A Bad Day

Early tallies are often unreliable. But sometimes patterns emerge. I am not at any count. I was out and about all day yesterday….West Belfast in the morning, South Belfast in afternoon and North Belfast in the evening.

Any agency trying to trace my movements by the trail left by my Translink pass will wonder what I was doing. Most of the damage is to my knees and feet…cos most of it was actually actually walking.

The one big regret that I have from recent years is…arthritis. And I deal with it by completely ignoring it. It should not be happening to me. I could walk all day and all night…I ran “cross country races” (never very well but I paid absolutely no physical price). I even ran marathons and half marathons. And I have walked over battlefields. I do not know whether these pains are “in spite of” all this previous activity or whether it is “because” of it. The last time I talked to a doctor about it, he said it was “wear and tear”.

So I guess I am “worn and torn”.

It seems unfair. Less than four years ago, it seemed normal to get a train to Dublin….walk to Ballsbridge, Croke Park or the Military Museum. Now when I go to Dublin, I am restricted to Easons, ILAC centre and McDonalds in O’Connell Street. No point in thinking about Grafton Street.

Actually travelling by bus or train is  no picnic. Sometimes my knees lock up. See a doctor? The earliest appointment I can get is mid-June. Medication….I probably wouldnt take. And really its all just that old phrase “wear and tear”. People say things…”it might actually be your hips…you might need a replacement”. Aside from the fact that they have no medical expertise, they are just plain wrong.

I used to think Age was a very transitional thing. But there is no transition from “getting old” to “being old”.

So it seems a bad day politically. For SDLP. For me. It aint over yet of course. But if your analysis was better than mine….Congratulations. But I thank you in advance for not saying I told you so.

Turn-out down. Turn out worse in nationalist areas.

What does it say about the heady days after the Good Friday Agreement? Some said it erected the barriers to a United  Ireland and some said it created a bridge to a United Ireland. How does it look today? I was born into the “no mans land” of Norn Iron and there have and will be twists and turns for two more decades but the likelihood is that I will die in “no mans land”. Things have always ebbed and flowed in the national history….Flight of Earls, Drogheda, Williamite Wars, Jacobitism, United Irishmen, Catholic Emancipation, Famine, Parnell, the revival circa 1900, 1916-1922, Partition,  Civil Rights, the Troubles, European Union,the Good Friday Agreement….and wherever we are now.

For nationalists, these are bleak days.

The unionists won…the fifth column of LetsGetAlongerists was significant in their victory. Sinn Féin prefer being in office to being in power….and they are a pretty awful bunch of spoofers…watching them in West Belfast yesterday was a reminder of just how awful. It is only at election time that you see Sinn Féin as they really are…..ruthless and efficient. And SDLP are a mirror image…not ruthless enough, no boots on the ground and not very efficient….certainly not at motivating a nationalist electorate which is apathetic and/or defeated.

For those sitting around waiting for the “Demographic Timebomb”….there isnt one. The package has been examined and declared to be a hoax.

Or maybe its a different kinda Demographic Timebomb. It is not about unionists and nationalists and the right and wrong side of History.

It is actually about Old and Young.

Two weeks ago, I was at a Hustings event in South Belfast. I really liked most of the panelists….Claire Hanna, Christopher Stalford, Duncan Morrow, Bob Stoker, Ruth Patterson. Different backgrounds, different politics but at least they seemed to have the interests of all people at heart.

I did not like the audience. Mostly young. Mostly smug. And mostly bad mannered. There was a bad time when questions used to begin “I am a Catholic…” or “I am a Protestant…”. I thought we were now past that stage.

Is it really a sign of progress when questions begin “I am a young woman….” Or “I am a gay man…..”.

Like the vast majority of ageing Catholics, I have no issue with Same Sex Marriage. Like many, I wish I was not conflicted over Abortion. In fact I am NOT conflicted at all. I am a man and it shouldnt affect me. The only thing is that like many men …and women ….who became involved in Politics in the 1970s, we never saw Same Sex Marriage, Gay Blood Bans, Gay Birthday Cakes and Abortion as “political issues”.

This is the new sectarianism. The new divide. And phoney politicians like the Green Party pander to the new sectarianism. It is as manipulative as playing the Orange and Green cards.

