Friday, 26 February 2010

Double jobbing confusion as Ritchie prepares to stand in South Down.

Chris Brown’s Twitter feed reveals that Margaret Ritchie is scheduled to hold a press conference in Downpatrick this afternoon. We must assume that the new SDLP leader intends to announce her intention to stand for the South Down Westminster seat, vacated by Eddie McGrady, who is retiring.

Ritchie’s decision is puzzling, whichever way you look at it.

Previous leader, Mark Durkan, resigned his leadership because he rejects the notion that the SDLP can be led from anywhere other than the Northern Ireland Assembly. His party likes to stress its commitment to ‘this region’ and its institutions, as if they stand alone from the larger political framework of the United Kingdom.

Yet, should Ritchie win a Westminster seat, and refuse to stand down as an MLA, the SDLP’s commitment to ending double-jobbing will be questioned. After all, Alasdair McDonnell, the MP for South Belfast, has expressed his reluctance to give up one of his posts.

Like the SDLP, the DUP made some initial noises about addressing double-jobbing, then swiftly reneged when it became obvious that seats would be in danger. As yet the Conservatives and Unionists are the only party dedicated unambiguously to bringing multiple mandates to an early end.


Anonymous said...

Owen, I have sympathy for your sentiments on double-jobbing, but frankly even a hint of the alternative to Margaret Ritchie winning South Down (Catriona Ruane MP), is enough to cause angst to anyone.


Chekov said...

I acknowledge that Phil. But surely the party leader is not the only one who can win? If double jobbing cannot be brought to an end voluntarily, it will be brought to an end by legislation, if the Conservatives get into power.

Anonymous said...

Again, Owen, I am no fan of double-jobbing, but perhaps Margaret Ritchie in this case is an unfortunate exception to the general rule. She cut her political teeth in the South Down constituency through a long apprenticeship to Eddie Mc Grady MP, and is very well known, well-liked, and respected in the area. I would be inclined to allow this case as an exception until the SDLP has found a candidate of suitable calibre to replace her either as an MP or her MLA seat.

Likeable and engaging as Mark Durkan is, I still am unsure about his conviction that the SDLP can best be lead from within "the region." Cutting off the Westminster link also means cutting off a route to direct political influence and publicity, even for a political grouping with a "green tinge", such as the SDLP.


Anonymous said...

If the electorate votes in people at both Stormont and Westminster that is their choice and the Conservatives had better recognise there is a rights issue here if they try to legislate otherwise.

It is better that Stormont MLAs at times progress to the Commons or Lords and vice versa.

One would not want to go back to the 1950s when unionist MPs at Westminster failed to advise members here that times were changing.

The law about ending double salaries will shortly be in place. Unfortunately the haven't the courage to end double expenses.

Chekov said...

Garbage. If the same party is putting up the same candidate for both jurisdictions then there is no choice. A 'rights issue'. Fucking Nora! Is there any end to the 'rights issues' people will claim in this country? If you're intent on talking such unalloyed bollocks, whoever you are, go and do it on another site.