Tomorrow YOU are elected SDLP leader. What are the first 3 things you do?

What policies would you change? Would you go into opposition? How would you change the party? Give us your ideas in the comments.

  • chrisjones2

    I would redefine my party (and NI Politics) by announcing

    * we are for a United Ireland but only by consent within NI
    * we will work with and persuade unionists that its best for all of us
    * we recognise that its not going t happen in the foreseeable future and that many Roman Catholics in NI don’t want it to
    * in view of that we will fully commit ourselves to making NI work and stopping all this nonsense of sham fights and sectarian politics
    * as part of that we are going into opposition where we will work cooperatively with those who work for all of NI citizens and expose and challenge the sectarian nonsense of the DUP and SF

    This of course is the exact opposite of what they will do as they all lack the vision and ability to deliver

  • mickfealty

    Can I suggest that it has to be in your first 100 days, just to concentrate the mind a bit more sharply?

  • mickfealty

    There’s no ‘doing words’ in there Chris. What are you going to do? HINT: you only have three not five items…

  • chrisjones2

    I think 100 days is too slow Mick. There’s an election in just under 200 days time and the new leader has to act very quickly

  • Reader

    1) Poll the membership (anonymously) on a raft of social and political issues.
    2) Review polls of the electorate on the same social and political issues.
    3) Decide whether to change party policy or change the membership.

  • babyface finlayson

    Change your GP?

  • mickfealty

    These things NEVER work if people end up discussing everything. Generative loveliness please? 100 days or 200 day, just give us three actions?

  • An in depth examination of the SDLP membership on how nationalist, how left-wing, and how socially conservative they are would be great to review.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The first two issues are somewhat tackled by Constitutional amendments on a delegate representational basis.

    The last one is a mater of recruitment or dismissal, the second can be a leadership point, but branches should take the lead on the first.

  • tmitch57

    1) Hold discussions with UUP leadership about forming a joint opposition.
    2) Hold discussions with Alliance leadership about forming a joint opposition.
    3) Based on results of above discussions, lay out a plan and persuasion campaign for the party’s membership and see if there is any support for a new direction or if the party faithful just want to continue muddling along.

  • Kevin Breslin

    1. Wave to the crowd 2. Make an Acceptance Speech 3. Get off the Stage

    Maybe that’s a bit too literal.

  • Gingray

    1.) Announce that while you are in favour of a United Ireland, it is not going to happen any time soon, and that the key focus of the assembly elections are to put in place a government that will work to benefit all the citizens of Northern Ireland.

    2.) Establish a Working Group on the Economy, bringing in business leaders and key figures to help create a proactive economic strategy that differs to SF and the Unionist parties. Find something gimmicky within this to set SDLP apart and make it the focus.

    3.) Embrace the values in the name – Social, Democratic and Labour, and build key policies around these these. All the other party are tied to the constitutional issue, let them have it, and focus on issues.

  • Gaygael

    1) Oppose the bull that is a reduction in corporation tax
    2) Become pro-choice and extend the 67 Act
    3) Join up with a southern party for an all-island dimension mirroring the UK labour relationship
    Patricia McBride said it last night on the View. They can’t out red or out green SF so they have limited space to move. They can’t swing to social conservatism fully as that will split the party. They are a dead duck.
    My suggestions are because I’m on the left. A space that I would normally expect a Social Democratic and Labour Party to be.

  • chrisjones2

    1 declare we are for a United Ireland but only by consent within NIbut recognise that its not going t happen in the foreseeable future and that many Roman Catholics in NI don’t want it to so we will make NI work for all its citizens
    2 go into opposition to work cooperatively with those who work for all of NI citizens and expose and challenge the sectarian nonsense of the DUP and SF
    3 start by using Stormont to ruthlessly expose SFs link to organised crime and demanding that they hand in the guns that remain and that the UVF be disbanded

  • Ernekid

    1) Call in the administrators to liquidate any remaining party assets.
    2)Formally invite Michéal Martin to organise FF in NI and Jeremy Corbyn to allow Labour to run candidates in NI. 3)Tell remaining members to pick either party according to preference. Nationalists join Fianna Fáil whilst Social Democrats can join Labour

  • Kevin Breslin

    It was Newton Emerton who said that, centre-right and unionist.
    And in terms of not trying to “out” anyone 1, 2 and 3 are basically People before Profit, as even the Socialist Party don’t oppose the principle of lower corporation tax in the South.