So….it looks like a bad day for SDLP. Thats a pity….the campaign deserved better. I suppose it shows that voters are either happy with what we have or apathetic about what we have.  At best it is hard to make progress when only fifty per cent of the electorate vote. And doubly difficult for SDLP if the nationalist turn out is lower than unionist total.

The unholy Alliance of DUP-Sinn Féin, supported by the fifth columnists in the Alliance Party will govern for five more years. We get another chance in 2021 but we wont take it. Likewise the Tories are governing Greater England until 2020.

A good result today might have put some spirit back in me. But the next five years look like a very bad time to be old. Windows of Opportunity are slamming shut. I have glimpsed what Norn Iron will look like in 2021. I dont like it. And worse …thanks to that young South Belfast audience, I have seen what Norn Iron will look like in the years beyond 2021. I like it even less.

SDLP will talk about re-grouping. The campaign was great, the results are poor. Time is on their side….maybe. For Politics is always about Optimism. Trying to bring a better world…as you see it.

Nationalism…the cause of Ireland ebbs and flows…..the tide is out and inevitably there will be some kinda nationalist revival….but not in my lifetime. Maybe not in yours. If you were born into “No Mans Land” with the Northern nationalist/Catholic mindset of being stateless…then you might well find your state is in the LetsGetAlongerist model. I wont. I reject it as utterly as I rejected unionism.

Over recent months, it has been my intention to wind up this Blog in August…the fifth anniversary. Thats appropriate as I started it in the aftermath of the 2011 Assembly Election.

When I wrote the first post on “Keeping An Eye on the Czar of Russia” in August 2011, I had no idea that in May 2016, I would be writing post #1,472 and reached hundreds of thousands of views. On the upside, I am happy that the Blog has been pro-SDLP but (mostly) independent enough to be credible. I always sought to see things in historic contexts rather than narrow political contexts. On the downside…and perhaps its a contradiction…I regret that SDLP establishment has not been more supportive beyond (mostly) been patronising about it.

I wonder if my last Will and Testament should include a link to “Keeping An Eye on the Czar of Russia”. As a race we are undocumented …as a family we are undocumented. I suppose my idle ramblings are a legacy of sorts.

This is not the end of this Blog…yet. Probably some loose ends to be tied up between now and August but there has to be an end. Like I say Politics…and my Politics has always been rooted in some kinda belief that the World CAN be a better place. But I cant really do that without some belief that it will be better in my lifetime.

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34 Responses to A Bad Day

  1. zig70 says:

    The sdlp’s and SFs result in East Antrim reflects the effort they put. You can campaign in a third of the constituency and blame anyone else.

  2. Vince says:

    Share your depression John. Is this really the best we can do? My forecast has proven too close to the truth with another dreary saga of near misses that might have made a difference.
    Will greatly miss your blog when it goes.

  3. Sinn Féin Supporter in Tyrone says:

    You should keep writing, you are a very good writer.

  4. Vince says:

    Hey, what about Foyle and E Derry…….

    • Sinn Féin Supporter in Tyrone says:

      I was wrong about those. Though to be fair to me SF in E Derry did better than people here thought (other than me).

      • The scariest statistic for me is that the nationalist vote dropped almost 5%.
        Norn Iron is now more Unionist than before.
        It is not just a matter of extra votes for unionists or even Alliance. PBP will designate themselves as “Other”.
        Apart from Peace ….while the Good Friday Agreement has done a lot for nationalists, it has done very little for nationalism.
        And frankly SDLPs “progressive nationalism” has been rejected.
        My own perception…as I have said before many times on this blog is that the SDLP ministers in the post-1998 Executive were politically very naive. No good Seamus Mallon blaming the British, Irish, Govts …he has always been in denial about his own performance.
        Basically Sinn Féin are in the same trap. Their performance is not good in Government. DUP are firmly in control.

        Deep down we still lack a nationalist leader of substance. There is no John Hume.

