Wednesday, 14 April 2010

SDLP - General election 2010

The SDLP, One of the parties in the Northern Ireland executive, 4th largest party of Northern Ireland.

The SDLP would love in this election to overtake Sinn Fein in seats and reclaim the position of Dominant Irish nationalist party in Westminster, Sadly as this is Margaret Ritchie first General election as Leader while Sinn Fein have both Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness in Nationalist strongholds. However with the Unionist Pact for Fermanagh and South Tyrone Sinn Fein already look to lose a seat, the SDLP can only hope an agreement is not reached by the Unionists for South Belfast as well or the SDLP will most likely lose a seat as well.

Things I believe the SDLP should do during the election and after would be;

1) Unionist Civil War - Even though the DUP and UUP agreed on one Unity Candidate already doesn't Unionists are getting along, with the TUV (Traditional Unionist Voice) in the election fray as well and the loss of Lady Hermon for the UUP the Unionist seats will be an all out battle to see who will be the biggest Unionist Dog in the yard. The SDLP should avoid the topic too much in case to be seen as fanning the flames of discontent within the unionist community.

2) Sinn Fein - With Sinn Fein already looking like they've lost a seat the SDLP need to hammer them in the other two seats Sinn Fein have, attacking Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness would be a waste of resources, those two are firmly entrenched in their constituencies. Smart play made already by Ritchie turning down Gerry Adams' offer for a Nationalist Pact citing the hypocrisy in making a pact after bad mouthing the Unionists, made Sinn Fein and Gerry Adams (whose had a bad year already with his family problems and allegations from beyond the grave) look bad. It wasn;t a knockout punch for the SDLP but it was a clear warning shot that they want very little to do with Sinn Fein.

3) Justice - the entire devolution of Justice saga has given the SDLP ammunition against the DUP and Sinn Fein, Using that bullet at the right time could do some damage to the two parties records by highlighting how they are messing with the system to hurt the SDLP and UUP

4) New friends? - If Labour don't come out on top the SDLP should consider finding some new friends in Westminster, Possibles choices being the Celtic Bloc, Mebyon Kernow and the TUSC.

5) Early Start - as an Article in the BBC reecently said, Politics is a National Past time in Northern Ireland and the pinnacle of that is Stormont, the SDLP need to use the General election to get a running start at the Assembly election next year and pick out early targets so they can maximise their chances at moving up in the Stormont food chain. With early Prediction putting Sinn Fein as the top dog next year the SDLP have to make sure it doesn't happen at their expense.

For the SDLP the General Election will be the start of a Trial by Fire for Margaret Ritchie, If she can help build the SDLP (and knock Sinn Fein down a bit) she could become one of the Big Guns of Northern Irish politics, if She chooses to only sit in Westminster and the SDLP improve its standings she could make an interesting addition to a Labour Cabinet perhaps as the Northern Ireland Secretary (a position that may cease to exist if devolution continues). If she decided to follow Peter Robinson's idea and sit in Both Stormont and Westminster it could help her develop more of a relationship with Peter Robinson who does not get on well with McGuinness and potentially alter the entire power Dynamic of the Northern Ireland Executive and leave Sinn Fein in a similiar position as the one it is in down in the Republic of Ireland, Friendless.

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