And the new SDLP leader is…. Alasdair McDonnell! (updated with graph, audio and speeches)

In contrast to Newcastle February 2010 (aye, just last year), which felt like the beginning of a process (disappointed Alasdair supporters muttering darkly into their soup), this feels like the end of a process. Alan will shortly bring you audio of tonight’s speeches, but judging from each of last nights speeches the hustings process seems to have enhanced the stature of all four men. And this afternoon there seemed to be a determination not simply to tolerate the result but to get behind him.

It remains to be seen where that takes them… But they have three years until the next election.. Enough time to turn things round, if there’s a will, or indeed a navigable way… But the ground manner of the process of choosing their leader is not a bad way to start…

Alasdair McDonnell is new SDLP leader

Election result and Alasdair McDonnell’s speech:

@sdlplive leadership results and Alasdair McDonnell”s speech (mp3)

Runner up speeches and Delores Kelly (deputy leader):

Runner up @sdlplive speeches from McDevitt, McGlone and Attwood as well as new deputy leader Delores Kelly (mp3)

Attwood, McGlone and McDevitt applauding the new SDLP leader

Alan adds …

  • With 348 voters, the quota was 175.
  • In the first round, Alex Attwood 46; Conall McDevitt 105; Alasdair McDonnell 127; Patsy McGlone 70
  • Alex Attwood’s votes were transferred at full value
  • In the second round, Conall McDevitt 131 (+26); Alasdair McDonnell 140 (+13); Patsy McGlone 76 (+6)
  • Patsy McGlone’s votes were transferred at full value
  • In the third round, Conall McDevitt 152 (+21); Alasdair McDonnell 188 (+48)
  • Alasdair McDonnell declared the winner.

Pictorially [click to enlarge] …

No surprise that Alex Attwood’s votes transferred 2:1 to Conall rather than McDonnell. And no surprise that with Attwood already out of the race, Patsy McGlone’s votes transferred 2:1 to Alasdair and not Conall.

Many expected Conall to poll third or fourth. So to stay in second place through the rounds is very credible – perhaps, incredible – and cements his position within the party as heir apparent.

A solid result for the SDLP in South Belfast. And therein lies the rub for Conall. If the Boundary Commission recommendations erase South Belfast from the map and split it between West Belfast and South Belfast, there may not be room for three SDLP candidates. They may be able to squeeze one SDLP seat out of South East Belfast, but winning two in South West Belfast will require ousting a Sinn Fein MLA.

But overall, yet another solid win for Dr Alasdair McDonnell. The candidate with few gimmicks. No balloons (McDevitt). No text messages sent to delegate’s mobiles (McGlone and Attwood). No recorded message phoned through to delegates at 8pm the other night (McGlone).

Just a man talking about votes.

But will voters warm to him? Will he attract new voters to his party, and old voters back to his party? Will he be able to remain calm and delegate the management and control of his reforms to others in the party – for instance, the three runners up – to limit his frustration and any resultant strained relationships? Will collective leadership start this weekend?

Alasdair’s formal leader’s speech will be live on the Politics Show on Sunday lunchtime.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty