A couple of months ago I applied (again!) for a job with SDLP. A couple of days ago, I got the same old “thanks but no thanks” letter. Youd think I would have caught on by now.
The SDLP are of course right. This is increasingly clear to me. I think my health would not be an issue. But to be frank, I think that my age would have been a problem. I may no longer have the…energy or optimism. For the record, I have not been short-listed because I did not demonstrate that I met the criteria.
Actually I dont agree with the SDLP assessment but its academic. No hard feelings. My loss is the gain of one or two bright young things.
Yet, I find it a pity that the SDLP never found a role for me…especially a lucrative role for me. A role that would have boosted my bank balance as well as justifying getting a History/Politics degree at the grand old age of 57….or one that justified promoting a (quirky, independent…and credible) SDLP line on Slugger O’Toole and here on the “Czar of Russia”.
In terms of balance, I can claim that I have done more for SDLP than SDLP ever did for me. I owe “nobody nuthin'” (sic).
Its the lot of a Prophet…even a Cassandra …to be under-estimated by people “in his own country”. It has always been a peculiarity of this Blog that it is well-read in United States and really thats the only place where I feel this Blog has had any impact. The highlight remains my visit to USA and lectures at Texas State University in 2013. Yet oddly SDLP never had me on any platform.
I am not really as bitter about it all as this sounds. Any role in SDLP is at least three years too late. Not only do I admire the Party for its altruism…it aspires to represent the interests of the most vulnerable, rather than the self-interest of its members. I am really too old and tired.
Nor do I contribute to the notion that SDLP is in terminal decline…a managed terminal decline…the Fealty Doctrine. It certainly needs to be more bold…and that is not easy in a Party that is competing for “republican, nationalist” votes with Sinn Féin on one side and for ” letsgetalongerist” votes with Alliance on the other. Not to mention increasing threat of the People Before Profit and Green Party (and the Greens have a nasty streak) and new potentially divisive issues…Womens Rights. It seems that a lot of Politics now is “generational.”
Anyway…the bottom line is that SDLP are right about me.
Feminism didn’t begin today or yesterday nor did the campaign for women’s rights. Is that still divisive? I’m pro-choice but I get the anti-choice logic, even if I disagree with it. I’m pro-quota, though I don’t get the anti-quota logic at all. The SDLP has great virtues but it needs to catch up with a century that is speeding away from it. From what I can see, and what I’ve experienced, it’s a telegram party in an email world. Is that the age profile of members or the institutional culture? I suspect the latter. They’re still standing at the parish pump when everyone else is on Facebook or Twitter.
It is, I may suggest, a party that takes its activists and supporters for granted. It’s almost too posh for “real” politics and that comes across with some SDLP folk.
Excuse the fleeting comment, I’m off out the door! 😀
There are actually two generations in SDLP. Yes there is the generation portrayed by Alban Magennis but the profile of that generation hides the fact that there is a much younger generation, personified by Clare Hanna. The next Assembly team is likely to include Nicola Mallon and Daniel McCrossan and of course Mark H Durkan and Colum Eastwood. Maybe Colin McGrath and Justin McNally.
The big problem is not that there are two generations…the problem is that there is not three generations. There is something “missing” in between…a bridge that makes things easier for transition.
I have seen many of SDLP Youth up close for several years and impressed with many of them ….not overly impressed by others.
SDLP had no real problem adopting Equal Marriage. Most older people have no real problem. There was a token rearguard action at the Conference but certainly no split.
I think Womens Rights is now a single issue (Abortion) or Reproduction Rights.
For the record I am also pro-choice and pro-life.
The problem for SDLP is that the Greens (particuarly Clare Bailey) are making it their unique selling point and they can attract young votes…and possibly even SDLP defectors.
Its also an impossible issue.
Simply put there could never be cross-party agreement so stirring it up as an issue is a “lose-lose” situation for SDLP.