The Battle within Nationalism: SDLP Ground Game crucial to Saving Alasdair

I had a piece in Thursday’s News Letter election supplement about the battle taking place within nationalism in the Westminster election.

I agree with Alex Kane that unionists will be out in numbers on Thursday in an attempt, from their perspective, to rectify what happened in March.

Primary emotions play a major role in producing higher voter turnout at election time. Fear, anger and hope have each played a role in determining major upswings in turnout, with significant electoral landmarks attributable to each.

Hope brought about the massive vote in 1998’s historic first Assembly election. On an international stage, hope also led to the 2008 US Presidential election turnout which ushered in the Obama Presidency. At some 57%, it remains the highest since 1968, itself a contest fought against the background of high profile political assassinations and unrest from the Vietnam War.

In a local setting, fear and anger have always been – and continue to be- more easily triggered within unionism. Poor political leadership has played a role in this, as have some media sources via the drip feed of contrived ‘fury’ and ‘rage’ headlines, but one of the consequences continues to be that unionist turnout at election time can be more reliably predicted.

Over recent years, I have written numerous articles on Slugger and elsewhere on the declining nationalist turnout, which had frustrated both nationalist parties and led to successive electoral setbacks at local, Assembly and Westminster level from 2010 until 2016.

The story of March’s Assembly election was the Nationalist Surge, which led to the highest percentage of nationalist elected representatives ever being returned at a NI-wide election since the foundation of the state.

That was a product of anger incentivising nationalists to turn out and vote in numbers not seen in the post-St Andrews era of all-in devolution.

It was not because of unionists failing to turnout.

They did. And in large numbers.

The 225,413 votes won by the DUP in March represented the 2nd highest vote registered in an election for the party (topped only by the 2005 Westminster vote which saw the party demolish the Ulster Unionist Party on the back of winning some 241,856 votes.)

This election contest was unexpected, but it does come at a time which both of our leading parties, Sinn Fein and the DUP, believe to be more than a little fortuitous.

Post-March, unionists are itching to hit back, and I fully expect a significant unionist reaction in the form of turnout and further swing to the DUP that should see the party consolidate vote share and seats, with South Antrim likely to be added to their tally and East Belfast more comfortably retained than has been predicted.

But their real target is South Belfast.

Peter Robinson has come out of retirement to score a final victory, and the UDA’s Jackie McDonald has been lined up to claim an assist in the event of Emma Lyttle Pengelly pipping Alasdair McDonnell at the post to take the seat.

South Belfast will be important because it represents winning back a seat from Nationalism, as both Unionist parties will quietly admit that Fermanagh South Tyrone should be lost to Sinn Fein if nationalists vote in the numbers they did in March regardless of unionist turnout in that constituency.

Within Nationalism, the battle is restricted to the three seats currently held by the SDLP, with Sinn Fein set to comfortably hold their four seats and, in the process, further reduce the People Before Profit threat in West Belfast.

Foyle should be safe for the SDLP, even though Sinn Fein did succeed in pulling ahead of their rivals in March here for the first time. Durkan’s appeal is greater than that of his party, and it is likely that Sinn Fein will pull up just short this time.

The SDLP will know that South Down looks precarious for the party.

Margaret Ritchie was never the strongest of candidates to retain and consolidate party support at a time when the SDLP are struggling, and with Sinn Fein finally identifying in Chris Hazzard an impressive, local and long-term prospect to seize the majority nationalist position in this constituency, it looks like South Down is set to go Sinn Fein barring tactical voting from unionists on an unprecedented scale in the constituency.

Whilst that is possible, the post-Nationalist Surge context of this election will have significantly diminished the appeal of tactical voting for many Unionists in a manner that could prove fatal for Ritchie’s prospects of clinging on to the seat.

Apart from South Down, the two most intriguing contests from a nationalist perspective will be in North Belfast and South Belfast.

In John Finucane, nationalism has an election candidate with unity status appeal under a Sinn Fein label for the first time. He is set to register a massive vote in a constituency which always previously had a lower ceiling on the republican party’s ambition due to its difficulties in connecting with voters from the upper Antrim Road/ Glengormley end of the constituency.

That has not been a problem for Finucane. He has been helped by the SDLP and Alliance running low profile candidates, and how close he is able to run Nigel Dodds will be fascinating.

Which brings us back to South Belfast.

It is not a coincidence that the SDLP Leader, Deputy Leader and candidates for North Belfast, East Belfast and Lagan Valley have all been out on the doors with Alasdair McDonnell in his constituency (as opposed to their own) in recent days.

In 2001, Alex Attwood described West Tyrone as the SDLP’s Stalingrad. Back then, the party had decided to parachute into the constituency Brid Rodgers, the high profile Agriculture Minister who’d been viewed as doing a good job in her role over the foot and mouth crisis.

With Sinn Fein biting at their heels electorally, the SDLP saw this tactical move as a potentially game-changing opportunity to halt Sinn Fein’s electoral advance across the north.

This was a constituency in which the sitting MP, Willie Thompson, had managed to squeeze through and get elected only because the two nationalist candidates had so evenly shared the nationalist vote in 1997.

The Rodgers’ gamble did not pay off, and Sinn Fein’s stunning ground game performance in the constituency convinced local nationalists that Pat Doherty was the only candidate who could take the seat from Willie Thompson, which he proceeded to do with over 40% of the vote.

In many ways, South Belfast is a modern Stalingrad for the SDLP.

Lose here, and they stand at the precipice, in all likelihood with only their Maiden City stronghold yet to be breached.

In their favour, the SDLP will know that the post-March nationalist electorate is hungrier for electoral success and more attuned to the necessity of tactical voting to achieve that than has been the case for many years.

In both North Belfast and Fermanagh South Tyrone, Sinn Fein’s John Finucane and Michelle Gildernew will benefit handsomely from that sharpened sense of awareness across nationalism.

The SDLP’s Alasdair McDonnell is the only nationalist who can win in South Belfast, but whether or not the SDLP’s ground game has been convincing enough to deliver a turnout for their veteran candidate in the face of the Robinson-orchestrated DUP challenge, we will soon know.

 

 

 

  • Vince

    Well voters have a clear choice in this constituency. The UDA, Brexit and the NHS are all on the ballot paper. Judging by the article in the “Loyalist” magazine, if you support the UDA vote for the DUP or SF. If you also want to support the people who have left the health service without a budget, again vote for DUP or SF. If you support Brexit vote DUP or SF. It’s very simple.

  • Msiegnaro

    I don’t feel SB will ever be Unionist again. Nationists are much smarter at voting tactfully to keep their candidate in and with this in mind the SDLP are safe. Counter this with Unionism who will be spread everywhere from UUP, Greens, Alliance and possibly SDLP (to keep out SF) and with this in mind the DUP will fall significantly short.

  • aquifer

    The SDLP’s loss is to be blamed on their lack of door to door prowess, nothing to do with SF’s Martin O’Muillior’s claims that he has half a chance to win.

    SFDUP are now about clearing out the middle ground.

  • TheHorse

    It actually says in that loyalist magazine that if you support the UDA then vote for the DUP or Sinn Fein ?

  • Vince

    It expresses the hope that SFs vote goes up/holds up in order to help DUP win the seat. That also appears to be M O’Muilleoir’s goal as it was in 2015. Everyone knows that the seat lies between SDLP & DUP.

  • Vince

    He has zero chance to win. His main goal is to win it for Pengelly/McDonnell to lose.

  • Msiegnaro

    So you think NB is SFs only Belfast gain?

  • Vince

    SF have zero chance in NB. Dodds at 1/3 with Paddy Power still represents fantastic odds.

  • Glenn

    Ladies and gentlemen, I bring to you a new word today “gerryabstentionism”. It’s the Sinn Fein/IRA version of “gerrmandering”.
    Definition:
    “Gerryabstentionism”:
    is the policy of Sinn Fein/IRA to demand votes and then refuse to take their seat’s denying civil and human rights to representation. While their stated policy is, stating and demanding they are fighting for “equality, respect and integrity” for everyone.

  • 1729torus

    I expect that the DUP will shamelessly lobby for STV if or when Nationalists get a majority of the Westminster seats. Can’t have “divisive” results, can we?

  • 1729torus

    SF want to beat the SDLP so the next vote is a straight fight between them and the DUP, as is the case in NB.

  • Nevin

    “In John Finucane, nationalism has an election candidate with unity status appeal under a Sinn Fein label for the first time.”

    John, like Michelle O’Neill, has strong family links with militant nationalism rather than the constitutional nationalism associated with the SDLP.

  • mickfealty

    The SDLP always has a problem when there’s no air war. Any electoral competition which relies only on who can get more votes, it will lose every time to it’s big brother.

    What’s surprised me about Ritchie is her unwillingness to look for fights (say, over Ms Bailey calling Banger a ‘s-hole’), to differentiate herself from her younger rival.

    All three of these defenders are ex leaders, and all three in one degree or another still carry the mark of decline which marked their leadership years.

    Durkan is, as you say Chris like his mentor before him, carrying a value beyond that of the party he once led. That’s not an asset that will endure for much longer.

    I can see them coming back with one, two or three, but any loss will contrast negatively with the more resilient performance of the younger Assembly team.

    Hazzard is a talent, but in fact if he wins he will effectively be sidelined from any local game that persists and that might be viewed as useful from an SDLP pov.

    That in itself may indicate that SF has zero plans to resurrect the local game outside the endless running of elections in other to obliterate their internal opposition.

    The SDLP remains a party in search of a narrative/reason for still being around. Whatever happens, I don’t think we’ll get any answers to that on Thursday.

  • james
  • Nevin

    “The SDLP remains a party in search of a narrative/reason for still being around.”

    The SDLP has a perfectly reasonable nationalist narrative for still being around. Those who fail to draw a clear distinction between it and the slightly constitutional SF are doing the SDLP and nationalism no favours.

    “What’s surprised me about Ritchie is her unwillingness to look for fights”

    Naomi Long demonstrates a lot more bite than the generally lack lustre SDLP and UUP. I see no reason why our political leaders can’t be conciliatory but still have the guts to show a little back bone, should the need arise. As I’ve said previously, it was a SF rep who stepped in to protect me while the SDLP and UUP ones kept their heads down.

  • Granni Trixie

    And in his own right many are likely to see him as a divisive figure – Chris asserting he is a unity candidate is as yet untested.

  • Granni Trixie

    I note again that Chris does not mention Republicans in his post. Something he’s not telling us?

  • Deeman

    There’s isn’t much point in the sdlp attacking Sinn Fein. There are plenty of others to do that DUP, UUP, Alliance, Poltical Commentators etc. Attaching the DUP and Foster in particular is what goes down well in South Down and nationalist areas. Eastwood has proved this in his performance in the debates.

    If Ritchie spent her time attacking silly young sf councillors in south down who are popular and well liked in their communities then this would prove counterproductive.

  • hgreen

    I’m no SDLP supporter but voting for candidates who don’t take their seats at Westminster is nuts. What happens if a progressive alliance is one or two seats short at Westminster as a result of SF taking seats from the SDLP?

  • mickfealty

    If that does happen, then responsibility for such failure will land at the door of the SDLP itself, and nowhere else.

  • Deeman

    Would many unionists in NI swear any oath of allegiance to the tricolour or Michael d Higgins?

    Unless they change the oath no republican can take their seat in Westminster.

  • mickfealty

    Erm, and that little act of pointless whataboutery was about what exactly? Zero tolerance for trolling here DM…

  • Deeman

    I am attempting to explain how difficult swearing an oath of allegiance to the queen is for republicans.

  • mickfealty

    Then say it. Without the obligatory pejorative reference to “unionists”, please?

  • hgreen

    I disagree. Why for example are the greens and Labour standing aside in some English seats? Parties make pacts and arrangements all the time for the greater good.

    What is the logic of standing for an election when you have no intention of taking your seats and fully representing your constituents? I’ll place the blame firmly at the door of SF if we lose the opportunity for a progressive alliance because of one or two SDLP seats.

  • hgreen

    I fully understand that position. However why stand in an election when you know your actions will hand the seat to a brexiter/Tory.

  • Vince

    No, just wants to stop Alasdair and if he can, nip 3rd place from Alliance. Think he will again come 4th – certainly deserves to fail on both of his objectives.

  • Vince

    Theresa May will be delighted to have empty seats rather than people prepared to vote against her on welfare, Brexit, international aid etc. It truly is an exercise in madness to elect people who simply want to scoop up expenses.

  • Vince

    Mick I think you know very well the sort of muck that gets thrown at SDLP by SF in SB and elsewhere.

  • Colin Lamont

    Any chance of a prediction thread Mick?

  • Msiegnaro

    He’s fancied to take the seat.

  • Zig70

    As an SDLP voter, I’d like to see Alasdair lose and the SDLP consolidate themselves as a progressive left wing party rather than the current muddle of conservative Catholic and progressive left.

  • Granni Trixie

    By whom?

  • Msiegnaro

    Some pundits, Irish News and The New Statesman.

  • mickfealty

    Yep. Pretty knuckle dragging stuff at times. But it’s not enough to blame the big ruffians. The party itself has to come up with a cogent answer as to why the SDLP still matters.

    It’s handicapped by a press which thinks the question is not even worth asking. But if you then lose your job to someone who is making a broad daylight offer simply not to do it, then you have to own your own failures in that regard.

  • mickfealty

    Such as your good self here on Slugger a few months back Nev?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Well what if unionism was more in line with the rest of the UK?

    A non-tribal unionism with no religious affiliations might appeal to the very mixed demographic of SB.

    Do you think immigrants care more for jobs, healthcare etc or parades and flags?

    So, yes, at present you are probably onto something with your feeling but should unionism be more about the union and it’s appeal then all bets are off.

    Would you like there to be such a thing as a non-Protestant unionist demographic?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I’d like to see a Christian democrat party that would take like minded folk from all parties, a ‘faith before flag’ type thing.

  • Msiegnaro

    Oh that’s a tricky question you ask as the decline of Protestantism concerns me as much as the decline of Unionism, maybe even more so.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    “SFDUP are now about clearing out the middle ground” Agree, I would go further they are going to gut it !

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Agree about the Banger a ‘s-hole’ issue ! I thought that was a penalty kick for Ritchie and the SDLP was also surprised they did not ram the ball into the back of the SF Net !

  • JoeHassit

    Have a look at the records and you’ll see that SF turn up to Westminster only slightly less than other NI parties. Attendance just isn’t an issue for many (possibly most) of the electorate, who see NI MPs role at Westminster as insignificant and their presence as irrelevant.

  • Msiegnaro

    Have you seen Finucane’s campaign on social media. He’s unstoppable.

  • Msiegnaro

    SF are focused on this area and it looks like they’re going to get it.

  • Granni Trixie

    I am not aware of it at all except on Slugger where it seems to be in full flow. I have read in newspapers however that Finucane toes the party line as regards answering questiONS about victims of the Ira violent campaign. If he had not come up with the same old,same old Sf “regrettable” words instead of condemnimg these methods outright then he might have given credibility that his political rhetoric.

  • Glenn

    What is the point of voting for “gerryabstentionism” when to paraphrase John O’Dowd one of their candidates, Parliament is a waste of time. If it’s a waste of time John why are you and the other 17 Sinn Fein/IRA candidates standing in the election???

    If Sinn Fein/IRA are so committed to “equality, respect and integrity”, why stand in this or other Westminster elections, and deny people their civil and human right to representation???

    Is this another Sinn Fein/IRA policy of, if Sinn Fein/IRA are against it, it’s all right, but if other political parties are against other issues its wrong???

    Just as the news is hitting our screens of another terror attack in London, will Michelle O’Neill, Gerry Adams and Gerry Kelly et al, condemn the latest terror attacks in London??? Will they also congratulate the Met, for shooting dead the 3 terrorists saving innocent lives, or should the Met have arrested these terrorists???

    If the terror threat is raised in the UK in light of the terror attack in London, in the run up to the election. Do we need to review our position here in Northern Ireland and have a strong Army presence at the border. As Sinn Fein/IRA “Semtex” is finding its way into the hands of other Irish republican terrorist in the Irish republic.
    We must now demand that Sinn Fein/IRA give all the locations of their arms dumps to the PSNI and the police in the Irish republic. So all the contents can be put beyond terrorist use, saving lives. We were told that only Sinn Fein/IRA were the only terrorist group with Libyan “Semtex”. If this is the case then Sinn Fein/IRA need to account for how their “Semtex” is finding it’s way into the hands of other Irish republican terrorists.
    The time has now come for this transitional period of Sinn Fein/IRA controlling their arms dumps to end, and they must now for public safety be handed over and the contents removed by the police both North and south.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p054m723#play

  • T.E.Lawrence

    “Peter Robinson has come out of retirement to score a final victory” Will be close, but the campaign run by Pengelly in SB has been one of the most professional campaigns I have seen run by Unionism in this constituency for a very long time, it definately has the masters paws all over it ! I am sure he has eyed over every street in the SB Electoral Register spread across his study plotting how to maximize that Unionist Vote !

