I am not entirely sure if I paid my 2015 membership fee to SDLP. I hope I did because I am really getting my money’s worth….two Parties for the price of one.
It is not entirely about Leadership contest. Rather it is about the way that there are two slates of candidates for Party offices and Executive positions. Of course, there is always a degree of horse-trading. “Vote for our guy from Dungannon and our branch will vote for your woman from Oldpark”. No big deal.
This year is different. It is not so much about personal friendships as two recognisable camps. It is happening on the blind side of the Leadership. In the past, the horse-trading is almost spontaneous but this is organised…the average branch member doesnt know anything about Paddy Murphy from Slieve Gullion or Patricia Murphy from Strabane….but as the runners and riders for Ececutive positions are scrutinised at branch meetings in the month before Conference, it is a reasonable bet that someone from the (say) “progressive” wing of the Party endorsing Paddy or Patricia will be endorsing a fellow progressive.
At the risk of this post sounding too serious, I am not sure of I should be worried. At one level, the mutual endorsements are so transparent that any sensible person can only laugh.
What does worry me a bit is the rise and rise of younger “payroll staffers” who are promoting their own careers as much as the careers of their bosses. Long serving councillors have seen their positions usurped and rank and file members sidelined.