“Politics in NI is dead, has descended into sectarian mud-wrestling” – Alban Maginness

Speaking on today’s BBC TalkBack show former SDLP MLA  Alban Maginness declared that “Politics in NI is dead, has descended into sectarian mud-wrestling”.

Is he right? As the voters abandon the middle ground is our political system now just a straight sectarian headcount?

People were quick to accuse the SDLP of sour grapes:

Irish Nationalism now has no representation at all at Westminster. The DUP will now be the main voice for Northern Ireland at Westminster. Will this backfire on Sinn Fein as the DUP now hold all the cards? Or will it help Sinn Fein with their aim of further shifting the focus of Northern Nationalism towards Dublin and an all Ireland?

With the Assembly and now the general election Sinn Fein is on a roll. Getting out of the Assembly seems to have strengthened Sinn Fein, does this further reduce the chances of getting the local Assembly back? Are we entering into a long period of political limbo?

As Sharpie commented over on Micks post:

We have arrived at the place of the dead end. There is no further polarisation possible in Northern Ireland. Neither violence nor politics will move it, the only thing that can is time. In time we will get tired of here, we will allow demographics to shift, we will allow Brexit to do whatever it is going to do, we will allow global movements to happen around us. We will be observers of the world.

We will not live our aspirations in Northern Ireland but as proxies in other countries. We will be cheering on from the sidelines as other people in other countries live their lives. Some will cheerlead for Ireland with it booming economy and burgeoning tourism sector, other will cheer for the UK as it pluckily puts it up to Brussels and takes back control.

One day we will realise that this unresolved stretch is intolerable and we will start to talk with a mind to exploring something different. Its all about timing. We have to be patient and wait for Godot.

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  • Christopher Owens

    Yip, Morrison is correct.

    The SDLP have been on a downward slide to irrelevance since John Hume retired. Their mish mash of policies and lack of support for gay marriage has cost them dearly. And the fact that the first comments about the loss from the SDLP camp was a swipe at the voters who had deserted them in favour of Sinn Fein seals the deal.

    Sharpie hits the nail firmly on the head as well.

  • Jag

    SDLP are understandably gutted today, so pronouncements from its members should be taken with a comforting smile, give them a sugary cup of tea in their hour of despair. S Down was a bad enough loss, losing the jewel in the capital was worse, but the loss of John Hume’s Foyle was a bodyblow. The SDLPers I know are thoroughly decent people who take pride in their roots and aims, and it’s uncomfortable seeing them at their lowest point.

    Tomorrow, the SDLP can take a deeper look at themselves. What are their priorities as far as Brexit and reunification go? What alliances can they build with SF, or Fianna Fail or the Southern Labour party? South Belfast is lost to them as long as SF contest that seat, so, can they stomach a pact with SF, S Belfast for N Belfast? Can they become the Northern arm of a Southern party? Can they attract funding, perhaps in return for being a beachhead for FF?

  • Croiteir

    Morrison was right, the elitism that many in the SDLP had made them little better than the green Tories, their demise is based solely on their weaknesses in facing down unionism, they were appeasers instead of confrontationists. They lost out the traditional Catholics with their support of Integrated Education and latterly gay rights.

  • P Bradley

    “SDLP Leader and Foyle Assembly candidate Colum Eastwood has labelled gay marriage as ‘the civil rights fight of today’ – and has pledged that his party will commit to introducing new legislation on equal marriage if it is in the next Executive”. 27 Feb 2017. You must have missed that

  • Christopher Owens

    And you must have missed this, which is what I was referring to:

    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/sdlp-challenged-on-gay-stance-as-sf-readies-new-vote-1-6913639

  • ted hagan

    I agree with Maginnis’s viewpoint. Sectarianism seems to be nurtured here even more so than during the Troubles. It’s also a bit rich of a Sinn Fein man to talk about egotism when the Sinn Fein leaders are egos on stilts.
    Alternative visions within the nationalist and unionists communities were important and it is sad to see them being swallowed up by the North’s political piranhas..

