SDLP Candidates: The Story So Far

All the pieces are coming together ahead of the 2016 Assembly Election. The selection of Patsy McGlone and Nichola Mallon tonight means there are only four (at most) constituencies to name a candidate(s).

So far:

Foyle: Colum Eastwood. Mark H Durkan. Gerard Diver.

South Belfast: Fearghal McKinney. Claire Hanna.

Upper Bann: Dolores Kelly.

South Antrim: Roisin Lynch.

East Antrim: Margaret Anne McKillop.

North Antrim: Connor Duncan.

South Down: Sean Rogers. Colin McGrath. Sinead Challinor.

Armagh-Newry: Karen McKevitt. Justin McNulty.

Fermanagh-South Tyrone: Richie McPhillips.

West Tyrone: Danie Wray McCrossan.

Mid Ulster: Patsy McGlone.

North Belfast: Nichola Mallon.

Lagan Valley: Pat Catney.

Strangford: Joe Boyle and/or Terry Andrews***

East Derry: not yet decided (as far as I know) but likely to be two candidates …possibly both women.

West Belfast: not yet decided (as far as I know) and that might mean a surprise.

East Belfast: obviously not a natural SDLP stronghold and while I have a hunch, it would be unfair to say.

North Down: same situation. Unfair to name my hunch.

***Strangford ….the SDLP Annual Report at Conference named both Joe and Terry. But my understanding is that only one will be on paper.



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28 Responses to SDLP Candidates: The Story So Far

  1. gingray says:

    Not so much prospects, more opportunity – East Belfast is around 20% Catholic now, a lot of the increase down to young families moving in to take advantage of access to good schools and good value property.

    Coupled with the 2020/21 elections seeing a south east Belfast constituency, surely time for the sdlp to put in a stronger effort, not let the alliance take catholic votes for granted.

    • I don’t think the SDLP can do that either after the decision to support integrated education and gay “marriage”

      • SDLP will be adversely affected by Same Sex Marriage….its just generational. What voter is going to say “i am going to vote Green/Alliance/SF because of same sex marriage. Is any Catholic seriously going to vote UUP or DUP?
        There are other issues which may affect a vote…..but thats a question for 2020 qnd beyond.
        Dont want to discuss prospects but I am kinda happy with selections so far….nice balances without quotas …but personally Im glad to see folks like Patsy McGlone, Sean Rogers, Pat Catney Fearghal McKinney. Youth is not Everything.

      • gingray says:

        I think the recent blow ins tend to be from the country and the local Gaelic team is booming. It’s an untapped vote, outside of the short strand.

        With the right candidate the sdlp could push hard for the 6th seat.

        More importantly, with south Belfast being split between east and west, a higher profile candidate who loses this time, will stand a good chance of making south east a two seat chance in 2021.

      • gingray says:

        Not sure either matters – if you are a nationalist living in east Belfast wanting to elect a candidate who best supports your views, sdlp are a much better choice than alliance or the unionists, and sinn fein are unelectable outside of the strand

      • They would still need a “personality”.
        The way Nesbitt energised UUP or even Flash Harry Hamilton (ex UUP) raising Alliance profile in Upper Bann….and Justin McNulty for SDLP in Armagh-Newry.

    • SDLP vote in East Belfast collapsed in 2010 with the Naomi Long-Peter Robinson thing. In some ways it mirrors West Belfast where Alliance committed suicide by backing Joe Hendron.
      Loaned votes are never given back.
      Its all very well for Ms Long to thank people in victory speech in 2010 but within 24 hours the vote is interpreted as a ringing endorsement of Alliance.
      i am not convinced that the new people in East Belfast are the voting kind. They seem too anti-politics.
      To be fair Niall Ó Donnghaile of Sinn Féin has carved out a safe coiuncil seat althpugh SF lost that seat in the wake of the Robert McCartney murder.
      It is possible that any SDLP candidate in East Belfast needs either a profile (celebrity even) or to appeal to a certain demographic. I told anyone who would listen that Fearghal McKinney would have been a good Westminster

    • Oops theres a reply to you…under anothr comment.

  2. Max Shin says:

    I recollect it being said that the SDLP was a generational vote that would disappear in due course. I think Gerry Adams said that when he visited houses in nationalist areas you would generally find that there was a split such that a young person and his parents would be Sinn Féin and the grandparents or great grandparents would be SDLP. Hence the SDLP over time would fall and Sinn Féin rises.