  5. zig70 says:

    I haven’t given up on the SDLP yet. They haven’t hit bottom like the NI Tories. McDonnell was a mistake as leader, as was Mallon and Ritchie before though I think Margaret Ritchie could have cut it if the pressure was less. The problem Colum has is that the target audience live their lives without politics getting in the way and to a large extent, I was brought up with Stormont as a bad thing. Really, I don’t want it to be there. I hope I live to see it as a museum. The DUP or SF won’t be creating 50k jobs, they’ll be in power at the same time, not quite the same thing. Not enough to make it relevant. I don’t see the inspiration to vote coming without attrition or an all Ireland agenda. Possibly the best that could have happened is for SF to miss the amount required for poc’s and the reality of the end of power sharing / suffocation, though I don’t quite see that being enough. The SDLP need to find what they can actually deliver on, even at council level and start bringing it to the doors.
    Some of the names need a few home truths. Being personable on a close level doesn’t cut it outside the local hustings. Attwood needs to lose the whinging and McKinney needs to stop waffling on air and back tracking with his arguments. Colum was too quiet, he needs to be the news more.

    • A bit soon for analysis. Thats one of the loose ends to be tied up before August.
      The results take out senior figures like Fearghal…and Sean Rogers, Gerad Diver, Karen McKevitt and maybe Dolores Kelly but it means new people like Justin McNulty, Colin McGrath, Sinead Bradley.
      That means bigger roles for Patsy McGLone, Alex Attwood, Mark H Durkan.
      Deputy Leader? Claire Hanna….she would see it as a stepping stone.but even in a senior role, would direct SDLP towards “Progressives”…..it is a strange catch all term and more so because people label themselves as “Progressives”.
      Few people embrace the term “Regressive”.
      But the Progressives not to be confused with LetsGetAlongerists have elements in all parties….Greens, Alliance, UUP, ….and they probably see themselves as closer to some people in other parties than some people in their own.
      The new people in SDLP Assembly team will need time to assert themselves…by the way I really like Sinead Bradley. I rate her highly.
      I have always been suspicious of the term “progressive nationalism” It doesnt seem tto mean very much except as a band-aid to cover a non-existant gap between nationalists and progressives.
      I say “non existent” because most party members dont actually see a difference…but there is a party within a party and it will be interesting to see how that develops.
      For the most part the conversation should be within the SDLP rooms at Stormont but as they analyse the “what went wrong”, some voices will be louder than others as the new folks lack seniority.
      Equally there is Ritchie, McDonnell and Durkan…plus a lot of senior people who lost seats or retired.
      How inclusive the conversation is will be interesting. Post-mortems regionally or an extraordinary general conference behind closed doors?
      I know for sure nobody will ask me…and fall back on some Public Relations guru to explain it.
      OPposition? It seems inevitable. SDLP voices would be lost in any Executive and at least its a unique selling point over the next few years.
      I think McDonnell got undeserved criticism. The media and “progressives” didnt like him. Certainly he should have resigned after Westminster. And if Eastwood had had more time, it would have been better but Alasdair shook up the Party and as I always said recovery from 2011 was patchy.
      Of course he was and is clumsy. But look at his opponents…Attwood just made it in West Belfast and Dolores Kelly might lose Upper Bann….
      Look back to 2011 McDevitt was no vote winner then. He just made it.
      If Al had been on the 2016 ticket (impossible with new rules) with either Claire or Fearghal then SDLP would have two seats in South Belfast.
      But when the dust settles, watch the jockeying for position.
      (By the way my choice for Deputy Leader would be Patsy McGlone)….or another veteran to steady the ship and keep some ambitions in check.

      • Vince says:

