Monday, 17 November 2008

The Game of Politics

Kensei over on Slugger O’Toole posted an interesting article in which the problems facing Nintendo in 2005 are equated to those of the SDLP around the same time. In the face of stiff competition from global giants Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo had been forced into third place in the gaming market. However, they set about taking a strategic approach to develop new markets and boost sales, in the process redefining the market with the advent of the Wii and DS platforms.

Kensei argues that, unlike Nintendo, the SDLP has taken none of the key steps needed to change the status quo and thus remains in a peripheral position.

In the whole 1990s Sonic v Mario war, I was firmly in the Sega camp. However, Kensei has a point. Despite the fact that the Executive deadlock has just passed the 150-day point, the SDLP seems unable to capitalise on the stagnation or develop a strategic and original approach to make the most of the stalemate.

It is simply not enough to stand by and wait for a competitor to mess-up. A viable alternative has to be provided in order for people to change their voting habits. Sinn Féin built-up such an alternative in the late 1990s, culminating in them overtaking the SDLP in 2001. They didn’t hang about waiting for people to get bored with the SDLP- after all, Hume’s party had been the biggest on the nationalist side for three decades, so there would have been plenty of waiting to do- they worked to develop a product that many voters obviously felt comfortable switching to from the SDLP. And so it is now, save with the roles reversed. Sinn Féin may be having problems delivering, but if nationalist voters are to withdraw their support for Adams’ party and bring about a new dynamic within the Executive by voting for the other nationalist party, then the SDLP has to provide a strategic, competent, attractive, relevant and viable alternative for voters.

If the SDLP wants to make inroads, it needs to grab the proverbial Wii controller and score a home run while the opposition team is looking the other way.


eddiepops said...

I've an idea as to why, if I may. The SDLP (and the UUP for that matter) have accepted their second place status too entirely, and no where is this made more evident than in the press releases and comments that come from your elected reps. All of them focus in beginning middle and end on SF and/or the DUP, which is fine in that they are the problem, but by talking about them all the time it just brings extra focus and gives the appearance that the SDLP cannot define itself except in opposition to SF. If I ran your press office I'd never mention SF ever again, would never issue one more press release giving out about them, I'd only talk about what you were doing to improve the lives of people and suggesting positive ideas for change in areas not currently under your control. Nothing could demonstrate your confidence in yourself and your lack of interest in your opponents than that.

Gary McKeown. said...


Congratulations on being to first person to comment on Northern Notes!

There is something to be said for your view but I don't think you can completely ignore the other parties- it's important for a party to highlight the shortcomings of its opposition. However, as you say, that isn't enough, and it also needs to define itself on its own terms in a way that casts it as a legitimate alternative.

trutth and justice said...

SF are forever geting stuck into Margaret Ritchie - she of course is well fit to take the knocks - SF are very defensive if anyone dares to critise Minister Ruane