Who is Colum Eastwood?

Colum Eastwood, you may not know that much about him, but he is the man set to take on the sitting SDLP leader, Alasdair McDonnell. If memory serves me right, I think he is the first person to challenge a sitting SDLP leader. I know Patsy McGlone was preparing to challenge Ritchie in 2011 but she stepped aside before anything got going.

Eastwood has been active in elected politics for a decade now, being elected to Derry City Council in 2005 and serving as Mayor of Derry in 2010. At the age of just 27, he is the youngest Mayor in the city’s history.

Following his election to the Assembly in 2011, Eastwood became the assembly private secretary to then Environment Minister, Alex Attwood. He did get into some bother over his attendance of enviroment Committee in 2013, but he argued that it would be a conflict of interest for him to scrutinise a minister that he was working with.

MLAs had protested to the party leader that this conflict existed but McDonnell did not act to resolve the issue.

Since then Eastwood has been a high-profile member of the party in Derry and it was hoped by some people in Sinn Fein during the SPAD bill debate that Eastwood would support a petition of concern, but he ended up abstaining with his party colleagues.

Should he be successful, Eastwood will be the third leader to hail from Derry and the youngest. He is generally seen as a much greener politician than the current leader and I would expect a more left-wing turn under his leadership.

In 2013, Eastwood did an interview on The View which gives you a sense of how he might approach the decline of the SDLP;

 

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  • Catcher in the Rye

    The bet that Alex Attwood is going to win the European election was amusing.

  • Roger

    Is he any relation to Clint?

  • Jeb Clinton

    Oh wonderful: another ‘young’ career politician

  • the rich get richer

    Is he a Tame Taig. Not too sure if the Unionists want even Tame Taigs about the place !

  • Gopher

    The backing of of the good Dr is equally amusing

  • Ernekid

    Personally I’d rather have a younger political leader than the old guard who act like the Troubles are still going on as they are stuck in a conflict mindset. In the 2016 Assembly elections for the first time people born after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement will be eligible to vote. Who out of the current politicians is trying to appeal to them?

    I was 6 when the GFA was signed personally I couldn’t give a damn about the Troubles. Its history. Let’s leave it to the historians.

  • 23×7

    The problem is we either have young career politicians or old career politicians. But they are all career politicians with very little life or careers outside politics (TV’s Mike Nesbit excepted). What we need is some break out politicians from the general population.

  • gendjinn

    Those that fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it. Those us that do learn the lessons of history are doomed to watch those that don’t repeat it.

  • chrisjones2

    Does he by any chance have 4 legs, hooves and stalk about the place while others lurk in the background?

  • Robin Keogh

    He seems like a bright and decent dude

  • Gopher

    You left unconvincing out. “Delivery” = Zero, “Alex Attwood” = Euro car Crash,
    “We are all behind Alasdair” = Stands against him.

  • Robin Keogh

    Ah stop, so he called it wrong on Alex chances of winning. He probably knew it was a no hoper but what else could he say. And as for AmcD the interview was 2 yrs ago, a long time in politics for events to change.

  • Gopher

    He sounded unconvincing thats the problem. A lightwieght. If you were Patsy or Fergal you would be thinking is he better than me?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Most of our older politicians would have had a second job from farmers like Tom Elliot and Edwin Poots to legal professionals like David Ford and Alban Maginnis… In comparison to the PPE graduates and university party researchers over in England, a lot of the members come from outside of politics. Sinn Féin in the North with all their community activists and ex-PIRA people might be an exception having lives consumed almost entirely by the political situation, but in the South they are not.

    The Republic seems to have a lot of politicians from outside the political circle … To have two consecutive doctors as health ministers is telling.

  • Mary Anna Quigley

    No one worth talking about.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I’d imagine Fearghal doesn’t want to contest the senior leadership role because he doesn’t want to challenge the incumbent, though he is after the deputy leader role. Patsy hasn’t thrown his lot in with anyone as yet.

    Leaders aren’t simply defined by their individuality, but the teams that are behind them, if Colum could pull the likes of Margaret Ritchie, Patsy McGlone, Alex Atwood and a fair degree of the youth into a “team ticket”, he might have a chance against McDonnell.

