When your leader is your greatest electoral asset, use them

LEADER RATINGS – Back in October, Mike Nesbitt had the highest rating of the five party leaders. Peter Robinson languished behind, only ahead of Alasdair McDonnell. Fast forward five months and two leadership changes later, Arlene Foster is top of the polls. Though much less of a bounce for Colum Eastwood who should be worried that he’s rated alongside Arlene Foster in the eyes of nationalists and barely ahead of David Ford.

SDLP to vote against Justice Bill amendments

New leadership team and a new raft of MLAs fueled speculation that there might be a change in policy from the SDLP on this issue. Particularly since the new leader was stressing the “progressive” elements of his platform. However,  the party has decided to stick to it’s current policy and vote against the amendments to the Justice Bill in the Assembly today. A party spokesperson said; The SDLP is a pro-life party and we do not support the extension of … Read more

Cartoon – In with the new (backed by the old)

The young contender from Derry took the SDLP leadership from the sitting South Belfast MP Dr Alasdair McDonnell, winning 172 to 133 with the ringing endorsement of the party grandees. Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here: http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/ http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/

SDLP leadership Conference: What to expect

The SDLP will meet in Armagh this weekend to elect a new leadership team. This brings to an end one of the quietest leadership contests in our history. The conference will have roughly 315 voting delegates and assuming the all turn up, that means the winning post will be 158+. What’s interesting though is that since 2010 there has been a decline in the number of voting delegates at the party conference. In the 2010 leadership election between Alasdair McDonnell and … Read more

Why the battle over the SDLP’s leadership is worth paying attention to…

So Seamus Mallon backs Colum Eastwood to be the next leader of the SDLP. That should throw a predatory cat or two amongst the political pigeons (although in fact it can’t have been that unexpected). The SDLP leadership race has been quiet this time round. Of course that was also true at the beginning of the summer long contest for the leadership of the UK Labour party, and look how that hotted up towards the end. Keeping things tamped down suits the incumbent Alasdair … Read more

Seamus Mallon backs Colum Eastwood

From John Manley in today’s Irish News; Just over two weeks out from the crucial leadership vote, the one-time Newry and Armagh MP said he believed the Foyle MLA could unite the SDLP and end the “stagnation and negativity” that he believes has beset the party in recent years. Mr Eastwood (32) launched his bid to unseat SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell last month. In the wake of May’s general election a host of party grandees and current representatives called for … Read more

Eastwood “I don’t know about you but I’m fed up losing! It’s time we started winning again”

Colum Eastwood launched his campaign to become SDLP leader at The Hive in the centre of Belfast last night. An audience of over 200 people gathered from across Northern Ireland to hear Colum make his first official pitch to oust Alasdair McDonnell as the leader of the party. In attendance were some of the party’s well known faces such as Alex Attwood, Dolores Kelly and Brid Rodgers and Claire Hanna. Others like John Dallat and Mark Durkan couldn’t be at the launch but … Read more

Cartoon – “The Doctor will see me now…”

Following a gaff by SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell speculation arose about a leadership challenge from the Derry MLA Colum Eastwood. This has since been confirmed by the former mayor. Alasdair remains bullish and defiant, counting Fergal McKinney as a indefatigable supporter, raising the tempo for the contest ahead. Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here: http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/ http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/

Colum Eastwood: “it’s a good time to move on from the Good Friday Agreement generation”

INTERVIEWED this afternoon about the timing of his challenge for SDLP leadership, Colum Eastwood defended his experience and suggested it is “a good time to change … to move on from the Good Friday Agreement generation”. He’s not keen on rushing into Opposition, but won’t rule it out. Making Northern Ireland work is a priority.

Who is Colum Eastwood?

Colum Eastwood, you may not know that much about him, but he is the man set to take on the sitting SDLP leader, Alasdair McDonnell. If memory serves me right, I think he is the first person to challenge a sitting SDLP leader. I know Patsy McGlone was preparing to challenge Ritchie in 2011 but she stepped aside before anything got going. Eastwood has been active in elected politics for a decade now, being elected to Derry City Council in … Read more

It’s on: Eastwood confirms challenge against McDonnell

Just in from the Irish News political correspondent, John Manley Foyle MLA @columeastwood will confirm challenge against @AlasdairMcD_MP for @SDLPlive leadership on Monday — Irish News Politics (@politicsIN) September 27, 2015 I would imagine some backers of his push will involved Mark Durkan MP and Claire Hanna. Backers of McDonnell will include Fearghal McKinney and Alban Maginess. Some key folks to watch in terms of who they side with are the former leader Margaret Ritchie, former minister Alex Attwood and … Read more

Cartoon – Wouldn’t have a McDonnell about the place…

The North Belfast News caught Alasdair McDonnell saying that “they [the DUP] don’t want a taig about the place”. It’s likely that some SDLP colleagues will be saying the same of the current leader. Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here: http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/ http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/

Perhaps the SDLP should try letting Alasdair be Alasdair for a while, and stop apologising…

Really crap morning for periscope this morning, so I had to do it in three bites, all of which break off abruptly before the end… Premise is that whether Big Al attack on SF and the SDLP was a gaffe or not, but that the North Belfast News scoop captured the real Alasdair McDonnell, blunt, forthright and intentionally revealing. As one senior nationalist strategist put it to me, “this is what I recommended to the party a few years ago … Read more

McDonnell “they don’t want a taig about the place. I’m sorry, it’s as brutal as that.” (updated with audio)

Great scoop from the North Belfast News who have recorded comments from the SDLP leader, Alasdair McDonnell who was speaking at the opening of an office in Glengormley, North Belfast. The paper reports the SDLP making comments about the DUP and their attitudes to Nationalists where he said; The DUP don’t want partnership – they don’t want a taig about the place. I’m sorry, it’s as brutal as that. I’m not divisive, I don’t like to be like that but … Read more

Claire Hanna joins Fearghal McKinney on Stormont benches on Monday (interview)

Claire Hanna and Fearghal McKinney were tonight selected as the SDLP’s two South Belfast candidates for the Belfast South constituency at May 2016’s NI Assembly election. Claire will also take over from Alasdair McDonnell up on the hill when she is co-opted into his seat on Monday morning. In the end, the selection of the two candidates was uncontested [Ed – so no opportunity for UUP mathematical gaffes?!] and party members in the Wellington Park Hotel room described the atmosphere … Read more

SDLP South Belfast latest: Boyle pulls out as McDevitt endorses Hanna

SDLP Cllr, Declan Boyle has pulled out of the race to succeed Alasdair McDonnell as an MLA. Speaking about his decision Boyle said; I have taken this decision after reflecting on the direction on which I want to focus my political career. For many people, it is understandable that the natural progression for a councillor would be towards the Assembly. However since putting my name forward I have realised that my passion for politics resides within the council. This at … Read more

Battle to replace Alasdair McDonnell as an MLA gets going

Something that will put the cat the amongst the pigeons emerged today and that is the entry into the race of Botanic Cllr, Declan Boyle to replace the party leader, Alasdair McDonnell. Boyle is up against the Balmoral Cllr, Claire Hanna, who came within just one vote of topping the poll last year and stood to replace Conall McDevitt in 2013, only to lose out to Fearghal McKinney. When the party select a replacement on 25th June it will be … Read more

Cartoon – The MAC’s crumbling facade

Three years after opening the MAC’s facade has begun to crumble, a bit like a similarly surnamed politician… Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here: http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/ http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/