McGuinness pays Colum Eastwood the complement of a full bore counterattack…

Suffered a little ‘riding accident’ on Tuesday evening so I’m sure there’s tons I’ve missed. But I did think it interesting that Martin McGuinness’s pretty muscular response to Clint Colum Eastwood’s piece last week was interesting for its tone as much as the dFM’s byline…

…if there was ever a party in need of positive leadership it’s the SDLP. Instead, what was served up was more of the same old lazy SDLP politics: Why bother presenting credible policies when we can just attack Sinn Fein?

Who needs to produce workable alternative when we can just attack Sinn Fein? Why even mention the British Government or the unionists when we can just attack Sinn Féin?

Is the SDLP really so bereft of its own ideas that it must constantly define itself by reference to Sinn Fein?

 They say a week is a long time in politics, but what’s happened to the bright new vision promised by the dynamic young leader just over a fortnight ago? Because all that we have seen so far from his leadership has been more of the same tired old negative rhetoric.

But, of course, that’s all part of politics and no amount of mud-slinging from the SDLP is going to deter Sinn Fein from our objectives.

It then goes on to make some pretty general and unspecific references to elements of the Fresh Start agreement, notably the Corporation Tax.

Since not everyone in the party has been full throated in their support, you’d have to wonder if this is a piece of internal comms, with Martin’s byline slapped on as a signal an end to any internal debate. The message to the unions (possibly inadvertently) is pretty direct too.

It’s something of a backhanded compliment to Eastwood. One old political rule which has served SF well over the years is to avoid talking about your opponent too you are giving them and not yourself publicity.

On this occasion Sinn Fein has paid him back the compliment. You’d have to guess that something the SDLP leader said must have stung internally.



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