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Yeah NI21 had conquered the world on social media ? Basil thought he was unstoppable too, then reality kicked in !

  • Msiegnaro

    A paper SDLP candidate, energised Nationalist electorate and with his name appealing to the middle classes it looks like NB is his to lose. Nigel Dodds is invisible on FB.

  • Msiegnaro

    SF are established and this is a key target, NI21 were untested.

  • NotNowJohnny

    In a thread with a title about Alasdair McDonnell and the SDLP you’ve managed to write six paragraphs without mentioning the Alasdair McDonnell or the SDLP once yet naming four Sinn Fein politicians and mentioning Sinn Fein nine times. You’ve also managed to include the words Semtex (twice) IRA (nine times), arms dump (twice) and terrorist (six times). Can you tell me why is there such a unionist obsession with Sinn Fein and why after almost a quarter of century is the conflict still uppermost in their minds? And when can we expect it to end?

  • mickfealty

    Yes, and in not doing so they’ve created a double problem: one, loss of difference on a matter critical to building a broader base if not a broader consensus; contributing a general degradation in Nationalist discourse from one moral engagement to a vain agit prop drama on unionist manners.

  • Glenn

    I’m delighted to see you missed the bits at the start of my post on “gerryabstentionism”, and how Sinn Fein/IRA are forever screeching “equality, respect and integrity”. However, everyone of their “gerryabstentionism” MP’s, deny the basic civil and human right to representation in the legislature.

  • NotNowJohnny

    De Valera took the oath and went on to change the Irish constitution to do away with it. What is so special about the current crop of republican candidates that make the oath something that was within the scope of De Valera’s republicanism but outside theirs? Are they better republicans than de Valera? Are they better republicans than Michael Collins? Are they better republicans than the many other GPO men who entered the Dail in 1923? No? So what is the great impediment then? It’s just some words. It doesn’t have to mean anything to a republican.

  • Granni Trixie

    You are implying that being from a well to do family financially matters more to the middle classes than someone’s moral position on violence!
    What an insult!

  • Granni Trixie

    And when it came to the test look what happened – not a useful example from your POV.

  • Granni Trixie

    My reading of Patrick Maguires article in NS differs – which is that the DUP could do it in SB – at odds with the nature of the constituency – he quotes Paula Bradshaw liberally to support this. I trust he’s wrong.

  • Nevin

    If I knew what the question meant I might be able to give you an answer!

  • the Moor

    NIce bit of content analysis. Point well made. Truth indeed is that Ulster unionism is constitituted by its Other. Fear and loathing of Irish republicanism forms almost the whole basis of the partitionist project, more so certainly than any positive, affirmative attachment to British values.

  • Granni Trixie

    Would you mind spelling out exactly what the actions are of this “professional campaign” to which you refer? I’m genuinely interested ..any tips?

  • Granni Trixie

    How often have we to go over this. It’s not a unionist obsession but that of many people including victims to pressurise SF to admit that the violent campaign which they allege was justified was plain wrong and should not happen again.

  • Granni Trixie

    Obviously sf voters accept their abstentious policy but you are assuming far too much re “most of the electorate” as the majority of those who come out to vote vote for candidates who pledge themselves to take their place in WEstminster to exert influence. …which sf opt out of.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    They have kept out of the mud slinging and left that to the SDLP, Alliance, SF They have sat down with every unionist community group in the constituency and listened to their concerns. They have ran a great voter registration campaign. They are asking anyone who needs transport to the polling station they will provide. They have came across at the door steps more humanity. Their appearance is smart and tidy in other words they are a professional outfit. You know Peter is behind it when you see it in action.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Now don’t be too disappointed when your horse does not come in ! The Kai have been mobilized and I never seen that mob beat in my life ?

  • Ryan A

    And they’ve stayed in their good areas. No evidence of them operating anywhere else in the constituency; at least not South of Ardenlee Avenue.

