And the winner is…Margaret Ritchie! Step forward, little lady – you done good. Well, you stopped Alastair McDonnell becoming leader and for that a lot of hearts are grateful (mainly in the SDLP). But will Ms Ritchie be any good as leader of the SDLP? All these things are relative. Standing beside John Hume, Mark Durkan looked awkward and callow; standing beside Alastair McDonnell, Margaret Ritchie looks petite and approachable. But then, standing beside Alastair McDonnell, a piles-plagued pit-bull might look petite and approachable.
For some politicians, nothing in their political life becomes them like the leaving it, but not so the disappointed Dr McDonnell. He had offered to radically reshape the SDLP, he said, but the party apparently wasn’t ready for that yet. In other words, he wasn’t made leader not because he wasn’t good enough but because THE PARTY wasn’t good enough…You have to admire such granite-hard self-belief, especially when it sits on such gossamer-thin evidence.