  • Smithborough

    SDLP previously voted in favour of gay marriage at Stormont. Do they really lose a big vote because they don’t crow about their support in SF virtue signalling style?

  • notimetoshine

    I have to laugh, people complaining about the comment Alban Magennis made or that he even made it in the first place. Is he just realising this?

    Since when was politics in Northern Ireland ever NOT a sectarian mud wrestling match? Politics here has always been governed by the immutable law of Ussuns versus Themmuns!

    And as for Brendan Carberry’s tweet, it isn’t an insult, it is just a fact. If that fact is a little uncomfortable for some people so be it. The problem is no one wants to be truthful with the electorate, that their poor choices have consequences. The body of the electorate isn’t known for its intelligence after all.

    Having said that Alban Magennis is giving his party an easy ride. The SDLP have known for years that the electoral situation was changing. But in the ten years since I have been taking an interest in politics and studying it, I have noted the SDLP suffering from a steep decline in the quality of its campaigns, the quality of its leadership and a lacklustre almost complacent attitude towards the changing political landscape. The staid image of the party combined with appalling leadership has led the party to where it is today. I have a funny feeling it is terminal.

  • Christopher Owens

    It’s certainly been a factor in the dissipation of their support. Because, in the past, they’ve abstained from voting on gay marriage and abortion, I would say that it’s alienated younger voters. And Eastwood’s backing of it earlier this year would probably have alienated conservative nationalists.

    Hence why I referred to their policies as a mish mash.

  • Obelisk

    I figure that anything short of a full merge with Fianna Fail (and a jettisoning of the old guard who would be dead set against such a move) will leave the SDLP as Sinn Fein’s token opposition. Very good for Sinn Fein’s purposes, a toothless tiger they could occasionally rail against.

    There are young people within the SDLP with ambition, yet after last night they must realize they are in a party with little future beyond being ‘not Sinn Fein’.

  • Brendan Heading

    I’m not sure where Alban has been; NI politics has been a sectarian headcount since forever, and the SDLP along with the other parties wrote a sectarian headcount into the Agreement in 1998.

    The final defeat of the SDLP in Westminster, which at this point does not look like it will ever be reversed, is the natural conclusion of the Hume-Adams process.

  • Trasna

    Would the Social Democrats in the Rep not be their more natural bedfellows.

    But hey, they should have done a deal with SF and stood aside in FST and N. Belfast for Foyle and S. Belfast. Nationalists could have had at least 2 Belfast seats. Instead, Belfast, a nationalist city has 3 unionist MPs.

    2 seats is a whole lot better than nothing.

    It’s obviously what the nationalist public want.

  • SleepyD

    Factually his statement is correct. We are into straight out sectarian headcounts. Sharpie nails it….we can now only wait for the DUP/SF sheep to either wake up or die out. DUP/SF don’t do consensus politics. Personally I’ve completely underestimated the stupidity/insanity of the UK and NI electorate, although Brexit should have provided the warning. Bad times ahead….

  • murdockp

    I have agued many of these points with SDLP Supporter who is in denial on the many fault lines we have noted. I said last year to him that stop having a go at me and see what happens at the ballot box and that will prove who was right. sadly I was proved right.

    I want to vote SDLP but I never will as they represent very few of my values, not enough to get my vote.

    I would moot the following questions and ask them to do some serious soul searching:-

    (1) Why do you call yourself a labour party? You primarily represent the middle professional classes, your politicians are all graduates etc. You are not a labour party, so If you are not one, why are you calling yourself one. Time for a change?

    (2) Freedom of choice; stay silent on religion and abortion. Give people the freedom of choice, let it be the persons choice. politics has to back off

    (3) United Ireland, most of your core voters deep down don’t actually want a United Ireland, they like the grammar school education system, the NHS etc. United Ireland is not going to get your vote, people this way inclined already vote SF.

