There are no political figures in the North more insufferable than South Belfast GP Dr. Alasdair McDonnell. The man approaches the world from an imagined stature which even Churchill could not countenance; with below-belt mudslinging towards political opponents in a way more pious than a Bishop on a Sunday (and that’s an insult to the Bishops). But in saying that, we should examine the kind of people Alasdair McDonnell actually considers “opponents”, for it certainly isn’t the Unionist parties or their Orange Junta state.
Back in the 1990s, the era just before the big fundamental changes here, McDonnell was a prominent member of Belfast City Council. It had got to the point where the Unionist City Fathers, who had a clear majority then, were forced to concede that a Catholic be granted the role of either Lord Mayor or Deputy Lord Mayor for the first time ever in local history. Sensing their moment, the SDLP had a person in mind, when out of the blue the Unionists turned around with the demand that the only person acceptable to their clique would be one Alasdair McDonnell. Hmmmm. Now why would McDonnell have been acceptable to extreme right wing Unionists, of an Afrikaner mentality towards life, when he stands for election as a Nationalist and Social Democrat in liberal, pro-Europe South Belfast? That’s a worrying question. I suspect, with due respect (to the “good” GP himself), that his anti-republican, hardline, yeomanry Mr Hyde views and political “boot-shining boy” approach to Unionist politicians has something to do with it.Yes indeed, he accepted their demand and defied his own party whip – the SDLP excluded him (temporarily) for crossing the floor without their collective consent, for a penny farthing post of no political clout. Eating the crumbs thrown to him by the Unionist Junta, the man wiped his face using a towel of Nationalist dignity and self-respect. He carried this same self-serving tenacity with him over the years, for his own party had to quickly evict him from the leadership when he wanted to retain his seat in Westminster and the Assembly. And what did he achieve? The Unionists laughed at him then just as British MP’s laugh at him (and his party’s efforts) now, squirming on the decks of a Tory-dominated parliament – making up not even 1% of it.
Indeed, he reminds me of a figure from the era of apartheid in South Africa (I’m only 25, so someone I’ve read about) – Lucas Mangope, head of a black artificial state-let. When the apartheid government was crumbling against the backdrop of internal and international pressure, they brought in the “Bantustan” system; giving the black people small and poor areas with no resources and appointing a willing, black-collaborator middle-class of careerists to “puppet government” posts – people who would line up to ‘’shine the shoes’’ of the Afrikaners for ‘office without power’. Mandela was asked just before he got out of jail if he would agree to one Bantustan for all the Apartheid-apparatchiks, black and white, and with due foresight he refused – stating that ‘’we don’t believe in white countries, or black countries, we believe in united democratic countries.’’ Even when apartheid was collapsing, the South African Alasdair McDonnell-lookalikes began throwing their weight behind the Inkatha Freedom Party, in a bid to cripple a united South Africa.
It gets worse. When he eventually got his party’s leadership, every senior member of it had to go into him one by one (or brief a sympathetic press), knifing him in the political back and front, to spell it out that they wanted him gone – knowing he was a liability then, just a few years ago, to be replaced with someone very inexperienced and untried. Now the question I would ask is – if he was a liability just a few years ago, how has he suddenly become a political asset now, so much so that they are standing him again in South Belfast? Is there an epiphany that I have yet to hear of therein? Any self-respecting, thinking person in South Belfast needs to get out the vote and send this failed Redmondite back to the Doctor’s Surgery from whence he came. It’s quite simple – Stop turning the British House of Commons into a retirement home for failed SDLP leaders, and free Mr Hyde of his political misery, ‘’transforming’’ him back into Dr. Jeckyll come Thursday 8th of June.