  • Gopher

    As Chrisj and myself believe there is a chance that Colum might be a stalking horse. Leaders define themselves and their subordinates making Colum leader means Patsy and Fearghal are defined.

  • David

    “He is generally seen as a much greener politician than the current leader and I would expect a more left-wing turn under his leadership”

    Evidence, please! Either from the candidate himself, or from your fevered imagination…

    You’re expecting “a more left-wing turn”? You’re havin’ a laugh. They’re already on the left. Which policy changes are you imagining?

    As for the “interview on The View”. That gave me a sense of how he defended his party leadership at the time [2013].

    Nothing else.

    On the predicted confirmation of his acceptance of nomination…

    He’s an idiot. It’s the wrong contest [personality not policy] at the wrong time for the SDLP.

  • JohnTheOptimist

    I never heard of him. So, I’m a bit loathe to criticise him when knowing nothing about him. However, if it’s true that under his leadership the SDLP will turn sharply left, this would be a severely retrograde step. The nationalist population already have one extreme left-wing party (SF). Why would they need another one? It’s socially conservative pro-business nationalists who currently have no one to vote for an, as a result, the nationalist vote is in severe decline. With an even more left-wing SDLP this decline would continue. Hopefully, when the Corbyn-led Labour Party gets thrashed at the polls, people will wise-up about the need to move left to win elections.

  • Brian O’Neill

    He owns a popular bar in Derry/Londonderry. So no he is not the usual career politician.

  • Brian O’Neill

    He is more Labour but as I mentioned above he owns a Bar so he does understand business etc

  • Gopher

    As usual the canon fodder goes over the top first. No surprises in Dolores Kelly backing the usurper. She has climbed above her ability, her pigs back salary is pretty much under threat next election so she has to roll the dice. Conviction politics NI

  • the rich get richer

    Maybe he will merge a new left wing SDLP with Sinn Fein.

    If you can’t beat them; Join Them.

    That would leave room for Fine Gael to move North. They are Probably the only Party that Could Bring Northern Ireland Into a United Ireland.

    Fine Gael to rise and Conquer Northern ireland.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Gendjinn, I’d copyrighted that quote on Slugger a few years back.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    “The Blueshirts” to rise and conquer NI – Good Luck on that Score !

  • the rich get richer

    I wasn’t being entirely serious but if I think about it lets say that we reached a position where the chances of a United Ireland became much more likely then there are large sections of the Unionist community that would have to align themselves with Fine Gael. So therefore in a possible future Fine Gael would have the position to have a massive say in a how a united Ireland would be organised.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    I know where you were coming from but you make an assumption that large sections of the Unionist Community would have to align themselves with Fine Gael. You have to remember that the majority of Unionist Voters are Working Class. Would these voters align themselves with Labour ? What I believe would happen in such a situation is that Unionism would consolidate into one inclusive movement (Left-Right) to maximise it’s return thus ensuring that it maybe needed as a partner of a Government. Fine Gael / Unionist Government ???

  • SeaanUiNeill

    In the war my uncle had a sergeant from Tipperary under him who had fought in Spain. One day he could not contain his (socialist) curiosity and asked which part of the International Brigade he’d fought with.

    “O’Duffy’s” was the answer….

  • the rich get richer

    If a united Ireland becomes more probable it will be interesting to see how it all pans out.

    Interesting that the Dup were far more likely to back up a conservative minority than a Labour one post the last election.

    The Republic does’t have what you could call a credible labour party (certainly not now if ever).

    Maybe a large block of Unionist working people could actually bring this about.

    I suppose all this is well down the line but certainly not beyond possibly coming to pass. It would be interesting times.

    Stormont as it is currently configured is boring even for political nerds as ourselves.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Very Good Seaan – this brought a smile onto my face !

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Like I said all sides of Unionism would come to gether to secure
    1. Devolved Assembly in Belfast 2. Right to British Citizenship 3. Parading Rights for Orangeism etc etc …… which they would secure in any coalition government. Once this was achieved then I would see Unionism fragmenting into Irish Left/Right Politics with Belfast being a strong hotbed for an Irish Labour Movement !