        Completely agree about 2 seats being saved in S Belfast if Alasdair could have been on ticket. He has many shortcomings but he has not received the recognition he deserves for winning SB in the first place in 2005 and then holding it in 2 subsequent general elections – before anyone comments, SF were only missing from 1 of those 3 elections and in the most recent ran an extremely nasty campaign against him. They also effectively run the local paper. So he does know something about doing groundwork and how to win elections – it is obvious that too many others do not have this knack within the SDLP. Someone like Nichola Mallon, although inexperienced, would be one of the notable exceptions, Daniel McCrossan and Patsy McGlone would be others. If they were running in places like Strangford or W Belfast then seats would be gained or held comfortably. I was really pleased to see Alex get over the line – but he never has been a voter getter and never will. Three to 4 months ago I was sweating that PBP would run 2 candidates there as it was obvious that they had enough votes for 2 seats – lucky it didn’t occur to them.
        Probably all parties have issues with candidate selection but I think the SDLP have to get their act together on this. Gerry Mullan was obviously not the best candidate for E Derry and they were lucky to get away with it – surely Brenda Stevenson, Stephanie Quigley or Roisin Loftus should have been running there. I know that Fitz has explained the reasons for candidate selection in N and Armagh but this was obviously the wrong combination. Somehow Sharon Haughey or Thomas Burns have been persuaded to run in the North of that constituency or McNulty kept up there and either Dominic Bradley persuaded to stay on or Geraldine Donnelly run in the southern end. FST was almost lost this year because of the candidate selection for the G Election in 2015. And a lot of pain and bad publicity could have been avoided by simply looking at the numbers from the 2015 GE and agreeing early to run J Deehan along with McCrossan this year. McCrossan would have won that anyway and unpleasant headlines and ambushed manifesto launches would not have materialised. There are other own goals – I am not involved in politics but this is not complicated – I think the Gerry Diver interview cost him his seat (I really like Gerry and he would have made a great MLA) but why on earth was he given probably the most difficult interview of the election campaign? Surely an interview on the manifesto, dealing with costed pledges should have been done by one of the Finance spokespersons – Claire Hanna presumably wrote the relevant sections? Nolan is an unappealing interviewer and trying to verbally beat up Claire would probably not have come across well for him.
        Reasons to be cheerful – v few and far between although in C Hanna, N Mallon, McCrossan, McGlone, Eastwood, Colin McGrath, S Bradley, even Alex, there is the makings of an effective Opposition team – they have to take that opportunity.

      • East Derry….I was surprised last year when Gerry Mullan was the Westminster candidate as I felt sure that it would be a woman…Stephanie Quigley or Brenda Stevenson. I dont really see much about Roisin Loftus in Kilrea. But it seemed to me an ideal to showcase women candidates with an eye on 2016. Once Gerry Mullan (I have never met him) was selected for Westminster, then it was inevitable that he would be the Assembly candidate.
        But
        To some extent it is a pity Foyle does not have a SDLP woman. Indeed Foyle has no woman MLA at all. Ther was an internal argument in SDLP when Helen Quigley was not selected in 2011.
        With SDLP selecting just one candidate for Fermanagh-South Tyrone, there can be no big deal about it being a male.
        Likewise Mid Ulster…Patsy was inevitable but with McGuinness having a personal vote, we should have stood two candidates there. We would have not have taken a second seat but we should have made SF defend their three. That was a bad mistake. MId Ulster was not a true contest.
        West Tyrone Dan was the man. And as I have said here, we should have had Deehan on ticket. I dont rate her at MLA level at all but it would have avoided an unseemly squabble in the constituency. Dan would have won anyway.

        Newry-Armagh…you said Tom Burns but meant Thomas O’Hanlon. I rate him highly. But I think there are always reasons why people dont put names forward. Family …Career….and I think this is especially true for women.
        In everyday life for everyday people, there is a time. Most of these decisions are based on what is right for a family as much as an individual. Following any career path for men and mostly women is de-railed by the birth of a child or looking after an elderly parent.
        South Belfast…I put this scenario to you…if Fearghal had stood down in South Belfast and any other person selected….we would still have won one seat. But if Fearghal had stood in Strangford….would his “name” have given us a seat? ID say yes.
        This is not in anyway to undermine Joe Boyle who did well….or Roisin Lynch, Connor Duncan or Pat Catney….but I make the point that a “name” from Sport, TV, music…..eg could Liam Neeson win us a seat in North Antrim?
        Obviously I am being facetious but you take the point.
        As to the Manifesto, the SDLP Policy Director is Donal Lyons, who is also a Belfast City Councillor (co-opted when Claire became a MLA) and he is married to Claire.

