SDLP’s problem: “depends too much on the force of changing winds rather than any chartered course.”

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Excellent piece from Tom Kelly in the Irish News today… It’s worth reading in full, but roughly he’s hopeful the China trip will re-emphasise to the First and deputy First Ministers that economic development is not aided by domestic rows over flags and parades…

But then, turning to the Spad Bill affair, he notes:

The SDLP’s U Turn on the recent Spad Bill has certainly not enamoured the party to Sinn Fein, but the fact is that the SDLP has wasted nearly a deceade playing the role of a wallflower at the Sinn Fein ceilidh.

The real problem of the SDLP is that it is more like glider than a aeroplane as its journey depends too much on the force of changing winds rather than any chartered course.

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  • streetlegal

    Yes – but clearly have the high ground over Sinn Fein on this one. This issue has opened up the gulf that exists between Sinn Fein and it’s cultish hero worwhip and elevation of Provisional IRA veterans of the armed struggle and the ordinary voter who has no time for this kind of thing.

  • hseany1978

    For a long time, even from the 1970s, the SDLP’s raison d’etre was to provide a more palatable version of Irish nationalism (at least to unionist eyes) when compared to Sinn Fein.

    They dont even appear to have any fully developed policies on social matters that they can stand proudly next to!

    The time has come for the SDLP to make a final decision on a few matters:
    – if they want to become a proper, social democratic party (a move that will take them away from any nationalist position and into cross-community territory)
    – if they want to re-assert their nationalist positions then they may as well merge with fianna fail and at least have a proper, all ireland party mechanism behind it.

  • 6crealist

    Internally, the SDLP are very painfully wrestling with an issue that should be debated by the entire political class (as dismal as they are in this part of the world) with significant input from the general public.

    For doing so, and yet unassociated with one single criminal act over the past four decades, they are berated and sneered at by the chattering classes and, most sickeningly, the very people culpable for thousands of cold blooded murders: the Provisionals, the intransigent unionist establishment and the British state.

    Why should they even bother? Be careful what you wish for.

  • @hseany,

    ” if they want to become a proper, social democratic party (a move that will take them away from any nationalist position and into cross-community territory)”

    That decision was already made in 1979 when John Hume replaced Gerry Fitt as party leader. Within a short time all those who had come to the party from a primarily social democratic/labor background had left. So had their one Protestant member of importance. Thirty years later it is too late to reverse the party’s direction on that. The question now that The Troubles are over is what kind of a nationalist party the SDLP will be that will differentiate them from the Shinners?

    ” if they want to re-assert their nationalist positions then they may as well merge with fianna fail and at least have a proper, all ireland party mechanism behind it.”

    There was much speculation in the NI press in 2002-03 about a merger between the SDLP and one of the three main parties in the Republic, most often with regard to FF. I never saw why they decided not to merge with any of them. I suspect it was because internally the party was divided enough about which one to merge with that the default position of no merger became less risky. I suspect that there were large portions that wanted to go with FF, and significant minorities with the other two parties, particularly Labour.

  • sherdy

    Is Tom Kelly the third ex-SDLP senior member to come out of hibernation to chastise them?
    Surely they’re beating themselves up enough without any more ghosts coming back to haunt them.

  • Mick Fealty

    Toms in the Irish News every week… we just don’t quote him every week sherdy… just because we don’t quote him doesn’t mean he does not exist… đŸ˜‰

  • cynic2

    Toms metaphor is much too grand.

    More like a political hyena gnawing on what political carrion it can find ….and getting the odd bone stuck in its throat along the way

  • Comrade Stalin

    There was much speculation in the NI press in 2002-03 about a merger between the SDLP and one of the three main parties in the Republic, most often with regard to FF. I never saw why they decided not to merge with any of them.

    I would have thought it obvious by looking at the UCUNF experience.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Does any political party here have a chartered course?
    They might have a course but don’t expect realistic cartography.