You will forgive me saying Yeeeeeeeeeeeeoooooo! The SDLP has not made a net gain since 1998 so gaining two seats (12 from 90 is an improvement on 12 from 108).
This was an unexpected election but I have been predicting the fall of Stormont for so long that I had to be right once (even a stopped clock is right twice a day).
The five-party coalition disguised the dysfunctional nature of the DUP-SF dominated government and without UUP, SDLP (willingly in Opposition) and the Alliance Party (unwillingly in Opposition…they crawled on their belly to stay in government) propping it all up….we were left with what Mark Durkan called “a one party state with a green wing and an orange wing”. That kinda government of DUP-SF could not withstand scrutiny and….it fell.
From a SDLP perspective, Friday was the proverbial game of two halves. The First preferences were up…but so were Sinn Féin and Alliance. To continue the football theme, consider the 1999 European Champions Cup. As the fourth official held up the board signalling a few minutes of added time, Manchester United were trailing Bayern Munich by 1-0.
It was the same on Friday night. Ten seats would have been ok…it was pro-rata the 2016 result. But Pat Catney in Lagan Valley is an unlikely Teddy Sheringham and John Dallat is an unlikely Ole Gunnar Solksjaer….what can I say….2-1. Back of the Net!!!!!!
The last three constituency profiles that I wrote…West Belfast, Fermanagh-South Tyrone and East Derry…these were the three I was worried about. Hard to write dispassionately. RIchie McPhillips and Alex Attwood were unlucky. They deserved better.
I thought Roisín Lynch might have taken South Antrim but wrote it was partly wishful thinking. But I had a lot of confidence that Pat Catney would win Lagan Valley. My prediction was without qualification. Why was I so confident? Well …his team was working hard for years….this was not about the last month.
And I was totally confident that Dolores Kelly would win back her seat. Enough people who had failed to vote last year had expressed regret and were obviously taking this unexpected opportunity to put it right. It was that simple. I wish I had known that it was possible to get odds of 11/2 on Dolores. The gamblers among you….think of those odds. Many of you would think it was maybe 50-50……
So……yeeeeeeeeeooooooo. I hope SDLP holds a weekend conference without any politics. Just eating, drinking, dancing, slabbering and shouting “yeeeeeeeeeeoooooooo”. Cos this is a good result and we need to celebrate.
Obviously a good result for nationalism. SDLP might have 12 seats and Sinn Féin 27 seats and while the all-Ireland People Before Profit is officially “other” it is effectively 40 seats.
This Blog attempts to both understand and explain nationalism. I may be a member of SDLP but I find the fault-lines between SDLP-Sinn Féin and SDLP-Alliance to be interesting.
A good day for Sinn Féin of course. They managed to spin Incompetence into a virtue and cash in on anger at DUP arrogance. DUP actually galvinised nationalism more than they galvinised unionism.
While acknowledging that SF were victims of intimidation in North Down, they can play a hard game themselves. Do they intimidate? Well….only when they have to do so.
I make no pretence to understand the Alliance Party. If you want to understand the Alliance Party, I can direct you to “Slugger O’Toole”. They had a good election. They held all eight seats.
UUP had a disaster. Had more votes than SDLP and due to the way their vote was distributed only ended up with ten seats. Mike Nesbit has always struck me as a flakey flip-flopper….electoral pacts with DUP in 2015 and proclaiming he will give his second preference votes to SDLP in 2017. Typically he has resigned and the most likelhy people to succeed him, Danny Kennedy and JoAnne Dobson lost their seats.
What is next for Nesbit? Resign from the Assembly and a co-option? Has he really contributed anything?
What next for UUP? I actually see a parallel with 1974/75. brian Faulkner left the Unionist Party to form a pro power-sharing party, UPNI….it got just five seats in the 1975 Convention Election.
I wont labour the parallel because I dont know enough about unionism.
The DUP. Well clearly a disaster. Losing seats….just 28 which when added to UUP (10), TUV (1) and Sugden means that unionism and nationalism have parity or almost parity. Will Alliance Party re-designate themselves as unionist?
Scandal and Arrogance brought down the DUP. A sense of Entitlement.
People might say there is a fault line between a religious DUP and a secular DUP. I think it is NOT about Arlene Foster ….it is about the legacy of Paisley and Robinson.
I am not really familiar with the unionist mindset. But in recent days, I have been thinking about the early 1970s. There has always been a religious dimension to unionism. But curiously a lot of very religious Protestants are not political in the truest sense of the world. They would see it as a choice between GOD and Mammon. My impression of the early 1970s is that such people had reservations about Ian Paisley involving himself too much in Politics.
Of course the Troubles politicised many religious people. But I think a lot of God-fearing folk would have been outraged at the behaviour of DUP since after the Paisley days. In their terms, they will see that Paisleyism ….the sense of Decency was betrayed.
In 2017, there is just too much Mammon and not enough GOD in DUP. Ironically the Media and the Bloggerati praised Robinson for moving towards “secularism”. Wrong again!