  • SeaanUiNeill

    While true DUP “do” populism, and trailed a rather left wing image at one point, they appear to have settled comfortably into the old UUP grove of “Conservative and Unionist” with the siren call of pin-stripe politics once wrapped in even the few shreds of power Stormont allows them.

    Many Unoinists, whatever party they vote for now, seem reluctant to actually vote for anyone sporting a red tie, no matter how British they may be, however.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Lets see at the next Assembly Elections Seaan, maybe Belfast might return two Unionists wearing Red Ties ! It will be close !

  • SeaanUiNeill

    T.E, even with all the security of their own six county play pen from the 1920s onwards, most Unionists proved strangely reluctant to vote for anyone leftist until the early 1960s, when O’Neill came in to spoil the run of defections with a few populist measures.

    One has only to look at the career of Jack Beattie to see how east Belfast has treated even the most decent men standing on a Socialist ticket in the east.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Ah, T,E., I used to hang about the old NI Labour party in the 1960s, very “wet” committee meetings, sometimes in a pub in the Dublin road with the three “dry evangelicals” disapproving over soft drinks. I’d be quite interested to see a few red ties in the Stormont chamber, but suspect that this will only be seen after the doors are stormed Winter Palace style.

    But yes, it would be interesting………

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Don’t disagree Seaan but RGR post is changing the game from football to rugby ! You have to adapt to a new sport !

  • SeaanUiNeill

    The sergeant ended up in the Irish Guards after the war.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I remember being dropped even from the years fourth Rugby team at school after my captain tackled me (!!!!) in a desperate bid to stop the other team getting the ball as I stood ruminating mid-field with the leather oval in my hands.

    I think I’ll stick with Jack White and Emma Goldman, less likely to have my poor shoulder dislocated by my own side ………

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Think the Pub on the Dublin Road would have been the Elbow Rooms !

  • SeaanUiNeill

    John Hewitt used to show up on holiday from his new life in England. I never ever met him sober………

  • David McCann

    Hi Pete,
    1) You know the rules about man playing, stick to them please.

    2) On the green wing it is common knowledge he is much more nationalist the current leader. He has been more critical over things like the Bloody Sunday Inquiry (suppose that’s home patch stuff too) and was known for being uneasy about the SPAD bill.

    3) Research commissioned by the party shows that the electorate don’t see them as left wing at all. The typical image is of the Solictors Doctors and Lawyers Party. Colum does favour tougher approaches on welfare reform and same sex marriage, not everybody in the SDLP were comfortable going this far on the issue.

    On your final point, I agree he needs answer the critical, what’s the point of me? question. It cannot be about McDonnell is a poor performer, I could spin the line better.

    I think he needs an essential post GFA narrative for the SDLP, whether he can answer that or have the vision to develop it remains to be seen.
    On his chances, I think he has his work cut out in ousting McDonnell from the leadership.

  • Reader

    Didn’t your uncle know the odds were heavily in favour of the man being a Francoist rather than an IB supporter?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’ve “done” the Irish/Spanish Civil war thing on Slugger before, tr a search! My uncle was a young starry eyed romantic cripto-Marxist officer in the Royal Irish Fusileers at that stage and probably had not heard of O’Duffy and the Blueshirts at that time.

  • Kevin Breslin

    They once had links to the Alliance Party, but the ALDE partners of Alliance are now Fianna Fáil and the Lib Dems. Fine Gael could probably have been well connected to a party like NI21 in my opinion.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Mostly agree with the comments but the last sentence. There are two ways this can go for Eastwood, he loses and gets McDonnell to reflect on and respond to the party verdict, or he wins and gets the promotion to the big job and the spotlight of giving the party the change it actually wants. The former is no loss for Eastwood he’s a young politician, and he’d leave a mark as the heir apparent that may have been missing since Conall McDevitt left the field, indeed Dr. McDonnell himself kind of did the same thing against Margaret Ritchie. The latter would put him in on at a deep learning curve, and like all leaders what responsibility he takes and who he delegates responsibility to will be critical. My own opinion is that Dr McDonnell has won a seat three times while the SDLP vote was declining in some of the regions of his critics. I think the party needs to grasp Leadership does not simply lie with the party leader or indeed party leaders.

