SDLP and Sinn Fein

There was a conference at University of Ulster yesterday. Unfortunately due to a logistical problem, I did not get to attend. It was actually in the form of a series of discussions…one of which was on the relationship between SDLP and Sinn Fein.

I will post my thoughts later.

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16 Responses to SDLP and Sinn Fein

  1. At the moment, I would say it’s insanely poor, was there anything positive that came from it?

  2. Also, I was going to ask, was the Dauphin at it noting there should be some kind of inter Nat discussion whilst he ignores talking to the counterpart that is larger than his current party of choice?

  3. factual says:

    Gerry Adams stated a couple of things that are possibly noteworthy in this context.
    He stated that voting was partly generational. When he knocks on doors north of the border, you might first get an elderly person answering and he would say that he was a John Hume man, and then the grandson would stick his head round the door and say “I’m a Shinner” and this pattern was repeated. Gerry Adams stated that John Hume had made a significant contribution, but that most young nationalists north of the border found the SF narrative more compelling than that of the SDLP.

  4. Political Tourist says:

    No big surprises in the older generation voting Fitt and Hume.
    The provos didn’t do parliamentary politics until the 1980s.
    It took them nearly 30 years to figure out standing aside as in South Belfast helps keep a unionist from walking away with the prize.
    Pity the SDLP couldn’t do the same in other areas.

  5. charlie says:


    Maybe living so far removed from politics in the north means you don’t quite understand.

    Sinn Fein and SDLP are competitors only for some people. But there are lots of republicans who’d sooner take up arms again than vote SDLP. I think it’s a nonsense personally, but in light of the SPAD bill we heard lots of people saying the SDLP people have lost them forever. Most of those people never had them and indeed intimidated average joe SDLP leaflet dropper out of their areas.

    Likewise there are some SDLP people for whom their number 1 vote registers their pro-nationalist stance, and thereafter vote for what they see as their next most pragmatic candidate which while often is a Sinn Fein candidate can easily be a green, alliance or even a likeable unionist.

    The transfers bear all this out. Unionist transfers are always tight, because the tribe is number 1. Nationalists transfers are usually looser because of the wider political dichotomy which exists; which is more admirable clearly. it also means that although more transfers are lost, the net is probably thrown wider anyway and brings in more people at the first stage.

    Re: South Belfast, splinter’s blog makes an excellent point.
    The McDonnell coalition that one here in 2005 had more alliance people switching to him than SF. In 2010, the turnout in the markets was among the lowest in south belfast as there was no ‘republican’ to vote for. So the idea that SF are taking the biggest hit just isn’t true. Some of their culchy student supporters are the uni have no problem switching for the day, but the hardliners happily stay at home.

    By wishing away the SDLP you are wishing away a huge chunk of nationalist and even non-nationalist supporters of united ireland parties. Ultimately it’s wishing away Sinn Fein vote too as people have no alternative and dissidents point to SF as the sole flag-bearer for constitutional nationalist politics and thereby the new SDLP.

    Its a complete nonsense. But we’ve been here before Factual. I specifically remember FJH asking you that if you don’t like the SDLP ‘taking’ some nationalist votes from SF and stopping them being bigger, then why are you are supporter of them even switching to constitutional politics in the first place? We’d have had a super nationalist party already…except we wouldn’t. Because all those supporters before SF started fighting elections just didn’t vote. That’s the point isn’t it? I don’t expect you to answer again this time though.

    Your answer to the John Hume sacrificing party for peace point by FJH will be an interesting one though….

  6. charlie says:

    Sorry I just saw your answer (it didn’t appear before) along with FJH’s reply. You are talking some shite. Why are you even a supporter anyway? On one hand you make up embarrassing crass statements like that about Adams et al. and on the other you poo poo all the nationalist number crunchers like Bangordub with “this doesn’t count as there’s polish catholics there too..blah blah” when all that number crunching is what ultimately SF were able to say was the reason for switching to the “political strategy”. It was Clinton who said “Gerry, your numbers are getting better all the time”

    so your own support barely make sense, and the fact we can debate it is another thing that the internal workings of SF doesn’t allow. They like you spout a party line except they must do, you can do otherwise but seem to choose not.

    • factual says:

      Charlie, what I have always said about demographic counting is that it is not a good way to a UI. The only good way to a UI is putting forward good arguments for a UI and getting a majority to be persuaded.

  7. factual says:

    Sinn Féin’s reservations about doing deals with sdlp include

    *differences in economic policy
    *differences in attitude to EU
    *differences in terms of redistribution from rich to poor, and in terms of workers rights
    *differences in terms of salary of elected reps (no SF rep from top to bottom takes more than £21,000)

  8. charlie says:

    Right, let’s tale those head on then…

    Economic policy – Apart from the SF differing with…SF in the south on economic policy, the main economic policy I see them ploughing political capital into is: corporation tax. The most economically right wing policy I can think of. Ritchie is for it too, but I have heard enough SDLP who won’t support it.

    EU – You are right on this one. SF have been decidedly anti-EU recently. Apart from the troika etc… SF always had the awkward reality of the EU threatening the traditional rallying call of irish sovereignty etc… SDLP are pro-EU and John Hume always praised the mature way eurpean politics is conducted as well as the influence it can exert here. Given that UUP and DUP are, at best, euro-sceptic and have been supporting in/out referendums and UKIP and TUV are unashamedly anti-EU, then SF seem to have more n common with them. Interesting as the euro elections are next.

    Redistibution of wealth – See point 1 on economic policy. How these come under different banners is fascinating. Sounds more like slogans and empty rhetoric. Regarding rights specifically, who specifically campaigned for rights (working or civil)? Give you a clue, it wasn’t SF or its republican clubs predecessor who thought the idea was giving credence to the six counties position in the UK.

    Differences in salary- This one is my favourite. You know, no one really buys this anymore right? It might be noble if they just withdrew what they deemed the average industrial wage. A bit like the SDLP did this week by refusing a pay rise. But taking the whole lot via a SF account and drawing down some of that just means the rest is draw-downable as expenses. Why by a pen with your own money when you can claim it through the party and say you’re on an AIW while you’re at it? Do you think McGuinness’ presidential battle bus was bought on the average industrial wage?

    The only one who has an honestly credible approach here is Eamon McCann who suggests each elected rep. being paid the average income of their constituents so that they don’t get aloof and detached once they make it to parliament.

    • A small clarification.
      Sinn Fein were not connected to the old Republican Clubs,
      Republican Clubs were the political voice of the officialIRA….stickies,
      They changed their names to Workers Party…and split again into WP and Democratic Left.

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