for SDLP people to keep things in house but candidates who have launches with journalist present have themselves gone public (for no real SDLP advantage) and therefore must accept criticism from others if something said or done in public is risible.
    Obviously SDLP members should abide bythe limitations of a priveleged setting of a Husting.
    Have to say again that I dont have a vote. But for what its worth, a vote for McDevitt or Attwood is a vote for Denial.

  • Big Boss

    Ritchie, McGrady and Eastwood have all opted for Attwood, I find that very interesting.

    Granted Eastwood has been serving under Attwood, so that’s not really a surprise, but Ritchie and McGrady is.

    With all the “perceived” notions that it was McGlone that done the back stabbing on Ritchie by declaring his hand early, I really though Ritchie and McGrady would give their backing to McDevitt, considering that he was her golden boy for the past two years and was director of her leadership election two years ago. He is the main runner after all from that “camp” of the party, so it interesting to see the South Down support going for Attwood.

    Perhaps all is not as rosy in that garden as first believed, and indeed there was rumours of a McDevitt/Ritchie fall out over leadership stuff a few weeks back, but who knows. SDLP members have told Attwood is performing quite well in the debates, as is Alasdair McDonell, transfers are going to be key

  • the wrong side of 40

    I think that the split between McDevitt and Ritchie originates back to the Assembly elections. Apparently having detected that there was an anti Ritchie sentiment amongst the electorate he removed the Leaders message and image from his election literature effectively dumping her before the poll.

    It can`t be overlooked that in his base of South Belfast and holding onto the coat strings of a genuine big hitter in Al, that in his one and only election to date, he was elected after failing to reach the quota. The party insider Tom Kelly was right in yesterdays Tele when he said ” The SDLP could implode if Conall got it. He marks the widest disjoint between potential SDLP voters and the party membership”

    These thoughts cannot be ignored by the delegates in November. Conall is not as universally loved outside his own Balmoral Branch as some would have us believe, and I`m sure even within that group some think he should have the sense to sit this one out and learn the ropes a wee bit more.

    You can say what you like about Alex, but I think when he says that he will be loyal to whatever leader the party choses, I he means that. He stuck by Ritchie to and beyond the bitter end. I know it would be easy to say he was hanging on to his ministry but I think there was more to it than that – old fashioned party loyalty. That said there are points about Alex that mean he would not be a good leader, he just doesn`t connect with people, (just look at the continual erosion of party support in W Belfast under him) and unfortunately I don`t think that can be taught. Still an able Minister and hopefully that will continue.

    Any sign of too major a cull by the new leader would look like revenge and not sit easy with anyone.

    Mick, any chance of a new thread on this election, it`s getting a bit more lively now?

  • the wrong side of 40

    Hi, would anyone know why Paddy Power has suspended betting on this election?

    They are robbing me of an opportunity to invest a hard earned tenner.

  • Probably because the SDLP have managed to keep it all under the radar and in house. (The usual suspects would say that it is lack of interest and SDLP is not relevant etc etc).
    Keeping it under the radar is an indication that the SDLP CAN get things right. A welcome situation for their long suffering voters.
    I attended an event in Derry last night, the last stage of Patsy McGlones campaign. A public event of course and from a personal perspective I was happy to see Ivan Cooper there. First time I had seen him in over 30 years. And good to see that there was a manifesto launch outside Belfast.
    Especially in Derry. Belfast might think of itself as the centre of the universe but Derry is the capital of the SDLP world. And it resonates with SDLP people beyond the city.

    To some extent, there really only is one issue.The Leadership itself. the Leader, the style of Leadership, the “direction” of the Party.How the Party feels about itself.The SINGLE message that needs to go out.
    Again from my own perspective the SDLP has spent far too much time trying to engage with people who would not phone the fire service if the SDLP was on fire.
    Re-stating that I dont have a vote, it seems to me Patsy McGlone has a style which can connect with rank and file party members, committed SDLP voters and crucially the type of person who “might” vote SDLP. All candidates tick some boxes. He ticks them all.

    But just two other points. The Electorate next week will be about 350 people…..approx 100 elected representatives and the rest delegates chosen on a pro rata basis from Branches etc.
    So its an irony that the Party who campaigned for “one man (and woman of course) one vote” does not actually practise that in its own elections. This reform is part of Patsy McGlones platform and there is a logic to it.