    (4) Career politicians; get rid of these and bring some proper people into the fold. Eastwood has not done anything in his life other than politics, you leader needs to have wider experience that can be brought to the job.

    (5) Represent the people not big business. Some of the decisions you made in government were perverse. In Newry you supported and approved developments that destroyed the retail core of the town and you wonder why the public distrusted you.

    (6) Take constituents and issues seriously. I have invited you to many meetings regarding local issues and you rarely show, while SF are there every time suited and booted.

    (7) Test your policy with the public as at is developed. 1000 SDLP supporters who already think the SDLP is great in a room voting on policy is frankly ridiculous.

    I guess on the positive side, things are looking up as it can’t get any worse.

  • murdockp

    Being seen at an SDLP annual convention is a bit like being seen as a steps concert. You are there having and good time and then you see someone you know at you suddenly feel a bit embarrassed and come up with all sorts of excuses why you are there.

  • Trasna

    Can posters help me out here?

    Given the results, what exactly did the electorate vote for in the England? Was it anti/pro Brexit. Was it anti Tory or pro Labour.

    What exactly did they vote for in Scotland? Was it no to a second indyref ref or was it anti SNP or was it pro union?

    What exactly did they vote for in NI? Was it pro hard Brexit and hard border one one side and on the other was it pro border poll and/or anti Brexit.

    Just what exactly did the voters vote for?

    Because I’m stumped.

  • Sliothar

    It’s a bit rich to listen to Alban Maginness mouthing the ‘s’-word in relation to SF. He was the one to take the RC church’s position on women’s right to choose and was one of the leading ‘aginners’ when interrogating Dawn Purvis in a Stormont committee (or Spanish Inquisition, as it seemed) when she worked for the Marie Stopes Centre. Both this and their stance on gay marriage nullifies any right of the SDLP to sling their own form of sectarian mud towards anyone. And why exactly is a vote for a republican party looked upon as sectarian anyway? Yes, I know Gerry Kelly brought out a leaflet a few years ago which was embarrassingly one-sided, but this was an aberration rather than regular practice and, imho, should never have been issued in the first place.
    In relation to my own experience in South Belfast in this election, when an SDLP canvasser called to solicit my vote, I stated categorically to him that if they changed candidate they would get my vote as I just wanted McDonnell gone in that he didn’t represent ANY of my social beliefs and that I was considering voting for another party. I was then asked if I realised that, should I pursue that course, the Unionist would be sure to win. Now, Alban, I ask you: was this question sectarian or political? If the latter, why then is a vote for Sinn Fein sectarian?
    Ultimately, I bit off my own nose to spite my face in that I helped to oust McDonnell by not voting for him but my distaste for him and his policies over-rode my nationalist preferences.

  • Reader

    Trasna: Just what exactly did the voters vote for?
    They each voted for an MP that they hoped would represent their interests and principles. So, 32 million different answers, squeezed into 650 MPs.

  • Trasna

    Thanks, but I’m none the wiser.

  • notimetoshine

    I don’t even think most of the electorate knew what they were voting for. It is embarrassing but I don’t think the majority of the electorate understand how politics and governance work, so getting them to choose candidates in a consistent manner is expecting a bit much of them.

  • Patrick Jones

    And the SDLP were not sectarian? They just thought they were vaq better class of sectarian

  • P Bradley

    The party has a policy in support of gay marriage. So a councillor trumps that? Never worry about the rest of the party.

  • Christopher Owens

    Yip because, if said councillors abstain from voting on such an issue, then the public begin to get mixed messages i.e. party policy doesn’t match councillor’s voting history, therefore party must not be unified on such issue.

    It’s not rocket science.

  • hgreen

    He’s half right. Stormont is dead until the Tories end their footsie with the DUP.