    They go anywhere else they’ll motivate people who would vote for SF/Alliance/Green or better still not vote to come out and block them by voting SDLP.

    The UDA endorsement might scupper some of it though. Don’t see that going down well in the Four Winds / Carryduff (outside Killynure) / Castledonia.

  • Msiegnaro

    Kai?

  • grumpy oul man

    How is it a tricky question!
    Should unionism keep the whole flag/ marching/ bonfire thing as central to its identity and have zero appeal to catholics.
    Or should it ditch these things and perhaps gain catholic votes.
    Can the union survive without bringing catholics aboard, the demographics seem to say no.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    On Friday I will give you a hanky at the count to dry your eyes ! They have went into the places not to gather a few odd votes but full ballot boxes off them. Very good Strategy

  • T.E.Lawrence

    I used to fight them along time ago !

  • Ryan A

    You won’t be near the count since your party aren’t standing anywhere. Unless the PUP are now in a pact with the DUP? How does that sit with the UDA and UVF?

    Nonetheless, I know several AP voters helping Al for the final time. I’m sure many in South Belfast might do the same to banish Pengelly for the final time.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Maybe I am a counter behind the table ? Alliance voting for Big Al now ? Yeah I wondered why Paula put that tweet out yesterday asking for Green Votes to beat the SDLP and DUP in South Belfast ! Gawd who wants to represent a back stabbing party like that ?

  • Ryan A

    Simple message to ask voters in the real middle ground to consider voting tactically to elect a cross community MP. Nothing more, nothing less.

    So are you supporting the DUP over Green’s who are probably closer to your policy positions?

    How desparate have the PUP become when they allow themselves to be sodimised by Swish Family Robinson and the SPAD gang!

  • Madra Uisce

    Other than Sectarianism can you give us any reason why Pengelly would be a better option than McDonnell

  • Madra Uisce

    A gang of sectarian thugs from Rathcoole from the 1970s KAI=Kill All Irish. Unfortunately I remember them well

  • Msiegnaro

    Thanks. That doesn’t explain your theory that Dodds will win taking into account AE17 in NB and a weak SDLP candidate. Perhaps add Brexit to the mix and a socially more acceptable SF candidate.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    On my odd visits to London I occasionally meet some of the Westminster bunch when staying at my cousin’s place but I have as yet to run into an English Conservative, or even one of their aides, who has any good thing to say about current mainstream Unionism. I think it’s quite clearly recognised that since the 1960s any earlier pretence of Unionism’s sharing what are seriously considered to be “British values” has gone entirely by the board. And one has only to look at any of the current “Life in the UK” tests to clearly see just what trouble many of those supporting the Union would have if actually tested.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Agree Mick but why was there not even an SDLP disident call from someone like Hanna to punch back. Fair play to Claire she takes some bull on social media from the shinner machine but by gawd she punches back above her weight a real inspiration for any young SDLP supporter !

  • T.E.Lawrence

    That’s a pretty nasty word young Ryan ‘sodmised’ you’re lucky I do not come from the Jim Wells school of thought or I might be screaming ‘see you in court mate’ Anyway to get back to topic I always thought Loyalism was a political prostitute always open to the highest bidder ? That girl came from a very hard and deprived background and takes what is on offer to survive ?

  • Granni Trixie

    I don’t think tidy makes up for other ‘attributes’ – plus he who chose AF resigned – Great judgement, what?
    Plus you left out of your list that according to the Newsletter PR phoned the UUP candidate in SB to ask was he infact going to be on the Tv panel and the candidates answer was to phone Sam McBride to tell him about this pressure.

  • NotNowJohnny

    I didn’t miss it. Indeed it was that very point which I intended to respond to before I realised that your post wasn’t really about abstentionism. Of course Sinn Fein run on an abstentionist basis and if the good people of whatever constituency choose through the ballot box not to have representation then that is their democratic right. It’s a matter of choice.

  • NotNowJohnny

    It is a unionist obsession. I recall that the DUP’s last election literature was all about Sinn Fein and the terrorist campaign. Unionists raise this issue all the time. Of course SF is never going to admit that the campaign was just plain wrong, that much is clear so you’d be naive to believe otherwise. But if that really is the reason unionist keep raising it, what do they hope to achieve by it given they aren’t going to admit it. I think it is therefore worth asking the question again. Why are unionists still so obsessed with Sinn Fein and the IRA campaign 25 years on?

