SDLP Leadership Candidates talk about rebuilding and re-connecting.
To some extent its a cliché or at least a buzzword..
Two weeks ago I spoke to Patsy McGlone in the Long Gallery at Stormont. He was at the launch of “Líofa 2015”. He said that “this place (ie Stormont) can suck you in”. He was right.
Earlier this week a Cross Party Group of MLAs played a football match. Admirable of course to see some Sinn Féin, UUP, Green and SDLP folks get on. But….
The Opposition was apparently “Senior Civil Servants”. Now I find that less admirable.
I dont know if the same team of MLAs ever intend to play a footy match against “Junior Civil Servants”..ya know the foot soldiers up at Stormont…the ones who havent been at Cambridge University…..or paying school fees for their children at Campbell College.
Last year a team of MLAs played the Stormont Press Corps.
Disappointingly the team that played “Senior Civil Sevants” included those who think they are “outsiders” (Sinn Féin). One SDLP Leadership candidate, Conall McDevitt, also played..
Yet a senior civil servant would not get out of bed for the salary of a junior civil servant….the nameless faceless people at the photocopying machines or carrying messages around Stormont.
As Patsy McGlone said “this place can suck you in”.
So whats this got to do with the SDLP Leadership?
Back in Alex Attwoods constituency in West Belfast…..there might well be a SDLP voter who happens to be earning £17,000 a year working at Stormont, who is checking the internal mail every day for a transfer to the city centre or closer to home. It would save on bus fares.
Meanwhile in South Belfast (McDevitt and McDonnell territory) there are members of the trade union Unison at the City Hospital who are planning strike action. Local MLAs wont resist the photo opportunity or the soundbite. They support the low paid workers.
Meanwhile every Monday morning, in Cookstown and Magherafelt (McGlone area) there will be SDLP voting parents bringing their sons and daughters to board the Belfast bus, where as students or junior civil servants they will stay in over-priced accomodation in Belfast four nights.
The Winner of the Contest should be the one who knows the meaning of the word.
The one who can recognise that networking with senior civil servants. at Stormont is meaningless.
The one who has the fewest rather than the most names on his Blackberry…….and those being the names of REAL people……..REAL constituents of all shades, REAL SDLP voters, REAL SDLP members….not senior civil servants, journalists and all-purpose lobbyists.
No SDLP figure at Stormont got there on the votes of the Officer Class.
Patsy McGlone understands this.