  • P Bradley

    How many of the public do you think got the mixed message from that 1 councillor’s abstention?

  • tmitch57

    Sectarian doesn’t just refer to religion, but can also refer to other parochial interests such as ethno-nationalism. Thus, in a deeply-divided society any party that is organized around nationalism–and by this I mean Ulster nationalism (unionism) as well as Irish nationalism–is by definition sectarian.

  • eamoncorbett

    I think maybe Nationalist voters deserted the SDLP because they perceived them as weak in the face of a DUP onslaught . SF have that edge when it comes to belligerence . Southern parties would be well advised to steer clear of the North until some form of Joint Authority comes about because total political breakdown now looks inevitable.
    As for the DUP/Tory alliance, I would advise the Dupers to buy plenty of tissues, because there’s going to be tears.

  • whatif1984true

    There is even more polarisation to come if the SDLP fold and shrink even more. Lady hermon is under threat , she may retire from politics and the DUP will get her seat.

  • JOHN TURLEY

    Strange how the likes of Maginness ands Mallon have turned so bitter,They above all should know that the
    people make the decision and should be accepted.Insulting the electorate is not the way to go.

  • Theelk11

    They voted against Theresa May taking them for granted.

  • whatif1984true

    With John Hume gone the SDLP have never been as potent a party. It has been run by the hangers on with old policies. The result of this isnot the electorates fault but that of Albann and his colleagues.

  • Le Cochon Bleu

    I don’t think he’s wrong or at least too far wrong, while at the same time there are serious, other factors to consider.

    Earlier this year, the reaction of politicians and many people to Jim Nesbitt’s sensible, rational, admirable, normal-in-an-abnormal place advice that there ought to be stock in politics for Northern Ireland in supporting reasonable politics – for example UUP and SDLP and Alliance.

    The rejection of this, yes, I think can indeed suggest that Northern Ireland politics has descended into sectarian mud slinging, furthered by this kind of more extremist result here for the Westminster elections.

    Ok, though, there may be reasons.
    People, and far from necessarily traditionalist Republican or particularly non-unionist people, are voting Sinn Fein when they never would have previously.
    Simply as a strong protest against Arlene Foster and the DUP’s throwing money down the drain, potentially for “friends”, and not even considering they have any responsibility there when the amazing gaff becomes public.

    When the First Minister blames her advisers, saying she did not really know, thereby claiming she did not even have a duty to know then before enacting policy (and maybe every future time!!!) or take real responsibility since – yes that indeed can lead to a polarizing, massive protest vote. That means Sinn Fein – as nothing else is guaranteed to hurt the DUP or their supporters more.

    On this issue now, going into central government alliance (even if only “confidence and supply”) isn’t going to appear to Foster’s huge numbers of ardent critics that she has had any thoughts about really taking her responsibility seriously.
    In some ways, Foster’s position may turn out to be similarly tenuous, as May’s.
    We will see. So many people are voting Sinn Fein, not for no reason, that is for sure.

    Recalling Steven Nolan’s actually very appropriate, utterly gobsmacked and vicious live radio coverage against the DUP, of Foster’s last, potentially illegal appearance in the NI Assembly, and seeing just how much they’ve brushed the affair under the carpet since, the unprecedented Sinn Fein vote can be said to speak volumes.

    Ironically (but perhaps not surprisingly given the mindsets) when certain unionists and not limited to the DUP, attacked Nesbitt for his reasonable power-sharing politics advice, they were shooting themselves in the feet and enhancing a huge protest vote in the form of Sinn Fein support.

    At the same time, this region voted to stay in the EU, and the Republican minded don’t lose a chance in trying to tie Brexit and hard Brexit in particular in to a suggested need for a border poll, making unionists and those more on that side very nervous.

    Things are changing in various ways and thoughts of Scottish independence are very serious in making some people feel very concerned here.

    Hence, in some coniderable extent probably, the other side of the polarisation – the DUP vote, made with hearts beating faster at the thought of potential threats of a British identity becoming shaky.

