Colum Eastwood: “Difference doesn’t have to mean division”

One of the things both the UUP and the SDLP have had to firefight is the active indifference of the media to almost anything they say. It’s not been helped by their lack of consistent messaging. But I was struck by this line at yesterday’s launch:

“Difference doesn’t have to mean division – it doesn’t have to mean deadlock. In this election voters have a choice.

“We are asking people to choose between two parties who have shown that they can’t work together or take the chance to choose differently – choose those of us who have shown that we can work together.

“Choose parties who want to work together for the common good.”

Like most political slogans, it won’t mean much if it cannot be followed up on. Going into opposition has clearly allowed both parties to think outside the usual captive boxes, and discomfited the incumbents.

But it is at clear and coherent and hard to defend against.

  • We’ll never forget you Calum Eastwood.

  • murdockp

    Calum, must be his long lost Scottish cousin.

    So we have a choice between a lad who still hasn’t paid of his student loan and an ex TV presenter e to run the ‘shire’ versus a career politician who has not worked outside of politics and a person with a very extreme view of unionism and is anti Irish Culture (the only words that wont attract libel).

    The election is a farce, the Newry Spud got it just right in their recent satirical post as this is how people like me who should be voting for SDLP see the SDLP.

    I would love to vote for SDLP but they offer nothing for working families the very people they say they want to represent but they draw far to much religion into their party.

    Anyway, if you want a good laugh, check this out.

    http://www.newryspud.com/2017/02/03/mr-tumble-replaces-sdlps-justin-mcnulty-as-assembly-candidate/

  • Kevin Breslin

    Calum knows Best!

  • Roger

    Must be an insiders joke. I didn’t find it funny. Pity.

  • Jag

    “We are asking people to choose between two parties who have shown that they can’t work together or take the chance to choose differently”

    Which “two parties”?

    He’s obviously not referring to the DUP and SF because he is asking people to choose between the two.

    More meaningless hot air?

  • Brian Walker

    … Or too vague to mean much unless it means a leap into recommending cross community voting, Mick? Cooperation on what exactly, Colum? Unconditional commitment to return to the Assembly? Weighted majority and petition of concern reform? Close cooperation on Brexit?
    From Mike Nesbitt invoking Carson is not obviously attractive to SDLP voters. He’ll have to do better than that and like Colum take the gamble and start talking abut what cooperation actually would mean. Scary, no doubt but what do they have to lose? .

    Will any of this boost the chances of either to take the fifth seat?

    Will disenchantment with Arlene erode the DUP’s impressive first and second round performance of 38 seats last time or favour of UUP in say the third count? Doubtful. Arlene is addressing her comparative vulnerability compared with last time head-on by attacking on on all fronts, SF AND UUP– no Mrs Nice Guy in spite of the tut-tutting in the garden centres. The core vote will do, thanks very much. All the DUP AND SF have to do surely is to keep raising the spectre of the other side topping the poll. Only if Arlene and Gerry/Michelle keep naming their bloc rivals as betrayers, traitors etc. can we speculate that the UUP and SDLP are making an impact. How will the UUPs and SDLP reply?

  • Nordie Northsider

    “…choose those of us who have shown that we can work together.”

    The problem being that the SDLP and the UUP haven’t really shown that they can work together. Mallon and Trimble was no cake-walk. The parties are regularly on opposing sides in local government. Speaking at each others’ party conferences doesn’t prove anything other than an ability to be civil to each other.

  • file

    It was clumsily worded but the choice he is referring to is: a) SF + DUP or b) SDLP + UUP.

  • Karl

    Is Mike recommending that UUP voters give the second preferences to the SDLP or is he recommending ‘unionists down the card’?

    Just how far does his engagement go? Be very careful here Colum. You’ll only get the one mistake

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Personally find it refreshing that any party is going into an election talking openly in terms of partnership with a party from the other side. Sure the detail of that may be vague – but the spirit of co-operation is surely significant and valuable. Well done SDLP and UUP.

  • Granni Trixie

    Being civil would be a start for AF but It is disappointing that the reconfigurations since the GFA have not apparently lead to better, effective political relationships. That PS does not appear to have “worked” is something to be revisited post election if we are to earn from our mistakes.

  • Granni Trixie

    Sustaining a cross community party as Alliance does shows that it can be done. In practice however this had been extremely difficult to achieve – reaching consensus on policy for instance Is not an instant process even if there was the political will to try to do so and I’m not sure that the SDLP and UUP have that.

    A particular problem to be addressed is that voters like clarity so branding and categorising are problematic in a context where everything is framed in terms of ‘two sides’.

  • johnny lately

    Did Colum also not say that the SDLP would not be going back into government unless there was an Irish language act. So does that mean the UUP will agree to one or are Mike and Colum speaking out of both sides of their mouths.

  • Obelisk

    To be cynical, sustaining a cross community party like Alliance is easy when you don’t really have a cross community basis.

  • GavBelfast

    Well done, Colum Eastwood. More of same, please, and Mike Nesbitt, so that it’s convincing and inspiring.

    I live in such an overwhelmingly Unionist constituency that the best outcome I can hope for is 2 DUP, 1 or 2 UUP or 1 or 2 Alliance (if you follow).

    But I’ll certainly be giving the SDLP a high preference, not that it will count for match, but I’ll have done it.

    I don’t doubt Mr Eastwood’s credentials as a left-leaning Irish nationalist, but he and his party clearly want to make Northern Ireland work, build-upon relations with the South, and work the Good Friday Agreement.

    That’ll do for me.

    We know Naomi Long and Alliance will work for just about everyone, so over to you Mr Nesbitt. It would take at least the three of your parties to make the necessary numbers, anyway, and that’s being optimistic.

    PS: We know the DUP and SF can’t do good-government together – it’s been window-dressing and power-dividing, not sharing. They’ve had their chance.

  • Granni Trixie

    It is not easy, believe me.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The UUP signed up to the Irish language and Ulster Scots provisions of the Good Friday Agreement, so if they have any suggestions for how these should be implemented in an inoffensive manner to them then we will be happy to take them on board.

  • hotdogx

    If the DUP are returned as largest party with 30 seats it won’t matter who is facing them. The ball is well and truly in the pro union court. They have the choice of making NI work or not. If they follow the wagon circling attitude of the DUP all is lost and we can forget about the assembly or power sharing

  • Lionel Hutz

    The SDLP and UUP have to gamble on the approach being liked by the public. And turn the criticism from SF and DUP back on them

  • johnny lately

    If thats the case Kevin why wasn’t there an Irish language act when Trimble and Mallon were the tag team. Lets not also forget it was a UUP councilor who claimed words spoken in Irish are like bullets fired from a gun.

  • Croiteir

    Unless you are a unionist and wish to maintain division and difference.