Two parties had a get-together this weekend: the Green Party and the SDLP (in separate places, of course). When it was put to Clare Bailey of the Greens that her party was very very small and nobody cared much what it thought or said or did, she came back with a good line: “I’ve always maintained it’s not size that matters, it’s what you do with it.”
But the Greens do have one consolation that the SDLP don’t have. They haven’t gone from big to small: they were always small. The SDLP were once very big, and like a former empire, it’s hard to get your head round the fact that you don’t have the clout you once did.
What clout the SDLP now have they appear to be using to bash one another over the head. Colum Eastwood has gone for an association/merger/we’ll-think-of-something relationship with Fianna Fáil. Claire Hanna has made it clear she’d rather eat her own foot than get up close and personal with the FFers. So too has Brid Rodgers. On Sunday Politics with Mark Carruthers just now, Alastair McDonnell showed why it was a good idea to get rid of him as SDLP leader: he sort of agreed with Brid Rodgers but sort of said it was like the curate’s egg, Colum’s cunning plan: good in parts. The truth of the matter is, the SDLP is sliding swiftly towards political oblivion, and it’s probably not a bad idea to grab the FFers’coat-tails: anything would be better than the route they’re on, which is dark and smelly and terminal.
Mind you, Alastair himself was like the curate’s egg: he did have one or two important points, even if his chair looked as though it would collapse under his bulk. He pointed out the peril that the UK are in, with Scotland looking as though they’ll be looking for the door if the impending EU crash-out is realized. He didn’t go on to mention another little part of the UK that might be following Scotland or even grabbing the door-handle before them. I’m referring, of course, to our toxic north-east corner.
One last point: I’m normally underwhelmed by the ‘Commentators’ Corner’ that follows every interview Mark Carruthers does, but today Rick Wilford, not your average red-eyed extremist, said what should by now be obvious : to attempt to remove the backstop from the withdrawal deal would not be like taking out an appendix which you can really live without. The backstop, Rick said, is a vital organ, and removing it is something that’s just not going to happen.
The question now is, who’s up for breaking the bad news to Nigel?