    One really has to hope that these two elements are very good explanations of the more extremist development in NI politics of late.

    I hope there is no lasting place for this relative more extremism which has developed in NI politics, and there is nothing the more sensible person could agree with more than Jim Nesbitt’s clear, sound and actually fundamental advice to all people of NI. Unfortunately, far too moderate for many unionists.

    But there may lie the very problem. How can there be power sharing of any kind between the extremes of society who may more often refuse to recognise each other’s position as valid in any way, and refuse to recognise the others as humans?
    Own what Nesbitt’s was saying just the most utterly basic, and moreover absoljtely ecessary common sense?

    So whether the SDLP survives may come down to whether or not this region of the UK turns out to have any sense or not.

    It seems clear to me that if there is going to be any regional politics here, the Alliance and UUP and SDLP must not only be crucial to it, but very probably central and probably more central than the two more extreme parties.

    I don’t think Sinn Fein are wrong to blame Foster’s seemingly unending rejection of taking real, due responsibility where it ought to be taken, for a lot of the ridiculous polarisation we currently have.

  • hugh mccloy

    What s missed here is that elections have been polarized since 2003 and getting worse year by year. The failure to make the GFA work at the start left the door open for more radical parties to move in, in extreme times people vote for extreme parties

  • SDLP supporter

    The best definition of sectarianism that I know is that it is the poisonous mixture of religion and politics; for me, Paisley was the personification of that with his associated techniques of sham-fighting, coat-trailing and the like.

    From what I know of Alban, he is impeccably polite. He is entitled to advocate his strong pro-life views. That is the essence of pluralism. I haven’t seen the tape of the Dawn Purvis questioning but I would doubt if he was a Torquemada.

    In relation to Sinn Fein and sectarianism, Sliothar is immensely gentle with them, citing only the Kelly leaflet. For decades this was a party that had a military wing, to which the politicos had to give ‘unambiguous support’ that killed many, many people because of their religion and politics. That could never be held against the SDLP. So, yes, a vote for Sinn Fein can be held to be sectarian.

    Sliothar is dead wrong on Alasdair and same sex marriage; he has always voted for it, AFAIK.

  • Jag

    The SDLP now have a difficulty Trasna which they didn’t have yesterday.

    In N Belfast, SF came within 10% of Dodds even with a SDLPer standing. John Finucane was the surprise new candidate in this election, and his appeal is likely to grow, so next time, will SF even need the SDLP to stand aside.

    Foyle and FST were won by SF despite strong campaigns from the SDLP, especially in Foyle.

    In S Belfast, SF won 16.3% this time versus 25.9% for the SDLP. That’s nearly a doubling for SF since 2005 versus a 20% reduction for the SDLP – would SF now stand aside when, in another five years, it may overtake the SDLP in S Belfast, and if SF did stand aside in S Belfast, what has the SDLP to offer in return?

    Upper Bann is the next nationalist target, but even if the SDLP stood aside, SF would struggle to win. And if the SDLP did stand aside, the UUP might do likewise.

    The time for nationalist pacts might have passed the SDLP by.

  • SDLP supporter

    Do you include the Alliance Party on this? I don’t think it’s sectarian to be a unionist or nationalist in that you have a view on the sovereignty of NI. And whether we like it or not, an egregrious act of mainly English unplanned hubristic nationalism, the sovereignty of this place is going to be front and central for the future.

  • aquifer

    And repeating stuff to them like they were kids. Voters are over 18 and most long out of school.

  • Granni Trixie

    Why do you say the SDLP supports I.E ?

  • notimetoshine

    Hardly an insult when it is a factional observation. The only mistake he made was assuming that it wasn’t a sectarian headcount before.

  • aquifer

    “downward slide to irrelevance since”

    They decided they were more national than socialist?

    They could never out SF SF, so why in heaven’s name did they try?

