The End Is Nigh?

Three questions.

Will RHI bring down the Government?

Would it be a bad thing?

Do you care?

I suppose the short answer to the first question is that it is too soon to tell. But it seems increasingly obvious that eventually there will be one crisis which will push the “institutions” over the edge.

At one level, the disconnect between DUP and Sinn Féin is increasingly obvious. You might well choose to believe the SF narrative that DUP-SF is a joint and equal government. You might well choose to believe the view (articulated by Christopher Stalford MLA) that Sinn Féin is “the junior partner in a centre right coalition”. You might well choose to believe my narrative that Sinn Féin is a docile lap-dog or I might moderate it slightly and say that DUP is in government and Sinn Féin is in office.

Certainly Sinn Féin are not strutting around telling any gullible person that they are an all-Ireland party, who are heading for government in Republic of Ireland. To put it bluntly, Sinn Féin have peaked and it is harder to sell their self-proclaimed “rise and rise” to the electorate.

Whether it is alienation from voting itself, the emergence of People Before Profit or SDLP showing signs of life, it is clear Sinn Féin are under pressure.

RHI is a disaster. RHI is a scandal. Certainly DUP circling the wagons is unimpressive. SF have been weak. They make polite demands that Arlene Foster stands aside as First Minister. She says No…..and well that seems to be that. They hide behind “collective responsibility”, a concept that DUP does not seem to recognise.

What of Claire Sugden, our Minister for Justice (a very badly named Ministry)? She was co-opted to replace David McClarty (formerly UUP, Independent) and elected last year as an honest broker…gene pool UUP and Alliance-lite.

But she always seemed lightweight and and an unlikely Minister for Justice and it is likely DUP-SF gave her the job on the basis that she is a lightweight. Yet she has not rocked the Government boat over RHI. A choice between “collective responsibility” and the “public mood” and she seems to have made the wrong choice.

Ms Sugden is better placed than me to judge the interests of her own constituents in East Derry. But she owes her election to being UUP and Alliance voters as well as a personal vote. But UUP and Alliance are firmly in the “Arlene Must Go! ” camp.

It seems to me that she is damaging her chances of retaining her seat but she may not be thinking in terms of a long-term career in electoral politics.

UUP and Principle? Well there is always Opportunism. The Opposition parties have been presented with an “open goal” but deep down this is the same UUP which had an electoral pact with DUP as recently as May 2015.

Alliance Party and Principle? Another risible concept. Six months ago, they felt entitled to be given the Justice Ministry and crawled on the ground to get it…and failed. Does anyone really think the Alliance Party would be agitating for Arlene’s resignation if they held the Justice portfolio.

Sinn Féin and Principle? I saw better jokes in Christmas crackers. They dont seem to realise that it is about the “institutions” not the “Peace Process”. SF have travelled too far, been sucked into the Establishment too much and the ordinary folks on the street can live happily without Máirtín ÓMuilleoir

SDLP and Principle? Well not surprisingly I do not find this to be risible. But SDLP has too much principle for its own good. They would do a lot better if they were as unprincipled as I am. But SDLP would never listen to me….after all they never listen to anybody that wishes them well.

No more Mr and Ms Nice Guy. SDLP should be going straight for the throat. Bring this Government down. Think in terms of an Election.

There are two forms of analysis. One looks at demographics and last known election results and simply says that things will not be any different. The second form of analysis is political and tries to interpret what is happening on the ground.

The next major test of public opinion is not scheduled for some years. And throwing a spanner in that particular schedule is not a bad idea.

There is nothing to lose. Certainly not for SDLP. Conceivably there is something to gain.

Principle is great…SDLP have it. But do they have the Courage?



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19 Responses to The End Is Nigh?

  1. You might well choose to believe the view (articulated by Christopher Stalford MLA) that Sinn Féin is “the junior partner in a centre right coalition”. You might well choose to believe my narrative that Sinn Féin is a docile lap-dog or I might moderate it slightly and say that DUP is in government and Sinn Féin is in office…

    Yep to all of the above!

  2. SDLP activist - North Down says:

    SF and DUP seem to be playing a game of chicken.

    • But SDLP need to put the boot in now. I feel an election will cause more apathy but the benefit is that it de-legitimises the DUP-SF one party state.
      If SDLP lose a seat (and I dont think they will) it will be West Belfast but a good opportunity in North Antrim, South Antrim, Lagan Valley, Strangford.
      Put Fearghal McKinney in Strangford…hed win.