  • Big Yellow Crane

    Is there a reason it has to be FF rather than the more popular FG? When Austin Currie (SDLP) and John Cushnahan (Alliance) went south they joined FG.
    With you on Labour – a party that could include Claire Hanna, Nuala McAllister and Naomi Long would be something

  • Kevin Breslin

    Yeah, I don’t think that SDLP members would vote for you on that basis. You’d get no votes entirely and make a fool of yourself in the process. You’d reflect everything you feel that you despise about the SDLP.

  • Gaygael

    Fair enough. It was Newton then. And hence the SDLP are not a party on the left – opposing women’s right to choose in all circumstances. Even if it will kill the woman.
    Great.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Just because I have a fantasy football team with Kolo Toure in it doesn’t make it Man City.

  • Ernekid

    Because FF like to frame themselves as a Republican Party and despite he and his parties myriad failings in fairness to Michéal Martin he’s one of the few Southern politicians with something sensible to say about the North. Kenny and the Blue Shirts have never even tried to care about NI. A pro-business Socially Conservative party like FF would be good counterbalance to SF in NI. I wouldn’t vote for them personally but I know a lot of nationalists who would. They are put off by lefty nature of SF and their dark past.

  • Big Yellow Crane

    I don’t know. I went to an evening with Garrett Fitzgerald thing once in Bangor. He was very well received. Depends what votes you’re after. What about reuniting North Down and Rathdown? A campaign for all those kids trying to get into Trinity with just A levels?

  • Reader

    But the branches are just going to keep on doing what they have always done, aren’t they?
    The parties here are either drifting away from their power base, or are trying to ruthlessly manipulate them. So a party that casts its net as wide as the existing membership can possibly bear stands to do well.

  • Robin Keogh

    1 – Declarte their intent to invite others to establish a cross party panel to investigate the benifits of Irish Unity with a view to produce a paper on irish unity within a given timeframe.

    2 – Declare their intent to formally go into opposition in the Assembly

    3 – Launch an initiative that brings Loyalist/Unionist and Republican/Nationalist working class communities together through educational and social cooperation.

  • submariner

    Chris you have left out the UUP in that equation they are just as sectarian as the DUP so the SDLP will have their work cut out for them

  • Granni Trixie

    It ain’t gonna happen. Apart from opposition what would the UUP party have in common with APNI? Not values or principles for shure. And having to be nice to Mike would eat into energy that could be better used to make NI work.

  • murdockp

    (1) employ a professional marketing company from outside NI to ask the electorate what they see and present the results back to the members.

    (2) DITTO and ask potential voters what they would like to see from the sdlp.

    work on realigning the party from position (1) to position (2)

    when the die hard Dinas our politicians won’t modernise, shut it down and start again

  • murdockp

    poll the membership? this is not the problem. the problem is the non members. the party needs to poll them.

  • Croiteir

    They have done the first one murdockp, paid tens of thousands apparently to a Dublin firm who have, as I understand it, told them to concentrate on the middle class and young vote, to concentrate on being northern irish, and to change their name as a rebrand, interesting to see if this is true because, if so, this weekend will reveal it. If not then I have been sold a pup.

  • murdockp

    surely ROI has a vote on wether they want to take on board a version of hell into their country.

  • murdockp

    so they are not a labour movement. that’s the L gone then. are they social democratic?