      • Croiteir says:

        Fitzjames. You have struck one of the nails on the head. Progressive. Which is another word for Liberal. Donal Lyons previously of Labour (ROI) married to Claire Hanna, who I recall saying something along the lines of the proclamation meant nothing to her on radio. Made a conscious decision to loathe her politically since. And this pair personifies SDLP to me. People with no real conviction to irish nationalism but quite content to fly under it as a flag of convenience. And this has plagued the SDLP since the post nationalist era of the likes of Sean Farren. They are totally cultural Marxist who are obsessed with SSM and abortion and other great social causes but ignore what really matters jobs, health and education. Sure they do lip service but when did you ever see them working themselves into the same frenzy as they do over SSM? Not many selfies taken in the Central Catholic Club talking about apprenticeship scheme as there are from the black box talking about trannie toilets. They should leave thar stuff to extremists who do it better. The SDLP has told the traditional Catholic nationalist like me to piss off. And we have.

      • I think thats very unfair. I would not personalise it. I did not hear Claires comments on the Proclamation but I was invited to a meeting of around 20 members to discuss how we should deal with the 1916 Easter and Somme events
        My position that we should give precedence to Easter. CLaire argued strongly against on the very honourable grounds that she opposed militarism and innocent lives were lost.
        An entirely honourable position.
        But as I have said these conversations are never entered into unless the establishment (in this case SDLP establishment) know what the answer would be.
        I left that meeting knowing SDLP would do nothing about Easter. In fairness a lot of SDLP MLAs were in Dublin for the Big Day. That was the right attitude as the Dublin commemoration was superb. I do not know if Claire was one of the MLAs.
        Of course to be consistent, as World War One was militaristic and more innocent lives lost, I would expect Claire would not wish to attend commemorations of the Somme.
        I think its also very unfair to be critical. I have always found him to be a very decent guy.
        We ARE a Left-leaning Party. The brand leader in the North. I expect lefties to join us….I am one myself.
        It is not worrying if self styled “Progressives” flatter and are flattered by other self styled “Progressives” in other parties. It is harmless enough. One of the great things I have witnessed in the five years blogging has been the way Platform for Change has been consigned to the dustbin of History. Good riddance.

        You are unfair re Abortion issue. Claire told a fairly hostile audience that SDLP is a pro-LIfe party and spoke with compassion about any future changes. As the grandfather of a child who was born and died within minutes, I have strong feelings.
        I know the position of me and mine and would not want to have my opinions forced on others.

        The position of Deputy Leader is now vacant. And I daresay that as we have only three women MLAs, then much will be made of Claire’s gender as a balance to Colum.
        Claire is I think ambitious and thats no bad thing. I daresay she believes she is a future Leader. But personally I would rather see a more seasoned campaigner (Patsy McGlone).

  6. Political Tourist says:

    At least SDLP supporters didn’t do as Scottish Labour supporters did and ran out to vote Tory.

  7. zig70 says:

    If the SDLP go into opposition what about designating other rather than nationalist? Alliance have shown that you don’t need to be an actual cross community party, the line is the same on self determination and then SDLP isn’t exclusively Catholic or nationalist as Justin Cartwright showed. It may sweep up the threat from NI labour and broaden the appeal. Stepping away from Poc’s may take the smell of Stormont away and create a need for change if the DUP abuse it, as we know they would in the next term.

    • No…I think any benefit that SDLP would get. (Mostly from the metrotextuals ) by declaring themselves “other” would be wiped out by Sinn Féin declaring that they are only nationalist party.
      I think so called progressives in SDLP would like to move on that direction but look at Conall McDevitt, who I think once said that “SDLP is a social democratic party supported by nationalists”
      Whatever happened to Conall McDevitt?
      As Claire Hanna has said choosing a political party is like choosing a husband. In the absence of a perfect one, you choose the best available.
      As a one liner, it works but on examination it does not look so good. I have never met Justin Cartwright but I inderstand his position. He was a Labour activist in Australia and if he is to involve himself in politics here, then SDLP is “best fit” for him. I know Polish and American members of SDLP and there are other nationalities of which I am aware. I dont expect them to be Irish nationalists but its reasonable that they accept we are a nationalist party.

  8. Catholic Voter says:

    The longer term trends are okay though. The number of Catholics is going to be a majority soon and unionists will need to come to terms with that. Fast forward 5 years when Catholics are in the majority and unionists will be on their last legs.