  • Kevin Breslin

    McDonnell has voted for same sex marriage in the Assembly and at Westminster.

    There was nothing “green” about opposing the SPAD bill, over 800 Catholics and Nationalists were killed by the PIRA, (including over 200 PIRA members) in the name of the the PIRA being the only green shade in town. The PIRA expected Nationalists to suffer in silence at the hands of the PIRA for a United Ireland.

    I don’t agree with retrospective punishment but fascist “flag-draping” attempts by Sinn Féin over the issue lost it Assembly support from the Alliance Party and the Greens, never mind the SDLP and pretty much every other party and political individual within Ireland.

  • Kevin Breslin

    There is no need for any stalking horse, SDLP leadership contests are held by STV … ergo why vote splitting between 4 candidates would’ve been ineffectual last time around when McDonnel won. McGlone was more of a stalking horse himself, because 3 other challengers emerged when Margaret Ritchie resigned. I see him as more Dark Horse than stalking horse. The ship has sailed when it comes to other people’s leadership bids.

  • Granni Trixie

    David you ask who is CE but omit the one thing many outside Derry know about him namely that he carried a Republcan coffin. Yes, could be just an appropriate act for a friend but does make one question his judgement or ask if he is more likely than current sdlp leadership to do business with SF.
    At very least I would have expected you to examine the significance of the coffin carrying act. Can you say why not?

    The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if the above is to promote his case. Sorry.

  • Ian James Parsley

    This is a very important point. That’s actually all I know about him.

    If the answer to the question is someone known only for an IRA coffin, I can’t help but think the SDLP are asking the wrong question.

  • Ian James Parsley

    That phrasing may be harsh, but it is what a lot of people will think.

    What has he actually done?!

  • paulgraham7567

    Those that keep flogging dead horses end up with sore hands.

    Out of sight, out of mind.

    There are thousands of useless old sayings.

    Past is past. Why drag it up when our kids need know nothing about it?

    Is constantly examining helping the peace? I don’t think so.

  • gendjinn

    So a politician did the right thing by a friend regardless of how it might provide political enemies with a stick to beat him.

    I don’t perceive a robust argument to justify criticism of those that would carry the coffin of a dead friend, no matter what their views or actions. As if carrying a coffin equated with endorsement of the dead’s every thought, word or deed.

    Of course the politically expedient act would have been not to carry the coffin. We certainly have generations of those kinds of politicians. How’s that working out?

  • gendjinn

    I suspect that concern trolling by a Tory will be given precisely the attention it merits by the SDLP.

  • gendjinn

    It’s been knocking around for far longer than that, I’ve seen it in at least two cartoons and I’m sure there’s more 🙂

  • gendjinn

    “It’s socially conservative pro-business nationalists who currently have no one to vote for…”

    Yeah but all four of them live in Ards.

  • gendjinn

    “….need know nothing about it?”

    The clarion call of those that blithely repeat the mistakes of the past. The past isn’t dead, it isn’t even the past.

  • David McCann

    GT, truthfully I just forgot about it.
    I am not an SDLP member, I have a good relationship with Alasdair McDonnell and Colum Eastwood.

    The post is just to explain who he is, because outside of Derry most ppl don’t have a clue. Which again is something he needs to work on.

  • It was an INLA coffin http://www.derryjournal.com/news/mla-criticised-for-role-at-funeral-where-shots-fired-1-3758330 and he was a member of the Justice Committee at the time… That’s what people know Eastwood for outside the NW and a bit of a step if he ever wants to reach out to Unionists – though a lot less heard about that from SF or SDLP these days.

  • tmitch57

    What’s to keep the unionists to simply keep voting for a unionist party(ies) within a 32-county state? Or would these be banned?

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Nothing – They would not be banned ! but the Union with UK is gone so why would they be called Unionist. They might change their name to the Orange Party of Ireland ?

  • Granni Trixie

    You surely cannot have missed that I left room for such an explanation? As I really do not know if that is the case I think it is reasonable to ask if instead it denotes that as leader of the sdlp he would work more in harmony with SF rather than follow their lead. Surely anylsing the relationship between Republicans and Nationalists under his leadership is relevant?

