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Irish Left Archive: SDLP Election Manifesto, Westminster Election, 1979 September 14, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, SDLP.

cover SDLP

SDLP 1979

Here’s a first, documentation from the SDLP. As the local branch of the Socialist International in Northern Ireland it clearly deserves inclusion within the Archive. So, that said, what do we see within? Well, it’s a document without a guiding left ideology. The emphasis remains clearly focused on the constitutional issues. Indeed the only mention of the word ‘socialist’ or even social democrat (the name of the party is not detailed in full anywhere) comes after a list of the failings of Direct Rule…

In these circumstances it is fair to ask what Britain’s contribution has been to the good government of Northern Ireland. Indeed, could any system of government have been more incompetent? Could any so called ‘Socialist’ administration have achieved less?

This isn’t to say that there is no consideration of social and economic issues. Indeed it explicitly deals with Employment, Family Poverty, The Health Service, Housing and such like. And while the criticisms are well made they lack a clear ideological point.

While Unionism is referenced, as is “Unionist intransigence”, and security force repression is engaged with, no mention at all is made of Republicanism, or indeed any of what one might imagine would be the more obvious aspects of living in a society wherein an armed conflict was being waged. Violence is mentioned tangentially as ‘communal violence’.

And there are some curious statements, for example…

The voters should be aware that the primary aim of British policy in NI is to break the SDLP. Roy Mason has left no-one in any doubt that the British government wish to move towards the restoration of unionist control, in order to extricate themselves from NI. The strength of the SDLP has been the only major obstacle to that strategy, and therefore we must be broken.

Just a few observations on what is in many respects one of the most intriguing documents from this period to appear in the Archive.


1. D_D - September 14, 2009

Funny, my circles never regarded the SDLP as part of the left at all. At all.


2. WorldbyStorm - September 14, 2009

Well, I thought long and hard about whether to include it… and was very tempted not to…

But surely the SI can’t be wrong… 😉


3. Neues aus den Archiven der radikalen (und nicht so radikalen) Linken « Entdinglichung - September 18, 2009

[…] Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP): Election Manifesto […]


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