Dolores Kelly is the Deputy Leader of the SDLP, the Party of which I am a member. She is also the sole SDLP MLA in my constituency.
Being Deputy Leader of the Party suggests #2 in the Party hierarchy In fact she is a long way down it.
Alasdair McDonnell, Conall McDevitt, Patsy McGlone and Alex Attwood, who contested the Leadership in 2011, all outranked her. So do the Party’s MPs Margaret Ritchie and Mark Durkan, both former Leaders.
Mark’s nephew, confusingly Mark H Durkan is the new Minister for the Environment and Joe Byrne a delegate to the Haass talks is also further up the ladder. Alex Attwood is the candidate for Europe. Karen McKevitt, the party’s only other MLA is assistant to Mark H.
Of course, Conall is now out of Politics but that has only made Dolores position weaker. The new MLA, Fergus McKinney is a key advisor to Alasdair.
Dolores does of course have friends in the Party, not least in the Womens Group but she has managed to weaken it by agreeing to be a judge for Miss Ulster last weekend. Thankfully she had the sense to pull out of this “personality” pageant when it was pointed out that the women would all be aged 18-24, have a dress size between 8 and 14 (or whatever) and all be above 5ft 7inches.
How all of that is a requirement for PERSONALITY, I just dont understand. Nor will the SDLP Womens Group like Brenda Stevenson, Bernie Kelly, Claire Hanna and Sharon Haughey have been impressed.
Dolores defence seems to be based on the fact she did not know about the entry requirements. Can she really have been a judge in 2011??? I dont know…maybe she thought she was selecting a very personable basketball team.
Whether or not she was a judge in 2011…it still displays appalling judgement.
The Media have generally portrayed Dolores as a disloyal Deputy Leader. I would expect this display of bad judgement will ensure Dolores faces a challenge for Deputy Leadership (from Colm Eastwood?) in 2014. She can hardly play the Womens Card.
More likely the contest will be between Colm and Alex Attwood, possibly buoyed by his performance in European Elections.
I think you are being a bit unfair on Dolores over the whole Miss Ulster thing I didnt see the harm in it but do agree that Stormont maybe wasnt the most appropriate venue. Certainly the SDLP have better politicians though who should be in the deputy position. I completely missed Attwood being selected for Europe, last I heard they were still in true SDLP style fiddling around. I cant say I am excited about his selection. He is intelligent and articulate but there is something about him that I just dont like and I am obviously not alone as the West Belfast vote collapse would confirm. At this stage 3rd place looks unlikely but someone with a bit more/any appeal may have squeezed through the split unionist votes
Two separate issues.
Dolores made a terrible mistake and will have difficulty being credible again…especially if people DECIDE to be intolerant about it. If Alasdair had screwed up like this, there would be people who would DECIDE to be unforgiving.
I think it is fair to say the SDLP has two wings.
Even fair to say there are personal animosities which naturally the SDLPs enemies exaggerate.
My own view is that the real animosities are actually very limited but that the majority of the Party are just pissed off with walking on egg shells around a few people.
I think the vast majority of people in SDLP are happy that the ship has been steadied. And I even think that Conall was reconciled to the fact Alasdair was doing a decent job and that Conalls time would come.
I think there were some who are still blinded by personal animosity.
And I still find the voting figures from South Belfast (Fearghal beating Claire….I thought he would win more narrowly) surprising. The key thing there is Claires low vote…NOT the margin.
So in the last half of this year any challenge to Alasdair has simply melted away.
Attwood. I’m going to hold back on this one until after the Party Conference. I might not be there. But that selection looks like good thinking…by Alasdair. If he performs credibly, it reflects well on Alasdair. If he performs badly then he will never be Leader. And there is no likely future Leader (except possibly Colm) currently in the Assembly.
If Dolores is replaced by either Atwood or Eastwood for Deputy Leader will the winner automatically be chosen as a judge for the Miss Ulster 2014 pageant ? That should surely spice up the Deputy Leader contest.
I cant see any girl wanting to be chatted up by Alex.
He’s at his scariest when he is being nice.