    • Its not as simple as that.
      When you say “Catholic” you mean people from a “Catholic background”.
      Yesterday SDLP losst a seat to a Green and PBP.
      Sinn Féin have lost a seat to PBP.
      Thats three nationalist losses.
      If Catholics vote Alliance, there are effectively giving up on nationaliism.
      Likewise most PBP voters are probably nationalists buu neverthleless PBP and Green are not nationalist parties.
      Quite possibly in 2025 or 2030 most voters will be “from a Catholic background” but just how many will be “Catholic” (most young people from a “Catholic background” are pro-choice….and already both nationalist parties are for EQual Marriage (as I am).
      The Abortion issue (and this is not the place I want to discuss the issue itself) is going to dominate pur politics over the next decade.

  9. Turgon says:

    Mr. Horse, Can I appeal to you not to stop this blog. To my mind this is the best nationalist blog there is by a country mile. I need to understand that there is a mirror image to my grumpy unionist stuck in the past mentality.

    In all seriousness maybe it requires a bit of age to stand back and analyse as well as you do. That too few in the blogsphere have adequate resect for your views shows how Belfast centric and narrow they are. Consider the poor showing for the SDLP and then reflect on the spectacular successes for letsgetalongerists outside the greater Belfast Pale. You see my point.

    Your views have far more currency and relevance than you think.

    I could have emailed you privately but I thought it important to record publicly my appreciation for your blogs (and your personal decency and support for those of differing views). You are sir a gentleman, an excellent political analyst and an asset to the Blessed Protestant State of Ulster / Benighted Occupied Six County Statelet (delete as applicable).

    • Wow.
      I really do appreciate you saying this. It goes without saying that for several years, we have respected each others views and very publicly said so.
      In some ways this Blog is not appreciated in the metrotextual world but I think that this is largely because of a very early decision to ban members of the Alliance Party from posting here. My reasoning being that it is an undemcratic party and that there were plenty of other outlets where LetsGetAlongerism is given too much prominence….the BBC for example.
      I suppose I can always say that I invented the term “LetsGetAlongerism” “overclass” and “metrotextual” but ultimately Blogging in this Blessed Protestant State/Occupied Six County Statelet (delete as applicable) is a closed shop.
      The sustem works by complimenting what Malachai wrote or guests on a William Crawley show.
      In fact even a decade ago as I was trying to develop a political blog, there was a web ring and to submit a blog for membership required a 300 word presentation for consideration by the Web Ring Master.
      I never bothered.
      I would love to claim credit for my independence but basically I burned bridges with the wrong people and part of me wishes that I was accepted as one of the boys…so partly in spite and partly thru conviction, I am treated as a maverick.
      What treasures would have been mine if I had stayed on-message?
      Well I see Mick Fealty, David McCann, Alan Meban and Chris Donnelly get on the TV to read newspapers and I am unwanted. Not even the range of new radio stations.
      If i had allowed my head to be patted by the right people….and yet thheres a certain joy in being an outsider or semi-detached.
      If I had fawned over either SDLP faction, I might be an “insider” but while many have been complimentary or patronising (I can tell the difference after five years) the factional movers and shakers have always kept me at a distance.
      One of the few joys of living in this place is the decency of people. When my sister married and moved to London, she missed the simple kindnesses. Being embarrassingly and publicly sick while pregnant on one occasion. Unfashionable as it is to say it, simple decency is often the result oof family/school/church (however defined) .
      And that is why two weeks ago I paid tribute here to Christopher Stalford MLA (absolutely delighted he is elected yesterday) for a display of generoisty at a hustings.
      THat is why on Thursday, I shook hands with Ruth Patterson outside Finaghy polling station…mentioning her dog “Paisley” …she showed a warmth that same night that contadicted the picture painted of her.
      but I fear for the future. The South Belfast audience of spoiled brats were less decent than most of the politicians they were holding to account.
      To publicly state that this selfishness is due to lack of family (however defined) values, or the fall of religion (however defined) or schools….risks ridicule.
      I have seen the Future and I dont like it.
      Watch the issue of Abortion become prominent…Clare Bailey MLA will make sure it does. The Green Party have come a long way from re-cycling cans of coca cola
      It is an issue, where my kinda conflicted nuance is not welcomed. The Blogosphere have a position that does not tolerate nuance.
      The years 2020 and 2021 seem a long way away. And the generation of spoiled brats will themselves be candidates.
      Scary.
      As for the blog…well I have retired more times than Frank Sinatra.
      Inevitably SDLP will have a “conversation” with its members but as you know, these conversations are steered towards an outcome. I have been thru this before with other conversations. My opinion is the last that the movers and shakers in the Party (its not MLAsor Party Executive) want to hear.
      Technially I am not a member anyway. I keep forgetting about my membership fee and nobody asks me.
      But it is strange. Back in 2011, SDLP wanted me to join. They loved (mostly) what I wrote on Slugger, and amusingly the “who is Fitzjames Horse?” was a source of much speculation inside the Party.
      And yet, as a blogger they dont use me.
      In a way, being a critical friend outside the Party is a better option.
      But thanks again for your kind comment…I read it aloud to Mrs FJH and she wishes me to convey her appreciation.