      • SDLP activist - North Down says:

        I am told that there would be 1 fewer seats per constit. if it were called now. That’s perhaps a reason to think that it will not happen!

      • Possibly….SDLP has little to fear in relative terms.
        Only West Belfast is vulnerable and as I indicated in original post, there is a major difference between data analysis (demographics and most recent election) and political analysis (identifying changes in daily politics). Sooner or later SDLP is going to have to go out and actually WIN votes. Hanging around just waiting for 2020 and an election fought on DUP-SF ground… a very bad option.
        I see evidence of courage in Colum Eastwood but I see no evidence of courage in SDLP policy making.

      • SDLP activist - North Down says:

        Do you not think that people in West Belfast are pretty unimpressed by some of those SF representatives?

      • Certainly.
        But Sinn Féin has an army (I use the word deliberately) to ensure that they are mostly elected. As I have said before I was in several polling stations on Election Day 2016 and did not see any SDLP person. But I saw clusters of SF people outside and inside polling stations.
        It doesnt matter how many people are turned off by SF, they will still get their quotas and People Before Profit are doing better than SDLP.
        Getting people out to vote is one thing.
        Getting them to vote SDLP is another.
        Welfare cuts should have been a big issue but our canvassers said people didnt care….enough.
        SDLP voters and SF voters might well be disenchanted with Stormont but frankly more likely to abstain than vote SDLP.
        I have not renewed my subscription. I did my best. SDLP dont listen to me and would rather listen to Glyn Roberts or some other people who would not vote SDLP in a fit.
        SDLP is by far the most decent political party available but ultimately…useless.

  3. benmadigan says:

    the question is why SF is acting as a doormat – here are a few hypotheses!!

    • Some good stuff there.
      Sinn Féin have no plan…in office but not in power and I think the core voters have nowhere to go except to abstain.
      Nationalists…SDLP as well as SF…we conned ourselves with the Good Friday Agreement.
      We have to let it go.

      • pádraic says:

        “Nationalists….we conned ourselves with the Good Friday Agreement.”

        Very interesting indeed. And something that I have been thinking through. Where do we go from here? Electorally we’d be doing well to hit 40% in a border poll. No chance of joint authority.
        Would be great to hear you expand on that if you have the time.

  4. Vince says:

    Judging by the reported comments of Mr Adams today it does look as if we are heading into an election. Difficult to see what this will resolve. Is the NI electorate sophisticated enough to unseat the current medley of the corrupt, the incompetent and the embarrassing in government? Sadly I doubt it. We will continue to get the government we deserve, at the expense of our hospitals, schools & other public services.

    • I think the benefit is that it gives us an accurate picture of the political landscape. The problem with the punditry I see is that it all seems to be based on the figures from the latest election, boundary changes, and demographics….in other words it is entirely based on statistics.
      Nobody ever seems to factor in political changes… fairness, all views seem entrenched but there has to be an element of floating voters.
      I am not so sure that anybody wants a government. They would rather vote for an Opposition.
      If there is an election, it will be the first based on Government and Opposition.

      • Vince says:

        We can live in hope but one is losing faith in democracy – Trump, Farage, Le Pen etc. After 10 years of this hopeless SF/DUP coalition we need to call “time” and the alternatives have to present a strong case for why and what they can do better. Would an Executive of Eastwood, Nesbitt, Mallon (Nichola), Hanna, McGlone, Kennedy, Beattie, Long etc be more cohesive, competent & transparent? I would say definitely yes. Will people here vote for it?

      • Yes…but that is a long shot and that could only come about if people like myself could vote 1 SDLP 2 UUP 3 Alliance and I cant see myself doing that.
        How many would really do that?
        What I CAN see is an electoral turnout so low that legitimacy is lost. i can certainly see a campaign to not vote. I would not and could not support it but you can bet it will happen.
        If there is a turnout of say 35 to 40 per cent, the British would step in.
        And the next step…Direct Rule…or a commission of “advisors” to run the place, the ultimate Quango for all those hangers on.
        The six or so regular readers of this Blog could write ten names on a piece of paper and seal it …and together we could come up with the names of the Quisling government.

  5. Vince says:

    I think I would also baulk at giving Alliance a high preference these days – it would depend on individual candidates (maybe). A quango – God forbid!! We would probably end up with John Alderdice, Monica McWilliams & someone from Amnesty International.

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