  • Zig70

    I wouldn’t be surprised, I’d say that labour is a much more recognisable brand than social Democrat. Does anyone outside of political nerds know what it stands for?

  • Croiteir

    Firstly ask the existentialist question. The SDLP were always an amalgam of people who came out of the maelstrom of the late 1960’s and the protests for civil rights. That was the priority.
    Following the GFA that has been achieved to a large extent. It is now time to redefine what they are for.
    1 what part of the political spectrum they wish to inhabit. I cannot see how they intend to be a cohesive, united force which can present itself as a party that is not, as it is now, at continual internal war. The factionism must end. You cannot have an amalgam of political ideologies any more as the circumstance which created that no longer applies.
    2 Decide if they are an Irish, British or just a regional party and act accordingly
    3 Start with local communities and sell your wares by local engagement, represent the people.

  • Croiteir

    That is exactly what they need to clearly define, as in my post

  • murdockp

    well if the social democrat goes that just leaves party

    you cannot be a social democrat and be in favour of low corporation taxes and FDI investment from global capitalist businesses.

    this is right of centre policy.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Under any leadership you delicate responsibility, you need leadership outside the leadership. No person can be in so many places all at once to meddle everywhere. The Macedonian army of Alexander the Great was built on “foreign” recruits.

  • Kevin Breslin

    1. We had a New Ireland Forum and Hume-Adams, then the GFA and there was a 20 year paper.

    2. We don’t have an opposition setup. I do think if there was a commitment to set one up a majority of members would consider going into opposition unless it was needed to stabilise a government.

    3. Good idea, we do need things like a successor to the Spirit of Eniskillen and third sector initiatives too and funding for these groups.

  • Zig70

    Firstly get the old dinosaurs together like Mallon and tell them to stop going to the press and damaging the party. Equally set up a communication team that co-ordinates the media responses and get training for anyone who has to face the media. Next get a look at the finances and see what’s to play with.
    Get the brand sorted, not by wasting money on suits with naff ideas. A simple mission statement and positive outlook for NI.
    Start to get a team together that knows how to utilize social media, big data and target voters. Get a list of potential voters, (anyone with a Mc or O in the name, :-)).
    Get a review of the talent in the party, a few questionnaires to spot the talent and see where we need to attract talent.
    Get a good business strategy. Start to work on support from the business community.
    Avoid opposition or any mention of opposition and tell the UUP to apologise for internment. (running out of ideas now). Learn to count to 3.

  • Zig70

    The name is just a name, it’s very recognisable and no need to change it. I think the social democrat ethos stays but they need a way to communicate it. Can’t expect people to see Social democrat and read the party culture into it.

  • tmitch57

    What would the DUP have in common with APNI? Yet Alliance sits in the Executive. And Alliance has even less in common with Sinn Fein.

  • Granni Trixie

    I see a difference in working in the Exeuctive with a range of other parties to try t get consensus or at least exert influence and input ideas and working in opposition with one (or two) other parties. Inevitably opposition parties would be required to work closely together in an adversarial system and this Is the part which i could see eating up energy better used in making thngs work.
    (Sorry to be disobedient Mick – would I ever go off topic?)

  • Reader

    That would be my point #2

  • chrisjones2

    I regard them as an irrelevance – in terms of political impact on a par with the Greens (who are well intentioned but mostly wrong) and Alliance (who are simply useless)

  • SDLP supporter

    Ernekid, will you stop this juvenile ‘Blueshirt’ garbage, which is a common slur used by you and others on this site? The Blueshirts, a proto-fascist body, haven’t been a feature of Irish politics since the mid-thirties, seventy five years or three generations ago? Do you know how many people the Blueshirts killed? Nil, precisely nil. Do you know how many people our generation of so-called ‘republicans’ killed, and unfortunately still very much with us? 1,768 and counting.

  • SDLP supporter

    Gaygael, for someone who likely will never procreate you are obsessed with sexual politics. When has a woman’s ‘right to choose in all circumstances’ been a core principle of social democracy?