    Does the Partys professionals and semi professionals have a monopoly on its wisdom? Hardly.
    Would a Leadership contest where all members had a vote have produced Margaret Ritchie as Leader in 2010? No I dont think so either.

    The second point is very much to do with “community” politics Patsy McGlone emphasising community involvement thru trade unions or credit unions for example as a route that candidates should take. And that a prospective candidate should show references just like any jobseeker.
    Actually a good point.
    Ruling out people who “think” politics and promoting people who “do” politics.People who care about people rather than paying lip service to it.

  • Probably because the SDLP have managed to keep it all under the radar and in house.

    I take it from your opening line that this has been deliberate SDLP policy; certainly that there’s no publicity like no publicity is demonstrably true and and I congratulate the SDLP on its success in this area. That this stealth was planned has already been noticed and indeed the idea stolen, so much so that people are voting in droves for the eighth presidential candidate.

  • Not quite sure what your point is there.
    A Leadership Contest is by its nature to be potentially divisive and the glare of publicity tends to increase that potential.
    It would be amazing if “under the radar” was stated as a “policy”…..but I think that when the contest was announced, all four candidates would have realised that as they had the best interests of the Party at heart, there would be minimal publicity. Indeed what would be the point of maximum publicity…..the “constituency” is SDLP members and the “electorate” drawn from that.
    To the disappointment of the detractors, there has been no public debate.
    As I understand it, there have been five Hustings featuring all four candidates before SDLP members and individual branches/constituency councils have hosted events at which the candidates have spoken.
    Additionally all four have had a “manifesto launch” with non-members and journalists in attendance.I can only speak in respect of the launches that I have attended but extremely civilised.
    Is it “policy”? Hardly………but certainly Common Sense.

  • Forgive me, there was I thinking that you intended to pre-empt potential criticisms about the lack of media attention (such as apathy or irrelevance) by spinning that the disinterest was manufactured by the SDLP.

    As to the point of publicity, put it this way, your SDLP constituency is lapsed and budding SDLP supporters not just the converted. But then again I am not a member of the Party albeit having voted SDLP in the past and did not vote in the last election; what do I know.

  • Im a forgiving person. Consider it done.
    As to your final point, I would not presume to assess what you know.

  • FJH Your two points

    Firstly, thank you.
    Secondly, I know what I know and I am prepared to tell you everything we both know, it won’t take any longer.

  • Well at least youre not a liberal dissident who believes himself too posh or too intelligent to vote in our squalid elections.

  • Pax FJH, I’m a fan of your commentaries and your insights.

  • Fair enough & thanks

  • the wrong side of 40

    I`m glad to see that you two have made up!

    1 month on from this original thread, I think that it`s title is now very out of date.

    For what it`s worth I think the story on the 6th November will be “McDonnell clinches it with Mcglone in second place, strong performance from Attwood and McDevitt a poor fourth”

    Anyone else prepared to put their finishing order??

  • “So its an irony that the Party who campaigned for “one man (and woman of course) one vote” does not actually practise that in its own elections.”

    fjh, in the previous Moyle Council there were three SDLP councillors, all female. In the final year of the council it was the SDLP turn to hold the chairmanship – an excellent photo opportunity and the related harvesting of votes – but the party declined the opportunity, partly because two of them were not in a position to carry out the role. The SDLP is now down to two councillors.

    In the new council the first chairmanship went to a controversial Independent and disgraced former SFer – because the SDLP ignored the d’Hondt system and supported the proposal that the Independents be treated as a group.

    The SDLP needs the support of Unionists or the acquiescence of other Nationalists to get its proposals passed by Council; the Council also needs councillors to act jointly rather than leave it to councillors in their own electoral areas to frustrate the actions of developers and others who, say, engage in heritage vandalism.

    The new SDLP leader therefore has got a lot of work to do amongst the party’s grass-roots.