  • Kevin Breslin

    The coffin thing is a non-issue: Julius Caesar: Act 3, Scene 2, Page 4, Lines 73-75

  • Kevin Breslin

    The alcohol trade has been largely associated with political business on this island of Ireland, pro-union Arthur Guinness and pro-repeal Daniel O’Connell were both heavily involved in the brewery trade. A great one for the conspiracy theorists.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    No, not generally, gendjinn, just copyright on Slugger! There are percents for such appropriation rights blocking the free use of the intellectual properties of others. Kevin Brownlow’s massive effort to re-build the full five hour version Abel Gance’s “Napoleon” with that wonderful score by Carl Davis cannot be released on DVD, as Francis Ford Copolla owns world distribution copyright on Napoleon for his one and half hour shorter arguably much inferior reconstruction of the film, with a score by Copolla Senior.

    So I may be talking to my lawyers……

  • gendjinn

    I did indeed notice that you left room for it.

    I also noticed that his carrying it had significance (it didn’t), that it causes his judgement to be questioned (it doesn’t) or that it might in any way impact how he’d work with SF (it won’t).

    Problem is, the thing you left room for, is the only thing that’s pertinent, the rest comes off as unionist slanted concern trolling. Something I wouldn’t associate with you.

  • gendjinn

    Replied to the wrong comment, tis above.

  • gendjinn

    Well not entirely true as it turns out: Scotland and Slugger

  • Darren Litter

    1. Pete, I agree that David could have substantiated his “green” claim when he submitted this. But we know that David routinely engages with a variety of politicians, so I don’t see why we should be overly scathing of his assertion.

    In terms of the claim itself; if you consider Colum’s official declaration to challenge for the leadership, I would say it serves as evidence for what David said. The theme of a “united Ireland” is as prevalent as it could be.

    2. There have been attempts to style the SDLP as a party to the left; but the point is, there is a “Catholic Emancipation” style mindset that continues to enjoy significant influence within the party – with Alasdair McDonnell being seen as a sympathizer to that particular brand of nationalism. As a result of the discrepancies between SDL values and middle-class Catholicism, the party often speaks with two voices; which has the effect of distorting its attempts to be SDL. It takes a left stance on welfare reform because that satisfies labour and Catholic egalitarian values; but it struggles to achieve public unanimity on issues such as same-sex marriage and foetal abnormality because this is where SDL and Catholicism tend to diverge in different directions. The emerging generation within the party is progressive nationalist in nature, and Eastwood is seen as somebody that could give a better reflection of that than the current incumbent.

    3. With respect, how can you lament David for a lack of evidence, then, with no apparent awareness for your own words, brand Colum “an idiot”?

    Moreover, why is personality not a legitimate factor in deciding to challenge a political leadership? Isn’t that a big part of the reason why the party moved against Margaret Ritchie?

    Where is your evidence that Eastwood and McDonnell have no policy differences?

  • Granni Trixie

    If you have gotten to know me at all in this forum you would know that I relish being told off.
    More seriously, it may be “unionist trolling” to you but I really do believe that the points I make are valid.

  • gendjinn

    Apologies, maternal dispensation of scolding was not my intent. It’s hard to pull off the twinkling eyed, merriment of a good rejoinder in a comments section, works far better in the pub.

    I don’t in the least doubt your sincerity and while Occam’s Razor has it’s flaws applying here would make clear that carrying coffin for friend is sufficient explanation. Besides, don’t we want politicians that will do the right thing by their beliefs/people no matter what the bs optics are?

  • tmitch57

    The fact that they are part of the UK has not kept republican organizations from using the terms Irish and Republican in their titles. Do you imagine that unionists would be more enlightened and flexible than the republicans?

  • Granni Trixie

    Thanks. What we probably are agreed about is that voters are looking for somebody authentic – the real deaL. Yet there is tension in following your own instincts (as in carrying a coffin) and making yourself a hostage to fortune where you will be asked questions as to the significance of that act. How you deal with thAt reality can be a help or a hindrance to political ambitions as much as the act itself.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Not sure of the question tmitch57 but you already have the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland and before partition The Unionist Party of Ireland (Whose old motto was in Gaelic)

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Yeah see where you are coming from now would the Unionist Party call itself the BPI (British Party of Ireland) Probably yes to try and secure the votes of British Citizens in Ireland !