  • SDLP supporter

    There is no contradiction between being a social democrat and being in favour of a pro-enterprise and business-friendly environment. The main reason why countries chases FDI is because, for whatever reason, the indigenous economy is not creating sufficient economic growth and jobs.

    I don’t mind taking the advice of CBI types (who are addressing the SDLP Conference today) but there are other stakeholders in society too. Some of the greatest entrepreneurs (Buffett, Gates) have said they actually want to pay more tax out of their vast wealth and that some aspects of neo-liberalism (casualisation, low wages, etc.) are killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

    Gates bitterly opposed the moron Bush plan to lower inheritance taxes for the super-wealthy, saying that too much inherited wealth killed drive and initiative in the next generation. He famously said that inherited wealth was like picking the US Olympics athletics team from sons and daughters of the peoplewho had won Olympic medals a generation previously.

    Henry Ford, the prototype of an entrepreneurial capitalist, always insisted in paying his employees very well because they were the target market for his cars.

    You are too binary in your ideas.

  • SDLP supporter

    Do you really believe Alliance are going to give up one of their two Executive seats, one of which they are not entitled to?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    1) talk to UUP and other parties about possibility of forming an opposition. Declare a longer term interest in forming progressively-minded coalitions with moderate unionists as the best model for future governments of N Ireland
    2) take a pro-active lead within nationalism on truth recovery over the Troubles, to reboot the reconciliation process – hold hands up to nationalism’s failings during Troubles years (including SDLP’s). I’d then encourage UUP and DUP to reciprocate with magnanimous statements about their mistakes
    3) declare the SDLP now a social democratic party first and foremost – and while not against a united Ireland some time in the future, that it is strictly off the agenda for the foreseeable future (similar to Gingray’s 1st point below).
    The detente in inter-communal relations you would get from point 3 would be fantastic, I think.

  • Granni Trixie

    “One of which they are entitled to”: it is in the gift of the Exeuctive to chose another party to do so. The easier thing (especially recently) would be to resign from the Jusice ministry. That would probably have resulted in the bringing down of the Exeuctive – an alternative is unlikely to be forthcoming – and one still has hopes the dysfunctions can be rectified.

    I know you will not believe me but when I think of the idea of going into opposition I have never considered the pros and cons of Seats. I’m sure some Alliance people think Opposition is a possibility but the very thought of it makes my heart sink. Bear in mind that we chose to belong to different parties for good reasons.

  • Gaygael

    With respect, you have no idea whether I will have children or not. And I don’t feel that currently not having children precludes me from a conversation.

    Actually the politics I focus most on is around voting trends and seat predictions. I also contribute to marriage, choice, corporation tax, party conferneces, the conscience clause, poppies, SDLP leadership, robbo and the DUPers numerous scandals. The petition of concern, assembly reform,…….. Quite a broad list of contributions.

    Have a look at politics of PES. The party of European socialists. The SDLP used to sit with them in Europe. They rightly got a lot of flack for their extreme position on reproductive rights.

    I patiently await ‘progressive nationalism’ changing in this.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Seems Colum took my advise.

  • Lionel Hutz

    1) Look at the main parties in the south and decide if any of them align enough to SDLP policy and ethos to link up with them. If so, do it. If not, attempt to set up a process to run candidates under an SDLP banner in the south. If you are an Irish political party and believe that their is no party running in most of the island on the platform you belive is best for the country, then you ought to fill that void.

    2) set a line on whether you can be part of the executive. That means defining the type of incidents that could result in leaving the executive in this mandate. The current fudge deal might be the appropriate point. Set a linew on what would enable you to join an executive in the next mandate. A program for government that is acceptable would be the line.

    3) set up a proper communication network to ensure that all party representatIves are aware of key policy points and a simple message so that the party gives the appearance of consistency and cohesiveness. Consider appropriate sanctions for those who go too rogue.