This is interesting. My friends in SDLP Youth have had a poll on who the Party should select as the candidate in the European Elections next year and have come up with Mark Durkan, former Party Leader and currently the MP for Foyle (Derry).
Interesting on many levels. Clearly the candidate will be one of the sixteen MPs or MLAs sitting at Westminster and/or Stormont.
The serious candidates might be Conall McDevitt and Colum Eastwood, held to be the three front runners. They finished jointly third in the Youth Poll.
It is of course an uphill task for SDLP to take back one of the three seats in Europe. So who exactly is the biggest hitter …vote wise in the SDLP? The priority for SDLP after all is to maximise the vote. So I think SDLP Youth have actually made the right decision here. Mark has a profile across Six Counties.
Conalls’s strength is Belfast and suburbs while Colum could get more votes west of the Bann. The problem might well be persuading Mark to stand. He may or may not win but I think he would get the votes out. So if he doesnt win there is nothing really lost.
Pessimists might say that if he wins a seat in Europe, it would trigger a bye-election for Westminster. But surely, the SDLP would have nothing to fear from that. Colum Eastwood would take that seat. And that would open the way for Brenda Stevenson at the Assembly. Brenda is the neice of John Hume.
Of course the poll is not binding. But it sets out the SDLP Youth Group stance…….and they are a pretty important group these days. More importantly perhaps, its a sign that the SDLP should maybe get a candidate in place very soon.