The Party’s Over…..

Are we witnessing the death throes of the Social Democratic and Labour Party?

I have never subscribed to the notion that SDLP has been finished for years. That’s just Sinn Féin talking themselves up and Slugger O’Toole talking up their friends in the Alliance Party.

But SDLP seems to be committing political suicide.

The partnership with Fianna Fáil is a matter of necessity. Since losing all three seats at Westminster in 2017, the Party is financially stretched. SDLP needs Fianna Fáil money and Fianna Fáil needs SDLPs reputation.

Of course SDLP voted 70:30 in favour of this partnership and the “look at me Im a socialist wing of the Party” do not like it. They look like a Semi Detached Labour Party who might stay together using the SDLP logo to get elected at the Council Elections, just eight weeks away. Later this year, we might see tearful resignations as there may be very public crises of conscience plus the familiar refrain that “I have not left the Party. The Party has left me”.

The coup de grace seems to have been dealt by former Leader, Mark Durkan, who is the best parliamentarian SDLP ever produced. His passionate speeches on behalf of the Bloody Sunday victims will long be remembered. Now he will be standing in a Dublin constituency in the European Elections for…..Fine Gael.

It is actually a familiar path. SDLP- founder member, Austin Currie de-camped to Dublin and became a Minister in a Fine Gael government. Again, an excellent parliamentarian who was disenchanted with a Stormont that did not exist.

None of this benefits the under-privileged that SDLP works for.

We have the pathetic situation that many in SDLP and many friends of SDLP were happy to retain SDLP identity. Then there is the Fianna Fáil partnership, discontented lefties and now a former Leader attaching himself to SDLP.

No party can survive splintering like this. At its formation in 1970, SDLP was a coalition. So there is a logic that when the coalition breaks, the Party splits.

It leaves around 90-95,00 voters disenfranchised. Who do I vote for in May? well our local SDLP candidate deserves our support, not least for being there when members of my family needed him.

But longer term, it does not look like SDLP can stand by what it says on the tin.

And depressingly that means that I will likely be voting Sinn Féin. What they are…is on the tin. I do not like what is inside their tin. But there is no choice left to me.


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5 Responses to The Party’s Over…..

  1. dedeideoprofundis says:

    If the sdlp does eventually disintegrate, that leaves the door open for Labour to organise here, no excuses left for Jeremy, the sibling is dead.

  2. SDLP Activist - North Down says:

    Completely agree that Mark Durkan is a great politician and I wish him well electorally.

    The SDLP always had good relations with all three parties in the south.

    This link with FF is not something i agree with personally.

    • Having good relations with the three southern parties was always important but frankly the southern parties wanted to be seen as neutral in the conflict. When the balance of justice lies on one side of the conflict then there was no excuse for southern prissiness.
      BREXIT has changed the landscape. There can be no understanding of the unionist position or the abstentionist position of Sinn Féin.
      !Allowing” northern nationalism a free seat in the Europpean Parliament is a gamble but well worth it.
      And I think acceptance by the tree traditional southern parties is a better move than a Labour PES link and a Fianna-Fáil SDLP link and playing for the country in a time of crisis makes more sense than narrow party politics.
      Yet the divisions are clear. Fianna Fáil may lack the finesse and South Dublin respectability of Fine Gael but if anything FG is more to the right than FF. But there can be doubt that Mark (still the best leader the SDLP could have) delivered a brutal blow to Colum Eastwood.

      • SDLP Activist - North Down says:

        Good points. A difficult time for the leader.

        I think that the SDLP needs to stand on its own. It should have friends and allies but not a marriage partner.

        Any relations it has with parties like FF, FG, Labour must not bind on the SDLP and must not confuse where the SDLP stands. The SDLP has a pretty clear position, lets not jeopardise that.

        When you form alliances with parties that are outside your own tradition, you can confuse your message. I would prefer the party keep itself independent and keeps its message clear.

        To adopt FF policies is not something I have ever heard voters saying they consider important. And some of the people cheering it are SF supporters.

        The SDLP’s electoral misfortunes was not due to a lack of links with FF.

        There are some good & committed young people among the MLAs and councillors and there is a future for the SDLP as an independent party.

      • The timing is terrible, two months before an election. Perhaps an older head like one of the three defeated MPs or Patsy McGlone or Dolores is badly needed.
        One of the worrying features of SDLP in recent years has been the entourages around the leadership. Too many people seem to think they are playing a part in “The West Wing”.
        Councillors have been downgraded. The “Management Committee” that now runs the Party does not seem to include and ex-officio councillors.

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