    And if more catholic than republican, they have no call on the prod vote.

    The question becomes how did they last so long.

    (After Hume got Gerry off the armed insurrection hook.)

  • Christopher Owens

    Enough for them to lose their seats.

  • aquifer

    The SDLP’s intra-ethnic solidarity is not socialism, but they dare not embrace an economically right wing position or perhaps even a pro-business stance. If Alliance goes pro-business and socially libertarian the SDLP may be toast. SF trying to empty the public kitty and the DUP trying to preach at them can go on for a while. The old pro-business big liberal house Ulster Unionism seems to be gone when even a paper like the Belfast Telegraph has shrunk to a sectarian semi.

  • Donal

    Note: there will be one less constituency from late 2018 onwards. With 3 Belfast seats and the upper bann/lagan valley replaced by west down etc.
    Sinn Fein are looking at the big picture with demographic shift towards nationalist majority by 2021.

  • Croiteir

    The came out and said it – I think specifically by Kelly

  • 1729torus

    Concerning North Belfast: the percentage increase in the number of DUP votes over 2015 was more or less the same as the overall percentage increase the DUP achieved during AE17. They apparently couldn’t find many “extra” votes between now and March. Nigel Dodds only went from 19,096 to 21,240 votes.

    John Finucane got 19,159 votes. SDLP decline and increased Nationalist mobilisation means that SF could likely pick up another 2000 votes the next time around and take the seat. So why should SF agree to a pact?

  • Robin Keogh

    There is no doubt that our former SDLP MPs are quality people, that’s a given. But they have to look honestly at the result yesterday and not assume that people are incapable of making the right decision unless that decision involves the SDLP. Yesterday 53 % af all new voters opted for Sinn Fein. Zero went to the SDLP. At the same time only 35% of new voters opted for DUP/UDA. Its clear where the growth is and where it is going to continue. They need to have a hard think.

  • james

    “Its clear where the growth is and where it is going to continue. They need to have a hard think.”

    To be honest, i think that your figures, if anything, that Sinn Fein need to do some harder thinking than anyone.

    If this election result can be read into, the UI-at-all-costs project is dead in the water.

  • Robin Keogh

    I don’t understand your comment there James. My point was that the majority of new voters coming on stream are opting for SF/Nationalism and the SDLP need to find a way to harness some of those votes.

  • james

    My point is that SF are determined to go it alone – and that they are incapable of getting the numbers to do that.

    The election was very good for the DUP, mixed for unionism generally, moderately good for SF, pretty bad for nationalism in general, and disasterous for those hoping for a UI.

    Hard to react to that, granted, but the best SF seem able to come up with is that the larger UK population will be outraged that the DUP are right of centre! Pretty tepid response.

  • Robin Keogh

    But the nationalist share of the vote went up by two percent while the Unionist share went down by 3 percent in just two years. How is that a disaster for those who hope for a UI? That doesn’t make sense to me sorry.

  • james

    Because Sinn Fein are choking out all their rivals.

    Sinn Fein are an extremist party which, frankly, appeals mainly to sectarian bigots and the kinds of people who like slogans and can’t be bothered reading into the details of even basic political issues – sort of like an Irish Republican political party version of the readership of The Sun newspaper.

    There is a fair amount of these folks about, sadly, but not even to take over the asylum.

    There is nowhere for the large chunk of moderate, intellligent nationalists to call their home.

  • Robin Keogh

    Wait, a quick glimpse of the election results and you will see that the DUP/UDA are the party doing all the choking, with almost all their Unionist opponents destroyed. The SDLP still came in as the Third biggest party and their actual vote numbers held up. The other Unionist parties vote numbers were decimated.
    75% Of the active Nationalist electorate voted SF, are you claiming they are all sectarian bigots and incapable of understanding political discourse? Your comments are so typical of someone who looks down their nose at others and so typical of the kind of Unionist arrogance that has helped invigorate the Nationalist community.