  • gendjinn

    Agreed.

    Thing is, the person who fears to do the right thing because of optics by definition does not have the courage of their convictions, will say or do anything for political reasons whether or not they believe in it.

    We’ve had tonnes of the former, it’s time for the latter. Besides, Unionists are going to criticise Nationalists regardless. Do you want a calculating politician who does what is expedient or someone who does what they believe is right?

  • gendjinn

    Is you claiming the IRAs is British terrorists?

  • Granni Trixie

    But can one not be both idealistic and pragmatic? Chose your battles? For instance, some politicians in NI probably believe in a woman’s right to chose yet it would be political suicide to advertise such a view. If they do they would have to be prepared for knowledge of that to inhibit their capacity to be effective in other perhaps equally important work. Similarly whilst voters might not give a toss about how a politician dresses they are likely to be unimpressed if their MLA does turn up to meet the public clean and tidy.

    Doing what is expedient doesn’t necessarily mean being calculating and superficial or to have ditched passionately held convictions.

  • gendjinn

    I understand your argument, I just completely disagree with it.

    I believe it would be contemptible to refuse to carry the coffin of a friend after being asked, because some assholes will criticise you for it. Anyone who would criticise him for carrying a coffin is nothing but.

    It is no different than giving into bullying.

  • Granni Trixie

    Look, we are going round in circles now: yes the right thing to do is to carry a coffin if it’s what you think is appropriate:comfort a grieving family or to honour your dead friend. People from a distance do not know those motivations and may interpret the image and reports in various ways.
    There could be dishonourable motives such as to garnering votes for instance hence it is legitimate to ask for clarification.

    I am not honestly sure what I would do should I be asked to carry the coffin of someone who had supported say the INLA given I take a strong position against physical force campaign and I would not want my compassionate actions to be interpreted as support for it. Compassion may rule but if not I would only be being true to myself. Who knows.

  • gendjinn

    We kinda are. Which is fine because we both understand each other but we disagree. Which is also fine.

    Hamlet said “Above else to thine own self be true.” It’s something that stuck with me and I try to adhere to it. There are very few things in this world I would do or not do if I thought they were right, regardless of what other people would think of it. I don’t have to live with them, I do have to live with myself.

  • Granni Trixie

    A final word – you do not seem to allow that in complex situations one is just not sure what is the right course of action – carrying a coffin could be one such example.

  • gendjinn

    Maybe what’s right for you, isn’t right for me? It doesn’t make either of us wrong though.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Strangely enough…….

  • James7e

    Well let’s say, just for instance, that Jimmy Saville had been a friend of his. Let’s further imagine that Saville had been outed as a serial sex offender before dying. Now. Had he carried Saville’s coffin, that would be political suicide. In your view, would he have been doing the right thing?

  • James7e

    Based on what?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Still a most notable poet, etc, etc……….

  • Kevin Breslin

    Just to add, one of my non-SDLP heroes of the peace process John Alderdice was a psychiatrist. His skills proved quite useful.

  • Robin Keogh

    Based on his education his background the way he presents himself his success at such a young age ….. etc.

  • Robin Keogh

    If its good enough for peter robinson …

  • Robin Keogh

    Excellent

  • gendjinn

    Why stop at Saville? Let’s go for the truly evil – Reagan, Thatcher, Paisley. Don’t recall anyone being criticized for carrying their coffins. I could not have been clearer in my previous comment, carrying the coffin of someone is not an endorsement of their thoughts, words or deeds.

    It’s your serve on our Kingsmills marathon.

  • leanbh inchinn Ceilt

    “We’re very Proud of our past” “….previous leaders and activists that allowed people like me to become fully involved in the democratic process…” Indeed, it’s a pity you’ve done all you can to airbrush Ivan Cooper out of the Partys history…..even your new promo video has omitted all record of him showing only Hume, Mallon and Fitt as founders……You’re all bull-shitters Colm.