I am entirely neutral on the issue of “abstention” at Westminster. I voted Sinn Féin from 1993-2009 so it would hardly have bothered me if the Sinn Féin candidate had won and refused to take his/her seat.
And I have SDLP for over twenty years before 1993 and from 2009. It doesnt bother me that they take their seats at Westminster.
Indeed it is useful to have a foothold there. And useful for “nationalism” to be detached from Westminster. And lets be frank, SDLP has a reasonably minimalist approach to the whole Westminster nonsense.
Would it be reasonable to assume that John Hume, Seamas Mallon, Joe Hendron, Eddie McGrady (certainly) and Bríd Rodgers (probably) have been offered peerages but have remained true to nationalist, republican and socialist principles. And indeed democratic principles. It seems reasonable enough to seek a democratic mandate and act on it and then gracefully retire when defeated at the polls, rather than take part in the undemocratic nonsense of the House of “Lords”.
We can overlook Gerry Fitt. Yes he was a “Lord”. But he was effectively hounded out of Belfast, lived around the corner from Westminster and had little in the way of “means” and was surely entitled to earn a few extra coppers. Besides he had already left the SDLP and turned his back on nationalism.
Understandably its the agenda of “letsgetalongerism” (take a bow Slugger scribes and backers) to take out the SDLP. And rather obviously it isnt working. The balance of probability is that at the next Westminster election, SDLP will retain at least two seats. And the balance of probability is that Naomi Long will (hopefully) lose East Belfast. It is important that SDLP tries to neutralise SF “numbers” and publicity in Stormont. And likewise the Alliance Party’s Executive strength.
At worst……..I would ask fellow republicans who are dismissive of the SDLP to consider that the SDLP provides a buffer between SFs brand of republicanism (for which I happily voted for about fifteen years) and the unionist-lite, so called liberal unionist agenda of the Alliance Party.
Consider the fact that the combined nationalist/republican vote in 2010 and 2011 was 41% and 42% ……and just what that figure would be if SDLP imploded. Hence the vehement hostility to SDLP from the “letsgetalongerists”.
Rather obviously Sinn Féin shows complete contempt for Westminster by refusing to take their seats…….but drawing expenses. Good luck to them. People voted for them to do just that. Less obviously the SDLP shows a degree of contempt with its minimalist approach. Consider the praise Dimbleby-Walker would lavish on SDLP if a peerage had been accepted over the weekend. “mature, sensible decision” blah blah blah.
So there is an irony……indeed hypocrisy about the weekend’s Slugger approach to the Great Steward of Northstead Scandal. They cry crocodile tears for the “disenfranchised” Sinn Féin voters……..and tut tut into their lattés in Cathedral Quarter coffee shops about the lack of respect Sinn Féin is showing to Mrs Windsor and all. Then curiously when Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness do something “adult” and send in a letter of resignation……………..and it is interpreted by Commons authorities as a request Mrs Windsor for a paid employment under the “Crown”………the Sluggerites find it amusing that SF is showing too much respect to their beloved sovreign.
But the thought strikes me that Sinn Féin is actually missing a trick here………..an opportunity to show even more contempt to Westminster. Lets say Paul Maskey resigned his Westminster seat….oops I mean applied for “paid office under the Crown”. Ho Ho Ho. Much amusement on Slugger. But the Sinn Féin nominee would win West Belfast.
And in three months time Maskey’s successor could resign. Hmm maybe not so much amusement for Sheldon, Dimbleby and Mick. Because that whole process could just go on and on. Subject of course to the laws of diminishing returns but in West Tyrone, Armagh-Newry, Mid Ulster and West Belfast, there is certainly an ooportunity to show contempt.
I know I am inept with Tinternet. But it seems easier to resign from the House of Commons than it does to “resign” from Slugger O’Toole. Quite possibly there is something in the small print on how to close a Slugger account. But I have missed it.
What exactly is the procedure? Does anyone know?
Please dont tell me I have to apply for a job at Stratagem.