  • Robin Keogh

    But the past is over and whatever u believe anybody did for decades is irrelevant after agreement is reached to move on in a peaceful direction. The voters are onto it, we all need to catch up.

  • Granni Trixie

    My understanding is that they do not support I.E. Coukd be they support schemes for shared schooling but that is an entirely different concept.

  • james

    “But the past is over”

    Oh, are the people the IRA killed no longer dead, then? I must inform my uncle – he will be most relieved, Robin

    “and whatever u believe anybody did for decades is irrelevant”

    It is very much relevant. Do you not believe, Robin, that the IRA murdered people for decades – and that Sinn Fein supported them throughout that time and indeed right up to the present day?

  • William Kinmont

    At a practical pragmatic level politics has been dead here since the GFA no one has really been in charge of civil servants and policy . Departments have increasingly become laws into themselves. Some of our MLAs did provide good scrutiny and ask the right questions but they had no teeth to do anything about the answers. Will a crisis in government at this level now occur and will someone actually be in charge. Do we need some other form of scrutiny and management of the civil service.

  • Zig70

    Who’s fault is it the electorate don’t feel your party is the one to vote for? The people are revolting. Always thought the political force of leading versus giving a voice is one I can’t choose between.

  • Croiteir
  • Madamarcati

    I entirely agree. And the Peace Process, after all those decades of hardball deals behind closed national security guarded doors, the focused neoliberal media manipulation and the billions spent on community relations and academic studies, is now effectively dead. It died the moment Theresa May walked into Buckingham Palace to inform the Queen that she was forming a government with the DUP. As they smugly lowered over her and the conservative party at Westminster wielding their absolute sovereignty.
    As you say, bad times ahead…

  • Granni Trixie

    Good grief! I stand corrected. I am delighted Delores Kelly gets it.
    Would that her colleagues in SDLP did also.

  • Granni Trixie

    It would make an interesting post to explore developments in recent times in NI to illustrate the efficacy (or not) of “leading” and “giving a voice”.

  • Sliothar

    SDLP Supporter: You can sling all the mud you want about past history. That’s irrelevant to my point. You should actually be dealing with the present and the reasons why the SDLP has fallen off the roof. And slagging off the electorate for their choices is not a good place from where to start. The majority of them are not robotic sheep and do not do what you or Alban would like them to do any longer. Do you think they don’t know the history of the recent past. That’s over twenty years ago and a new electorate is on the ground trying to look forward and not back.
    Look at what happened in Britain. Party loyalties are beginning to fray, voters are wakening up – especially the young! – and holding parties to account. The SDLP, in the shape of both Maginness & McDonnell, gives the impression of two boring old, conservative, out-of-touch farts. Both have left the active stage now and, hopefully, a bunch of new, vibrant, fresh-thinking, young bloods can inject new life into the party. Colm Eastwood is doing his best but he can’t put life into dead wood. As I stated earlier above (and to the canvasser), ‘Change the candidate and you’ll get my vote’.

  • Alan N/Ards

    Hopefully, they can win back South Down and Foyle at the next election. Yes, it might take unionists to vote tactically, but I believe that that is what will happen. I am absolutely gutted for the SDLP but the people have spoken.

  • lizmcneill

    Assuming it goes ahead now with a Tory minority and the DUP against it.

  • Jake Mac Siacais

    Unionist vote in Wee Six now 46.07%. Nationalist vote 41.03% . SDLP demise will see North Belfast and Upper Bann go to SF next time. Time for Unioinism to get real. A shared Ireland which they can help to shape will be better than an inevitably reunited Ireland which still hasn’t managed to lance the sectarian boil.

  • SDLP supporter

    Sliothar, Robin, of course we have got to move on. But, to borrow William Faulkner’s quip about the Deep South, the past is never over, it’s not even in the past. It is ironic that Sinn Fein, above any other party, is so into commemorations of the past.