  • No ………there should be no re-visiting of the thread to produce a different result from 26th September. Mr Fealty gently chided me that it was just for fun…….and theres a lot of fun to be had. Nobody will be surprised if (in ten days) I gently chide that 58% of Sluggerites called it wrong. Or 75%. Or 76%. Or indeed 90%.
    It was after all a test of political judgement and was not an opinion poll.
    Of course this time Sluggerites have called it wrong. Last time SDLP got it spectacuarly wrong.

    Other than Hughie Greens clapometer being just for fun folks, I have pointed out the limited public knowledge of whats actually going on but let me throw in a few other factors.
    Placing candidates as 1, 2, 3, 4 is presumably based on first preferences. Its ot the same as predicting the winner.
    There are effectively two “camps”. One which has opposed and exposed the folly of the past two years and another camp still prepared to believe that it was all brilliant (while shamelessly arguing for change).
    Effectively the contest is between a camp which blames the old leadership and another camp still prepared to defend it… themselves…while blaming the membership for not being fully behind them.
    One camp will win out.
    There is always an element of “Stop X” or “Anybody but Y” and in a four person contest that is likely to be more at play.

    Two other factors.
    Deputy Leadership Contest…….or rather what Deputy Leadership Contest. A few weeks ago Dolores Kelly was being opposed by Colum Eastwood who had the backing of several branches. Does his standing down have an impact on the bigger picture.
    Likewise an analysis of the new Executive will be interesting.
    The Leadership contest is only one of many that are under the radar.

  • socialdemocrat

    I have heard from a neutral SDLP delegate, and no, it wasn’t Alex Attwood himself, that Attwood is making up a lot of ground. The Irish News and the Belfast Tele etc are merely speculating about who is leading. Another source has told me that McDonnell has closed the gap on McGlone.

    As for Alex Attwood, I think the criticisms so far have been unfair. What the SDLP need now is someone with a bit of bottle!! Someone who has had experience in politics when the going gets tough. To coin Alex’s campaign slogan, someone with “Proven Leadership”. McGlone and McDevitt are unproven in higher positions of power and as for McDonnell, he is just a liability.

    I wouldn’t rule Alex Attwood out just yet. Certainly not if the SDLP members snap into a little common sense.

    It is worth saying that I am not a party member so I can’t really be sure of these things.

  • socialdemocrat

    He has also apparantly been winning the hustings events.

  • Probably because the SDLP have managed to keep it all under the radar and in house. Part two.

    FJH Did you see yesterday’s Irish News which ran the result of a poll of the SDLP’s councillors as to who should be the leader? Unfortunately the graphic was hit by gremlins and mistakenly showed no support for Patsy and Alex didn’t even appear on the list (the technical terms for this is I believe “below the radar”), Anyhow all was not lost as there was some supporting column inches giving the background.

    Well today’s Irish News apologises and reprints the graphic but without the supporting columns contextualising it. The graphic does not however stand on its own. Sadly you cannot take screen dumps from the paywall version of the Irish News but I will do my best to convey its message.

    Name No of cllrs Percentage
    Patsy McGlone 22 31
    Conall McDevitt 19 27
    Alisdair McDonnell 16 23
    Alex Attwood 13 18

    Thus it appears to today’s Irish News reader as follows. The Irish News asked readers to ring in and these are the results of a poll as to who should be the SDLP leader. Only 70 callers could be bothered to ring in and of these only 22 callers supported Patsy, 19 Conall etc.

    The key word or abbreviation is cllrs; without the supporting text readers naturally assume cllrs to be callers not councillors.

  • Articles,
    No I dont buy the Irish News unless to check funeral arrangements.
    My first observation without checking is that some councillors have not replied but certainly enough to make the exercise interesting. There are I think 86 councillors…. and your table shows 70. So those 16 or so are crucial. Also left out are 14 MLAs and 1 MP.

    In Parliament this would be known as the “payroll vote”. The second observation is that there is a narrow but clear lead for one of the two “camps” but not enough to win on the first count.
    This means that delegates mandated by Branches hold the key. The Branches select delegates dependent on the numbers of paid members. I think there are also component parts of SDLP (eg Youth and/or Women) who have votes at Conference.
    So the actual number of members in a Branch will be crucial.
    I always find (from Trade Union experience) that delegates and the way they are mandated to vote is a bit “iffy”.

