Every so often, I sign into this Blog. It is mostly about “maintenance”. The Czar of Russia, Donald Trump, DUP, letsgetalongerists still need to be watched but I am no longer the man to do it.
As I started the blog in August 2011, I was aware that the early days are critical. I had maybe two failed blogs under my belt. I was at that time NOT a member of SDLP who had just had an unsuccessful election under Margaret Ritchie. And the first real story that this Blog covered was in November 2011…the election of a successor to Margaret Ritchie.
So during 2011, I started to engage with SDLP people.
In fact I was at the 2010 (November) SDLP Conference and was asking a question during a fringe meeting when a SDLP member was taking photos and I joked that I was a blogger and happily anonymous. Later he approached me and asked if I would identify myself to him….he was a member of National Union of Journalists and therefore ethical…and I told him that I was “Fitzjames Horse” as seen on Slugger O’Toole. He immediately extended his hand and said that “we love your stuff….but not all of it”.
As it turned out, the identity of FJH was much talked about in SDLP HQ. A totally innocent SDLP veteran was assumed to be “FJH”.
I suppose staying under the radar was never really an option. As there was an Assembly election in May 2011, a senior SDLP person requested a meeting with me. They liked the stuff that I put on Slugger O’Toole but wanted me “onside”. I would be tipped off about talking points and would head up a rebuttal team of enthusiastic SDLP Youth members.
I was flattered.
But the odd thing was that nothing ever happened. No tip offs. No talking points. No young team of online warriors.
It was my first experience of being “played”.
Why did that happen? The senior SDLP person who “played” me was a shrewd operator. He did not bring me on board. But he effectively neutralised me, the Czar posts and the comments I made on Slugger.
He was smarter than me.
SDLP members have encouraged me, patronised me and if I had been “played” just once, then I would put it all down to experience. “Fool me once…shame on you. Fool me twice…shame on me”.
As I write this, I recall that I actually met with SDLP people in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 but they were good at ideas but not very good on action. I even applied for jobs with SDLP in 2013 and 2014. But I was never short-listed or interviewed. I am really slow at getting a message.
And I was “played” again in 2015. So…yes…Shame on Me!
This post is really about three things. First…I cant deny that I have become very bitter about my SDLP experiences. Second…..next month I will as usual vote SDLP, in part because I admire our local team but maybe I am voting not because of what SDLP does. Rather I am voting IN SPITE of what SDLP does.
They make History and are lousy at paying tribute to great servants from the 1970s. It is run by cliques and entourages and there’s always an alternative leader with a clique and entourage.
Yet SDLP is needed. Nobody represents the under-privileged better. But councillors who are the backbone of the Party are side-lined. And jobs have been lost by blameless office staff thru years of leadership incompetence.
SDLP is curiously friendless in the Media. Once you are cast out like Brian Feeney, you are dead to the Party. Other columnists like Patrick Murphy don’t seem too far removed from the thinking of SDLP but the Party seems to prefer journos who have never offered the Party any support.
It has never looked more divided.