    Robin, I know the daughter of one of the victims of Ballymurphy (her mother was shot).!would you go to her and say ‘forget about it’?

    For the record, I don’t believe in vox populi, vox Dei, that the electorate is never wrong. To take it in another context, I would tell anyone who is poor and who voted for Donald Trump, that he or she is just wrong.

  • SDLP supporter

    Tmitch57, some of the current Alliance crop are saying really daft things. Paula Bradshaw is on record as saying that if you are a nationalist or unionist you can’t represent your constituents and, ipso facto, the only choice is Alliance.

    Frankly, that is nonsense. When Paula was an Ulster Unionist and stood as a candidate in South Belfast for UCUNF (UUP+Conservatives) did she tell the voters she was incapable of representing a substantial section of the electorate? No, she didn’t?

    Similarly. Emmet McDonough-Brown, with his attacks on people of faith is at war with a founding principle of Alliance, which used be an embrace of pluralism and diversity.

    It’s all right to choose to be a unionist or nationalist although for me that is not my primary identity. But it is nonsense for Alliance to say they are neither. I am of the vintage of Oliver Napier and Bob Cooper, two substantial and respected figures. They were absolutely clear that they were rational unionists, though there was much more to their political world view, decent, honest and admired figures that they were.

  • Croiteir

    They definitely got it

  • tmitch57

    “But it is nonsense for Alliance to say they are neither.”

    Why is it nonsense to say that the party is neutral about the constitutional future of the province? Only someone who is truly sectarian would believe that this is impossible. Alliance accommodates individuals who are nationalist and individuals who are unionist. What unites them is that they believe that it is far more important that the province be well run, be democratic, which means respect for the rule of law–hence no support for paramilitaries–and believes in basic liberties, and be tolerant. Many individuals are probably open to being part of either a United Kingdom or a united Republic as long as these basic conditions are met.

  • Gravychipplease

    Don’t count on it – I’d say it’s top of the duper’s wish list to not go ahead with when they’re having tea and digestive biscuits with Tessy Mayhem

  • SDLP supporter

    Tmitch, you are right to pull me on my point about NI’s future. What I meant to say was that Alliance are perfectly entitled to be neutral on future sovereignty. What they are not entitled to say is that people who have an aspiration, whether to maintaining the UK link or Irish unity are by that very fact sectarian. That is what I understand Paula Bradshaw to be saying yesterday with her sneering reference to ‘Sinn Fein lite’. She knows damn well the SDLP never had a paramilitary wing or supported the killing of people, and it is unworthy of an Alliance person to say that, especially when on the use of violence, Europe etc we are on the same page.

  • Sliothar

    You still don’t get it. The SDLP lost. Deal with it and the reasons why.
    Don’t use the violence of the past as either a smokescreen or weapon to distract from the your party’s failure to win over the electorate. Everyone knows the history of SF and its connections with our violent past yet their vote continues to rise. It doesn’t give me any pleasure to say it, but if that’s the only arrow left in your quiver, the SDLP are definitely doomed.

  • SDLP supporter

    Yes, Sliothar, the SDLP lost and Sinn Fein won well. But events in Irish history particularly has a habit of biting the triumphant on the bum. Just over three months ago Arlene Foster looked dead and buried politically.

    Not you, but I am amused at one of the right wing Sinn Fein supporting Catholics on this site gloating at the SDLP defeat. They do not appear to realise that in the battle between, arguably, totalitarian, perhaps Idemocratic, institutions in the North-Sinn Fein and the Catholic Church-the Church looks dead and buried itself.

    I attended Mass this morning as usual: lots of empty pews.

  • SDLP supporter

    Winston Churchill: “the best argument against democracy is a five minute discussion with the average voter.”

  • SDLP supporter

    Grannie, from the 1970s the SDLP has always supported the principle of parental choice in selecting a school for their children.