“No…I Am The Steward of the Manor of Northstead”

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.

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11 Responses to “No…I Am The Steward of the Manor of Northstead”

  1. sammymcnally says:

    re. “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”

    FJH, happy new year.

    I wonder if there is likley to be any certainty on who has actually been offered titles? Presumably Freedom of Information does not cover it.

    Although absolutely no fan of Nats taking up such titles unfortunately it does have to be recognised that from a personal safety perspective it might not be the wisest choice. Irrespective of the previlaing political situation at the time the treatment meted out to Gerry Fitt was appalling.

    • I don’t think it’s just a matter of security. There are always Catholics on Honours Lists…district nurses etc and in the fullness of time I would expect Mrs FJH to be offered one. She is not a district nurse but has been in a caring profession for 35 years, almost all in the same building.
      Every year I dread she will be offered it….because she teases me about accepting it. At least I hope she is teasing me.
      I feel like the Italian Communist mayor with the devoutly Catholic wife in those Don Camillo stories. Actually she is more republican than I am.
      Of course there is a distinction between a MBE for genuine work in the community and the Buggins turn, MBE for being a Permenant Secretary or whatever. Indeed several times over 32 years I had to grit my teeth and congratulate a colleague awarded the OBE (Other Buggers Efforts). I can do hypocrisy with the best.
      Of course political awards are a different matter when awarded to nationalist MPs MLAs and councillors.
      Within SDLP, I can think of a WestBelfast councillor who returned an award after internment in 1971. It had been awarded for work with refugees in 1969.
      I also know that there is a former councillor in Castlereagh who had MBE or OBE on her Council profile. I believe this was in relation to her job rather than her political activity.
      The only other one I can think of was Mary McSorley, a Magherafelt councillor who was awarded something in relation to Tourism. She might even have been a MLAS in the Constitutional Convention. She got…as I understand it the cold shoulder from SDLP colleagues and left the Party. No access at the minute to my records so will confirm this later.
      An interesting aside might be whether the SDLPs aversion to honours has a trickle down effect on unionists. For example there was a convention that the Mayors of Belfast got knighthoods….must try and tie down some dates on when that died out.
      Likewise there are probably some old unionist councillors who did not get the expected MBE because it would be too unbalanced.
      The DUP has few retired MPs but its a safe bet that Willie McCrea and Willie Hay will pick up a peerage. Likely Robinson, Dodds and Donaldson in due course.
      UUP….Elliott, Kennedy?

      • Scáth Shéamais says:

        Wikipedia has a list of people who have turned down British honours.

      • Some interesting reading there. I know for certain that one senior SDLP figure was offered a peerage. Turned it down flat and robustly.
        To some extent these things are by precedent. A retiring or defeated MP (England/Wales/Scotland) is always likely to be offered a peerage or knighthood and there might even be a sliding scale….30 years getting you a peerage, 20 a knighthood and 10 a MBE or whatever.
        Certainly it would be interesting to see a list of political peerages/knighthoods in Norn Iron over the past 50 years……with Mayors of Belfast like Sir Robin Kinahan, Sir William Jenkins, Sir William Christie and MPs like Sir Robert Chichester Clark, Sir Knox Cunningham, Sir James Kilfedder…right down to Lords Empey, Molyneaux, Trimble and Maginniss.
        It would be interesting to see if they got these knighthoods etc on retirement or in office. And am I right in thinking Harry West was never elevated?

        On these kinda precedents, it seems likely Robinson, Foster, Donaldson, Campbell, Wilson will all get knighthoods or peerages. And er……Nesbitt.
        The imbalance suggests that pre (say) 1970 a nationalist would never have been offered a knighthood. But it is highly unlikely that it would be impossible to offer honours after 1970 in a partial unionist only manner. Therefore logical to assume they have been offered…..and declined.

    • Oh Happy New Year, Sammy.

  2. factual says:

    Its interesting to hear you think SDLP might lose one of their three MPs to SF. Which of these? Foyle? SF have some new people in Derry such as Raymond McCartney who I think may be able to pull it off next time.

    • On 2010 figures (and assuming for now the same boundaries in 2015) Alasdair McDonnell was comfortable in South Belfast. On 2011 fifures the SDLP seat is vulnerable to a concentrated effort by either Alliance or DUP. I am not saying that it will be lost….merely that it is a possibility.
      Foyle and South Down are extremely safe SDLP seats. Martina Anderson is arguably the only SF person who could maximise the SF vote. McCartney wont.

  3. factual says:

    Peerages (house of lords etc) are different from honours. House of lords is actually a political job involving voting and debating. Honours are purely honours.

    • Honours including MBEs OBEs are awarded for “political services” as well as the whole public service thing (district nurses etc) ……..no SDLP person has taken an award for “political services”. As I understand it Mary McSorley got hers for Tourism.

  4. factual says:

    The SDLP O’Loan family accepted a peerage – Dame Commander (of the British Empire) O’Loan became Baroness O’Loan in 2009 and contributes to debates in the Lords.

    • Oh dont be so silly.
      The “O’Loan FAMILY” did not accept any kinda award.
      They are awarded to INDIVIDUALS.
      Nuala O’Loan is NOT a member of SDLP and sits in the “Lords” as a crossbencher (independent).
      And Nuala O’Loan is actually….English-born and raised.
      If you doubt her independence (believing she is SDLP or merely married to a SDLP person) then you are effectively the same kinda person (Paisleyite) who believed that she could not do the Police Ombudsman role because her husband was SDLP.
      I take it you want to withdraw this comment.

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