    • Yes…Gerry Adams says a lot of things. But possibly SF has re-invented itself, even to the point of denying its own History.
      Maybe the worst thing that can happen to a political party is to actually achieve its ambitions.
      What does any political party do for an encore?
      What does the British Labour Party do now? It got the Welfare State. It ended the worst excesses of 1920s Britain.
      But all it can do now is play a defensive game to stop the Tories rolling back some of the achievements.
      But all those people who gave Labour a landslide in 1945…are all dead.
      The Labour Government 1997-2010 did not have an ambitious programme.
      The bulk of the Labour Parliamentary Party are just Tory-lite.

  3. zig70 says:

    I kinda feel a bit overlooked being in arse end of East Antrim. Whiteabbey is largely overlooked by folk from the Glens. As it stands the better half refuses to vote unless I insist but if the SDLP called and asked then maybe she would feel compelled. The human touch works. (Unless they got her in the wrong mood). I don’t think we have ever got anything more than a flyer through the door.

    • I think the big problem with East Antrim is that there are at best just pockets of sdlp support beyond the heartland in the Glens. To get elected, a SDLP candidate would have to appeal to two different demographics…the GAA clubs and the “progressives” tempted by Greens and Alliance.
      Greens and Alliance can knock any door and generally not get abuse. sdlp can get abuse on the doorstep. And its a big ask. Lets be honest, I am currently lying in bed on ipad and that is a better option than leafleting or canvassing…the new term is “gathering issues”.
      For what its worth I really think Margaraet Anne is a good candidate (yes I know I WOULD say that anyway).
      Certainly young SDLP people have less inhibitions than I do.
      As an anti-sectarian party in 1973, we crossed the Springfield Road and got two or three leaflets posted in Ainsworth Avenue before we got chased.
      Of course this is 2016 and I see SDLP canvassers in unlikely places. But I just dont think there is the numbers in East Antrim to mount a serious canvas without busing in SDLP Youth. They would tackle anything and it will probably happen for a couple of weekends.
      But there is something about SDLP which is a bit like the Disciples in the upstairs room in Jerusalem after Easter.
      Maybe the Holy Spirit will descend and send them out into the streets of East aNtrim and West Belfast (where Sinn Féin are more abusive than anything in Whiteabbey).

      • Greens do not knock my door, banished long ago with the shinners and unionists, I give them, and alliance too, plenty of abuse when I need to, which is every time they knock.

      • I have in the past given SDLP abuse to the extent that when I joined the Party, one of the Branch members reminded me of this.
        Last year I got into a doorstep row with a Sinn Féin member until I realised that he was extremely calm and I was losing it.
        No unionist Party has ever knocked my door.
        About six weeks before the local and Euro elections, Alliance left a newsletter thru mu door along with a request to let them know anything they could help me with.
        The return envelope was to their Party HQ so obviously I gave them a long list of problems I had with Alliance.
        I did get some fun out of it as the newsletter mentioned Dog Fouling and I wrote a Blog called “Dog Shit…Alliance Steps In!”
        i did get a few Alliance replies but as always I didnt publish them.
        One of my Alliance friends (yes I have a couple) told me that I will never get back into an Alliance conference.

      • zig70 says:

        You know, I don’t think they need to. Door to door is quite time consuming. It’s (maybe sadly) quite easy to say McCann’s in Whiteabbey are a potential voter and send a more personal mail out. Not sure if cold calling would work but I wouldn’t rule it out. Then there is the whole social media side. You could sell all your email and twitter connections to the party for a few bob. I’m a bit disappointed your young career political guns haven’t got on the social bandwagon.

      • I suppose for more than ten years, People have been saying that Internet would make a big difference to Politics.
        The Internet has become Social Media and most stuff I see on Facebook and Twitter is not real politics.
        Too many (mostly young) people in Alliance, SF, UUP, SDLP Yoof groups are already well acquainted with each other thru nonsensical Yoof Parliaments and Sixth Form Debates and University politics…..Most of these people contribute nothing except one-liners and “banter” but its not politics.
        Some of course WILL make it. Indeed in five years with SDLP, I have seen that happen. But most fail to deliver, in part because they are anoraks.
        Others will drift away.
        But there are others who are shrewd….connexion to a poliitical party, particuarly a “nice” political party is a stepping stone to other careers in charity sector, NGOs etc.
        Some young people are naive….and some are not naive.

    • Carrick Nationalist says:

      As a Nationalist (and an SDLP member) living in that large town with a castle a few miles up the road, I completely understand where you’re coming from. Unfortunately the party doesn’t really organise down this end of the constituency (that I know of – maybe there’s a secret branch nobody’s telling me about!), so I’m involved with a branch in Belfast (and with the Youth crowd).

      I was actually recently speaking to a veteran party member (whose wife and daughter have been elected reps in subsequent years – I’m sure anybody in the SDLP will know who I’m talking about) and he mentioned that in his decades in the party he had never met anyone from Carrick that was even interested in the SDLP, never mind a member of the party.