    • Vince says:

      Have to agree with Turgon – it would be tragic (in relative terms) to lose this blog. There is nothing like it out there and it would not help debate or insights into our history to lose it. Would hasten to add that it would not help the SDLP – a basically decent party that has done much to temper and marginalise the extremes in N Ireland over the last 45 years. Despite my earlier downbeat comments, there is still worthwhile work to be done and good people around to do it.

      • Again thanks. I appreciate these comments.
        Elections are good for the Blogging business. a lot of views this month. It is …very liberating in an odd sorta way. Can I suggest you consider it? Take up the reins so to speak.
        The one (maybe) mistake I made was to distance myself from the Great Brotherhood of Norn Iron Bloggers.

  10. Vince says:

    I think Pat Catney and Roisin Lynch ran very good campaigns with enthusiastic but limited resources. They are not the problem. South Antrim was one to have really maxed on – squeeze some soft SF voters into backing another Nationalist to keep 2 seats and working on Alliance voters to elect someone who is going to be around for 5 years. Perhaps this was done, don’t know.

    In terms of blogging, I couldn’t do it. I think you are the perfect vintage for doing it – Young enough I hope to still have some energy for it, but old enough to have lived through all of the Troubles, its precursor and aftermath. It gives you unique insights. You also have that healthy dislike of the mush that passes for journalism in this place – God preserve us from David McCann, Jude Collins, Fionnuala O’Connor et al.

  11. Catholic Voter says:

    You must at least take some happiness from McPhillips getting one for SDLP in FST. He seems a good guy, just from a quick tv interview I saw of him.

  12. Vince says:

    I agree that Claire would not be the best choice for Deputy Leader. Patsy McGlone would certainly be a better choice since he understands the need to work hard on the ground and he would provide some rural balance. However I believe that the best choice would be Nichola Mallon – she understands the issues faced by working class people, works energetically on the ground, is more convincingly pro-life than Claire and would help to blunt some of the advance of PBP. She also gives that East/West balance with Colum Eastwood as leader.

    And everyone should get behind Colum – he does give a freshness to the Party and he deserves a chance to strengthen it over the next 4-5 years. They were unlucky in some respects, there were too many own goals but many of those were clearly not of his making.

    • Its actually quite complex.
      There is no limit to Claires ambition and she matches that with efficiency. But I think her sense of Timing is very bad.
      Politics and Comedy are similar….Timing is important.
      The new Deputy will be from just eleven MLAs.
      Only Attwood and McGlone are from 1998.
      Durkan is from 2011.
      Hanna and McCrossan co-opted late last year.
      Mallon, Bradley, McGrath, McNulty, Mullan and McPhillips have just been elected.
      Nicolas experience as a Special Advisor puts her ahead of the 2016 intake.
      Danny is possible but too “western”.
      Claires supporters would play the gender card (a good one) “Progressive” (a fairly meaningless term) and “city” card (mediocre card)South Belfast has a LOT of branches…but a lot of rank and file in SDLP think South Belfast has too much influence.
      Despite the whole obsession with “new” and “youth”, Id say Patsy McGlone, a former General Secretary of SDLP knows the soul of SDLP better than anyone.
      For me…he would be ideal.

      • Vince says:

        Would certainly go along with that, if not Nichola. Claire is not the right choice.

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