    So do we have a clue as to which way Branches will vote. I think that we do. 🙂

  • Quite correct only 70 out of 87 councillors participated according to the Irish News.

    The Irish News article simply said it was too close to call, anyone could win, the first count would not decide it and that speeches would be the decisive factor which gave them the excuse to rerun a piece about Margaret Ritchie and her lack of oratorical skills.

    Not very insightful, you might wish to offer yourself up as an adviser.

  • the wrong side of 40

    I`m going back a couple of days here but I can`t let something that Socialdemocrat said on the 28th go unchallenged. He states; “and as for McDonnell, he is just a liability.”

    The irony of this statement cannot be lost in the context of a pro Attwood piece. Let`s consider a few facts. McDonnell is the MP for South Belfast. Yes MP for South Belfast!!. That bastion of Unionist domination. I have just checked the figures and here is Alasdair`s Westminster share of the vote in recent years:

    1997 – 24%
    2001 – 30.6
    2005 – 32.3%
    2010 – 41%

    In Contrast here are Alex`s in West Belfast

    1997 – 39% (Joe Hendron`s Victory)

    2001 – 19%
    2005 – 16%
    2010 – 16.4%
    2011 – 13.5 (after Adam`s moved to Louth)

    I know that South and West are very different, but the figures must be worth a look. The collapse in the SDLP vote in the West came in 2001 when Joe stood down and since then it has got steadily worse. But I am not here to attack Alex, who is an extremely able Minister and I hope will continue to be in that role after next week.

    So Socialdemocrat you can`t say he is a liability. The facts just don`t back you up. Maybe you can say that you just don`t like him, fair enough, but that is a different reason altogether.

    McDonnell is though a proven vote winner, he has done it time and again. He works a constituency well and delegates his workload to a strong team. (Note the idea of a collective leadership in his manifesto and contrast that with a small team around Ritchie that wouldn`t even let the Deputy Leader get a foot in the door, yes that included Conall “Real Change” McDevitt.)

    Hopefully McDonnell can start the process of reorganisation throughout the North if elected next Saturday. God know`s it is desperately needed when you consider the May wipeout in all Antrim constituencys alongside FST.

    I have had occassion to be in Alasdair`s office when he was assisting my company with a grant application and one of the thing`s that struck me is that it is full of young people. I understand they are a mix of paid staff and volunteers. As far as I could see they would run through walls for the guy so he must have something.

    Some people in the SDLP fear an Alasdair victory, they love to play on the “bruiser” or “bull in a China Shop” characterisation. As I see it McDonnell gets frustrated with mediocrity, there are people in the SDLP that are quite happy to sleep walk it into oblivion. In truth those that fear Big Al and would snipe against him are propably the sort of people that have the party in the state that it is in.

    They are the people that inflicted a Ritchie leadership upon themselves and would foolishly embrace Margaret Version 2. If they get it, then it really will be lights out. McDonnell won`t tolerate “more of the same” which the SDLP are in danger of getting.

    It could be a fun week, but it genuinely is an important one.

  • Well certainly the rhetoric is getting a little more intense.
    “The Wrong Side of 40” is perhaps too judgemental about West Belfast. Joe Hendron had a much different constituency and his battles against Sinn Féin were in the context of pre-1998, which is a different world.
    With some justification Alex Attwood an say that the climate has been very different for him.
    He has been subjected to years of vitriol for years in West Belfast…from the nastier Sinn Féin elements……in a way that they could not have done with Dr Joe.
    As I understand it, Attwood is making something of a virtue of not being a “social” person.

    I freely admit that I am no fan of “double jobbing” but I seriously doubt whether any other SDLP politician could have won South Belfast and held it. Dr Al is the SDLPs main man in South Belfast.
    More importantly in terms of Stormont, Dr Al is still the main man for SDLP. Had he been left off the ballot in May 2011, I cant see any way in which McDevitt and any other SDLP nominee could have carried two seats.
    Presumably the constituency was divided equally between them but McDonnell took 4,100 votes to McDevitts 3,200 which indicates a personal vote for McDonnell.
    Certainly its true that McDonnell has highly motivated young people working for him. So has McDevitt. Indeed I can say the same for Patsy McGlones campaign.
    The same is probably true of Alex Attwoods. I dont know any people in his “camp”.

