Is the SDLP now ready to take a bet on its own future?

Given some of the product of the SDLP leadership contest (most notable perhaps in Patsy McGlone’s contribution) seems to be about shifting the engagement process (rather than defining new policy), this speech by Micheal Martin to Fianna Fail’s Youth Conference in Cork this afternoon is worth noting, since it tricks out something of that party’s approach to coming back in from the cold: To achieve renewal this must be a party that is totally open to new people, new ideas … Read more

And the new SDLP leader is…. Alasdair McDonnell! (updated with graph, audio and speeches)

Alasdair McDonnell is new SDLP leader

In contrast to Newcastle February 2010 (aye, just last year), which felt like the beginning of a process (disappointed Alasdair supporters muttering darkly into their soup), this feels like the end of a process. Alan will shortly bring you audio of tonight’s speeches, but judging from each of last nights speeches the hustings process seems to have enhanced the stature of all four men. And this afternoon there seemed to be a determination not simply to tolerate the result but … Read more

Margaret Ritchie signs off as leader

Margaret Ritchie outgoing leader speech

Margaret Ritchie addressed the SDLP conference on Saturday afternoon. Ostensibly introducing a panel on Creating Jobs Supporting People, she reflected that she first entered politics to serve people. Outgoing @sdlplive leader Margaret Ritchie addressing SDLP conference (mp3) She pointed to a “return to poverty” and a new phenomenon of “middle income poverty”. She described “the onslaught of Tory Welfare Reform” as “a major money-saving exercise at the expense of those at the bottom”. David Cameron says “We’re all in this … Read more

SDLP Conference – Friday night is hustings night #sdlp11 (with audio from hustings speeches)

It’s dark in the large room hosting the SDLP conference. So dark, that I can’t see my laptop’s keyboard. Delegates are seated around circular tables – wedding style – in the Shaws Bridge Ramada Hotel. The tables at the front are pretty empty, while delegates loiter around the back wall like teenagers at a youth club. There’s a general spirit of disinterestedness amongst some delegates this evening – the leadership is dominating everyone’s thinking. The illumination is dull, and so … Read more

The SDLP leadership candidates, ranked on internet use and internal organisation

The SDLP elects its fifth leader this coming weekend, with four male candidates in the running (the deputy leadership has been filled, without contest, by a woman). Since 1998, when the party topped the first preference tallies for the first Assembly election, the SDLP has lost votes and seats at almost every election cycle (the one exception being a sliver of a gain at the last European election) and now runs consistently 10% behind Sinn Féin, whereas twenty years ago … Read more

SDLP go to the polls this weekend – a look at the voting process as Attwood becomes the bookies’ favourite #sdlp11

Margaret Ritchie SDLP leadership campaign promotional balloon - Let's Make History

SDLP delegates go to the poll this weekend to select a new leader to succeed Margaret Ritchie. Party HQ will be busy selecting suitable triumphant music for the winner to enter the hall to on Saturday evening around 5pm. This morning, Paddy Power lists the odds 11/8 Alex Attwood 7/4 Patsy McGlone 3/1 Conal McDevitt (though Paddy Power spell his name incorrectly) 6/1 Alasdair McDonnell Votes will be physically cast at this weekend’s conference. Each branch has one voting delegate … Read more