  • Vince

    Despicable behaviour. If the electorate of SB want to put anti-democrats and paramilitaries into Westminster then they know who to vote for. Hopefully there is enough sophistication out there not to let it happen.

  • Vince

    Have heard that. Aware that many SDLP voters are voting for Kinahan in SA in order to stymie DUP there (Roisin Lynch has kept it very low key this time). Personally agree with them and would do the same in EB for Long.

  • Ryan A

    It’s par for the course with the DUP and deprived communities.

    They have a tendancy to wind people up and stoke flames in certain areas when it suits them. Frankly though; as you can attest, the massively declining turnouts in inner city areas show those tactics aren’t working any longer.

    Pengelly will be short. The areas she needs with this approach have all changed far too fast (particularly mid Cregagh/Lisburn Roads and even lower Ravenhill where increasing numbers of young professionals (more likely than not to be from across NI and other parts of Belfast are buying and letting housing stock) ; and despite all the boom and bluster over registration clinics; no ward has registered a significant rise since March.

  • Ryan A

    See Frazer McCammond and ‘democracy first’. It was supposed to be a new vehicle for those who didn’t agree with Alliance moving in a certain direction. Don’t think it got anywhere.

  • the Moor

    In history and epistemologically, within the Yookay and abroad, Ulster unionism represents an utterly friendless sectarian identity, formed without the typical attachments of ‘national’ belonging – an infernal false consciousness defined in negation of its historic antagonist, Irish republicanism – its long-term fate is surely to fade away with the premodern chimera of empire that gave rise to it.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Still stand by my decision that AF should have resigned she has put Unionism behind the black ball but as always it just might be Loyalism that bails it out again ! The goalposts have moved since then be under no illusion this vote in NI is about Union or Non Union with the U.K. And shall be measured accordingly

  • T.E.Lawrence

    She is younger a more enthusiastic to deliver for South Belfast. She should easy beat Big Als attendance record at Westminster ! So the mean reason is Big Al is past his “Sell by Date” !

  • T.E.Lawrence

    “the massively declining turnouts in Inner City areas show those tactics aren’t working any longer” Them local community groups within them districts are targeting from 50% to a 65% turnout this time around. Would put another 1K votes for Pengelly which could be the winning factor for her ?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    With so many other rightist interest groups, they are essentially hiding behind the chimera of Conservative nationalism that Thatcher erected to screen the cold realities of her real work in preparing the ground for the global money markets to entertain themselves with real people’s lives and productivity.

    The simple fact is that the big boys no longer need such embarrassing allies, or any kind of fancy screening for their activities, now they realise that they have become so powerful that they don’t even need governments in their pockets anymore, let alone the crude bread and circus tricks of nationalism. Mussolini once said all you need to govern Italy was bands in the streets and a policeman on every corner. If only he’d known that personal debt was far, far more effective.

  • Granni Trixie

    I accept that you and others see the electiOn in those terms but to many of us it’s an unfortunate distraction from getting Stormont up and running – after vital reforms ofcourse.

  • Granni Trixie

    I thought I had a good memory re the troubles but I haven’t heard of this gang with the chilling name. Were they only known locally are were they big the time?

  • Granni Trixie

    SDLP have years of experience so why would they lack door to door prowess? Could it be you are conflating that social skill with what they have to SAY on the doorstep .- possibly a need to adapt policy and vision to be more relevant.

  • Msiegnaro

    Is your lack of response an acceptance of SF victory in NB?

  • Msiegnaro

    Without those things Unionism loses its cultural identity.

  • Msiegnaro

    But it’s NB we’re talking about and it’s here SF are expected to win.

  • Msiegnaro

    I didn’t mention NI21 initially, SF are a different beast and look likely to take NB. Please take into account the Nationist vote here in AE17, Brexit and declining Unionism.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Come on Ms. I shall be handing out hankies to a few Alliance Activists down at the Count on Friday ! Do you want me to bring another box of kleenex tisues for the NB brigade of SF too ?

  • Msiegnaro

    Come on some analysis please, paper SDLP candidate, Brexit, AE17, energised Nationalists etc.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Watch out for an energized unionism this time !