Thursday, 7 January 2010

McDonnell endorses cooperation with UUP and Alliance.

The News Letter reports that Alasdair McDonnell has proposed an Assembly ‘link up’ between the SDLP, UUP and Alliance.

In reality there is nothing particularly new in the story. McDonnell, whose SDLP leadership battle with Margaret Ritchie is well advanced, is simply proposing talks between the three parties, in order to examine whether there is enough common ground to allow cooperation.

Ritchie has actually travelled further down this road than McDonnell, having developed a close working relationship with Ulster Unionist colleagues in the Executive.

The story certainly emphasises the fact that, effectively, the interests of the UUP and SDLP often collide at Stormont. It makes sense to coordinate efforts to oppose a sectarian carve-up which has marginalised moderate voices.

Sinn Féin strenuously opposes the notion that voluntary coalition represents the future for the Northern Ireland Assembly. However political realities could soon overtake the institutional arrangements which prevail at Stormont.

The three moderate parties should certainly redouble attempts to coordinate their opposition to the DUP / Sinn Féin carve-up coalition.


Anonymous said...

This would only have any ring of sensibility about it if the SDLP stood aside and allowed a Conservative candidate to contest South Belfast in the Westminster election. McDonnell, and the SDLP generally, has little interest in Westminster politics. If he stood aside there would be real prospect of a moderate and sensible Conservative candidate taking the seat with a cross community vote.

Anonymous said...

I think this makes sense for UUP and SDLP to effectively pose as a willing coalition that could take over more effectively and less acrimoniously from DUP/SF.

(But obviously SDLP should not "stand aside" in South Belfast when they hold the seat - that makes no sense for them.)


Chekov said...

I'm a wee bit confused about the suggestion that the SDLP should step aside. McDonnell, whatever you think of his attendance at Westminster, is still the sitting MP. Their might be a coincidence of interests at Stormont, but it hardly holds good for Westminster.

Sam Semple said...

This is very encouraging news.

My political wet dream is that the UUs, SDLP and Alliance can go into the next election with some jointly agreed policies on the economy, education, health, regional development and social development.

The message to the electorate is then very much "kick out this shower of squabbling sectarian aholes. Vote moderate for proper government".

Sam Semple said...

I should clarify - by next election I mean next Assembly election.

Alexander Redpath said...

Strikes me as an attempt to gain the centre ground of the SDLP.

Alliance have most to lose from building up the UUP and SDLP. The irony with Alliance is that they benefit more than anyone else from sectarian deadlock and least from a stable and effective government. Helping to create a stable and effective power-sharing relationship with the SDLP and UUP would be electoral suicide.

Equally UCUNF represents a severe long term threat to the SDLP. I am actually amazed McDonnell made this plea so close to the westminster election where he could concievably face a strong challenge from a genuinely cross-community UCUNF candidate.

Maybe this is a sign of confidence in his South Belfast position. Or maybe a desperate attempt to win the leadership?

O'Neill said...

"Maybe this is a sign of confidence in his South Belfast position"

If that were the case the best option simply would be to sit back and let matters run in his favour. If the Conservatives and Unionists are to achieve any meaningful success in SB it will need to be at his expense at capturing the middle-ground that wouldn't in a million years vote for a DUP-connected or SF candidate. So he has right to be worried.

Having said that I would treat his statement on face-value and welcome it- informal alliances of the centre ground on a number of agreed issues makes sense in a whole number ofways.

Anonymous said...

Most of the comments have missed the point. McDonnell is going for the sensible, the obvious and the only way in which the people of Northern Ireland can actually be truly and properly represented.

The sensible is simple. The more centrist parties need to get together and create a synergy of effort when it comes to the things which benefit the people and fit in all the partys' aims and objectives.

The obvious is that it is the only way forward in a contrived democracy where the evil axis of SF/DUP corrupt democracy to suit themselves, then the other paries need to get together and represent the people who voted them it - to deliver true democracy with integrity and honesty.

The only way in that there is not other way.

All this talk about the risk he faces with the new Conservatives is all a bit of a red herring and such arguments are only put forward by selfish party political opinions. McDonnell has proved that he is a true statesman who represents the people of South Belfast, regardless of who they are or what 'tribe' they belong to. He also uses his position as Dep Leader of the SDLP to promote further the civil rights for all, a civil rights which does not mean Catholic v Protestant, but encompasses all the diversity there is on this island.

There is now a new dynamism. Protestant and Catholic balances are now out dated terms in relation to Civil Rights. Civil Rights are now about people who are disadvantaged, regardless of religion or ethnic origin.

The Conservatives cannot really address this as they remain narrow minded and focused only on trying to get back into government, regardless of what it takes.

I believe that McDonnell will retain the seat no matter who runs as he has a track record of delivering unambiguously for the community of South Belfast regardless of where they live, what foot they kick with or how much money they have.

This might seem to be like a eulogy for him, but it is not. It is about trying to make sure that we honestly promote decent honourable politicians with integrity who will represent all the people - sometimes even if that means setting aside their own party political position. McDonnell does that very well and probably without match anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Is that last poster taking the piss? Sounds like it's straight out of an SDLP election leaflet FFS!

Ask McDonnell about the GAA and then ask him about the likes of Linfield or the Northern Ireland football team. Then you may have scratched the surface of this "man of honesty"