      I hope that the situation will change and I’d like to see the party organise in the area between Glengormley and Larne, it’s just that obviously there are huge challenges for the SDLP in the area, both in terms of demographics meaning that there isn’t much prospect of candidates being elected to councils for the local DEAs in the near future, and the risk of sectarian violence towards anybody that ‘comes out’ as a Nationalist.

      Personally, I’d like to help change the situation myself, and I do plan on doing some canvassing locally in the run up to the election this year (I’ve only ever canvassed areas that would be strong for the SDLP, so it may be a shock to the system), I just don’t want to be too well known in the area as ‘the SDLPer’ and end up putting myself or family members in danger.

      • This is actually a major problem.
        Certainly in the 1970s, it was assumed that SDLP had no chance in South Belfast. Ben Caraher, still attends SDLP Conferences and was the candidate on several occasions….but it was an Aliance stronghold. Indeed Jim Hendron brother of SDLPs Dr Joe…was an Alliance MLa?
        The breakthru was Alasdair McDonnell. The breakthru always comes when voters…nationalist voters ….think “we have a chance”.
        But there is a need to stay under the radar. I only ever knew one “nationalist” from Carrick. Iit was early 1970s. Only a young woman but was obsessed with a low profile.
        Where are the nationalists…in Newtownards, Bangor, Carrick, Ballyclare, Comber?
        Well …not liking nationalists directly to Catholic churches, Id assume that the folks who sit in the pews in the local churches are more likely to be SF, Alliiance or SDLP voters.
        But to some extent SDLP has “allowed” Alliance to make the running. And in part, that is due to perceiving Alliance as “god guys”, a reasonable alternative to SDLP ….but a lot has changed. For a start SF are now on ballot papers but Alliance itself has changed from the benign party of do-gooders it once was. It is undemocratic and joined with DUP and SF….Alliance are….forgive me for being blunt…ruthless bastards.
        Several Alliance people…Napier, Cushnahan, Close, Neeson were Catholic but if (say) Napier had not lived in East Belfast or Neeson in Carrick….would they have been “gene pool” SDLP.
        Part of the shock about the disgraceful attacks on Alliance…Stewart Dicksons office was burned…in 2012 was that Alliance had always been under the radar…tolerated as harmless in Castlereagh and Carrick.
        To some extent it mirrors how SDLP was treated very well by Sinn Féin families in the 1970s (they needed us) but we were treated badly by Official IRA -Stickies…because they were political rivals on ballot papers.
        The bad blood between SDLP and SF only started after the Hunger Strikes…when they entered elections.
        Certainly thru your SDLP Youth connrxions, you will know that SF outside polling stations can be a intimidating.

        But in respect of East Antrim, one of the things Alasdair got right was trying to motivate the Party at local branches. As he admitted after 2014 Council elections there is a problem “around Belfast Lough”.
        There is arguably a demographic that can be built up around UUJ students…certainly in terms of canvassing.
        But really intimidation is too much of a threat.
        jOhn Turnley formerly SDLP and latterly IIP councillor was a member of Larne Council when he was murdered.
        And Danny O’Connor winning a MLA seat led to a pogram in Larne.
        Is it worth it?
        I like Margaret Anne. i saw her posters in Larne for Westminster last year.
        There is a nationalist seat in East Antrim but Oliver McMullan is not exactly dynamic.
        The Assembly might be interesting.

      • johnmarley says:

        Not sure I would go along with that . Oliver is highly though of and well known in the Glens and very popular.

      • A reasonable point.
        He seems to be in the tradition of Moyle politicians that are independently minded.

  4. However Oliver’s health has been suspect, his replacement from Carnlough via Larne is a bit of a dull dog

  5. johnmarley says:

    According to this piece in the BBC

    the SDLP are quoted by one gentleman as having “lost their way” when Hume stood down.

  6. Concerned in Dervock says:

    I see that Martin McGuinness is standing in Foyle ! Will that be a worry for SDLP?

    • I dont really want this thread to go down thagt road. Plenty of opportunity to do that when all runners and riders are known in eighteen constituencies.
      As a general rule, I believe that the first five seats in any constituency are “safe” and the sixth seat is a contest between two, three or four parties.
      I would always see Foyle as five safe seats and the sixth seat always the vulnerable one.
      I dont think that McGuinness changes that….five safe seats and an interesting contest for the sixth.
      It changes Mid Ulster as much as it changes Foyle. If it strengthens Sinn Féin in Foyle, it weakens Sinn Féin in Mid Ulster.
      But if SDLP only field Patsy McGlone, it means SF will have the third seat without having to fight for it. With SDLP having only one candidate , it means there is no contest for sixth seat.
      SDLP could be missing an opportunity…

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