  • socialdemocrat


    My thanks go to you resoring an element of balance to 40s claims. People attack Attwood all the time for his electoral performance but people who make this argument are using numbers without any context. People should remember this before they start splaying numbers on the page.

    40- I agree that Mcdonnell is a very skilled and driven man. The rest of the party could learn a few things from his performance electorally. However, this man also fell asleep in the house of commons and answered his phone on live television. A good an motivated campaigner, yes. A leader, I’m sorry but I just don’t buy it.
    Furthermore, the above wasn’t a pro Attwood post. It was to try and add some balance to this debate. A lot of alasdair and patsy fans use slugger it seems.

  • the wrong side of 40


    in my response, I wasn`t having a go at Attwood as such, at least he has elections under his belt. West and South are very different, I have lived in both constituencies in my time.But at the end of the day politics is all about figures. How else do we judge success or victory? The numbers game puts people in or out of power and then we can judge them from there.

    I was making a defence of Alasdair after your comment that he was a liability. Re the sleeping or not sleeping in the Commons, I don`t think that is a big deal. Apparently Mark Durkan dozed off at the Derruy Hustings last week, that could happen to any of us. I guess that all 4 of the guys come Saturday night will be glad of a breather.

    Regarding putting a bit of balance back into the debate, Slugger is about opinions and having ordinary people like us being able to share those opinions with a relatively small group of other politically interested others. Yes I would support Al, FJH has come out for Patsy and may I assume that you would favour Alex? What`s wrong with having a view and expressing it?

  • Well guys Im trying to be fair to the candidates and yes Id be supporting Patsy McGlone if I had a vote. I dont know if the other guys here have a vote but Id say without reservation that all four candidates offer something. It is my belief that Patsy offers more.
    Necessarily with the week thats in it….and the closeness of the contest…..there is much that can be said but on this forum Less Is More.
    Im not privy to the means of election. Is it simply vote 1, 2, 3,4 or does the lowest ranked candidate drop out and a revote taken of those remaining.
    I can certainly see the methodolgy affecting the result…the most obvious shortcoming for the Party of “We Shall Overcome” is there is no one person one vote. The result is filtered thru a delegate system.

  • john

    ‘My thanks go to you resoring an element of balance to 40s claims. People attack Attwood all the time for his electoral performance but people who make this argument are using numbers without any context’

    What is the context we can only judge on the numbers and yes Joe Hendron had a big personal vote, he also got votes from the Shankill and yes many SDLP voters have moved into South Belfast but the numbers still dont add up. Even without Gerry at the helm and the Travers controversy SF romped home at the by-election and the People before profit took 1800 votes only 1200 behind Attwood. The SDLP are in trouble and at the end of the day they need a winner at the helm, someone who knows how to get votes because at the end of the day thats what matters if the party is to survive.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Some people in the SDLP fear an Alasdair victory, they love to play on the “bruiser” or “bull in a China Shop” characterisation.

    It’s a bit misleading to say “some people” when what you mean is “the majority of the delegates at the last SDLP leadership vote”. There was a concerted and deliberate choreography put in place designed to prevent McDonnell taking over the party – Margaret Ritchie was plucked out of nowhere and groomed hastily before being thrust into a role, the leadeship, which it was obvious she was not capable of from the very start.

    Anyone with any wit will be asking questions about why people were sufficiently concerned about him taking over that they moved mountains to try to stop it.

    I can’t fault your other logic. The man knows how to present himself and he knows how to win elections. That puts him ahead of all the other candidates. FJH there says he’s a McGlone man. I am sure there are good reasons for that, but that man will be destroyed at the polls. All his opponents need to do is play back the tape where he complained that Ritchie was a bad leader because she failed to award him with a Ministerial bauble.

  • Following my post on 27th October where I pointed out that Patsy McGlone wants one person one vote in SDLP elections,I should point out that Conall McDevitt is also pledged to one person one vote in SDLP Elections and that Dr Al is effectively in favour of it also as part of “everything on the table”.

  • john

    Just shows you how little I know if this report in the Telegraph is true. Attwood is now favourite with the bookies!